This production diary will consist (hopefully) of my sporadic progress and development through multiple productions, including; short films, web series, feature films, as well as any other project I am currently working on. I intend to offer a useful insight into my work flow, one post at a time.
If you want to be notified when I post, you can sign up to my Mailing List by clicking here.
Post #6 - Today was (is?) the day!
Monday 5th October 2020
Another post, and another realisation that I haven't posted in ages. But I bring news! Good news. Yesterday I had the brilliant idea of prioritising my ideas, making it easier for me to focus and decide what to spend my spare time doing. One of the downsides to being creative is that you think of more ideas that you can manage or ever hope to complete, and because I am fairly hard-working, any idea I have I want to do it. I won't bore you with the entire list, but at the top of it sits Blah Blah Blah - my anthology feature film idea which was two segments into production at the beginning of the year before Covid hit. Not long after, I decided to scrap the idea entirely (for various reasons), but it's hung around in the back of mind, niggling away at me since. I've never felt entirely convinced that I've 'figured it out', but I know it requires my attention - otherwise it would leave me alone.
Well, today I wrote the first segment of the new version (it's called The Parking Metre). I think one of the main reasons why I've struggled to sit down and write the script(s) is because the idea itself doesn't actually relate to the narrative in anyway. The idea I have for Blah Blah Blah is focused on the structure (one story leading into the next) and largely neglects what it is actually about. This has meant that whenever I think to myself "it's time to start writing again", I have no idea what I am going to write. I can literally start anywhere. It can literally be about anything. And I literally don't have a clue where to start! I do know I want it to be a dark, absurdist, dead-pan, OTT comedy film (something very silly), but again, that doesn't tell me anything about narrative or the characters who will inhabit the script. Typically I will have a theme or a nugget of an idea that can set me off writing, but not this time. Anyway! The helpful priority-list I made yesterday helped me to focus on what I thought it could be, and this morning a bunch of ideas started forming, one after the other. Suddenly fish started jumping into my net, and I was off.
So, I've got 1 ten page script down, with who knows how many more to go? I think I am going to aim for about 12, but I also want to let the story dictate how many. I sort of know what the next segment could be, but I won't know for sure until I sit down and start writing again. We live in uncertain times (what's new for a self-employed creative, eh?), and so I am hesitant to start promoting this as a project I am going to do any time soon (I recently postponed a short film because I couldn't justify putting people at risk unnecessarily). Also, financially, who knows what it's going to be like in the coming months? I am working pretty solidly on showreels at the moment, but I imagine work is going to dry up once the furlough payments and government grants stop in the coming months (Christmas is also knocking on the door). Fun times lay ahead however which way you want to look at it. I just want to remain creative and try and get some projects off the ground any which way I can, and I think Blah Blah Blah needs to be that project.
- - -
Post #5 - When You're Having Fun
Saturday 25th August 2020
Wow, time really does fly when you're having fun. Unfortunately not much has happened in terms of my own creative work, as it seems I've been doing nothing but showreels, showreels, showreels since the last time I posted. Which is great, don't get me wrong. I appreciate the business, and whilst it has been tough juggling everything, I must admit, I'm quite proud of some of the scenes I've produced recently. It's clear to me that my abilities continue to improve, and my knowledge to get around problems is becoming more extensive. I would say that I am on the verge of adding music to the scenes now, but this will open a whole can of worms that I don't quite have time for yet.
In the back of my mind I still have several projects I would like to get off the ground, but time is just slipping away from me. There is Lunchtime (formally titled They) which I am umm-ing and err-ing about. Producing anything, regardless of whether it's just with myself, or with a larger crew, costs, and with everything still up in the air (we've officially entered a recession now), it's hard to justify spending any more on creative things - at least for a while. I am booked up now until October, so I've got a bit of time to decide. I would like to start casting soon though, so maybe in a couple of weeks I need to think about planning it. I still want to make a web-series, which is also seemingly unlikely now, and start work on a feature - which is and will remain my number one priority.
One really cool thing that happened in the time that I last posted, was that I was approached to film on a feature film for a day - it's a zoom based concept, called Terrornet. I know the director, and so I was excited to help out. We staged a 90s style entertainment show which attempts to reveal one of the characters a fraud - it will be used as a youtube clip. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, and I look forward to seeing the final film
- - -
Post #4 - Another Award for Dinner With Mum
Friday 24th July 2020
This week has seen Dinner With Mum win another award! This one was for 'Best Editing' at the Unrestricted View Film Festival. It's a shame the festival took place online this year, as I would have attended (a short comedy horror of mine, Hangry, screened at that halloween edition a few years ago), but I understand the decision. I'm an vocal advocate that when an actor wins an award they should thank the editor, so I am going to do the honourable thing and thank the actors - as without them, I wouldn't have had anything to edit! I have to be honest, I was a little surprised to win the award. When Dinner With Mum won the 'Audience Choice Award' at The Box Film Festival, I could sort of understand it - it evokes a reaction. But I honestly don't think Dinner With Mum is particularly well edited. It's not bad, don't get me wrong. But it's not flashy, it's simple, it's... well, to me at least, it's obvious. I personally think that what is being mistaken for good editing, is good scripting. All the cuts, all the edits, all the transitions, take place in the script. All I did as editor was make sure they were there on the timeline - but perhaps that's what the award is for? Anyway, I am very humbled and grateful. I'm proud that Dinner With Mum continues to do well!
