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Paul Henry is at it again offending people. Yes, it is tiring. Yes, it shows how he really is a one trick pony. But what has riled me up more than a cynical know-it-all-but-really-knows-nothing presenter deliberately stirring up trouble has been the excuses given to put up with this monkey’s shit slinging.

John Key dismissed him as just “a shock jock” and didn’t bring the man to task on national television when Henry said to his face that the Governor-General did not look like a New Zealander.

This is partly because John Key is not that good when he can’t play the smiley nice guy persona he uses. No doubt he internally regretted being next to Henry at that moment, but simply hoped to dismiss the matter before it became political.

Unfortunately for John, it went political pretty damn quickly and has made him look like a bit of a tit in the process.

What annoys me is that John Key seems to think that being a shock jock means that Paul Henry can say whatever hateful or offensive thing he likes and there will be no consequences because people, in old NZ fashion, will simply say “oh, Paul, there you go again.” I’m sure that if John Key was little more down with the yoof he’d probably add a “LOLZ” to that too.

The thing is, being a shock jock should not exempt you from saying such boneheaded and hateful things. Shock Jocks don’t say these things just to get ratings, they have a political agenda. They stir shit because they want change. They want less foreign NZers or more porn on telly or whatever. They say these things to get a change. Sure, they exaggerate, but there is usually something more to it than just publicity.

What further annoyed me, though, was the equally boneheaded defence from TVNZ.

“The audience tell us over and over again that one of the things they love about Paul Henry is that he’s prepared to say the things we quietly think but are scared to say out loud.”

Wait. So most NZers think that the Governor-General doesn’t look like a NZer and the implication that to look like an NZer one must not be Indian in appearance.

Or maybe the reason so many NZers are scared to ask is because they know the question is wrong? Funny how the questions we are apparently afraid to ask involve minorities, insulting someone’s appearance, implying a person is a lesbian or ugly, implying that not being a White middle class man is a crime…

That is a shit excuse. Sure, Paul Henry can ask the questions, but he should reap the results. Not just get dismissed because he is a shock jock. The man is clueless. He may be a very intelligent guy, but he is not wise and lacks the ability to think about anything other than Paul Henry.

NZers who side with him are fooling themselves if they think he is standing up for the common NZer. Listen to him, all his views and ideals are about his own personal benefit. Nothing more.

Paul Henry is a blight on our TV screens. He doesn’t encourage challenging debate, he just encourages debate about whether this is finally the time for TVNZ to boot his ultra-conservative, anti-New Zealand ass to the curb. Make no mistake people, Paul Henry is the guy who doesn’t talk like a New Zealander. His views are outdated, ill-informed and toxic to this country and it’s media.

Conan

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This is my first mobile blog post ever! I am writing this in KFC on my iPhone while I wait for the weather to clear up enough to walk to my Sunday game.

I recently got into a discussion about my latest project – Setting it Straight- and I had ended up getting into a discussion about genre.

You see, for the last 25 years or so I have been fairly genre bound in my writing. I have always written fantasy, scifi or horror. Never broke out of those genres.

But SIS is none of these. It’s a comedy-drama firmly rooted in the real world. The surprise to myself while working on it has been that it feels like some of the best work I’ve done to date.

While the show is far from being fully written, I have found the tone and style so quickly and I love the dialogue. The work I’ve written so far feels so natural and I have enjoyed writing it.

It has made me realise that one of the best things a writer can do is challenge his/her habits and break out of that comfort zone so many writers fall into.

While I can be occasionally witty when talking to people, I have always been uncertain that I could write a consistently funny comedy. Yet here I am looking at breaking out of genre and style, and I feel that it is better than a lot of stuff I have written before.

Next weekend I’ll be running auditions for the show – being freed of visual effects means I can get the show filming much sooner than it took the Winding City. Here’s hoping that the casting goes well.

Of course I have a lot of the talent from the Winding City showing up, so I shouldn’t have anything to fear.

Conan

 

Rowan is marked up for Visual Effects

Rowan is marked up for Visual Effects

I would have posted yesterday if I hadn’t been so tired. Yesterday was our final big shoot for series one of The Winding City, and what a day it was.

 

I had, as usual, an insanely ambitious schedule planned – in excess of 11 minutes of footage to be shot over the course of the day, outside, with no lighting.

Just like Saturday, the Fates seemed to shine on us and provided excellent sunlight all day long. Of course this is both a blessing and a curse – as it can cause the image to blow out from there being too much light.

But after having watched through the dailies with Nick, we’ve found the footage to look pretty good.

We were EXTREMELY fortunate to have Phil on location again and helping with the fight scene – which came across amazing. Rowan looks suitably kick ass in the sequence, and once we have added some sound effects and background music, it is going to look incredible.

It helped that Phil is a professional fight choreographer and trainer, and a world master martial artist. He also is a very cool guy who is both patient and friendly. He made a great effort to remember everyone’s names and always made the cast feel at ease.

 

Rowan fighting the Masques

Rowan fighting the Masques

We had a number of extras this time who all ran and dodged and fell down – they had to spend a couple of hours sitting on blankets in the sun, but when we needed them to be on film, they definitely put their all into it.

 

Our main cast were, as always, brilliant. Given that this was probably the last time they would be working together on this project for a while it was really cool to be able to get the group together for one last time until the planned launch party.

Yesterday was another day that left me feeling like I was becoming more than an amateur film-maker, thanks to the input from professionals like Bernice, Rowan, Norman, Elliot, Kerina, Phil… At no point did I feel that we were some small group of wannabes making a vanity film – the whole day felt like a genuine professional project. It’s moments like those that I feel humbled rather than full of myself – because I have managed to gather genuinely talented people together to make something that is not some little forgettable project. This really felt like the real deal.

We had a lot of hikers, families and bikers stopping to watch the filming as well – and a lot of positive comments were made about Jackie’s costuming of the Masques – our villains of the piece. She did a fantastic job of designing creepy costumes – and the claws look incredible. 

I even had to ring the police to advise them that we were shooting a fight sequence, which was kind of cool – at that moment I felt like a real producer.

Of course, I worried all day about how everyone felt – that they were annoyed at me for keeping them around rather than letting them go, that kind of thing. But I was constantly being reminded that everyone was happy to be part of the project. Bernice has asked me to help with a project she’s working on – which I am already getting excited about – and Kerina told me that she would be keen to work on anything I did in the future regardless of the future of The Winding City.

 

Bernice, Kerina, Jenni, Dayle, Lynn and Angeline look on as the fight breaks out...

Bernice, Kerina, Jenni, Dayle, Lynn and Angeline look on as the fight breaks out...

 

 

Coming from professional and experienced people in the industry, that is an incredible compliment. Not only of my work on the Winding City as a script, but on how I’ve managed to put together the shoot and the series. As I noted before, I worry a lot about the mistakes I make and it helps to know that I have the talent to grow in this industry and have others confident in my ability. It has been this positive and practical reinforcement that has kept me going thus far, and is driving me to see this show through to the end.

It has also inspired me to start working on the second series of The Winding City now – just the initial treatments, no scripts just yet. I will have more than enough work to do with Post-production.

Something that I have learned that has been advised to me many times now is that you never can afford to be full of yourself. Film-making is  constant learning experience, and there is always something new to discover. I find it interesting to hear about those people in the industry who get cynical about their jobs and position – who kind of buy into their own self importance.

I hope that as I work on this project that I never get like that. While I may be one of the hardest working people on this project – that is solely because I have set that work for myself. Simply put, it takes everyones input to make a successful show. While some people may be the heart, others are the legs, the brains … you get where I’m going with this… 😉

Like I said, when I realise how professional this project has become since the early days when I was just going to do a small 7 minute piece with Gino, I feel humbled. Yes, I’m proud of what I have achieved, and how I have managed to bring it all together.

 

One of the Masques hangs out for a while

One of the Masques hangs out for a while

 

 

But that is because I have listened and learned from people like Dan, Norman, Phil – all the people who have patiently explained to me what needs to be done, how to do it. And also because of a little luck as well. Having a friend like Norman, with his contacts – managing to meet people like Bernice and Kerina who have been able to call on their contacts – Morgue, without whom I would never have met Dan who has been a major driving force behind my work and has been a constant source of positive energy, encouragement and professional advice…

That was what was going through my mind yesterday as we shot a lot of last scenes for many of our cast. The feeling and realisation that we are so close now to having the series in the can and now having a full FOUR EPISODES shot.  There is over four hours of footage on film. If we combine all four episodes is comes to almost over an hour of actual screen time once the show has been fully edited – maybe more!

It’s really exciting! Keep posted as I will be updating our progress now through the post-production and publicity phase. 🙂

Conan

I’ve talked before about the ever difficult balancing that is being a Producer on a volunteer project like The Winding City. While I don’t have a huge amount of experience in film-making, I have worked on television before, in a very minor capacity. Enough though to know how demanding an industry both TV and Film can be.

It is very rare for actors to get call sheets more than two days out from shooting, rehearsals often happen on the day of shooting, sometimes the cast haven’t even seen the episode’s script until the week before shooting.

Part of this is due to television’s tight turn around – episodes are often re-written after polls from the first episode, and even with a few months schedule advance on the screening episodes it is still a high pressure experience.

Film has some benefits – often actors get a read-through and some rehearsals in before shooting. But this can raise other scheduling issues, such as The Winding City is suffering.

I’m currently regretting the weekend shoot format I ended up with. I should have taken a full week out and shot the series in one hit like most other projects. Most other webshows do this – they shoot their episodes in one hit, then release them as they are edited.

This will definitely be my approach with the next project I do. Mostly because of the complexity of trying to schedule people. Already I need an actor to be available on Saturday to do some choreography training for a fight sequence, and he has only now advised me that he is unavailable – apparently having missed my e-mails for almost a week.

This puts me in a very difficult position now as I am now effectively short two trained actors.

I have had another actor advise that he can’t do an entire weekend because it is too much work to ask on top of everything else he has on his plate. Which I appreciate, I have been pushing the cast hard over the last two shoots – because I am aware of how much we need to get this into the can soon.

See, I have a lot on my plate at the moment too. There is something developing at work that I can’t really comment on yet, but it could see me under a LOT of pressure in about two months time and I want this show well into post by then. On top of this, I have to be looking for a new flat for Nick and I – which is a lot of work as it is – and now I have a possible medical condition to deal with too (most likely due to stress and dehydration.)

Sometimes it can get very frustrating trying to organise the show and feel that all I get is “I can’t/I wont/I didn’t…”

It’s not the reality, but the usual kind of sensation one gets when trying to organise large groups of people. I do often feel that many people don’t grasp how difficult it is to arrange these kinds of projects. As the director of the Nines said in an interview – being a showrunner is really a job that is logistically impossible for a single person to do. I know exactly what he means.

Essentially everything ends here with me. If we don’t have the right props. My fault. If an actor is not on set. That’s my responsibility. If we don’t have lights, catering, costumes, scripts – it all falls on my shoulders to organise. It is very easy to get frustrated, and I would be lying if after the last few days I have seriously contemplated just pulling the plug.

We are running out of days to shoot exteriors, and I am currently stressed about what to do if it rains next weekend as the two main actors are not available for over three weeks after. (And by time they are free, I really wont be in a position to manage such a large set of shots.)

But despite all this, when I watch projects like The Guild which started off not that much more than we have set out to do – and when I look over the footage we’ve shot… I know that I have see this project through to the end. Because when it is completed, it will be worth all the pain and hard work. But I also know that if I work on another season of The Winding City, it will be the last for a while. My next project is likely to be less visual effects heavy, or at least less complex a series.

One idea I’m working on should be still fairly visually challenging, but I will be aiming for shots all set in the real world rather than having to create an alternate reality as well. 🙂

I have included the behind the scenes video that I put together using iMovie ’09. (Which, by the way, is not as good as iMovie HD, which is a superior editing suite for a first timer. iMovie ’09 is a bit simplistic and lacks a lot of the useful tools for editing audio. (I found it very frustrating trying to get the audio balanced across the entire video as it was shot on two different cameras.)

In other news, I e-mailed The Guild crew for tips on developing a website for a webseries- hopefully they will come back with some good advice.

And here’s hoping that we have great weather next weekend and manage to get all the shots I need done. I just hope it works. I’m already having to look at ways to generate some more capital for next weekend as my medical bills will be cleaning me out tomorrow. As you can see, it never ends as Producer. There is always something else you need to worry about. 😉


 
Conan

So The Winding City is slowly moving forward as a project. I had a fantastic talk today with Stacey from Film Wellington, and arranged some permits for our next shoot. While I was talking to Stacey, a couple of things occurred to me.

Firstly, the next project I do will be a lot more organised. Don’t get me wrong, The Winding City Project has been organised and is far from the chaotic mess that some film projects have been. But I am making note of where I, personally, can improve my productivity. Permits and timelines. The next project – be it Winding City Series 2 or some other web production – will be a much tighter ship.

Which leads me to my second realisation today. I want to do this on a regular basis. I love the entire process, and if The Winding City can generate enough capital, I would like to leave my job and work on web shows or the like full time. Of course that is wishful thinking, but I will definitely be doing another project once The Winding City has hit the net. I have two series in mind, both are less ambitious in some ways and more ambitious in others.

Talking with Stacey has been very educational. It is interesting to hear how various film crews approach on location shooting. Many are professional and organised, others are film school students who seem to not realise that complexity of organising exterior shoots.

I have to admit, there is this desire to just get out there and shoot the piece – but due to the potential inconvenience and trouble to the public, you need to make sure your ass is covered. That’s kind of what permits are about – it’s about letting the council and public services know what you intend to be doing. Film Wellington does a great job of making sure you get suitable locations and support to ensure both a successful shoot and minimum hassle to the public.

It would appear that some crews believe that 25 people for a shot on a footpath is a small crew. But there are logistics that need to be considered – where are these 25 people going to be standing? What about public wanting to use a public walkway? How many cars? Are there going to be trucks? Who will be making sure nobody gets hit by a car?

We’re going to be facing these issues, and I have  a potential cast and crew of eight people at last count.

And I still haven’t finished organising exteriors… so much work and so little time. 🙂

Conan

Ruby, Hunky (Luke), Rupert and Mina are ready to follow in Joss Whedon's footsteps...

Ruby, Hunky (Luke), Rupert and Mina are ready to follow in Joss Whedon's footsteps...

Just as an update – I’ve been put on an antibiotic regime for the next few days due to pain and possible infection. Hence my being up at 3am while waiting for my painkillers to kick in. Yeouch. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear to be anything serious – just a delayed reaction to watching Go Girls… I kid. But while I wait, I thought I would share a bit of an experience with you all.

So yesterday Nick introduced me to Demons – a British action-monster show created by ITV, apparently in the hopes of competing with the Saturday night family viewing juggernaut of British television, Doctor Who.

Since Doctor Who has gone on a hiatus for this year – only being released as specials rather than a full season this year – ITV must have hoped to capture that market with something attempting to have the same mix of the fantastical and the humourous.

The basic premise of the series is that Luke Rutherford, a typical London teenager, discovers that he is the descendant of Abraham Van Helsing. When his godfather, Rupert (with an inexplicable American accent) shows up and reveals this he also reveals that Luke – unlike other London teenagers – is destined to be a warrior against the Half-lives/Freaks… That he has near supernatural powers of his own via speed and strength as well as a natural inclination towards the martial arts…

Is this beginning to sound a little familiar?

Maybe it would help if I point out that one of the initial encounters with Rupert has him throw a sharp object at Luke, who intuitively catches it in his hand – ala Buffy the Vampire Slayer Movie.

Yes. ITV has created Hunky the Demon Slayer.

 

Edward Cullen, I challenge thee to a pretty boy face off! Hunky (Luke) perfects his pout...

Edward Cullen, I challenge thee to a pretty boy face off! Hunky (Luke) perfects his pout...

You think I jest, but the preternaturally pretty Christian Cooke spends a good part of the first episode wandering around with his shirt off at the smallest provocation. Looking all Abercrombie and Fitch, Luke hunts a little CGI demon in his apartment, shirtless and armed with a mop. It’s all, well, odd to watch.

 

Of course the series is British, and the budget isn’t nearly to the scale of a US show. They have a number of elaborate and expensive CGI shots and sets – which means a smaller cast. So Luke’s friend Ruby ends up pulling double duty as Willow and Xander for the series. She’s the source of the Xander quips and has Willow’s unrequited love, but directed at Hunky. I mean Luke.

Meanwhile there is also the enigmatic Mina Harker, a blind concert pianist who has a few dark secrets of her own and likes to pick on Ruby. She’s very Angelic a character…

Of course there are some differences in the series to it’s “inspirational” source material. But the first episode kind of trundles along and really doesn’t set up a heck of a lot considering it’s a six part series.

Luke learns he’s a hunter. Demon shows up at his home. Ugly Demon Man stalks Luke. Luke accepts that there is something going on. Rupert overacts while showing Luke the way to Van Helsing’s secret HQ – The Stacks. (I kid you not.) Rupert shoots a rat with a hoopy microwave gun just to show that later on he is able to shoot a ray gun at baddies. Luke goes home. More Demons. Ruby and Luke get attacked. Mina is mysterious. Ruby is bitchy. Mina is bitchy. Ruby gets kidnapped. But no Big Bad is hinted at or revealed.

Now don’t get me wrong. This show isn’t bad. And it isn’t as awkward as watching Go Girls was. But, it just isn’t fresh enough in its first episode. There isn’t anything wrong with going for a Buffy-style show with a guy instead of a girl, but at least they could have aimed for a bit more difference and variety. Cribbing entire sequences straight out of Buffy felt less like homage and more like lazy rip-off.

And Rupert. Oh Rupert. Feck off. Something I really hate about Demons is that Rupert is so self-righteous and “we shall smite the enemy” it gets very boring. The show takes the view that all the Freaks are inherently evil and nasty and just need to be smited. End of story. On top of that, Rupert has this ridiculously stupid “Type” category system that, as far as I can make out, has no real measure and is just kind of bandied about to imply the “danger” level of a monster.

I sincerely hope that as the series progresses, that gets turned on its head. Because it really bugged me. I really hate Rupert – he’s obnoxious and, frankly, a prat.

Hunky, I mean Luke, is cute and Christian Cooke certainly does a good job of making him feel like a believable teenager who is learning that his life is not what he thought it was. If only he wasn’t required to take his shirt off so much in the first episode. I mean, I like cute guys without their tops on, but I also like it if it makes sense in the show. Not just the kind of pointless sequence that “Demons” went for.

Having said all that, from the teaser of the second episode, it does look like they have some interesting monsters show up over the course of the show – and it is possible that as it progresses, the series will become more than the first episode implies.

It’s worth checking out – just be prepared for some serious deja-vu.

Conan

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