I broke a website

Recently I decided to jump in and fix something that had been bothering me for a while.

The Action On The Side website had been hosted by the hosting site James uses (James who created AOTS). Each year I reimbursed James for hosting, an annual cost I had forgotten about. Over the years my ‘graphical ineptitude’ had made the site clunky and hard to navigate. I was getting reminders to update the php (which I had no idea how to do). It was due for an update.

So, I contacted James, said I was finally moving the hosting to GoDaddy (which I use for my sites). I got it transferred over. Then had to pay for the new hosting (<£150 for two years, more than for the previous hosting).

I knew I had to somehow connect the WordPress to GoDaddy. Then I realised, of course, that the @actionontheside.tv mailing list would be connected to the previous hosting service (it redirects to a gmail). What to do?? What if I lost the email address??

I created an archive of the AOTS files and emails on Google (where I pay £1.59 p/month for 100GB online storage.

Then, on Sunday, the bloody worst happened. I went to log in to the AOTS Website, and couldn’t bloody log in!

I had broken the AOTS website!

Sunday I spent trying to log in, getting more and more upset. How could I be so stupid?!

I realised I had to get a website up pronto. AOTS had no website whatsoever. NOTHING! What if someone was looking at it.

I had to quickly set up a new website and populate it.

Great opportunity to update the previously clunky website. I had to make a quick decision: Squarespace or Wix.

I chose Wix.

I started developing the site on Wix. But I didn’t have the images that we previously had uploaded in one place (they’re across different online sources and different external hard drives). And I hadn’t planned how I would set it up. And then I hit a block — I needed to pay for Wix for being able to have my own domain address.

Then I realised that the hello@actionontheside.tv email address wasn’t directing anywhere. What if someone was trying to email me?! I had to pay for that as well!

You know what, by this stage I didn’t care, I just had to get a professional site up, so I just hit “pay”, and kept building. I ended up paying £158 and £60 to Wix for a website and email.

Oh, but the previous AOTS google email address was no longer connected to the @actionontheside.tv email address. Wix set up a new one. So I had to set that up: with a behind the scenes Google account that I was too stressed and time-poor to understand. So now we have the previous actionots and now a new email hello@actionontheside.tv.

Of course, I spent ALL DAY trying to fix this website, but I had to stop that evening to grade student work and plan for the following week.

THEN I tried to see the work I had updated, to see if it worked.

Oh, but there was NOTHING on the page. No website registered.

That was fun. (/s)

I tried different browsers. I tried clearing cookies and my cache. The website was not coming up. There is a thing where it takes time for your cookies to recognise a site is there (or something, I really don’t understand). I contacted GoDaddy support. The woman there could see the website — it’s just I couldn’t.

That Sunday was a really bad mental health day.

I tried my work computer on Monday. Still no website.

It now appears (thankfully).

One week later, and I have not had the time to finish building it. Oh, and I forgot the password I set up for the hello@ email address (because I was so stressed and in a rush when I created it), so have had to contact Google to get it updated.

So, yeah. I broke a website. You can check it out here. I’m slowly updating it, but only when I have time.

Welcome 2020

2019 was a crazy year, where I was overworked. I am now working at Uxbridge College in the Creative Studies department, teaching media to 16-20-year-old students.

Goals for 2020 include exploring more of the UK and expanding Action On The Side outside London.

I’m also going to improve this website and the AOTS website. I’ve been ignoring them for far too long, so time to … totally go on fiverr and find people to help!

Hiding

Screenshot 2019-08-08 at 15.25.07

Hiding

A short thriller Directed by Nirusha Wijayamohan.
Written by Andrew Pennington, based on a story by Randa Elobeid & Nirusha Wijayamohan.
Starring Jey Jey

I was the First AD and Co-Producer for this short film. The film has nearly finished postproduction. We are now looking for someone to design a poster for the film. I’ll be posting on my Facebook page and making contact soon.

Vlog experiment

I’m trying a bit of an experiment over on my Raindance YouTube channel. This year I’m doing a short 1-minute vlog at the end of each teaching day, just going over what we covered that day.

I think it could be useful for my students to see what was covered and when; I think it will be a useful tool for my growth and development as a teacher; and it’s just useful to have a record of what we’re covering.

I don’t mind if no-one watches the videos, as they’re mainly for my development. Here’s the link to the channel if you want to check it out though.


Update: June 2019

I tried it, but the teaching workload got too much. It was too hard to do daily. I sometimes did it once a week. Then something changed at work, and I didn’t have the mental energy for it.

I deleted the videos, never to do them again.

Hunting Rabbits

Our latest Action On The Side short film has been made and released, and it’s one that I wrote.

We’re now in the ‘get as many people as possible to watch and complete the feedback form’ mode

Watch the film here:

Hunting Rabbits from Patricia Hetherington on Vimeo.

 

Once you’ve watched the film, please complete our feedback form at this link.

Completed the feedback? Yes? Want to find out more about the script and how it was selected? Then click “read more”…


Back in 2014, I entered the NYC Midnight Short Screenplay Challenge. In 48 hours I had to write a six-page script that 1) was a ghost story; 2) had a barn as a key location; and 3) had a padlock. The screenplay I wrote was this story. I had set it in the American Mid-West (seeing as it is an American competition).

When I ran regular script development sessions, I developed the script further. One of our regulars suggested I change the title to something more interesting — previously it had been called SALLY. He suggested HUNTING RABBITS, which I stole (with his blessing — he got a Thank You in the credits).

Since 2014 I have pitched Hunting Rabbits for the Action On The Side project, as a way to show how pitching works. I knew full well it would never be selected: it’s too difficult to shoot in a month, unless you have a barn. Whenever I pitched it, people couldn’t imagine this American story being shot in London.

Another AOTS regular pointed out he had potential access to a barn.

I continued to use the script for script breakdown and producing exercises in my teaching.

I rewrote the script to make it British.

For the November 2018 project, with a dearth of scripts being pitched, I shared four scripts — more than I ever do — just to get the ball rolling for participants to feel comfortable to pitch their own ideas. As per usual, this included Hunting Rabbits, but the updated version.

On day 1, I pitched three of the ideas. We broke for lunch. After lunch, someone asked why I hadn’t pitched Hunting Rabbits.

I had forgotten, so I pitched it.

We shortened our long list, and discussed the pros and cons of each film idea.

I decided to pull Hunting Rabbits — there’s no way we could shoot it in a week without a barn (the aforementioned regular who said he had access to a barn, didn’t). But people argued. Hmmm, strange. Okay, it can stay.

Long story short, for whatever reason, the group decided this ghost story set in a barn would be a doable short, and voted for it.

AND four of our participants (all women) pitched to direct the film. FOUR!

Within six days, we sourced a barn location, just outside London; cast; additional crew; costume and props; and got everyone together to shoot.

We have one week to get all the feedback we can to see what the anonymous masses think of the film. It’s nice to get another writing credit, and to see our work on-screen.

Now I’ve got to write another default script to pitch each month…

AOTS Time

Tomorrow the November Action On The Side project starts.

We have a good group, and I’m looking forward to working with them. We have an 80% female team. It’s the first time I’ve had two of my students be my interns. It’s the first AOTS I’ve run since I started teaching full-time at Raindance.

What I know is that I haven’t had enough time and energy to promote the project, so things I should have done (regular email newsletters, attending networking events, posting in film groups, running script development workshops) have all fallen by the wayside. In future I’ll need to find more of a team to help in the lead-up, and I’ll have to rethink my workload.

Also we seem a bit short of scripts in the group, so I’m pitching three of my short film scripts — including one I’m writing tonight for the occasion.

Now to preparing for tomorrow…

A summer (what?)

This is the first summer I have had holidays for a long while.

Last year (2017) I was finishing off my Master’s, all the way until I started teaching. The year before that (2016) I was working on my Master’s and preparing to start teaching at Uxbridge College. The year before that (2015) I had left a job that was killing me and was freelance for the first time, seeing first-hand the stress of applying for work as a full-time job. I also started my Master’s then. The years before that (2014, 2013, 2012) I was a workaholic, working as a Registrar and making movies.

So, here’s what I’m doing this summer.

  • Preparing for the next academic year: writing assignments, schemes of work and lesson plans;
  • Promoting our Raindance HND programme and our two new programmes;
  • Promoting and preparing for the October Action On The Side project;
  • Getting some paid film work: I’ve been applying for sound recording, AD, and writing roles.
    • I’m 1st AD’ing a short film called Lycanthropy. Looking forward to shooting that on September 1st, 28th, 29th, 30th
    • I’m editing a short film called Bitches
  • Developing a few film ideas;

and, of course, doing some relaxing.

I hear that’s nice.

Tips for Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival and Market started yesterday. The Marché du Film is the largest film market in the world, and a must-attend for many in the film industry.

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I, unfortunately, cannot attend this year (teaching, y’know). Next year we should be able to attend and promote the feature we’re making with Raindance. I attended two years ago. Before I went, I attended two information sessions to prepare me for it: one run by Raindance, and one run by Women in Film and TV (WFTV).

Some of my friends are attending for the first time. Plus some of the forums I’m on have had people asking advice for the first time they attended. Here are my tips for attending Cannes.

2015-05-18 17.37.15

Tips

  • go to many things as you get invited to them. That’s how you get to the amazing parties. Most parties don’t start until after midnight.
  • bring business cards. When you receive a business card, immediately write on it where you met the person or take a photo of them holding it.
  • 2015-05-18 17.34.18wear layers. It may rain, it may get cold (not everyone is aware of that).
  • wear comfortable shoes, because there will be a lot of walking and a lot of standing.
  • ladies, wear clothes that you can dress up with accessories in case you get invited to a red carpet or event. You never know what will happen on the day.
  • wear sunscreen
  • 2015-05-18 18.10.38go to the UK tent and ask what events they have that day or coming up. Then ask if you can be put on the door.
  • be polite to bouncers and door staff.
  • get on mailing lists before the event. Think about who you want to see. WFTV, Raindance (villa party), Shore Scripts, BFI, BAFTA … basically, think of any film organisation that could be there. See if they have an event or desk at Cannes. It will help you plan.
  • don’t arrange to meet anyone at a set time / set place. You never know what will happen between then and now. Just know that Cannes is crazy and you can find your friends later.
  • The American tent is the only one that charges entry — but it has wifi. It’s a good place to meet people.
  • Uber has a crazy surcharge.
  • you can walk everywhere.
  • Staying in Cannes itself is crazy expensive. Cannes La Bocca is walking distance and cheaper. Staying nearby in Juan des Pins is a short train ride or bus or taxi. We stayed in Nice — much cheaper, the train is easy (40 mins or so), but the last train is midnight. And, like I said above, the parties go on all night.
  • visit the national tents, watch films, network, have fun, all that jazz!

 

The HND on IG

As we’re gearing up for year three of the Raindance Higher National Diploma, we’ve just created an Instagram page for the programme. There’s talk of running a Snapchat as well.

I’m now running three Instagrams: Action On The Side and my personal IG.

As part of the HND, we’ll be running rolling short social media marketing internships for our students. This will help them to gain experience in marketing that will help them in the independent film industry.

Follow the Raindance HND page for pictures from our students.

Raindance HND Feature Film

The inaugural Raindance HND £5k Student Feature Film is being announced today

The Raindance Higher National Diploma (HND) on which I teach has created a competition for our students: across the two years of the diploma, we will find the best writer, best director, best producer, best DP, best editor, etc., and those students will be given a £5000 budget to produce a microbudget feature film.

This is an amazing opportunity for students to learn by doing, and to get their first feature film credit right out of school. The thought process is that many filmmakers got their start with microbudget narrative features: Robert Rodriguez, Peter Jackson, and Raindance’s own Kate Shenton to name but a few.

There are three Executive Producers for the project, who will provide mentoring for the students and supervise the project. Myself, Zulf Choudhry (Director of the HND), and Elliot Grove (head of Raindance).

This is the first time we have run this, so it’s a learning curve for all of us.

The students submitted their ideas with a logline and title. These were shortlisted. The selected students were given advice from their lecturers and support to further flesh out their story.

Two weeks ago the students pitched their ideas to our panel. The panel included the Executive Producers, lecturers, and industry filmmakers. Nine ideas were pitched, each with their own merits. The students could pitch as scriptwriters or as producers. They had three minutes to pitch their idea and seven minutes for questions. The pitches were filmed and made available (privately) to the rest of the student body.

Each member of the panel voted privately on their top 4 films. The student body has one vote collectively. The Executive Producers will then confirm which film has been selected. The successful screenwriter, producer, or team, will then work on developing the script until the start of year 2 (October 2018), and producing the film ready for shooting at the end of year 2 (July 2019).

The student voting process ends today at midday, and I’m really looking forward to announcing the film.

On a related note, check out the promotional video one of my students made.

It has been picked up by Raindance to promote the HND. More of my students have uploaded their promotional videos. I’m looking forward to watching them all.

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