Abbey’s Ten Favourite Christmas Cracker Jokes
It’s been a good week, with Cats! being selected for some more international film festivals, including the Short Cine Fest. It also won Best Comedy in the South Cinematographic Film and Arts Festival couple of weeks ago. Top work by all of the team, including the star Keren Bala Devan, who will definitely be famous one day, I promise.
I’m writing this in Manila airport waiting for my connection to Malaysia. Glad to be coming back to KL today after an 8 day shoot in Cambodia and the Philippines for Dentsu/Toyota, working with one of my favourite directors/collaborators, Tom Radford. I’ve got a week to catch up with the paperwork before heading to Vietnam for the final phase. It’s a very interesting project that will be very nice when it comes out. The logistics are incredible and there are lots of complications, but it will all be alright on the night.
Some of what we are doing involves the Orchestra of The Age of Enlightenment, the South Bank’s house orchestra. Without doubt one of the finest orchestras I’ve ever seen/heard, and a lovely bunch of people too. They are playing KL on 13th November in the auditorium at Petronas Towers, and I highly recommend this to anyone who is into classical music. http://mpo.com.my/18-toyota-classics/. You might even see me there.
However, the trip has not been without incident. Only yesterday I was served half a dead cockroach in my dinner at a Pasay City restaurant. Yuck! I don’t know who got the other half, but I didn’t stick around to find out. I’ve seen enough Gordon Ramsay Kitchen Nightmares to know that any kitchen that lets a cockroach get into the food chain is not one you want to wolf down a lunch at. I’ve eaten Crickets and Grubs in Thailand, Balut in Davao and Durian almost anywhere I can find it, but cockroaches are way too crunchy for me.
e for Accor
We’re pleased to announce that our short film Cats! has won its first award, taking away the prize for Best Comedy Short Film at the South Cinematographic Academy Film & Arts Festival #13 in Chile.
When you look back at the history of the Oscars you’ll see that, despite laughter being universal, very few comedies actually win any awards, so we’re particularly pleased with this result. It has fired us up to enter the film into more international festivals.
I wrote this reply to a friend of mine who asked how we filmed Cats! with such a small crew. Perhaps you might find it interesting.
I’ve learnt a lot and absorbed a lot of influences over the few years (Wes Anderson, Gordon Willis and Roger Deakins for cinematography, with Edgar Wright and Beat Takeshi Kitano for editing). Like Willis/Deakins I tend to just light the room and let the Red Dragon’s wonderful dynamic range take care of the rest. We also faced the challenge of getting cinema quality cinematography on a very tight budget. In the case of this film we used a 3K Arri-clone LED light as the moon and a 2K fluoro softbox with a tungsten balance gel inside the room pointing up at the ceiling to decrease the dynamic range between darkness and the practicals. Going shoulder mount with a Tilta wireless follow focus dramatically increased the speed with which I could setup new shots and angles, and it’s a technique that I really like for its dynamism.
I don’t storyboard because I tend to work collaboratively with the talent, so there’s no time, and I’ll just work out the blocking and work out which shots I need to tell the story. It helps being the editor, too, so I’ve already edited the story in my head before we start rolling. The bucket joke is a great example of that as it was improv’d on set.
We shot this over two nights, a total of about 12 hours shooting time, including the drone footage. I had two crew, myself and my son Michael. I also deliberately shot for a delivery in a 3:2 aspect ratio, giving it more of a Wes Anderson feel and forcing me to centre the action in the shots so that quick cuts could be easily understood by the audience. Total budget for the short was USD250, which was mostly the hire of the M60 and the purchase of a pair of Ralph Lauren pyjamas.
The nice colouring comes from Red’s new IPP2 workflow, which is a vast improvement over previous colour sciences. All it took was a Philmcolour LUT to bring out the skintones, although I did use a very light Blackfrost over the lenses to soften it a bit. I used 2 lenses, the Contax prime 28mm F2 and Macro 60mm f2.8. Anyone could shoot a feature film using only these two focal lengths.
Here’s a little labour of love. What’s the point of having a film production company if you can’t make your own films?
So one day we had the idea that, within a month or so and with a lot of help from our friends, turned into this comedy short starring Keren Bala Devan.
Paul had scripted out the basic idea and then sent it to his friend in Singapore, Tom Radford, Tom in turn realised that it was, in his own words ‘Comedy Gold’, and sent it to Keren, who also loved it. Our very own Shafina jumped into the production chair and all of a sudden we were shooting.
The shoot took two nights and post production too 11 days, including 2.5 days for sound design. Everything was shot and posted using our own in-house equipment.
The result is this hilarious short which cracks jokes all the way to the final frame,