Sunday, 17 May 2015

Mine - A Short Film

A few months back I met with filmmaker Simon Berry, to discuss short film ideas and general film stuff.

He had an ace idea for a short film called MINE and we batted around some thoughts and I agreed to write the script for it. Two characters, one field… and something else.

It’s a sharp idea, a little FX heavy and should be moving, funny and viciously good fun.

Well… it’s been filmed.

When?

While I was in Greece, of course!

I seem to be a little cursed when it comes to someone else filming short scripts I’ve written; if you remember, I couldn’t make (most) of the shoot for DON’T MOVE because of my younger brother’s stag do. I did turn up in the latter half of the last day of shooting… probably smelling like a brewery had done a shit in my mouth.

MINE was filmed in Shipbourne, West Kent on the weekend of 9th / 10th May and Simon has kindly sent over some exclusive shots from the shoot. Check ‘em out here:

 

Intrigued? You should be!

It’s a surprising short, and I can’t wait to see the final thing.

More details – including a Facebook Page – to follow.



For more info on filmmaker Simon Berry, check out his website here: www.simon-berry.com

Dearly Beheaded on the BBC



DEARLY BEHEADED is on the BBC!

Okay, technically it’s mentioned on the BBC website… but still. Cool.

An ace little interview with producer Rachel Richardson-Jones:


For prosperity’s sake (and in case the web page is ever removed / moved), here’s a copy and paste of that article / interview:



Rachel Richardson-Jones is a film producer and co-founder at Not A Number Productions and, prior to entering the world of feature films, directed and produced corporate videos and commercials.

She produced horror films Splintered in 2010 and White Settlers in 2014 and is meeting with sales agents for her third film, Dearly Beheaded, which is due to start shooting this in September.

How has your background in corporate videos has helped you?

The corporate stuff has stood me in good stead for features. My last two movies I raised through private equity. You need to be able to understand the corporate culture and how SEIS works. I wouldn't have imagined being a corporate producer had so much continuity with film producing.

Is it just coincidence that you've gone from the corporate world into horror?

There are the horrors of the corporate world, making high end films about fork lift trucks! When Simeon (film director Simeon Halligan), approached me with an idea for a low budget horror, I didn't really know anything about the genre. But I thought, that kind of stuff sells.

I was so lucky to have been mentored by Tony Parsons (producer of films including Scum and Gregory's Girl) and I asked him whether I should go for it and, in the end, he offered to executive produce and said he would teach us everything there was to know about film producing.

Sadly, he died before we finished producing Splintered (2010), so both Simeon and I knew about production but it was after-production which was where we missed him so very much. So there we were, we had this movie and didn't know the world of sales and distribution.

We didn't have UK distribution so we decided to put on on an event, just us and a few filmmakers of low budget movies. and before we knew it, it wasn't one day with three or four films, it was three days with 27 films and Grimm Up North was born and we're now in its seventh year.

Sim loves the genre and we've now built an audience - I'm more of a sci-fi geek. I'm dying to make a pure sci-fi movie but they take bigger budgets

What stage are you at with your feature Dearly Beheaded as you head to Cannes?

We're actually just about close finance on that, and hope to start shooting in September. So we are talking to sales agents (who market films and help find international distribution) but with Cannes around the corner they are all very busy.

I'm going to be doing some meetings about a monster movie bank heist, primarily with American sales and financiers because it really lends itself to being an American-set movie. I've been sending emails about meeting with production partners, there are a couple of studio people I met at the Berlin Film Festival and I'll reconnect with them.

To the untrained eye, it all seems quite chaotic on the Cannes market floor. What challenges do you face?

The industry people spend the first four or five days seeing who they are there to see, they are there to buy and sell. So you coming along with your little project, its very difficult to get time with them, to sit down and have a proper conversation. It's always good to have meetings planned and have time to shift them if you need to.

Also the parties, they do help in bumping into people and catching up. We have another Manchester-based project called Habit. It's a novella by the writer Stephen McGeagh.

Simeon has just adapted it in to a screenplay so we are going to start talking about that project. It's a fantastic gritty, kitchen sink horror.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

What a Week! What a Lovely Week!

For the first time in over a decade, I left the country for a full week…

And what a week it was!

I missed out on the live general election results, which resulted in a LOT of angry posts about the NHS collapsing into chaos, disabled people all dying of Ebola, pensioners being forced into prostitution, fire stations instantly closing (okay, that actually DID happen) and the Human Rights Act being replaced with something called “The Michael Gove Act”…

…which apparently involves removing our rights to free air, increases working hours to 500 hours a week and replaces police dogs with “attack wolves”.

There were actual protests at Downing Street, although the media didn’t bother to cover it because… erm… reasons. Definite reasons. Possibly because the BBC were covering more important headlines like “The celebrity chef who brought posh curries to Canada” and “Monaco’s royal babies baptised”. Actual headlines. Much more relevant than potential riots in Central London.

Oh, and Johnny Depp’s dogs have to leave Australia or be put down. Headline-grabbing stuff! I wonder if he's also cut his toenails recently. Find out later on BBC World News! Relevant, current, fantastically unbiased.

Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage all quit as leaders of their own party… but UKIP rejected Nigel’s offer to leave.

Eh?

Yep.

Imagine quitting your job and your boss decides you can’t. No, Dave, you must stay FOREVER. It’s like my favourite quote from Event Horizon; “You can’t leave. She won’t let you”. Yes, I’m comparing the UK Independence Party to a busted old spaceship possessed by the devil. What?

I shall not mention my political affiliation (damn you Howling Laud Hope! Why will no one vote for you?!) but I will say this – it’s going to be an interesting five years….

And the holiday?

Well, I don’t want to reveal too much, because it could spark a fit of jealous rage that alienates half my audience base – and I can’t afford to lose those two readers.

Instead, I shall note some interesting things I saw whilst in the idyllic island of Zante…

First up - there was a magic wasp, which kept appearing in our room. Every day. Even though we’d chase it out every day. Somehow, by the morning – EVERY morning – it was back. I’ve already contacted The Asylum with the idea; GHOST WASP or possibly GHOST WASP vs GIANT MEGABEE.

That wasn't the only creature we saw in Greece. We also witnessed bats, sea fish, swamp fish, a (fake) pelican, a hedgehog bird, house martins, one turtle head, a carpet of dead jellyfish, cute cats, mean dogs, cheeky sparrows, quick lizards, a hornet the size of my big toe and possibly a stingray... being chased by a monster fish. Yeah, we went out snorkelling a bit too far that day.

Although all the hotel food was bloody excellent, the varying restaurants, bars, clubs etc... in and around the 'strip' had an interesting range of food. Mostly British. Some Irish (a Full Irish Breakfast anyone?). And one with some strangely placed quotation marks...


Are they saying it's not actually a pizza? Maybe cheese and tomato slapped on a Frisbee. Or a hubcap. Or a turtle shell.

And don’t get me started on the spelling of Sandwich here…

Someone also printed a billion plastic cups with a spelling mistake on them.


Luckily they were the receptacles for our all-inclusive free drinks... so it was forgivable after the eighth free beer.

These are just two of the many intriguing signs and notices dotted about Zante. Most of them set my off my "bad grammar, worser spelling" eye-twitch...


…but that's fine considering their first language is Greek and the only Greek word I know is “Φέρτε μου όλα τα τυριά σας”. And that means “bring me all your cheese”.

There were a few shops and food places that might be infringing copyright too... like the subtle excellence of Pizza House and Chicken House.


I imagine its owner 'Colonel Zanders' must be very proud.

Interestingly, our hotel was laid out as an exact replica of the Flux Capacitor from Back to the Future. Upside down.


