Thursday, 23 February 2017

Day 23: Fly Away

Starring Alex Bedward, this is a second music video featuring the music of Chris Baldwin (following our collaboration on 'Rose'). Shot on location in London in October 2015, using a Canon 5D Mk II, and released on 16th November.

You can read an in-depth post about the making of the video here:

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Day 22: Over

Of the films that I've made - this is probably my favourite piece of work…

This short film took over 4 years to bring to the screen - I had the idea at some point in 2010 and shot a version of it in the summer of 2011, which, unfortunately, I had to abandon…I was beyond disappointed as it was such a personal project and I really felt that it could have been something special. 

However, the project was resurrected in 2014, when Yoann Moëss contacted me out of the blue saying that he had seen my work, was coming to Manchester for a couple of weeks & wanted to collaborate on something…'Over' wasn't over after all.

So, we shot the film but unfortunately, I then had a number of other projects on the go (such as The Rabbit). Subsequently, the sound design took well over a year to complete. This was frustrating but it had to be right - I'd already waited 3 years, another 12 months was fine by me.

As with all of my 2015 projects, you can read a more in-depth post here:

Over stars Yoann Moëss & Jolene Rathmill (Round In Circles). Released October 16th, 2015.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Day 21: The Rabbit

Today's YouTube release is The Rabbit (2015), a short film I directed and produced for One Day Films. You can read an in-depth blog post about the making of the film here:

One Day Films: "A young couple on their way home from visiting one of their parents discover, through a graphic and disturbingly prophetic incident on the road home, that their lives and aspirations have been drifting apart and that the future they thought they might have together is viewed very differently by the two of them. This Mark Duggan film, based on a screenplay by Erik Knudsen, is an evocative short road movie about the painful dissolution of a relationship."

Starring Harris Matthews & Toni Sherwood-Pearce. A One Day Films Production of A Mark Duggan Film. Written by Erik Knudsen. Directed, Shot & Edited by Mark Duggan. Producer Mark Duggan / Executive Producers Erik & Janet Knudsen. 

Monday, 20 February 2017

Day 20: 'The Rabbit' Vlogs (2015)

Today's YouTube release is a trilogy of behind-the-scenes Video Blogs about the making of 'The Rabbit' (short film, 2015), a commission by One Day Films​, who I am currently working with on Cleft Lip (feature film, 2017).
  • Vlog 1: The Writer (Erik Knudsen discusses the origins of his short film script for 'The Rabbit' and why he has invited Mark Duggan on board to direct the project for One Day Films) -
  • Vlog 2: The Director (In this 2nd video blog, shot by Erik Knudsen at his home in Todmorden, Mark Duggan discusses the themes of the short film and the personal nature of the project) -
  • Vlog 3: The End (In the final vlog for 'The Rabbit', Erik Knudsen & Mark Duggan discuss the script, the shoot, the themes, the final product and One Day Films)
The Rabbit will be released tomorrow…

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Day 19: New

Synopsis: Whilst wandering through the streets of Barcelona, a man reflects on the damaging years he spent with a destructive woman and his newfound love for life.

Equipment: This short was shot on an iPhone 5s & I recorded the audio with an iPad, using the RØDE app and a RØDE SMARTLAV Lavalier Mic.

One of the most life-affirming films I've made...You can read a more in-depth post about the making of 'New' here:

"The film of tomorrow appears to me as even more personal than an individual and autobiographical novel, like a confession, or a diary. The young filmmakers will express themselves in the first person and will relate what has happened to them. It may be the story of their first love or their most recent; of their political awakening; the story of a trip, a sickness, their military service, their marriage, their last vacation…and it will be enjoyable because it will be true, and new…The film of tomorrow will not be directed by civil servants of the camera, but by artists for whom shooting a film constitutes a wonderful and thrilling adventure. The film of tomorrow will resemble the person who made it, and the number of spectators will be proportional to the number of friends the director has. The film of tomorrow will be an act of love" - François Truffaut.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Day 18: Cuddling A Monster

My third & final '24 Hour Film', 'Cuddling A Monster', which was shot for the Five Lamps Films 24-Hour Challenge in May 2015. The film comes in two forms…
  • The 24-Hour, "Festival" Cut, which was awarded 1st Prize by Five Lamps Films (running time: 3 minutes).
  • The Director's Cut, which presents the story in its entirety. This longer cut is far more personal and, undoubtedly, my preferred version of the film (running time: 8 minutes 55 seconds).
You can read an in-depth post about the making of the '24 Hour Cut' here:

& you can read an in-depth post about the making of the 'Director's Cut' here:

Friday, 17 February 2017

Day 17: Bitter End

The music video for Afterdown's track, 'Bitter End'. We shot the whole thing in one evening at Red Wall Studios in Bury. 

A more in-depth post about the making of this video can be found here:

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Day 16: Rose

This music video was shot two years ago today! I can't begin to describe the place I was in, emotionally, when I made this...I remember deciding not to use my monopod, as I wanted the camera image to have a clear shake - a visual expression of how I felt. The effect still unnerves me now. 

A big thank you to Terry Corbett - he shaved his head solely for this project and gave a great performance too. This film wouldn't have happened without his involvement...

A more in-depth post about the making of this film can be found here:

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Day 15: Turning

Another short that was completed for a time-based filmmaking competition (Part 2 of my '24-Hour Trilogy') - this time it was for the 'Colchester 60-Hour Film Challenge'.

What inspired the story? Well, I had to move into a new flat, in a new town, on the 29th September (the competition ran from 3rd-6th October), as I'd been kicked out of my ex-girlfriend's house. As you can imagine, I wasn't feeling great about relationships and, once you see the film, you'll realise that that's enough of an explanation really. It's an 'expectation vs. reality' setup; a story that is clearly divided into two parts - "the honeymoon/fairy tale period" and the "I'm not happy, I've settled" period. The story is also a clear reflection of who I am - a creative who seeks to make sense of their life through art.

The brief for the competition was emailed to all of the contestants on the Friday evening (3rd October). Each team were given an individual film title, line of dialogue and action…I received the following:

Title: Turning
Line of dialogue: It's free every two weeks
Action: Attempts to juggle apples

Luckily, what I'd be given (just about) fit into the story that I'd thought up. The line of dialogue wasn't ideal (in the end, I asked the actress to make it sound like it was a sexual joke that the couple had between each other) but the title I received was perfect! 'Turning' - which clearly linked to the turning of the camera after each photograph, as well as the literal turning of the couple's towards each other, as well as away.

Filming took place on Saturday 4th - we started just after 11am and we wrapped 12 hours later (the final shot was done at 11.02pm). I must say a huge thank you to Lewis Martin (Cinematography) & Harrison Conner (Sound) who both did an excellent job and enabled me to get the film shot in such a short amount of time.

In terms of a visual approach, the "romantic" scenes were quite loose & handheld, as I wanted the action to feel completely spontaneous. Meanwhile, the second half of the film was mostly shot on a tripod, as I wanted the scenes to feel painfully dull. Also, I wanted to create a continual contrast between the two stories - for example, look at the way the bath is used in the "fantasy" scenes and then in the "reality" scenes…or, compare the first shot of the film with the final shot - they are exactly the same (both show a woman laying on her side), yet they are completely different in terms of what they depict. I think the cinematography works well in this short but you'll have to judge it for yourself.

The editing, colour grading and sound design was done on the Sunday (5th) - which included a last minute request for some music (by Chris Baldwin, who did a great job!)…and the film was online by 8am on Monday (6th).

Probably not what most people will want to see after Valentine's Day. Relationships aren't easy, it's certainly not all roses and bubble baths - they can leave us feeling completely isolated and this film seeks to show that. Much of what appears on screen is based on real-life events, so, needless to say, I heard that my ex wasn't very happy…but I was very happy with what I'd made - I'm proud of this one. Take a look!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Day 14: Round In Circles

After completing 'The Longing Trilogy' this was the next project that I started work on (many months before Windowpane had even entered my mind). The idea came about as a result of a thought - wouldn't it be nice to make another £10 trilogy but tell the story from a woman's perspective...

I spoke to Jolene Rathmill about working together again (we'd previously worked together on 'Own Worst Enemy') and met up with her to discuss story ideas. I was keen to incorporate some of her personal experiences into the film - so after our meeting, Jolene went away and jotted down some memories and thoughts, which I then moulded into a narrative that was consistent with my particular style of filmmaking/storytelling, i.e. characters recalling memories from the past, the breakdown of a relationship, as well as universal themes of isolation/loneliness/longing/regret, and so on. 

Shooting began in December 2013 and the final shots were captured on 16th April 2014. For the scenes set in the present day, I decided to predominantly use a 24mm Tamron lens - I wanted the present to seem detached and distorted (& I added a film grain in post-production to make the image slightly grubby and unpleasant). I contrasted these sequences by shooting the memories with a 100mm Soft Focus lens, which gave the shots a unique, intimate and dream-like quality.

The following months were spent completing the edit, colour grade and sound - which had to be intricately designed as there wasn't any dialogue in the film. We never managed to make a trilogy but 'Round In Circles' was released in early September 2014. Enjoy!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Day 13: Windowpane

The first part of what I call my '24-Hour Trilogy' (followed by Turning & Cuddling A Monster), as it was filmed for a time-based filmmaking competition.

I'd wanted to attempt a time-based film competition - i.e. making a film in an allotted time - for quite a while ('Cold Desert' was initially conceived as an idea for one), & decided that Five Lamps Films 24 Hour Film Challenge (May 2014) would be the one I'd try. The premise for their comp is simple - shoot and edit a 3-minute film in under 24 hours.

How did I do it? You can read the full post here - - but to save you time following the link: I started shooting with the actors at 5.20pm on May 10th and the whole film was completed (edited, graded, sound designed & exported) by 9am the following morning (May 11th). That's quite a turnaround! There's one shot that I'm not entirely happy with, which I'd have worked on given more time - but, overall, I'm very happy with this film, both technically and narratively. Thanks to Alex Gilbert for his work on the project (sound recording, sound designing & generally helping out).

'Windowpane' was screened alongside the other 24-hour entries the following week at Quad Cinema (Derby) and I was awarded 3rd Prize…though it was nice to be acknowledged, I really don't make films for awards and accolades (though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't happy when I found out that it had been selected to play in the London Short Film Festival, 2015). The most important thing for me, ultimately, is that I'm proud of the work and I am very proud of 'Windowpane'.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Day 12: The Eternal Cave

This project took a while to complete…shooting began in February 2012 and wasn't completed until November 2012! And then there was months of post-production work to be done after that - before I type anything else, I'd like to thank Stuart Samuels for his wonderful digital effects work and Ash Tidball for an equally wonderful opening score!

So, in a previous post, I spoke of my desire to make music videos that aimed to be something more than a band thrashing their instruments for 3 minutes. A quote from Francis Ford Coppola about music videos, still springs to mind when I think about this: "This short form [music video], basically commercials for records, is losing energy. Why not have a longer audiovisual piece, not just two minutes, but forty minutes? The sky is the limit for the new cinema"

I wanted to do something quite experimental with this music film (as I'd previously done with You Left Your Heart in the City) - the narrative doesn't really start until over a minute into the film for one thing (I'm probably encouraging people to skip scenes by admitting that).

Thoughts that went through my mind whilst dreaming up the project...
  • Would it not be nice to make something that starts as a short film and then becomes a music video? 
  • Would it not be nice to have a minute long, slowly cut opening sequence…and then completely abandon that pace once the track starts? The contrast would be interesting and unexpected - yet the cutting would still take on the more traditional pacing of a music video.
  • Would it not be interesting to contrast old-fashioned costumes & scenery with modern rock instruments? It is a dream after all...
  • Would it not be interesting to start the film with clichéd, almost cheesy, fairy-tale imagery…and then follow these scenes up with a completely unexpected sequence of a band performing in a huge cave?
  • &, finally, it would be a lot of fun to make a music video that paid homage to one of my favourite films - Pan's Labyrinth (as well as a number of other films - Snow White, The Evil Dead, Rashomon, etc.)?
Unfortunately, I think the experimental nature of the film may have put some viewers off. In fact, I know it has! This film was submitted to a screening night in the North-West. It wasn't selected but there was feedback provided by the four panel members - three of them really liked it ("beautiful locations", "remarkable photography", "extremely well made") and seemed to exclude it simply because of the running-time of their screening night. But one person didn't like it at all… 

"I wasn't a fan of The Eternal Cave's cinematography; the saturated colour felt over-stylised. I'm afraid that I found the location of the video a little bizarre, with a young woman who looks stylistically very old fashioned dressed in a cloak, and the lots of nods to biblical references with the eating of a red apple jarring with the very modern set-up of the band playing contemporary music. To me, this felt like a music video and I'm not entirely sure that was the aim given this is a 7 minute film."

The thing is - everything that person questioned, was done deliberately! I guess some negative reactions are to be expected when you start to play with genre and people's expectations…a 7 ½ minute music video - take a look and see what you think.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Day 11: Longing (Part 3)

The final part of the £10 Film Series (a.k.a. The Longing Trilogy). This trilogy was a great opportunity to make 3 very different films, all of which followed one character as he longs for the past, a connection, love and his loss of innocence.
  • 'Under The Bridge' - The character is reflecting on everything that he had in the past, as he hopes for a connection in the present.
  • 'Cold Desert' - The character is literally lost. He searches tirelessly through his own mind for the partner who left his side.
  • 'Because' - The character longs for the childhood that he never had: the childhood that was stolen from him.
Because (Film 3) was based on a poem by Terence J Corbett. Subsequently, I've asked him him to write up his thoughts on the project…here's what he had to say:

"This is the 3rd part in "The Longing Trilogy" but perhaps it could’ve have been the 1st - as it would have offered an "explanation" for the characters behaviour in the other 2 films. But I prefer ambiguity and these films reflect that.

“Because” is a poem that I wrote for a booklet, which was created to help men disclose and break the silence of sexual abuse in childhood. It went into prisons - one of the places where a man can end up after holding on to a “dirty secret” that was never theirs to begin with.

Getting sober and clean was the easy bit for me at the time. It's dealing with the shit that has been running around in your head afterwards, without “distractions”, when the real work starts. I was doing a lot of therapy around the time of making this film. Therapy helped, but I found, and still find, that creative outlets (especially film) are where the real answers lie. 

This was the 3rd £10 film me and Mark Duggan made together but it certainly won't be the last. The best tenner I've spent."

Friday, 10 February 2017

Day 10: Longing (Part 2)

Part 2 of the £10 film series…

I wrote this story at some point in 2012 and had a number of the sequences sketched out long before shooting began in January 2013.

Film 2 of 'The Longing Trilogy' is completely different to 'Under The Bridge' in terms of style & approach. Whereas Part 1 is dialogue heavy, Part 2 is completely visual in terms of how the story is told. Film 2 is a lot shorter too - clocking in at 2 minutes 24 seconds (5 minutes shorter than 'Under The Bridge'). You can see my original post about the making of the second part of the trilogy here:

Though perhaps not immediately apparent, due to the dreamy nature of the images and the cuts, this film is highly personal & encapsulates how I felt for long periods in my 20's. Take a look!

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Day 9: Longing (Part 1)

So, it was late October in 2012 and I was eager to start making something new (despite still shooting scenes for The Eternal Cave). Luckily, I bumped into Terry Corbett, whilst with another friend (Lewis Brewster - who has composed music for a number of my films: You Left Your Heart in the CityCuddling A Monster, The Rabbit)…I suggested that we shoot a short film and both of them agreed - probably thinking that I wouldn't pull it together within a week or so (we were filming 5 days later).

Why the rush? Well, I'd been completely inspired by a documentary by Mark Cousins (What Is This Film Called, Love?), which he had shot over 3 days with a flip-camera and a budget of £10. Subsequently, I thought I'd try something similar (my original post about £10 filmmaking can be found here:

I wrote a script based on some personal experiences, such as my real-life friendship with Terry, & set myself some rules for shooting:
  • 1 crew 
  • 1 camera
  • 1 lens
  • 1 evening (all scenes to be completed within a week)
  • & a budget of £10
Before this shoot, it'd had been over two years since I last worked with Terry (on Own Worst Enemy & You Left Your Heart in the City) but we picked up right where we'd left off…and, as a result of another successful collaboration, we decided that we'd turn this film into the first part of a trilogy about his character ('The Longing Trilogy').

Here's Part 1…'Under The Bridge', enjoy!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Day 8: Hiding Place/Number 1 Fan

Today's post sees the release of two music videos, both of which were shot in 2011….but couldn't be any further apart in terms of style and content. 
  1. Number 1 Fan (Myles & Connor) was shot in the summer of 2011 but wasn't released until February 2013.
  2. Hiding Place (Crushing Blows) was shot in October 2011 and released in February 2012.
The latter is definitely my favourite of the two - it felt more personal and I was probably inspired to do it as a result of shooting the former.

'Number 1 Fan' was made as part of a business venture with my brother - but it exists now, solely, as a reminder that I should only make projects that I feel I can take ownership of. Though I came up with the idea for the video and then directed it, shot large parts of it, and edited it, I don't really feel a personal connection to it.

Why did it sit on the shelf for over a year? Well, there was a disagreement with the two performers whilst shooting one of the final scenes and they decided to walk, which resulted in the record label refusing to pay us the money that we were owed - very poor given the effort that we had gone to on such a small budget (I heard that the D.I.Y. label want bankrupt).

'Hiding Place' was a music video for Crushing Blows. I shot it in a very cool basement at a house in Derby, with a crew made up of film students I taught at Burton College (where I was working as a full-time lecturer). Though the band found the location, I thought up the imagery and feel it encapsulates many of my recurring themes - loneliness, isolation, fear and so on. Unfortunately, there were also disagreements with these two musicians too, but as I didn't accept payment, I had the final say - something all filmmakers should strive for.

Since these two projects, I haven't directed many music videos (for a number of reasons)…but the ones that I have made, I did as the artist's gave me complete creative control - & I don't think that's much to ask for really (if the roles were reversed, I would never make suggestions about the chords a band should play in a song).  

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Day 7: Part 2 - The Full Cut

And here is the "full cut" of 'Heart in the City'…'Own Worst Enemy' & 'You Left Your Heart in the City' back to back!

Day 7: Heart in the City

One of the most autobiographical films that I've made, which I indulged by casting my brother in one of the main roles. The project speaks for itself really, so I'll keep this post brief. 'You Left Your Heart in the City' is available as a standalone film here:

Monday, 6 February 2017

Day 6: Own Worst Enemy

A music video that was designed to be the first part of a double-bill with 'You Left You Heart in the City' and, subsequently, I decided to shoot them simultaneously.

I think my Vimeo description of the project provides a good summary of what I was aiming to do with the two films…so I'll recycle it here:

"Part 1 (Own Worst Enemy) was released online to coincide with the release of 'You Animals' debut album, 'Crimes, Creeps & Thrills'. The 3-minute music video is set in Manchester and contains cameos from every member of the band, as Terence J Corbett plays a man on the verge of a breakdown. 

Part 2 (You Left Your Heart in the City) delves deeper into that same man's story, as we follow him through love, marriage, separation and parenthood, in a film designed to bend expectations of genre, as short film and music video are entwined. The narrative for Part 2 takes place before, during, and after the events depicted in Own Worst Enemy."

I've mixed memories of making this music video & 'You Left Your Heart in the City'. At times it felt like a real struggle (I didn't really have the money to do it & I wasn't in the best place personally), yet it was also some of the most fun I've had whilst making a film. Particularly fun was collaborating with Terence J Corbett, who really would do, almost, anything to get the shots that I needed - at times he'd even invent moments on the spot, such as the 'passing out in a public toilet' scene.

Filming on the project lasted for 10 or so months (throughout most of 2010), as we were mostly shooting on weekends - as and when people were available to help out…it really was a labour of love!

Once filming was finished, I spent the following months completing the edit of 'Own Worst Enemy' before moving onto 'You Left Your Heart in the City'. Part 1 was released on 18th April 2011 (my birthday!). Enjoy!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Day 5: Lorraine

Another music video for You Animals. By this point, the band were due to launch their debut album, 'Crimes, Creeps & Thrills', and so this video was going to help in the promotion of it.
The story was put together by myself and Stuart Samuels (guitar), who was keen to create the feel of a 'Kitchen Sink' drama. I forget who suggested which ideas, but I remember insisting that the main character was an artist and I had specific ideas of what she would be drawing - a family, a girl alone on the beach, two hands locked together, and a view of a cityscape (Liza on keyboards supplied the sketches that were used for filming...I wish I'd kept one, as they were wonderful). 
Originally, there was going to be another actress in the lead role but she dropped out the day before shooting was due to start. Fortunately, Alex Bedward stepped up and joined me and Stuart on the train to Skegness on a cold Saturday morning in December 2010. Once there, we shot the scenes of Alex wandering around the town in a guerrilla filmmaking fashion - stealing shots whenever & wherever we could (at arcades, cafes, on the bus, etc.). It was a very successful day of shooting!
We picked up the shots of the band playing in the pub in early 2011. I must say, I'm less pleased with these scenes as I think I went too far in playing with the colour temperature on a number of the shots - I aimed for a yellow tinge (to go with the grubby, 'Kitchen Sink' feel) but, on occasions, it veers off slightly. It's probably not noticeable to most viewers but it still annoys me to this day. Ah well, nothing's perfect...
The video was released in February 2011 (6 years ago this month!). Enjoy!