Having been nominated at Cardiff Mini Film Festival 2016 with Total Investigation Television, which was not specifically created for the event, my aim for 2017 was to produce a number of films specifically catered to their criteria in the hope of further success. Although the festival has no official criteria apart from the submitted films must be produced on a low budget, after attending in 2016, I observed much that the winning films had in common. They were all very simple, with a minimum of characters and locations, and the comedy winners both built up to a punchline that also acted as a twist ending. I bore all this in mind when writing my scripts.
I wrote Marching Orders at the start of 2017 as a contender to be filmed and submitted to Cardiff Mini Film Festival in the One Minute Wonder category. It just missed out on being shot by me, but after joining the filmmaking group Film Focus Wales, I offered it to them, and it was taken on by talented, up-and-coming director Nat Pearse. The film attempts to show how a positive attitude can affect those around you, and a negative one can do just the same. Nat and Film Focus achieved great results, and I’m positive all our future collaborations will be just as successful!
Jim is down on his luck, having been given his marching orders from work. But when inspiration hits him, his outwardly positive attitude starts to affect all those around him.
When setting myself the task of writing multiple films for Cardiff Mini Film Festival 2017, I formulated many of my ideas not by thinking of a social issue I’d like to tackle or a theme I’d like to convey, as had often been my method in the past, but by picturing a striking image and then forming the film’s plot and theme around that. It’s a method I now always consider as it produced great results, showing memorable imagery is equally as important to a film’s success as meaningful substance. Bob (script) was one such film for which I used this method. Another was Goldfish, which originated from the image of a man staring into a goldfish bowl. The image Bob originated from was that of a grown man on a park bench holding a red balloon. Once I had this image, it led to questions such as why would a grown man carry a balloon and what could this symbolise? The themes of insecurity, benevolence and release developed from this.
Bob carries his red balloon everywhere he goes, even though it prevents him from joining in and causes him to be teased. But is it the balloon he needs to let go of or something else?
Tell Me About It, Sam (script) was inspired by a real-life incident in which I met a man who seemed to know me and proceeded to have a long conversation with me about his personal life even though I hadn’t a clue who he was. I thought it was an ideal concept for a comedy film for Cardiff Mini Film Festival as it could take place in a single location – on a bench – and provided the opportunity for a punchline/twist ending. I felt the best method of filming would be a three-camera setup, covering the action from all angles so we could run through the whole script in one take. To do this, I would require actors who could learn all their lines, a skill surprisingly lacking in actors solely working in film. Therefore, I cast two experienced theatre actors, who I had seen perform multiple times and who had displayed impressive skill as a comedy double act.
Unexpectedly, Sam turns counsellor to an old friend with relationship problems. Or at least he thinks he’s an old friend, but for the life of him, he can’t remember his name!
Inspired to produce something simple to suit Cardiff Mini Film Festival’s criteria, I wrote Goldfish, a script based around the protagonist’s confined environment. It illustrates how you can miss out on life by not breaking from routine, paralleling the life of the protagonist stuck in his tiny flat with that of his goldfish. Although the premise was simple, I felt the production would benefit from some expert lighting and colour grading to highlight these parallels further and enhance the slightly surreal tone. For this purpose, I brought on board Steven Owen, whose lighting served Bamboo House so well, and his associate Jack Longley. Both proved invaluable.
Huw lives a life of routine, never leaving the familiar environment of his flat. In an odd break from tradition, it’s up to his pet goldfish, Gil, to put an end to his static lifestyle.
The Prophet (script) was inspired by an old parable I came across on the internet:
“A man said to the Prophet, ‘Give me advice.’ The Prophet said, ‘Do not get angry.’ The man asked repeatedly, and the Prophet answered each time, ‘Do not get angry.'”
I found it amusing that the man persistently questions the Prophet even though he’s already given his answer, seeming like he’s attempting to aggravate him to get him to contradict himself. This elaboration was the basis for the film and allowed for a comment on religious hypocrisy.
A modern-day prophet has some sage advice for an inquisitive young man, but he’s not about to take it without question.