Thursday, 26 February 2009

German Ten Dead Men review

Babelfish translation of a German review of Ten Dead Men (for anyone with better translation skills the original is here):

'Andy can kill one particularly well - humans. On behalf of Gangsterboss Hardy it kills each and none can it stop. A daily becomes acquainted with he Amy and disappears from the scene, in order to lead a normal life. But a daily stands an old acquaintance before the door and calls a favour in. But it is snatched at the murder by Hardys men. To the punishment they kill its friend and then him - at least all this thought. Heavily wounded it is rinsed to the beach and starts a revenge campaign. All 10 men, who are to have versaut its life to die.

Comment - The film tries into the number of the Revenge films such as Kill Bill or also Shoot ' Em UP to incorporate, is appropriate however for qualitative at least two stages below. Whole history has practically no action. Everything which an action would require, by a nervige off voice explained, all to have more time for the murder and torture scenes. These are accordingly frequently and fortunately also completely different. Who stands thus on brutal murders, can possibly gain from the film such a thing. Then the poor achievement of the actors is also not relevant more so. A further point of criticism are the absolutely unnecessary time leaps. The film begins after the respected murder, shows reviews from its time with Amy and jumps then to their murder, in order to then begin its revenge series. The photographs work by missing depth now sharpness quite flat. Altogether it is worth a view only for fans of murder and force.'

They gave us two skull-and-crossbones out of five - could be worse. At least fans of murder and force in Germany know where to look.

Day of cool stuff...

Seem to have made up for a couple of weeks of not doing anything much at all by cramming a whole bunch of stuff into one day.

Briefly, went into London, did an interview for the UK release of Ten Dead Men, had some photos taken, went to Camden, sat on a tree, went to Soho, met a very cool director and friends, watched some ninjas, met more cool people, just got home.

Will detail some of the above when I get chance.

Also co-hosted the AMR movie show again, goes out at 9PM tomorrow night here.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Peter Pancake

Brother Pete flipping pancakes:

Monday, 23 February 2009

Haven't blogged for a whole week...

...and it's not because I've been busy on super-exciting things. So it's the end of February already and so far this year I have not been as productive as I imagined I would be. I've sent one query letter and written a few thousand words of a short story I'm struggling to find the time to finish (but as I keep reminding myself finishing it isn't the point - it's an exercise in freedom writing). Script-wise I've finished one major rewrite and one treatment. I've got three projects at the development stage at present - Jimmy Horror and Jimmy Fight I mentioned briefly before, there's also another horror script, let's call it Jimmy House, on the go. I'm really itching to do some actual script writing but none of them are at that stage just yet.

Briefly on films what I saw this week. I went to see Friday 13th and realised depressingly that there's no point ranting about it as remakes aren't made for me. My main complaint would be that in several decades of the slasher genre no one is doing anything different anymore (except for the
French), but ultimately why should they? The kids we were sitting in the cinema with are never going to see the original, and neither will the generation after them. And they seemed to enjoy it, even the ones who walked out the moment Jason appeared to be dead. This is dangerously close to an old man rant.

Also saw Push which I can't comment on. I went to see it because the premise is very similar to a project I've been working on (let's call it Jimmy Sci-fi, although that's a little misleading) and as a result spent the whole time comparing it to my script. I think mine is different enough to not be rendered completely redundant, which is good news.

If you like making-of documentaries I recommend you get hold of a copy of Mutant Chronicles which features a 107 minute documentary on the making of the film following the entire production from shooting to the epic post-production period. It was filmed and edited by Andrew Mackay who also hosts the AMR Movie show on which I have appeared a couple of times so I am biased, but it is a well-made documentary and much more indepth than most. The film is okay - just very ambitious for its budget.

That's it for now. Potentially very interesting things happening this week so hopefully there will be a more exciting post later on.

Monday, 16 February 2009

More Ten Dead Men reviews...

It's been a bit review crazy this week.

