Supporting Tone Def Tony & His Song

In case you hadn’t noticed, there is a striking resemblance between the famous Christmas song crooner, Tone Def Tony, and myself. A little like the similarity between Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus! This is purely coincidental. However, I would like to pledge my support for his contribution to seasonal song-man-ship, and help promote his latest fundraising efforts:

If you can support in any way, even if it’s just like I’m doing here and sharing his project, that would be great! Thank you for supporting starving artists!

KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN LINK

 

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I’M A COUNTRY SINGER – New Song

Anthony Donnelly 1 compressedHi folks!

Having spent all of last week in London on an acting Masterclass surrounded by 39 other amazingly talented artists from around the world, I have hit the ground running and have reignited my comedy candle.

I am in the process of creating a new character (Billy-Bob the Stuttering Cowboy) for a potential new stand-up show with songs. The following is a draft version:

I’M A COUNTRY SINGER by Billy-Bob the Stuttering Cowboy

Please feel free to share it far and wide. If you like it, leave a comment. If you DON’T like it, please leave a comment.

I’ll be working on a music video real soon, so watch this space!

Thanks, y’all…!

 

Thoughts Behind the Making of “One”, a Short Film by Anthony James Donnelly

I AM truly amazed – and humbled – by the great, early response to my debut short film, “One”. Thank you all…! Since it has been so well received, I thought I’d share some of the concept and thinking behind the project, just in case any fellow actors and film makers are interested.

Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve wanted to make films: I’m fascinated by the whole process behind film making, and I feel very fortunate that I am able to act in the industry for a living. A little over a week ago, I invested in a video camera, and whilst playing around with it, I got the idea in my head to make a short film – how difficult can it possibly be, right?

The brief was quite simple: “With no budget and no other people involved, could I film and produce a short film that told a compelling story and hopefully evoke an emotional response, all in only one week?”

To stack things in my favour, I decided to shoot without dialogue to save the challenges of dubbing and syncing up the sound in the editing process – and I’d never edited anything before! The theme of ‘one’ became the focal point initially, then as I began shooting rough footage, the story of this lonely man emerged. I love playing with words, and I saw that in the word ‘lonely’ you have the words ‘one’ and ‘only’, so I started to evolve concepts of mundanity and how we overlook the ordinary, yet essential things we use in life – including people! Additionally, there is an interconnectedness between things: a toothbrush needs toothpaste, gloves come in pairs, etc.

I was fortunate enough to discover some royalty-free music by the talented composer, Kevin MacLeod, which gave the footage a very sombre feel, yet had a lot of diversity in the melody, which I hoped to utilize in the editing phase. Adding to the bleak feel of the film, it was a very early decision to shoot the whole thing in black and white.

Utilizing the ‘Bollywood’ shooting method (minimal number of takes, no complicated scenes, just shoot and move on) I was able to get an awful lot of footage in a very short period of time, often doing only one take. My biggest concern was shooting footage of myself – as I was also the cameraman! – I wondered, if I set up my camera on its tripod and then walked away to go acting, would somebody run off with my equipment? Thankfully, the opposite was true, almost as if passers-by couldn’t believe there could only be one person involved, they all steered well clear of the equipment!

All in all, it was an incredible experience, and I believe my little experiment has worked. It’s already inspired some fellow actors to follow suit and try to produce their own shorts. Hopefully you have found this inspiring as well, why not give it a go. I had a lot of fun shooting this in between working and daily life. It IS possible, if you have the will and the motivation. I’m looking forward to shooting my next short film soon.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, I won’t give too much of the plot away, but I’d love to hear any constructive comments and feedback, either on here or on the youtube page.

Many, many thanks, I hope you enjoy it…

Book Reviews: When The Rainbow Smiled by Anthony James Donnelly

Rainbows New Cover

I hope you all had a brilliant Christmas. I hope many of you managed to take advantage of my free books over the holiday season. My best presents this year are these two early reviews that have come in for my latest publication When The Rainbow Smiled.

A big thank you to both of these reviewers, what lovely words! Thank you both for taking the time to rate and write a review.

Beautifully written and illustrated short story for all ages.

A perfect accompanyment to ‘When the Trees Held Thier Breath’. This thought provoking story seems to have the ability to speak to you on many levels when considering what is happening around the world today and the society we live in. It’s a book that you can read and read again and reflect on the message of kindness, sharing and freedom of choice and what can happen when we do none of those things. If you are wanting something a little different to share with your children then buy this book!

Five Stars

Such a beautiful book. Thoughtful, thought-provoking and wonderfully illustrated. Warmth on a page.

 A beautiful book, with the charm

A beautiful book, with the charm, delight and unexpected discovery of childhood innocence. The way Anthony Donnelly has unfolded the parable, we are taken on a journey that makes not only the rainbow smile, but our hearts too. A book to read to be inspired, to be lifted and to share.

How lovely to have one of my books referred to as, ‘warmth on a page’. Here’s hoping your year ends well and the New Year begins well and continues to bring you love, success and happiness.

FREE Books For Christmas

Rainbows New CoverIt’s Christmas. A time for love, generousity, and for giving, or ‘forgiving’. For this reason, ALL my kindle books will be free both today (Christmas Day) and tomorrow (Boxing Day) as a way of saying thank you to all my friends old and new, and spreading more of the spirit of the season.

All I ask in return is, if you download a copy of my book, please take a few minutes to honestly rate and review the book on amazon 🙂

 

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS:

Dr Wayne DyerI’m not really one for making resolutions for New Year, but at this time I do like to reflect back on the past few months and take stock. Like many of you, I’m sure, this has been a great year, but also a bummer of a year. I lost two very great and dear friends: Dr. Wayne Dyer, a motivational force in my life, and Richard Anthony Eyre, an old school friend.

Richard Eyre
Richard Eyre 1970 – 2015

They will both be missed.

 

On the upside, I’ve met and made numerous new friends, mostly in the film and TV industry. Another positive to the year: I’m very excited at the great progress I’ve made since April of breaking back into the acting world again. A short film I starred in landed at Cannes, thanks to the wonderful director Miho Sugita. I finally got an agent! And I have two new film scripts doing the rounds. It’s almost as if my life has come full circle and I’ve arrived back where I was before I left sixteen years ago!

On the writing front, my books continue to sell – Thank you all for that! Although I feel a little lazy at not having completed ALL the new books I had planned to publish this year, they are still in the works and WILL BE published in 2016. How about that for positive thinking?!

Talking of positive thinking, it’s been wonderful to connect with some old friends (Tony Wilson, and Trevor Oakland, to name just two!) from the distant past and indulge my other passion for self-development and motivation. When there’s something you just can’t help yourself from doing, then that’s a good sign you should be doing it (if it’s positive in nature!)

 

Did I Give Enough, Live Enough, Laugh Enough, and Love Enough…?

When I reflect back on this year, there’s one question I ask myself, and that’s written above. I have certainly laughed a lot this year, thanks to new friends, Stephen, Jo, Louise, Helen, Ness, Rachael, and Darryl. Did I give enough…? I’m sure I could have given more, but within my financial constraints I think I gave as much as I could monetarily, on a personal level, definitely! As far as living enough, I don’t think there’s much more this little chap could have crammed into the last 12 months. I always consider myself as lazy, but then look at what I’ve managed to do and wonder why I keep thinking that! And then there’s love… ah, that sweet, alusive thing… As far as giving my love away, that has been joyously done over the year. More on a platonic level than romantic, but there is always hope…! I’m sure, somewhere out there, there is a young lady that has the patience to put up with my ‘insanity’.

Well, if you’ve read this far, I commend you. What a ramble! Here are the links to my free books. Enjoy! Share! And for all of you I have not yet wished a very Merry Christmas and a superb New Year, that was it.

FREE BOOKS:

Click on the book cover to take you to the amazon link for the book (sorry, these are US links. You’ll have to transfer to the country link you need!)

Rainbows New CoverWHEN THE RAINBOW SMILED

A delighful, powerful short read accompanied by 19 exceptional watercolour paintings. Peace, love, harmony and balance.

 

 

The Shepherd Cover ArtTHE SHEPHERD

A new age parable about connecting and listening to your heart. Let the Shepherd guide you to where you should be in life.

 

 

 

cockroach coverTHE COCKROACH CHRONICLES

Can we learn about ourselves from probably one of the most detested creatures on the planet? Find out through a series of ten letters this brave, little thing writes back to those at home fighting the Eternal War…

 

 

49q cover49Q? THE ENIGMA CONTINUES

Not an easy read this one, I’ll give you that. This is an experimental novel, part of a trilogy, a film, and a musical album that never quite made it off the ground. Read at your peril, is all I say… It almost drove me mad writing it, but it’s full of philosophy, ridiculousness, and mischief. It’ll make sense once you’ve read it!

 

Remember, if you download a copy, please leave a rating and review, thank you very much!

MERRY CHRISTMAS ONE AND ALL,

AND A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!

NEW BOOK: When The Rainbow Smiled by Anthony James Donnelly

Rainbows New Cover

Originally written back in 2000 as the sequel to my first publication, When The Trees Held Their Breath, this short, illustrated work tells the story of how colour first came to the world as a ‘smiling’ rainbow. At a much deeper level, the resounding message is one of peace, love, acceptance, and harmony.

This work is especially dear to my heart, as I thought it was lost forever. At the turn of the millennium, certain members of the UK education system were showing an interest in this work as an education tool for primary school children. Since I was living in the US at that time promoting “Trees”, I handed the project and all of my artwork over to an old Secondary School friend of mine, Richard Eyre. He had many contacts, and worked diligently with them to compile a teaching resource to accompany my short, powerful story.

Scan_20151212 (4)
Artwork by Mani Navasothy

Sadly, the project failed to reach fruition at the last minute, and was shelved. When you are an industry outsider, it’s very hard to break into a market that is controlled by the larger organisations! Even sadder is the fact that Richard passed away this year in a tragic motorbike accident in Thailand, where he had been living for the past seven years working on humanitarian projects.

It was at his funeral recently that I was surprised to be reunited with my text and some of my original watercolour artwork once more. Although a handful of my original art was missing, they had been replaced by the fantastic work of Mani Navasothy (an artist Richard had hired to ‘upgrage’ some of my images) which add even more depth and colour to my words.

Scan_20151212 (3)
Artwork by Anthony Donnelly

With the advancement of online publishing and print-on-demand technology, I decided to edit and format this into a full colour publication in honour of my late friend, Richard.

Although I have no doubt that this short book alone will not bring about world peace, this is part of my continuing contribution to that effort. Perhaps some younger readers and their parents will take the themes and messages of my text and open a dialogue about how we, as a combined human race, can work towards that end. A good start would be to bring peace into our personal lives, more understanding in our daily encounters with friends and strangers, a daily focus on love rather than war… We can only hope that by a collective effort and focus on love and acceptance, our children may get the opportunity to live in a war-free world.

When The Rainbow Smiled is available in print format and Kindle via the Amazon website. I love to hear feedback from my readers, so please help spread the word by sharing, posting reviews, and leaving me comments. May this year end well for you, and may 2016 bring you closer to your dreams.

***

The Shepherd Cover ArtANTHONY DONNELLY blogs about all things writing, inspirational, and motivational. He has published a number of books for children and adults. His latest book, a short, inspirational parable THE SHEPHERD  is currently climbing up the Amazon charts, and is available in Kindle or paperback. When not sat at his keyboard writing, he can be found in Costa Rica, North America, or somewhere in Europe motivating and coaching individuals and groups in self-development techniques and life-balance. Most recently you can see him back on the sets of films and in front of the modelling camera again.

Cancer Survivor Writes, Directs, and Stars in New Indie Feature “The Hit”

the hit poster

“Not every story has been told…”

Although many people still remember the graphic incidents of the Rettendon Murders in Essex back in 1995, and the story has been adapted into a number of film versions, husband and wife film-making duo, Brad and Tanya Wall, insist, “Not every story has been told…”

At first glance, when you hear this movie was not only written by Brad Wall, but was directed by him, he plays one of the leading roles, and his wife produced it, you could be mistaken in thinking this indie feature is just a ‘vanity project’. You couldn’t be further from the truth.

Like every truly great story has a backplot, when you discover that Brad is a cancer survivor (he was diagnosed with AML, blood cancer) it puts a completely different spin on things. It’s hard enough writing a full length feature script (I should know, I’ve written a few of them in my time!) and the business of acting, although highly rewarding, is much more demanding than most ‘outsiders’ think. Just the concept of all the preparation and planning that needs to go into a film production, even a short, let alone a full length feature, is daunting to a healthy chap like myself – although I’d love to direct a movie one day, the thought of it scares the poop out of me!

So, when you think about this dynamic duo a huge round of applause is called for JUST FOR EVEN THINKING ABOUT making this film a reality! The fact that they have finally wrapped on shooting, and all concerned are eagerly looking forward to reuniting for the wrap party later this month deserves pause for thought.

Brad and Tanya are no stragers to the business, though, having met each other whilst working in the industry. They both shared a passion for film making, and the completion of “The Hit” is a serious feather in their caps. Although, as I said earlier, many people know the story already, through their ‘connections’ (I’ll leave that part vague – Brad’s originally from the East End – ‘nough said?) they insist that this is the definitive version of events, which holds quite a few surprises! I was priviledged to have a very minor role in their production, and was intrigued by the secrecy surrounding the script, but they assure me this is not merely a ‘cloak and dagger’ marketing ploy, the plot really is quite a sensitive matter.

Working with Brad and Tanya it was easy to forget what Brad had overcome to create this piece, as he is not only professional and ENERGETIC, but very humble and approachable (even if he does look quite scary some times!) The same is true for Tanya, having the thankless task of producing and ensuring things run as smoothly as possible – and anyone that’s been involved in the business knows that nothing ever goes exactly to plan.

hit companion

“WATCH THIS SPACE…!”

It has been refreshing to hear the support they have had whether from the huge cast of actors, people who have helped to source the classic cars needed for the shoot, businesses offering locations, and the million-and-one other little details. The work doesn’t stop there however… With a release date set for December to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the events, they have some epic fundraising plans for their next project (Crowdfunding Campaign) and have a fantastic, photographic companion to the film which you can buy now on Amazon. Click on the picture to the right to order your copy now.

Personally, although my involvement was very small, I’d just like to say a very big thank you and well done to this new film production partnership. All I can say is WATCH THIS SPACE…! More great things are coming, I’m sure.

***

The Shepherd Cover ArtANTHONY DONNELLY blogs about all things writing, inspirational, and motivational. He has published a number of books for children and adults. His latest book, a short, inspirational parable THE SHEPHERD  is currently climbing up the Amazon charts, and is available in Kindle or paperback. When not sat at his keyboard writing, he can be found in Costa Rica, North America, or somewhere in Europe motivating and coaching individuals and groups in self-development techniques and life-balance. Most recently you can see him back on the sets of films and in front of the modelling camera again.

INTERVIEW: Vanessa Champion – Documentary Photographer

vanessa-champion-photographer-press-image-2b
Photographer, Vanessa Champion

A slight break with convention from my Writers’ Interviews here… But keeping with the same creative vein, a photographer: Vanessa Champion.

I was fortunate enough to meet Vanessa (‘Ness’) back in mid-February for a headshot shoot for my acting portfolio (more images here) and was immediately taken by her charm, her easy-to-work-with professionalism, and her aura. It was like I had met a long lost soul and was catching up on old news. It seemed obvious that I should do an interview. Ness is a fascinating lady, a talented lady – with oodles of modesty thrown in for good measure (which is why I haven’t edited ANYTHING out!) – and I’m honoured that she is now one of my close friends.

Without further ado… Vanessa Champion, in her own words…

Technology has changed over the years, do you have a preference over digital or ‘old school’, and why? 

I started life working with film cameras. My early sales were just with a little Olympus, and one could argue it’s the photographer not the camera which makes the image, but maybe I won’t bang on about that here (I can waffle and write for England!). I can’t stress enough the importance and value of having worked with a medium that MAKES you THINK before you press the shutter. With film, you have to think, frame, think, focus, think, expose, as every time you press the button, it costs money. When I started earning money as a “jobbing” photographer, I used to buy a 36 exposure film, shoot 24 for the client and keep the rest for me to shoot. I did a Roliflexdeal with my supplier and printer, so my client paid for 24 and wasn’t out of pocket I hasten to add (I didn’t shaft them!). I learnt in subsequent years, that Cartier-Bresson did just that, he would be commissioned by Life Magazine and shoot most of the rolls for them and keep some frames for himself to shoot. When I did make the move to digital, I still shot with that slow and considered way, and still do. I find myself firing off more during portrait sessions, but that’s more to put subject at ease than lack of framing. Am converting from slapper flapper Nikon (the loud “clack you hear when photographers press the shutter) to the silent Fuji mirrorless system, which is perfect for the theatre, opera and TV still work I do. Actually Fujifilm gave me a load of singleuse cameras (you know those throwaway ones you often get at weddings) to teach former street kids in Uganda how to document their lives. Was really interesting to see how they started thinking and framing, they REALLY understood the value of each photo. Am producing a book of their work to help raise money for much needed beds for the kids out there. Tough lives.

Vanessa ChampionYou have been described as a ‘documentary photographer’, can you expand on what this means to you?

I story-tell. When I shoot, I see stories. That might seem obvious when I’m shooting an opera or a theatrical piece, but I see the same when I’m shooting a corporate event, I watch interaction, reaction, timing, personality and try and capture the energy and rhythm of the moment. I shoot for NGOs in Africa and Asia, the same thing, I look and see the stories and time my capture with the heartbeat of the story unfolding infront of me. Sometimes I do feel like a sniper!

Do you have a ‘wish list’ of subjects you’d still like to shoot, and why?

Adam Ant, the former President of Uruguay…  – the reason? Character, I love character. Also a road trip up South America, to document the music, food, people, artisans, workers. I’m working on some personal projects, WWI Ulysses (an installation piece of a soldier in a WWI trench, with music and soundscape), plus a series of sportspeople and well, there’s quite a bit in the pipeline I’m building!

photoaidYou wear many hats, as you’re not just a photographer, you are editor of a newspaper, and do a lot of charity work. How did this all come about and how to you juggle so many things?

Not sure how it’s all happened. Have been very lucky, have put in some long hours (hate to think sometimes just how many!) and have been blessed with some terrific clients who have given me opportunities. Being an academic first, I think, makes you a solution finder, a researcher. I love solving problems and helping fix things. And really, that’s all business is about, having a “problem, product, idea” and needing a solution to “fix, sell, make happen”. I just utilise the years of research experience and deliver. I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up, am working on it though… Photography has always been there, it’s the creative thread that holds my world together.

If you were not able to do the things you do, what would do instead?

I love music, so I’d love to be Ray Charles with the voice of Aretha Franklin (fix it for me, Ant!).

MumbaiDo you have any advice for aspiring photographers?

Photograph, photograph, photograph. And then shoot some more. Find your genre, create your style and most importantly LOVE what you shoot.

I know you’ve recently returned from Mumbai, what else is on the horizon for the rest of 2015?

I was documenting the work of one of the NGOs I work with, “Born to be Beautiful” in Mumbai, which teaches impoverished women beauty skills they can then use to earn money and slowly gain value within their community and therefore try to stop the endless cycle of violence and fear.  I am founder of PhotoAid Global, and we are running a course in extreme PhotoJournalism this year (theory and practical), plus sponsoring a photojournalism award with the Art Gemini Prize, with an exhibition at the Menier Gallery, London. To enter click here… Plus I’m writing three books, one of which is an entry level “how to photograph your crafts”, a book on British Heritage Artisans (coffee table photography book), plus a book on Cuthbert Orde who drew the pilots of Fighter Command in 1940. Am putting together another couple for the NGOs I work with, but that’s alongside the day job. Hoping to head into France, and maybe off to Ethiopia with the lovely NGO I work closely with, PENHA  (Pastoralist and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa), it’s the 25th Anniversary this year, so watch out for an exhibition of the images I shot with the pastoralist nomads in Uganda as part of their Silver anniversary (some of the images have already been in Venice as part of the Biennale).

Anything else you’d care to add…?

Some recent work on www.vanessachampion.co.uk love to hear from anyone who reads this. Much love and thanks, Ant.

Unfortunately this article isn’t long enough to give Ness the words to say ALL she’d really like to say, but she’s very approachable, and doesn’t bite (hard!) so check out more of her wonderful work: Vanessa Champion Website.

* * *

The Shepherd Cover ArtANTHONY DONNELLY blogs about all things writing, inspirational, and motivational. He has published a number of books for children and adults. His latest book, a short, inspirational parable THE SHEPHERD  is currently climbing up the Amazon charts, and is available in Kindle or paperback. When not sat at his keyboard writing, he can be found in Costa Rica, North America, or somewhere in Europe motivating and coaching individuals and groups in self-development techniques and life-balance. Most recently you can see him back on the sets of films and in front of the modelling camera again.

Have Fun In London: Bullshit London Comedy Walking Tours

London is so vast, so fascinating, so full of life and things to observe. London is an experience. London is ever changing and evolving. In a way it’s like being at a cultural ‘all you can eat’ buffet…! Where do you start? Which bit do you see first? Well, having now experienced a Bullshit London Tour firsthand last night, I can safely say this would be a great appetizer for anyone new to London, AND anyone that’s lived here their whole life.

I wonder which one's the tour guide...?
I wonder which one’s the tour guide…?

I arrived early at the front of St. Paul’s Cathedral where the tour kicks off every Thursday at 7pm, and just as the website says, the tour guide was VERY easy to spot. Quite a crowd had gathered for the first tour of their 2015 season – about 30+ ‘grown-ups’ looking for a good time and some serious BS. From what I could make out, the crowd consisted of a few couples and a large group of office workers adding a touch of originality to a leaving party. Many were already in quite high spirits, and adult beverages aren’t frowned upon (as long as you drink responsibly).

After a quick head count to ensure nobody will be left behind and the ‘legalities’ are taken care of (you’ll have to take a tour to find out what that’s all about!) the tour quickly jumps into high gear and the BS starts flowing like a Monsoon river in the rainy season! Some of the comedy is intellectual, but still very accessible to those without an Ox-bridge education, but mostly it is sharp, edgy, and downright silly, with the participants having to dodge the odd pun or two!

Reuben Williams isn't afraid to improvise.
Reuben Williams isn’t afraid to improvise.

The tour trips along at quite a pace, and Reuben Williams (the creator of Bullshit London back in 2013 and the main tour guide) keeps the narrative lively and the group buzzing. Before you know it you are discovering ridiculous facts about The Roman Renaissance Movement of the 1800s… the new Russian Quarter of London… tales of the London Mermaid… and the spot where Queen Victoria exploded… amongst other things!

Taking about two hours to complete, it’s a good job for the drinkers that there’s a halfway stopping point and ‘toilet break’ location en route. This also allows the crowd to familiarize themselves with each other, chat about the jokes and gags, and generally allow their minds to soak in all the Bull.

For those readers that know nothing of Bullshit London Tours, I should add a little word of explanation at this stage before you get completely lost. These aren’t your average, boring city tours with a stuffy, old historian-type guide who knows it all and loves the sound of his own voice… no sir, no indeed… this is more a walk on the wild side… the type of tour of the cool kids on the block that want ‘in’ on what’s really going on. If you’re the kind of person that never gets invited to parties, or hear about things after the fact, you probably won’t even be reading this, let alone go on a tour! As their website (www.bullshitlondon.com) states they will show you “the kind of London that would have happened if Monty Python had been elected Queen.” The landmarks are real, but the facts about them are completely made up.

In three years, Williams has managed to grow quite a cult following, and the tours get bigger and bigger each year. The participants range from stag nights and office parties, to Australian tourists, along with locals just out for a bit of fun. When I asked him the largest group he’d ever taken round, he said it was close to 60 people for a special event. Confident, charismatic, and well versed in BS, Williams is the perfect host for a fun night out in London.

I certainly got my tenner’s worth of bullshit last night and have a thoroughly brilliant night.