The Big Day Finally Arrives!

Seminar1 Blimey! Blimey! And thrice blimey!

What a day Saturday was, the ‘Gone Fishing’ Seminar and World Premiere. I am going to write about the seminar today and premiere tomorrow.

I had been thinking about the seminar from before I made Gone Fishing, and so collated all the important document and materials. I thought the course would be a nuts and bolts course about production and getting deals, but as time wore on, I realised a much more valuable course was possible in the ‘creative journey’ that we all go on during a film. Accordingly, over the few days before the seminar I began ordering my thoughts in a Powerpoint Presentation, bouncing ideas of other people involved, especially editor Eddie Hamilton.

About 60 people arrived bright and early Saturday morning – and we even had people fly in from Ireland, Spain, Germany, France, even Los Angeles, just for this seminar and premiere!

Seminar2 During the morning, we worked our way through several drafts of the script, getting feedback as we went. What was interesting is that most people were providing the same script feedback that we got during script development. Mid morning, casting director Catherine Arton came on stage and shared with us all, her knowledge of how casting a film like this can work. Then we read some more drafts and got a bit more intimate with the story. Everyone was in broad agreement that the extensive script development was improving the story no end. I even spoke to some guests who shared with me that they could now see clearly why their last short film had not worked as well as it could have, as they didn’t develop the script enough. It just wasn’t ready for them to shoot.

Seminar3 In the afternoon we worked through the storyboards, and also invited cinematographer Vernon Layton to the stage for a chat. As usual, Vernon was tremendously entertaining and insightful, and getting access to a DP of his experience and creative ability is worth its weight in gold. What shone through for me with Vernon was the passion to create something that really touches people’s hearts. His love of the art is infectious and it felt like a breath of fresh air. Today I have received an enormous amount of emails from people who also felt inspired by Vern’s passion and energy. It’s great that people at the top of their game are prepared to share their knowledge so openly. Thank you Vern!

We then watched some edits of the film, showing how it goes from first assembly, through effectively more script development but now in post production, through refinement and recrafting. Editor Eddie Hamilton stormed the stage with his usual laser like insight and overwhelming energy. Eddie is directly Seminar4 responsible for so much that is terrific about this film, and to hear him talk was wonderful. I think the editorial journey we went on was as revealing as the script development for the group.

Senior colourist John Claude from Midnight Transfer also cam up on stage to talk us through the colour grading for Gone Fishing, and JC (as he is known) is one of the reasons why Vernons amazing cinematography looked so polished and consistent. JC made the very salient point that some directors (especially new ones) often go into the grade and try to go crazy with all the powerful tools available, but that part of his job is to reign it all in so that at the end, the movie is consistent and hasn’t gone too far that the film would inevitably be re-graded later. A powerful lesson for us all there.

As the seminar drew to a close, the tension in the air was palpable. We were only an hour and a half from the premiere…


We managed to film the whole seminar too, so that we can make it available in some way in the future, and I would like to thank the camera team of Steve Brooke Smith, Sylvie Bolioli and Matt Moreale for manning the cameras all day and helping commit this course to tape.

After the seminar ended, there was a dash for the loos as everyone changed into their evening wear for the premiere. It was quite entertaining and very much in the spirit of the movie, stood in the loos with ten other associate producers, while changing your trousers and giggling like excited kids!

Less than one hour to the premiere and…I will report on that tomorrow!

Finally, below are a few comments from the seminar…

Onward and Upward!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

What a great day and what a great night. The film was simply superb. To see it in all its glory, both sound and picture was a delight. Even though I'd been on the course all day, analysed the script, and seen the film various times, it was like watching it for the first time. I was taken out of analytical mode and became involved in the story. I never expected that. As for the course, it was a truly unique experience and thank you for involving us so fully on the journey. To have Eddie, John Claude and Vernon there also really made the experience unique
Steve Payne.

You shared a vision with us, asked for our money and made us a promise. Yesterday that promise was delivered – in both the masterclass and the film. Thank you for the chance to be involved. I feel privileged to have been part of the process. You may be interested to see the review I posted on my blog
Rod Duncan

An Epic journey, with dividends for all involved way above our collective expectations. A short film to watch for a BAFTA and Oscar 2009 ! The concept, the viral call, the blog culminating in the transparent and wonderful premiere. An undertaking that you should truly be proud of.
Damien Donnelly

Truly inspirational and educational. We see a lot of people presenting, in both the academic and real/business words, and it is rare to find someone who can present all day, without notes, without repeating himself, and continually engage the attention of the audience. I know it is no mean feat, so well done.
Sophie Ibbotson and Max Lovell-Hoare

Just wanted to say thank you so much for the experience of 'Gone Fishing'. I have never heard someone talk so clearly and directly about a career path in film as you did yesterday and as a recent film graduate working in retail to support my film aspirations that was pretty amazing for me.
Alexzandra Jackson

I have been to a lot of seminars – mostly creative writing – and I usually learn something from them, but not much these days. Your seminar was an exception. I learned LOADS.
I took in so much information yesterday that I am feeling rather dazed today. That dazed feeling is, I know, the result of my subconscious mind working away to process what I took in. Too early yet to say what will emerge, but I have no
doubt that something will. Something good.

I particularly appreciated the way you structured it – leading us along the same creative journey and ending up with the premier in the evening. A unique experience.
I got a lot from listening to different people who had been involved in the process. It gave different views on the same thing. A kind of triangulation that helped me to see it in a three dimensional way.
Ever since hearing about your project, I have felt inspired by the approach that you took – getting it funded in that way – your proceeding as if the money was already there, the strength of your vision that was self-fulfilling. The seminar yesterday reinforced that impression and helped to flesh it out into a whole picture for me.
As for the premier – this was the amazing thing. Having gone through that creative journey, seen the various stages, seen the film in different forms so many times, surely the thing on the screen in the premier would not feel fresh. But it did feel fresh. The story took me in once again. I laughed. I cried. What more can be asked from any story in any form? It is a really special film.
Rod Maude

There are many many more kind words that I will distil and post in due course.

Thank you everyone for sharing.


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