Thursday, November 22, 2012

As if by Magic...

We had been teased several times as to a special guests arrival in the morning session.  Many knowing glances between Alex, Tom & Eoin had been shared... & the latter disappeared off to make various phone calls during the Q & A.  Tom asked if everyone could take a seat, the atmosphere in the room became thick with hushed chatter & giggles a plenty.....Then....

 Colin 'Actual Flipping Merlin' Morgan

Colin was met with the kind of reception any rock star would be proud of, as the fans took the excitement up several octaves.  Alas the busy lad wasn't able to stay for photos & autographs, but the minute he flashed that Irish charm in our general direction not a single person was bothered. 

Kicking off the Q & A was a surprisingly serious question about the symbolism in Merlin.  Colin mentioned that a show with fantasy themes has to have some bases in reality & certain aspects would be left to the audience to interpret themselves. 'As actors we find our own personal way into it, which finds its way onscreen & if that transcends and people are connected...job done' As a person who studied Film & TV I found his answer particularly engaging, as the themes, undertones & the acting in Merlin are certainly the main reasons I tune in every week.....Oh, & the swashbuckling hunks!

Funny moments in filming Merlin

Colin mentioned an incident which happened during the filming of an forthcoming episode, which he then couldn't say much about.

Eoin, once again, didn't have a clue which scene his co-star was referring too, cue lots of whispering between Alex & Eoin until he 'lightbulbed' & then proceeded to chastise Colin for mucking up his close-up in the scene, as the poor lad had been unable to keep a straight face due to the absurdity of it all.

Colin continued by saying that there were 'ridiculous lines within that scene which I have never experienced on that scale before' apparently he was left hurting from laughing so much (I have since seen the episode in question & have to agree that there was a level of cheese which isn't normally associated with British shows...& it was also blatantly obvious all the actors were failing spectacularly to covers smiles...loved it!) As mentioned, at this point Eoin recalled the scene in question 'Ahh, I'm pretty sure I had a line and you were...' trails off and suddenly becomes very animated, grabbing the mic from Colin' 'Yeah...I have a bone to pick with you!'

(Alex has the best expression on his face in this pic as the laid back Eoin get's his 'grr arg' on)

Eoin continued to describe the incident as a hard scene to film as it was written 'really oddly...and we were all laughing...every time it came to my close-up' He points his finger at Colin 'Colin just cracked up!' shaking his head 'Which was really unprofessional' (unprofessional it may be...but I would pay good money to see this on the outtakes of series 5...*winks at the good folk at Merlin HQ*) Eoin, not holding a grudge at all, claimed that if he was crap in the scene it would all be of Colin's doing....adding that someone should 'ask him a really awkward question, just for reminding me of that'

The very next question was indeed awkward, as someone asked Colin his opinion on 'Gay Jesus.'(see previous post) Tom took on a 'head in hands' pose, Alex burst out laughing, Eoin seemed happy with the fan who had stepped up and Colin just looked fairly bemused, but smoothly moved on to the next question. 

Favourite magic spell

Colin didn't seem to need much time to ponder with this one 'The one which made him (Arthur) into a simpleton...It was just funny' (So, Bradley James acting the fool, very convincingly I might add, amuses Colin...good to know)

Asked about whether there would be a Merlin convention Colin passed the idea over to Eoin, commenting on his co-star being the 'king of cons'. ( Con...& I would put Eoin more in the role of Court Jester personally)  Eoin deflected with a 'you do realise we all hate each other' quip.

A question was asked about whether Colin preferred to play young or old Merlin. He commented that he had played Merlin for a couple of years before the 'old guy came along' so he was ready for a change. Also that playing the same character from a different aged perspective gave him the chance to 'say whatever the hell you want...' (fyi, I'm doing this already in my 30's) '...and it just so happens Merlin has a lot to say' (crotchety Merlin is one of my favourite things to watch Colin play in the series, he seems to have a lot of fun with it)

 Next Question and somebody mentions 'Merthur' and what Colin thinks about it...Colin wisely steering well clear, leaves the fan to ponder this for themselves & quickly moves on (well played Colin, nicely deflected).  