I am also proud to announce that I've managed to get the short scripts finished that I've been whinging about! In actual fact, I ended up writing 6 new scripts. During lockdown I've managed to write 19 new short film scripts, and because I have OCD, I had to write another so I can round the number up to 20 (obviously, right?). After realising that I had written 19, I took an old showreel script and planned on expanding it into a short, but luckily before I did that, I got struck with a new idea. I finished and posted the script this morning, which is titled Noticeboard, and I am quite excited about it - I changed the main character from female to male last minute because I realised that another script I plan on producing soon had a female lead of a similar age, and so didn't want the casting to clash. This way, it makes producing two shorts at the same time much easier. The plan now is to never write a short script again - why would I? Unless of course I get an incredible idea that I can't ignore, I have enough short scripts to last me a life time, and so I can start concentrating on my feature ideas... Right?
But, this is how I procrastinate. I come up with other ideas that take priority over the ones I know will take a lot of work to complete. So before I can start redrafting Blah Blah Blah (which I am planning to take into production once Covid is less fear inducing), I am going to write ten-to-twelve 1 minute shorts centred around a single theme (this time, it's memory). "Hey Dan, I thought you just said you're finished writing short scripts?!", I know, I know! But this is a different concept, and it doesn't feel like writing more 'short scripts', but rather something a bit different. I want to write each script in a different style, with different actors, so the aim is to expand both my creativity and actor pool, whilst not spending as much money as I would do on a ten-page short film. The other project I want to write before moving on to the feature is another web series titled My Housemate Is A Serial Killer. Similar to Spade, this will be a 6-part, ten-page series, centred around a guy who gets a new housemate. And guess what...? Yes, he's a serial killer! Let the comedy begin! On top of that, I've managed to finally record the last character for The Watchful Eye so I can begin editing that now - no excuses to keep putting it off. More news on that another time. And so, now my busy August begins. I've got 5/6 showreel clients coming up, wish me luck!
- - -
Post #3 - A Surprisingly Busy Week
Thursday 16th July 2020
I actually felt obliged to write this post earlier than originally intended for two reasons. 1. A lot has happened this week, and 2. I am about to get very busy (I think). Unfortunately I still haven't found time to write those 3 scripts I wanted to (which has actually now increased to 5), which has frustrated me somewhat. For most of the week I've been editing the first episode of Gravity, which has now fully wrapped on principle photography. I am happy with how it's turned out, and I think I did a good job - I don't naturally see myself as cinematographer, as it's something I do out of necessity (and cheapness), but I know my understanding of the role and overall ability has got a lot better in recent years - and I believe this footage is evidence of that. It's obvious to me that my choices and ideas are a lot more sophisticated than they once were - mostly because my tools to hand are a lot more varied, but I am also lot more aware of lighting and shadow and not just framing (which has always been an ongoing obsession of mine). The first scene we shot on Saturday night was another 'bad' date, featuring an angry man played by my great friend Neil James. It's been a long time since we've seen each other due to Covid, and whilst we both need haircuts, it was great to see and work with him again.
It was a late one on Saturday, but I still managed to spend most of my Sunday editing. Monday and Tuesday was editing again, but now I'm starting to get the episode to a watchable standard. We had to film in a park last week (which I've previously mentioned) that has proven very tricky to edit - mostly because of continuity in lighting (the sun kept coming in and out), but I think I've done a decent job, and watching it back, I'm pretty proud - I just hope Amanda is happy with it. I don't think you'd be able to tell that it has been a struggle to edit, which like my cinematography, perhaps is another indicator of how much I've improved at what I do. The scene involves 6 characters sitting in a circle, each needing some sort of intro and establishing shot, whilst not losing the attention of the audience.
The rest of the week has been made up of me considering which short to produce next (I'm thinking Lunchtime), and handling some new showreel clients. I am now fully, 100%, closed the doors, booked until September - I can't take on any more clients, I won't... I won't! Maybe. No, I can't! I said I wouldn't, so I'm not going to. So I've got some scripts to write over the weekend, before filming starts up again next week and then I'll be very busy for about two months (or so it seems looking at my diary)... Yelp! Oh, and another thing! I almost forgot. I've now recorded all the characters for my audio drama The Watchful Eye - which I started back in October 2019. Because Covid put a hold on everything, I was unable to get it done until now. It's not like I have any time to edit it, but at least the recording is complete! Hooray!
- - -
Post #2 - So, Where Was I?
Friday 10th July 2020
Oh, yeah! I was meant to be posting regular updates, right? Nah, sod that, it's too hard. Especially when I'm busy. The last week or so has been particularly busy as I've had several new clients for Daniel Harding Showreels - if you didn't know, this consists of me writing, filming and editing short bespoke scenes for actors so they can build their own showreel. Once the client has booked, the first step for me is to write the scripts. I enjoy this process, as it challenges me to write scenarios and characters I wouldn't normally think to do - the client fills in a 'welcome pack' which is an online questionnaire I've designed to help them answer some of the questions I need to know to write the scripts, and I write from their answers. Most of the time I get a tonne of ideas spring to mind, but some times I get a bit stuck (which can be a little annoying) - but like anything, the practice has made me a much better writer.
However, once this work starts to trickle in, everything else gets put to one side - which it's started to do. Paid work (unfortunately) has to take priority because I have bills and things to pay for, which is why I wanted to get as much work done during the lockdown as possible - knowing that it'll be too hard to juggle once the world starts turning again, assuming I'll be busy. Most of the this week has been taken up by writing showreel scripts - I think I've written twelve or so. However, my original intention was to write and work on another 3 short scripts, so that I can wipe that slate clean and start scripting Blah Blah Blah (again!)... but neither of those things happened.
I also filmed the second day of the first episode for web-series Gravity. This took place indoors at Amanda's flat, and whilst I had to wear a mask all day, I think it went quite well - even though we were clearly ambitious with how much we needed to get done in the time scheduled. Unfortunately we had to postpone the evening part of the shoot as it rained and the forecast was not not looking promising - after a long day, it made sense. But finding this extra day has proved somewhat tricky. In the mean time, I've started to edit the footage and I'm now about half way through a first draft.
Next week I want to get those three new scripts finished so I can start work on my feature ideas. I've already started putting money aside into pots so I can eventually afford to produce some of them (if Covid allows), which is somewhat a relief as it's putting my plans into practice. It's fair to say that my ambitions are bigger than ever, but it's certainly about time some of them started coming to fruition.
- - -
Post #1 - Start again, and then again
Monday 29th June 2020
I should probably start this entry off in a number of different ways, so I'll try and do them all. This new diary form has seen the 'Production Diary' for Happily Ever After and the 'News' page merge into one. After a number of posts, I realised that it would be almost a year until I could expect to see HEA move into production (at the earliest) and the News page just wasn't doing it for me - it was too short and lacking in detail. So I felt a single Production Diary page for everything I am doing was the way to go. Sorry to anyone who was enjoying the posts for HEA, but rest assured, if there is any further development on the project, I will mention it here. I've also started making plans for a number of other feature projects too, and I didn't want to have to maintain a production diary for each of them - which would be far too much work for my mum to read!
I could've also started this post by writing about what I was up to the weekend just gone - which will likely be the format I'll use going forward. I filmed the first day of the first episode for a new web-series called Gravity by local Brighton based actor Amanda Davidge. It's an interesting project, and it's had to adapt to lockdown and the current social distancing measures - making it part of the concept. I believe she is producing this first script as a pilot to test the idea before going into production on further episodes. I was DOP on the day, and I will also be editing the project as well. It was a tough shoot (mainly due to the unpredictable weather) but I thoroughly enjoyed filming again, and being outside with all my new equipment.
The last way I could've started this post was by letting you know that I've just uploaded a new script titled Lunchtime, which can be read on my Scripts page. It's intended to be a dark comedy about how 'they' are always telling you what to do. It's a simple concept and one I feel could be fun to film at some point soon. I am currently trying to decide which short I should produce next - I've written about 10 scripts since lockdown, and I like most, if not all, of them. Some are simpler than others, and therefore cheaper, which may be the way to go - especially considering the likely financial instability facing us all in the coming months and years. Can I really justify spending money on something I enjoy doing rather than making sure I have enough to pay the rent and bills?... Yes I can, is the answer. I've done it before, and I'll do it again! But Dinner With Mum has kinda been doing well, and the feedback has been pretty amazing, so I am left questioning whether I need to make another short film any time soon... Probably not. Decisions, decisions.
I'm still enjoying lockdown, and the slower pace to life, but I can feel things are starting to turn again. I've been receiving enquiries for Daniel Harding Showreels, with a couple of bookings made, but it's nowhere near the volume that I was working at before the lockdown, which is still kind of nice. I keep telling myself that I should try and maintain some sense of this when things go back to 'normal'.
Until next time! Thanks for reading - Daniel