Sunday, October 30, 2005

Halloween weekend

We're halfway through our Halloween weekend. On Friday night we watched Candyman (Jo had never seen it, and was suitably impressed - and I *still* can't bring myself to say 'Candyman' five times into a mirror). Last night we watched two movies neither of us had seen before: The Entity (a really disturbing, creepy shocker) and The Ghost (blah blah vengeful Asian ghost blah blah long hair over face blah blah twist ending blah blah dark secret from the past makes you reap what you sow blah blah blah). Don't get me wrong, Ring was what got us into Asian horror movies, and we still love them, but we're *really* getting bored with the whole "vengeful ghost girl who won't comb her hair" thing. Not yet sure what we'll watch tonight (probably The Exorcist and something else), but tomorrow we'll be watching Sleepy Hollow, The Company of Wolves (just out on R2 DVD, buy it now from all good shops) and An American Werewolf in London.

Oh, and tonight is also Teh Carving of Teh Pumpkin. Every Halloween we get the biggest pumpkin we can find, and it sits on the table glaring at us through its creepy carved face. This year we got a massive one, and two tiny ones for good measure. I'll probably get started on those in a little while - we'll do the two small ones tonight, then the huge one tomorrow morning. We've also got a mix of spooky music we play every year, just to get us in the mood. We love Halloween...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Birds is coming!

Now *this* is modern art: "...a birdcage containing 150 pigeons and 45 children made from moose mixed with compacted bird grain. In what seems to be a recreation courtyard, girls and boys play with marbles or squabble while the pigeons are slowly devouring them."

Too cool. Fake kids made of mushed up bird food, dressed in clothes and posed, upon which the pigeons are unleashed. So it looks like hordes of pigeons are EATING CHILDREN ALIVE, as you watch. That's my kind of entertainment.

By the way, the title of this post is the tagline for The Birds, dreamed up by Hitchcock, partly because he knew it would drive grammar freaks absolutely mad.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Death to pink links

Okay, so the redesign is slightly tweaked, because the pink links weren't my bag. The new colour didn't work, so I made them like they are now. Then I had to change the header image, because it looked weird. Then I stopped fiddling, because it looked okay and I'd had enough. It was only then that I realised that I'd chosen the same template as Danny Stack's blog, without even realising. Just as well I changed all the colours and things. I just can't believe I didn't notice until yesterday. No, actually I can: one time I was in a queue in a shop, and it took me three glances to realise that there was a guy on the floor next to me, having an epileptic fit, his foot banging a CD rack, knocking CDs over, making a big clanging sound, surrounded by several paramedics. I literally looked around the shop, my gaze passing over the guy three times, before I noticed him. This is why I will never learn to drive. "Hmm-hmm, wonder what I'll have for lunch-" thumpthumpthump - "oh, sorry, I've just run over all your children. In what looks like a school classroom. How do I get back onto the road? Through that massive hole in the wall I made? Cool."

More meetings soon. One on Friday, with a cool bloke I'm working on something with, not going into details *yet* in case I jinx it, and one possibly next week, with a groovy 3D animation company looking for writers. Still got two pitch outlines (1 page each) to finish for other potential things.

And the accountancy place phoned - they've finished going through my jumbled mess of documents and receipts, and are ready to let me know how much the tax pigs want from me. Got to pay that tax, to keep paying for shitty PFI deals, Prescott's many homes, and the Queen's gold-leaf toilet paper. Hopefully there'll be some left over for schools, hospitals, and other silly things like that.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Publishing is in progress...

...this may take several hours if you decide to change templates, and piss about in Photoshop for ages because you're determined to give yourself a fancy, personalised image header.