This one is pretty well thought out:

This is one is pretty random, but I don't think it says anything bad:

This one I posted earlier today, but I'm posting again because it's nice:

This is the greatest film ever made (I haven't seen it but how could it not be?):

Another Ten Dead Men review:

Another good one:

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Jimmy Scripts and stuff...

Random post of randomness...

I finished the Jimmy Fight treatment at 2.15am yesterday morning. Had a day away from it, read it through today and it makes sense, just about. Now I'm waiting for feedback.

In other news I joined twitter. I don't like not knowing what things are. Now I know what it is. Lots of people have been asking why so many people joined twitter this past week. It's because Stephen Fry got stuck in a lift. Everyone, me included, is now twitter-stalking (twalking?) other celebrities in the hope that they also get stuck in lifts so we can follow the drama in real time. There are also lots of other writers on there finding new ways to procrastinate so it does make you feel better about not doing any work. Should you wish to follow me on twitter in case I get stuck in a lift I am here.

Someone has been reporting the more spiteful Ten Dead Men comments on imdb as they have slowly started to disappear (2 have disappeared in the last couple of days). I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think we're better off with them there. As I have always said, my main issue with the bad comments was that they were on there before the film had been released. So it was people downloading it illegally, watching ten minutes then trying to put people who might be legitimately interested off watching it. Now the film's been released and we have a healthy stock of well-written and overwhelmingly positive comments I'm not so bothered by the bad ones. Plus, if there are only positive comments on there all it does is provoke a reaction and add weight to the argument that the nice comments are part of some kind of conspiracy. I know I reported a couple of the initial comments myself, but as I said on here I regretted it afterwards. As far as I'm concerned, we were better off with the worst of the bad ones as well as the best of the good ones as it's a more balanced view.

Until we get more bad ones...then I'll be calling for them to be taken off again.

Some random thoughts from the last couple of days...

Neil Gaiman makes a good point about the genius of Henry Selick being mistaken for the genius of Tim Burton. Hopefully Coraline will redress the balance.

I finally watched Outpost which I enjoyed although it wasn't quite as good as I wanted it to be. That said, the practical effects are fantastic, it looks great throughout and when the undead Nazi's attack it's ace, but it takes a long time getting there. For some reason, I never really got on with the horror/war sub-genre. The Bunker was okay but took a long time to get going, Deathwatch I enjoyed but it's not amazing...R-Point is probably the best and even that I probably wouldn't sit through again. Actually, The Keep is a horror/war film and that's amazing, and I guess you could include Predator at a stretch...and maybe the segment of Heavy Metal where the plane crashes in the Bermuda triangle - that was good. So maybe it's not a completely useless sub-genre...I've just argued with myself and won.

There is also a tradition of Nazi zombie films but most of these are rubbish and not worth mentioning.

Other good things about Outpost - Richard Brake, who I recognised from Soul Searcher, was really good in it. There aren't many performers like him around these days and I think he has a great career as a character actor ahead of him. Brett Fancy who plays a Russian soldier is also worth a mention, in a name-dropping kind of way as he was in a play that Andrea produced in Brighton a few years ago.

But the main reason I wanted to see the film is that the director Steve Barker made what I regard as the greatest short film ever made, Sally Kerosene. Unfortunately that BFI link is the only thing I can find on it - it's not available on the net anywhere. I have a well worn VHS copy taped off Channel 4 from the good old days of The Shooting Gallery and if I didn't have that I might have trouble proving it even existed. Essentially, it's a British cyberpunk thriller that manages to be huge in scale and scope whilst never over-reaching it's meagre budget. And the title character is super cool.

So I'm really happy Barker is getting films made. I hope he has some of the success Neil Marshall has had, and I hope Outpost was his Dog Soldiers.

More rambling about films - Lucy wrote an excellent post about female stereotypes in films here which I wanted to mention partly because it's ace, but also because she makes an interesting point that roughly one in five of the scripts that she reads will be written by a woman. Interesting because the other day I was watching Stop-Loss which was okay, I enjoyed it but I wasn't particularly satisfied with the ending - I wanted it to make more of a big angry point, when it actually settled for a kind of 'this is how things are - how do you feel about that?' ending. Anyway, it was directed by Kimberley Peirce and I was watching one of the extras with her directing this really intense action scene from the beginning of the film. And there are all these soldiers and things exploding and she's there surrounded by big, tough-looking men and telling them all what to do. At first I thought that was really cool, that there's this woman filming a very masculine scene with a crew made up almost entirely of men and she made it work - the end result is fantastic. But there's something kind of sad about that, and about what Lucy said about writers too - that there aren't more women getting involved in filmmaking. I can mention a few directors - Kathryn Bigelow, Rachel Talalay, Allison Anders - and could probably list some more if I really thought about it. But the proportions don't seem to be changing anytime soon - not if the demographics of the various film courses I've done over the years are anything to go by. I'm not going to go on about it - it's not really my place and I'll end up saying something stupid, but I think it's a sad state of affairs.

On a lighter note, I took up the recommendation from a comment on one of my previous posts to watch my first Bollywood film and am now halfway through the 1978 version of Don. Enjoying it so far, particularly the bit where the title character shoots someone because he doesn't like his shoes, but it's about 5 hours long so having a break. Anyway, on the DVD I saw the trailer for this:

So for ages now people have been going on and on about how terrible it would be if Hollywood remade Oldboy, meanwhile there's what looks like a shot for shot Bollywood remake already out there. The difference is, I'd actually watch the Bollywood verson in the hope that they turn the hammer fight into a huge dance number, and maybe there will be a song about incest.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Moving on...

Some stuff worth mentioning...

Justin Richards who organised the Phantasmagoria festival where Ten Dead Men was screened last
July has started up a blog here to help promote the festival and to review cool films. He kicks it off with a review of the excellent Last Man on Earth. Here's the link:

Bookmark it, favourite it, follow the blog, link to it, all of the above - going by Justin's immense and eclectic film collection I predict there will be some cool stuff on there over the coming months.

Also, Andrew Skeates who writes the excellent Cool Target blog has written a review of Ten Dead Men for Far East Films which you can find here:

Final link - if you have yet to read Brother Pete's blog about Slovenian metal band
Laibach I suggest you check it out and watch the videos. They are very strange.

Speaking of Brother Pete we are currently working on two scripts together, although at the moment he's done all the work for one and I'm doing all the work for the other. I can't really say what either of them are, so in the tradition of other blogging writers I will use codewords. Just as all the aliens in Buckaroo Banzai are called John ____ I am going to call all my scripts Jimmy ____. So at the moment I'm working on Jimmy Fight and Jimmy Horror.

Jimmy Fight is at the treatment stage and I've been working on it for a couple of weeks now. I'm still rubbish at predicting my working habits. I'll keep putting things off and struggle through the initial stages for a week, then I'll feel bad and tell whoever's waiting on the script that I'll have it done in like the next day or two in order to make me finish it, then as I'm rushing it through I suddenly realise what the story is about. It happens every single time. And it's okay, it sometimes means changing some of the stuff I've already written, but generally it works out fine as a system. What I could do with changing is all the sitting at my desk staring at a blank page then giving up feeling terrible about it for a week - or if I could at least understand that this was part of the process maybe I could just dispense with the feeling terrible part. Anyway, it's going okay, should finish the treatment tonight all being well.

Pete finished the treatment for Jimmy Horror ages ago and I haven't read it yet cos of working on Jimmy Fight.

