Thursday, 30 August 2012

Crash Bang Wallop

The gargantuan task of editing my very first feature film is nearing its end, albeit a travel documentary and not a dramatic, action-packed, star-studded big-budget thriller, but it's my first feature film nonetheless. However, the computer system I'm using is crashing more times than a demolition derby.

As I get nearer and nearer to the end, Final Cut Pro, the editing software, is the culprit, crashing as many as five times in a day. There's obviously a bug or something seriously wrong somewhere, so it's nerve racking just now trying to get the film output in a format I can save just in case all goes pear-shaped. As I type I've been trying to reach this goal for the last 36 hours and I'm still not there.

Whilst trying to remain calm and patient, my thoughts turn to how long the whole project has taken. From the initial proposal to cross America by bicycle, through to actually doing it, to reaching this near-completion stage of the film, has taken one month short of two years, and for a film with "no budget" has taken a surprising amount of money to achieve, mostly spent on equipment.

Then there's the thoughts of "what next?" After the film has reached it's moment of completion, I suppose there is the next mammoth task of choosing and entering it into film festivals, which will no doubt keep me just as busy, just as stressed out and be just as expensive overall. I've set my sights high but my attitude is I've made this much effort to get this far I have to at least try to achieve the best end result.

I already have an idea for the next film, but that is some way off, maybe in 2013.

But I can already feel  the approaching inevitable "down" after it's all over, so I've been trying to create an event that I can set my sights on to look forward to.

Next March I turn half a century, and I have no idea how to celebrate, if that's the right word.

Until now.

As Pauline and I crossed America, the town that we looked forward to the most, and which lived up to all the expectations, was Fargo in North Dakota. In the four days leading up to my birthday next year, Fargo holds its annual film festival. So I'm going to enter the film into their festival, and if I'm lucky enough to be accepted, I'd like to go to attend. The town and its art-deco theatre feature in the film afterall. Then there's then one day after the festival for me to travel home and join friends on their way out to Italy for a cheapy ski trip.

That sounds like a pretty good 50th to me.

Hopefully there wont be any serious crashes that week.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Edinburgh festival

It's the end of the 3 weeks of chaos for the capital city of Edinburgh, as the international festival draws to a close. Every August the city plays host to three vibrant collections of events; the official Edinburgh International Festival, which includes large scale spectacular shows such as the world famous military tattoo; the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, started in 1947 and now the largest of all the festivals; the Edinburgh book festival, a literary gathering of all that's going on in the world of book.

This year because of my looming deadline for completion of my feature film I wasn't able to attend as many events as I would have liked. The three I did mange to see were all very entertaining.

The first was a BBC event, and interview with John Lloyd, co-writer to the Blackadder TV series and most recently creator of a great quiz show called QI hosted by Stephen Fry.

The second was a book festival event with Kate Rawles and Donovan Hohn. Donovan had written a book called Moby Duck, all about an event that happened in 1992 when a container full of plastic bath toys such as ducks and frogs, fell off a ship in the Pacific Ocean. He had spent several years tracking down where they had washed up and his talk was full of very amusing anecdotes of those travels.

Kate had written a book called The Carbon Cycle, about a cycle trip she had made in 2006 from the border of Mexico all the way to Alaska across the Rockies. Her stories of the physical hardship and the friendships she encountered along the way in the United States struck a familiar chord with me. Her journey as not just a cycle but was also a study into the attitudes of the people she met to climate change.

My final event was a talk by Doug Allan. If you haven't heard of him then you most likely have seen some of his work. He is without doubt the foremost cameraman of wildlife, most especially in the frozen poles. Marine wildlife events that have only ever been captured once were all filmed by Doug. A fellow Scot he had entertaining stories. One was during a precarious situation when he awoke one morning in his tent to discover the ice he was pitched on had broken free and he and his team were floating 9 miles out to sea! One of his team was Sue Flood, and in a moment of inspiration he got down on one knee and proposed to her. That's one event they're never likely to forget. His book was for sale that evening called Freeze Frame, full of astounding photographs but also the stories behind them. Look him up on

But back to my own film making now as I strap myself in at the edit suite for the final push to completion. Two days ago Pauline and I spent hours back in the recording studio to put together the final voice-over track, the final piece that makes the film a whole.

Friday, 17 August 2012

I'm not a good swimmer

Has it really been 2 weeks since I've blogged?! How time passes so quickly when you're having fun.

Regular readers will know that this is a crucial time for me in relation to the feature documentary Sleepless 'til Seattle. A deadline is approaching way too fast.

On top of this, as you'll know from my last blog, I've been working away on bringing a property back up to a high spec, which thankfully was finished yesterday.

Pauline, the intrepid adventurer who I cycled across America with making the film, thankfully returned from her 2-year adventure just in time to give a helping hand. Well, actually, Pauline did most of the work in the apartment while I worked on the film.

A test screening was held a week ago, and at the a questionnaire was filled in by the audience. Following this a focus group met a few days later.

I now have in my possession a myriad of thoughts, ideas and constructive criticisms to help me polish the film.

The problem is there is so much helpful stuff that inevitably there are many conflicting views, and my head is swimming with half a dozen alternatives for every problem.

And I'm just not that good a swimmer!

Friday, 3 August 2012


Nick Knowles presents a TV programme here in the UK that is all about coming to the rescue of people in the midst of a DIY project that has hit disaster.

In the past few weeks I've been working away on a renovation that's grown arms and legs. The timing couldn't have been worse as, if you read last week's blog, you'll know I am now 7 days away from the first screening of my feature film . . . and it isn't even ready yet.

At first glance the renovation job seemed fairly straight forward, but as I started to delve closer I could see there was a lot of work ahead.

Every room in the apartment required attention to varying degrees: a complete floor sand in the kitchen; tiles coming off in the bathroom; windows losing their seal in the lounge. Even the outdoor space needs attention, with the garden badly overgrown and full of accumulated and unwanted items.

Add into that this week: I have a film making class I run every Friday afternoon and this Saturday is the local monthly farmers' market, for which I am coordinator.

I like being busy though. It's good, but this has been some week of juggling. I have been very lucky though, as Pauline was able to help out and turn the garden back into the sublime little haven it used to be. I couldn't have done as good a job as she has done. Give me a floor to sand or a door to hang and I'm your man, but gardens?!  Not in my skillset.

Tomorrow the market will be over for another month, and the day after the film will be out of my hands for a week as it goes for testing to the Cameo cinema.

In the nerve racking lead up to the screening of my film next Saturday I will be sanding away, tiling, grouting, painting, nailing, and a multitude of other tasks in bringing the apartment back to pristine condition.

Nick, if you're reading, give me a call.