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Cowboys Invaded – Update (18/11/18)


As I finished in the studio earlier today, I did a quick count, 5 pieces completed, with another 5 now under construction, I’m probably half way through the whole collection for the town, which is faster than I expected. It come down to where I draw those guidelines on the complete pieces, ready to be remade.

Today I place 3 more on the shelve before making a start on adding more detail the 3rd round for the barbers and the 2nd for the stores. I’ve made the decision to add more detail to the signage with the barbers as it was looking a little flimsy, so I needed to strengthen it before moving forward, whilst trying to make it looked ruined still, that still needs some work on it. Whilst the stores just received more detailing and some cracks/tears in the walls.

The next piece was the bank, which I know that the more detail that’s added it’s going to be harder to keep reaching in to work on it, so I’m having to add detail strategically before my hands are trapped.

The next two are new pieces, the jail and saloon, which both have external stairs. I really went to town with how much was burnt away, leaving elements on all sides show. It was really fun to plan and construct these pieces. With the saloon I’ve had to add the posts under the balcony (that’s still intact). There’s a pattern with the balsa detail to suggest two floors. I want to replicate that with the jail to a certain extent. I got so carried away with the saloon, that I ran out of time to add any balsa to the jail, meaning that it will potentially take 4 rounds/days to completed. It’s not a big deal but shows that if you get carried away with yourself in the design that you can lose time.

I’m surprised with how many I’ve done to date, the system works, I know that where I plan determines how much balsa will be added. It’s an enjoyable process. I should be starting 2 more next time, that’s after making a start on the jail.

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Cowboys Invaded – Update (17/11/18)


It’s been well over a week since I was last in the studio. After my output over the past month I needed to switch off and relax. Batteries recharged it was time to return. Making good progress on the models of the ruined town.

The first set of pieces came out of the masking tape to become completed, allowing to make a start on more pieces during the day. Now I know that it takes about 3 days (in the studio) to make one of these pieces. It felt good to have something finished and an idea of how these piece will look.

Allowing me to add slightly more detail to the next set (I’ve forgotten which buildings they are at present). Hopefully the last pieces of balsa are going in place for this pair now too. I’ve begun to add more detail around the roof, a few angled pieces for the structure that holds the roof in place.

Moving onto the next set including the train station, which I believe is all but finished after this round of detail being added. There’s definitely some work to do on the other piece. I’m only held back where the masking tape restricts me.

Lastly I made a start on two more pieces. The first was a challenge I set myself. A building that has been attacked on the left and right, leaving the roof still very much intact. Making it difficult to add the beams of the roof underneath. So far I’ve made good progress, my main concern is having an even distance between them when it comes around to adding more. The final piece was the stores, which is much the same as the train station, taking off the roof completely, with more height in the walls to play with.

It looks like I’m beginning the next batch of these now…slowly but surely, which is the way this is going. I’m OK with that too. Next time I’ll be making sure I add some jagged gaps in the walls of the new pieces before moving on. I’ll hopefully be starting two more pieces next time too. I’m enjoying the process as each piece slowly but surely develops in a matter of a few days in the studio. I’m looking forward to distressing and painting them all too.


Marjorie Prime (2017)


There are some films that are worth waiting for, building them up yourself into being something really worth watching. I felt, well still feel somewhat the same about Marjorie Prime (2017), one that I’ve been looking out for since it’s release. The central ideas are something that affected my family directly, my Grandad suffered and died from Alzheimer’s disease, that has now increased the chance of the whole family of developing the truly awful disease that robs everyone of their loved one over a long, protracted, grueling space of time that whatever you do, you know the final outcome is saying goodbye. Marjorie Prime was a rare chance to see the disease and the issues surrounding it to be discussed in a different context.

I usually try to avoid such films as they have a tendency to bring up emotions and memories that I don’t really want to revisit. Still Alice (2014) was a rare a beautiful exception of how the issue can be carefully dealt with from the sufferer to the family who have seen their loved one slowly disappear. I didn’t really get that from last nights film that placed Marjorie (Lois Smith) into the not-to-distant future. Still aware that she was having lapses in memory and accidents that she had no control over. A truly humiliating experience that no-one looks forward to as your body slow breaks down and personality slip away. It’s never a pretty sight.

In this future we find Marjorie talking to what has become a synonymous Prime hologram in the form of her departed husband – Walter (Jon Hamm) in his late 30-40s. A robotic character that initially asks a lot of questions, you could say too polite at times. As with all artificial life forms, learning as he goes along. His main purposes is to stimulate memory in the patient. Taking the form of a familiar person from the patients life, be them alive or dead is not explained. What we learn is through daughter Tess (Geena Davis) and partner Jon (Tim Robbins) who are otherwise full time carers for Marjorie. The daughter naturally unsure and disturbed by the presence of her deceased father in the house. Whilst Jon is more open to the possibilities of the technology, how it can help sustain and keep the Marjorie they know with them for longer. That’s not an easy task to say the least, as Jon recalls more information for Walter to understand Marjorie and encourage recall, this could easily be open to manipulation, there are even details pf another child that are imparted, but advised never to talk about. Is he trying to build up an understanding in the hologram towards Marjorie. Could the constructing of a person be entirely be through memory, the experiences we have. Here recalled through a third person who wants to both protect his mother-in-law whilst also wanting an authentic Walter in the room, bridging the gap between artifice and the reality of the hologram. Ultimately relying on second-hand knowledge of memories that can easily be distorted in translation. The concept of a holographic aid to help stimulate memory is fascinating, anything that can stimulate memory is worth exploring. If available today it may even be employed in the care sector. Whilst disturbing to loved ones, it may just be worth it to see a memory bring some life back into their face.

We don’t really see that much in the way of suffering from the disease, there’s confusion over events being recalled but nothing that stops you in your tracks, disturbing you, even drawing out a tear or a memory you thought you’d forgotten. There’s a lot of conversation about Marjorie, yet when she’s there she seems very lucid and in control. The technology is really what’s being discussed not so much the patient, which fails to miss the effect that it has on the patient who should be of even greater focus.

After her death, marked in a silent scene of her carer Julie (Stephanie Andujar) being driven away from the house we see the film take a massive shift that takes some head-scratching to understand A few scenes to mark Tess’s grieving, before she’s talking to her mother again. It takes a few minutes to accept that this is another Prime, here to help Tess through the grieving process, or has she also developed dementia, it’s really not clear at all. At this point I’m feeling pulled away from what was an interesting film, if only we spent more time with Marjorie before her death. Instead we head on towards a series of brief scenes that mark a number of dramatic events that are quickly explained.

The speeding up of pace really hurts what has the potential to be a thought provoking piece of science fiction. We just scratch the surface of what the technology can do. Based on a play, the final scene kind of make sense but are too abrupt for the film medium, it needed to be expanded to show how the holograms/primes have the potential to help us during difficult times in our lives. I felt lost at the end and that’s what I take away from this film, which is really unfortunately when there’s so much potential to the material.


American Animals (2018) The Imposter (2012)


Over a month ago I saw American Animals at the cinema, having not seen The Imposter, I wanted to hold back my review of both until I’d seen them. There is over a months gap between seeing both films which will explain the introductions to both reviews. I felt I could go into more detail with Animals as there was more for me to consider, that’s not taking away from the brilliance of the earlier film.

I’ve just seen what could be easily seen as a game-changing documentary. The form’s tried and tested sometimes requiring reconstructions in part to illustrate and make certain points being explained more accessible to an audience. Director Bart Layton has taken the form in new direction, the combination of interviews and 3/4’s of the film being reconstruction. Admittedly I’ve not seen many feature-length documentaries to really to understand it fully, when I do it’s usually based on a musician, Supersonic (2016), Mavis! (2015), Senna (2010), all of which rely on archive footage and interviews to interrogate the subjects at the centre of the work. American Animals (2018) goes a few steps further, using one element of the genre and blending it to create something new. Dreams of a Life (2011) is the only piece that comes close to using the method to such lengths.

Focusing here on the 2004 Transylvania University rare book robbery from the institutions library, which honestly passed me buy, or was not reported over here in the UK. I was also 15 that year and had other things on my mind. For four first years/freshers their lives were about to change forever after undertaking a daring fascinating heist. The sheer audacity of the task is something that really has to be understood and in the processed taking for a through all the emotions that come with it. First meeting the originator Spencer Reinhard, an art student who appears to be very remorseful and reflective on his youth that has forever changed his life. The idea for the heist comes from a the library induction – not the most exciting part in early university of life, I skipped mine both times. Spencer’s took him to a special section, which I’m sure every institution has to a certain extent. This one however holds some of the rarest items in America, books so rare that an appointments. Spencer’s captivated with a rare book of ornithological paintings, the desire to handle these rare items is tangible. He tells us that famous artist have somehow how struggled during theirs in order to make great work. Is this his great act to have these priceless items his great struggle, is the effort he puts in all part of his artistic legend.

He can’t go into this day-dream alone, we meet Warren Lipka the live-wire and adventurous one who takes the risks that no one else will. We meet him first from being shown his tattoo of a dinosaur attempting to switch off a fan light. He doesn’t or didn’t take life too seriously. We can see that the attention to detail in the real-life thieves and the actors who played them in the reconstruction’s done with care. So far meeting Barry Keoghan and Evan Peters who we really get to know as what could easily be mistaken for characters in a standalone film. You can see a really strong male friendship with a mix of antics and semi serious planning into what at that stage they could still back out of.

Starting with some cinematic research; a collection of library rented heist films to get an understanding of the planning. I’m reminded of Mark Kermode’s Secrets of Cinema episode on the heist movie that breaks up how the films of the genre’s constructed. We have a clip from The Asphalt Jungle (1950). The only flaw with all this entertaining research being that it could have all ended there and then. Each film as it builds up through the planning, the recruiting of the team to the execution always ends in tears. The law of the land and social morals always win through, members of the team die or are lost along the way, or even worse give the game away. The romanticism of the genre only generates ideas and the passion in them, when all the while I was thinking, didn’t they see how they ended.

As the plan progresses they realise that the team needs to expand, we meet in turn Eric Borsuk the brains to get them in and out securely and the finance guy – Chas Allen who both initially think that these two guys are crazy to go through with this audacious plan. Yet they succumb to the thrill of what it’s all about, if it can be so carefully planned they can get away with the perfect crime, something that lies behind every premeditated act. Any sense of reality falls away until much later in the film. As the film progresses we spend more and more time in the reconstruction, very little with those being interviewed, only cutting back to particular points where their four men’s stories contradict do we get to see that conveyed visually, no two sides are the same, as with any number of accounts, each unique to the participants, as we go over what happened throughout its run-time.

If you’re not familiar with the robbery there’s a lovely twist that’s spared from the trailer as the robbery’s played out twice (almost). When fully underway do we see that these young men are little more than children who are in over their heads. Starting to understand the consequences to their actions. Tensions ratcheted up as we understand the potential human cost. A robbery that sounds as audacious looks as it was made for the screen, not the inspiration for. Much like the more recent Hatton Garden diamond robbery during the 2015 Easter bank holiday which has since inspired at least 2 films in quick succession. The robbery here as slick as the films that inspired the students is not as reality would prove it to be. As the films that inspired them, the overlooked endings come back to bite them as their Consciences begin to eat away at the young men. Wrapping up the film on a sombre note, a number of hard lessons are learned, families are affected, lives altered forever or everyone involved. I’m left the film after being taken on a number of thrills before being brought back down to earth as traditional cinematic story telling cleverly blends with the facts of documentary that are understood to easily be contradicted, showing that the very nature of the truth is not as simple as it the definition tells you.

It’s been well over a month since I watched American Animals and now the time has come to digest The Imposter (2012). I can’t ignore the fact that I didn’t know of it’s impact, be that the content of the film or its critical appraisal at the time of release. Personally the impact on me is rather different from American Animals. Both however are shocking in the true stories which they are based upon. It’s the form they take that really define them.

Again I’m coming from a lack of experience when it comes to talking about documentaries. The form of The Imposter is far more convention, a combination of interviews and re-enactment, just not to the scale that has made Animals redefine what the genre can do. It’s the true-life story that has determined the journey we go on. Beginning with Frédéric Bourdin whom we immediately question his motives, why did he take advantage of a family that had lost their son and brother. Set up like a true crime piece with all the family discussing who Nicholas Barclay, a cheeky 13-year-old who knew how to get his own way, loved by all but could be a trouble maker, nothing really out of the ordinary for a young teen pushing the boundaries. Then going missing from his Texas home in 1994, before apparently being picked up in Spain by a stranger.

The version of events that we are first given seem very convincing, we’re sold this story, much like the family who are completely duped by this serial liar that takes everyone, as we later learn has carried out this countless times around the world. No average person can understand Bourdin’s motivations, even his pathetic explanation, we are left bewildered that even at the age of 22 he had caused so much distress. Leaving a wake of more distress for the Barclays by suggesting that the mother and her late son had killed and buried the younger boy.

The use of the private investigator Charlie Parker adds another layer, not just for allowing the story to blow wide open to the media. The director kept him on to investigate the possibility of a body being found, pushing the ethical boundaries of what is possible on film. I couldn’t believe that as we were seeing the family discuss the murder inquiry, the lie detector tests whilst in other scenes this determined man was out there with a pick-axe. Just mind-blowing to place the images together. I wonder of the families reaction to seeing the finished film. It shows that Layton’s prepared to take a risk, follow a line of inquiry and see where it leads. I wonder how his relationship with the family was affected after the films release, like they have been exploited towards the end to see if there’s truth in a rumour that could open up more than just old wounds.

Ultimately Layton allowed the facts drive the documentary, acting more as an investigator than a film-maker, allowing it to form out of his curiosity for the subject matter. Both a creepy individual and suspicious family are exposed, no-one comes out clean at the films close. Much like American Animals, they all get what was coming to them, in another unbelievably true story. I am left wondering where Layton will go next?


Cowboys Invaded – Update (6/11/18)


I think I’ve reached a point with these pieces that I can’t really start anymore until I know at least one is complete. I’m now at maximum workload before the days over.

I began with adding what I believe are the final bits of balsa to the first two pieces (I’ll be losing count soon), hopefully (in the best possible way) they’ll be at the next stage of distressing next time.

I then moved onto the next two pairs, adding the respective levels of detail to them, slowly becoming more like a ripped frame of a building. This process is going to be very repetitive for me, but as pieces are completed I know the second half of my days in the studio can be dedicated to making more pieces. To get anymore into production now would be crazy, I have to just make and wait.

I finished the day off with a new piece (the last for now) the train station which is almost obliterated by the aliens, leaving very little left for me to work with. In that respect it should be a quicker build so I can move onto the other pieces.

I’m glad I’ve reached this point knowing my limits and working within them. Next time it will be more of the same, which isn’t a bad thing, where cardboard and balsa are concerned.


Cowboys Invaded – Update (4/11/18)


I’ve entered a state of mass production again with the cardboard down that I have returned to over the weekend. I have now got a total of fives pieces under construction. I’ll probably have more soon too.

I began by adding extra detail to the balsa to the church and other buildings. Again I’m limited as to how much for now due to the masking tape holding the pieces in place.

Before making a start on two more pieces, which are at the same point as the first two yesterday, however with a few major differences. First because more of the buildings are exposed I’ve been fitting out more of the framework, which ultimately means more work. I’ve also grown in confidence as to where I make the cuts, having a few jagged holes in walls, not just whole blasted out sections. This way I can reveal more of the framework, and create new viewpoints to work with.

I finished the day by making a start on a 5th piece, which I left at just the cardboard element. I must try to be more daring and remove more of the fronts in future designs too. Also I’m aware that the broken framework has clean edges at the moment, I’ll try to rectify that with my knife, working into them once finished. At one point I will potentially have many pieces on the go at once as they all slowly get brought up to a finished standard, with at least 3-4 days work on each, whilst making a start on 2-3 each time too. It’s a lot of work which with each piece gets better as I go.


Cowboys Invaded – Update (3/11/18)


I could say my day began with Wild Wild West (1999) as some form of research, but it was more out of curiosity for what turned out to be an awful film. Having aired my views on that I feel much better able to share what has seen me enter another long period of making.

Beginning with the finishing touches on the entrances for the gold mine. First some extra shape on the external and wrapping over with brown paper. Then turning my attention to the false boarded entrance piece (I can’t think of a shorter label), which was just about fitting, but needed some of the tray cutting away before fitting perfectly. I then moved onto the internal piece adding a trail of grey toned paper to the opening of the entrance before it fades out. These final details bring these two very detailed pieces to a close for now. I’ll only be returning to add paint work before animation begins.

Moving on, or back you could say to the cardboard town I made a few weeks ago now, knowing that they will be practically destroyed by the invading aliens I need to have the pieces in a ruined state. I’ve begun the very slow process of remaking and modifying them all. First drawing onto the originals where I want to cut away, opening up the buildings, using a lesser quality of cardboard, which I have plenty off at the moment, (this will hopefully made some space) which I’m combining with an exposed wooden framework, using balsa here to suggest the construction. Some of them will require extra framework, where the floor is very much on show.

Looking at today’s progress alone I could probably start 2-3 a day, whilst I go back and forth to add the balsa frame in stages, needing to ensure that everything is fixed before moving on. Also where the buildings are exposed will also determine where the lasers will hit the buildings in post-production. It’s going to be a slower process as these pieces are more involved. I might have to pause at time when I require more material to keep this process going, otherwise I believe I have a good system in place.


Wild Wild West (1999)


A couple of months ago in the studio I was having a discussion about my work. I was working on the refrigerated wagons at this point, the film Wild Wild West (1999) purely from a visual perspective thankfully. I knew the film had a bad reputation, even with Will Smith in the lead It had at least something going for it. So I decided to seek it out and at least watch for some inspiration, see what has gone before and see what happens. Well for the moment I feel like Hans Moleman who was accidentally locked in the Kwiki-Mart whilst Apu went off for 5 minutes of partying. Returning to ask for the 4 minutes back (one minute to spare), well I wasted a good part of my morning to this awful film. I would have rather been at the party instead.

Sadly I can only protest and wish all I want, or I could carry on writing and see if I can get something more positive with the rest of my day. A review that tries to understand the stilted mess of a Western/buddy/Science fiction fusion of a clusterf***. This venting feels pretty good but it’s nothing If I can’t put my frustration into something more coherent than a protest of foul language. So where to begin. The fact that this is Will Smith long before he made a string of stinker’s in the last decade this could easily be written off as a blip after Enemy of the State (1998) before going onto pick up an Oscar nomination for Ali (2001) and another Men in Black film the following year. He’s riding high off the success of his Fresh Prince of Bell Air role that catapulted him through this period. If anything he’s the one whose let down by the material he has to work with. A script that tries to hard to be funny and visuals that try even harder. Yes I get it this is a world where technology is new and very much inspired by HG Wells. From the primitive hearing aid (ear horn) sunk into the head of not so scary General McGrath (Ted Levine ) to the using a head to project the last image they capture d on their retina before being beheaded by a flying disc. It’s supposed to be creative and fun but really blurs into the distasteful all to often.

Smith is badly opposite Kevin Kline, who yes can be funny with the right material too, that doesn’t help him. I think the film makers were going for a progressive depiction of white and black pairing in a Western setting. Despite this they have no real chemistry, natural comedic timing together, they just don’t sit well together. Unless they are going for the odd couple with US Marshals, it still doesn’t work for me. We have the gun-toting traditionalist in Smith’s James West whilst Kline’s Artemus Gordon relies on technology to get the job done, preferring his tool kit to his gun. Another observation that has become more prevalent is the fact the gun is now seen as almost out-moded and used by a black man, whilst the white progressive is relying other technology and methods to get the job done. The White settlers are still seen as superior even after they have freed the black slaves.

Visually there is far too much going on here, what’s supposed to be for gags just fills the screen too much , with too much effort going into making the contraptions work either in camera or post production. Not once did I laugh out loud at any of these gags. Instead they fell flat on their face, one after the other. Spending too much time in the detail of each piece, the fast paced editing doesn’t give you time to enjoy them. I think someone had too big a budget to spend and just thought you know what, lets do it all and cram it in there, they’ll love it. Another final distasteful nail in the coffin is Kenneth Branagh‘s Dr. Arliss Loveless a disabled disgruntled Southerner who wants to reverse progress, tearing up the old boundaries and go back to 1776, when the West was still to be won and land still to be purchased. That much I can buy into, where it goes badly wrong is the fact they he’s wheelchair bound and using that clearly to his evil advantage, painting the image of all disabled war veterans are bent on destruction and evil ends. His character gets worse even to the point that he has spider legs built into the base of his chair. The only way that Branagh was able to play this part was to ham it up to the max, having more fun than you’d expect.

The lose plot of the film does have some foundation – loosely I add. The Southern states after the civil war were uneasy and naturally very unhappy after the surrender. The actions of Loveless are overly exaggerated to say the least. The only figment of historical fact is President Grant also played by Kline who eventually nails in the golden pin that links up the transcontinental railroad, which I must admit is almost funny as he attempts three times to hammer it into place. Otherwise it’s all complete nonsense that tries too hard to entertain, falling over backwards to make us laugh but throughout I was bored stiff. I feel for Smith who was trying desperately to make the script work. The contraptions, be they on the train, the giant spider etc do reflect the era but could’ve have worked if everything wasn’t a joke. If it was a sci-fi thriller not this comedic mess. There have been a number of westerns that attempted to blur genres, some more successful than others. Cowboys & Aliens (2011) was just pure fun, whilst The Lone Ranger (2013) was a bloated and bordering on offensive, whilst the more recent folly and to me offensive to the countries history – A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014) that just went too far too often to be funny for more than a few minutes.

So what can I take from this film? Not very much really. Avoid it at all costs and try to settle with Smith’s single being the only saving grace. Apart from that I’m scratching my head for something positive. The larger contraptions maybe help inform the finished aesthetic of my own work, I could be doing some visual research in the future… who knows.


The Martian (2015) Revisited


In the last month I’ve not really been in any decent kind of employment, having seen my last temp position come to an end in September, I’ve had a few bits here and there to see me through so it’s not all bad. I had an interview for a job I really liked the sound off. Then after pulling up at home after a day at the studio I received a phone call, I hadn’t got the job, losing out to someone working in the industry. I can’t argue with that. Leaving me deflated really, so near yet so far. I needed something to pick me up after that blow last night.

My first viewing of The Martian (2015) I certainly enjoyed it but was left frustrated and confused at Ridley Scott’s change of creative direction.

“It just doesn’t fit with the rest of Scott’s films thought which has me scratching my head at times. Maybe he’s taking a new direction or just taking a break before he goes back in for more Blade Runner and the Prometheus which should keep him going for the next few years. Is this his Trance (2013) as Danny Boyle has done before getting back on it.”

This I couldn’t settle for a few years, just taking it as a successful blip in his long world building career of films. Now I’m starting to see it as part of a larger picture of his work in a new light and also a really big and simple reason – because he can and wanted to so he did. He has the power and if he wants to make such a film, why not. He doesn’t need to be pigeon-holed into a particular category of filmmaker because I say so, if anything I’m probably in the minority of film fans to have held this opinion. If anything I now see The Martian for something rather different. Not just a nice uplifting distraction from my own problems, although that does help. I just sat down and waited to be entertained by a film that once left me well entertained but baffled.

Thankfully I’m no longer baffled, that’s the first thing I should mention. Allowing me to just accept this future where N.A.S.A. had finally reached the planet Mars and were half-way through a 5 mission – the Aires program that would be exploring the red planet in more detailed over it’s unspecified lifetime. We are thrown into a team lead by Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain) that are out in orange space suits in the endless desert that is Mars. What appears be just another Sol – space day on Mars, routine repairs, samples and maintenance are underway. Nothing out of the ordinary there with a team that clearly get on well, we hear banter between them over the radio. Little do we know there’s going to be little conversation on the planet for much longer. An awful reminder of the dangers of life is space is heading their way, a storm that none of them can stand. A decision’s made to abandon the project and base and evacuate to the Aires in orbit above. It’s a race against time to get on the planet’s surface where they can make an earlier than planned trip home.

Well 5 out of the 6 can make it home, left in the storm; Mark Watney (Matt Damon) thought to be dead after being hit by flying debris, how could anyone survive that? Well they underestimate the spacesuit and the power of blood clotting – science in action. Science really is at the forefront of this film. Not in the mind-bending way that has you scratching your head in Interstellar (2014), leaving your blown away by what you’ve just been told, accept only on surface level. Here in The Martian it’s brought down to earth (if you pardon the pun) so we can all understand what’s going on throughout the film. Watney being a botanist put his expertise into action, doing his best to extend his stay on the planet. Digging into the food stores to find potatoes that he hopes to cultivate more from. But how on a planet that doesn’t support life (ignoring the then recent news of the discovery of water locked away under the surface). Converting one of the main spaces in the base into a greenhouse, constructing his own method of producing water (something to do with the engines) and using human waste as a basis for compost to grow his own crop. It’s an inventive method that might not be so far off where fiction might soon be fact, it’s thinking on your feet in action.

What I can still standby is what makes this film work, which was and still is the star power of Damon who has really become one of the most reliable lead actors around today. his charisma alone could hold this film together if you cut this down to a one man piece, just seeing how he survives on the planet. How he copes mentally with the isolation and not giving up on the his ideas and the communication with Johnson Space Centre, Houston that allow him to progress. However if it was just him alone we would lose a massive chunk of what this film is about. The combined endeavour of all involved in getting one guy home who the world once thought to be dead. We wouldn’t have the Aires 4 team coming to terms with the news that their friend and colleague who they believed to dead is in fact still alive. The combination of these 3 locations build up a more rounded picture of a rescue attempt as it grows out of shock and discovery before becoming an international effort of ideas and ingenuity to rescue one man.

Tonally I was originally put off by the unusually upbeat pace of the film from all locations. Damon’s video diary of his time on Mars and his growing distaste for disco music. Ultimately it reflects or reflected the upbeat feeling of the time it was made, we didn’t have Brexit or Trump or all the other disasters that now are hanging over us. It shows that if we think positively we can achieve anything. Even N.A.S.A can bend and flex it’s own rules at times when the cost of leaving a man is unthinkable to write off. Leaving me with one real criticism, the blatant product placement at times from Sony, which is part and parcel of modern film funding, get a sponsor here and there and you find the odd product on the screen for their troubles. Overall I feel far better about this film. It doesn’t have to be dark a dreary to be a Ridley Scott film, we have a whole other world created for us, a credible future that appears to be in reach, if only we believe it to be.


Cowboys Invaded – Update (1/11/18)


I had a shorter than usual day in the studio, still giving me enough time to make a few little pieces, emphasis on the little. Making some little additions to the external gold mine entrance.

First beginning with a boarded up front that I wanted to sit just inside the door frame. A small tray was made first to sit inside, allowing me to build up using mainly spare pieces of balsa to replicate a boarded up entrance. Hopefully when the masking tape comes off it should look OK. It’s not an easy piece to make really as there’s no set look to this.

Moving onto make my first boulders, which I had greater success with. For days I was wondering just how do I approach this task. The only way I could think of achieving this was to first construct a shape to build upon. I went with a cube – of sorts made from cardboard that I then began to wrap around using strips of cardboard with the first layer removed. Once I built up the form I went onto wrap them all in brown paper. I could see that it looks like a rocky ball, so I went into production with a few in various sizes.

Staying with the boulders I had to make a number to sit above the entrance, whilst below I had to construct another tray and attach them to three more pieces so they would sit in-front of the entrance. This is only for one scene, I don’t know how I can animate falling rocks so I’ll be using a sound-effect and cutting to a different view of the boulders in front of the entrance. There are still somethings I can’t work out, as much I’ll be pushing myself in terms of effects that will have to wait for a future piece.

I’ve ticked another item off my list as these two entrances still require attention before I can move onto another item on the list. When I enter the painting stage the two inserts (the boarded up entrance and boulders) will be painted black.