A conversation was had about a film Colin had made called 'Parked' and the fact that distribution seemed to be limited for people wanting to show it in colleges. (not entirely sure what the person asking the question wanted Colin to do about it, not like the poor boy could magically arrange distribution....*squints*...hmmm) Anyway 'Parked' is a interesting sounding character driven film which also stars Colm Meany (him off of Star Trek: Next Gen & DS9) and seems worth checking out *adds to Netflix queue*

It was asked if any of the guys had a particular technique for remembering their lines (highly doubtful in Eoin's case considering the amount of time he had already spent trying to remember nuggets of life on the set of Merlin) Eoin did, however, immediately deadpan 'the script' to much chuckles.  Alex comments that Bradley uses a dictaphone and records other people lines complete with his own 'Richard Wilson impression' (Merlin execs please add this to the extras of Series 5, pretty please)  He continues to say that everyone has a different technique, Colin 'keeps the schedule in his head for days' and others learn lines the night before filming...whatever works best for the individual I guess.

Asked about his favourite thing about working on Merlin Colin (excellently) answered 'Variety...and working with these guys' (this really shows onscreen, nothing worse than watching a series where there's tension and no enjoyment amongst the actors...Lost, anyone?)

He then talked about what Eoin was doing with Cold and the fact that the convention had been organised to support the film.  He was gracious in his support for the film & that so many people had turned out to the session, as he was fully aware at how hard it is to get started & produce an independent film.'It's inspirational for me, knowing if there is a project...something I want to work on...that we can get a band together, who believe in the same thing...and see the end result...& that's why you're here, so thanks for doing it' This earned Colin an immediate round of applause.  He was sweet and humble and seems to have a genuine interest in all aspects of the film making process.(matched with his slightly shy and awkward posture he is definitely what we called in fandom land 'adorkable')

 Who's the most clumsy on set?

(there be spoilers in this bit if you are not up to date with Series 5)

In unison 'Adetomiwa!' (Sir Elyan). Eoin then pipe up 'That's why we had to get rid of him...he was just taking up too much time' (Um, by the way this point Episode 6 had not aired so we had no clue Adetomiwa had left the series...& we fans miss nothing when it comes to unexpected information from actors) Colin, bless him, quickly covers with a laugh and mentions how much Adetomiwa falls & trips while filming (this evidence can also be found on the series outtakes)

Someone asked if Colin knew Eoin before Merlin....(yes, really)...'We're cousins' Colin stated matter of factly as Eoin nodded and did what can only be described as a 'Colin is my homeboy' gesture.  Everyone laughs as Colin followed the comment with 'Everyone in Ireland is didn't know him' beat 'but like everyone in Ireland...I'd heard a lot about him' (Touche Colin)

Eoin decided to field a couple of questions as Colin had been talking for a while (we really didn't mind) & was promptly dealt two questions involving the 'shirtlessness' of his and Tom characters & out of the two 'who had the better six pack' Eoin obviously claimed victory over the latter question, not offering Tom a chance at defense...the call of 'Prove it!' was (unfortunately) glossed over as he went straight to the next question...why Colin & Bradley hadn't got their tops off in the first two episodes (wait a minute...I'm sensing a theme here)

There is much laughter as Eoin squirms a little and mutters something about 'contracts' and Colin & Tom look on with synchronized grins.  Eoin then babbles 'Tom will answer the next question...thanks for all these...what kind of...' and hands the mic to Tom as he shakes his head in resignation (the inmates have taken over the asylum...I blame all the coffee which was being consumed...yes that's it..caffeine, that's the problem...& estrogen) Tom takes the mic 'I think I preferred it when Colin was answering questions' his comment overshadowed by Eoin's gesturing at how it was unfair Colin was getting questions about being an actor & all he got was 'Why do you take off your clothes?' (Ah, dear Eoin...if you have to ask?)

