We are happy to announce that The Alpha Invention has been picked up by distributor Shorts International and will be released this December on their dedicated TV channel ShortsTV, as well as iTunes and Amazon Instant.
The partnership with Shorts International means that The Alpha Invention will be available via linear television in 40 million homes and/or on VOD platforms in 54 countries worldwide including most of Europe and the USA.
The Alpha Invention Soundtrack
The composer for The Alpha Invention, Doug Berwick, has uploaded all of the original music he made for the film to SoundCloud. Have a listen below!
That right there is a cinema audience, what films are designed for; a crowd of people, in a dark room, entranced (hopefully) by 24 (or 25) images a second. Up until this moment I'd never seen The Alpha Invention with more than two people at a time, and that was usually at various stages along its production so never the complete thing.
So with that in mind, I (slightly nervously) and Michael (calm as a Hindu cow) shambled up onto the stage to give everyone a quick but heartfelt thanks for the time, energy, effort and sheer talent they have put into this project and I'd like to reiterate that here. (Yes, this is going to be a bit of back rubbing but they deserve it!)
Some may disagree but I'd like to think that every film I begin is at least really good in my head before starting. The film that we have now out in the objective world is as good, if not better than the one that I began writing two years ago and thankfully it has been receiving quite a bit of critical praise too. Neither of these points prove that it is objectively "a good movie", that doesn't exist with any art form. But what it does inarguably prove is the impeccable talent of the cast and crew that I had the huge pleasure and honour of working with.
Without them none of it would have progressed past a dust collecting fifteen page document and for that they forever have my gratitude. I said on the first day of shooting that there's a film in my head and I need their help to get it out there into the real world as intact as possible and that they did. I hope they feel as proud of the film as I do, it's been a long journey but boy was it fun to make and after seeing it with an audience it feels ready to set loose on the world. Festivals here we come! MT
The Alpha Invention is COMPLETE
Towards the beginning of the month, one evening at half past midnight, I sat at my computer. I had just received the final sound mix from Oscar which I placed on the edit timeline, I panned the audio tracks to the correct channels and then I clicked "Export".
In terms of production that is the last click in a long line of clicking, cutting, talking, discussing, arguing, debating, imagining, writing, painting, building, recording and shooting that has taken up the last two years of my life and something between many days and many months of others'. It has been a relatively long journey but a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying one. There are always compromises along the way, that is the nature of filmmaking, but they have been used to our advantage. That means that the film we have now is the one I set out to make two years ago - I couldn't ask for anything more as a filmmaker and it is entirely down to all the hard work from the talented people who have been a part of The Alpha Invention and the support from friends and family.
I am sure the next question from many will be... when can we see it? For all of those from around the world who have been emailing me asking when they can see the film I can't express my gratitude enough simply for the fact that you are excited to see something we've created. The short answer is we will try and make The Alpha Invention available to watch as soon as possible. However, this can take some time since we can't make it publicly available until it has been through the festival circuit.
You will be able to find news on which festivals we have been selected to screen at on this very blog. So watch this space, if there is one near you, and there are festivals all over the globe, you can go along and catch it there.
Otherwise, we will of course be bringing it to web platforms after the festival run (just promise me you won't watch it on your phone) and once again all the details will be here.
So why didn't I write this blog entry immediately after finishing the film? Well, we wouldn't want to just say "it's done, you can watch it in a few months time," there has to be something, right?! So we've been working on this - the trailer, turn it up loud... MT
Did you know we have a Facebook page now? Yes, it's difficult to say you're a fan if you haven't seen it yet but we promise you will be once you do so just trust us on this one.
'The Subject Thinks'
As we near the completion of The Alpha Invention we've been finalising the music written by Doug Berwick. It is a score which I truly believe is something quite incredible.
So, without further ado, here is a little taste of what's to come. Presenting "The Subject Thinks" by Doug Berwick.
Yesterday I sat down with the very talented Joseph Bicknell to begin colour grading. For those who aren't familiar with the term this is where you start to really fine tune the look of the film by manipulating the colours of the picture.
It's an exciting part of the process for two reasons. One, it begins to look like an actual finished film and we get to make it look "noir". The original ideas that I had for the look and Sam's concept art only start to be fully realised now.
The second reason is that I have been editing the film, and thus watching it, as 360p proxies for the past month and a half. Basically, that means I made lo-res copies of all the raw footage so it doesn't crash my laptop every time I make a cut. You then relink it to all the full-res 4K files afterwards. So I've been watching the film on something most suitable for this...
When the final thing will be suitable for this...
Now Joseph doesn't even use the full-res files, he makes his own intermediates, but they're much bigger and boy, is there a difference! What was once just a mess of blueish pixels in the background are now highly defined blades of light.
So yesterday Joseph and I simply worked out a general look of the film and tone of the colour palette. We looked at a few other films for references and experimented with the different variations. We've now got that look pretty much defined so we'll continue later in the week with Michael, our DoP, to fine tune each shot. MT
The Making of The Alpha Invention
Earlier this week our fantastic behind-the-scenes videographer and photographer James Gourley sent me the behind the scenes featurette for The Alpha Invention. It gives a small taste of what it was like on-set making the film. Includes interviews with Billy. Enjoy!
Makin' Movies, Makin' Music
Once upon a time someone said that music is the pathway to the soul and they weren't wrong. In my opinion it's one of the most powerful tools, maybe even the most powerful tool after actors' performances that a filmmaker has.
The tone of the film can be swung and dictated to the audience in a matter of seconds with music, the composer can mould how your film feels more than nearly anyone else. My task to find a composer was therefore not without a small sense of trepidation.
Fortunately, I needn't have worried because I found Doug Berwick. We talked about the film, its influences and the tone we are trying to achieve - for me it is important for the film's soundtrack to encompass virtually the entire scope of the noir genre from The Maltese Falcon up to the modern neo-noir era of Elliot Goldenthal and Hans Zimmer. This is not for the sake of referencing or tipping-the-hat but simply because that is the feeling of The Alpha Invention; it is an amalgamation of the different times of the genre visually and in its plot so it is important that the music reinforces that.
Doug's compositions seem to have that blend of the modern with inflections of the past it was obvious that he was our guy. After some initial pieces sent back and forth through email we sat down last Sunday and tweaked the music to the picture. It is quite an experience watching a talented musician play music in real time to your film as it plays on the screen. It allows for a great amount of experimentation and freedom which the vocabulary of a temp track, no matter how good, just can't match.
Doug will continue to add layers and tweak his compositions but with that almost done we head onto sound design. The finish line is near! MT
Editing (aka Killing Your Babies)
The dust has settled, the adrenaline has subsided (for the time being) and I have spent most evenings of the last month clicking away on my laptop to put together the edit of The Alpha Invention.
They say that to be a decent editor you have to be able to "kill your babies" meaning that you cut out lines, sequences or, on feature films, entire scenes that you love for the benefit of the overall film. I've never completely understood the phrase because from my experience editors are more than willing to kill your babies, as opposed to their own. They didn't spend hours on set getting that line, they didn't write forty-nine drafts of a screenplay. This is precisely why many people prefer to hire an editor because they have that distance from the project and can see the film for what it really is and can be.
But I like to edit myself. It gives me that final draft of the film and crafting your shots into a story is one of the most exciting parts of the filmmaking process. However, I allow myself to do this based on one oath - if I see a baby, that is not standing in line with the rest of them, one that is taking the flow and tempo of the film off on a tangent and/or being a very sneaky troublemaker... then I will most definitely kill it. In cold blood. Please don't quote this out of context.
There are two occasions where I've had to kill a big baby with The Alpha Invention. Two sections of the script which I dearly loved, and they worked well on the page, but they weren't driving the story forward. Someone (I think it was Alfonso Cuarón) once said that film has more in common with music than it does with literature, I agree and I think it's because (again, this may have been Cuarón's explanation which I'm subconsciously stealing) they are both temporal; i.e. they pull you along in real time and you don't have a choice in the matter, whereas a reader can read at whatever pace suits them.
For this reason some things just do not work on the screen like they do on the page and these two sections, when watching the assembly edit, felt like an extended guitar solo when you're aching to get back to the chorus. At that point you start getting the voice in your head pleading for these young whipper-snapper's lives with excuses ranging from the almost-convincing - "It's something audiences will remember once they leave the cinema, a nice little detail," - to the very-naff - "But you love the work of [insert director who often makes 3 hour movies]!" Yeah, but I didn't see what prevented it from being a five hour one.
So I downed a beer, gave those sections one last look ("Un momento, doctor,") and then introduced them to the cold edge of my digital scissors. Sadly. But now when you watch the film it whips along and feels in time, in tune and impactful!
Talking about impact. Soon we'll have a locked edit and then it's onto music composition! MT