Acting Up

Continuing our New Year’s resolution of doing something different, we’ve really thrown ourselves into the challenge this year. By agreeing to act in a short horror film. We are not actors. We are far more comfortable being behind the camera where our creepy faces cannot scare the general public. Unless you’re watching our ghost hunting show, Calamityville Horror, where we want to scare you. We…we make small children cry.

Our friend, Huw asked us to be in his film. Remembering our resolution, we agreed. Our acting experience is best described as ‘standing around looking creepy’. In the past, we have been the Snake Twins in Witches Abroad play (non-speaking, just being creepy), extras in Clownface (non speaking, only face planting), murder victims and newborn demon in our friend Dave’s film (non speaking, only dying) and…that’s it. Not exactly IMDB worthy. We feel slightly guilty as there are a lot of people who want to be actors and don’t get the chance. We don’t want to be actors yet have been asked to be in people’s indie films. It’s all about who you know.

On Saturday, our acting debut began. Huw wanted to film the trailer for his upcoming short horror film, School Hall Slaughter. Check out its Facebook page here. Think 80s style slasher without the big hair and terrible fashion. We play rebellious high school pupils. We’re 36. We were worried there was no way we would pass for 16 year olds. The deepening frown lines and wrinkles under the eyes, the jaded, cynical view of the world and humanity show a maturity we do not feel. However, we are short. Once we were in the uniform, standing next to the taller cast, we did look like teenagers. For once, being the height of twelve year olds is an advantage, and not just for going down mines.

For the main film, our hair and makeup will be done on set. So we showed up for the trailer looking au natural. There was no hair and makeup for the trailer. So our debut for this film is us looking our absolute worst. Hair is a mess, we’re not wearing makeup and we’ve had a lot of early starts over the past week. Yeah…we make small children cry. We’d been cleaning out the animals and walking our dog before we got to set, so we’re just glad we didn’t have hay and sawdust in our hair too.

The building we were filming in was freezing. We kept our beloved hoodies on, which actually helped make us look more like teenagers. Luckily, we were allowed to wear thick tights. Not only did this keep us a bit warmer, it also hid the multiple leg bruises from polefit. Though we hope the camera isn’t amazing quality HD, because we forgot to lint roller the cat hair off. We’re not used to the glamorous life. We filmed for about three hours and did 26 takes. We warned Huw that we were so used to being crew that we would probably just become crew anyway. We kept our promise, taking behind the scenes photos, operating the clapperboard for pick up shots and reminding the lead actress of her lines. Once crew, always crew.

Most of our role involved walking around being creepy. We were surprisingly good at this, even managing to unsettle the other actors a little bit. The minute we spied the prop sledgehammers, that was it. We claimed them and pretended to bludgeon our fellow cast members. We’d done arm day in warrior training the day before, so told them our muscles were primed for bludgeoning. How to win friends, Raven style. We were so worried that we would be terrible at acting. Everyone else on the cast are experienced actors, except us. We know how important this film is to Huw and because he asked us to be in it, we didn’t want to let him down with bad performances. Luckily, he was pleased with what we did. It seems being creepy and vaguely threatening is our forte.

The filming for School Hall Slaughter is in July and we’re really excited about it, especially as we get to do some fight scenes. We just have to make sure we maintain our youthful appearance, so we’ve been stocking up on facial toners and anti wrinkle cream so all of our 36 years don’t start showing on our ageing faces. We need to stop glaring at people. Apparently swapping out our blood for teenagers’ blood is a step too far. We disagree. They should suffer for our art.

If you want to contribute to the making of School Hall Slaughter, please check out the Go Fund Me page.

School Hall Slaughter
Team Slaughter

Sign Post

Screenshot_20190209-144714We’ve finally achieved one of our writing goals: a book signing in an actual bookshop. W H Smith have agreed to let us through their doors and unleash us on their unsuspecting customers. It would have been nice to have been invited because we’re famous and our presence would draw a bigger crowd than William Burke’s execution (25,000 in case you were wondering) but the truth is, they put a call out for authors on Twitter and past us did a stupidly brave thing and emailed them. Damn you, past us! Don’t you realise future, anxious us has to deal with your bravery? Anyway, the signing will take place in the Queen Street branch, Cardiff on Saturday 16th February from 11-1 p.m. Sorry it’s such short notice, but they’ve only just told us the time. So if you’re free, come along and make us look worth the hassle.

Author Interview: CL Raven – Part I

Interview we did with Matt Doyle

Bleeding Empire

“Are you ready to end the world?”

Well, not actually end it. We have a new book to launch and an Apocalypse would be really inconvenient right now. Finally, 6 years after writing Bleeding Empire, we are ready to release it. It’s taken us so long because it was with Gollancz for 18 months/two years. They had an open period so we submitted the book to them. They received 1800 submissions. Bleeding Empire made it to the final 100. In the end, they said our writing was genuinely funny and the book was well written, but because they publish Good Omen by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, they didn’t want to published another funny Apocalypse book.

Yes. Neil Gaiman stopped us being published by one of the big publishers.

We can’t even be mad. Good Omens is a funny book. Though it is nothing like ours. But Bleeding Empire is now available for pre-order here. So read the blurb and enjoy the cover reveal. And when the world ends, remember to grab some popcorn.

“Are you ready to end the world?”

It’s supposed to be the greatest Apocalypse the world has ever known. But the death of mankind isn’t as headline-grabbing as who laundered their last load on Celebrity Dirty Washing. The Horsemen of the Apocalypse’s offspring want to tear up the biblical rulebook with style, sexiness and smiley face achievement stickers.

There’s one problem with rebooting legends: nobody recognises them.

Health and Safety forbade horses (and there’s nowhere to park them), so they ride motorbikes. And budget cuts only allow one Travel Inn room between them. Their arrival breaks four seals. And a streetlight. It’s hardly the epic, end-of-the-world entrance they’d imagined. Less ‘world-wide media coverage’, more ‘notice in the personal ads’.

Death excelled at reaping, not reproduction, so there are five Horsemen: twins Morgan and Aeron are in charge but couldn’t lead a conga line; Marsden would be the hero if slaughter wasn’t his favourite hobby; Demi prefers destroying people’s confidence to destroying crops; Mac’s low self-esteem and pacifism hinders his pestilent plans.

Fallen angel Drew fights to stop them. But as usual, love arrives to cock things up for everybody. And what better time to host an Apocalypse than Christmas, while mortals are distracted by the contents of Santa’s sack. Instead of Jingle Bells, there’ll be abject screams. Providing they stop getting drunk on sexually-named cocktails…

 

Bleeding Empire

Guards! Guards!

Humour, sacrifices and dragons. Guards! Guards! had it all. Sadly, this was to be Monstrous Productions’ final Pratchett adaptation. We’ve loved every play we’ve seen and we’re gutted it’s all over. This was a fantastic play for them to go out on. We’ve not read the book but will definitely be buying it now. This was another play to feature Sam Vimes and fitting for their final act. Jes Hynes fantastically reprised his role of Vimes from Nightswatch.

Guards! Guards! follows a rather large dwarf, Carrot, played hilariously by Christopher Maxwell, who is sent by his adoptive parents to join Ankh-Morpork’s City Watch. He memorises every rule in the law book. It’s a shame the rest of the city haven’t. He makes his presence known by marching into the Thieves Guild and arresting their president. But a law-abiding Watchman is the least of Vimes’s problems when a Brotherhood steal a book – How to Summon Dragons – and use it to, well, summon a dragon. See, only the rightful king can defeat a dragon so in order for Ankh-Morpork to have a king, there needs to be a dragon. It’s all about destiny. That and a promotion to king’s aide for Lupine Wonse.

Vimes and the rest of the watch are in the Shades when a large dragon incinerates three people. The people’s charred silhouettes on the wall is bound to draw attention, though not as much as a freshly painted wall in the Shades would. But regardless of how dodgy some people are, a giant dragon turning them into ash is bad for morale. With the help of a swamp dragon, Errol, Vimes and his team are tasked with finding and stopping the dragon. That’s not easy when it’s summoned with magic and promptly disappears.

This was the first play that featured the Librarian – a wizard who was accidentally turned into an Orangutang and refuses to be changed back. We love the Librarian in the books so were thrilled he was in this. Lowri Belson was superb as the book-loving ape. She injected so much character and personality into a role where communication was done solely through facial expressions and “ook!” And the occasional “eek!”

The show was hilarious, with added things like Death playing with a fidget spinner, Brother Watchtower replacing his mask with a cat one and Errol flying across the stage on a wire to fight the dragon. What we love about Monstrous Productions plays is the cast always look like they’re thoroughly enjoying themselves. Sets and props used are always minimal and work so well. Everyone was superb in their roles and made this a fantastic play to end on.

We have loved watching the plays and even enjoyed being in one. We’re sad it’s over. So it’s best to sum it up with a quote from the great man: “It’s still magic, even if you know how it’s done.”

Cast:

Sam Vimes – Jes Hynes

Corporal Carrot – Christopher Maxwell

Nobby Nobbs – Josh Flynn

Sergeant Colon – Eamonn Corbett

Lupine Wonse – Josh Stevenson-Hoare

The Librarian – Lowri Belson

Lady Sybil Ramkin – Becca Smithers

Brother Watchtower – Asher Townsend

Brother Dunnykin – Matthew Hitchman

Brother Plasterer – Jamie Gibbs

Brother Doorkeeper – Loz Shanahan

Brother Fingers – Loz Dixon

Dibbler – Harry Spencer

Lord Vetinari – Michael Dickinson-Smith

Death – Matt Burnett

Carrot’s Dad – Pete Belson

First Guard – Matt Edwards

Second Guard – Tony Beard

Urdo Van Pew – Terrance Edwards

First Worthy – Ellen Warren

Second Worthy – Katya Moskvina

Chief Assassin – Gareth While

Archancellor – Steve Durbin

Voice at Door – John B. Dent

First Citizen – Paul Wooley

Second Citizen – Sarah Roberts

Zebbo Mooty – Nick Dunn

Warrior – Richard McReynolds

Bunting Carrier – Howard Dickins

Knowlessman – Bethan Lisles

Servant – Luke Belson

Voice in Crowd – Nelson Cotrim

Crowd – Sarah Burrow

 

London Comic Con

London Film and Comic Con

Us and Sarah

Yesterday, we did something that we’d never thought we do – went to London Comic Con. It shocks people when we tell them we’ve never been to London. There are places we want to visit – Highgate Cemetery, the Tower, the Dungeons, the Chamber of Horrors – y’know, pleasant touristy stuff, but London terrifies us. Its population is almost three times the size of Wales’s. That’s why it scares us. Deep down inside the healing versions of ourselves, are still the social anxious wrecks that used to be in control. And when it comes to London, these demons rise to the surface and dissuade us from going.

London Film and Comic Con

Oogie Boogie

London Film and Comic Con

Thor. He even sounded like him.

But Ron Perlman changed our minds. We’d already agreed with our mate, Andrew, that the three of us had to meet him. Then he cancelled. We didn’t. Andrew tries to persuade us every year but we never end up going. This year was different. Some members of our gym class, Sarah, Lloyd and Ellie, also wanted to go so the six of us travelled up in Sarah’s minibus. And this time, we were in costume. We like to theme our costumes – Freddy vs Jason, or we go as the same thing – Silent Hill nurses, ghost pirates, etc. This time, we went as Mileena and Kitana from Mortal Kombat 9. Mileena is Kitana’s clone (mixed with blood from a Tarkatan warrior, hence her teeth) so it’s perfect for twins. Being the eldest twin, Lynx was Kitana. Being the evil twin, Cat was Mileena. It’s one of the few games we’ve played on the PS3 that isn’t Streets of Rage or Golden Axe. We bought the costumes because we have no sewing talent, although we did make Kitana’s fans. Well, we painted fans and cut out the blades from card, painted them and glued them on. We even colour co-ordinated our nail varnish and underwear with the costumes, seeing as the costumes didn’t cover a lot.

London Film and Comic Con

Hellboy

London Film and Comic Con

Green Arrow

London Comic Con wasn’t the crush we expected. We thought we’d have to fight our way down the aisles. Or use our usual method of letting Andrew create a path through the crowd and follow in his wake. He’s 6’5 and an ex rugby player. People move for him. The traders tables were more spread out than they are in Cardiff, allowing for wide aisles which made it a pleasure to walk through. Being 5’1 in a crush means you’re armpit level with most people. It’s not a nice place to be. Loads of people loved our costumes and we couldn’t go anywhere without people wanting photos of us or with us. One teenager was a little embarrassed so his mum pushed him forward and we flanked him. One photographer ambushed us before we’d even got inside. We looked fabulous still wearing our hoodies. A few photo journalists took our photo and had us do fight poses, though one didn’t know who Mileena and Kitana were. Even the ice cream van man outside wanted our photo!

London Film and Comic Con

Son of Harpy

One of the highlights was being asked to do a fight scene for a 360 vr headset. We had to stand either side of the camera, looking like we were squaring off then circle the camera pretending to fight. Luckily we still remember our karate moves, though we may have to take up tessenjutsu (the art of fighting with war fans,) and sai fighting. The guy was really impressed and asked if we’d choreographed it as we were perfectly in sync. Nope. We were terrified we’d cock the whole thing up as we didn’t have time to practise and had to wing it, but Andrew said it looked cool. We don’t always wear costumes when we go to cons, but when you do, you experience the event differently. Had we gone in our regular clothes, we wouldn’t have been asked for photos, or been asked to do the fight scene. Although we do often get asked who we’ve come as. Maybe we should say we’re cosplaying C L Raven.

London Film and Comic Con

Boba Fett

And then we attempted to talk to a celebrity. Mark Sheppard, who plays Crowley in Supernatural. If there’s one thing we shouldn’t be allowed to do, it’s talk to celebrities. In Wales Comic Con last year, Cat attempted to flirt with Tom Wlaschiha, who plays Game of Thrones’s Jaqen H’ghar. It went like this: Cat “You’re actually really hot in real life.” Tom “You’re going on my list.” He plays an assassin. This wasn’t a great list to be put on. We vowed we would not disgrace ourselves in front of a man who plays the king of Hell. We broke our vow. Spectacularly. At first he looked confused, like we were speaking another language. Then we joked about kidnapping the cast of Supernatural. He looked scared. Even more so when Cat asked him how fast could he run. That’s when threats of the FBI were bandied about and we decided leaving was our best option.

London Film and Comic Con

Us and Steven as Jason Vorhees. We meet at most cons.

It was a big thing for us to wear such revealing costumes. We’ve always hated our bodies and never exposed them. We didn’t wear short sleeves until we were 17. Then we started polefit and were forced to get our legs out. As we became more advanced, we had to wear less clothes so our skin would help us stick to the pole. So we’re now more comfortable revealing our bodies, however, we still hate them. Cat gained weight from fluid retention after going on the pill last year and can’t stand looking at herself in the pole/gymnastics videos. Whereas Lynx feels she’s too skinny. We’re not fishing for compliments or comments counter-arguing this, we’re just explaining why wearing the costumes was a big deal for us. Especially since our legs were covered in IPL burns and polefit bruises and we also had polefit bruises on our arms and hips. Plus Cat has the big burn on her stomach from the baking tray incident. But people loved the costumes and we met many Mortal Kombat fans. We will be bringing Mileena and Kitana back for Cardiff Film and Comic Con in September. We have a table there, so come along, say hi and let us dance.

London Film and Comic Con

Twintality!

Tumbleweeds

We are on our way to becoming superheroes. No, we haven’t been bitten by a spider, or received experimental super soldier drugs. We’ve joined a gymnastics class. Anyone who’s watched our Calamityville episodes is probably laughing right now. We can barely stay on our feet when walking, how would we cope with somersaults? Faceplanting in the foam pit is our common method of landing. Our sister did gymnastics when we were kids. We weren’t interested. It was too girly for us and we didn’t want to wear leotards. So what, at age 34, convinced us change our minds?

Polefit.

4 years ago, Cat was strong-armed into joining a 8 a.m. physio class to help her back into exercise after her third knee operation. At first, she refused – 8 a.m. is too early to be so active, so her physio played on her desire to heal and said “if you want to get back to exercise quicker, join the class.” Whilst there she met a guy called Ryan, who taught gymnastics. He tried to persuade us to join his class back then but we were still quite anxious and weren’t confident enough to join a class. Plus Cat’s knee wouldn’t have coped with the impact. Fast forward 4 years to Cardiff Comic Con. Ryan came to our table and after catching up, he uttered the fatal words “you know what will help you with Polefit? Joining my gymnastics class.”

We are highly competitive in sports and we’re completely obsessed with Polefit. Most of our Instagram is filled with Polefit ladies and men and we watch all their videos, wishing we could be that good. And one of our goals is to do flips on the pole. So when Ryan said he could help us achieve that, we swallowed our fear and joined the class. A month later. It takes time to summon the courage to do something scary like joining a new class full of strangers. And every single aspect of gymnastics terrified us. It took us 6 months to conquer our fear of being upside down on the pole! And yet we were going to be doing somersaults, asymmetric bars, the beam and back flips. There wasn’t a single part of gymnastics that appealed to us, apart from using it to be good at pole.

But in April, we fought against our natural instinct to back out and we went to Planet Gymnastics. We sat in the car park for a while, psyching ourselves up. Then we did it. And we were terrible. Beyond terrible. We’re probably the worst gymnasts the sport has ever had. But we didn’t care. We’ve never done a handstand, forward rolls terrify us (for fear of breaking our necks) and we’re as graceful as an ice skating spider. But we kept going. Every week, we showed up, kept trying and kept failing. But we loved it. Now we can hold a handstand for a few seconds, forward rolls don’t terrify us so much (but we still don’t like them) and we’re still as graceful as an ice skating spider. We won’t talk about the asymmetric bars. We can’t even get on the damn things. The first time Ryan tried pushing us backwards into a spin, we fought against him and resisted for as long as we could. We’re not easy to teach.

We faceplant all the time but we’re having fun and we’ve made new friends. We even convinced one of the guys to don a dinosaur suit and do some tricks. And we’re learning somersaults, back flips and aerials (no-handed cartwheels). The gym is now filled with our shrieks, laughter and “I can’t get out of the fucking foam pit!” Each time we learn something new, we have to conquer our fear all over again. Hell, each time we do something we’ve already learned, we still have to silence the fear. But we’re doing things we never thought we were capable of doing. Scared? Absolutely. Enjoying it? Most definitely. And we are finally becoming the superheroes we always wanted to be.

We just need to learn to land on our feet…

Watch our first three months here.