Turning An Old Poem Into YouTube Video

The Lockdown here in Spain is thankfully coming to an end. While I’ve been confined to quarters I’ve taken the opportunity to learn some new skills and try to produce examples of “virtual theatre”, based on play’s I’ve written, such as Some Enchanted Evening  and Fool’s Errand.

I’ve just posted another short animation video on my YouTube channel. Based on a poem I wrote back in the mid-70’s, this was created using two new (free) programs I’ve recently discovered.

Mediabang Pro is a painting program that I found easy to use and which produced good results.  You can download it here.

Opentoonz is an open source animation program. Originally called Toonz, it’s the software used to create Studio Ghibli films like Spirited Away and the popular TV show Futurama. It’s open source and free for any budding animator to download and use. Here’s the link to the download page.

I may well create a video showing how I made my new video Shore Lines  which can be viewed below or via this link.

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Proof That Writing Is Never Wasted

As a writer, I’ve always believed that everything one produces is of some value. All writing has merit, if only to take you a little nearer your goal of producing something you’ll be proud of. Every time we write we learn from the experience – if it’s only that maybe that’s not the best way to do it.

This was illustrated recently when, in lockdown here in Spain, I needed to find something that could be adapted as a recorded reading to go on the website of amdram group Jávea Players. The aim is to keep our members entertained at a time when producing plays onstage is obviously not possible. Some people are posting videos of themselves reading stories or monologues. I wanted to do some of my own work so delved into the folder containing all my old writing and re-discovered an abandoned play that I’d written back in 2003 entitled Some Enchanted Evening.

Sam and Janet phone the police. - illustration by Phil Mansell

Sam and Janet phone the local police station to report the break-in

This was a quirky surreal comedy about a couple – Sam and Janet Evening – who return home from the pub quiz to find everything in their bungalow is not as they’d left it. There had been a break-in but nothing had been taken – except for some chocolate Hobnob biscuits. The television was on, showing a marathon session of snooker. It all pointed to the fact that the intruder had sat and watched the snooker on television while eating the aforementioned biscuits.

The play went on to introduce a zoo-keeper and a mysterious cyclist called Nigel who has a habit of abandoning bicycles in the fireplace of the bungalow. However, the opening scene was all that I needed for the lockdown project. I had written the play in several forms for various media – stage, radio and TV. All useful writing exercises. I adapted the version for radio as I originally envisaged it being an audio file. Once my wife, Caroline and I had recorded it, however, I saw other possibilities – a video illustrated with cartoons of the characters. And that’s how it turned out.

Sam with Fruit- illustrated by Phil Mansell

Sam with the basket of fruit that was second prize in the pub quiz

I never imagined that this play that I wrote so long ago would ever see the light of day again – let alone that I would end up supplying the voice of Sam!

I had written it, enjoyed the experience and moved on to other projects. Yet here it is today – resurrected as a short film. Proving that old, abandoned writing has its uses. So never throw that old stuff away. You never know when you may need it.

Some Enchanted Evening can be viewed here on YouTube. And here’s my blog about how I came to write it.

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First Lockdown Video: Some Enchanted Evening

Here in Spain I’m now on Day 45 of the emergency lockdown regime implemented to stop the spread of the CoronaVirus (Covid-19). The need to self-isolate has curtailed many of the activities my wife and I enjoy doing – going to cafes for Spanish lessons, exploring the beautiful countryside where we live and working on theatrical productions for our local amdram group, Jávea Players. My wife, Caroline, was in rehearsals, directing the play Dead Guilty which was due to be performed earlier this month, and sadly, like so many theatre shows, it had to be cancelled.

Sam&Janet coming in front doorPLUS web

Sam and Janet Evening return home from the pub quiz

However, some people suggested it would be a good idea to provide performances that our members could access and enjoy via the JP website, Some people are posting videos of themselves reading stories or monologues. I looked through some of my old scripts and found Some Enchanted Evening – an early play which I haven’t touched since 2003. I remembered it was very quirky and full of surreal humour and Caroline and I agreed it would be a good one to tackle. So we edited down the first scene and adapted it so that it told a little story – about a couple, Sam and Janet Evening, who return from their local pub quiz to find a surprise awaiting them.

Choosing a room with the least echo to record it in, we huddled close to my video camera to get the best quality sound, and read the script from an iPad (to avoid the sound of turning pages). Luckily, we did it more or less in one take and then simply re-recorded the bits we weren’t happy with. All I needed was the soundtrack from this (I’d kept the lens cap on) so, after transferring the video to my laptop, I converted it into an mp3 file (using Wondershare’s free video converter). I then edited the sound, cutting out the gaffes and adding the bits we re-recorded in the appropriate places. We recorded an intro and outro  and had a suitable audio file in mp3 format to send to the JP website.

