21 December, 2007

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays etc.

Thanks to all the folk that have visited the blog and main site over the past year. Lots of exciting news to come in the new year and more fun than you can shake a stick at.

Have a great time everyone, and don't do anything we at Stirton Towers would do!

30 November, 2007

Fags and Flames

This week were were mostly throwing cigarettes past the camera and blowing up retired company directors; in this case Niel Simpson (friend of our film partner and financier, Ken Fraser). Normally chavvy scum like us rarely get to meet anyone wealthy or interesting, but making movies changes things, and sometimes we meet the most fascinating of people.

Most people wouldn't allow you to set off explosions in their back yard, but Neil actually lent me a car battery to set the charges off. Also very willing to spray petrol about for flame shots. Great chap.

A series of pick ups shots and 2 explosions took 2 weekends to film, due to bad weather and availability of light. Trying to film fire in a gale ain't easy, neither is flicking cigarette butts to a specific location. But we eventually got the shots and hopefully they all turned out ok.

Highlight for us (me) was setting 2 small charges off (anti terrorism act means I can't say how or what was involved - but I may mention balloons). These were done at the location and hopefully saved us doing too much post production and fakery with the shot. Here are some shots, taken by the invaluable Mark Wyness, of explodey things and us freezing our arses off. Which explains our outfits.

Mark Stirton (director and smoker) looks on with disgust at Clarkie, preparing stunt cigarettes for filming. (rubbish herbal things)

Neil, acting in crucial scene while nutter with flaming tray provides effect.

Clarkie, in foreground, sets off a small but loud charge.

Movie moguls - this is what Speilberg does between takes. Honest.

21 November, 2007

Mean Streets
A short break between movie work led me to purchase some great models from the Daz 3D site (home of Poser and Bryce stuff), so here are some renders in Vue 6.

The models are from a vendor called Stonemason and they are very well done, I just stuck a few billboards for the film up, the rest comes with the model. As this is a poser model, the lights can be switched on and off and you can even have those funny looking poser folk, with their twitchy little legs, wandering about on it.

Once the model had been setup and saved in poser it was imported straight into Vue, with textures intact. The photo textures are very detailed and it's fun to have a wander about the back alleys looking for discarded porn (or is that just me?).

So here you go, a few semi-promotional images before I get back onto the film graphics and new website (opening very soon - finally).

07 November, 2007

Interview Time

A recent review of "The Planet" by M.J. Simpson, of SFX magazine etc., led a few of the Stirton Towers crew to get in touch with him. The review was sort of good but we thought it had missed the mark (pardon the pun) a bit in it's criticism of the movie's vagueness and lack of explanation of events - for those who haven't seen the movie, that was the point: lots of things happen to normal folk and they can't explain them. Star Trek it ain't.

The reviewer didn't however tell us to 'sod off' when we got in touch, and even asked if we (Mark and I, sorry Kerwin) would be willing to do a short interview. So here are links to the interviews about the movie, from 2 different points of view.

Original movie review.

Mark Stirton (Director) Interview

Michael Clark (Producer) Interview

26 October, 2007

Bloody Hell!

Thought it was about time I did a post about the film. Mark is currently editing the footage together and rarely sees daylight, but we're still doing bits at the weekends so everything is coming together nicely. The footage I've seen so far looks great and it's amazing the results Mark is getting from the Canon XL H1 with its comedy viewfinder, I think talent may have something to do with it.

On top of all the usual film stuff Mark has also re-edited "The Planet," to introduce a separate dialogue track for overseas sales (the movie was made so cheaply it only had 2 channels of sound). The dvd will be available soon in Japan, due to our agent, Cut Entertainment, getting a distribution deal there - so we're all pretty beefed about that and looking forward to it opening up in more territories.

A few weeks ago we did some more bodies in the van shots, this time with a full corpse count: Mark had prepared 4 body doubles in bags and Kerwin and I were the "live bait," on top. After a little make up and a few gallons of bleed we rolled about on top of a van load of stiffs and got well sticky (never ask me to repeat that). Here are the results.

Kerwin Robertson (the Fisherman) with partial make up for the "eye-hook."

Mark filmed the shot from many angles, I hadn't been asked to make up this area!

Me (doubling for farmer character) after 20 minutes of make up.

The finished result, utter carnage.

22 October, 2007

Propeller Conference

Well, I survived the digital skills conference in Sheffield, which I was attending as the Stirton Productions rep. The conference lasted about 6 hours was pretty well attended and seemed to go ok (apart from the initial technical stuff at the beginning, which wasn't our stuff so it didn't matter). Various industry experts attended the show, which I managed to mug for information, so that was well worth the trip.

