Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Here we are again.

I’m not going to apologise for the hiatus this time. It’s a new thing I’m trying called No Regrets. It is what it is.

I think my creativity and my drive come in waves. I get bit by the bug and have a brief brilliant burst of productivity, get complacent, get tripped up by something and stop trying. It’s the ‘stop trying’ step that I’m working on. No regrets.

My last post advised I was setting up Splendiferous Films so I could keep making short films and pushing myself. So far, I’ve made one and a half in nearly three years. Considering the pace I was cranking them out before, this can be considered to be Not Good.

But here’s the thing – circumstances change. Everything has to be taken within its context. I can’t judge myself now based on my actions then. A very specific set of circumstances were in play, to do with people and responsibilities and energy. Over time, things have changed. I’ve been punishing myself for not pushing harder, when really I just need to work out the right amount to push.

No regrets.

I’m proud of Going Down. It’s a funny little flick, and I’m proud of everyone who helped make it. Is it an amazing game-changer of a film? No, hardly. It was the best film we could make at that time. Was it worth submitting to festivals? Probably not, but it at least got it in front of people who are out of my social circle, even if those people didn’t pick it for inclusion in their festivals. And that’s quite right – it’s not quite at that quality yet. We’re getting better.

But we won’t get any better if we don’t make any more films.

Snapshots has been stuck in post-production for about a year now. We’ve got a rough cut and some ideas for where to go, but we haven’t been able to finish it. I don’t think it’s been looked at in 6 months or so.

There are personal reasons for this, partly to do with being a little too close to the subject matter and partly to do with a whole host of internal and external factors. I’m not going to go into them because they’re quite personal, but suffice to say I’m done beating myself up about it. I’m not the same person I was five or six years ago, and I’m not in the same position.

I didn’t work as hard as I could have to stay on top of creativity, and I can’t change that. But I can forgive myself and move on.

I’ve been kickstarting my creativity lately. I took an excellent screenwriting course and a fascinating body-casting workshop. I’ve been reading about creative people doing creative things and thinking about the creative process. It’s disheartening to realise that I can’t take many of the risks that creative people do to get themselves out there, but this is 2017. I have the internet and a functional body and a (mostly) capable brain. And I have friends.

We’ve been moving house and that’s taken a lot of energy, but that’s nearly over. We’re going to finish  Snapshots, get it out there in front of the eyeballs of the world – and then we’re going to make another short film or sketch. And then another. And then another.

Can I get to the ‘3 projects in a year’ position I wanted to be in? Maybe. Maybe not. And if not, that’s fine. Life happens, and as long as we don’t give up altogether then all will be well.

No regrets.

Splendiferous Films

Posted: October 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

I’m bricking it.

Those who know me know that I have tried my hand at making short films with friends as part of a group called Black Stump Films. I found that I really enjoyed the challenge and the satisfaction of being a part of a group project that produces something that can entertain people.

Life has a way of getting in the way of creativity, though, and I’ve found myself making short films less and less frequently while growing frustrated at the lack of a creative outlet. It was only a matter of time (and confidence) before I took the logical next step and started working towards doing this properly.

And so Splendiferous Films is born. I’ve not registered it as a company yet, there’s still research to do before I’m ready to take that particular plunge yet, but for now it’s a place where I can start to build something beautiful, something that I can call my own and share with the world. I hope to still involve my friends as much as possible as I work my way towards eventually being a professional filmmaker, and I hope that you’ll all come along for the ride with me. There will be ups, there will be downs, but I’ll do my best to make sure you’re entertained. Because that’s what I’m here for. I’m here to make you smile.

So wish me luck, and be patient with me if I start screaming incoherently, rocking backwards and forwards or hiding under my duvet to avoid the pressures of actually living up to this monster I’ve created. I’m an artist, we’re sensitive delicate types.

Now, who wants to make movies?

The Featureless Man

Posted: October 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

Ah, October! Where the nights come quickly and the wind grows cold!

‘Tis is the season for ghosts, ghouls, goblins, gremlins, gribblies … gvampires… gwerewolves? Alliteration is hard. You get the picture.

I’m trying my hand once again at the delightful Whimword flash fiction competition. I aim to submit one every week if I can, to keep my hand in. The benefit of this is that you get to read my attempts at literary greatness – lucky you! Oh to be blessed in such a manner!

This week’s word is ‘featureless’, chosen by my very own spousal unit.

