Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Patience

January 31, 2012 at 5:55 am

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Patience | Review
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Patience | Rent the movie


Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was #8 on my list of Must See 2011 movies…  That I missed.  Now that I’ve seen it, I think it would have been right at home in my top 5.  It’s a fantastic movie.

The first hour or so I found myself wondering where it was going.  The only thing you really know for sure is a mole exists and he/she must be found.  The story unfolds in a series of flashbacks and quick scenes and jumps around quite a bit.  Sometimes, it can be distracting and hard to follow but Tinker manages to stay interesting.  Perhaps fascinating is a better word for it.  It reminded me of The Insider with Russell Crowe and Al Pacino.  That movie unfolded very slowly but I absolutely loved it.

So yes, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy requires patience but it all pays off in the end.  The further into the story you get, the more engrossing it becomes.  I was glued to the screen when the answers to my questions arrived.

Ironically, I was slow getting out to see the film in theaters.  Having said that, if you haven’t seen it yet, you may as well wait to rent it.  It the type of movie meant for quiet Sunday afternoons spent on a comfortable couch with a blanket.  (I would include a really well made sandwich too.)

Click here for more reviews.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in 2 words


Screenwriting & The Game Of Thrones Theme

January 30, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Screenwriting & The Game Of Thrones Theme | Screenwriting Blog

I was bound to cave sooner or later…

After months of recommendations and glowing reviews from my friends, I finally decided to give Game of Thrones a shot.  Whoa.  I now regret waiting as long as I did.  The show is absolutely phenomenal and I’m very proud to consider myself a part of it’s rapidly growing fan base.  Especially with the newest (and amazing) trailer for Season 2 working it’s way around the web this week.

Over the last week or so, I powered my way through the exceptional first season while avoiding spoilers from virtually every fan I know.  At the same time, I read a lot about the books on which the series is based.  It’s a pretty fantastic world that author George R. R. Martin created.

What’s impressive about the television series is how well they established the world and the multiple story lines.  It’s not easy creating a brand new world full of new characters, locations and cultures on the small screen.  That’s part of the charm of Game of Thrones.  By the end of the second episode, I was hooked and completely addicted to Winterfell, The Wall, The Starks, The Lannisters and the Iron Throne.

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Something funny happened as I watched the first season.  I found myself looking forward to the opening credits sequence at the beginning of each episode.  Beyond that, I found myself humming the song constantly while I thought about my latest screenplay. The song fit very well into an action script I’ve been developing.  I don’t mean to suggest that the opening theme could find a place in the movie someday.  I simply felt inspired to write whenever I heard that song.  I helped me get into my world and think creatively.

It’s funny how fate can sometimes step in when you are writing a new screenplay.  Perhaps I was meant to delay watching the series until I was ready to write my new script?  I like to think I was destined to fall in love with that theme and use it as a spark in my own writing.

Inspiration comes in many forms.  Whenever something that triggers my creativity comes along, I try to seize every moment and write as much as I can.  My new script has absolutely nothing to do with swords, knights, Lords or Kings.  Yet here I am, playing the opening to Game of Thrones over and over again and writing…

It’s a good thing the show is amazing too.  Win Win!

Do you connect songs to your screenplays?  What other influences do you hold close while you write?  Music? Art? Other screenplays?  Movies?  Television shows?

Screenwriting & The Game Of Thrones Theme | Screenwriting Blog

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Producing A Low Budget Short Film

January 22, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Producing A Low Budget Short Film | Independent Film Blog


We filmed The Climb over a weekend in May 2010 for about $300.  It was the first project we developed after I launched this blog so there was a ton of coverage here.

There are posts about every topic including budgets, screenwriting, stories from the set, post-production, marketing, promotion, trailers, posters and more.

Now that the film is completed I thought it would be useful to gather every post in one place.  So check out the entire story of how we produced The Climb.



Low Budget Filmmaking: The Climb’s Budget

The Climb’s 1st Location Scout

Screenwriting: Rewriting The Climb

Meet The Cast Of The Climb

Storyboarding When You Can’t Draw

Designing The Tattoos

The Director Of Photography

First Tattoo Sketches And Tests

No Budget Filmmaking: Producing A Short Film

The Need To Edit A Movie

Improving The Screenplay

Pre-Production Day

Final Make-Up Tests

Wardrobe And Props

Rehearsing A Short Film

Tweaking Your Screenplay

Directing Short Films: The Calm Before The Storm

Making Progress

Making A Short Film: The Little Details

Final Location Scouts

It Begins!


Technical Specs

Can’t Complain About Early Call Times

I Dislike People Who Honk During Filming

Destiny’s Tattoos

I Don’t Like To Hold The Camera

Rushing To Capture Footage

A Computer, Some Footage And Me

How The Weather Almost Killed Our Short Film

Directing Short Films: Playing Through vs The Climb

That’s A Wrap!


Editing A Short Film: Little Moments

How a dialogue heavy script became a quiet movie

Short Film Editing: Is This Scene Boring?

Tough Cuts: Letting go of a scene

Taking on the opening scene

Editing a short film you directed: The Annoying Part

Editing a short film: You have to start somewhere

I got stuck editing my short film

We Have Picture Lock

Marketing & Promotion

Short Films, After Effects & Video Copilot

The Climb’ Trailer

Planning The Trailer

A new poster for The Climb has arrived

First official still from The Climb

Does this poster sell my independent short film?

The Climb’s poster is here


The Climb: A Journey Ends

The Climb is finished

The Climb: One Year Later

10 Flicks: Box Office Favorites

January 21, 2012 at 8:39 am

10 Flicks Movie Lists

I’m a proud movie nerd.

We’ve covered that so it shouldn’t surprise anyone who reads this blog that I follow box office numbers closely.  The only place I go for box office information online is Box Office Mojo.

Recently, I was checking the all time domestic numbers and decided to see if I could narrow the top 100 down to 10.  Can you?

Click here to see the Top 100

So here are my 10 favorite box office moneymakers.

Honourable Mention: Avatar, 300, The Sixth Sense, Saving Private Ryan

Star Wars

Star Wars Episode 4

#4 – $460,998,007

I adore the original trilogy and enjoyed the prequels but A New Hope will always be my favorite. (Followed closely by Empire Strikes Back.)

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#9 – $403,706,375

It may not be my favorite superhero movie of all time but it certainly paved the way for some of the most entertaining movies in history.

“Go web go!”

Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King

Lord Of The Rings

#12 – $377,027,325

It’s tough to pick one movie when all three are in the top 100.  I look at the series and see one giant incredible movie but I had to pick one so ROTK was the winner.

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Transformers Optimus Prime

#22 – $319,246,193

Even though I absolutely hated the sequel, the original is one of the most entertaining popcorn movies I’ve ever seen on the big screen.  It had giant fighting robots and some of the best and most complex visual effects ever created.

XTRA | Transformers 3?  Apology accepted Michael Bay

Independence Day

Independence Day Area 51 Attack

#30 – $306,169,268

Will Smith is my favorite actor.  I’m one of the reasons his movies always make 100 million+ in theaters.  Independence Day will always be one of the greats.  ID4 is a perfect example of a huge box office blockbuster.  Big stars, big FX and big thrills.

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#70 – $227,966,634

I talk about Signs a lot on this site. I even thought about leaving it off this list to avoid ‘Signs fatigue’.  However, I simply couldn’t bring myself to leave my all time favorite movie off the list.

The Matrix Reloaded

The Matrix Reloaded Trinity

#41 – $281,576,461

It’s ambitious, it’s explosive, it’s cool and it’s confusing.  It was once the record holder for most anticipated movie until it was toppled by The Dark Knight years later.

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Twister Helen Hunt Tornado

#61 – $241,721,524

Twister may surprise some people but I’ve always loved this movie.  When I was a kid, I used to be terrified of tornado warnings.  This eventually ignited an interest in weather and this movie came along right in the middle of that childhood obsession.  Twister is a fun movie. Plain and Simple.

Jurassic Park


#15 – $357,067,947

To this day, I’m still fascinated by how well the effects stand up compared to today’s standards.  Such a fun movie.

The Dark Knight


#3 – $533,345,358

My second favorite movie ever.  I’ve never been so excited to see a movie in my entire life and to have the film deliver on all the hype was amazing.

Try narrowing down your own list of 10 box office favorites.  It’s not that easy.

Playing Through Now Available Online!

January 19, 2012 at 12:18 am

Playing Through Now Available Online! | Independent Short Film

Playing Through is finally up on YouTube!

The film tells the story of Brandon & Nathan. Two friends playing a round of golf terribly. While Brandon does his best to distract his friend, every thought Nathan has rests on a looming phone call. A call that will reveal whether or not he has been diagnosed with cancer.

The film stars John Steptoe, Michael Clarke & Alyssa LaPlume.  It was written and directed by Jason McKinnon and produced by Eric Gamache.

Playing Through Short Film Festivals & Awards | 17 West Productions

I had an absolute blast making Playing Through.  It was the first film I directed with a professional crew and it was also the first film I edited using Final Cut Pro.  Software I purchased along with a sweet new iMac in order to complete the film.  I’m extremely proud of the work our cast in crew poured into the short.  I also have to thank Clear Springs Golf course in North Bay, Ontario for allowing us to make this film on their course.  It was a gorgeous week I’ll never forget.  I’m extremely happy it didn’t rain!

Hope you enjoy the film!  Pass it along.

There is still one more giant announcement to come regarding this movie in 2012 so stay tuned.

Playing Through independent short film 17 west productions