Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Misfits: Nathan Out, Rudy In...

So I've been getting back into the whole Misfits thing. Sure, it's a bit pointless, given that I've got about a thousand things to get done and shouldn't really be arguing on IMDB for any purpose, let alone a show that doesn't start up again for like, what? seven months?!

But despite that, there be news, in the shape of confirmation that Robert Sheehan will not be obligingly continuing the role of Nathan, the slightly wrong in the head idiot with a major compensatory complex. No, it would seem he's to make an exiting appearance on a web episode, and then he shall disappear to bigger and brighter things. Unless of course he carries on making terrible role choices and ends up like Caruso did; wishin he hadn't let his giant ego get in the way of level judgement, and instead waited to definitely be a huge film star before leaving the TV show that got him famous, before returning to TV with a slightly smaller and more door friendly ego. I'm not saying Sheehan is as meglomanical as Caruso was, and he's obviously far more talented that the ginger nut, but still... completely leaving a great show to go do the voice of a turtle that looks uncannily like a fish made famous by Pixar doesn't seem like moving on to greener pastures. He made Nathan great though, and we all love him for that.

image by

I have been finding it irresistable to start arguing with those out there who seem obsessed with the concept that Sheehan IS Misfits, and without him, the show is nothing, and will be now be nothing more than tarnished sloppy seconds. Most of these people don't seem to notice the fact that the character was written, that Sheehan had been working before the role of Nathan came along, and that he appeared to be no more spectacular in other things he had done than thousands of other actors in this country, or any other for that matter. And many of them seem completely incapable of accepting that the logical progression of that thought is that there are thousands of incredible actors out there who haven't had the chance to showcase their spectacular talents, but if given a role as well written as Nathan, they could become the new favourite comedic performer, the new Sheehan, so vibrant and delightful they will mourn even the concept of the loss of that character. Some of the characters that were even killed off in one episode I thought were great, could have been expanded on and had loads of potential, felt disappointed when so many died.

Which also obviously illustrates how quickly the Misfits team breathe life into characters in a short space of time, not just the reliably ridiculous Nathan.

Maybe the problem is that people have lost perspective on how much detail has been gained over the two seasons for the character compared with those only guest appearing. Maybe a lot of people compare Nathan to the other characters who've appeared for one episode and think, X must be crappier than Nathan / Sheehan because I've got all these examples in my head of why Nathan is great, but only like, one or two good scenes, one or two hilarious moments for X, that character didn't impress in the half hour he was on Misfits. Therefore thinking they fell madly in love with him and acting like he's such a massive star in such a unique way that it couldn't possibly be the writers and crew who also built the foundations of the character that he so beautifully brought to life in a matter of hours.

But of course it's easy to take the character that has been given all the funniest stuff to do and say for two seasons and say that its the actor who is better than all the other people with more normal continuing characters, and the other stand out one time characters. In fact, it's ironic that this argument is in place about Nathan, the talk of how he is irreplacable, always has been the heart of the show, no-one has ever mastered a character so amazingly and from the first episode blah blah blah - I remember the online arguments when the show first came out, amongst the fans out there who like me, ahem, obsess so much that they are willing to go on the internet and find other kindred spirits who also want to spend time just talking about it - for the first three episodes, at least half of the fresh devotees were actually arguing that Nathan is the weakest link! Mostly citing that he is unbearably annoying, a fucking cliche and creepily arrogant :p Plenty of fans actively hoped that he would be the character who got fazed out by the end of the series.

But there's only so much you can comment, argue, or berate other people in conversation about an actor no longer doing a role. Eventually you have to move on to discussing the future; then I started thinking I had to bring a new dimension to my obsession, so I returned to one of my transient hobbies - bigging up the underappreciated talents of Joseph Dempsie.

For a little background, I'm big on actors. I'm an actors' person. I've been told that my enthusiasm can be cringeworthy and stalkerish, to the point of alienating any chance of someone wanting to work on the project being discussed and instead wanting to drug me, fit a gps into my skull so they can check I'm no closer to them than 120 miles at any given time, so I control it. With people I want to remain friends with I try to temper it, try  not to come off too strong. With people I really admire, it can come off a little bit fangirl, but still a vast improvement on my natural disposition on the subject. Under the surface, it's a big deal for me. I LOVE good acting, I can spend hours talking about someone's performance, and then sure as you're born I will get the urge a couple of weeks later to spend hours talking about it some more. And that applies to thousands of people. If I like someone as a performer, it's not unusual for me to be able to reel off several films or tv shows where they only had a bit part, maybe only a funny expression or one well delivered bit of dialogue, something no other layman would remember unless said person had become a huge star and it had become popular for the average viewer to rewatch everything they had ever done. And when I was a kid, I had an uncanny ability to pick out, from normal TV shows, normal films, or even really bad films and tv, one person doing an average performance with terrible material and say they were going to be a huge star in the future. For years it looked like there was no pattern but by the time I'd hit my teens everyone I'd mentioned was famous. My mother's favourite win was Bill Pullman - I'd seen him in this terrible Bette Midler film, where he played an idiot lover being controlled in a heist. It was terrible, he was terrible, everything was terrible but I told my mother there was something about him people would take to if he got better roles, and a couple of years later he was playing the President of the United States. My favourite is probably Casey Affleck, from his tiny performance in his brother's breakout film. All my friends thought I was weird when I started following his career after he wanked with his brother's baseball glove, but I'm the one who got to do the 'In Yo Face!!!' dance.

I don't quite know why I'm so crazy about great acting. I guess on the one, more logical, hand, it's got to be the mix of two things. 1) the obviousness of how essential good acting is to a good production. It doesn't matter how much money you throw at a blockbuster film, if the acting is bad the audience won't be thinking anything other than how unbelievable the performances are, and equally no matter how cheap a production is if you have engaging content and actors able to make it involving and believable, you might not need anything else. And 2) I cannot act well, and I never will. I used to do improv groups and I was told I'm good, but they were mistaken - I'm good with ideas, not the execution. The full range of acting is hard, and anyone who says it isn't is either a fucking idiot or jealous that they think actors get too much praise for too little training and preparation. They are often people who, if you dare them to perform themselves and they agree but them embarrass themselves beyond all recognition, will still argue that there was mitigating circumstances and that if they had all the perks of an actor on set they would find it easy. Maybe it's partly because I'm a great liar, so I can glimpse the dividing line between performing intellectually and performing emotionally, and I admire anyone who can get across that line.

Of course I don't speak of the habit generally anymore; when you're a kid and you do something like that, it seems incredible, like an idiot savant move, but when you're an adult and you start talking about wanting to make movies some day, the writing side, the production side, it's like wanting a clap on the back cos you did the dishes - having that ability is no longer something outstanding but something essential, only comment if you're the best casting agent in the world, otherwise, treating as just another intrinsic part of the skillset you have to build and move on.

Still though, I have my favourites. When my favourites get all the recognition they deserve, I can keep it in check, just enjoy the show, bask in the sheer variety of stuff available to enjoy them in. When they don't though, that's a recipe for obsession.

Joe Dempsie for me is veering into that territory, and he's one of the few young British actors I've got on the list of favourites. Most are American, probably because so much more good American tv comes out and can be viewed all together in long series' in boxsets, containing many more characters and therefore actors to become fans of than in Britain. Either way, he's at the top of my favourites who are British and not migrated over to America for giant blockbusters after years in small parts. For the uninitiated, he played Chris on Skins for series 1 and 2. I only watched this stuff last year, primarily because it was being treated as a staple of quality British television, and I knew nothing about it. That might sound mental, but it's actually quite easy to get that way when you don't have a television yourself. Plus, I'd obviously gotten into Misfits and I knew Misfits was compared to Skins, thought I should look. Dempsie is why I bothered to get to the end of series 2. He had a massive following, he was much loved, and then... he didn't become the recognisable name of British performance he should have been. He got a couple of parts, but they didn't really require him to do much more than speak. He got some other parts that you can't even see now.

Point being, he should be a recognisable name in British performance. He just should, it didn't make any sense, I figured since I watched it so long after his stuff was aired and finished on the show, when I looked him up, he'd be busy. He's not. I see something in his performance, something that hints at so much more, but he not only hasn't been hired in the intervening years to take his skills to the next step, he hasn't been hired for much of anything at all.

So one of my sidelines is the mission to watch his career until he got where he deserves to be. I know, weird slightly stalkerish, probably revealing too much, but this is one of my excentricities I'm willing to put out there in the world, no matter how embarrassing. I'll even take it a step further - in my continuing big script (the one that is retardedly expansive for someone's hopefully first feature) the second male lead is written with him in mind. Dare I say, yes... I'm writing a role for him. Eeek, it's so wrong.

In the meantime though, I've suddenly realised I've just gone around several of the main sources of discussion re: Misfits and just promoted Dempsie for the role of Rudy. Not out of a belief the producers won't find a fantastic actor to play the part, but because my actor loyalty reared it's head and took over, and now I'm sitting here, wondering if it was strange and bad to do that or not. I imagine this is how it feels the minute you walk away from online poker after having a great time but realising you went all in with four times more than the limit you set for a reasonable game, as well as the promise of your sister's two month old baby.

Oh well, it's done now. I do feel a little stalkerish bigging up an actor I don't even know for a show that might have already cast the actor, but that'll pass.

Seriously though, I think he could rock the character, partly cos I read this description of the character online and even though it could have been another fangirls slightly satirical fantasy of the character, I really like the idea, I think it's so good I'll be genuinely disappointed if the character is totally different and they just made it up.

What I read was a press release style description of the character that he is really up, really positive, really funny and doesn't take no for an answer, but his power has polarised his personality and all aspects of negativity, depression, have split off into a dark doppleganger personality, he goes at him when he gets a blow to his ego and a temporary slump sets in.

While I was pondering all that, I thought I'd go check out some of my favourite clips, but most of them are off youtube, unless you go to 4od and watch entire episodes. Although there is still a clip from skins season 2 with one of my other favourite people Josie Long, where she tries to get Chris to swear less. Adorable. And I came across this, with not just dempsie but several other of my favourite actors doing some more publicity for the Robin Hood campaign building steam - also adorable:

And this is one of the adverts; obviously a great campaign to get involved in:

In completely other news, I've decided to start a second blog. As in me, Helen, not necessarily Ant. Reason being now this blog is listed on the fabulous LAMB (total YAY for that!) I figured it probably would be best to keep this one film, movie, soundtrack and other media related. The other blog will be more specifically for Transplant related stuff, and in tandem with that I'm plowing more time into renal related research and production on the transplant related documentary. So over on that one (when I build it, haven't started yet) it'll be about kidney experiences, networking and research for both the documentary and the script, meeting relevant people, the purpose of the documentary, other people's experiances, the odd bit of editorial on representation in the media, as well as uploading anything made for the documentary.

From now on, I'll only be mentioning all that renal shit on here if it's really media or production relevent : D

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Experiences with drugs...

A little list of some of my experiences with drugs... no, not the fun kind:

1) Drug reaction to metoclopomide (an anti nausea drug they give to kidney failure patients when your urea levels get so high that you are, um... being poisoned by your own urine, fun times). This is the cheapest and most convenient drug to prescribe, but I was in an extreme minority of patients who get a neurological reaction where my head tries to turn around and my jaw locks and clamps down with no attention paid to crushing my teeth or breaking my jaw. I couldn't open my mouth for a week after that. I was told that it's very rare and only happens to patients once; a second attack was a one in a million shot when the drug is stopped straight away - I got it three times, and the third time I was in surgery having a dialysis access line put into the big vein next to your groin. Probably my least favourite moment ever in life was my panicked squeal when I feel my head start to turn again, my neck and back twisting with it as the surgeon was about an inch away from slicing into my crotch. Thankfully diazapam works fast in a cannula and I don't remember much else.

2) Gas. Gas is interesting - was given a whole cannister despite not asking for it when paramedics came to get me four days before my third scheduled transplant date, because something had gone wrong and I'd gotten peritonitus. Again. I'd had peritonitus about four times before that but hadn't had much pain, but this time I was on preparatory immunosuppressants for the transplant and it hit me hard and fast and I felt like I was being beaten to death by invisible chavs. The funny thing about gas (and the paramedics even told me this, in these words, before giving it to me) is you still feel the pain but you don't feel anything else. I literally mean, for those of you who haven't had the pleasure, you suddenly feel like Descartes inital assessment of existence - you no longer feel any part of your body, but you know you are a mind and you feel the pain. You feel psychadelically like if it were not for your eyes showing you you still exist, if your eyes were closed, you are nothing more than a consciousness floating in the nothingness of space, but unfortunately with a dislocated friendship with a ball of pain in the periphery of your mind. And the lack of a connected body somehow paralyses your mind to such an extent you can't get your mind to care about the ball of pain, despite how real it is. I guess that's why the paramedics felt no problems telling me I would still feel the pain but not much else - it's sounds offputting but somehow when your in there, you don't take so seriously that it's your ball of pain, anymore than you would care about an embarrassing child acting naughty in the street. Either way I strongly advise anyone in the future - if anyone offers you a cannister of gas for whatever reason, if you accept Close Your Eyes - I didn't but I'm certain it makes the experience far more richly surreal.


And then 3) let's move on - today I decided it would be the best time to move a lot of the crap out of the little room, the room with no purpose, and leave behind some things I had to paint. The first and most important one being the metal filing cabinet. It's a tragic brown and light brown/sage/misery colour, and Ant's never liked it, and I want it to fit with other colour schemes in the flat. So he suggested spray painting it, which hadn't occurred to me, and I set about researching the best way to do this and all the requirements n shit. We decided to spray paint it black, partly because we've got componibilis and one is a lovely black so they would match, and partly because black goes with everything anyway, and I figured I could accent it with a range of mental colours and then spray paint over them if they get boring like touches of orange or electric blue.

Only somehow I managed to get all the wrong advise and I fucked it, and myself, up royally. I would feel embarrassed but given the affect the paint had on me, I'm not sure I can be considered in sound mind for most of this. Spray paint didn't terrify me like my head trying to do a 180, but it didn't make me feel surreally zen like gas did, here I just couldn't tell when things were in front of me on the floor, got a massive headache and my eyes stung like a bastard.


So the process: I left only big items in the room, I covered most of the floor, primarily dead centre, with an old and massive duvet cover we don't use and aren't likely to find a duvet that fits for again. I opened all the windows, masked up, locked the cat out of the room and set to work.

And then discovered spray painting consistency is hard to get right with a minute's worth of practice. I have drips on the back n side. And it takes a whole can to do less than half of a filing cabinet. And there's a fucking shiteload of overspray with these things. And that's just the overspray you see coming back into your face. And goggles should be listed as essential. And having windows open does shit. And even five minutes of spraying makes you feel very weird.

So moved on to my second project, hand painting a coat stand in Habitat style purple, which was easy cos it's left over from painting the living room purple. Not for keeping, there's enough purple in the house. For selling; I want to see if the faux trendy Habitat fetishists will pay more than it's worth for it.

This went absolutely fine despite not priming the wood, so on that front I was given too cautious advise re: painting. Satisfied with my first coat I went to do some other stuff, popped in the bathroom to wash my hands and discovered under my mask that my entire nose was full of spray paint.


BOLLOX BOLLOX BOLLOX! I hadn't noticed the effect cos I already had a cold so feeling bunged up didn't seem strange. Thus ensued much tiresome protocol of checking with the hospital, danger of death signs blah blah blah blah blah blah. All very annoying, but most likely safe. Mostly consisting of me not going near it, staying out in the open in completely ventilated spaces (this ended up being the pub; we figured near the door counts), drinking a lot of water, breathing through mouth, paying attention to whether I start feeling like I can't breathe, or get pain, or my skins starts to feel wierd.

So I tried to stop feeling odd, had a long shower, got dressed, and then Ant noticed something I had not seen at all.


It's grey now, with a almost perfect square of cream in the centre of the room! I are idiot.

To be fair, Ant says he probably would have done exactly the same thing as me, but to be fair again, he's probably just saying that because I felt sick and embarrassed and annoyed. Although to be fair to me, when I sprayed the natural light was very changable and it was hard to see the proper colour of anything when one minute glaring sunlight is blinding you through one window and the next it's overcast. Honest to god though, out of the 12 articles I read online and two assistants I spoke to in the paint shop no one said that the invisible levels of overspray are so extreme that if you spray in the house you better cover every inch of the floor or you can kiss it's natural colour goodbye :(  Surely someone should have known!


Either way, I'm not going near that again, I'm sticking with normal painting >: [ Ant says he'll drag it to the back garden and finish it himself in the next few days, which is very kind of him really, given that he should be harbouring some serious resentment about the carpet and he's fucking busy. He says he doesn't care about the carpet but it's still nice. Either way it doesn't look good that the first day in weeks that I try to get back to the productivity, sticking to schedule thing, instead the living room is so full of stuff from the other room it looks like an explosion in a stationary factory, the little room can't be used and is kept shut, and I've been sloping around acting like I've not just been sniffing glue but eating it, bathing in it and moisturising with it. Spray paint might feel a little groovy (other than the massive headache) but it doesn't help productivity. Good thing tomorrow Ant has his heart set on going to the Odeon for free icecream and stupid movies, means I can stay out of the house.

(pics added by Ant)

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Film projectionists vs hard drives...

How many times do you find yourself in the cinema these days and there's something wrong with the projection, or the sound? For me n Ant it's about once a fortnight. And yes, we tend to go find someone and tell them it's wrong. My favourite is when some part of the audio blows out the rest of the audio and you can only tell because you've already seen the film. The staff looked at me very suspiciously at Cineworld last year when I explained to them that there was supposed to be a very famous song playing during a fight scene over the clashing, bashing noises until I told them I'd seen the film before. Other than that though there seemed to be a mountain of problems especially ratio issues. Not sure whether this was in digital rooms running on autopilot style, or normal projection rooms where idiots were running them because all the proper projectionists had fucked off or been fired. Either way this article comments on it, though doesn't seem to have paid much attention to the increase in errors by cinema chains in the past and this year.

Film projectionists are losing their jobs and being replaced by hard drives

Good thing or bad thing? I can't decide... Well, actually I can - completely getting rid of all non digital screens doesn't sound like that good an idea to me, what with so many old films not being updated to even dvd. I don't like the idea of eventually finding a bunch of old films somewhere in the world in the future and nobody knows how to play them or where the hell they would because the last normal projector was dismantled ten years ago. You know it's gonna happen... On the one hand this could be great for huge, and I mean HUGE, film festivals and outdoor festivals of all kinds, where showing dozens of films at the same time for a large audience made up of many niche groups who usually wouldn't congregate together due to their disperate visual tastes, could be managed with a revolutionary level of mobility and flexible design. Other than that though, I still pine for the old fashioned cinemas. Those giant, two screening behemoths. In Cardiff we had a beautiful one with a grand staircase running in the middle of the wide walkway so you could get up to the second screening room entrance, or split around the stair to get to screen 1. The rooms were those canyons, steep enough that some idiots head was never silhoetted against the screen ruining your view, massive screen, booming audio flooding around you, no stupid blue lights on the gangway disqualifying the point of sitting in a darkened room, and if you sat up in the heavens in an unpopular film you could get away with a bit of the nasty as long as no one was sat in the 8 rows in front of you.

I have fond memories of those rooms. And not just because of that last point; very loudly eating popcorn and other munch to ruin the solemnity of the Passion of the Christ with my best friend. First time I saw Fight Club before anyone else had heard of it. Every Saturday on my own when I was in high school, watching any and everything to take the edge off. I loved those rooms, the brilliant acoustics, the total anonymity of being one amongst so many, the ability to be completely submerged in you sat right in the middle, not just of the aisle but stratregically the whole room. The concession stand being so small they never expected people to not bring their own stuff. Sweeping past the one ticket seller down the hall with no one looking at you amongst the hundreds of other people going in.

Then they made it into a HMV. One which I resentfully exploited by constantly returning music I'd 'enjoyed' at home and getting my money back. My favourite and most reliable and trusted reason was 'ah, well see, it was for me best friend's birthday but her bloke got it for her as well and 'course, she don't wanna tell 'im... you know'. You'd think it'd get old quick but that one works every time. And I remained so resentful I did that on average once a week for five years.

Anyway. I want one of those cinemas back. If I ever got into a position where I didn't mind and could afford plowing money into something that might not pay off, I'd totally build one again. Fuck it, I'd probably buy a mansion and turn all but four rooms into animal sanctuaries and one massive cinema, complete with vertigo inducing steepness and an unneccessary but gorgeous giant staircase.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Autopilot - Bollocks to film school

Hello, my name's Ant Carpendale. I’ve been dragging my heels over posting my own blah here, as I’m far more comfortable making films than verbally or textually dissecting them... but figured I might as well post up one of my earliest film efforts – Autopilot – 10 years after it was finished, and fill in a little of the back-story behind what was my own cheap-arse crash-course in filmmaking...

In 1998-99, while unemployed, I cobbled together my very first film - a silly 16mm stoner comedy short called Dole Scum, funded by the Prince’s Trust. It was based on an underground comic strip by the great Nigel Auchterlounie, and included music by Warp Records people, but the P.T. hated the end result, insinuating that I’d cheated them out of funding by pitching it as a worthwhile piece of social commentary when it clearly wasn’t.



Dole Scum didn’t exactly blow everyone’s skirts up, but I made it without a crew (armed with Robert Rodriguez’ inspiring Rebel without a Crew as my bible), on a 16mm clockwork Bolex camera that I had no idea how to use properly, and it amused the handful of non-PT people who saw it, so I decided to keep plugging away with film-making...

Tired of being skint, I got a job working the night shift for an evil firm of debt collectors and letter mailers (sorry, a ‘business process outsourcing company’), an outfit which gets paid lots of money to do inept things like *this*
To pass the time there and keep myself sane, I had a crack at writing something surreal, ambitious, and dark – something that might convey the dehumanising tedium of the business process outsourcing workplace, a film that would focus on a pompous arsehole protagonist (based on several of my superiors at the time), as well as something that would make good location use of the scuzzy concrete shit-tip that is Northampton.

Welcome To Northampton

A lot of the script material (such as it is, the plot’s a bit threadbare) came about while exploring the nether regions of Northampton on my own, taking pics of its mugger-friendly backstreets, smashed up cars, and abandoned workshops, while listening to electronica music by some very talented people from an online collective that I’d joined, called TEFOSAV (The Electronic Foundation Of Sound And Vision). I decided that this music (along with some specially composed material by the awesome Elleinad and Precenphix) would make a superb soundtrack, and that I’d build a film around the tracks I chose and the creepy locations I wandered around...



WF Walkway Main 2

I figured it’d be very cheap and easy to have my paranoid yuppie-wannabe character – Alex DeMello - being chased around these locations by psychopaths working for his company superiors, to silence him from telling the world about some dodgy pictures he found in a folder stuffed behind a boardroom cabinet. This was a time when CCTV was becoming more prominent, so to ramp up the character’s paranoia and hysteria I included lots of references to hidden cameras, bugs, and malevolent watchers. He’s also a character who takes a lot of drugs and loses track of what’s real and what isn’t, which meant I could shoehorn in some random Lynchian weirdness.


It didn’t take long before I’d hammered out a draft I thought was filmable, so I cobbled together a few hundred quid, borrowed an office for auditions, and pulled together a largely inexperienced but enthusiastic cast and crew who responded to an impressive-sounding ad I posted on Shooting People, along with Damian, a fellow minion / cog from my office job.
Alex Demello was to be played by Seth Hardwick, a very pleasant and hard-working Brummie, who also kindly offered the use of his Sony PD100 for us to shoot the film on. Just before the main Autopilot shoot, we got permission to run amok in a C&A that was soon to close, where we made a daft little test film called ‘Shirtlifter’ – based on a small press comic strip by the amazing Ralph Kidson. Here it is, in all its glory...

With locations picked, action scenes storyboarded, and over-ambitious script downsized, we ran around shooting Autopilot over 6-7 weekends in Northampton, and then extra bits in Birmingham. We hit some snags, such as getting kicked out of a house because a bored, snitchy student told the landlord that we were trashing the place (we hadn’t), and being threatened by gypsies after they thought we were attacking their kids (who were watching our violent action sequence based around some car wrecks – cars that their dads had perhaps smashed up).

N&E storyboard1


Apart from my piss-poor organisational skills and general inexperience hampering certain elements, things went pretty well. We shot a surprising amount of action-orientated stuff without anyone being killed or maimed, including chucking Damian into a reservoir with his hands tied, and filming Seth falling backwards off a car park roof.
I learned tons in the process - this was my film school. I’d learned fuck all on my BTEC Media course, and had no other training besides an ineffectual 2-day 16mm course at Panico, so was pleased that just getting out there and making my own movie had probably taught me more than any boring and expensive film school could.

wrecker doodles


I do regret not making things more pleasant for the hard-working cast and crew. Jimmy and Willy went the extra mile as car-wrecking psychos, Beki did a great job on make-up and set design (and co-produced some of my best shorts after that), and John the sound man was a sound man. As is often the way, I had very little money and couldn’t pay or feed them anything besides pizza and crisps. I was a bit surly at times, and almost purposefully disorganised. But I guess as film-making environments go, it wasn’t as bad as a short film I’d helped out on previously, in which the poncy director sat around on the front of a jeep wearing a bandana and got us to chase sheep around a field on the hottest day of the year without supplying any water. (I got sunstroke and quit the production).

The Autopilot edit was a long slog which took place over a year, on and off. I had no editing skills at that point, so brought in two very patient and hard-working people (Eddie Haselden and Anthony Bennett) to cut the 60-minute piece. The edit was built around the soundtrack, an experiment which didn’t really work as the resulting film is overlong and meandering for what is essentially a simple chase flick. There are some nice audio-visual sequences in there (buried amongst some self-indulgent wankery and clunky dialogue) and it has an effective ending. It’s also worth a watch for the TEFOSAV soundtrack and the commitment of Seth and his co-star Mr Buttons.


Also, if you like car parks and underpasses then you might pee your pants with excitement, as there’s plenty of those.

WF Tunnel 2

The finished film didn’t really screen anywhere besides Hoxton Hall in Hackney - a packed out showing, but the audience left looking perplexed and annoyed. Then in 2003 it screened at SciencePlusFiction Festival in Trieste, Italy, to an empty cinema - apart from a bickering Italian couple who wandered in halfway through, then left again a few minutes later. I did my first ever nervy Q&A with some other filmmakers in front of Alan Jones and Kim Newman, to whom I said I was going to try and get the budget back on a fruit machine win.

trieste - cinema titles1

Ant C Trieste 2

I felt a bit despondent that audiences hadn't taken to Autopilot and recognised my obvious genius. Did they just not get it? Did the film not blow their feeble minds? I deduced that it might take a while for the film to gain its inevitable cult following and be hailed as something or other. Years later, after I'd made more films, I came to the conclusion that audiences don't like to be bored or confused, and perhaps my film had done both.


So anyways, it’s been 10 years since I made it, I figured I’d finally throw it online for posterity, and it serves as a reminder to me that I’ve not made anything substantial in aeons, so I WILL make a proper feature film this year. Something where the audience hopefully won’t leave the cinema feeling perplexed and annoyed..
Many thanks to everyone who supported me on this and following efforts. :)

Achieve synergy. Here’s Autopilot >

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