Please to be admiring my spanking new redesign. And when I say "redesign", I mean that I chose a different Blogger template. I did edit the header image, though, which was quite tricky. The stripey lines are from the Severance clapperboard, the photo is of the crew setting up a movie spotlight, the bars in the bottom left are supposed to look like a volume equaliser display (I don't know why, I just felt like doing it), and the little grey shapes scattered about are various warning symbols. And of course the pen and spork you've already met. I kept the same layout as the original image, which I'm quite proud of. As for the text shadow - the white text is in the image, and the black text is displayed by Blogger, giving it a shadow effect. Yeah. Photoshop is my bitch.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The screening

What a strange, strange experience... Something I've lived with on paper, for over 2 years, is now a living, breathing movie, on a screen. It's like seeing a movie adaptation of a book you love, and have read about 500 times - but they get the adaptation *just* right, everything you wanted to see is in there, even better than you expected. So good, in fact, you feel no further need to read that book ever again, now that you have the movie to watch instead. Seeing something you've written up on screen as a movie is (a) surreal, like they've sneaked a look inside your brain, (b) surprising, as you know *what* is coming next, but don't always know *how* it'll be done, and (c) possibly the biggest fucking buzz yet created by humans. Sitting there, hearing people (mostly crew, execs, film company staff, etc) laugh at the jokes and gasp at the scares, makes it all worth it - the hair-tearing late nights trying to figure out how to resolve a plot problem are a distant memory.

But what of the movie itself? I think it's fucking great. It's not finished yet - mostly temp music, no sound mix, colour grading, or visual effects, etc - but I got completely caught up in it. It hits all the right horror notes, is funny in the right places, and plays with genre conventions in unexpected ways. It also has a really nice pace, moved fast all the way through - it needs tightening up, obviously, every movie does before the final edit - but I reckon that after tweaks and all the fixes (music, effects, etc), they could easily just go ahead and release it. I think it's that close. Just my opinion of course, and I've only seen it the once, so I'm probably looking at it more favourably than I would if I'd been examining it repeatedly - but hey, the future audience will be seeing it for the first time, and I think they'll have the same impressions as I did. I'm part of the target audience, a guy who knows and loves horror movies - and as far as I'm concerned, they don't need to change a thing. There may be some improvements I haven't thought of (apart from the obvious improvement that would make any film better - a slow motion love scene with Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek in the shower, come on Hollywood, the people have spoken, give us what we want), but right now it feels like it works as it is.

For the first half, I was trying to watch it analytically, but once the gore and insanity kicked in, I was just a horror fan along for the ride. I can't wait to see this in a full cinema with a paying audience. Today's screening was in a fancy preview cinema on Dean Street, they have editing rooms and all sorts of stuff, but we were in their screening room, which has about 30 seats. I sat in the front row - on the aisle, of course, as my fellow FrightFesters would expect - and had a blast. I kept forgetting myself and laughing really loud at the jokes, but I don't think anyone knew it was me, the lights were all off. And it's not as if I'd give the game away on some blog, or anything.

And now, I'm back home. Jo will be here in 20 minutes, we have chocolate puddings all ready to stick in the oven, wine in the fridge, and many DVDs available to watch. This... is the good shit.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Severance, and mrjbbskxvjiji

I just found out that tomorrow, at 2pm, I'll be seeing a cut of Severance. They've been refining the rough cut, and it's now at a fairly advanced stage, so they want feedback from various people, including me. I can't fucking wait to see it, it's going to be so surreal seeing the whole thing flowing as a proper movie. It won't have music, visual effects, or any of that fancy stuff - I think, anyway, they might have some of it done - but it should look really cool. Rest assured that I will be on the internet within minutes, registering my excitement.

