Monday, 14 July 2008


Must watch more films! Am now quite addicted having spent the whole weekend in Swindon Arts Centre watching action and horror films as part of the Phantasmagoria festival. That was quite literally all I did from when we got there on Friday to Sunday afternoon and it was a bit of a struggle trying to adjust to reality again when I got home. Huge thanks to Justin Richards who organised the festival and was kind enough to let me stay at his place over the weekend. Also met some fantastic people there including a few other film-makers.

As usual I took my camera but hardly took any pictures except when we first got there. Here's Ross outside Swindon Arts Centre as we rushed out to grab some food before the first film:

And here's me seconds after we arrived getting really excited about seeing my name on the poster:

The Ten Dead Men screening went really well, but before I get into that here are the highlights from the ten features I saw:

Broken Path - This is the My Dinner with Andre of action films. It's one long fight in one location that lasts 90 minutes. Some people found the superhuman resilience of the seemingly invincible characters a bit off-putting, I just saw it as live-action anime. It's definitely not for everyone but it really is action cinema at it's most experimental and I found that incredibly exciting. The website with the trailer can be seen here:

Contour - Another martial arts action film, this was the most fun I had all weekend, and probably the most fun I've ever had watching a film as the whole audience was loving every minute. It looks cheap and the structure is a bit off, but this is a film with a lot of heart. Also the action is amazing and the humour really works making it impossible not to enjoy. You can find out more here:

Dead Wood - An ultra-low budget British horror film about a group of young campers who get lost in the woods but thankfully don't get picked off by a man in a mask. Instead what starts out as a fairly standard slasher setup turns into a creepy and rather effective supernatural horror film. It's actually pretty scary in places too! You can find out more here:

Room 36 - A black comedy loaded with twists and turns despite being set almost entirely in a hotel room. The film-makers shot on a rare type of black-and-white film stock and suffered for their decision as the film took something like ten years to complete. The result is definitely worth it as the visual look of the film is stunning. And there is a great score by Scott Benzie who also composed the score for Ten Dead Men. Website is here:

My favourite film of the weekend was Albert Pyun's Mean Guns which has to have the greatest set up for a film ever and features fantastic performances from Ice-T and Christopher Lambert. The director wasn't able to attend as planned unfortunately, but he did send over an uncut print which was cool.

Anyway, onto Ten Dead Men. The screening was due to start at 3.30pm on the Sunday but the previous film ran late and I barely had time to down a beer before we were rushed back into the cinema to watch the film. When we got there the short that was playing before our film had already started - a rather sick zombie film that even I thought was a bit wrong. Because we came in late we sat at the front rather than at the back, and although it was cool to be that close to the action it meant we had no idea how the audience was reacting. The audience itself wasn't huge - probably between 40-50 people - but it was one of the biggest audiences of the festival and more importantly it was an audience of people who had no connection to the film and knew nothing about it.

I spoke to a few people sitting at the back of the room afterwards and was reliably informed that everyone seemed to be enjoying it. Problem was I didn't know that when we got on stage to do the Q&A and was incredibly nervous as a result. I stumbled through the first couple of questions, but soon realised that people seemed to be genuinely interested in the making of the film and they were even asking me questions about writing. It was also difficult trying to remember everything that happened over the course of making the film as it's been a long time since we started the project. Ross was on top form as always and we also had Chris Jones on stage with us who was at the festival with the makers of The Silencer in which he plays the lead bad guy. He was also one of the stuntmen involved in the garage fight in Ten Dead Men and talked a bit about the stunt work on the film. The best part was being asked what I was working on next and talking about Hit the Big Time - the audience responded really well to the idea of Parker and Garrett getting their own film so I really need to get that script finished! Unfortunately we had to rush off right after the screening so didn't get chance to speak to anyone about the film afterwards, but hopefully we'll get some feedback later on.

So that's it for Ten Dead Men screenings for now which feels a bit weird, but hopefully it will get a UK/US DVD release soon as that will be the real test. It definitely felt weird coming back to reality and going to work today, not just because of our film screening but also because I spent two days watching people kicking each other and dying horribly violent deaths. Having been so busy recently it's been ages since I watched a film in one go, let alone several films in one day so it was a great excuse for a break and definitely what I needed. Hopefully there will be another one next year!

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