Thursday, 24 March 2011

Dark Future...

Way back in February 2008, not long after I started writing this blog, I mentioned a project I was working on called Dark Future. Sometime in 2007 the director of the project, Glenn Salvage, had decided to put together a trailer to generate some interest in the film. At some point near the end of last year the trailer was finished (long story). It had its first public screening at the Moviebar launch in February this year. And now, courtesy of Ross Boyask who edited the trailer, it's online for everyone to see:

I'm not sure whether there's any life in the project attached to this trailer now (it's been a long time and a lot of zombie films have been released since) but you never know. I'm glad it's out in the world anyway - a lot of hard work went into producing it from all involved so it deserves to be seen. When we showed it at MovieBar I had a whole list of things I was going to talk about regarding the making of the trailer, but we showed it quite late in the evening and I was running out of steam so only mentioned half the things I was planning to say. Now it's online this is the perfect opportunity for a long, involved blog post telling the whole story...

...only I'm still supposed to be finishing two scripts by the end of the month and right now I'm halfway through one and a quarter of the way through the other. So I need to get back to work...

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Why I loved Resident Evil: Afterlife...

The other night my wife and I watched Winter's Bone which I loved (albeit mostly because of John Hawkes who is awesome). I then suggested she should write a blog about it, despite the fact that she didn't love it as much as me. People spend a lot of time on the internet writing about how bad things are and when it comes to feminism and women in film I only ever seem to hear about the films that get it wrong. This is of course limited to the blogs and bits of the internet that I read so it is something of a generalisation, but I genuinely feel that things wouldn't seem half as bad as they do if we celebrated the good things in cinema as much as we complain about the bad. So seeing as my wife has a feminst blog I suggested she should write something about Winter's Bone. Which you can read here.

I'm now going to write a similar blog about Resident Evil: Afterlife which I watched last night and loved almost as much as I loved
Winter's Bone. If you've been reading this blog for a while you should know this by now, but I never watch films with any pre-conceptions. When I press play an awards-nominated, critically acclaimed indie film has the same chances of impressing me as the fourth film in a franchise about a zombie apocalypse based on a videogame. And this time the two films came out pretty even.

To be fair,
Resident Evil: Afterlife got a lot more things wrong than Winter's Bone did and had more moments that didn't work. But it did have these seven things going for it (and don't worry, there aren't any spoilers) -

1. It passes the Bechdel Test with flying colours - Yes, I have to put in the usual disclaimer that this isn't necessarily a mark of quality. But the fact is if I start talking about Resident Evil: Afterlife and feminism in the same sentence it won't be too long before someone comes along and tells me the women in the film are just the usual male action-movie stereotypes with breasts. What I like about the Bechdel Test is that it neatly sidesteps this argument and proves there's some value in just having a nice number of speaking female characters. Resident Evil: Afterlife has three. And they never talk about men.

2. The opening - The opening few minutes of this film provided one of the most visually interesting sequences I've seen in a genre film for some time (although be warned - it does feature Tokyo being completely devastated which is a little tough to watch right now). It had an art film opening. With zombies. This then develops into a surreal action sequence in which dozens of identical Milla Jovovich clones take down an underground facility that looks like it may have been designed by M.C. Escher. It takes a sequence that could so easily have been a bunch of explosions and makes it into something rather unique and a little bit beautiful. I was impressed.

3. Milla Jovovich is super cool - Probably a matter of opinion, but she is particularly awesome in this film.

4. Retro appeal - It had a kind of John Carpenter/Walter Hill feel about it that reminded me of simpler times. The film spends about 20 minutes setting up the world and the main characters, then they're presented with a problem. They're stuck at point A and they need to get to point B. Between A and B are a billion zombies. That's all we need to know. The characters are developed minimally and efficiently (unlike in Legion which I also watched last week - a film that sets up it's premise efficiently enough but then doesn't really know what to do with it so spends the middle Act on a series of uninspired duologues).

5. The music - Marilyn Manson's score for the first Resident Evil film was awesome and proof that he should have stuck to scoring films instead of making progressively more boring albums. It was also very John Carpenter. Tomandandy's score for this film is a kind of epic cyberpunk John Carpenter with guitars. Which is ace.

6. What they choose to take from the games - I'm reluctant to mention that I'm a huge fan of the games because I don't really feel it has any bearing on how I feel about the films. But what I will say is this - the reason the Resident Evil films have managed to be better than most videogame films is that the only elements they've taken from the games are the cinematic ones. They don't try to emulate the gameplay (as in Doom) and they are made on the understanding that the film and the game are separate art forms. That said, there's enough in the films for fans of the games to recognise.

7. I like Paul W.S. Anderson - I don't mean as an artist, he just comes across like a nice bloke in interviews. Which makes me more inclined to like his films.

That's pretty much it. I'm not saying it's a classic that everyone must rush out and see immediately, but it's a good example of something that looks like a big dumb genre film when it actually has a lot more going for it than you might think.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Little Things...

So at some point while I was working on Jenny Ringo, I think possibly when I'd just started the editing, I came into contact with fellow short film maker Mark Moynihan. Mark was in the process of making his own short film Little Things and was also writing a blog about the process. Since then we have been checking on each other's progress, commenting on shared experiences and most of all competing in a desperate race to finish each of our films first. Mark won. As per the terms of our agreement I now have to eat my tripod.

I'm kidding, it's not a race, it is incredibly encouraging to see someone reach the finish line on their project. I am slightly envious of his efficiency.

Now comes the important part. Mark has put his film on his blog. You can watch it here right now by clicking this link. I'm not going to embed it, I'm going to insist you watch it on his blog so you may feel inclined to leave him some feedback. The film is ten minutes long. That's not a lot of time out of your day. You can then go back through his blog and read about how he put the film together, in which you will learn that this was a lot of hard work. I'm not saying you have to like it but you do at least have to give it the full ten minutes of your time.

I'm making a big deal out of this because I think it most definitely is worth ten minutes of anyones time. And because if it's not and people really don't have ten minutes to spare to watch a short film online then I'm going to have no chance of getting people to sit through twenty-five minutes of Jenny Ringo.

So go watch it (it's here in case you've forgotten already), and make sure you leave Mark some feedback in the comments section.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The best kind of meltdown...

So I kind of had a meltdown at the weekend, but in the best possible way. I'm working on two rewrites which I'm trying to get finished by the end of the month. On Friday I had call about one of those, then another director whose project I've kind of been neglecting due to all this other stuff called so I decided I'd better do some work on that too as that one's still at outline stage. Then I got some notes on a project I finished a while ago and although my new policy is to not rewrite a script every time Jeff Random sends me notes there were a couple of blatant errors that I really need to fix before it gets sent out to anyone else. Plus I'm trying to sort out MovieBar for April. And every now and again I have this nagging feeling that there's something else I should be doing and then I remember I made a short film last year that still isn't finished.

So I looked at all this stuff I had to do and made the only sane, logical decision possible. I didn't do any of it. I played Xbox, watched films and spent time with my wife who was busy not doing things she had planned to do. It was a good weekend.

I had a slight panic on Sunday realising that I still had loads to do, now with one less free weekend in which to do it. No problem, I thought, I'll catch up in the week.

I did not catch up in the week. I completely failed to catch up. I've spent most of the week sorting out MovieBar which is now pretty much done - the empty shelf where I keep the DVDs of films we're showing is starting to get a bit less empty (I'll post the full line-up this weekend).

Then I've been planning stuff. Ideas for things that will require lots more work but will be super-awesome if I can get past the planning stage. Things that I probably shouldn't be thinking about until I've cleared my current slate, but that's how my mind works. And the student in me still can't cope with meeting a deadline in good time so I have to procrastinate until I have no choice but to stay up until the early hours of the morning writing furious (as seen here).

Tonight I'm having a night off, then I'm spending the whole weekend writing. The whole complete entirety of the weekend. Every spare minute will be spent at my desk writing stuff... expect a blog post about monkeys and cheese, Facebook updates on my video game progress and a video diary in which I recreate the opening titles to Renegade.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Jenny Ringo Video Diary 2...

I wanted to do another video diary but didn't really have time so did something else instead (which probably took up more time than a normal diary would have done anyway)...

If you want to see how 'accurate' it is here's the original...

...which I suppose puts it into context but doesn't make it okay. I am definitely working too hard...

Thursday, 10 March 2011

MovieBar in March...

So I refrained from writing a drunken blog-post immediately after the event this time around and took a few days to reflect on it. I have done reflecting. I have decided that it went really well!

It wasn't perfect. There were still a couple of sound problems and there were a few non-
MovieBar people in the pub who insisted on talking throughout the first film until Andrea managed to scare them away. For my part I'm still not great at talking to a room full of people and especially at getting everyone's attention after a break, but these are things I've never really had to do before so I'm still getting used to it. I was again pretty nervous when we started but I was definitely better than last time and managed to actually have coherent conversations with people in between films.

Aside from those minor problems it was fine. The Q&As went really well and the films got a good response from the audience. Loads of people turned up - I was
really worried at the beginning because I'd had a flurry of texts and e-mails (when you're worried about people not turning up then three e-mails makes a flurry) from people saying they couldn't make it. Luckily lots of other people did make it and we've got photos to prove it:

If you don't just want to take my word for it Rich
Badley has posted an excellent write-up of the night here.

So now I'm planning April. I have a
MovieBar shelf in my lounge where I keep all the stuff I need to take with me on the night - quiz prizes, pens, my MovieBar hat (essential obviously), and most importantly the films I'm going to be screening (actually the films may not be quite as important as the hat). When I've got a stack of DVDs in that space I'm happy - I know that no matter what happens I at least have films to screen so I can relax for the rest of the month. I feel a little uneasy when that space is empty. So right now I'm looking for films to screen on Monday 4th April. If you have anything you would like to submit please e-mail

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Just passing through...

Still ridiculously busy. My plan was to get Act 1 of the paid script done by Saturday and get started on the other script today. It didn't quite work out that way. I'm still working on that first Act and it's now 11.30pm on Sunday. Best laid plans and all that...

It's been a busy week and I spent most of it drinking which probably didn't help my productivity. But it has been a fun week. Here's a summary of some fun stuff what happened...

- Last weekend was spent with parents which dad has documented on his Poundland website here. I am mostly mentioning this so you check out dad's Poundland website because it's amazing. And so I can post my photo of the Fire Rescue Ninja:

- On Thursday I went to see the results of the latest Brighton Filmmakers Coalition challenge in which the participants had to make a trailer for a non-existent film of their choosing in 48 hours. This was my favourite:

Close Up - A 48 Hour Challenge Film from Anthony Carpendale on Vimeo.

It's tough to make something like that genuinely disturbing and scary, especially in such a short time but I think filmmakers and actors did an awesome job there.

- Last night I went to see Gentlemen & Assassins supported by Bitter Ruin. It was awesome, both bands were fantastic and it was the kind of gig I wish I had the time to review in great detail. Luckily someone else has done it way better than I ever could - check out Scar's review here. Which means I can just use is as an excuse to post Brother Pete's
Soldier video again:

- My wife has written a blog post about Salt and women in films which I would maybe have written myself if I had time, only it wouldn't have been half as intelligent and would probably have ended with me blaming all the films faults on the notes the writer got from the producers. You can read it here.

- Tomorrow is MovieBar - that came around quickly! We're showing some really awesome films and the quiz is particularly ridiculous this month (as in funny, not ridiculously difficult!). One of the films we're showing is The Ascension Agency which was produced and written by Dan Birt who I used to make films with (that's my excuse for advertising it on my writing blog). Here's the trailer:

You can see the full line-up here. If you're in Brighton tomorrow evening and want to see some awesome short films with filmmaker Q&As and a daft quiz with prizes please come along! It's free too!

That's it, I have officially checked in. As previously stated, from tomorrow night I am becoming a recluse for the rest of the month to get these scripts finished. That's definitely what I'm doing because I've said so here. I honestly won't be going out at all...

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

I'm not really here...

So last week Brother Pete and I had a conference call with the production company who liked the script they're not optioning (which I ranted about here) and I declared that I would write another draft by the end of March. That way we get it finished and we'll know either way whether they're going to move forward with it or not but if they don't then it hasn't taken up too much of my year. Plus we're rewriting it on our own terms now so I'm pretty confident that what we get out of it at the end will overall be a better script.

I'm pleased with this plan. It is a good plan.

Then something else happened. I got paid for another job.

Go back a couple of weeks and I'd been involved in negotiations about a rewrite on another project. And they had mentioned money but because I'm bitter and cynical I decided I would believe that when they paid me and didn't think much of it. Only they did pay me. Which is obviously awesome, but now I have to do the work. By the end of March.

Still, I got paid for a script! Like what proper writers do! Now I just need to become a recluse for the rest of the month so I can actually write the thing.

In other news, Ten Dead Men has been re-released in HMV in a double-pack with Australian action film Vigilante.

So if you haven't already seen it, you can buy it here and get another film as well!

Also, I've added the line-up for MovieBar to the website. If you are in Brighton next Monday I seriously recommend you come along - it may be the last time I'll be seen out in public for some time...