Moving on then and someone asked whether they had a favourite stunt.  Tom ponders this for a moment 'Favourite series I do have to run up a hill...' (I particularly like the accompanying motion Tom does with his 'running' fingers at this point...attention to detail...nice) Laughter ensues as Colin adds 'really fast' Eoin at this point doubles over as Tom continues 'Kind of at jog pace' Before Tom can give us further accounts a day in the life of 'Action Man' Hopper, Eoin grabs the mic.

He mentions the scene where he and Colin had to jump off of a wall into a haystack.....This particular scene is well known to everyone in the room, due to the subsequent outtake....And this is pointed out to Eoin who takes it upon himself to clear up any implied buffonary on his part 'I've got to clarify this' He points at Colin 'I did not where there...there was a stone which came off...' he pouts as Colin grins and looks at his feet 'If you don't back me up on this one...' he stabs his finger at Colin...but we all know it is an empty threat.  Colin pauses just long enough to have the audience in fits of giggles, before coyly answering 'there was a stone' Eoin adds 'I can't tell if your acting or not' while Colin continues in 'Wingman' mode 'There was a loose stone & you went up &...'  he gestures a skidding/falling motion. 

Apparently there had been Stunt doubles on standby on the day, just in case, and then Eoin had fallen off the wall into the hay anyway. So it was decided 'Oh, they can probably do it'.  As a rule however the actors don't really do the stunts...on account of them having to stay all pretty & un-broken.  Eoin continues to say that this year however 'Every time Tom did something, he'd pretty much break an ankle...' before Eoin can finish the sentence Tom is gesturing wildly and doing a mighty fine Victor Meldrew impression 'I don't believe this' he waves his arms in mock frustration as everyone breaks into guffaws of laughter and Tom demands Eoin hand over the mic.

Time with Colin was fast drawing to a close and Tom announced that there was time for one last question.  Colin decided that there should be a fight for the privilege. (but not in a 'two fangirls fangirl leaves' kinda way...too messy) In a moment of unadulterated insanity Colin suggests that the person who screams the loudest could ask the final question (assuming that the person then actually has the use of their vocal chords and he the use of his hearing after the deafening noise which followed) I particularly liked Eoin's gesture at Colin of 'no, no, bad idea...what in the world are you thinking...please, please don't' Then sinks to the ground with his hand covering his ears, just before 'The Fan Girl Screech of Doom' (TM) ( I would have got a shot of both Tom & Alex with fingers in ears, as it was indeed very comical but I was trying to protect my doing the exact same thing.)

Colin points off to the side 'that was definitely you' (as I mopped the blood from my ears) 'That was supersonic...there's dogs running all over London' (You only have yourself to blame dear Colin) He continued 'That was impressive...forget Merlin's Dragon call...That's Merlin's new Dragon call'

The question was whether he thinks Arthur really knows about Merlin's magic but pretends not too. Colin answered in the negative, but added cryptically that this series will explore more Arthurs 'relationship with magic...that he will have to deal more directly with magic' (& subsequently as will Merlin I'm guessing) 'Arthur doesn't know specifically...but you will see some awesome developments' (Oooo, let the rumour mill commence!)

And then he was gone...Adorable, articulate, witty, humble...Colin Morgan was all of these things...and he has obviously also paid up fully into the Merlin 'Guns club'...(& you didn't think I'd noticed)...because those bi-ceps were indeed flexing in all the right places ;-)

A break for now...but there is also the afternoon session to come...what could possibly top these quality shenanigans...TBC

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Con They Named Cold

It's a dismal afternoon here, the weather is apparently indifferent with murk. The Christmas spirit however seems to be in full swing, with frazzled shoppers in the high street & the television filled with the saccharine type of adverts which make me want to throw things at the screen...more so than usual....So, I have cocooned myself in my room with the iPod on shuffle & am trying to make some sense of the shenanigans which occurred a couple of weekends back.  It was to be a civilised meeting of minds & personalities for an in-depth discussion of a brand new independent film...some of the words in that previous sentenced turned out to be complete nonsense at..... #ColdCon 2012.

Now, a little background before I begin.  There is a show on telly called Merlin. In this show there are many talented folk.  Some of those folk play Knights of the Round Table. One of those fellas decided playing at Knights on horseback in the woods, while looking moody & swishing swords about the place was far too easy and in his free time put pen to paper to make a film. Blagging talent from wherever possible, he realised filmmaking was a tad on the pricy side and enlisted help from that, sometimes, great social media network known as Twitter. Somewhere along the line a convention was mentioned to assist with funds, promotion & to generally hug it out with those who contributed. I basically heard there would be hugs with Eoin Macken & Tom Hopper (plus special guests) and booked tickets for both sessions quicker than I could say 'Credit Card Debt'.

The Morning Session 

(I will point out here that this will contain spoilers for Season 5 of Merlin...if you don't want to know then I suggest you just check out the pictures of the pretty men & ignore all the blah, blah, blah)

The boys were running late, very late, extremely late in the morning.  On account of still filming the movie in Ireland until only a few hours before the con. But it was all fine because thanks to modern technology and the quick thinking of a guy, who would end up with his very own hashtag (even if he didn't actually know where that particular key was), we were kept appraised of their dash across Londontown.  Reminiscent of those heady days of Challenge Anneka, but instead of Dave the cameraman...we had #Strangelaptopguy.

The tweets came thick and fast as Eoin & Tom had issues with public transport, became lost, got a taxi, bickered like a married couple (over twitter, even though presumably they were in fact sitting next to each other), ran through the streets of London & Tom begged for food...repeatedly.  It was surreal.  It was hilarious, & the quick wit of #coollaptopguy (re-named by himself) replying to the tweets of anyone referring to #coldcon had the crowd thoroughly entertained.

(whoo-hoo, there's one of mine...& before you say it...I am aware I spelled 'anticipation' wrong...stupid phone)

Even extra guest Alex Vlahos (aka Mordred 2.0) got involved. Popping in to kick the talks off, he quickly became engaged with the online adventures of Eoin & Tom ( I'm aware this sounds like a show on CBeebies) eventually getting Eoin on the loudspeaker of his phone when it appeared the pair were about to stop on route to feed Tom.....from memory the exchange was brief, involved Alex telling Eoin off for swearing and was drowned out by 100 odd squeeing fan girls.

Alex was a champ & got stuck in answering questions on his lonesome. He talked about his father seeing him as Mordred for the first time on screen 'Well done, you've perfected that evil stare you had when you were four & we told you no to having sweets' be honest Alex has the kind of piercing blue eyes which I would happily hand over my last Rolo for.

He talked about the extra, extra special & very hush hush guest who was due later in the morning session, singing 'I know something you don't know' before further commenting that unfortunately 'My cat couldn't be here today' (an ongoing twitter joke about his adorable kitten Dr. Watson) 'He's on a flight to L.A...he has a part in a pilot for NBC...actually I need to talk to Eoin about that, as he's just missed out to Dr. Watson' Alex nods in his best evil Bond villain style..and we have an early indication as to the tone of the Q & A's.

He was asked how working on Merlin had changed his life 'Well I wouldn't be here with you lovely lot'...well played Mr. Vlahos. Generally it had raised his profile as an actor and presented more opportunities.

Finally, about an hour late, in breezed Eoin & Tom...with an air of coolness which was commendable considering the earlier insanity...Eoin tossed a backhanded compliment in the direction of Alex's jumper & people in the audience literally threw food at Tom.

So, with one mic to share between the three of them, Tom clutching his Banana & Eoin sending giggles through the audience with every Loreal style hair flick...the morning session of #coldcon stepped up a gear.

We began with Tom showing off his talents as a QVC sales person, expertly displaying a bag which had been made by a fan who was an extra in the film in Dublin (late to the party as usual, had I realised this was an option I would have been over to Ireland in a heartbeat).

Eoin is inexplicably crawling around the floor at this moment as a question comes over about when & where the film will be out.  As a voice on the floor, he explains that as they had only finished filming 7 hours before 'next weekend is probably not going to be in the equation' In theory after editing, adding music, winning film awards etc around this time next year was the general plan.

A brilliant guy asks what pretty much every woman in the room had been thinking...Why did Gwaine & Percival have their shirts off for the first two episode of series 5? (because there IS a God)...Eoin puts the blame on Tom saying that 'he has it in his contract...there is a certain percentage of screen time where he has to be topless....& I was unfortunate to be roped in with him' (And...because there IS a God!)

A question arises about whether wearing the costume helps the actors become the character.  The lady asking came prepared with a picture of herself in a Percival costume, which was brave/impressive/showed one of the many problematic moments in cloak wearing as it was half shut in a door.

Alex pointed out that when Eoin had first starting filming he 'didn't know what Gwaine sounded like' which was met with laughter all round.  Eoin explained that he had planned to play Gwaine with a Scottish accent, but due to the director  & another member of the crew both being Scots, he 'bottled it'. He instead  just 'started talking really deep...which sounded cool' (if 'cool' equates to sending the ladies all a quiver, then does indeed sound cool) Tom, however, interjects with the notion that although Gwaine's deep voice sounds great on film to act alongside it is a quite different experience. 'It does sound really cool...quite jealous...when you're acting with sounds hilarious' He shares a crafty, comical glance with Eoin before lowering his own voice to demonstrate the word 'Deep'  'but it comes across really good' He pats Eoin on the back 'So well done bud'

At this point, during the many chuckles throughout the room, Tom attempts to remember the original question and Eoin snatches away the mic with some payback banter 'she was just saying when you put on the costume, does it make you feel like you're more in character?....the answer is yes' to which Tom replies, with a shrug, that he 'doesn't have a lot of costume' ...Eoin concedes.

Alex had started off the series as 'bandit Mordred' which was a little different to 'Knight Mordred' and when he put on the chain-mail he had 'felt a lot younger...because obviously next to this man....' he gestures to the towering hulk of Tom Hopper standing beside him, guns folded 'And this man...' nodding to Eoin 'tight shirt' Macken, his voice suddenly sounding deliberately self conscious and young ' chain-mail I felt like a tiny little kid' Tom without missing a beat, grunts out 'You are...a little boy.' Alex shoulders slump... he wins the hearts of 150 women.

Favourite line in Merlin

Tom, looking to the ceiling with arms folded 'not a lot' which immediately sends all in the room into fits of laughter. Alex suggests that he 'says Sire really well' Tom contemplates for a moment 'Sire is more of a Rupert (Young aka Sir Leon) one' and immediately follows with an impression 'Sire...a message...has arrived' delivered in the tone of serious with furrowed brow undertones & a smidgen of William Shatner. Before Tom gets into to further trouble, he points the mic in Eoins direction. 'I can't remember any of my lines' A girl in the audience comes to his rescue as she is wearing a bracelet with a Gwaine quote on it.  Eoin then proceeds to read it the 'deep' Gwaine voice...'Nobility is defined by what you do, not by who you are....ah, I remember that one...that was a good line' sounding impressed and a little surprised, before adding 'Quite important line in the context of the show & the character'  (yes, indeed it was Eoin...but bless your buffudlement & slight buffoonary...I can almost see why the casting director picked you for Gwaine)

Filming locations

Eoin on filming in France 'France is get cheese & wine & stuff.' (Me squinting from the 4th row...'It looks like Eoin, & walks like Eoin, and yet...sounds so much like Gwaine') He continues to comment that Wales is cold & they film Merlin in a big damp warehouse.  I get the impression that it's not his favourite place to film...from all the words which say it isn't his favourite place to film.  At this point #coollaptopguy typed on the big screen that 'Wales is cool' & Tom mentions that 'Internet guy is from Wales' a cheer is heard from a  few members of the audience, prompting an 'oh, and there are some sheep in' from Tom '80's stand up' Hopper.

Tom mentions filming in Forest Fawr, near Cardiff...where he has 'never spent so much time in one forest'...yep, Merlin does lean towards multiple outings in pretty forest locations, also the exact same rocky gulley for every ambush scene in the series...ever!...Before Tom can come to any solid conclusion about his favourite location Eoin whisks away the mic. 'We don't have any favourite locations, because it's always really cold' He reminisces 'We had a really crap day...' a discussion breaks out about which episode this occurred in (episode 6) 'Anyway, we were on a quest....'Eoin glances at Tom 'Am I allowed to say that...who cares, we go on a quest...every...single....episode' he continues to say it was freezing cold, really wet & they all hated it....'It was the most miserable two weeks of our entire remember that when you're all watching it' Sorry Eoin, I was too busy watching Team Merlin be all 'grr arg!' and 'arse kickery'... the magical powers of editing prevailed.

