I finished Part Two – The World is Watching last week.
This player automatically displays the trailer but you can rent or buy it straight away. Thanks again for all the support.
I set up a page at Vimeo On Demand where I can add new parts as they are released.
That’s right, finally finished.
I’ve been slack posting the news here but Valerie updated the copperheadeditions.com site with a pre-order page for the DVD.
Why have I been slack? Well, I was working on finding a streaming provider that worked without having to force people to sign up to a service they will never use and who will constantly send nagging promotional emails. I looked at Amazon, Vimeo, iTunes and a host of smaller distributers but the one that came closest to my goal was Distrify. You don’t need to sign up, you can pay by card or PayPal directly from the player, they don’t take weeks to approve or encode my film, they don’t take an unreasonable percentage from the cost of the sale or require a fee to use their service, I can embed the player in any website I choose and the final cherry on the cake is I can set the cost low. £3.49 (and equivalent in other currencies) is the lowest the service allows. So that’s how much it costs to stream.
I decided to use the Copperhead Editions website Valerie and I set up last year to sell prints and artwork. After the 17th February 2014 you will be able to watch the film here.
The same week I found Distrify, I found a local-ish DVD duplication service with an insanely quick turnaround time. So I set to work figuring out how to encode a DVD with real menus, bonus footage etc. I used Adobe Encore to create the menus because I didn’t want generic looking screens that looked like it came straight from iMovie/iDVD.
I originally planned to set up the DVD when all parts of the film were finished and released but after speaking with a few people who wanted to watch the film but lived in areas with poor broadband connections or who travelled a lot, I decided to look into small-run replication and it was more affordable and less difficult to create that I previously thought.
A note regarding cost:
I’ve tried to make this film as affordable as possible and try to give you value for money. I know £15 seems expensive for a 40minute film when you can regularly buy feature films for a third of that. I don’t have the financial backing of the hollywood system and this project was entirely funded from my own savings. Kinda like a time-consuming hobby. I know I will never come close to breaking even. That was never my goal. I’ve worked on this project for 2 years now. It really was a labour of love in the truest sense.
For the DVD package to pay for itself, including flyers, stickers and physical production (the DVD, case, inlay and booklet) I need to sell at least half of the batch I order from the replication company. My first order was 100 copies. Many of them will be given to people who helped me or are featured in the film. We also don’t get paid to package orders and take them to the post office. That’s just the physical product.
Let’s not talk about the equipment, software and hours of work that was necessary to make this thing happen.
I wouldn’t have it any other way. So far the response from my peers has ben incredible. I’m happy that the things I thought were important have been recognised by those who’ve already seen it.
Originally my plan was to have this project finished by “late 2013”.
I stayed on track with that deadline until I spoke with Woody, the organiser of the Brighton Tattoo Convention at the London Tattoo Convention in September. He let me know he was interested in showing this film at his convention. I didn’t think that showing a film that was already available online was an appealing prospect so I suggested that the first showing would be at the Brighton convention 2014.
The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed at the end of Steve Byrne’s clip the text “coming early 2014”
So that’s where the film is.
I took the opportunity to use the extra time to finesse the transitions between scenes and interviews and dig deep into my archive of photos to find interesting images to use to support the themes and subjects the interviewees talk about.
To make editing simpler and to reduce the load on my computers processor and hard drive, I split Part One into three 10-15 minute sections. This is a timeline screenshot of the first eleven and a half minutes.
The editing is going well and I’ve been lucky enough to have music by one of my favourite ambient/soundscape/whatever artists: Hivver. Joe Quimby was kind enough to let me use some of his music in this project and I think it fits perfectly along with some pieces written specifically for the scenes. You can check out some of his music here: hivver.bandcamp.com
I’m also working on a title sequence that I can use for each section. I’ll post that when It’s ready, or almost ready.
Sorry about the wait but I’m excited to let you all see the finished thing.
If I’d never met Steve Byrne, I’m not sure my tattooing would look the way it does today, if I’d be tattooing at all.
Steve was my introduction to the world of tattooers who care about the way their tattoos look. The tattooers who care about the history and the future of tattooing. Steve also was responsible for introducing me to tattooers who would later work at Frith Street and become colleagues and friends. Steve put my name forward when Dante wanted a new tattooer at Frith Street in 2007.
Without Steve I wouldn’t be working at Frith Street. I owe a lot to this man. Because we are both Northern Englishmen, we’re uncomfortable with sharing emotions but he knows that I’m grateful and I’m sure he knows that I’ll always have affection for him and his tattooing.
I managed to catch a few minutes with him in his hotel room after the amazing Bay Area Tattoo Convention, at SFO in October 2013.
In this clip he shares some of his early memories of Frith Street Tattoo, talks about FST’s position in the world of tattooing, the efforts and rewards within tattooing and a message for the crew and Dante.
You can see some of Steve’s work here: rockofagestattoo.com
Naomi plays a pivotal role at Frith Street Tattoo.
Her official title would be Shop Manager but she’s so much more than that.
Naomi organises the day-to-day managerial tasks of the shop. She organises Valerie’s and my appointments, clients and schedule months into the future and makes our work lives as simple as possible so all we need to think about is doing good tattoos. She acts as personal assistant to Dante DiMassa, organising his shop and life.
I know that Naomi dislikes having cameras pointed at her so it took a while for me to secure the interview that this clip is taken from. True to form, her affection and dedication to Frith Street Tattoo overcame the desire to stay out of the limelight.
I’m really pleased she agreed to do this interview because she’s such a major part of what makes FST what it is on a day-to-day basis that not having her be part of this project would feel like I was hiding something important.
If you see Naomi at a tattoo convention or tattoo shop somewhere in the world, please don’t take her picture.
The boys I from last week’s clip are the ones who roll their sleeves up and do the dirty work but Naomi makes sure it happens on time, safely and without interfering with people getting their tattoos.
She’s a carer, facilitator, friend and confidant who has our complete trust that she’s doing things for the good of the team at the shop. If Naomi was older we’d call her Mother Goose but she’s not, so we can call her the FST Lady with the Lamp.
These guys are the front line at Frith Street Tattoo.
They’re the ones you’ll speak to if you call or visit the shop. They’re the ones who deal with all your questions, requests and complaints. They’re also the ones who run errands for the rest of the tattooers and the owner of Frith Street Tattoos.
One night, after work we shared a pizza, a couple of beers and a chat.
Here they talk about their first experience with Dante DiMassa (Danny), the glamorous nature of working at a busy, well-known tattoo shop, working with people who love tattooing and then a message for the rest of the crew at FST.
Well, it’s not really a blooper. Nothing went wrong and I’ll use this clip in the finished version of Part One: A Film for All and None. It just makes for a more interesting title than “Phone Call”
While I was working my way through the edit, I decided to share this clip. I think it highlights both Oliver and Jordan’s approaches to life, tattooing and each other. Like any comedy duo, there’s a straight man and and a banana man. Other than myself and Oliver, Mario Desa was present for the interview – you may be able to hear his voice one or twice. Enjoy.
Following my announcement last post that this project will be a series rather than a single movie, I’ve put together a trailer:
“Almost two years in the making, FST: On the Shoulders of Giants is Stewart Robson’s intimate portrait of life in a modern, highly respected, world-renowned tattoo shop.
Spread across four parts, Stewart interviews resident tattooers, guest artists, customers, and staff to offer a glimpse into what makes Frith Street Tattoo tick. With no candy-coating, the FST crew shares their views on tattoos, the people who do them, the people who get them, and the world of tattooing in general.
Entirely self-produced, directed, and edited, this film stands as an honest portrayal of Frith Street Tattoo in 2012 and 2013.”
Please share it, tell your friends about it, post it to your blogs and tumblr, watch it and wait for the Part One…
Part One: A Film for All and None is still a couple of months away. There are a few conventions coming up and I’m editing this thing in my spare time, whatever that is. Keep your peepers peeled.
I have a new member of staff to help me speed up the production:
Less exciting but I’ve also moved the site to a real domain name instead of a x.wordpress.com name.
I have Assembly Edits of each section of this film completed.
What’s an Assembly Edit? Well, it’s the sequence of clips I intend to use, assembled in the order I intend to use them.
This is a major milestone in the development of this project. After weeks (months) of logging footage, marking transcripts and moving pieces of cut up paper around, I finally have something that resembles a film. Albeit without any supporting images, footage or graphics but it’s still possible to watch it, rather than imagine it. As it’s been up until this point.
Yes, I said ‘each section’ up there.
My original plan was to make a film that served as a portrait of Frith Street Tattoo as it stands today. It seems I made four films.
While organising footage and making notes I wanted to divide the film into four subject areas to make it easier to watch. After I assembled the footage, weeding out extra repetition and less interesting parts, I was left with enough useable footage to make 4 films each at least 20 – 40 minutes each. I hope you lot have the stamina to sit through them all. Each one has a different feel and flavour.
Here’s a run-down of the working titles:
Part One: A Film for All and None
This film centres around the Frith Street Godfather, Dante (Danny) and the family atmosphere of the shop.
Part Two: The World is Watching
This one highlights the position of Frith Street Tattoo in the world of tattooing as a whole and the responsibility that entails.
Part Three: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
A film about the direct lineage of Frith Street Tattoo and the tattooers and people who allowed us to be where we are.
Part Four: We Never Sleep
(my favourite section so far – I’m really pleased with the way this one came together)
This film spotlights the work and effort that goes into striving to make each tattoo better than the last and the results of that effort.
I never planned to sell this project but because it’s turned out to be way bigger than originally intended (and thought possible) I’m considering various forms of distribution. My favourite at the moment is to have each section free for a limited time, then offer high quality downloads or a DVD compilation with tons of extra footage that just didn’t fit with the themes of the films.
Right now I’m working on a trailer for the series. As soon as it’s finished I’ll post it here and on Youtube.
In the meantime you can check out some behind-the-scenes photos of how I got to the assembly edits.
Marking the Transcripts:
This took a hell of a lot longer than I originally expected.
I had a huge folder of transcripts to wade through. Each colour pen pertains to a different theme. Yellow – Part One, Pink – Part Two, Green – Part Three and Blue – Part Four.
Arranging the Paper Edit:
After numbering each marked clip I could cut out the marked sections of transcript and begin to arrange them into sub-categories.
Some are for the intro to each section, some for the middle, end, etc.
Then I can start moving them around and deciding how the narrative flows. Once I’ve arranged each section, I paste them onto sheets of paper. These sheets serve as a ‘script’ to the film.
Then it was a matter of finding the numbered clips in the edit software and placing them on a timeline according to my paper edit.
Now comes part where I re-arrange things a thousand times and make transitions and edits smoother, add photos and supporting footage than I’ll be ready to show a rough cut to friends and family for them to review.
Keep your eyes peeled for the trailer.
Well, not really panoramas, but it’s the same idea.
I mentioned in an earlier post about a photo book I’d like to release when this film is complete.
I’ve been trying out different ways of taking photos around the shop.
Here’s a few portraits of some of the guys at the shop that I used to test how I’d use the look.
Dante was the first one I shot. When stitching it together I realised I could tell a story or at least emphasise elements by shooting from different angles.
With this portrait of Emiliano I tried to capture different points in time in the same final image. Sadly, I didn’t get chance to stick around until he finished the tattoo.
Jesus & Mary. These guys watch over the shop every day. Anyone who’s been in to our basement shop will recognise this statue.
I decided to get shots of The Shop when it was empty. I hope to take one during a busy work day once I get comfortable with this technique.
Even though the space was tight, I managed to get most of the angles I wanted for this portrait of Valerie.
I look forward to doing more of these in the future. I really like the way these pictures have some of the same feel as getting tattooed or doing a tattoo. There’s multiple things to think about, lots going on and it’s a little overwhelming at times.
While Valerie was painting a sticker design to promote this film, I did a quick & dirty test with my iPhone to see if I could use the same idea with video. I uploaded these clips in HD at 1080p so they’ll look great full screen.
There’s a white version that emulates the look of the photos.
Then there’s a version with a black background that I think suits video better than the white.
These are early versions and tests. I aim for the finished products to be much better looking and more interesting.