Saturday, September 24, 2016

Mina Murray's Journal premieres this week

Mina Murray's Journal, my new webseries, premieres this Thursday 29th September!

I'm aiming for 11am UK time, so if you're at work that's a good time to grab a coffee/tea break and check it out.

First episode is about 5 minutes long, and episode 2 will follow on Monday 3rd October, with two every week.

If you don't already know, it's a modernised, vlog adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, with the characters flipped around so that Mina and Lucy are the heroes. That's Rosie Holt as Mina in the pic up there, and Kate Soulsby as Lucy. They are brilliant and hilarious and I can't wait for you to meet them in these roles.

I'm really happy with how it's come together, it looks and feels *exactly* as I had hoped, but is even better thanks to the amazing cast and crew. But where can you see it, I hear you shriek - what an excellent question, I'm really glad you asked, because I have the answer: on YouTube, for free, wherever you are in the world. Yes.

Links! Come and get your fresh, tasty links!

Official site:
www.minasjournal.com

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/MinaMurraysJournal/

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/MinasJournal/

YouTube Channel:
http://www.youtube.com/c/MinasJournalSeries

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJ10oDkIZU4

We also have some in-character social media accounts, the characters have been online and tweeting for a while, so keep an eye on those and watch out for extra clues. There are more accounts out there, but they're secret for now - maybe they'll be revealed in series 1, maybe not...

Character accounts:
https://twitter.com/theminamurray
https://twitter.com/ItsMeLucyWest
https://twitter.com/JackSeward93
https://instagram.com/TheMinaMurray/

I hope you like the show, I'm very excited to get it out there. If you do enjoy it, please like, share, subscribe, all that good stuff. Any webseries lives or dies by word of mouth, it's incredibly hard to make people aware of new stuff in such a crowded internet, so if you like it, please pass it on!

Friday, August 12, 2016

FrightFest horror writing workshop

FrightFest, or Horror Christmas, is almost upon us - 5 days of brand new horror movies from all over the world, I love it and go every year. For 4 years in a row, I've done several "Turn Off Your Bloody Phone" idents that have played in front of the opening night movies.

This year, the lovely organisers have asked me to do something a bit different. On Sunday 28th, at 1.15pm, in Discovery Screen 3, I'm running a horror writing workshop! Free to pass holders, or £5 for everyone else! You don't have to be a pass holder or member or anything, anyone can just buy a ticket! Here's the blurb from the site:
Ever watched a horror movie and wondered how they came up with the idea and made it work? Acclaimed writer/director James Moran (SEVERANCE, TOWER BLOCK, ‘Turn Off Your Bloody Phone’ FrightFest shorts) will take you through his writing process, so you can find out! In this fast, fun, informative and highly interactive workshop, James will build an outline from scratch for a horror movie using local newspaper stories for inspiration, and taking suggestions and questions from the audience in a live brainstorming session. Ideas are everywhere, it’s what you do with them that counts...
"Acclaimed"! I'm acclaimed! Yes, if you want to find out how my process works, how I write the things I do, come along! Learn all my 3 and a half tricks!

We'll come up with ideas and a rough outline together, brainstorming and working as one, like some sort of giant, evil brain. I'll show you how I work ideas up into full stories, because that's the tricky bit, not the ideas themselves. And we'll prove it, by picking a dull news story from a terrible local paper, and using that as the basis for our exciting horror movie.

It's fast, it's funny, and it can *easily* go horribly wrong, which means you might get to watch me panic and run out of the building, and/or kill one of you and blame you for the whole thing. But hey, as the cheesy old saying goes, you can't run a writing workshop without gratuitously murdering a few audience members.

Details of the workshop are here, and tickets are available here for £5. Come along!

Oh, and will there be another phone ident this year?? That would be telling. You'll just have to attend the festival and find out...


Reminder! Connie, the short film written & directed by Cat Davies, that we produced and I edited, is also playing at FrightFest! It's on in Short Film Showcase One, Saturday 27th August, 1.10pm, so please come and see it. We'll be there, and might have a felt & foam special guest... The trailer is here, if you'd like a sneak preview.


Connie at FrightFest 2016

Connie, the short film written & directed by my partner Cat Davies, that we produced and I edited, has its world premiere at this year's FrightFest!

You can see the poster on the left, which of course you may clicky-clicky for biggy-biggy.

It stars the fantastic Catrin Stewart (Doctor Who, Stella, The Library Suicides) as Dolly, a frustrated stand-up comedian who turns to puppetry to get her big break - but Connie is no ordinary puppet, and has a career plan of her own... Catrin also plays the voice of Connie, in a really difficult dual role which she manages brilliantly.

I'm really proud of our evil child, and incredibly proud of Cat for pulling it together, writing it wonderfully, and directing it beautifully. I had quite a long edit to do on this, as it was an extremely complicated shoot due to the demands of the puppet - we had to shoot one take with Catrin doing the voice of Connie, then another take with her acting as Dolly but *miming* with Connie, trying to remember how she'd said Connie's lines previously, and trying not to let Connie's emotions appear on Dolly's face. Matching up the multiple takes with audio and mouth movements was... time consuming. But now, finally, Connie is ready for her close-up, and about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting audience.

It's on in Short Film Showcase One, Saturday 27th August, 1.10pm, so please come and see it. We'll be there, and might have a felt & foam special guest... The trailer is here, if you'd like a sneak preview:



I probably should have warned you, Connie is quite rude, and not safe for work, home, or anywhere. So you shouldn't have watched that. Sorry.


Press enquiries email here.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Mina's Journal, my new webseries

New Secret Thing!

I've been beavering away on something in secret for a while, and now it's finally out in the world - Mina Murray's Journal, a modernised, vlog adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. I've flipped the characters around so Mina and Lucy are the heroes, it's all told vlog-style, and I'm massively proud of it.


It stars Rosie Holt, Kate Soulsby, Liam Dryden and Matt Hargreaves, season 1 is shot and in the edit, but you can see a trailer right now:



This is my first webseries since 2009's Girl Number 9, which got several Streamy nominations, the first UK webseries to do so. Back then, the UK web scene was nothing like it is now, and we faced an impossible struggle convincing people to fund a second season or any other webshows, they just couldn't visualise how it would all work. Things are miles better now, people get it, and there are lots of talented folk out there.

The idea for Mina came a couple of years ago, but I didn't write it down or do anything about it, as I didn't know if anyone would be interested, or if it would even work. Attending my first GeekyCon convention, I was inspired by the amazing, creative attendees - I realised that they would get it, they'd know what I was trying to do.

So I wrote it up, got some very cool, clever people involved, and now it's officially A Thing. It wouldn't have existed without the GeekyCon audience inspiration, so I did a sneak peek at ep1 while I was there this year to thank them for giving me the motivation to do it.

It's funny, it's scary, it's aimed at audiences of all ages, so there won't be gore or swearing, which may surprise you if you're only familiar with my horror work, but I've done plenty of family and kids' shows too. I really wanted to do something fun and different, and hopefully I've managed that.

The show will start airing on YouTube next month, so keep an eye on the website, the Twitter account, the Facebook page, and subscribe to the YouTube channel to make sure you don't miss anything. It's a Moranic Production, one of the first projects from my & Cat's production company, so have a look at the site to see what else we're cooking up.

Night Vale and me

Yes. YES.

I’ve written an episode with the Night Vale team. It’s been KILLING me keeping it secret, but now it’s out, it’s the latest episode (91), and I’m so excited I could burst. I’m thrilled with how it came out, it’s such a trip to hear Cecil speaking things that came from my brain, and the whole experience was utterly lovely.

I met the Night Vale crew in 2015 at GeekyCon, hung out with them, and then realised I had to catch up on the show. So I spent from August 2015 to March 2016 catching up on every single episode. While I was doing this, I was making random notes about ideas for the show, just by myself, not knowing what I’d do with them - it really spoke to me, and sparked off tons of ideas. Much later, I asked Jeffrey if I could be involved in some way, and they graciously let me jump on board. Fast forward to now, and it’s the year 5 opener.

It’s very much a team effort, as always it’s their show and I’m just playing with their toys for a while. It’s a perfect fit for me and my style, and we’ve make a beautiful, mutant baby together. I hope you enjoy it.

If you don’t know what any of this means… go and catch up. Seriously. You won’t regret it. And check out their live shows. You *can* jump on with this year 5 start, or a live show, but all the episodes are glorious and you deserve to treat yourself by hearing them all.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ghosting screening in London 5th May

Ghosting, the short film I wrote and directed, is screening at Shorts On Tap, on Thursday 5th May, 7pm, in Cafe 1001 in Shoreditch. It's part of a selection of dark comedy shorts, and you get the whole evening for the bargain price of £3, so come along and check it out.

Doors open at 7pm, show starts at 8pm, it'll finish up at 10.30pm, and apparently the filmmakers will be there to answer questions, including a very handsome, talented chap called-- oh, how embarrassing! It's me! So bring questions, and possibly spare underpants because it's a bit of a scary one.

The short recently won a Bronze award at the Los Angeles Film Review Independent Film Awards, and has some more festival screenings coming up which I'll post about on here when they're announced. Cat's short KEEN-wah won a Silver at the same awards, so clearly she's already become too much competition, and I'll have to secretly murder her. Hopefully nobody will find out (luckily nobody reads this blog).

Also, I don't want to alarm you, but if you do come to the Shorts On Tap screening, the selection is called "Laugh or Die". I'm not saying the organisers will definitely kill you if you don't laugh - but why risk it? Just laugh. Laugh. LAUGH.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Random Prince memories

I haven’t written anything about Bowie since we lost him, and haven’t even been able to listen to any of his music yet. It’s too sad, and I still don’t quite know how to process it, he was such a hero and influence. We’ve lost a lot of heroes lately, it seems like a particularly savage year.

But for some reason, while I’m desperately sad at the loss of Prince, my immediate instinct is to listen to as much of his work as possible, to defiantly get through this thing called life, to fight back against the sadness. Let’s crank it the fuck up, get loud, get sexy, get crazy.

When things like this happen, lots of random moments run through my mind, formative experiences featuring the person we just lost. This time, I wanted to write them down, mostly for me, partly just to celebrate the incredible experience of hearing his work for the first time. I’m going to wing it and throw in anything that occurs to me, just see what comes out. Let’s do this. Because Prince.


First time I heard a Prince song

I’d just bought a cheap radio off a friend, a Sqeez orange juice branded piece of shit with a 9V battery, and had a mono, single bakelite earphone (the one that looks like a hearing aid) jammed in one ear. Listening to any radio station I could find, under the covers at night when I was supposed to be asleep. Had no idea who any of the songs were, was just enjoying discovering new music. And then they played 1999, and my mind exploded. How the hell are they making those sounds? Are they even instruments? How is he doing that with his voice? What IS this? All Prince songs do everything “wrong”, the verses and chorus are in the wrong place, the lines don’t stay in the tracks where they’re supposed to, nothing fits properly, they refuse to follow standard song protocol - and that’s why they’re fucking amazing and righteous. I will never forget hearing that song for the first time, and how it made me feel - like anything was possible. And naughty. Because Prince.

Kiss

As a kid at boarding school before the internet and iTunes existed, you were at the mercy of the radio and friends with albums on tape. I’d just heard Tom Jones and the Art of Noise covering Kiss, and didn’t realise it was a cover until that kid in my class with guitar angrily declared that we were all idiots for liking this terrible version of a great song. I scoffed. How could it possibly be better than Tom Jones belting out sex over an Art of Noise beat? How could it *possibly* be sexier? And then I heard it, and realised: Because Prince. THAT is how it could be better and sexier.

Lovesexy album cover

Going to a boarding school in the countryside in the 80s, there was a lot of homophobia and suspicion of anything that might possibly be effeminate. As a small kid, some of it was directed my way, as not being tough enough, or tall enough, or liking the “right” music and movies. But for some reason, not a single one of those bullies and general arseholes said a *single word* about Prince, ever, not even when the Lovesexy album cover was everywhere. Nobody was ridiculed for liking Prince. Not a word. Because Prince.

Muppets Tonight

The entire Prince episode of Muppets Tonight is an utter delight, but my favourite bit is the opening. It was at the height of Prince’s contract troubles with Warner Brothers, when he changed his name to symbol, and became The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. The episode starts, Prince arrives at the studio to be greeted by Bobo the security guard bear, who asks for his name. Prince’s reaction is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, and showed that he was happy to poke fun at himself. Watch it here, because Prince.

Nothing Compares 2 U

I love the SinĂ©ad O’Connor version, but I’d never heard the original. At college, a friend passed me a tape of his recording of it with The Family. Both versions are completely different, and somehow both are the perfect version of the song. I’m not sure how that’s possible. Probably because Prince.

The best gig I never went to

I never managed to see Prince live. In 1995, my friend Sal went to Prince’s gig in Dublin, where I lived at the time. I hadn’t been able to get tickets, and was gutted. The next day, I called into her workplace to hear how it went. She talked me through pretty much the entire show, how it started, how it went, the talky asides, the atmosphere, in the way only a superexcited, lifelong fan could. It was so vivid, her enthusiasm so infectious, I actually felt like I’d been there. I still feel that in a way, I was there, through some sort of magic. Because Prince.

Batdance

In 1989, Tim Burton unleashed a brand new version of Batman on the world. It was dark, it was adult, it was moody, it was scary. Either nobody told Prince, or he just didn’t give a shit, because he did his own thing anyway, and gave us Batdance, which is crazy even by Prince standards. It’s *completely* wrong for the movie, but somehow that just makes it work perfectly. Because Prince.

Twitter

Big Train once did a sketch about Prince hunting jockeys in the African plains. It’s bizarre, you have to see it. In 2015, Prince tweeted a link to it, and clearly found it funny. One of my biggest wishes is that I’d seen his face when he watched that sketch. It’s like the internet wrapped around itself for a brief, wonderful, bizarre moment, just because Prince.


There are so many more moments I could mention. Prince is woven into the tapestry of my life, probably in a pattern that spells out something rude. So today, I’m wearing my purple shirt, blasting the music loud, and celebrating the artistry of one of the most incredible, gifted, sexiest motherfuckers to ever walk the Earth. I suggest you do the same.

Because Prince.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Uncharted territory

Warning! Writing process discussion ahead. Beware. Don't operate heavy machinery while reading.

A while ago I blogged about my writing process, which you can read here. It's a method I've developed over time, that works best for me creatively, professionally. I tweak it or add to it now and again, but because it works for me, they're not huge changes.

But now, I've got a movie idea that I have no idea how to write.

My usual process doesn't work, because the very nature of the plot depends on the character interactions and how they react to various events - I can't brainstorm that, I can't outline it, because I don't know how they'll react until I'm actually writing the draft and hearing their voices.

I have some of the major plot milestones, but the order could move around depending on what the characters want to try and when they try it. And I don't know exactly who they are yet - the voices never become clear until you're actually in the draft, sometimes the second draft.

Oh, one more tiny problem: I don't know how it ends. Yeah.

I've come up with a mind-twisting science fiction plot, that gets the characters into a really, REALLY weird situation that's impossible to get out of. So I can't figure out how to get them out of it. They might figure it out for me when I'm writing it and they're all speaking. Or they might not. I might not be clever enough to write it. I might end up with most of a script, minus the final act. I don't know.

None of my usual techniques will work for this. I'll just have to wind up the characters, let them go, and see what happens. It's terrifying, and weird, and I don't know what I'm doing.

So obviously, I *have* to do it. Even if it fails utterly and I have to abandon it at the end. It's worth a try. And I'm curious to find out where it goes, if anywhere. You've got to do things that scare you, sometimes. So here goes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Crazy For You audience award

Crazy For You has won another award, this time for Audience Favourite at the Horrorshow Hot Dog Short Film Festival. Look at that bling! That's the blingiest hotdog you'll ever see, I bet. Thank you to the lovely audience for voting for it, and to the festival itself for choosing it as part of their selection.

It'll go on the shelf next to the lovely Crystal Palace International Film Festival award for Best Horror/Sci-Fi, and the Fantasporto Best Screenplay award for Severance.

I will now insist on being called "The Award Winning TV and Films' James Moran" in every social situation, even when just having a drink with friends. It's only right and proper.