Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Making of A Feature Film

Over the past month I've been involved in the production of Nathaniel Kelly's first feature film, The Adopted One (working title). The crazy guy's made countless short films, and attempting a feature was the logical next step!

The production was modest, and no-budget as ever, but for this film Nathaniel not only made good use of his regular stable of cast and crew, he also pulled in some extra special talent. Key example: Phil O'Brien.

Nathaniel Kelly directs the leads: Journey Kelly, Phil O'Brien and Joseph Baronio

Phil's a great bloke, who has been involved in a lot of film production in the past. He really dived into his role as a father in The Adopted One. He's a natural in front of the camera, and I think his gravitas is going to shine in this role.

Max Conaghan and Phil O'Brien on a beach

Then there's some of the regulars behind the camera. Me. Max Conaghan. Max is really tall but he's still a great guy.

Max Conaghan being a stand-in for a scene with Denis Franklin

Feature films are long. This one was (mostly) shot over about two weeks. That's not normal. It was hard. Hard and fun.

Joseph Baronio and Nathaniel Kelly dragging a bath through the rain

Nathaniel hopes to finish the film this Winter, so look out for it!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

La La Land: Worst thing ever or best thing ever?

La La Land is a fun musical and an optimistic fairytale about the entertainment industry. I would have thought it'd be an unlikely target for critical controversy, but here we are. People love to hate La La Land just as much as others love to love it. Most audiences and critics I've come across are firmly on one side or the other.

Seems like a lame division to me. Firstly, haters: you're wrong. The film just wants to be pure joy. How can you hate pure joy? Or even an attempt at pure joy? Are you Hitler? Hitler probably didn't hate joy, so who do you think you are?

Secondly, lovers: I love your love, but you know those hugs that are painful? Like, bear hugs, you know? Many of you are hugging La La Land to death! It's a movie, an imperfect movie, possibly a great imperfect movie, but there's no need to stab its critics in the face. I mean, are you Hitler? I don't think Hitler stabbed people in the face, so who do you think you are?

But hey, I get it. It's emotional. It's a movie about a glowing spirit in the face of adversity. A song and a dance in hard times. The other day I was in a lovely casual conversation when one guy said he walked out of La La Land. WALKED OUT. Hated it that much. Yes, that triggered me. My lips wanted to scream-forth: "BUT THAT OPENING NUMBER WAS IT NOT MAGICAL?" But I held strong. I extracted myself from the conversation, taking deep breaths, thinking about simpler times. Then I got a knife and ran back and stabbed the idiot in the face.


Yes, it's going to win too many Oscars, but we simply ought not start a war over La La Land. La La Land wouldn't want that. Respect La La Land.

Some people just don't know how wonder-filled this movie (and soundtrack) is. Are they wrong? Yes. Are they Hitler? Probably not. They're just not La La.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Michael Giacchino: King of Composers?

If, like me, you're a fan of film, TV or video game soundtracks, then The Soundcast is one of the podcasts you should be listening to. Not just because it's a high quality show, or because I appear on it as a guest from time to time, or because it's one of the not-many soundtrack-related podcasts out there, but because regular hosts Christopher Coleman and Erik Woods frequently do a great job of discussing the state of scores and soundtracks in a broad sense. Their show stands out because they don't just debate whether La La Land is the worst thing ever or the best thing ever (one of the most over-discussed topics of recent months), but also attempt to dive into interesting, original and timely subjects such as is modern Hollywood music "dumbed down"? and what actually makes a popular theme great? They're interested by what it means to be a soundtrack fan, and how that meaning is ever-changing.

In their latest episode Chris and Erik discuss the concept of composer dominance. They cite John Williams and Hans Zimmer as dominant film composers of the past, and note that Michael Giacchino - through the abundance and prominence of his recent projects - is clearly next in line.

Have a listen to the episode for their discussion, including their thoughts on whether composer dominance is a bad thing (spoiler: they decide it probably isn't (sub-spoiler: I agree with them)). Here, I want to briefly jot down some thoughts I have about Michael Giacchino being the latest head honcho in the film music business.