Visual Artist

Latest

Un[dis]criminate


I am pleased to announce that part 6 of my animation Playing with Plastic (2016) will be exhibited online as part of a new archive UN[dis]CRIMINATE with the Unstitute online gallery.

Located in courtyards of the Unstitute – in between spaces, between other structures, temporary or otherwise – is a network of diverse encampments serving any number of uses; political or otherwise. In these digital encampments you can see the building of a new archive: UN[dis]CRIMINATE.

The outlying buildings of The Unstitute are not guarded by anyone in particular, and often entrances sit wide open for anyone to see. But mainly the nomadic eruptions in disused or otherwise vague areas of The Unstitute appear of their own determination, and deterritorialize as long as they please.

Cowboys Invaded – Update (2/4/20)


Today I’ve been focusing on the final scene if the animation. Definitely working out of sequence after I began work at the start of the piece. Jumping around to make use of the models. Focusing on a lone rider moving around empty locations that sum resolve and also suggest the direction of the narrative as it draws to a close.

Gone are the frontier town buildings; solid or ruined, the work with them in done for now. I’ll probably be getting the 1:72 scale pieces out for green screen work at a later date. For now I’m focusing on what I can physically animate in my home studio. Today’s footage is covers a good chunk of the final scene, which I’ll be carrying on with next time with the missing sequences in that scene before moving to some of the alien scenes. Again I’m letting the models direct the work around the shooting script.

Cowboys Invaded – Update (1/4/20


It’s been a very productive day at the home studio. I feel I’ve sped up but I know why that is. I shot around as many frames as I’ve been shooting action sequences, which require less frames (running not walking). Also a number of establishing shots have been captured.

The day began picking up where I left off, with the two figures journey in and out of the town. The town itself was very cumbersome to work with. At 1:32 scale I worked in sections where I had to remember the layout of the town as I changed the position of the street as I shot the figures navigating it. I had to do this twice as I animated the explosions being set off on the town.

That was the most stressful part of the day really. I have more to do next time as I shoot one of the final scenes of the animation with the ruins of the town. Then I’ll move onto the next models, which again could either speed things up or slow them down. I’m finding that each model throws up it’s own challenges. I can also celebrate the fact I shot 2 scenes today; one surprisingly shorter than I expected. The process is working, let’s just keep moving.

Cowboys Invaded – Update (31/3/20)


Animation has officially begun now. All the tests have allowed me to move forward with ideas of how I need to approach certain scenes. For now I can make a slow start on what is going to be a long process. I’m sure some scenes will take longer than others.

If I’m honest I may have milked the use of the steam train today, which is only in the opening scene of the whole piece. I wanted to make sure I had enough to work with before the pieces are put away. So next time might be moving far quicker. I’m staying with the town for the foreseeable as I work through scenes that require them.

I really enjoyed getting to grips with everything again, over 3 years since my last animated piece was completed. I already know that I’ve made the right decision to work at a waist height table, allowing me to move more freely and without getting uncomfortable. I may already be building up a method of getting pieces out and ready to work on.

I decided yesterday after my update was posted to shoot a few model miniatures on the green screen, so a few sessions will be dedicated to just using that kit. For now lets focus on one thing at a time and allow the pieces to be shot as required. I might be getting to the ruined buildings by the end of my next session. For now it’s good to be back in the swing of it again.

Cowboys Invaded – Update (30/3/20)


I don’t usually post this early in the day. I was supposed to still be either testing or packing away my green screen kit. Sadly before lunch I found that one item of kit was faulty. I have since ordered a replacement so I should be back testing early next week.

That doesn’t take away from the fact I’ve achieved the effect of a flying spaceship using the low-fi technique of filming a model miniature. After setting up I was able to get a good selection of shots to give me an understand of what to do to improve to. First up I don’t need the camera zoomed in as much as I have been, this limits how much can be used and seen. I can use ken-burns to zoom in further. Second I should slow down on passes, this can then be sped up if necessary. Thirdly I need to rethink how I change position mid pass to suggest a change in direction of the spaceship. Maybe this can be saved in the edit, or a mix of both physical action and digital manipulation.

For now it’s a start and I can look forward to the replacement kit arriving. In the meantime I need to think about the rest of the week. Do I make a start on filming what I can then go back to the testing of the green screen. I know it works, I just need to refine that process to get the best out of it. I could work out a shooting schedule and make a start.

Cowboys Invaded – Update (29/3/20)


It’s been a weird day today, with the clocks moving forward an hour and working from home it’s thrown me. I only started work around 3pm today. I still achieved all the tests that I had set out to.

