Friday, 19 October 2012

Alien Legacy - Coming Soon

It was a strange beginning: I had watched Prometheus in London and really enjoyed it but there were so many niggles and unanswered questions, so many confusing and poorly-plotted elements that gnawed away at me. After pondering the film and how it fitted into the Alien universe, I decided I needed to write my thoughts as a kind of critique (perhaps more of a rant with some ideas about how it should have played out). This got me thinking about the other films in the series and after going back to watch them all in detail, I decided to write a more comprehensive review of Alien, Aliens and Alien3 (I decided to boycott Alien: Resurrection and the silly AvP films long ago. Yet there was so much to say in just this tightly-focused trilogy that these reviews soon blossomed into essays. I’d studied media at college and had completed a thesis on ‘Atmospheric Horror in Modern Cinema’ including techniques of editing, sound, lighting and camerawork in films like Alien, The Silence of the Lambs and Se7en so this was not new to me.

Running parallel to this, I began work on a ‘fan short’ using clips from this Alien Trilogy to complement the essay series. As a filmmaker and editor, I need to keep my skills well-oiled and find this experience invigorating. The resultant edit is perhaps my most intricate and meticulously cut short yet. Now, for the impending release of ‘A War in Hadley’s Hope’ (an essay on Aliens), I have created this trailer.

Using the bedrock of the original Alien teaser trailer (itself a classic), this is a heady, complex short displaying a full spectrum of clips from the Alien Trilogy. The edit pacing is quick and tight, teasing rather than showing details and goes some way to prepare the viewer for the full fan short.

Both fan short and essay are coming soon - watch this space.

The series will be concluded in; ‘A Wooden Prison’, a study of the production hell and the various iterations of the story that eventually became Alien3.

© James FitzRoy 2012. Footage © Fox Home Video, Music by Jerry Goldsmith

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Fluxus... The Beginning of Flux


I started working on Flux Motion Pictures with Kate Hornby in 2009 during a difficult period of baron creativity. I don't know what it is about being creative but I find it's vital to my mental well-being and the lull had caused a strained period for imagination. When customers would walk in to our department and ask for a documentary or training film and would provide very little advice or direction on its content, it became neigh-on impossible to build and manipulate worlds, find themes and present concise and interesting videos.

Yet it was clear that we both had a wealth of ideas to call upon but we were also struggling in a job that hampered us with a severe lack of both evaluation and training to help capitalise on our strengths. We desperately wanted to experiment with new software, new hardware and new ideas as we were thrust into strange and unusual territory, labouring with little support to build professional projects out of thin air. While other department had templates and a resource of images they could call upon, the video department had nothing. We were hoping that anything gained from our experimental themes would be used during the next work-related project.

So we started small and came up with a simple film, a basic logo created in Photoshop and some poetry to be recorded and mixed. Kate wrote the words while I delved into my vast archive of footage to find some Super8 film I’d shot in Plymouth and London over a decade previously. We were using Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 back in those days on 32-bit turnkey systems that ground to a halt with intense work. The film was completed in several stages, going back to tweak and add different layers, to manipulate layers to create a kind of picture-in-picture or projection-within-projection. The words were repeated in text and these became the most difficult thing to get right: They had to somehow fit into the scratchy film yet sit out, separated from it in order to be legible.

We found this experiment to be such a success in maintaining our work-flow, imagining new audio-visual landscapes and self-training on constantly shifting media that we continued. As the films became more intricate and refined, we expanded Flux Motion Pictures to become a resource for other artists and projects. Later, Louisa Appleton joined with gifts in motion graphics and 3D animation, while others come and go as the project demands.

Through Flux, we have learned to grapple with new platforms from HD and Final Cut Studio to 3D Studio Max and Maya. We maintain our skills in vital programs like Photoshop and we have gained a good working-knowledge of mastering audio and video to a high standard. We have given life to a plethora of ideas, - learning what does and does not work - having fun along the way, while taking ideas further for other projects and jobs outside the comfort-zone of Flux.

Our goal with Flux is to create a resource for the artistic, the interesting and strange and the experimental with bizarre landscapes of sound, ambient fluctuations of thought and creative pursuits that we all find emotionally and cognitively interesting. Some of these may be projects we’ve been employed to create but most are expressions of observation and exploration.


Monday, 24 September 2012

A Summer's Drive goes on Tour

'A Summer's Drive' has recently been selected for the Car Arts Shorts film program. In the successful festival, many visitors enjoyed the films on offer, staying for over an hour to watch them in the CineBus. Photos of this event will be seen on Facebook.

More information on Car Art and the festival can be found at their website;
CarArts Festival

This festival took place in the Netherlands;

View Larger Map

Location: Lijm & cultuur, Rotterdamseweg 270, 2628 ATDelft

Museum Night 2012, Delft, Netherlands.

And now that drive is continuing; the film program will be repeated during the Museum Night in Delft. This will take place on Friday 26th October from 20:00 to 01:00. During this night, all galleries and museums in the city centre are open so that special events can take place.

For more details: Facebook and The Car Art Festival:

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Next Stop - Blackpool (Update)

[This is an update of a previous experimental film which now includes a short story. This was first published on The Quantum Lounge.]

Scratches invade the image, a judder of frame in sprockets. Light penetrates, projecting blurred motion through celluloid. Splits in memories repaired by tape.

The carriage clunks, then pulls aways from the station like a laboured metal beast, its diminutive size belying its mass. The visitor awaits with expectation as the carriage picks up speed. Next stop, Blackpool.

The train judders to a halt. She is disgorged with childhood excitement; ancient memories of hot summers overlap her visit like apparitions, dislodged from time but not space.

The platform is a lonely slipway of cracked concrete. Weeds thrust through whatever gap they can find, desperate for light and life. The two-carriage train slips away into the ether.

The town is a bustle of activity; shoppers dash in and out of the market, party-goers embrace the bars like lovers, visitors explore the cracks, cameras snatching new memories.

The visitor moves through the town like a ghost, the blustery day sweeping her forward, inexorably onward to the seafront. Bright childhood memories of the pier overflowing with wonder and the sand, golden and warm spray forward.

A tram rattles along the tracks, its bell warns crossing stragglers of impending doom. She ignores it and glides to the lip where land meets waves.

The sky is heavy and dark, pregnant with a storm that threatens to burst and rain icy shards to wash away this reality. Waves pound against an impenetrable wall of stones. The pier sits atop relentless undulation like a spider on its web.

The strong wind kicks up a spume from the crest of waves. The visitor stumbles as she battles against the ferocious elements. She comes to rest against the solid, reassuring iron railing, staring into the tempestuous North Sea.

Memories puncture her vision - happy thoughts that make her smile. Snapshots of a sandcastle and sunshine and ice cream and wondrous trips to the seaside with parents long gone.

Sunlight punctures the cloud-deck, gleaming from reflective surfaces like blooms of warm magic and hope for life renewed.

The ocean pummels the pier but the visitor only sees the little girl running along its wooden decking, a shock of electricity thrilled by a world so new and strange. A child excited by a realm of fun that hovers over the ocean waves.

She says goodbye to this peculiar place and turns to leave. The visitor thinks about the new memory as the train rushes passed a blur of green countryside. The sun sets and beams of light bleach into the frame. Scratches invade the image as the reel comes to an end.


Monday, 17 September 2012

VHS RIP (Update)

As published on 'The Quantum Lounge', this experimental short film now includes a poetic short work of fiction, which helps expand it emotionally and puts a counterpoint to the dry statistical data in the film.

The crackle of static, the judder of the image, unstable in its cathode ray-tube box. Yet the image continues unabated, a line appears at the bottom of the screen like a canal going nowhere. Colours are muted as if washed away with time. The sound is distorted, tinny, as if recorded a hundred miles away though a fog. The occasional pierce of high-pitched scream shatters the muffle. Sounds crinkle and distort on creased tape. The images flashes with a field of static, ripples wash through, pitch-perfect in chaos.

The camera that records the images is an immense mechanism, like a suite case slung over one shoulder... its battery diminutive, its small lens incapable of capturing enough light for a sensor that works like a stone chisel. But what it lacks in cinematic quality is pushed aside in a whirlpool of captured dreams. The tray cycles and ejects with a resounding thud. The factory cellophane is removed from a new cassette - Fuji HQ 120min Fine Graine Beridox - and fills the air with new plastic smells. The cassette slots into the tray and is unceremoniously pushed closed. Its ready.

The book-sized black plastic brick contains two spools filled with black tape. Images and sound recorded magnetically side by side. Moments in time, some random, some staged, captured in novels without words. Motion is clicked into fast forward to progress through time. Pause snaps the image into a ghostly judder of visual noise; a schism between frames. Between one digital moment and the next.

Creased tape, crackle and drop-out become synonymous with a normal viewing experience - all in non-letterbox vision. Definition is less high, more primal. Yet capturing motion electronically and watching it back immediately is exhilarating - the equipment exotic and new, the possibilities endless.

A camera is acquires and its a special event that warrants investment of time. Friends meet on a Saturday to discuss parts to be played in a home-movie extravaganza they had been discussing at school all week. The attic and local woods are obvious locations for the acquisition of a map that will lead to buried treasure with unashamed influences from 'The Goonies' via 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', newly released in video sell-threw.

Films are rare on television and arrive with celebration as part of a family Christmas viewing experience. Rental stores become havens for movie-lovers. Row upon row of warn plastic boxes display film posters and splashes of corporate identity. Fox, Warner, Columbia, Orion... all display their wears like badges of honour in big chunky iconography.

Dreams of Hollywood movie-making live and die in the reels of magnetic plastic ribbon. Films exist like vague recollections of a once-glorious cinematic odyssey. Films cut down from their full cinemascope prestige, edited for word or gore, losing all but raw energy.

Editing existed as the linear process of shooting and recording only. The friends finish their Indiana Jones chronicle in the local woods with a series of flaring solar effects and a shocking cliffhanger. A sequel would forever be discussed. Mighty Hollywood dream realised in microscopic pixel form.

VHS.... Rest In Peace.

Friday, 14 September 2012

The Quantum Lounge

In the creation of an experimental short story for my blog with the same name, I filmed the process of the story's inception. This video showcases the process of turning the title from every published entry (and some in draft-phase) into words and sentences to be see in the story. The story also acts as a kind of themetic showcase for the style and content of the site itself. For more, go to;

The Quantum Lounge

Filmed & Edited by James FitzRoy
Music by David Wilkins