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 With Purpose

Blogging with Purpose
It has been almost a year since my nearly fatal brush with death. A lot has  changed since then. My “life-changing” event seems to have caused a lot of things to change in my live. Like the proverbial pebble in a pond, the ripples grow ever larger from this life and death experience and these ripples show no signs of stopping. These changes have led me to this post and blogging with purpose for my own blog that has suffered a bit from the effects of these pebbly ripples.

I’ve already relayed a lot of the things that have happened since my almost meeting the  ” big guy”  and I’ve found a wealth of new opportunities have come my way. It makes almost dying seem worth it.

For a start, I am busier than I’ve been in years. I write, on average, eight to ten articles a day for the Las Vegas Guardian Express who, as far as I know, are the only news site to pay their writers (and Deputy Managing Editor/Senior Entertainment Editor) so handsomely for their labour. The chap who owns the paper has gone from recruiter and  mentor, to friend in a very short time, he has joined my growing list of people who have been influential in changing my life for the better.

And busier.

And more profitable.

But it isn’t all about the money. It’s about realising dreams. I feel a huge amount of satisfaction when people ask me what I do for a living and I can answer, “I’m a writer.” It is nice to be finally welcomed into the professional realm of writing after so many years of doing it as part of whatever job I happened to have at the time. Writing adverts for companies, even the USAF, wasn’t exactly how I saw writing as fulfilling my creative side.

Unfortunately, my “personal” writing, which means this blog and my inputs to it’s daily dietary requirement for film and book reviews, is suffering. I am getting better at trying to do a post a day, but my poor blog feels starved. I used to do several posts per day as well as visiting my favourite blogs to read and comment or just to stop by an like. That has all suffered.

But I do not despair. Well, not for long at any rate! I am getting things scheduled better and trying to keep my input up. The reading and commenting and liking and following will soon catch up. If you are among the many wonderful people who’ve taken the time to follow my little blog, which is growing oh so steadily, I thank you. I also wish to pass on that I will eventually get around to reading, commenting, et al, very soon.

I do need to shout out the lovely Kate over at Katie-Marie Lynch (FilmPunk) for giving me the Epically Awesome award of Epic Awesomeness! I am truly grateful for the gesture and regrettably I am unable to participate in the furtherance of this lovely award. The rules are simple and very straight forward, but, time consuming.

In my attempt to keep blogging with purpose I’m only just finding time to do daily posts on my first-born blog with WordPress this week! I am trying to do other things as well, but my poor brain is struggling after too many years of “minimal” living to cope.

Which brings me to my next fawning gesture of gratitude, one that includes Kate. The opportunity to get in front of the camera again after all these years was wonderful and I will be forever indebted to Natasha Harmer, the writer/producer/director of the film Once Bitten, Twice Shy, she blogs over at Films and Things and is an immensely talented individual. The lovely Kate was part of the crew that day and she impressed me mightily. As did Meera Daji and Fiona Lockwood on the day.

I owe them all a great big hug and thank you for taking it easy on an old fella who’s forgotten more than he remembered about the craft. They made a wonderful team and I hope to work with them again.

The “Big Guy” willing!

So that’s my “personal output” for today. A not-so-short post about, among other things, blogging with purpose. If you’ve got a bit of spare time, have a read, but please don’t nominate me for anything. I just haven’t learned to schedule my time well enough to respond properly! I’ll read you later!

IMG_0229

Nelson Mandela, a Movie, and an Epiphany

Nelson+Mandela+

I have had an amazing amount of things happen to me this year, it seems as if Lady Luck or God or whoever is in charge “up-there” is attempting to make up for my health issues and near-death experiences of last year. But for all the interesting and further “life-changing” events, the last two weeks have been the most…tumultuous? A fortnight of Nelson Mandela, making a movie, and having a sudden epiphany about my life.

I’ll explain.

On June 26, the paper that I work for, and believe me when I tell you I’ve never worked for a better company, had received news from a very reliable source that Nelson Mandela had died. Madiba was no more. The source (actually sources) were very highly placed in South Africa and had no axe to grind or ulterior motive apart from telling the world the truth.

