21 December 2011


After a very long break in filming and posting a blog update, I can now present the Plastic Love teaser trailer. It's a homage/rip off of a trailer for Clockwork Orange, one of my favourite films and directors in Stanley Kubrick, hence the use of William Tell Overture Finale and Futura font. Hope you enjoy.

More information on Plastic Love is available on the Facebook Page.
If you're a Tweeter just search for #Plastic_Love

Until next time. Excelsior!

2 August 2011

PBL and VMS, SBS and SP

In the words of Stan Lee, a hero of mine and a true Generalissimo, "Hello my brave Brigadiers!" I hope July and August saw you well.

I'm a big believer in saying nothing unless you have something to say, hence why my blog has been a bit quiet recently (Twitter is where I spout my daily nonsense). That's also the reason I hardly ever speak, I rarely have anything interesting to say so why waste my breath and your time? Anyway, at last I feel I have something to say, or at least tell you about.
Last month this very blog was featured on the Virgin Media Shorts website as part of an ongoing feature to highlight filmmakers blogs about their entries to the competition. Click here to get trapped in a never ending loop of link clicking back and forth between this blog and Virgin Media Shorts webpage about this blog. Internet Link Clicking Pong© - it's a new game. Imagine if they did another webpage about this blog post about their webpage about my previous blog post. *brain melts*

On another Virgin Media Shorts related note, my film Peanut Butter Lips was available to watch on Virgin Media's new TiVo service. If anyone watched it I hope you enjoyed it and big thanks to everyone at VMS for featuring my film and blog on their website.

In even more exciting news, for me at least, my film Side by Side has been shortlisted for Shooting People's Film of the Month in July. That means the legendary John Waters will be watching it and judging the overall winner (I knew I never should've deleted the shit-eating scene). Big thanks to all the fellow Shooters who 'liked' the film and consequently put a big smile on my face, and good luck to the other shortlisted filmmakers.

Until next time. Excelsior!

17 June 2011


Last week I filmed four hectic but very fun days on Plastic Love. I got some great footage and I'm in the process of editing it right now. I just wanted to share some very short character specific teaser trailers I made for the film. When I say short, I mean blink and you'll miss them, and when I say teaser, I mean they reveal nothing. Consider yourself teased... hopefully.

More information on Plastic Love is available on the Facebook Page.
If you're a Tweeter just search for #Plastic_Love

3 June 2011


Made this for a bit of fun.
If you haven't seen it, the film can be watched on the Virgin Media Shorts website.


One boy. One girl. Loads of sandwiches.
So this is my first blog post in an age, in web-time I think my last one was sometime in the cretaceous period. Luckily my blog hasn't fossilised just yet. This one is all about my latest short film that I made for Virgin Media Shorts, a yearly competition and probably the biggest of it's kind in the country. The rules are simple, make a film that's U/PG rated and no longer than 2 minutes 20 seconds. That's it! I knew I wanted to enter this year so I put my thinking cap on. Unfortunately the batteries in my thinking cap had died so I was forced to use what dwindling grey matter I have left.

After Side by Side I was keen to work with the wonderful Mia Baker again. That meant the film had to contain a young girl, so far so good. If it contained a young girl it may as well contain a young boy (that's my thinking anyway), so immediately the old cliché "boy likes girl" came to mind. I don't know why, I guess I was hungry at the time, but I decided the boy character would try and woo the girl with food, specifically sandwiches. As soon as I had that thought the title and pay-off of the film came to me. What's the ultimate sandwich? I'm sure it's different for everyone, but for me it's peanut butter. So what better way to gain a girl's affections than with a peanut butter sandwich? The way to most people's hearts is via their stomach after all, or a knife to the chest, slightly less romantic though.

