Friday, 28 November 2014

Twisted Showcase Short Story Collection

It's come from nowhere this one. Certainly for me. Rhys has often wanted to write prose more, but I'm in love with screenwriting. But now and again I will dabble with prose, and this has led to us putting together  a short collection of short stories.

The main reason for this is to hopefully raise a bit of money for Series 4, so please help in getting the word out so we can get going on Series 4 and bring you another great series of our show, and whilst you're at it get 8 brand new stories in our Twisted Showcase Collection.

It also contains a foreword by Gareth David Lloyd, which is brilliant.

It can be pre ordered from here

And more information on the stories is on the twisted showcase site here

The collection will be available from the 16th December. Perfect Christmas reading for the twisted at heart.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Twisted Showcase Series 3 : Part 5

For Payback our buzzword was tension
For Toilet Soup it was humour.
For Drugs don't Work it was a throw everything at the wall approach.
For Confession it was emotion.

For Empty Sofa it started off as being Eyeball. Our second episode in series one was an experimental 3 minute episode that never features an actor, it sort of does, mainly his eyeball or in two scenes he is shot from behind so we don't see his face. It was minimalist, experimental film making. Just me and Rhys, without a cast, but hopefully with a strong idea and script. Since all the other episode of this series really pushed us in new ways, larger casts, bigger names etc we wanted to go back to this minimalist and experimental challenge we set ourselves with Eyeball, but this time push it further.

Another keyword was clip show. I love sitcom clip shows, but know a lot of people hate them. We thought this one would be hated but seems to be liked out there. Some people even called it clever.

I suppose in a way it is, but we worried it'd be seen as lazy. After all we've weaved a 3/4 minute film out od 10 seconds of new footage. Looped footage of an empty sofa and brief flashes of Rhys. There's a voiceover guiding the story and a multitude of clips, these were both scripted, most of the selected clips were anyway, we had some wiggleroom with the montage as we hadn't filmed any of Series 3 when we wrote The Empty Sofa so weren't too sure what'd look best.

It was the right time for a clip show, we've somehow completed 3 series in two years. Minor miracle right there. At the time of writing the episodes we were also considering wrapping up Twisted Showcase, so this was a full stop on that world we'd created, that all took place around this character and destroyed him. But, it seems it proved cathartic to us and we had already written a few episodes for Series 4 before 3 had come out. So we'll be filming those soon.

In even better news though, coming even sooner, out first Twisted Showcase short story Collection, containing Twisted tales by myself and Rhys Jones. There's some belters on there, including a messed up Christmas tale, and it'll be out just in time for Christmas, available worldwide on Amazon.

But that's not all, this e book contains a brilliant foreword by Gareth David Lloyd. It's a must buy to make your Christmas, well, Twisted.

It'll be with you soon, on a Twisted Tuesday in December. Check here and the website for more details.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Twisted Showcase Series 3: Part 4

I have a confession. I didn't know how to structure this weeks' blog regarding the 4th episode of Series 3 Confession. so I asked Rhys Jones, who directed this episode, to ask me some questions and thought I'd have a go at answering those. He hasn't made it easy for me though. Watch the episode, and then have a read of the short interview below.

The first draft of Confession, if I'm remembering right, was about a man who nobody would listen to. Sarah Louise Madison's involvement drastically changed the plot. Can you tell me a bit about that?

You're half right. It started off being quite a sci fi idea, a man riddled with guilt lives in a world where every one was silent. Since we were concentrating on the insular environment the idea was too big, and at this stage I changed it to a female lead. I thought it'd be more interesting, and the rest of the series was getting quite male heavy at this point.

This earth gone mute idea hung around, until I had a few lovely people read it and give me some feedback, all of which said it should be more self contained. I tinkered with it a bit but it wasn't clicking. This is where we chatted a lot I think, finding good stuff within there, but not enough coherence. But I battered it into some kind of shape, and as we made the crowdfund total and we celebrated I had the idea of Sarah Louise Madison. One thing felt like a stumbling block, I'd written the character as much older, so we asked, very cheekily, if Sarah could send us a video of her reading some lines.


Even that was the most affecting thing we'd saw, and it suddenly clicked into place. This was about a girl who got married too quick, too young and was isolated in her marriage. So that changed, and the reason for her husband being quiet did, because it wasn't a murder I don't think in previous drafts. It became a lot better anyway.

I'd like to know you thoughts on the film, were you happy with how it turned out?

Yes. I was nervous about this one. It's one of our more striped back ones, and I know it features a lot of monologues, probably a bit too much dialogue. It's a location we've used before. But when I was sat in the edit I could feel the emotion within the film was there, and that was what I loved about this one. We tried something risky by looping the moment where Sarah's character tells Freddie, she loves him, over and over and I think it's a devastating moment. I know some people aren't as keen on this, as the twist just relies on who's dead and who's not, and is a reversal of expectations but nothing else, but it's my Mum's favourite so that's a win for me.

What works for you?

Sarah's performance. For some reason I love the shots where you can see her image within the camera and also looking down the lens. I think the reversal works really well too.

What doesn't?

As I've said it's probably got too much dialogue. It's a very Twisted Showcase film, we've been known to use minimalist cast and locations, keeping it small scale. I think this is sort of our last straight forward one of these, unless we get a great idea of course, but I feel we've done all we can with it. We do have one script for next series that features just one character, but it's a very out there idea, set in a future dystopia (are there any other kind) On a final note, James I think does well in this too, and his ignoring, not present attitude is quite horrifying in comparison to his wife who is pouring her heart out.

As always any other questions leave them in the comments. Come back next week for a quick round up of Empty Sofa and some news as to something new coming to you before Christmas.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Twisted Showcase Series 3: Part 3

I do try to keep these short, honest! This might be a long one. It concerns The Drugs Don't Work, and it'll be long because this took a lot of explaining to people. It became a big worry of an episode. One we had to keep belief in when a few people around us had no belief in it.

Here's the film if you've not seen it.

The starting point for this was to write an episode crammed with stuff, a different spin on the slacker/ stoner buddy comedy, a look at the cliches of people having fun, ghosts, drug dealers. Hopefully there's more in there. Me and Rhys discussed it loads, especially one think I tried to do was to fill this episode with subtext, hopefully it's bursting with it. We talked about how the two main characters are living in the past, they dress a bit retro and it's like they're trying to re enact someone elses' version of fun, maybe what their older brothers did, or what they've seen in films, but they do it all wrong.

I wanted to have many twists in there, well not too many, but a satisfying amount, and I wanted it to be funny. An episode I wrote for series 2 was meant to be funny but didn't work, and I'm not sure I've nailed comedy, especially directing it.

We had problems with this before the filming. Mainly, people just weren't clicking with the script, and we didn't know why. There was a line of dialogue I'd left to subtext that was crucial to be in there, which Hannah George spotted when she read it for me. That was sorted, and still people weren't going for it. Me and Rhys thought it could be that they were used to the Seth Rogen or Kevin Smith style stoners, where these two characters were more bumbling idiots. They are not cool, hopefully their relationship is quite sweet instead. It became so bad that in the end I had to direct it with lots of help from Gordon Mitchell, the director of Payback.

On set we called this our epic, we had four cast members, that's double our usual. And cramped in a small living with our three crew members, it got hot, and over the long shoot it got deranged. There was plenty of laughter on this one. Especially during the scene where Mad Mary appears to suck out the soul from Sexgun Phil (which is only the beginning of strange character names in Twisted Showcase). It got ridiculous on the set having to shout 'NOW SUCK'

Unfortunately I couldn't make the end of the shoot and had to leave early, this left the outdoor scene to be shot without me, and can you believe it, it went completely wrong. If you watch the film again you'll see the characters discuss bermuda shorts, but why as the mid shot only covers the characters top halves. Oh dear. It was probably the only scene of the day that no coverage was got, as I said it was a long and deranged shoot, and hopefully we get away with it.

And it was all made up for by some stunning special effects, so good we had to show them off in the trailer. Hope you like them too, they lift the series up by looking so impressive I think. They seem expensive.

There's plenty more stories from this one, but I don't want to make this too long and boring, so any questions you have leave them in the comments and I'll answer them for you. And come back next week for my thoughts on episode 4, Confession.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Twisted Showcase Series 3: Part 2

There is a sense of loss when you release something you've written. It's not yours anymore, its the audiences to do with what they want, have whatever opinions they want about it. That's how I felt after releasing Payback, excited everyone was loving it, but there was  this sense of loss. How apt to release Toilet Soup in the second week, a film which questions peoples opinions.

This one was not written by myself, although I think I had a hand in the ideas when it was being put together. This was written by Twisted Showcase co creator Rhys Jones. Here's what he has to say about it.

"Toilet Soup, like many things I've worked on, began life as an absurd and disgusting joke. It was just something silly Robin and I were talking about via text late one night. I can't exactly remember what it was we were talking about, but it was very childish and somehow the idea of a deranged toilet attendant force feeding people Toilet Soup, to teach the ignorant a lesson, came out of that silly conversation. Throughout the writing process this idea of ignorance was fine tuned into an attack on the arrogance of some Internet trolls, that hateful stupidity I'm sure we've all been witness too online. I really like that we put a message we felt strongly about into this absurd gross out film. Makes me smile.It was different from anything else we had made, but still embodied Twisted Showcase in a very surreal way. It was decided that I would write it, because I liked playing around with dark and absurd ideas, and Robin would direct, because he wanted the challenge of directing a comedy. It was very twisted showcase in that way - "you'll do this and I'll do that and we'll make a film and we'll just go do it, yeah?"

Which thankfully remembers all the stuff I'd forgotten and sums up our way of working once it's time to make the film. We just go ahead and do it. But we'll work on scripts forever beforehand.

Since my role was more on the shoot, which are all one day shoots for Twisted Showcase, most of my tales are from that. A cold November/December, again Rhys would remember the dates better than me. Maybe he should write these. Where's the best place to be in the cold, why a toilet of course. 

Luckily we were cheered by Norman Lovett, we couldn't believe we got him to star in our film. When we were planning the series Payback and Toilet Soup were the first two scripts we had and we knew who we wanted to star in them, so launched our crowdfund to make sure we got them.

If you've not seen the film yet, now would be a good time to catch up.

So the cold was an issue in starting the day, luckily the pub we were filming in made us some coffee, turned the heating up, did everything to make us feel at home, and we shot mostly chronologically in the one location. Shooting the bucket scene last in the day, more of that later.

The line I remember being delivered most was "backstabbing arselickers" Gets stuck in your head after a few takes. 

But highlights of the day were cameraman Gordon Mitchell's comments. Forgetting Norman Lovett's surname in a moment of nerves he called him Mr Norman. Amongst many others which I won't repeat to save his blushes.

The most embarrassing moment, was filming the bucket scene. Never had to film anyone pretend to poo in a bucket before. Thanks for that moment Rhys. Luckily I think the cringe factor comes across and make that scene both bizarre and funny, and well timed in the film.

To get a little filmy for a second, my favourite thing about my direction is a tiny mise en scene detail. You can tell I've taught film. But, I love that the characters have something in frame to highlight them a little, cleansing soap behind the toilet atendant, and Andrew Lomax has a horrible, seedy looking condom machine. I remember when we sourced the venue, going in and that was my first thought. 

I really don't see myself as a director still though, even though I've directed 3 or 4 Showcase episodes now. Last week I even saw one of them 'Something at the top of the stairs' on the big screen. Visually it made me think, "Wow, maybe I underestimate myself"

Talking about big screen viewings, Toilet Soup was the first Twisted Showcase film to be seen by people as it appeared at Cardiff Mini Film Fest in their comedy strand. Me and Rhys went down to Cardiff, did the Doctor Who Exhibition, visited Ianto's shrine and ate like kings before heading to the fest. The viewing was a nervous affair for us both, but was quite well received, even if some people were baffled and one person commented that it was a depressing film. Maybe he was the type of person to post ill thought out opinions online and needed to see the truth by drinking some Toilet Soup

Next week: The Drugs don't work