The Beast on the Moor: Short Black Comedy With a Message

Poster for The Beast on the Moor
Natasha Harmer has done it again. In 2013 she performed her one-woman cottage industry act when writing, producing and directing her short film Once Bitten, Twice Shy. I can attest to her skills in all three endeavors as the lovely lady cast me in the lead role as the hunter with a secret. In 2015 she has worn a triple hat once again with The Beast on the Moor. A short black comedy that will appeal to those who know what village pubs are like in Britain’s small villages and for those who loved the opening of American Werewolf in London, the film will also be a delight.

A couple of tourists who are thinking of relocating to this small village near the moors stop into the local pub for a drink and a little information. The publican, whose dark presence in the shadows does not bode well for the two, is not a welcoming figure at all.

This use of a local urban legend, or would that be rural legend, to turn away unwanted outsiders who want to settle in the village is clever and funny and hides a message. It is not too unbelievable when one considers the amount of resentment from village residents at the “posh” out of town residents who work in the city and only show up on weekends and holidays.

These part time residents drive the price of houses and property up for the folks who actually live there all the time. The message is that these part-time villagers are making it hard for the folks from the village to continue to live there. That is my understanding and may not be what Natasha meant at all. You’ll have to ask her.

Possible messages aside, the lighting is perfect for this “punk’d” scenario and the location is perfect. As the story progresses the music fits the mood perfectly and the sudden O. Henry ending is delightfully done. The actors all perform their parts well and the publican (bartender) was a last minute replacement to the originally hired actor who had to drop out.

Sadly, this will be the last film from Natasha for a while. When I expressed dismay at this news she explained that losing access to all that equipment on loan from the University was a major factor in her decision to “retire.”

The Beast on the Moor can be found on YouTube and Vimeo, as can Once Bitten, Twice Shy. Head on over and have a look, it won’t take long and I promise you will enjoy it. The cast list includes Midge Mullin as Trevor, Tracey Norman as Sandra, Mark Norman as Jason, and Luke Abbot, from Oracle of Film plays James.

9 May 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

Blogging for Dough, Does it pay?

Writing something!
Hard at work at my new job!

I first started blogging back in 2010. One tiny blogpost and then nothing for an entire year. I restarted in ernest in 2011 but never got any colossal views on the Blogger site. I added Tumblr to my little blog verse and, again, didn’t really set the world on fire. It wasn’t until I made the move in April last year to WordPress.com  that my views, readership (aka followers) and interest picked up.

I have been doing this for roughly a year and three months and I’m only now getting a solid blog set up, with a lot of help from my “real job” working for the Las Vegas Guardian Express.

I had written an earlier blog about the likelihood of gaining employment from writing your blog. It is possible to make money from it. If you’re an author, it is an excellent springboard for advertising your wares and increasing your fan base, which in turn, will increase book sales.  There are ways to advertise on your blog, but my trips down that particular avenue have not been very profitable.

In truth, they’ve been practically non-existent.

I was approached by a company when my views started going up. I was pleased to think that my ramblings could earn me cash. Then reality hit. The money that they offered me was laughably low. It amounted to around $100 for a year of letting them advertise on my blog.  I also took so long to respond that I missed that particular window of, limited, opportunity.

I then tried the “Adsense” route, or the WordPress version of it anyway. I never heard back. Presumably my little blog is too little to count. I then attempted to branch out and go the freelance route. While my first attempt got positive feedback, the finished product didn’t meet their “expectations” and I was left penniless at the end of the day.

The only income from my writing has been as an entertainment journalist/editor for the Guardian.

I would like to say that my blog was instrumental in getting me this nicely paid job.

It wasn’t.

I got the job almost by accident. I had gone to another newspaper, owned by the same organisation, with the idea of posting some of my short stories on the site. While I busily built my profile, I noticed another advert on the site that was looking for writers. It was the Guardian Express.

I applied.Thumbs up!

To cut a long story short, I received training and tips from the owner/founder of the paper, DiMarkco Chandler. I already knew how to write, so that part was easy. What I didn’t know was how to write for the internet world of news. I’d had journalism a million years ago and remembered all the things you must do in an article.

What I didn’t know was how to utilise those rules in an internet format to ensure that people read my articles.

But it was more than the training that got me swept up in the excitement of writing for a newspaper at my advanced age. It was the chance to work for an organisation  that, not only paid handsomely for my work, but one that believed in dreams. Everyones dreams. That, plus a group of likeminded folks, make this a “dream” job!

So, if I was asked by anyone, does blogging for money, pay? I’d have to answer, “Yes and no.” I’ve not earned one red cent from my blog. But writing it and posting several articles a day, brushed the cobwebs out of my very rusty writing skills and helped me to start to develop a singular style.

It was blogging for fun that got me started on this venture and while it never reached the “blogging for dough” stage (well not very much dough was offered at any rate) it hasn’t paid me one thin dime.

But it was blogging that inadvertently and in a very roundabout way led me to my current position. I still think that blogging is an excellent way to polish your writing and a great way to meet likeminded folks who also enjoy writing their creative, and sometimes personal, thoughts and sharing them with the amazing blogging community.

I’ve made some real friends via WordPress and at least one helped realise that I could still act and was instrumental in making me realise that no dream, even one that had been given up on years ago, was beyond my reach.

So blogging for dough, does it pay? Not really. Not for me, at least. But the recompense in making friends, building a following, and interacting with a wonderful community is much more satisfying than making money. Although you can’t pay bills with that sort of recompense.  But I’ve only been doing this for a short time, I may yet make some “real dough” for my labours!

Michael SmithIMG_0229

United Kingdom

23 July 2013

81 ‘likes’ in 3 days?! :D Once Bitten, Twice Shy (again)

81 ‘likes’ in 3 days?! 😀 Once Bitten, Twice Shy (again).

BOOM Upside My Head, Versatile Blogger Award!

20130411-190623

Whilst I was reeling from getting THREE nominations for the Epically Awesome Award for Epic Awesomeness, Dave over at  Last Road Reviews pummelled me upside the head with a Versatile Blogger Award.

Ouch! I didn’t see that one coming!

As with all awards in the Blogging verse, this one comes with rules. Since I’ve taken days to respond to Dave’s nomination (Sorry Dave) I’m going to expedite this via the “lazy man’s” way. I’m going to copy said rules from his post. Have I mentioned lately how lazy I am?

Versatile Blogger Award – Rules for those who wish to participate

1. In a post on your blog, nominate 10 fellow bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award; and link to them.
2. In the same post, add the Versatile Blogger Award.
3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog.
4. In the same post, share 10 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
5. In the same post, include this set of rules.
6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

My randomly selected nominees are:

  1. Claratsi Movie Review
  2. RobinsRealm Blog
  3. FOXXIECINNAMON’S Blog
  4. readful things blog
  5. Bad Horror, Good Times
  6. Roll on some movies!
  7. Film As We Know It
  8. Kevin’s Movies
  9. hypersonic55
  10. Reel Ex-Stream

My ten unknown (probably not by now though) facts are:

  1. I snore.
  2. I love golf but cannot afford to play it.
  3. I am just breaking into the world of freelance writing.
  4. I’m on the staff as a writer for web magazine Rogue Cinema which focusses on Independent film.
  5. I am a host for Tommorrow Comes Media by Seventh Star Press and my first event will be May 16th.
  6. I’m going to be acting in a film by Natasha Harmer  called Once Bitten, Twice Shy.
  7. I am writing short stories at the minute to become a (hopefully) published collection.
  8. The first novel I’m writing is going to be a western (cross genre).
  9. I have 7 plus scars on my body, most from surgery!
  10. I have quit smoking, but, now appear to be hooked on the bloody nicotine gum!

And that, as they say, is that. I’ll leave you now to enjoy your Sunday lunches, trips to the seaside and pints at the pub. But I’ll remind everybody that my choices, as always, are completely random and chosen from the lovely folks who follow my blog already. In my mind you are all deserving of an award…I’ll just have to think one up!

Thanks again Dave!

Cheers!
Cheers!

 

 

 

Getting Used to the Silence

My front garden (aka front yard)
My front garden (aka front yard)

Up until Friday the 26th of March this year, I was used to a (to me anyway) fairly full house. Then my daughter and her fella moved out of the house.

Now the house feels very empty…and quiet.

I’ve spent the past two days cleaning and washing and sorting the house until it looks fresh. It also looks empty. I decided this morning to take a few pictures and describe this silent location I live in. So tighten up your belts, the tour starts now.

The first thing you’ll see coming into my abode will be the front hallway –

My front hallway.
My front hallway.

Not too exciting by anyone’s standards but it is mine and it leads into the kitchen.

IMG_0067
See! I told you I’d been cleaning!

Then, if you turn around and go straight to your left you enter…The front room, aka sitting room.

My entertainment corner! Video games are mandatory.
My entertainment corner! Video games are mandatory.
My place of work...the downstairs one. Gloves for the heavy jobs only.
My place of work…the downstairs one. Gloves for the heavy jobs only.
My Stevie King collection, unfortunately a lot of them are in the attic due to lack of bookcases.
My Stevie King collection, unfortunately a lot of them are in the attic due to lack of bookcases.
My "remembrance" wall, The Twin towers skyline before 9/11 and my Gran Know way on the right.
My “remembrance” wall, The Twin towers skyline before 9/11 and my Gran Knox way on the right.

Then if you go up the stairs the first room you come to will be this one –

My third bedroom, cum spare room, cum office.
My third bedroom, cum spare room, cum office.

Then the very empty and too quiet second bedroom –

It's so empty! *sniff*
It’s so empty! *sniff*

And finally my last refuge at night, the master bedroom!

Complete with American "made in Missouri" quilt.
Complete with American “made in Missouri” quilt.

I’ve stopped the tour here. Why? Well because as the post title says “Getting Used to the Silence”  and that is a bit of a misnomer. I’ve discovered that since I have become the sole occupant of this house, that it makes one hell of a row at night. Especially at bedtime and especially just as I’m drifting off to sleep.

I don’t know how I never noticed it before. the house: creaks, pops, shuffles (I know, weird right), groans, snaps and makes a myriad of other sounds that defy description.

The end result of this cacophony of noise? Me jumping back awake every two minutes or so until I’ve convinced myself that, “Yes the downstairs doors were all locked and bolted. And yes, you are alone in the house!”

I personally blame the emptiness, and the pervading quiet that disarms me and is taking ages to get used to.

But honestly, it is allowing me to get on with my new-found work (I’m writing for Rogue Cinema and I’m now a part of the staff with owner/editor Duane L Martin and a bunch of other folks (including Misty Layne from Cinema Schninema).

I’m also signing on with Tomorrow Comes Media to participate in their author’s tour programme as well as writing my own blog and trying to write my first book (along with creating more short stories for a collection).

On top of that, I’m still watching films and excitedly awaiting the shooting date of Once Bitten, Twice Shy written, directed and produced by the super talented Natasha Harmer.

My cup truly “runneth over.”

So I’m trying to get used to the silence (except at night) and working on a schedule that will allow me to do everything and get to spend some quality me-time in my back garden.

We've got the sun, now we just need some warmth!
We’ve got the sun, now we just need some warmth!