Thursday, 31 October 2013

Halloween 2013

Happy Halloween everybody. I felt like I should say that because I didn't really celebrate it this year. Went out in town in my very makeshift, student budget, costume of zombie WW2 pilot. Just had to hit the charity shops again for a jacket and a hat and then burn a cheap scarf I picked up. So yesterday was full of Halloween cheer.

The only scary thing that happened today though was when I had an overwhelmingly desolate feeling that no high street in the world sell brown waistcoats. Seriously, me and Jamie spent 90 minutes looking everywhere for one - guess I should have just stuck to online shopping though; think I've found just what I wanted.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Waking up early?

Woke up naturally without the assistance of an alarm clock today. After having a lovely dream about getting some good deals at a car boot sale, I checked what time it was and how long I had until I needed to be at lectures. I had 15 minutes to be there. I forgot to set an alarm, and didn't have time to do anything minus putting on clothes and shoes to run into uni. Close call, I got there in the nick of time!

It was quite dark when I got back home to an empty house, Mark and Lucy are away and Jamie was at work so I have had the evening to myself. I made a 'Beans-hemoth on toast' for one and tucked into what may well be a contender for game of the year. Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons tells the story of a pair of Brother's journey to find the tree of life to cure their dying father. It starts off in their village where everything feels warm and fluffy like a Disney movie but the further away you get from your hometown the more 'Brothers Grimm-esque' the world becomes. The wonderful always outweighs the weird though since the game has an absolutely beautiful art style and story that captivated and pushed me to keep playing through its 2 and a half hour length since each location was more impressive and perilous than the last. Looking back, it really ran the gambit with my emotions as well, I felt genuine fear, sorrow and joy at points; one scene in particular involving mountain goats left me with a smirk I couldn't get rid of. Even though the controls consisted of basic movement and a single action button, everything I did felt satisfying since you have to co-ordinate both characters simultaneously to overcome obstacles. It never got too challenging though so it kept a good pace at it was always eager to show you something new and different. If there was ever a game I think my Mum should play, it's this one. It's short, simple as well as mechanically and emotionally satisfying. Strongly recommended.

Unexplained headache

Woke up oddly early only to find myself with a persistent headache that continued through-out the day, making it very difficult to focus during the lectures. Which was a bit of a shame because one of them was about script writing and the foundations of a compelling story. After getting a bit of coffee in my system I was patched up once again. Learning to edit again tomorrow for three hours, apparently the lessons will open up a lot more now that we have covered the basics so that's something to look forward to.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

RIP the Sword Brolley

Samurai sword went out in a blaze of glory. It protected our filming extras for a little bit and I think it helped us keep sheltered while cooking lunch but with the 'Storm of '13' upon us all it took was a sharp gust of wing and the brolly was immediately bent. Then it snapped. Then it snapped in 5 other places. The purchase itself would probably rank quite highly on my 'biggest waste of money' list, certainly just getting a genuine umbrella next time, none of this novelty nonsense.

Otherwise, today went off without a hitch. I was predominately holding up human and vehicular traffic today so our abandoned streets scenes didn't look so lively. Getting back home to Bournemouth again proved to be the worst part of the weekend. Had to take a coach to Reading train station to get on an hour and a half long train journey. When it came down to it though, I was on it for nearly double that time. Jamie very kindly met me at the train station but neither of us had cash, nor was their a cash point in our proximity so we braved the absolutely crap weather for the sake of sodden banter. I'll probably be dry again this time next year.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Hungerford reshoots

Braved the train to go get back to Newbury to see my family. It was amazing, there was free food and drink, I didn't need to worry about the washing up and the toilets were so clean. I should really go to that place more often.

In all seriousness though, it was great to see my parents again but Louis was the best. Lots to reminisce about between the two of us before getting to bed at a reasonable hour because I was off early in the morning to help out on the 'Hungerford' reshoots. With the oh-so-familiar taste of McDonalds in my mouth I got right back into my running role. Making tea and coffee, wearing a high-vis jacket and grabbing various equipment when it was needed. Today's filming had possibly the biggest budget stunt in it - we got to trash and flip a car! Great to see the gang though!

It's just like The Walking Dead!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Gone Home

I had a single job today. Dreaded doing it however because it was in a whole new realm of social awkwardness. For our Uni short film we needed to get a photograph of an old lady in some apparel I bought from a charity shop, of course this also involves me asking a total stranger to dress up and pose happily for me. It took me 30 minutes of fake browsing to pluck up the courage to ask, but they were very happy to actually do it. Guess you can always depend on the kindness of strangers.

The other, not so important thing I did today was get around to playing 'Gone Home.' An indie game that really made headlines when it first came out earlier this year due to how it tells a story through a video game in a way that is impossible in any other medium. It got exceptionally high review scores. Been excited to experience this for a little while now and now that I finally got to sit down and play the game the New York Times called ' the greatest video game love story ever told.' I can say that I was underwhelmed. Which really sucks because I wanted to fall in love with this game so badly but there was just some things in my mind that held me back. Without giving anything away about the plot, I will say that the game gives the player a lot of respect and it is an achievement in terms of narrative in a video game... But that's also it's biggest weakness. If you took the same basic plot and put it in a book or a film then it'd be mediocre. A lot of game critics are saying that it's brilliant due how it takes strides to improve narrative in games as a medium. Main issue is, the medium is still in it infancy. It's like being given the consolation prize in a creative writing competition because you wrote the whole thing in gravy rather than ink - your story was ok, but the judges appreciate your quirk. 

Short rant over. Here's a nice picture of me in town from last night with my housemate and two friends. Best thing about this photo was Louis' facebook comment: 'Jesus, Theo's wearing braces.'

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

DIY plumbing

Been very busy planning the next short film we have to make for Uni. We have been given a 'character' brief where we need to establish a character with little to no dialouge, then quickly show that they are someone else entirely. We have planned out this Vertigo meets Psycho short film that should be awesome and plenty suspenseful. Speaking of tense though, we had a little panic when we thought our sink was blocked since the water just wasn't draining. So we went all Super Mario on it with our plunger. Didn't really account for the tsunami that would come out the secondary drain point though, got a little drenched as a result.

Got a bit plunger happy at this point so we went around to everything we could for a little plunge. The bath drain was easily the WORST. In fact, it was so bad I did take a picture for the blog, but I thought I would spare every reader that pleasure by not putting it up. Lucky you.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Favourite Ghibli

Standard day at Uni. Went back to the Buffalo Bar for cheap burgers, quickly becoming a Monday Night regular. We overheard some folks talking about Studio Ghibli films so I did a mildly brave thing and entered their conversation by asking 'What's your favourite film of theirs?' There was a short hesitation and then they responded 'Pom-Poko.' Usually I would have terminated the conversation then and given them a shoulder so cold it would have saved the ice caps, but I did the honorable thing, politely told them they were wrong but continued to discuss film with them.   

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Fry my breafast, lunch and dinner

Horrible realization today that everything I ate had either been fried or battered. Waffles, chicken kievs and home-made fishcakes = a full belly and a self-loathing personality thanks to the full belly. Finally got around to recording and ripping sound effects for the mood film. Getting a ticking clock was exceptionally difficult to record along with breathing sounds. We are trying to create a very tense and serious tone in our film, but when I inhale through my nose all you can hear is a muffled squeaky screech that is actually quite funny. Eat some spicy food, get runny nose, blow nose, good recoding, good day? Good day.

Mac and Cheese Redux

Queuing at the supermarket is like waiting in line for the lamest ride at the theme park. It's full of the general public, and each of them are carrying a basket literally bulging with assorted goods which is wincingly painful to look at when all you have is some milk, cheese and butter. Dinner was worth the shop experience though. After the macaroni and cheese disaster a few weeks back, Mark took it upon himself to make the greatest version ever conceived, as he too, had been dissapointed in the past my naff mac and cheese. Turns out the secret is in the cheese. Not so much the quality, but the quantity. About half a kilo worked out very nicely, and working out is exactly what we will have to do it work it all off again; but like I said before, totally worth it. 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Stanley Parable

A little game on Steam peaked my interest a while back called 'The Stanley Parable.' Wasn't really too sure what to make of it when I first heard about it - but it looked unique enough for me to give it a closer look, especially after seeing this wacky trailer.

Best part was, there was a free demo. Which is nothing like the main game but simply based on what I experience in that 20 minutes, I slammed down a very small sum for what is a great little gem of a game. If you can even call it a game.

The gist is that you control someone who works in an office block, in an attempt to find your missing co-workers. But even that slight synopsis I just gave you may be giving you more of a motive than you would expect. Truth be told, there is no goal, no purpose, no action, no puzzles, no guns and no skill required to enjoy every shinning second this experience provides. Thanks to some rock-solid writing and story-telling, it's an intriguing, genuinely funny, and at times, mildy creepy journey that is literally worth replaying over and over. In fact, I would encourage that as the game has more than ten different 'endings,' and believe me, you will want to discover all of them; that is the closest thing you will get to a grand goal, even if the game never really acknowledges your accomplishments and choices. But that's all part of it's unique charm that crawls under your skin and is sure to stick with you for years to come.

Check out the free demo if you have a steam account, heck, make a Steam account just to play the demo.     

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Town types

I am still not very good at hitting town it seems. It was only until last night that I realized that me, and Jamie were possibly the uncoolest people there, but you know what? I'm ok with that. Did spend most of my time desperately trying to keep an eye on Jamie or anyone I went with. Finding misfits that look like your friends in a crowd of dancing people is understandably difficult, now I know why the 'Where's Wally' books were put in schools.

Hands down, weirdest moment of last night was while me and Jenny were trying to find Jamie, Jenny went ahead of me and  tried to follow her closely so as not to get lost. Directly in front of me, a girl falls over. Quite badly too, she didn't land on her bum or anything, she fell face-down on the floor. I thought this may have been a good chance to be the gentleman I always am so I decided to help her up. A second before I bent down she starts moving, she put her hand out to her sides and starts to do push-ups. Not like one or two pushups, but like, a lot of pushups. I am stood in awe of this situation, and after a little while some more guys start to notice this. One of the spectators tapped her on the shoulder to understandably ask 'What are you doing?' I see the girls face for the first time at this point as she looks up and it turns out to be a guy in drag. I had to move a good few meters away to start laughing to myself. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

Let sleeping Jamies Lie

Back into the swing of things at uni. During of of our massive lectures the presenter asked how many of us had seen Thelma and Louise. I was the closest person who had to so I had to give an on the spot plot synopsis. Bit tricky when you're talking in front of 250 people but I think I did the job. Came home halfway through the day for lunch, this small break is the designated time in which me and Jamie typically watch the new Agents of SHIELD episode. He was fast asleep the whole time I was in between 12 and 1:45. He texted me halfway through my next lecture it read 'Just had a massive lie-in, I feel like a million!'

Wish I could have a lie-in tomorrow, but I'm in at 9am for a three hour editing seminar. Lordy Lucifer have mercy on our souls.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Lets hit the arcade!

Gotta do something a little bit special on a Sunday we figured. Took Jamie to work at Wagamama but something caught our eye on the way back to the car. I believe we stumbled upon what used to be a small establishment called 'Sega Land,' I can remember Mum wanted to have my Birthday party there many moons ago. Now though, that dream became a reality as we spent a good hour pumping pounds into the arcade machines and having a blast. Best part was, this place had that whole ticket system, where you play games to earn tickets, which gets you a prize. Stereotypically, the amount of tickets need for a decent prize is absolutely insane, this place being no exception.

Get a load of that funky carpet!

We won about 150 tickets through games, 50 of which were spent on a refreashers chewy bar... The remainder was spent on the coolest thing ever: A samurai sword!

Proudly displayed for all our guests who, after perusing our vast sword collection will catch this one in the corner of their eye as the ask in awe 'What about that one?'

Mark was so impressed with the craftsmanship of this fine blade that while exiting the arcade and inspecting it closer he walked into a lamp-post. We can draw only one conclusion: The weapon is cursed.       

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Gotta Catch 'Em All... again

Did a little home-keeping this morning while waiting for Pokemon to arrive, I figured that if I got all the cleaning done I would enjoy my game all the more, and by golly I did. For 5 hours. Mark even offered to take me out of the house to Sainsbury's. I said 'Yeah sure, but I probably will just play this the whole time.' Walking down the aisles with my 3DS playing Pokemon, I must have been the envy of every 6 year old in the supermarket. 

Mark's parents came down to visit (hence the manic house-keeping), they took Mark and Lucy out for dinner so I went out to see a presentation by Doug Allan, the lead cameraman for 'Frozen Planet' with Jenny as she was writing a review on how the event was managed. Being around Greenpeace activists was a bit awkward though. After such a good speech from Mr Allan about polar bears a member of the organisation came up and preached to us for a little while which felt a little bit out of place after such a light-hearted initial topic.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some more Pokemon to train.    

15 years later...

It finally happened. The 15 year streak of free haircuts has finally ended. Nearly since I can remember, Mum has cut my hair. She has always fancied herself as a bit of a stylist but in reality she was an enthusiast with a decent set of scissors and buzzers. Not that we complained, it helped us save a bit of money and we didn't have to schedule appointments or anything like that so we were (and still are) very grateful to have her expertise.

Yesterday though, Mark and I visited the humorously named barber 'Want a haircut?' (formally know as 'Wanna haircut?' but I guess that sounded too informal?) It was quite a surreal experience, the guy was playing Grand Theft Auto 5 with his pug before we walked in and the dog continued to walk around the shop floor during our haircuts. Anyone who knows me has probably noticed that my hair can be quite thick and messy - something I profusely apologized for multiple times to the barber. So I decided to get it cut very short in an effort to start all over again, and here is the result:  

Ta da!
Admittedly, I think I look a little bit chavvy since the sides are a little too short, but in a few weeks it'll grow out to a decent length again.

The fore-mentioned Nerf Wars is quickly becoming a real event now since we ironed out the rules a little bit. Tactical hotspots are the following:

1. Under the kitchen table.
2. Behind the laundry airer on the landing.
3. Around the corner from the kitchen table to you can dominate anyone silly enough to get under the kitchen table.

Nerf... the child and student friendly version of domestic violence!
 Bounced over to a friend house to play the F.R.I.E.N.D.S drinking game. We were each given two characters to play with and drink whenever they do something stereotypical of their character. I had Chandler, whenever he was sarcastic, and Rachel, whenever she was self centered. Possibly the worst pair to play with when you have uni filming at 9am the next morning.

Got in bang on time, despite only getting a few hours shut eye to act in our big 'Mood film assessment.' I was the acting talent in front of camera as a man with writers block with no dialogue. Think Barton Fink crossed with Eraserhead. Low-point of filming was when I needed to look like I'd been sweating due to a deadline. Plan was to put beads of water on my brow but we bought no spring water with them, solution? Use somebodies bottle of strawberry flavored water of course, because I do love having a sticky hairline.

All good fun in reality though, and we were finished way ahead of schedule which was nice. But right now, all I can think of is tomorrow. I had to bide my rage and watch through gritted teeth as various facebook friends showed off their early copies of Pokemon X/Y. Just they wait... I'll be laughing when I am dancing on their Pokemon's sad, sorry bones as I am crowned 'Pokemon Master!'

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Potatoe problems

I am often gifted with over-confidence. While I worked in a cafe, we served jacket potatoes all the time. They were quick and easy to make after the initial cooking period in the oven. Today however I seriously struggled to bring this simple dish into fruition. Really prepared for them to be delicious. Greased them in olive oil and salt before cooking, heated up some baked beans, we even made our own tuna mayonnaise. But the jackets took two hours longer than they should have done so we were all hungry chaps by 8pm.

Tried out something a little bit new today. Handed out my Nerf guns (toys that fire little foam darts) to my housemates along with some safety goggles. We all agreed that we would each get three lives, after you're hit three times your out, last man standing will be the victor. We all discovered that Mark is pretty deadly with a Nerf pistol... will be taking his stats into consideration when we play team capture the flag one quiet afternoon.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Monday Lecture woes

Had another pair of double lecture blocks, this is now the Monday morning standard. The first seminar is with around 100-200 people in the main hall, we sit quietly and listen to a lot of information being pumped into us, this session is a 2 hour slog more or less but a necessary evil for learning. Our second block is much more intimate, around 40 of us all sat in a room where we are allowed to have a little joke with the lecturer; suffice to say that these sessions are greatly preferred. We did a little piece today on why Dr Who is getting worse by introducing Deus Ex Machina's a little too often to resolve and episode - is there nothing the sonic screwdriver cannot do?

Actually, I'm getting ahead of myself a little. I say I prefer the second block if it wasn't for one crucial factor.

This, is your basic chair. It's simplicity is what makes it perfect. A decent height off the ground with a back support at a perfect 90 degree angle - comfortable, but you'll never fall asleep in a lecture while sat on one.

Now here is what we sit on:

No brownie points for spotting the difference. Most chairs have a neat little 'reclining' feature to make them super comfy. That involves the back support tilting for maximum comfort. But here, the bit you posterior is perched upon is slanted at a malicious 45 degree angle so the very basic task of sitting has become a struggle with gravity. I'm sure that when we were all young at a playground our favorite item was the slide. How many of you readers have tried to remain stationary on the slanted surface of the slide? Most of you I'd guess. But in that context it was faintly rewarding and cool, it was like you were fighting against the natural flow, it was rebellious and awesome to be able to stay still on the slide. But you could only do if for about a minute at a time because it did start to hurt after a while.

Imagine being sat on a playground slide for 120 minutes... You's start to look like this:

Holding on for dear life... All I wanted to do was learn!

Grown Man eating Ice-Cream

Weekly big shop was significantly cheaper this time around thanks to a very economical meal plan for next week. We have also weeded out a large portion of luxury goods from our shop, caving only for yogurt and Mark tempted us all to get a doughnut or cookie from the in-shop bakery. While unpacking the load I was given possibly the greatest instruction in my life. 'Theo, we can't fit these chips in the freezer while we still have this tub of ice-cream. Can you eat all of it?' So I sat in the kitchen, spoon in hand and ate the better half of a tub of ice-cream. It would have been a real Bridget Jones' Diary moment if I was feeling depressed, but I was too fat on ice-cream to feel anything at that point. 

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday to the Blog!

Just causally after getting off a facetime call with Mark, Lucy and I decided to head through the blog archives for kicks and nostalgia purposes. For some reason, I often find myself coming back to the very first post I did just to have a little read. It's like having a really personal and poorly spell-checked time capsule - a little window where I can see a cheeky and chipper version of myself. Flicking back tonight though I realised something quite amusing: today marks the 3rd anniversary of the blog. I never imagined that I would have actually kept this up for so long. At the same time though it feels like only yesterday that Mark set up this account for me so we could relay any developments within Cafe Studios; he must have seen some rough potential for me as a blogger. Even after Twitter has effectively taken over that role, I enjoy writing about my day. It lets me gather my thoughts in order to attempt to piece together what is hopefully an amusing anecdote and practice my writing style.

Once again I must thank those of you who return every now and then to read about my humbly humdrum life. I still get a little bit excited when people talk to me about why they enjoyed a certain post, and its for the little moments like that that have made the past 3 years worth-while. So stick around, because I have no intentions of quitting just yet!  

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Moody Movie

With the help of Mark, we finally got an idea for my 'Mood' film, which I pitched to my group with much success as the general concept was the one we decided to expand upon. Getting to my group however was a bit tricky, after catching an unusual bus I got a little bit lost finding their uni halls. Getting back was worse as the bus I caught was no longer in service at 7:45pm, so I had to walk for a long ol time to get home. But it was worth the walk since Lucy made her, what should be infamous, lasagna which was a triumph.

The Jeremy Kyle Show

The Jeremy Kyle show is pretty atrocious. Doesn't really explain why we watched an hour of it today. Feel so dirty on the inside. On one hand, I guess its somewhat beneficial for these people to be going on the show because we are assured that they will get 'professional help' afterwards and some secret relationship issues can be put to rest. But it's quite down-heartening that they have to expose themselves for our entertainment in the meantime. It almost encourages people to be dysfunctional just to get a chance to be on camera, or possibly because it's now accepted as a norm. It's as if the show's creators realized that people love the drama in soaps like Eastenders and Corrie but were too lazy to script an episode so they get raunchy members of the public to come and show-boat their problems. It's like the modern equivalent of the Roman Colosseum. But are they the barbarians for duking it out, or are we worse for silently hoping for the most deprived and outrageous social situation to 'come on after the break' for our entertainment? Or is the show simply pushing boundaries?

It's funny, because I would generally defend film for pushing boundaries, Psycho being the prime example of this. A film that was slated upon initial release for being gratuitous but I would argue that it opened the floodgates for film-makers and directors in the 60's as they could put so much more on screen to convey their message; be it nudity or violence. Film making, to some, is an art form. Boundaries must be pushed in order to shock and entice audiences. Some good film-makers know this and often use something shocking to provoke a strong, and in very rare cases, new emotions within their audience. Films like the Saw or Paranormal Activity sequels build on the emotions created in the first film in an attempt to 'cash in' on those audiences wanting another hit, and maybe a chance to see something a little bit more nasty. Reality TV shows and their respected audiences are very similar to the horror genre and it's fans.

TV producers know that if they appall a new viewer first time around, they are practically guaranteed to tune in again for more. But the shocks that come with reality TV 'cheapen' over time. Audiences feel more numbed to a show's tricks but return for more to see how far the series will go and how deep into the human psyche the network will dare them to venture. We are simultaneously disgusted and fascinated by topics and scenarios that are otherwise considered a social taboo. We cannot believe we are reading the words 'My husband accuses me of sleeping with my step-son' on our screens; but we wonder how much worse it can get in every episode until we eventually get addicted. It's like cocaine if it came in every colour of the rainbow. You want to try out every colour in case you felt something different, but deep down you know that nothing will really be unique and it's the same product - problem is, you're hooked now. And you can't stop watching the petty people with bad teeth bicker at each other.           

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Group work for a tricky film brief

Group work was accomplished today after a 3 hour editing lecture that actually was a lot of fun. Tried to integrate myself socially with the group and ended up royally embarrassing myself getting into a lift with them as the doors shut on me. Not even with me on the wrong side, literally the doors crushed me sideways. Hope that was good for a laugh anyway. Organized a production meeting with them Thursday night in someones flat so all systems are go! At least in the crudest way possible.

Still need ideas for our 'Mood' film. Going to go around he school to take photos tomorrow morning in search of potential shots as our brief only permits us to use 10 shots max to fill a 1-3 minute timeframe - time to get our thinking caps on.