Saturday, 31 January 2009

More Ten Dead Men opinions...

So I've been obsessively googling Ten Dead Men at work every day and only finding people who hate it, which does start to get to you after a while. Despite the fact that in terms of actual numbers more people like it than hate it, and these are people whose opinions I really respect, it still bothers me when the bad reviews turn up, even when I don't read them all the way through.

Meanwhile, Ten Dead Men director Ross has obviously been doing the same thing but with much more positive results, like this one:

http://www.gutmunchers.com/10DeadMen.html

On a random note, the first Poundland entry of 2009 is here and it's excellent as always.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Doug Bradley on AMR download link...

So here's the link to download last night's radio show with Doug Bradley:

http://files.filefront.com/AMR+Movie+Show+Episode+69mp3/;13135406;/fileinfo.html

If you're looking for it in the archive it's Episode 69.

No, your MP3 player is not playing tricks on you, we really did record for an epic 4 hours. Doug is on there for the first two hours. There's a point in that two hours where I don't say anything for ages - that's because I really badly needed a wee! After that we meant to cut it short but got into a huge debate about the Oscar nominations. And if you make it to my Milk review, about 3 and a half hours in, I apologise if it's a bit rambling - it was about 1 in the morning on a school night at that point.

EDIT: Have just skipped to the end and realised it's 'only' 3 hours 10 minutes, apparently due to technical difficulties, though I suspect more likely due to not wanting to put off everyone from listening to it. I also wonder if anything we said after that time made any sense at all. Still, the Doug Bradley interview is there in its entirety, as is the Oscar debate - just the reviews are missing.

One thing I did want to address - someone wrote in to the show and mentioned that they didn't watch westerns. This isn't an attack on that person, just a reaction to an opinion I've heard my whole life. On the show we all suggested two must-see westerns - I said Magnificent Seven (one of my top three favourite films ever) and Django (best opening in a film ever). But thinking about it, that doesn't even come close to covering all the westerns you have to see - off the top of my head High Noon, Seven Men from Now, Gunfight at the OK Corral, El Topo, Hour of the Gun, High Plains Drifter, Rio Bravo, Stagecoach, Ride the High Country, The Wild Bunch, The Searchers, anything with Audie Murphy in...and I'm not even a hardcore western fan. My dad could could list ten times that amount. And these aren't just films about men in hats being men, and guns and posses and so on - these are films about politics and communities and relationships and everything else great stories are about - like all great genre films it's never about what you see, there is always more going on there it's just that the filmmakers have chosen to fit that story and its themes into a popular template. But it's also not just about the genre - the ones mentioned and the others I'm sure other people could mention - they're just good films, great films in fact. And films that have had a huge influence on cinema today. Saying you don't like westerns is fine, but you can't claim to have an interest in cinema history if you don't watch westerns.

And that's okay. You don't have to have an interest in cinema history. I just wish more people did.

On an unrelated note, I have to thank Brother D and Bren at Mail Order Zombie for reading out my shameless 10 Dead Men plug on their podcast. It's a great show and one that is a huge supporter of no budget film-making. If you're into zombie cinema at all it's practically essential listening.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Doug Bradley on AMR...and stuff...

Hellraiser star, horror legend and narrator of Ten Dead Men Doug Bradley will be appearing on the AMR Movie Show tonight at 9pm (GMT). And I'll be on there too. You can listen to it here:

http://www.amrentertainment.co.uk/radio.htm

Be warned - it's going to be a long one. I'll post the download link here once it's available.

Some random thoughts while I'm here...

On my daily Ten Dead Men Google search today (What? I get bored! And we might have been nominated for a last minute Oscar without being told!) I came across an odd thing in the forums of various torrent sites - people complaining that the illegal download copy of the film wasn't working. This makes me happy for two reasons - 1) people are having trouble downloading it, which means they may have to go and buy it after all and 2) people want to watch the film so badly they are complaining that they aren't able to do so for free. At the same time, and perhaps I've been brainwashed by those annoying warnings on DVDs (the ones that unintentionally make illegally downloading films seem trendy and rebellious), isn't this a bit like stealing a DVD from a shop and then taking it back to complain that it doesn't work?

Also, the possibility of a UK release has made me wonder what I would do if the film ended up being sold in Poundland. Obviously I'd be very happy about that - I've picked up some excellent films for a pound. The question is, would I buy up a load of copies just so I had my own personal stock, or would I not buy any copies so the many and varied patrons of Poundland would be able to discover the film for themselves? I'm sure the day will come when I have to make that decision.

There's been more IMDB activity, but I promised to stop going on about it after the release so you can check it out for yourself here.

We've also had a really vicious review from a film website. I'm not going to post the link here but if you are interested you can google '10 dead men dvd review'. I stopped reading after the first paragraph, which I think is a positive step forward for me. It was a bit like that moment in Grizzly Man where Werner Herzog is with a friend of the bear guy listening to a tape of him being ripped to shreds, and he tells her not to ever listen to the tape. Except Werner Herzog wasn't telling me not to read the review, that would be too cool, it was just me telling myself. This is progress - I know I should really stop looking for the reviews altogether, but I can't see myself doing that anytime soon. Not reading the really bad ones is a good start.

In more positive news we are #12,544 on the Amazon.com Sales Rank. We were at around #50,000 before the release so I think this is pretty good progress!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Possible UK release...

I don't know the full details yet but a UK release may well be imminent. Just mentioning it in case you all immediately bought the Region 1 version after the last post!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

10 DEAD MEN US DVD RELEASE!!!

10 Dead Men is released in the US today! Which means a) it's officially out in the world for the viewing pleasure of randoms b) it finally feels like the whole process is properly finished and c) I can stop going on about it now. Except I probably won't.

To commemorate the occasion here's my favourite trailer for the film, back in the early days when we were going to do the whole thing in black and white:



If you are reading this in the US, you can buy it from loads of places including amazon.com or rent it from Netflix.

For everyone else, as long as you have a multi-region DVD player you can get it imported from amazon.com which is what I've done. And literally as I was typing this I got an e-mail confirmation that it had been shipped!

While I promise not to bug anyone for IMDB comments anymore I would still love to hear what people think so please feel free to e-mail me your thoughts on the film or leave me a comment on here somewhere.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Ten Dead Men comic now available in the UK...

Back in March 2008 I mentioned that I'd written a prequel to Ten Dead Men as a graphic novel drawn by Timothy Rees and lettered by ET Dollman. I talked about writing it on the Ten Dead Men blog here. A few weeks later the finished product was available online at wowio.com but as I mentioned here it was only available to people in the US. I checked every now and again to see if anything had changed until I forgot all about it.

Until now. The full comic is available for free here:



You have to register but it only takes a second and you can read the comic online for free. It basically tells the story we never really hear about in the film - the moment when Ryan decides to quit working for Hart and leave his old life behind.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

10DM Oscar nominations...

Unfortunately, Ten Dead Men was released just slightly too late to be presented for the consideration of the Academy. Maybe next year.

Anyway, I was going to do a post about how the Oscar nominations annoyed me again, as they do every year. I had this whole rant drafted about 2008 being a good year for films but still all the nominations go to films that have only just come out, most of which I have little interest in but will probably end up seeing anyway and will promptly forget about.

But then I went to see Milk and really enjoyed it, so it seemed a bit hypocritical to moan about Oscar films.

Also The Dark Knight was nominated for loads more than I expected which is great. And I'm glad Heath Ledger is up for Best Supporting Actor - regardless of the reasons for that nomination I genuinely believe it was the best performance of the year and possibly the best I've seen in a long time so I'm happy that he's being recognised. It's a shame the score couldn't be nominated but apparently there was some technicality about there being too many composers or something daft. What I'm really not happy about is the lack of a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for Dark Knight - so much of what made that film ace was in the script.

I ended up moaning about the Oscars anyway.

Oh well, at least In Bruges is nominated for Best Original Screenplay, I just hope it wins.

I have just spent the last three hours e-mailing everyone I know (or in some cases simply know of) in the US about the 10 Dead Men release next week. I need to go to bed.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

IMDB, Henry Rollins & Indie 103.1

These aren't massively related, I just don't really have a definite subject for this post.

For the first time since I started my dangerous obsession with the IMDB user comments on Ten Dead Men there has been no further activity. No new comments, nothing on the discussion board since last week, nothing. I'm guessing people who download all their films just pick up the new releases as soon as they turn up, regardless of what they are. So now it's old news no one's interested. This is good, but I hope the proper release of the film doesn't go the same way. Under a week to go!

Speaking of which I badly need to e-mail my American friends about it (that's a note for myself so I'll see it later and hopefully do something about it).

But speaking of American folk (and their shiny new president) I have just added Henry Rollins' blog to the links on the right. I've been a huge fan for years - always loved his music (and he was ace when I saw him live in Norwich once), it's cool when he turns up in films, and his stand-up was pretty good too. I'd kind of forgotten about him of late, then Brother Pete bought me the second season of The Henry Rollins Show on DVD. It's a bit odd seeing Rollins present a talk show, but there's an honesty and integrity to the way he interviews his guests, plus a genuine interest in what they're doing that makes it really fascinating.

He's also an excellent writer and I recommend picking up any of his books if you come across them. That's why I wanted to link to the blog. Although in doing so I discovered that LA radio station Indie 103.1 has gone off the air. I only download the podcasts so I guess it won't make that much difference to me, but it's a shame. And I don't see Jonesy's name in the list of DJs who are going to carry on broadcasting online - if he's not doing his show anymore that will be a real tragedy.

Monday, 19 January 2009

New Year, clean hard drive...

So my computer died last night. More accurately I killed it. Through a combination of my PC being generally rubbish, me trying to sort it out late at night, being very impatient and panicking because I needed to send an important e-mail.

I am really bad with computers, because I make the mistake of thinking I'm actually really good with them. So I meddle with things I shouldn't meddle with in an attempt to get them to do things they should, in theory, be able to do. Then they die.

In the early hours of this morning I brought it back from the dead. The reanimated zombie computer seems to be working okay and actually even slightly better than before. It has come back as a running zombie, rather than a walking one. Well, jogging at least. It has also lost its memory.

This is okay. I had a bit of a sleepless night trying to decide whether this was okay or not, but I have managed to convince myself that it is. I back up all my finished scripts, and luckily it occurred at a point when I'd finished everything I was working on so didn't have any works in progress. I've lost a lot of notes I made for myself but again with everything up to date that's not so bad. I'm sure there are things I'll be annoyed about losing when I come across them, but so far I think it may genuinely not be the tragedy I initially thought it was. As always there is a lesson here that I never learn properly.

Speaking of zombies, while in the process of resurrecting the computer I was dipping in and out of a film and suddenly recognised a reanimated corpse as someone I've met. The film was Dark Corners, another one where a loony woman hallucinates a lot while trying to figure out some secret or other. Someone needs to coin a term for that sub-genre of horror. This one was made more nonsensical by being set in America but filmed in England. Much like the Kubrick films in which this is also the case, there is something oddly distracting about it. It was also rather more obvious here - the buses were instantly recognisable as ours, as was the side of the road said bus was driving on. Plus the houses/streets didn't look at all Amercian. And the accents were pretty exagerrated and occasionally just rubbish which didn't help. Then again, this made much more sense than the huge-interiors-not-enough-extras Eastern European America seen in Bloodsport 4 which I also watched yesterday - that was just weird.

Anyway, the point of all this is that there was a scene in Dark Corners in which Thora Birch is embalming a corpse when it gets up and comes after her. The corpse, I realised eventually, was played by Glenn Beck who was in the still-in-post-production short film I wrote Hit the Big Time - I talked about meeting him here (with another, more interesting Kubrick link). Okay, it's not that weird - I now remember him telling me about the film as he had photos of the make-up effects with his eyes and mouth sewn shut. What's weird is that I didn't make the connection straight away, so found myself recognising a reanimated corpse as someone I knew I'd met in real life but was unable to place exactly where.

Perhaps the real lesson here is not to carry out PC maintenance whilst watching confusing films in which the zombies are people you know...

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Patrick McGoohan

Just found out Patrick McGoohan died which is no good, but he left behind some excellent work. He'll always be remembered for The Prisoner which is still one of the best TV shows the UK ever produced but he was also fantastic in Scanners. He had a way of delivering the exposition in that film that made it seem much more authentic than it should've been and it's a performance that's been a great inspiration for me when writing that type of character.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Mobile phones in films...

I need to blog about something other than IMDB comments for that way madness lies. So last night I realised what a wonderful gift the mobile phone is to a writer.

I was watching Beneath which is one of those throwaway horror films about someone who's a bit loony investigating their past to confront the source of their lunacy - cue lots of spooky hallucinations to cover the fact that not much is really happening. The Poe inspired ending was quite good though, and it was under 80 minutes - a rare bonus these days. Anyway, the point is much use was made of the protagonist's mobile phone - to the point where she really couldn't have progressed through the story without it.

Obviously she phoned people with it and crucially other people phoned her when nothing much was happening and the plot required a boost. The mobile phone lets any one of your characters talk to any of your other characters at any time - which again sounds like stating the obvious. But it's quite a big thing that I often take for granted - the script I've just finished features at least half-a-dozen mobile phone conversations and it's so much easier than moving you characters to a different location so they can get to a landline or whatever.

But having your characters so easily contactable is also a double-edged sword as it often gives them an easy way out of perilous situations - how many horror films now have to set up that there's no signal in whatever remote location the film is set to make the phone useless?

Anyway, I'm not the first person to draw attention to this - someone I was at university with even wrote a dissertation on the subject. Mobile phones seemed like a new and wonderful thing back then. But now there are even more possibilities!


When attempting to record vital clues from a file while a doctor's back is turned, Nora Zehetner's character in Beneath takes a photo of said document with her mobile - far more efficient and slightly less suspicious than taking notes. Ignoring the fact that it would've been even easier and much less suspicious to memorise the information (which was only a person's name after all), this is a good example of other ways the mobile phone can help the writer out of tricky situations.

Later on in the film, when exploring the secret passages of an old house, she uses the phone as a light source. No need for clumsy torches anymore, although they did have the advantage that they could also be used as a weapon. I can't see hitting someone with a phone doing much damage. Plus it means an end to the classic low battery tension moment - I'll miss that, somehow violently tapping a phone when the batteries start to go doesn't have the same effect. Also, seeing as we're now eradicating smoking from our screens (and eventually history) it would be inconceivable that anyone would carry a Zippo around these days.

My phone is 8 years old and has no camera powers. I am also not sure the fairly dim light would help see my way through any secret passages. If I ever have to confront some supernatural source of madness in my past I will be in serious trouble.

But surely this is only beginning. The fact that you can access the Internet from your phone means we no longer need libraries in films and no more shots of people tapping away at large computers. Police procedurals and conspiracy thrillers are already using the phone as a convenient tracking device. Soon there won't be any need for running about at all and films will feature various characters going on complex and exciting adventures without ever leaving their living rooms.

Suddenly I want to set every film I write in the 1950s.


Tuesday, 13 January 2009

More Ten Dead Men comment stuff...

I was typing a reply to Geraint in the comments section of the previous post, then realised I'd written about a billion words so thought I'd sort out the spelling and post it here too.

Gez wrote:

'There is more to the illegal viewing point to be made though: How have they seen the film, have they seen it in its entirety, or out of sequence? That in itself is an important issue. You can't review a book by reading chapter three and the last page and hoping that it will all make sense. I stand by my review, it is not wholly glowing, it is fair and I was not involved in the making of it. I never even read a draft of the script.'

My overlong reply:

'Yeah, unfortunately it's not too hard to see the film illegally. I'm not going to detail how here, but one day it was unreleased and unavailable, the next it was a couple of clicks away. Pretty shocking at the time - now I kind of take it for granted.

Good point about whether people are watching the whole thing. I'm pretty sure most people haven't been. I know from the feedback we got that it's pretty hard to get into for the first 10-20 minutes as the narration and jumbled narrative are a bit jarring. In all honesty I think it's more like an art film than an action film, but people don't approach it like an art film, so 15 minutes in and they're struggling, they didn't pay for it so they switch it off. Then go complain about it.

You remember when we watched Driller Killer at uni? We sat in a big group all expecting it to be this ultra gory slasher film. But it's not, it's more interesting than that. And while the two of us realised that the rest of the room were chatting and complaining about the film. I think that's probably how this will go - 80% of people will give up when it's not super slick and the plot requires a bit of work. But that 20% will hopefully embrace it. I can but hope.

But yeah, from the people I know who watch films in this fashion, they'll watch the first ten minutes, skip through to see if anything interesting is happening and then quit.

I think all the ten positive reviews are really good - none of them are gushing and none of them are wholly positive. Everyone did what I asked them to do, which was be honest. Even better, they're all intelligent criticisms of the film as a whole, including the characters and story as well as the effects and action.

One thing I regret is that I reported the two scathing reviews that started this whole thing to imdb and they removed them - they were in breach of several of the guidelines so I thought why not? But suddenly there were a load of good reviews and nothing to balance it. And I think that's contributed to some of the reactions we've had since because people have suspected some kind of foul play. Anyone looking closely at those reviews that are there now, or even finding their way here to this blog, will see that there is none. And although I'm not going to go on the forums and argue the point, I can say with full confidence that not one of the people who've written those comments were involved with the making of the film in any way.

One final point - I think the thing that's really working against us is not being able to say how much we made the film for. The reasons for not saying it make sense, but a film like El Mariachi really played on the fact that it had a super low budget and I think we could've used that to our advantage. Then again, I guess all it would really mean is we could respond to people saying 'you make a better film on this much money then' which is exactly what we've avoided so far.

Anyway, I'm sure this will carry on. I hope some of the people who see the film when it's released approach it with the same open outlook that the people who responded to my comment appeal have done.'

Maybe people aren't so bad after all...

There's been an ongoing discussion at the forums on the Ten Dead Men imdb page that was started by people who hated the film. A couple of people came to our defence then the director and producer posted their responses and I thought that would mean a load of comments like 'I can't believe the filmmakers are so bothered by our comments that they posted a response' which I've seen on other forums when the filmmakers have responded (and I am fully aware that I'm probably one of the people most bothered by the negative comments which is why I'm not getting involved on the forums). Anyway, you can read the full exchange on the forum if you're interested, but it has ultimately led to this:

'Thanks for being so cool about the negative feedback and review I posted, I'm not sure I would of been so diplomatic when replying about something so personal. But I can assure you I was just being frankly honest in sharing my opinion and I wasn't being a troll. I think what irked me the most about the reviews on here was the fact there didn't seem to be any that said "Hey this movie sucks...a lot" and loads that said "This film is brilliant for X and Y reason" like the review authors had seen a totally different film. I concede that critiquing a movie behind keyboard takes little or no skill, with minimal effort, and I appreciate that making a movie(whether good, bad or so-so) is a huge and time consuming undertaking made even more difficult by a limited/non existent budget. I do stand by my review but I do feel in hindsight I could of been more constructive and less scathing. I wish you all the best with your next project, and sincerely hope you raise the bar in originality and that it has a more "brit flick" feel to it rather than 10DM's odd mix of US and International influences. '

This has made me realise that perhaps by encouraging people to post reviews I may have been asking for the negative ones, but I was aware of that at the time and was careful to word my appeal in a way that clearly wasn't just asking people to say how cool the film was whether they liked it or not. I think the full spectrum of reviews on there now actually paints a fair picture of what the film is actually like - I don't think any of them have mentioned only the positive aspects and no one is pretending it's something grander that it is. And there is still the point that the negative reviewers have watched the film illegally.

But I'm rambling - the point is maybe people who post their opinions on the Internet aren't all bad, which means there's hope for the rest of us.

Monday, 12 January 2009

IMDB update, trailers and stuff (I should be working)...

I'm still rewriting the script I was rewriting over Christmas. It's nearly there just needs about 10 pages cutting out. Which is quite difficult.

So to put off tackling that here's some random stuff.

IMDB report - 12 user comments in total, 10 positive, 2 negative. If we can hold that score until the release date I'll be a happy writer.

I got more Dark Room feedback which has boosted my enthusiasm for the project a bit. What that means in terms of actual work I'm not sure.

Meanwhile, Brother Pete posted some cool trailers on request here. Including the trailer for lesser known Donald Westlake adaptation Why Me? And the Puppet Master 2 trailer, which is ace.

John Rackham has an interesting post about what happens when your independent film gets picked up for distribution here.

Amanda Palmer's videos are back online here - excellent.

And speaking of trailers I found one for my first produced short from back in 2004. There's a long, drawn-out story behind how this happened and how I ended up co-writing it, but the end result wasn't bad:



So far 2009 has been 50% actual work and 50% procrastination - good start!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

What's in the box...

So it was my birthday yesterday which was ace. Andrea planned a day of cool stuff in London - we went to the Rothko exhibition at the Tate Modern, went out for dinner, and went to see La Clique all of which was great.

This is what was in the massive box:



No, it's not a Stepford-esque clone of me, it's the rather excellent super-villain chair. Which does this:

video

Should be the other way around, but you get the idea.

You can see the rest of my photos from Christmas, New Year and the odd one or two I took on my birthday here:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=68512&l=7ac02&id=603645840

Thanks to everyone who sent me cards/messages/facebook wall posts etc!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

First script of 2009

I just finished the 2nd draft of a script I've been rewriting over Christmas. Here is my first tip of the year - never agree to work on a script over Christmas. If your Christmas is anything like mine between the day job, seeing friends and family and Christmas shopping you only have a handful of hours free to write. And those hours aren't good writing hours - it kind of feels like you're stuck indoors while everyone else is out having fun.

The result of this was in the latter half of December I wrote 30 pages. Last week I wrote another 30. At the weekend I wrote another 20, 20 on Monday and around 20 tonight. Yes, that does add up to 120 -- about 20 pages too long. It probably also sounds like a bit of a rush job, but although I decided to rewrite the whole thing from scratch some of those pages could be imported over from the first draft and I made do with a few minor tweaks.

I was talking to a writer friend last week who hates 1st drafts but loves 2nd drafts. I'm the opposite. Even though I love the idea that it's an option not a necessity I find it impossible to do a second draft without starting from a clean slate. With any first draft there are so many things that need changing that I find it gets difficult to keep track of the story unless you start with a blank page. And usually most of those amendments involve adding elements rather than taking things away so they always end up being about 20 pages too long, which then necessitates a third draft.

Anyway, it's done and I'm pretty happy with it - happy enough to call it my first finished script of 2009 even though it technically should've been finished in 2008. I'm sending it off for feedback and will then make the necessary cuts over the next few days.

It's now 2.45am in the morning, I'm 29 years old today and there is a large present in the hallway:


Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Ten Dead Men IMDB User Comment Update

I was going to wrap this up a while ago - I have a lengthy post all drafted up and ready to go, with philosophical musings on the nature of the people who so hate a film they will spend time writing about how much they hate it. But every time I go to post it there are more developments on the imdb page and I'm reminded of the real issue here - the film hasn't been released yet! I'm not completely against people posting their opinions, I'm not overtly attacking people downloading films - it's the cheekiness of the two combined that bothers me. So I've decided that until the official US release date of 27/01/09 I'll continue to provide updates and rally for support on this issue. At that point I will post my final rant on the subject and hopefully say no more about it.

So the scores are currently:

9 positive user comments
2 negative user comments (one of which is perfectly reasonable - see my previous post for my thoughts on what is reasonable and what is not)
2 external reviews
A few spiteful remarks in the forums. I'm not too bothered about these, as long as people ignore them and don't start replying. If The Grin of the Dark taught me anything it's that the internet looneys should be left alone and not encouraged.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Richard Stark

Donald E. Westlake died a couple of days ago - not a good start to 2009. Perhaps more famous for his excellent and very funny Dortmunder novels (The Hot Rock, Why Me) it was the novels he wrote under the name Richard Stark that really influenced me. In Point Blank (originally titled The Hunter) he created the ultimate revenge story that became one of the greatest crime films ever made. But despite the brilliant inventiveness of Boorman's film there was something about the Parker character in the novels that never quite translated to the big screen. He was pursuing revenge for a double-cross he was planning himself but the other guy got there first. He was a criminal to the core, and Westlake understood what that meant.

As I've mentioned numerous times before, the Parker character was a huge inspiration for the character of Ryan in Ten Dead Men and for that I owe Donald Westlake my thanks.