Tuesday, 28 April 2015

March / April

A failure to update each month again!  April has quickly flowed away so here I am two months later with an update on various things.

March was looking like a bit of a disappointing month – the fast food advertorial did not materialise and to date still hasn’t – my friend who owns the business has been too busy to script it and the person he had in mind to present the video is now unavailable, so he’s needing to find someone else.
I did chase another lead with the hope of doing a promotional video for a friend who runs a Volkswagon restoration firm but he felt a video wasn’t for him at this stage. I’ve also attended two Worthing based networking nights – one aimed at local businesses, one aimed at people who work from home, perhaps run their own business from home so are kinda isolated as a result – to try and drum up some business and make people aware of me. It’s still very early days on that front but it’s good to get out and meet these people in case they can help further down the line with the narrative film work.

My plan to have one sideline video a month is unfortunately not coming to fruition, but considering how busy I’ve been with other things it’s probably for the best.

On some of the films March continued to be a frustrating month – Knock Knock has still had no further filming done due to paid work commitments from my camera man – he can be offered a job the night before, or equally can have a job cancelled the night before – which has made any long term planning with respect to the tenants of the location pretty much impossible. Still, as the weather is now a bit better I’m hoping we can at least get the forest sequence shot…

(For some reason my updates remind me of a recurring line in Spike Milligan’s Transports Of Delight book that my dad had when I was a kid – “Meanwhile, in Ireland, nothing was happening.”)

Goodnight, Halloween has also had no new developments as such – I saw my make up/ FX guy around early April and he said that the costume should be ready for the end of April, so as I write this during the last week of April I’m hoping for some news on that front. Frustratingly I’ve seen some horror sites sharing a film which seems to use Skype as the basis for a horror film…I haven’t looked completely into it, but a bit gutted that Goodnight, Halloween could look a bit copycat by the time it is finished – annoying as it’s been 7 years in the making. Ironically I recently saw the third Hunger Games film and the dvd menu with the Pan Am/ Capital logo and the President addressing the viewer felt very close to a KRONA broadcast from the film…again, a shame if it’s perceived as copying what’s already out there.

I’ve also had a look at the footage as it was hoped we could cut the KRONA speech from the middle of the film and place it at the beginning to set the mood and to also avoid a sequence where the film grinds to a halt, but due to the layering of elements on the desktop footage this isn’t going to be possible. The elements are now somewhere on Nick’s (my animator/ designer) archived hard drives in Derby and as he is in South America it’s going to be impossible to reconstruct this properly, so it looks like the speech will have to remain in the middle of the film.

Funnily enough at a meeting regarding another project I’m involved in I did get talking about Goodnight, Halloween and explained the storyline etc and it was great to see a reaction from people who knew nothing about it – they seemed to find the story and the world really exciting, which has given me a new boost of confidence for when the piece is finally finished. I still very much believe in the potential of the world as a feature film and possible franchise in many media aspects….if only I could get the short done!

Following Mik’s departure from Pick-Ups I was luckily able to get the same sound designer on board who agreed to work on Goodnight, Halloween about 3 years ago back when I was hoping it was close to completion (wonder if the same can be said for the musician I was hoping to commission for Goodnight, Halloween who now seems to be getting a bit of Hollywood work so doubtful that avenue is still open to me, sadly) We seemed to have some confusion over some things in Dropbox folders, missing files and me completely and utterly misunderstanding how she wants a complete OMF file to start working from, nevermind issues with my Mac and it’s excruciatingly slow and temperamental internet connection when it comes to uploads and downloads. We lost some time on that but she sent me an initial version which still seemed to be using the camera sound as opposed to the sound recorded separately. I also had trouble getting back over to my cameraman to grade the film.

I have a bit of a ticking deadline as there’s a local film competition – South Shorts – which closes on the 1st of May. Last year I submitted Stranded to the festival and got knocked back but this year I really think Pcik-Ups would play well being that a) it’s short  and b) it’s kinda funny. The sound designer thinks she can get a version of the sound to submit, even if it’s not THE final sound so it looks like it’s dependent on my cameraman’s workload this week. Eeek, it all seems very close to the wire as usual. There are also more festival deadlines popping up and there’s part of me that still wants to give this a chance at the festivals before unlocking it on the internet.

The “piece” for the cult actor has taken longer than expected but as I write this I have a dvd to post to him which is hopefully the final version.  When I last got back in touch with him he said he wanted to add a new voice over to the opening of the film to set the scene. As I now had my own sound recording equipment I offered to go back to his flat to record this. He seemed in fine spirits, grateful for my time and very kindly gave me a bottle of wine (his favourite) for all my work on this piece for him (it’s been waiting at home and will be opened as soon as he agrees the piece is complete.) We recorded the opening. I “fixed” his netbook (don’t ask) then got on my way for another arrangement…several hours later I get a text saying that he’s missed a line and is there any chance I can come back and do it? Luckily I was still in the vicinity but when I got there I realised that he’d already said it! While I was seeing him I did also mention an idea for a script I had for him in mind…I briefly mentioned the premise but couldn’t really tell how he felt about it…

With the additional narration I was able to send him another version with all other amendments he’d requested before Easter, but then I heard nothing again. Several weeks went by and still nothing. I chased up my contact for him who said he was apparently having issues with his Blackberry sending texts and would get in touch with me. Still nothing. Finally I called him and we went through the final final changes – one thing he wanted removing was the Faster Productions credit, as he was afraid it made it look as if some professional outfit were involved in it so that had to go. Some changes I could make, some due  to the way it was shot I couldn’t. I did the final amendments, realised there were some I still couldn’t make, waited for his response and finally exported out a hi-res version which took all night…but fingers crossed that’s the end of this project.

(As an aside to all of this, I was also slightly privy to some internet madness involving his Facebook page, the woman who runs it, political affiliation accusations, loss of earnings and as a result the involvement of police and lawyers – all very worrying and following the strange legal email I had  back in November with regard to working with him and the nature of the piece it has shifted my outlook on the internet.)

Well, it’s the end of this project, but the idea for the feature film still stayed with me. I also got this thought it my head that it seemed sad he wasn’t getting any work anymore, when similar actors of his era (Christopher Lee for example) have had a complete renaissance in their “twilight” years – for Lee, from the terrible Funny Man in the mid 90s to two of the biggest film franchises of all time – quite a comeback. But I knew I didn’t have the knowledge of the world, or the time, to write this script…

So I got in touch with Calie, a writer friend of my wife who we hadn’t seen for a few years – she’s also local, which is a good thing, and pitched the film to her – for some reason I thought she’d be the person for the job – she writes for a living in a press department and having read some of her blog pieces in the past she has a definite way with words. With the idea only ever existing in my head it seemed really good to get it written down and once it was out I was surprised how many aspects seemed to be there already.

Luckily Calie loved the idea and jumped straight in – within a few days I had a 35 page version of the film already. As I’d always planned it to be a feature I was worried that perhaps there wasn’t enough meat to justify a longer running time, but a few weeks later Calie came back with another draft, this time around 75 pages which felt very strong. It’s been strange being on the other side of the fence from a writing point of view, looking at issues, clarifications, suggestions so much so that I had 6 pages of notes for this draft, but it helped spark off other ideas and solutions and so far it’s been a really rewarding collaboration.

I was always worried a bit about the premise and any accusations which could befall the script, especially if being written by a man, so having Calie on board has legitimised certain aspects and she also came up with a brilliant solution to the ending, which in my typical fashion ended up being a bit of a dark finale (only way out – THEY ALL DIE) but she managed to turn something negative into a positive. I don’t know if it’s a shift too far, we’ll have to see when we offer it out to people to read.
She’s also written this absolutely amazing monologue piece that the actor tries to deliver in the opening – it was there in her 35 page draft and I was holding back the tears at how bloody fantastic it was – I could hear the cult actor saying it and most of all I really wanted to  capture him saying it. In the 75 page draft  there’s the full length monologue at the end and it’s just wonderful, I’m so desperate to make this film sharpish for him to deliver these lines, almost as a fuck you to the world at this fantastic talent that we’ve been missing out on for all these years. It feels like a swansong – I don’t want it to be his swansong but with his age and health I feel an urgency to get it made as soon as possible.

