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Thread: New to the forum. Short Doc about an incredible musician

  1. #1

    Default New to the forum. Short Doc about an incredible musician

    New to the forum so thought i'd share something we've 'recently' shot.

    Profiling one of the UK's most fascinating and intriguing musicians Ash Sheehan aka 'Grandmaster Ash'. Filmed over a 6 month period in cities across the UK, Explain Yourself delves in to the world of an authentic travelling showman!
    See it here:
    Read the review:
    "Mat Martin and Rowan Bailey have crafted a loving, stylish love letter to colourful and eclectic musician Ash Sheehan. Their love for music is clear from the start, and Sheehan proves to be a larger than life character worth taking this funny and informative trip with.
    Stylishly photographed with some excellent musical interludes, EXPLAIN YOURSELF hums with the passion for cinema and music as one, and the results are highly entertaining."
    Nick Clement
    Podcasting Them Softly
    PTS is a new weekly podcast by Frank Mengarelli and Nick Clement, discussing films, actors, notable new releases and collectibles, Definitely worth checking out!

    Feedback encouraged!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
    Blog Entries


    Hoorah! A proper documentary to comment on. Haven't had one for a while.
    I very much enjoyed (most of) this. I though it was generally very well put together though there are one or two things I would have done differently and one or two things I thought you should have done differently. As is normal there will be very few words about what was good and lots about what I didn't like - simply because when you agree something is good there is little to discuss, but when somethings is "bad" then one often needs a lot of words to justify the criticism.
    So. Camerawork (loved the steady cam work around him playing the studio kit), audio, editing all good. I liked the relaxed manner of the interviews in the musos' natural environments. It's clear the editor is a muso as (for once) what we heard was what was being played. There is nothing more off-putting than audio and visuals not matching when one is seeing a musician. All the characters came across well and Ash came across as sincere and likable. I really liked his approach and philosophy. And he wasn't afraid to say he was good or name drop ut at the same time did not come across as teh big I am.

    So, what's not to like?

    I nearly didn't watch it. The opening makes perfect sense once one has seen the rest of the video and got to know the character a bit, but coming from cold from the point of view of someone who hasn't heard of Ash and doesn't know what sort of muso he is, it came across as a bit pretentious - it really seemed to be bigging up the subject without any justification. After a couple of minutes I was thinking - these sorts of documentaries are all well and good but only really of interest to people who are already into the musician (much like most BBC4 rockumentaries). This is a shame as I fear you might lose some of a more "general" audience early on, when they might well have found the later parts of the film interesting. It's particularly difficult to come up with a good general introduction when one has spent 6 months getting to know the subject, but I think that's something to consider.

    I did not like the jump cuts in the interviews. I know this is fashionable - particularly in vlogs, but (a) do you really want to make your hard worked documentary have a flavour of what an A level student does in his or her bedroom ? and (b) have you actually considered what those cuts add to the piece. I'd suggests nothing - and they act as a distraction, which is a shame because just about every other cut in the film felt natural - it either served to contrast/juxtapose or to aid the flow/illustrate.

    I did not like the rather drunken shots of people (mainly his wife (I think) ) praising Ash. Unnecessary sycophantism which seems insincere because of the lighteadedness. It added nothing

    What was the business of the tatoo?. Sure show a bit if it's "celebrating show people" - ie relevant to the music, but apart from one or two comments like that the whole film went off piste for a while there - totally losing direction.

    All in all a very good effort that, if you'd been able to walk away for three months and come back with fresh eyes, or if you'd let someone with a fresh pair of eyes help with an edit, could have been even better.
    Last edited by TimStannard; 10-07-2015 at 06:44 AM.

  3. #3


    Thanks for taking the time to watch the film Tim, really appreciate it!

    Don't worry about talking mainly about the 'negative' points, as you said there's usually very little to say about the good aspects compared to the negatives. Without criticism like this we'll never move forward and gain insight that we perhaps missed. As you said it's often good to take a break where possible to look at a project with fresh eyes! In our case we pushed it out as we were discussing broadcasting at the time, things didn't line up with the time of year so we decided to release.

    I completely get where you're coming from in terms of the beginning and not continuing on to watch it. A lot of the people we were releasing this for were on a page dedicated to this project, starting back when filming commenced. So we had various trailers and behind the scenes aspects in the build up to it's release so that target already had the information necessary. However as you said, from an 'outside' point of view with no previous knowledge of Ash or generally the documentary it certainly needs an introduction to cover this. It's a shame to lose viewers based on something that we could have tackled relatively easily. I'm certain that if we were to look at the analytics that a lot of viewers don't watch past a minute due to this.

    Editing style in terms of the jump cuts was a choice made by the editor. You are right, it's over used in the kind of work that we wouldn't necessarily want to be related to. It didn't jar me whilst watching it but again this may be from being to close to the project at the time. Having just looked through it i do agree.

    Yeah the woman and one of the men in that section are relatively 'famous' and were people that Ash personally knew and she regularly sings alongside Ash. Unfortunately she was somewhat tipsy, which distracted from what she was saying and perhaps didn't allow the section to surmise their relationship and their work other than hyping him up. Furthermore the shots of the other people on the street, it only adds to this distraction.

    The tattoo section was important to Ash for two main reasons. Firstly the shop is owned by some close friends and those who follow Ash online will see he's often there getting new work done. Secondly because of his background and the memories/ meanings behind many of his tattoos. I do personally feel that it perhaps went on too long now, as you said it went a bit off piste somewhat. I think this could have perhaps been introduced or contextualized better had we had more photo's of his childhood and family members that his tattoos represented.

    Thanks again for the feedback, greatly appreciated and always good to talk to someone about our work! We have one other doc shot a couple of years ago that i might post on here soon.

    I'm sure i'll have more new work to post here in the coming months. Most of my work is corporate or events throughout the spring/ summer. It's usually this time of year that i can focus back in on passion projects. Got some great ideas in the works that i'm looking forward to green lighting.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
    Blog Entries


    Thanks for feeding back about the feedback It's great once in a while to read than someone has taken the trouble to read feedback, whether they agree or not (and I'm delighted my witing was clear enough that you understand what I was getting at). All too often people post something here purportedly for feedback but it turns out they just want a few more views. I don't particularly mind that - unless I've spent half an hour analysing it then trying to put my thoughts into words only for the to be ignored.
    I intend to look at your other film and look forward to more of your work. I could certainly learn a lot from it.

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