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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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.

Pericles in the West Update (17/9/14)


I’ve only got two days in the studio and I am making the most of them. Starting with a decision being made regarding more models being made for the potential animation. Looking at what I have I don’t really need all of those on my shopping list, of course a few are a give to suggest we are in the west. It’s the shapes and the look which really dictate where we are. So I have will stop making new models now, only add-ons to what I already have.

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Starting with the saloon which is entering the final stages, focusing on the windows on both sides, adding the framework on either side. It will be finished very soon now.

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I have also made a start on a Welles Fargo, which I originally wanted to have a garage which proved hard to constructed when limited to one side being built. So I have another nondescript building which is better than nothing. The jail is also coming along nicely now that the roof has been covered over and the door frame has been put in place.

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For me the highlight of the day was making the train station complete with a length of track to go with it. This is I admit asking for a train to be built now which I may consider. The last piece I would probably make now is a cardboard framed corral, as I want to have some stability when working at this scale. I’ll see how things go next time, when I will be edging closer to drawing up some storyboards, thats when the real fun begins.

Mommie Dearest (1981)


Mommie Dearest (1981)There’s an image of Faye Dunaway the morning after she won her Best Actress Oscar for Network (1976) sitting on a white chair behind a swimming pool. Already having a decent career behind her, from the mid-late sixties through to the radical questioning seventies. I wonder how she views that photo today, a career that was indeed on the up, crystallised by that achievement, recognition by her peers. Turning later to Mommie Dearest (1981) based on the autobiography of Joan Crawford‘s daughter Christina Crawfordwhich was seen as an image changing book on the classic Hollywood actress who was already known for her career and other exploits. Making the public aware of her private life beyond that of Hedda Hopper’s gossip column.

The film version of the book was originally turned down by Anne Bancroft who could have easily carried off the title role. Which allowed Dunaway to take on the role, which she also fitted psychically more so, admired by Crawford herself. It’s sad to see not so much a portrayal of the star of the Hollywood’s golden era but a caricature, of course looking at Crawford you can see where you can go with her iconic looks which can be exaggerated. Dunaway takes it to new lows, lows which caused her career to take a nose dive into the realm of mostly made for TV movies.

Even the look of the film with all it’s production values wouldn’t look out of place on the True Movies channel. It’s shocking in terms of acting which doesn’t care much for the facts that are in the book, which even Crawford’s daughter stated, disowning the film. Taking what it wants and sensationalising certain aspects of the adoptive child’s life with Crawford. I find the central performance laughable at times, not just verging but basking in camp, it was as if Dunaway was channeling the late actress and pumping up the volume to the max to leave no respect for a woman with all her pressure in life was just an exploding bomb that could go off at anytime.

From the obsessive compulsive disorder which is treated more like a joke, which by todays standards is taken more seriously. The child abuse as it is depicted as extreme as it is at times could still be seen as just harsh parenting. I’m not condoning the physical beatings with the iconic wire hangers, looking more at the rare steak, which was just taken too far by Crawford. 

I felt the film could have focused not just on Christina’s (Diana Scarwid) perspective but also her brother Christopher (Xander Berkeley) who we only see briefly alongside his sister. Of course taken from her book it may have given more perspective and fairness to the depiction. One that will forever be held against both actresses in a light that tarnishes them. Even to draw from other sources to give more balance, instead we have a monster of a mother who demanded everything. It does however touch on a number of moments in Crawford’s career which is nice to see depicted for the screen, redeeming the film to a point where it’s watchable.

Am I glad I sat down to this oddity of a film that was originally advertised as a drama of a biopic, turning out to be a A budget b-movie that could have been so much better. There’s a lot of if’s and but’s which could be addressed here. However it has added to the fabric of popular culture, if to see a mad woman scream about wire coat-hangers and hack a rose garden to shreds. Its camp value is greater than it’s value compared to other film star biopics which do depict the lives of our favourite stars highs and lows, the lows here are more exciting than the highs, shouldn’t it be the other way around. If anything this film has made it more tempting to read the source material to fill in the gaps of what really happened, where fact became pure unadulterated fiction and silliness.

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,

 

To Hell and Back (1955)


To Hell and Back (1955)I first heard about this film from one of my uncles, about the true story of Audie Murphythe most decorated officer in America. Now I’m not a fan of Murphy’s work and To Hell and Back is not by far my best film. However I thought the concept of having Audie Murphy re-playing those moments in his life on-screen would be a hard task. For anyone to re-enact the events of a conflict must take some strength, to see their friends and comrades die before them again. Yes this time played by actors he sees get-up after the shot is taken. There must still have been some psychological effect to him during the making of this film.

I am also reminded of the fictional Nazi propaganda film Stolz der Nation (Nation’s Pride) made in Inglourious Basterd’s that saw a nazi solider re-enact the events of a conflict against the enemy. Of course it would be silly to suggest that Tarantino was ignorant of this past film. There have been other instances of people appearing in similar films such as Kenneth J. Warren in I Was Monty’s Double (1958) who assumed the role of General Montgomery to mislead the Germans before the Normandy landings. 

Maybe I’m forgetting something here though, a sense of pride in the individual for his country and the cause he is fighting for. That could be what drove and allowed Murphy to make/star in this film, based on his own book To Hell and Back. There was a need to tell the story right, and the only person to do that was Murphy himself. I’m only surmising here. In the same instance he could be seen to be cashing in on the book, now with a film of the events that were dramatised for effect. Nonetheless what we have is a film that celebrates a single soldiers achievments which I shouldn’t be knocking. It’s the concept of playing yourself on-screen re-enacting which beyond me. Why would you put yourself in that position?

The film on the whole is not that impressive, its main objective is to celebrate Murphy which it does from looking after his family at home in Texas before signing up with the Army (eventually). Your typical all-American hero, (ok not so typical) who went above and beyond the call of duty, which we all do in our chosen professions at one time or another. However under his circumstances, he was putting himself in danger, but went ahead and did it, which makes him braver for it. I don’t for a second think this is/was propaganda, it was straight up Hollywood celebrating one of it’s heroes, just today seen in a different light, more known as a B-movie star who may not rank as high as James Stewartbut sure does have more medals.

One-Eyed Jacks (1961)


One-Eyed Jacks (1961)I watched this based on recommendation from a number of sources, One-Eyed Jacks (1961) is another of those misunderstood films on the time on release by a one-time actor/director, such as Charles Laughton who directed The Night of the Hunter (1955) which also fell foul to similar results. Both now highly regarded classics of both the Western and film noir respectively. One-Eyed Jacks  could have been more successful if it was made and released during the dark psychological 50’s. Even with the working combination of Marlon Brando and Karl Malden  in On The Waterfront (1954) and A Streetcar Names Desire (1951). Maybe its because the film so intensely charged that it was too much to see two men once bank robbers who rode together turn so viciously away from each other.

 With a dream western cast, calling in a huge number of supporting actors who are synonymous with the genre, from Hank Worden through to Katy Jurado and Slim Pickens I can only presume the rest were busy working with John Wayne or John Ford at the time of filming. It’s rich is passion and a dark heart that travels from Mexico to the coat of California as two men must find justice. With Brando in front and behind the camera we have a different kind of western, one that is brooding and dark, full of psychology, whilst the actor who had already done a  handful of westerns fits easily into the world he is bringing together. With heavy touches of visual theatrics, such as hiding the Mexicans in pursuit behind sandstorm, not properly insight to both Rio (Brando) or the audience who try to make out what they are seeing. This too is where a father/son like relationship that was once strong, built on a shared need for women and greed is broken when Dad Longworth leaves to buy new horses, taking the opportunity to start over again. Leaving Rio with little choice but to give himself up to the authorities that surround him. A price he will not forget to be repaid.

Jumping forward 5 years we see two men making a break from prison, nothing will stop these two men, Rio and Chico Modesto (Larry Duran) from freedom. With one goal, to find Dad Longworth ad kill him. It’s not the bandit after the sherif who put him behind bars, its the betrayed friend righting a wrong that he can’t forget. Meeting along the way, Bob Armory, one of Ben Johnson‘s finest performance outside of the Ford Stock Company and The Wild Bunch (1969) as another bandit who won’t be messed around when he joins up with Rio who has a bigger reputation with a gun. Who watching the changes in his new temperamental partner.

On arriving in California we find a now respectable Longworth, a reformed gun-man now as town sherif, with a Mexican family in his life. The life of freedom and abiding the law has paid off for him, everyone knows his past, a past he has chosen to rewrite for himself, which will soon be re-evaluated when Rio arrives to find him. Living the life he could have had, fuelling his anger, the need to kill him grows stronger still. Adding to that he meets Longworth’s step-daughter Louisa (Pina Pellicer) who becomes his love interest, yet bordering on incest, if only related by marriage.

Both men are vey much the same, shaped by how events five years previously panned out, sending them both in different directions. Both a liars hiding their past from the women in their lives. It’s only a matter of time until they both can’t take anymore, who will shoot first? There are many opportunities to silence one another, the audience is left frustrated by the will they won’t they, not of love but kill, something not often replicated in the western. Surrounded by characters who are all playing against the type we usually see on-screen and so effectively too.

I’m pleased I’ve finally watched this sometimes forgotten classic, I wonder what else Brando may have directed if he wasn’t put off by the public response, with such adult themes. A film that was originally 5 hours long was recut into this still impressive form. Will we ever see that version, much like Cimino‘s Heaven’s Gate (1980) whose directors cut is 4 hours long. Brando’s reported in-experience behind the camera was sadly not seen for the genius he was today. Like so many actor/directors of his time that weren’t given the chance to make more, with visions so ahead of their time, it’s a case of if only.

Pericles in the West Update (12/9/14)


Luck struck yesterday, another day off! So off I went to the studio to complete the saloon and make a start on a completely new design for the jail. Starting first with the saloon on a corner which added balsa to the other side. I decided to also add more detail on the dry side. I was going to add the internal frames, until I realised it would be very messy. Still I’ve moved faster on this one knowing the process.

Knowing that I want only a few more buildings I thought about the vital pieces, such as the jail and Welles Fargo, the iconic pieces needed, I may even attempt a corral on this scale. There isn’t much I haven’t already built, maybe just the bank, barbers and general store to go, so 4 to go (more than I thought). Turning to the jail today, which I wanted to duplicate from the loose cardboard version, whilst knowing I wanted to retain the stone element for the jail cells away from the main building. I think I’ve got the balance right here.

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Riding in soon – The Homesman (2014)


I’ve been aware of The Homesman for a few months, Tommy Lee Jones second time in the directors chair, his first being The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005). I remember that he doesn’t like The Homesman being categorised as a western, which is hard to ignore, as it is set during that time. However that is more pure coincidence. Something that will still draw in another audience, you could say its neo-western (at a pinch) dealing with redemption and mental illness, that’s just what I’m getting from this latest trailer. 

The Homesman (2014)

Released in the U.K. 5th December, just in time to warm us up before christmas. It has received a lot of praise at film festival recently, It could also be potential Oscar material. Lets see what the rest of the year brings.

Waterworld (1995)


Waterworld (1995)It’s one of those films that comes with a reputation even before you watch it, one that I knew was a giant flop on its release, yet in recent years has taken on more of a cult following. Even after watching Waterworld (1995) I’m not getting that feeling that I want to watch it again soon. More of the plot holes that just won’t go away. What could easily be a Mad Max 2 (1981) on water, with the same basic premise of the end of the world, just with a global warming angle, set years after the polar-ice caps had melted, leaving only a handful of survivors on the surface. Seems like a good set-up doesn’t it?

Enter Kevin Costnerun-named character who travels around the planet on a rust-bucket of a catamaran where he stores everything he needs to live. It’s the car of the water basically that rips through the water like no-ones business. It seems all a bit pointless really when the Australians did such a great job of creating the ultimate apocalyptic world, pitting factions of humans against each other, looking for the promised land, something that is impossible to achieve. Here water covered Earth there is a need, a desire to reach dry land, relying on a map that is found in the form of a girls tattoo. Which somehow went unnoticed on a water settlement until she left with Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn) on Costner’s boat. That’s during an attack by a group with the settlement are part of. It really doesn’t add up. This being a baby of Costner’s the man who gave us the stunning Dances with Wolves (1990). Lead by Deacon/Dennis Hopper a comic villain of military proportions, able to delivery rousing speeches to his legion of men hungry for dry land.

For me however the biggest plot hole, well lack of explanation is Costner’s character who we learn early on is anything but simply human, a human/fish mutation has obviously taken place before the film (maybe worth a prequel?) which is never explained. It’s constantly mentioned and used as a device to move the film on, to explain where lost world is, how he’s able to live in the water. Added to that, he’s not even that likeable, ok he has a conscience when he feels like it, but its only when it pleases him. Ultimately he’s a loner, much like Mel Gibson‘s Mad Max who we know is driven by the anger of his slaughtered family in the first film, unable to settle again amongst civilised people (using that term loosely).

Visually you can see where the money has been spent, the special effects, and the balloons. The setting allows for old sets to be recycled easily to create these thrown together sets where the remainder of civilisation lives. If only a bit more time and money was spent on the script that is at times laughable and full of cliché’s. It certainly has not aged that well. However it’s the charisma and performances from Hopper and Costner which keeps you watching this film, the rest I’ve seen before in an Australian desert with characters who come alive with more drive for survival (at least they have water, and a filtering system).

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