Friday, 25 April 2008

Another review...

...I hope all the reviews are as good as the ones we've had so far:

Also, if you were at the screening and have some time on your hands, it would be cool to get some advance imdb user comments.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Ten Dead Men Screening

So here's what happened Saturday. I got to the cinema at about 9am and was a bit worried when there weren't hordes of screaming fans waiting outside. Not exactly, but I did expect at least one or two people to have arrived early. No sign of anyone. Inside I found Ross running around with two walkie talkies looking very stressed, Phil running around after him trying to work out what he was stressing about and Darren as calm as ever announcing he was going home to get changed and leaving the rest of us to it. Then I was left on my own to guard the door to the screen.

At about 9.30 people started to wander upstairs to hang around outside the screen. Some of my friends started to arrive too which was reassuring. I was then reliably informed that there were loads more people downstairs in the foyer so stopped panicking about no one showing up and focused instead on worrying about the rest of my friends arriving on time. Which they did, and by about 10.20 we had a packed screen and I decided to go inside the catch the last few minutes of the pre-film stuff - mainly out-takes, music videos and some trailers. Standing at the back of the room with Ross it looked like it wasn't as full as we first thought as the first three rows were empty. It wasn't until we were standing in front of everyone that I realised just how many people had turned up.

I wasn't really sure how I felt about standing at the front to announce the film. On one hand I liked the idea of being in the spotlight for a change - a rare opportunity for writers. On the other hand I wasn't so sure about facing all those people and was terrified that Phil would ask me to say something intelligent. Luckily Brendan did most of the talking and gave a really heartfelt speech that there was no way any of us could've topped even if we'd tried. I got to introduce myself and people applauded which was nice, but at this stage my main concern was that none of these people had actually seen the film yet and they might hate it!

That remained my primary concern through watching the film. Well, that and the fact that the DVD froze a couple of times and it looked like the whole thing might be cut short due to technical difficulties. Luckily it ran fine except for a couple of minor glitches. Anyway, I wish I could say I enjoyed seeing it on a proper cinema screen, but I spent most of the 90 minutes worrying about whether it even worked as a film. It was a bit like when you show a group of people a film that you really like, and then spend the whole time worrying that no one will like it as much as you did. Also, I've seen the film so many times now it's impossible for me to imagine what it's like seeing it for the first time. But as the film got moving the reactions I could hear seemed positive. There aren't many laughs in the film, but people laughed at those that are there and the violence and fight scenes got equally appropriate reactions. I was sitting with the large group of friends I'd invited and they all seemed to be enjoying it which made me feel a bit better.

So the credits roll and I got to see my name on the big screen, which I have to admit was very cool. I managed to stop myself from pointing out the other three times my name appears in the credits but did point out Andrea's thanks at the end. Then we all walked outside and people were about to start telling me that they liked it, except I ran after Doug Bradley to catch him as he left. He seemed pretty happy with it although we talked briefly about the way the script had changed - originally he was supposed to be sharing narrating duties with Ryan and the two narrators were going to bounce off each other, dipping in and out of the story. It was a cool idea on paper but time constraints and the fact that Doug's narration was so cool meant that we didn't go with it in the end. Anyway, I'd accosted him thinking he wouldn't be coming to the pub afterwards, but he came along after all and I got to chat to him a bit more then too as did my friend Geraint and my brother Pete.
The next few hours are a bit of a blur and went by really quickly. I spoke to as many people as I could but regret not getting the chance to speak to everyone who came along. I did get to speak to JC and Helen about what they thought of the film and about how Hit the Big Time is coming along, and spoke to most of the actors about what they made of the finished product. I know it wasn't really the kind of day where you expect any overtly negative criticism, but it was great that everyone was so positive about it. And thankfully everyone thought it made sense and the non-linear structure and off-beat narration made it work.