Without further ado, I give you a creepy story I just chucked together tonight. Tonks bribed me with some Mass Effect 3 time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with Commander Shepherd.

The Featureless Man

The featureless man will come again tonight.

I sharpen my spear as I crouch by the fire, the burning wood crackling and sending sparks up into twisting currents of air. My knife snicks through the wood, shavings fall at my feet. The point is growing sharp.

It will not be sharp enough.

The featureless man comes every night, or at least he has come every night that I have been here. Since I pulled myself, broken and bleeding, from the wreckage. Since I dragged myself to the beach. Since I built this small fire. Maybe even before then. Who knows if he was watching me as I slipped in and out of dreamless sleep those first few nights?

The featureless man does not speak, because he does not have a mouth. He can see even though he has no eyes. I know because his head follows me when I move and he cranes his neck to follow the movement of a waved arm. He can hear even though he has no ears. I know because he cocks his head when I speak, when I cry out or when I whimper.

Every night he creeps closer, and I can see more of him. There is nothing to see. He has no face. He has no clothes. He is not naked. He just is. My eyes slide off him when I try to focus them, to see the distinguishing characteristics he surely has, he must have, all humans have.

He is not human. He has two limbs that look like arms. He moves them like arms. He has two limbs that look like legs. They move him like legs. But he is not human. He smells wrong. He looks wrong. He is wrong.

Light bends around him. The world bends around him. As he gets closer, the air gets darker and colder. Every night is darker and colder than the last. Every night he comes closer than the last.

Last night he came and stood at the edge of the ring of light cast by my fire. He stared at me with his lack of eyes and listened for me with his lack of ears. I didn’t move. I didn’t speak. I could do neither. We stayed still, silent and unmoving statues, for hours.

I watched as a crab scuttled across the rocks and crossed the light of my camp. As it passed by the featureless man it began to shake violently, and with a terrible cracking noise it began to fold in on itself. The featureless man’s shadow reached for the crab and consumed it. As daylight came, he faded away, leaving behind nothing but the indentations in the sand where he had stood.

The featureless man will come again tonight.

I am sharpening my spear.

It will not be sharp enough.

But it is all that I can do.

Somewhere Beyond the Sea

Posted: October 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

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Apologies for the radio silence over the past week or so – I had intended to start up another 30-Day-Challenge, this one horror-related in honour of October being Halloween season, but I got a bit sidelined.

BY A CRUISE!

Tonks, my long-suffering spousal unit, has finally handed in her thesis after 4 long years of blood, science and tears. To celebrate, her parents took us with them on a cruise up to Holland, Germany, Sweden and Denmark! We’re both hugely grateful for this, as it’s been a tough year (or two) (or three) and we badly needed to let off steam.

We sailed on the CMV flagship Magellan, a luxurious ship with everything that we could ask for – except free wifi, of course. We managed to snatch a few minutes here and there to keep in touch and let everyone know we weren’t dead. Pirates  could happen to anybody, you know.

The ship was wonderful – the staff were super-friendly and the food was AMAZING. There was a choice of the all-you-can-eat buffet (or the ‘bearpit’ as it came to be known) or the rather more posh Waldorf Restaurant, a sit-down meal with waiters and napkins and multiple sets of knives & forks. I felt very intimidated eating there the first time, but after that it was a breeze. Even if I did eat dessert with a soup spoon once. I AM A REBEL. The food was sumptuous and pretty much perfectly cooked. Even the more down-market buffet was great. The kitchen staff worked very very hard.

There were outdoor swimming pools, which I did not use because ARE YOU KIDDING WE WERE IN THE BALTIC SEA. There was a gym, which I did not use because, well, you’ve met me, right? And if you haven’t, you should just know that one doesn’t get a physique like mine by going to the gym, dahling. I earned this figure with lots of pizza, I’m not burning that off. I did keep fit by eschewing the lifts and using the stairs wherever possible – there were a lot of elderly and disabled folk on the cruise, and their needs were greater than mine. There was, however, a spa which I did use – I had a lovely massage that loosened muscles that had been tense for years.

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First stop was Amsterdam, city of canals and chips. And other things as well, but we didn’t indulge in anything dodgy because, you know, the in-laws were there. It’d be a bit rude to nip into a coffee shop and come back giggling and craving chocolate. It’s just not done. We did visit possibly the oldest café (and actual café) in Amsterdam, which is a nice 17th century building with sawdust on the floor. Fantastic coffee, as expected. After some strolling and the mandatory giggling at the sex shop windows (we are mature adults) we picked up some Gin and headed back to the ship.

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Hamburg! Home of hamburgers! That is, of course, why for lunch we had … ice cream. Ok, well, that may not have been the most appropriate lunch, but it was exceptionally good ice cream. More town exploration, but it was a public holiday in Germany the day we were there so most of the shops were closed. As with all the places we went to, though, the architecture was beautiful.

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Next stop, Helsinborg in Sweden … where we immediately jumped on a ferry and left to go to Helsingor in Denmark – otherwise known as Elsinor, home of Hamlet, pictured right at the top of this very page. I couldn’t pass up the chance to see that place, could I? We walked through the incredibly pretty town to get to the castle, which was actually a surprising distance away. We were pretty knackered after that, but on the way home we got a small bus tour of Helsinborg itself so that was nice.

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Copenhagen! Land of mermaids! This is, of course, not the famous Little Mermaid statue, but I like it just the same. Can’t imagine why. I’m sure it’s nothing to do with that. Get your mind out of the gutter, this is art. Anyway, Copenhagen was wonderful – it was very cold and windy and blustery, but everyone seemed smiley and happy nonetheless. We also ate in town rather than on the ship, as we were visiting an old school friend of Tonks’. We had something called Stegt flæsk, which was a sort of deep-fried pork belly that was gorgeous – and the serving was massive! I was very happy that evening.

After that came Aalborg, where I didn’t take pictures because it was a bit gloomy and drizzly – the first properly bad day of the trip, in the last destination. We did really well, weather-wise. Aalborg is nice, also quite small, and doesn’t seem to be very tourist-centric, though it does have a lot of pubs. Definitely the sort of place to visit if you want to avoid tourist traps.

And then it was home sweet home, terra firma, no more swaying decks and rich food. It was a wonderful time, but it’s good to be home.

And what will I do for Halloween? I’ll probably do a couple of horror themed posts, just to keep things going. The wind is howling and the shadows are growing longer…

BOO!

The Locket + A Doodlepoem

Posted: September 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

Yesterday I wrote a piece of flash fiction for Whimword, an informal flashfic competition. Every week, they give you a word and you give them a story or poem of up to 500 words for their site. The winner chooses next week’s word.

This is my first time writing one, and I suspect it won’t be my last. This week’s word is ‘Locket’, and yesterday I at down and penned a Lovecraft pastiche that I was actually quite proud of. It’s not exactly stunningly original, far from it in fact. But I like it. Only problem? It was 600+ words.

Today I took a scalpel to the story, paring away anything that could be classed as surplus fat. After several goes, I took a machete to it. Turns out 500 words is difficult to stick to. Who knew? The mood changed as the cadence of the writing changed. I like the finished product, though in some ways I prefer the bloated one. Maybe I just need to mature as a writer.

I will post the story below, but first, I will also share a piece of what is becoming my writing process. When I need to sit down and write, I am getting into the habit of writing a sort of freeform stream of consciousness ramble, just to get words flowing before I light upon whatever I actually intend to write about. Tonks has said they look a bit like weird poetry, and as this is the literary equivalent of doodling, I shall call them Doodlepoems. Below, I share the one I wrote yesterday that lead me to write the story below it.

Test

Test vest rest guest quest

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy wait is the fox brown I thought they were red what the fuck

I don’t have a aim for this, I’m just going to doodle

I’m too tired and sad and hungry to focus

Focus hocus pocus louc louctus of borg

Typing until something sticks

Just waiting for the hooks to sink in and drag me aklong with them

This week’s whimwword is Locket

Locket

It’s a necklace that opens up

no shit sherlock

usually there’s a picture inside

a picture of a loved one

a picture of yourself

a picture of a toaster

it’s almost never a toaster

Doesn’t have to be a picture

a lock of hair

a tiny pebble

a grain of sand

Why would there be a grain of sand n the locket

to commemmorate th beach

a beach where something important happened

a long time ago

locket motherfucker

lock it

a lock of hair in the locked locket

the locket is locked and must never be opened

inside the locket is a secret

the secret must never be let out

david cameron fucked a pig

that’s not the secret

i just wanted to type that

The Locket

The locket belonged to my mother.

She told me never to open it, to keep it safe in its box in her basement. I forgot all about it until she died.

I ‘d been going through her things, sorting out what to give away and what to keep. The box was in a corner, small and insignificant. I opened it and found the locket tucked into a nest of papers. The papers were journal entries.

They told of a journey my mother had taken when she was a young anthropologist, a journey that took her all over the Pacific in study of local rituals and religions. That’s where she was given the locket. Her notes described the terrified people who begged her to take it far away from the sea. It was said to be connected to a series of deaths by drowning.

The notes didn’t specify what the locket contained. My mother received conflicting reports. She was told that it contained a grain of sand from the world’s first beach. The tear of a god from beyond the stars. A demon’s last breath. The soul of the sea itself.

I scoffed and didn’t read any more. I didn’t return the locket to its box, choosing instead to wear it.

That night the dreams began.

They started innocently enough. I dreamed of walking along a beach, letting the waves wash over my bare feet. As the nights went on, though, the dreams continued. I found myself wading out to sea until the waters closed over my head. I sank down to a ruined city of ancient cyclopean towers. The city was home only to fish that watched me with strangely human eyes.

By day I was exhausted, calling in sick to work, cutting off contact with my friends. Days blended into each other and I fell into a deep depression. By night I kept exploring, walking the streets until I found what I didn’t know I was looking for.

I found a temple.

I drifted up the aisles to a wide, squat altar. There was a groove in its surface where something would fit, needed to fit. In the last dream, I removed the locket and placed it on the altar. It fit.

There followed a terrible earthquake. The buildings came crashing down around me as the city rose above the waves. The sky was a maelstrom of clouds and fire, and on the distant shores I could see that the world was burning. It felt right. It felt good.

I awoke in a cold sweat, the locket clutched in one fist. It was open. It was empty.

I raised it to my ear. I could hear the sound of waves gently lapping. If I closed my eyes, I could smell seaweed and saltwater. The locket wanted to be returned to the sea. It needed to be returned to the sea.

Yesterday I booked a ticket aboard a Pacific crusie ship.

I’m sorry.

I’m so sorry.

I’ve finally done it – I’ve gone and self-published my first ebook.

It’s called The Horror in the Library and Other Stories, and it can be found over on Smashwords where it will cost you the princely sum of zero of your English pounds. That’s right, it’s completely free!

Why? Well, there’s only four stories in there – it’s a sampler, a taste of things to come, a sort of literary EP. If I can get people to read it, maybe they’ll enjoy it. And if they enjoy it, maybe they’ll want more. And if they want more, maybe I’ll be motivated to write harder to give them more.

How can you read it if you don’t have a smartphone, a Kindle or other such device! I’m glad you asked! My recommendation is to download a program like Calibre – it’s free and will let you read ebooks of all different types and formats (which means you can take advantage of the Humble Bundle book bundles more often!). I’m reliably informed that there are browser extensions that will let you read ebooks in your browser, but to be honest I’m not sure how much I trust them, so downloader beware.

I’d like to ask you all a quick favour – even if you don’t want to read the stories (which is fair enough), could you please spare a moment to spread the link to the book around a little? That way it might get in the eyes of people I don’t know, which is an absolute win as far as I’m concerned.

If you do read the stories, be sure to tell me what you think in the comments!

So there you have it. 30 Days, 30 blogposts. It was touch and go for a while there as to whether or not I was going to make it. As it is, I changed a few of the topics and juggled the order around at times to make it easier. And of course bent the rules a little here and there. It’s easy to justify a little mild cheating when it’s on my own terms and the stakes are so low.

To be honest, though, this month was partly an exercise in keeping up momentum and partly an excuse to talk about film. As you may have guessed, I love films. I love sitting down and losing myself in another world. I also love letting a less gripping film wash over me while I do other things – yes, shock of all shocks, I am capable of multitasking. Who’d have think it.

There’s something magic in the way you can really get caught up in a good story, It’s akin to the magic that can be found in a good book. It’s about story, and characters, and compelling narratives, and spectacle. Where the magic of books is a deep connection between two people, author and reader, the magic of film is a collaborative effort shared by hundreds.

I don’t really have anything deep to add. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my posts and I hope that you may feel like you’ve gotten to know me a little better through them. I do think you can tell a lot about a person from their film tastes. For example, you can tell how pretentious they are or how much they love explosions.

Next month I’ll try and update a minimum of twice a week, though who knows what I’ll find to talk about. After that, though… ah, after that.

The nights are drawing in. The shadows are growing longer. The wind has begun to whistle eerily through the cracks in the walls, in the floor, in the fabric of reality itself.

October is coming…

Halloween is coming…

Horror is coming…