Saturday, 30 December 2017

New Shoes, New Me

Mum took me shoe shopping today on account of the fact my old boots where very literally falling apart and letting water in. I'll give a proper eulogy to them soon, but I'm happy to say we got a really good replacement pair that will see me into 2018 with style. Going into new year with a really positive mentality and a fresh state of mind, and it starts from the feet up.

Did a good chunk of work over the course of today too. I'm gearing up for my annual top games of the year list, but this time I wanted to make a video for it. Written and recorded the voice over, just need to put it to video which should be a quick and dirty job this time around. It's a good list too! Been lucky with some good releases this year and I'm looking forward to sharing the video tomorrow.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Extended Family Reunioin, Christmas Edition

Got through what is typically the last part of my set-menu of Christmas celebrations in the form of a family get-together with Mum's extended side of the family. I haven't been to one of these shindigs in quite a while so I thought it would be good to show my face and say hello. I mean really, it was the least I could do, especially considering it was happening at our house. The young ones brought round various Christmas toys they got, including remote controlled cars and the like, I watched them play briefly and then dived straight into the food. Before I knew it, everyone had just kinda up and left though, it all felt like a surprisingly brief affair. Ah well, east I can say I did it now.

Mum did make this amazing gingerbread house, I thought it deserves a bit more attention so here it is!

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Another Star Wars...

Took a spin out to see the New Star Wars film and it was loooooong. It really did feel a bit lengthy and about halfway through I got worried about how many hours we put on Mark's parking. I don't want to go into too much about my overall thoughts on the film, but I really did have some issues with it. Several side-plots were underwhelming and one or two moments were just a little too far-fetched, even by Star Wars standards. But most criminally though, the film was just rather dull and I can't see myself rushing back to re-watch it.

While the film itself was a little bit dissapointing, I really enjoyed having a drink and discussing it with Mark and Froome afterwards though, it was a fun little debrief we had and it was nice to chat over our own pros and cons of the film.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

A White December Morn

Woke up to the present sight of snow in our garden. Not quite a 'White Christmas' but I'll take it!

Louis and I ended up playing a scary amount of Hammerwatch. We bought the game on a whim many years ago but never rally gave it a fair chance til today, we ended up really enjoying it. Mum and Dad came back a bit later after getting stuck in the sudden snow that struck the UK, we saw Tokyo Godfathers in the evening, perfect little film to watch in the gap between Christmas and New Year.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Boxing Day 2017!

With Christmas over, it's only natural to maybe feel a little gloomy or a bit knackered, and I'm experiencing them both. Mum and Dad drove to Orpington to take Grandma and Grandad home so Louis and I basically had the entire evening to ourselves to play games and read. I wouldn't say I have post-Christmas blues, I'm just exhausted from all the merriment I guess - turns out eating lots and doing nothing really takes it out of you. Early night for me I reckon.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Merry Christmas 2017!

Merry Christmas everyone! I usually wake up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning, but I actually had a bit of a lie-in this morning, waking up at a more respectable hour. After a lovely gammon breakfast I even went to church for a morning Christmas mass with my Grandparents for the first time, that was certainly a bit different for me. Glad I did it, but I'm not sure I'd go again in future years, I was just eager to get home and spend the morning with Louis and my parents.

Once we returned though we hit up the classic Christmas turkey dinner (first turkey dinner of the season) and then moved onto the presents. I mostly got graphic novels and cash this year, both were very welcome, I also got a new jumper which I'm sure I'll be sporting in 2018. After all the traditions and food, the family were content to warm themselves by the fire and just chill out. Here's my favourite shot of the day, don't be surprised if it looked anything like your Christmas Day.

This also marks the end for my 'Quest for Christmas.' I consider the experience to be a relative success. I felt a bit more Christmassy in the overall run-up to the big day moreso than other years

That said though, I have two real take-aways from the quest:

1. A Christmas Carol actually turned out to be a lot more important to my own personal build up to Christmas than  had originally expected. In recent years though, I thought I knew the story well enough to sack it off for a bit, I watch The Muppets version so many times growing up I thought I had outgrown it a bit, but it's message resonated with me greatly upon actually reading it.

I ended up reading the book, watching the Mickey Mouse AND the Muppet rendition of the story. I should be Dickens'ed out, but everytime I engaged with it I ended up enjoying it more. It helped me tap into my youthful Christmas nostalgia and melt away the cold shoulder I have metaphorically been giving Christmas in past years.

2. Family is king. I know that is totally obvious and a bit cheesy sounding, but anytime I was visiting home, or was amoung family during December I felt much most festive. Being with Mum, Dad, Louis and my Grandparents is what Christmas is all about. They are the people I wake up for on Christmas morning and the people that make Christmas Christmas.

With both those things in mind, I'd like to close Christmas by quoting Tiny Tim alongside a photo of my favourite rendition of him:

'May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!'

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: Christmas Eve Party

For the past few years, the Durrant's have hosted a Christmas Eve party for family and friends. While the daytime is often quite manic with prepping the house and the food, the party itself always goes off without a hitch. Everyone is clearly smitten with the chance to see some friendly faces before Christmas day and the whole atmosphere is always extremely pleasant. The party is always a chance for me to catch up with friends (and exchange a few gifts) while wishing each other well.

The fire has died down now and the house sits quiet. Everyone is tucked in bed, warmly anticipating the big day tomorrow.

Nothing left to do than wish everyone a Merry Christmas tomorrow, hope it's a good one!

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: Home

Its official: I am back in Newbury for the Christmas period now. Packed a big bag and ready to stay over for about a week to see friends and family over the coming days. Grandma and Grandad came down with my Aunt and Uncle from Orpington tonight so we got to see them over a nice home cooked meal.

It was just nice to be around family in the build up to Christmas, chatting about life and telling jokes. The buzz for Christmas Day is in the air now, people's attitudes are becoming warmer and time feels like it's slowing down. Settling in and being back home is probably the most Christmassy thing I've done all month.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: An Ode to Cranberry Sauce, and all the Other Bits

Where would we be each Christmas dinner without the humble jar of cranberry sauce? Our meals would lack a certain fruity kick and the turkey would perhaps taste even drier without it. It'll be on our Christmas dinner table without question this year, ready to bring a bit of the classic Christmas colour to our plates. But like every seasonal decoration or tradition, it'll be promptly shelved the moment Christmas ends, and the jar is likely to stick around in the back of the fridge until early next year.

Rebecca and I had our own mini Christmas dinner tonight, and I think we really smashed it. We didn't go full out and roast a whole bird seeing as we were going away tomorrow so we opted for chicken breasts wrapped in parma ham instead (a 'chicken in blankets' if you will). Nestled in the corner of my plate though, you'll see a dollop of the faithful cranberry sauce. It served us both well tonight, lifting a good meal to an excellent one.

For pudding Rebecca and I attempted to make some decorated Christmas biscuits / shortbread. It's been on her winter wishlist for a while now so it was good to do it on such a foodie day. Here's some shots of her impromptu, 'I wish I worked at Lindt' workstation, and some of the finished biscuits. I think they look pretty cute.


Thursday, 21 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: Steam Winter Sale

Bit of a newer Christmas thing for me, but as of a few years ago the Steam Winter Sale has become a mainstay in my run up to Christmas ritual. It's a chance to peruse all the games that have come out recently and make plans on what to buy this year. It's a great place for me to buy some otherwise expensive games as presents too (I think I've nailed Daniel's present this year!)

Now they have tethered it to the Steam awards the whole sale is transformed into a great way to celebrate all the great games that came out in 2017 as well. On reflection, the amount of effort Valve have put into creating an original and heart-warming aesthetic onto the sale is in decline, but the games and the deals are always worth sticking around for.

Some years I even buy small little puzzle games for about a pound which I'll probably play for a little while before moving on. Even if these games don't have a wintery look or feel, I will forever remember them as 'Christmas games' because of the time I bought them. Games like Chime and Botanicula are like little nuggets of early 2010's nostalgia, and playing them now still reminds me of playing them for the first time in the family sitting room in December. I've already bought Night in the Woods, my own little present to myself this year so I'll probably remember that game in a similar way over the next few years.

The sale always kicks off when it's less than a week away til Christmas day, it all starts to feel a lot more real now that it's only 4 sleeps away.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: A Christmas Carol

I think the Muppets were the first way I was introduced to the classic Dickens novel A Christmas Carol. After of watching Gonzo recalling the story in a slightly tongue in cheek fashion, I thought it would be good to actually sit down and read the book. It's fascinating to read the beats of the story as it was actually written, I find myself continuously cross referencing the story with the various adaptations I've seen over the years. So far, the Muppets have been quite faithful to the book, but then again, I've only read the first chapter but I'm aiming to finish it tomorrow (it's a tiny book). Again, there's something about the story that is so inherantly 'Christmas'. I think it's the element of new beginnings around this time of year and the instinctive good nature that Christmas instills in people, I'm reminded of all those things even after reading the first few pages.

As a small side note, I released my next gaming video today too! It's a review for Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, be warned, there is a fair amount of violence in the later sections of the video. I'm actually really pleased with how this one turned out too!

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: Christmas Wrapping

This post is not going to be about my all time least favourite Christmas song aka 'Christmas Wrapping' by The Waitresses, but it is going to be about something I have previously disliked about the season.

Mulberry actually had an 'It's what's on the inside that counts' campaign last year where they wrapped one of their handbags up in the most ghastly way imaginable. We are talking bad paper measurements and to much sellotape kinda of bad. The advert made me chuckle since it's a bit of a running joke in the family that I cannot wrap presents very well. In recent years, I have genuinely tried to improve my wrapping standards, but I was a bit cheeky this evening and asked Rebecca to help me out... and by that I mean do it for me. I helped cut the tape to the right size, but she admittedly did most of the actual wrapping side, where would I be without her?

Here's a few of the ones we wrapped tonight, including the one for Louis. Now that I've got the shopping out of the way I'm actually really eager to hand them out, I've done an alright job with present buying and I want to fast forward to Christmas to see the look on people's faces when they unwrap them now. It's true what they say, the older you get, the more Christmas becomes a time for giving rather than receiving, and I'm learning to enjoy the wrapping side of Christmas more and more.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: The Christmas Party

The work Christmas party is a bit of a comedy tradition, its seen in various sitcoms and movies as a place to pretend you like the office weirdos and get a bit drunk. Seeing as I've effectively been freelancing / unemployed for the vast majority of 2017 it meant the world to me to get an invitation to Colour TV's Christmas party. I got to meet up with all the familiar faces from my past shoots, the old sparks, AD's, costume and art directors, it was lovely to catch up with them all before the holidays and share a drink with them.

Highlight was chatting to a comedy writer I met on a job in early November. I was running to help out on her comedy pilot episode. She gave me a bit if advice I've heard echoed from various online sources, but actually hearing it in person made it resonate with me:

'If you want to write, then write.'

Moving into the new year, I think I want to focus on that more than anything else.

While I didn't get a shot of the party, I did go for a mooch around Southbank and saw this cute Christmas market, thought it made for a good photo.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: Singing Carols (And Other Things)

I couldn't go more than a few moments without Christmas jumping out at me today, even in places you'd expect it the least.

After we reached Newbury I joked about seeing steam coming off her car bonnet. There was a bit of vapour, but I assumed it was just the rain evaporating off the hot engine, Rebecca wanted to have a look-see and Christmas was found in the most unexpected place.

Can you see it? Tucked in the top left, let me show you.

Yep, apparently someone managed to shove the leftovers of their dinner down under Rebecca's bonnet, including 6 perfectly good pigs in blankets. Awful waste if you ask me, but I couldn't help but be impressed and bewildered by how that much stuff got under her hood.

After that little episode, we all headed off to the Twin Town Christ as dinner where I got my first roast dinner this month. I didn't go for the turkey option though since I expect I'll be getting plenty of that a bit later.

Returned home to decorate our tree. Mum had clearly waited this long for Louis and I to do it since it is a bit of a tradition in our house. We listened to Christmas songs and covered the tree in all our favourite ornaments. This time we had Some helpers as Rebecca and Rachel pitched in to decorate as well, it was a good little extension of the dressing tradition and it was lovely to share that with Rebecca in particular.

With the tree all spruced up, we then headed to a nearby church for a night of carols. I don't really do hymns and all that very often, but it was a good excuse to get a bit of the religious side of the season into the Christmas experience. I have never done a service while holding onto a candle however so that was a bit new, but out of everything I did today, the carols were probably the least Christmassy thing. I guess I don't have any strong memories connecting me to caroling or church services that get me into the holiday spirit. It was different though, and I'm glad I went but I reckon I definitely side with the family aspect of Christmas over the religious side.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: Family Time

Louis and Rachel have now officially moved into their new flat, I can say that with confidence because I spent most of my morning helping them move furniture in. Mum came down too to ferry the stuff in between flats, but after all the work was done, we got the chance to sit down and enjoy lunch, and later dinner together.

Coming together as a family is always lovely, we talked Wallace and Gromit, what goes into great pizzas and Christmas traditions for us Durrants - many of which I have already discussed over the past weeks on this blog.