My two brothers Tim and Pete and my friends Gez and Jen were staying with us for the weekend so we left the party a bit to see the sights of Brighton - mainly the rather excellent ghost train as filmed here by Pete. You can hear Tim on the train with him, and catch a brief glimpse of Gez and Jen passing underneath them at the beginning:

We met up with the survivors in the evening and I got to chat to a few of the people I hadn't spoken to during the day - most notable of all the director himself, Mr Boyask, which was cool as we hadn't had chance to speak to each other all day. Also caught up with Darren who had been on projectionist duties for the screening, and had a chat with Keith Eyles who plays Projects Manager. As usual conversation turned to the merits of Commando and little seen martial arts/gymnastics crossover Gymkata, which I then made everyone watch when we got home at around one in the morning.

On the Sunday Ross and I were interviewed by the guys who organise the Phantasmagoria festival ( where Ten Dead Men will be showing in July. By Monday everyone had gone home and it felt like it was all over. But the odd thing about film is that the life of the film is really only just beginning. It's feels strange for it to be completely out of our hands now, but based on the feedback we've had so far I have high hopes for Cannes.

My other regret, I didn't take enough photos. Here are a few of the ones Andrea managed to take:

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Ten Dead Men Review!

I'll write a full blog about the screening when I get chance, but I will say it went ahead as planned, we had a fantastic audience and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. For now here's the first official review of the film:

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Commentary, subtitles and script reading...and insurance exams

It's been a bit of a busy week and I haven't managed to do any work on Dark Future as planned, meaning it's going to be delayed even more. I spent a lot of time at the weekend working on the subtitles for Penalty King which isn't hard work, but is time consuming and can be tricky in places. Had a meeting last night with Chris the director, Nick the lead actor and Uta the translator and everyone was pretty happy with what I'd done so far. Now it's just a case of getting on with it.

On Sunday I recorded a commentary for Ten Dead Men with the director, Ross, and the Special Effects Supervisor Steve. It went really well and is something I've always wanted to do, but it was a strange experience. I always imagined it would just be a case of sitting around casually chatting about the film, but it was actually much more like a performance as you have to make sure you a) keep talking, b) are speaking loudly and clearly the whole time and c) make sure you stay on topic. Also it's kind of exhausting talking non-stop about a film for 90 minutes. At first I thought there was so much to say about the making of the film we'd never fit it all in, but after about an hour I was starting to run out of steam. I felt a bit sorry for Steve too as this was the first time he'd seen the finished film and he's watching it with the volume turned down and with Ross and myself competing to say as much as we can before the film finishes. I think it's come out okay though.

Also read another script for JC who's producing Hit the Big Time - just gave some feedback on this one, but I did spend a couple of evenings doing it. I've noticed that people who give me feedback on scripts are much better at doing it than I am - I sent JC a list of notes that were all over the place, but hopefully they'll be of some help.

And I passed my insurance exam this morning, which I shouldn't be excited about, but considering I passed despite everything else that's been going on and I spent most of last night in the pub I'm quite happy with it.

That's it for this week - it's the Ten Dead Men premiere this weekend!

Friday, 11 April 2008

Accidental Holiday

Had a week of rest and celebration by mistake. Absolutely no writing done, but spent a lot of time in pubs and even watched a couple of films! This was partly due to a series of social engagements falling in the same week, but mainly because I'd spent two and half weeks doing nothing but writing and even though I told myself I'd move straight onto the next project it was never going to happen that way.

JC has got back to me about Hit the Big Time and loved it which is good, and a huge relief. He's going speak to director Helen and co-star/co-producer Jason and then send me all their notes together which makes sense. At least I don't have to worry about seeing them at the Ten Dead Men premiere next week now - I was worried that if they hated it I'd have to avoid speaking to them all day!

I mentioned paid work a while back - basically I'm putting German subtitles on The Penalty King:

...for the director Chris Cook who runs the excellent monthly Moviebar night at the Cornerstone pub in Brighton:

...which incidentally is one of the occasions I got very drunk this week - always a brilliant night and you get to see loads of cool short films too! Anyway, I won't go into too much detail about the subtitling as it's not really writing-related, but it is one of the main things I'm working on at the moment.

Luckily, I've got a bit of extra time! Unfortunately it's due to bad news. Phil (producer of Ten Dead Men) is no longer going to Cannes. Which means I don't need to get the Vicious Circle script done for May, but it also means the script isn't going to Cannes either. I'm still going to write it as I've done a lot of prep, but my deadline is going to be end of May now. It could also be the last project I work on for Phil and Modern Life. It's early days yet, but I've turned down an offer to write their next film, a horror film to be filmed this summer, as there was just no way I could do it with the work I've got on at the moment. And to be honest once I have cleared my slate a bit I want to concentrate on some of my own scripts for a while. I'm not ruling out working with Phil in the future, and the serial killer script may well be resurrected someday, but I've already advised him to start looking for other writers.

So not as busy as I thought. This weekend I need to run through the final cut of Ten Dead Men (which is amazing, by the way - the sound guys have done an excellent job and the colour correction is superb) to make sure the dreaded continuity script is still accurate. I don't think too much has changed so it should be fine. Then I need to get some Penalty King subtitles done before a meeting on Tuesday. And finally, and most importantly, I need to write the third and final draft of Dark Future for Glenn - a project I'm still really attached to but have been neglecting for a while. All that and I've got an insurance exam next week - I'm not even going to go into that here, but yes, the day job is starting to creep into the evenings, and probably needs beating back with a stick.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008


I actually finished the Hit the Big Time script last Thursday, but then went home to Stoke for a break. It came in at 119 pages in the end which isn't bad. I then worried about how bad it was and whether I'd be able to send it to JC and co. at all. Luckily Andrea read it while I was away and really liked it so I'm happy with it now. I always get this irrational fear on finishing a script that maybe it's not just bad, but that it could be horribly embarassingly bad and I'll be banned from writing or something if anyone ever reads it. So it's good to have someone read through it and tell me that's not the case! Now I'm just waiting for feedback from the producers.

I won't bother listing Charlton Heston films that you should watch (although my favourite is Touch of Evil) but I hope he's remembered more for his films than the NRA stuff.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

5 pages to go!

So for the past week and a half (although it feels like three months) I've been getting in from work and pretty much getting straight into the Hit the Big Time script until about two in the morning. And now I'm about 5 pages from the end. I really, badly wanted to finish it last night but there comes a point late in the evening beyond which everything you write is just terrible, and I was way beyond that point as it was. My main worry is the pacing. It's going to come in under 120 pages which is the recommended max for any script, but the pacing is going to be very uneven. The first 60 pages were full of long, meandering scences where I was getting to know the characters and enjoying the dialogue. The second half is made up of loads of very brief scenes packed full of plot where I was desperately trying to get it finished within a reasonable page count. So it's going to need evening out on the second draft, but for now I just need to concentrate on finishing it.

Yesterday I had the morning off work as we had people coming round to our flat to inspect our leaky ceiling (don't worry, I am going somewhere with this) and actually got to spend a good couple of hours writing in the morning. I know that doesn't sound very exciting, but its nice to get a taste of what it would be like doing this full time. And I got a call from JC about the script when I was actually working on the script at the time. Normally I speak to producers on my lunch break at work and have to get my head out of office mode and into writing mode, which normally fails miserably and I end up just mumbling incoherently. Anyway, I think writing full time is a few years off yet so I shouldn't get too excited, although taking the odd half day off definitely helped me get a bit more work done. Besides, I'd have to change the blog's name if I wrote during the day.

Anyway, apparently they've had a few technical problems on the Hit the Big Time short, mainly as a result of it being filmed in the US and edited over here. There's the usual PAL/NTSC stresses and apparently some of the footage never made it over here and they're trying to trace it. They've also had a few editors quit because they got some paid work elsewhere - always a problem at this level. It sounds like the worst of it is over and the film will be finished, it just may not be ready for Cannes which is annoying. Still, that's not for me to worry about and at least it gives me more time to develop the script before they need to show it to people.

I've also been informed that the final cut of Ten Dead Men was sent off to the States yesterday which is reassuring. I'm recording the commentary with Phil and Ross tomorrow so should know more then.