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:

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