Four grands worth of gold.

There are many types of movies out there for us to enjoy such as the mega budget blockbuster starring the biggest names that Hollywood has to offer, these films collect the largest box office takings and appear in the media the most which is hardly surprising given the wads of cash that follow these productions. There are other movies that are smaller in scale and budget but still carry the perfect teeth of some heavyweight veteran of the silver screen that adds some bulk to the smaller picture.

Next we have the truly independent film that whilst being entertaining also tries to make stars of a host of unknown actors, writers, directors etc. These movies are truly a favorite of mine because they tend to be more story and character driven and less dependent on a succession of special effects and explosions.

The digital age however has enabled a new generation of film-makers to be able to tell their stories in a way that was never possible before. Editing software for home computers and a range of sophisticated hand held recording devices allow the film making process to be attempted and indeed achieved to a high level by people who could not have found this possible in the past. With such equipment readily available the cost of the film making process can be massively reduced which opens the door for a new phenomenon, the micro-budget production.

These smaller budgets of a few thousand can be procured through the process of crowd funding by utilizing sites such as Kickstarter where we (the ordinary public) are encouraged to pledge a few pounds or bucks towards the projects that grab our attention. The crowd funding process is an excellent way to raise funds in order to get certain projects off the ground and to also get the fans involved by allowing them to help finance the movie/novel/album or whatever catches their eye in exchange for certain perks and rewards.

This brings me onto one such feature film called THIRD CONTACT which can be viewed on YouTube for free and absolutely should be…by everyone, in my opinion. Shot in black and white and brimming with atmosphere the film is a character driven Sci-fi that keeps you guessing and on edge from the first scene all the way to the last. A psychiatrist suffering from his own internal turmoil starts to look further into the apparent suicides of some of his patients. His search leads him down a dark and sinister path! I will not give too much away regarding the plot because i hope you will go straight to YouTube and watch for yourselves.

THIRD CONTACT comes from the mind of London film-maker Simon Horrocks and is the debut feature of his BODY DOUBLE FILMS production company. Using a meagre £4000 of crowd funded cash and thanks to a great story he has produced a truly great movie that is as entertaining as anything from across the pond, in many cases even more so. The little known but very capable actors perform expertly and the camera work is also stylish and professional. The most admirable aspect is that the finished product does not reek of a £4000 project, they could have spent £400,000 and you would not question where the money had been spent.

Please check out BODY DOUBLE FILMS on YouTube and also @sihorrock on Twitter for updates on further projects, he also has an excellent Sci-fi series under his belt called KOSMOS which is intriguing and entertaining and a follow up novel called A RACE OF MINDS which is available on Amazon and I am about to start reading myself.

One of the best things about THIRD CONTACT is the hope that it gives to others about what can be achieved with a good idea and a relatively small amount of cold hard cash. Greatness does not have to come at a price…a few thousand should do just fine.

Treat us like adults SKY we deserve some truth!

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Before I begin this rant I would just like to say that I am a paying customer of Sky television and am very happy with the service I receive and the company as a whole but I do have a few reservations concerning the sports division. For a start there is the wholesale monopolizing of the sport coverage world that means that any sporting event worth watching has to be paid for at a monthly premium. Weekly football, rugby, Formula 1, Ufc, golf, cricket and boxing events are spread across either Sky sports or BT sport with very little left for customers who cannot afford 20+ pounds per month just for sport!

This month’s annoyance comes from the Sky sports boxing team that in the name of drumming up business fails to paint an honest picture of the upcoming bouts and grossly over estimates how close these fights are going to be. I have to praise both Sky and Boxnation for bringing the world of boxing to the U.K. and for allowing us to see big American fights live. I can remember when I was a young kid in the mid eighties when these big fights were just not available until days later or sometimes not at all, sometimes the only report you got was a few lines in the newspaper. The same goes for the Ultimate fighting championship that is broadcast live on BT sport, a far cry from its early days in the late nineties when it had to be viewed on jumpy, unreliable VHS tapes that were like gold dust to acquire.

Sky sport has forged a very close relationship with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom boxing that has given British fighters some remarkable opportunities where many have won world titles and had great worldwide success. Fair play to Eddie he has made these brave warriors very well off financially indeed and given us some great fights but some of his matchmaking has been woeful at best. A great deal of these boxing events are shown on Sky Box Office that adds £15.99 per event to the Sky sports subscription of £24 per month, for that money people expect a lot of bang for their buck. To flesh out the night of boxing a substantial undercard of fights is arranged to compliment the main event but some of the opponents leave a lot to be desired. A great number of up and coming British fighters and well known veterans are wheeled out for these undercards but the ropey eastern European and south American journeymen that they face are usually too poorly equipped with skills and desire to last even a few rounds. Obviously Eddie Hearn wants his guys to win and be successful but we want to see them tested and not just turned out for a glorified sparring session which happens time and time again.

