Watcher Wrap!

Hello, Watchers.

I’m pleased to tell you that The Watcher Self is now complete! It’s been a long time coming, but that’s the nature of filmmaking on a micro budget when you have to scrimp and save.  It’s been a particularly long journey for me, starting as far back as 2005, and the last four years has been particularly intense since I started writing the script in January 2011.  Lots of changes, lots of evolution, and now we have a finished feature film!

Last month I screened the film to the cast and crew at the Ritzy Picturehouse and everyone seemed to have a jolly good time.  It was quite a nerve-racking experience for me because it was the first time I’d seen it on the big screen in a fully-finished form, so I was glad to have the cinema screen to myself the week beforehand.  This was essentially a technical run-through to make sure the DCP was working properly before the main screening. The projection team at the Ritzy Picturehouse asked me to supply a Quicktime file and kindly made a DCP as that is their preferred exhibition format.  Officially, the film’s exhibition format is Quicktime and Blu-ray as creating a “proper” DCP is time consuming and extremely expensive for a humble, penniless filmmaker such as myself!  I would like to thank Events Coordinator Becky and projectionist Karl for being so accommodating.  It is a great venue for a private screening.

I have already begun submitting to film festivals which is an enlightening and, at times, frustrating experience in itself.  Making life a bit easier is FilmFreeway, the new kid-on-the-block submission platform which I was lucky enough to stumble across.  It’s completely free to use, has a jolly nice and clean interface, and you can upload a secure screener as large as 10GB.  As it is relatively new, I’ve found a couple of niggles that still need ironing out and it doesn’t have as many festivals in its listings as that other platform we dare not mention, but I’m sure this will all change and improve as time moves on.  So far I’ve been able to get away without making any DVD screeners, and I’m going to see how far I get with my festival plan before I need any!  I would recommend that any filmmakers or festival programmers sign up to FilmFreeway as soon as possible.

It’s also something which can become very expensive, and I’ve found all the time and effort I put into devising The Watcher Self’s festival plan is starting to pay off.  There are literally thousands of festivals out there, and I’m finding out about festivals I was previously unaware of all the time, and it is all too easy to stray from the plan and lose direction.  Indeed, some of these festivals are suitable for The Watcher Self and I’ll drop them onto the list, but only after a great deal of investigative research and consideration.  Each one has to be assessed, previous years’ programmes reviewed, and, ultimately, a decision made based on the kind of films the festival screens and whether The Watcher Self falls into that general category.  How beneficial a particular festival will be to your film is the most critical consideration.  I’m sure there is a lot of pot luck, too, but I’ve tried my best to go with the festivals where I think we have the best chance possible of being accepted.  We shall see later on down the road whether my hunches were correct!

In the meantime, stay tuned to Facebook, Twitter and, of course, this blog where I will let you know about everything happening with the film – which I hope will include news of a public screening or two!

The Watcher Score

Hello, Watchers.

Well, we’re now in the latter stages of post-production and I’m pleased to say that The Watcher Self is nearly complete.

I’ll talk a bit more about what’s been going on — and what is currently happening — in a future post or two sometime soon, but I wanted to talk to you about music.

When I originally conceived the film — it seems such a long time ago! — I never intended it to have a score.  It was a much more ‘gritty’ down-to-earth story which evolved as time went on.  A new identity began to form and it soon became apparent that it was the kind of film that needed a very unique kind of sound. I didn’t want it to sound too ‘conventional’. Musical, yes — to an extent — but something complemented by a unique sound palette.

Enter Paul Sumpter at The Futz Butler.  Paul contacted me in response to my callout for a composer.  I was instantly attracted to his approach to creating music primarily through ‘found sound’.  I am a big fan of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop — some of the greatest pioneers of electronic music and musique concrète — and I think my intentions for the score are an extension of that.

We had a good old chat in Caffè Nero in St. Martin’s Lane about what I was looking for, how Paul intended to approach it, and how much music might be required.  Ultimately, the score turned into a much larger beast than we had originally thought, but the time and effort Paul has put into creating it has resulted in something that I personally think is outstanding.  You can hear a suite of highlights from the original soundtrack, specially created by Paul for our Soundcloud page:

I’ll now hand over to Paul and let him pick up the story of how the unique score for The Watcher Self was put together...

The Watcher Self: Delivering Our Latest Feature Film Score

Blazing the Trail

Hello, Watchers.

I’m pleased to show you the fantastic trailer for The Watcher Self today which has been constructed with a great deal of care and attention by the film’s editor, Alex Weeks. So, without further ado, have a look at it and then I’ll talk to you a bit more about what went into making it.

Did you like it? Good. Go on — have another look before reading on. You already have? Well, OK then!

Building the trailer was, comparitively speaking, a fairly straightfoward process. This is mainly due to the fact that Alex cuts trailers and promos for a living — so he really knows what he’s doing. It is not uncommon for him to cut a 12-hour television series into 90 seconds.

Like the film, I actually wrote a ‘script’ for the trailer. It was more a series of notes on the kind of structure I was looking for along with the captions that you see in the final few seconds. I was very specific about how there should be no dialogue. I wanted the trailer to be as enigmatic as the film itself — quite literally a ‘teaser’.

I had a general idea of the kind of shots we could use, but I mainly left that to Alex. In fact, there are one or two shots in the trailer that I originally felt we shouldn’t use, but after seeing them I realised it was absolutely the right decision to include them.

Alex also chose the music. It’s a track called Time to Climb, composed by Grayson Voltaire, from the Extreme Music library and I think it’s perfect. A lot of time was spent looking for just the right track and there is a perfect symbiosis between picture and music. This side of the process was particularly fun for me as I’m one of those people who is a real fan of library music, such as the legendary LPs from KPM, and it’s the first time where I’ve found myself licensing a track for my own project.

It goes without saying that the importance of a trailer cannot be overstated. In today’s online world, it is critical to have something that can be shared around and ‘go viral’. I’m sure there will be comments from some Watchers that the trailer doesn’t really tell you that much about the film, but then that was always the point. I don’t want to tell you what happens, I only want to hint at what’s going on and make you ask yourself a few questions. And if watching the trailer makes you want to look for the answers, then the trailer has succeeded.

Share and enjoy!