I LOVE a good podcast, especially podcasts about films, so I was chuffed to chat about two great stonkers in two recent podcasts, both of which are now available for your aural pleasure.
First, I chatted to Mike Muncer on the hugely popular Evolution of Horrorpodcast about Ti West’s 2009 retro occult horror, The House of The Devil. A stunning example of beautiful low-budget independent filmmaking, which wears its influences on its sleeve, Mike and I delved deep into the plot, aesthetic, its legacy and superstar Greta Gerwig’s supporting role, as well as its film nerd status as a fine example of ‘mumblegore.’ This episode is twinned with Mike’s chat with Robb Watts about another witchy release from the same year, the equally brilliant Drag Me To Hell by Sam Raimi. Have a listenhere or via Apple Podcasts and other services. It’s recently been Apple Podcast’s number one film history podcast!
Then I had a good old natter with Mark Goddard and Chloe Davies for the Franchise Players podcast about one of the best thrillers that has ever been made – yes, I said thriller rather than horror – Richard Donner’s 1976 classic, The Omen. This is another movie I have such respect for, and Mark, Chloe and I discussed the film in great detail – scene by scene where we could, evaluating the story, performance, score, its set pieces, where its genre lines blur and the influence it’s had on modern horror classics. We spoke for several hours and I could have praised it for another six hours. You can listen here.
If you love a bit of film history, critique and trivia, or just want to get your geek on during your commute, when cooking, in the bath or when trying to sleep, or you’re searching for creative inspiration, both are a good, fun and worthy listen. Enjoy!
And there’s more of me chatting on podcasts to come over the coming months… To be announced soon!
An extended article I wrote for the spectacular new print magazine Film Stories has now been published. The feature is about the too often overlooked 90s rom com Jack & Sarah, starring Richard E. Grant, Samantha Mathis, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench and Dame Eileen Atkins. Spread across five pages, I argue that the film is well worth a revisit and discuss its many merits. It includes extracts from an exclusive interview I did with the writer/director, Tim Sullivan, who was very generous with his time and shared so many interesting stories about the making of his ‘baby.’
Film Stories, Issue 5, is available now from the BFI Shop, WHSmiths and via mail order. It’s a snip at just £5.99, or it’s even cheaper if you opt for a subscription deal! This issue also includes:
The stars of Rocketman on bringing the Elton John biopic to the screen
Richard O’Brien on the lost Rocky Horror Picture Show sequels
The movie apocalypse films that have flown under the radar: Reign Of Fire, anyone?
True confessions of a movie PR rep
The woman who transformed Warner Bros’s movie marketing
Jack & Sarah: revisiting an overlooked 90s British movie.
The evolution of movie special effects, and the return of practical
Three films and he’s out: the movie career of Yahoo Serious
Celebrating the musical films of John Carney
The trick to making a horror movie remake
So don’t miss out! And I hope you enjoy reading my lovingly crafted article!
Brilliant news! My award-winning short Connie is now available to buy on Shorts International’s iTunes stores in the US and Europe! Better still, the foul-mouthed puppet is a cheap gal – a snip at only $2.99 or £1.99 respectively – so fill your stockings this festive season with twenty minutes of our little felt-covered diva.
Connie has had an incredible journey since the shoot in May 2016, playing festivals globally, including awards qualifiers, winning awards, receiving great reviews and entertaining audiences we could only have dreamed of. Being able to share it now with a whole new audience is really something else. Film festivals rock, but so few people can actually get to them, so I’m proud that Connie has been licensed by Shorts International.
The film showcases the incredible talent of our superstar, Catrin Stewart, who did an incredible job of playing two roles at once and also operating a puppet – all in just two days on set! It also features the legend that is Kim Newman. It’s a film I’m incredibly proud of. Meeting audiences at festivals and seeing their reactions to the film, and to me and the puppet, has been an extra slice of joy.
Connie is also screening now on ShortsTV’s channel in the US, with the European premiere coming very soon. ShortsTV is the world’s first 24/7 HD TV channel dedicated to shorts, and currently available to approximately 25 million homes, with more channels across the globe to come. More details on how to watch ShortsTV here.
I’m really proud to say that an article James Moran and I wrote about our hit short, Blood Shed, is featured in issue one of the brand spanking new movie buff magazine, Film Stories!
The magazine is the brainchild of Den of Geek founder, Simon Brew, and accompanies his popular new podcast – also entitled Film Stories. The magazine was recently funded by a massively successful Kickstarter campaign, smashing the initial target – almost doubling it. It champions new releases and new writing, celebrates all the geeky film stuff that you want to read about, and features regular columns by stand-up Romesh Ranganathan, BAFTA-winning creator of Wolfblood, Debbie Moon, and writer/director of The Levelling, Hope Dickson Leach. So we’re in great company!
Our article addresses how to get your film noticed and more bang for your buck when submitting to film festivals, with our hints and tips for playing the odds and creating a successful strategy. There are also some of our lovely behind the scenes photos taken by the brilliant Mike Shawcross.
You can get your hands on a copy of issue one now, or subscribe so you don’t miss out on the next magnificent issue!
Excellent news! We’ve struck a licensing deal with the brilliant Shorts International to broadcast Connie on ShortsTV in North America, Europe and South Asia for five years from late 2018. ShortsTV is the world’s first 24/7 HD TV channel dedicated to shorts. This is a very exciting agreement as the ShortsTV channels are currently available to approximately 25 million homes! I can’t wait for Connie to reach a wider audience and for the little puppet to expose herself on TV!
PLUS, Connie shortly be added to the ShortsTV online stores on Amazon (UK, USA and Germany) and iTunes (in over 80 countries) for purchase! So anyone who hasn’t managed to catch little felt diva at festivals can see her on the tellybox or online! Launch date details coming soon!
Great news! Connie has won big at GenreBlast Film Festival 2017 in Virginia, USA! Connie scooped the Funniest Short Film award this month following the State Premiere at the festival, where my little short screened alongside the opening feature film, Guardians.
GenreBlast is an awesome festival and the comedy shorts selection was really amazing, so I’m totally blown away that the film has actually bagged the award. You just never really know when you write a comedy if people are going to get your sense of humour. You can edit, rewrite and share with your team and crew and have all the laughs in the world on set, but you still have to hope that the film finds its tribe in on the festival scene and in the big bad world. Thankfully, Connie has, and I’m thrilled that GenreBlast wanted to recognise my work in this way.
Connie was also nominated in two other categories against impressive competition – Best Actress and the female writer/director award.
Massive congrats to all the nominees and winners at GenreBlast, and a big thank you to the festival team for including us in the festival. The selection was amazing and communication before, during and after the festival has been great – a festival really worth submitting to and being part of. We couldn’t be there in person, but will definitely be submitting more work in future and hope to make it over to join the party one day.
There are more festival announcements and screenings still to come for Connie as she continues to stomp around the globe – thrilling, touching and offending as many wonderful people as she can well into 2018! These are regularly added to the Screenings page on the official Conniesite.
Wowzer! Connie continues to cook up a storm stateside with four upcoming state premieres over just nine days, with three award nominations to boot!
First, Connie gets to catch some rays at the California premiere tomorrow, 31st August, at Long Beach Indie International Film, Media and Music Festival 2017. The film is screening as part of the Suspense and Horror shorts block from 9pm. I love California and am really thrilled that she’ll be allowed to cause mayhem in the golden state.
Connie is hitting Kansas City on Monday 4th September! The little diva is headed to kick Dorothy’s butt and enjoy the Missouri premiere next week, screening at the super cool Slaughter Movie House at the Screenland Armour movie theatre. Connie will be screening with the feature film, Space Babes from Outer Space, kicking off at 7pm… and better still, it’s FREE! Check out this gorgeous event poster!
Just a couple of days later after a stroll down the yellow brick road, Connie heads to GenreBlast Film Festival 2017 for her Virginia state premiere! Connie screens with the opening film of the festival, Guardians, from 7pm on Thursday 7th September at the Alamo Drafthouse. You know it’s a great festival when it’s at an Alamo Drafthouse, and GenreBlast have a really cool selection of shorts and features playing, including an advance screening of IT, also on the opening night.
AND… The awesome team at GenreBlast have very kindly nominated Connie for not one, not two, but THREE awards at the festival! It’s pretty stiff competition though, so Connie better get her boxing gloves on… I certainly can’t hop in the ring and fight it out for a trophy when I’m 6 months pregnant… But being nominated gives me a lovely, glowy, warm feeling…
Finally, finishing off next week, Connie will be hitch-hiking her way to Utah for FilmQuest 2017, screening as part of Shorts Block 2 on Friday 8th September from 6pm. FilmQuest celebrates the majesty of genre filmmaking in the realms of fantasy, horror, sci-fi, and beyond, running until 16th September. Connie is in great company as our web series, Mina Murray’s Journal, has also been selected for the festival! Go team Moranic Productions!
What a lot of mileage to cover in just nine days! It’s a US road trip. Sadly, I won’t be the Susan Sarandon to Connie’s Geena Davis for the journey as I enter the third trimester of my pregnancy, but she can hack it on her own. She’s a freebird… *zippo lighter overhead*
Months and months of hard work have now finally paid off! Yes, Blood Shed is now complete! Bringing this unique tale of a guy’s deep, obsessive love for his man-eating shed to life was far from easy, but James Moran and I can now finally celebrate as our short film is unleashed on audiences!
And even better still, we’ve had a terrific response to our trailer, and a flurry of fantastic news through from film festivals! Good news, it seems, is like buses! Long may it continue! I love it when a bus comes on time!
Blood Shed‘s WORLD PREMIERE will take place at the UK’s biggest genre festival – Horror Channel FrightFest, on 27th August! We’re especially thrilled to be part of FrightFest again and screening as one of only twenty-six shorts selected for the festival this year. Having our laughably twisted work recognised in this way is a big honour. We had no idea that our story about a bloodthirsty shed, with an aesthetic inspired by Creepshow and 80s horror, including the fashion and style, would strike a chord in this way.
Back when we wrote the first draft of the script together, last December, James and I could only have dreamed of getting this kind of response. This certainly makes the pain and torment of crowdfunding feel worth it, and we can’t wait to share it with all our pledgers, festival audiences and dare we say it, reviewers (*chews off nails frantically in anticipation*). As co-writer, producer and production designer of the piece, I put my heart and soul into Blood Shed… and she certainly enjoyed eating me up for months on end! But the hard work doesn’t stop now… The marketing and distribution has only just begun, merchandise has been designed and ordered, the extra content and digital goodies are being pulled together for Kickstarter supporters, and the press train is underway! When I see this image of our two amazing stars, Shaun Dooley and Sally Phillips, drenched in blood, it reminds me that they probably had it harder than me on this film!
Though Blood Shed has felt all-consuming (how many references to being eaten can I crowbar into this blog?!), 2017 has been a huge year for me in other respects, too.
Conniecontinues to enjoy success on the festival scene and has even picked up some awards, and festival acceptances are still coming in. Looks like there’s life in the little foul-mouthed puppet film yet! There are numerous festivals that I’m itching to announce, but can’t just yet, but there are some very exciting ones coming imminently, including GenreBlast and FilmQuest, both in the US in September!
My next project as writer/director, Hank: Portrait of a Serial Killer, is now in pre-production, with a view to shooting over the next few months… More on that soon.
This year I’ve also achieved a couple of massive life goals! I successfully completed my second Masters degree, in Professional Media Practice, validated by the University Of Bournemouth. My final project, on slasher films, feminism and psychoanalytic film theory, was the culmination of five years of blood, sweat and tears, and resulted in my original feature film script and insightful research on slasher films and feminism. Having studied previous modules at the Met Film School, Goldsmiths and with the BBC Academy, I learned and grew so much over the five years of study, and so many of my writing and directing projects have been researched, developed or inspired as a result of the MA. Considering I hated school when I was a kid and felt like a complete outsider, it’s hard to believe that I now have two Masters degrees!
But, an even bigger life goal has been unlocked that will make me look rather different in my graduation gown at the MA presentation ceremony in November… James and I are expecting a baby! Yes, a beautiful, no doubt loud, giggly and impatient, little girl! Not only will I be an MA, and MA, I will literally be a MAMA! James and I are both thrilled that we’ll be parents. We can’t wait to meet our little warrior woman and shower her with love.
But, I’m still writing, producing, directing and am generally unstoppable. There’s nothing that Team Moranic can’t achieve. We’ll just have a super cute, extra little team player on our side soon.
I’ve been drowning in production and post-production on Blood Shed and pre-production on Hankthe last two months, so it’s been a while since I posted an update about my beloved Connie!Well, here it is… Don’t ye worry, the little diva is still making waves!
Conniecontinues to thrive on the festival scene, with more award wins and nominations, which is always a lovely, exciting surprise. It’s been almost exactly a year since the film was shot, and writing this kind of update fills me with glee.
Connie has won an Honourable Mention Award at The International Horror Hotel 2017, and screens at the event in June in Ohio, US. Connie has had several screenings in Ohio and has either been nominated for an award or won one at each of those festivals. Big love to Ohio! Thank you for appreciating my work.
Back home here in the UK, Connie also took the Unrestricted View Film Festival in London by storm at the end of April, garnering nominations for Best Short, Best Director and Best Actress! This was a great surprise, but sadly we were unable to attend as we were away at another film festival in Poland. Gosh darnit!
The next UK screening of Connie is currently set for August bank holiday weekend in beautiful Manchester. Manchester is very close to my heart. I lived there for six or seven years and it was the first place I lived that made me feel completely at home. The people, the culture, the architecture, the honesty – I still have a special place in my heart for the city. Yes, Connie will have her Northern UK Premiere at the incredible Starburst International Film Festival.So not only a city I love, but a magazine I love too – all in one festival. Hip hip hooray!
Before she’s let loose on Manchester, Connie will be making her way to Berlin for her German Premiere next month at Final Girls Berlin Film Festival! We’re heading over to attend the festival in person, and in puppet, and can’t wait to see the audience reaction. I love sitting amongst the crowd and watching the screenings – you can hear every giggle, roar, gasp and clap. There’s nothing like it.
Connie has also been selected as part of the prestigious Etheria World Tour 2017/18 and will screen internationally at Etheria events throughout 2017/18 at universities, art galleries, conventions, museums, independent cinemas, year-round travelling horror conventions, partner festivals, pop-up Etheria screenings, official Etheria Women in Horror Month events, and horror/sci-fi/comic conventions. Now that is BIG news – she might be coming to a town near you soon! I’m so thrilled to have my work included as part of such a great line-up and to be working with Etheria. It’s a real honour.
And finally, I’m so very proud that Connieis screening TONIGHT (26/05) at the Seattle International Film Festival! Being selected for an OSCAR qualifying festival is something that I never expected for my tiny film about a very sweary, domineering puppet. It’s a huge festival and one I definitely want to attend in future! So, if you’re anywhere close to Seattle, go along and enjoy.
In other news, Blood Shed is in the edit and we’re still aiming for a festival release later this summer, and Hank is in pre-production and casting. I can’t wait for people to eventually see these two projects. They mean a great deal to me and are a little off-the-wall, but I hope will be really memorable (for all the right reasons)!
After a tiring month-long campaign, Blood Shed hit and exceeded its Kickstarter target on 27th March! James Moran and I are overjoyed. When we embarked on this crazy dream of a man-eating shed, we had no idea that we’d end up with pledges hitting 114% from 166 backers.
We initially aimed for £10,000, so this is a real triumph for us. Yes, Kickstarter takes a share of this for using the platform, and we have to cover the rewards and postage and packing from this amount, but this is still a good sum of money to make a really ambitious short film with. Nevertheless, purse strings will be tight and we want to make Blood Shed the most amazing film that we can, so we’re working round the clock on pre-production and will be squeezing the most from every single penny.
James is directing, I’m producing and we wrote the piece together – our first official writing collaboration – so this is rather a special project for us. It’s come a long way since my initial light bulb moment when I was cooking last November and improvising trailer voice overs for imaginary films! This happens to be how a lot of ideas come to me…
The support we’ve had from pledgers, press, bloggers, industry bods and film enthusiasts has been amazing, as has the support from family and friends. Running a crowdfunding campaign is tough – nothing prepares you for the sheer blood, sweat and tears that goes into it, and the round the clock management is all-consuming. You find yourself working through your sleep, skipping meals, unable to answer personal calls or even go out sometimes. Also, no amount of research into peak times, best times to launch and end, best times to make announcements, types of perks to offer and pricing, etc. really makes much of a difference – there’s a lot of luck and a lot of random peaks and troughs along the way. All the support we had really kept us going and motivated us to keep being creative and interacting in different ways across different platforms. You all helped us to keep the faith!
We shoot the film at the end of April, so just a few weeks away, and we’re hoping to have the film completed in June. The film stars the amazing Sally Phillips and Shaun Dooley, and we’ve an impressive team on board. You can read more about the cast and crew at the official Blood Shed website.
We still have a limited number of perks left, such as signed scripts, limited edition merchandise packs, digital downloads, writing-related perks, and props from the film. These perks are available for purchase from the Blood Shedwebsite until 1st May 2017 only.
I’ll keep posting updates, but more information will be added to the film’s website over time. For now Shedites, thank you. And I’m off for a quick sleep.