He is also moving down to stay with me and Andrea in Brighton soon. Can anyone think of any films where someone moves away from home and they're better off because of it? We were talking on the phone at the weekend and I was trying to compare what he's doing to a film, because I have no real life points of reference for anything anymore, and I can only think of films like Orange County, or Lonesome Jim or even Jersey Girl where people move back to their home towns and don't want to be there, but by the end they decide everything they need is at home and they shouldn't have left in the first place. Let me know if you can think of any.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Week of Awesome Things Pt. 3: Arrival of the 10 Dead Men DVD

This may seem a bit self-indulgent, but that's what blogs are all about, aren't they? And I'm not going to pretend this wasn't a huge moment for me. I've been writing screenplays since I was seventeen - so about twelve years now. Getting my first film release is a big deal, and as I am fully aware it could be my only film release. I will try not to go on at such great length when the UK release comes out, but I can't promise anything.

So to put things in chronological order, Son of Moviebar was Tuesday, Wednesday was Amanda Palmer, and when I got back to the flat after the gig I found this:

Here's what was inside:

Here's me studying the back cover, mainly checking they got my name right and therefore not noticing the obvious spelling mistake (I'll get to that later):

Inside the box was one of these:

I had a quick look at the film that night and was impressed by how good it looks. It's still shot on digital, it doesn't look like film, I'm not saying it's the best looking film ever made...but for what it is it looks pretty good and hasn't lost any quality on the transfer to DVD.

I was a bit shocked when the film opened with the producer and director introducing the film to camera and me giggling out of shot. It's footage we filmed to introduce the DVD extras, not the film itself, but it works just as well. It's an odd move, but in some ways I can see why
MTI have done it - it's clear from the start that as well as being a film without a budget it's one with an unconventional approach to narrative that you have to watch with a bit of an open mind. Having the filmmakers introduce it is a nice way to get the audience on board with that from the start.

So director Ross came round today and we sat through the DVD extras. Unlike the film the extras have some funny glitches and may not have been de-interlaced (I have no idea what that means but Ross kept saying it and he knows of such things). It could also be some kind of NTSC/PAL thing, but other than being a bit distracting it doesn't really affect the footage that much.

The outtakes are on the disc in full, as well as the music videos. There is also an extra called 'Funny Vids' which is essentially a couple more outtakes that they must've taken off YouTube or something - they weren't included in the stuff we put together. This does pose the question, what happened to the extras that are missing? Primarily, the hour long documentary and the deleted scenes? They obviously wanted to include as many extras as they could and there is certainly more on there than I expected, so why not all of it? I know, there are probably lots of answers to that - not enough space on the disc maybe? Or perhaps they weren't given all the extras? Still, back to what is on there.

The 'Behind the Scenes' extra is essentially all the mini web videos that were put together by Brother Pete. Although not as comprehensive as the hour-long documentary these are nice little videos and give a good impression of what making the film was like. Mostly, I'm glad that all the hard work Pete put into editing together the hours of random behind the scenes footage made it onto the DVD. He gets his name up on screen after each video too, which is cool.

Finally, there are two commentaries - one with Ross, lead actor Brendan and producer Phil, the other with Ross again, SFX supervisor Steve Hayes and me. The sound levels are a bit off in places but generally these are okay (the first one anyway, I haven't listened to mine). The main problem is that the image, the soundtrack on the film and the commentary track are all slightly out of sync. So there'll be the sound of something exploding, 5 seconds later someone will mention the thing exploding, then we see it explode. This can be a bit distracting, but doesn't really affect the content that much.

I'm really happy the commentaries made it on there and have decided I'm not going to record my own writer only
commentary anytime soon. At the time I mentioned possibly doing it I had no reason to believe the US DVD would have extras and honestly didn't think we'd ever get a UK release. Now I know the commentary is on there and will probably be on the UK one too it doesn't really seem so necessary. There are some things I still want to say about the film, and I do think it would be nice to record one now I've had a bit of distance from the film rather than when we were still finishing it, but that can wait.

