So this blog has been a long time coming, for reasons I will get into a little later on. Over the course of my second year at University, in the Single Camera module, I made four projects; two documentaries, and two fiction pieces. Bing and Tom did the same module, but we were all in different groups, and you’ve seen some of the fruits of their labour already (A Student Film, On Tour, Glitch, Between the Lines). I had a really fun year, with an awesome group, and made some fun stuff that I like a lot (along with stuff I’m not too proud of). Now you get to read about it all lol!
Jacqui Lazarus: To Rhodesia and Back
I was the director for our first project, in which we had to do a 3-5 minute documentary piece on a single person. We managed to find someone who had lived in Zimbabwe, and seen first-hand a lot of the things happening there. Three of us went down to meet her the week before shooting, and she proved to be an awesome, fascinating person with a great story to tell. The one-day shoot went really well, and I really like the film we ended up with. Obviously it’s not going to interest everyone, but it’s received some nice comments from people who care about the plight of the Zimbabwean people, so I’m very glad we made it.
The only one of the four projects I didn’t direct, I took the role of cameraman for this one. We had to do a 10-minute documentary on a single subject, so we chose tattoos, going to a tattoo parlour in Lincoln and interviewing the owner, as well as a regular customer who has a whole ton of big pieces. We also ended up interviewing Joel, the director, about his tattoo, which symbolises his Christian faith. I wasn’t around for a fair amount of this one, as the tattoo shop interviews could only be done when I had work, but I helped a lot with editing, as well as narrating the piece (which is why the narration is god-awful). Also, you see the very first shot of that movie? I did that. His name is FOCUS TIGER and he rules.
All Our Little Words
We got good marks for the two documentary pieces, and the group was raring to go on our 10-minute short fiction piec-DISTRACTION! We got a new member in the group, and long story short I ended up directing a romantic comedy. I was given a script, which I completely rewrote, and we got actors and it was all very exciting. The shoot was stressful but fun. Overall I think I learnt a lot about directing from this piece, and although I’m not particularly crazy about it, I certainly see it as an achievement! Somehow it got the best mark out of any of the production projects, mainly because they were impressed we got to film in a busy coffee shop and because Kirsty, our producer, worked her ass off on the production file. She is the best.
ANYWAY, now to explain the delay in blog posting. You may notice that the embedded video for this piece is bad quality and cropped at the top and bottom. This is because Avid is dumb (Final Cut 4 life, yo) and decided the movie we’d filmed and edited in 16:9 was actually in 4:3. No amount of effort, even in Final Cut, has changed this. If I ever manage to get a better-quality version up, I’ll edit this blog, but for now enjoy the fairly crappy quality version of a fairly crappy quality movie.
Our final project was a 5-minute experimental piece. The group lost two members, but gained one, and we started coming up with ideas, which we then piled together and came up with this. Mike, the new addition to the group, starred in it and wrote the music. Originally, this was gonna be more abstract with the editing and camerawork and stuff, but time constraints led to that not happening, making it arguably less experimental than it should have been, but this is still my favourite of the four pieces. The shoot was a lot of fun, and it was definitely the best edit. Overall, I think everyone really pulled out the stops on this one, and I’m extremely proud of it.
It was a fun year, and I very much enjoyed working with these guys. Thanks a lot to Joel Murray, Stephen Nassau, Kirsty Meredith, Mike Mitchell, and Rebbecca Lee, for being awesome collaborators (you can check out the descriptions on all the videos to see exactly who did what). Next year, I’m working with Tom and Bing, and we’re preparing some stuff that will probably TOTALLY BLOW YOU AWAY. Expect another blog sometime in the future with news on upcoming projects.
I’m in a creative mood, but I have no video camera or nothin’, so here’s a blog entry!
Things I have been up to recently:
Since I now have this blog and stuff I decided it was time to make some more material. First up, a quick short called “Bown Sucks”:
I’m quite proud of this one; I feel my skills have improved since Protest Song back in November (although the consistent lighting helped). Fun things about this movie included the film debut of my friend Ash, both as the guy who hands me the letter and as Bing’s stunt double:
It was also a good excuse to make people look like they have funny eyes.
Next week also signals the start of filming on my short movie for University (Bing and Tom are making some too, but they can tell you about them themselves). The theme is “character relationships”, and the plot involves a girl who’s moved to England from America starting up correspondance with a mysterious guy through post-it notes in a book at a bookstore. It’s a romantic comedy, which isn’t usually my thing, but luckily I got to completely rewrite the original screenplay from the ground up, adding fun dialogue and such.
