Is it me... or is this the T-Rex of Tabletop?

Been to Heathrow lately?

If not, watch out… Wagamama’a new T5 22-metre widescreen is attracting humungous attention. Part signage, part display, this massive offering pumps out mouth-watering food 

The T-Rex of Tabletop. 

But how does a director prepare to shoot for such a giant screen? Can a 16:9 image be adapted or are we talking brave new world?

With a lot of experience in cinema-style-ratios, systems such as Hawk and Panavision anamorphic, I knew we had to adapt our thought process for such a giant ratio, but an early test and conversations with the screen’s supplier determined that anamorphics were out, potential distortion. So we needed to work within a 16:9 frame at a resolution that would hold up when most of your image is surplus to requirements. 

Danny Coster and his team at Locomotion established that shooting 4K would give us enough resolution for the 22:2 frame and we began storyboarding based on our new tech spec. Also, working directly for the client meant no agency backup. We had to get it right and we only had 2 days to shoot over forty set ups. So...

High speed special effects – EG: PHANTOM see Philips blender, were out. Too expensive and no way to pump high light levels into a live restaurant without frying the diners. This was all about appetising food shot in a quirky appealing way. We needed to be clean and straightforward, like the dishes. Locomotion had previously shot stop frame for Wagamama Takeaway so we knew a more graphic animated route worked. 

Shot on location at Wagamam Great Marlborough Street excellent home economist Lisa Harrison teamed up with my talented camera crew of The Wine Show fame: Cliff Evans and Jamie Knights. Whether it’s tabletop, location or UFC breakdown these guys can make it look great, but this was a real mission. 

We decided to use the live restaurant downstairs to give depth / a big backdrop and set up two mini tabletop studios upstairs on the mezzanine. Directing both simultaneously was a task - you should have seen the spreadsheets needed to coordinate the storyboards,  almost as epic as the giant screen.

But how did we view the monster 22:2 frames?  Trade secret.  No, joking aside, we programmed a mattes into the monitors and split the result between two displays. In fact the technical challenge wasn’t the monitoring it was working out how to shoot that wide. You have to retrain your brain to use a whole different set of lenses and staging, or else you end up with a twenty two metre mouth eating noodles, not so nice. Luckily…

The result was stunning.

In fact the campaign was so successful we went on to shoot social media content for Wagamama displayed on Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms.

That's waga-tastic!

Is it me... or is The Wine Show a dream come true.

Finally, it's official!

The Wine Show will begin its run in April - ITV4 Sunday 10th April + ITV1 Saturday 16th. The 13-part, one hour shows will be hosted by Matthew Goode and Matthew Rhys. Yes that's Matthew Goode of Downtown Abbey and Matthew Rhys, star of The Americans.

After nine months filming on location - Australia, Chile, USA, France and Europe - the show ended in my homeland, Italy. Why? Because in every show Mr Goode and Mr Rhys search for a wine that represents the spirit of Italy. Completing a "mission" set by wine guru Joe Fattorini.  It's a wine-off and believe me, things get quite competitive.

Our Italian Odyssey kicked off in Rome where my loyal camera crew decided to test their crane, inside the hotel room. As the afore mentioned piece of kit was too big for the executive double they opened the window, allowing the camera to poke out into the street, directly above... a nunnery. Needless to say the pole was immediately retracted. Papal disasters avoided we moved onto a story about ancient wine and, as Mr Rhys eloquently put it, the bouquet crossed "manure with leather". What he didn't know was that our Roman historian had added her own secret ingredient - cheese. Believe me, there was no acting in the ensuing facial expressions, it was pure Stanislavsky. All of that before we'd even left the capital. I won't tell you what happened at a barrel race in Montepluciano, just watch on April 10th or 16th.

In short it was a lot of fun, and I'm proud to say that's reflected onscreen. It was great to work with actors and presenters on longer form dialogue and interesting to shoot multi-camera links as well as actuality.

Back to the present April has also brought more stories from the octagon, and two more shows for UFC FIGHTNIGHT. There was also a new TVC for ALPEN GOLD which will premier in the next spotlight, and post production on a secret table-top project that's going to appear on a massive screen at Heathrow later this year.

I hope you all enjoy The Wine Show, love to know your thoughts.

Is it me... or is it time for some Vino Veritas?

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Guess who’s back, back again…

Hello 2016! If you’ve been dry for January, well done. If you can't wait for February, I’ve got something special for you…

The Wine Show - a 13 part series to be broadcast on UK TV  this year. Directed by my good self it's presented by two UK movie stars, hot new factual discovery Joe Fattorini, Amelia Singer and the well know Gizzi Erskine.  

Spanning the entire globe the show’s full of riveting stories, gorgeous vistas and (cue Don LeFontaine voice over) "the biggest wine cellars in the world!" There’s also plenty of mouth watering food as globally renowned chefs, such as Atul Kochhar, discuss their perfect food and wine combinations. It's a table top delight. 

Of course the filming wasn’t without it’s dramatic challenges; occasionally feeling as if we were staring in our own version of PLONK. But then what d’you expect when you’re humping kit and crew across the globe. But for every airport meltdown there was the most incredible sunrise or sunset, usually followed by an amazing glass of local surprise.

What makes me particularly proud is that not only does it look fantastic, the whole series is immensely watchable. Nothing about this wine show is dry or high brow, it’s an accessible program you can watch with family and friends.

Technically it showcases Arri’s amazing Amira and the skills of Cliff Evans, Jamie Knights, Ed Bullman and many more.  There’s drones, drones and more drones – one of which ended up on a million pound titanium roof - nothing to do with Mike Garner whose drone skills brought the show’s Italian location to life.

So keep an eye peeled for further announcements and updates because it’s the TV wine show everyone has been waiting for.

Is it me... or is it all Ding Dong Digital?

Deck the halls with social media, 
Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, In-sta-gram 
Tis the season to be trending, 
Twitter, twitter, tweet , t-wit, t-tumblr 

Holy Santa, the world’s gone hashtag–tastic.  Monty and Mabel are trending, good old Coca-Cola's making everyone happy, but Magic and Sparkle might just have taken the Christmas crown.

Seems Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, has gone all out for M+S “switched to promotional activity on social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr" rather than TV.  So now it’s official, forget the mistletoe, switch on the iPad and have yourself a virtual Christmas and don’t forget the death star decorations.

I hate to say I told you so - decreasing TV spends are hardly new news - but connectivity seems to have come of age.  Thankfully we’ve moved on from adapted facebook pages allowing you to put your face on the derriere of a baboon to properly integrated campaigns such as John Lewis’s cross-promotional behind the scenes production video of the Monty advert.  Not to mention Jamie Oliver’s digital Christmas recipes, which compiles festive foods with lists of ingredients linked directly to the supermarkets that sock them.  Also an honourable mention goes out to TK MAXX with their big european hashtag push #youbyme which has been prominant in the German market, it sticks with you thanks to Solmon Burke's "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love."

I've also had a busy online year thanks to some lovely folk at Isobar, shooting a series of online films for Kellogg's  – the latest offering used five go pros inside cereal packets to film families at breakfast.  Very interesting results - more of that in the next blog. Amazing results, especially as the films have gained nearly 2 million views.  Turn that into US box office and we’d all be retiring to a Hawaiian Island, even though I don’t do holidays.

I’m also excited about the chance to turn this online talent into longer formats combining agency know how with my tool kit as a writer director.  You only have to look at some of the current successes - The Power Inside by Intel and Toshiba – to see the potential to produce an engaging ongoing series for brands across the globe.  I mean wouldn't Magic and Sparkle make a great prime time show or web series?  Two fairies whose aim to help others but just can’t stop meddling in human affairs because secretly they want to become human.  Hold on, I have to go, I think Disney’s calling…. 

Watch this space for more online news in the new year.  Until then have a Happy Hashtag wherever you are and thank you all for a fabulous year and all the gifts you bestowed on one lucky director for hire…

Keep posting!

Is it me… or should you dress for success on film sets?

I never travel light.  People laugh at my luggage.  Producers have been known to balk at my baggage.  I can take it, I like to be prepared: warm feet = happy shooting.  So let’s talk clothes, but first…

NEWS

I’m delighted to join froehlich-management who will be replacing the folks at Cream.  Annex is still my home in the UK and if you fancy flying south to avoid the winter blues pack your shorts and join me at Grinder in Cape Town.  Talking shorts…

Remember how hot it was this summer?  30’ degrees in the shade.  Perfect weather to shoot table top for Philips.  Camera, lights…  Phantom!  As everyone knows, the higher the frame rate the bigger the lights.  As temperatures soared I suddenly remembered for once, I'd packed “light” exchanging shorts for a more dignified look.  Bad move. Like Albert Brookes in Broadcast News, I wasn't looking pretty.

So how do you combine style with functionality?  How do you make sure that you don’t look like a geriatric hiker on route to the National Trust tea rooms?  The camera department get it right – part military, they can unzip at will.  For PA's it's all about the cut of your jib.  And producers…  rightly or wrongly I always listen to producers, because producers check the weather.

Then again, who can predict the weather, especially in the UK.  This summer filming wheat fields for Kellogg's we experienced four seasons in a day, now that’s a sizable overnight bag.  This time I hadn't travelled light and ended up costuming most of the crew.

Sadly last week I couldn't be so smug.  Hanging off the back of a low loader my trusted DOP reveled in the definition of an expression involving 'brass' and 'monkeys'.  With my teeth chattering I could only dream of my beloved Canada Goose at home in the wardrobe as “surely it won’t be that cold”…

So how exactly do you dress for success on a film set?  Personally, from now on, I’m going to go back to my old motto “pack everything and handle the laughter”.

My Russian friends have got it down to a fine art.  They know the true meaning of getting caught out in the cold.  It’s less a case of 'dignity always dignity' and more 'layers always layers'.  They snigger at waterproofs using disposable macks but when it comes to winter hardware their brands have history.  When it’s minus 20 in the shade you better be sure your goose in real and not a chicken is disguise.

The film business is a tribe, we kind of follow our own fashion - t-shirts from last exit to nowhere, Carhartt to blend in, and if you’re going to wear a baseball cap it better look like you stole it from a truck driver somewhere in Middle America

So as the temperature drops and your wardrobe changes it's time to whip up a stew with your new Philips blender.  Check out my latest spot to see how this brilliant device makes light work of even the toughest tasks.  I've already cooked pumpkin soup, homemade pesto and some serious arrabiata.  God I love cooking.

Coming up in the next few months viral films for Philips, a charming new online spot for Kellogg’s and an Ecosport commercial for our friends at Ford. Until next time, dress for success!

Is it me... or is time the Director's greatest enemy?

Once upon a time in DUMBO

“Good morning, this is your wake up call.”

4.00am?! Like all crew, I’m used to early starts, but 4am, must be a mistake. I head for reception. “Good morning Sir, how may I help you?” “My wake up call, it’s 8am, not 4am.” “Oh I’m sorry”, we'll fix that right away” but before I can say, “how?”, Mr Enthusiastic announces, “You're all set. That’s 8am for room 803, you have a great day!”  

Welcome to New York, the City that never sleeps!

No matter how tired, how busy, or how jaded you may be the Big Apple is always exciting. Not to mention being with the home team @ Annex Films shooting for Shots brand of the year Samsung, and a new friendship with the very nice people at JAM.

Wandering the streets at 4am I remember just how great this City is. I mean hell, they even have there own timescale – The New York minute. It's a time frame known only to New Yorkers. Or as Johnny Carson once said, it's the interval between a Manhattan traffic light turning green and the guy behind you honking his horn. Actually It appears to have originated in Texas around 1967 and is a reference to the frenzied and hectic pace of New Yorkers' lives.

And believe me, when the production scehdule arrived, as Maverick once said, “I felt the need, the need for speed” - 7 films in 6 days, by anyone's standards, that’s going some. Makes you realise that, like New York, the film business has it’s own clock. It’s like someone put a secret flux capacitor into the Alexa - once you hit turnover, film speed kicks in and time speeds up. Pause and you're behind. Stop to think, and you're behind. Look at your storyboard and the 1st assistant director is shouting "that's lunch everyone!" So what can a director do to keep ahead? Here’s my 5 top tips:

 

RULE NO 1:  Accept everything resist nothing.

Doubt, anxiety and prevarication will slow you down faster than a meatball sandwich. Forward movement is the only way. The trick is to remain positive but stay relaxed, which is why the directors chair was invented: the soft fabric evokes a state of calm allowing you to observe without anxiety – see point 5

 

RULE NO 2:  Choose your crew wisely.

Luckily Hans + Becky had recently introduced me to the wonderful Dan Holland who’d just shot some gorgeous work with the same team Luke, Drew and Christian for Samsung. Dan is one of those DOP’s who’s mastered the kit. Fast and flexible he shoots great looking images in a user freindly way, proving that it's all about...

 

RULE 3:  Low fi hi fi

As you know from previous blogs I’ve always championed new technology but sometimes digital still travels with a truck load of crew. Kit like the easy rig proves a DOP can be free to move fast and still produce results. 

 

RULE NO 4: Ignore your crew and love your actors.

You may love your crew but always remember, the people in front of the camera can kill your schedule. Remember that great Jack Rosenthal film “Ready When you Are Mr McGill”? A forerunner to Extras it’s the story of one little man who kills the whole shoot. Now I’m not saying for one moment that my cast were anything other than professional but our script was full of technical jargon, rhyming algorithms and phases to tongue tie Brian Cox – the greatest joy was looking over my shoulder to see Hans nodding because an actor was word perfect.

 

RULE 5: Forget the chair and lead from the front.

I long for the chair. There’s nothing I’d love more than to sit facing a monitor and study my scene, but sadly contemporary commercials don’t run that way. My style is more… best foot forward, lead from the front, and go, go GO! In short – S.H.E.Z.A.M.  Smile, don’t Hesitate, Encourage And Move (The Z is just a reference to my name, and the fact that I like saying Shezam when things go well)

 

And so, with a lot of help from my friends we avoided the Delorean time bomb, finished ahead of schedule and produced some great looking films. In fact numbers for the  #SMARTMOVE series have topped a million views. Well worth getting up at 4am.


Is it me... or is Greece the new Italy?

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We want it to look like the Mediterranean... Could be the South of France but no palm trees, the client doesn’t like Palm trees. Southern Italy works, but not Sicily. Why? I ask, as a Sicilian.  The people are 'too dark'. Physically or emotionally? The question is ignored, the briefing goes on… Basically it’s Rome, but by the sea, without old buildings.  No old buildings? No, we like old buildings, just not that old. 

 

You’ve all seen the TVC featuring the location scout, it’s pretty close to the truth. Except these days, location scouts are history. If you’re making X-MEN and your budget is the size of Romania’s GBP, location managers aren’t a problem, but back in the credit crunched real world location managers have been replaced by the guy in the office currently checking his social media status. PA’s are the location scouts of the future, hell the 5S even has panorama, how hard could it be?   

 

Let me tell you something about finding locations, finding locations has nothing to do with locations. A location is only as good as the person who gets you permission to film. And the permission is only as good as the bargaining power of your location manager. This is the person who will keep your show on the road when the old lady in the upstairs apartment is suddenly not happy you’re filming under her beloved balcony. No spotty guy with an iphone is going to get you out of that corner.

 

Late in 2013, as the warm glow of summer headed South, my “Mediterranean feeling” job was confirmed, but the location was not.  Positivity on, I dial local contacts - it's the Mediterranean, but no historical buildings, no foliage, especially palm trees and we need sun.  I know just the place, says my guy in Rome - Sicily!

 

Rome is out, Croatia’s in, and then Croatia’s out and Lisbon is in. Pretty soon, as Ken Kesey’s infamous bus sign read we were going “nowhere” fast. In a way locations weren’t wholly to blame. Yet again this was a typically modern production with a “challenging” budget - apart from quasi-Mediterranean requirements we also needed to create a high speed chase through a busy market with stunt doubles on Vespa’s and fruit flying everywhere – think Knight and Day crossed with an Italian comedy from the late Sixties. Bit of an ask.

 

Then, in true modern European style, the outside man, or should I say woman came to the rescue - Greece.

 

Now I have nothing against Greece, in fact, as a Sicilian, Greece is the Sicily of my dreams. Believe me I’ve watched Medeiteraneo many times. You tell me we’re shooting in Greece and I’m doing a deal just to get there, but Greece to look like Italy, really? Isn’t it the place to go if you want white on white with a bit of azure?

 

Then again, as an old producer of mine once said, choose the wrong lens and everywhere looks like Peckham.

 

Turns out I was totally wrong. Seems that back in the day the Greeks were in love with Italian architecture and build their first City Italianate style. Nafplio is not only the perfect Mediterean backdrop it’s charming and has a couple of streets that would bring a tear to even the toughest Venetian. Of course they have been somewhat ravaged by modern tourism and the place lacks some of the necessary “charm”, but all of that can be fixed with a good location art director and some time.

 

Enter Avion films, with the enviable task of transforming Nafplio into a non specific Medetearn location through which a couple of crazed Romanian stunt doubles can narrowly avoid local extras without disturbing the perfectly placed fruit stalls integral to the plot. And you know what, these guy not only have location managers but they have location managers who can manage.

 

Within days thanks to the team and Simos Korex, a very old friend of mine, (director in his own right), we were in business. The street was dressed, the sun was shining and there wasn’t a plam tree to be seen. But just as the crane was about to swoop in across the shot the shutters on an upstairs balcony opened and an old woman appeared. She pointed at me with her walking stick and yelled in Greek what I only presumed was – hey sonny, what you doing on my street you little punk!

 

I can’t even begin to tell you what our location manger had to do to calm her down...

 

If you thought this was fun check out more behind the scenes at Instagram and my new about section. Become a fan. 



Is it me... or is Santa a lucky guy?

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Let’s set the record straight, I was not on holiday.

Just because I took a break from the blog doesn't mean I was taking it easy. No beach side point break for me. Directors don’t do holidays. Holidays are for teachers, government officials and the big man in the red jacket: what a gig, one day a year and the rest, an endless summer… yo ho ho baby!

But as they say, a change is as good as a rest.

I've left Moon and have a lovely new home at Annex and and I’ve just got back from New York shooting for Shots brand of the year Samsung. But more of that in the months to come. First…

It’s back to Santa’s homeland, Turkey. Yes, you heard me right, St Nick came from the South and has his own Christmas Island, or was that Dean Martin. Returning to Istanbul for a second OMO campaign, thanks to my friend at Lowe and Atlantik Film (great company if anyone wants to shoot in this part of the World), I’m interested to see City life now the summer’s infamous scenes in Gezi park have Twittered away.

Istanbul was unrecognisable. No more tear gas, no more water cannons and no more fasting - last time Ramadan was testing people’s spirituality and Taxi drivers were failing miserably. If you’ve never seen the City's infamous gridlock on an empty stomach think Grand Theft auto, for real.

But it seems most people in this incredible City have nerves of steel. OMO scripts call for dirt. In OMO land, dirt is good. Leaking pens, filthy playgrounds and exploding food are often the order of the day. On my last shoot the man in charge of pyro-burgers was known as “The Doctor” and he was very very professional. You have to respect a fasting man sitting in front of fifty hamburger for twelve hours a day, with only the will of God to keep him going. That's service. Allahu Akbar!

Despite the tricky nature of shooting with children, stain management, and empty stomachs the result was charming - see below.

But that was then and this is now, I'm back at the same school in Istanbul on OMO part 2 faced with two twins who are expected to deliver Emmy award winning performances. Direction done I shout "action" and hold my breath. One little girl looks at the camera and says, "I need toilet". Looks like it's going to be a long day...

But Turkish crews are used to the hours. That could all change in the New Year when they sign a deal with local production companies limiting the working day. Personally I think it’s the way ahead. Anything that manages expectations in an achievable way has to be a good thing.

So in the spirit of change, as the year draws to a close, please check out Annex and Gusto's new table top connection with Grinder in Cape Town – can’t be a bad call shooting in Cape town as the winter freeze sets in.

To one and all I’d like to thank you for making 2013 so enjoyable and wish you a Happy Holidays! Or should I say…. do something new this Season, it’s good for the soul.

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Is it me... or was Cannes gold?

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Beware… advertising is a virus. There’s a self-replicating gene, called a “meme”, spreading social media at an alarming rate. But don’t be afraid, it’s only Richard Dawkins opening this year’s 2013 International Festival of Creativity.

Welcome to Cannes, baby! By the time you read this your rose haze will hopefully have faded along with the azure blue skies of the Cotes D’Azure. But what was this year’s festival really like? Was it worthy of the 60th year?

There were definitely some interesting winners. 
Great to see branded content coming of age: chocolate created a successful love story, a man woke up everyday with a new face and some obvious less engaging Lions 
Just shows what can be achieved across platforms if characters and stories engage. For film we should raise a glass to the “dude”, who thought budgie smugglers would breathe fresh life into alcohol advertising. Proves what great casting can achieve. Also nice to see food getting a look in with Lurpak. I’d love to see a whole TV series about the mysterious “cook” and her buttery powers, wouldn’t that be great?

Onstage Mother were teaching everyone “how not to be a douche”, and there were the usual celebs as well as some unusual ones.

But what about life outside the Palais? I arrived at 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon and the Sandpit was full, the Carlton Terrace was heaving, and the beach restaurants buzzed with production companies from around the world. Unlike the atmosphere a few years ago the feeling was upbeat, positive and resourceful. As the old sign in the Las Vegas Casino reads, “you have to be present to win”. But win what, exactly?

What links lectures, delegates, and Golden Lions with the heady goings-on of the fringe? Why isn’t there a place, like the Film Festival’s official bar, where delegates and non-delegates can mix without getting ripped off? Google try (but you’ve got to be a delegate), the Carlton make a living out of it (you’ve got to be a millionaire) and others miss the mark with elaborately themed parties.

The only people who really impressed were the APA – top work Steve. They were trying, with events such as the producer's lunch, to start a more meaningful conversation that could actually go somewhere rather than into The Gutter. Seems to me that this is definitely the way ahead. A way for your week in the Sun to have more effect that a lasting hangover. Maybe clients could sponsor a few events and then we’d really have a focus for the fringe? Failing that I’ll settle for a goodie bag. Too cheap? Sorry.

Or maybe I’ve got it all wrong. If advertising is spreading like a virus maybe the really juicy stuff at this year’s festival of creativity happened online, tweeted to the world. Personally I’d prefer a bit of eye to eye and a good old glass of the pink stuff. Seems that the 15,000 other people agree.

But that, as they say, is already history. I’m packing my gas mask and heading off to Istanbul to shoot a very nice film for my friends at Atlantik. See you next month with stories from the City that never sleeps and the man who has brought new meaning to the "word" silence. Onwards to enlightenment. Insha'Allah

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Is it me... or are commercial actors a breed apart.

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The sun sets. The atmosphere is tense. Twenty minutes to wrap, and we’re missing a shot…

We need backlight. We need to elevate one of the world’s top models to the height of the sun’s dying rays. Before I can shout “apple box!” Mr Handsome’s climbed a wall, straddled a railing, and is ready to go. Now all I need to do is make his performance look natural and ignore the twelve foot pole between his legs.

Google “acting for commercials” and you’ll be amazed to discover your search yields little of any use. “Have a good time” one casting director advises. Hello… you can have a good time when we’ve finished, this is an audition. Maybe that’s why some commercial performances are more lights on, but no one’s home.

Directing commercial acting isn’t cinema, it isn’t TV, it’s a different game. You can’t discuss character motivation when there’s ten turning points in less than twenty five seconds; or backstory when the client insists their chocolate bar should be chewed only twice before the swallow. What you need is trust, commercial understanding, and a tenacious ability to get what you want.

But to do that, you have to attend the casting, which a lot of directors don’t. Secondly you need a good casting director, which is sometimes harder than being The Hand of the King – your followers constantly give you a hard time, change their minds, are never happy, and in the end it’s all your fault and you’re beheaded. Hats, or should I says heads off to Janis Jaffa who casts my work and our latest offering: if you don’t like it, its all her fault.

In truth directing actors is often about trust. Ricardo climbed a railing because he knew I wasn't about to make him look stupid. After trust comes technique. Finding a way to go faster, or speeding everything else up to make the performance feel slower. But before you can do anything with timing you have to understand character, and before you can understand character you have to have some idea of real life and the people who inhabit it. Maybe that’s why “the London look” never seems to come out as a natural expression of everyday life. Personally I think it would be more effective performed by the latest stars of Spring Break, but I guess that’s more Kings road circa 1976.

Back at sunset I couldn’t believe the day had gone so well.

Three weeks before, having made two successful films for Alpen, we discovered one of the main actresses was pregnant. The client needed replacements: two new leading ladies, just as attractive as the previous two, same colour hair, same smiles, the works. Oh, and they have to be really good actors. I could feel the block on my neck and see the glint of the executioner’s blade before the ink on the casting brief was even dry.

As always, we pulled it off and I think the film is full of genuinely charming and engaging performances thanks to Ricardo Guedes, Perdita Weeks and Sara Vickers. Model agents and casting directors take note, these guys are great! But what do I know, I wanted to cast Catherine Zeta Jones and Ewan McGregor and no one would listen. Anyway, enough about me…

It's Cannes baby! Who will win, who will be the contenders, and can your body take a week of the good, the bad and the downright rose. Let’s see if any performances catch the limelight like Michael Douglas at this year’s Film Festival and I’ll see you on the Croissette. And…

Profile, profile, face the front and hands to camera.