Overall I'm pretty impressed with the US DVD. It's not perfect, if they'd scrapped all the extras they have got but made sure the hour-long doco was on there I'd be much happier, but as it is there is much more on here than I expected. It's obviously been put together well and with a lot of care and attention by people who care about the films they are promoting, and that means a lot. Shame about this though:

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Week of Awesome Things Pt. 2: Son of Moviebar

Moviebar is a short film/film quiz/networking evening that takes place at the Cornerstone pub in Brighton on the first Tuesday of every month, and something I have mentioned more than a few times in this blog. This week local filmmaker Luther Jones organised the event for the first rebranded Son of Moviebar. It was an excellent night and the pub was packed out with filmmakers and people who were interested in films. The quiz was ace (mainly because my team won and I came away with Peeping Tom on DVD - excellent film) and the films screened were of a really high quality. I'm not sure I'll have time to do it for a while, but I always come away from Moviebar wanting to work on my own shorts again and that's one of the great things about it.

Anyway, I just wanted to mention it here to say well done to Luther for putting on an excellent night and to share some of the films with people who aren't able to go along. It's going to be fairly selective - I'm only going to post videos that are under 5 minutes long as I know no one is going to sit and watch a load of 20-30 minute videos in one go, plus only a few of them are online. Luckily this time I managed to find some of the best ones from the evening:

The Crunch: This is a trailer for Luther's surreal office drama about two computer programmers slowly driving each other mad. It's a great technical achievement and the dialogue and performances were fantastic, but the best thing about it is probably the visuals as shown here:

Monkey Cup - 7 Seconds of Love: Back in December I posted Moog's Cup of Brown Joy which is excellent - go and check that out if you haven't seen it. This is another of his films which also features cups but with the added bonus of monkeys:

Apparently: One of those perfect short films with a great punchline. Also notable for a couple of Brighton feature film connections - it features Adam Chapman who played the lead villain in Left for Dead as well as one of the players in The Penalty King, and was written by Robert Cohen who played the surgeon in Left for Dead.

I think the next one will be on the 3rd of March and if you want to keep up to date with it you can join the Son of Moviebar facebook group here. If you're in Brighton I seriously recommend coming along, but for everyone who isn't I'll probably try to do the same thing with any of the films I can find next month.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Week of Awesome Things Pt. 1: Amanda Palmer & The Danger Ensemble + Detektivbyrån

That spending all night writing thing didn't quite work out. So Andrea and I went to see Amanda Palmer at the Electric Ballroom in Camden last night. I'm posting this one first as it should be relatively quick using visual aids:

Well, not many visual aids as my camera is rubbish, and that's the only picture that came out. So the Danger Ensemble do cool performance arty stuff in the middle of the audience during the songs - that's what's going on in amongst all those heads. They are super cool and it makes the whole thing more interesting visually. The atmosphere last night was loads better than the Brighton gig last October. I wish this wasn't the case, but sometimes, and not often, London is cooler than Brighton.

Luckily, someone with a better camera than me took some cool videos and put them on YouTube, including the best moment of the show:

Full explanation here.

The other super cool thing about last night was the support act Detektivbyrån. Our train was delayed (stupid snow) but luckily we managed to get there in time to catch most of their set. I've been listening to the Wermland album all week - it's excellent music for writing to:

Much like before, I came away very much inspired and wanting to work on things that are nothing to do with the things I should be working on.

Speaking of which...

Week of awesome things...

Having a really good week so far. Will blog in depth about this stuff when I get chance but to summarise:

1) The rebranded 'Son of Moviebar' on Tuesday night was ace. And our team won the quiz which made it even better (most of the questions were on Dawn of the Dead and Romero...)

2) Saw Amanda Palmer at the Electric Ballroom in Camden last night which was amazing as expected.

3) Got home at about 12.30am to find my region 1 10 Dead Men DVD had arrived which was super exciting. I haven't had time to fully explore the extras yet but I'm impressed with the DVD so far - MTI have certainly put a lot of hard work and effort into it rather than just shoving it on a disc. No hour long doco though - sorry Pete! We have to make sure it's on the UK release.

Am now really behind with various writing things, so if I blog about the above tonight you'll know I'm even more behind. If nothing happens until the weekend you'll know I actually did some work.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Ten Dead Men Japanese DVD cover...

Found this on

Er...I think it speaks for itself really...

Monday, 2 February 2009

Ten Dead Men interview...and snow...

I was just going to post about the snow (doesn't happen very often down here!) but then got sent this link to an interview I did not long ago:

Anyway, look, there is snow:

I made it into work anyway, but the heating wasn't working which made typing pretty much impossible so I got to go home early. I should be making the most of this afternoon by writing, like what proper writers do, but I have also just spent Christmas vouchers on a big box of Hammer films...

Sunday, 1 February 2009

French slasher films...

A few years ago I saw Alexandre Aja's Switchblade Romance and was surprised to find that for the first time since Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween (I could list a dozen good films here but insert your favourites if you disagree with mine) someone had made an effective and genuinely terrifying slasher film. All the regular elements were there - home invasion, burly and seemingly invincible psycho, surviving heroine who toughens up in time to take on the killer single-handedly. Everything most slasher films give you, but this was better than most slasher films. What people seemed to forget about the films that spawned the genre was that they were genuinely good films. They weren't made to fill a bodycount or come up with new and wonderful ways to kill people - they were films in which the fears of a paranoid society were made flesh. Much like the flashes of gore in the opening of Chainsaw these were snapshots of a culture that was increasingly fuelled by fear.

What followed was a load of films in which masked killers massacred hundreds of dumb teenagers, unaware that the biggest casualty was the credibility of their own franchise. Then three things happened - Carol Clover wrote Men, Women and Chainsaws helpfully explaining what the films were really about, Scream made a joke of the genre and Halloween H20 went back and chopped the killer's head off, making sure it was dead. After that book and those two films there shouldn't have been anymore slashers. Unfortunately those two films made money, meaning we got Scream 2 & 3 and Halloween: Resurrection which cancelled out anything achieved by their predecessors.

The slasher genre then split into two distinct forms. First there was the ultra-violent adults-only slasher such as the remake of Chainsaw and the Hostel films. And yes, the violence was pushed to new extremes, at the expense of things like stories and characters and general good film-making practices. The second form is making slashers for kids. The PG-13 rated Prom Night remake for example in which teens are stabbed a billion times without losing any blood and the cops are younger and trendier than most of the murder victims. Amazingly it was rated 15 over here, maybe just on principle.

Before people protest with 'But Friday 13th Part 6 is ace!' or 'What about Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors' I'm not saying slasher films can't be fun. What I'm saying is it's a sub-genre of horror, so they should be scary, right? Which gets me back to Switchblade Romance and French horror films in general.

So fast forward a few years and France also gives us the incredibly atmospheric Them. Although not technically a slasher film of the masked killer variety, it does feature a tough heroine and a home invasion, and had a similar quality to Switchblade Romance - it was very well produced. That's what makes those films different - the filmmakers approached the subject matter seriously. There was no winking at the audience here, no 'it's only a movie' moments, just well made films that happened to be in the horror genre. The same was also true of Frontière(s) which had the added bonus of being incredibly nihilistic - a slasher film about horrible people being killed off by more horrible people.

And then we get to Inside, which I just watched. This one is definitely a slasher film - home invasion, psycho, final girl all present and correct. Plus there is lots and lots of blood - it's the first film in ages to have made me look away from the screen several times and I figured I was pretty much desensitised to all that by now. But there's something else here - like the other French horror films I've mentioned it's a proper film. It has a style and a subtlety to it, along with an understanding of how to create an atmosphere. The killer is perhaps the most disturbing screen monster I've seen in some time, and also very different to those we are used to. And it's full of amazing images - the final shot of the film depicts an incredibly gothic and haunting moment that will stick with you long after the credits have rolled.

So well done France! Once again I am provided with more ammunition in my ongoing argument to prove that the horror genre is far from dead.

At the moment you can only get Inside on Region 1 import (much like another film I've been talking about a lot recently) but if you're a horror fan it's worth getting hold of. It's one of the rare good ones: