Radcliffe Camera Pictures established

Radcam board

The production group behind James, Radcliffe Camera Pictures, becomes officially established today as papers are filed with Companies House to complete its registration. Although the theatre teams Commensal, Hexagon and Koma Kino – under whose umbrellas a half dozen recent plays operated – are both registered societies, this film-centred organisation becomes the first in our Creative Venture portfolio to be fully registered as a company.

From a commercial point of view, company registration brings a number of benefits, including easier access to insurance facilities, eligibility for a wider range of funding sources and grant opportunities, and a legal personality capable of protecting its staff and intellectual property. It also gives the chance for a fresh start from an organisational perspective, and producer Andrew Hall intends to be much clearer about divisions and sections within this new business, creating space for greater accountability, efficiency and results. An example is the company’s writing programme, which remains in character a working group of flexible membership, but can now set a clear agenda under the company umbrella, while RadCam pursues its own productions and development on alternative media projects without infringing on its writing staff.

Working groups are key to the new company structure and ethos, and although the overall brand is committed to a focus on film for the present, this structure also allows plenty of scope for continued support of theatre ventures, especially as the newly-created Koma Kino (Citric Acid) means the team retain a foothold in the Oxford theatre scene despite a central move to London. Within RadCam, groups are dedicated to new writing, television projects, film production and community ideas; each group has a rotating chairperson and a flexible staff, with funding applications made on behalf of each group by the central company. Since so much of the team’s current work can be undertaken remotely (rewriting Tantamount to Treason, Koma Kino plays in Oxford and new Revue projects) this system also allows for easy recruitment of new talent and regular rearrangement of personnel depending on shifting projects.

With four writing projects soon to be announced, a web-series, a short film and a major theatre project all on the company’s books for spring 2016, everyone at Radcliffe Camera Pictures is excited for the New Year.

James screens in Oxford

Quiet anticipation mixed with laughter and sunshine as the cast and crew of James met with invited friends in Keble College’s Newman Quad before the first screening of the short film last week, with debut screen performances for the entire cast. The 15 minute film was well-received, and the beautiful weather and setting made for a nice celebration to the end of the six-month process of film production alongside the team’s final examinations at Oxford.

You can find out more about the making of James here.

Scoring James

by JAMES composer, Tom Kinsella

James banner

The James Bond Theme is probably the most famous piece of film music of all time. So, when Lily and Andrew asked me if I would write an original soundtrack for ‘James’ – by drawing on the rich musical language of the Bond legacy – I was absolutely terrified. The James Bond of Hollywood fame has an unforgettable sonority in our collective consciousness, but how would a young James Bond sound? As a corollary, the true challenge of this piece was in creating a soundscape that contained all the musical seeds of the James Bond series, but also remained truthful to Lily’s own vision of Bond, who appears youthful, inchoate, and at times, vulnerable (none of which are adjectives one would normally use to describe the womanizing 007).

To achieve this, I borrowed a range of tropes from John Barry (who, for those that don’t know, composed the music for eleven of the James Bond films between 1963–1987). And then, I manipulated them. Some of these tropes were obvious and irresistible – for example, utilizing a surf rock style guitar ­– and some were more technical; most of the harmony in the film is built around variations of the ‘James Bond Chord’, which, for all those music theory fanatics out there, consists of a minor triad with an added major 7th/9th.

For the opening sequence, I incorporated these features (amongst others), but veiled their presence by writing in a pop music idiom. Why? The Bond we observe in this film is a young, somewhat ordinary student who works in the library, goes to the pub and isn’t great at flirting – he’s definitely more Katy Perry than he is Prokofiev. By way of contrast, omens that point towards the future of James’ character, in addition to moments like the fight scene, gave me a chance to explore the darker, more visceral side of Bond’s music, and pay homage to more recent works, like Thomas Newman’s soundtrack for ‘Skyfall’.

Overall, my aim for the film was for its music to synthesize and flit between the old and the new – contemporary Bond, and his younger self. In a broader sense, I guess my attraction to Lily’s James is that he encompasses something we can all somehow relate to; he is a nascent character, transitioning between his teenage years and adulthood, yearning to find himself, through a prism of insecurity – yet all the while possessing a glimmer of his future self. I’ve tried my best for my composition to emulate this; to be honest, I’m still terrified. But after all, what would a Bond film be without a bit of tension, fear and a large dose of excitement?

Final stages on James

James slate crop

Postproduction on James enters its final phase this week, following a very productive meeting with the project’s composer, Tom Kinsella, on Saturday. The directorial team have already set out their timetable for completion of the audio to the film – including several hundred sound effects, a fresh dialogue track and the original score – and are spending the next few days finding reference material for a soundscape to complement the allusions made to John Barry’s original Bond masterpiece.

Elsewhere on the production, final editorial notes on key pickup shots and the overall colour grade of the film await discussion with the team’s London-based editor Ashley Hughes. Two sets of posters – a teaser for the colleagues of the Keble College-based novice cast and a professional design for general release – go to print in just over a fortnight, as the group fits the final stages of the film around university examinations.

The first screening – and an accompanying party – is set for Wednesday 17th June.

Picture lock on James

James screenshot

After a second extended editing session with Ashley Hughes of ARTHAUS, the team are delighted to have reached picture lock on their edit of James, the forthcoming Oxford-based short tracing the early steps of one of English fiction’s greatest heroes. With director Lily Taylor close to confirming a composer for the project’s original score, and work beginning on the audio mix in the coming weeks, excitement is building amongst the members the dozen-strong team. Starring eight completely novice actors – including both leads – and with no budget to speak of, James is a triumph for advocates of the innovation needed for success in low-budget independent filmmaking.

A meeting to set a final screening date is scheduled for later this week – check back here for more news soon.

That’s a wrap on James

James wrap

With 250 shots since work began on James in December, the early hours of this morning saw the team wrap on principal photography outside Keble College, Oxford. A second editing session tomorrow gives director Lily Taylor (Jerusalem) and producer Andrew Hall another chance to collaborate with long-time friend Ashley Hughes from ARTHAUS in steering the project through postproduction. There are still many challenges facing the team, including the ambitious proposal for an original score, drawing on some of John Barry’s iconic music, the colouring process, and the recording of dialogue and ambient sounds to bring the film to life in all regards.

The launch of posters, a trailer and promotional stills in the coming weeks keeps the excitement high as the team discuss venue options for their premiere, their planned route into the festival circuit, and future projects. Keep an eye out for updates soon!

James: editing begins

James

Working alongside Ashley Hughes of ARTHAUS, director Lily Taylor and DP/producer Andrew Hall headed to London this weekend to begin the editing process on James. This marks a crucial step in the eight-week schedule for postproduction on the film, which begins with a picture edit before being sent to the project’s composer and sound technician for their input, and returning to Ashley’s studio for a final cut and colour work. A second weekend of editing, later in February, sees the team gathered again for their second session in piecing together the 220 shots captured on location across Oxford, and visual previews will be released along the way.

As always, watch this space for updates. Marketing materials and screenshots from the cutting room are on their way.

Shot #200 on James

Screenshot 21

Completing their most challenging outdoor shoot for the project, a tense encounter between lead actor Jake Palmer and Leo Donnachie, pictured above, the James team are proud to have their 200th shot in the can. Progress is moving quickly, with just two more shoots remaining, before work on a visual edit and the film’s unique soundtrack begins at the end of the month. Watch this space.

Shooting resumes on James

Clapperboard

Wednesday afternoon sees the James team of Lily Taylor, Andrew Hall, lead actor Jake Palmer and co-star Luke Martin resume shooting in the beautiful surroundings of Keble College, Oxford. Following the story of Ian Fleming’s eponymous James Bond in his humble beginnings at university, work on the short film this week includes the group’s first experience shooting a fight scene. With a cast entirely comprised of newcomers to acting, performances this far have been impressive, and the group expands this week with the addition of Leo Donnachie, as discussion also continues with editor Ashley Hughes (founder at ARTHAUS) and potential composers for the film.

James stars Jake Palmer, Luke Martin, Esther Hodges, Georgina Ndukwe, Ollie Robinson, Josh O’Shaughnessy, Leo Donnachie and Roisin Swords-Kieley, directed by Lily Taylor. A cast photoshoot is scheduled for the coming days, so watch this space for publicity materials and the film’s official trailer, coming later this spring.

James: halfway there

James

As shooting continues on Oxford-set short film James this week, director Lily Taylor is delighted to have casting completed on the project, which stars Jake Palmer, Ollie Robinson, Esther Hodges, Luke Martin, Josh O’Shaugnessy and Georgina Ndukwe, all making their film debuts. Producer Andrew Hall has been working to assemble a full team to support the project once it enters postproduction, and is proud to be reunited with editor and colourist Ashley Hughes (whose previous collaborations include Tantamount to Treason, Dare I Say, Beauty and Acceptance and Red Ribbon | Blue Suit). Progress is being made to confirm a composer for the project, which draws inspiration from Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels and the legendary scores of John Barry.

Meanwhile, progress on set is tremendous, with the city shown at its most spectacular in the winter light, and the cast giving stellar performances despite the cold. Working on a project with a fun attitude yet a serious agenda appears to be the perfect combination to achieve a relatively smooth ride in the usually choppy waters of film production, and the team are pleased to be halfway through their shooting schedule, with five scenes left to complete in January. Watch this space for more news soon.