I began with a refinement of the dust and explosions test. This involved having more impact and more reaction around the explosions. As well as adding a continuous dust cloud that is in top half of the screen. I’m thinking this might be as far as I can push this effect. It could be a factor of physical space to work with before post production.

Moving onto the next test, which I honestly thought would be pretty straight forward. Ultimately it came down to the lighting before the candle light effect could be captured on camera. I had to block out the light as much as possible. It finally came together when I saw the light gels that I had behind me. Fixing one blue gel filter to the light, then I knew I needed to raise it, but how, I didn’t have and rigging to speak off around me. But I did have a ladder hanging horizontally on the wall. Perfect, I slotted it between two rungs and turned the lights out to get one of the best effects that I’ve made happen. I only wish every effect was going to happen with such ease.

Moving on I’ll be playing with the green screen kit. I’m not expecting to really get much from tomorrow. I’m treating it as purely experimentation to understand how the kit I’ve bought works together. I might try to capture some of the shots I need but really not expecting too much. I’ll share anything that I think is a success.

Cowboys Invaded – Update (28/3/20)


It’s been another day of testing and refining in the home studio. I’ve been able to finally capture what I want for the mine lift whilst explosions in the rocks needs more work.

I began the day by carrying a little repair work to a few models, either damaged in transit, missed paint work or even damaged whilst at home. Nothing was impossible to fix with the limited materials and equipment to hand. Taking all of an hour to complete it freed up the day to focus on the important stuff…testing.

I came back after lunch to focus on refining the mine shaft lift. Getting out a light and directing it onto the lift in a darkened space. This works really well, allowing me to complete a few more tests that tell me to shoot this and possibly the mine in the dark, with controlled lighting.

Moving onto a more complex set-up for one scene, using the rocks I made only a few weeks ago. I began to animate the piece and dropping in more explosions and the dusty reaction thats created in this environment. After the two tests that I’ve done today that I’m needing to give the explosions more time before moving to another one. This works for building up tension. Once the cloud of dust disappears nothing remains, when in reality it would hang around far longer. I need to consider this, and build up the dust with each explosion.

With more kit slowly arriving I’m starting to look at other tests that I can carry out. Next time I’ll be working with tea lights for the ranchers home. Whilst I also refine the rock and dust further. I’ve now got the kit I need to work with the spaceships but will be delaying until the new week at least. I don’t want to push myself. The kit is completely new so I need a whole day with it to understand what I’m doing.

Film Talk – Violence in the West


Last summer I completed work on a Film Talk that has yet to be delivered. With everyone staying at home at the moment I thought I’d share the film talk with you. Focusing on the evolving role and depiction of violence in the genre.

Tonight’s film talk is about the depiction of violence in the Western Genre. On-screen violence is a vast topic that if you could spend hours exploring it’s effects on society, censorship and how directors have each approached it in their work. Tonight I’ll be focusing on the evolution of the depiction of violence in the Western

The Great Train Robbery was the first noted Western in 1903, featuring the first use of editing to push forward a narrative and lay the foundations for the genre over the course of the next century. More notably the use of guns, ending with the a gun being aimed at the audience.

“They helped producers understanding of the important of setting and reference, the possibilities of location and action shooting…the new medium and the industry succeeded in appropriating the literary and historical tradition of the myth of the frontier and translating it’s symbols and references and its peculiar way of blending fiction and history into cinematic terms.”

Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in 20th Century America – Richard Slotkin p.254

During the silent era the genre was very popular with audiences. Innovators of the genre such as John Ford spoke of his time to fellow director Peter Bogdanovich.

“These early Westerns weren’t shoot-em-ups, they were character stories. [Harry] Carey was a great actor, and we didn’t dress him up like the cowboys you see on TV-all dolled up”

Ride, Boldly Ride : the evolution of the American Western – Mary Lea Bandy and Kevin Stoehr p.26

During the silent era a number of court cases were being held in connection to Westerns of the day. The James Boys in Missouri and Night Riders both released in 1908, both depicting the James Brothers. The Judge in the case of Block V the City of Chicago ruled against them. It was his opinion that

“…The James Boys and Night Riders were immoral not simply because they concentrated on the exploits of outlaws but because they did so exclusively, without corresponding depiction of law-abiding character that they ought to offer morally admirable characters and behaviour as a counterweight to depictions of crime…”

Classical Film Violence: Designing and Regulating Brutality in Hollywood Cinema (1930-1968) – Stephen Prince p.19

Similar rulings would have a lasting effect on the production that was later established in the 1930’s. Accompanied by the development of sound transforming how narratives we’re told. Changing the dynamic of the plot, from just visuals with the extra audio element, allowing for violence to be heard. The Production code was finally enforced in 1934, forcing filmmakers to think creatively to work around the restrictions.

“Restrictions on the image, paradoxically, open onto plenitude – the rich and fertile area of the imagination-which requires very little data to perform prodigious feats of creation. The oblique image, violence hinted but not displayed, can arouse the viewers imaginings with great ferocity.”

Classical Film Violence: Designing and Regulating Brutality in Hollywood Cinema (1930-1968) – Stephen Prince p.207

Westerns during the majority of the 1930’s were relegated to kids B-movies, some featuring a young John Wayne. If you wanted anything close to a gunplay you’d have watch a James Cagney or an Edward G Robinson film. The genre finally matured in 1939 with Stagecoach beginning a resurgence of Westerns.

During WWII images of violence filled the screen in newsreels and the first hand experiences of filmmakers of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, which I’ll touch on later. Films such as The Ox-Bow Incident (1942), which focused on mob violence.

“…Walter Van Tilburgs Clarks story, a sobering look at mob psychology and violence. While Gil, Art, and Davis [Henry Fonda, Harry Morgan and Harry Davenport], and others plead for law and more reasonable, rational behaviour to prevail, the mob has its way. It’s as if Clark is saying, and [William] Wellman and [Lamar] Trotti are confirming, that this is not at all unusual but, in fact, the natural state of human behaviour.”

The Noir Western: Darkness on the Range – David Meuel p.29

We see the result of the mob violence in this clip.

We only see the executioners setting up the horses, rigging the nooses. The only physical violence we see on-screen is handed out to the general’s son, a pacifist who’s clipped by his father. Then men executed are reduced to shadows from the trees above. The audience imagination shocks them more than the images on-screen. They have seen anyone hang, imaging the men hanging from above.

A few years later in 1946 in John Ford’s first film after leaving the Signal Corp – My Darling Clementine is released. He deals very differently with violence. It’s more traditional; we see gunfights, which are interposed with long periods of characterisation. We get to understand the motivations of the key Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday before the final shoo-out at the infamous OK Corral.

As the 1950’s began the effects of film noir were being felt strongest with Anthony Mann and his cycle of psychological Westerns, filled with tormented men and women, struggling to understand the world around them. The director felt he had more freedom in the genre.

“It’s a primitive form. It’s not governed by rule; you can do anything with it. It has the essential pictorial qualities; has the guts of any character you want; the violence of anything you need; the sweep of anything you feel; the joy of sheer exercise, of outdoors. It is legend-and legend makes the very best cinema….”

The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film – W.K. Stratton p.73

A prime example of this psychological violence in a rare domestic setting takes place in The Furies (1950) when Barbara Stanwyck attacks her new stepmother.

Jumping forward 3 years to the Classic Shane, by George Stevens he wanted to push the expectations of what the audience expects when they see a man die on-screen.

Stevens wanted to replicate his experience of warfare for audiences back home. Also seeing boys playing cowboys in the streets. His wanted to make Shane for the kids to see what killing was really like.

“Now he re-created it on the screen in Technicolor. He’s given Americans, comfortable in their theatre seats, clutching their popcorn and sodas, a nasty taste of what death was really like.”

The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film – W.K. Stratton – W.K. Stratton p.74

At the end of the film social justice is restored, forcing Shane unfit to live among civilised people to wander forever at the close of the film.

Shane was one of a growing number of cinematic creations known as the Gunfighter, the walking embodiment of violence in the genre.

“These new takes on the Western were shaped by the internal logic of genre development, which fostered a certain kind of stylization of the Western and its hero and by the pressures and anxieties of the post-war/Cold War transition…The consonance between the formal character of the gunfighter Western and its ideological content is a genuinely poetic achievement. It gave the gunfighter films ideological and cinematic resonance and made heroic style of the gunfighter an important symbol of right and heroic actions for filmmakers, the public, and the nation’s political leadership.”

Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in 20th Century America – Richard Slotkin p.379-80 

So far we have seen how violence has been developing on-screen however it’s John Ford in The Searchers (1956) as much as violence is depicted traditionally, guns being fired, yet we see no one of consequence die on camera.

“The violence in the film-ranging from the Comanche massacre of the Edwards family homes and Ethan’s discovery of Martha’s ravaged corpse to Ethan finding Lucy’s body and later his scalping of an already dead Scar-always takes place off-screen, leaving horrific acts and scenes to the power of the viewers imagination. This is a movie about violence that does not reveal its violence directly to the audience.”

Ride, Boldly Ride: the evolution of the American Western – Mary Lea Bandy and Kevin Stoehr p.193

This clip from The Searchers is a prime example of that unseen violence.

We clearly understand what’s happened to the Lucy, Ethan has buried her in the canyon he’s returned from earlier. Her body was mutilated and raped before she died. Ford relies on prior associations with Native Americans in the genre to inform us of what’s happened. The most brutal scenes are suppressed

“We feel the horror of Lucy’s death all the more because our imagination has to supply what Ethan will not tell, or in the case of Martha’s death, will not let Marty see. At the same time, keeping such things hidden not only invests them with extraordinary emotive power. It also allows the film to hint at the darkness deep in Ethan…only Scar’s death and mutilation are seen on screen. It’s as if at the end suppression is no longer possible. Things must finally be brought to light, after which there can be resolution.”

The Searchers (BFI film classics) – Edward Buscombe p.28-9

Moving to the end of the 50’s we have Anthony Mann again focusing on sexual violence too. Man of the West (1958) which rightly disturbs and angers Link (Gary Cooper’s), a now reformed bandit when an act is committed.

The First scene with Billie (Julie London) we see how this disturbs Link; Leading to his brutal fight with Coaley (Jack Lord) in the second scene. Both scenes are intense as we Link’s humanity being mentally stripped away at.

“Merely being around the Tobins brings out the worst in him – something that’s still (and maybe always be) there. Just as Billie and Coaley are stripped of their clothes, Link is bring stripped of his hard-won humanity The one bright spot is that, when Link has the chance to kill a defenceless Coaley, he can’t bring himself to do it. He hasn’t entirely reverted back to his old ways.”

The Noir Western: Darkness on the Range – David Meuel p.137

To see violence really develop you have to look to Italy with the introduction of the Spaghetti Western, cheaply made westerns using a mix of European actors and sometimes American stars. Personified by the Dollars trilogy teaming Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone.

Up until this point there was a sense of morality in the genre, the gun brought justice to civilisation. Through skilful use of a gun you can rise you to the status of hero.

“According to [Robert] Warshow, the protagonist of the Western is in control of himself. He uses violence only when provoked and, ultimately, in defence of his vision of himself as a man of honour. For [John G.] Cawelti, the hero’s code and the epic moment (where an ‘advancing civilisation met a declining savagery’) worked to provide a ‘fictional justification for enjoying violent conflicts and expression of lawless force without feeling that they threatened the values or the fabric of society’ Violence as a moral force therefore became central to the classical Western formula.”

Myth of the Western: New Perspectives on Hollywood’s Frontier Narrative – Matthew Carter p.37

How this consideration simply goes out the window with directors like Leone and [Sergio] Corbucci according to Pauline Kael who observed this.

“It was spaghetti Westerns […] that first eliminated the morality play dimension and turned the Western into pure violent reverie. […] What made these […] popular was that they stripped the Western form of its cultural burden of morality. They discarded its civility along with hypocrisy. In a sense, they liberated the form: what the Western hero stood for was left out, and what he embodied (strength and gun power) was retained.”

Radical Frontiers in the Spaghetti Western: Politics, Violence and Popular Italian Cinema – Austin Fisher p.67 

European cinema breathed new life into a purely American genre celebrating its own history. Burdened by the weight of the heroes and villains that populated it. Once removed you can use its form and write a new language.

What caused the removal of civility and morals in Italy to produce over a decade worth of film? You only need to look at the political tensions in the country to understand filmmakers and how they were responding on their work.

“There is in these films little sense of authorial surprise or shock that an outwardly democratic government might be corrupt and coercive. Certainly, the identification of state-sanctioned cruelty was hardly revelatory in a country with a living memory of totalitarianism and a rich tradition of militant insubordination. Accordingly, compared to the momentous depictions of a violent death being explored in contemporary Hollywood, the stylistics of the Italian Western as a whole reflect a considerably more blasé outlook towards brutality.” 

Radical Frontiers in the Spaghetti Western – Austin Fisher p.160

A key film is Corbucci’s; Il Grande Silenzio (1968). The law is used to bounty hunters advantage to get rich. Lead by Tigrero (Klaus Kinski), his men deliver unspeakable death to one town, ignoring an amnesty that has just been passed on all outlaws. Tonally a very bleak film that even see’s the film’s hero Silenzio (Jean Louis Trintignant), himself a victim of violence eventually killed.

Back in America the production code was crumbling. Studios such as United Artist had been bypassing the code, releasing films without a seal. Those that worked with the code proved too much for one Western – One Eyed Jacks, it was still too much working with the Production Code Administration. Here’s a description of one scene that was never filmed.

“He is battered and bloody. Several teeth have been knocked out, and now half conscious he spits them out, one eye is swollen, already half-shut, blood pours in twin streams from his nose, his chin and cheekbones are bruised purple.”…“One of those shots has shattered the bridge of his nose, spraying his face and eyes with blood”…“The crowd hauls on a rope, which is attached to Bob’s right ankle. He is pulled up into the air and his dead body dangles downward, the other leg flopped awkwardly over at an angle… The barber douses Bob’s body with the kerosene and the holds a lighted match to it.”

Classical Film Violence – Stephen Prince p.191

Violence like this couldn’t be depicted for another decade, helped in part to he production code being replaced when Jack Valenti took over the, working with the major studios to bring it what we would be more familiar with – a ratings system that hoped to appease both studios and religiously conservative America.

“…the “G,” “PG,” and “R” registered with the US Patents trademark Office as certified labels of the MPAA. (The “X” category was never copyrighted since [Jack] Valenti thought if a producer felt that his movie couldn’t make the “R” cut, he would never submit it and the film would go unrated.

Hollywood Film 1963-1976 – Drew Casper p.120

As the 1960’s wore on we saw a number of pictures that really pushed the boundaries of what the public would like from Bonnie and Clyde (1967), opening the doors for Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch. A Revisionist Western that had more in common with the Spaghetti Western. However it was the volume of violence that would be remembered. His reasoning was to depict what killing was really like, much like George Stevens reflecting the television pictures of the Vietnam war.

“Look, killing is no fun. I was trying to show what the hell it’s like to be shot.”

Hollywood Film 1963-1976 – Drew Casper p.334

The film’s bookended with two violent set pieces. The opening sequence was the first to depict women and children being shot, during a bank robbery. Whilst the finale would see the 4 anti heroes attempt to save their friend before engaging in a bloodbath opposite the Mexican Revolutionary Army. Using guns never seen in a Western before this point.

The the film was met with its share of controversy, critically it was both loved and hated. Overtime its status has raised to become a classic. The violent scenes are still shocking. Sadly it never had the effect that Peckinpah intended for. Carrying his share of regret, which we can see in this interview.

During the early 1970’s Westerns began to lose their place in the cinema, fading into pastiche and obsolescence for a time. Clint Eastwood was the only director keeping them alive. Culminating in Unforgiven (1992) when retired gunfighter William Munny after years of being a family man picks up his gun one last time. Throughout the film we see old man unable to shoot properly, mount a horse, all signs of aging, yet it’s the death of his friend Ned (Morgan Freeman) that triggers something inside him.

“[Munny has ] thrown a switch or something and now a kind of machinery was back in action, a “machinery of violence,” I guess you could say. No it wasn’t glamorous. He’s back in the mode of mayhem. And he doesn’t care. He’s his old self again, at least for the moment. He doesn’t miss a beat whole he loads his rifle and talks to the journalist…Now when he goes on this suicidal mission, he’s all machine. He not only murders Daggett at point blank range but shoots some bystanders with no more compunction than someone swatting a fly. Munny has been protesting all the time that he’s changed, but maybe he’s been protesting too much.”

Clint Eastwood Interview 1992 

Ride, Boldly Ride : the evolution of the American Western – Mary Lea Bandy and Kevin Stoehr p.264 

Eastwood reminds us of Peckinpah’s intentions in Wild Bunch to show the destructive power of technology in the hands of mind. Both directors are aware the audiences lust to see it that all on-screen. This is not the case in the traditional form.

For violence in modern cinema a prime we should look at Quentin Tarantino, whose last two films have been set in the Wild West. His 7th Django Unchained (2012) a quasi Spaghetti Western-blaxploitation. Violence is a constant that is always there in the background before we reach the final explosive act.

“The film ends with Django taking his revenge, redecorating the walls of Candie’s mansion with blood that “has it’s own ballet movements,” as David Thompson wrote in the New Republic. “It’s Jackson Pollock on speed; and it spouts from bodies the way oil arrives in Giant or jism comes in a porno movie, it can’t wait to get out of the bodies.”

Tarantino: A Retrospective p224 – David Thomson – New Republic Review

Whereas his last film The Hateful Eight (2015) essentially an Agatha Christie in the West, with some gruesome acts along the way to the fallout feels tamer in comparison. Is this in response to the constant criticism of his use of violence?

“But it’s a hassle, it’s a pain in the ass. Maybe I can take a break on it for this next one.”

Tarantino Interview – regarding the suggestion of doubling down on the violence in The Hateful Eight (2015)

Once Upon a Time in a Western p.270

So where does that leave violence in the genre today?

Firstly the output of Westerns has dropped dramatically in the last 20 years. The genre has become far more reflexive, open to critiquing itself in films. It’s also open to genre blending more violent depictions. Women are finding a more equal space in the genre. However violence is no longer a means to restore law and order as the classical form would promise deliver. Now it’s become at times excessive and run of the mill, an action film simply set in the West

As Eastwood touched on in Unforgiven, that traditional use of violence as a release of a build up of tension is still there. It just needs to be released more often due to scenes that build up throughout a film, which audiences have been trained to respond to. Another factor is that we are being numbed by the on-screen effects of the violent images found on television.

 

 

Cowboys Invaded – Update (26/3/20)


I finally feel like I’ve had a productive day at my home studio. After completing my list of special effects I finally made a start on the test footage that would allow me to understand what’s needed in order to bring this animation to life.

Equipment is also slowly arriving allowing me to eventually do more complex tests. So far I’ve stuck to what I can physically do with what I have. Limiting me to basic green screen and low-fi effects. The first was the explosions of the buildings that I have planned to add to a number of scenes. Using the a solid model and it’s ruined version I first shot both versions at the same angle. With just that one shot the two models had to line up, which they did successfully. Allowing me to apply the special effect to be added during the edit. Another fun and easy one was the laser beams, which I thought was going to be easier than I thought. Once I found a few different laser beams to test out I added them to the quick animation I shot for it. The laser beam test also allowed me to also test the motion of the gun towers too. They look pretty clunky but that’s the design too. I’m hoping to shake off that cute association that’s been attached to them.

I also started to film the mine lift in front of the paper belt. The effect is hard to capture right, leading to a few tests being carried out to capture it properly. I have to focus on the body of the lift to see through to the belt in action. It’s really dark, from whatever angle I shoot from it’s dark. I need to get some lights in there to really make this work. Whilst the final test was focusing on capturing the gold mine from the cross-section. The second attempt really captured this as I combined all the models to build up that environment.

Moving on I need to look at creating a dust field, this will be more complex as it’s will be including more explosions. It could be seen as a run through for that scene too. The fun will really begin when the green screen arrives so can use my boom and dolly track, to suspend a spaceship from different positions and film different motions.

Cowboys Invaded – Update (25/3/20)


I still don’t feel I’m making enough progress working from home. But that’s something I can’t avoid right now. I do feel safer for it. I need a routine in place soon to get things moving at a steady pace again.

Saying all that I have now finished the storyboards, which allow me to better visualise what scenes will look like and how I need to set up my model spaceships against the green screen. It took about two days to complete the process, which on reflection is pretty good for a process I’ve never done before.

Moving on I’m drawing up a call sheet of special effects shots that need to be completed. I’m not sure if I’m half way through yet. I do know that I have to reflect the storyboards to a certain point to ensure that everything make sense and allows me to focus without causing confusion.

Moving forward I’m hoping to then move onto the test shots with the models and to experiment with equipment that I’ve just ordered. There’s going to be some interesting weeks ahead for sure.

Cowboys Invaded – Update (24/3/20)


It’s my first full day working at home in what has become an almost lockdown situation in the UK right now. I don’t feel I’ve really done that much with the distractions of home pulling me away from work. Saying that I’m getting a better idea of how things are going to look when I begin shooting.

I began the day by finally selecting the Native American that meets the cowboys. I knew that I wanted the green standing pose I found earlier, but couldn’t find the matching rider and horse. They were found in a box of riders that date back to the 1960’s. Because of the scale I’ll have to be really careful how I shoot the rider before switching to the standing figure.

I then moved onto the storyboards of the spaceship scenes. There are quite a few I’ve learned over the past two days. I’ve not even finished them all as yet. I am starting to see how these scenes are looking now, taking ideas that have been floating in my head for the best part of a year or more. Using one of my spaceships to help visualise each motion or pass that I need to set up for.

With another days work on them to go I’ll then move onto a special effects list before I begin test shots. I could be getting my camera out before the end of the week seeing things really happen.