A few months back a nice chap named Steven Russell, an agent by day and film enthusiast and S4 Film Club founder by night, contacted me via Twitter to ask if I’d be interesting in having a screening of one of my filmumentaries at the Genesis Cinema in Whitechapel, London. The club night’s format consists of a short film showing, a Q&A with the director and then a audience vote, picking from three films that have inspired the creator.
Steven wanted to do something similar with my filmumentaries. First a Q&A with yours truly and then an audience vote to pick between Star Wars Begins, Raiding The Lost Ark and Inside Jaws. My pal and genius artist Pete Starling of Electrographica was even kind enough to come up with a poster for the event (see below). Apparently this image came to him as he was falling to sleep one night!
The evening was attended by some forty five friends and strangers. The Q&A went well (see photo below) and the Genesis Cinema want me back in the future to do another night.
Thanks to everyone that came along. I hope to see you there again soon.
NB: I received no payment for the evening in keeping with my free, non profit ethos.
Inspired in part by my recent purchase of an HD projector, I’ve gone ahead and upgraded the titles and subtitles on Star Wars Begins. The source of the videos remain the same, the original unaltered trilogy DVD from 2006 being the bulk of it of course, but now the titles and subs are that bit sharper for viewing on HD devices.
Back in 2011, I interviewed the brilliant Wolf Kahler aka Colonel Dietrich in a noisy coffee shop in North London for my filmumentary project Raiding the Lost Ark. Below is a link to the full interview.
Wolf Kahler Full Interview
After an invite to a movie set in late July, things began to look great in the world of filmumentaries. I met genuine film stars, a famous director and got to observe them all at work for a couple of hours. Following this, a meeting with the director who repeatedly told me that he thought I made “the best making ofs ever”. A real buzz. He went on to say that he’d love to work with me. I would carry on what I was doing but with the access to film studios, distributors and infrastructure that he could offer. A dream come true. Well since late July contact has been very friendly but sporadic. Me desperately trying to get the ball rolling. The director, very busy as one might expect. He has recently become big time and is currently doing deals all over the place. My projects are small fry but I continue to feel confident that we will get together to make this happen.
Then only last week whilst I was in Austin Texas, another California based company got in touch to talk about bringing my ideas to work alongside their technology. I can’t talk about either of these proposals in any detail at the moment but I am extremely excited about both. I haven’t yet given myself the luxury of jumping up and down. I’ll save that for the dotted line moment.
I just wanted to thank you all for the continued support and interest in my projects. Keep watching over the next couple of months for some hopefully very exciting news.
Well it has been about a month since I put Inside Jaws online, reaching out and clicking the “submit” button with my eyes closed, hoping that fans, casual viewers, reviewers, colleagues and friends would enjoy it. Only a matter of days later I was blown away by the response. Colleagues patting me on the back. One even saying “you almost look like you know what you’re doing”. A hell of a compliment. A “Staff Pick” on Vimeo.com and plenty of movie news outlets making encouraging noises.
For me, the greatest compliment came from an educator in the U.S, saying that he uses my films in his teaching, describing them as “invaluable educational tools…His filmumentaries help show how good, practiced authors weave original sources, research, and voices into a magnificent peace of rhetoric“. This means more to me than the recognition from The New York Times and Vulture somehow. It’s great to feel that I’ve contributed something worthy of helping people to learn. Particularly when this is really just a little hobby of mine.
So, what next? That is the question I’ve been asked numerous times recently. Well, this marks the first time since 2006 that I haven’t been working on a filmumentary. My fiancé may see it differently, looking at me with suspicious eyes as I watch all the Ghostbusters DVD and Blu ray extras. As I read the excellent Don Shay book “The Making of Ghostbusters” and make annotations and notes. I’m sticking to my guns though. I haven’t done my usual first step of placing a feature film on an FCP timeline. I am just tentatively checking out my options. Yesterday I watched the excellent “In the Actor’s Studio, With Michael J. Fox” for instance. Today I might watch the BTTF Blu ray extras. If I have time between wedding planning and work that is!
When I do decide, you’ll be the first to know. Though I am still hoping that my email to Universal, saying that I want to do an official filmumentary on BTTF will get a reply soon.
In other good news I have a big interview coming out in the print edition of the New York Times this coming sunday (21st July). I must try to track down a copy in the UK. There is also talk of the Inside Jaws posters being included in a couple of exhibitions in Germany and the U.S. But most of all and perhaps most encouraging, people seem to be more able to say “filmumentary” without getting tongue tied.
After completing Raiding the Lost Ark in 2012, I immediately embarked on a new project, tentatively called Jaws Bites Back. After 16 months of trawling, reading, spooling, skyping, chatting, interviewing, editing and refining, I am pleased to release Inside Jaws, A Filmumentary (2013). As with my other filmumentaries this is a completely unofficial and non profit making project made with a genuine affection for the film. Please share the link with your friends but under no circumstances should you buy or sell this on DVD or Blu Ray.
I would like to extend my thanks to all of the lovely, kind people that helped me on this voyage. In particular Jim Beller (of JawsCollector.com) , a Jaws expert, no, THE Jaws expert was always on call to answer my questions and give suggestions. The Jaws community as a whole really have helped motivate me to keep this project swimming forward and to make a good job of it. You’re a great bunch of people!
For this project I unearthed some unheard interviews with cast members and I conducted some interviews myself. So even you big Jaws fans should find plenty of new things to enjoy!
You can find the final video here.
Below are two of the poster designs. Pete Starling of Electrographica.co.uk put me inside Jaws (Left) and a wonderful pencil “sketch” by Martin Schlierkamp (right). Martin’s final, coloured version should be available in a couple of days.
After fifteen months of research, reading, trawling, spooling, emailing, Skyping and editing, Inside Jaws is almost finished. Today the brilliant animator Dan Lucyszyn-Hinton is sending over his final piece of animation and providing it passes my scrutiny (I am sure it will), the project will be ready to upload for the release date of the 20th June 2013.
I am off on my travels again this week so I’ll take the rendered video away with me to give it one final look over. When I return it will be my birthday and a trip to the south-west. Then I’ll upload to Vimeo the night of the 19th ready for all you lovely, supportive folks to watch in the morning.
I must say I’ve had a blast making this one. Because my knowledge of Jaws wasn’t quite up to the standard of my Star Wars and Indy expertise, I had lots of work to do. At times without Jim Beller there, this would have been a real struggle. See a) drive crash, b) problems at home, c) busy paid job. Jim was always there to answer my amateurish Jaws questions and provide a great solution to any problems I encountered. Jim, I am indebted to you! Thanks so much for your help and support. I should extend this to the very friendly Jaws fan community who have always been behind me. Take note Indy fans! I now know my Bruce from my Oscar and my Orca 1 from my Orca 3.
I hope you all enjoy the finished product whether you’re a casual Jaws fan or an obsessed collector.
In the meantime, here’s the trailer:
The video cannot be shown at the moment. Please try again later.
Legendary Special Effects Guru.
Well as I hinted yesterday, I’ve been trying to line up an interview with special effects veteran Kevin Pike who started his career on Jaws. Well tonight after a couple of emails to and fro, my phone rang and it was Mr Pike himself. I was rather taken aback to receive a call from a genuine special effects hero whilst I was serving up dinner for my kids.
If you don’t know who Kevin is, just check out his credits list on IMDB!
After chatting for 15 minutes or so, he said he’d happily contribute to my project despite having a very busy schedule. I must say that I am very excited about this. I might even ask him about his legendary involvement in Back to the Future. You never know, Going Back, A Filmumentary might be a reality one day!
Jim Beller, Jaws expert and all round nice guy recently watched my first cut of Inside Jaws. He loved it. Phew! He also made some great suggestions and pointed me in the right direction to rectify some of the scenes that were a bit lacking.
One of his ideas was to talk to some people who had previously been interviewed for the fabulous Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard, a book that Jim himself was heavily involved in. So, armed with some contact details I got in touch with members of the crew as well as extras to get a handle on their unique experiences shooting JAWS! Telephone interviews are often criticised for their low quality, but for me it’s all about content, in whatever form it comes.
Tonight I called and interviewed my first victim. All I’ll say is that she was a very willing participant indeed with great stories for me to include in the commentary track. I love hearing these tales from the unsung heroes, even if they only played a small part in the films’ creation. I really think you’ll enjoy her enthusiasm and insights. It’s so great that people are still happy to talk about the film after all this time. I got a real buzz chatting. It’s always so difficult not to laugh along with the interviewee. But as I need the interviewees voice for commentary, I have to stay quiet!
With any luck, I’ll soon be speaking to a veteran of film making. He was also involved in a little film set in 1985. Or was it 1955? More on that later.
I have been away from home working in Australia and Malaysia for the last week and a half. Whilst Melbourne always keeps me busy with it’s amazing array of cool bars, friendly people and other wallet emptying attributes, Kuala Lumpur has offered up three days off. So during the scorching heat I decided to dip my toe into Inside Jaws again. My colleague and friend Ben was on hand to help with some additional motion graphics whilst I beavered away at editing. I’ve actually got through rather a lot of work and it feels like the end may finally be in sight. In the distance mind you. But the point is, I can actually see it now.
I was also boosted by feedback from my Jaws expert buddy Jim, who has now watched my first cut and has returned to me with some great notes. Further motivation has been drawn from contact with a large publication in the U.S. They want to run an article about me and my filmumentaries to coincide with the release of Inside Jaws. Well, suffice to say that it has helped push me along some more.
Real work has begun in Malaysia now but my evenings are free and staying into edit is probably better for my health and my wallet. On second thoughts, maybe I’ll edit half of the time…
Well the downtime over the winter wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped with regards to my little projects. What with multiple HDD failures etc. Real life obviously takes precedence. But the good news is, for those of you waiting to see Inside Jaws, I am back on the road next week for my thirteenth F1 season. This means a lot of time sat on planes, in hotels and on coaches. More time to tinker with my soon to be released filmumentary.
Just last night, Jaws expert Jim Beller who kickstarted this project, had a look over the first hour of so of my rough cut. We then had a lengthy Skype chat, going through notes that we had both made. Jim is my Jaws brain and is great at saying, ‘Wait, I have a piece of material you could use there”. So I came away from our chat with lots to do. All great suggestions from Jim and a couple of good ideas from me just because I was able to sound Jim out about them first.
If my new Lacie drive arrives in time, thanks to some kind donations, I will be taking it to Australia with me and spending some strange hours in my hotel room editing away. This year I have to make some savings as recent circumstances at home have meant our income has effectively been cut in half. For now anyway. So hopefully Inside Jaws will keep me away from expensive bars, clubs and restaurants and on the way to getting the project finished before summer.
Thanks for your continued support.
To keep within the low budget during the production of Raiding the Lost Ark, I purchased a £100, 500GB Western Digital hard disk. Whilst it was only USB , it worked with my Macbook (not pro) and the upscaled 720p footage rather well. It was quick enough, portable and travelled the world with me through to the films release in February 2012.
I had enough room to begin Inside Jaws on the same drive, so after making a backup on a Lacie Big Disk Extreme (1TB) along with all my previously filmumentary work, I got to editing!
All was fine until about a month ago when I dropped the Western Digital drive on the kitchen floor. I immediately plugged it back in and all seemed fine until a couple of days later when the beachball of doom appeared whilst I was editing in FCP. Immediately I knew that I’d lost a few days work.
The annoying thing is that I don’t keep a log, so I’m not sure what all that work was. Little things occur to me here and there as I am editing. There was no way of retracing my steps. After some moaning about HDDs on Twitter, I started editing from the big Lacie Extreme backup drive. A few hours in, during a render of the final project, I was getting paranoid now, the power supply blew and the drive sounded broken! I was right to be paranoid. The god of hard disks had struck again.
I quickly ordered a new power supply from eBay. These projects are all about keeping up momentum and motivation. It seemed the cheapest way to potentially resurrect the project. After a week or so the power supply came back to life and so the editing recommenced. Only a matter of hours in the drive sounded like it was copying files whilst I was doing nothing. In fact it sounded like that busy sound you get when empting the trash. Finder promptly crashed and the HDD wouldn’t mount.
I had made a second (just in case) back up on and older and apparently less robust drive enclosure. The only problem was there were some media files missing from this previous backup. So I’ve spent today re-importing media from DVDs, CD and online, desperately trying to match it so that it can be reconnected in the FCP timeline.
I am back up to speed but it’s another day “wasted”. Thanks to a kind donation, I’ve ordered a new Lacie Rugid and I’ve copied all the project and media files to my iMac system disk. When will this faffing with drives end?!