Apparently if you ran backwards down the hallway at 88 miles an hour you'd time travel. Or die.


Right. That's it. Done. I'll guess leave you with some beautiful photos from my holiday. Don't get envious now. The green monster eats everyone in its path.


The Hotel

The Swimming Pool

The Beach

Our Room


Eat my holiday.

Friday, 15 May 2015

A Busman's Holiday

I’m back.

From Greece (well, Zante)

Thank you for not burglarizing me.

How was Zante?

Well…

I just had a busman’s holiday.

What the hell is a busman’s holiday? I’m not 75, Dave. Your old person phrases are confusing me.

Imagine you work “on the buses” – i.e. you’re a bus driver or conductor or fluffer or whatever they're called – and you decide to go on holiday... and end up on a bus. That’s a busman’s holiday. The phrase became something to indicate a holiday* during which one does something similar to what one does as work.

* Or vacation, if you’re American
* Or vacances, if you’re French
* Or ваканция, if you’re Bulgarian
* Or kỳ nghỉ hè, if you’re Vietnamese
* Or ikhefu, if you’re Zulu

You get the point. Holiday as in 'fun time away' and not ‘a day on which a festival, religious event, or national celebration is traditionally observed. Like Easter or Turkey-Killing Day’.


Yeah, so despite my confidence I would NOT be writing (for work) on my holiday in Zante… I did.

A lot.

For reasons that may – or may not – be revealed in the future, I had to complete the full rewrite of Dearly Beheaded during the very week I was on holiday. Sod’s law just took a massive bite out of my free time.

Thankfully (as always) Jess was fantastically accommodating to this, allowing me to write when I needed, often when she slept in the morning, sometimes while we were in the bar, one time on the beach…

But it’s done.

Draft complete. A few minor tweaks need to be made, then this will be sent over to script consultant Hilary Norrish for checking, to make sure it’s not a hefty bag of donkey dicks. Or covered in sand.

So how was it?

I enjoyed it! (don’t tell Jess) I love writing, so this is never a chore. It just came at a slightly inconvenient moment.

Check me out here, at the bar.


Looking smooooooooooooooooooooooth.  

I only received 26 odd stares, and only 1 old woman told me to put my “electronics away and enjoy the real world”. Later, I buried her under a deck chair.

We even completed a read-through of the script, in our hotel room, the night before we left.

Yep.

A full read-through of a feature film script.

I'm sure the neighbours wondered what the hell was going on... as we pretended to be dozens of characters, yelling and screaming about blood, cows, beans and betrayal in the middle of the night. Poor neighbours.

Still, serves them right for waking us up the night before, with the "wife" complaining very loudly about the "husband" pissing all over the bathroom floor. Literally all over it, as if a bottle of Iron Bru had simply exploded inside the room (they were Northern). His reason for his terribly-aimed piss-storm? The light was off. Not a great excuse.

But hey. Maybe they were reading a script...

Yeah. So I even did a read-through while on holiday. To be fair, Dearly Beheaded is a damn good laugh to read (you’d hope so; it's a comedy!) and it's not a chore. Imagine reading through The Human Centipede 3 or Saw VII? That'd be a jolly-fun experience, wouldn't it?

Yep. And Jess is a saint. She is officially the most patient woman in the world. What a woman.

Oh, and that wasn't all...

I also had a Skype call with a director / producer in the UK.

Yep. I Skype’d England from Greece to talk about a writing project for an hour (between 10pm and 11pm on a balmy Grecian night...). I had to put clothes on and everything.

About what project exactly? Details, Dave!

I’m not telling you! It’s a secret, but I can tell you it was about ______ and ______ and a magical faraway land called ________. The director / producer may have been called Bobbins McTavish, although that is only 5% likely...

Then there was all the usual correspondence via e-mail, text etc… that I had to do either side of snorkelling or wandering along the three-mile beach in search of turtles or buried treasure. Or buried turtles.

That’s that. Another week in the glorious world of me-trying-to-be-a-full-time-working-writer.

Right. So did I have a horrendous holiday?

No.

Hell no.

It was epic fun and I loved every minute of it, even the 'work' stuff.

I love writing and would've written something anyway, so this work just usurped that. And it will be worth it. It's always worth it. It'll hopefully lead to something awesome, like a film being made. Worth it, always.

It didn't get in the way of eating, snorkelling, eating, walking, eating, chasing fish, eating, avoiding dead jellyfish, eating, visiting shipwrecks, eating and watching Birdemic. And eating. Did I mention eating? Yeah, for an all-inclusive place the food was f*cking epic.

So... that was that. My busman’s holiday.

Which I'll re-coin as "A Writer's Holiday" from now on.

Now I'm back in Englandtown, I can get back to work. Maybe I'll have a rest first.

And a massive detox.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Comper Stomper


Another day, another competition…

Yes, I’m still entering competitions.

With my near / far (wherever you are) miss with the Bluecat Screenplay Competition (hitting top 10%) I had a taste for almost victory. And almost victory tasted goooooood. Like a tub of free ice cream on a cold day. Or ten thousand spoons when all you need is one spoon because you have free ice cream and why the hell would you want ten thousand spoons?

 
To update you on what I’ve entered and about to enter* -

* and mostly to remind me what the cacking hell I’ve entered, because I’ve failed spectacularly to write a list of it myself. Because awesome.

- here’s a list of stuff!

Deadline Wednesday May 6th

Deadline Friday 15th May

Late Deadline Wednesday 20th May

Early Deadline Sunday 31st May



Yep.

Four competitions.

I mentioned about the ‘hope jar’ and these entries will top the damn thing up for months. It’s overflowing like a toilet full of rats. But good rats. And a toilet you didn’t need to use. Maybe it’s performance art?

Yeah, I need to work on my analogies.

It’s a costly habit, though, entering all these competitions, so I’d advise anyone looking to go down the competition route to look at the rules, the prizes, the previous winners, the cost and anything hiding in the terms and conditions…

…like the following competition fine print [company omitted for legal reasons. Probably] which included these lines:

In return for the assistance provided to the writer by [COMPANY], the writer agrees to pay to [COMPANY] a fee calculated as 12.5% gross of any money received by the writer for the Script in respect of script development, script production or pilot production of any kind by any producer, broadcaster, production company or production financier without limitation. This agreement will expire on the date 18 months from the date of the show's performance at the [COMPETITION] showcase.

Although this may appear fair in some respects and could launch a career, it will also mean if you sold your script / comedy series to anyone else (unrelated to the company / competition) within 1.5 years of the competition, you’d immediately lose 12.5% of the GROSS sales (which is before deductions or expenses etc…) even if the company had zero impact on the saleability or content of the work!

“Without limitation” meaning “If you sell your series to HBO for $2 million, we’ll take $250,000 of that immediately. Thank you! I’ve always wanted a yacht made of gold.”


I could be massively misinterpreting this though... but that's how it reads!

Some writers will be absolutely fine with the above (especially if you’re just starting out) but some might be shocked to discover this clause and realize their opus is tied into a contract that appeared – automatically – out of a competition entry.

It’s very clear in the small print (well, normal font-size print) so always read the terms and conditions (and the forums!) because you don’t want to become contractually obliged / lose any rights and / or potential profits because of a competition entry.

Some competitions also don’t accept submissions of the same script a year later, so don’t enter something you know isn’t 100% ready as you might not ever be able to enter that competition again with an improved version of that script – there are TONNES of competitions out there. Patience can be a virtue here.

Which comes to my final point…

You don’t have to enter everything!

Seriously.

Chill.

Look at all the competitions and choose them wisely. Make them work for you.

Right.

Hope jar is now full.

Now, I’ll do some writing*



* Those competition entries won’t write themselves!