Memories from Japan enclosed in a new music video for CWNN

11 May

“Would you like to take part in a music video?”- I asked a random couple, Rie and Katchi, on my first day in Tokyo. They had been kind enough to walk me from a bus stop to a pub I was looking for, after I’d asked them for directions. Despite a language barrier, we managed, with a smattering of goodwill (alongside a translating application on my phone!) to arrange details of the shoot. We agreed to rendezvous a few days later at 7pm… at the same bus stop we had first met. At the time, it was the only place I knew I could find again!

I’d been planning to make a music video for CWNN for ages. The concept was very simple. It seemed obvious to me that a band mischievously commenting about being “not so big in Japan” should have their song sung by Japanese people. With no budget, I was entirely reliant on the kindness of strangers. However, despite my extensive search, I couldn’t find any London-based Japanese people willing to perform in front of a camera. So, when I had an opportunity to holiday in Japan, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to upgrade my camera equipment and finally make the video!

By the time I met Rie and Katchi again, I’d acquired a second-hand Canon 70D, a zoom lens and two more performers. The next two and a half weeks was full of adventure, visits to fascinating places and random encounters, which were all captured on the camera. I shot people everywhere I could, from Tokyo to Kyoto, Osaka to Hiroshima, in Mijajima and finally at the smallest and cutest of them all-the fishermen’s village Tomonura, near Fukuyama. The video became a moving photo album; my own souvenir from Japan. I was humbled and remain forever grateful for the generosity of everyone I met. The video is very personal to me but it also, I hope, captures the dreamy sense of this truly beautiful song.

Katchi and Rie on the night when I met them.

Katchi and Rie on the night when I met them.

My lovely cast from the first day of shooting the music video

My lovely cast from the first day of shooting the music video

Koyasan buddhist temple where we spent a night and filmed the monk

Koyasan buddhist temple where we spent a night and filmed the monk

Entrance to the temple and our accommodation in Koyosan

Entrance to the temple and our accommodation in Koyosan

Jizo Statues in Kyoto: Jizo are believed to look after dead children in the afterlife

Jizo Statues in Kyoto: Jizo are believed to look after dead children in the afterlife

Dancing gejko (young gejsha) at the Comb Festival in Kyoto

Dancing gejko (young gejsha) at the Comb Festival in Kyoto

Japanese say

Japanese say “A woman’s hair is her life.” Kushi Matsuri is a festival presenting the best hair styles wore by young girls dressed as Geishas. After the presentation old combs are being buried during an official ceremony

Yui and Manami at the Bamboo Grove, Kyoto

Yui and Manami at the Bamboo Grove, Kyoto

This man helped me so much. He not only showed me around Miyajima but also drove me from the Island back to Hiroshima hostel and from there to my next accommodation at Hazumi sisters'.  Sadly, I lost his email address.. :(

This man helped me so much. He not only showed me around Miyajima but also drove me from the Island back to Hiroshima hostel and from there to my next accommodation at Hazumi sisters’. Sadly, I lost his email address.. :(

Nazumi and Murakami, who I stayed with on my second night in Hiroshima

Nazumi and Murakami, who I stayed with on my second night in Hiroshima

Beautiful and whimsical Tomonura at 6am

Beautiful and whimsical Tomonura at 6am

My generous Tokyo friends threw a birthday party on the last night of stay in Japan. How sweet is that?

My generous Tokyo friends threw a birthday party on the last night of stay in Japan. How sweet is that?

Ayako and Nachi waving good bye on my way to the airport.

Ayako and Nachi waving good bye on my way to the airport.

Arigato Japan! I hope I’ll be back one day!

A dinner after the first night of shooting CWNN music video. Arigato Japan, I hope I'll be back one day!

A dinner after the first night of shooting CWNN music video. Arigato Japan, I hope I’ll be back one day!

About the band:

East London post-punk electronic balladeers, Cult With No Name, (Erik Stein and Jon Boux) signed to L.A. label, Trakwerx records (founded by Jackson Del Rey of Californian punk legends Savage Republic) in 2007, becoming the label’s first international signing. Legendary UK music critic Mick Mercer made them his discovery of 2007. In between releasing five critically acclaimed albums, Brett Anderson (Suede) invited CWNN to open for him, they collaborated extensively with Kelli Ali (Sneaker Pimps), and BBC 6 and Radio 1 Wales amongst others regularly spun CWNN tracks.

Not So ‘Big in Japan’ is a track from their 6th release, entitled ‘Another Landing‘.

Please check their website: http://cultwithnoname.net and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cwnnofficial

First After Effects animation made with Shroom Studios

29 Apr

I’ve always wanted a branded intro to my films. But wanting an animation and doing an animation are two different things. However, with a little bit of luck and networking I finally found a way to achieve that. Cue Music. Enter Christos and Alex Hatjoullis from Shroom Studio in London Fields, Hackney, London.

Now a question: Have you ever considered how long does it take to make a 1 second of animation?

I clearly had no idea. But in the case of the clip below (in loop) it took about 4.5 hours!!! 4.5 hours for one tiny second of a character jumping ! And that was ONLY because I had very detailed instructions and guidance from Alex Hatjoullis, who is a professional animator. I would have probably spent weeks, if not months, trying to work out how to do it myself.

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All we started with, was this drawing of a character (below) Alex made after I told him about my idea for an animated sequence. How cute is she, right? A week and a one long After Effects lesson later, she is now bouncing from a trampoline and in the next few weeks she is due to do some other acrobatics too :).

Mallywini by Shroom Studio

Alex paid attention to the final detail. Just notice how her skirt lifts up and goes down and how her body stretches just that tiny bit at the top of the jump. No wonder. After all, I was working with true professionals.

Alex and his brother Christos, who I am lucky to have as my mentor at ZeroOne Creative Hub, have nearly 15 years of experience in branding and animation. They formed Shroom Studios in 2001 and since then worked on an overwhelming amount of projects, from independent art films to documentaries, commercials and political or social campaigns. They had worked commissioned by BBC and Channel 4 and their unique style of presenting content and animation style have been recreated by other animation companies.

Click on the logo to go to their website. There you will find examples of their work together with a blog, where Christos shares some of his and his brother’s favourite animations from all over the world. Shroom Studio

I got to respect and like both brothers very much.  They are both humble and generous in sharing their knowledge and helping others. They are also extremely involved within their community and value their small-business clients just as much, if not tiny bit more, as the bigger companies. They are also incredibly creative and together have an overwhelming amount of hobbies. Christos, I believe, is topping up the scale with his photography of dead insects, music composition, contemporary dance practice and even trampolining, which came very useful in designing our character’s movements. Moreover, they are both appreciative of their family and incredibly proud of their dad’s art work, who despite his advanced age still makes extremely detailed artwork on linoleum. Take a look on the photo where Alex is holding his collection of moths. Prints of their Dad’s artwork can be seen in the background. And check out Christos’ photograph of dead insects. He collects them, keeps them for years and photographs the decomposition process. Death and decay turned into beauty. A true artist.

Christos Hatjoullis from Shroom Studio and his photographs of dead insects

Christos Hatjoullis from Shroom Studio and his photographs of dead insects

Alex and his collection of moths. In the back, prints of their dad's artwork

Alex Hatjoullis and his collection of moths. In the back, prints of their dad’s artwork

I thoroughly enjoyed learning After Effects with Alex. So much so in fact, that I was still buzzing the whole of next day.

What’s more, in the breaks, Alex kept feeding my already overexcited head with inspirations for my other animation sequences. The one I had in mind for the PolinArts, the documentary about Polish Artists in London… Yes, yes, this project is still in progress. I’m clearly not a rabbit when it comes to finishing my projects. I am a turtle; but I will get to the end of the race… Eventually.

New project full of magic: “Hackney Fairy Tale”

23 Apr

I haven’t been writing anything for a while, but today is THE DAY, the day when I’m happily going back to posting.

I’m sitting in one of the local cafes, Lazy Social. It’s a lazy place in its best possible meaning. The large windows let in the sunlight reflected by shiny surfaces of old-school desks. The 60-70’s music coming from the speakers create a very relaxed atmosphere full of positive vibes. A strong and delicious coffee served in dotted cups fills the veins with excitement and new ideas…

I’ve been working on a new project for some time now. Originally it was supposed to be a panto- inspired story but very soon more serious themes started emerging and now the “Hackney Fairy Tale” is being developed as an urban fairytale with elements of magical realism. The idea is to explore the strengths and values of female characters, which traditionally were rewarded for simply being beautiful and not-given much credit for their intellect or any other skills.

This project is already full of magic. As soon as I decided to use Cinderella as a basis for one of the stories, I suddenly found an abandoned slipper on one of the streets of Central London. No. I’m not kidding. What’s more, a friend I invited to develop the script with me, found one too.

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Then I opened an email from one of the Meet Up groups. I usually don’t have to time to even check my group mails, so I found it very telling that the only email I actually read was inviting me to an Immersive theatre show based on… guess!… exactly: Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tales.

The show was performed over 4 rooms adapted to 4 different tales. There were talented actors, wonderfully crafted puppets, realistic costumes and plenty of creatively adapted corners and hidden rooms to immerse oneself in a fair tale world.

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There was of course also a slipper. There had to be a slipper!

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“Where is Harry?”-an award winning short film- finally online!

3 Sep

Nearly two and a half years ago I took a risk and sent one of my treatments to the Allegro Short Lab competition organised by the Off-Plus Camera International Film Festival in Krakow (Poland). Two weeks later I received a message that I was shortlisted and together with 5 other hopefulls invited to a weekend long workshops, where we had an opportunity to discuss and develop our projects with the help of the industry-professionals. After that, we were given 5 weeks to complete the films. That meant 5 weeks to write a script, cast actors, find crew, find locations, shoot and edit the film. Not much considering I held a full time job at the same time. However, it wasn’t the first time that I proved to myself that the more things I had to do, the more efficient and organised I suddenly became. Plus, I had never been so determined and so hopeful to win a competition as I was while making “Where is Harry?”.

All that determination and hard work paid off. Despite some expected “unexpected difficulties” the film was completed on time. The edit was finished and uploaded 5 minutes before the deadline. And during the festival’s Opening Ceremony, I was announced as the winner. “Where is Harry?” won the first prize!

Since Krakow, the film was shown in Koszalin (Poland), London (United Kingdom) and Los Angeles (USA).Today it is being sent out there- to the wider public. Enjoy! And if you like it, share it with others, like it on Facebook or post a comment here.

For more information about the film, cast and crew please visit its FB page or http://mallywinifilms.com/projects/where-is-harry/

 

My “PolinArts…” accepted to the Dragon Forum 2014!

25 Apr

Thought I haven’t been doing much lately! You couldn’t be more wrong. :-)

Even though the blog has not been visited much, I didn’t stop being busy. I have recently directed and filmed several film sections for a stage play ‘The boiling point’, produced by Give It Some Room. (more on this with pictures in my next post)

In the meantime, I continued working on ” PolinArts…”. I’m pleased to announced we got some good news, recently!

Our project got accepted to the Dragon Forum 2014, training program for development and marketing of documentary films.  Each year, Dragon Forum takes place at the end of May as part of the Krakow Film Festival and this year is no exception.

We applied for it literally at the last minute, so we were even more glad when we found out that we were 1 out of 15 projects chosen by the Dragon Forum’s panel! You can imagine that excitement we felt when we got the confirming email!Dragon Forum Logo

No wonder! Participation in this project will give us a chance to pitch the film in front of the European commissioners.

Believe it or not, but that’s not the end of good news! Somehow, things work in our favour, and we just found out that the special guest of 54. Krakow Film Festival is United Kingdom. What a coincidence, right!?  For us, this means that Dragon Forum will have decision makers associated with Channel 4 and BBC in the panel.  How funny and amazing at the same time, would be to get one of these TV stations to back our project!? But you never know, Dragon Forum can open the doors for us.  The forum’s website says  “We hope that it [the presence of the above guests] will turn into long-term and fruitful cooperation”; we hope that too! Very much so…

 

This year, it will be us standing on that floor and pitching our hearts out

This year, it will be us standing on that floor and pitching our hearts out

However, this development brings us back to the necessity of having a proper producer on board. Somebody ( ideally a company) who can handle the legal and financial aspects of the film’s production and distribution. We have two weeks to find such person/ company as we need to pay for our participation by 9th May. So the hunt begins…

Our strategy is simple:

1. Finish the trailer and make sure it has the Polish and English subtitles (which I’m nearly done with and my friend, Norma, offered to proof-read)

2. Translate the proposal, so it’s ready to be sent out in both languages (Kasia and I are already working on the Polish translation; Fraser and Norma soon to be polishing the English version)

3. Use the list of companies (put together by Valeria)  who in the past submitted independent documentaries to the Sheffield Documentary Festival and ask for meetings…

4. Get the marketing team going so we can create some buzz before the workshops (that will include be Anna-Jane, Ben, Andy, Carolyn and Bartosz, with his technical crew)

Aiste, as always, we hope, will be overlooking and helping out with this “simple” yet complicated procedure.

Please keep your fingers crossed!

Dragon Forum is held in this beautiful, historical city

Dragon Forum is held in this beautiful, historical city

PolinArts on twitter

31 Mar

Exciting time for “PolinArts…”. I have now 12 new collaborators, who are helping with various tasks of the production process. Just yesterday two new young members joined the team. The trailer for the documentary is nearly finished… I’m thinking- we are rocking!

With so much excitement, the time has come for “PolinArts…” to go global and let the the World know about its existence. So last week we set up a twitter account, just for this project.

Please follow us @PolinArts and spread the word about our project. In return we will spread the love for Polish arts and artists in London.

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Making of video- ‘Karma': about hate, homophobia and…

18 Mar

Last year in November, I went for a drink with a friend of mine with the intention of arranging a GoPro camera for my project the ‘PolinArts….’. Little did I know that Jarek was also meeting two other people, Bartek and Michal, for a preproduction of their short film ‘Karma’.  I decided to stay and join the discussion. Two beers later, I got myself agreeing to filming and editing a ‘making of video for’ them… 3 months after that, the video is finally finished :)

‘Karma’, as its co-writer and director Bartosz Dzidowski explains, is a short film about hate, racism, homophobia, violence and.. ..love. Quite intriguing, especially that the main characters are two skinheads…

The film was shot over two days, but I could only attend the first one. However, regardless of that, I got some pretty decent footage on that day. During the editing, I was positively surprised by the footage I got from filming the boy’s meeting by the GoPro camera. Considering that there was no output, which meant I had no idea if I was pointing it the right direction- it came up pretty well. The rest of the footage was taken by my small Sony H-SR camera.

Check out the video if you have 3 minutes to spare:

Below, is a link to the original film:

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