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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All Set to Publish!

I’m about to press the button to launch my first book on Amazon. It’s a moment filled with excitement and not a little trepidation. Just how did I get here?

It all started  about a year ago when I wrote a story called ‘Uncle Mungo and the Great Wallaby Painting Contest’ in one of my notebooks.

Mungo notebook collage 1

This was written pretty much all in one go and the story just seemed to flow onto the page. I stopped occasionally to sketch a scene from the story.

After I had scribbled down that first, very rough draft,  I typed it up onto my favourite writing program, Scrivener (try it for free here).

I knew straightaway that, as this was a children’s book, it should have lots of lively and quirky illustrations. The main character, Uncle Mungo, I had written about many years ago and I had sketched him many times for a book that has yet to be completed.

MyUncleMungo medal web

One of the original Uncle Mungo drawings from many years ago.

So the next step was to decide which parts of the story to illustrate. Some scenes were crying out for a picture – Uncle Mungo paddling, Barney’s junk shop and the pirate ship through the telescope.

Mungo on Bike Sketch 1)

I liked this original sketch of Mungo on his bike so much that, try as I might, I couldn’t better it. So I used this one in the book.

Over the following weeks and months I did the artwork for the book in between other writing projects and doing oil paintings (that’s another story you can read about in a previous blog post entitled ‘Painting the Working Class Heroes of My Childhood’).

My illustration style is very loose and in some ways child-like. I start with a quick pencil drawing which I go over in permanent black ink, and then I apply a watercolour wash over that.

Very often I start the picture again to try to capture the flowing lines and spontaneity of the initial sketch.

Sometimes I’ll do the picture over and over – maybe a dozen times – until I get something I’m happy with. After all that, I occasionally like the sketch so much I’ll use that in the book.

The day eventually dawned when I thought, right, I’d better start working on a layout of the finished book. How exactly do I do that? What size book did I decide on? I tried lots of different templates before I found one I was happy with – but that’s for another blog.

Pigsty Portrait (sketch)

Another original sketch that I preferred to any subsequent “polished” versions. Again, I used this in the final version of the book I’m publishing on Amazon.

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Coming Soon: Adventures in publishing with Amazon

I’m in the process phil portrait 1 smof publishing my first book on Amazon – and it’s been quite a journey.

I aim to write about my experiences in self-publishing and record some of the highs and lows of the process. Hopefully, this will prove useful to other writers and help them to overcome some of the obstacles that I found along the way.

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