Now, the next question came from a woman who wanted advice on directing a theatre play.  The premise of which was a modern retelling of the story of Jesus Christ, where he and all his disciples are gay men....set in Texas....yep...that face you're pulling right now...that was the general expression of the whole room....shock/awe/befuddlement/stepped into The Twilight Zone....

Tom, who had been about to take a sip from a bottle of Lucozade (other energy drinks are available) at that moment, opens mouth...closes mouth...kind of laughs with an air of 'WTF'.  He turns his head to face the crowd (whom at this point are laughing hysterically) and furrows his brow.  Finally he takes a swig of the drink & continues to process what has just been said, as Alex answers (bravely) 'Make sure the actors learn their lines...and...err...Wow!' Tom takes the mic 'Say that again!' the timbre, a slightly higher octave than normal.  The Questioner repeats the premise.  Tom smiled, still in disbelief, turning to Eoin 'I mean it's almost on the verge of genius' shakes his head as he stutters 'I....I....I'm stumped....who went...' does 'lightbulb' gesture 'I've got it!' delivered with an incredulous expression....something is mentioned about David Walliams...then, Next Question.

'Speaking of gay you guys 'Ship' Merthur?' (that moment when you realise you are actually living in an alternate reality controlled by Russell T. Davies & John Barrowman)

Alex does a brilliant double take between Tom & the person who asked the question. (while some of us in the audience are adopting the slightly nervous, cringe pose which seems to happen involuntarily when such a question is asked to the actors) Tom 'Speaking of gay men....what?!?...Ship Merthur?' the pairs complete and utter bafflement to the concept was priceless.  Tom continues 'Do we like the idea of Merlin & Arthur as a couple' slowly sinking in 'Well...the many nights I've lost sleep thinking about that' Alex, completely and utterly bemused (& adorable) attempted the reach for the mic, draws his hand back to scratch his stubble in brief contemplation before asking 'why is there a ship?'

The room irrupts with guffaws of laughter as the term is explained to mean 'relationship'...before the pair can even begin to digest this nugget of fandom, suddenly pairings are being flung at Tom & Alex from all directions...Percival & Gwaine...Perwaine...something which Tom repeats with a tone of incredulity/surprise...or possibly... interest. Then he asked 'Merlin & Mordred...what's that one called I dread to think' (Oh, dear Tom...can open...worms...everywhere!)...the answer is of course 'Merdred' '...sounds like Murder!'

At this point...Eoin, who had stepped out of the room in the middle of the whole 'Gay Jesus in Texas' thing...returned... & absorbed the conversation taking place 'Do you know what...I walk out of the room for one minute...' because in no way would Eoin have contributed to the current tone of Q & A.

Moving on...Acting tips

Eoin runs with the mic on this one 'I've been doing this for 8 years...Tom 7...Alex is a blow-in' Queue Alex's best 'sad puppy face' Alex begins to talk about the benefits of drama school while Tom whips out his iphone 5 to check out the HD video function...& he and Eoin begin the Cold sequel which will surely be titled 'Ships: A Portrait of An Englishman, An Irishman & A Welshman' (TM)

Who is Your Favourite Superhero?

Eoin's answers immediately with 'Wolverine'...after a little contemplation Alex follows with 'Spider-Man' instinctively miming the associated hand gestures.  Tom ponders the longest, to Eoin's chagrin 'It's not a hard question' Finally Tom settles for Iron-Man, as Tony Stark is such a...and here Tom adopts his best 'inner city ghetto' voice...'Play-ah!' Tom continues his worship of all things Stark as Eoin & Alex look on.  I can only deduce that this is actually what Tom spends his nights thinking about. ..

So that was the Q & A with the Knights of Camelot...but, there was extra special guest...TBC