Dunoon Film Festival (2) - High roads, low roads, cake and Zombies.

*this may or may not represent my journey to Scotland. But it is a very good opportunity to post a still from Restless Natives

*this may or may not represent my journey to Scotland. But it is a very good opportunity to post a still from Restless Natives

How far is it? Dunoon.

Narrator: It was a time of kings. A time of majesty. A time of cheese toasties. And Costas. Lots of Costas.

That would probably be the intro to this if Ian McKellen happened to be voicing it. But it won’t be, it isn’t and frankly if you believed it was then I can’t help you, neither can the nurse. But yes, travelling up from the south to Scotland is a long long way. Particularly by car. But, 9 or 10 hours after setting off, I made it and here I am in Dunoon.

But before we talk about the film festival, here are a few shots from my trip - there would be witty video but due to both my b&b wifi (imagine a leaf travelling in a high wind carrying access to wifi. Occasionally, it drops on your nose and you can access it…then it flies away again. You see it across the road, you run, you just get to it, and off it pops again. Then you catch the leaf, destroy it and then promise you shall wreak vengeance on all of it’s leafy brothers and sisters. Ok, I need that nurse.) and intermittent access, it’ll just be a few salty pictures.









Zombies, cake, ferries

I almost wrote ferrets there. I would have tried to style it out too and written a few paragraphs on ferrets. Like when you make up an obvious piece of rubbish to sound intelligent and then get caught out and proceed to talk for hours on the subject hoping everyone will die of boredom if you keep going for long enough.

But there are no ferrets in this section, so don’t worry (though if you had asked, I would of course have told you that the ferret (Mustela putorius furo) is the domesticated form of the European polecat, a mammal belonging to the same genus as the weaselMustela of the family Mustelidae.[1])

So, once on the ferry (right, crossed that bit from the title) and not ferret (although, imagine a fleet of ferrets ferrying your car across a Loch. Now imagine saying that pissed) I held down my various coffees despite the Loch wishing otherwise and arrived in Dunoon. Rain, rain and more rain but here I was and after a good nights sleep (fuelled by a pint of Tennents in the local) it was off to discover the festival.

Now, I’ll post more later once I’ve been to the first of today’s (Friday) sessions I’m filming, but on the schedule it’s a Zombie Workshop followed by a screening of John McPhail’s Anna And The Apocalypse followed by a Q&A. Hoping to get an interview shot later with John and certainly a lovely picture to pop up here. Here’s the trailer - looks like a fun mix of horror and musical and quite frankly don’t we all need that right now:



But ROBOCOP etc.


Enough now.


So it’s off to the Dunoon Burgh Hall for the Zombie Makeover session (no, I’m not getting made up……well possibly…) and then on to the wonderful Studio Cinema here which looks a great little local cinema.





So that’s it till a bit later when I’ll post some interview bits and lots of pics from Zombies and much more. A great way to kick off a truly local festival.


Dunoon Film Festival (1) - Hang on, I've got a plan...


I’ve always loved cinema and I’ve loved the obsessive nature that comes with it - from people who set up shrines to long lost icons, to those that build replica cinemas in their sheds as well as the villages up and down the country that put on screenings where otherwise there’d be bingo and a long bus ride to a town many miles away.

So, I really wanted to capture these stories in short form docs. From travelling cinemas, to pop up screens, two seater cinemas and beyond - I thought ‘I’ve got to do this’. Plus it’s a great opportunity to use Droney McDroneface to capture some lovely footage like this pic of Corfe Castle


As luck would have it, the Guardian were looking for readers to suggest their top independent and local cinemas. Which I found out about as I follow The Screen Machine on twitter (@screen_machine) who were in turn recommended for inclusion on this list by various people in Argyll. And from there I spotted the Dunoon Film Festival ….

Now, it would be fantastic if good stories just dropped at your feet. You get up, throw on the dressing gown and pop the milk in the cocoa pops and a story pops through the letterbox. Thanks Story Postman (look, I’ve taken that as far as it can go really. You and I both know that the Story Postman is perhaps the nadir of this particular bit and frankly shouldn’t have got to that point. I can only apologise and should I see you in the street, I’ll do my best to look shame faced). But, as every filmmaker knows, you’ve got to go out there and find the story - or just tit about on twitter for a bit. Either’s good.

So, long story short, I decided that this would be a fantastic opportunity to capture some local stories on how cinema has changed their community as well as feature a host of interviews with interesting and captivating people. This’ll do. This’ll definitely do.

Road to not nowhere

The next challenges to face are thus - funding and transport.

Living in the south is lovely. But for travelling to Scotland? Not so easy. Yes, I could take a flight up to Glasgow and travel across to Argyll from there. I could get a train even. But both come with the issue of having to hire a car at the other end. Also, I don’t mind a drive. But almost 9hrs? Oof. Still, it allows me the freedom to travel up and down Argyll at my own pace and I’ve got a really good air freshener that I’m comfortable with so, you know, bonus.

Also, the drive up through the Lake District (after having driven to Glasgow before) is utterly breathtaking and has to be seen to be believed. I’m not a believer in folk tales, but if someone told me there were giants sleeping instead of the mountains, I’d believe ‘em. A bit.

So, with that sorted, we look at funding. As a last minute decision to travel up to shoot the festival etc, there simply isn’t the time to apply for schemes and bursaries (though I do recommend talking to the various Film charities and organisations out there like Film hub Scotland who were really lovely and had some great suggestions. You see, despite popular belief, filmmakers aren’t loaded. I know! Crazy right!?! So funding a trip like this is pretty important. Pro tip 1 - B&B it. Cheap. It’s a bed. It’s fine. You get a breakfast. You don’t need luxury and sharing a bathroom is fine. Not at the same time. But fine nonetheless. You’ll be out all day filming or in editing anyway so you won’t have time to admire/detest the wallpaper. As for actual cash? Well get those emails sent out and the likelihood is that you can part fund a trip after the event once people have seen the work you’ve created. Remember, organisations need a work plan several months (even a year) in advance to divide the pot of money. And the majority of that will go to local schemes and those who are 21 and under - as it should. Businesses are very unlikely to part with money for your hair brained idea - however lovingly it’s presented. Does it make them any money? No? Ok bye. That isn’t the case in ALL situations, but it is par for the course. So be prepared to make a loss - it’s a risk, but it’ll be worth it…

Right, and now you’re looking at where your films can be shown once the trip is over and you’ve edited everything. So off to the broadcasters I go. Interested? Yes, absolutely. But that final push into commissioning? Nope. And don’t be disheartened - because unless you’re a production company, getting anything passed for broadcast (even digitally) as an idea from a solo filmmaker or business…well….it’s not seen as authentic enough. Now, once you’ve done your pieces, DO send those guys links to your work. Because even if they can’t commission you now, they can see that you have a talent and are serious about getting out there and just DOING SOMETHING. Seriously. We’re all guilty of coming up with projects that we pitch but never make because we can’t find the interest - doesn’t mean it’s not worth pursuing. There are also a growing number of independent channels looking for content for online and streaming - so keep plugging away.

My plan is to create a 20 minute mini doc of the trip with a host of individual pieces featuring full interviews, independent stories etc. Along this, I’ll be writing this blog and uploading video clips every day from my phone as a way of getting immediate content out there - and to give everyone a flavour of the trip. It’s important for me to have a voice and be spontaneous here as well as planning some lovingly shot films - so good to have the option to do both.

Right, well, things to pack, kit to charge, sleep to get, guinea pigs to feed (Mel and Sue and Fluffball and Pinky (thanks to my two sons there) ).

Almost time to start the adventure….I’ll leave you with a word from Fluffball and Pinky….oh…hang on….