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End of Year Round Up

I thought I’d blog about how 2012 has gone for me. It’s sometimes confusing being a creative person, as the ‘personal’ and the ‘professional’ easily gets mixed up. My ideas, which are sometimes personal, become something I want to write about, then make work from.
Anyway, this is a run down of what I achieved this year, and there have been a lot of ‘firsts’ for me.
In January I ran a 7 week workshop at The Orpheus Centre, teaching filmmaking, and the group made a short puppet horror film using the Uscreen website. This was the first time that I’d run a workshop on my own, and there was a lot of support from all the guys at The Orpheus Centre.
In February I was in Manchester for The State Of The Arts Conference, after receiving a bursary to attend.

In March I completed The Dog & The Palace, my split screen installation film. This was the biggest budget film I have ever worked on, and in February we were filming for 2 days in Lancaster House, in the same room they shot ‘The King’s Speech’ feature film in. It was screened a number of times on the big screens during the London 2012 Olympics, and I was also featured in the local press. I also had a great team on board, thanks to Producer Karen Gilchrist.

Around June I completed an early draft of my third screenplay. I wanted to write a 1 hour drama-comedy for TV, and this was then redrafted and performed (as a work in progress) at the Arts Alive Festival in October. This was my first ever live event I produced.

During the year I also worked with writer / producer Cherry Bennet on ‘Temps Interruptus’, an indie radio sitcom which we recorded at Headline Music Studios in October (another first!) We also had a rehearsal of Cherry’s play ‘Early Viewing Recommended’ at The Actors Centre.

In May I worked with young homeless people in Crawley, on a 7 week filmmaking project, again using the Uscreen website.

In June I gave a talk about my own experience of Mental Health issues to a group of Surrey Police officers at Surrey Police HQ. I can never really underestimate what an achievement this was for me. I also got two articles on the Time To Change Mental Health website, and you can read about the talk I gave here.
I directed the 2nd episode of ‘Moving In’ in August, working with 10 actors and numerous crew on location on the 10 minute film, written and produced by Mark Lever.

During the Paralympics I was interviewed by BBC Three Counties Radio live on air, about the Paralympics and my work.  I also went to the closing ceremony which was pretty amazing.

I supported a young filmmaker in Slough to make a short film with a Uscreen Ushoot bursary. All the films were premiered at Pinewood Studios.

I finished the year presenting a 2 day low budget filmmaking workshop which was part of The Together Festival.  I was put up by the festival in the Ramada Docklands Hotel, and was a great experience to end the year on (apart from missing the closing night party)

During the year I’ve also continued to work at the Freewheelers Theatre Company, and work on my own projects, which included a short story as well as other TV ideas I’m writing.
I’ve also pushed my feature film comedy in a direction that I think I’ll be really happy with.
This doesn’t include the really personal stuff that I’ve been through this year. It really can be a massive interruption on all the stuff I want to do, although it does give me interesting stuff to write about, and this will be a big project for 2013, as I’ve just finished writing the outline for my autobiography, and I’ll be working on a TV screenplay about mental health.

I often do the ‘3 word plan’ for the year ahead. My 3 words for 2013 are ‘Writing’, ‘Personal’, and ‘Stages’. I’ll blog more about what these mean in another post soon. 

In 2013 I’m looking forward to doing much more writing, and looking at the next stage of feature film production. I’m also looking to work as a writer with other organisations, and am especially interested in community projects which culminate in a live performance.
 

Posted by Gary Thomas, 27 December 2012

Last modified by Gary Thomas, 27 December 2012

My 2011

 

Happy New Year!

I thought I’d start this year by recapping last year. Why do I think last year was so good when I had a family bereavement in January & I was assaulted by 2 'youths' in August? I think, at least for the past year, I've been feeling pretty well, and simply didn't want to let things get in the way of what I was doing -  possibly because I had such a terrible 2010. The other reasons are work & funding. 

I've done more this year than I ever have, starting with The Freewheelers Theatre Company, who I've been working with since 2007. One of the things I've enjoyed with them this year is that my writing / story telling skills have been used with the Uscreen project. Working with ten students we came up with a zombie story that was fun to plan and make, with some of the Freewheelers being mentors. 

Perhaps the best validation of my work came from being selected for Upstream, which was held as part of the Brighton Festival. This was an amazing experience and I met a couple of people who I would love to collaborate with in the future. 

I was also involved in Driving Inspiration, a huge project which saw me teaching in schools across the south east. 

I met lots of inspiring people and taught 42 young people about filmmaking, making 12 films along the way.

Sync South East came to an end with the Pitch! event. I got to show rushes of my new film The Dog & The Palace, and made some good contacts.

In August I visited the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This was my 1st time at the Fringe & I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was also great to see the shows, both stand up & theatre. 

I was selected for The New Voices Programme in August too, which was all about writing, and with that in September I attended Decibel in Manchester for the 1st time.

This was another great experience & along with writing reviews of shows, I suddenly felt as though I'd just discovered a new art form called 'Theatre'.

As I'm no stranger to theatre (honest!) this was a bit of a surprise, but I think the shows I saw were so varied that it was a mini revelation to see what people could achieve through a diverse mix of art and storytelling.

September also had another highlight as I worked with Rachel Gadsden & Deaf Men Dancing for the first time, filming their workshops at Stoke Mandeville hospital. 

My 'personal projects' this year also grew in strength. In April I received Arts Council funding to develop my installation ‘The Dog & The Palace’. I've blogged about this throughout the year. 

And in November I received more funding from ACE to complete The installation. This will see me filming in somewhere that looks like a royal palace, and working directly with more people in the film industry this month & next.

I also did well in my writing, taking my wedding comedy feature script onto the next draft, which I now want to take to the next level.

I've also done well on two other scripts, an hour long spec TV script written with Mark Lever, and my 2nd feature screenplay. 

So this week I need to hit the ground running, working with others & teaching. Oh, and attending the Paralympics closing ceremony. It'll be a fun year.

 

 

Posted by Gary Thomas, 2 January 2012

Last modified by Gary Thomas, 2 January 2012

Stephen Merchant Live at Hammersmith Apollo (Review)

For those of you who've been offended by someone recently who I'll just simply refuse to name, his comedy writing partner, Stephen Merchant, seems to be a bit different.

A friend had tickets to see Stephen Merchant at Hammersmith Apollo, London, and I went, with slight trepidation. Was he going to be as offensive as Ricky Gervais? (Damn, OK, I had to mention him) Was I going to sit there & cringe most of the way through? Was I? 

Well, no, as it turned out, I didn't at all. Stephen Merchant's stand up doesn't rely on making fun & crude remarks about the worst affected in society. Merchant picks arguably the most difficult subject: himself.

As he does so, the show, part autobiography, part exaggeration (I'm assuming!) follows some of his journey from his first awkward moments of fame (He's 6ft 7in tall, after all) to the even more awkward moments of dating and finding love.

And back to an even more awkward moment re-enacting one of the first plays he ever got performed in High school. The show worked well, and while some may find it offensive 'just because', I had a good time.  

Stephen Merchant is on tour till 12th December

Posted by Gary Thomas, 1 December 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 1 December 2011

Pulling it all together

Go Team Gary!
I didn't write that, a friend put it at the end of an email and it does seem rather apt at the moment. You see, things are moving way faster than I could have imagined, and that's what needs to happen right now because time is indeed of the essence.

How did this happen? I hear you cry. Even if you didn't I'll tell you anyway. I asked a friend I've known for a relatively short time (Christine Wilkinson) if she would write an application to ACE for R&D funding. She said yes, and suggested a couple of other people I should work with, so got in touch with Jon Potter from Company Paradiso & the other one, Karen Gilchrist, I already knew.

And they both know others. Especially Karen, who's pulling a lot of things together. So as we were successful in getting the R&D funding, suddenly we're filming on 13 & 14th April.

I know a casting director from twitter, I got in touch with her & now she's finding lord knows how many child actors to audition this Thursday in London (this is the one task I thought impossible!).

I know an actress to play the mother who I worked with in my last short film, I asked her to read the treatment & now she's on board. I visited filmLondon on Friday to chat to a friend who I haven't seen in ages, & that was really useful & they're going to send me location ideas & a list of venues that we need to think about to show the film.

So, its all coming together. Not slowly this time, but in the time we need to do it. Hooray!
 
 

Posted by Gary Thomas, 3 April 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 5 April 2011

Some more notes from Gary Thomas on filming 'Moving In',

This post was written on Friday 23 July 2010

Fifth day of shooting Moving In and I am realising why film is not art. I'm also realising that it takes a whole load of people (and we don't have a whole load of people) to make things happen, and I also realise that I'm coping relatively well with the responsibility, as the crew we do have is very good. The actors are good too.

Yesterday was a bit of a f*** up as we'd planned to do a load of scenes in the kitchen with all the actors, and for various reasons some of them couldn't make it. There's so much pre-production that hasn't been done or will be done last minute that it's a bit of a problem, along with people trying to do other things besides making the film.

What I am enjoying though (and what is art) is watching the actors perform, and working with the crew who then come up with ideas for how its shot, and me with my own ideas telling the actors what I want. Again, as in most of my films, this hasn't happened very often, as (most of) the actors we have are good.

Over a week long shoot, by yesterday I felt a hell of a lot more able to tell actors what I wanted, to say 'no' to some of their ideas and to remind them to say things if they do some thing that works well / sounds good. One scene had to be improvised between us as the locations changed last week, but we got it done on the day.

So we have about 20 pages left to do over the next 3 days, and as much as I don't want to tempt fate, we may not even need the last day at all.

Though I expect we will.

NOTE: We did need the last day of filming, though that was only five scenes, including a reshoot of one scene we'd already done.

Posted by Gary Thomas, 16 August 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 20 August 2010

Gary Thomas on his way to direct 'Moving In'

The first of these blog posts were written whilst filming 'Moving In', a couple of weeks ago on Sunday 18th July 2010.

I am currently on the train to Portsmouth. Despite being disabled I have managed to bring two rucksacks and two suitcases with me. Hence, I may well be hideously stressed by the end of the journey. I'm going to Portsmouth to direct a half hour film that my friend has written, about four students who discover life, love etc... and I think it'll be good.

Hopefully it will be better than good. But I have a feeling it'll be marred by the severe emotional pain that I've been feeling recently to do with some thing that happened 14 years ago. (Those of you who've seen 'Madness as a form of relaxation', will have an idea).

I'm trying not to think about what happened, but its been hard right now, especially when I can see that I need to use the experience to put the support in place, that I need. (I often ask myself 'What do I need to learn from this?) But I've had trouble arranging that support, mainly due to everybody else (well, nearly everyone) being so stupid.

So I've been distracting myself by various means including listening to Wayne Dyer's The Power of Intention, which I love listening to, especially the last chapter. I'm currently listening to Lady Gaga, which has a slightly different meaning. But it's much more fun.

So when I get to Portsmouth I'll be meeting a friend, and some of the actors who I'll be working with. We're going to do a promo shoot and then get together with cast and crew at a pub this evening. Tomorrow we're having a first read-though of the script, which I'm sure will throw up all sorts of comments and hopefully more 'jokes' or I should say, comedy.

As I'm directing for the next week, I've been thinking about the kind of director I want to be. In all my short films so far I've kind of done everything, (producer, writer, director). This shoot has been good as my friend has been producing it. I've been working with him on the script editing, and writing the shooting script (how to turn a 39 page document into a 44 page document – add camera directions!) So now its the week where real directing will happen.

I want to remain with the actors, work with them closely. But in all my films, I've been surprised how little 'directing' there's actually been. That's mainly because I've been very lucky with the actors I've got (may that continue). So, as it's a collaboration, we've come together. They have their own ideas and I have mine. During the audition process, if the ideas meet in some way, then that's who I want in my film. This happened in Early One Summer, where Graeme Dalling got the part because the look that he gave Charlie Ross, the teacher, was exactly the look I had in my head. And I wanted to work with him.

So I'll be blogging about “Moving In” and the progress through post production and beyond, as well as my current arts practice, and what projects I'm most excited about.

Posted by Gary Thomas, 31 July 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 11 November 2010