My talk about the digital effects used in the film went quite well, the audience seemed very interested in the fact that a feature film could be made by 3 blokes with only a faint idea about animation. The majority of the audience were film and effects students from Hull and Leeds, who later badgered me for technical stories at the reception held at the end of the conference. Their questions were very sharp and intelligent, and it took all my skill as an international man of mystery (or bewildered old git) to keep up with them.

I also got a chance to wander around Sheffield, which I thought was a great place. The amount of money hammered into the city in the past few years is staggering, turning an ex steel manufacturing town into a modern cosmopolitan city. I liked the trams too.

Many thanks must be made to the organisers, Propeller TV, for making sure the conference went well and for getting me down there and looking after me. Propeller was the first station to pick up "The Planet," after it came out last year, so for that we're all really thankful. Many thanks to John, Lisa and the rest of the team for all the effort, well done.

15 October, 2007

See Mike Speak, Speak Mike Speak

As a shock to most people, including me, I've been asked to speak at a digital skills conference in Sheffield (England) this Friday. The conference, run by Propeller TV (the first place to pick up "The Planet," for public release), is at the Showroom Cinema, Paternoster Row, Sheffield on Friday, 19th October from 12pm – 8pm.

Director bloke, Mark Stirton will be unable to attend as he's killing an old man on Saturday, aided by modelly bloke Kerwin Robertson, or he would have came down too. So it's just me I'm afraid; if anyone wants to come down and stare at me, please feel free to do so.

I'll be the gibbering wreck at the table.

01 October, 2007

Castle Dracula

Ooh, spooky (well, it's Halloween soon). Went out for a wander with my mate Aktoman yesterday, we decided to give his camera another work out on the ruins of Slains Castle, north of Aberdeen. Slains is a mad arse, ruin of a building, sitting directly on the edge of a sea cliff, built originally in the 17th century but extended later as a stately home.

It really is an architectural nightmare of a place, and even in it's current state generally freaks you out. Someone it did freak out was Bram Stoker (who stayed in it during a visit to Scotland), it became one of the possible inspirations for Castle Dracula and you can guess why when wandering about the place, trying not to fall off the cliff or fly out of the top of a tower when the staircase stops.

Slains Castle, soon to be developed into flats for people without vertigo
View from window.
General spooky thing
Four story tower that just stops, no barrier on staircase. I got 'the fear!'
The ghost of Elvis!

Managed to find a photo of the place from 1900, I would have needed strong pants to stay in there for a night.

27 September, 2007

Guns and Awards

This week I have been mostly being busy, getting on with some of the film graphics again (nothing I can show at the moment, unfortunately). So to keep you little bunnies amused I'll tell you what's been happening with the previous Stirton Production movie, The Planet.

A few weeks ago the movie was shown at The Festival of Fantastic Films, in Manchester. Last week it received a 'Highly Commended' in the independent film section. Yay us. Since then 3 different companies in the states have been looking to buy it, more yay. Our agent is currently in talks with the companies and I'll let you know how it goes with that.

On a non film related thing, I had a fun weekend playing with 17th century weapons and being shot at. Yes, I travelled back in time with Dr Who. Nah, just to Drum Castle in Royal Deeside, where a group called the Fraser's Dragoones were running about in period costume, drinking real ale and letting loose with their big weapons. It was a lovely day and my mate, Duncan, got lots of smart shots of their bangy things and flags. Here's a link to his

There's got to be a caption to go along with this one! 'Sad old git plays with gun,' or something.

14 September, 2007

Captain Universe V's Emmerdale

Just a little plug for that big chap Mike Mitchell, Mr universe, friend of Stirton Productions and general good guy: he's appearing in
Emmerdale (UK soap) on September 21st. I'm not sure what character he'll be playing, but he'll be easy to spot (being way too brown and huge) he's hoping that the character will become a regular on the show and we wish him all the best with it.

I'll be glued to me tv next week waiting for him to batter a Dingle or something.

Here's a shot of big Mike at the premiere of 'The Planet,' with a Scottish coloured Mark Stirton (director etc.)

06 September, 2007

Festival Fun

Last weekend (31st August - 2nd September) the The Festival of Fantastic Films was held in Manchester (England). Our last movie 'The Planet,' was shown and received a pretty involved review by MJ Simpson of Brit SF mag 'SFX.'

One fun thing about the festival is the guests they had, mostly stars of older cult hits like Dr Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde and Cannibal Ferox, but also one of my first screen crushes Caroline Munro (Starcrash, The Spy Who Loved Me and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad to name a few). The fact that she could have saw my big stupid face on screen made me laugh and may have also given me 'a special feeling,' as they used to say in 'living and growing.'

For those of you who don't know of Caroline Munro (you poor fools) here's a publicity shot, possibly from The Spy Who Loved me. Also a shot of 'The Planet,' cast. I'm the dodger on the far left (as seen by Caroline Munro).