I'm getting ready to spend a bit more time with the family over the next few days now. I'm headed home briefly tomorrow so I'll get a chance to fully embrace that feeling.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: Bailey's Hot Chocolate

It may come as a small surprise, but I'm not that big a fan of mulled wine. I enjoy drinking it, and if anyone offered me one I'd happly drink it, but I've never gone out of my way to buy one. It's always a little awkward at Christmas markets with friends, my friends always rush for the mulled wine, whereas I stick to beer at those things. Until last year that is where the Bristol Christmas market had a stand where they were offering not only mulled wine, but a little drink called Bailey's hot chocolate. It also helped that it was cheaper than mulled wine and that appealed to my inner miser.

Make yourself a regular cup of hot chocolate by stirring up the powder into a paste with a little milk, then gradually add in your steamed milk. After that, add a shot of Bailey's. Boom, game changed. It makes for an incredibly warming little drink, the kick of alcohol is ever so slight and it enhances the flavour of the base drink. Having one now takes me back to only last year, when Rebecca and I were first moving into Bristol together. It also marked our first proper Christmas period together, and this drink will always remind me of my first December out of uni in the big wide world.

And in case your mouth wasn't watering already with all this hot chocolate talk, then I have another treat for you. I'm currently editing a video for Pinkman's bakery to help me with an upcoming job application and I couldn't resist sharing this gif of a doughnut being given a finishing touch. I could watch this on loop forever.


Quest for Christmas: Winter Updates in Games

Around this time of year all the big games start rolling out their Christmas updates. Games will get seasonal facelifts, characters often get Christmas themed outfits, and levels are covered in snow to celebrate the holidays.

Animal Crossing was perhaps the first game I played that really went all out with it's Winter change. Since the Gamecube featured an internal clock, the game's world would change seasons according to the real world, so as England started to get snowy, so too did the little town of Korser. Here's a little gif of what I think of whenever I play Animal Crossing in December.

More recently though, Overwatch got it's second Christmas update and brought back the Winter games. More costume for the characters, more snowball related mini games, and more poses of characters raising a mug of cocoa to unlock. Games are always better with friends though, and I once again strapped in for a few rounds of games with Daniel. It's a great way to stay in touch with him despite the geographical distance between us, and the incentive to play together to unlock our Christmas swag is very tempting.

Last year, I was browsing through an appreciation thread on Reddit discussing the Winter update and there was a faintly heartwarming post by a single parent. They explained that they don't really have the means to celebrate Christmas in the traditional sense, their family, and their income were both very limited, as such, Christmas really wasn't a very big deal for them. However, since the parent and the child like to play Overwatch together, they found a means of getting into the Christmas spirit together through their love of games. As cheesey as it sounds, I thought it was a nice story and it made me count my blessings. I'm lucky to have a great family to celebrate Christmas with, but it warmed me to think that even something as simple as a free cosmetic update for Overwatch is enough to instill the Christmas spirit in one family.  

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: The Sandman

Of all the posts, this one will perhaps be the most left of field. By itself there is absolutely nothing Christmassy about Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic series. It's dark, it's moody and it's pretty graphic in places, but it's that contrast between the tone and content of the story with the usual smiles of the outside festive season that pulls me further into the world of The Sandman.

I first read the books around 7 years ago, and I have this distinctive memory of reading the first one while going out to get the Christmas tree one year.

The chapter I associate most with Christmas is also one of the nastiest. A deranged lunatic used an ill-gotten power to slowly drive the customers of a drive-thru diner to madness over the course of 24 hours and eventually they end up murdering each other. I read it just after we put the tree up so I got to experience this fun little juxtaposition wherein the story of the world is so dark, yet I was sat next to something so cheerful.

Reading that chapter now next to the warm glow of our current Christmas tree makes me feel like everything is ok in the world. I pull this book out ever other year or so and just flick through the artwork to get a sense of what I felt like when I first read it many Christmas' ago.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: Short Films

When I was very young, my parents used to tape various Christmas shorts that were on TV. Louis and I watched these two tapes labelled 'Christmas 1996' and 'Christmas 1997' over and over again and they featured shorts like The Gogs, Prince Cinders and Famous Fred. Don't be surprised if you haven't heard of most of those, I guess that's just a testament to how personalised those video tapes felt. No one else had tapes exactly like these and those random Christmas Eve movies of '96 and '97 are forever a part of my childhood as a result; they are the ultimate form of Christmas nostalgia for me.

I went back to skim through a handful of those films if I could find them online, and since Rebecca was watching over my shoulder with me, she suggested a few shorts I'd never heard of before. So I decided it would be nice to make some new memories, sit down and watch some Christmas stuff I'd not seen before.

1. Micky's Christmas Carol

First up was Micky's Christmas Carol, a remarkably faithful adaptation of the classic Christmas story with just enough Micky Mouse to make it feel like it's own thing. I was actually surprised just how effectively this one managed to convey the story without falling back on any bad jokes or diluting the 'darker' parts.   

2. Peace on Earth

Next was Peace on Earth, a bit of an alternative one with a good premise. A squirrel grandfather tells his grandchildren about the war that wiped mankind off the face of the earth. It was slightly obvious with its 'man is evil' message, but for 1939, I guess that was pretty original, especially for children's animation.

3. The Little Matchgirl

Do yourself a favour and just go ahead and watch The Little Matchgirl. You can find it online very easily and it's only five minutes long. It's one of the best thing's I've seen all year thanks to some lovely animation and some incredibly focused storytelling.

All that's left is for me to hunt down a handful of the other short films that were on those old tapes. For the life of me I cannot remember the name of this animation about the nativity and the story of Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. I can remember the art style, and that's about it. Really want to see it again, but even going through old TV listings from the Christmas periods of '96 and '97 I'm no wiser to the film's name.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: Christmas Markets

You can't go through mid December without going to a Christmas Market. Great memories of heading out to the markets when I was living in Bournemouth, sitting out in the cold and enjoying a nice warm drink with a few friends while your all wrapped up, just love that. Rebecca and I wanted to explore Bath's Christmas market because its meant to be one of the best and most popular ones in the region.

I was ready to engorge myself on overpriced mulled wine and German sausages, but alas, Bath Christmas market was over. We missed it by a day. Feel a little bad for Rebecca since she took the day off work so we could go see it.

That is the face of defeat. The shacks were still there, as were dregs of fake snow on the pavement. It was all half there, taunting us. Guess we'll have to make do with Bristol's market for the time being.

Quest for Christmas: Chicken Warmer

Now, on this Quest for Christmas thing, I have tried to be open minded and willing to try new things in order to get me closer to that holiday spirit. And it turns out, you can find a little glimpse of that in some places where you would least expect it: McDonald's.

At least I thought I could. The Christmas Chicken warmer is a limited time offer meal at McDonald's, and since I am currently a soft-hearted sucker for all things Christmassy, I took the dive and ordered up.

'Christmas is here' the packaging promised, but I wasn't so sure. What's the first flavour that comes to mind when you think Christmas? Probably cranberry sauce, turkey or gravy. Certainly not whatever sauce they smothered my chicken in. I can only describe it as a curried sweet and sour sauce, very odd.

