Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My FrightFest 2013 idents

Last year, I directed two "turn off your bloody phone" idents for FrightFest, which you can watch for free at this very blog post here. They're not safe for work. At all.

This year, I did two more, all with the fine folks at Ne'er Do Well Films. They've been online for a while, and I assumed I had posted them here. But, er, I hadn't. So here they are. They are also not safe for work.

The first one again stars Mr Ian Rattray, of FrightFest:



And the second again stars me, because I couldn't get hold of anyone willing to do the things I did in the video. You'll see what I mean:



I really enjoyed making them, apart from the bit where I had to chew Alka Seltzer tablets and spit on someone's hand with a binbag on my lap. I actually cut my tongue on one of the tablets, which you can briefly see in one shot - that's my blood! Yes, I pour my own blood into everything I do.

Thank you to everyone who gave their time for nothing to get up early and indulge my violent revenge fantasies. And also thanks to everyone who took part in the filming of these idents. Boom! See what I did there??

Sorry these idents aren't very Christmassy, but they *are* free, so in a way, they're little Christmas presents. Unwanted presents, that you'll smile politely at, then secretly take back to the shop in January.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Crazy For You at the London Short Film Festival

Yes, as you may have deduced from the cunningly cryptic post title, my short film Crazy For You will be screening at the 11th London Short Film Festival. It plays as part of the "Funny Shit" strand, on January 10th, 9pm, at the ICA in London. Tickets and details here - I'll be there, so maybe I'll see you there too.

If you can't make it, or are elsewhere, we will be touring the short around festivals, so keep an eye on the website here.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Free Doctor Who stories by me

Presents! Christmas presents for YOU! Okay, technically these are presents from last year, but due to the fickle nature of the internet, I bet loads of you haven't seen them. I had two Doctor Who short stories published in the Big Finish Short Trips collections, and as the books are out of print (and used copies were going for huge prices), I was given permission to post them here. Which I did last year:

Companion, featuring the Eighth Doctor as played by Paul McGann, in a Christmas tale.

Breadcrumbs, featuring the Fourth Doctor as played by Tom Baker.

I'm really proud of both stories. Breadcrumbs was my first published short story, and Companion is possibly my warmest, fuzziest work so far, with no genocide, serial killers, or baby slaughter.

I also wrote two stories for the illustrated Doctor Who Storybooks, in 2009 and 2010, for the Tenth Doctor, but they're still available cheaply, so you can pick them up easily enough. And I wrote an audio story for the Seventh Doctor and Ace, beautifully narrated by Sophie Aldred, which you can find as part of a collection here.

I need to complete the collection somehow and write for the First, Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth and Ninth Doctors. One day...

Hope you enjoy the stories, and pass on the links - please don't copy and paste, just send the links themselves, I only have permission to put them here.

And in the spirit of giving, if you're looking for a local charity that would appreciate even tiny amounts, Kirkwood Hospice looked after my sister Julia at the end of her life. They provide free care for patients, even supporting their families. They're amazing people, and rely on public financial support, so if you want to donate (thank you), click the link here.

While you're reading, Behind the Sofa, a book I contributed to is on sale now, in aid of Alzheimer's Research UK - it features a short essay from me, and also from people like Neil Gaiman, Sophia Myles, Stephen Merchant, and many more. It's just over a fiver, and is well worth getting.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pre-meeting playlist

Music helps me write, as explained in this overly detailed blog post about my writing process. One particular song, played over and over, actually helped as a catalyst to get me sending stuff to agencies, which I wrote about here. Sometimes I even just put on music while testing out a new idea, letting visuals and thoughts pop into my head.

But for years, I've also been using music as a pre-meeting warmup device. I put together a playlist of songs and soundtracks to listen to on my way to meetings - they help to pump me up, get me feeling confident and assertive, make me walk faster, so that when I arrive I'm primed and ready for action. I hesitantly mentioned it on Twitter, wondering if I was weird - but lots of other people did the same thing. Not just for meetings - for pitches, interviews, auditions, anything where they needed a boost.

I promised to put the tracklisting online, in case there's anything you wanted to snag for your own playlists, so here it is, after lots of fiddling with Spotify to transfer it from iTunes. Some aren't on Spotify, they're listed underneath with links where I could find them. It's kind of a weirdly personal thing, and is a mishmash of different styles - but I use different parts on different days, I just wanted to collect them all together.

Anyway, here's the playlist - the link will open a Spotify page, so you can listen to the songs.

Missing tracks:

Beat City - Flowerpot Men. This is from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, when they drive the Ferrari to the city.
Call Me A Hole - pomDeter. An excellent mashup of Nine Inch Nails and Carly Rae Jepsen that shouldn't work,  but does.
Beat Fuga Shake - Riz Ortolani
Cut You Up With A Linoleum Knife - Mastodon (starts about a minute in)
Back in Black - AC/DC
DirtyGirl - Another fun mashup that shouldn't work, takes one terrible song, one good song, and makes a really fun mix. NSFW- sorry about the softcore porn video of women in underwear, it's the only link available at the moment due to the grey area of mashup legality - you can easily download the audio.
Battle Without Honour or Humanity - Tomoyasu Hotei. As made popular in Kill Bill.

And there you have it. Sometimes, instead of this playlist, I'll go with the Tron Legacy soundtracks - the standard one, and the remixed one, both of which are superb. If you have any of your own that aren't in my list, leave them in the comments below, which are open temporarily.

If you can't get Spotify to work, or just want a list, I've exported the whole thing as two image files here (clicky-clicky for biggy-biggy):



Sunday, October 06, 2013

Crazy For You update

After a great premiere at London's FrightFest, Crazy For You went to Manchester's GrimmFest, where it also got a lovely response. Soon it'll head to the USA for the Telluride Horror Show, and has more festivals lined up, which I'll tell you about when they go public. For now, check out the official blog of the short for details, links, and festival updates.

It's been a long road getting it finished, so it's a relief to see that people are enjoying it. We've just started our festival tour, and plan to take it to as many places as possible. Obviously I'm applying to the festivals that I know of, but if you work for a festival and would like to screen the short, please get in touch!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"Cleaning Up" short film

A while ago, those dastardly Guerrier Brothers - Simon Guerrier, and Thomas, er, Guerrier - featured as police extras in Girl Number 9, the web thriller I wrote and part-directed. We thought, at the time, that they were just there to help out. But no! The entire thing was a cunning plan to see how we got stuff made, and steal several of our cast and crew to make their own short film! The dastards!

Look at them! Simon distracts us with his manly face, while Thomas scours the script for cast to steal!

The short they went on to make was "Cleaning Up", it stars Mark Gatiss and Louise Jameson, and is bloody good fun. You can see clips of it here, along with full versions of two of their other shorts, Wizard (starring David Warner!) and The Plotters, which are both very funny.

Now, you can actually buy Cleaning Up, for a couple of quid. All profits will go to developing a feature film version, executive produced by the lovely folk at Big Finish. What's more-- actually, why don't I let them speak for themselves:


Sounds like a good idea to me, and a great way of raising money to get a film off the ground. If you have no interest in any of that, you can just buy the short and never hear from them again (and who could blame you, they're clearly dodgy characters). So everybody wins! Probably! The full details are here, so have a look and see if you fancy it. Or they'll come to your house and steal stuff.

*Girl Number 9 still taken by Lou Boileau

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Cockneys Vs Zombies on DVD & Blu-ray in USA now

 

Cockneys Vs Zombies is now out in the USA on DVD and Blu-ray! You can get it online, or in physical locations that sell DVDs, or you can VOD it if you prefer that sort of action.

Unique to this US edition are deleted scenes, and a full commentary from director Matthias, and also one from me! It's the one I recorded myself and put here for free, but it's actually on the disc (like on the Tower Block US discs). Thanks to the excellent folk at Shout Factory for arranging that on both movies. Speaking of Tower Block, it is also out in the US on DVD and Blu-ray.

I hope you enjoy it, please buy it for yourself, for your friends and family, or for your enemies if you didn't like it. Christmas is fast approaching, and it would make an excellent gift. The best possible gift, I think. In the world. And I'm totally not biased. It's certainly no exaggeration to say that it will cure warts, improve your sex life, and unite all of humanity in peace and harmony. So have a butchers.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cardiff Comic Con, Swansea Doctor Who Day

Wales! Wales, Wales, Wales! Soon I will be all over you, like a bottle of Hai Karate splashed over a hirsute man!

All of which means, I'll be at two events are coming up soonish in Wales:

Cardiff Comic Con, 31st August to 1st September - I'll be there with the VS Comics team, showing off Day & Night, and the lovely new 64 page collection of Eponymous, which will premiere there. It looks like it'll be a great event, so come and find us at our table. If that's not enough for you, the other guests include Sarah Douglas (Ursa!), Kai Owen (Rhys!), Alice Krige (Borg Queen!), Lance Henriksen (Bishop!), Dave Prowse (Darth Vader!) and Brian Blessed (BRIAN BLESSED!) And way, way more guests, who are all really cool. I'll be there both days, all day.

Doctor Who Day, Swansea, Saturday 2nd November - at the Dylan Thomas Centre, this is a special event to celebrate Doctor Who. I'll be there with Phil Ford, Simon Guerrier, Joe Lidster, David Llewellyn, Una McCormack, and Louise Jameson (Leela!), talking about the show. This is my second time ever in Swansea - my first time was many years ago, waiting for a ferry to arrive, so this HAS to be better!

Details and tickets etc are at the links above. And yes, you can bring DVDs or anything to sign if you want - people at the last comic convention were very apologetic about bringing DVDs instead of comics, but I'm more than happy that you bought them, so go for it. Hope to see some of you there!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Cockneys Vs Zombies US DVD details

Cockneys Vs Zombies has just had a lovely, limited cinema release in the USA, and is still on VOD platforms there - but it's also heading for DVD and Blu-ray, on September 3rd. You can pre-order it now, or wait until it's out, or get it in "stores"! The choice is yours!

Unique to this US edition are deleted scenes, and a full commentary from director Matthias, and also one from me! It's the one I recorded myself and put here for free, but it's actually on the disc (like on the Tower Block US discs). Thanks to the excellent folk at Shout Factory for arranging that on both movies.

Dread Central have the first mention of the story here, along with the cover art and specs details. September 3rd! Have a butchers!

Friday, August 02, 2013

Cockneys Vs Zombies US release August 2nd

People of America! Cockneys Vs Zombies is released in your fair nation today, August 2nd, in selected cinemas and also on VOD at the same time, so you have several ways to get it.

Click here for a list of cinemas and VOD locations - try to see it on the big screen if you can, it's a fun crowd movie. But it'll be almost everywhere, and then on DVD and Blu-ray September 3rd. If you do the iTunes thing, you can rent or buy it RIGHT HERE!

Click here for the UK red band trailer - it's like the US red band trailer, but with way more swearing and violence, to give you a good idea of what sort of movie you're getting. If you like the song playing in the second half of that trailer, it's Mother of Girl by Eighteen Nightmares at the Lux.

Click here for a video podcast featuring me explaining Cockney rhyming slang - including two examples that you probably already use.

Seen the movie and enjoyed the score by Jody Jenkins? Grab the soundtrack from here.

Please do catch it where you can, we all put a lot of love and passion into the movie, and I'm really proud of it. I know you've had to wait a while, but hopefully it'll be worth the wait. Now go! Go see it!

By the way, you can still buy Tower Block over there on DVD and Blu-ray, so check it out if you like the look of it. Click here for the US trailer.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Nine Worlds convention

I'll be attending a new, multi-genre convention on the 9th and 10th August called Nine Worlds, and you can find all the details and tickets for the event here. The idea behind it is to do one of those huge, wide ranging events that you see a lot of in America, but not as much here.

It looks really cool, and has tons of great guests, including Rhianna Pratchett, Laurie Penny, Kim Newman, Paul Cornell, Kai Owen, Joe Lidster, Gary Russell, Emma Newman, Matthew Waterhouse, Zoe Margolis, Danie Ware, Chris Barrie, and many more.

I'm taking part in the Friday activities, and have a panel at 10am on the Saturday, about writing for Doctor Who and Torchwood, with Joe Lidster and Gary Russell. I think there's a signing after that, then I'll have to leave to get to the Swanwick Summer School that evening, so I won't get to see the rest of the convention. Hopefully next time!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Crazy For You short world premiere at FrightFest

The subject line gives it away - Crazy For You, the short film I wrote and directed, starring Arthur Darvill and Hannah Tointon, gets its world premiere at this year's FrightFest, on Friday August 23rd, at 4.15pm.

The details are all at this Crazy For You blog post, so go and have look for how to get in. Backers, don't worry, you'll get the viewing link when it's ready! We still need to finalise the sound and FX, and things like that. Almost there...

I love FrightFest. All of my movies have screened there. And now my directorial debut short is screening there. Please be gentle.

Friday, July 12, 2013

CvsZ at SDCC, and how to use rhyming slang

I'm back from CONvergence, which was *amazing*. We had great screenings of CvsZ and Tower Block, everyone was wonderful, and I ate ALL of the food in America. ALL of it. I'll do a full report about it when I've recovered from the jet lag, but in the meantime...

Cockneys Vs Zombies will have a screening at San Diego Comic Con! It's on Saturday July 20th at 8pm, in Marriott Marquis Marina Ballroom D. There's only one screening, and it's bound to fill up fast, so make sure you get in there quick if you want to see it there. You don't need a ticket (apart from your normal convention pass), from what I'm told it's a queueing system like all screenings - first come first served. Get queueing! It's the British way!

Obviously, if you can't make that screening, it's still being released on August 2nd, in selected US cinemas (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Tempe, Seattle, Denver, Salt Lake City, Columbus, Austin so far) and also VOD at the same time - that's Video On Demand (Amazon, iTunes, Playstation, Xbox, Vudu), so you have plenty of ways to watch it. Demand that video! Demand it!

While you're waiting, here's a Shout Factory video podcast featuring me, in which I explain how Cockney rhyming slang works, and give you some examples - two of which you probably already use. So go and have a butcher's.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Off to CONvergence in Minneapolis

I'm flying out to America (via Toronto briefly) tomorrow, so this is just a quick post to let people know I'll be "out of the office", so to speak. I'm appearing at CONvergence in Minneapolis from 4th-7th July, where I'm on several panels, and screening both Cockneys Vs Zombies and Tower Block at the event - you can find details of the screenings, and the convention, right here at this blog link.

If you're in or near Minneapolis, do come along, attend the event, see the movies, or just go to the aquarium if you like, I'm not the boss of you. Anyway, I'm really looking forward to it, and hope to see some of you there.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Cockneys Vs Zombies and Tower Block in Japan

Both movies are now available on DVD in Japan - CvsZ had a very successful cinema run there (January to June!), and has now hit DVD and Blu-ray. Tower Block was just a DVD release there, and it doesn't look like there's a Blu-ray, but I'll update if there is. Those links take you to a shop I have no experience of, so shop around! Update: both movies are now available on amazon.co.jp, DVD and Blu for CvsZ, DVD for TB - but you'll need to be local or fluent in Japanese to navigate the menus, obviously.

