Follow Friday – Pond5, Marketplace for Creativity

Posted by Chrissey - 24th April 2015

Pond5 Pond5is one of several creative marketplaces out there where you can find stock footage, photos, video effects, audio clips, music and even 3D models.

What we found appealing about Pond5 was its great selection of public domain photos and videos, including some fascinating historical footage. If you’re working on a historical documentary, want some flashback footage for a short film or you just need a black and white picture of two cats in cannon barrel (right),  this is a great place to look.
The Ships Cats of HMS Hawkins (c1920)
What’s more, because it’s a marketplace, creators of content can upload their material for sale to other creatives. Definitely worth checking out this Follow Friday.

Follow Friday is our weekly featurette where we highlight people and sites we think are worth following. Take a look at our past suggestions here.

An Interview with Kristian Griffiths, creator of Business Bear

Posted by Rich - 22nd April 2015

Kristian Griffiths, creator of Business BearThis week we welcome new comic series Business Bear to The Great Escape, the latest creation by artist, software developer and former actor Kristian Griffiths.

Long time fans of The Great Escape may recognise Kristian from such seminal works as ‘Terror of the Killer Carnivorous Coat‘.

Small-press people may recognise him from his work with Fallen Angel Media, which produced three comics.

We caught up with Kristian to chat about himself, Business Bear and several questions that may appear off-topic, but actually delve deep into the psyche of the man who likes drawing bears.

Rich Jeffery: Who are you, and what do you do?

Kristian Griffiths: My name’s Kristian Griffiths. By day I’m a software developer, but by night I’m still a software developer as it never leaves you. I do, however, draw comics in my spare time.

RJ: Who is Business Bear?

KG: Business Bear is an honest, hard-working bear just trying to get through all the corporate nonsense that comes with working for a large company. He doesn’t really have need of a first name, or a surname, as his name’s just Bear. Who’s going to argue with him, he’s a bear in a tie.

RJ: How did you come up with the idea for Business Bear?

KG: I’m not going to lie, I find it easy to draw bears. I was doodling a bear wearing a tie on one of my pads at work. I then started going into meetings with said pads and filling in speech bubbles with business-y things that I’ve heard throughout my career. From there I started drawing them more seriously.

RJ: How did you get into comic drawing?

KG: This is a long story and a complicated one. I picked up a pencil and started drawing. There was a bit more to it than that: I started my first serious series (Adventures with Kristian) as filler for an old friend’s web comic. From there I decided to draw Further Adventures with Kristian, and then Brown Bottle Bear. From there my comics took a hiatus as I moved half-way up the country.

RJ: How does Business Bear get away with the fact that he is just a bear in a seemingly high-pressure human world?

KG: The hibernation is tough on him, as you can’t just take a few months off for that. I think he gains acceptance by being a talking bear that, somehow, manages to put on a collar and tie every morning. Also when he applied for the job he brought with him his own collection of Corporate polo-shirts.

RJ: What are your favourite comic series / web comics?

KG: I hate every else’s work as it’s substandard. No, just kidding. I’m a big fan of Dilbert, surprisingly. Also I’m a big fan of Batman, and get most of the Bat titles. On the web my favourites are Penny Arcade and also a series called Atland (by Nate Piekos).

RJ: How does Kristian Griffiths like to relax?

KG: Spending time with my wife. Playing with my cats, snakes, lizards and (when she behaves) dog. Also I love to play pen and paper RPGs and point and click adventure games. I also have a small collection of Board Games.

RJ: What is your special skill?

KG: You know, I don’t think I have one. Unless drinking cider and being able to stand up afterwards is a skill.

RJ: What advice can you offer to people starting out in drawing/writing comics?

KG: Do it! Put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard. I draw mine by hand (it shows). I’m not the best artist in the world but you don’t have to be. Mimic other people’s style and you’ll soon find you’ll

RJ: If you were stranded on a desert island, who would be your favourite Avenger?

KG: Batman. Yeah, he’s DC and not an Avenger, but I don’t have to play by your rules and I like Batman. At a push I’d probably say Iron Man. Thor’s an idiot with a hammer, the Incredible Hulk and I have issues after Marvel’s latest Hulk run, Captain America is a goody-two-shoes and Black Widow is awesome but not my favourite.

RJ: What’s your favourite thing on the internet RIGHT NOW?

KG: …*shamefully* the WWE Network…DON’T JUDGE ME!

RJ: If you could ask yourself one question, what would you ask? And what would you say in response to your question? Essentially, I’m just trying to make you do my job.

KG: Hmm…If you had £1,000,000 that you can spend on something non-essential, what would it be?

Well, Kristian, that’s a fine question and well thought out. I’d go to my local game shop and buy ALL THE BOARD GAMES.

 Big thanks to Kristian for taking the time out to be interviewed, and welcome back to The Great Escape fold.

Business Bear can be found right here on The Great Escape ( ), as well as being found on the Business Bear Facebook page.

Fiction Industry News – 8 trends in publishing

Posted by Chrissey - 20th April 2015

Is a book an object or information? There was a time when it was inseparably both, but now, it doesn’t have to be. The digital revolution of the last two decades has shaken up the world of publishing in a way not seen since the invention of the printing press.

Old, dusty Books On a BookshelfLast week at The London Book Fair, I got a first-hand look at some of the new trends and technologies and my general impression is that the publishing industry really hasn’t got a handle on digital yet. From working out how to get content to readers, to questioning what digital books should be, the industry is still finding its feet.

Here are my top trends in books and publishing for 2015:

1. Subscription services

People behave differently on the internet than they do in “real” life. For one, we seem to have a strange expectation that all content should be free. eBook subscription services such as Oyster, Scribd, Entitle and Amazon Kindle Unlimited attempt to do for eBooks what Netflix and Amazon do for video-on-demand. They tap into the free content mind-set by creating an illusion of free content. After-all, once you’ve paid your membership fee, the content is unlimited and therefore free, right?

Value for money in a subscription model depends solely on how much content you can cram into your day. With video, it’s possible to consume significantly more value than paid in subscription fees. But books cost less and take longer to consume than video. At an average subscription of $8-10 (£5-6) per month, I don’t think you’ll be able to consume enough books to really feel you’re getting value for money. You might as well buy the content and actually own it.

Subscription models might therefore turn out to be a short lived trend.

2. Pay what you want transaction models

But how else are content producers supposed to get around the issue of consumers baulking at any kind of price tag?

At the other end of the spectrum and NoiseTrade are trying something different; pay-what-you-want. In this model, eBooks are free to download and read and readers may pay if they want to. It’s not compulsory. It already seems to be working for book bundle sites like Humble Bundle and StoryBundle.

A lot of self-published authors feel pressured to give their work away for free in order to attract readers. Even a 99p price tag can act as a complete turn off. The pay-what-you-want model may offer an attractive half-way house in this regard.

Could a transaction model based on goodwill really work?

3. Hybrid Publishing and the Empowered Author

The brand new buzz word “hybrid-publishing” has been zipping around, to describe those authors who work the system to their own needs, self-publishing some books, while taking the traditional route for others. These days, one of the surest routes into a book deal is to self publish a successful book first.

“Don’t think of it as “self” publishing. You are CEO of your own Global Media Empire.”

C J Lyons, A pioneer of the author led publishing process.

4. Shared Publishing

Publishing houses used to have the final say on what got read, but now the direct connection between readers and authors is bypassing that editorial gateway. The publishing industry isn’t used to taking risks, but authors are more than willing to do so themselves, sometimes with amazing results.

The reactionary trend is a boom in shared publishing deals, where the publishing house asks the author to stump up cash for the initial publication and bear the financial risk the publishing house isn’t prepared to take.

I don’t think this will last, because…NEW

5. Freelancers, Collaborations and Partnerships

Anyone who has self-published a book will know that creating the book is only half the job. You then need to get it out to the readers somehow. As indie authors become wiser to the ways of marketing and distribution, freelance editors, publicists and distributors are starting to capitalise on the self-publishing market.

In a world where the author can contract out parts of the publishing process, a shared publishing deal soon won’t seem any more attractive than self-publishing. Indeed, some publishers, such as Troubador Publishing Ltd are starting to offer marketing and distribution packages to self-published authors.

6. Freestyle Formats

Perhaps more interesting than all the shifts in digital distribution and the relationship between author, publisher and reader, is the shift in attitude towards what is publishable.

For a long time there have been many formats in between short story and novel which were simply considered unusable; worthless.

Now, indie authors are leading the way in publishing content of any length. The standard format is no more; welcome to the age of the novella, the novelette and the stand alone short story. Publishers are slowly starting to follow this trend.

7. Interactive elements

The questions about what digital book should be goes further than length, however. Many are now questioning whether eBooks should contain interactive elements, and there are new companies springing up to offer tablet targeted content which explores the potential of eBooks to be more than simple digital copies of printed books.

The world of digital publishing is one of great change and a few years down the line the landscape may look very different.

Chrissey Harrison is TGE’s fiction editor and co-founder of the site. She’s an aspiring novelist and publisher with a possibly unhealthy fixation on typography.

Are you a reader, writer or publisher? How have changes in the way books are published and distributed affected you? Leave a comment to tell us about your experiences and observations, or ask us a question.

Follow Friday – Writer’s Digest

Posted by Chrissey - 17th April 2015

Writer's DigestThe US magazine Writer’s Digest is the seminal publication for all things writing and publishing. For more than 90 years, they have been publishing books, magazines, competitions, conferences and  education materials for writers who want to polish their skills and hone their craft.

They have an active web presence with a vast array of resources, articles and competitions on their website, plus more shared through social media channels. Even if you don’t go for a subscription, it’s really worth following for their daily tweets and posts. There’s some fun writing exercises to try including prompts and #storyfriday, a collaborative writing game held on Twitter.

You can follow Writer’s Digest on Twitter (@WritersDigest) or like them on Facebook (

Follow Friday is our weekly featurette where we highlight people and sites we think are worth following. Take a look at our past suggestions here.

An Interview With Matt Warner, creator of Dorian and Drama

Posted by Rich - 15th April 2015

Nathan Head & Victoria Mua are Dorian & Drama: Reflections of the DamnedHellbound Media is a name you may have seen pop up on the site quite frequently throughout TGE’s life, and that’s not surprising. Not only did they provide several early comic submissions to the site (‘The Monster Under The Bed‘ and the ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ taster), but they are the creators behind our current web-comic ‘Faith Healers: The Flesh Angel‘ which returned to the site last month.

Hellbound Media is well known for its illustrated horror comics, but now they are venturing out into the realm of the photo-novella with new comic series Dorian and Drama.

Dorian and Drama are played by horror actor Nathan Head and make up artist and model Victoria Mua. They were joined by glamour model Donna Rhian, beauty queen Hannah Hunter, actors Phil Chadwick and Rebecca Rosenberg, tattoo model Sian Davies and newcomer Iwan Berry.

Their first outing, Reflections of the Damned, is the story of magician Dorian D’Arcane’s big comeback show after his much-publicised fall from grace and how it goes horribly wrong. It takes place at Plas Blodwyn, a former asylum where the evil doctor tortured the inmates. There images are captured in an antique camera but, thanks to Dorian, they don’t stay captured for long.

Recently, we had the pleasure of interviewing creator Matt Warner to talk about the series, as well as getting a sneak peek video from behind the scenes with Donna Lloyd:

Chrissey Harrison: So Matt, Dorian and Drama is a photo-comic, tell us a bit more about where the idea came from to use photography in a comic? Who was your photographer/how did you meet?

Matt Warner: The idea first came about at a shoot for a possible photocover for the Hellbound Media comic Dawn After Dark: Kiss Me Deadly. While the shoot was taking place I got chatting with Victoria Mua who was doing the make up on the day. She loved the comic and showed me some of the horror special effects she had done, which were brilliant.  It became clear that it was an opportunity to do something special.

It took about a year for the other pieces to fall into place. I met photographer Craig Colville through my work as a regional newspaper editor. He was keen to do something different and after a few brainstorming sessions we had a clearer idea of what we wanted to do.

CH: You found some amazing locations to shoot in, what was that like?

MW: It took us quite a while to track down the right location. From the beginning we wanted to shoot in North Wales but after scouting locations like Ruthin Gaol and some private schools it became clear that wouldn’t be practical for us.

In the end, we were tipped off about Antwerp Mansion in Manchester. The building has been many things in its life but now is a nightclub where a lot of artistic projects take place. Kris Extance at the Mansion was very enthusiastic about our project from day one and it turned out to be the perfect backdrop for our story.  Graffiti artists were working on the walls throughout are shoot, totally changing their appearance, meaning we could use the same space for different locations.

Due to the nature of the mansion it meant that we sometimes had to be creative when working around band practices and gigs.

CH: Who worked on the special effects in your shoot?

MW: The make up effects were all done by Victoria Mua, who also plays Drama McKenzie. Most of the effects were planned in advance, like the torn off arms and the head in the fridge. But Victoria is also great at doing things on the fly. The scene where we gouge out the eyes of a chracter played by Hannah Hunter, a beauty queen and model who had just won the title of Face of the World, Victoria managed to create the effect in very little time. It ended up becoming one of the most striking sequences in the comic.

Victoria was assisted by Sarah Yorke, who also did the hair for the shoots. She added a whole extra dimension of glamour, particularly in the scenes with the D’Arcane Dolls.

All of the light effects in the comic’s finale were done in camera using shutter drag and long exposures. There are a few behind the scenes pictures on our blog where you can see people moving lights. We even had frisbees decorated with fairy lights which produced some interesting images.

CH: What was your favourite part of the shoot? Do you have a favourite image?

MW: My favourite shoot was the scenes with Mummy’s Girl. Victoria had made herself up to look like the character on the morning of the shoot, and the end result was horrific. We got quite a lot of double takes on the drive from Liverpool to Manchester.

My favourite image in the comic is the one where Dorian opens his box of supposed magical items. It was always scripted that Dorian would be illuminated from a light within the box. When it came to shooting the image it took a lot of trial and error to make it work. A piece of card eventually saved the day.

CH: Was there a lot of material you didn’t use? Do you have any plans for deleted scenes?

MW: There was one scene that just didn’t fit in the comic, it stopped the story from getting going. It was a shame as it featured one of the most elaborate make up effects. We are now planning to use these images to make an exclusive Dorian and Drama webcomic.

CH: What’s next for Dorian D’Aarcane and Drama McKenzie?

MW: We are starting shooting Dorian and Drama 2 this month in Chester. The title is still under wraps but it won’t be Curse of the Nymphophibian which is tasted at the end of Reflections of the Damned.

We do hope bring the Nymphophibian to life in the future either as a comic or a short film.

Thanks to Matt Warner for the interview. Dorian and Drama: Reflections of the Damned can be purchased from the Hellbound Media website or via Comicsy.

They can also be found on the Hellbound Media table at various comic conventions up and down the country. Check and for more details.

Monthly Mention #2 – April 2015

Posted by Rich - 13th April 2015

Monthly Mention is our monthly featurette where we give a shout out to a bunch of great stuff and projects in the world of indie films, fiction and comics. It might be new, it might have been around for a while, but it is all cool.

Here’s some stuff we’ve come across recently that we think you should check out:


From the creators behind The Lost Generation and Broken Britain comes a sci-fi thriller series like no other.

There’s a brand new drug on the streets; one that requires you to enter a medical-induced coma before you can enjoy the full effects. With a good dose, you can escape the pressured drag of every day life, and step into a whole new reality of your choosing, remaining there for as long as you can afford it. The drug is known as Portal, and allows you to become anything you ever wanted to be; to live out your wildest fantasies at any point in time, in any space. Imagine having that portal to escape to.

But what if Portal, the most addictive virtual reality and social media space on earth, was banned. What if your portal to escape to was closed. How far would you go to get it back?

Starring Chelsea Edge, Clay Whitter and Victoria Connett, and featuring TGE alumni Nathan Head (Killer Coat), this 5-part series, written by Jack Casey & Mark Ashmore, is exciting and terrifying at once.

Nights At The Round Table

From the warped genuises behind I Am Tim Helsing: Monster Hunter and The Away Mission comes tales of death, destruction and table-top role-playing in this blistering geeky comedy series where, by their own confession, not a lot of gaming actually occurs.

‘Nights At The Round Table’ follows four gamers in their desperate, hilarious and often terrifying quest to find the perfect player to fill the space left by their former gaming companions who may or may not have been killed by one of their party. Along the way they’ll encounter ham-gobbling warlords, unsanitary BISK champions and overly smug wizards, plus get through enough cheese puffs, pop tarts and booze to fell a stone giant.

With the newly remastered series now being released on Dailymotion, now is the perfect time to be getting in on this.

Joe and Mary’s Kid

When childless couple Joe & Mary find they’ve been turned down by the adoption agency, the husband comes up with a solution to the problem: why not construct a son in your workshop?

A dark, yet romantic and at times comical short film written and directed by Dan Rosen, and starring Geraint Hill, Jem Demirel and our very own Marley Hamilton (Zombie Vampires), this is gripping from start to finish and well worth a look.

Checking In

Checking In is an fictional anthology film, written and directed by Troy Dennison, Leah Green, Kaush Patel, Dave Hastings and our very own Mark Adams.

Every day, thousands of people book into hotels across the UK. Here are some of the stories from just one.

Shot entirely in the Baron’s Court Hotel in Walsall over a number of weeks, this film won the prestigious BEST BRITISH FILM award at last year’s London Film Awards, as well as picking up several ‘official selection’ laurels over the year.

Checking in will be screening TUESDAY the 14th OF APRIL at the Mockingbird Theatre in Birmingham at 7:30pm, and will be released on various video-on-demand services soon.

Follow Friday – Bristol Crew

Posted by Chrissey - 10th April 2015

Bristol Crew is a site where you’ll find a hand-picked, highly recommended selection of talented freelance camera, sound, production and post production crew based in Bristol and the South West.Bristol Crew

Bristol Crew was founded by Sarah Edwards in 2009, to create an online platform for  industry professionals to advertise their services and for producers to find the talent they need. It has been growing ever since, and are now partnering with BECTU and Creative Skillset to help offer training opportunities for developing professionals in the South West.

Follow Bristol Crew on Twitter @BristolCrew and on Facebook (/bristolcrew) for up to date information about freelancers in the area and development opportunities.

Follow Friday is our weekly featurette where we highlight people and sites we think are worth following. Take a look at our past suggestions here.

Coming up in April 2015

Posted by Chrissey - 6th April 2015

Dorian & Drama: Reflections of the Damned - coverWe’ve got some great new content lined up this month, check out what’s coming up over the next few weeks:

8th April – Henchman a short story from TGE writer Chrissey Harrison. Security guard Jack Canning begins to suspect he may be on the wrong side when his employers clash with the local city superhero.

15th April – Behind the Scenes of Dorian and Drama – we catch up with comic writer Matt Warner and take a look behind the scene of his current photo comic, Dorian and Drama, released last year.

20th April – Interview with Kristian Griffiths – we welcome new contributor Kristian Griffiths to the TGE team. He tells us a bit more about his web-comic Business Bear, which you’ll be able to catch on TGE in weeks to come.

29th April – Faith Healers: The Flesh Angel #12 – our ongoing story of the nephilim nurses and their battle against evil continues.

Friday Follows – every Friday we’ll be featuring a site, service or person we think is worth following. Check out our past suggestions here.

Monday is News day – Every Monday our blog will feature news and updates from the worlds of indie films, fiction and comics.

Follow Friday – Comicsy

Posted by Chrissey - 3rd April 2015

Comicsy - The UK's #1 indie comics marketplaceComicsy provides a platform for small press comic publishers to get their work out to fans. It’s set up as a market place, so comic producers list and sell their own items through the website.

Hellbound Media have recently joined to sell their print comics, starring with TGE co-production Gabriel Cushing: A Fright at the Opera.

You can also find great comics from wonderfully talented people like John Lock (Afterlife Inc. series), Neil Gibson (Twisted Dark), John A Short (Cross, The Clock Strikes), Nick Angel (7String, Cat and Meringue) and more, many of whom we regularly cross paths with on the UK comic circuit.

Follow them on Twitter (@ComicsyUK) or Facebook (/Comicsy) for all the latest releases and indie comic news.

Follow Friday is our weekly featurette where we highlight people and sites we think are worth following. Take a look at our past suggestions here.

Creative Writing Learning Opportunities, Bristol

Posted by Chrissey - 1st April 2015

Workers Educational Association (WEA) logoToday we’re focusing on creative writing courses, seminars and talks in the Bristol area. All of the events listed below take place, or start in April or May.

  • Writing for Change – A six week course with a focus on exploring life changes through writing. Sessions run on Monday afternoons from 13:00. Starts 13th April 2015 at the WEA in Bristol.
  • Beginning to Write Short Stories – A six week short story course hosted by Clevedon Community Bookshop. Sessions run on Thursday evenings at 19:30. Starts 16th April 2015
  • Creative Writing with Amy Spencer – Seven weeks of inspirational writing among the art exhibits at The Royal West of England Academy of Arts (RWA), Bristol. Sessions run from 18:30 on Tuesday evenings from 21st April 2015.
  • Creative Writing – Advanced – An eight week writing study course from the WEA, held at Bristol Central Library. Sessions run from 10:00 on Wednesday mornings from 22nd April 2015
  • Creative Writing – Basic – An eight week writing study course for beginners, run by the the WEA at Bristol Central Library. Sessions run from 13:15 on Thursday afternoons from 23nd April 2015.
  • Express Yourself! – Creative Writing for All – An 11 week WEA creative writing course in Weston-Super-Mare. Sessions run on Friday mornings from 10:00, at the Carlton Centre. Starts 24th April 2015.
  • Writing about Place – A day workshop organised by Clevedon Community Bookshop on Friday 1st May 2015, 10:00 till 16:00.
  • Completing Your Novel – Whip your WIP into shape with this 8 week course from WEA Bristol. Hosted at Windmill Hill City Farm on Thursday evenings from 19:00. Starts 7th May 2015

We hope you’ll feel inspired to sign up for one of these courses, or to seek out courses in your own area. There are many opportunities listed on the WEA website and on Eventbrite. Happy writing everyone!