Katie Mccullough Talks and Writes

Words will get written here and some videoblogs will appear. You don't have to look but it would be nice if you did.

48 Hour Film Challenge… London! September 23, 2012

I was kindly asked by new collaborator theatre director Ahmed El Alfy to be his designated scriptwriter for the 48 Hour Film Challenge in London. And of course I took him up on the offer. All the actors involved were Mountview graduates and from a theatre background, some had even graduated that same day. We met at Alfy’s flat.
 

 
FRIDAY 9:30pm – We’d been given the following elements to complete for our entry:
 
GENRE – Drama
PROP – Cream
LINE – “Let me tell you a secret”
CHARACTER – Charlie Cipriani (a minor celebrity)
 
Faced with 6 actors we then set about meandering our way to a story. I got everyone to take a few moments and think of something that had happened to them that day which they considered a drama, no matter how large or small they were. This opened up discussion from each story and then it was rapidly approaching midnight.
 
SATURDAY 12:00am – Straight into an improvised ensemble scene. I wrote down an intention for each actor to have in their pocket that only they would know and got them to interact in small groups. It was interesting to watch (I only knew one of the actors) and to grasp people’s abilities and strengths. I sat at the sidelines and scribbled anything that caught my eye and ear.
 
1:30am – We sent the actors home to return at 7am. Then it was up to me. The more I thought about it the more I realised I didn’t actually have that long. With such an early call time for the actors I needed to get a move on and fast. I definitely decided that it would be a collection of vignettes rather than a standard narrative. With 6 actors to juggle I wanted everyone to have a balanced story and I was never going to get that with everyone and keep it under 7 minutes.
 
2:30am – I sketched down ideas. I listened to Spiritualized (Let It Come Down). I listened to Nick Cave (Abattoir Blues). I listened to PJ Harvey (Is This Desire?). I didn’t know the password to the Internet connection at that point which was probably for the best. I had grasped a rough template of what I wanted to achieve and I nudged Alfy who was tweaking his first short film next to me. We discussed it and he asked me questions about the moments I had chosen to explore. Then I went back and fleshed out the story. The sky is an odd colour.
 
5:30am – Sitting at the computer I tapped, typed, took my time but ended up finishing a script. I woke Alfy from his slumber and we were both happy with the end product. I tentatively point out that I’ve written two exterior scenes, I ask what the weather’s going to be like later today.
 

 
7:00am – People start arriving and trickling into the living room. I’ve still not slept but don’t feel tired. I’d gone to bed late Thursday night and slept in till Friday lunchtime to conquer this.
 
7:40am – First read through of the script. It was a real treat seeing people notice some of the moments and dialogue they’d crafted from the improvisation seep into the script. Everyone seems happy with what we’re going to be working with.
 
8:30am – Actors are tasked with being off book asap. Most of them, if not all, do this within half an hour.
 
9:00am – Some folks have the brilliant idea of cooking sausages and fried eggs with bread rolls en masse. We are beginning to not be so concerned about the mammoth task ahead. Eggs and sausages make everything alright. This fuels us to chat more about individual scenes and character motivations and collectively scout for locations. I’ve written one pub scene, one park scene and one street scene. People soon realise they will be multitasking throughout the shoot.
 
10:45am – We arrive at the pub where scene two (and a small scene three) are set. The landlady’s been nice enough to let us in before the pub opens for business and this is through one of the actors who works there (and is also in this scene).
 

 
12:15pm – The pub opens for the general public and there’s football on. The locals are inquisitive and accommodating and surprise us all. They creep around like mice and watch the actors work. This amuses me greatly and I smile knowing there are nice folks. Things are taking time because the pub is next to a main road which meant lots of excess noise. We sit outside in the sun. It is sunny, my interior monologue high fives Ra.
 
3:15pm – Second location for us to find – a park with a free bench. We stroll to one near the pub… Which is small and filled with children. We walk to the other one close by and find a football match happening and a free bench just past them. We walk. Someone asks about the props for this scene… No one’s bought them. Off someone goes to the shop. People are beginning to feel more tired. I’m surprisingly awake still. I wasn’t even going to stick around the filming but I’m glad I did. We start shooting scene four, the last scene of the film.
 

 
4:00pm – One elderly jogger runs around us several times making sure to avoid the camera. Another younger jogger runs straight through shot each time on every lap. He does stupid arm exercises each time he gets to our patch. I laugh as I say that Alfy and Jack look like French auteurs as they smoke whilst working – they clamp the cigarettes between their teeth.
 
4:45pm – The squirty cream used as a prop has no squirt left in it. The strawberries look mushed to fuck. I buy Red Bull for myself and Alfy.
 
5:30pm – We head off to the last location to film the opening scene for the film. A dodgy street to film a mugging where in real life it’s known as a mugging hotspot. Great, authenticity. At one point we have to wait for two policemen to walk past before rolling.
 

 
6:30pm – It’s cold and I wish I had a coat. Still not slept, but still not feeling the need to. Everyone is so lovely and there’s no tension at all. One actor has to ‘mug’ the other actor many times and be shot from different angles each time. The last take he stacks it and falls to the ground, rolls it out and pegs it down the street as planned. The scene carries on and he jogs back. We don’t shoot that segment anymore (we don’t need to.)
 

 
7:00pm – It’s a wrap. We head back to one of the actor’s for well earned cups of tea and congratulate ourselves for the hardwork. Alfy looks like death and it’s only then that I feel my body stiffening with something that can only be described as reluctance to move.
 
9:30pm – I’m still at Alfy’s because I can’t be bothered to make the trek home. My gait has slowed and my eyes look like I’ve been crying for days. Still not slept.
 
10:00pm – I leave Alfy and Jack to start the long process of logging everything and syncing sound to start the mammoth intense session of editing. I’m on a bus heading to St. Pancras and sleep and nonsense are beginning to invade my limbs.
 
10:20pm – I stand at the ticket machine for a good 5 minutes before realising I was trying to buy a ticket to St. Pancras and the reason that wasn’t happening was because I was standing in St. Pancras. I buy a single journey ticket for St. Albans.
 
11:00pm – Dad comes to collect me from the station. I warn him that if he keeps the car this hot that I will fall asleep.
 
SUNDAY 12:01am – I’m emailing Alfy and Jack (producer) some music to be considered for the film and clambering into bed. I’m finally tired.
 
We then get word Sunday afternoon that there’s been technical difficulties. We won’t be able to hand in a version of the film to be considered for the competition because there’s no time to amend and edit before the cut off time. No one is angry, we’re all respectful of the hardwork we’ve all put in and are still excited by what we created. We’re all happy to have been involved in something great in a short amount of time and even though it won’t be part of the competition, we made a film and had a brilliant time doing it. A film is still a film and once it’s done and ready for folks to see, you’ll see it. I loved every second, shot, film roll, sound roll, and sleepless hour I got. 36 hours with no sleep and a bunch of new friends and a film. That’s not bad going considering we were all doing it for the experience… I think we’ll have to credit the sausages and the eggs. 

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Let The Voting Commence! November 27, 2009

Hallo everyone, my you look super nice today…

That’s right, I’m after something. As some of you will know I took part in the 48 Hour Film Challenge over in Jersey a few months back. Now the time has come to call in backup and get people voting for the film so we can win jubilation and slap each other on the back (oh, and win some cash as well which is always nice). The setup is teams arrived in the same place on the same day, picked a title and genre from a hat at random… and then had 48hrs in which to write, shoot, edit and finalise a short film. We picked ‘crime’ and ‘Morning Mist’.

ACTION!

ACTION!

So after a little lag of delay all the films created on the Vauxhall 48 Hour Film Challenge have been put up for the mercy of viewers to vote. And this is where you come in, yes you. I’m looking at you, you’re looking at me. We’ve got this eye contact thing nailed.

All the films are over here: (click here and vote for ‘Morning Mist’)

What a bunch of filmmakers...

What a bunch of filmmakers...

And all the films are great but this is where I have to draw the line in this so-called free-loving atmosphere. I want you to vote for my film because I’m proud of it and hey, we made it in 48 hours. This is where you tell me that the others were too, seeing as it’s called the 48 Hour Film Challenge, but ignore that. Eyes on me, go click on the ol’ 5 stars bit on ‘Morning Mist’. And I’m sorry if you’ve already heard this spiel on Facebook or Twitter. It just means I love you a little bit more than the rest, just a little mind you. People talk.

I will love you all that little bit more than is allowed.

Thank you, love you, I’m afraid I can’t do that I’m not allowed anymore.

Much love,

Kx.

p.s. I forgot to mention you do have to join which only takes a few seconds but once you’re on there you can download short films for pittance and what’s more you can download them, burn them and keep them all for yourself. You do not have to pay to join. Good? Great.

p.p.s. Plus all the films will be screened as part of the London Short Film Festival (y’know, the projector with teeth?) at the Roxy in London Bridge area. If you’re around that time and want to see some films and the people behind it… why not come along. I’ll be there, hope that doesn’t dissuade you.

 

Branchage Part Three October 30, 2009

This is the bit where I blog about the film I helped make. We picked CRIME and MORNING MIST and then we made a little film. To be honest the whole process wasn’t as hectic as I thought it would be. Maybe it’s because we took an overly sensible approach and sat down for a long time to plan what our plot would be but to be critical about it, we were still crafting the story as we were shooting. I think it went through two note-form drafts, seven verbal drafts and ended up with the actors thinking one thing, the director another and the scriptwriter wondering where communication had broken down. But the result is something I’m proud of, extremely proud of. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post I’ve skirted around short film and got my hands dirty writing them and promoting them but have never actually made any. And it seems to have opened another door for me. I know they make no money but they’re a showcase for all involved and a collaborative effort which can be a springboard for something greater. And it’s from my time in Jersey where I’ve made strong contacts and have several ideas in pipelines and more ideas brewing. But here I am blathering. Rather than talk you through the different photographs I’m going to smother this page with them. So enjoy…

 

Branchage – Sub Section iii October 29, 2009

As promised here is the next section of behind the scenes. This time it’s the turn of the Blaine Brothers who picked WAR and VALLEY OF HOPE. Armed with their actresses Jessica Forteskew (who was there for an extremely brief time) and Rebecca Haigh as well as a turn from Rubin playing a Nazi… they embarked on this:

Brainstorming

Brainstorming

More smiley brainstorming

More smiley brainstorming

Yet MORE brainstorming

Yet MORE brainstorming

brainstorming issues

brainstorming issues

brainstorming has imploded the brain

brainstorming has imploded the brain

They start!

They start!

A nazi and a Lady

A nazi and a Lady

Two Ladies and a German

Two Ladies and a German

A quaint picnic

A quaint picnic

Alex Mayover - The Sound Man

Alex Mayover - The Sound Man

hallo Chris, hallo German

hallo Chris, hallo German

ladies who lunch

ladies who lunch

beachy beach

beachy beach

beachy beach part two

beachy beach part two

Rebecca looking lush

Rebecca looking lush

Their work here is done.

Their work here is done.

 

Branchage – Sub Section ii October 24, 2009

I’m here again to share the delights of Alex Jacob and Sean Mackay’s film DASHES OF YELLOW under the genre FANTASY. Look on and marvel at the vivid colour and ethereal feel they achieve. Lovely people and a Lovely film…

It begins at the beginning...

It begins at the beginning...

aMAIZEing

aMAIZEing

Nathalie roams free.

Nathalie roams free.

Hallo Nathalie.

Hallo Nathalie.

His name is Sean and my what a Lovely camera.

His name is Sean and my what a Lovely camera.

Mister J and Rachel

Mister J and Rachel

They walked around with dashes of yellow

They walked around with dashes of yellow

Late night/early morning/goodness knows when editing

Late night/early morning/goodness knows when editing

Time to let the ol'hair down.

Time to let the ol'hair down.


The last day when we all went home in a daze

The last day when we all went home in a daze

So there you have it, the next installment of the 48hr Film Challenge. Their whole group were so incredibly vibrant considering there were so few of them and most of the time we ended up in the tent chatting till breakfast time. All of them had a fantastic family-like bond and you were always guaranteed a hug no matter how stressy/how late/how early (please delete as applicable) things got. Lovely.

 

Branchage – Sub Section i October 22, 2009

I have been parry to some of the other group’s behind the scene photographs so thought it only best and super that I share. First up we have the rather delectable Michael Pearce and Emma Rozanski and their film OCCUPIED and their genre COMEDY.

I jest, they both start the challenge.

I jest, they both start the challenge.

I'll take a picture of you taking a picture of me taking a picture...

I'll take a picture of you taking a picture of me taking a picture...

Strolling some more.

Strolling some more.

Running.

Running.

KICK HIM!

KICK HIM!

They're the Boss.

They're the Boss.

More running, less clothes.

More running, less clothes.

They don't tell you that in the brochure.

They don't tell you that in the brochure.

Bet it was cold.

Bet it was cold.

And that’s your lot. Thank you for Emma to passing them onto me so I could share. Emma’s latest visually stunning film can be seen here and Michael is forever elusive so here’s a round up of the man himself over here.

 

Branchage – Part Two October 20, 2009

I left you just after I was molested in a tent by a boom. That’s a sentence I’ve always wanted to write.

Chris did not molest me with this.

Chris did not molest me with this.

Soon after that people were beginning to arrive throughout the later day and night and it soon culminated in us all having dinner at a thai restaurant that led straight into the sea. That makes it sound dramatic, I know. Again I’ve pilfered some photos from Ben’s blog but what are photographs for eh? To look at and share the celluloid love. So here be they:

He gone went n'won ten grand last year for 'is film.

He gone went n'won ten grand last year for 'is film.

Lovelies! (Rebecca Haigh and Sean MacKay)

Lovelies! (Rebecca Haigh and Sean McKay)

Gaëlle Denis, a candle and my competition car.

Gaëlle Denis, a candle and my competition car.

Then it was all parties back to the campsite where we chatted, laughed, introduced, re-introduced and made a french lady very angry. We realised this as soon as she started shouting at us in her nightie about “there are people trying to sleep, but as long as you have a good time it’s fine isn’t it, go to sleep, this is unfair on the other peoples…”.

We went to bed.

And then the day arrived when we received the specific information we needed. We were the last team to arrive (late) because parking in Jersey is very much in demand and finding a space on a Thursday morning was proving troublesome. But we managed it and Phil came to the rescue when we were lost walking around trying to find Société Jersiaise building. We found it and then it was the large matter in hand of picking the titles and the genres… again I pilfer Ben’s photographs for what happened next.

Team Alex

Team Alex

Alex picked the genre FANTASY and the title DASHES OF YELLOW. The next 48hrs were to prove a severe mission from him but he came out with a beautiful nugget of a film and I mean, c’mon, fantasy is not the easiest of genres to whip something up in 48hrs. He is a good man and his team had a wonderful family feel to it. Both he and Sean drove around Jersey and made use of the Amaize-ing Maze (it’s a maze made out of maize) and even got their actresses naked in the sea. Nice one I say boys!

Michael Pearce and Emma Rozanski

Michael Pearce and Emma Rozanski

These two Lovely people had never met before and picked COMEDY and the title OCCUPIED. Armed with only one actor, a digital stills camera and editing via an iPod these two would make a brilliant funny film and hand it in 3 hours before the deadline.

Team Rob Morgan and Marcus Waterloo (only Marcus featured in photo!)

Team Rob Morgan and Marcus Waterloo (only Marcus featured in photo!)

These two picked WESTERN and the title OVER TAKEN. What they came out with was not necessarily a western as such (although I’d say that they make coy reference to the grainy visuals of a western) but it’s a wicked little film that made me laugh from all the wrong places of my belly. I loved it and even though it’s a lot strange it’s weirdly sincere. And they filmed a section with an iPhone in a sandwich bag in the swimming pool on the campsite.

Team Blaine

Team Blaine

Then we had the Blaines who picked WAR and TRUTH IN THE VALLEY. Armed with two actresses, a sound man and themselves (as well as making use of the extra actors who had stepped forward if needs be) they set about making their 6min film. I really like the fluid nature of their film, you’re dropped in the middle of a conversation and it leaves something hanging that makes you ponder on what could possibly happen or be said next… and I adore one of their long shots with superb acting by Jessica Forteskew.

And on to our team… Gaëlle Denis, Steve Hope-Wynne, Lydia Outhwaite, Marina Brackenbury and myself. We picked CRIME and our title was MORNING MIST. So in 48hrs we had to write, shoot, edit and finalise a 6min film with this title and genre (as well as making it a road movie… we kinda forgot about that) and make reference to a Jersey cow at some point. The planning commenced…

We brainstorm, thought-shower, abuse words .etc.

We brainstorm, thought-shower, abuse words .etc.