Another film festival selection!

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015 by tommakesmusic

We are so delighted to announce that “Are You There?” has been chosen as an official selection of the Galactic Film Festival!

Galactic Film Festival

We are really delighted and would like to thank the organisers for choosing us!

Thank you!

"Are You There?" chosen as an official selection of the Galactic Film Testival

“Are You There?” chosen as an official selection of the Galactic Film Testival


Official Selection!

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 by tommakesmusic

“Are You There?” Is now an official selection of The International Eurofilm Festival!

Well done to everyone involved! We are delighted to have been chosen for the final selection! We probably won’t win one of the coveted prizes but we are honoured to have been chosen – especially as you will know the story of the making of the short (if you’ve read the blog!) and the lack of budgetary wherewithal!

Congratulations to all involved, yet again!

The Rating

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 by tommakesmusic

Our next short production is officially called “The Rating” and is shooting in approximately ten days! Exciting. Our cast is rehearsing in a couple of days, and we are creating the props that are needed, along with one or two items needed for set dressing. The film is based in a shop and will be shot on location in my sister’s friend’s flower shop, with a few additions by ourselves. The plan is to shoot everything with the actors in one afternoon, and add any shots that we need at another date. We’re still shooting with the 600d, but will use Magic Lantern to improve the standard Canon H.264 data rate, rather than going through the RAW process. Here’s the logo for the film:

The graphic for our short sketch - "The Rating"

The graphic for our short sketch – “The Rating”

Remember to come over to the production blog for our new short film “VanDahl Eyes” to jeep up with our latest productions.

See you there!

Moving on

Monday, February 16th, 2015 by tommakesmusic

Well, we’ve most definitely finished with “Are You There?” It has been entered for consideration in some twenty three film festivals and unless someone takes a notion to include our zero-budget effort we’ll be moving on to our next few projects – some small, some larger but all different in scale and tone to Are You There? That doesn’t mean we’ll forget it or this blog, but it does mean that we won’t be here as regularly.

Possibly the only posts we’ll be adding will be links to our new projects and uploads of some of the stuff that we have completed already and not forgetting the new version of the film. When this will happen will depend on the deadline for some of the festivals as they don’t like films to be available before their decisions are made. We have some fun stuff completed but this will only be posted here after the film goes online.

As some of the festivals have deadlines through to November we really can’t predict what will be posted or when, but if you’re a fan of zero budget filmmaking (or a fan of Are You There? lol!) and the mistakes we make, please join us on our new project blog “VanDahl Eyes” where we will be showing more of what we’re up to!

So there you have it… Are You There? A sci-fi short film makes way for our new projects. Onwards and upwards, the learning curve continues!

Lens learning

Monday, February 2nd, 2015 by tommakesmusic

One of the biggest things i ‘knew’ was that the lens used makes a big difference to the image quality and what you can shoot… But getting my first ‘fast’ prime lens (for the princely sum of £20, this is zero-budget film-making after all!) has taught me that lesson for good. It’s in there now! Really, Patrick and I both understand the difference now! We’ve ‘got’ it, lol!

Up until now we’ve been using the Canon kit lenses the EF-S 18-55mm zoom and the EF 75 -200mm zoom (which has a multiplication factor of 1.6 as it’s designed for full-frame sensor cameras, such as the 5D, 6D, 7D etc, meaning it acts like a 120mm – 320mm lens.)

While happy to have them, these are not good lenses for film-making. The focus rings are not really designed for manual use, they move too easily and get out of focus just when you don’t want them to. Setting the aperture is a pain in the arse. Trying to do a focus rack is a disaster! And they are both ‘slow’ lenses, meaning they don’t let a lot of light into the camera. The kit lens has an f-stop value of about 5.6 where the new prime lens has an f-stop of 2.8… This means it’s letting a LOT more light in.

Since the Canon sensor really needs a lot of light to work well, this is a good thing, as it allows us to lower the ISO or gives us less apparent noise for a given setting. Search ebay for “prime lens” and you can pick up many a film-making bargain. I’ve seen some for as low as £6/$10.

Also, it seems possible to get an adapter from almost any lens mount to any other lens mount, so lenses made for other cameras can be made to work with your current camera – the Canon is especially well served in this area. As a lot of our upcoming projects are designed to be shot indoors or in confined spaces, with limited scope to add a lot of light, the addition of a ‘fast’ lens has made a lot of difference… and hopefully we can add a couple more before we get stuck into our next project. We’re hoping for a wider lens (28mm, maybe) and a 50mm lens. (50mm prime lenses seem to be F.A.S.T.!)

Fingers crossed we get the bargains we need!

What you’re missing! And other news!

Saturday, January 31st, 2015 by tommakesmusic

The film has been submitted to twenty-four festivals, (mostly free to enter, as that fits our budget ;-))with maybe a few more to come. The response has been quite positive, though we’re really only hoping for some encouraging comments rather than being accepted as official selections. One festival we won’t be screened at is the Cinema Spectacular festival in Vancouver, Canada – Apologies to Laurel Brown whose time was taken up by reminding us we aren’t Canadian!

The festival submission process through Film Freeway is quite painless and although it’s still new to me, they have done a good job at making as much clear as possible – they have a fantastic full HD secure screener that festivals can look at and that gets linked to your submission. Unlike the rival site Withoutabox, which despite being owned by the IMDB (and thus Amazon!) looks like a 1990s web nightmare; hard to navigate, hard to find information about festivals and even harder to submit because they don’t have a good screener – its only standard definition at best… In this day and age? (One plus point is that they allow you to link your film to its IMDB page… Yes, “Are You There? A sci-fi short film” will be on the International Movie DataBase very soon! Fame at last!)

Unless, however, you are a member of Film Freeway, you won’t be able to see the latest version of the film. So just to illustrate the differences, here are a few stills from the new version!

A still from Are you There? A sci-fi short film.

A still from the new version of Are you There? A sci-fi short film. This is a completely new shot for this version of the film and it definitely adds to the atmosphere!

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 19.15.39

A still from the new version of Are you There? A sci-fi short film. This shot wasn’t used in the no-vfx version of the film as it looked terrible without the VFX elements… the globe hologram and the data screen.

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 19.15.58

A still from the new version of Are you There? A sci-fi short film. We updated the vfx on the screen and added the globe hologram and even the “Are You There?” poster designed by Patrick. A nice fun Easter egg!

One other film related thing that Patrick found online was this article about the film “Gravity.” I wasn’t a fan of the film but after reading this article by Tess Gerritssen I have lost a lot of respect for the director, Alfonso Cuaron, and especially Warner Brothers, who are basically weaselling out of a contract that would pay the writer less than the annual toilet paper budget for their headquarters. D-bags! (But yeah, I’d be the first to line up to make “Are You There? 2: Are You Still There?” for them, lol!)

We’ll post up our festival rejections as they come in!

New coke / Classic coke

Monday, January 26th, 2015 by tommakesmusic
The opening screen of the re-edited version of Are You There?

The opening screen of the re-edited version of Are You There?

Well, we’ve finished the re-editing, remaking of the definitive version of our zero-budget short sci-fi film “Are You There?” We now have two flavours of film on you tube the original no-vfx version (classic coke;-) and the tricked out, expanded, mega-version (new coke ;-). The first version is still on YouTube and Vimeo, but the latest version can only be seen via the festival screener on FilmFreeway: here. (See below.)

Film Freeway submissions to film festivals for Are You There? A sci-fi short film.

Film Freeway submissions to film festivals for Are You There? A sci-fi short film.

In addition to finishing the film we’ve also submitted it to several film festivals – mostly sci-fi festivals in the hope that they will look more kindly upon our work! See the included image. Again, we’re not expecting the film to be included – I’m sure there’s a lot of bigger budget, short films out there, compared to our efforts, but again, it would be great to get a bit of feedback from the festival organisers – people who are passionate about film! For this reason, the latest version of the film is not public at the minute. Festivals usually require that the film not be publicly available in the version submitted to them, which is why we’re leaving the no-VFX version up on YouTube, but the two minutes longer re-edit must stay incognito for now!

If you want to see the latest version, try the link to the screener, above, but this might only be visible to the festival panels. Its worth a try.

A “Behind the Scenes” video is coming soon, as well as a couple of other fun things 😉 We made the movie for our own fun and we’re still having fun with it!

New shoot planned (and an update to an old friend ;-)

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 by tommakesmusic
Escerpt from Are You There Script

Are You There Script

We have a new (very) short production planned for early next month, to be shot in Lurgan on 8th February. With five pages of dialogue and three acting roles, it will be very different in style and scope to “Are You There?”.  Very local to us in subject matter and intent! We hope to have more details soon, but the script is completed, the date and location are set, and we hope to have news about the cast soon!

Speaking of which, we have done a complete George Lucas/Steven Spielberg re-edit of “Are You There?” to make something that more closely resembles the film I had imagined before we rushed to finish things for the My Rode Reel competition.

Having ignored it for many months after losing the converted footage, I decided to see what could be salvaged… And with a year’s update to software, a year’s experience with final cut and After Effects…

We went right back to the original RAW files and, well, the re-rendered and edited footage looks a lot better. We have added in the visual effects we had always intended and at this stage all that’s needed is a re-edit of the soundtrack and “Are You There?” version two will be uploaded to the usual places – I think all involved (me especially) are a lot happier with this version. (Maybe it should be called “Are You Still There?) Lol! It certainly has about 1000% added sci-fi-ness! (Yes that’s a word!)

If you haven’t checked out our YouTube series Breaking Ads, give it a look now!

More soon!

Movie review: A Hobbit, Battle of 5 Wallets

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 by tommakesmusic

In the beginning there was a book. Not a big silly book full of fighting and noisy people shouting and blood and gore, but a gentle, clever book about a young hobbit being drawn into an adventure bigger than his imagination.

These recent Peter Jackson “Hobbit” films are not the cinematic realisation of that book. They are a dumb, intelligence insulting, written-in-crayon travesty of that book.

These films are a cynical, money grabbing exercise in shame – yes, even more than most. With the notable exceptions of Benedict Cumberdragon, Martin Freehobbit, James Nesdwarf and the hard working film crew, I have lost any admiration and/ or respect for those responsible for these abominations.

In short, this is the worst piece of crap I’ve ever seen – and I own Sylvester Stallone’s “Driven”! (Fondly known by me as “Drivel”!

Lol! Some news soon!

2014 in review – Anonymity, here we come! (Plus 2015 plans…)

Thursday, January 1st, 2015 by tommakesmusic

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this here blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 330 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

2015 is going to be a busy year for us, film-making wise. Having learned a lot from “Are You There?” we’re going to be making a lot more films and videos including another short, a longer form musical (yes, a musical!), a documentary and several (possibly many) music videos! We’ll be linking those productions to this blog so for the few people who have looked in at us we’ll have lots to see. Also on the cards is a re-edit and reworking of “Are You There?” with a year’s experience and an investment in a few film making tools! This will see us add some much needed footage and also some more visual effects! All in all, it’ll be closer to what had been imagined when I started!

Also up-and-running is our occasional web series “Breaking Ads” with it’s own website at – please have a look and a listen!