Thursday, 17 December 2015

Last Crumbs. . .

Here – courtesy of Michael Cumming – are three candid shots from the production period of the 3rd series of 'Toast of London'.
Storyboards on location and a moment between takes for Matt Berry, enjoying a certain book.

Toast - 'Man of Sex' Pt.2

My final concept design for Toastworld was a book jacket for the renowned sailor Frank Forfolk, as seen in the pay-off to a little bit of humorous business at the kitchen table between Ed and Toast.

And here it is, next to their freshly-buttered Toasty soldiers.

Quintessential 'Toast of London' daftness.

Toast Slice 4: Episode 5 – 'Man of Sex' Pt.1

What was left of my work on the very well-received – and arguably best yet – 3rd series of Arthur Mathews' and Matt Berry's 'Toast of London' appeared last night in this the penultimate episode.
The work of long hours for me – and complex challenges on the filming days for Michael Cumming and the crew – passed in seconds on-screen. Twas ever thus.
I boarded a sequence representing a game-changing grittier realism for the show, as Toast is run over by a steamroller driven by his crazed ex-wife Ellen – played alarmingly by Amanda Donohoe.

The results are harrowing for Toast, and presented in a fiercely realistic way that brings home the consequences of violence.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Back To Skool

Here's a lovely film by my oldest pal Michael Cumming – see my last post for link to his site;
a collective exercise in memory that marked the 50th anniversary of our old secondary school back home in Windermere.
There is a sequence that involves some illustrative content by yours truly, within the Art Block area that kick-started both Michael's and my own creative careers – see below – as well as snippets of a commentary that I contributed alongside a selection of fellow alums. The neat conceit that MC imposed was that our past recollections be spoken by current pupils.

You had to be there?
I don't think so – what MC's done is speak eloquently of a certain time in all of our lives.

My text in full:


An empty vessel; the unlovely building, which we filled with life, mapped with our whispers, frowns, hope and footsteps, racing or dragged along echoing corridors between classrooms, cloakrooms, stairwells.
Marking our times.
Outside, seen with yearning through window glass across the seasons; the distant fire of new flowers, fresh mown grass below hazed air full of drifting dust and dandelion seeds, dancing leaves in gusting winds, dank fog over brittle crusted snows. Inside, a language of the senses; 
thick gravy boiling up as the crust of a steak and kidney pie was first breached and portions allocated.
Slade singing about Christmas.
The dreadful sour tang of the changing rooms.
The chemical spice aroma of powder paint, damp paper and clotted ink.

An erotic encounter in the Art Block while skiving games; white nylon shirt and blue skirt and the smell of fresh clay on the potter's wheel.
The shifting sands of emotions; bitter tears, joyous laughter, cruel laughter, happy tears.
Early victories and defeats and pointless anxieties, before experience gave us a sense of proportion.
Walking the foot slopes of volcanic puberty, stumbling towards our future selves. The suggestion of how life would be hanging ahead of us, but only ever a pencil sketch, an impression, a rumour, a misheard piece of gossip.
At school they teach you the names for things, but the most powerful of all are the names of those that we learn from and alongside.
Those that helped:
Mister Kadelbach. Mister Dover. Miss Fell. Mister Maddicks. Mister Shiel. Mrs. Pownall. Mrs. Welford. Mister Laycock. Mister Emerson. Mister Metcalfe. Mrs. Reece. Mister Luker. Miss Bromley. Mrs. Atkinson. Desmond Levi Bradshaw Hartley. Mister Oldfield. Mister Mackay. Mister Holloway. Mister Baty. Mister Yardley.
Those that needed it:
Mike Nicholson, Michael Cumming, Robert Crockford, Sean Emery, Mike Stanning, Lou George, Alan Miller, Doug Cumming, Sharon Murphy, Cathy Folland, Pam Hodgson, Valerie Mossop, Sarah Lishman, Alison Bentley, Patrice De Villiers, Rachel Voysey. Katie Crawshaw.
The Lakes School… We knew so little when we got there but we knew a little more when we left."

MIKE NICHOLSON - 1974 – 1981

Commercial break 2: The Bakers Behind The Loaf That Will Be Toast etc.

In the grounds of Castle Toast – here courtesy of Director Michael Cumming –  we see a visiting American dignitary exposing the smoke and mirrors – or in this case glass and paint – of 'the business they call show'.

And here be the creative powerhouses – or rather three mad men – who bring it all to the screen:
left-to-right – co-writers Arthur Mathews & Matt Berry along with Mister Cumming.

Follow the links above to catch up on Twitter and other activities from them.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Episode 3: Final crumb. . .

Sometimes a particular frame of a storyboard pleases me.
Here is such; setting up the absurd sequence wherein Toast, banjaxed by Jon Hamm's hypnotic  'chari-S-muuuuuuuuuuh' can be seen mooning after him across Meard Street.


Toast Slice 3: Episode 3 - 'Hamm on Toast' (Pt.3)

After the unexpected events at Gonville's bedside the Brothers Toast engage in a little sibling pugilism, and Steven takes another tumble, courtesy of stunt Toast and digital layers - adding many storeys to the tower.
If you click on the final shots looking downwards the simple electrickery devised by Director Michael Cumming to insert vertiginous depth is clearer to see.
Clever boy.

Toast slice 3: Episode 3 - 'Hamm on Toast' (Pt.2)

As an additional job via the delightful Rosy Thomas, Designer for the series, I was asked to visualise the Somerset residence of Steven Toast's father, Gonville, as played by Brian Blessed. It is to this location that the masonry (& love-) struck Toast travels with the preposterous guest star that week, actor Jon Hamm.

Here are my original doodles and final version - later used by Michael May as the basis of the old school glass painting seen on-screen. Do click on the image to get the full detail.

NB - Original plans for a glass painting of B. Blessed were abandoned as they kept shattering when he shouted.

Toast Slice 3: Episode 3 - 'Hamm on Toast' (Pt.1)

The latest in the current 3rd series of Arthur Mathew's and Matt Berry's 'Toast of London' probably represented the most work for me of the lot.

Regards storyboards, physical stunts abounded, and – as I witnessed when visiting the set – demanded that a number of deceptively complex problems be solved, from collapsing stairs to plummeting masonry (free masonry?) to a fall down 200 steps in 'the world's tallest castle'.

Here is the first, spliced from original boards and still frames.
Toast descends for breakfast – in more ways than one.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Toast - Commercial Break/The Bread & Butter?

And here – as hurtles across terrestrial screens in compressed fashion, or more sympathetically with the 4OD online version – is what's known in certain circles as: 'the money shot'.
Though it's not on every episode.