Podcast 1 – ManPod and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

June 11, 2010 at 10:43 am (Podcasts) (, , , , , , , , , )

This is our first ever attempt at a podcast. Hope it works and that you enjoy it!

http://ia360708.us.archive.org/23/items/ManAliveStudios-Podcast1codcastOfTheApocalypse/podcast1.mp3

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“You Can Write, But You Can’t Edit… Edit… Edit…”

December 9, 2009 at 4:05 pm (Editing, Equipment/Resources, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

That’s a lyric from a track by Regina Spektor, who is probably my favourite artist at the moment. She’s amazing! If you’ve never heard her before, you should check her out on spotify or something immediately. Here’s one of her songs on youtube…

See what I mean?

Anyways! The reason I’m going on about Regina is because Stu and I (and a few of our chums, including Phil “Nosferatu” Mcardle and Josh Liandu of Our Future Glory) went to see her live at the O2 Academy in Glasgow. She was phenomenal. Favourite songs on the night included “Apres Moi”, “Poor Little Rich Boy”, “Samson” and “Us”. To be honest though, she performed them all excellently, and her band (consisting of a drummer, violinist and cellist) were all top-notch musicians.

However, back to reality today in the office – we’re just editing a panto that we filmed for the Dundee Social Work the other night. We’ve filmed it the last three times so we’re pretty used to it by now. Okay, it’s not exactly living the Hollywood dream, but doing these kind of things is what keeps us going financially so we can’t complain! It’s an idea if you’re interested in film-making to have a go at filming live events for money. The experience of cutting things together afterwards can help you learn a lot about editing, which, if you’re making films on a low budget and doing everything yourself, is really going to come in handy. Also, the money can go towards important equipment/resources you’ll need for making your first few films.

That’s all I’ve got for you today! But stay tuned for some far more useful blogs in the near future…

L.

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Temporary Insanity

November 19, 2009 at 11:31 am (News) (, , , , , , , )

For the last couple of days, we’ve had a special visitor in the office. His name’s Stephen and here’s a few words on his experience with man ALIVE Studios!

“Well I’ve been lucky enough to have been at the office for Work Experience this week and it’s been brilliant! On the first day I made a slideshow for a fashion show called “Radiance” and Stuart helped me to animate a small “Radiance” intro movie. That turned out quite well I reckon and it was good practice since I’m interested in Stop-motion animation. On wednesday I got to see the guys interview people outside the Overgate and once I worked the microphone for them! I also got to help them find similar guys on Youtube to subscribe to. Today’s my last day but so far this has been a great Work Experience and I’ve seen a lot of how to edit films. I couldn’t really be here monday or friday sadly since I’ve got to travel to and from Glasgow. Man ALIVE studios is much better than school.”

Better than school, folks! You heard it here first. 🙂
It’s been a pleasure having Stephen as one of the team.

L.

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We’ve Arrived!

November 12, 2009 at 12:50 pm (News) (, , , , , , , )

Hello out there, blog peeps!

We have finally made the switch over to wordpress after hearing some glowing reviews from a few of our chums.  So far I can’t get my head round it at all!  There seems to be way too much to take in all at once.  Even as I write this I’m getting distracted by seeing that I have the option to write an excerpt, or send trackbacks,  or post tags, or do something with “categories”.  Still, I’m sure we’ll get there eventually!

I’m going to transfer a bunch of our most recent blogs (from blogspot) over to this account, so if you think the content sounds very familiar, that’s (probably) why.  We’ll be posting some new material very shortly, but we have to get our vid for the latest Comedy Smalls competition done first!

Take it easy (but not too easy)!

L.

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The Adventures of Moonface and Torchboy

November 9, 2009 at 4:51 pm (Equipment/Resources, News) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello out there!

Today’s blog is just a cheeky wee one, as I’m just squeezing it in at the end of the day. This weekend’s been crazy busy – we’ve been filming some fun sketches for the Scottish Social Work peeps, as well as attending the premiere of “Terror ‘Neath the Tay” on Saturday night at the Dundee Odeon cinema.

We were invited to the premiere by one of our youtube chums, Kyle Titterton. He got in touch and asked us to make a fake trailer to be screened before his main feature (which was very entertaining, I have to say!). Along with our good chum, Alexander Bethune, we came up with this…

We were concerned it wasn’t going to be well-received on the night, but fortunately people were in a silly mood and we got a respectable number of giggles.

The best thing about it all though, was seeing the benefits of building relationships with other local film-makers and people in the “industry”. Our friend and mentor, Justyn Rowe, once told us that we should get to know as many other people in the same line of work as us, and not be afraid to help them out. They may be your competition, but they are also a powerful ally and resource!

Anyway, that’s all for now!

Have a great evening!

L.

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Surprise, Surprise!

October 28, 2009 at 1:31 pm (Reviews, Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Happy Wednesday!

How’s it going out there, peeps? Today it’s bright and sunny here in Dundee, which is most unusual. But enough with the tedious formalities! Here’s part 6 of my notes from the writersroom seminar…

SURPRISE

When you are writing a screenplay, you want to write something that is fresh and original, but there are only a finite number of basic plots that you can work with (I’m going to do a blog on these basic plots later too) so you need to know what’s different about your version. What unique perspective are you bringing to the story? What’s your original touch? How are you going to surprise the audience?

When you watch a movie, or read a great story, there should be a sense that the ending was totally inevitable, but at the same time unpredictable. What I mean by this, is that, once the dust clears, you should be able to look back and see that it was obvious the story would end like this. Everything should “add up”.

A good example of this would be the movie “The Sixth Sense”, by M. Night Shyamalan. The story is about a child psychiatrist (Bruce Willis) who is working with a young boy that claims he can see ghosts.

If you haven’t watched it, don’t read any more as there is about to be a terrible spoiler…

…at the end of the movie, it’s revealed that Bruce Willis’ character (the main character throughout the film) is actually a ghost. This is a great plot twist in the movie, as, when you look back over the film, you can see that it really was quite obvious, but not (to my mind anyway) predictable. Now, not all stories need to end with such a mind-blowing twist to be a success, but they do need to come to a satisfactory resolution that has been built up over the course of the plot. Many movies start off strong, but lose it at the ending. This is usually because the writer simply hasn’t done enough to suggest this kind of conclusion to their story.

An example of a movie that (in my opinion) utterly fails in this principle, is the film, “Vanilla Sky”.

Don’t be fooled by the great trailer. This movie uses the technique that children are taught never to use in writing class, the “and then I woke up” lazy-ass ending. The writer has created all these confusing yet interesting situations/circumstances and twists in the plot, but then, instead of rewarding the faithful viewer with a great resolution that explains everything, they cop out by saying it was all a dream. Awful stuff.

So, that’s all for this section. Many of you may disagree with my thoughts on “The Sixth Sense” and “Vanilla Sky” (as there is potentially some case to be made in suggesting that Vanilla Sky does, in fact, point towards its ending), but hopefully you can see the principle behind what I mean anyway.

L.

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Show Me Emotion, Tra La La La La….

October 27, 2009 at 1:44 pm (News, Reviews, Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Hey!

We’re back after a nice long weekend, and, sadly, I’m now a year older. Yup, a lot can happen in a weekend. Today we were going to be out filming a silly fake trailer for a superhero film, but there was too much rain. Hopefully we’ll have it done before the end of the week and we can post it for your entertainment.

In the meantime, here’s the next part (part 5) from the writersroom seminar the other week…

EMOTION

When you’re writing a screenplay, it needs to matter at a human level. What I mean by that is that the characters and their individual stories need to be more important than the “concept” behind the film. This obviously links in with what we were saying about character in the last blog, but refers more to the journey that you take your characters through than the characters themselves.

A good way to do this is by showing the vulnerabilities in your characters – the chinks in their armour. A great example of this is the film “Leon”, which is one of my favourite movies of all time…

The main character is a cold-blooded assassin, who cares about no-one and lives a life of solitude, but everything changes when he decides to save the life of his next-door neighbour – a young girl. As the film goes on we get more and more glimpses into the true vulnerability of Leon’s character, and the emotional journey he goes through. If you’ve not seen the movie, I highly recommend it.

Essentially, the best scripts/movies (really, the best stories) should generate a physical response as you read/watch them – whether it be laughing out loud at the jokes, getting goosebumps at the revelations, holding back a tear at the sad bits, looking cautiously around the room at the scary bits, involuntary gripping of the armrests during a tense scene, or, best of all, combinations of all of these things and more. You can’t get any of this if the audience don’t care about the characters, and there’s no point aspiring to anything less than this. If this is not your goal, you’re wasting your time, and if it is, then check your scripts back afterwards and be sure you’re generating the feeling you want your readers to feel.

Peace for now!

L.

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The Plot That Sucked

October 21, 2009 at 10:59 am (Reviews, Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello faithful blog readers!

Back again today with part 3 of the notes from the writersroom seminar. Today’s should be fairly brief…

COHERENCE

Your script needs to have a strong plot that holds everything together. This should be fairly obvious to anyone who’s an aspiring screenwriter, but there are so many people who get it wrong! You can have lots of great ideas, good scenes, etc., but you still need a clear plot that connects these things and also comes to a satisfactory resolution.

One example of a film which (in my opinion) fails to accomplish this, is “The Boat That Rocked” by great writer Richard Curtis. It’s full of great little scenes and moments that can be comedic, touching, or even heartbreaking. As a whole, however, it is very unsatisfying. The overall central plot is extremely weak, and there are too many little plots all happening at once, with no real resolution or sense of story.

It’s very easy to get carried away when you’re “in the zone” and to try to do too much, but you need to beware of being distracted from the focus of your story. You may write a scene that you really like, but, if it’s not moving the plot along, does it really need to be there?

Lastly, you need to know the world, tone and genre of your script, then make sure that you are faithful to this throughout. What kind of story is it? This harks back to the stuff about format from part one of these blogs, but again – your audience needs to know what they are watching, and to “get it” very quickly. There’s nothing wrong with writing in a specific genre, the trick is learning how to be original and surprising within that world.

Alright. That’s all for part 3. Catch you later!

L.

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Bee Careful to Follow our Blogs!

October 15, 2009 at 3:19 pm (News, Writing) (, , , , , , , )

Hey!

So, we’re back in the blogging game again today. We have been busy bees of late, which is more than I can say for the poor actual bees who seem to be dying out in some kind of bee apocalypse.

We’ve decided to re-focus our blog approach. So far, it’s just been a case of letting you know what we’ve been up to, like crewing as the cameramen for this music vid, for example…

…but from now on, we’re going to be posting more regularly, and sharing lots of the different things we’ve been learning on our quest to become great film-makers.

Both Stu and myself are interested in all the different aspects of film-making, so it’ll be a bit of a mish-mash of subjects, plus we’ll be doing some reviews and other random stuff too, but hopefully that means there’ll be at least one thing a week which will keep you interested. 🙂

Last night we were at a special seminar in Dundee, put on by the BBC Writersroom. It was a really informative look at improving your writing, as well as an opportunity for them to remind us about their upcoming screenplay competition. If you’re a writer, you should check out the Writersroom website and get yourself signed up for their email bulletins!

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting a couple of the points from their seminar. Stay tuned!

L.

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Promises, Promises…

July 23, 2009 at 2:59 pm (Mis-Adventures, News) (, , , , , , , , , )

Well, well, well. I promised a blog every day didn’t I. Sorry about that, but we’ve been MAD busy! We’re in the middle of a major event in Dundee right now, called “LOVE DUNDEE”, and we’re doing a lot of music and video stuff for it.

In the meantime though, here’s a vid of me smacking myself in the face with a shovel. This is an out-take from the vid we made for this year’s Virgin Media Shorts competition. Please click the link below to view it on their official website, and register to rate/comment. It would be seriously appreciated! 🙂

‘Later!

L.

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