Wednesday 12 December 2012

A couple of updates

While we spent the last few days writing, shooting, and editing Santa Charles the Christmas Dog, we also saw Survival break 500 views!  

I just want to say thanks to everyone who's shown us their support, and ask you all to please keep sharing Survival and Charles with anyone you think might enjoy them!

Oh, one other thing - if anyone has any ideas for extra features they'd like to see for what we've done so far, or future projects, then please leave a comment here, write on our Facebook page, or tweet us @Ninchilla.

Wednesday 21 November 2012


Major announcement time - the next Ninchilla Films production will be a short, not-very-serious sci-fi film called "The Local".

Confession: I'm never sure how much to make public about upcoming projects.  It's a bit of a dilemma, I suppose; loving what we're doing and wanting to tell everyone, vs. wanting to wait until everything's ready.  As I get a little more ambitious with the writing, though (and I suspect this will apply to all our projects going forward), we're probably going to need some help.

Before too long (hopefully), we'll move from pre-production into production - the script is in good shape, and we're almost ready to start looking at locations, gear hire, and casting.

As I mentioned, we'll need some help - we've got three main parts to cast, and will need a few extras, too - so if you know anyone that might be interested, point them in this direction!

Friday 9 November 2012

Process, or: writing is rewriting

Warning - slightly rambling train of thought follows.

Writing can be really easy sometimes, or really hard.  If I've got a specific idea in mind for how a scene goes, then sometimes it just flows out onto the page, and it works great.  Other times, it can drip, and no amount of coaxing helps.  Maybe I just have to accept that some days will go better than others.

One of the things that can make stuff harder, for me anyway, is characterisation.  When I'm writing a scene, I try to be in everyone's head, and have the whole conversation.  I tend to get very attached to all the characters, and that usually means that if I'm writing a stressful, depressing, or angry scene, the characters' emotions can get a bit overwhelming at times.  More than once, I've had to walk away for a cup of tea to try and calm myself down.

Friday 2 November 2012

Project updates

There's been a lot of writing going on these parts lately - as mentioned on Twitter, a sudden unexpected bolt of inspiration hit earlier in the week, and as a result I have first drafts for not one but two new projects sitting on the desk in front of me!

One is the non-genre drama mentioned in the previous update, which has been in the works for a couple of weeks now - it's been pretty tough to break down and write, so the next stage is to get some more eyes on it and see if it's done what I wanted it to do.

The second is a new short that I bashed out over the past couple of days - a slightly odder concept (being, as it is, vaguely sci-fi), but possibly a more straightforward shoot.

So, next week may well see Ninchilla Films back on a pre-production footing, trying to rustle up some locations and cast.  Fingers are well-crossed, and with any luck we'll have more to show you soon - in the meantime, keep sharing Survival (now at 375 views)!

Monday 22 October 2012

A Slight Change of Plans

Initially, the idea was to follow Survival immediately with a much larger project - possibly a full feature.  However, as I've put (a lot of) work into the plotting, planning, and scheduling of that film, it's become pretty clear that I might be trying to bite off more than I can chew with that one - at the moment.  So the bad news is that our Big Sci-Fi Extravaganza™ will unfortunately have to wait a little longer.

Instead of the feature, then, I'm working on another short.  It's still early days yet, but I'm confident that broadening our portfolio and gaining more experience will give us a better shot at making our feature debut as good as I want it to be.

This post is vaguer than I'd like it to be, but I'll tell you everything I can as soon as possible.  In the meantime, thanks for reading my ramblings, and watching my movies!

Friday 12 October 2012

Site cleanup

I've spent some time today tidying up the Projects area of the site, so that the links there now lead to individual pages for each movie, which will link to the video, as well as any extras that we've produced - this will keep everything together, rather than only having a link to stuff like the Survival outtakes video in the blog post announcing it.

If there's anything else that you'd like to see, just post a comment either on the blog, or the project pages themselves, and we'll see what we can do.

Work's also continuing on the next movie - the script is finished, and storyboarding is underway, among other things - and I continue to be both excited and terrified by the potential scale of this thing - not long now, and hopefully we'll have some announcements to make.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Survival - outtakes!

In ongoing promotion efforts, I'm working on expanding the amount of material that's available on the film - starting today with a selection of outtakes!

Obviously this is just a small sample (there are 11 takes of Eric's fall!), but I think it gets across some of the fun we had over the three days shooting Survival in Hartshill Hayes and Nuneaton.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Survival vs Charles

In only week and five days after it went live, Survival has now surpassed our first release, Charles the Grammar Dog, in the number of views on YouTube!  The stats now stand at 217 views for Survival to Charles' 205 - so not a big lead, but I'm really impressed at the attention we've got.

Please, keep sharing Survival as much as you can, and let everyone you talk to know where to download Thomas' awesome soundtrack.

Preproduction work is continuing on the next film, and hopefully we'll have some more news to share soon!

Monday 24 September 2012

Survival OST!

Survival's been out for a couple of days now, and we've had some great feedback.  I hope everyone who's watched it is as impressed with Thomas' music as I am - and for those of you who want to hear it a little clearer, you can download the soundtrack for free right now!

Survival OST (11.2 MB, MP3)

Work starts properly on the next project now - more updates on that soon!

Friday 21 September 2012

Survival: Final Update - Here It Is.

After what seems like a long time, everything's finally come together - Survival is finished.

This is a strange moment; it feels like this has taken up almost every waking moment since we started on preproduction back in June; getting everything organised has been a huge effort by everyone involved, and I can't thank those who helped us enough.  Special mention, of course, to the cast, Amy, David, and Katie, for being willing to spend a couple of days in the forest in muddy clothes, to Thomas for the awesome score (which will be available for download soon!), to my wife Sarah for all the support and suggestions, and to both our parents - Niall and Frances, Neil and Denise - who put up with all the random requests and requirements, and looked after the props and gear as it was being delivered before the shoot.

The final running time is 12' 49", according to YouTube, so if you've got 13 minutes to spare, get over there, and then share it with everyone you meet!

I hope you enjoy it!

Monday 17 September 2012

Survival: Update #9 - Scoring

Everything's been very quiet on the site for a while; you have my apologies for that, but work is continuing! I've started on some preproduction for the next project (more on that at a later date), but the scoring process for Survival is also well under way.

As mentioned in previous posts, the music is being written and performed by Thomas Cosgrove, my brother.  He's come up with a lot of great stuff, and iterates on any feedback extremely quickly - most of the score is done now, and once we're happy that the mood is set, it should just be a matter of mixing it in around the dialogue, and then release should follow shortly.

Stay tuned!

Friday 7 September 2012

Survival: Update #8 - Mixing it Up

Onwards and upwards, as they say.  Progress at this point is steady, but I'd forgive anyone watching for thinking it's slow; sound mixing is something I'm even newer to than editing video, so it's a learning process as much as it's a creative one.

The main thing I've learned is that I should avoid extremes when mixing stereo channels (I don't know if my software is able to do a 5.1 mix, but I have a feeling that even if it could, it'd just drive me mad).  Even stuff like fading ambient sound between shots to remove or reduce sudden changes isn't something I'd considered before I got to this stage.

Short version: I have even greater respect for audio engineers from this point.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Survival: Update #7 - Roughing It

Not many of these left to go, I imagine - because... [drumroll] the first rough cut is done! It's been rendered out to a single file, and watched while sitting on a sofa in front of a TV, instead of an office chair in front of a PC.

There's still some work to do - a couple of frames to shave here and there, some sound effects to add, and a fair bit of work on the mix - but overall, I'm so far extremely happy with how well it's looking.

Can't wait to share it with everyone!

Monday 3 September 2012

Survival: Update #6 - coming soon

Editing is ongoing, but I've decided to put out a little teaser for the project.  Hope it whets your appetites, and keep an eye out for the finished product Soon™!

Special mention goes to the music, which is by my hugely talented brother Thomas - he totally nailed the atmosphere with pretty much zero direction.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Survival: Update #5 - Editing, day 1

Technically day 2, I suppose, but I spent all yesterday organising the video and audio files into some kind of meaningful order so I could make a proper start today.

I got more progress made today than I thought I would - six scenes (about three and a half minutes) down, so only about 12 or so to go - but the big dialogue scenes are next; I'm expecting those to take a while.

One of the things I'm enjoying about editing is actually seeing things come together that I'd only imagined up until now, even despite seeing bits of it while we were shooting.  

It's almost enough to make me feel like I know what I'm doing.

Monday 27 August 2012

Survival: Update #4 - In the Can

It's been a bit quiet on this front recently, but we wrapped photography on the 23rd, and got back to Northern Ireland on Saturday night.  The video files are currently importing to start editing this thing together.

Once we've got a cut together, it'll be sent off to the Maestro to get a soundtrack, and then it's a short hop to actually letting you guys see it.

I'm not nervous as long as I don't think about it...

Saturday 18 August 2012

Survival: Update #3 - On the Road

Today, we fly over to England to start shooting Survival. It's been an interesting road so far, but we've still got a ways to go. Fingers crossed for smooth flying from here on out!
There will be more updates through the week, both here and on Twitter (@Ninchilla).

Friday 17 August 2012

A little light reading...

If you're in the mood for some science-fictional reading material today (or, you know, ever), please check out The Eye of the Beholder, a collection of sci-fi short stories by Sarah Matts!

It's Kindle-only (at the moment), but if you have a Kindle, buy it!  If you don't have a Kindle, buy a Kindle, then buy it!

Thursday 16 August 2012

Survival: Update #2 - Bumps in the Road

Things continue, but if they're according to plan, it's not my plan.  Perhaps I should have expected things to go less-than-perfectly, but I suppose last-minute rewrites around sudden and unexpected absences of key props are something we have to learn to do eventually.

The good news is that filming is still on, and we still have my cast and crew; I swear by the old gods and the new, this thing will get finished, and I'm sure it'll still be great.

If not, maybe I can Lucas it in a few years.

Monday 13 August 2012


Work continues on the next project - and this one is a definite change of pace from Charles.

Survival follows a couple of days in the life of Jane, a only a few months after civilization has crumbled, just as she thinks she's getting used to living alone in the wilderness.  Needless to say, there's a bit more to it than that, but I don't want to spoil the surprise.  This one is a much more serious, and much more complicated, beast than 5 minutes with a puppet, but we've got some new equipment, lots of help, and I'm feeling pretty good about it!

More information as it comes, and possibly even some updates from the set!

Thursday 9 August 2012

Launching Ninchilla Films Ltd.

Welcome to Ninchilla Films!  We're a very new, very small production company based in Northern Ireland, founded in July 2012 by director Stephen Cosgrove.

We only have one completed project so far, but more are in various stages of planning and pre-production. We're currently prepping to shoot a short film towards the end of August, so keep an eye out for its premiere some time in September!