Waiting is a Killer

Howie Reeve’s album Friendly Demons reviewed by The List

Howie Reeve – Friendly Demons ****

12 intricate and expressive solo compositions from former Tattie Toes member

Howie Reeve’s album Friendly Demons reviewed by The List’s Matt Evans

Howie Reeve's new album Friendly Demons

Howie Reeve’s new album Friendly Demons












(Sausage Shaped Lobster Records)

Anyone who saw Glasgow’s Tattie Toes play live will surely be familiar with genial shorts-wearing bassist and bell-ringer Howie Reeve. To an already extremely inventive band comprising wildly disparate stylistic elements, he brought a (post) punky sensibility, a lean, wiry bass tone and plenty of genial humour.

Alas, Tattie Toes are no more. The other members can be found playing with The One EnsembleAlasdair RobertsHanna Tuulikki and others, but Reeve has decided to go it alone. Switching his gnarly electric four-string for the subtleties of acoustic bass, he delivers 12 intricate and expressive solo compositions. Reeve describes this as the most personal music he’s ever made, and you can certainly hear why: a sense of warm intimacy pervades the whole thing. Recorded live and (mostly) unaccompanied in his living room, Friendly Demons is very much a home-made concoction, and that’s very much its strength.

The tracks are alive with ambience, dotted with string-squeak and fretbuzz, and even feature the sound of Reeve breathing as he focuses during the more difficult, tricksy passages, recalling the iconic jazz mumbles of Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Thelonious Monk. An extremely proficient player, but never gratuitously showy, Reeve’s focus is on tunes and songwriting, even though only a handful of tunes feature his soft, understated vocals. His approach to bass is beautifully expressive, melodic and thoughtful, but also takes in flamenco-style flourishes, charging post-punk grooves, choppy, percussive passages and one surprisingly violent bout of chaos.

Named in tribute to his local greengrocer, ‘Stalks and Stems’ features a fantastically wobbly and boisterous attack of string-bent low end, while ‘The Playroom’ unexpectedly blossoms into an avant-folk refrain with honeyed harmonies from Foxface alumnus and the album’s recording engineer, Michael Angus. As inventive and playful as it is richly emotional, Friendly Demons will appeal not only to admirers of RM Hubbert’s delicate acoustic portraits, but also to fans of the complex rambunctiousness of Minutemen and The Meat Puppets.

RM Hubbert’s amazing SAY Awards win

RM Hubbert wins Scottish Album of the year. Congrats to TimeLock composer.

RM Hubbert wins Scottish Album of the year. The cast and crew of TimeLock the movie are delighted.















Here are some of the many, many to articles about Hubby and his fantastic win at this year’s Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Awards.









Says Hubby, ”This award means I’ll be able to tour again, make a new record…and hopefully pay off some debts. And I’ll be able to pay the collaborators on the album.”

Go Hubby!


TimeLock premiered on 6th of June in Inverness in front of an audience of 100 people as the closing film of the GoNorth Festival in Inverness. The film received a rapturous reception for its innovative style and tense suspenseful narrative.

After the screening the writer director David Griffith called some of the members of the cast and crew who were present in the audience to the stage, including John C Gilmour, Alton Milne, Danielle Stewart, Inge Sorensen, Ryan Hendrick, Fee Clark and Florian Nonnenmacher. The team then answered questions from the audience before heading off to the closing party. Look out for a full report, once this journalist’s hangover has worn off.

Timelock Cal&Delegate


A short interview with TimeLock lead – John C. Gilmour


What attracted you to the project?

The script seemed bright and original. Mark (the main character) seemed lost and disorientated and as an actor I find this very interesting to play. Also there was the opportunity to be involved from an early stage in developing and shaping both the script and  the character journey.  In other words an unusual degree of input was afforded to us and this really made me want to be part of the project.


What was the experience of making the film like?

It was hard work! I was in practically every scene so the days were very long with few breaks. Because so much was shot out of sequence I had to stay totally focused. I enjoyed the process of making the film but it wasn’t easy.


What do you like most about the completed film?

I like a lot of aspects. Its come a long way since I saw the assembly cut. In particular though I love what Howie Reeve and RM Hubbert have done with the music. It just gives the whole film a wonderfully ethereal texture.


What do you think the film is about, on the surface and on a deeper level?

On the surface it’s about a seeming innocent getting caught up in a heist that goes horribly wrong. What I like about the movie, though, is that there’s a great deal more to it than that. At its heart though it is about how each of us lives; is it better to live a safe life leavened by petty addictions or to live recklessly and to hell with the consequences?


Who do you play and what is interesting about their character?

I play Mark Kerr who you could call the protagonist of the movie. He is a disaffected hotel manager with a poker addiction.   The dream is that one day he will crack the system and win big. Mark is a loser. But like most losers with big dreams he has a heroism about him. This is brought out when he becomes involved in a sequence of events which reveal to him a strength which he never knew he had.


What challenges does an actor face breaking into films?

Where to begin? Film makers often want to play safe with established stars, especially in the current risk averse financial climate.  It’s a very competitive world and it could drive you insane.  The thing is you have to keep all that at arms length.   You won’t give a good performance if you’re worrying about how good you are. You will just look as though you’re trying too hard; and the camera will see that. Good acting entails the absence of effort.


What you hope the film will do for you in the future ?

Obviously I would like more work! I hope people will like what I’ve done and will see that I was able to bring a degree of nuance and complexity to the part.  In the future I hope that Timelock proves to be an important staging post in my journey as a film actor.

Timelock Swivel Chair


The soundman speaks out – Marcin Knyziak on working as a sound recordist on ‘TimeLock’

CrewMarcinKnyziak“Working on Timelock was for several reasons a memorable experience. First of all since we only had two weeks for the shoot it was a pleasant surprise to discover that main actors John and Alton were well versed in their parts. I think that they spent few months rehearsing the script with David and that was the key component which allowed us to shoot the movie in time. Frankly with the dialogue heavy scenes running up to ten minutes in a single shot it was the only way to do it.

Now the style of shooting was another interesting aspect of the film. Due to length of the takes actors really had time to warm up and build up their performances. Time wise the whole shoot was on the hectic side with us shooting up to ten pages of the script a day. That said due to good organization we hardly ever run overtime which I found a miracle. Since big parts of the film were shot with hand held camera sound department had to be always on their feet and ready to follow the action.

If I had to pick up the single aspect of the process that had the biggest impact on our filming it would definitely be the pre-production done by David and our producer Inge. First of all director really knew what he wanted to shoot which is not always the case. Although we did embrace a few happy findings during the filming process, the vast majority of the shots were pre-planned and there was never confusion of what we need to shoot on the day.

Our cast and crew may have been limited but was never less a great fun to work with and it’s because of they hard work that shoot went smooth and provided some good memories.”

Marcin Knyziak 

Sound Recordist / Designer

+44 (0)7957769790

Marcin Knyziak, sound recordist extraordinaire

Marcin Knyziak, sound recordist extraordinaire


Scotland is a fantastic place to make films — Danielle Stewart reflects on her experiences making ‘TimeLock’

Danielle Stewart plays Maria in 'TimeLock'.

Danielle Stewart plays Maria in ‘TimeLock’.

Thinking back on my experience on Timelock the best way I can describe it is that it felt like relaxed professionalism. When I met David Griffith for the first time alongside my good friend John C Gilmour and soon to be co-star Alton Milne, I was expecting an audition with the hope of having a recall and maybe I’d get lucky by being offered the role. What I didn’t realise was that I already had the part of Maria – the meeting was to make sure I wanted to be involved (which of course I did!). This has led me to believe that the aspect I feel worked so well on Timelock was that intuition was used to trust that people would get on with their job and do it well. There was no pretension or room for ego; it was about a story and how to bring it to the best possible outcome on screen.

The team were professional, focused and very visual on what they wanted, but yet they were genuine and respectful. It’s a rarity and privilege to be on a set where you are amongst people with no other agenda but to make the best film they can. No matter how long or short we were on set for, there was friendship, friendly faces and a community spirit and I feel those elements are how you get the best out of people – and of course laughter.

Scotland is a fantastic place to make films as I feel that it is the people who make it such an enjoyable experience as they are supportive and want to see each other do well. I cannot wait to see Timelock on the big screen at the Go North Festival. One: to be reunited with the cast and crew who worked so well together, but also to see the final product and witness the hard work that everyone has contributed towards. Plus John C. Gilmour is an excellent drinking partner.

Danielle Stewart plays Maria in TimeLock

Danielle Stewart plays Maria in TimeLock

                                                                                                                     Danielle Stewart


The key is in the screenplay

The key to all forms of filmmaking is a solid screenplay. Without a solid screenplay no film stands a chance whatever the budget level, whether the film is made for a cash budget of £1000, £100,000 or £100 million. When it comes to movies, even a director (or producer) with a beard and sandals can’t raise the dead.

That said a good screenwriter – particularly a writer/director or writer/producer – does need to take into account the budget implications when writing their screenplay to ensure the potential for recoupment matches the budget level. If they don’t the film is unlikely to attract funding and if it does it could well turn into a train wreck if it is.

So what do you need to take into consideration?

First and foremost you need to think about what you want to achieve with the film. Some people might have dreams of making a large sum of money while others might be looking for a calling card on which to build a future career. The reason knowing what you want to achieve is important for a number of reasons, personal dramas are the most difficult films to sell without a name director or cast attached whereas thriller, horror, romance, coming of age or certain types of comedy have greater viability with a mass audience. By this I don’t mean that one can guarantee a large audience for a micro-budget film but rather that those people who do come across it are more likely to take a punt on a film within a clear marketable genre. You may still decide you want to make that film about an old man and his seagulls, but at least then you’ll know you know that your chances of making your money back are very slim and you’ll have to make it at the lower end of micro budget (which is usually classed at the time of writing in 2013) as between £25,000 and £250,000.

If you have a clear genre your chances of making your money back will still be slim so you’ll want to keep your budget in check. So how do you do this?

  1. Keep it contemporary. Period drama costs approximately four times as much per minute as contemporary drama because of the cost of sourcing and buying the props and licensing time specific music. If you can find a way of doing period or sci-fi on the cheap by using confined sets (think ‘Cube’) then it may be possible but these are the exceptions that prove the rule.
  2. Try to set the film in a readily available location. The more specific the location the more it is likely to cost to both hire and to get to.
  3. Make the central conflict a battle of wits between two people who are both ‘ripe for action’ and find themselves locked in mortal opposition (physically, emotionally or metaphysically) from which neither can or will withdraw (what Lajos Egri author of ‘The Art of Dramatic Writing’ refers to as the Unity of Opposites).
  4. Confine your characters in a limited area. A lot of the cost of making a film is incurred through the cost of moving everyone (cast, crew, support services, etc.) and the time this wastes. If you can keep the cast and crew in one place for most of the shoot all your costs decrease. This will also decrease the number of shooting days.
  5. Only use a limited number of supporting actors.

Timelock Motorway1Once you have an idea that will satisfy these restrictions, then you can start think more positively about how you can craft your tale into an emotionally engaging experience. Since spectacle will be created within the camera rather than through multiple locations, expensive grip equipment or special effects, I’d argue that you need to structure your narrative more like a play than for a regular budget feature. This means putting character conflict front and centre.


