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13 Mar 2010

James McAnespy - My career so far

I started off my burgeoning career on the set of a professionally funded (by Intense Productions) short student film, 'Crashing the Wake,' (Official site IMDb and learned much of my trade there (particularly the art of just telling everyone what's going on, in order to create a buzz about something). I was a runner, meaning I lifted heavy stuff, and did all the menial stuff. But that was OK, I was on the set of a commercially funded project, in a professional atmosphere. And it was a lot of fun. I had to take a day off because of my formal, and missed the TV spot on BBC Newsline. It was directed by Chris Baugh and Arnstein Dybvik, and starred Philip Morris, Briege Roche, Chris McMahon, Paddy Montague and Seamus Ball

The first film I made was entitled 'Tea". It was a simple project I had wrote in a day, and filmed in an afternoon in my school Staff Room (CBS Omagh, for anyone interested). It was about four teens who were claiming to be Marxists, but underneath were really just spoiled brats. They couldn't even make a cup of tea together.
There was some proper complications during the shoot. Firstly, having obtained permission from the Principal, no less, to get the shoot done there, I couldn't get any peace for the shoot to actually happen - teachers kept showing up expecting to be able to 'relax'. Add to that the fact that one of my main actors was called to work at 5am that morning, so I was left stranded for about six hours. Well he flew to Lanzarote and back (he was a steward for Easyjet) to shoot for a few hours in the afternoon.
It took about three times longer than I expected to edit it, mostly because I didn't have a clue what I was doing for the first few days. With the aid of the extremely helpful Michael McDonald (I'll try to give him a plug at the BAFTA's or something - he is an underrated genius), I managed to get it done.
After some shameless self-promotion, I managed to get it mentioned on UTV, the regional television station, and in the local papers (Ulster Herald, Tyrone Constitution), and immediately sent it out to every festival that would accept DV films, and didn't have a submission fee. That ruled me out of most of the competitive ones, but I was just trying to get word out, and it probably wasn't slick enough for competition anyway.
I got word that it was going to be screened in Bradford, at the Co-operative Young Film-makers festival, and then also at the Imperial Beach film festival in San Diego, California.
I attended the festival in San Diego, and they were so impressed by the fact I travelled so far, they pushed my screening up the Bill. I ended up being the curtain raiser to the main event, a screening of The Boondock Saints (everyone should watch this film), with the director, Troy Duffy, and cast and crew.

Then I embarked on a Foundation Art course at University College for the Creative Arts, specifying in Moving Image and Photography, where I had the chance to meet some wierd and wonderful people, and make a few films.

I started off by making an complicated film about poker cheats. The brief was that the protagonists had to communicate without talking.
Next, we had to work individually on a project that had to be based on a piece of text. I chose 'In God We Trust', the words at the top of the US Dollar Bill. It was a montage of images of historical American controversies, such as the Vietnam war, the Iraq war, assassination of JFK.

In groups again, we were singled out to shoot a promotional corporate documentary for a Skills Fair. Among the guests present were Linda Barker (the Designer), Kim Wilde (The "Kids in America" singer, turned professional media gardener) and Craig Phillips (He won the first Big Brother, and now does DIY shows.) The project was used in the official capacity by the promoters to show to school kids.

Since then, I went to do a Law degree, at London South Bank University, so in order to maintain an interest in creative projects, I switched my focus from being behind the camera to being in front of it. However, this was largely a sabbatical in order to concentrate on studying.
I was a founder member of the univeristy's Shakespeare Society (with credit to Craig Legg and Jordan Lownds for starting it up, and the other members included Amy Tighe, James Long, Phillip Kerrigan, Sebastian Schweers, Rehan Malik, Sean Cowell Blake and Kerry Lambeth), performing in Macbeth as Banquo and then appeared in David Bull's and Robert Turner's graduation films.

After I graduated, I moved to Belfast, and immediately auditioned for the South Bank Players production of JM Synge's Playboy of the Western World, directed by Michelle Markem and played the role of Jimmy Farrell.



This weekend, I wrapped filming on a student project, "The Conversation," written and directed by Sinead McDonald, a tense study of a young man battling his inner conscience, based on true events. Editing is expected to be completed within the next few weeks.