Brief rant: When I'm just reading comments on blogspot, and don't need to post one, the word verification thing usually only asks for a 3 or 4 letter word. Ursj, or pntb, or mgdb. But when I want to actually post a comment - and usually on my own blog - the word I have to copy out is something like mggdkszijijijijijjjjiiifnrble. And it's all bendy and faded, and the letters melt into one another, making it incredibly hard to tell i's from j's, or anything from anything. And I always get it wrong. Clearly, the massive global conspiracy against me is finding newer ways to destroy my life. Sort it out, Blogger. Make the gibberish words easier to type.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Greetings and salutations

Hello to the many visitors who've come here via Danny Stack's blog - I was surprised to see my stats jump up from their normal pitiful levels, then saw that Mr S had written all sorts of nice things about me and linked me up. So hello to you all. Feel free to have a wander through the archives, you'll find lots of swearing, ranting, babbling, and occasionally a brief mention of my writing exploits. I also curse Greg Rusedski's name quite a lot - but that's a long story.

Rusedski

You lose, Rusedski. You lose. Checkmate!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Bond, reading, and UK writer blogs

Let me be officially the very last person on Earth to weigh in with an opinion on Daniel Craig as the new Bond: I think he'll be great. I'm really looking forward to the new movie, to a grittier, cooler approach, and think it's going to be very good indeed. Two things I will say though - one, those tightfisted bastards really should have paid Pierce whatever he wanted and done one more with him, seeing as he helped them save the franchise with Goldeneye, and two, Timothy Dalton was a fucking great Bond too, and I will not hear a word said against him.

I've started reading scripts again - I haven't read any recently, just got out of the habit. Reading good ones really helps, it gets you excited, enthusiastic, and makes you desperately want to carry on writing your own. Reading bad ones also helps, because you can analyse where they go wrong, and make sure you avoid the cliches. I've read the Die Hard script about 5 times since I first found it, and will read it again, every year, until the end of time. Best action movie ever made, and probably the best, tightest script I've ever come across. That, and anything by Shane Black, who is my hero. Dying to see his new one, too. And then read it.

When I first started this blog, I thought it would be the only online thing out there that would give an insight into the movie writing process, what it was like to have a film made, and so on. Over the past year, I've discovered shitloads of them, and some of them are on my daily to-read list, like Kung Fu Monkey (John Rogers), John August, Complications Ensue, and now Josh Friedman (hey, you're not in the cool writing blog gang if you haven't mentioned the Friedmeister). Oh well, I thought, at least I'm the only UK screenwriting blog. And I was, until yesterday, when I discovered a shitload of other UK screenwriting blogs that have been around for ages. Which is cool, it just means I'm incredibly unobservant... Maybe I can salvage some shred of web-fu though - I started mine in June 2003, to chronicle my fabulous adventures in Writing Land, so as far as I know, I was the first or at least one of the first UK writers to do it. If I'm not, and loads of other people beat me to it, then they're obviously lying through their teeth, because they are in league with My Enemies. Either way, hello to all the other blogging, jobbing writers out there in UK Land. There are too many to mention here, and I can't be arsed doing linkage, because whenever I do it in Blogger, some weird bug makes me end up with the link in the wrong place, and an image tag in the middle of some other word. Okay, I'll do one, because it's a really interesting one: meet Danny Stack, an Irish, London-based monkey like myself (we're all monkeys, spec monkeys or infinite monkeys depending on your level of recognition - and okay, I'm not actually Irish, but I lived there since I was a kid and have a quarter of my accent remaining, which is legally binding in ANY court of law). There are lots of UK writer blog links on his page, and if you follow some of them, you'll find others, and then even more, and more, and then they will engulf you and eat your brain. Click carefully now, don't get lost on teh Internets, it's a big place. And if any passing UK writer bloggers see this, stop and say hello.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Eat me, tax pig!

