Visual Artist

Hello there!

Welcome to my blog, where you will find all my work, works in progress, there's always something going on, an ever changing place where the you can stay up to date with my work, from the idea, to the trials and celebrations. Also you can found a wealth of film reviews that influence my work. Follow on Bloglovin

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Canned Film Festival (2014)


Canned Film Festival (2014)

I am delighted to announce that my work will once again be shown in the Canned Film Festival running from 7th August to 4th October at the ArtWork Studio’s and GalleryNorthwich, Cheshire. There will also be a “Celebration Evening 6th Sept from 6pm till 8pm. Short films & animations showing in ‘The Roxy’ projection area inside ArtWork Studios & Gallery.”

My work is being shown alongside: Steve Barbe, Jereme Crewe, Sonja van Kerkoff, Faye McClosekey, John Vincent, Sean Burn, Anton Hecht, Roger Barker, Robert Orlando, Alistair I Macdonald, C Kenneth Lee, Laura Gower, Edward Picot, Jamie Scrutton, Adriano Vessichelli,

 

On the Beach (1959)


On the Beach (1959)From the brief description that came before On the Beach (1959) I was intrigued coming from a Sci-fi fan point of view, it’s not very often that an A-list cast of this period would come together to make such a thought provoking film. Based on a Nevil Shute’s novel of the same name that is obviously inspired during a time of intense discussion around the rise of nuclear weapons, not twenty years after the close of WWII do we see the world’s major powers arming themselves with weapons that if used could ultimately lead to the worlds destruction far quicker than the two previous wars put together. Thankfully the powers that be have been able to keep their hands off the giant button that could launch us to the end of civilisation as we know it.

The details of the event that lead to a U.S submarine surfacing in Australia are kept rather close to the characters, not wishing to discuss even amongst themselves, which adds to the sensitivity of the event (whatever that maybe). We do get an explanation of sorts later on as to what could have happened, it’s all seen as conjecture really, no-one knows the truth, what happened in the western world saw it fall to it’s untimely demise. Only leaving Australia left free from the effects of radiation caused by the bombs that were launched.

For a film with few special effects, not a rocket is launched, no mushroom clouds rise from the ground, the audience still engages with a film that ultimately can’t have a happy ending, Something that is rare for this time in American film where the happy ending is king, justice is served, the live happily ever-after. It just can’t happen for those left alive in this version of the world that had to fire up those deterrents that should have been just that.

There has been discussion on and off for a few years about the renewal of the Trident system in the U.K. do we need it, it’s too expensive. I believe we need to protect ourselves, but would we ever use it? What cost would it have to our country and the wider world? There are enemies out there that may not respond to such a show of force. It is a last resort and should only be that. Here in On the Beach those lucky enough to still be alive are dealing with that, the actions of those who pressed that button only to end up dying because of it.

With the event behind us at the beginning of the film we have only to wait for the end really, filling in that time with the final days of a submarine commander Dwight Lionel Towers, (Gregory Peck) who along with his men are in the unique position of being the last of the American race left alive, avoiding all the devastation of back home. Falling for a Moira Davidson (Ava Gardner) who has never really had a man in her life, doesn’t want to be alone, fighting to be with a man who at first cannot accept and grieve for his family. Leading a strong cast in a film that remains serious throughout, without preaching to the audience, thats left to the direction, cinematography and soundtrack creating an empty world that will soon become far emptier very soon as the radiation takes a hold of the country.

Even looking at the final hours and days of the average man who can choice to die in pain and suffering from the radiation or take a suicide pill that can end it all, with a shrewd of dignity still in tact. It’s all pretty grim stuff really, handled sensitively. Could it be propaganda? Probably leaving us in no doubt that using nuclear weapons can only have one real outcome, the end of life on earth as we know it. Even as life carries on in Australia for a short time, they are slowed down, returning to outdated vehicles to get about, running out of supplies.

Yet it’s the return to San Francisco on a mission following up a signal they picked up, only to find it’s a nothing. Whilst there, the images of a  usually busy landscape brought to a standstill, devoid of life, as if it was the early hours of the day and people are starting to stir, not venturing out. But it’s not dawn, they’re all dead. These are the images that drive home to the American public what could happen if the bombs went off, even miles away off in the ocean, it could still be felt back home.

My West Update (30/9/14)


I’ve put a deadline on this animation, 31st October, allowing me to pull this work together and move onto something else. As much as I love this work I need to complete this work which has lasted almost a year which for me is a long time. So I’ve come back with a new drive to the work, approaching the background first, painting the rest of the loose detail before editing it for a night-time look. I’m always reminded of the day for night technique used in films when they could photograph at night as they hadn’t the lighting to achieve this, instead putting a blue filter on the lens. Also a scene from The Searchers (1956) which was shot using this technique, with the help of Wayne’s performance I remember it all the more.

Moving on to look at how I would combine my background with the models, knowing that I need to remove the ground as well, I just couldn’t think of a solution. I put it to the back of my mind to whilst I considered the layout for shooting, to bring all the models together, which was easy enough to settle, moving them around to see where I could shoot from. Now I can sketch over any ideas for action to take place.

Going back to the ground, I had a terrible thought, I could return to the cardboard, then I wouldn’t have to worry about the ground, it would act as both neutral and sand-like for the action. It’s my first attempt at green-screen so I’m not expecting the world right now. I cut a sheet to size, place it under the models, I knew that making that giant leap back I could then move forward, it works somehow, allowing me to now shoot the animation, worrying more about the figures which I maybe altering for certain scenes.

I finished the day making another test, to see how the combination of animation with the new new background and “card-ground” base, which I’ll be putting together tonight, hoping that things will turn out well, I’ll share the results with you next time.

Vanishing Point (1971)


Vanishing Point (1971)Time for another road movie, this time stripped back to the bare essentials, the car, the open road and whatever the drivers meets along the way making his way to his destination. Yet with Vanishing Point (1971) it’s not really about that, it’s the journey through the open country from Arizona to San-Francisco carrying out a simple yet impossible job. To deliver a Dodge Challenger to an un-named person. We don’t really care who set-up this mad time constraint which allows speed maniac Kowalski (Barry Newman) to let rip. A man who has only a few lines in the whole film. Mostly taken up by the cops in every state he crosses and the charismatic radio DJ Super Soul (Cleavon Little) the Stevie Wonder of the radio waves, a poet who needs the right moment to engage his free-thinking listeners who hang on his every word as Kowalski makes his way across the states breaking very few laws admittedly.

It’s the style of it all, breaking past traffic patrol officers who want only to want to keep the roads safe, held up by this speed freak who doesn’t show any care for all that. Lost in the car that takes him out of this world into one of sheer thrills, where cocaine is all he needs to do the job. Setting him off and keeping him going only stopping to refuel.

Everything happens so fast in Vanishing Point that you find it hard to keep up at times, your adrenaline is pumping that much. Tearing us away to small town America that is waking up to this news of Kowalski a one time soldier turned corrupt cop who now gets his kicks from racing, yet never really made a go of that either. Just who are we dealing with here? Not your average hero who can save the day, more your average joe who fallen through the cracks that society chooses to forget, Yet has still got passion, a passion for speed to rebel against the system that has been holding him back, still doing son in the brief time we spend with him. When he does turn off the engine we still learn little about him, the flashbacks show a man who had a lover but little more, maybe a simpler easier time that has long since gone. He’s just out for himself really, yes he helps an old prospector (Dean Jagger) get back to his truck, yes he gives homosexual couple a ride.

He’s still very much the loner who needs to be alone, some that DJ Super Soul understands, with a little help from his access to the police radio he’s tuned into. There’s a telepathic link made between these free-thinkers, both down-trodden in different ways, finding what makes them go. It becomes a spiritual connection almost over the airwaves, and everyone else can listen in, not knowing for sure if Kowalski is listening, let alone responding. The nation albeit a small number are behind that maverick of the road, breaking free of the establishment which will do everything it can to stop him and others like him. A truly independent film made during a decade that produce incredible low-budget films before the film industry discovered the blockbuster. The director and idea was for a time free to roam without constraint, Vanishing Point is a prime example of this.

My West Update (25/9/14)


It’s been a quiet day today, just focusing on getting the backdrop underway, choosing the right buttes to draw out and to scale too which I had me starting over a few times. Still all three are now under way. The base colour is down, ready for detail to be added next time. I want to brighten it up as much as I can, whilst also having a limited detail, showing the creasing and cracks in the rock faces of these monuments.

Then I can see if this idea will work, I’m already having my doubts but it’s worth a try at least.

My West Update (24/9/14)


It’s been a quiet day really for me. After completing the last mode, coincidentally the largest one which is also the most complicated, the saloon. I could turn my attention to the test video I produced yesterday, which (on the whole) works.

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There are of course little tweaks to get rid of light coming in. Which as I move the camera, introducing a new angle I have to consider the background. The photographs I have been using are static, of a landscape which works when the action doesn’t leave the frame of the image. The effect is quite obvious visually, as the models can and do float, which they shouldn’t.

 

So the background is the new element to tackle, wanting to stay in the wild west at the moment before I see where else it can go. Staying classical and with the genre I want to see how a Monument Valley, which I have used before, it works if you don’t know the geography. Seen more as synonymous with the genre, which I hope to bring to mine. At the moment I am hoping to paint a blue banner with a collection of buttes. I will then photograph from different angles to hopefully cover all angles, before editing to produce something like this image below, which the more I like. It’s not you’re classic bright blue sky, but does it really matter as long as you have the landscape. For me it’s about pulling off the effect now, I can improve with time. So the next stage is to plan out, draw and paint the backdrop. So no more tests until I have enough back-drop images to go further.

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My West Update (23/9/14)


I’ve had a really good day in the studio, all but one of my models are finished, allowing me to focus on the animation testing which has improved since the first test, thats looking at the dailies before it’s all put together.

 

The first test has it there, the models are outside, but they don’t move right, the image is not as good as it can be. I need to improve that. And that was down to excitement last night, rushing to bring it to live, forgetting about the previous test that altered the amount of green on the screen to be removed.

 

So hopefully todays test will correct that in a colour sense. I also spent time working on the motion of the figures to be much looser, which I succeed more so with the second test, focusing more on the action of the figure swinging from left to right as they progress in one direction. I think this will improve as I sketch out storyboards that will bring structure to the work and motion. The next step is to see where this latest test has brought me and go from there.

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My West Update (22/9/14)


It’s been a chilled day of painting really, working on the models that were painted earlier. The first coat, turned out to be a base coat from which I added and created a design for the models. Wanting to create more tones of brown, which started off looking like wallpaper, however unnatural the pattern was looking I wanted to avoid that. So I as mixed up new tones I painted over colours to make it look more natural and un-even. I’m pleased with how they have turned out.

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The other half of the models are at the end of the building process, adding the last of the frames, fixing them all to their bases ready to be worked on and hopefully painted next time.

Leaving the rest of the day free to play around, which I decided to use wisely to animate the models, well those that are painted, animating the figures. I’ve already worked out that I need to use white-tac to keep the figures stable, whilst also practicing their motion. As the figures are on bases, which reminds me of the animation in A Town Called Panic (2009). If I can mimic that motion I will be a step closer.

Where my previous test left me knowing that the technique in the principal works, I know that I will have to first animate the footage before I key-out the green-screen before to reveal a background in it’s place. I’ll share with you the outcome next time to show you where I started the day from.

The Sugarland Express (1974)


The Sugarland Express (1974)I started watching The Sugarland Express (1974) looking for the glimmers of Steven Spielberg‘s directing style, being his directorial debut. Not long ago seen his contemporary George Lucas‘s first film American Graffiti (1973) making his mark on the film world. Part of the first group of directors who had come out of film-school, armed with over half a century of knowledge to hand to refer to and inspire in their own work. I’ve not seen many of Spielberg’s early films, probably starting more so with Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) where we can see that his visual and storytelling style has been cemented and growing.

With one eye on all of this I couldn’t help but be reminded on the recent story in the news of Ashya King’s family who was discharged by his parents from Southampton Hospital late last month, wanting on the best treatment for their son who was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Reflected in this road caper as a couple of criminals will do anything to be reunited with their son in foster care now.

A mother Lou Jean (Goldie Hawn) with a criminal record has lost her son to foster parents after a string of crimes and time behind bars, goes to extreme length to smuggle out her husband Clovis (William Atherton) who is a month away from being released. The need to be with her son is too strong to wait, time is of the essence for a couple who as we learn will do almost anything in the state of Texas to get back their son.

These events based on fact take up what seems to be the whole states police force to track and follow this couple on the edge after hijacking eager new traffic cop Slide (Michael Sacks) who knows the law back to front who looses the upper hand early on. Leading to him being in the passenger seat for the remainder of the film. As the states police force are literally behind them on the open road as they travel the state with hope is complete disregard for the law. Creating a whole host of mayhem where guns are fired like mad, whilst police Captain Tanner (Ben Johnson) tries to keep things under control, communicating with the couple driven to be with their son. Most of the emotion comes from the wild Lou Jean who is the mastermind of all the antics.

Its pure madness in the heartland of America as a couple bring the state to a standstill, stir up emotions of hope that encourages the public to get behind these law breakers, no law can surely keep a family a-part for long. The law seems to drop away losing all meaning the regular people who flock to see the celebrities of the moment creating hysteria in their wake. Moments of greatness, removing them from normality  are taking place. A hallmark of Spielberg’s work, full of wonder for the common man. The visual cues of light, wonder and children are all there starting to take route in the lives of everyday people.

To make a comparison to American Graffiti can only be found in the youthfulness of the feel of the films as young people find freedom in vehicles over the period of a short time. There’s more of sense of occasion here as life is brought to a stand still, there is not the life changing moment as we leave childhood to adulthood. It’s the survival of the family at any cost, a cost that draws out the audiences emotion amongst all the car-crashes and people who they meet along the way. We can also see a nod from classic cinema with Ben Johnson in a major role, Spielberg is already pulling rabbits out of the hat even if we don’t realise it, taking a risk of working with a first time film director, who had practiced during the 1960’s with a number of television programmes. His theatrical film debut shows that he is able to create a stir of moments, emotion that entertain us without too much of the wonder that he is now known for. There’s no polish here, it’s just the roads, gunfire and madness. All that was about to change.  

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My West Update (19/9/14)


Before you ask, I haven’t changed what I am doing, just the working title of the work, as Pericles is so far removed from what I am doing now that I should drop it. Focusing on what I am creating now, it’s very personal and controlled by myself. This is the closest I will be getting to placing my work outside. No longer is Pericles a part of the work, just a starting point that merged with one of my practices aims, which with a little help of special effects I can achieve.

Onto todays events, detail is starting to creep into the work adding colour and even doors on a number of the models, I will soon be adding colour to all the models, taking the work very close to the storyboard stage which is when the fun really begins. With all the painting under way It was a matter of adding the other physical details such as window frames as per usual to the models which still bare.  I am even thinning of varying the colours from just burnt umber. With the addition of colour I can really see the work coming alive now. Starting also to see where my work really pulls away from that of the set-design of Walter Mitty (1947) which inspired the design.

I am looking forward to seeing how I can animate and bring in the action of the west, even thinking about drawing on frames gun fire and dust from horses as the gallop around, keeping it lose and fun. This would be another experiment which would require a lot of time to draw on each frame, considering during the frame capture process that drawn actions will be added later in post-production.

Shoot Out (1971)


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I thought I’d give this lesser known Gregory Peck western, made during a time when tests were indeed change, the very style of the western had taken two paths, the dying classic and the revisionist. This falls into the first, a form that allowed old favourites such as Peck, John Wayne, James Stewart and their contemporaries to continue working, there was indeed still an audience and that is still here to this day, however there is a sense of tiredness, the actors aren’t spring chickens, audiences had also become more sophisticated. It shows in Shoot Out (1971) the change in tone of language from the beginning when ex-convict and bank robber Clay Lomax (Peck) is released from prison. The genre wants a new audience, even with younger characters that are employed to bring him in un-harmed.

With a simple set-up it should be straight forward, as the younger men lead by Bobby Jay Jones (Robert F. Lyons) are put to work in an older man’s world. The classic west still exists, allowing new life to breathe in it. Time has not been kind to the older men, one fresh out of jail, a saloon owner Trooper (Jeff Corey) an ex-soldier is now in a wheel chair, whilst the Jones employer Sam Foley (James Gregory) having made his lives fortune sits in waiting. Acting also as a new generation in waiting to make their own mark in film and the genre.

For Lomax he begins his freedom set out to exact revenge, yet before long he is in delivered a package that he had not bargained for, a reminder of his past, a possible daughter Decky Ortega (Dawn Lyn) who steals every scene she’s in, making up for genre that looks tired, a lead actor, whilst giving his best is just too old for the role. This coming from a period in films when older men were still being seen as fathers of young children. When in reality their own had grown up and left home. However you can still feel the drive to get to his destination and exact revenge against Foley who shot him in the back, landing him in jail for seven years.

It’s the young men who follow him who deliver most of the violence, as they stalk the man and girl across the same country that director Henry Hathaway used in True Grit (1969). If only a few more shots had been fired before Lomax finds them on his trail. A trail that sees him begin to beyond with the outspoken young girl who is already showing signs she’s seen and learned somethings in her short life, all courtesy of her now dead mother. Whilst he wants the best for her, he knows the open road is not a life for her, he starting to try and palm her off before settling for a life with her in it.

Having the children is highlight of this film, with her we have all the comedy, and the vulnerability. Yet without her we would have more danger than we have, even towards the end when everyone is at the Farrell ranch, the William Tell fun and games which delivers the real danger. It’s rare to see children being brought into the adult world of western violence, usually running for cover, or starring from the sidelines. The children do allow for different kind of violence, making us think about contemporary domestic lives, when we see children caught between adults, here directly in the firing line. Even violent crime where the child is put at risk. Bringing out the best and the worst in the characters to ensure justice is delivered at the end of the film. I just wish that after all that we had the showdown between Foley and Lomax thats where the real argument was supposed to be. It’s as if they ran out of film and made the best of the ending they could there is literally no shoot out between the two older men, more so the young and old, the kids sadly get in the way.

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