However…

Sam Listening2 PLUS webI then realised it would make a nice little video if I added some drawings to illustrate the action. So I set to work. My drawing style is very loose and I embellish it with a watercolour wash. I must admit that it took rather more pictures than I first imagined! After scanning them onto my laptop I tweaked them with imaging software and popped them in the appropriate places on the soundtrack. As it’s quite a long video at 12 minutes, I divided into three to make life simple and then simply put them together when I had finished each section.

editing pic

The editing timeline for the video showing the images placed in the appropriate places above the soundtrack.

There are lots of free or inexpensive video editing programs out there to use for this. I used an ancient version of Sony Vegas which enabled me to animate some of the action. My final cut was made in Movie Maker, which used to come free but if you don’t have it is still available to download.

Once I had a first rough cut I could see which pieces of artwork needed re-doing. We also created opening titles under the banner of Lockdown Productions –  into which I dropped two padlocks to replace the ‘o’s. This was done using PowerPoint (and converted to video using a screen capture program).

SOME ENCHANTED EVENING.mp4_000005.359

We then had fun making up some credits for the film and tacked these on to the end using the scrolling credits mode in Movie Maker. This was a little jerky towards the end for some reason but that seemed to be a problem we couldn’t overcome. The final finished version that I was happiest with was number five. The video is featured here and on my YouTube channel and will eventually be loaded onto the Jávea Players’ website. Hope you enjoy it!

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Meet Arabella Saturday – the juggling star of my new Children’s Book

I’ve just published my latest children’s book on Amazon. It’s available via this link.

And here’s a video telling you all about it.

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Great review for my latest play!

Pleased to report that the world premiere of my new play, ‘Look Out – He’s Got A Gun!’ was a sell-out success.  I’ve added one of the reviews below.

The play is currently with my publisher, Stage Scripts, but in the meantime it’s available from Amazon, as a stage play or a novel via this link.

Review: Look Out - He's Got A Gun! by Phil Mansell

Review of ‘Look Out – He’s Got A Gun!’ in the Weekly Post

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New Play Set for World Première!

I’m pleased to report that my latest play, ‘Look Out – He’s Got A Gun!’ has been lined up for its première later this year. Javea Players have given the two-act comedy spoof a slot in their Studio Theatre.

The play has come a long way since I was first inspired to write it back in 2017 after hearing various vintage radio plays from the 1940s and ’50s.

I returned to it earlier this year and after completing it, arranged for a test reading with a dozen of Javea Players’ finest acting talent. That trial run went much better than I could have anticipated and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Using the actors’ valuable feedback, I revised the play yet again, and hopefully injected even more comedy into it.

In fact, I was so pleased with the play that I turned it into a paperback novel which will hopefully soon be on my Amazon page alongside my children’s book ‘Uncle Mungo and the Great Wallaby Painting Contest’.

After creating a cover image for the play, I submitted it to my publisher, Stage Scripts, who, to date, have published ten of my plays. I’ll be writing more about the audition process and when rehearsals start in October.

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Radio interview about my books, plays and artwork

I recently did a radio interview with DJ Bob James of Valley FM in Orba, and we talked about a variety of things, including my new children’s book, ‘Uncle Mungo and the Great Wallaby Painting Contest’, my plays, illustrating books, oil painting – in fact, we covered a lot of territory.

Valley FM were kind enough to give me a copy of the interview which I’ve now editing into six bite-size chunks and turned into videos on my YouTube channel. The videos contain a lot of my artwork and illustrations which were under discussion. Please check them out and let me know what you think. Part One can be found here:

Part One of my radio interview which is now on YouTube.
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Creating a YouTube Channel to Promote my Uncle Mungo Book

I’ve been reading lots of stuff about how to promote your self-published paperback on Amazon. It’s a steep learning curve.

One of the tools I’ve decided to use is YouTube. I’ve discovered (slightly to my surprise) that I already had a YouTube Channel, so all I’ve had to do is add the videos I’ve created. I’ll be explaining how I created these videos in another blog post – look out for it.

Below is my latest short YouTube video and this is a a link to my YouTube channel. Please check them out and let me know what you think.

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Uncle Mungo – the video.

I created the video below to promote my book ‘Uncle Mungo and the Great Wallaby Painting Contest’. Available in paperback from Amazon.

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Paintings now online

I’ve finally got around to updating my artwork page and have uploaded a selection of the oil paintings I have completed over the last 12 months, along with some preparatory sketches.

(All my work is for sale by the way if you’re interested in helping a starving artist.)

Please check it out by clicking on this link: https://philmansell.com/my-artwork/

Paintings by Phil Mansell
‘Dancing at the Fiesta #2’ Oil on canvas, 2018.
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