So assuming he does want to play the role, I’m mulling over crowdfunding – he’s got a fair few fans around the world and quite a lot on Facebook who seem particularly enthusiastic, who would hopefully support it and spread the word….including an odd celebrity fan….but when discussing the project with my cameraman he suggested I try and go the BFI/ Lottery funding route as it’s very much an art house drama – it’s a tempting route which assuming I can put a package together I will look at, but also worry their system could be very slow to work through, whereas crowdfunding could provide a much quicker route to screen.

So that’s all very exciting, but just as March was drawing to a close and it seemed that nothing much was happening on some things, I got an email. Ironically I’d just been thinking about the funding application that day, wondering when I would hear back and being realistic about the chances of a splatstick Muppet-esque  horror short being funded.

Amazingly. Adur and Worthing Trust to do want to fund the short, so I have got the £500 to cover the material costs for the puppets!

My first funded film!


So it’s been action stations as I’m already aware of the end of year deadline, as well as my personal deadline to try and have it finished for the end of October for Halloween (I keep worrying I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with this and it’s most likely I will need those extra months to make it work)

Snore is off to a positive start already – I’ve got a few Worthing creative on board with the film, or if they aren’t they’re all keen to help out in whatever way they can. I’ve got Charlotte, a fantastic puppet maker who is on the prop making course at Northbrook College who is working on the designs and construction of the puppets and also has been a good sounding board to talk through the proposed way of making the film. I’ve also got Garry, a local illustrator from the Jumpstart Initiative, who has also been working on the designs for the puppets  - they’re already almost finalised and look fantastic, I can’t wait to see them “in the (foam) flesh” and bring them to life. Garry’s design for the landlord is so great (and sadly he’s so barely seen in the film) it’s set off ideas of a side film involving just the landlord and his lonely life…

We’re also ambitiously looking at shooting two different versions – the bloody, messy version that I hope will work at horror festivals, but we’ve also decided to see if we can do a family friendly version, as the violence isn’t really anything worse than a Tom and Jerry cartoon so it will be amazing if we manage to achieve that and broaden the audience.

I also had a plan of seeing if we can get a local(ish) Hammer scream queen on board to voice the female lead role – Garry has been designing the puppet with her look in mind in the hope that it will sway her to get involved – if she does that would be another strong element for approaching the horror crowd.

I’ve admittedly been procrastinationg about storyboarding the rest of the film – probably because the prospect of storyboarding all of this action seems so immense – but I finally made a start on it again the other night. It did make me wonder if I’d bitten off more than I can chew with this film, but as my wife hopefully pointed out, one change in a storyboard can take just a moment to actually film. Once the storyboard is complete I’ll be creating an animatic and using that as a bit of a pitch to the actress )oddly, as I started the storyboard prior to the designs being done the storyboard characters don’t resemble the film at all, there are even costume differences from the designs that I’m keen to write into the script)

(Admittedly my procrastinating didn’t help by avoiding storyboarding it by quickly creating an animatic for a martial arts trailer to be potentially shot on Worthing sea front for another project I’m sorta involved in…maybe shooting that one evening in May which might be a fun showreel piece too…also gives me chance to try out some new kit I’ve bought which includes a metre long slider.)

It looks like we may need to build a set to film in, which is worrying as we probably won’t have the material costs to cover that and I’ve no idea where we can get a central space for free where we can build this set, leave it standing and come back to shoot in it. That’s something I still need to look into. On the design front I also need to get the creature sorted quickly too – I had some great designs from the co-writer’s husband and my friend for the application process, but nothing else since, and despite pitching it out to Worthing creatives I’ve heard nothing back.

I do worry this is a stupidly ambitious film, with puppets, creatures, green screen, possible stop motion but I’m also really excited about seeing it come together on the screen and the collaboration process with Garry and Charlotte so far has been really fun. If only I could be paid to do something like this all day!

Funnily enough, even though there’s not been much in the way of shooting, looking back at these two months it looks like I’ve been massively busy after all.

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