Chicken pieces were also just too big for the burger, and since they were lubricated by the sauce, they slid out of that oh-so-beautiful bun the moment you grip your burger.

It all made for some experimental meal that felt a bit under baked and about as Christmassy as a tea bag. It was like opening up the big present under the tree, hoping it's that big Lego kit you've always wanted, but instead it's just a collection of soap. Disappointing and just goes to show you can't hope to find Christmas cheer in a small, warm box at Victoria Train Station. You have to earn it.   


Friday, 8 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: Wrapping Up

Stepping outside today made me realise just how chilly the Winter period can be... and I love it! Ok, perhaps I won't in the weeks after Christmas, but for now at least, the temperature has dropped to a point that I associate with Christmas time. And with cold weather comes warm clothes, and more importantly, and excuse to wear them again!

I love the sensation of putting on multiple layers before braving the cold. Feeling bulky due to the extra padding is lovely and it just makes you feel prepared. Then coming into a warm house after a long time outside is just so satisfying.

I'm heading down to London tonight on a late Megabus, so I'll be wrapping up tight to leave the house. I was outside earlier and it's definitely hit that point where your eyeballs start feeling a bit frozen, so I'll be needing as many layers as I can get my hands on.

 A walk in the cold at night does seem fairly romantic, but I know I'll be cursing it the moment I grow weary of it.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: The Tree

As if we didn't have enough Christmas trees this week. Rebecca and I decided to make our flat a bit more festive and commit to putting up the tree.We put on some Christmas music as is tradition, and laid out all the bits and pieces for decorating.

Still feels a bit funny to put up a fake tree, it was hugely entertaining to unfold all the metal hooks and pieces as it all fell into place in a very satisfying way. Our family goes all out for real trees typically, while more authentic, they do have a habit of dragging in bucketloads of needles. At least with this one there is minimal mess.

Rebecca was seriously into the composition of the tree and the ornaments, I managed to get this cheeky shot of her deliberating where to put the worlds smallest bauble - extremely dedicated.

Just as I started to run out of good Christmas songs, we were all done, the final thing looking like this:

Really brightens up that corner of the room now, and we even got the little robin I bought in first year perched on top once again. Usually he's stuck on our bookshelf, but every Christmas he sits on high.

Now the tree is up I feel like Christmas is really starting to get into full swing. I'm already looking forward to watching more films and read some books under it's branches. Christmas has officially entered our flat!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: Visiting Churches

On my way out of my flat building to meet Rebecca on her lunch break I spotted a small ad for the local church, it was giving info on all the events going on there over the next few days. I thought it was a cute notice, and since I was walking past that church on my way into town I figured I could do a bit of rubbernecking and see if they had anything going on. Turns out, today was their 'Tree Festival' and since I'm going on this self appointed 'Quest for Christmas' I took a dive and went in to see what it was all about.

Turns out it's a community Christmas tree showcase/competition, different charities and local social services submitted their trees to be part of the display. There were well over 50 trees in there, each decorated differently to represent themselves. Most of the trees were standard affair, but a handful were genuinely quite creative.

Found one that would appeal to Mum, cute little one made out of gloves and scarfs.

This pom-pom tree would make Granny Sue smile.

I got chatting with some of the people running the event and they encouraged me to pick my favourite and vote for it as part of the competition. Now call me old fashioned, but I didn't go for the most creative tree, instead I chose this one:

Of all the trees on display, this was the one that reminded me of our tree at home, it even had several similar decorations on it's branches. It made me a little nostalgic and it made me look forward to going home to see the family, and our tree.

It was admittedly rather impulsive of me to stroll into a church and check out some trees, but I'm immensely glad I did. Seeing all those trees made me think about how Christmas means something a little different for everyone and at least for me, I feel a little closer to understanding where most of my Christmas feeling comes from.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: Happy Christmas (War is Over)

Some years I say The Pogues, sometimes I say Wizzard, but deep down, I think John Lennon's may be my favourite Christmas song.

It also happens to be the first song on The Best Christmas Album in the World... Ever, which gets played every year at some point in the Durrant household, usually as we put up the tree. The song is really instant in it's ability to take me back to my childhood. After the very first line 'So this is Christmas' I'm transported back to a warm place that looks like our living room. Listening to it really forces me to stop and take in my surrounding and appreciate firstly all the little things that make Christmas so special, and secondly, how lucky it is that I have such a great and loving family to share it with.  

It makes me reflect on last year's Christmas, while making me look forward to the coming one. It's a gorgeous song that reminds us all that we can try to be better to one another each Christmas.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: Christmas Shopping

I have been know to leave my gift buying til rather late *cough* Christmas Eve *cough*,  all I can say is thank god for Amazon Prime. But I'm going to try and stay on top of it this year, I've made a handy little spreadsheet for notes and links to various present ideas. So far I think I've got a handful of winners. As lame and cliche as it sounds, sometimes it is a bit exciting to think about the look on someone's face when you hand over what you reckon is the perfect gift. The older you get, it's more about giving than receiving. 

I've only done an online search for ideas and gifts so far, but I will be embracing the cold to visit shops after I exhaust that avenue. The search for presents is undoubtedly the part that gives me, and most others the most grief around the holidays. It's a weird kind of nervousness present buying that I only expereince around this time of year, so for better and for worse, the panic sensation of ensuring someone has a good Christmas is a feeling I associate with the season.

So, I'm obviously not going to put up a picture my Christmas gift spreadsheet cus' the surprise is half the magic. So here's a hilariously ugly bit of clip art that's a little bit relevant - now my blog looks like every bit of homework I did while I was at primary school.


Sunday, 3 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: Winter Walk

Quick and simple one today, the Wintery walk. Seeing as the internet went down in our local area it we decided to rise above the millennial stereotype of rolling around aimlessly and instead went on a walk thanks to our new found freedom. We decided to head up to Cabot Tower, a favourite walking spot of ours and drink in the sights of the bare trees and colder hues of the countryside beyond. Winter walks were something I used to despise when I was younger, Mum used to insist on taking Louis and I out some days during the Christmas holidays and I always remember dragging my heels. The older I get though, the more I enjoy a nice walk and the Winter scenery is always something I cherish. Anyway, here's a quick picture of Rebecca practicing the look for her new edgy album cover.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: Gremlins

First Christmas film on the list. Rebecca and I just got through watching Gremlins, she had never seen it before but her heart was quickly stolen by Gizmo and I think she was invested from that point on.

The opening section where the characters walk through a tiny snow covered American town just screams Christmas. It's the perfect postcard image for the holidays and an incredible setting for tiny green things to wreck havoc.

First time I saw this film I was a little young for it, Dad and I caught it on TV while we were channel surfing around Christmas, we only caught the last 15 minutes or so, but I wanted to see more of whatever it was I was watching. Dad bought the DVD home sometime later, and it's become a great alternative Christmas film we whack every other year or so. The TV edit cut out a lot of gorier bits, but now that I'm waaaay older, I probably enjoy those bits the most. You can't not love the bit where a Gremlin's head explodes in the microwave.

What shines through the violence though is a cute little film about a boy and his pet. It doesn't go in too hard with the classic Christmas message (the film was originally released in June) and it's horror elements are at a very good level, as in it's not too frightening for scaredy cat old me. It's a great 'warm-up' Christmas film, one to watch early December before the urge to watch a real Christmas film takes hold.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Quest for Christmas: Mince Pies

Starting things off simply, I put forward the humble mince pie. Outside of the obvious Christmas dinner, mince pies are the food that taste most like Christmas to me. It's a Durrant house rule that we should hold off eating them until December 1st, but we have been known on several occasions to break that rule. (Except Louis, he remains stalwart).

I've found they are best enjoyed with a tipple of advocatt on the side. (Never on top, tried that once and never again) I've been enjoying them like this on December 1st for many years, in fact, here's a picture I put on the blog of me enjoying the very same combo exactly 4 years ago.

Pardon the picture quality, looks like it was taken pre-internet. So I decided to remaster it and bring this touching post-dinner scene to 2017:

Same mug and all! 

If you haven't already, treat yourself to a pie – even you Louis! It's December 1st now so eat as many as you like. Just as well I get my fill of them now before I get bored of the flavour, but my fondness for them returns with a vengeance every year.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Quest for Christmas: Introduction

The dawn of the Christmas season is upon us, it's a time for merriment and cheer. But each year, I feel more and more numb to the festivities and I'm worried that Christmas doesn't mean as much to me as it used to. Maybe it's just a part of getting older, but Mark Kozelek's opinions on Christmas time hit closer to home each year for me:

'I think there must be something wrong with me,
Christmas is coming but I'm not happy,
I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel,
I just don't understand Christmas I guess,
You know I get the presents and Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that,
But I'm still not happy.'

I'm not quite that doom and gloom about it all as he is but each year I feel like I look more like this around the holiday period: 

So for the next month I want to dive right into all that good stuff that makes the season feel so magic. I'm go on my own little 'Quest for Christmas' to try and find out what gives me the warm Christmas feelings. Each post will be dedicated to something that helps me get in the Christmas mood, be it a bit of food, a movie, a song or an experience. Some of them will be broad, others much more specific and maybe personal, but hopefully it'll give me an incentive to find the holiday cheer and if you're lucky, some of it might rub off on you.

So, if this were a bumper for a Channel 4 celebrity holiday special I'd say something like this in my best Paul Hollywood voice:

'So join me, as I go searching for the holiday cheer.'

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Charting a Course for Applications

Plotted a course for the next few days, I've got another video idea brewing and I started renewing driving maneuvers in my mind for my lesson tomorrow. I also applied for a local journalism and social media job, sold myself quite well too but we'll see how far it takes me.

Mini December blog announcement tomorrow by the way, got a something special planned for the coming month so watch this space.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Productivity and Wolfenstein

Hit a fairly productive stride today and ended up applying for 2 jobs, both of them office positions but hopefuls all the same. Planning on keeping up this momentum tomorrow too and get some serious work done this week.

Started playing the new Wolfenstein game too and I'm really liking it so far, its playing around in a fun alternate history space and its always satisfying to kill some video game Nazis.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Could be a Copywriter?

There's a junior copywriter position available nearby that I spent the afternoon applying for. Typically these placements want someone with 3 years experience but this time round they just want someone shoes worked in a creative agency, basically I'm the ideal candidate. Cracking out the charm in this covering letter too, sure that will really sell it.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

The Special Beer

My brain was half convinced that I was sleeping in Bristol, but reality told me that I was very much in London after I Woke up to the sound of Tooting's Church bells. The scrambled egg breakfast Rebecca and I were promised was off the cards since we all over-slept and we had to make a quick trip back to Twickenham for a Birthday lunch for Rebecca's Nan, we were also meeting some friends of her family who I've only met on a handful of occasions but they have always been very welcoming to me. We got went out to Lock Fyne, like last year for Rebecca's Nan's Birthday and it was a lovely meal and evening.

Towards the end of the meal the conversation shifted towards a funeral the family friends recently attended. The Dad of the family buried his Father a few months ago, but everyone round the table remembers the funeral very fondly despite it being an sad time. The Dad continued to describe the events after the wake and how he went into a Supermarket looking to get a few more beers to take home, he was shocked to find his late Father's favourite brand was prominently on sale there. He took the beer home to share with his son and they both continued to drink and chat into the small hours of the morning. He described that moment by saying 'You could feel my Father looking down on us then.' As he said that, I noticed his eyes were glassy and he begun to rub tears from his eyes, but he continued to talk as if nothing happened. That little moment really stuck with me, it was lovely to think that these beers played such an important role to him during the funeral, and you could tell he valued drinking them with his own son that day. The dinner was great, but that fragment of the evening is likely to stick with me.

Megabusing Home for Christmas

That blog title sounds way better with a bit of context:

Travelled down to London on a highly delayed Megabus so I could get to a Christmas dinner hosted by some of my old course mates. The bus arrived an hour late and was another half an hour later during the actually journey. Went right through Newbury funnily enough though and got stuck in a huge traffic jam. Went past my secondary school, my scout hut and the house I grew up in while going at 3 MPH. It was a literal trip down memory lane in slow motion.

Just about got to London though, and I stuffed myself silly with meat and gravy to get my energy back up after such a long trip.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Our Fruitful Relationships with Villains

After yet another lengthy upload process, I am pleased to present my latest video 'Our Fruitful Relationships with Villains'. It's a quick look into how a game's baddie can inspire us, even when they are putting us down.

Was on a shoot from 3pm til midnight tonight, think it all went ok but I'm absolutely shattered now. Early start tomorrow for a different shoot, then I'm off to London just moments after that wraps - guess I'll catch up on my sleep while I'm on the coach.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Long Day of Edits

Crickey, spent the entire day working on my next video but its finally getting uploaded as I write this. Took me way longer than expected editing it all down, think its because I didn't have quite enough footage. I also started doubting how clear the central point of my argument was at times, but I think it kinda cones together by the end so I'm generally happy with it. Its been sitting in my brain for ages this one so its good to finally eject it so I can work on other topics.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Toy Cars

Practised a few driving maneuvers in the comfort of my own living room. At first I thought about using an office chair to wheel myself around on, but I settled on using models and toys instead to simulate the techniques required for a turn in the road and parallel park. It paid off too! When it came down to today's lesson my confidence was much better and I even got a word of praise from my instructor!

Came back home and got cracking on some editing bits for my next video, had to collate a fair amount of footage from several different games this time round so its taking a little longer. If I'm lucky it'll be done and sorted by tomorrow, if not I'll be close to finishing then. Eager to get it out there so I can work on other stuff.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Louis is Back in Bristol

Got a sudden message from Louis this afternoon, he was asking if he could use my printer to get a hard copy of some tenancy thing. I said sure and invited him and Rachel for tea seeing as they'd have to come over anyway to get the print outs - I was making quesedillas too so they were ideal for sharing. It was only a bit after they arrived Louis told me that he and Rachel got the flat they put in for, he just forgot to tell me - if I had known I would have cooked something a little more special! Well done that pair though, their new home is literally just down the road from us too so it'll be really homely.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Making me Look Good

Spent the day sprucing up my online persona for job application websites, specifically LinkedIn which now features some trailers for the projects I've worked on. Makes the whole thing feel a bit more like a showreel. In addition, I signed up and created a profile for an attractive little site called Cahootify which people mostly use for crew calls for small projects around Bristol - seemed worthwhile signing up.

I'm slowly thinking more and more about creating a dedicated website to sell myself, like an online portfolio or equivalent. Don't know if there are any folks out there advertising themselves as a 'Runner Extrodinaire' maybe I could be the first?

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Barn Dancing

Busted out my inner redneck at a barn dance last night. A friend of mine got engaged and the dancing was our little way of celebrating, we had oodles of fun too! Turns out that barn dancing is glorified walking, but by golly, it takes the wind out of your sails when you're done!

Just got back to Bristol after spending another quiet weekend in Newbury. We went out for a quick walk to Combe Gibbet to drink in the sights of the countryside. Rebecca was absolutely smitten by the sheep and the nature, she told me after what a good stroll it was - city girl talk, but I'm glad she had a nice time. Followed it up with a nice lamb roast, as prepared by Dad, its the kind of cooking that makes you glad to be home and a little sad to leave.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Monument Valley 2

Had the entire day to myself which was a little strange. Rebecca was back at home today so I just cracked in with some work, first and foremost being a rather promising job application. I know I use the word 'promising' a lot when I refer to the job hunt, but so far they have already got back in touch and asked to see some more examples of my filming work and I think I shot over some nice stuff.

I'm all packed up, ready to go back home over the weekend. Already wishing I booked a slightly later train, but I thought its best to get the travelling out of the way as soon as possible so I can have a nice time back home. On top of that, I finally got around to playing Monument Valley 2, AKA: the sequel to the only mobile game worth playing. First few levels were absolutely enchanting, it still had the same magic of the first but with a thicker atmosphere, not to mention one of the best soundtracks I think I've ever heard - seriously, go listen to it. The game kinda hits its stride after the first 20 minutes and never really tries to do anything too drastic with its new characters. Its just more Monument Valley, which I guess is a good thing.

Clutch Control

Went on yet another driving lesson today and it went rather well again. I realised that I spent more of my hours not really knowing what clutch control was, but now I got it set a bit more in my brain, I feel like I'm getting there when it cones to performing those maneuvers.

Outside of that, I've started up on the job hunt again and I've already got a handful of good options lined up.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Fantastic Pho

Tried my hand at making Pho, the Vietnamese equivalent of ramen. It occurred to me that I have never made a soup or broth before in cooking, nor had I ever really used ginger root before so it really was a lot of firsts for me. Slow cooked everything until my flat smelt amazing and ended up with something pretty tasty. It was quite fiery thanks to the extra bit of ginger I put in, but its something I'd defo be interested in trying again and fine tuning. At least Rebecca was impressed - she took this little picture of it that does it a bit more justice than it deserves:

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Self Designated Day Off

Past few nights really took it out of me with long days, traveling and late nights in London so I gave myself the day off and take it a little easier. Did my expenses forms and then watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a movie that I would have loved if I saw it five years ago, but as it stands now I think it's just pretty good. Really sharp dialogue though, I constantly had a smile on my face thanks to the speed Downey Jr. managed to rattle off all his lines. I think it gradually lost momentum as it went on though since the central mystery wasn't strong enough to maintain my interest, although it was a good excuse for several amusing scenes.

What Currency do we use Again?

Just got back to Bristol after filming again all day in Slough and that is now a wrap on Together! Same old jobs today, wrangled some extras and made a few teas. This time in the arctic temperatures that November has hit us with so I wore my scarf on set for the entire time.

Had a bit of a funny mishap after printing out a bunch of letters for art department. In my haste to get some props printed, I copy/pasted a large chunk of text for printing. I proof read it of course... Or so I thought as instead of pounds, I had dollars printed out. No-one spotted it til right at the end if the day though and apparently its not a huge deal - everyone else saw the humour in it but I sure felt like a Muppet though.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Reshoot Madness

Amazingly busy and great few days. Went down to Slough, back to Stoke Court for the reshoots for Together, the film I was working on back in July. Did a full days work of prep yesterday and then headed into Central London to meet up with some uni friends. I'm going to horribly misquote this from 'Everyone's Free to Wear Sunscreen'

'Work hard to breach the gaps in geometry and lifestyle to keep up with old friends.'

The last time I saw my coursemates was for graduation last year, there have been other meet ups, but for me, they clashed with other commitments. Last night was the first time I could go to one. It meant I would get a few hours less sleep, but I can say in hindsight I am immensely pleased I made the effort to meet them. It was like no time had passed, everyone was doing really well for themselves too which was so lovely to hear. Rebecca and I had to literally run through London to catch the last train though and I got 5 hours sleep for a big filming day, but again, it was worth it.

Today's filming was effortless though, smashed through everything and ready to hit the last ever day filming on Together.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Nerf Dealings

Met up with Mark ever so briefly to do a dodgy arms deal by the park. He wanted to have a nerf war with his Brother over the weekend and wanted to borrow some of my guns, it felt very shady passing over nerf guns in such a public place though, even if they were ridiculously colourful.

Rebecca and I are in London now and I'm getting ready to go out on my prep day in Slough tomorrow. Got some nappy clothes I don't wear much to do some painting in - should be a fun day!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Brother on the House Hunt

Had a little admin day to myself, sorting out my expenses and my movements over the weekend. I'm going back on a shoot Saturday through to Monday in Slough and I have struck up a decent means of getting there now (with Rebecca's help). After clearing those jobs from my list, I met up with Louis and Rachel for pizza to see how they were doing. Their house hunting efforts are going ok, and Louis has started his own driving lessons which is cool. Its interesting seeing them both trying to find a place to live, only a year ago I was in exactly the same situation.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Off One Shoot, Onto Another

Returned home from the shoot laaaaate last night. Stumbled into bed at about 2:30am and slept most of the morning away today. Driving instructor called me up to make a speedy lesson adjustment, I went on one today to fill his empty gap and it went ok. Not as good as last week, but I get a few bits down pat so I'm pleased.

Braced the cold tonight on a separate film shoot in Stokes Croft, I dusted off my sound gear and boomed for a small production. It was an absolute mission to start with since they wanted to do 9 wide shots, and anywhere I went, my boom was in shot or cast a shadow. Hope I did OK in the end.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Curveball - Day 1

What looked like an impossible schedule, only compounded by the fact we were an hour behind, I was amazed how smoothly today went. It was almost like a little reunion for all the folks I met on the shoot in July, lovely to get back in the think of it with such a tight team. Got to do a bit of extra work on top of the usual running, I sat down in the background of a restaurant and had a mime conversation for about 45 minuets.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Belted Up

Enjoyed a very chill morning / afternoon combo at home, had a really good breakfast and lunch too. That probably explains why it was harder than usual to work up the effort to hop on my London coach. That and I always get a bit anxious before a shoot, tomorrow sounds like it could be a real doozy too, but if I go in working hard I'm sure it'll GI fine.

Modified my belt a bit too. For ages its literally been letting me down and my trousers were certainly rocking the low-rider look. No more though! Rebecca's parents own a belt punch, some kind of funky tool you can make new belt notches with. It looks like a torture device and I was totally sceptical as I set it up, but it worked wonders. Now my belt hugs my waist again and I'm ready to hit the set tomorrow with real trouser confidence!

Answering the Call

Got an impromptu message from the 1st AD of the feature film I was working on on July asking if I could be in London on Monday to help with some filming as a runner. Snapped up that offer and bought my coach ticket already, this cat is headed back on set! Albeit for a day or two, but it's still a great opportunity.

Rebecca and I went out for dinner as a little treat to ourselves. Zero Degrees was the name of the place, while it specialises in brewing beers, they serve food to go with it which was actually really good - great beer too!

Friday, 3 November 2017

Chugging Along with Writing

Continued writing up the script for the next video and it finally coming together. Its not a review like the others so its structured a little bit more like an essay which just takes me a bit longer. I get flashbacks to writing essays at uni which always used to take me forever, but I'm genuenly trying to get my writing speed and focus back up. It all comes with practise.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

The Driving Click

Went out for my 5th driving lesson and I think I felt it start to click a little bit. I did the last maneuver I need to practise: reverse around a corner. Which I couldn't see myself ever needing to do in practise, but if they want me to do it on the test then so be it.

Got through a fair bit more of the script for my next video about motivational baddies in games. I was mulling over one section in particular which I might have to axe now since it feels like I'm going off on a tangent. Aiming to have it done tomorrow though so I can start making the video.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Making of 'The Odd Bunch'

Two years ago today, I woke up a little earlier than I wanted to (especially considering I'd been to a Halloween party the night before) so I could go and shoot the first scene of my short film 'The Odd Bunch'. Or the short film I made in my final year about a man who was in love with a satsuma.

It remains one of my favourite films I've ever produced, and I certainly remember feeling very proud whenever I showed it to anyone. I wanted to take it's anniversary as an opportunity to break down the entire development and production process of the film, most because I'm feeling nostalgic, but also because I thought it makes for a genuinely insightful look into what is required to make a short film. I'm basically doing a DVD special feature here, so strap in and turn back the clock with me.

One of the unseen promo pics for the film: Mitchell taking a selfie with his beloved Claire

Concept and Development

Probably the most asked question I get asked about the film is 'How did you come up with this idea?' I always answer with 'I just really like oranges.'

In truth though, boredom and daydreaming was how I got the idea. I think I was in an especially tedious lecture and the mental image of a guy dating an ornate made me chuckle. I wrote it down and just kinda forgot about I. Funnily enough, I never actually gave the idea much credence beyond the initial concept, I thought it was a one-note joke and I couldn't do too much with it. At this point at uni, we all had to come up with an idea for a short fiction film or documentary so I tried brainstorming for more ideas, but the orange one stuck out for me, and after actually giving it some thought, I felt that I could make it a pretty funny mockumentary.


I took the idea to my tutor who agreed it was quirky and he sent me away to check out some other great mockumenatry films/series like Documentary Now and Best in Show. I switched on for the first episode of Documentary Now ready to take notes.

It's hard to believe I gleaned anything useful from this show exclusively based on this screenshot

The episode was basically about two elderly sisters living together, In their childhood they were Hollywood darlings but they are now washed up and staying in the house where their mother raised them. Bill Hader and Fred Armisen play the old ladies, and you can already see how it's not even remotely meant to be taken seriously. One of them can't hear properly, and the other is self obsessed so a lot of the comedy revolves around that dynamic. The thing that struck me was around halfway through the episode, in the midst of the gags and the screeching was a very genuine moment that made you feel a little bit sorry for the characters. It blind-sided me because it came from a genre that’s exclusively about the laughs. After that the episode just got far too silly, but I held onto that last bit.

By the way Best in Show is also a fab mockumentary, but I only got the chance to see years after I made the film. It's not riotously funny, but it somehow feels true to itself and it's characters so it ends up being pleasantly heart-warming – I really recommend it.

Wholesome little mockumentary

From there I wanted to look into people who were genuinely in relationships with inanimate objects. You can go ahead and Google them and you'll find articles and lists of people in love with their cars, roller coasters and even The Eiffel Tower. Here's a link to one of the articles I read.

On a first read, its quite easy to discredit them and laugh it all off, but what stuck out to me is how well they are able to speak about their odd relationships. Most of them acknowledge its weirdness, and defend their affections, Tracey Emin famously married a large rock from Hong Kong and said this:

'...But maybe it's an anchor for me, something I can identify with. No matter how mad my life might be or what may happen that stone is stability and comfort.'

Obviously, Tracey Emin is going to be a bit more eloquent and, dare I say, pretentious about this topic. But most other people in relationships with inanimate objects share the same philosophy: The want love just like everyone else, often because they find it difficult to understand the hearts of others.

It reminds me of that Alan Moore quote about people who believe in outlandish conspiracy theories:

'...Conspiracy theorists actually believe in the conspiracy because that is more comforting. The truth of the world is that it is chaotic.'

By loving inanimate objects, they choose to believe in a relationship that doesn’t really exist because real love is never as simple as it seems. These people find comfort in something that can't harm them like another person can. They desire the fairytale version of love where everything ends happily ever after.

While I couldn't 100% empathise with their beliefs, their views on love resonated with me. I decided I wanted to make my mockumentary not only feature jokes, but to take you through the same stages I did about researching into this topic. First I felt like pointing and laughing at the freak-show, then I realised how human their feelings were. It just fascinated me how far they were willing to effectively lie they tell themselves just to feel an emotion that everyone deserves to feel. 

In some cases though, the above sentiment gives them too much credit. One bloke just goes around and rubs himself on classic cars. Obviously this is much closer to a nasty perversion, I wanted to focus more on understanding the arguably more wholesome individuals.

Armed with this new-found appreciation for the power of mockumentary and 'quirky individuals' I got to script writing.


Character is king in films, and even moreso in mockumentary. Before writing the script I wrote up a quick character bio for 'Mitchell', the main character of the film. Basically he's a hopeless romantic who recently got dumped by his ex-girlfriend. From there, he's desperate to find something else to pour his love into and convince himself that he is worthy of affection.

The entire script was written in an afternoon after I hammered down the beats of the story. A lot of Mitchell's lines were influenced by the real people in relationships with inanimate objects. It was important to portray him initially as if he was someone you would point and laugh at in the street, he makes cringy comments and acts without irony – to him his relationship is pure and he is (mostly) oblivious to the 'weird' element of it.

By the end though I wanted him to almost drop his lovey dovey act and open up a bit about his recent heartbreak which begins to reveal why he's turned to something else to channel his love into. The orange is a safe bet, it will never talk back or hurt him and it appeals to his personal concept of what love is. But again, that's not what real love is, though he finds it comforting to simply feel that his love is being reciprocated. I wanted the audience to stop laughing at him and start to understand his position. Under no circumstance did I think I could make the audience empathise, but they could at least recognise the thought process behind these kind of people.

In a way, the most hilariously tragic part of the story is the fact that oranges really don't last forever – they will deteriorate long before he will – which makes it all the more painful since he's convinced himself this relationship is an undying romance.

I tried to write it so a crack in his undying love appears at the very end and you can start to see it's harder for him to justify the lie he's telling himself. Not sure if that came through all the way in the finished product, but that was my intention.

You can read the whole script here

I realise the above sections make me sound like Spike Jonze in this unsettling interview or like I have some bizarre unrequited love with my lamp or something equally bonkers. I simply found it to be an interesting subject matter and wanted to share my thought process in writing Mitchell's character.


This whole bit when a lot smoother than I expected. I arranged a meeting with the manager of my local Waitrose supermarket to ask about using it as a filming location. He immediately said yes as they are fond of helping out students – a commendable bit of PR. From there it was just a house location which we lucked out on with Air B&B. We found a small nearby house owned by a young man and his girlfriend. (Come the day of the filming, they just locked themselves in a bedroom and watched Game of Thrones on their laptop which I always thought made for a funny mental image.)

Our actor, Matt, came through to me via Rebecca since she was his tutor in second year. He had a passion for acting despite studying public relations. I went to a script reading session with him and was quickly impressed with just how much he could lend to the role. Often, he made suggestions into how he should read lines and I was always happy to hear him out.

Really glad we found him. I put an ad out for local actors much earlier asking them to send in a small clip of them reading the script and the responses were all pretty dire in comparison. Lotta dark bedrooms and a lot of people emphasised the 'creepy' aspect of the character, which just didn't gel.


So the day of the shoot comes around and I wake up at 6am to appreciate my local high-street looking like a ghost town. Guess that was God's way of saying 'You should be in bed now child.' 

Winton highstreet looking creepy
I had the ever professional Matt Winlow as my Production Manager and chief watch tapper to keep me in check if we ever started going over time. We only had one hour in Waitrose, but we powered through all the shots we needed. While I don't have any storyboards to hand to show here, I cannot stress enough just how useful drawing up your own boards are. Even if your like me and can't draw for toffee, it's worth doing just to free up decision making you have to do in the heat of the moment – they save a lot of time on the day.

Me looking very important in a hi-vis while directing Rebecca on how to pick up a lemon. You know, the important things.

It's also fun to mention that my girlfriend Rebecca stars as the jilted woman in the supermarket. She also effectively served as a production assistant during the day and bought us all Subway lunch – feed your crew folks.

The crux of the film was Mitchell's interview which we did continuously at our second, Air B&B location. Obviously we set up the entire film to be a faux documentary,and as TV students that all came quite naturally to us.

Shoes off in the directors seat
 Finally we cracked on with our fake cutaways to add a bit of visual comedy to the piece. I had a few in mind but my cameraman Tom Goddard had some witty ideas which we used to bulk out our coverage. The sexy bedroom stuff was the most fun we had that day as several members of the crew were giggling and couldn't believe what they were doing.

I should also mention that 2 oranges we harmed in the making of this film. One got a bit too bruised after hours of filming. The second one though, total professional.


Over the course of the edit, I grew out my beard as part of my 'No Shave November' challenge to myself. If nothing else, it provided an ample home for my hands as I mulled over how best to splice together the final film. 

Beardy and weary.

The uni allocated 2-3 minute length for the final edit. Initial drafts of the film were really pushing it to the limits, but some ruthless chopping got us down to just over 2:30 plus credits. The biggest overhaul we did in the editing phase was bring the bedroom scene into the opening of the film. This was my tutor's idea which I wasn't 100% sure about at first. In edits though I always try to re-order things if needed, and there's no harm in doing a quick re-change to gauge the flow. I was worried that it comes in too quickly and spoils what I considered the funniest moment in the film. As it stands, it quickly grabs your attention, but without an understanding of what’s actually going on, the scene lacks something when it's at the beginning.

One of my favourite touches to the entire piece is the music we got for the credits, a melancholic rendition of 'My Darling Clementine'. Of course, the pun is brilliant, but the tone of the piece really fitted with the ending. More time than I care to admit was spent deciding when the music should start to fade in.

Overall the edit was completed over the course of about three long afternoons. There was a slightly late night working on the export and upload, but not quite 4am levels of awful like my grad film.

Watching it back now, the film is a little uncomfortable to sit through. Matt does a lot to make the character as socially awkward as possible and they are exacerbated by the long silences. The gags aren't laugh out loud funny, and some are perhaps a little too obvious, but the film doesn't feel like on joke that been stretched too thin which was certainly a concern of mine before I even started to develop it.

The shift in tone towards the end is the stand-out moment for me since it accomplishes what I set out to do. I'm still not sure if the ending feels slightly forced or mawkish, but there is a tangible moment where the jokes end and things get a little more serious.


The purpose of this post wasn't meant to sound like 'everyone, let me explain why this is an underrated gem that you'd be foolish not to love.' The film is not a masterpiece, but it was one of the first films I properly did some research into and I wanted to translate my findings into a character we have a shifting relationship with.

I guess one of the biggest things holding it back as a third year project is it's lack of physical ambition – it was a single bloke talking to camera between two locations. I guess I just wanted to experiment a bit with dialogue writing over camera techniques.

but hopefully, if you didn't know already reading this can help you appreciate just how much attention to detail and thought goes into movie making in general, this is just a 3 minute short too, so imagine the effort required for a feature film. That's crazy.

Anyhoo, here's the film again: