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.

Firehouse Films – The Result! July 6, 2013

Here’s the resulting film from the Firehouse Film Creative inaugural film challenge I was invited to do. Six writers, six directors, one room. We’re all paired off after being picked at random from a hat and we’re all played the same stimulus. It’s a recording of a woman talking about how she remembers her grandmother being the life and soul of the party, a real chatterbox. But as age takes over she slowly begins to talk less and less, a former shadow of herself.



So there was our stimulus which we could take anyway we wanted. I was paired with director/producer-duo Dave Thomas and Nell Garfath-Cox who were living in Worthing when we started the project together. I’ve mentioned before how I like to have imposed restrictions as it gets the ideas flowing thick and fast, so this was no different. Although I’d never had to do something so restrictive over a prolonged period of time. A month. One month to write, shoot, edit and finalise a short film with no budget. I was worried that the initial adrenaline rush would drop once we were out of that room and as the days ticked over. But I knuckled down to the script and vomited something down as soon as I could so the momentum would tide us over. And collaboratively myself and Dave worked great together – we’d email the drafts with notes and work out where we both wanted to go, and it worked. People seem to avoid particular areas of collaboration because they feel exposed, or that they feel they have to bend to somebody else’s whim. That’s definitely not the case. You discuss points and open them up. You never have to take on every note, but you’ve got to have a good reason for going against it. And if you can articulate that reason well, then there’s nothing to worry about.
Anyways. Script done.
Then we had an issue with a location. I’d written the script for one location, but it was proving difficult. So much so that the script that was written so soon after our initial meeting… Was actually shot on the last weekend of the month. It was so close to not happening at all. But then the lovely Beatrice Curnew stepped in and saved the day by letting us take over her house (and cook a whole roast meal) for the short. Thank you Bea!
Here are some shots of the filming in action.








I thoroughly enjoyed watching Ingvild Deila, Ian Houghton, Dorothy Lawrence, Oliver Malam, Dave Thomas, Nell Garfath-Cox and Sarita Tam all work. I know that I’ve made some friends from this, and there’s more delights to come.


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. 


LSFF and YARN December 31, 2011



On the 11th of January YARN will screen films originally commissioned for the Letters Festival in Milan, interweaving them with new works inspired by the films across a range of mediums, including music, theatre and spoken word. The evening will feature work by filmmakers including Ruth Paxton, Helena Astbury, Kate Jessop, Michael Rittansberger, Alexander Taylor and Serena Corvaglia.

I’ve been asked to write a response to one of the films to be performed on the night as part of the London Short Film Festival. My film in question is called Vittorio Gassman by Alexander Taylor and my response is called, No One Writes (Them) Like That Anymore. More information about the event can be seen here.

(I’ll be honest, it’s one of the more surreal things I’ve written. It involves a re-enactment of The Lion King, bad handwriting, grotty B&Bs, sex noises and televisions that don’t work properly. Poppy Corbett is the director at the helm and I’ll blog about it later once rehearsals are underway.)


As you can see from the trailer above, it’s bound to be an interesting night and the festival itself is superb at highlighting the talents within the short film industry. Unfortunately I won’t be in attendance as it’s the private viewing of the Simone exhibition the same night, which I’m quite gutted about. It seems I’ve got busy once again… But go along and support the festival. These are two brilliant and unique groups of people who are extremely passionate about the work they share. If you can, go along to any of the other events that both YARN and LSFF organise. You’re bound to be in for a treat when you do. 

Wednesday 11th Jan

YARN presents… An Evening of Cinematic Soliloquies
Starts 7pm
£6 tickets, available in advance here




You may remember me talking about a collection of short documentaries/films that I’m going to be distributing soon called SOUTHBANK UNSEEN, a while back…

Well they’re all finished and have been treated to a sexy grade and will be having their World Premiere as part of the Mayor’s Thames Festival this coming weekend on the 10th and 11th of September. They’ll be projected on to the side of the Royal Festival Hall and to keep things interesting the projector will be bicycle powered.

“Cycle-In Cinema screens the world premiere of Deva Palmier’s Southbank Unseen, a series of four short documentary dramas that give us an alternative view of the South Bank through the eyes and ears of four extraordinarily gifted individuals: Carolyn Findlay, a clairvoyant; Peter Bleksley, a surveillance detective; John Hutchinson, a twelve-year-old on the high end of the autistic spectrum; and, in the fourth film, Prof. Geraint Rees, who will enlighten us on their three views from his own perspective as a neuroscientist.”


I’ll be going along on the Sunday to see the four mini documentaries being screened together. Make sure to bring along a wireless radio to tune into the sound. It’s going to be quite exciting seeing the finished product in front of an audience.


Click the flyer to see the details or click here.






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’.



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,


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…