This post is about a studio shoot I did with Michael Rosen performing poems from A Great Big Cuddle published by Walker Books for our YouTube channel.



Click to play

We had been wanting to make some more Michael Rosen videos for a while, the previous videos have had over 24 million views Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake and No Breathing are the most popular at well over a million each. Subscribers are now up above 110K and growing.

I also took the opportunity to shoot some footage for a  360 proof of concept film for youtube, Google Cardboard and Occulus Rift.



We took the studio footage of Michael and placed it in a 3d environment in post along with some animated illustrations from the book.

This post lets you know a little bit about how we did it.

With some funding from Walker Books we set up the shoot at FLETCHERWILSON where they have a studio that is big enough to roll out a Colorama and get some lights up. You can see from the photo we used a mixture of tungsten lights. Phil Barnett who DoP’d on the day used a Rifa for key light and Dedo’s for the rest he also used some generic redheads for the background.


Framing head to toe on the white backdrop was no problem.



We shot  the content from the new book framed in a loose head and shoulders so we would catch the performance in a way we’ve found works.

Here is an ungraded screen grab from the final films.


I cut the films in Adobe Premier Pro CC2015 and I was really impressed by the new colour grading features.

My friend and DoP Don McVey @donmcvey sent me this quick summary of how to use those colour correction features. The video he is correcting in the clip is for the another Michael Rosen  project I’m working on to publicise Uncle Gobb and the Dredd Shed published by Bloomsbury .

Here is a slide from one of the final films where you can see the colour correction, text overlay and a slight grad on the left and right to focus the point of interest on the subject.

For comparison.


Always fun to work together but “I think there might be a problem with this button.”


Links to the final films will be attached shortly and the book A Great Big Cuddle will be available soon too.

Fashion films for FLETCHERWILSON

I directed this at FLETCHERWILSON for their friends at TBA, whose client Clarks, wanted a set of five concept films to be shown at the launch event of a new season of  footwear.


Create five beautiful, poetic live action films which will serve as the backdrop for a new season catwalk show. The films should evoke the spirit of each of the five the collections, have a loose narrative flow and cohesive feel.




Creative Approach

We will capture a sense of life, dynamism and humanity by using people in their environments but without featuring recognisable faces. Using macro photography these films will have a sense of drama through the juxtaposition of intricate details and the large scale of the presentation image.  We would see soft focus movements in the background with hands, objects or bodies moving through the frame and the focus. This way we will create moving and overlapping abstracts from the details, tones and textures of each scenario.

Each of the vignettes will follow a loose narrative arc that picks out key atmospheric moments, colours, objects and forms on a journey that epitomises the range and look stunning. The shots within each vignette will be long, slow and considered allowing the images, colours, tone, mood and atmosphere to work for the audience complimenting the light, sound and staged layers of the live production.


Creative Approach Technical

By using hand-held, tracking-shots and obscure angles as well as shooting in close ups, extreme close ups and almost abstract macro we will create a strong feeling of understanding, intimacy and affinity for the audience with the mood and tone of each range.

Another layer of texture we will add in the shoot is using rare uncoated vintage lenses. These lenses have a strong analog look that includes interesting visual artifacts like lense flares and atmospheric aberrations but keep luscious, warm skin tones, smooth contrast and combine beautiful blend of sharpness and softness.

The editing style will follow the considered and measured approach and use composed dissolves that marry shot into shot in a dream like fashion that makes use of the super wide screen.

No small task.


I was really excited to be working with FW and TBA again for this prestigious brand. I think these pictures show the creative fun we had making films that would evoke the mood, tone and feeling of each footwear collection.

Here are some photos that document the job


We used an uncoated prime set from Genesis hire for lovely flares, artefacts and optical aberrations.


D.O.P Don McVey working some magic with the very effective 100mm macro lens on the Sony FS700. Kat from FW officially had the best handwriting.


“But what about some snow Rob?”


“No problem


Trick of the trade: I find the inside of a cheap duvet has a really convincing look of fresh snow when used in the background. (Kat was not convinced)


I’ve been sliding around London for some time, with a macro lens. We got some amazing footage on this desk.


Tip 2: We used a strong backlight on this set up to highlight  talc particles in the atmosphere.

Amongst other places, we went to Baba’s forest for some authentic woodland texture.


It was a great location that offered so many shots. I could have been there all day.

Last shot of the day. Cordial and tap water

TBA HD FULLSCREEN (1)We cut and graded all five films in Adobe Creative Cloud at a 5:1 aspect ratio… But that’s another story.

Final presentation with motorbike for scale.

Going to the BFI Library

As a part of my M.A coursework I have to write a essay on the history and theory of screenwriting. Best get my ass to the library.

ImageHaving not written an essay of this nature since 1999 or some time last century I’m more than a bit out of practice. I’ve written a lot of other things more recently so I’m sure I’ll get up to speed well before the deadline.

My plan is to write about the nature of subversive cinema in Hollywood or how filmmakers adapt subversive ideas for a mainstream audience. Currently it’s a loose idea based around the adaptation of the book of transgressive fiction Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk 1996 in to the 1999 motion picture staring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton directed by David Fincher. FIGHT CLUB imdb

I’ve done a lot of research on line which is one big change since 1999 but I’ve also been going to the Reuben Library at the BFI which has been great for the range and availability of books and articles… for free!

I’ll update this thread as my essay develops and I’ll more than likely post extracts on here for the record.

Screen Daily – Blind Date experience

Screem Daily

“This week (23 November, 2012 ) saw S4London hold its second monthly short film night in Bethnal Green, East London.

Hosted at ‘Motel de Nowhere’, a time share studio space off Bethnal Green Road, the format is a simple. Show a short film and then invite principle cast and/or crew to answer questions about each stage of S4 (script, shoot slice and screen).

November’s film wasBlind Date, a wonderfully witty short film about what happens if your blind date doesn’t turn up…”

The rest of this article can be read on screen daily HERE:

 A shared Blind Date experience 

S4 screen Int

Space Walking – scriptwriting

This is an evaluation of a short film script I wrote on the M.A course at Birkbeck.

A draft script is available to read that is currently in development with the producer Lynzie Stewart.

Spacewalking is the story a dying man who returns after many years abroad to a family reunion fancy dress party in the hope of a reuniting with a lover he abandoned.  I will be reflecting here on the development of the idea and character development as well as my process and relationship to the project.

The idea initially came from a conversation I was having about the screenwriting course and about how my approach to writing was changing with what I was learning. With the short film script project on the horizon I was reading Lajos Egri’s, The Art of Dramatic Writing (New York: Touchstone. 1942) and at the very start of the book is a chapter on premise which resonated with me.

Egri writes “Every good play must have a well-formulated premise. There may be more than one way to phase the premise, but however it is phrased the thought must be the same.”( Egri. p.6, 1942)


“No idea, and no situation, was ever strong enough to carry you through to its logical conclusion without a clear cut premise.”( Egri. p.6, 1942)

In the discussion I was asked for an example of a premise and the proverb “you can’t have your cake and eat it” sprang to mind and I tried to explain how a script might articulate this. I loosely fleshed out an example based on this idea, which I then pitched in the class as the short I would be writing.

The way I articulated the premise was to have a story where a protagonist who is looking back at his life and what could have been. He thought he was going to have more time and was going to be able to rekindle a relationship with an old flame despite choosing to move away in pursuit of wealth. It was also an intention to mirror the premise with a sub plot featuring children at the party who literally experience the problem in the proverb.

From the outset I was fixed on setting the film at a family reunion. It’s an almost universal setting that would be familiar to many audiences and therefore easy to understand and relate to in a short space of time with an economy of exposition that I believe is important for the audience of a short film.

Quite quickly I also developed visual motif as described in the seminar by Charles Harris “…start with an image as a way to lock into the world of the story” (Oct 2012) for me this image became a man in an orange space suit against a starry sky approaching a suburban house. Although I didn’t find a physical picture to reference, in my mind this has continued to be the image I found myself returning to for inspiration.

The visual imagery of the astronaut transitioning from space to a domestic party worked for me as a metaphor of the protagonist’s situation it articulates his isolation, separation and having travelled in some way from another world. I very much want the film to exist on the edges of magic realism whereby the appearance and disappearance of Bob the astronaut is atmospheric as if he starts by investigating an unfamiliar planet and ends by drifting off alone into the emptiness of space.

When it came to developing the structure I consciously tried to follow a three-act structure. Although I have gone on to read other nuts and bolts screen writing books and have found The Sequence Approach (Paul Joseph Gulino. Continuum International Publishing Group. 2004) very helpful I was reading Screenplay (Syd Field. New York: Delta. 2005) at the time and I tried to follow the “paradigm model”.



(Field. p. 90, 2005)

At the start of Act 1 in Spacewalking we have an anonymous astronaut Bob isolated in the vacuum of space and emerging in a strange lunar-domestic hybrid world. There is then a transition via a gatekeeper, Auntie Jean who guides the protagonist through the airlock of the front door into the party space, which I consider to be Plot Point 1.

Act 2, Bob intends to reconnect, he confronts and is confronted by old friends. The Mid point is when he comes face to face with and a lover Rita who he abandoned.

At the end of Act 2 is Plot point 2, which is where Bob has realised that Rita, is not going to be able to fall in love with him as he is dying but he has managed in a small way to reconnect with her and his family realising the wider implications of his actions.

Act 3 is a tragic resolution where by Bob realises that his time to reconnect with the people he loved has gone and the most generous and redemptive act he can do is drift off into space leaving them to carry on their lives.

As Christopher Booker points out in The Seven Basic Plots “ The point about the hero’s and heroines of Tragedy is that the end up utterly alone” ( The Seven Basic Plots. Christopher Booker. London: Continuum. p. 179, 2004)

On reflection I don’t think that I spent enough time working on the character development before starting the plotting and writing the script. Mistakenly I relied solely on instinct and intuition to guide me and I’ve had to rework the script from a point where I wasn’t wholly clear on who the characters are. This enthusiasm to get started may be to do with the early stage in the course at which I started the script and a naivety in approach as a writer. In hindsight and with learning I don’t think I will be working exactly like that again but will continue to trust my instincts and write with enthusiasm.

As Egri lays out in his chapter on Unity of Opposites “proper motivation establishes unity between the opposites” ( Egri. p.123,1942). He also warns “After you have found your premise, you had better find out immediately –testing if necessary- whether the characters have the unity of opposites between them.” (Egri. p.128, 1942). The workshop session we had really helped to test whether the characters I had, had that unity of opposites and at that point this was not established clearly enough.

During the in-class workshop session I received feedback and comments from my peers, which I found very valuable and an enjoyable process. The response was positive and encouraging and confirmed for me that the idea was sound and worth pursuing through additional drafts. The main issue that the group raised concerned the central dynamic between the protagonist and antagonist was in an unspecific way unsatisfactory. There was, in Egri’s terms, no “unity of opposites”.

I revisited the script for a second draft bearing in mind the broad comments from the group, my own observations and the more specific comments from Ken Williams about character and conflict.

Williams outlined an approach to developing character on more than one occasion, which I found difficult but attempted to follow. I set out to define the Moral Weakness, The Psychological Weakness, The Need, The Goal and The Values of the protagonist and antagonist and, having taken onboard the comments and new approach, I developed a second draft, which I took into a further tutorial.

In the case of the Spacewalking script the chart below outlines the character traits of the two opposing protagonists as I have defined them.


Protagonist (Bob) Antagonist (Rita)
The Psychological Weakness, Selfish Dependent
The Moral Weakness Abandons people, won’t commit. Fear of abandonment and loneliness.
Values Reconnecting.


Security, people integrity.


Need To be considerate of others and less selfish. Learn how to Love To forgive Bob
Goal To Reconnect To make Bob understand how to connect on unselfish terms.



It has been informative to consider my script in this way and has given me an opportunity to consider redrafting some aspects and deepen my understanding of my practice and approach.

It would be possible for me to continue by reflecting on the conflict and tension in the script and my influences but sadly I have run out of words, time and perhaps the reader’s patience.!


Booker, Christopher. The Seven Basic Plots. London; New York: Continuum. 2004

Egri, Lajos. The Art of Dramatic Writing. New York: Touchstone. 1942

Field, Syd. Screenplay. New York: Delta. 2005

Gulino, Paul. J. The Sequence Approach. London; New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. 2004


Harris, Charles. Seminar, London: October 2012

Williams, Ken. Tutorial, London: March 2013