A worrying trend lately has seen even the main events become horrible mismatches that are masqueraded as genuine 50/50 dust-ups. Through no fault of his own Kell Brook the Sheffield welterweight has been at the centre of a number of these one sided snooze fests. The first two, Jo Jo Dan and Kevin Bizier were the number one contenders for Brook’s IBF title and so were necessary bouts even though both opponents were horribly outclassed but then we come to GGG! Kell Brook deserves massive props for stepping up two weight classes to face the middleweight destroyer Gennady Golovkin but we all knew that he stood no chance…didn’t we?

I knew that Brook would not last six rounds against the smiling but brutal Kazakh and so did all the other boxing fans amongst my friends and colleagues but the Sky boxing team had other ideas! Johnny Nelson, Carl ‘I fought in front of 8o,00o at Wembley’ Froch and Hearn himself all gave Brook not just a chance but the edge over the middleweight king! I know they have to sell the fight to the paying public but please…come on…really! Anyone who had ever seen a boxing match before knew that Brook was seriously out of his depth. It was always a question of how long he would last and not if he could win and no amount of so called expert analysis was going to convince me otherwise.

The Anthony Joshua vs Eric Molina fight is another case in point and another massive mismatch. Molina is a terribly out of shape second rate fighter who was lucky to get his first title shot (which he lost!) and certainly does not warrant a second tilt at world glory but I suppose it is the Heavyweight division and one punch can change any fight.Again though I have to berate Eddie Hearn for not choosing a more capable opponent such as the New Zealander Joseph Parker, Bulgarian giant Kubrat Pulev or the dangerous Russian Alexander Povetkin. These opponents would be tough but I think AJ would do just fine.

The final fly in the ointment and perhaps a bigger mismatch than Brook vs Golovkin is the upcoming David Haye vs Tony Bellew fight in March. I must confess that I am looking forward to seeing Bellew get knocked out but he should not be sharing a ring with Haye under any circumstances. I honestly don’t see Bellew reaching round 3 but already the team Sky experts have been bigging up Bellew’s chances of pulling off a stunning victory! Not in a month of sundays!!! The saddest part is the predictability of it all. When Bellew gets knocked out and it is all over he will stand in the ring and say that he’s not really a heavyweight (which we all know) but he is still the best cruiserweight on the planet (which he isn’t ahem…Usyk, Gassiev, Lebedev, Huck, etc) and the Sky/ Hearn gravy train will roll on to the next big mismatch! 

The downside of downtime.

One of the biggest problems I face in my life as an aspiring author is the lack of writing time than is on offer to me, there simply isn’t enough. The word ‘aspiring’ should tell you that I am not yet (if ever) earning an income solely from writing and as a result have to hold down a day job which is a great way to eat up forty hours of any given week. Then you have to add commuting which is another forty minutes per day or three hours and twenty minutes per week!

After work come the best hours of the day, the ones spent with my son and fiancee and a time when writing has to take a back seat. After our evening meal, a hot bath and once my 6 year old has finally gone to sleep I can then whip out the aging Dell laptop and take to the keyboard like Little Richard on a piano. Usually I start at about 8 o’clock and continue through until 11 or 12 but during those 3-4 hours my attention does get dragged to the lady of the house and to the television which is fine but does eat up time.

Even at the weekend I only have those few nighttime hours in which to create something hopefully intriguing and exciting, this has an upside and a down. The upside is that almost every single evening is spent on Microsoft word as I try to cram as much into my few hours as is humanly possible. Writing night after night however leaves little time for anything else, by this I of course mean ‘man time’. There are evenings when there is a family occasion or if we are out for any reason and of course no writing gets done although it is always at the back of the mind…always.

Free time used to consist of many things before the need to write forced its way into my life and took over completely, things that still interest me but have taken a back seat for a few years now. There is simply too much media to choose from!

On those odd occasions when I do decide to forego writing for the evening the options open to me are vast, unfamiliar and daunting. Sitting under the television is a SKY+ box with a planner filled with hours of recorded movies and television shows, billions of dollars of entertainment to tantalize the senses and imagination but alas some will be deleted simply to make room for more! Some of the U.S shows such as the Walking dead and the Game of Thrones cannot be missed and are watched by me at the hour of broadcast but others are recorded (the Strain, Outcast, Westworld) and then binge watched at a later date, some however take up too much space and are sadly deleted…forever (or until a rerun).

Over a hundred Dvd’s are stacked in racks upstairs and not one has been played ever since I began jotting down the ramblings from within my skull and the same can be said of the tub of Xbox 360 games that are gathering dust under my bed…thick dust. Then there is YouTube which can be lethal in the world of wasting time as perusing a simple 3 minute video can snowball into a three hour marathon of classic boxing, idiots falling over and other assorted entertaining nonsense.

There are dozens of books here in both traditional paper and Ebook format that will be read and are being slowly but surely, they call out from the shelves with exciting covers begging to be read. The internet is another great way to eat up time as well from checking the football/rugby scores to browsing Amazon to almost anything else, that too can snowball until the battery in your smartphone is dead or two hours has gone and it is time for bed.

There is too much choice for an indecisive soul such as me and so in the end when I do get a few hours that I have chosen not to dedicate to writing I usually sit there for an hour trying to decide what to do e.g. Telly, Xbox, movie, book or online and when I cannot make up my mind I just sit there flicking through the Sky channels until I find something interesting or funny or sometimes I find a movie that is already half way through. Sometimes I find nothing and after a few minutes of Twitter I go to bed wishing I had knuckled down and written a page or two. 

Catching the bug.

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Even several hours of torrential driving rain could not dampen the spirits down at the Brewery field in Bridgend for the Welsh Principality league clash between Bridgend Ravens and Pontypridd RFC. I was there to support a friend of mine from work Kyle Evans who spent the afternoon packing down in the second row for Bridgend and did a marvellous job I might add. The ravens seem to be the perpetual underdogs who were given very little chance of victory against the mighty Pontypridd who have won the league for four consecutive seasons before losing out last season, against the script they came mightily close to claiming the spoils.

This was my third time to watch Bridgend up close, the first time during this regular season and for a young team they played very well especially against the very experienced Pontypridd who boasted former Welsh international fly half Ceri Sweeney and are coached by former Wales stars Robert Sidoli and Garin Jenkins. For almost the whole first half Pontypridd were on the offensive and the Ravens had to put up a desperate but solid defence that only briefly crumbled at about 35 minutes. The championship hopefuls went in at half time 10-3 up.

For some inexplicable reason Pontypridd substituted some of their most industrious forwards while Bridgend brought on two guys in the front row who turned the scrum on its head. The Pontypridd fans did not enjoy seeing their forwards pushed all over the park at all. Another try for the visitors and an excellent kick and chase try for the home side followed by a penalty from the Ravens no.10 Joe Scrivens left the score at 15-13 to Pontypridd. A truly heartbreaking moment occurred less than 10 minutes from the end when the previously mentioned Scrivens broke free of the Pontypridd defence and only had to run straight for the try line. The magic moment was ruined however when an unseen force (probably a rogue piece of torn up turf) brought the rampaging no.10 down as though felled by a sniper. The ball was soon turned over and the opportunity gone forever. The whole contingent of Bridgend fans (including myself) were fed faced and screaming at the breakaway only to be crestfallen moments later. Our spirits were left shredded at the final whistle at what could have been!

Pontypridd looked far from title contenders while the Ravens youngsters did themselves proud on a wet and windy 1st of October afternoon. The conditions threatened to play the biggest part of the whole affair but the game was not adversely affected. For an entry fee of £10 I cannot think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon, for a rugby fan of course.

Ever since the introduction of regional rugby the franchises the Cardiff blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and the Dragons have eaten up the media coverage here in Wales while the very clubs that feed those Pro-12 giants have been largely forgotten by the mass public. Pontypridd enjoy an abnormally large following and the results have reflected that statistic but the teams like Bridgend who have a fantastic set up down at the Brewery are forced to struggle on with a weekly gate of a few hundred to feed the coffers. What they are able to achieve on such a budget is remarkable, just look at Bridgends Swalec cup final victory over Pontypridd in 2015 as a testament. Giant slayings are rare but they do happen, the Ravens just fell short yesterday but only just.

The point of this entry is just to say that I have never really followed any team in particular, apart from the Treorchy Zebras in the mid nineties, but I have been a fan of all Welsh rugby general. Two visits to the Brewery field and a bit of attacking flair and I was transformed into a foaming at the mouth lunatic, yelling “Come on Bridge!” at the top of my voice, complete with bulging neck veins. I desperately wanted the Ravens to win yesterday especially given that they were massive underdogs (and we Brits are a sucker for an underdog aren’t we) and was left in despair when the final whistle blew.

Needless to say I shall be visiting the Brewery field again, maybe wearing the blue and white of Bridgend next time.

Come on Bridge!

Dipping the toe.

Hello…anybody there? This is my first entry into the world of blogging and really all I’m here to say for now is to outline briefly what sort of nonsense I’ll be posting in the coming months. I am currently on the journey (gah that sounds so cheesy) to hopefully one day becoming a fully fledged published author although that seems a long way off at the moment. I have one self published title currently for sale on Amazon, a short story collection called A Dozen Tales of Misfortune although it has been doing reasonably well it is not exactly a best seller, I am proud of it nonetheless. The plan is to document the ups and downs of my hobby/fledgling career as well as to vent my thoughts and viewpoints concerning a number of topics that interest me such as current affairs, books I’ve loved or hated, films/ Tv I’ve seen and a number of sports that interest me such as rugby, boxing and MMA. Football is discussed and analyzed enough so I think I’ll leave that to others more qualified than myself. I am hardly an expert on the other topics but an amateur opinion is still an opinion so if you ever need to read the musings or rantings of a 36 year old Welshman I’ll see you soon.

Thanks.