I discovered Arne Cunningham through the Young Actors Theatre and rapidly cast him after a two minute audition (with me playing the girl...poor Arne). The thing I love about working with young actors is when they're really good everyone thinks it's because the director has magically coaxed amazing performances out of them. The truth is they're naturally good actors, I just point the camera at them. Shh! I didn't tell you that.
Mia Baker and Arne Cunningham
With pre-production sorted it came to the day of the shoot. Knowing I only had roughly five hours to film everything meant I needed to film nearby my flat. Luckily I discovered a great location two minutes away, a quiet playground with a bench. Fortunately it was a lovely day, unfortunately it was a bit too much of a lovely day. The sun was so bright even focusing with the viewfinder was difficult at times. As the background to the bench was already pretty dark I could either expose for the leaves and have the kids blindingly white or expose for the kids and have them sat in front of a black hole. Being the nice director that I am, I chose to expose the actors properly...just. I'm aware some of the shots are slightly over exposed, especially on Arne's shirt, but it was a trade-off with having everything else way too dark. I know he could've worn something else but I needed them in school uniform otherwise they'd have to change clothes constantly to portray the passage of time, and that's neither practical nor feasible in such a short space of time. I'm also lazy when it comes to continuity so having school uniform solved that.

After an hour of shooting in my kitchen the shoot was wrapped and it was onto the edit. I was so excited to get it cut together I edited the film in one day, the next day actually. Too often films take such a long time to make or never even get finished, that when the opportunity to have a really short turnaround arises I grab it by the proverbial balls. I recently took part in the Sci-Fi-London 48 Hour Film Challenge and really enjoyed the imposed time limit. I sometimes think that taking a long time can be just as negative as positive, it allows you to over-analyze every single detail. I like to work quickly and have intense bursts of creativity making decisions with gut instinct. Also now I have a finished film less than 36 hours after shooting it.

I'd like to quickly mention the music, the awesome track I used was by The Plastic Society. One of the band members is Martin Dubka who's composing the music for my next short film Plastic Love. I love nothing more than editing visuals to music whilst telling a story, and the track perfectly captured the playful mood and homemade sandwiches feel I wanted.

The finished film can be watched on the Virgin Media Shorts website but also below for your convenience.

Big thanks to all the cast and crew for helping make the film possible. You're all awesome! I'll make you a peanut butter sandwich one day.


13 April 2011


Here's a short video I made just for fun, more than anything just to practice my filming skills and mainly because I love vintage cameras. The cameras featured are a Kodak Brownie II, a Quartz M and a Eumig C3M, all 8mm film cameras. The Eumig C3M is a work of art, it has three interchangeable lenses and can take single frames for stop motion animation. The Quartz M can shoot up to 48fps for lovely slo-mo footage, and the Kodak Brownie II makes possibly the best noise I've ever heard.
My patent Magazines-Under-Tripod-Tracking-Dolly.
I tried to make the video look like it was filmed on a cine camera (I don't know how successful I've been), which is kind of weird as I shot it with the thoroughly modern Panasonic AF101, a video camera/DSLR hybrid, using manual 35mm lenses. There's something weirdly appealing to me about taking modern digital HD footage and making it look old and dirty and analogue. I've always thought it'd be amazing to find a half buried canister of film and when you watch it back it's footage from the future of flying cars and robots but all filmed on 8mm film. A vintage video from the future. How amazing would that be?

I hope you enjoy the video.

10 April 2011


I've made our entry to the Sci-Fi-London 48 Hour Film Challenge public on Vimeo. Hope everyone enjoys it.

Previous blog about the film challenge.

6 April 2011


Alli Parker, one of my Twitter screenwriting friends, has posted a blog about short film endings and featured my film Side by Side as an example. So I guess that makes this a blog post about a blog post, that's enough to make the internet explode surely?!

Anyway check out her blog for loads of posts to do with filmmaking and screenwriting structure, s'all good stuff!


I recently put out a casting call for my next short film and have been constantly amused at what some people consider a good covering letter. This one really made me smile so I had to respond, probably a bit harsh but couldn't resist.

*This is not a joke, I really did receive this from an actor*

Dear Hiring Manager,

I've read your job posting with interest but I'm not coming just for an audition outside London, where I live (except if you pay for my travel).
I've done already 37 films in the UK, only from April 2010, and for some of them I didn't even need auditions.
I have extensive experience as an actor, which I believe, would be an ideal match for almost any role.
I've got profiles on Total Talent, Bedroom Genius and Facebook.
I work only with filmmakers who are friendly, sincere, reliable and professional, with clear vision, people who know exactly what they want from me.
Last but not least: you need to give me your promise, written on paper, that you'll provide, when finished, a copy of the film on DVD.


****** ********

Dear ****** ********,

I'm glad you read our casting call with interest, unfortunately if you're unwilling to even travel to an audition in Greater London (where you live) without being paid I don't think you're the right person for the role.

It's very impressive that you've acted in 37 films since April 2010, unfortunately I always favour quality over quantity. I once ate 15 packets of crisps in 3 hours but only enjoyed the 5th packet, the rest were rubbish.

It's very helpful that you have extensive experience as an actor, and I agree that it would make you ideal for almost any acting role. To be honest I'm a bit intimidated and only like working with inexperienced actors who I can boss around.

I also have a profile on Facebook but unfortunately we're not friends otherwise I would poke you.

It's wise that you only work with filmmakers who are friendly, sincere, reliable and professional. Unfortunately I don't have a clear vision of what I want, I usually just point the camera at the actors and hope for the best. I can only imagine I would disappoint you as a director.

I'm more than happy to give anyone I work with a signed agreement, on paper, that they will receive a DVD copy of the finished film. However, my DVD player is currently broken and I don't think it's fair that other people could watch my film when I can't.

Thank you for your application but on this occasion I won't be offering you an audition that you're not willing to travel to. Good luck with all your future endeavours.

Best wishes


5 April 2011


Last weekend I and many others, over 250 teams, took part in the Sci-Fi-London 48 Hour Film Challenge. Basically the challenge is to make a five minute sci-fi film in 48 hours whilst incorporating three random elements you receive at the start. So around 10am on Saturday morning we all piled into the Apollo cinema in Piccadilly Circus to hear the rules once again and select our three criteria. One by one we shuffled to the front and dipped our hands into three silver sacks to pluck pieces of paper that gave us our film title, dialogue that had to be spoken and a prop that had to be used. Judging by some of the elements I've heard about I think we didn't do too badly. Some people ended up with the dialogue, "Geez! What have you done to my toilet? Looks like the Dulux dog exploded in there." If I'd got that I think I would've just curled into a ball and cried.

Our three criteria were:
Title - The Last Book in The Library
Dialogue - "I guess all you can do is wish them a happy life together."
Prop - A desk lamp with no bulb, we see a character screw in a bulb.

We'd already scouted a few potential locations around West London that we thought would be cool to film and had our actors in place (the great David Chrysanthou and Gabriella Montrose), so all we had to do was come up with a reasonably coherent story that worked with the three random elements then film, edit, grade, do fx work, sound design, and compose music, yeah, that's all we had to do. We quickly came up with the idea of a post-apocalyptic future and a masked character who wanders around looking for things that may be useful to salvage - so far so clichéd. We liked the idea of cutting back and forth between two separate time frames so we decided to use the present day and have two characters meeting and getting to know each other, intercutting that with a seemingly random salvage man in the future - slightly more interesting. Then we somehow tried to piece it all together whilst incorporating the dialogue and prop. Whether we've been successful or not I don't know, to be honest I've lost all perspective on the film. What I do know is the experience itself was really enjoyable and I recommend any filmmakers take part in these kind of challenges. You learn a lot about not only filmmaking and the challenges of shooting, editing, grading, sound designing, but also about yourself and how you cope under pressure and how creative you can be when a crazy deadline is looming. This was my first 48 hour film challenge but I loved having such a tight schedule as it meant everyone pitched in and just got on with trying to make the best film possible. At times it was slightly stressful, (we only had our actress for three hours and the sun was rapidly fading, we got kicked off of a train platform by an overzealous TFL employee and consequently had to find another location very quickly), but more than anything it was fun and now the cast and crew all have a pretty decent short film to show for a weekends work. Not bad I say. We even had time to sit down for a pizza and watch Louis Theroux whilst the footage was transcoding.

I guess it's tempting to go back to the film and tinker with it, reshoot things, expand the story, spend longer on the edit but I like the idea of leaving it as is and having the film as a testament to what we made at that point in time, mistakes, warts and out of focus shots all included.

I'm thinking about making this a regular occurrence and imposing my own 48 hour deadline every couple of months. It's a great way of being creative in such a short space of time and at the end you have a film that didn't exist a mere 48 hours beforehand. I'll definitely be entering again next year for more adventures in two day filmmaking.

Once the shortlist of films has been announced I'll post our film on here for you to watch. Until then here's a collage of some snaps I took throughout the weekend.


*Geeky technical fact: the majority of our film was shot with a second-hand 35mm lens from eBay that cost me £14. Love it!*

25 March 2011


I'm currently in pre-production on my next short film, Plastic Love, a dark and twisted tale of love, obsession and fetishes. I'm doing the usual stuff like stressing about locations etc, but the time has come to cast the film. I've already got a couple of great actresses in place for two roles, but need to cast the remaining three roles, all pivotal characters. Dan (20-25), Sally (30-35), Walter (40-50). Please check out the details below for more information and to apply:

Casting Call Pro
Talent Circle

I'll also be creating a new page at some point specifically dedicated to the film, so keep your glazzies peeled for that droogies. Please feel free to pass on to any actors you know who may be suitable.

1 March 2011


In-between paying jobs Fingercuff always work on our own projects (the most fun stuff), and for the last few months we've been filming Three, the latest film from writer and director James Webber. The edit is finally coming together and everything is looking great. Please check out the trailer below.

As with all of James' films I worked as cinematographer, which I love as I get to be heavily involved in all aspects of the lighting, composition of shots, lens choice and general look of the film. I'm trying my best to become much better at understanding all aspects of lighting and how it works with different lenses. We've been shooting on old-school manual 35mm lenses for a while now as we purchased a Redrock Micro Adaptor a couple of years ago. The rig we use is a monster and destroys your arms/shoulders after a day filming with it, but in all fairness it's really made our work look so much better and helped me to understand the importance of good camerawork and lens choice etc. I thought I'd miss the ability to zoom on a digital lens but I love filming with prime lenses and physically having to move the camera to change the shot. As you can see from earlier posts we've recently invested in a Panasonic AG-AF101 so hopefully our work will just look better and better over the coming months. Hope you enjoy the trailers and thanks for reading.


13 February 2011


I've been thinking a lot lately about inspiration and where people find ideas. How does an idea begin? Do you look within yourself and use your own experiences? Do you actively look for ideas in newspapers and magazines? Are your inspirations internal or external? What's the catalyst that sparks your brain into a flurry of imagination? Freud would probably say inspiration comes from some unresolved childhood trauma, I think that's bullshit. For me my ideas always come from a single image I have in my head and I write a story around that image. For instance on my horror short Vision, I had the image of a silhouetted figure holding a welding torch, I then constructed a story around that image.

On my last short film, Side by Side, I had the image of a young girl and an older guy both sitting on a train wearing silly animal masks. Once again I constructed a story around that single image. Months after finishing the film I realised that I think I was subconciously inspired by Spirited Away and the famous scene on the train. Compare both images below.

Side by Side
Spirirted Away

I honestly think there are no longer any original ideas left, they've all been used and reused endlessly. What I do believe though, is that the same stories can be told endlessly, but what makes them original is how you approach them. Take Inception for example, questioning the nature of reality is nothing new, The Matrix did it ten years ago, albeit with more guns...lots of guns! So did countless films and books before it, The Truman Show another fairly recent example. The reason I found Inception and The Matrix compelling and seemingly original is how they go about telling their stories. Both films explore the same themes of our perceptions of reality and awareness and simulacra etc. Ergo, they're essentially the same story, the difference being that story is told in different ways. The Matrix went with a cyberpunk style involving robots and virtual reality and the entire human race. Inception opts for a more real world approach of corporate espionage and dreams and a handful of characters. The same story, just told differently. Rom-coms are the masters of this.