Also, the Tower Block DVD cover is *quite* spoilery, so maybe don't look if you haven't seen it. It's yet another variant cover though, and really nice. This is going to be expensive, collecting them all... Oh, the CvsZ cover is amazing too, it's the brilliant Japanese poster they used, which you can see on their official website here.

Update again: both covers are shown below. Don't enlarge the Tower Block one if you haven't seen the movie! It's too small to see spoilers right now, but the full size one gives too much away. You have been warned.




Thursday, June 06, 2013

Cockneys Vs Zombies out in France now

So, remember when I said we don't always get told when foreign distributors release the movies? Hey! CvsZ is out in France! Surprise!

It's available on DVD and Blu-ray, with a new cover slightly modified from one of the variant posters we had in the UK. It has French subtitles, that's all I know. I'd be very curious to see how some of the saltier phrases translate.

Speaking of which, the tagline is "Les zombies vont tomber sur un os!" which Google translates helpfully as "The zombies will fall on a bone!" I guess that's some fancy European joke I don't get. Wait! I just asked on Twitter, and apparently it means "the zombies will run into trouble/a problem/a snag" - apparently "os" can mean a bone too. Puntastic! A French pun on the cover of one of my movies! I feel all sophisticated and stuff.

So, er, allez to le shop and, er, purchaseyez-vous. If you like. Dear France: I apologise for that terrible French, and the entirety of this blog post. Also some other stuff the UK may have done in the past, I take full responsibility.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Den of Eek! ebook available

Last year, I took part in Den of Geek's first live storytelling evening, in aid of their Geeks Vs Cancer appeal. Twelve of us wrote scary stories, then read them out in front of an audience. It was brilliant fun, and the host, Sarah, wrote an account of the evening here.

Obviously numbers were limited to how many people we could fit in the building, but now you can read all of the stories in their new ebook collection from the night. It's available in the Kindle format - but you don't need a Kindle, you can use the free software to read it on nearly any device - and the collection will cost you a mere £5.14.

There are lots of big names and brilliant newcomers in the book, I've heard all the stories so I can vouch for them. My story is called The 34 Steps, I wrote it for the event, it won't be appearing anywhere else, and hopefully it'll give you something new to worry about.

Details are on the Den of Geek website here, and the Amazon page is here. It's all for a very good cause, so pick up a copy, light some candles, and read them aloud, to friends, or alone if you're feeling brave...

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Cockneys Vs Zombies and Tower Block at CONvergence

Ahead of their release in America (July 2nd and August 2nd), Cockneys Vs Zombies and Tower Block will have a special screening each at the CONvergence event in Minneapolis this July. I'm attending the convention, and will introduce the movies and do a Q&A afterwards.

CvsZ is at midnight Saturday 6th/Sunday 7th, and Tower Block is at 2pm on Sunday 7th. So if you're at the event itself, come along and see them! You'll get to see them both before they're released, with an audience, and after the screenings you can ask me what the hell I was thinking doing [SPOILER] to the [REDACTED].

The full schedule for the convention is here, I'm on several panels with lots of really smart, cool people, and am really looking forward to what sounds like a hugely fun event. Hope to see you there.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Cockneys Vs Zombies and Tower Block in Australia

It's all go with release dates right now - I've just discovered that CvsZ comes out in Australia on June 12th, and Tower Block comes out there on July 10th. Those two links take you to Aussie shops, I have no idea if they're good ones or not, but I'm sure you know where to buy stuff. So go do that!

The Tower Block poster seems to have been given a makeover for the Aussie release, and it looks like this:


Pretty cool, eh? The UK Lionsgate poster is still my favourite though, that's going to be hard to beat.

The movies are working their way around the world, so if they're not in your area yet, hang in there. We don't always get told when local distributors are releasing them, they buy the rights and then sometimes forget to let us know when they're out - so if you see them in your shops, give us a shout. Actually, if you see them on shop shelves, please take a photo for me! I'd love to see them in shops where you are, especially if they have different cover art.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Tower Block US DVD/Blu-ray release

Tower Block lands on US shiny discs on July 2nd, courtesy of the good people at the marvellously named Shout! Factory. You can pre-order now, on DVD and Blu-ray, from their website, or from Amazon here and here. You can read one of many website reports on the release here, in which I'm called "notable cult film and TV scribe James Moran". Notable! I feel like noted fashion photographer Nigel Barker! Except I haven't been fired from ANTM! Yet! Apart from that, we are *identical*, me and Nigey-babes.

I'm very pleased that I'll be in America when it's released, as I'm going to the CONvergence event in Minneapolis - excitingly, that means I can have the American experience, and go to a "store", in a "mall", to hand over some "dollars" and buy "it"! Like some kinda wiseguy! Apple pie and freedom! And other American expressions!

At some point it'll be hitting all the usual VOD streaming places you'd expect, so keep an eye out for it. Watch it at night, turn the lights off, crank the sound up - and keep away from the windows...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Dead Roots issue 2 out now

Dead Roots, the zombie anthology comic, is now on issue 2 - which features my story, Many Happy Returns. It starts with a child's birthday party. As you'd expect from me, the party does not end well.

The art is by Rebecca Morse, colours by Nathan Ashworth, and letters by Mike Stock. I'm really pleased with how it came out, and I love the other stories in the issue, so go have a look. It's 47 pages long, and costs £2.99 in the UK iBookstore, $4.99 in the US, or €3.99 for Euro-disco-funksters.

While you're at it, you can still get our free taster issue of VS Comics, from this very link here. Well, it's technically free, our online shop has a minimum payment thing, but it's only a penny. Which, if you do some complicated (and incorrect) mathematics, is actually better than free! Sort of. I don't know, I do words, not number-things. VS is up to issue 4 now, and each full anthology issue is just £2 from our website - PDFs, no region locking, no DRM, just tasty comics. It contains vampires, but don't worry, they're not broody, romantic heroes, they're proper, nasty, old-school monsters who will rip your throat open, drain your blood, and insult you while they're doing it. As is right and proper.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tower Block commentary

When Tower Block was released on UK DVD and Blu-ray, for various reasons there were no commentaries. So, just like I did for Cockneys Vs Zombies, I've recorded my own commentary - you can download it, and play it with your copy of the movie.

As before, there are two versions - DVDs have a slightly higher frame rate, so movies end up being slightly shorter than their normal length. I recorded one for the DVD, and have digitally stretched a copy so that it'll fit the Blu-ray version - download whichever version you have, they're the same audio just different lengths.

You won't need to sync, it's the same length as the movie, and being a couple of seconds off won't matter. Just start the movie and commentary playing at the same time.

SERIOUS WARNING: DO NOT listen to this before you watch the movie for the first time. It will RUIN it - I talk about things before they happen, you'll miss all the dialogue, and it won't make any sense. This is ONLY for people who have seen the movie. Feel free to download it, but WAIT until you've already seen the movie before you do the commentary version. Or I will send SNIPERS.

If you don't have a copy of the movie, you can get it in most good shops, or from Amazon on DVD or Blu-ray, or Blinkbox, or iTunes. Have a look around for the best price, they vary quite a bit. It's not on Lovefilm Instant or Netflix *yet*, but should be soonish - and should already be a rentable DVD from Lovefilm etc. Other countries: it will be heading your way, don't worry - it's been picked up for US distribution (with an early screening in Colorado on May 4th), and is already out in Europe here and there.

Like the CvsZ commentary, it was recorded on a cheap headset so I could hear the audio, which means it's fairly ordinary sound quality. I've saved them as mp3 files, as that seemed easiest for everyone. Thank you again to Matt Goble for all the technical information about the different lengths/speeds of DVDs and Blu-rays.

Click here for the DVD version of the commentary.

Or click here for the Blu-ray version.

Thank you for all the support for the movie before and after it came out, I really appreciate it. Smaller UK movies live or die purely on word of mouth, so I'm very grateful that you've all been so lovely about this and CvsZ. Hope you like the next one!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

VS Comics issue 4 out now

Issue 4 of our ongoing monthly anthology comic is out now! VS Comics is the anthology me and Mike Garley have been working on, with loads of brilliant writers and artists taking part over 47 pages of goodness. We also have a new story starting this month, The Sentinel. Here's the VS blog post about the new issue.

My story, Day and Night, reaches a critical moment, as the surviving humans are pushed to breaking point - will they snap, or start to fight back? Here's a sneaky pic:


Still not sure? Have a read of the Chaos Hour review of issue 1 here, or the Reluctant Geek's reviews of the first three issues here, here and here.

You can buy issue 4 (and issues 1, 2 and 3) at our website here. Each issue is just £2, for a PDF copy with no DRM or region restrictions. Try issue 1, it's a bumper edition of 68 pages. You can't afford NOT to buy it! Don't think about the logic of that sentence, just do it!

It's easy and cheap to catch up right now, and we've got loads more cool stuff in the pipeline, so go and get stuck in.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cockneys Vs Zombies US release date

Americans! People near America! Non-Americans living or visiting America! This is for you! Cockneys Vs Zombies has a US release date: August 2nd. Or, to put it in American date format, Secgust Augcond.

The news is reported here and here, following on from the previous announcement that Shout! Factory will be the US distributor for that and Tower Block (no release date yet). It'll be a limited cinema release, followed by VOD, DVD, Blu-ray, and holo-cube implant. So keep an eye out for it at a cinema near you - there'll be a list of locations closer to the time.

If you can't wait, don't forget it's screening on April 12th and 14th (midnight and 10pm respectively) at the Florida Film Festival in, er, Florida.

It's also screening on Friday June 14th at the Southside Film Festival in Pennsylvania, for one night only. Get yourself a ticket for a mere $5, check out the website for details.

Update! There's a shiny new website for the movie's US release here, with a (de-swearified) trailer, press notes, and stuff. It should have details of the locations you can see it, when they're announced, so keep an eye on it to see if it's screening near you.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Tower Block in Colorado

Tower Block will be screening at the Stanley Film Festival in Colorado next month. The festival runs from 2nd-5th May, and takes place in the Stanley Hotel - the hotel that inspired the Overlook Hotel...

Needless to say, as a die hard Kubrick nerd, and a rabid Stephen King nerd, I am very, VERY excited about this.

And yes, I know The Shining wasn't filmed there. It inspired the book. But the connection is there. It's still very, very cool. And Tower Block even has a room 237 (it's Kurtis' flat).

The festival website is here (you'll be able to buy tickets and passes from April 8th), and there's a writeup about the festival here on Dread Central. It's a very nicely designed site, and the Tower Block page looks great (check out the Futura). Tower Block screens at 5.15pm on Saturday 4th May - Star Wars Day, if you like.

There are lots of other cool movies showing too, it looks like it'll be a fun event. So if you're in the area, or can get there, check it out.

Oh, and watch out for the ghosts. Yeah, the Stanley Hotel is haunted. Bring a torch.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Primeval writing process

A few years ago I wrote an episode of Primeval (series 3, episode 2). Recently, I was asked on Twitter about unused storylines and plots, so I thought it might be interesting to go through some of the process here. All opinions are my own, and not those of anyone else, etc etc, just in case I've remembered anything wrong (which happens a lot).

Obviously, major, major spoilers for the episode if you haven't seen it. You really should see it before reading any of this, otherwise you'll (a) ruin the episode for yourself, and (b) have no idea what hell I'm babbling about for most of this blog post. You can find series 3 on DVD here, or grab the episode off iTunes (for £1.89 in the UK, or $1.99 in the US), or it'll probably be on TV again sometime soon (it's repeated on the Watch channel here in the UK quite regularly). So go watch it before reading this.

Initial outlining

Back in late 2007, I was asked if I'd like to write an episode for the show. Of course I said yes (duh, obviously) and jumped on to the fun monster train. Because the process of animating the creatures is so complex, they have to start working on it *very* early - when you sign up, they give you a rough story outline and tell you what creature you're getting, so that they can plan out the whole series. You even get concept art of your creature, which is really helpful and cool (these 3 images used with permission of the fantastic Daren Horley, who has this and more amazing work on his websites here and here):




This creature was based on the Madagascan aye-aye, which is much cuter (and smaller) than this version... Lots of the series stuff is planned in advance, including the serial stuff and character journeys - you can't exactly change the serial story halfway through the animation process, so they need to make sure it all hangs together properly before anything is done. I was given a document with a rough outline of the story of the week, the serial beats to hit, a creature, the planned series arc, and descriptions of where the characters were at the start of series 3, and where they would (hopefully) end up.

Obviously some things changed between outline and filming - the 3D string model of anomalies replaced the original set of charts and graphs, which then became the flexible rods, and so on. Also, it was going to be episode 3, and show the fallout of Helen's attack on the ARC with her clones, which was supposed to happen at the end of episode 2. Once things changed, I got moved to episode 2, and the attack moved later. But I'm jumping ahead!

Draft 1

I did a longer outline, played around with it, then delivered my first script draft. It was pretty much the same storyline as the finished episode, but originally had Cutter and Jenny trying to solve the mystery of the creepy old house, and Connor stuck back in the ARC trying to fix the broken anomaly device, while trying to work up the courage to ask out Abby - who was also in the ARC fixing her lab. There was some fun stuff with Lester's new management style, where he discovers that he can just tell people to "go away", and they actually go away - so he keeps using it, delighted at being able to get some work done for a change.

And there was my favourite sub plot, where Connor separately asks everyone (Cutter, Jenny, and Lester) for advice on how to ask out Abby, getting utterly useless, conflicting advice from everyone - apart from Rex, the cute flying dinosaur, who proves to be the most helpful, because he says nothing and Connor is able to figure things out for himself. Cutter's advice is to just be assertive and say what you want, Jenny's advice is conflicting and seems to be talking more about herself than Connor, and Lester's advice is to treat it like a military strike - which he demonstrates on a technician, who then makes eyes at him for the rest of the episode. So after all this advice, Connor is fired up, marches over to Abby - but before he can say anything, *she* asks *him* out. It was all part of the serial beat of moving on Connor and Abby's relationship, and was good fun too. Then at the end, Abby cancels the date, and has to rush off, leaving Connor standing in the rain with some flowers. Awww.

In that version, Cutter is arrested for trespassing, not Connor. Just before that, Abby and Jenny go out to a karaoke bar and end up singing a terrible duet really loudly - a silly moment designed to make Jenny miss Cutter's phonecall as he got arrested. There was some flirting between Jenny and Cutter before she gets him released - and she makes sure to take a photo of him behind bars, for her own amusement. All fun stuff, but in a different order to the eventual episode, with other sub plots.

And that was the first draft. I was pleased with it, the people in charge seemed pleased, and I was all set for the notes to take it to the next draft. But then, Douglas Henshall's upcoming departure and scheduling meant that we wouldn't have him for as long as expected in some of the episodes, and hardly at all in mine - which was obviously tricky, given that he was in most of the action! But these things happen in TV all the time, the job is to figure out ways around it, and make it fit. I just had to make the story work without using Cutter very much.

Draft 2

So, the rough plan for the second draft was: swap Cutter for Connor and Abby. Cutter stays behind at the ARC, working, while Connor, Abby and Jenny go out in the field (a natural solution, as none of the characters expected the anomaly prediction to come true, so they didn't need any backup).

I duly delivered the second draft, swapping the characters around, and replacing the charts with a 3D string model of the anomalies. In this version of the story, the strings got moved by accident, which set off Connor's computer simulation and predicted a future anomaly. Cutter stayed behind to try and repeat what they did, while Connor and Abby went to the spooky old house. It all worked nicely, but sadly meant there wasn't enough room for the romantic advice sub plot - because they were out of the ARC, Connor couldn't ask all of the others for help. Instead, Abby asks Connor out at the start, and he then starts obsessing over whether she meant a date or not. Then, when he gets arrested (instead of Cutter), he ends up missing the date. Later, they try the date again, but Abby rushes off as in the previous draft. This time, Connor dejectedly offers the flowers to Rex, who starts eating them.

A bigger change was the addition of Sarah, who was now one of the main cast. She was researching strange historical reports to see if they could be possible anomalies. Helen's plan was brought into the episode too, to set up the big attack later in the series - she also appears at the end, in a scene that is pretty much the same as in the finished episode. And, showing how much technology has moved on from 2007, there was a scene with Connor trying to find an open wifi hotspot so he could find some crucial information online - now, we'd just have someone use their smartphone...

A really good note resulted in the addition of Emily, the little girl, who feeds the creature so it won't eat any more pets. Abby rescues a hedgehog from some local bullies, and gets some vital clues about the creature's behaviour from Emily's observations. Something that slowly filtered out in later drafts is that the creature was very sensitive to sound - hence the attack on the kids (with a loud portable hifi blaring music), the estate agent (talking loudly on his phone), and the others (Connor leaving his phone in the house, their repeated visits and conversations etc).

Draft 3

Draft 3 refined the anomaly-predicting strings further, to make it absolutely clear what was going on - once they map out all the known anomalies, the gang realise that two strings are touching. They work out the co-ordinates based on the other strings, and theorise that this means an anomaly will happen at that location one day. Cutter stays behind to work on the strings, and the story continues much as before.

Another change here was setting up Helen's plan some more, to seed it in for later - she bumps into Sarah at a library, in casual clothes, to swipe her keycard, but realises she'll need to somehow fool the fingerprint and retina scanners. There was a bit more added to explain the creature's behaviour, and some more refining of the various elements.

Draft 4

Finally, draft 4 arrived, and things were more or less settled. I had to add some more Cutter scenes, as ironically he now wasn't in it *enough*! It's a fine line between minimising someone's scenes and cutting so far back that they're only in it for 30 seconds, so you have to balance these things out. I also needed to work in Helen's dastardly plan a bit more with the clones, and give Cutter some more stuff to figure out.

This draft featured some more flirting between Cutter and Jenny, to make it look like they were going to get together soon - to help set up the tragedy that would occur later in the series. There was also a chase sequence where Quinn is trying to catch a "burglar", without realising it's the camouflaged creature, which is why he can never catch up to it.

Sadly, by that point we had locked in the full schedule, and my episode was in a Ben Miller-free block - so I had to snip Lester's scenes. Luckily he wasn't heavily involved in the main storyline, but I missed his acerbic commentary on the events. I added in the sequence where Emily feeds the monster, and a quirky local who gets killed when she looks for her enormous dog (cue Connor's line: "Don't forget your horse"). And I made more of Jenny's efficient way of getting Connor out of prison, to play up how good she was at her job. Jenny was lots of fun to write for, it's a shame that much of her stuff couldn't stay in.

I worked in some more haunted house-style stuff, making it creepier, as by now we had photos of the location which I could use for inspiration. And in all drafts, and the finished episode, there's a plot point some viewers missed: the characters don't think the anomaly has opened yet, so they're not scared to go into that house - once they've checked it out, they have *no* reason to suspect a creature is involved, they think it's a waste of time. The 4th draft played up the murder suspect a bit more, so the first suspicious thing that happens seems to have been done by a human, not a creature. Although we, the audience, know it's a creature, so we'll be more worried for the characters unknowingly walking into danger.

There was also room at this point for Connor to act like an old lag after his short night in prison, talking about how doing his "time" had toughened him up, now that he was an "ex-convict", etc, prompting Jenny to reply that she'd stayed in worse hotels. I really enjoyed the banter between the team, particularly the panicky realisation that the creature is a meat-eater - "but WE'RE made of meat!"  We also learn that Abby is particularly good at telling dogs to "SIT", a trick Jenny asks to be taught so she can try it on Lester.

I think the only thing that never changed, in all the drafts, was the introduction of Danny Quinn (who I got to name, after my mate Emmet Quinn) and his story. Probably because he was a new character who hadn't been cast yet, so he didn't have to fit into any schedule or block. The only slight change was trimming out his first chase sequence, but apart from that, he managed to stay pretty much the same. It was possibly the TV episode of mine that changed the most between every draft, but that was purely down to schedule, cast availability, and location stuff. Luckily I was able to keep up.

Filming and beyond

Draft 4 was the final draft from me. After that, it went off to Adrian Hodges to polish (it's his show and he is the final person it goes through), and terrifyingly soon after that, we were filming. Some stuff got trimmed along the way, including Connor and Abby's upcoming date, as some serial stuff got moved around to fit - these things often happen late in the day, when you can see how everything slots together. TV is scarily fast, compared to development, but I love the speed of it, it's really exciting. Sometimes you have to adapt and improvise (actor availability, location changes, etc), but that's all part of the job. If you think *this* sounds complicated, you should hear about plotting the Spooks episode - but that's another blog post...

The finished episode has several deliberate horror movie references (The Evil Dead porch swing, girl in red coat, Torrance Estates, Quinn's boss Stanley, and an unintentional Kubrick one on Connor's t-shirt, unless it was deliberate, nice work whoever did that). There are probably more that I've forgotten about, and the production team did a wonderful job on making the same house look brand new and then abandoned.

Hopefully that's given a flavour of how things develop and change over the scripting process, and given a sneaky peek into the alternate Primeval universe where Lester gave romantic advice, Connor bought a new hat (for his date), and Abby and Jenny drunkenly sang a karaoke version of "It's Raining Men"...

Thank you to the lovely folk at Impossible Pictures for letting me spill the beans on the process. Go support their work and buy DVDs!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Swanwick Writers' Summer School

I'm going to be a guest speaker at this year's Swanwick Writers' Summer School, a week-long conference for writers, from 10th to 16th August.

Terrifyingly, I'm the opening night speaker, which means I'll have to actually give a speech, rather than do a standard Q&A. I'm planning on talking about things I've learned, things I've yet to learn, and will try to make sense of my own career.

The current working title is "Murdering innocent people for fun and profit".

Hey, I never said it would be tasteful.

I'm also leading a short course on Sunday, assuming the opening night talk doesn't go horribly wrong, and I don't get deported from Derbyshire (that's a country, right?) Both days will probably involve swearing, scurrilous stories, and weeping (me AND anyone listening).

So go check out the website and see if you like the look of it, despite me sullying their reputation. They've got lots of other speakers, courses and workshops - and there's a bar. I probably should have mentioned the bar first, I know what writers are like.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Slice and Dice screening in Glasgow

A while ago, I was interviewed for a documentary about slasher movies (and for a documentary about Zombie Flesh Eaters, which is featured on the new blu-ray). The slasher documentary is now ready, and we're having a screening in Glasgow on Sunday 24th March.

It's called Slice and Dice: The Slasher Film Forever, it's in a double bill with Intruder, the 1989 slasher directed by Scott Spiegel, and you can come and see both films if you're in the area. There'll be a Q&A afterwards, with me and Norman J Warren (director of Terror, Inseminoid, and Prey), and tickets are a tenner for the whole thing.

Details and tickets are available here, so go and snap one up before they're all gone. Just think, it's the only movie starring me AND Corey Feldman! Although we never actually met. But it still counts! Sort of!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Black Death plague pit found in London

Without giving too much away, the opening scene of Cockneys Vs Zombies starts with builders unearthing a Black Death plague pit filled with skeletal husks.

Things do not go well.

So today's news of Crossrail diggers uncovering a Black Death plague pit means I'm locking my doors, gathering weapons, and keeping an eye on my neighbours, as I may need to kill them. It's all part of my zombie outbreak survival plan. I suggest you buy the movie on DVD or Blu-ray, and use it as a video survival guide.

Then you might want to tool up, and get behind the nearest Cockney.

VS Comics issue 3 out now

Issue 3 is available now, for the low, low price of £2 for a PDF. You can still buy issues 1 and 2 from the same site, and I'd recommend you do that to catch up on all the ongoing stories.

I can't really do a preview image of Day and Night this time, they're all quite spoilery. But take it from me: things get bloody. VERY bloody.

Once again, you can buy VS Comics from anywhere in the world, there's no region restrictions or anything like that. So go and get yourselves some comics goodness!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cockneys Vs Zombies commentary

When Cockneys Vs Zombies landed on UK DVD and Blu-ray, for various reasons there were no commentaries. I promised at the time to record my own commentary, and post it up here for free. So here it is! You can download it, and play it alongside your copy of the movie.

But wait! Why are there two files, Moran? WHYYYY? Well, DVDs are a slightly higher frame rate, so movies end up being slightly shorter than their normal length. CvsZ is 88 minutes, but on DVD it's 84 minutes, due to those technical shenanigans. I recorded my commentary using the DVD, so I made a copy and stretched it to fit the Blu-ray. The DVD one is exactly the right length, and the Blu-ray one is as close as I could get it - so download whichever version you have.

There's no fancy syncing to be done - the commentary is the same length as the movie, so you'll have to start them both at the same time. If you open the movie in whatever you use to play DVDs (on your computer or DVD player), and play the movie from the main menu, you'll have a few seconds to press play on your commentary file, wherever you have it. It shouldn't matter if you're a couple of seconds off, there's only one or two moments where I say "there!", you'll figure it out.

Here is the Soundcloud page for the DVD commentary.

And here is the Soundcloud page for the Blu-ray commentary.

Both pages have a download button you can use. If I max out my download limit on Soundcloud, I'll change the links to point to my copies on Google Drive.

If you don't have a copy of the movie, you can get it very cheaply in shops, or from Amazon on DVD or Blu-ray, or Blinkbox, Lovefilm Instant, or you can rent or buy it on iTunes. Other countries: it will be heading your way as soon as possible - August 2nd in the USA, with a Florida screening in April.

SERIOUS WARNING: DO NOT listen to this before you watch the movie for the first time. It will RUIN it, spoil lots of surprises, and generally be all kinds of wrong. This is ONLY for people who have seen the movie! If you haven't seen the movie, this commentary will be 50% gibberish, and 50% spoilery, so WAIT until you've seen it. You can download it now and wait, but MAKE SURE you wait. Or I'll know. I can SMELL betrayal.

Milder warning: It contains some swearing, but nothing worse than you hear in the movie itself. It's fairly ordinary sound quality, as it was recorded on a cheap headset so I could safely hear the audio while talking - there's no audio from the movie, it's just me.

Thank you to Owen Billcliffe for the photo above - he was the photographer on CvsZ, and caught me doing my zombie cameo (which was tragically cut out, though I'm still in there as Terrified Bank Customer). Thanks also to Brian Edwards for spotting the man on the boat (mentioned in the commentary as "someone on Twitter"). And extra big thanks to Matt Goble for a ton of technical information about the different lengths/speeds of DVDs and Blu-rays.

I'll do one for Tower Block as soon as I get a chance. And hey, maybe I'll do one for Severance too, seeing as I mostly laughed at everyone's jokes and clammed up when I did the actual DVD commentary. This could be a thing! Watch this space.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Cockneys in Florida

Cockneys Vs Zombies will be screening at the Florida Film Festival, which runs from 5th-14th April (they don't have a date set for CvsZ yet). Details are at this link here, and there's a news article about it here, so if you're in the area, or can get there, and want to see the movie on the big screen, here's another chance.

Update: It's screening on Friday 12th and Sunday 14th April, at midnight and then 10pm. You'll be able to buy tickets from Sunday March 17th.

The US release is still happening this year, Shout Factory will be unleashing it soon enough, as well as Tower Block, so watch this space for more news.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Richard Briers, 1934-2013

Richard Briers has been making me laugh for as long as I can remember. I first became aware of him through his distinctive voice. When I was a kid, I loved watching Roobarb, and a large part of that was his narration. Later, when I started watching The Good Life, I was surprised to discover that the voice from Roobarb was actually a real, flesh and blood person. It was like having an imaginary friend become real.

And he stayed a friend, a TV friend, as I followed him from The Good Life, to Ever Decreasing Circles, anything he appeared in. As an adult, I was stunned by his amazing performance in If You See God, Tell Him - it was a world away from the cuddly sitcoms of my childhood, so gloriously dark and twisted, anchored by his central role. He did several other serious roles in TV and movies, proving to be a great dramatic actor.

When I worked on the 2nd series of Torchwood, I was delighted to hear he would be in one of the episodes - but couldn't help feeling envious that I hadn't got to work with him. He was perfect in the episode, as always, so I was happy enough that he was in the same universe I was writing for.

When we were looking for someone to play Hamish in Cockneys Vs Zombies, it never occurred to me that he'd be available, or even interested in such a small role. The producers mentioned that they were going to approach him, but I didn't think he'd want to do it. I was so happy when he said yes. I immediately did a polish on the script to give him some extra lines, knowing that he'd be brilliant and wanting to make it worth his while.

In a movie filled with veteran, expert scene stealers, he zimmer-walks away with the whole thing. I knew *that* scene would be good, but he brought it to life even better than I could have hoped. And my favourite line in the movie was ad libbed by him - "that was really sad" (it makes sense when you watch it). It cracks me up every time.

I got to meet him on set, made a beeline for him as soon as I got there. I shook his hand, told him how great he was, and thanked him profusely for doing our silly movie. He was charming, gracious, and thankful for the role. I'm really glad that he enjoyed the movie too, and feel hugely honoured that I was able to make him laugh, to repay him for just a few of the many, many laughs that he'd given me through the years. Later, I tweeted: "I met Richard Briers. Richard. Briers. I met him. He’s in my movie. Speaking my words. Richard Briers. Richard. Briers." I still can't believe it. And I still can't believe he's gone.

He was a lovely man, a wonderful actor, and when I think of him, I automatically smile - even though the thought is now tinged with sadness for his loss. He'll be greatly missed, he already is. But his work will live on, and he will continue to make people laugh, forever.

That's a pretty damn good legacy.

Tower Block screening at St Albans Film Festival

Live in or near St Albans? Fancy seeing a screening of Tower Block? At a brand spanking new film festival? With me attending?? Well, er, you can!

The first annual St Albans Film Festival is on this weekend, with bucketloads of films, talks, and shorts to see. Tower Block is screening on Saturday 9th March at 3pm in the Pioneer Club, and you can get tickets here. I'll be doing a Q&A straight afterwards.

Check out their website for all the films and talks, and their excellent programme cover featuring A Clockwork Orange.

Update: The festival will be opened on Friday 8th by Christiane Kubrick! Blimey.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Tower Block on DVD in Denmark

The subject line says it all, really - Tower Block is coming out on DVD and Blu-ray in Denmark, next week, on March 6th. So all you Denmartians (I'm reliably informed that's the correct term) can pick it up, and enjoy the Danish subtitles. I look forward to their translation of "proper fucked" and other swearier lines.

I'm not sure if that is the actual DVD cover, it was a temporary sales image, but if so, I'll have to get myself a copy. I've got several different versions of Severance, from various countries, and I think it's becoming an obsession. So far, nobody has beaten the Spanish version: "Desmembrados".

Don't forget, both Tower Block and Cockneys Vs Zombies will be landing in the USA this year, thanks to Shout Factory. Check out my other blog post for details.

Friday, March 01, 2013

FrightFest Ident Competition

Remember the idents from the 2012 FrightFest? They warned people to "turn off your bloody phone", or face gruesome consequences. I did two of them, which you can watch here.

Now you can win the chance to get your own ident shown at this year's FrightFest, with their new competition. The video announcement is here, and the full details are here (with scary photo of me). Basically, make a 25-second ident (30 including the end title card, which is supplied), submit it, and you could be one of five lucky winners getting your work shown during the festival, in front of tons of horror fans and filmmakers.

I'm one of the judges, and I'm going to be very fussy and strict, so make them good! The website has all the details, terms and conditions, so go read it, think of some ideas, and go make stuff. Go! Now!

Update! Twitch Film is covering the story here.

Update 2: The competition is open to anyone in the world! Not just the UK!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tower Block on DVD in The Netherlands

Dutch people, people of Dutchland, people living in Dutchland who aren't Dutch, or anyone who may be passing through Dutchingtonshire - Tower Block is coming out on DVD in your country this week (English audio, Dutch subtitles).

It'll be released on Wednesday 27th February, you can buy it online here or here, and probably in shops too. It has all new cover art, which I've only just seen, and looks pretty cool too:


Thank you to Babs from The Twitter (well, actually from The Netherlands) for finding the links. Other countries, don't despair - it's already out on DVD in the UK, as is Cockneys Vs Zombies, and both movies are coming to the US cinemas and DVD players this year, thanks to Shout Factory. More announcements as they arrive.

Some Tower Block reviews:
"A thriller that delivers with brutal simplicity" - Empire
"Teeth-clenchingly tense and suspenseful" - Starburst
"Easily the best British film of the year" - heDD magazine
"Unpalatable... nasty... ultra-weak" - The Birmingham Mail

Hey, how did that last one get in there? Who writes this stupid blog??

And to UK folk, Tower Block is now being stocked in all branches of HMV, so you can drop in and pick up a copy. Grab CvsZ while you're in there! Fun for all the family!

Friday, February 22, 2013

VS Comics at London Super Comic Con

I, and many of the VS Comics team, will be at the London Super Comic Con this weekend, Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th February, at the Excel Centre in London.

We'll have printed copies of Day and Night, and Eponymous (episodes 1 and 2), but the full comic is *only* available digitally. You can buy issue 1 here, and issue 2 here. So if you like what you see at the show, grab both of the packed issues.

We'll be on stand D127-128, with eager, hopeful faces and winning smiles. Come and say hello, and pick up some tasty, tasty comics goodness!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tower Block out on DVD & Blu-ray in the UK now


Tower Block, a movie what I wrote, is out on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK right now! Click the links to get it from Amazon, or go to another online retailer of your choice, or use iTunes to buy/rent, or use the Sky Movies store, or some other streaming service, or go to an actual, physical shop, take a copy from the shelf, and buy it in real-time meatspace land! Not a sequel, remake, or based on a TV show! All new entertainment, hand-crafted for your pleasure! Guaranteed to contain no horse meat!

Some of the reviews:
"A thriller that delivers with brutal simplicity" - Empire
"Teeth-clenchingly tense and suspenseful" - Starburst

"Easily the best British film of the year" - heDD magazine
"Unpalatable... nasty... ultra-weak" - The Birmingham Mail


Hey, wait, how did that last one get in there??

Movies like this live on word of mouth though, so if you liked this (and/or Cockneys Vs Zombies), *please* leave us reviews saying so! Amazon, iTunes, wherever. If you like them, please spread the word. Reviews will really help us.

Like Cockneys Vs Zombies, due to financial considerations etc, there are no commentaries, but again, I'm going to record one of my own, and put it online for free. I haven't done the CvsZ one yet due to lack of time, will try and do them both as soon as I can. Both will be free, so you can download and listen while you watch.

CvsZ is still available to buy, online and in shops, and you can probably grab it for a fiver at the moment. Yes, that's only five of your English pounds! You can't afford NOT to buy it!

Don't worry, other countries, both movies will still be coming your way - there'll be a theatrical release in the US, as reported here, CvsZ already landed in Japanese cinemas in January, and other countries are in the pipeline. We'll get to most of you eventually. There is no escape.

Both movies are low budget UK genre movies, so please support them if you like them, spread the word, and buy legally. We can't compete with the huge budget blockbusters, because they can afford to spend way more on advertising and special effects, so if you download them from naughty sites, the financiers don't earn their money back, and we don't get to make more fun UK movies.

I don't believe in criminalising people who download illegally, it solves nothing - but all I ask is that if you do download, and like the movie, please consider buying it or supporting us in some way. Otherwise you're directly hurting us, the people who make the movies, not some huge, faceless corporation. We all complain about sequels and non-UK movies filling up our cinemas, but the only way to help UK movies is to see them, support them, and pay the people who make them. Thank you.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

CONvergence 2013 in Minneapolis

As you've probably deduced from the subject line, I am coming to CONvergence 2013 in Minneapolis! Good lord, Holmes, how on Earth did you deduce that?! Probably from the cigar ash you found on my lapel, I'd imagine.

Anyway, yes, I've heard amazing things about this convention, and I'm really excited to be going, I can't wait. Also, my not-so-inner childhood nerd is delighted about adding another US state to the list of ones I've visited. AND I'm really thrilled at the chance to meet Melinda Snodgrass, who wrote some of the best Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes. I'll try not to geek out too much.

Even more excitingly, Jodie is coming over with me! So she'll be at the convention too. We'll do a bit of exploring before and after the event itself, of course. That's what we do. We're explorers. Like Cenobites, only without all the fish hooks and dimensional bridges and telekinesis. So, not like Cenobites at all, really.

It's on from the 4th to the 7th of July, 2013, so if you're going, or thinking of going, we hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

VS Comics issue 2 out now

Issue 2 of VS Comics, the monthly anthology comic edited by me and Mike Garley, is available now. You can get it from this link here, for the ridiculously low, low price of £2, or whatever that works out as in your own currency.

Yes, that means it's not region locked or anything, you can buy and read wherever you are in the world. Even if you're not on the world, but within range of wifi, you can still grab it. So go and do so!

The ongoing stories continue, including my vampire story Day and Night. It's all kicking off, and there will be blood. Lots and lots of blood. Here's a small preview:


That pic isn't spoilery, unless you were unaware that my vampires kill people. Once again, the art is by Patrick Walsh, colours are by Nadine Ashworth, and letters are by Mike Stock. If you want to see proper, nasty, actual vampires doing actual vampire stuff, then check it out.

Update: the monthly anthology will ONLY be available digitally! There *may* be collected, printed versions of some stories once they've completed their run, but for now you can only get digital versions.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

My new hobby

Ever since I was a kid, writing has been my hobby. Until I won a competition to get a short film made. Suddenly, it was a chance at achieving my dream, and everything changed - I had to treat it like a career. Once I got my agent, and sold my first film script, it became my job. Don't get me wrong, I love writing, even more than ever. But it used to be my distraction from my dayjob, the thing that I did to relax.

When it becomes your job, it still *feels* like a hobby, because it's fun (well, when it's going properly, anyway). And because it's fun, you work longer hours, then you start working at the weekend, and then you're working non stop. I've always considered myself a lazy person, until I started writing full time, when I became the sort of frenzied workaholic I'd always assumed didn't really exist. I love doing it, so I'm happy to do it non stop. And that's a bad habit to get into. You need breaks now and again.

The thing is, it's still work. So you end up working yourself into the ground without realising. Take a break?! But I'm writing! This is fun! This IS a break!

So last year, I decided I needed a hobby. A replacement hobby. Something I could do to force myself to take breaks from writing. I'd been thinking about it for a while, and dismissed various ideas. I still play videogames, but that feels more like I'm being entertained than doing something.

And then, for some reason, I thought of getting a ukulele. I still don't know why. Maybe because I've never, ever been able to play an instrument (I took violin lessons as a kid, but had no interest in it, it felt impossibly difficult and weird). Ukuleles seemed fun, unthreatening, and a lot easier than guitars. And they sounded pretty damn cool in the hands of people like Amanda Palmer and Eddie Vedder.

I've always had a good musical ear, and used to recreate my favourite songs in ProTracker on my Amiga. Sometimes I'd make my own simple songs. But I've never had an actual musical instrument, something that required skill as well as patience and a good ear.

I got all excited over the prospect of it, but then thought maybe I was just being silly. Would I really take the time to learn it, or just get bored after 5 minutes? And ukuleles are probably way more difficult than I realised. Maybe it'd be better to just leave it. And so I talked myself out of it. But I kept thinking about it, on and off.

Then, later, Christmas morning arrived, with my main present from Jodie (who is the best person in the world, and always knows what I really need at any given time): a beautiful Mahalo ukulele.

I picked it up, strummed it - even out of tune, without playing a chord, it sounded lovely - and was utterly thrilled. I spent the next couple of hours not letting go of it, learning some simple chords, playing them over and over and over. It was fun, easy, and very forgiving of my clumsiness. Strumming a chord was relaxing, it made me happy.

A while later, I could play a (very simple) song, using four chords. Simple as it was, I'd never had that feeling before, of getting a tune out of a musical instrument. It was fantastic, such a joyful glow.

I don't expect to ever be brilliant at it, but that doesn't matter. It's a creative thing I can do purely for the enjoyment of it, which I think is really important. I don't *have* to be any good at it, there's no pressure, it's just for fun. Art for art's sake. But I'm definitely going to put in the time to learn more chords, to practise, to get better.

Because it's my new hobby.

-

Note: I found this website with its free e-book incredibly helpful for learning chords and figuring out what to do. They have song chords, links, videos and lots of resources for free, so if you're thinking of getting a ukulele, or have just got one, go and check out the site.

Monday, January 28, 2013

CvsZ screening in Canada on 2nd and 3rd February

Canadians! Fancy seeing Cockneys Vs Zombies on the big screen? Well you can. This weekend, on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd February, CvsZ is screening as part of the Great Digital Film Festival, in cinemas all over Canada.

It's slightly embarrassing actually, as all the other films showing are classics - Jaws, The Matrix, Raiders of the Lost Ark, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, and many more. All of which I'd love to see on the big screen. But hey, I'm happy to be included!

The movies are all listed here, and the list of participating cinemas is here. CvsZ is on at midnight on Saturday, and 9.50pm on Sunday - if you click on the dates in the list of movies, you can type in your nearest city to find out where it's showing. It's a feelgood horror comedy, and is even more fun with a big crowd, so go along if you can.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tower Block Sitges award photos

Back in October 2012, Tower Block screened at the Sitges film festival, and walked away with the award for best in competition feature film in the Official Fantàstic Panorama Selection. It's a pretty damn respectable award, so we were all pretty excited about it.

Today, I got to see the award itself. There's only one of them, and it's being kept on neutral ground (SC Films), as if any one of us got to keep it, it'd be unfair on all the others. So I took some photos. Here it is, in all its glory:


Pretty fancy, eh? And yes, it's based on the robot Maria from Metropolis. Here's a closer look at the detail on the figure:


Here's the plaque:


Here's me holding the award, looking reasonably sensible:


And here's me looking all thoughtful and awards-worthy:


Thank you again, Sitges, for such a lovely award.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Snow short films

Yesterday I challenged you to make a simple short film using the free snow that landed on some of the UK. You can read the post here if you haven't already.

And here are all the ones I've been sent so far - keep them coming, and I'll add them here:

  • Stuart Laws was so excited, he made one the day before I'd even set the challenge, proving that he's quick *and* psychic. It's a tender, heartwarming musical, and you can watch it here!

Don't forget to leave links in the comments if you want to be added here, or send them to me on Twitter.

And I didn't want to miss out on the fun, so I made a quick short too - I say "quick", it was quick to film, as there's not much to it, but it took all day to find the right additional free footage online, edit it, get the right sound effects, tweak, etc etc. But blimey it was fun. It's called "Signal Lost", and you can watch it here, on YouTube.

Update: The short has a Creative Commons License - Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-Alike. For details on what that means, read this page. Basically, it means you can use it, remix it, do what you like with it, as long as you credit me, don't use it for anything commercial, and release what you do under the same license. I've used this license because half of the short uses existing stuff, and I want to pass it on.

Here's how it happened: I was staring out the window after breakfast, and thought "why the hell don't YOU make one, tough guy? Talking tough and telling everyone else to make one?! Go on!" So I did. I spent another ten minutes thinking what I could do, came up with a rough story that wouldn't need dialogue or actors, realised I could use free stock footage to make it work, and got to work.

I filmed for about 5 minutes in the back garden, then searched for the right sort of footage from www.spacetelescope.org, hunted down some appropriate sound effects from www.freesound.org, edited it all together, and spent the day tweaking and fiddling with it, adjusting the speed of the space clips, getting the timing right, etc.

The two zooms into a city are into Munich, and the final zoom into snow is a shaky-cam shot of the back garden from my bedroom window, with a digital zoom added. I stopped the Munich zoom before it became obvious that it was, er, Munich. But yes, the galaxy is the Milky Way, I couldn't just use *any* old galaxy, after all. I was going to use some snippets from this NASA launch, but didn't need them. That website has tons of other videos you can use, too, though check their usage guidelines before you dive in.

I also threw in a tiny audio sample of me playing my new ukulele at the end, because I needed royalty free music of a specific duration and didn't want to go searching again. I finished around midnight, but it look longer to encode the video, as I'd messed up the aspect ratio and had to export it all again.

These are the videos I used parts of:

http://www.spacetelescope.org/videos/earth_n/
http://www.spacetelescope.org/videos/astro_bm/
http://www.spacetelescope.org/videos/hst15_light_speed/
http://www.spacetelescope.org/videos/astro_ab/
http://www.spacetelescope.org/videos/hst15_milky_way4/
http://www.spacetelescope.org/videos/earth_d/
http://www.spacetelescope.org/videos/earth_g/

And these are all the sound effects I used:

http://www.freesound.org/people/benb1n/sounds/90873/
http://www.freesound.org/people/groovyrandomness/sounds/171257/
http://www.freesound.org/people/offthesky/sounds/35802/
http://www.freesound.org/people/hello_flowers/sounds/30947/
http://www.freesound.org/people/alienistcog/sounds/122751/
http://www.freesound.org/people/anamorphosis/sounds/22636/
http://www.freesound.org/people/Rfriend/sounds/26962/
http://www.freesound.org/people/BenKoning/sounds/49184/
http://www.freesound.org/people/Corsica_S/sounds/91520/
http://www.freesound.org/people/AlienXXX/sounds/92616/
http://www.freesound.org/people/higginsdj/sounds/94931/

I thoroughly enjoyed making it, and it was a great way to spend my Saturday! I'm looking forward to seeing what you all come up with.