Sunday, 25 July 2010

Origin Short Film Premiere

Origin is a short film written and directed by Danny Stack. It has been a year in the making and received its premiere screening on Wednesday at Working Title Films' cinema. I was one of the lucky ones who attended the memorable evening and thoroughly enjoyed it.

My first visit to Working Title was a unique one, as upon entering the modern style building, I was told to take the lift on my right, and to the basement. 'The cinema is in the basement,' was my first thought, 'how cool is that.'

Then I was greeted by Danny himself (photo is clearly at the end of the night) and felt very welcomed which calmed the nerves somewhat. This was my first meeting with Danny but it felt like we had met before as his casual and welcoming approach felt familiar and was reassuring. Then the next minute I was at the bar with a drink. I couldn't complain.

Then quite soon we were taken into the theatre to view the film. The exhibition room was impressive with four or five rows of large comfy chairs, and noticeably along the middle row next to each seat was a conference phone. I couldn't help but think that Richard Curtis must have sat in this room and watched various in progress Working Title Films' pictures and final cuts, and held debated on various changes and relevant matters. It was great.

The film began, and from the outset and woods establishing shot, it was obvious that this wasn't going to be a stable and comfortable viewing. It's atmosphere and tone was haunting and suspenseful. The performances were moving and quite unsettling at times due to the nature of the story.

The production values and special make up effects were impressive. The latter, subtly enhanced as the film progressed, never over done, which I felt was important, as theoretically there's more of this to come. So why give up all the goods early on?

There was some really nice shots and camerawork, especially within the confines of the house and hospital ward, as well as the pull focus ground close up as we enter the woods. The world and its characters felt real and believable. I was engrossed throughout. Its score was unsettling and left me on edge, and worked nicely in harmony with the visuals playing on the unknown and building suspense.

As it ended and faded out, I was left with the feeling that I wanted more, and in that respects the film was and is a complete success. I would easily pay to see the feature. I didn't want to leave the world, I wanted more. I cared about the characters, which is the most important thing. Let's hope many more people feel the same way.

Danny documented the Origin filmmaking process through a collection of short video diaries which can be found here.

A highlight of the evening was meeting Stuart Conran (far left) who did the special make up effects on this film and also worked on Shaun of the Dead, Saving Private Ryan, Doomsday, and even Hellrazor II. He was really cool.

(Photograph note: What a shame I blinked, *embarrassing* - an otherwise great photo).
The Cast & Crew:

Next, the film will do the rounds on the film festival circuit where I hope it will do well because it really deserves to. It's a great achievement and testament to everyone on worked on it.

Good luck!

Photos courtesy of Danny Stack and "Theatre" photo courtesy of @jasonarnopp

Monday, 19 July 2010


Written by James Simpson.

This one was a last minute choice for a read and impulsively favoured over three high profile screenplays, as I ended up craving something completely unknown. So going in with no clue, hopeful expectations, and a hint of the action, crime and thriller genres within the title. Did this unknown script deliver? The verdict is: Without question.

The story takes place in Detroit and centres on Tyler "Ty" Hackett, 27, who lives with his girlfriend and abandoned younger brother Jimmy. Whilst running two jobs and barely able to make ends meat, Ty realises he's not providing enough for his brother and their relationship is becoming even more dysfunctional. His girlfriend, on the other hand, is happy that they are spending Christmas together and isn't bothered by a lack of money, or currently, a lack of electricity. But this doesn't sit well with him and at the end of a day's work as a security guard (transporting money), he is given a way out and proposition by his veteran co-workers, which would see him walk away with a share of the contents of their next cash pick-up.

The screenplay was a heartfelt, suspenseful and exciting read. It's a lesson in the power of simplicity; a simple premise and set up, and its enhancement by housing believable and motivated characters, and a dramatic plot that fuses them so well together.

The main character of Ty was sympathetic from the start due to him being the underdog and struggling to help support his girlfriend, brother and himself. A man who's got it bad, but hasn't let it change him, not yet, at least. The supporting characters, work colleagues and especially, the antagonist, who was terrific, were nicely written; individual voices, believable, and one or two characters; dislikeable and pretty scary stuff at times, but in a good entertaining way. They all followed their own paths and motivation, and were consistent within that which made for a far more complex, exciting and suspenseful read.

Once the premise and character-choice came to fruition, everything was up in the air at all times and you didn't know what was going to happen next. The script's pace is relentless and is one of the fastest set ups and progressions of a story I've read so far. It was gripping, eventful and resourceful stuff. It won't make the most profound or dramatic film of the last ten years, but it was a great, suspenseful, action-roller coaster read, and one with heart.

The story is simply about being happy with your "lot" in life, not necessarily with the hand you've been dealt but the people and family around you. Life isn't about money, riches, or living comfortably or extravagantly; it's about family, the small things, and making the best out of what you have.

Naturally I'm looking forward to the film, as this has great screen potential and could be a pretty awesome film. It's nothing groundbreaking, just a great, suspenseful story/character action-situation, told well. Fingers crossed...