Wednesday, 14 January 2015

In the act of it.

Months can go without writing on a blog it seems. In my case anyway. I used to do it more. I've been spending time consumed with traveling, working, writing another book, scripts and short stories so I almost forgot that I actually had a blog, until somebody kindly reminded me. Although I'm not sure of the blog's purpose anymore.

Figured that I should post something though, to keep the spirit of the blog alive, it was what encouraged me to finish my first book, Kingdom of Scars, after all. So I've been asked recently on a few occasions to put up some more stuff. I contemplated something more important, commentaries with my opinion on certain events, but in the end decided to put a poem I wrote a little bit ago. I get asked about poetry, and its liberating to put stuff up here. If you don't like it I'll probably cry a little bit and then forget about it. Or something.

Anyway, another poem. About stuff.

"In the act of it."

He wore his body well.
Like he was always supposed
to be that size.
Strong, heavy, gnarled.
A boxer who was
never supposed to be young.

Curling his lips upwards
into a playful smirk
he never stopped
Maybe he was afraid
to be boring.

His eyes were always moving
taking in everything
but noticing nothing.
It was his world
that he existed within
and anybody else was circumstantial.

I grabbed him once.
Felt the surprising strength
hidden beneath his 
He was a big man 
with hard uncertain movements.

The lights shone,
reflecting the self importance
in his eyes.
Camera rolled, and
his bulk desired complete ownership 
of the room.

He roared. Guttural.
He wanted the world to shake.
In his head it probably did.
But it was like anything else,
it was just was and then it wasn't.

The actor's lot
in fraught with contradictions,
the fear of being forgotten,
the desire to be loved
for nothing real.
A waif of time.

Watching him I considered
Was I the same?
Did it matter?
I was silent upon myself.

Then I stood out of the
Embraced the lights,
and screamed my own
guttural roar,
expecting somebody to care.

My debut novel Kingdom of Scars available now in Ireland, and on amazon and Poolbeg websites with USA and UK release later this year.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Kingdom of Scars. October 1st Release. And Chapter 7.

Tomorrow. October 1st. Kingdom of Scars, my debut novel, is available in published book form in bookshops in Ireland. 

I needed to say that on paper, as it were. Also because I have no insight as to the whimsical nature of Amazon and online ordering outside of Ireland and how long it takes.

So, I am putting up a cheeky chapter here for those who know nothing about the book, which may encourage them to buy the book. Funnily enough this is the only true barometer of a book's success. With film or tv people watch it and it doesn't directly affect me, well it does but it seems that with a book it's far more specific how I promote it, so I actually have to implore people to take a chance and plunge into the depths of my brain for a short period. Also a book is very much a singular activity, no matter how much I would like to hide behind Gaye Shortland, the wonderful woman who helped me edit this concoction of words. I think many of the readers on this blog can appreciate that.

Anyway. In the book, there is some poetry. Obligatory of course. But we cut much of it from the book because I got carried away and it was becoming a book of poetry with a few chapters of a story padding it out, so I will post some of the poems we cut here each week for fun, and again to engage in active and blatant book promotion. Apart from some truly sweet supporters on twitter, for who's kind words and efforts I am very grateful for, it's just me and some sweet friends in PR. It is odd begging journalists to do an article on me and my book and trying to find something worthwhile for them in exchange....unless we're friends and then it's kinda fun...

Anyway, below is a chapter from the book for those who have not yet read it. I am really not sure what chapter to put up, especially as later ones would ruin the story for when people do read it, so I chose a rather tamer chapter I think, and one that's a little shorter, I'm sure I'll regret it later. 

Do I like reading off a screen? - Not at all, so print it out and read it with some coffee and ideally spill some of the coffee on it so it goes yellow and there's a few words you can't quite make out so you have to force your imagination to work overtime......



Kingdom of Scars.


Stealing Never Hurt Anybody

The last vestiges of the day were leaving them and the fishing floats had barely moved. On one occasion it seemed like something might be happening when Jayo’s float was briefly pulled beneath the surface and Washing Machine had leapt up in such excitement that he slipped and almost fell into the water. The float bobbed back up like it was all a big tease and when Jayo reeled her in he found the bait was totally gone and a small crab was hanging to the last bits of flesh. Washing Machine grabbed the little creature before it dropped back into the sea and took great pleasure in smashing it against the wall.
Jayo decided that he’d had enough. “Come on, lads.”
They all stood up promptly as if they had only ever been there to wait for orders from their general. Sam was the last to his feet. The sea had encroached upon much of their path back along the rocks so Jayo climbed up the wall and onto the pier itself. They all followed in his slipstream.

The pier was emptying slowly, some stragglers still enjoying the end of the sunlight. The lads fanned out abreast of each other, feeling intimidating in their little gang of five.
Jayo swept ahead with seemingly no real purpose except that he was heading the group and so had to lead them somewhere. A small dog barked behind them and then a tiny white ball of fun raced forward, skimming in and out of their legs like a fish would in coral. Washing Machine tried to kick out at it but it dodged gracefully then raced back to him happily. After a moment he bent down and patted it gently on the head.

“Sprinkles – here, girl – come here!” a nervous voice rang out behind them.
Sprinkles left her audience and rushed back to the small fat man who bent down to sweep her into his arms protectively. He had seen Washing Machine try to kick her and he caught his eye accusingly.
“Nice dog, mister.” Mouse nodded in greeting, all sarcasm.
“That could protect you from all sorts of birds and frogs. Ferocious!” Jayo added.
The lads laughed, even Sam. The man stood up on creaking legs, clutching Sprinkles tightly to his chest. Without a word he walked brusquely past them.
“Take care of her now,” Mouse warned.
“Yeah, don’t let any squirrels eat her!” Washing Machine added.
Mouse looked at Washing Machine. “Why the fuck would a squirrel eat a dog?”
“I dunno, whatever, fuck off.”
Mouse flicked Washing Machine’s ear and he flicked him back, then Jayo slapped them both like he wanted to play too. Banter always ended whenever Jayo joined in though – they were all too afraid of his schizophrenic switches.

The game was obviously over so Jayo walked on. Sam strode alongside him. The light was almost gone by now as they reached the train station near the laneway leading back to their hideaway and their respective streets.
“Who’s got smokes?” Jayo asked the group.
Jayo smoked more than anybody else but he never actually bought any: this was Washing Machine or Jesse’s job. Mouse would buy his own and reluctantly share if he was in a good mood. Jayo hadn’t said it to anybody in particular but somebody would answer.
“I’ll get some, Jayo.”
“Good man, Washo.”
Washing Machine glided over the ground towards the shop in an excitable fashion similar to the little dog’s. Sam watched him go, and put his hands in his pockets again. He was feeling a little better, the thought of school quite distant now. They leaned against the wall, each in his own fashion, and waited. 

Mouse began carving into the concrete of the wall with a pocketknife.
“Gimme a quote, Jayo?” he grunted.
“Like what?”
“Something, anything, I dunno.”
“‘Ride me’.”
“That’s shite.”
Mouse began carving into the stone with difficulty.
Sam leaned in closer. “Whatcha sayin’?”
“Sammy’s a fag.”
“No, you’re not!”
“I am.”
He was. He had begun on the ‘S’.
Mouse looked at Jayo and they shared a smile. Jesse was drifting off, eyes vacantly gazing at the train station.
“There’s that dog again, lads,” he mumbled.
Sam looked up. Jesse was indicating the little white dog tied against the railings of the pub beside the DART station. The fat man was nowhere to be seen.

Jayo’s eyes narrowed and he stepped forward, suddenly alert. “Let’s take her, lads.”
“What?” Mouse replied.
“Let’s take the fucking dog.”
“Why not?”
This was where Jayo’s nasty streak came into play and when he was in this mood there was nothing that was going to stop him.
“Who’s going to do it?” Jayo challenged the three of them but nobody answered.
“Pussies.” Mouse glowered at the other two.
“You want me to do it?” Jayo asked.
Mouse continued staring at Sam and Jesse, trying to avoid having to say no to Jayo himself.
Again nobody answered which was the same as agreeing. They all knew that Jayo wanted to be the one to do it but by including them he made them accomplices for not arguing against it, or it at least felt like they were.
“I’ll do it then.”

Jayo was in cahoots with himself. Without waiting for a response he strode forward on the balls of his feet, scanning for any sign of the small fat man. He must have gone inside the pub, for a piss maybe. Sam hoped for the small fat man’s sake that he didn’t come out before Jayo had robbed the dog because Jayo didn’t react well to being confronted and in this kind of mood he was liable to do anything. Jayo was across the street in a few brisk strides. Sam watched transfixed as the little dog yapped and flirted brazenly with Jayo – it really didn’t know any better. He grabbed at her lead, pushing her away from him with his other hand. Then once she was free he grabbed her roughly under his arm. Sprinkles yelped with pain at his heavy touch but he ignored her and began marching back across the street at the same time as Washing Machine came back with their cigarettes.

One of the barmen from the pub was standing outside having a cigarette. He was a few years older then they were, perhaps nineteen. He watched the whole event and seemed aware of what was happening but Jayo shot him a look and he averted his eyes. Jayo had that effect.
“I’ll trade ya a shite dog for those smokes, Washo?”
“Sure the box of smokes is bigger than that thing!” Washing Machine whooped to Jayo. 
Jayo winked at Mouse as he strode past them and into the lane. He was playing it cool but you could see his nervous excitement. They all quickly followed. Sam was the last in line and he chanced a look back but the small fat man was still absent. He would regret leaving his dog alone later but who ever thought that their dog would get stolen? Sam felt sympathetic towards him, knowing the upset that he would surely feel. There was nothing that he was going to do, though. He’d had enough of being a social pariah lately so he wasn’t going to do anything.

Once inside the safety of the laneway, the trees and the wall shielding them from view, the lads broke into whoops and cheers. Jayo held the dog aloft as a prize. Sprinkles seemed to enjoy the attention.
“Fuck you, fat man, we got ‘Sprinkles’!”
They passed the little dog around triumphantly and she licked them each in turn, proud to be the centre of attention. Then Jesse carefully put her down on the ground. She was oblivious to what was going on and she barked cheerfully at them, demanding more attention.
Mouse sneered at her. “Little slut, she doesn’t care who she’s with.”
“Bet she loves peanut butter!” Washing Machine laughed.
“Yeah, dirty bitch,” said Mouse.
Sam didn’t understand and he looked at Jesse who wasn’t really paying attention. Mouse caught him glancing at Jesse for support.
“The fat man makes her lick peanut butter off his balls, Samantha – don’t pretend that ya haven’t wanted to try it?”
“Now he can use her. Here, try it out!” Washing Machine picked Sprinkles up by the scruff of her neck and shoved her into Sam’s crotch.
Sam tried to push away but didn’t want to hurt the little dog. She didn’t like this game and turned her head, squealing a little.
“Shut up, ya stupid dog,” Washing Machine growled as he jostled her through the air.

Jayo had lost interest already and started walking up the laneway. Mouse quickly followed and Washing Machine looked lost with the dog in his hands.
“What d’ya wanna do with the dog?” he asked, needing direction.
Jayo shrugged. “Leave her – she can find her own way home, that’s what dogs do.”
Jesse finally piped up. “We can’t, lads – she might run across the road and get knocked down.”
Jayo indicated that it wasn’t his problem with a dismissive wave of his hand and Washing Machine handed Jesse the lead.
“You take her then.”
The dog was thrilled to be back on the ground again. Washing Machine followed the other two boys up the laneway leaving Sam and Jesse with the dog. She sat on her haunches and looked at them expectantly.

Suddenly a voice broke out shrilly. “Sprinkles! Sprinkles! What are you doing with my dog?”
The small fat man had found them and he was waddling towards them as fast as his stubby legs could carry him. The dog turned towards his voice, but seemed nonplussed about his arrival to save her. As he got closer it was clear that he’d been crying. Sam felt guilty, as if it had been all his fault.
“Oh, Sprinkles! You’re okay! Why would you take my dog – why? Did you hurt her?”
Neither Sam nor Jesse had anything to say so they just stepped back and let the man take the dog. He didn’t appear angry – he was hurt and confused that somebody would do something like this to him.
“She’s fine, we didn’t touch her,” Sam reassured him.
The man swept the dog into his arms, clutching her as if it were their last moments on this earth together. It was a little dramatic. The dog even looked a bit embarrassed. Sam nodded to Jesse that it was probably time to leave and they turned away.

Now that he had the dog back in his grasp, the man’s eyes blazed and he almost spat after them: “Who do you think you are, taking somebody else’s dog? Little pricks!”
Jesse raised his eyebrows but shrugged – fair enough. Then the man pushed Jesse. It was a relatively feeble gesture but Jesse had to take a step back, more out of surprise than anything else.
Unfortunately this was the moment that Jayo and Mouse chose to turn back and call for Jesse. Jayo had an almost brotherly affection for Jesse. He never picked on him, and seemed attuned to his sensitive nature. They had a quiet bond which the others never understood and declined to comment on for they couldn’t quite explain it. If the man had pushed any of the others Jayo would possibly have ignored it, but he would always jump to Jesse’s aid. He immediately broke into a run, racing towards them.

The fat man saw Jayo approaching at a sprint and for a moment seemed to consider standing his ground, then thought better of it. He had probably not run as quickly as he did then since he’d been a teenager himself, if ever.
Jayo caught up to him easily with the athletic nonchalance of youth and then stopped short inches from his back, letting the man scurry in fear at how close he was, his breath literally on his neck.
“Keep running, fat man.”
Jayo was generally a purveyor of few words, but what little he did say usually was enough. He waited until the fat man was out of sight before he relaxed his body and turned back to the lads. They all waited until he had reached them before following him up the laneway.
For some reason the fat man made Sam think of Antoinette and, fuelled by illicit thoughts, he left the lads at their spot by the swing to carry on home.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Kingdom Of Scars - A Novel

In September 2012 I published a blog with a chapter from a book I was attempting to write. I had begun writing it in anecdotal form in the year or two prior but was hesitant to continue. Maybe it was just a bit crap and I should steer clear of prose. I had just started writing on this blog and was exploring the possibilities of what blogging could do. I'd never given my fictional writing that wasn't a screenplay to anybody before and didn't know who I should start with. What if I gave it to a friend or colleague and they hated it, or I had to hound them and then got embarrassed. Then I looked at my blog and said fuck it and I posted a very early chapter to see what the reaction was....

I have always wanted to write, as many people have. It's bloody liberating. I have always had dreams about becoming an author, as many people have. It seems so prestigious. There's something intoxicating about being able to say you're a writer, or not just a writer but an author. It seems very difficult though, and it seems even more personal than film making. When you make a film you're collaborating with other people, when you act you're cocooned in the artistic vision of other people, when you're write you're totally alone. Completely alone and naked, and that sucks a little.

My english professor loved my writing in school, or at least he said he did, maybe that was to encourage a shy 14 year old to believe in himself. It eventually worked. He tried very hard to get me to do an English degree. I was afraid of failing or not being good enough so I did science which made sense to me in a roundabout manner. I wanted to study zoology or marine biology, and study animals and write books about them. So I always shyed away from writing, I refused to try and write for anything in college, even when I moved into Psychology by a quirk of the science system whereby psychology was considered a science, and everything revolved around writing and researching. I didn't want people to read my writing. Then because I wanted to make films I had to try and write because if I wanted to be an actor I was essentially forced into making my own projects to learn. But unless it was to be a film I wouldn't write - film was different because it would involve other people - and even in my nascent forays into independent film, (my initial scripts were absolutely terrible by the way, even worse than they are now), I would hide my writing under the idea of the script, the visual element or how I wanted the force of the acting to be more than the dialogue.

This brings me back to posting on this blog. I had started writing fictional anecdotes about a young boy growing up, using some stories I could vaguely remember, creating characters, some based on real people, others just shadows from a memory, using stories I had been told or from some things that had happened to me. It seemed very personal, not just the content but also because I was trying tell a story through words alone without any other artifice to fall back upon. I gave it to one person who never read any of it, or maybe they did and they hated it, so I left it.  Then some people began giving me compliments about some of my films, and it inflated my ego a little. But more than that I began to get some very insightful comments on this blog from people I didn't know, which were not just supportive but also critical. I realised that I could probably get a fair indicator of whether I should continue with this book or not if I posted it. There would be some people who would be polite and supportive no doubt, but equally I expected and hoped for some honest critique - optimistically yearning for complete platitudes of course!

So I posted a rough chapter. And waited. And then hated myself for posting something and then decided to forget about it. Fuck it, what was the worst that could happen, maybe people wouldn't even read it.

I was astounded and humbled, not only by people taking the time to read it but because so many people gave me detailed critiques of my writing. Of my style, of the content, even the grammar! I received comments and mini essays that were clearly from more talented writers than I was. While there was a healthy level of criticism embedded into these comments, there was also a swell of support for my writing - the criticism was very important and I appreciated it. It was this encouragement that gave me the impetus to write more. To write some poetry - which I began to publish on this blog for better or worse - to try my hand at some satire, at some shorts and mainly to continue writing the book.

That blog, the encouragement I received and time taken to plan such concise comments about the book and my writing style was a huge part of the reason why I continued to write the book, now titled 'Kingdom of Scars', and now being published in late September, early October this year with Poolbeg in Ireland, and hopefully the Uk after that. Exact date to be confirmed.

So I want to thank everybody who has taken the time to read my blog over the last few years, for commenting on anything I have written, and for the time and effort taken over that chapter two years ago. It meant an awful lot and I may never have finished this book without that support.

The book is raw, emotional, personal in some parts, honest and hopefully written well enough for people to enjoy it. It's a coming of age story about a young 15 year old boy called Sam, growing up in Dublin and going through his first experiences with sex, drinking, being bullied, trying to be part of gang, and learning about friendship and himself.

I have no idea how well the book will be received but for me getting it published is already the culmination of a dream since I was a teenager. I never expected things to turn out this way, maybe my Dad, or Gerry Haugh or my uncle Don did, all have whom have sadly passed away, but Ill never know. All I know is that it's a little crazy and surreal to me and it's fucking great fun! The aim now is to try and make a film out what's in this book, but that's another story for another day...

Cheers to all you guys reading this.

PS: buy the book and read it please. - said with love!



The photo here is of a young lad from England whom I photographed for the cover of the book. This specific photo is not going to be used, but for me perfectly encapsulates the mood and tone of the book. I ran after Rory when he walked by with his parents, and out of breath, I tried to explain why I needed to photograph their son so badly. There was a little bit of an awkward moment, and I felt a little bit like an eejit but thankfully he was into the idea and he let me drag him away for a hour to photograph him in a French laneway. Probably more because he wanted some time away from his parents than anything I said, I think he thought I was a little weird.

* For all the tech nerds out there the photo was shot on black and white medium format film with a 75mm lens on the Bronica.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

One Billion Rising and something that shouldn't need to be blogged about.

Tomorrow is Valentines Day.

Everybody knows what that means; it's a celebration of love, your relationship, the time to make a little effort for the person that you adore or just really really like enough to pretend to play along with the commercialism of the day and get away with being 'cute'. This really applies to men more than women though let's be honest, and Valentines Day is very much considered a day for men to surprise and cherish women, make an effort. Right? There's nothing subtle about it! Well Eve Ensler and One Billion Rising have very cleverly chosen this day as the main focal point for their organisation.

Anybody who has read my blog or my twitter before knows that I love tweeting provocatively about small dogs and inane occurrences, and writing poetry and making films or trying to be vaguely amusing (to myself anyway), but some things are far more important and I hope that this is read and encouraged far more than anything I've done relating to my own personal acting exploits or odd ramblings.

So on this blog I am going to try and talk about sexual violence and abuse against women. Because it is something that happens all the time, in colleges, universities, work places, everywhere, and there needs to be more said about it:

"On February 14, thousands of events will take place in hundreds of countries and on six continents, where participants will gather to fight specific issues happening in their communities."

I am not going to use this blog to preach much about figures, or to say the same things that are being stated on the 1 Billion Rising website because if people are really interested then they can click the links below and see for themselves. Besides, would anybody honestly be surprised at the figure of 1 in 3 women being raped or beaten or sexually abused in their life time? Women probably wouldn't. I, as a man, was surprised when I first heard it. I have more than 3 female friends and relatives in my own life so even taking whatever variable you would like to into account that is a scary figure. So what am I saying, what is the pointed message that I am making? It's mainly that I hope more men than women actually read this blog and that it impacts them. I doubt that you find a woman anywhere who will dismiss this idea, this blog or Eve Ensler and her organisation, but I would expect far more men will politely ignore it. Not out of any devilishness, nor even ignorance most like, but because it's not really very socially cool and is probably considered more of a 'woman's thing', (I'm not quoting anybody specifically there, it just seemed appropriate as that is a general vibe that I have noticed in my life time, which maybe until now I didn't really notice too consciously).

That brings me to the question of why am I getting involved, is there a specific reason that I am ardently trying to bring awareness to this issue? Yes. Yes and no. Yes, because of course I know people who have had things happen to them, bad things, and not so bad things; things that affect them long term and things that don't but simply shouldn't even have to be considered as a situation in the first place, ever. And No. No because there shouldn't need to be a reason to stimulate my interest and support. There shouldn't need to be an event that occurs to a friend or loved one to spark an outrage or support, not least because most men will never be aware of any of this happening to their loved ones. They may never be aware, and if they're not aware then it doesn't really exist does it. But it does, and everybody should be aware.

I will admit to entirely understanding any hesitance in supporting this cause, or talking about it. It seems so glaringly obvious that there's no need to discuss it, it's uncomfortable. Let somebody else fix it. There's charities, society has always been like this, it's such a deep seeded issue anyway so why waste time talking about it? Well no, let's talk about it because it is uncomfortable. 
Honestly, I was reluctant to go too deep into the issue because as a man you automatically feel a little like the enemy. I did anyway; I only tentatively stuck my toe into these waters initially because I felt stupid, like my male friends would judge me a little, or that my female friends would think there was some subterfuge going on. There will always be playful barbs, jokes, that's the way of life, but it's also a locker room mentality that exists in all walks of life and it is correct that many times men do things is to impress women. So yes, I entirely understand why this issue is not cool for guys to get involved in, or for there to be an element of bravado about the topic, but that could just be me. I am only on the cusp of understanding what I can do myself so I'm not naive enough to preach and act like I know everything. I just want to help, and to raise awareness, and make it painfully clear that this is something that MEN should be interested and involved in, because that's sort of the point. To what extent should they be more involved, well maybe creating a feeling that taking advantage of women, or abusing them is something that other men will react to more vehemently, and that it's not okay to have an undercurrent swimming around society, that it will not be tolerated.

I have had only a limited exposure so far to this organisation, and have only just touched upon what I would like to do, but the most glaring problem that I have noticed is the distinct lack of men involved. Not that they're aren't any but just that it is very much a women's club at the moment. I hope that I'm wrong, and that could even be my own misconception from years of embedded subtle social misogyny and I'm only seeing how few men are involved so I'm not used to it maybe. If I'm correct then this is part of the problem, more men simply need to be actively involved so that it becomes part of the norm to talk about it, in schools and universities not just in the workplace and on blogs and newspapers. Women can encourage their friends and boyfriends to be involved by asking to talk about it, and even actively encouraging them to take part - there is a lot of power in the disappointed female gaze!

This is far more important than Valentines Day and yet for men it is very inter-related. If your wife, girlfriend, sister, friend knows that you're more interested in being involved in this concept that will garner you a lot more browny points than some roses and a few nice chocolates. (Unless they're Godiva, then maybe go with the chocolates!).

So click the links below, read more about it, maybe it's too late to be involved tomorrow, but it's ongoing really, it's not just a Valentines Day fad, unlike plastic love hearts. Even if you don't want to support One Billion Rising, and I haven't gone into detail about their organisation itself over the world, because you can see yourself below, then just have a conversation about it with your friends, and bring an awareness of it as being an actual serious issue that happens every day to somebody that you care about.

Here is the One Billion Rising website:

And here is an article from the Huffington Post with Eve Ensler:

There is also an organisation for Men to get involved directly, if they want to avoid Eve and take a more masculine approach:

It should also be noted that I have more followers than @VDAY. Which is in itself a problem right?!


Much love


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Stale Sweat and Beer

I was blogging at a far superior rate when I first began this blog but the last 6-9 month have seen a distinct regression in my blogging activities, which I intend to rectify. Although I have said that before. One of the most enjoyable aspects of writing my blog, apart from having some communication over my work and projects, was the encouragement that I received at various points regarding my writing. I posted a very rough draft of a chapter from my virginal book and was surprised at the interest and critical commentary that followed which kick started my own interest and vigour in finishing it. Which I duly have. I'll post another chapter later this week, and then figure out where I go from here with the finished book. I may not have made the decision to persevere with the book if I had not posted it initially.

I'd like to make a side note about 'Cold', the film which many of you reading this blog have contributed to or encouraged in some fashion, and have no fear you are not forgotten! The film is in a period of hiatus whilst I re-edit some sequences and figure out the best approach to releasing it, which is the only reason that it has gone quiet since Galway.....but I will arrive with more news soon..I'll send a private scene from the film to all the contributors in the next weeks to keep the appetite whetted.

Anyway, it's been a while since I last posted a poem, so I'm going to kick start my renewed attempts at blogging with one that I wrote over Christmas whilst waiting for a friend to join for a drink in a small bar in Dublin.

"Stale sweat and beer"

The smell of stale
Wet beer
Salt, lemon and dirt
Covers his fingers
And he runs them through his
Greasy hair quickly.

His skin is shiny
With a thin sheen of sweat
That sticks to
The inside of his shirt
And darkens the colour
To a hard blue.

Noises rush around his
Shaken head;
Taps fizzing, tills clicking
Voices rising and falling
Like the tide in a storm,
Changing unannounced.

His legs ache from the
Working day,
His toes cold where wet
Beer spilled down off
The counter
And soaked through his shoes.

It's hard to like people
On these heavy days
When etiquette
Leaves their faces
For the lowly barman
Who is simply there to serve.

He pauses for a moment
To take a sip
From his warm whiskey,
Savouring the heat
And crunching down on
The bitter lemon between his teeth.

Turning back
To the audible rush
Roaring about his face;
A spittle mixed cacophony
Of noise lewdly
Jostles for supremacy,

And he immediately wishes
That he was still
Sucking the lemon.
Confused tired faces
Gesticulate wildly for
Their chosen beverage.

He ignores them all
And walks to the
Far end of the bar,
Blocking out the
Wave of sound
That steeps his vision.

An old man sits there,
Lonely and welcoming.
He nurses a Guinness
Fondly, resting
His fingers lightly
On the cold glass.

Looking up from
Beneath a furrowed brow
his eyes dance.
The liveliness exciting
His old bones.
Giving him life.

He smiles at the barman,
Acknowledges the
Chaos around,
Then sips from his
Pint slowly,
still smiling.

The barman watches
Him for a moment
Then accepts his fate,
But brings part
Of the Old Man back
To the chaos with him

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Inside 'The Inside'

The Inside.

Where to begin on this one, it's been a strange sort of a journey on this little film. I'll begin this blog at the conception of the film and the idea itself and let it develop from there, cos that's the best way to do these blogs.

I'm currently eating strange american oreo biscuits that taste vaguely of peanuts. Just as point of reference.

** Note ** This blog, and the below video behind the scenes documentary is definitely spoiler ridden, but equally may enhance aspects of the film when you're aware of the ideas inherent in the piece. Or not. I've told you anyway, so I abdicate myself of any further responsibility. **

Just a little beginning note, The Inside premiered last year, August 2012, at Frightfest, London, UK, the biggest horror film festival in Europe, before having it's Australian premiere at Monster Fest, the biggest horror film festival in Australia, which was an awesome manner in which to open this film. Just so you know, cos I'm quite proud of that.....


The Inside was an idea that I conceived in a coffee shop one day whilst observing a homeless man get some change off two school girls with an undercurrent of malice behind his movements. It's not as tenuous a link as it sounds, I had a few weeks few where I wasn't working, and myself and Emmett Scanlan had been discussing various short film ideas and comedy skits. Then I thought about what would be the easiest and simplest project to make, one that I could get released and experiment with, and that would be a horror/thriller film. I had been fascinated with the idea of recreating some of the natural spontaneity that was evident in my acting classes in New York with Nina Murano studying Meisner, so marrying the two together made sense. I had wanted to create a framework where the actors could explore the real moments that were sometimes elicited in class, and not follow the usual filming structure. To this end I decided that the film began with the homeless men terrorising the group of young girls, for a myriad of reasons. It's a basic concept, but one that felt very real and plausible, and that allowed me to have 9 actors in one room at one time engaging with each other in real moments. I wrote dialogue, but kept it rough, mainly focusing on the actual story and movement beats, where the scene flowed from A to B to C to Y etc for a visual and movement scenario, culminating in the end of the scene which would then initialise the next act, or the beginning of the horror. I had wanted to shoot the entire twenty four pages in one shot. It eventually became three shots, but such was the energy and intensity of the takes, each lasting about 9 minutes as I split the bulk of the scene into two parts with a final 4 minute piece, that we could only actually do two takes per 'scene'. In fact when we finished after each take my sound recordist, Brendan Campbell, immediately did the rounds with the girls to check that they were okay such was the sheer emotion and intensity in the room. It really was an incredibly visceral experience and justified the entire endeavour just to have created those moments. Brian Fortune came to me a few days later to tell me that he couldn't sleep for the next few days because he had felt so truthful and connected to the darkness of his character that it scared him. That's one of the aspects of this film that I'm most proud of, the actors were all genuinely connected and gave fabulously real performances across the board, which is what brings the film to life, their realism. The fear, terror and angry emanates from them like a wave and pulls you into the movie, precisely as it was designed to do. I take great pride in this, not simply because I choose excellent actors, but because the environment was created to allow them to react and be believable. In all honesty, shooting this film where we did, in a disused old 3 storied house, with an underground catacomb, at night, in winter, really made it a dirty, cold and genuinely terrifying experience, and that comes across on the screen. When Kellie Blaise seems terrified going down those catacombs, it's because she was, and she simultaneously respected and hated me for doing that to her!

The rest of the film evolved from the idea of these scenes. I decided that the best, and most justifiable manner for a demonic creature to arrive would be from a calling of some sorts, like in all the best horror films, the demon is summoned. In this instance it is summoned by the pure evil of these men and their projection of anger and suffering. They are the worst examples of what humanity can offer, and that is what attracts the creature, the pure negative energy, which is what I associate ghosts and spirits with, negative and positive energies. When the creature does arrive
however it doesn't differentiate between good and evil, and simply embodies a primal horror, laying waste to everything in it's path. The film then becomes a simple first person horror film until it's denouement. I did initially film with a second camera shooting in a conventional third person style, and had hoped to be able to marry the two styles and cross between them both. This was the original plan, and what I think would have worked better, it would have opened it up. After the first day I realised how problematic this was however, as lighting the scenes for a conventional set up as well as in the rough and tumble first person style, where I operated the camera and so could choose my angles and frames instinctively was impossible with just 5 days and very little prep and the minimal crew that we had. So I reluctantly abandoned that idea and stuck to just the one camera, the first person blair witch type idea. The opening act of the film was the main section that I had problems with in the end, as the film was an experiment all the way through, and the first few days (of a 5 day shoot, with eventually 1 and a half pick up days), were figuring out that style and I was torn between using both that it suffered until I settled on the one technique. I had maybe too many characters to begin with, and it made it difficult because of the style of the film, to fully empathise with anybody in particular. The visual style that I ended up using I was very happy with, it really worked for so many moments, and for the central attack section it couldn't have been executed any better or filmed in a different way, it would have removed the visceral nature of it. The horror sequences in the second half of the film are really accentuated by the first person camera by not being able to fully make out the environment or see what's going to happen.

The beginning and ending of the film, shot with myself acting, and with David Laird DPing with Eimear Ennis Graham (DP on Cold), was shot almost 13 months after the original film was completed. I realised I needed the pick ups, but because I was working I could never get the actors I wanted back or the availability of the location at the right time, and so we waited... . Both David and Eimear worked with me also on Stalker and Charlie Casanova, and eventually it made more sense to have them shoot it, and I'd just act, cos it's what I've done a few times, and they're both very I ended up in this film, entirely circumstantially, but that's how it goes. Once we had shot my scenes, and I had edited in the new top and tail, I handed it over to Kevin Whyms who proceeded to do a magnificently dark and fucked up score, like I knew he would. Greg French had done the initial sound design - the original intention had been to have no music, and just a crazy chaotic sound design but with the new ending it needed an actual score to lift it at moments, and it was awesome, Greg is a talented fuck, but it ended up needing the cinematic atmospheric kick. Kev did the trick. His score is now one of my favourite things about the film, as it always is, along with the performances, which are all immense in this film.

 I have been asked, on numerous occasions where the darkness for the film came from, and if I have a love for horror films, and I must be honest, horror films scare the shit outta me. I could barely watch REC, and couldn't finish watching REC2 at first, in fact being made to watch The Exorcist is my idea of torture. I once watched The Ring alone late at night in Los Angeles, couldn't sleep all night, and had to go walking at 4am. So no, I am not a horror film buff. In actuality it would have helped had I been because I was a little bit egotistical regarding this film and did minimal research, must to the chagrin of my co-producer Franco Noonan, who adores horror and tried to get me to do a few more months research and sit down and watch as many films as possible. I declined, because I had wanted to go in with a relatively fresh eye. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. The day that we finished shooting I heard of a film called 'Paranormal Activity', which I went and watched, and was a little dismayed. I only watched REC and REC2 after completing the film, and having watched those since and analysing my own film I have seen multiple ways in which I could have improved it.

One of the big regrets that I have is that I didn't explore more of the actual creature physically on screen. Myself and Franco spent a while trying to get the right look for the creature, and I wanted it to be humanoid, and influenced by Stephen King's monsters. I wanted it to be a little like the Descent also, slow, but being able to move instantaneously without being seen, and yet achingly slow when being watched, an inexorable sort of evil. Nadia Macari did an incredible job with the make up and designed this epic visualisation on the actor Patrick Moynan, with a grotesque spine and a latex face. I had wanted the film to be mainly psychological however, as part of the experiment of the idea, and to that end I only wanted brief glimpses so as to leave it more up to the imagination. The creature was so expertly designed though that it was a travesty not to use him more. I had only 5 nights to shoot as I have said, and 5 nights is no time to shoot a feature, let alone a decent short, so there was no time to change anything, it was structured from a time point of view. When we then did pick ups, it was impossible to get Patrick back, and the make up had been too expensive to react. A genuine missed opportunity. C'est la vie. Interestingly enough however, many people came to me, with mixed reactions of disgust and 'enjoyed shock' at the violence of some of the sections, yet there is very little actual violence on screen, it is all seen off camera or massively implied (well most of it), but you 'feel' like you've seen things, and you project onto the characters the fear for them, and the pain they feel. The same with the creature, people feel they saw him enough, or he was shocking enough to make an impact, so maybe it completely worked. That's the beauty of film making, you always feel that you can do things better, but sometimes things simply work and are what they are, and The Inside is what it is, and it is one of those films that is an entirely subjective experience, which suits me just fine!

Here is the behind the scenes documentary, enjoy, and hopefully if you liked the blog and doc you can go watch the film....BUT, you have to watch it alone, and at night. One thing I did discover is that it's very much a loner type of horror, it's not a social movie, or a cinema film, it's suited to the style I designed it for, being alone, in a dark room, with an open door behind you at all times.....and headphones on....go on....try me. I'm right......

THE INSIDE is available across the UK and Australia with Monster Pictures Distribution, the amazon link is below, it is also available in Sainsburys and various stockists, which like when Christian Blake got released across USA in Barnes and Noble in dvd form is a massive kick for me. The Inside will be released across USA prior to Halloween this year, and keeping following my blog, twitter, instagram or whatever social media outlet I will be slaving away to for more updates.


Thursday, 12 September 2013

A little bit of Merlin photographic retrospective perspective

I was asked if I had any more photos since I published this blog, so I dug out 7 or 8 more, and posted them below. These are from series 4, episode 8, 'Lamia', when the knights turn against each other and guests stars Charlene McKenna...

Hope this makes a few people happy....kudos


This is not so much a blog as a little photo diary of some portraits and behind the scenes photos that I took when i was on Merlin during season 3. I stopped taking photos for the other two seasons, I'm not sure why, but when you're on a series it becomes less interesting photographing people as time wears on. On a film set it has a very finite time frame and so I find it more exciting to take pictures. On a series there always seems to be months still left.

And then there isn't, because it's finished.

I regret not taking more photos, and resolve to do so more frequently in the future....

Merlin was a superb group of actors, and crew, very talented actors, and wickedly interesting here's a wee selection of some photos, and some casual portraits....I can't get in trouble any longer now can I.....

I was going to put these photos in some semblance of an order, and maybe give some history.

But I haven't.

Because that's actually a lot of work on this blog and I'm too lazy.