17 August, 2007


Sorry I haven't posted for a while, been as busy as a dozen posties (yes, I've done 2 hours work this week).

Mark, the director chap is locked in the editing suite just now (located in the penthouse of Stirton Towers), whacking the film together in Final Cut Pro. I have to squeeze tuna sandwiches under the door to keep him going and produce fake newspapers for the end credits of the movie. I can't put any of the covers up here yet as they will kind of spoil the end of the film for people.

Filming some major carnage in the next few weeks, with body parts a go-go! I'm doing the make-up and being stuck on top of the pile like a big bleedy clarkie cherry on a corpse cake: so more syrup smelling fun for me and the boys. I'll post photos from that if they're not too gross.

Well I'm off again, but like that American bloke said 'I will return.'

25 July, 2007

I Gave the Tardis Wood!

Don't get excited, it's just the result of me looking for something to do during a dull, wet, weekend. I decided to fully texture the tardis model I'd knocked up in Cinema 4D, using the software's own texturer 'bodypaint.' Bodypaint was used recently for some of the texture work on Spiderman 3.

After a few hours of cutting and pasting wood panel images on to the model mesh I ended up with a huge tardis woody! (really, it gave me such a clue) Below are some renders in Vue 6 and one in Cinema 4D (it's got daleks in it). Hope you like them, I do. Now I have to think of something to do with it apart from bore you lot. I may try and do some work again, I hear all the kids are doing it.

Mark Stirton has an animated version of the un-woody one on his cracking Dr Who title sequence, here. Of course all images and thingies are copyright BBC Worldwide.

19 July, 2007

The Tardis.

Suffering from a bit of Dr Who withdrawal recently so I made my own Tardis. Downside is it's only a model - it won't travel in time and space and it doesn't come with a little Nicola Bryant or Janet Fielding... Arse! Good side is that it doesn't take up much space and won't attract the Titanic into your living room - like a big blue disaster magnet.

Here are pics.

16 July, 2007

Poster Presentation Post

This week I have been mostly getting on to some of the marketing for the movie, so far I've came up with 2 main poster ideas (only drafts at the moment) and a bunch of variations. All the posters are created at the standard UK quad ( 40" x 30" / 102cm x 76cm) or onesheet size (27" x 40" / 69cm x 102cm) for using in cinemas and retail. Large files, each about 100 meg or so, but necessary for good quality printing.

I just love Patrick's expression in the second poster, what has Scott done to scare him so much, well you'll have to wait for the film I guess.

All the photos used in the layouts are from our photo bloke Mark Wyness.

09 July, 2007

Near Miss

Look 2 updates in the same week, I'll need a lie down now. Mark, Pat, Graham and Mark W. were out filming last week, getting some coverage of the van - long shots etc. Graham provided a stunt beard for Scott Ironside's character as they are beard twins (really).

During some filming in a single track road in the country, Patrick was told to drive close to the camera for a nice shot. Pat did as he was told and the photo says everything, Mark even dropped his cig he was that scared.

Other photo shows a gloomy looking overcast Aberdeen, with the van crossing the Bridge of Dee. It looks much better when it's sunny, honest.

Filming Photos

As promised, here are shots from some recent filming. This batch is from the 2 days we had Mike Mitchell over, there wasn't much space left after he came into the wee room (as you see from the photo below). It was a pretty intense 2 days filming as there was so much to cover,but Mark did take us all out for lunch (working in town is so much better than eating in a windy field) so many thankies Markie.

Even though we were all stuck in a tiny kitchen it was a bit like the last movie - The Planet, as Mike and Pat got on really well and enjoyed working together again. Mark and I were sweating like monkey rapists (or rapist monkeys) and mostly dead by the end, but the footage was in the can so it made up for it.

Photos, as always, provided by Mark Wyness.

This image may stay with me forever..... but not in a good way!

02 July, 2007

Interlude 3.

I got an email from my mate Duncan (Aktoman) last Friday about a minute before I left work. 'I'm going up Bennachie (hill near Aberdeen) to try new camera, coming?' What can you say to that?

I was knackered after a long day staring at a screen and was thinking of crawling into a cupboard and dying, but I went along instead. For the first time in a week it wasn't raining so we wandered up the hill in a leisurely fashion- Bennachie isn't a very demanding walk at 375 metres (about 1230 feet) but it has some steep parts so we had a few breaks to get our breath back and take photos.

The hill itself has several peaks but we were heading for the one known as 'mither tap,' which has a natural rocky plinth with the remains of 2 ancient stone forts surrounding it. One of the stone barricades is comprised of fused stone, not a bad job considering the picts didn't have plasma furnaces or crazy glue. The hill is one of the most probable sites for the Roman battle of
Mons Graupius (84AD approx.) - where 10.000 hairy arsed Scotsmen led by the war leader, Calgacus showed the Romans what they were made of , literally, by being wiped out by about 30.000 trained combat troops and cavalry. It did however show the Romans that the Scots were way too mental to try and rule over. Yay us.

It was sunny but pretty windy so we could only manage F stops below 5.6 at 100 asa which for landscape photos is a bit flat, but without a tripod it was our best option as the wind was chucking us about like rubber kittens. Duncan's new cam is a canon 350D, it's a good entry level digital SLR and it has a nice lens. As he's never used one before I was helping him out with some basic tips and settings, he does have a good eye for composition though so that helps heaps.

Here are some photos which we took, I think my ones are the long shot of the top of the hill and the Lord of the Rings one of the valley below (yup, the clouds are real). They are a bit soft due to lack of tripod but not too bad.

26 June, 2007

Latest Filming News.

Last Friday and Saturday Mark was able to get all of Mike Mitchell's scenes done, which was handy as Mike was flying back home to Turkey on Sunday (so no pressure there). Mike and Patrick had to cover 18 pages of dialogue in 2 days and Mark managed to cover all of it - with re-shoots, so good going there mr director.

I was there doing my usual art direction stuff and covering the props etc. I also helped out with sound and lighting as we were in a tiny room, a very hot tiny room once the lights were going. Funnily enough Mike, who has lived in Turkey for over 2 years was a bit chilly... The rest of us weren't.

The room was lent to us by the movie's executive producer, Ken Fraser, so many thanks for the use of the office space Mr F. I'm not sure what was in the room but both Mark and I were sneezing for both filming days and have since died (well, a bit). I suppose we're suffering for our art, sniff!

A few publicity shots were taken at the time and I'll have those up here soon once I make it out of bed.

15 June, 2007

Unlimited Rice Pudding....

Just thinking out loud, but what would really make me happy just now? I guess it would be a longer season of Doctor Who, like the 26 episodes a year it used to have when I was a kid (instead of the 13 it has now). Doctor Who is great and I'm really enjoying the current season, it's even got scary again which is great.

At 42 I'm sure lots of other things should be higher up the list of fun things, but I'm generally comfortable with what, where and who I'm doing at the moment and a huge run of Dr Who would keep me grinning away like the little mentalist I am.

So, what fun thing would float your boat?

14 June, 2007

The Return of Mike Mitchell

The star of previous Stirton Productions feature The Planet, is to return for a role in the latest movie, One Day Removals. Mike (2 times holder of the World Fitness Federation Mr Universe title and all round nice bloke) is to appear in a pivotal supporting role scheduled for filming next week.

Mike's previous part as mercenary captain, Joe Morgan, meant he got to run around in combat gear and shoot huge plastic guns (he also got to kick me around the LZ, ooh er!). This time he'll be wearing a suit and laying down the law on our hapless removal men. We're going to need a bigger suit!

He has recently finished filming some episodes of UK countryside soap, 'Emmerdale' and hopes that he may have the opportunity to expand the role. All of us here at Stirton Towers wish him the best of luck with that and look forward to working with him again next week.

Here's a couple of shots of Mike being all big and stuff. Yay Mike.

08 June, 2007

Dragging Photos

Met up with photographer and matey bloke, Mark Wyness, during our Thursday op's meeting and got copies of the recent pics from him. It's so good having a pro photographer on the film to document all the fun stuff and take great publicity shots, we've got thousands of cool images now which make life a lot easier when marketing the movie.

Anyroad, here's a bunch of pics from my lazy stunt day out at Aboyne, Royal Deeside (where HRH queeny and co drive through to get to Balmoral).

Me in my comedy German hiking gear with Mark and Colin (sound ninja#2).

Mark and Colin, fiddlin' about with me trouser parts: my bum armour was so big I couldn't close my zip and had to be taped up. It was a new experience for me!

All tied up and ready to go. The bum armour is pretty well concealed for front and back shots but still rugged enough to stop me from being worn flat by the tarmac.

Some wheelchair tracking shots at low speed, for speeding up in post. For this I had to wave my arms really slowly so I didn't look like a windmill in the final version. This matches the later shots from the van when I'm being dragged at full speed.

This is what's left of my arse parts by the end of 2 hours of dragging. Not too bad really, but the smell of heated metal does freak you out a bit. The observant among you may notice Markie with his special black book, directors love their wee books.
Our movie partner, Ken (Cannyfilms Partnership Ltd) turned up for the last bit of filming and took us in for tea and cake, which was handy as we were filming next to his house. Line up from left to right: me, Colin Morrison, Mark Stirton, Ken Fraser and Patrick Wight.