My publisher asked me to write a piece about the facts as they’d been presented, which I sadly did. We placed the finished article in the “pending” file to wait for our second confirmation that Madiba had died. Our news editor, a great chap and one hell of a newsman/writer, in fit of over-zealousness, published my article.

All hell broke loose.

In under four hours, the article had gotten over half a million views. It also was attacked, both verbally and physically. I received a huge amount of hate-mail and negativity from readers. I got threats from individuals to remove the story at once. Our new’s site was attacked with repeated DDoS attacks that were traced back to South Africa.

The South African government, or their sanctioned agents, attempted to kill the story and our website. They succeeded in slowing the story down, but it is still alive and it is still the truth, in our eyes. Not long after the second day of DDoS attacks on our site, we received further confirmation that the iconic Nelson Mandela was dead.

While the rest of the world’s new’s sites continue to support President Zuma‘s fiction of the man being alive, we know the truth and it will come out.

But moving on from the death of Nelson Mandela, something the South African people aren’t allowed to do yet, by Zuma and Mandela’s family, follow this link to read about it, last weekend I made a movie.

Well, acted in a movie to be truthful. I had a ball! I’ve said repeatedly in my earlier posts that I had not been in front of the camera since *cough* the 1990s. Tash Harmer the owner operator of Films and Things, and if you don’t follow her F&T blog, stop reading this right this instant and do so; Tash is in University and she wrote a brilliant script for a short feature that received top honours at her Uni.

She decided to use the script to shoot her first professional effort. She wisely surrounded herself with a familiar crew, fellow Uni chums Meera Daji, Fiona Lockwood, and Katie-marie Holbrookboosh Penniman Jr, all of whom are in the same media type course as Tash.

Thank you all

I got the lead of Chris in the Once Bitten, Twice Shy short sans audition. Tash’s faith in me never wavered and I’ll always be grateful for the chance that she gave me. The chance to see if I still had my chops. Time and the film will hopefully show that I have still, “got it.”

But what I have definitely gotten is the chance to do the other thing, apart from writing, that I love. Bless you Tash and the gang, I’ll drop everything to work with you and the wonderful actors I worked with that day (who are, by the by, Steve Speak and Sanna Kelly).

Now on to my epiphany.

I have heard all my life two adages that have always irritated the hell out of me. The first one goes: All things come to those who wait, and the second one goes: Everything happens for a reason.

My reaction has always been a heartfelt and loud B***Sh**!

Not any more. I got divorced almost two years ago and I’ve never been happier. The loss of my second wife freed my mind, and her’s I think, and allowed me to devote more time to my first passion, writing. I now have broken the 70,000 view mark and beaten my 600 follow count by a good sum (and it’s still rising) and I’m working as a professional writer whose work is seen by millions. To paraphrase the Bible, “my cup runneth over.”

Blogging aside, and you’ll never know how much I love all of you  in the blogging community who’ve read, followed and interacted with me since I started this blogging venture, as I mentioned above,   I’ve gotten employed for the first time of my life as a professional writer and I’ve acted again, really acted for the first time in years. These two events combined with the warmth I’ve gotten from the blogging community, as well as getting Freshly Pressed last year, have really made me feel complete for the first time in years.

The divorce, my work injury and subsequent near death from a heart attack, and my ill-health retirement from same, all seem to have conspired to put me in this,  almost obscenely, happy place. I work with people that I love and respect as brother’s and sister’s who all have the same hopes, dreams and the overwhelming urge to write.

And I get paid huge dividends for my labour, as does everyone who works for the Guardian Express Las Vegas. I got a chance to re-live my passion for acting and I stumbled by chance into the world of the real news, I usually write what I call the “fluff” aka entertainment. I’ve been truly blessed.

So my epiphany  is this: Everything does, indeed, happen for a reason and good things do come to those who wait; even it that waiting period lasts a lifetime.

So there you have it. An encapsulated, if not long, period of my life and its changes and my changes. I love you all and I thank you all for going with me on this fascinating and wondrous journey. May the force be with you, or may you live long and prosper, or may you never get a wooden nickel.

Or to paraphrase one of my daughter Megs’ and my favourite film’s, Demolition Man, “Be well.”

Mugging at Kate!

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

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

70,000 and Rising! Thanks!

70,000

This will be a short post. (The idiot that is my sense of humour, wanted to stop the post there!) A lot has happened to me since I started blogging on WordPress last year. I’ll do a very short recap for those of you who came late to the party.

April last year, I started posting on WordPress. I’d been posting things on Blogger and Tumblr but wasn’t too happy with the amount of views I was getting. I switched to WP and the first article I posted (a review of Stake Land) garnered over 2000 views. I knew then I’d made the right choice.

While I’ve never matched that phenomenal view count on any of my other posts, I’ve reached a lot more people and gotten an amazing amount of folks following my little old blog.

2012 was the year of injury and pain. I got injured at work in February after two lads decided to have a fight at lunch time (it was only with extreme self-control that I did not say “feeding time”) and when I attempted to pull the attacker away from his “attackee” and the officer holding him, we all fell to the ground, with moi on the bottom. Cue two more days of intense agony as I shuffled around work and responded to a couple of alarm bells.

Finally, after a 12 hour shift, I drug myself to the doc’s and found I had nerve damage in my lower back. Enter six months of time off work with me hobbling around like a 100 year-old with arthritis.

I then just started back to work and took couple of weeks off for a steroidal shot (two actually) at the end of the first week. Big mistake. The shots hurt worse than the nerve damage and roughly six days after the shot on 30 August, 2012 I had my heart attack. I’ve written all about it in a previous post.

I also forgot to mention that in between the steroidal shots and the heart attack, I got Freshly Pressed! Despite Tyson’s “gut feeling” that the heart attack was brought on by my getting FP’d, I don’t think they are life threatening to everyone!

It’s now going on 11 months since that “life changing” experience (that resulted in two “emergency surgeries” that kicked my arse) and in that short time, a lot of things have changed.

I no longer work in a job where getting assaulted was a daily risk, but I do miss a lot of the folks who I worked with and still feel like a Prison Officer despite my ill-health retirement.  I now work for a Las Vegas newspaper The Las Vegas Guardian Express as the Deputy Managing Editor and Senior Entertainment Editor.

And I’ve just finished a project working in front of the camera for the first time in years.

Thank you all

I’ve also made some wonderful friends through the WordPress blogging community. Natasha “Tash” Harmer over at Films and Things; Meera Daji over at Meera Daji Film reviews & other interesting posts; Katie-marie Holbrookboosh Penniman Jr over at Katie-Marie Lynch (Film Punk), Fiona Lockwood over at Fionalockwoodyr1; Marilyn Armstrong over at Serendipity; Tyson Carter over at Head In A Vice; and so many others that if I mentioned them all, this post would be, if not novel length, at least novella length.

I want to thank all you folks that I’ve mentioned and whom I haven’t the room or the time to mention. Misty Layne over CinemaSchminema also deserves a special mention, it was through her I got to write (for all too short a time) for Rogue Cinema, thanks mate, your support has been terrific.

But to Marilyn and her wonderful “other-half” Garry Armstrong – who has met and interviewed the world’s rich and famous, among others, I want to really thank as they’ve both been there for inspiration when my days felt pretty damn bleak.

Tash, Meera, Katie, Fiona, I love you all, you helped an old actor discover he could still do it. (I’ve just re-read that and thought of you guys’ references to another type of short film!) And any time you young ladies need an actor for anything, do not hesitate to call me, I owe you.

Now I must stop this long, and somewhat self-serving, post and get busy. I had many days of “too much time on my hands” and I’ve swung to the other end of the pendulum and now seem to have more things to do than time. I prefer the latter. So in closing, I’ll just say that I’m grateful and pleased and a bit shocked that I’ve gotten as far as I have in the blogging world.

I’ll also leave a link to my employing newspaper, The Guardian Express Las Vegas just in case you’d like to see all the articles that I write for them.

I raise my metaphorical glass to you all, “Here’s to another 70,000 views and posts!” Oh, and I lied about the length of the post…sorry!