Inception is actually very relevant to this post and the idea of inspiration as it's about literally implanting an idea into someone's head, that's the most interesting part of the film for me. As I said earlier, maybe Spirited Away really did inspire me to think of the image for Side by Side, but at the time I wasn't aware of that, therefore I thought it was an original image that just popped into my head. Can we control our inspirations or are they always subconcious? How many times are we subconciously influenced by external factors? From paintings to people to conversations etc. Many people claim to have a muse (myself included), a source of inspiration, but I always take that as meaning they inspire you to create, they don't actually give you the ideas of what you create.

This evening I had an idea for another short film that is very conciously inspired by a Pixar film, but maybe it was planted there by Leonardo DiCaprio. Who knows? Please feel free to post any thoughts or comments below. What inspires you?

I stumbled upon this great video that talks about inspiration/originality in a much more articulate and entertaining way.

12 February 2011


So as promised, here's some test footage from the AG-AF101. I'm loving my new lens, the Cimko MT 100-300mm, you can do some crazy focus pulls with it, like the one from a leaf to the moon at 2:25 in the below video, and it was only £25 from eBay. Really impressed with the results I'm getting with this camera so far, and full 1080p slo-mo amazes me every time I watch it. Excelsior!


Check out my latest camera that I'll be using for the majority of Fingercuff work. It's the Panasonic AG-AF101, a micro 4/3inch camcorder that's optimised for HD. Basically imagine if a DSLR and a standard video camera had sex, this is the weird looking love child that'd be born.
Panasonic AG-AF101 with Cimko MT 100-300mm
I've been using old school manual 35mm lenses for a while now (on a ridiculously heavy rig of a Sony Z1 with a Redrock lens adaptor) so I'm used to the shallow depth of field that everyone wants these days. I can't say I've ever been tempted to buy a Canon 5D Mark II or 7D, I know they're incredibly cheap and the sensors are huge but I think to make them properly usable as an everyday camera you really need to spend thousands more on shoulder rigs and monitors and separate audio records etc. For me the AF101 has everything I need as it's a proper video camera with XLR inputs, ND filters etc.

I think the shallow depth of field thing has gone so extreme that what people call the "film look" is actually more of a "DSLR look". Some of my favourite films have very little bokeh, for instance The Thing utilises deep focus. These days everyone seems to shoot everything at f/1.8 with crazy blur, so I think knowing when to use shallow focus is really important.

I'm planning on shooting my next short film on the AF101 around April/May so it'll have a good workout, but before that I'll be posting some test footage soon so keep your glazzies peeled. Viddy well droogs!


I'm attending The Production Show next week, not exactly sure which day yet but if you see a slightly confused person wandering around wearing a Fingercuff t-shirt then say hi. I'm friendly and don't bite...much.


For anyone that likes horror and motion graphics, here's a combination of the two. Monsters of Horror is a celebration of classic horror films from Universal Studios, which still rate as some of the best ever made in my opinion. Icons of Horror is a celebration of some modern directors and films that I enjoy. Note the lack of blood/gore in 'Monsters' and the excessive use of blood/gore in 'Icons'. Does that say something about modern filmmakers and audiences? I personally prefer a creepy and foreboding atmosphere to blood and guts but then one of my favourite horror films is Evil Dead, so who knows what I believe.

11 February 2011


Hello people of the internet, fellow bloggers, filmmakers, friends, weirdos and, well, everyone. This thing here that you've stumbled on (most likely from me spamming you with links on social media sites) is my first attempt at keeping a blog. I felt it was about time I started one because what the internet obviously needs is another self-obsessed geek thinking people are actually interested in what he has to say. I don't know how successful I'll be at updating it because I was never the kind of person to keep a diary, I always found that a weird thing to do. Anyway, I digress, this here blog will mainly be used to post filmmaking related antics I get up to, including my work on short films, music videos and any other video based shenanigans I partake in. It's going to be a rollercoaster ride kids...or something equally as metaphorical. My sisters gorgeous dog Poppy doesn't seem impressed so far though.