Here are a few key pointers for how this might be achieved:

  1. Come up with an idea with a clear task that the character has to complete. What will the main character(s) have to do to survive either physically or metaphorically? This will also give you a clear active question to direct the action around.
  2. Give your characters ‘deep back-story’. All movies will need 5-7 major twists. When you restrict the number of characters there is less opportunity to generate the twists from subplots, so a lot will need to come from the main characters, their pasts and the secrets they keep for themselves.
  3. Deep back-story also means giving your characters clear flaws that they need to try to overcome during the course of the movie. If these flaws are clear to the audience before they are clear to the characters, they will generate health amounts of suspense and distract the audience’s attention from the inevitable limitations in terms of the production values. You can’t hope to compete with a regular Britflick in terms of production values but you certainly can in terms of character and character development.
  4. Try to ensure that characters growing realisation of their flaws plays in to their actions. It is great if the last two twists can relate to character realisation (what they have learned through the conflict) rather than back-story as this will help force the characters into a real dilemma (as opposed to artificial dilemma brought to a head in the villains death-trap as occurs in many action movies) and bring the film to an emotionally satisfying conclusion and catharsis.
  5. Come up with an audio-visual aesthetic that reinforces the action through audio-visual means and intensifies the drama, as was achieved in the low-budget movie ‘Pi’ from Darren Aronowsky.  By this I don’t mean that the audiovisual system needs to play into the whole rationale of the movie as in ‘The Blair Witch Project’ or ‘Paranormal Activity’, but rather that the style of filming matches the genre and themes as it does in films like ‘Beasts of the Sothern Wild’ a classic Inner Drama (albeit featuring a confused child as opposed to a confused adult which is far more common).

If you can surmount the restrictions and realise the creative challenge, then all you need to do is persuade people to fund you. Even on a micro-budget this is really tricky, but I’ll leave that subject for another blog.


David#27TimeLock premieres at GoNorth Festival in Inverness on June the 6th at 8pm and the screening is open to all delegates if you are planning to be there please let us know through the TimeLock Facebook page.



A composer’s perspective from Howie Reeve

TimeLockStills(JohnCGilmour&AltonMilne)8“Our remit as composers on TimeLock was principally to augment, to suggest rather than spell out the various motifs within the film. We composed in two pairings: myself and RM Hubbert, and myself and Rafe Fitzpatrick. There was also a third, equally vital musical component, namely David McAulay’s excellent sonic atmospheres.

David Griffith had a clear idea of what he wanted, but his role was very much one of trust and facilitation. As such, we were given broad templates to work to. Hubby and I created themes for Mark and Cal, musical sketches that implied either character’s flawed emotional make up, framed within the predicaments they face in the film. Rafe and I created an overall ambience, mostly applying a feel of slight disembodiment, which goes hand in hand with Mark’s general torpor, and the almost fly on the wall detachment of some of the camera shots.

There is a claustrophobic feel to much of ‘TimeLock’, not only on a literal level, but also in the basic  emotional states of its characters – a kind of fatalism which portrays Mark, Cal and others as virtually helpless in their drives and debilitating thought patterns. However, this is not absolute, and especially at the end of the film, the notion of an individual’s power to make redeeming choices is lightly touched on.

The whole of the film invites the viewer to make choices themselves, and, generally, our job as musicians was to insinuate, rather than to hammer home: we weren’t looking for blatant riffs – our approach was far more textural.”

Howie Reeve, composer on TimeLock together with RM Hubbert and Rafe Fitzpatrick

The irrepressible Mr Reeve working on the music for TimeLock

The irrepressible Mr Reeve working on the music for TimeLock


Howie Reeve, RM Hubbert and Rafe Fitzpatrick had never composed for a feature film composer until they agreed to work on TimeLock. That said they are supremely gifted musician and we never had any doubts that they would come up with a fantastic soundtrack for the film .

TimeLock premieres at GoNorth Festival in Inverness on June the 6th at 8pm if you are planning to be there please let us know through the TimeLock Facebook page.