What we’ve been doing with the past few months

Looks like I haven’t been keeping this very updated, so it’s about time I let everyone know what we’ve been up to lately.

When we finally finished You Only Let Die Anyone Who Loved Me Forever, we had to make a decsion about what we were going to do next. The Watcher and the Watched is still something we really want to carry on doing one day, as we think the idea has a lot of potential. However it is really dependent on getting the right space for the piece – we can’t construct a set, but need to find a perfect venue for both rehearsal and performance purposes, and we have yet to find this elusive place which can cure our creativity blocks and give us the momentum to play with the idea. So we’re putting the piece in a box for the time being, though with every intention of coming back to it in the future.

So instead we decided to start on an entirely new project, with a brand new idea. Now one of the hardest stages of any process is coming up with that initial concept – there was nothing we were trying to inspire from, we had to choose from pretty much every idea we could think of, which takes a lot of narrowing down to say the least. As we branstormed through various concepts, some ended up being explored in more depth than others. One idea we liked, one born of Laura’s and Charlotte’s experiences as teaching assistants, was what it was like being 12 – the ridiculousness of that age, the things that seem important then, and so on. This sort of expanded into contrasting ourselves now to ourselves at various other ages, and we ended up writing little individual bits and podding out some small performances to play around with the concept a little more.

In the end however we decided to go down one of our favourite routes – adapting from a pre-existing text. We’ve never had much strength in writing a good script from scratch, but have alwys had much better results when we have some original work to start from. Sometimes we’ve been pretty faithful to the original, such as in A Christmas Carol, but this time we wanted to use a piece as more of an inspiration from which we can go down a really interesting artistic direction. We talked about variuys texts, mythologies and stories and eventually settled on one. In fact, we’ve been working on it for a little while, but I’ll give you the details in another blog shortly. Suffice to say, we are very keen on it….

 

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You Only Let Die Anyone Who Loved Me Forever

 

And so the moment is finally here

After much writing, filming, improving, recording, editing and re-editing we have finally finished with out brand new James Bond film -You Only Let Die Anyone Who Loved Me Forever.

We premiered it to friends a couple of weeks ago, but kept the focuing on promoting Edith’s Walk while the anniversary of the Exeter Blitz was still going on. But now we can present our amateur, low-budget, roping-in-friends version of a Bond movie. It may be ridiculous but we do feel it is an ‘accurate parody’

Enjoy

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Bond is almost there!

As a company we have a great fondness for letting a project takes as long as it needs to, presenting it only when it is finished. That being said it is always a bit embarrsing when a short project indended to take only a few weeks ends up taking 4 months!

It has been hugely enjoyable throughout, but it certainly is a slow process. Filming-wise this is mostly a secheduling issue, particularly when it comes to the precious-few daylight hours we have after everyone gets out of work. But the part that has really taken up our past few weeks is the editing process, and it does feel like we have spent an awful lot of time crowded in a room staring at a screen. Part of the delay is the fact that we to go through 2 editing stages. While Theo does have some very nice Sony Vega Pro editing software it isn’t compatible with the format the camera records on, so we therefore have to do an inital basic edit on Windows Movie Maker on all scenes, so it can then be rendered into a format that the better software can recognise.

The first stage of the editing is primarily about visuals, working out which take to use and putting it all together. One problem we would sometimes find outselves in is not having enough footage – because of a tendency to shoot only the moments and lines we already had in our heads, and therefore missing out the in-between parts, which would leave the scene with a rather choppy feel to it. This would lead to a list of re-shoots that had to be done, or chunks that needed to be found in stock footage when it was past our capabilities budget-wise. At the end of this we had the main body of the film, but far below presentable quality.

This is where the second stage comes in. With the Sony Vega software’s superior range of options we could add the necessary visual tricks, from simple subtitles to the effects-soaked opening titles. However the main task of this stage was to get the sound right, and while in some scenes this is only a matter of minutes in others it can take a lot of time and complex layering. Often it is a case of cleaning up background sounds of cars or rain, or using the dialogue from another take which sounded better, or perhaps even dubbing a few lines over. But to really give the film the right film you need the right sound effects and music. With the exception of a few Bond themes and our fantastic title song by Jack Davy, all of these these can be sound from our good friends freesound.org and freeplaymusic.com. It can be quite a fine balancing act getting the levels right between all those layers, and while we had most of the things we would need already noted down and sourced, we would still have to have a couple of people ready to hunt down some forgotten gun shot sound, and film, render and transfer it across as quickly as possible.

And so at the end of a tricky but fun process the film is almost ready for public viewing. It is currently chugging through the many hours of rendering but will be uploaded to youtube in the next few days, so watch this space!

 

 

The Exeter Blitz Project

Edith’s Walk: An Exeter Blitz Audio Tour. Follow Edith through the city centre as the ghosts of Exeter emerge from the rubble to tell their stories.

Amongst all the Bond fun, Charlotte and Laura have been working on their audio tour Edith’s Walk. The tour is part of the Exeter Blitz Project commemorating the bombing of Exeter 70 years ago this May.

We’ve had a really great time doing all the recording. Lots of voice actors coming in and out, performing in our make shift recording studio (Laura’s hallway and wardrobe), sustained with copious amounts of tea, bourbons and easter cakes. A massive thanks again to everyone who was involved. We are lucky to know such talented people, they have really brought our audio tour to life!

We are starting to edit the piece together now with the help of Dan Smith our sound engineer extraordinaire.

We have both really enjoyed working on this audio tour. We want the people of Exeter to walk through the city with a new perspective. For us, this project has uncovered a part of Exeter’s rich history. We now look at the high street in a very different way, realizing what was lost and why the city is now shaped as it is.

Over the next month we will be getting everything together ready for our first tours on May 7th. When the tour is ready you will be able to download it onto your mp3/ipod from here on the website. More information coming soon!

Bond 24

Filming is going very well on our new mini-project, a brand new Bond film.

We’ve spent a lot of time analysing the films, identifying the plot structures, character motives and shots that so define the movies that are a genre in themselves. And as such we think we’ve managed to write a quite accurate parody, albeit one with a smaller FX budget. Most of the elements, both the ones you expect and the ones you are only subconsciously familiar with seem to be in there, so we’ve therefore titled our definitive Bond film You Only Let Die Anyone Who Loved Me Forever, in recognition of its status as a mash-up of multiple movies.

We won’t reveal too much of the plot, but we will say that it involves a shady corporation, a masterful villain, a variety of sexy and semi-helpless women, a large number of dead goons and plenty of painfully-shoehorned-in puns. And the title of every Bond film is mentioned somewhere in there…

Of course this is real budget movie-making with no extras, a Ford Fiesta for a gadget-equiped car and Devon standing in for Russia, Spain and Switzerland. It’s also taught us a lot of lessons about the difficulties of filmaking: how to pull off efffects; the problems of co-ordinating lighting, sound and composition into one shot; the pacing of scenes – trying to work out when you must have something going on constantly and when you need to let the camera linger to establish a mood, and so on.

Most importantly though it’s a lot of fun and our lets just say our outtakes reel isgetting  pretty full allready…

The solution to creativity blocks

Well it has been a while since the last post and this is because, despite arriving fresh faced and bushy tailed into a new year, ready to get back into developing Watcher and the Watched, experiment with new styles and ask important artistic questions….we hit a complete block.

We could go over practicalities fine, discuss business card designs and rehearsal structures perfectly well but in terms of anything creative we had, well, nothing. Absolutely the worst thing to face when getting to a new phase in a project is a complete imagination drought.

So what can we do to get those creative juices flowing again? Games? Workshops?

Instead we remembered how coming exhausted out of Rogues and Wanderers we did a small, simple adaptation of an existing source that was both enjoyable and very allowing of creativity, namely A Christmas Carol. From this it was then very easy to flow straight into a more major project, The Bloodline.

Realising this was exactly what we needed we cast about for something to work off – a novel? A childhood story? A play? And then we realised we had a far better idea: James Bond. We would make our own Bond film.

Suffice to say we are just coming out of R+D and into storyboarding and we will give you more details in a few details when we have a script. A script that will of course be shaken.

Not stirred