Trip to Saaarf London is postponed for a week - which is cool, because it meant I could go and see Serenity instead. I'm a fan, so I'll spare you the proselytising, but I loved it, of course. Apart from the usual patented Joss Whedon "hey, let's do something shocking and nasty that changes the continuity to keep them on their toes and make them genuinely worry if everything will turn out okay" trick, that is. Joss. Dude. I'm really, really fucking gullible, and am always thinking things like (a) *this* time, Bond really is in for it, (b) shit, looks like the A-Team are going to get killed this week, and (c) oh my god, the good guy won! What a shocker! In other words, we can get caught up in the movie, and concerned for the characters' wellbeing, without you feeling that you have to fuck with us like this. It's getting annoying. I'm not saying you should make stuff where nothing bad happens and everything is okay in the end, but just... leave things alone sometimes. If you steadily remove things that are the reason we love a show or movie, then we'll no longer love that show or movie. So, to summarise: waahhhh, don't kill off fictional characters in stories you create, waaahhhh, we made you and we can break you, waaahhhh, etc etc. Cheers.

I handed over all my stuff to the accountancy place a few weeks ago. They wanted all my receipts, bank statements, payslips, payments received, invoices for things I bought that could be conceivably written off as business expenses (DVDs, cinema tickets, TV, etc - it's all research, dahhling) - so that they could fill out the terrifying tax return form for me, and work out how much of my blood I'll need to siphon off for the bloodsucking leeches at the Inland Revenue, god bless 'em. They got it all okay, but there's been an ominous silence ever since. I'm sure if they needed to ask me something, or I'd left out any paperwork, they'd have phoned. Maybe they've just run away. Who cares? They touched all the stuff last, so it's not my problem anymore. If the tax fuckers come looking for me, they'll never take me alive.

Got the contract for the short film last week, signed it, and sent it off. I feel like such an important person, getting contracts and signing them, it rocks. Speaking of short films, check this one out - it was done by some Irish guys in 3 months, with a budget of 80,000 Euros:

http://www.jonny3d.com/html/frames/_dn_prey_alone_frame.htm

Download the hi-res version, it's well worth the wait.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Poncing, researching, and Violencing

I have seen the Film 2005 clip. Check out how poncey this sounds: I asked my agent's assistant to get me a copy from the BBC... I am now officially Teh Ponce. Anyway, it was cool, less than a minute long, but still a headfuck to see all the clips on the telly. Crazy. Editing still continues on the flick itself, and it's apparently going extremely well.

Tomorrow night, late, I'll be heading to the wilds of Saaaarf London, to walk and cycle from Greenwich to Tower Bridge. It's research for something Big and Important, which I cannot possibly divulge, on pain of death and maiming and monkeys. Soon, my pretties, soon all will be revealed. Until then, tell nobody that I was here.

And all of you, run, don't walk, to your nearest cinema, to see A History of Violence. Cronenberg fans, you will love it. Non-fans, you will become fans. It fucking rocks the house down. Please don't read or watch anything about it though, as it's more fun the less you know about it. Can't wait to see it again. For many reasons. All of which will become clear when you see it. Now go! Go and see it! Or I will violence you!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

"...and it's goodnight from him"

We've lost yet another comedy legend. I've just heard that Ronnie Barker has died, and I'm absolutely gutted. I loved The Two Ronnies, and Porridge is one of the greatest comedies ever made - watching the cuddly sketch shows, and Open All Hours, it's difficult to believe that the hard-bitten, tough, streetwise lag Fletcher is played by the same actor. Like Leonard Rossiter, Barker's greatest skill was in delivering impossible tongue-twisting scripts, usually doing them perfectly on the first take. There's a great Ronnies sketch where he's introduced to a man who he should have "a lot in common with" - the two Ronnies are introduced to each other, both dressed identically, and then they both launch into *exactly the same* speech, a huge, complex beast, saying it at exactly the same time, with the same tone, inflections, pauses, the lot. It's funny to watch, until about halfway through when you realise just how incredibly difficult it must have been to do. And I defy anyone to watch the "four candles" sketch, and not be reduced to a helpless, giggling fool, even if it's the hundredth time you've seen it. Barry Cryer says that Barker is on the same level as Alex Guinness and Peter Sellers, and I couldn't agree more. He's irreplaceable.