Sunday, 9 August 2015

Target on Talent: Introducing Matt Timmiss, the Man Behind Timmiss Productions

Today, lovely readers, I'd like to share with you something a little different and introduce a new angle to this blog. As well as showing you all interesting places or good food to eat, I'd like to use this as a platform to occasionally showcase talent to the interwebs. Therefore, to launch this new initiative, let me present to you twenty two year old artist, newly established director and founder of Timmiss Productions, Matt Timmiss.

Matt, after months of hard work, has recently written, directed and produced a short film called First Time Buyer. I caught up with him to get the lowdown on the inspiration behind the film, what its like to direct and what tips he'd offer those looking to get into the film industry.

Hi Matt, firstly, tell us what First Time Buyer is all about?
First Time Buyer is a short black comedy sketch about a young kid, Bobby, who’s going to pick up weed for the first time, but really has no idea of what to expect. He’s watched a lot of TV and heard a lot about what it might be like, but when he actually gets there, he’s thrown into a situation that he really wasn’t ready for!
Oh, that's an interesting subject matter. What inspired you to write this particular story?
I was working as part of the crew on another short film and the whole idea came out of a conversation we were having about stressful and unpredictable interview techniques. I wanted a story that the target audience of young internet viewers could relate to. I liked the idea of a situation with no clear rules, one that was outside the law, a kind of cowboy industry that doesn’t conform to the expected, so that’s why I chose the drugs scene. I think the idea of meeting a drug dealer for the first time would make anyone anxious and weirdly, conjures up the same sweaty palms as the prospect of a job interview. It was just a case of combining the two! The characters were an amalgamation of people I had known at uni, funny stories people had told me about their first experiences and a reflection of my own anxiety in most situations that I don’t know anything about. Like a lot of people, I loved the 90’s series ‘Spaced’ which was a stoner comedy, filmed in the style of a Swedish horror film. It had a great way of making the mundane into frightening or surreal situations and I wanted to have a go at that style. I think comedy is definitely a good place to start if you have a small budget and limited sets to work with!
First Time Buyer is your first short film, which you've written, directed and produced yourself. What were some of the challenges you faced and was it a steep learning curve?
I think if you want to make your own films, like any art, you have to be really self-motived, and strict with your work. I had the idea for ages, but forcing myself to sit down and actually write a script to completion was a new experience. It’s really rewarding though and it’s still a little odd seeing an idea that was in my head, on the Internet in the real world!
The production side of things was probably the biggest learning curve though. It takes a lot of time to get a crew together, to cast actors, to book kit, to location scout etc. and I don’t think I quite realised just how much time those things take. It meant that the film was pushed back a couple of times but it’s definitely something I’ve learnt from and a process that will become more streamlined with each film I make. I think on the next one I’ll have to delegate some of the responsibility to a Production Assistant, and luckily I know a few who I trust to do a better job than I could.
How was the overall experience and would you do anything differently if you were to do this again?
It was great fun, particularly on the shoot day and I had a great team around me who were all willing to get stuck in and make things work. I think on my next film, I’m going to try and up the comedy elements – I felt that First Time Buyer was a little slow at times, and could definitely have done with some more obvious humour to break the crippling awkwardness Bobby was facing (one of the first people I showed the film to actually commented on this and said she couldn’t help but feel sorry for Bobby more than anything, so perhaps next time it will need to be a little less intense to fit the genre!).
You've been working in the film industry since leaving University. How have your experiences helped you?
So for my day job I’m a freelance Runner and Production Assistant. I think it’s helped in a lot of ways. Although you don’t do anything particularly creative or exciting as a runner, being on set is invaluable for learning the roles in each of the departments, and that really helped me when it came to crewing up for my short. You also meet a lot of really unique and varied people who are just as eager to create some great content. It’s very hands on and being involved with every department has really solidified my determination to get to be a Writer and Director.
What advice would you give to others wishing to produce a short?
Make sure your concept is unique, well thought through and focused on your target audience. It’s worth spending the time getting that bit right, rather than rushing to film something that won’t be that great. Also don’t be put off by what other people say. It’s tough when your starting out, nobody wants to listen to someone young, or someone in a low position (film is very hierarchical), but to be brutally honest, fuck them. If you’ve got an idea, and it’s interesting to you, there will be an audience for it. There are a lot of people talking about what they would do, but never get round to it because other things get in the way, people put them off it, they couldn’t find the time or they got stuck in a job they didn’t want. So again it’s the self-motivation thing – you just have to get on and do it. The opportunity is out there, someone is gonna take it, so why shouldn’t it be you?
What are your plans for the future?
I’m currently working on another short film at the moment, totally different to First Time Buyer, but I’m quite excited about it. It’s going to be a much bigger crew and a lot more locations (and I need to find a David Attenborough impersonator, if you can believe that!), but the plan is to have it filmed, edited and released before Christmas.
Other than that I’m looking to start pitching on some smaller budget commercials and music videos and see where I go from there.
In the long term I’d love to be at the forefront of gay film, whether by that point its all web series based or whether it’s feature films still, it’s an emerging genre and I think there is still so much to be said and so many characters ready to fill the void left by the great social change we’ve seen in our lifetimes. I’ve got a lot to say about it, so that’s where I will be in the future!

Follow Matt on YouTube for future releases.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Escaping to Switzerland

Last week, my lovely friend Sam invited me and some of our friends to stay in his chalet in Villars, Switzerland. So, very early on a Tuesday morning, we all piled into cars and set off towards the Channel Tunnel - we had a long drive ahead of us, but the beautiful Swiss mountains were waiting at the end of it!

Up until this trip, I had never visited Switzerland in the summer. It was a very different scene to the ski season - the mountains and villages were quiet and wonderfully green! Even better, the air was warm as the sun beat (for the most part) down on us.

Sam took us on the walks he and his family did when they were there, and so we found ourselves firstly jumping aboard a cable car (thankfully unburdened by skis!) and bobbing our way up the mountainside, before starting the surprisingly gruelling hike to lunch.

It was weird seeing the slopes which, on skis you wouldn't think were hard. However, with all the bare earth and rocks showing (and the odd tree stump!) I started to think just how terrifying some of the slopes were....

They were worth the climb though when you got to see views like these!

One mildly terrifying walk saw us balancing along a ridge at the peak of a mountain, sheer drops on either side! Luckily however we all made it across... Just!

My favourite walk however had to be when we found ourselves scrambling up a river, jumping from rock to rock, before deciding to go for a paddle (or in the boys' cases, a dunk) in the icy river.

Greg even had a Lion King moment...

...and I attempted a more of a Tarzan pose.

Part of the reason we'd come to Switzerland was to witness Swiss National Day, a big day of celebration in Switzerland on the 1st August each year. Unluckily, this year it absolutely bucketed it down with rain, and so the celebrations were somewhat dampened, but that didn't stop the Swiss Guard parading in the street, stamping their clog-like shoes as they marched, or a band of people playing the giant Swiss Alpine Horn!

We later watched the flashes of fireworks through the clouds from the chalet's balcony before retiring to a rather furious game of Articulate, Champagne glasses in hand, as the Swiss partied on into the night!

Switzerland in the Summer was just simply wonderful. Everywhere looked stunning, and the fresh mountain air was so welcome after living in polluted London. More so however, it was just great to go away with friends and some good quality time with them. So thank you Sam!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Visiting Italy: Rome

Arriving in Rome saw us landing straight in the middle of the action. Within a few hours, we had stumbled across an amazing church which we later found out to be Basilica di San Giovanni which was the main place of worship for the Pope up until the 14th century! It seemed to be that every place we were to discover in Rome was steeped in history.

One of our first stops was the Colosseum. Over the years I've seen plenty of pictures, in the same way as you see many of the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty and so seeing it in real life was a bit of a shock but also weirdly underwhelming. Although being rather large, it was smaller than I was expecting. It was also surrounded by roads and pedestrianised walkways which, although obviously practical for a building in the middle of a city, wasn't what I was expecting.

It was only when I went inside that I appreciated just how incredible the Colosseum was. As we walked around, the sheer scale became apparent - we could see right down into some of the uncovered tunnel which wound themselves under the building, where gladiators, convicts and wild animals roamed before their fights. 

A short walk from the Colosseum, there's an impressive array of ruins still in the process of being uncovered. These were the Roman Forum and the Palatino.

Everywhere we walked however, we bumped into something spectacular. There was something to see on every corner!

The Pantheon was incredible on the inside and the surrounding area was fun to wander around. Unfortunately though, the near by Trevi Fountain was being restored and so was covered by scaffolding. 

One day, we hopped on Rome's metro and headed over to the Vatican.  The Vatican Museum itself is amazing although going around, you felt that you were just in one giant queue. The ceilings were incredibly painted and there were stunning statues and paintings everywhere. Eventually, we made it around to the Sistine Chapel which was rather beautiful, but admittedly, just as beautiful as the rest of the building!

However, it was St Peter's Square that was the most striking. Huge statues posed on the roof tops, guarding the square's parameter whilst fountains splashed merrily. 

Close to the Vatican was Castel Sant'Angelo, a castle which was originally built as a mausoleum to Emperor Hadrian and later converted into a papal fortress. We walked around the battlements and down into the belly of the fortress, meeting a very friendly seagull along the way. 

Rome was unlike any city I've ever visited before- everywhere we went, we noticed something that had sprung straight out of a history book. Seeing all the ruins was definitely fascinating and, despite melting under the boiling hot sun as we walked around, an experience not to be missed!