Monday, 29 December 2008

2008 End of Year Review

It's an unnecessarily long multi-media extravaganza end of year post! Yay!

The most standout thing about 2008 for me is how quickly it went. January to April was taken up by Ten Dead Men excitement leading up to the premier.

There was a bit of a limbo from mid
-April to mid-May where I finished off a couple of scripts I'd been working on for a while and considered the possibility that Ten Dead Men could be my first and last produced feature (still a possibility).

I then became too busy to think abo
ut it as I took on two new scripts at the end of May and then a third I wrote with Brother Pete. For two solid months my life was day job then writing all evening til one or two in the morning, with extra writing at weekends. When the scripts were done it calmed down a bit but I did a lot of rewriting, on those scripts and on a couple of other people's.

As this was going on Andrea and I also moved to a new flat when the old one started raining inside and in September we went to New York with Brothers Pete and Tim.

October I wrote a script that was completely my idea and moaned about it a lot on here.

November one of the scripts I'd written back in June started to get a lot of interest, and December I started rewriting it (which I'm still doing). Fill the gaps with various time wasting projects (this blog, my short-lived podcast) and drinking and that's pretty much my year.

In the style of many a writing blog, here are the highlights (however, in the style of many a non-writing blog I am also including non-writing highlights):

- The Ten Dead Men premiere (April). Yesterday as a kind of a New Year cleansing thing I went through five years worth of old e-mails and deleted almost all of them. One of the ones I kept was one from July 2006 asking if I'd be interested in working on Ten Dead Men. It seems like a very long time ago, but in film terms roughly 18 months from concept to finished product isn't very long at all really. However, there were so many times I felt it may never be finished and there was so much hard work put in from everyone involved that seeing it on the big screen felt like a real achievement. And it was great that my friends who'd been hearing about this thing that whole time finally got to see it too.

- Spending a week in New York with my favourite people in the world (September):

- The Phantasmagoria Festival in Swindon (July). Firstly because we got to see Ten Dead Men on a big screen again with better sound and an audience of people with no connection to the film or the filmmakers. Secondly because I got to spend a whole weekend watching genre films. Thirdly because I made some cool new friends.

- Seeing my favourite band ever, The Residents (December). This was something I thought I'd never get to do and as I said at the time if they'd come out onstage, waved then gone again I still would've loved it. As it happened they put on a really great show that made some interesting comments about society and the internet whilst also being a rather excellent performance. And the fact that they've maintained anonymity all this time still amazes me.

- The Amanda Palmer gig (October). In some ways it wa
sn't the greatest gig in the world - the place was only half full so the atmosphere was a little off, there were loads of annoying people talking through the whole thing at the back where we were standing and we had to keep moving around so we could see. Despite all that it was still one of the best gigs I've ever been to. The performance was amazing and as well as the music there was a sense of artistic freedom and creativity and an excitement about those things that inspired me to start working on my own stuff again. Her album Who Killed Amanda Palmer is also the best album I bought this year and is something I highly recommend.

- The Moviebar screening of Ten Dead Men (July). This has justified the existence of my whole blog - in my draft version of this post I wrote that the Moviebar screening happened after the Phantasmagoria one - I thought it was in August for some reason. Luckily I checked and narrowly avoided rewriting history and creating some kind of space-time continuum paradox. Anyway, in some ways this was the most pleasant of the screenings as it was the only one I wasn't nervous about. I knew the venue, I knew the people, it was in a pub so I could get nicely drunk and thus be able to receive criticism - a good night was had by all.

- The midnight screening of The Dark Knight (July). The Dark Knight is the first time ever I've been excited about a big blockbuster film and had my expectations not only met but exceeded. It's also one of the few films I've seen at the cinema that's instantly become one of my favourite films ever. I did wonder if this was partly due to the manner in which I saw it, but having seen it two more times at the cinema since (another first for me) I am convinced that it's just an excellent film. You don't have to agree (a lot of people didn't), I've been told I get a bit evangelical when talking about the film, but I enjoy liking a film this big. It doesn't happen very often. Anyway, the midnight screening was ace with loads of people dressed up. People cheered at the pencil bit and when Gary Oldman reappears and we all clapped at the end, which would usually be annoying b
ut in this case was all in the spirit of the thing. It was nice sitting in a cinema packed full of people who really wanted to see the film and other than the above no one chatted or made general noise - they just watched and listened, which is what you're supposed to do but again doesn't happen very often. To be fair the IMAX screening was just as good, but didn't have the people in fancy dress or the band playing the Batman TV show theme on repeat for hours on end:

- The Ten Dead Men US deal. When I was told about this I was so busy working on other stuff I didn't really take it in. It was only when we got the R Rating and saw press releases like this one that it really started to sink in. It's going to be a proper film now, out there in the world for anyone to watch. Unfortunately as a result of the release I've also found out what it's like to be on the other side of both piracy and spiteful imdb comments - something I've yet to get used to. Despite that, I'm really happy it's been released in the US and in the other territories it was sold to - I just hope a) they include all the cool special features we did, especially Brother Pete's hour-long documentary and b) that we get a UK release next year.

Right, onto films. I debated over whether to include all the cool films I've seen this year regardless of their release date, but the list was massive so I stuck to those that were released this year:

Be Kind Rewind - a nice little film and the kind that doesn't really get made too much these days.

Rambo - did exactly what it was supposed to do, only did it far better than it was supposed to do it and for me is far superior, in terms of the script and the tone at least, to the previous two sequels:

Doomsday - the 80s action film the UK never had:

Rec - Watched this again last night as I got the DVD for Christmas from Brother Pete. It is perhaps more terrifying watching it on a TV screen - I was scared to turn the lights off afterwards which is always the sign of a good horror film. It also has an ace trailer:

The Mist - amazing horror film. Anyone who criticises the CG monsters is missing the point. One of the best endings in cinema history:

Kamikaze Girls - this one isn't out until this January but I saw it in 2008 after I got sent a press copy to review for Combat magazine. It's a very cool film, a kind of Japanese Ghost World, and it got me excited about Japanese cinema again for the first time in ages:

Taken - Anyone who criticises its portrayal of all Europeans as evil is missing the point. It never bothered anyone that the Bond films essentially do the same thing. But on the surface this is perhaps the most accomplished straight action film I've seen in a long time. And another good trailer:

Cloverfield - a Hollywood monster movie as seen through the eyes of the extras. A great script well-executed and a publicity campaign that managed to keep the details a secret until the film was released, which these days is nearly impossible:

Vampyr - So it was released in 1932 and not 2008, but the DVD I saw was released this year. Very odd, very imaginative and very creepy:

I only read one book this year. I even spent a good couple of hours yesterday reading just so I could say I read one book this year. I am rubbish. What happened? I started doing this blog on my lunch breaks. I also got an ipod and got addicted to podcasts. I've also been super-busy. This has to change. My first New Year's resolution is to read more.

Anyway, the one book I read was The Grin of the Dark by Ramsey Campbell and it was really good. Very creepy and the real monster of the piece was the internet in the form of a particularly nasty message board poster who stalks the main character on the imdb forums - I can relate to that.

So that was 2008. All in all a good year, which is great as this blog would've been fairly dull otherwise. If 2009 is even half as exciting as 2008 was I'll be happy. I might at some point post some over-ambitious targets so I can depress myself this time next year, but first off I really need to get back to that rewrite!

Happy New Year!

No comments: