Saturday, December 23, 2006
Things I achieved in 2006
--My first movie (Severance, out soon on DVD, etc etc) was released in cinemas, did very well, and had all the cool stuff like posters, trailer, bus ads, and so on (not technically an achievement, as I'd already written it ages ago, but I say it counts)
--Did my first Q+A sessions - one for FrightFest, one for the New Producers' Alliance thing, and two for the Austin Fantastic Fest - and handled them very well, if I say so myself
--Got commissioned by the BBC for a one hour one-off thing *and* an episode of an existing series, and by C4 for a script for a new series
--Two separate places approached me to be a part of their project in development
--Recorded my first DVD commentary (one of last year's targets)
--Represented Severance at two film festivals (see above, another target met)
--Wrote a whole spec feature script (half the target met)
--Wrote first draft of Curfew
--Collaborated with Mr Stack and Mr Wilkinson on a TV show bible
--Wrote a bucketload of outlines, pitches, bits and bobs, including a rewrite/collaboration on first half a spec script (doing other half soon)
--Got hired to do outlines for 3 projects
--Did my 300th blog post
--Met loads and loads of cool new people
--Hustled like a hooker when the Navy's in town, got lots of stuff going, didn't let anyone walk all over me, and kept my shit together.
I've posted at length about the Severance release and FrightFest premiere, so you already know what an amazing time that was. It felt like a real validation of me and everything I believe in, and really gave me a massive confidence boost. Seeing buses go by with my movie poster on was fantastic. Doing the Q+As, being a guest at Fantastic Fest, and hearing the laughs, gasps, cheers and applause of the various audiences was the best feeling ever. I'm also pleased with how much stuff I wrote this year, more than I realised - and all of a sudden, at the end of the year, the commissions and gigs start coming thick and fast, people actually seeking me out rather than the other way around. The existing series commission means I get to play with someone else's toys - it's a gig I worked really hard to get, and I'm incredibly excited about it. I can now do the meetings without feeling self-conscious or embarrassed, I'm on the same level as everyone else. I really feel like I'm part of the industry, rather than a lucky tourist. As for hustling like a hooker - don't judge me, it was a slow month, I needed the cash, and the docks were lovely that time of year.
Things I messed up
--Let things get on top of me, worried so much about selling something, that I got creatively blocked for a while
--Last year's target was two new spec scripts this year, but I only did one - could easily have done another one, but didn't
--Didn't sell a movie (another of last year's targets).
Not bad I guess, considering. I'm annoyed at myself for not getting both specs done, but at least I have lots of other stuff to show for it, including a full draft of Curfew, lots of other projects that were a lot of work but that are now on the move, and several gigs for hire. If I'd been a bit quicker on the ball, I might have been able to sell a movie. I moved a lot faster this year and did a lot more work, but I need to do even more. I had a few months where things were really quiet, and I got worried that I'd never be able to come up with another original idea, or sell anything ever again. I tried desperately to come up with something, but that just made it worse, and my mind went totally blank. It was like trying to sleep when you're worried about not being able to sleep. Any smartarses out there want to come and tell me there's no such thing as writer's block? You can tell it to my Pimp Hand, which will Pimp Slap you. Of last year's targets, the spec and movie sale are the two that I could have done something about purely on my own, so they're the ones that there's no excuse for missing. But that's fine - accept what you did wrong, don't blame anyone else for it, face it, learn from it, then leave it and move on. Uncle Jimbo says so. Actually, that's something Kurt Russell said once in an interview, and I thought it was such a good attitude to mistakes that I adopted it as my own. Yes, I live by the Kurt Russell code. You got a problem with that? Kurt is the fucking MAN, man, and I'll fight anyone who says otherwise.
Things I have learned
--I need a better way of keeping track what I'm working on, for who, and when they're due
--There are many, many, many more tricks to learn, and every day that goes by you figure something new out, or learn it from someone wiser
--Reviews ultimately don't make a difference
--Philips products are shite, will break after barely a year, then their customer service people will fuck you around mercilessly, lie to you, and just be exceptionally incompetent until you give up.
One of Danny's recent posts mentioned some sort of database tracking thing, which might be a good idea. I'm going to check out the Mac software available, and see if anything helps - my brain is made of chicken wire and broken biscuits, I have real trouble keeping track of everything, and need it to be all in one place where I can see it. As for learning new tricks, I did the other day - watching a movie gave me a great idea into how to get across some vital exposition without making it obvious. The movie did it very cleverly, so I'm shamelessly borrowing (stealing) some of the techniques. Reviews, well, if good reviews equalled box office, Severance would have made 500 million billion quid - and yet, how come the only ones I remember are the few bad ones? I can quote them verbatim, and can't help but take them personally. Especially ones that miss the point of the film entirely, I feel like tracking down the reviewers and slapping them around a bit. I need to just remember that it's all subjective, all just one person's opinion - even the good ones. And as for Philips - I now have a large paperweight that cost a thousand quid. Well done, Philips, you win, you fucking useless, incompetent bastards. But I'll never buy anything of yours ever again. So I guess *I* win, after all. HAHAHAHAAA! Up yours, Philips!
Things I want to do in 2007
--Become a better writer (this always stays on the list)
--Sell another movie
--Write two more spec scripts (or scripts for hire, let's count those too)
--Get hired to do an adaptation (book or graphic novel)
--Get something shown on TV
--Do more insightful, informative blog posts.
I feel so lucky, it's been a crazy ride this year. I've learned so much, I look back on stuff I wrote a year ago and wonder what I was thinking, why didn't I do this instead of that. And I know I'll do the same thing a year from now. You're always learning, always evolving, always picking up new tricks. So it would be great to sell some more stuff, just to keep working, keep myself in the game, but mainly to see my work on screen again. It's addictive. 2006 has been fucking great, and I can't even imagine what 2007 might bring. Hopefully a naked romp with some celebs, and a mattress stuffed with cash. And yes, I need to do more of the Q+A type blog posts. I've got some lined up, proper ones, including a possible guest appearance which will be great if I can swing it. Watch this space.
Probably won't blog again now until January, as I've got a rewrite of Curfew, half a spec feature, and an outline for the TV episode to do in the next couple of weeks, in between orgies of food and drink. Good luck to everyone out there for next year, and I hope that during this festive time, you all get even half as drunk as I'm going to. Wahey! Have a good one, and keep on trucking, or writing, or whatever tickles your fancy.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
No more bad horror movies. I won't stand for it.
It is not the 1950s anymore. It's 2006. There are things you can NO LONGER DO. You don't see UFOs on wires in science fiction movies anymore, so why should we put up with the horror equivalent? We've all seen a lot of horror movies, we don't fall for the same shit that we used to. And yet writers and directors persist in treating us like fucking kids who've never seen a slasher movie before. Come on. We're adults. We're not stupid. So today, I bring you the Seven Deadly Sins of Horror, the sins that must never be committed again. I know, I know, there are many more horror movie sins than these, ones you really shouldn't be doing - but the ones here are the absolute worst of the worst, sins that there can be no excuse for. Filmmakers, consider yourself put on notice - you are all now expressly forbidden from putting ANY of the following in a horror movie:
7 - The grabbing hand: How many times have you sneaked up on a friend, walked silently right up behind them, and then suddenly grabbed their shoulder? Without intentionally trying to freak them out? And then been surprised that you scared them? Never. And yet it happens in horror movies all the time. There are no deaths coming up, but it's been 7 minutes so they need a fake scare. Oh my God! A killer! Oh, wait, it's just his friend grabbing his shoulder. It's ridiculous. Same goes for the cat scare, although I really shouldn't have to say that in this day and age. Sure, sometimes we still need the fake scare trick, to build up the tension, keep the real horror off screen for a while, but you've got to do something different.
6 - Sudden attacks of deafness: If you're in a building with someone, and they wander out the door, they will still be able to hear you if you call out to them. Especially if you then go wandering around, panicking, and screaming out their name at the top of your voice. They *won't*, however, completely fail to hear you, then suddenly appear out of nowhere and make you jump, usually by grabbing your shoulder (see above). Unless they're deliberately trying to scare you. If someone vanishes and doesn't respond to shouts, then they'd better be dead or unconscious.
5 - Magic, psychic killers: Oh thank goodness, the large breasted girl has managed to put some distance between herself and the killer. Oh look, she's found a car - and it's unlocked! And the keys are in the ignition! And the engine has started, first time! Hooray! She's going to escape! I hope that the killer hasn't somehow magically teleported into the back seat, where he will suddenly pop up to stab or garrotte her. I'm sure that won't happen though, because he'd need the aforementioned teleporting skills, plus the ability to psychically predict which car she would choose. And it would make no sense to hide in the back seat, wait until she starts driving, and *then* attack her. So he probably won't do that. Oh. He did.
4 - Cars that get scared: Oh dear, the car suddenly won't start - how inconvenient, being that I am, at this very juncture, being chased by a monster. Yes, the same car that drove me ALL THE WAY UP the fucking mountain, and has been working for YEARS, has chosen THIS PRECISE moment to break down, just as I'm trying to escape - as opposed to, say, Act One, for example. How come the car never breaks down just *before* the horny, doomed teenagers leave for their road trip? If a previously healthy car suddenly won't start, it had better be because the killer has mangled it, or stuffed a dead body into the engine.
3 - Sudden attacks of clumsiness: Run! Run like the wind! Run from the killer! Oh, you fell over. Well done. Because able-bodied adults fall over ALL THE TIME, don't they? Yes, I know you need the killer to catch up for the sake of the plot, but do something else. Throw a locked door, a trap, a speeding car in the way, anything. Just don't have them fall over. It's lazy and stupid. Same goes for someone hiding, trying to stay quiet, who just happens to knock over a display stand filled with 500 metal plates. If I ever need to hide from a killer, I'm going to be as careful as I possibly can, thanks. If the character who falls over is female, you lose even more points. If she is subsequently helped up by a male character, then your bus to the 1950s is leaving shortly, be on it.
2 - Miraculous recoveries: Can we please retire this one? Please? "He's dead... oh no, he's alive!" Having the killer pop back up was a genuine surprise when Michael Myers did it in Halloween, but guess what? That was nearly 30 years ago. It's finally time to end that tradition, it's been done way too often. Come on. We need a new thing. Just leave it alone. Right, I'm finished with this paragraph. No I'm not! Booga booga booga! Okay, I am now.
And the NUMBER ONE thing that you must NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER use in a horror movie again, ON PAIN OF DEATH:
1 - Characters who don't kill the killer when given the chance: I really, really thought we'd laid this one to rest, but apparently not. Imagine you're the character in the movie, and some crazy guy has repeatedly tried to kill you. It's terrifying, your life is in danger, he WILL kill you if he can, probably torturing and raping you beforehand, perhaps wearing your skin, perhaps eating your internal organs. But oh happy day, you get a lucky break and manage to knock him out, or immobilise him. When he wakes up or frees himself, he will continue trying to kill you, and will probably succeed. But right now, you have a few minutes. Do you (a) kill him, or (b) run away, giving him a chance to come after you again? The answer is, of course, (a). You kill him. By ANY means necessary. Your gun's out of bullets? Smash his face with it. Gun too small? Sharpen it and stab him with it. No gun? Hit him with a chair. Drop heavy objects on him. Set him on fire. Run him over. If you have nothing nearby, just fucking jump up and down on his head until the skull cracks, then keep jumping until it splits all the way open, then keep jumping until it's a bloody stain on the ground. You're fighting for your life, wouldn't you do whatever you could to save yourself? Sure, the killer can have the upper hand all the way through the movie, more weaponry, traps, that's fine. But if a character gets a chance to kill the killer, they had better fucking kill him, and make sure he's dead, preferably by decapitation, head-smashing, dismemberment, or exploding. No excuses. None. End of story. This is an INSTANT movie destroyer, because it yanks you out and makes you realise that it's just a plot contrivance to keep the story going for longer, while the whole audience is screaming "kill him!" in frustration. But some filmmakers are under the mistaken impression that it's okay, that we won't notice the glaringly stupid thing the main character has just done.
And there we have it. If you have the gall to allow any of these in your movie, then you obviously have no respect for us or yourself, and we will be within our rights to hunt you down and gut you like a fish, by Horror Movie Law. People like you are responsible for horror's bad reputation, for review quotes like "of course, we don't go to horror movies expecting a sensible plot". Don't think to yourself "oh, it's only horror, it doesn't matter", or "it doesn't need to make sense", or "only horny 12 year old boys will see it" - it DOES matter, it DOES need to make sense, and although the audience is made up of a wide variety of people, not just male, young and old, even the horny 12 year old boys won't fall for your shit. Times have changed. You'd better change with them, or make romantic comedies instead. Don't say you weren't warned.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Was in the BBC for another meeting the other day, and while being led through the insane labyrinthine corridors, passed by the TARDIS. Just sitting there, innocently. Naturally, I got a picture of myself in front of it, eyebrow arched enigmatically, pretending to be a Timelord. I touched it, too. It's the old one, so it's not being used. Except when I travel in it through time and space, of course.
The TV saga endeth: Spent 2 days trying to fax my details to Philips. Endless muppets on the phone insisted the fax was working, and that they had been receiving other faxes non stop - the machine was in a different part of the building, so it took them several minutes to go and check each time. One time, the bloke went off, came back, and said yeah, it's working. Is there paper in it, I asked. Hang on, he said. And went off AGAIN! Wouldn't you have checked that the first time?? Knowing that it's a long journey? Anyway, after 2 days of this, they finally said "oh, the fax is broken, has been for 2 days". So how come you told me it was working, and has been merrily receiving faxes the whole time? "Oh, don't know who you spoke to, but it's broken, sorry, the engineer is on the way, so if you try again just before 5pm, it should be fixed..." You're OBVIOUSLY lying to me, I spluttered. No answer. So I gave in, and posted everything off, with what I believe would be described as a "stinking" letter. Got a polite reply from Philips, saying that if I pay the first 300 quid of the repairs, they'll cover whatever the rest is. Only I have to pay it all first, then claim it back from them. Which means dropping several hundred quid just before Christmas. And you *know* I wouldn't see the refund till January. I refuse to throw good money after bad, so they can fuck off, frankly. I'm going to start renting again. It may be a waste of money, because you don't own the thing, but at least if the TV explodes they'll just give me a new one. The rental arrives on Monday, a fancy Toshiba 32 inch LCD thingy, HD ready, with a 4-slice toaster, and an oral sex adaptor (separate to the toaster bit, for obvious reasons). Any suggestions what to do with the old telly? Well, it's not old, it's just over a year old, a ridiculously expensive piece of kit that is now useless. I'm going to whip the back off and see if it's just some loose cables or something, in which case I can sell it. If not, then it's either for the bin, eBay, or the fires of Mount Doom. You reckon anybody would want to buy a telly that doesn't work? People buy any old shit on the internet, don't they?
On the plus side, the BAFTA swag haul is getting bigger - lots of free screeners for movies. Most of the first batch were shite (The DaVinci Code? For consideration in ALL categories?? Fuck off) but some good ones have arrived, like Pan's Labyrinth and Little Miss Sunshine. The only problem with them is that I can never ever give/lend/throw any away, because they're digitally marked - if they turn up on the web, they'll be traced back to me. They said that if I want to bin them, I'll need to cut the discs in half with scissors. DaVinci Code, you're first, mate.
New! Update! Don't forget, Severance is out on DVD on the 8th January, 2007, with a commentary featuring most of us, deleted scenes, making-of, outtakes, and all sorts of other extras, special bits, and thingies. If you go to www.play.com RIGHT NOW you can pre-order it - you won't get it any earlier, but by jingo, you'll be a part of something bigger than all of us. It's also available on Amazon and every other online shop, and normal shops too. It makes an excellent post-Christmas present, January sales present, or just a standard Christmas present if you're not into the whole punctuality thing. Whatever you do though, check out the brand spanking new DVD cover:
This is post 299. Are you as excited as I am??
Thursday, November 30, 2006
While you're there, give Pan's Labyrinth a shout out for best Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and London to Brighton a nod for Best Thriller. I leave the other ones to your discretion, so choose wisely. To refresh your memory, here's a list of every movie released in the UK in 2006.
Speaking of which, please go and see Pan's Labyrinth if you haven't already, it's a beautiful piece of work. And opening tomorrow is London To Brighton, written and directed by Mr Paul Andrew Williams, who is down to direct Curfew sometime next year, a horror by an up and coming writer you may have heard of around these parts. London To Brighton is fucking fantastic, and will rip your heart right out of your chest. Amazing performances, stylishly directed from a tight script - cashback. It's not a big 100 million dollar car chase extravaganza, it's a small story about real people, and it deserves to be seen. Go along and support both of these examples of passionate people putting their heart and soul into their work. Thank you.
Writing work, after a long dark period, seems to be on the horizon. Just got commissioned to do an outline for an exciting TV thing, just a single hour long thing, no guarantees etc etc, but it's promising. Got another thing that's just been approved, again no guarantees, but will at least result in one script, whether it goes anywhere is up to many other factors. So things are looking up. But as one door opens...
...another one slams in your face and nicks your pants. My 32 inch LCD TV has just died. Cost 999 quid, big fancy HD jobby, lasted just over a year. Minimum repair cost would be just under 400 quid, *not* including parts, which could be anything from a few pence to "several hundred pounds" on top of that. Madness. I have a 2-year guarantee in the box, which apparently shouldn't have been in there, only their kettles and things get that, so I'm currently fighting with them to get a free repair, seeing as I have the guarantee. Also seeing as ridiculously expensive shit really should last longer than a year. If Philips customer service continues to give me shit, then I'm posting the whole sorry tale here, otherwise I'll let it go. Watch this space. I'm really having trouble coping without a TV, most people would conclude this tale with something wanky like "and to be honest, my life has improved drastically" - well, mine hasn't. I need my fucking TV. I want it back so I can watch stuff. I can't stand it when people snootily insist that not having one makes them a better person, and yet they fucking download all the shows they want to watch or get the DVDs - you're STILL watching TV, just in a slightly different way, so shut your arse. God I wish I could stick to one topic at a time, how do people do that?
And this is the 298th post. We're nearly there. I think for the 300th I'm going to post an article about horror that I've been working on, but I might not finish in time - keep the suggestions coming anyway, just in case.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Same people (for the same product) came up with the other, more recent advert, with the exploding paint fireworks - I assumed, again, that it was all done with special effects. Nope, they actually blew up a shitload of different coloured buckets of paint, in the air, on the ground, and up the buildings.
Both links have downloads of the ads themselves, and the behind the scenes videos showing how they did it - well worth checking out.
Okay, this is post 297. Post 300 looms! And I still don't know what to do with it...
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Potdoll says: how did you learn screenwriting? did you go to film school/classes or were you born like it?
I went a funny sort of roundabout way, really. In a sense, I was born like it, in that I could always write, but the screenwriting came much later. Ever since I was able to hold a pen, I've been writing short stories, but never really thought it would get me anywhere. Tried writing two novels, but abandoned them halfway through when I realised the sheer amount of description that was necessary. When I discovered the script format, I realised I'd found my medium - you only describe what is needed ("a room"), and can get straight to the story and character. Action, dialogue, bish bash bosh. This was in the late 90s - I had no idea that there were screenwriting courses. I'd heard of film school, but assumed that there were only 2 of them, and both were in America. I vaguely heard from a friend that there was one in this country, but apparently it was expensive, and I was broke.
So I started reading published scripts (more on that in a future post). That was a revelation, I realised how sparse they were - they said so little, and yet said so much. Why was that great scene not in the movie? Why was a different scene added? What works on the page, but not in the movie, and vice versa? I went on the internet, looked for more, and tried to find out everything I could about writing them. That's when I found the Wordplay website - a series of columns about the technical process, the nitty gritty of actually knuckling down and writing a script from your idea - not teaching you *how* to write, but giving you tricks of the trade. Later, I won the Sci-Fi Channel shorts competition, and my 10-page script got made into a short film. That gave me the confidence boost to decide to try to get an agent. I wrote a 6-part TV series ("The School", which still gets me meetings today) and a film script ("Mirror", which doesn't). The film script wasn't great, but not bad for a first try. Once my agent pointed out the flaws, it seemed really obvious - not much sense of direction, redundant scenes where characters would give other characters information that the audience already knew, etc. So I learned from that.
The next stage was the writing of Severance, formerly P45, formerly The Craw Lodge, formerly Primeval, formerly Mountain Man. That has been documented on this blog in terrifying detail. Reader's Digest version: I jumped in without an outline, plan, or ending, and wrote a bad first draft. My agent, in a long phonecall (the first of many) explained to me exactly why it was so bad: more redundant scenes, no sense of direction, characters all sound the same, ending doesn't work, tension doesn't build to the ending, logic flaws, plot holes, an entirely redundant character who is just there to help explain things I'm unable to, etc etc. Over the course of the year, I gradually figured out where I'd gone wrong, and figured out my story. I did an outline, figured out the motivations of the victims and the killer, worked out the backstory, got to know the characters, and generally fixed all my mistakes. If I'd done this to start with, it would have been easier - but because I was rewriting instead of starting from scratch, it took quite a while.
During that time, I read lots of screenwriting books, none of which were helpful, unless I wanted to know where the act breaks were in the *finished movie versions* of Chinatown and The Karate Kid. More - MUCH more - on screenwriting books in a later post. Short version: don't. Give me the money instead. You will be similarly unenlightened, but hey, you'll have got me drunk and saved yourself some time.
I also read many more scripts. And saw lots of movies. And listened to lots of DVD commentaries - not just writers, but directors, editors, actors, anyone with some insight into the creation of the movie. They all have different points of view, depending on their job, and it all helps.
But the most helpful thing ever was writing those two bad scripts. And then being forced at gunpoint (okay, agent-point) to rewrite the shit out of one until it worked, until it kicked ass and sold and made me into the fabulous, fierce diva you see before you. You have to make your own mistakes. I highly recommend it. You can be told something until you're blue in the face, but you won't believe it until it happens to you. "Pff! Know the ending first? Bullshit, man, you can't force your RULES on me, I'm an outlaw." Later: "Damn, I wish I'd had even a rough idea about the ending before I started this." (Obviously there are exceptions to everything, etc, what works for me may be illegal in your country, blah blah blah, mum knows best, etc). It's like when you fall for someone who's actually a crazy heartbreaker. Everyone else KNOWS they're crazy and will dump your ass for the nearest drug dealer and then shoot your cat, they try and tell you because they don't want to see you get hurt - but hey, they don't understand, they're just jealous, they don't see them like you do, you know they would NEVER do anything like that... until it happens. And it's so obvious in hindsight, you can't believe you didn't realise, if only you'd listened to your friends...
There are some things you just can't be told, you have to make your own mistakes and learn from them, so that next time you write something you will instinctively avoid the pitfalls that trapped you before - you'll feel it, because you've done it. And that has been the most valuable learning tool of all, Scarecrow. You're not going to be a genius overnight. You can be a damn good writer, but there is always stuff to learn. And (in my not so humble opinion) there's simply no substitute for sitting your ass down, writing and writing and writing, fucking up, going down the wrong paths, making all the same mistakes, learning from those, coming back stronger, continuing to write your guts out, until you get better at it.
Look, I know I've had one single movie made, and I'm not in any way holding myself up as an expert, I wouldn't do that - my opinion about everything isn't suddenly correct just because I've had some success. But this is my experience, and what I've found to be true for myself. Everyone's path is different. Maybe if I'd taken a class, I could have avoided many of the mistakes I made - but I still say there's no substitute for writing a lot, good and bad (although I understand that most of those classes actually make you write lots of stuff, which is good). And yes, I realise I answered the original question several paragraphs ago, but if you can't talk too much on your own blog, what is the world coming to? Hell in a handbasket, that's what.
More questions answered later! Exciting back-and-forth blog action! Also, this is the 296th post. I'd really like to mark the upcoming 300th with some sort of special, funkadelic post. Any suggestions, please to be communicating with me electronic-wise.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The meeting went great today, Paul's a really cool guy, and is totally "on the same page" as me, if I can be wanky for a moment. We all talked about the notes, and what would change, and possible new changes, or refinements of old changes. Also saw some pieces of early concept art, which are incredibly cool. I'll see if I can get permission to post one.
Oh, and we saw Harry Enfield on the stairs, and all stood back so he could manoeuvre a stack of boxes in through a doorway. There was mild banter. So, for a tiny moment, it could be argued that we technically became his "chums". Both Paul and I were more excited about this than anything else, which I think bodes extremely well for our creative partnership.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
And I'm also waiting to hear back about 2 very good, big, important things which would totally kick me into another level of coolness. But if I even gave you a tiny, tiny hint, you would all be rounded up, tortured, shot, and buried in unmarked graves. In really stony ground. Somewhere cold. Ooh, was that a clue? No, it wasn't, sorry, I'm toying with you. Ooh! "Toy"ing - was THAT a clue?? Possibly... except it isn't. Haven't you learned your lesson by now? Hmm? "Lesson"?? Now that is definitely a clue. Nah, not really.
Quick Severance thingies: Nominated for a BIFA for "Best Achievement in Production", whatever that means. And if you fancy owning the actual costume of the killer that Maggie has a big fight with in Severance, someone's selling it on eBay - you can bid for it here, it's currently at just over two quid, post and packing is twenty quid. It is the real thing, I can confirm, they won it in a competition so it's all fair and square. Cheers to Dom for spotting it, presumably when he was searching for pirate DVDs of Severance, or nudie photos of Joan Severance. Either way Dom, I've contacted the police, so just give me any nudie photos you have, and we'll say no more about it. Update: The killer costume got re-listed, and eventually went for 33 quid and 2 pence. Bargain.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Not much to report on the writing front at the moment, lots of things still being sweated over, or about to happen, and so on. Except - tada! - there is now a director attached to Curfew. His name is Paul Williams, he just directed the grittily fantastic movie London to Brighton, and he's fab. We're meeting up next week, and then I'll start the revisions to the first draft. Can't wait. No solid filming plans yet, very early days so far, seeing as I'm still writing the thing and Paul's got another movie to do first, so there are no other details to spill yet. Watch this space.
Halloween went very well, lots of movies were watched, lots of food and drink were consumed. I'm planning a couple of proper posts soon, sorry for the bloggy gap at the moment, there just hasn't been anything to report. It's a bit of a quiet month too, which doesn't make for exciting updates. If anyone wants to ask anything, now's a good time...
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
This post is dedicated to the memory of James Moran, brutally cut down in his prime by a carelessly wielded copy of Adobe Photoshop. Clickyclicky for biggybiggy.
We have our pumpkin, about to carve it up, got loads of scary movies to watch, and will be ignoring the door buzzer in case any deranged killers are on the loose. It's common sense, really. Have a spooky Halloween - and don't search Google Images for 'crime scene photos' when looking for pics to edit yourself into, because there are bad, bad things on there.
Monday, October 30, 2006
- This won't hurt a bit - oops...
- "Let's play 'Chicken'", thought the pilot.
- Things changed after adopting the Tyrannosaur.
- Slowly, Jeffrey ate himself.
For further fun with brevity, check out Four Word Film Reviews, and Phil's regular movie haikus, of which my favourite one is still The Constant Gardener.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Tuesday I stayed in bed, until the evening, when I dragged myself out to see Paul Verhoeven's new masterpiece, Black Book. No way I was missing seeing the man himself in person. It's a fantastic piece of work, layered, complex, no easy answers, and devastatingly harsh. All the actors excel themselves, the script is superb, and Verhoeven seems to have found himself again after getting slightly lost in the past few years. The Q+A was great fun, Mr V was in very good form as usual. They opened it up for questions from the audience, which were all good, except for some fucking idiot who decided to deliver a long speech about the movie that wasn't a question, but ended with a slightly upraised tone...? So that it sounded like a question...? But wasn't really one...? The audience were clearly annoyed with the guy, waiting for him to just ask a bloody question, but he wouldn't shut up for ages. People like him just enjoy the sound of their own voice, and all they want to hear from the filmmaker is "wow, you're absolutely right, what a fascinating insight, come and work with me in Hollywood, here's millions of dollars". Listen: it's a Q+A, they never last long, it might be the one chance we'll all get to hear the guy speak, we are NOT here to hear you talk about yourself, so shut. The fuck. Up. Also (while I'm on the subject of idiots at Q+A's), don't ask questions that would require a 20 minute answer, like "what do you think of the post 9/11 themes in Asian horror as it pertains to their culture?", and don't ask a "quick question" that is actually a multipart question with 78 questions jammed in.
I'm ill, I can rant if I want. Anyway, masterpiece, Verhoeven back on form, fun Q+A, apart from Film Theory Twat. And everyone was great at my Severance Q+A's, they asked cool, fun questions that I could answer, thankfully. So I'm not talking about you. But you, there, at the back - yes, you. You're naughty.
Thoroughly enjoyed Torchwood, was worried that the curse of Spin Off-itis might have struck it, but it works really well. I like the setup, I like the cast, the characters, the writing, the direction, very happy and relieved. Very interested to see where it goes from here. Everyone else is pitching their oar in about Robin Hood, so I don't need to, and I'm sure you've all made your own minds up. What I will say though, is that nothing could ever beat one of my favourite movies, Errol Flynn in "The Adventures of Robin Hood". Made in 1938, it's massively good fun - it's got tights, grown men slapping their thighs, hearty laughing, hissable villains (Claude Rains! Basil Rathbone!), non stop action (stunt men wearing padding were paid to take arrow hits in the chest, in the archery tournament a championship archer splits the 2nd arrow FOR REAL, with no trick camera shots), witty dialogue (-"You speak treason" -"Fluently!"), and probably the best final showdown between hero and villain ever committed to celluloid. All that, and it's in Technicolour, too. Historical accuracy is one of the first casualties of the evil Prince John, but if you haven't seen it, you're really missing out.
Monday, October 23, 2006
This has been floating around the place, but I can't resist - the MacRumours forum thread from the day the iPod was originally announced. Filled with outraged shrieks of "it'll never catch on" and "why oh why" and "nobody will buy this", it's hilarious. Check it out, and smile to yourself, smugly, from your lofty position here in The Future.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
So now my labels are in the right place under each post, I have a fancy new archive system, the labels are all listed in the sidebar too, and it all looks clean and simple. And blue. Very, very blue. But blue means clean, if you've ever looked at cleaning fluids and powders, they're all either blue or have blue bits in. Fact.
Anyway. A moment of silence for my old template, please. No flowers necessary, just cash.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Done the redraft of the spec comedy. Still too scared to show it to anyone. Right now, it's mine, I don't have to listen to anyone's advice, notes, suggestions, thoughts, or whatever. It's exactly what I want it to be. As soon as anyone reads it, then that part ends. But then, you have to do that at some stage, and I may as well do it sooner rather than later, otherwise it's just a file sitting on my Mac. It was a lot better than I imagined, and funnier. I thought it'd be a huge mess, but was surprised at how clean it was. My scripts are a lot tighter and leaner these days, after seeing what can be cut before filming, during filming, during editing, and so on. It's been an education.
Still trying to come up with a TV thing, apart from the secret thing that a few of us writer colleagues are working on. The time is right for me to get something on telly, and yet I'm completely devoid of inspiration. Same goes for movie stuff, everything I come up with falls apart once it's subjected to any serious thought. If it's an existing idea, I'm fine, can work away, but new stuff is impossible. I should have had loads of things ready for the post-Severance period, to take advantage of my briefly "hot" status, but just feel like I've done absolutely nothing. I get this occasionally, dry spells where I can't think of anything decent, I suppose everyone does. Probably because I *should* be coming up with stuff, right now, that's why my brain just won't co-operate. Then I get worried, and think I'll never have another original idea ever again, and start thinking about how useless and talentless I really am. I'm going to switch off, stop trying to force it, and do some general research. And watch some TV and movies. Seeing A Scanner Darkly tomorrow (hello BAFTA screenings), and Verhoeven's new one Black Book on Tuesday (another special screening, with Verhoeven doing a Q+A afterwards). Hoping to cram in Children of Men and The Departed between them. And need to make a start watching season 1 of Veronica Mars, which just arrived, something I've been dying to watch ever since I caught the first episode.
And finally... usually, when us bloggers say "the scribosphere" we're semi-pretentiously referring to all the scribo-blogs out there. Now, we can say it without fear, because it's a real website, the Scribosphere, collecting all the useful posts from a wide selection of writing blogs. Very handy, all in one place, and brand new, so check it out. I know I'm about a week late with this, and you've probably seen it reported everywhere else, but I don't care, this is my town, and we do things my way round here.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Party was cool, saucy ladies in hotpants serving up free booze including some excellent cocktails, but the whole thing was slightly spoiled by Trendy Club deciding that a chatty get together would benefit from INCREDIBLY FUCKING LOUD MUSIC, so that we all had to shout into people's ears. Honestly, you're meeting new people and trying to get to know them, and every time you try to make a witty comment, it's ruined by having to scream a shorter, simpler version of it several times, directly into their ear canal. I'm only 34, I still like loud music, but not when everyone's trying to talk. Nobody was dancing, wasn't that sort of party. Sort it out, Trendy Club.
The other thing that caused awkwardness was the Toilet Man. You know exactly what I mean. Trendy Club thinks, hmm, how can we make the place look trendier? Saucy ladies in hotpants, check. Low lighting, check. And then, presumably, an Ideas Man appears.
Ideas Man: Hey! Why don't we put some black guy in the toilets!
Trendy Club: Why's that?
IM: So he can turn the tap on for you, and hand you a square of paper towel. And maybe spray you with aftershave.
TC: Can't people wash their hands unaided?
IM: We're going for celebs here, aren't we? They need EVERYTHING done for them.
TC: Good point. Won't it be horribly demeaning for him and us, though?
IM: No, no, it's cool and trendy.
TC: Right. Why does it have to be a black guy?
IM: Doesn't have to be. Could be an Eastern European. As long as they don't speak much English, and are new to the country, that way we can take advantage of them and pay them shit wages. Then we can put a tip tray next to them, and guilt-trip people into tipping.
TC: Paying? To have an exploited man help them wash their hands?
IM: Tipping, not paying. It's cool.
IM: Yeah, and make sure that he's got haunted eyes, and an air of quiet dignity, like he's been forced into doing something way, way beneath him. Which he will have been.
TC: Yeah! So we can feel superior! Career's not going well, but hey, at least I'm not the Toilet Man!
IM: Now you're getting it.
TC: Thanks, Ideas Man!
IM: You're welcome. That'll be twenty five thousand pounds, please.
It drives me fucking mad. It's awkward and demeaning for everyone, and feels like a weird throwback to the fucking colonial days or something. But anyway, back to the mildly amusing story. So I walk in, and think, shit, there's a Toilet Man. I stand at the urinal, and he's fussing around behind me, doing his Toilet Man stuff for the previous bloke. The sinks are just to my left, so him and the bloke are having their whole interaction, inches away from me, while I'm trying to piss. And then, obviously, I can't piss. Bladder shy. Because of the man standing right next to me. Another pisser comes in, goes, is helped wash his hands, clink clink in the tip tray, small talk small talk, goodbye. I stand there, silently screaming at my bladder. Eventually, I give up. But I'll only have to come back if I don't go - so I zip up, walk straight into the cubicle, shut the door, and am able to piss. Compounding the awkwardness, because I've been at both the urinal and the cubicle, making it look like I'm a poncey media cokehead or something. Anyway, I come out, he "helps" to wash my hands, and then I realise my bag is in the cloakroom, with my money. I explain this, and Toilet Man says, with quiet dignity, "it's okay". As if to say, I know you're lying, but I have come to accept my lot in life, at least you did not kill me as well, I must be thankful for that. And then I leave. And do not go to the toilet for the rest of the night. Seriously. When I left, I went outside to the public toilets in Leicester Square. Couldn't face the guy again.
Yesterday my agent took me to lunch, which either means I'm highly favoured, or about to be dumped by PFD. He keeps finding more embarrassing mentions of him on the blog, but it's all enhancing his vicious reputation, so he's okay with it. He needs suggestions for a name for his new dog, a golden retriever puppy, so any ideas, send them in, apparently there's a crisp five pound note for the winner. And yes, he's already nixed my "Cujo" suggestion, for some reason. If your suggestion wins, then I'll pretend I came up with it, and pocket the cash. That's Hollywood, baby.
Did a fun interview for Zone Horror, which used to be called the Horror Channel, and now sponsors the FrightFest. There's a great review for Severance over on Weebl and Bob's website, the animated egg people who have pie-related adventures - the review is great because it is the only one that gives the proper respect to Laura Harris' wonderful hair, or "textbook hair", as the review says. It's a testament to the sorry state of movie reviewing these days that no other reviews even mentioned her hair. The bastards. Anyway, it's a cool review, even if the reviewer is sadly incorrect in his dislike for Jason Statham - I love the Stathe, me. Go to the site and watch Weebl and Bob read out emails, and find out what the "e" stands for in email.
And finally, Severance is released in France this week, so all you French people, please go and see it. The full French poster is very cool:
And no, Laura didn't actually wear anything like that saucy outfit in the movie itself, but hey, the French are two things: (1) French, and (2) not stupid. The French website for the movie is great, (click here to see a roughly translated version), with lots more content than the UK one, and a clever, fake Palisade Defence front end that I'm amazed nobody thought of doing before. Obviously "nobody" includes me, I'm not saying "hey I thought of it but everyone ignored me". Because I didn't. Nobody did. Except for those crafty French.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Couple of Austin wrap-up links and stuff for Severance while I'm here:
Severance is the 2nd highest rated movie of the entire Fantastic Fest - we came 2nd to Pan's Labyrinth, which is a fucking masterpiece, so it's a total honour even to be anywhere near it in the ratings. Update: As of yesterday, it was the top rated, which is madness. Madness!
Some AICN reviews from people who were at the Fest, first one here, second one here, and third one here.
Feeling ill? Injured? Call Chris DeBurgh. He's got healing hands. Lady in reeeeeeeeed, is healing your pain, etc etc. What he doesn't tell you is that his evil monobrow causes the pain in the first place. Apparently he "healed" some guy's sore leg, and the next day the leg - get this - WASN'T QUITE AS PAINFUL. Wow! Because as we all know, pain never ebbs away over a period of time, but rather remains constant until you die. Or get healed. By Chris DeBurgh.
Oh, and my agent has found this blog. My extremely handsome, intelligent, well-dressed agent. Who never beats me with a stick, not even when I really deserve it. No, I, er, walked into a door. Several times, over a period of years.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
One final dose of meat - a burger - and some caffeine, and we were all set to go. This time, we got a better set of seats in the plane, same amount of room but further towards the front. Just before we took off, a flight attendant asked our row if anyone wanted to switch, as a couple with a baby needed the section to connect their crib to (it plugs into that wall or something). Faced with either moving, or sitting next to a baby for 9 hours, we moved - back to the 2 exact same seats we had flown over on. You couldn't make this shit up.
I'm typing this now, on the plane, somewhere over Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the dark, most people asleep around me. There are 5 hours and 16 minutes left to London. I'm exhausted, shattered, but I've had the most amazing time. The good people of Texas and the Alamo Drafthouse have been incredibly cool to us, treated us like royalty, and we've wanted for nothing. I've made some friends for life, and had a blast. The only bad points have been visitors behaving badly, no bad points at all for our generous hosts. I'm not naming names, but a couple of VIP visitors took a few liberties, treating people like personal assistants or complaining about tiny, silly things - you're getting all your food for free, all your drinks, put up in a nice house, treated like a king, so act with a little bit of fucking grace and humility.
The highlights: Meeting Angela Bettis, Lucky McKee, R. Lee Ermey. Seeing my old buddies Karey and Kristy. Hanging out with our new best mates Devin, Ryan, Adam, Scott, Liz, and Will. Watching a man carve a sculpture out of wood with a chainsaw. The two Severance screenings. Being approached by so many people telling me how much they loved Severance, saying that everyone was talking about it. Bug. Edmond. The Woods. The trail of beer. The cabin in the woods. Walking through the woods and over a train track to get to the cinema. Our first night, being driven to the cinema, taken in the back door, through the kitchen, down the corridor, past the queue, into the screen, and straight to our reserved VIP seats to watch Borat, just like that scene in Goodfellas when Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco get taken into the club through the kitchen. Shooting guns. The Broken Spoke. The Alamo Drafthouse itself, the cool people that work there, and everything about it. The crazy old trailers they show before the lights go down in the cinema. The cinema ads which involve people getting killed or attacked in a cinema, with the tagline "don't talk during the movie, or we'll take your ass out". Screeching with laughter many, many times. Too many more highlights to remember...
My first, full-on film festival, representing something I worked on, and I'll never, ever forget it, or the buzz I got when I was there. The people are all, without exception, incredibly friendly, cool, and fun, and if it wasn't for the fact that it gets hotter than the sun during the summer, Austin is totally a place I could happily live in. Texas rocks. Can't wait to visit there again.
I'll be back, guys. Keep a beer cold for me.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
The ultra cool thing I mentioned yesterday didn't happen - we were hoping to visit the Grindhouse set, but they were doing driving scenes and there was no actual set, just a moving thing going round the city, so we missed out. It's cool, because it was a bonus on top of everything else, and there was plenty of other stuff to enjoy.
We got back to the cinema in plenty of time for The Fountain, which is a beautiful, magical movie. I was captivated the whole time, although I had no idea what the final 10 minutes meant, so I'll have to watch it again or buy the Cliff's Notes or something. Darren Aronofsky was there and did a hilarious Q+A where he was very self deprecating and charming. You always get odd questions at these things, and this was no exception: "So, uh, the repetition of certain symbols in your movies - like in Pi where he keeps saying the assumptions thing and taking the pills - is that intentional?" To which Aronofsky replied: "Are you asking me if I've noticed that I repeat certain things in my own movies? No, I haven't noticed, no idea what you're talking about..." - which got a huge laugh.
After that it was the final movie of the festival, and my second must-see after Bug - Edmond, starring William H. Macy, written by David Mamet, directed by Stuart Gordon. It's like Falling Down without the hilarious feelgood message. It's incredible, I don't think I've ever seen a more vicious, storming performance than the one Macy unleashes in this movie, it's a real kick in the face for 90 minutes. Fantastic stuff.
Onwards to the end of fest party, in a nearby bar, where the winners of the judging panel were announced (Severance wasn't in competition, only films without US distribution were) and much beer was drunk. We rolled back to Tim's house, drank more beer, and played a really cool horror trivia game that was made by one of the festival programmers, Kier-La. It's basically Trivial Pursuit with obscure horror questions, and was bloody hard too, but great fun. After many hugs and goodbyes, we all went our separate ways, me and Jay heading back to the cabin to get 3 hours sleep before our ride to the airport...
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
And then, surprise surprise, just to make a change, we all went and had some meat. Another barbecue place, where they have big boxes full of meat and sauce, and you eat your own weight in food. It was really, really tasty, but again, we just felt ill and full up after, even though we barely ate any. Here's Scott from eFilmCritic (our new new new best friend) having a heart attack:
After that, there was a wine tasting at a Texas vineyard, which was really good stuff. I had no idea they made wine in this state, and it was excellent. And they had very silly dogs who kept running around and standing up:
We got back late, so there wasn't time to do interviews with Lucky and Angela before their screening, so we'll do an email one with them when we get back, so we can give them plenty of room. Back to the house for some beers, then off to see Blood Trails. I've decided never to publicly slag off anyone's movie again, because we're all part of the international brotherhood of film, or something, so I'm not going to say anything about that one. But I didn't like it. After that we saw Sean Hogan's movie, the other guy who came over with us - Lie Still. It's a really effective, Japanese-style spooky horror, understated and cool, and really creeped me out. Nice! We were all flaking out by that stage, so it was back to the house for more booze and smoking, A relatively early night was had at about 3 or 4am. Tomorrow, we're hoping to do something incredibly fucking cool - if it happens, it'll be the most exciting thing ever...
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Today's movies were Roman, the movie directed by Angela Bettis and written by Lucky McKee, The Woods, written and directed by Lucky McKee, and Wilderness, directed by Michael Bassett. Roman was a really sweet and charming indie flick, and kept me going all the way through to its unexpected ending. The Woods was superb, not what I was expecting at all from the trailer. After The Woods, we went outside and saw Angela Bettis chatting to someone, right there in front of us. So we went up and said hello. And that's where it all went wrong in my brain.
I had met R. Lee Ermey a few days ago, and had no problem chatting and cracking jokes with him. I'd met lots of new people, film makers and movie goers, and been perfectly outgoing and confident. But as soon as I met Angela Bettis, I fell to pieces. I managed to stammer "Hello... I love 'May'...", and forced myself to stop talking because I knew the next thing was going to be "...and I love you too...", which would have been terribly embarrassing for everyone. I barely managed to string a sentence together after that, and had my picture taken with her and everything:
She is tiny, and incredibly nice, and I immediately became a mumbling 14 year old from that point on. I was shaking, literally shaking, and just couldn't control myself. Totally starstruck. May, Sick Girl, Toolbox Murders remake, I love her stuff. Somehow Jay got her to come and have a beer with us in the VIP section, and we chatted away quite happily. I was still a quivering wreck, but not as bad this time. Jay wanted to do an interview with her, with me tagging along, but his phone's not working, so I gave her my card and said we'd call her tomorrow to arrange it. And after she admired my card - my card! she thought it was cool! - she gave us her phone number to arrange to meet up tomorrow. We had a great chat, she was really cool and funny and genuine, and then we had to go into Wilderness and she and Lucky had to go and get some sleep. I was doing fine, we were about to leave, and then I just couldn't help myself: before I walked off, I said something like "sorry to be the gushing fanboy thing, but I really love your work, really enjoyed May, Sick Girl, and the Toolbox Murders remake, and just think it's cool the way you're doing everything, so keep doing what you're doing". She seemed genuinely pleased by this, thanked me, and I walked away, only then realising what an UTTER wanker I'd just made of myself. I swore I wouldn't do that with anyone, but I just couldn't stop, it came out in a rush before my brain realised what was happening. Fucking nerd. Everyone else said it was fine, that she knows I'm a film maker too, and would respect my opinion, but I still thought I'd made a tit of myself. I've calmed down now, but am still buzzing at meeting her and getting to talk to her. Still can't believe how starstruck I got, everyone thought it was highly amusing.
And now I must sleep.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Up early, first thing in the morning, only 4 hours sleep. We got picked up, and taken to Smitty's barbecue, which is a huge, dark place made of wood and metal, where they cook massive amounts of meat. You would not believe me if I told you the amount of meat they dumped on the table for us. So here's a photo:
The place was kind of dark and smokey, looked like it was 200 years old or something. Really atmospheric and cool, but a little worrying in case we ended up on the menu ourselves. We ate as much as we could, eating our own weight in meat once again. The intention then was to go back to the lodge, get 3 more hours sleep, and then head back out to catch Bug at 6.10. But for some reason, exhausted, spaced, full up, in pain, we decided to stay at the cinema and drink some beers. We got pretty rowdy, drinking outside the cinema entrances, and they tried to get us to move to the lobby area by moving the table. That didn't work, so they actually laid us a trail of beers on the floor. This guy came up and said "oh, hey! what's that over there? is it a trail... of beer??" and he was laughing at us, because we got up and followed it, as it led us down to the lobby area where we sat down. The entire staff were laughing at us, they know us too well now. We sat there and chatted for a while, then had our pictures taken with a cardboard cutout of Will Ferrell:
Aren't I handsome? Then we headed out to buy some t-shirts, and just made it back in time for Bug, William Friedkin's new movie. Fuck. Me. Sideways. Knew nothing about it, didn't want to know, and it totally blew my mind. It's better if you go in totally fresh, and it will just knock you sideways. Best movie I've seen all year, no question, deserves to be showered in awards, for the script (Tracy Letts), Friedkin, the two actors (Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon), but probably won't because it's not a safe, mainstream, easy watch. Superb. Watched Jay interview Adam Green then, had more beer, and went into the Severance screening at 11.30, where I was doing a Q+A again.
Second screening was even better than the first, really amazing. The response was louder, they clapped, cheered, screamed, and roared with laughter. It was so unreal, I was getting tears in my eyes at how well it was going. When it came time for the Q+A, I was a bit nervous cause I'd been drinking a lot during the day, but it went fine, I actually said a lot more than the previous one, and got lots of questions fired at me. I kept them entertained until we had to clear out, and people kept coming up and asking more stuff, shaking my hand, asking for autographs - some people even wanted their photo taken with me, which was totally fucking surreal for me, as I can't imagine anyone looking at the pictures and knowing who I was, I'm just me, you know? But they were all nervous about asking, it was strange to be in that reverse position. Really cool too. That went on for a while, and we headed back to the house for more drinks and celebrations. And we got an early night this time - 3.15am. Practically teatime, compared to previous nights.
The next day, something extremely cool happened - but I'll keep you in suspense for that one.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
It was nice to have a calmer day after the madness of the past few days. We stayed up till 5am though, and needed to be up at 11 for the barbecue the next day. So we only managed 4 or 5 hours sleep. I have no idea how we got through Monday, because it was packed full of mad stuff. But that'll have to wait until the Day 5 report...
Woke up ridiculously early again, the jetlag still kicking our asses. Had a nice breakfast, then I went over to meet my old friends Karey and Kristy, who I haven't seen for 14 years. I met them the first time I was in America in 1992, and it was so cool to see them again. We hung out, then went to a Mexican restaurant, and I went to see if I could get them tickets to the Severance screening. No problem whatsoever, the guy I spoke to sorted it out immediately, reserved three seats for us. When the time came, we were waved in, led to the seats, and sat with Jay and Ryan Shifrin, who directed Abominable and is a really cool guy. I was a bit nervous how the movie would go down, different audience, different backgrounds, etc, but I needn't have worried. They were incredibly vocal, clapping and cheering, laughing at all the jokes, even the more obscure cockney lines, and actually gasped as one at the beartrap scene. It was fantastic. The one scene I was worried about got the biggest fucking laugh of all, it was incredible. Round of applause at the end, and I did a quick Q+A, keeping it short as the screenings were running late. Again, somehow I managed to pull it off, cracking jokes and doing really well, I was on a high. As we left, people were coming up and congratulating me, giving me cards and stuff, it was cool.
And then, the drinking began.
We went to this crazy Texan bar called the Broken Spoke, a real country bar with guys in stetsons and cowboy shirts, it was such a fun place. Drunk Texans kept coming over to chat to us about nothing in particular, they were really friendly. We played pool, shuffle ball, and drank a lot. We saw the girls off in a taxi, then came back to the Evil Dead lodge. At 1am. And there was a party starting at 2am. That we needed to go to. Oh dear. See, we'd taken a bit of flak for chickening out of boozing the night before, and people were saying things like "oh, there's a party, but you boys are probably too tired and jetlagged." Our reputation was at stake. Which is why we went. We got picked up at 3am, and began another night out, directly after our previous one. We stayed there, drinking, till 7.30am, and played table tennis towards the end, for some reason. Back to the lodge at 8am, slept till 12, said goodbye to Karey and Kristy who had called round on their way home, and slept again till 3pm. We're supposed to be having a barbecue today, at 4pm, in ten minutes. Our eyes are bleeding, our legs won't hold us up, but dammit, we're going to keep going. For little baby Jesus.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Wednesday night, while drunk, me and Jay decided it would be a great idea to go and shoot some guns the next day. Amazingly, our drunken decision stayed with us, so on Thursday morning we went to a shooting range with two cool guys from the Alamo Drafthouse, Devin and Eric. It was fantastic. I've never fired a gun before, and we got to shoot a shotgun, an M16, a Glock automatic handgun, and a Magnum revolver. The shotgun knocked me backwards, felt like I'd been kicked in the shoulder by a horse - I have a big bruise there now, and it's quite sore.
The M16 had a laser sight, and was pretty powerful. The Glock was like a plastic toy - that can kill.
The Magnum was my favourite though, really powerful, really fucking loud, and so, so satisfying to fire. We went through tons of ammo, and had a blast. If there's a zombie outbreak, I'll be okay as long as I have some guns. Driving back, we got completely lost, and drove around suburbs getting eyed up by men on porches with guns. We stopped to ask someone directions, and they merely replied "we're waiting for a bus", which didn't help. But we got there in the end.
Oh, I forgot, last night we also saw hundreds and thousands of bats on Wednesday night. They live under this bridge, and at dusk they all fly out, squeaking, and form a giant cloud to go off and do batty things. They stink of bat shit, but look pretty cool.
Later we went to the premiere of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, which was good fun, pretty similar to the remake (young people get killed, bad people do bad things, shouting, blood, chainsaws), and quite intensely gory. At the VIP after-party, we even got to meet R.Lee Ermey, which was just amazing. I shook his hand, talked to him, he talked to me, I made a joke, he laughed, we chatted, it was so fucking cool. He was really nice, and not at all scary, but I still didn't try to start any shit, just in case. Before the movie, they played a video of him telling people to "switch your fuckin phones off, or I'll kick your ass", with a sign at the end that read "If your mobile phone goes off during the movie, R.Lee Ermey will take your ass down", so I smashed mine to pieces to make sure.
The party was cool, a man carved a sculpture out of a big log with a chainsaw, and we became best friends with some total strangers, all of whom turned out to be from aintitcool.com. We drank with them, brought them back to our cabin in the woods, and drank until 6am.
Day 2 (Friday)
Today, I have been mostly going "uhhhhhh" and staggering around in a daze. We bought some food, acted like zombies, and saw Tideland, which was really strange, and really beautiful. It's quite hard to endure because of the difficult subject matter, but extremely brave, and deserves to be seen. Few movies stay with you for that long these days, but Tideland really got under my skin, and I'm still not quite sure how to describe it. It is what it is, and you should automatically go to see any new Gilliam movie anyway, so seek it out. We were supposed to be going clubbing tonight, but me and Jay both chickened out because our brains have melted and we need to crash and burn. A quiet, pretty uneventful day, but we're so trashed we just couldn't do anything much. Have to save myself for tomorrow, when the Severance screening and Q+A is on, and I'm meeting up with a friend I haven't seen for 14 years, which I'm really looking forward to. Right now, we're sitting in the cabin, spaced out, channel surfing, watching adverts for hunting gear - adverts which are basically animal snuff movies, rabbits and things getting shot. A fat old man shot a turkey from just a few feet away with a massive shotgun, wearing camo-gear, sitting on a special hunting chair. Took the sport out of it, somewhat.
I know, I know, only day 2 and already I'm falling to pieces. There's another week to go yet. Need to pace myself...
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Okay. It's 1am, local time, which is actually 7am *my* time. I got up at 5am my time, and have been up for 26 hours. When I got up at 5, I'd only managed about 4 hours sleep. So calculating the hours, that works out at Fucked Up Sleepy Dead Brain.
Got to Gatwick, met Jay the crazy freelance journalist who sorted out the trip for me, had a bacon sandwich, coffee, removed all clothing, shoes, skin, muscles, bone marrow, for the security scans, and got on plane where we commenced THE LONGEST FUCKING FLIGHT OF ALL TIME. First, it just sat there for 45 minutes before it took off. No worries, we thought, we'll watch some movies. When me and Jo went to New York, we flew Virgin, economy, which had about ten movies, loads of tv, games, radio, all sorts, on their in flight entertainment tv screens. This flight, THE LONGEST FUCKING FLIGHT OF ALL TIME, we had two movies. X-Men 3, that brand new movie that came out months ago, and Firewall, see X-Men 3. Neither of which I wanted to see. A couple of TV shows, and some shitty radio stations. So, nothing I wanted to watch, and no games. Which was okay, because my remote controller/gamepad wouldn't come out of its slot. Which was okay, because my TV switched itself off after 2 minutes of trying to watch anything at all. And so we commenced on THE LONGEST FUCKING FLIGHT OF ALL TIME, where we basically stared at the sky map and cried for 9 hours. There was nothing else to do but drink. So we knocked back JD and Cokes. Which was fine, until they ran out of JD. We actually drank them out of JD. The really nice army guy next to us gave me his leftover JD bottle, so I was okay for a bit longer. We looked at the skymap. 4 hours to go. Jesus. Fucking. Christ.
To cut a long story short-ish, we landed. Went through customs, picked up our bags, then put our bags back into the check in, went through security again for some reason, desperately tried to find a pub before our 3.15 boarding time, found one at 3.10, opposite the gate, necked a skanky lite beer (we didn't know it was lite till we'd paid), and ran onto the plane, the last to arrive, stinking of booze, unclean, staggering, going slightly mad, giggling like schoolkids, and sat down. The flight was 34 minutes, and they served drinks. We ordered a gin and tonic each, and I shit you not, we'd barely lifted the glasses to our mouths when they announce that we were about to land. We knocked them back double quick, had the empties snatched away, and landed.
Austin, Texas, is very hot. Very, very hot.
It's also beautiful, really nicely laid out and spacious. We got picked up, taken to our scary lodge in the woods, with a shitload of beers, a massive bottle of Jim Beam (photo soon, you won't believe it), and met some other people, including Tim, the Alamo Drafthouse cinema dude. A shower and some more drinks later, we went to a special screening of Borat. More on that in a minute. First, the cinema. Best. Cinema. Ever. Every other seat row is a row of tables, where you can put your booze and food. They have a massive menu, 60 bottled beers, and you put your order on a piece of paper, and the waiters sneak in and pick it up, bringing it over to you when it's ready. As VIP guests, it was all free for us, which was wicked. Anyway, onto Borat. My throat still hurts from shrieking with laughter and horror, and then whisperiing "oh no, oh noooooo" to myself when something horrific happened. Back at the scary lodge now, we're having one final drink, and are then crashing into bed to get some sleep.
The film festival hasn't even started yet. It starts tomorrow. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
The NPA panel was great fun, I was a bit nervous going in as I've only got one credit to my name, and the other guys had lots of stuff, been in the business for years. But they were really cool, down to earth, and funny. Started off a bit slow, wondering if people would start shouting "fraud", or "who the fuck are you to tell us how it is", but nobody tried anything, so I was okay after that. There were lots of questions, great questions, and hopefully we answered them all to your satisfaction. If not, you know how to contact me, give us a shout. Sorry I couldn't stay after in the bar for more questions, but see above re: packing, sleeping, etc. Good luck to all of you in your various projects, and thanks for having me along. Hopefully I'll be doing more of them.
And finally, I'm now a member of BAFTA, which is cool. It means I can vote at the awards, use their bar and restaurant, and get free invites to all their special movie screenings, events, Q+A's, and so on. It's great because they decide on new members once a year, no matter when you apply, they only choose people in September, for some reason. Membership is capped at a certain amount too, so I'm really glad I got in.
Right. I'm really, really tired (only got a few hours sleep last night), I need to pack, and sleep, in that order preferably. Next update will hopefully be from Texas, if I ever make it on to the internet. Austin, here I come...
Sunday, September 17, 2006
The idea is that I hand them over with my thumb on the thumbprint, for maximum impact. They'll either be really impressed, or think I'm a weirdo. I'll be taking my laptop with me, and because Austin is pretty much wi-fi'd up to the eyeballs, I'll be able to blog my progress as I get drunker and more insane. So if you're a member of the scriboblogothingosphere or just the general thingosphere, and you're in or near Austin between the 21st and 29th, let me know. Also, if you know any cool bars to visit in the area, that is information I must have.
Trying to finish off all my writing stuff before Wednesday morning, which is when I fly out. Got meetings all day Monday, NPA panel on Tuesday evening, it's all crammed in. I did manage to plough through the first, rough, get-it-all-down draft of my spec though, so yay for me. It feels like a huge mess that doesn't work, I even changed the setting halfway through without breaking stride or worrying about consistency, but I didn't look back, just got on with it until I finished the bastard. It won't be as bad as I think. Hopefully. At least I have 92 pages of *something*, which is a start. It just feels good to be writing something that is purely for me (until it's finished and ready to go out to interested parties), something I can take my time with and enjoy. Most of it was done during breaks from paid-for stuff - I have to work that way, shuffling things around, to keep my mind fresh. I'll give it a week or so, then go through it and see what the damage is like. Will try and do a last blog update before I hit the road, so watch this space.
Here's the groovy French poster for Severance, thanks to Claudette for taking a pic of it for me from the French issue of Premiere magazine:
Not sure if I've mentioned it on here, but the soundtrack for Severance is available on iTunes (link will open iTunes if you have it), a fantastic score by Christian Henson, really atmospheric and haunting. It's not on sale as a CD, just a digital download. I think other online shops have it, no idea, as I'm an iTunes geezer myself.
And if you check out this link on the IMDB, you'll see that the plot keywords for Severance are Bear, Urination Scene, and Topless Woman. It's the only movie to feature all three! And it's still in the cinemas! Although at less times during the day, so this is probably your last-ish chance to catch it on the big screen if you haven't, you know who you are. How can you stay away? It's got a bear, a urination scene, and a topless woman. What more could you possibly want?
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Now you're a respectable screenwriter with credits and everything (damn you and well done), do you find people kiss your ass more? Or is too early to say?
(Before I answer, this is my first and last apology for the self-analysis that is about to happen: this blog was always meant to explain and demystify the whole process from the inside out, from the point of view of a writer (me) trying to get into the business, and what happens when you do get in. I'm not boasting, or being narcissistic, just relaying my experiences etc etc. If that bothers you, please feel free to get your own blog and write about what self obsessed wankers we all are. Message ends.)
I'm still waiting for the "everyone is my new best friend" thing to kick in, but I suspect I won't get as much of that. Mainly because (a) I'm not an actor, and (b) I'm not a director. Even when I do get interviewed, there's rarely an accompanying photo, and, let's face it, nobody ever broke into the business by sleeping with a writer. Except that time I slept with that writer who got me into the business (Gallagher, you never call anymore, did I mean *nothing* to you?) Besides, I can spot bullshit a mile away, so I won't be taken in by ass kissers should they ever appear. There is a definite dividing line between my life before Severance was released, and after, but things aren't actually that much different. The 5 things that needed writing were on the go before it was released, they just happen to need finishing this week. I have been getting a lot of emails, but they're mostly "well done", "how did you manage it", or "loved the movie". Only one person has sent me one of their scripts, but it was a very polite email and they weren't asking for or expecting anything (side note: I really will probably never get time to read anybody's stuff, and I don't think I'm allowed to anyway for legal reasons, so it's probably best not to send anything). Several people have asked if I have any tips for breaking in, to which I can only answer "write a script and sell it", as that's what I did. But that's not very helpful, so I point them towards other, more knowledgeable sites. Anyone who has asked for advice, I've answered to the best of my knowledge, because I know what it's like trying to find information when you're starting out, so I'll always do that, either by reply or on here.
I'm going to a special thing next week that came directly off the back of Severance (more news on that later), and have been invited to that NPA panel thing as a writer/expert/bluffer. Neither of those would have happened without the movie. Apart from that, I still have to finish the things I'm working on, still have to find solutions to story problems, figure out endings, and so on. I've got quite a few meetings lined up, but I'm still doing 2 days a week in the dayjob, so my life is more or less the same, in that sense.
The only thing I've noticed is a gradual shift in the way I'm treated at meetings and in general in the industry. Having a credit somehow magically bestows a certain something on you, it automatically means you're some sort of professional, and not to be dismissed so lightly. Make no mistake, I'm not suddenly all powerful. But there's definitely some slight change there. Part of it is probably my own self belief - I've noticed myself just getting on with it in these meetings and story discussions, not apologising for ideas, not downplaying myself, just stating my opinions and standing behind them solidly, good or bad. And I think it's probably that more than any sort of perceived importance that is affecting how I think I'm being treated. Of course, I may just be imagining the whole thing. But there's definitely something there. I feel more confident, very much so.
Still though, I'm hoping to collect at least a few ass kissers, yes-men, and sycophants, surely writing has to be good for some freebies...