Early Work

by | May 23, 2020 | Film

Here’s a sample of my early filmmaking adventures, dating from my time at the University of Stirling to projects I filmed in Scotland and worked on in Japan.

I consider all ofthese films to have been “training”, though in reality that’s a process that never stops. I think you can see a gradual improvement in the work below over time. These shorts are by no means my best work, but they were a lot of fun to make and gave me a chance to get much better at what I do.

Random Text (2013)

This film was written by Andrew Mitchell, a close friend and a frequent collaborator on most of my film projects. Random Text was Andy’s first attempt at writing a short film, and he asked me to help put it together and co-direct. It was a fun project as it involved working with a lot of our friends who we knew socially.

The biggest challenge in making this film was that it had been started and was then put on hold while I was working in Japan. During that time, lead actor, Kirk Leary, moved to England. When I popped back to Scotland to visit family and friends, we managed to get around not having our lead actor by replacing him with a double in the form of Lewis Wake, filming him exclusively from behind. I reckon the final edit disguises this reasonably well!

This film was filmed on a Canon 60D, and you see from some of my camera work that I’m still getting to grips with it. There’s quite a few wobbly shots. The film was a lot of fun to make, and it was great to help Andy with putting together his first film.

Fatal Attractions (2012)

This one is probably my favourite of my “earlier” films.

Fatal Attractions is actually based on my university friends and our relationship confessions. I considered what it would be like to take concept of treating someone as “disposable” literally, and this film was the end result.

Fatal Attractions is definitely one of the darkest films I’ve made, but it’s exactly the kind of borderline nihilistic humour that I get a real kick out of. I do wonder what kind of reception it would get if met by today’s more sensitive viewers. A “woke” audience would probably find this film very “problematic”.

I honestly believe that the leads Steven J Quinn, Kyle Turpie and Chloe Postlethwaite are phenomenal and have really good chemistry. Steven’s deadpan delivery is hilarious in real life and I felt it really translated well here. It’s interesting to note that Steven spends most of his filmmaking time behind the camera, but I maintain that he’s an excellent actor.

There are quite a few technical failings (a lot of soft focus, sound issues, lighting being flat, etc.) but overall, I reckon this was a decent “stepping stone” to better things. I’m still proud of the script, I think it’s well paced and this is still the film I’m most likely to show someone when describing my sense of humour. This film is also probably the reason my fellow filmmaker Robbie Davidson refers to me as “Patrick Bateman.”

The Morning After (2011)

The Morning After was written by Chris Brady and Hazel Macdonald with help from Sarah Daly of Hex Studios. I was looking to try directing a film that I hadn’t written, and I was amused by the concept of a hangover coming to life. I recruited Jon Finnegan (who I knew from Lawrie Brewster’s film, White Out) as well as Andy Mitchell, who would go on to work on many of my film projects going forward.

The film was shot in a day, though a technical issue meant we lost sound for the entire shoot. The whole film ended up being ADR-ed. As one of the earliest films I’ve done, it’s obviously very technically flawed – it was filmed on two different cameras, and the footage doesn’t match at all. It’s also probably in need of a decent trim. The set was intended to look like the setup of a traditional sitcom, but I’m not sure how successful that concept ended up being.

Definitely not my best work, but another step forward. It was great to work with everyone involved – particularly Jon Finnegan, who is has boundless energy and incredible enthusiasm. He’s exactly the sort of personality you want on set.

Got Milk? (2008)

Got Milk? was made on my university course at the University of Stirling, working with friends to produce a short film project. I was very lucky to be working with friends on this – most notably Stephanie Salvona, who I’d known since high school (she’s the woman who gets the newspaper thrown in her face).

This film involved me running around in public with a pink dressing gown on. Always up for a laugh, I didn’t find this to be much of an issue (I once attended a university lecture in my pyjamas for a dare, but that’s another story). I was working at Sainsbury’s in Kirkcaldy at the time, and I was surprised how easy it was to get permission to film in the Stirling store; they were extremely accommodating!

The film is a rare example of me in front of the camera. I used to quite enjoy acting (I was even in the university’s drama society) but these days I’m mostly behind the scenes unless I’m being an extra on a Hex Media shoot. It was a great laugh and our lecturers seemed to like it. And yes, I can confirm that the scream at the end is indeed my own.

The Passion of the Goose (2007)

My first “film”! I had gotten a Mini DV video camera from my parents as a present around the time I started university. I had just joined the student filmmaking society, AirTV, and was determined to make something. This film became my first project

The campus is based around the Airthrey Loch and is home to all manner of wildlife. It was a frequent sight to see squirrels in the kitchens scavenging for food. The most notable animal was a goose which made an obscene amount of noise – the story goes that it was calling for a mate. The goose had achieved legendary status on campus, and this film re-contextualised it into a mythical, mass-murdered cult symbol.

The Passion of the Goose is almost entirely improvised and based around a loose outline. It’s a threadbare excuse for a film, but it just about hangs together. It’s very much a “student” film and is technically woeful, but it still gives me a laugh – particularly because it features most of my uni friends, and so feels like a time capsule of that time in our lives.

Well done in particular to Andrew Todd, who was an absolute hero for his role in this. We still bring up his supposed Rich Tea addiction to this day.

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