Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Brindle Fish Recommends - Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Time for something a little different. Every now and then I'm going to post about a film I think people should see, one that they possibly haven't. I'm not going to bore you by reviewing everything I watch, these posts exist only for special cases.

So here goes...

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2011)

Here's a film that - rather unfairly - slipped by cinema releases, wasn't well marketed and faded into the background of DVD sales. Unfortunately the trailers for the movie are loaded with spoilers and ruin pretty much the whole film so I beg of you, don't go looking for a trailer. Just watch the damned movie.

Tucker and Dale (the always-awesome Alan Tudyk and Taylor Labine) are two good hearted guys who have bought a ruined old cabin surrounded by woodland, with the dream to restore it to a beautiful holiday home. On their way to the cabin in a dilapidated pick up truck, they bump into a group of obnoxious college students who are going camping in the very same woods and thus begins a series of grossly misinterpreted meetings as the college kids become terrified of the genial pair, mistaking them for crazy murderin' hillbillies. As the misunderstandings pile up, Tucker and Dale find themselves in a very sticky, gory situation.

It's a self-reflexive play on the killers in the woods theme, and anyone who has seen the Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Hills Have Eyes will recognise the events as they unfold, except instead of insane homicidal maniacs we have a couple of sweet but socially awkward blue collar boys just trying to fix up their holiday cabin and perhaps have the opportunity to talk to some pretty girls, if that's too much to ask.

You don't need to be a horror buff to enjoy it. The plot is smart enough and the writing is frequently funny. The two leads are likable, lovable even. Tudyk (Firefly, Dodgeball) is a joy to watch as Tucker, all too aware of how things are spiralling out of control but powerless to stop events. Labine steals the movie as sweet but slow Dale, who has the best intentions in the world but keeps making things worse. Highly enjoyable fun and gruesome giggles.

It's dead cheap, though it only hit DVD in September. I bought the Blu-Ray even though it doesn't have many extras, just the commentary and photo gallery, but I wanted to support the guys who made it because it sucks that a great and funny film can risk sinking without a trace. This film is actually my inspiration for starting these "recommends" posts, I hope you get to see it, and I hope it makes your smile muscles hurt as much as mine did!

Check out the reviews on amazon -

Tucker & Dale vs Evil on DVD
Tucker & Dale vs Evil on Blu-Ray

And here's the IMDB page.

Just to re-iterate, If you're going to watch it, don't go near a trailer!

Monday, 16 April 2012

New headphones on the way!

I managed to get a really great price on a set of monitor headphones the other week. Something I've been after for a long time. I'm finding that my everyday headphones just aren't cutting the mustard when it comes to picking up all the audio through a mic, plus they don't block out external noise very well, and the lead is too short when I'm plugged into the camera too (admittedly a problem easily solved with an extender lead). I plumped up for the Sony MDR V600, the cheaper version of the MDR V6 (the industry standard monitor set which is out of my price range). When they finally arrived, they were already broken. I got my money back but I felt a bit cheated. I logged back online and I saw that Amazon had the original MDR V6- previously unaffordable - reduced to a really reasonable price. I could - theoretically - afford them. It would leave me broke for the month, but having these phones would be such a boon not only to filming but also to editing. I've wanted a good set for so long! So I've taken the plunge.

The phones are pretty much the benchmark phones used for audio work. They don't colour the sound or emphasise the bass like many consumer headphones, they give you the pure unaltered audio, which is important when you're mastering sound. I've had a play with them before, the build quality is sturdy and they feel really nice on the head. The lead is "curly" like a telephone lead so it has some give and stretches far. It won't just wrench the phones off your head when you take one step too many away from the camera. Most importantly, the audio quality is stellar.

The price on amazon is good (£85 - they are often up for over £120). If you want to take advantage of it yourself, get there through this link:

Do you use Amazon?

I'm an Amazon affilate so if my wafflings persuade you to buy anything I get a little kickback. It's money I can put towards tape costs or buying a new external hard drive! If you're feeling super nice, use the search box on the right hand side of this page next time you order anything on Amazon. If you get to their site through my page then anything you buy nets me revenue, and every little bit helps! It's a way that you can really help me out and you won't need to do anything out of the ordinary. Hell if you're feeling amazingly nice, you can bookmark my blog for easy reference. Well, it can't hurt to ask :-)

Other work

Still putting the Houdini footage together from Soup Studios. Once that's done I'm going to start moving over the captured footage from the New Project, it's still sitting on tapes unviewed and untouched! It's going to be fun putting a narrative together again after working with gigs and performances. Got a lot of good footage from Frazer's place in Watford, I'm excited to see it.

What's next?

A cup of tea, I think!


These phones are now UNDER £70 on Amazon. I'm a chump for not waiting longer. But this price has never been better, that I've seen. Get them!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Second half of the New Project filmed!

After multiple delays and cancellations over the past few months, Frazer, Mark, Boppy the tomcat and myself finally reconvened at Chez Fraz in Watford to finish shooting the footage for our ten minute long video project.

(click the "new project" tag for more posts about the project)

We had already got the first half of the project in the bag in February so we only had half the scenes to shoot. Last time we took a while to get the ball rolling but this time we were quicker. We knew were to store the bags, how to set the rooms up, and we learned lessons last time. We got filming quickly and the day moved along at a good clip. We started early and, to my surprise we finished early, by 7pm.

We didn't break for lunch (again) but we snacked on biscuits and crisps throughout the day. Which got me thinking, is it better to graze during a film shoot or break for lunch? The hour we saved was certainly a bonus and I never felt hungry as the day went on. I only wish I'd bought better food, there's only so many Oreos a man can eat in one day and still function fully. Towards the end I was feeling like a bit of a monster.

On the subject of filming, what I found interesting was that no matter how well prepared we felt for a scene, we would always find ourselves re-inventing it. There was always this gap between theory and practice, but on a Friday in a house in Watford the gap felt massive. What we planned in our heads or on paper just seemed so different when people were actually acting it out in front of you. We re-assessed and reworked every scene collaboratively, paced around the house and tried ideas out, finding what works and what doesn't. Even something as simple as walking to the fridge while on the phone became a tricky puzzle. I'm not sure if we were overthinking it or perhaps just seeing things properly for the first time. There's so much that we do unconsciously, and when asked to replicate natural behaviour for the camera suddenly even basic movement becomes surreal. Well, none of us are trained or even practised at any of this stuff, so we're learning a lot as we go! Hopefully that theory/practice gap will be a bit smaller next time.

Still, we got the lot done, I got to see Frazer play a few minutes of Dark Souls on the 360 (looks great!) and Mark and I cracked open some cold beers on the cab ride home. The cab company sent a nice spacious black-cab style car so we got to stretch our legs and pretend it was a limo.

Very happy with how it all went. I'm yet to see the footage as I'm still working on the Soup Studio session video and I need to keep everything compartmentalised.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Updates and cake

Been working in the evenings/weekends on the Soup Studio footage I got the other week. I taped Frau Pouch and Houdini as they were recording their split single, so I got to hang out in the studio as they did two songs each and I wandered around with a camera. I'm putting together footage from one song for each band, so each will have a little behind-the-scenes promo video to go with the song. I've mostly assembled the Frau Pouch video, it's coming together well but I was hoping that the videos would be more dynamic. They're certainly not static, but the problem is that I was taping a recording session in the live room so it doesn't have the crowd energy or intense contrast in lighting, banter or sweaty intensity of a gig, which is what I have filmed before. I'm probably being harsh on myself, it is still looking good, and I've got more than enough footage to cover everything I am very happy to say. The colour and quality of the Canon XL1S is wonderful. I also used a small camcorder so I could capture two angles at once and the sharpness of the image is surprisingly good, but the colour is very washed out. I will try and fix that as much as I can with Final Cut so the two different cameras don't look so disparate. I'm really enjoying piecing the whole thing together. The different playthroughs have moderately different timings so a little patience is required to make sure everything fits visually with the music, it's not just a simple drag and drop this time. But it's fun and I'm learning. I'm not making perfect videos yet, sometimes the control I have over the images I capture is less than I'd like, but I'm on the right road.

Might be going back to the studios one evening to tape Greg from Houdini recording his vocals, as the vocal track has not yet been recorded. It makes sense to do this, it would be jarring to see the band performing in the live room with no-one singing and to have a disembodied vocal over the video. I'm actually quite excited to get back there with Greg, the studio has a really nice vibe and the gear on display is fascinating. I love the work and I adore the music!

I got my business cards in the post recently, from moo.com. The cards are great, I highly recommend the (excellent) site if anyone is looking to print their own. I got them made because when I was taping the David Lynch themed gig night, three different people asked me for a business card. All I could do was shrug my shoulders and shout my email address over the crowd noise. I look forward to giving some out eventually, makes me feel a tiny bit less than "just some guy with a camera". Which is blatantly what I am, but let's not tell anyone.

No-one at work reads this blog, so I can freely admit my sins here. Today is someone's birthday in the office and to celebrate they brought in cake this morning. Three cakes actually. There was a super chocolatey cake, a lemon meringue and a bilberry tarte from Paul's Patisserie. FROM PAUL'S PATISSERIE.

I didn't know which to choose so I took a slice of each and received some funny looks as I returned to my desk with 3 slices of cake. A good breakfast. The bilberry tarte was absolutely perfect. . I went back to the kitchen at lunchtime to brew a cup of tea and I saw that all the cake was gone, save a fat slice of the bilberry tarte from Paul's. Man, people have no taste. I felt bad taking the whole thing so I cut it in half, so there were now two tiny slices. It seemed silly to take one tiny slice and leave the other. I ate one in the kitchen while no-one was looking and took the last slice back to my desk to have with my tea. It was a Paul's fruit tarte, what the hell was I supposed to do.

You would have done the same.

More coming soon, in time I'll be able to get the finished Frau Pouch/Houdini vids up. Watch this space!