The book that the characters horribly vandalise with their heartwarming notes is one of the PostSecret books, this thing where people draw little arty things with secrets in and send them to that guy and yeah it’s all there on the site. My idea for the ending credits is to get some of my friends to make their own versions of these and send them to me, in any kind of style. Here’s one my good friend Adam Bibilo made:
More on that as it progresses.
Lamenting the death of my Macbook charger:
Damned thing only lasted about two months before…well, that happened. Lesson to be learnt: Macbooks get hot and chargers aren’t good enough.
Luckily, about the same time that happened, every single problem with my PC magically disappeared all at once! So I’ve spent the last couple of days mixing up the @ and ” keys and wondering why I can’t see all my windows at once when I move the cursor to the top-left of the screen.
Being in love with the Criterion Collection:
I am a huge, huge movie geek, and the Criterion Collection are a movie geek’s wet dream. Usually their releases are the definitive edition of a movie; the absolute best image/sound quality, as well as all the extras they can cram into the sets. Since discovering them a few weeks ago, I began to amass a small collection. Then I remembered I have to eat and stuff so I stopped. For now. Here are some (but not all) of mine:
Not pictured: Dazed and Confused (which Bing needs to watch and give back before I slash him up) and Scenes From a Marriage.
Watching Big Love:
This show actually began to air in 2006, so I’m a little late to the party. Anyway, Big Love is a TV drama about a Mormon family who practice polygamy. Protagonist Bill (played by Bill Paxton, who was in Aliens and who is apparently not Bill Pullman, who was in Lost Highway) lives in a Utah suburb with his three wives, and the show is about the demands of the lifestyle as well as various business and family issues the characters face. The cast is pretty great too; aside from Paxton we have Amanda Seyfried (that girl from Mamma Mia, which is probably the worst film ever made, but she’s good in this so she gets kudos), Harry Dean Stanton, the actress who played Johnny Cash’s first wife in Walk The Line, and one of my favourite ever actresses, Chloe Sevigny.
So far it’s very good, with fantastic performances from all the cast and brilliant writing. At the moment it’s quite light-hearted at times but I’m told this changes as the series goes on. I’m looking forward to it.
Buying a lamp:
This just comes out of me being incredibly lazy; the light switch is on the opposite side of the room from the bed. Therefore, this will also be used for…
Reading Charlie Brooker:
Someone many of you, especially American readers, may not be familiar with. The blurb on the back of the book compares him to Jon Stewart, but in reality he’s much more downbeat and pessimistic. This is the third collection of his columns for The Guardian (Bing only just started reading the first one! That guy is waaaay behind). He spends most of his time satirising either television or British culture in general, usually being wickedly cruel and utterly hilarious. He also made a couple of TV shows, Screenwipe and Newswipe, both of which I can’t recommend enough. Luckily, amazing YouTuber xthemusic has uploaded every episode to his channel, with Brooker’s blessing. You should definitely check them out.
Having a few weeks holiday off work has ended up with me having a neckbeard. Oops.
Now the future:
I’ve recently been scripting a new short series, 3-4 skits long, involving many of the skitcom crew. Without spoiling too much, it will have sunglasses and tasty phat beats. I’ll also be heading to the Thing at the end of this month with Bing and Tom, and while I won’t have any graphic novels or anything to sell, I’ll definitely be handing out Cakebomb cards and the like. You might even get to see me with a new beard, WHICH I KNOW YOU’LL ALL DEFINITELY BE LOOKING FORWARD TO
Welcome to my first ever blog on Cakebomb! OMG EXCITING.
For those who don’t know me, I’m Tom Bown, but usually just known by my last name. I make films with TomSka and Bing – in recent times I’ve co-written most of the skitcom episodes, including Standoffish, Bodyguard, and Spun, as well as writing TomSka vs. Christmas.
Disgusting singing penguin give you nightmares? You’re welcome.
I also made my own foray into skit directing with my terribly-lit slightly comedic short, Protest Song:
I go to university with Bing and Tom, doing the same course in the same year etc. In recent times I directed a documentary on a woman from Zimbabwe and was cameraman on a longer documentary about tattooing. I also did the narration for the latter, but you can just forget about that.
Next up is a 7-10 minute short film based around character relationships, which I’m directing and co-writing. I also do the Script & Screenwriting module, which in the future will involve me creating my own sitcom. But more on those later!
In the small amount of spare time I have left, I write for a film blog called Projectorheads. We’re pretty much united in our love for world cinema and other things people would call us pretentious for, which is cool. I guess if you had to say we had a goal it’s to make it easier for our readers to get into films that might be otherwise overwhelming. Maybe we’re succeeding!
That’s about all you need to get up to speed on the awesome guy all the ladies call THE BOWNING. Keep checking back for project updates, including something awesome I’m working on with Tom and Edd and Bing: