Tag Archives: Edge Hill university

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015, how it all came about and ‘Not the Horse’.

How myself and Tony Bessant ended up acting at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a fascinating story, it proves that with hard work, you can create your own luck. Bear in mind myself and Tony come from a film background.


I’ll start from the top..

In November 2014 myself and Tony Bessant had just got ourselves a new computer and editing system, we were now going to start using Adobe Premiere, instead of Final Cut Pro which we had been using for a few years. With this in mind we headed out to local Calderstones Park to grab a few shots to put together on the system and have a play around.

On the way back to the car park after getting a few shots we developed this idea, a small sketch we could film in the car which would be a comedy about two friends John and Gary and their relationship. We filmed the shots by literally holding the camera in front of our faces and improvising, we used no specialist equipment etc.

We edited it and put it on Facebook that night, the reaction was amazing- it went viral. People absolutely loved it, we didn’t expect the reaction. Following this we thought ‘we can make another one that carries on from this’. So we did, we created another one in the car again, this time we used a bit of lighting and professional audio. We edited this one and put it out again, people loved it. We then made an episode 3 and an episode 4. With each episode the production values increased slightly. Episode 3 was in my car again (My car looked like a set out of Star Trek) and episode 4 was filmed in Tony’s house. (Episode 5 is scripted).

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Towards the end of November 2014, Mike Dickinson contacted us and told us he wanted to talk. Mike is an award winning Director and someone I know from my time at Edge Hill University. I didn’t know him very well, but I knew that he had his own theatre production company ‘Naughty Corner Productions’ and achieved some success with his first play ‘The Bastard Queen’.

Mike had been following our sketch episodes of ‘John & Gary’ and at the time, just happened to be writing his second play ‘Not The Horse’, a gangster crime comedy. We set up a meeting with him and Jemma Lynch (Co-owner of Naughty Corner Productions) and at the meeting he told us 923793_1451523565172172_880168161_nthat he had already written roles for us in his play since seeing our John & Gary videos. He loved our humour and what we had. He didn’t just want two scousers for his play, he wanted myself and Tony- that was the vibe. He sent us over the script and after reading it, we loved it. It was a project we couldn’t wait to get involved in.

We went to Edinburgh Fringe festival the following August in 2015 with the show and it proved to be a brilliant tour. Edinburgh is a beautiful city. We had an offer to do the show again this year at the festival but we’ve had to turn it down due to other commitments. We will be back in the show again after August.

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Since that meeting a year and a half ago we have performed in the show on numerous occasions and are continuing to do so. The cast are extremely talented, and very genuine. They’re a fantastic group of people who have definitely made it all worthwhile.

We have performed in Liverpool, Lancashire, Wigan, Manchester and Edinburgh. (Receiving two 4 star reviews along the way). Crazy that we didn’t even have to audition, we were headhunted. The best part of the story is that we created our own luck. Things like this don’t just land at your feet unless you work or them.

It might take you a year, it might take you fifteen. My point is that if you consistently put yourself in good positions, then opportunities will come knocking. It all depends how long you are willing to do it for, and inevitably how hungry you are for success.


 

Thanks very much for reading. I have included a link below via Facebook where you can find our John & Gary videos. Also, if you haven’t yet seen ‘Not the Horse’ I strongly recommend it!

https://www.facebook.com/johnandgary/?fref=ts

Paul.

2nd year of University, film making and more.

My tutor in 2nd year of University for Film Production was Derek Murray, a very educated man and an award winning film director- he always came across as serious and always knew exactly what he was talking about. I developed a good relationship with him  and told him I was willing to work for him should he find anything I could help out on. He soon gave me a call and I was a camera operator for him, filming the Palm house Urban Music event in Liverpool. This was vital experience as it gave me an insight of how it is to work with someone else in the industry.

I worked on various other projects with Derek, one was a pilot project called ‘Made in Liverpool’ which featured a family and an in depth look of their heritage and lives. I was a camera assistant on this particular project as well as a sound operator. Working alongside Jeff Williams, a camera operator who Derek particularly liked to work with. Jeff was impressive and knew absolutely everything about the camera and how to deal with different situations in film making. He was at the time involved with Sky and travelled doing what he loved!

Throughout second year in university myself and Tony were now starting to gain a decent reputation for our work, we produced various small reports and documentaries on current affairs and managed to produce a short promotional video for professional boxer Johnny Quigley, an established sportsman who currently lives and fights in the USA and has been on international television multiple times. It was great working with Johnny, a scouser who could relate to us and vice versa. He is one of those people who wants to achieve and won’t accept anything less, I admire that! We also worked with a contact of ours to produce an interview video for Mr Easy, a Jamaican dancehall artist who is known throughout the world for his music!

Half way through my second year of University I worked for ITV. They inspected my CV and work history then employed me to work on The Jeremy Kyle Show. Working for this particular show was an unreal experience. I had the opportunity to experience how a television show is put together first hand and I was able to contribute to that. I couldn’t commit to ITV however as I was still at university which took up most of my time. I have to admit I was devastated telling ITV “No I can’t work those shifts sorry I am at University.” The main thing for me though was that ITV wanted me to work for them after University.

Hurricane Films

hurricane_logoApproaching my second year of University I wasn’t happy when I realised there would be no practical placement for my course in the Film/Media industry. Upon finding this out I made it my mission to find my own placement. If you are entering the film production world and have no experience, you are at the very bottom of the pile- regardless of what grade you achieve in University. A director I know very well once told me he would hire someone with no qualifications who had experience rather than someone who had a first class degree in University with no experience. You have to find that motivation for success inside you and let it out- if you are not willing to prove yourself by working for a considerable amount of time unpaid, you are in the wrong industry!  After applying for Hurricane Films I had a call back from the office asking me to go for an interview. I was absolutely buzzing, Hurricane Films are a well-known company with a good reputation, especially in Liverpool. Run by Sol Papadopoulos and Roy Boulter.

I was interviewed by Roy, the drummer out of the farm and a very successful man in his own right of both film making and music. I remember him asking me why I wanted the position and I basically told him that I don’t stop making my own content and would love to be part of the team and be able to contribute to the company. I worked for Hurricane Films for 7 months as an unpaid intern and researched for ‘Global City’. I was a researcher and researched many forms of content, photographs, video footage, old newspapers the lot. I remember the day I was sent to research for old newspapers, studying the pages from many decades ago was fascinating to say the least. I found it enjoyable that I was contributing to a bigger picture. I used to produce script reports as part of my role, this is something I found thrilling as I always loved reading anyhow. Sitting down with a cup of tea at the desk and reading into a world somebody else imagined and created, just fantastic! Then filing a report on the script as to wether or not it could be deemed possible for Hurricane to take up the idea.

I was also a runner and camera assistant and went on various shoots with the team. I learnt a lot from this alone. Seeing the importance of certain roles within a shoot and then watching the likes of Sol doing his thing with the camera was just great. I had a good relationship with the people from Hurricane Films and used to play football with Roy every week, which was cool to get out and know him also on a personal level. I still always even now look out for what Hurricane are up to. Hurricane Films is a respectable company with the right motives for doing what they do and love. I will always appreciate the experience I gained there through the people I met.

Generating ideas, Adverts and Interview sketches.

Tea Advert

Filming the establishing shot of our tea advert

My friend and ‘partner in crime’ of film making Tony was studying Media Professional Studies with Television at Liverpool John Moores University, whilst I was living in Ormskirk on Edge Hill University’s campus. This however didn’t reduce the rate of how many film making projects we made or how much time we spent together. We made a massive amount of Video/Film projects in our first year of university and Tony would regularly stay at my halls, where we would plan away and write scripts constantly. For all of our projects we were producers, directors, editors, actors. We did every single role ourselves whilst learning the ropes as a film maker, this has helped us to develop our understanding of the industry- we are now adaptable and can take on multiple roles.

Generating ideas 

I have always found that listening to music with a pen and paper in hand is a way which triggers my imagination more than anything else. It feels like it unlocks something in my head, it immediately generates ideas- this is also was the case with Tony. One day in Tony’s car as we were driving along and Cee Lo Green’s Forget You was being broadcast on the radio, and bang just like an idea popped into my head. It was to make our own tea advert and post it on our Youtube channel! It was to feature myself dancing around in a kitchen wearing a dressing gown making a cup of tea, followed by me hitting my head and Tony coming in and stealing the tea- 

A snap taken during production of the tea advert

leaving with a subtle dance. We developed the shot list and could use the University equipment completely free of charge, this was ideal for us as we now had no limits to what we could create. We produced the tea advert and shot it in on a Sony Z1 camera. When we released it via social networking sites it was greeted with surprise, laughs and respect. Nobody knew we were going to produce it and certainly nobody thought we could produce comedy without it being too cheesy. 

Producing further adverts and comedy

Idiotic nature

After the tea advert we produced many other ‘adverts’ through writing a number of scripts and playing with music and shots in our heads. They included Coke, Doritos, T Mobile, and Monster which featured on our personal Youtube accounts. All of these adverts were comedic in style and were all shot on a Sony Z1. We also visited local bars and did a promotional video for a well-known bar in Liverpool after speaking to a manager.

After producing a number of ‘Adverts’ we decided to delve further into comedy and began writing a comedy interview sketch. The script was written very quickly, literally a night and we had come up with a whole sketch. Whilst producing the script we would cry laughing at some of the jokes and comedy we had incorporated into it. It was based mainly on the way myself and Tony would act around each other and the things we would laugh at most.

The sketch was to involve myself and Tony as the two main protagonists, Tony as Malcolm and myself as Ralph. Ralph is a boss who loves his authority and uses it to his advantage whenever possible, Malcolm was a quiet lad who thought he was going to a normal interview- as you can imagine it wasn’t the most typical interview in the world. We released this again via social networking sites through our personal Youtube account. It wasn’t long before people were quoting me in the street and high fiving me which lasted a while, the same with Tony- constantly people quoting the characters from a world we had created it was unbelievable. A friend of mine at University even told me when he visited Zante on holiday he saw a group of lads quoting Ralph and mimicking my dance moves, which I find pretty crazy. What myself and Tony loved most however was that we had actually created this fictional scenario, the fact that people told us they would ‘cry laughing’ at something we created only made us hungry to create similar projects.

Standard behaviour. This night we went out for a drink, dressed like this

Standard behaviour. This night we went out for a drink, dressed like this

Due to demand we decided to create Interview part 2. We knew it had to be something of a similar comedic nature, so we decided that Malcolm should go back for a second interview and not know that Ralph would be interviewing him again. This sketch was slightly longer and also included Tony doubling up as two actors instead of one. Following this people also wanted to see a part 3, part 3 is partly scripted, something we would love to produce in broadcast quality-we’ll see. (Looking back at the interview sketches now with experience they severely lacked quality, they are let down visually and the lack of audio clarity did not help. We were still learning, but the idea was there and people loved it!)

Arriving at Edge Hill University, 1st year study..

Stuck in the deep end of an essay

Stuck in the deep end of an essay, with no armbands on

I lived in halls in my first year and I absolutely loved it. A great year in my life where I met some fantastic people. My room was a place I always kept tidy, it was the perfect chill zone for me, surrounded by many things.. Good people, nights out, music, laughs, football banter, football manager nights, essay writing until all hours, plenty cups of tea, randomness, hate, love and everything else that the drama of halls brought along (Including cooking for myself). I couldn’t have chosen better people to live with, they genuinely cared when it mattered and laughed when it didn’t, they looked after me when I had chicken pox like I was

One of my A la Carte delicacies.. I can cook

One of my A La Carte delicacies.. I can cook

a brother (Which was awful). These are the things I’ll never, ever forget. I lived with three lads, Charlie, Dan and later Brett. I got on with them like a house on fire, we always had a laugh with each other, top lads! I also lived with two ladies, Natalie and Rachel who were a cracking pair of girls always up for fun, we were like a family in our cluster- I’d love to go back and visit it with them one day! They would insist I open my bedroom door and blast my music (Clearly I had the best speaker system) so they could all listen along. They just got me and I got them, we always had each others back. I remember I came back to halls on my birthday, what did they do? They decorated the whole block with pictures of me.. Danny even baked me a cake, they completely shocked me! (I still have the notes, cards, banners and pictures they got me tucked away safe) I could write forever about Elm/Holly in Forest Court where I lived, so many stories with so many fantastic people- they all know who they are and they know I’d do anything for them, bunch of legends! (I had Tony Bessant my best mate there constantly also which helped, he might as well have been a resident, the bastard didn’t pay rent though did he- just drank my tea)

It was clear to me that I would be going to University to study Media or Film at degree level after 6th form. I knew that I wanted a career in the industry but like many people, I didn’t quite understand what way to go to achieve this. After receiving an offer from Edge Hill University to study Film Studies with Film Production I couldn’t wait to get started. The course was actually an English and History classified degree studying Film and Media, it also had a section dedicated completely to Film Production which is what I loved to do most- so it seemed ideal and versatile.

Studying Film at University was a completely different league compared to A Level Media Studies. I had learnt film and media theory at A Level but at University I was thrown into the deep end of film theory, to say the amount of film theory was vast would be a complete understatement. An academic writing style was absolutely necessary, along with a huge commitment to film and also the ability to be able to train your brain to cope with the demands of studying for a degree. For those who believe a film degree is ‘easy’ you are very much mistaken.

I got bored from time to time

I got bored from time to time

I always got along with my tutors at University, they were a team of very sophisticated people who loved what they did! Jenny Barrett in particular is one who stands out for me. I spoke to her a number of times on the phone before I got to University and she was always helpful and pointed me in the right direction. She is a woman who has an extensive knowledge of the film industry, especially when considering the history of film, a very well-educated woman. When I finally got to University she continued to guide me, she also understood my love and affection for my career which was vital in my eyes. She would reason with me but still always made sure I remained focused on my studies. I would also pay visits with Tony to see Andy and Kris our former tutors regularly at the school for a catch up! Although it was hard I stuck at it and grew to love some of the modules in University, especially when they related to what I studied in Media at A Level- it gave me a sense of security and reassured me that I was on the right path.

Tony

Tony

A group of lads in the kitchen- Charlie on the left, Skinner on the right, top men!

A group of lads in the kitchen, Charlie on the left, Skinner on the right, top men!

Meet Natalie..

Meet Natalie, always a friend of mine.