2020 to The End of Time
NAVIGATING MY ONGOING
ADVENTURES IN THINGYMAKING
Describe the journey above.
career aims - terminology of business, time and technical process when it comes to a medium I see as an art
Why would you like a Thingy?
build the damn
Print on demand - the role of the hard copy and the feeling of intimacy in movies?
Streaming and home cinema in movie distribution?
Screening in public - domestic audiences, wathing as a part of your week. Talent show mentality in an audience, Butlins Red Coat environment for the filmmaker, one step removed from it being a REAL environment
Building on my work to date, I wish to continue to explore zero budget filmmaking to help develop and clarify a model of production that does not need monetary investment to be executed and to continue to build a domestic and international network of small screenings/events to keep the communal audience exhibition experience the centre of the purpose of film production.
To do this, I will make my 4th zero budget feature and document the practical and artistic decisions I make in video footage. This documentation will start at the project's conception, through its production, to its screenings for the public. Using this footage, info-graphics to explain my ideas, hindsight voice over narration as well as other supporting evidence, I will make a videoessay that will fulfil the thesis element of my PhD as it will also decode my 4th Thingy's visual vocabulary and its artistic intentions. It may be published (screened/released) so other filmmakers who find themselves heavy on ideas and ambition but low on finance or resource can use it as a guide and a source of enthusiasm and inspiration for the filmmaking process itself. It will also explicitly define a different model of filmmaking away from traditional TV and film production methods that they may adopt.
I believe this to could provide an important contributing towards the more experimental low/micro/no budget film culture in the UK for both filmmakers and audiences. This could be not just in the form but also the subject matter: not just lower production values that feature more experimentation, but also in the stories that are the subject matter.
I believe increasing the variety of stories and the way they are told on a scale where monetary investment is not a pressure on filmmakers at the start of their careers could help to increase the breeding of talent at a grass roots level who could then progress into the Film and TV industry. The originality of these films could also feed storytelling ideas into the mainstream of UK film production and add it its variety.
noun 1 - Temporary name used for someone or something when memory fails. e.g:"You know the guy....the one with the hair....Thingy!"
adjective 1 - Used when something is beyond description. e.g: "Wow! That was so....erm.....it was quite....sort of....thingy, you know?"
noun 2 - Genre of low budget filmmaking made by Daniel Hutchings. e.g: "I've just seen Daniel Hutchings' Thingy! It was short, but quite exciting."
noun 3 - Term used to circumvent the medium a work of art would otherwise be contextualised in. e.g: "It's not as good as my favourite film but it's the best Thingy I've ever seen."
noun 4 - Inoffensive reference to genitalia. e.g: "That strange sausage looks just like a....thingy!"
TRAILER FOR MY MOST RECENT THINGY
Happy Returns Synopsis: A day-in-the-life of a wife and mother who contemplates the expectations of her youth and the domestic obligations of her adulthood after she in invited to meet a mystery man for a night of passion.
Happy Returns stars Markéta Brundova as Ema in a Presents Inc production of the 3rd Thingy from Daniel Hutchings.
A SHORT DOCUMENTARY I MADE AFTER MY SECOND THINGY SECURED INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION
This short film illustrates my artistic journey up to the end of 2018 when Freelance Giggle-oh gained international distribution through Carboluce, an Italian Art Film Label based in Milan.
NAVIGATING MY CAREER TO DATE
At the start of 2019, I drew this map to help myself understand my filmmaking journey so far. The notion of my work being beacons came to mind: the ideas of them light my way during development and production, then the films existence calling like-minded people to them.
NAVIGATING MY WORK TO DATE
I realised how I viewed my work should be represented visually to convey the intended function and context of each element. This shows my perspective that communal exhibition is the core function of my filmmaking and that 'home viewing' is a step removed, like a photo of a painting in a book is evidential of the work, not the work itself. Having said that, a communal screening in a home becomes exhibition, ceasing to be evidential through shared experience.
AUTEUR OR NOT AUTEUR, THAT IS A QUESTION
In her article 'How do you do a practice-based Phd in Filmmaking?', Ann Tobin describes her experience of screenwriting as PhD research, using the Northern Film School's resources and students as crew to manifest her script into a finished product. The paper also puts forth this as a model of production for future films. But this still requires being in higher education to facilitate it. It also uses the same crew model of shooting and scheduled production. I am interested in defining a model that does not need significant monetary investment and does not require a significant well of technical and practical resource in its place.
She also describes the training for professional specialism within the industry:
"But in the end the Film School is educating and training filmmakers as potential professionals working in the professional industry. And although some of our students do become individual film artists it is not our primary aim. Nor is it the primary aim of the students who enrol at the Film School. Their ambition is to leave the Film School as graduates who will be able to obtain employment and build a long-term career in the media industries as collaborators with other film professionals."
I studied my Filmmaking MA under the Auteur model of production, the notion that the filmmaker provides a singular artistic voice that speaks through each element of the film's production.
Peter Wollen describes its influence being due to its elasticity in his Signs and Meaning in the Cinema:
"The auteur theory grew up rather haphazardly; it was never elaborated in programmatic terms, in a manifesto or collective statement. As a result, it could be interpreted and applied on rather broad lines; different critics developed somewhat different methods within a loose framework of common attitudes. ....the fruitfulness of the auteur approach has been such that it has made headway even on the most unfavourable terrain."
I took the notion of the filmmaker being involved with every element of a production as a licence to execute every element of production myself whenever possible. This resulted in developing skills in: writing, producing, casting, rehearsing, scheduling, lighting, costume design, props design, performing, acting, shooting, prepping footage, editing, colour grading, sound design, scoring and writing songs, mixing, encoding, finding venues to screen in, flyering, publicising and presenting the films in person.
This was part an artistic decision, as I want to develop my artistic voice and visual vocabulary, and part pragmatism, as I would always be prepared to work on a part of a production without desiring monetary payment.
There must be a model of production and audience building that could be illuminated through dedicated research, documentation and academic support within my working practice.
MY COLLABORATORS, BOTH DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL
So far I have built a wonderful group of talented people in the North West, a group I affectionately call The Presents Inc Players. Totalling over 50 actors, they range from ages 4 to 64 and have all featured in one of my Thingys.
They agree to film with me without monetary payment because they are either TV actors looking to break type and add to their showreel, stage actors looking to apply their craft to filmed work or comedy performers looking to try their hand at acting. I consider myself fans of their work and honoured that they appear in my films. I aim for the filming process to be a fulfilling for them as possible.
McGowan is a good example of one of my domestic collaborators. He has appeared in all my Thingys. He had several roles in both Django Away! and Freelance Giggle-oh, as well as playing Grandpa in Happy Returns. We met through a mutual acquaintance, stand-up/actress Nina Gilligan, who I'd met through the Manchester comedy circuit. McGowan's career spreads across screen, stage and TV and include significant roles in: Russell T Davies' Years and Years, Emmerdale, Coronation Street and There's Only One Jimmy Grimble.
This interview from 2015 documents some of McGowan's thoughts and feelings of his experience working on Django Away!:
Through free casting website Starnow, I found my first international actor Markéta Brundova for the lead in my third Thingy, Happy Returns. An MA Drama student studying at Cardiff through Erasmus, Brundova was looking for an ambitious film project with lots of scope to show her range before she completed her course and returned to the Czech Republic.
We auditioned through Skype and agreed to do some screen tests over a weekend to see if our artistic sensibilities fitted. After a mutually successful weekend, we decided to shoot her scenes over a five day period in May 2019.
Here are some continuity stills from the Daily Comparisons sequence in Happy Returns:
A successful shoot later and we are looking to screen our film in the UK, Czech Republic and Italy from April 2020.
Paolini is the founder of Carboluce, the art label based in Milan that distributes Freelance Giggle-oh via their on-demand service.
After I shared the Freelance Giggle-oh Trailer on-line in 2017, Paolini contacted me asking if he could see the full film. After sharing an unlisted link with him, he was suitably impressed enough to subtitle the film into Italian and organise a preview screening for the general public at Cinema Beltrade in Milan to see how it played to an Italian audience.
After the success of this screening, we agreed for Carboluce to release the film online. This February of this year Freelance Giggle-oh was also selected by Wanted Clan to screen at their cinema, also in Milan.
Roberto and I are also currently in negotiations for Happy Returns to be one of the four films Carboluce releases this year.
I would like to build on these international collaborations and make further connections in other countries as well as increasing the scope of my domestic collaborators, both through meaningful artistic practice.
FINDING AN AUDIENCE
I have screened my feature length Thingys in many different types of environments; university lecture halls, pub function rooms, library performance spaces, church halls, peoples homes, even cinemas!
As well as the two video diaries about the Milan screenings of Freelance Giggle-oh, I also documented some of the Django Away screenings:
I would like to conduct more in-depth research on how best to position my Thingys for public viewing and develop a model for grassroots, non-festival screening where the audience understands the low-production values but comes for the communal experience and the originality of the film's content.
Although it dates from 2008, I think the report ‘Low and Micro-Budget Film Production in the UK’ conducted by Northern Alliance identifies some very interesting points on the possible function and value of low and micro budget filmmaking.
“Whilst the research found no hard evidence of widespread use of the web to distribute and exhibit feature length film, many interviewees drew analogies with the paradigm of music making. Just as today bands and singers are selfpromoting and distributing through social networking and downloading sites, there was considerable speculation that this would in the near future be equally possible for new, talented feature filmmakers.....In this sense the attitude of many interviewed could be characterised as one that, low and, especially, micro-budget filmmaking represents an investment in the future; both in terms of the development of new talent to refresh and sustain the broader industry and also as an option on potential future models of filmmaking and film consumption that may yet emerge.”
Up to this point in my artistic practice, I feel I have been following my daydreams and nightmares and working with whatever talent I have and amplifying it with enthusiasm. The connections I have made with my regular cast members, the resulting feature-length films and the places those films have been screened for the public are already beyond my wildest dreams.
Seeing as I am beyond my wildest dreams, I feel bringing an element of detective work to my artistic practice is necessary. To conduct more detailed secondary research alongside my primary practice-lead research could increase the scope and scale of my ideas and the number of people those ideas reach. This may include: identifying potential new target audiences that could affect my choice in subject matter and its development, a broadening of my methods of casting to increase the variety of my collaborators, technical research to increase my production values, screening the final film in a wider variety and greater number of places so I may continue to grow an audience for my work across the globe.
Using university resources and academic support, I would like to conduct a practice-led line of enquiry into feature-length filmmaking in the UK to identify a new model of production and screening that doesn't not need monetary investment.
At the end of my research I wish to have the following:
1- My 4th Thingy.
2 - A video essay that will decode the Thingy's visual vocabulary and artistic intentions, its production methods and public screenings. It will also explicitly define a different model of filmmaking away from traditional TV and film production methods as well as a model for public exhibition in grass roots venues and spaces, both of which other filmmakers may adopt.
FEATURE FILM RELEASES, AWARDS, PUBLICATIONS & SCREENINGS
Screened at Greater Manchester Fringe Festival 2017, Cinema Beltrade in Milan in 2018, Wanted Clan Milan in 2020.
Distributed worldwide by Carboluce.
Screened at Library Live at Manchester Central Library, Huddersfield University, The Castle Hotel in Manchester and Jekyll & Hyde Bar in Birmingham in 2015.
CASE (Short Film)
Winner of the Audience Award at
Manchester Scripts & Shorts 2018.
Selected for Unrestricted View Horror Film Festival 2018.
VARIETY OF MEMORIES (Short Documentary)
Selected for British Music Hall Society’s 50th Anniversary
Festival at Wilton’s Music Hall, London, 2013.
BETWEEN LAUGHTER & FAILURE:
MAKING DJANGO AWAY!
by Hugh Moir.
Self-published through Blurb. 2017.
MY INDIE FILM: DJANGO AWAY! (Article)
Den of Geek. 2014.
DANIEL HUTCHINGS: INTERVIEW (Article)
Illegitimate Theatre. 2014.
Manchester School of Art
Manchester Metropolitan University
Sept 2010 to Sept 2011
INTERACTIVE ARTS BA (hons)
Manchester School of Art
Manchester Metropolitan University
Sept 2000 to Sept 2003
PROFESSIONAL TRAINING COURSES
PITCHING FOR FEATURE FILMS WORKSHOP
PITCHING FOR FEATURE FILMS SEMINAR