Saturday, September 30, 2006

Austin, the aftermath

Friday. 9.35am. We wake up. Jay hadn't packed. I was a zombie. And we were getting picked up in 10 minutes. Luckily there was a mixup in the lifts, so we had a bit more time to sort the place out and leave it in a nice, presentable state. Bleary eyed and zombified, we staggered out to the car and vegged our way to the airport. And now I look like this:

One final dose of meat - a burger - and some caffeine, and we were all set to go. This time, we got a better set of seats in the plane, same amount of room but further towards the front. Just before we took off, a flight attendant asked our row if anyone wanted to switch, as a couple with a baby needed the section to connect their crib to (it plugs into that wall or something). Faced with either moving, or sitting next to a baby for 9 hours, we moved - back to the 2 exact same seats we had flown over on. You couldn't make this shit up.

I'm typing this now, on the plane, somewhere over Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the dark, most people asleep around me. There are 5 hours and 16 minutes left to London. I'm exhausted, shattered, but I've had the most amazing time. The good people of Texas and the Alamo Drafthouse have been incredibly cool to us, treated us like royalty, and we've wanted for nothing. I've made some friends for life, and had a blast. The only bad points have been visitors behaving badly, no bad points at all for our generous hosts. I'm not naming names, but a couple of VIP visitors took a few liberties, treating people like personal assistants or complaining about tiny, silly things - you're getting all your food for free, all your drinks, put up in a nice house, treated like a king, so act with a little bit of fucking grace and humility.

The highlights: Meeting Angela Bettis, Lucky McKee, R. Lee Ermey. Seeing my old buddies Karey and Kristy. Hanging out with our new best mates Devin, Ryan, Adam, Scott, Liz, and Will. Watching a man carve a sculpture out of wood with a chainsaw. The two Severance screenings. Being approached by so many people telling me how much they loved Severance, saying that everyone was talking about it. Bug. Edmond. The Woods. The trail of beer. The cabin in the woods. Walking through the woods and over a train track to get to the cinema. Our first night, being driven to the cinema, taken in the back door, through the kitchen, down the corridor, past the queue, into the screen, and straight to our reserved VIP seats to watch Borat, just like that scene in Goodfellas when Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco get taken into the club through the kitchen. Shooting guns. The Broken Spoke. The Alamo Drafthouse itself, the cool people that work there, and everything about it. The crazy old trailers they show before the lights go down in the cinema. The cinema ads which involve people getting killed or attacked in a cinema, with the tagline "don't talk during the movie, or we'll take your ass out". Screeching with laughter many, many times. Too many more highlights to remember...

My first, full-on film festival, representing something I worked on, and I'll never, ever forget it, or the buzz I got when I was there. The people are all, without exception, incredibly friendly, cool, and fun, and if it wasn't for the fact that it gets hotter than the sun during the summer, Austin is totally a place I could happily live in. Texas rocks. Can't wait to visit there again.

I'll be back, guys. Keep a beer cold for me.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Austin, Day 8

Thursday. Final day of the festival. Myself, Sean, Devin and Scott went down to a diner for some breakfast/lunch/stuff, where I had an omelette, and the guys had the biggest French toast you could possibly imagine. I didn't take a photo, so you'll just have to imagine it. Jay was having an attack of conscience, and had decided to watch the rest of the movies on his jury sheet so that he could judge them. We left him to it, and went on our adventures. First stop was Tim's house, where Scott's judging panel met up to decide on the winners in their category. Devin needed to drop Lucky McKee at the airport, and we needed to get a lift off him after, so we saved him some time and tagged along as he dropped Lucky off. We got to chat to Lucky and his dad for a while, and they're really cool guys. He's really down to earth, a movie geek like us, and was great fun to talk to. It was a pleasure to meet him, and hopefully we can stay in touch.

The ultra cool thing I mentioned yesterday didn't happen - we were hoping to visit the Grindhouse set, but they were doing driving scenes and there was no actual set, just a moving thing going round the city, so we missed out. It's cool, because it was a bonus on top of everything else, and there was plenty of other stuff to enjoy.

We got back to the cinema in plenty of time for The Fountain, which is a beautiful, magical movie. I was captivated the whole time, although I had no idea what the final 10 minutes meant, so I'll have to watch it again or buy the Cliff's Notes or something. Darren Aronofsky was there and did a hilarious Q+A where he was very self deprecating and charming. You always get odd questions at these things, and this was no exception: "So, uh, the repetition of certain symbols in your movies - like in Pi where he keeps saying the assumptions thing and taking the pills - is that intentional?" To which Aronofsky replied: "Are you asking me if I've noticed that I repeat certain things in my own movies? No, I haven't noticed, no idea what you're talking about..." - which got a huge laugh.

After that it was the final movie of the festival, and my second must-see after Bug - Edmond, starring William H. Macy, written by David Mamet, directed by Stuart Gordon. It's like Falling Down without the hilarious feelgood message. It's incredible, I don't think I've ever seen a more vicious, storming performance than the one Macy unleashes in this movie, it's a real kick in the face for 90 minutes. Fantastic stuff.

Onwards to the end of fest party, in a nearby bar, where the winners of the judging panel were announced (Severance wasn't in competition, only films without US distribution were) and much beer was drunk. We rolled back to Tim's house, drank more beer, and played a really cool horror trivia game that was made by one of the festival programmers, Kier-La. It's basically Trivial Pursuit with obscure horror questions, and was bloody hard too, but great fun. After many hugs and goodbyes, we all went our separate ways, me and Jay heading back to the cabin to get 3 hours sleep before our ride to the airport...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Austin, Day 7

We stayed up till 5.30am last night, and I was going to skip the Texas Chainsaw outing today - but the vans turned up at 11.30, and I was ordered to come along. You never leave a man behind. So we went to the Texas Chainsaw house, the original one from the original movie. It's kind of creepy, but has been cleaned up and pretty much looks like a normal, nice house. Unless you take it from a CRAZY SPOOKY ANGLE:

And then, surprise surprise, just to make a change, we all went and had some meat. Another barbecue place, where they have big boxes full of meat and sauce, and you eat your own weight in food. It was really, really tasty, but again, we just felt ill and full up after, even though we barely ate any. Here's Scott from eFilmCritic (our new new new best friend) having a heart attack:

After that, there was a wine tasting at a Texas vineyard, which was really good stuff. I had no idea they made wine in this state, and it was excellent. And they had very silly dogs who kept running around and standing up:

We got back late, so there wasn't time to do interviews with Lucky and Angela before their screening, so we'll do an email one with them when we get back, so we can give them plenty of room. Back to the house for some beers, then off to see Blood Trails. I've decided never to publicly slag off anyone's movie again, because we're all part of the international brotherhood of film, or something, so I'm not going to say anything about that one. But I didn't like it. After that we saw Sean Hogan's movie, the other guy who came over with us - Lie Still. It's a really effective, Japanese-style spooky horror, understated and cool, and really creeped me out. Nice! We were all flaking out by that stage, so it was back to the house for more booze and smoking, A relatively early night was had at about 3 or 4am. Tomorrow, we're hoping to do something incredibly fucking cool - if it happens, it'll be the most exciting thing ever...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Austin, Day 6

There was a lunch for us VIP type people at Tim League's house, and I was relieved to find that it was made up of a salad and a fish course, along with dessert. No meat in sight, thank Christ. Nice, relaxing day, and I got interviewed by someone at a film festival channel. I also sat in the sun for too long, like over 15 seconds, and felt a bit ill for a while - headache, nausea - and had to take it easy for a while and drink lots of water. It wore off, but I'll have to be careful, it's so easy to stay outside too long.

Today's movies were Roman, the movie directed by Angela Bettis and written by Lucky McKee, The Woods, written and directed by Lucky McKee, and Wilderness, directed by Michael Bassett. Roman was a really sweet and charming indie flick, and kept me going all the way through to its unexpected ending. The Woods was superb, not what I was expecting at all from the trailer. After The Woods, we went outside and saw Angela Bettis chatting to someone, right there in front of us. So we went up and said hello. And that's where it all went wrong in my brain.

I had met R. Lee Ermey a few days ago, and had no problem chatting and cracking jokes with him. I'd met lots of new people, film makers and movie goers, and been perfectly outgoing and confident. But as soon as I met Angela Bettis, I fell to pieces. I managed to stammer "Hello... I love 'May'...", and forced myself to stop talking because I knew the next thing was going to be "...and I love you too...", which would have been terribly embarrassing for everyone. I barely managed to string a sentence together after that, and had my picture taken with her and everything:

She is tiny, and incredibly nice, and I immediately became a mumbling 14 year old from that point on. I was shaking, literally shaking, and just couldn't control myself. Totally starstruck. May, Sick Girl, Toolbox Murders remake, I love her stuff. Somehow Jay got her to come and have a beer with us in the VIP section, and we chatted away quite happily. I was still a quivering wreck, but not as bad this time. Jay wanted to do an interview with her, with me tagging along, but his phone's not working, so I gave her my card and said we'd call her tomorrow to arrange it. And after she admired my card - my card! she thought it was cool! - she gave us her phone number to arrange to meet up tomorrow. We had a great chat, she was really cool and funny and genuine, and then we had to go into Wilderness and she and Lucky had to go and get some sleep. I was doing fine, we were about to leave, and then I just couldn't help myself: before I walked off, I said something like "sorry to be the gushing fanboy thing, but I really love your work, really enjoyed May, Sick Girl, and the Toolbox Murders remake, and just think it's cool the way you're doing everything, so keep doing what you're doing". She seemed genuinely pleased by this, thanked me, and I walked away, only then realising what an UTTER wanker I'd just made of myself. I swore I wouldn't do that with anyone, but I just couldn't stop, it came out in a rush before my brain realised what was happening. Fucking nerd. Everyone else said it was fine, that she knows I'm a film maker too, and would respect my opinion, but I still thought I'd made a tit of myself. I've calmed down now, but am still buzzing at meeting her and getting to talk to her. Still can't believe how starstruck I got, everyone thought it was highly amusing.

And now I must sleep.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Austin, Day 5

Day 5

Up early, first thing in the morning, only 4 hours sleep. We got picked up, and taken to Smitty's barbecue, which is a huge, dark place made of wood and metal, where they cook massive amounts of meat. You would not believe me if I told you the amount of meat they dumped on the table for us. So here's a photo:

The place was kind of dark and smokey, looked like it was 200 years old or something. Really atmospheric and cool, but a little worrying in case we ended up on the menu ourselves. We ate as much as we could, eating our own weight in meat once again. The intention then was to go back to the lodge, get 3 more hours sleep, and then head back out to catch Bug at 6.10. But for some reason, exhausted, spaced, full up, in pain, we decided to stay at the cinema and drink some beers. We got pretty rowdy, drinking outside the cinema entrances, and they tried to get us to move to the lobby area by moving the table. That didn't work, so they actually laid us a trail of beers on the floor. This guy came up and said "oh, hey! what's that over there? is it a trail... of beer??" and he was laughing at us, because we got up and followed it, as it led us down to the lobby area where we sat down. The entire staff were laughing at us, they know us too well now. We sat there and chatted for a while, then had our pictures taken with a cardboard cutout of Will Ferrell:

Aren't I handsome? Then we headed out to buy some t-shirts, and just made it back in time for Bug, William Friedkin's new movie. Fuck. Me. Sideways. Knew nothing about it, didn't want to know, and it totally blew my mind. It's better if you go in totally fresh, and it will just knock you sideways. Best movie I've seen all year, no question, deserves to be showered in awards, for the script (Tracy Letts), Friedkin, the two actors (Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon), but probably won't because it's not a safe, mainstream, easy watch. Superb. Watched Jay interview Adam Green then, had more beer, and went into the Severance screening at 11.30, where I was doing a Q+A again.

Second screening was even better than the first, really amazing. The response was louder, they clapped, cheered, screamed, and roared with laughter. It was so unreal, I was getting tears in my eyes at how well it was going. When it came time for the Q+A, I was a bit nervous cause I'd been drinking a lot during the day, but it went fine, I actually said a lot more than the previous one, and got lots of questions fired at me. I kept them entertained until we had to clear out, and people kept coming up and asking more stuff, shaking my hand, asking for autographs - some people even wanted their photo taken with me, which was totally fucking surreal for me, as I can't imagine anyone looking at the pictures and knowing who I was, I'm just me, you know? But they were all nervous about asking, it was strange to be in that reverse position. Really cool too. That went on for a while, and we headed back to the house for more drinks and celebrations. And we got an early night this time - 3.15am. Practically teatime, compared to previous nights.

The next day, something extremely cool happened - but I'll keep you in suspense for that one.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Austin, Day 4

Today was a bit of a blur. The barbecue did get started around 4pm, but we were still completely trashed. We prevailed though, and had a really cool afternoon eating more meat, and chatting to Ryan, Theresa, Adam (director of Hatchet) and Liz, one of the many cool people at the Alamo cinema. Had a nice, chilled out day just talking to great people, eating, and drinking. The only movie we checked out was the midnight showing of Hatchet, Adam's movie, which is a total 80's splatterfest but with a really witty script, and fantastic gore. That went down really well with the crowd, and apparently he was there until 4am talking to the audience.

It was nice to have a calmer day after the madness of the past few days. We stayed up till 5am though, and needed to be up at 11 for the barbecue the next day. So we only managed 4 or 5 hours sleep. I have no idea how we got through Monday, because it was packed full of mad stuff. But that'll have to wait until the Day 5 report...

Austin, Day 3

Day 3 - Severance

Woke up ridiculously early again, the jetlag still kicking our asses. Had a nice breakfast, then I went over to meet my old friends Karey and Kristy, who I haven't seen for 14 years. I met them the first time I was in America in 1992, and it was so cool to see them again. We hung out, then went to a Mexican restaurant, and I went to see if I could get them tickets to the Severance screening. No problem whatsoever, the guy I spoke to sorted it out immediately, reserved three seats for us. When the time came, we were waved in, led to the seats, and sat with Jay and Ryan Shifrin, who directed Abominable and is a really cool guy. I was a bit nervous how the movie would go down, different audience, different backgrounds, etc, but I needn't have worried. They were incredibly vocal, clapping and cheering, laughing at all the jokes, even the more obscure cockney lines, and actually gasped as one at the beartrap scene. It was fantastic. The one scene I was worried about got the biggest fucking laugh of all, it was incredible. Round of applause at the end, and I did a quick Q+A, keeping it short as the screenings were running late. Again, somehow I managed to pull it off, cracking jokes and doing really well, I was on a high. As we left, people were coming up and congratulating me, giving me cards and stuff, it was cool.

And then, the drinking began.

We went to this crazy Texan bar called the Broken Spoke, a real country bar with guys in stetsons and cowboy shirts, it was such a fun place. Drunk Texans kept coming over to chat to us about nothing in particular, they were really friendly. We played pool, shuffle ball, and drank a lot. We saw the girls off in a taxi, then came back to the Evil Dead lodge. At 1am. And there was a party starting at 2am. That we needed to go to. Oh dear. See, we'd taken a bit of flak for chickening out of boozing the night before, and people were saying things like "oh, there's a party, but you boys are probably too tired and jetlagged." Our reputation was at stake. Which is why we went. We got picked up at 3am, and began another night out, directly after our previous one. We stayed there, drinking, till 7.30am, and played table tennis towards the end, for some reason. Back to the lodge at 8am, slept till 12, said goodbye to Karey and Kristy who had called round on their way home, and slept again till 3pm. We're supposed to be having a barbecue today, at 4pm, in ten minutes. Our eyes are bleeding, our legs won't hold us up, but dammit, we're going to keep going. For little baby Jesus.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Austin, Day 1 and 2

Day 1 (Thursday)

Wednesday night, while drunk, me and Jay decided it would be a great idea to go and shoot some guns the next day. Amazingly, our drunken decision stayed with us, so on Thursday morning we went to a shooting range with two cool guys from the Alamo Drafthouse, Devin and Eric. It was fantastic. I've never fired a gun before, and we got to shoot a shotgun, an M16, a Glock automatic handgun, and a Magnum revolver. The shotgun knocked me backwards, felt like I'd been kicked in the shoulder by a horse - I have a big bruise there now, and it's quite sore.



The M16 had a laser sight, and was pretty powerful. The Glock was like a plastic toy - that can kill.



The Magnum was my favourite though, really powerful, really fucking loud, and so, so satisfying to fire. We went through tons of ammo, and had a blast. If there's a zombie outbreak, I'll be okay as long as I have some guns. Driving back, we got completely lost, and drove around suburbs getting eyed up by men on porches with guns. We stopped to ask someone directions, and they merely replied "we're waiting for a bus", which didn't help. But we got there in the end.

Oh, I forgot, last night we also saw hundreds and thousands of bats on Wednesday night. They live under this bridge, and at dusk they all fly out, squeaking, and form a giant cloud to go off and do batty things. They stink of bat shit, but look pretty cool.

Later we went to the premiere of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, which was good fun, pretty similar to the remake (young people get killed, bad people do bad things, shouting, blood, chainsaws), and quite intensely gory. At the VIP after-party, we even got to meet R.Lee Ermey, which was just amazing. I shook his hand, talked to him, he talked to me, I made a joke, he laughed, we chatted, it was so fucking cool. He was really nice, and not at all scary, but I still didn't try to start any shit, just in case. Before the movie, they played a video of him telling people to "switch your fuckin phones off, or I'll kick your ass", with a sign at the end that read "If your mobile phone goes off during the movie, R.Lee Ermey will take your ass down", so I smashed mine to pieces to make sure.

The party was cool, a man carved a sculpture out of a big log with a chainsaw, and we became best friends with some total strangers, all of whom turned out to be from aintitcool.com. We drank with them, brought them back to our cabin in the woods, and drank until 6am.

Day 2 (Friday)

Today, I have been mostly going "uhhhhhh" and staggering around in a daze. We bought some food, acted like zombies, and saw Tideland, which was really strange, and really beautiful. It's quite hard to endure because of the difficult subject matter, but extremely brave, and deserves to be seen. Few movies stay with you for that long these days, but Tideland really got under my skin, and I'm still not quite sure how to describe it. It is what it is, and you should automatically go to see any new Gilliam movie anyway, so seek it out. We were supposed to be going clubbing tonight, but me and Jay both chickened out because our brains have melted and we need to crash and burn. A quiet, pretty uneventful day, but we're so trashed we just couldn't do anything much. Have to save myself for tomorrow, when the Severance screening and Q+A is on, and I'm meeting up with a friend I haven't seen for 14 years, which I'm really looking forward to. Right now, we're sitting in the cabin, spaced out, channel surfing, watching adverts for hunting gear - adverts which are basically animal snuff movies, rabbits and things getting shot. A fat old man shot a turkey from just a few feet away with a massive shotgun, wearing camo-gear, sitting on a special hunting chair. Took the sport out of it, somewhat.

I know, I know, only day 2 and already I'm falling to pieces. There's another week to go yet. Need to pace myself...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Austin, the arrival

heeeeeelp meeeeeeeeeee

Okay. It's 1am, local time, which is actually 7am *my* time. I got up at 5am my time, and have been up for 26 hours. When I got up at 5, I'd only managed about 4 hours sleep. So calculating the hours, that works out at Fucked Up Sleepy Dead Brain.

Got to Gatwick, met Jay the crazy freelance journalist who sorted out the trip for me, had a bacon sandwich, coffee, removed all clothing, shoes, skin, muscles, bone marrow, for the security scans, and got on plane where we commenced THE LONGEST FUCKING FLIGHT OF ALL TIME. First, it just sat there for 45 minutes before it took off. No worries, we thought, we'll watch some movies. When me and Jo went to New York, we flew Virgin, economy, which had about ten movies, loads of tv, games, radio, all sorts, on their in flight entertainment tv screens. This flight, THE LONGEST FUCKING FLIGHT OF ALL TIME, we had two movies. X-Men 3, that brand new movie that came out months ago, and Firewall, see X-Men 3. Neither of which I wanted to see. A couple of TV shows, and some shitty radio stations. So, nothing I wanted to watch, and no games. Which was okay, because my remote controller/gamepad wouldn't come out of its slot. Which was okay, because my TV switched itself off after 2 minutes of trying to watch anything at all. And so we commenced on THE LONGEST FUCKING FLIGHT OF ALL TIME, where we basically stared at the sky map and cried for 9 hours. There was nothing else to do but drink. So we knocked back JD and Cokes. Which was fine, until they ran out of JD. We actually drank them out of JD. The really nice army guy next to us gave me his leftover JD bottle, so I was okay for a bit longer. We looked at the skymap. 4 hours to go. Jesus. Fucking. Christ.

To cut a long story short-ish, we landed. Went through customs, picked up our bags, then put our bags back into the check in, went through security again for some reason, desperately tried to find a pub before our 3.15 boarding time, found one at 3.10, opposite the gate, necked a skanky lite beer (we didn't know it was lite till we'd paid), and ran onto the plane, the last to arrive, stinking of booze, unclean, staggering, going slightly mad, giggling like schoolkids, and sat down. The flight was 34 minutes, and they served drinks. We ordered a gin and tonic each, and I shit you not, we'd barely lifted the glasses to our mouths when they announce that we were about to land. We knocked them back double quick, had the empties snatched away, and landed.

Austin, Texas, is very hot. Very, very hot.

It's also beautiful, really nicely laid out and spacious. We got picked up, taken to our scary lodge in the woods, with a shitload of beers, a massive bottle of Jim Beam (photo soon, you won't believe it), and met some other people, including Tim, the Alamo Drafthouse cinema dude. A shower and some more drinks later, we went to a special screening of Borat. More on that in a minute. First, the cinema. Best. Cinema. Ever. Every other seat row is a row of tables, where you can put your booze and food. They have a massive menu, 60 bottled beers, and you put your order on a piece of paper, and the waiters sneak in and pick it up, bringing it over to you when it's ready. As VIP guests, it was all free for us, which was wicked. Anyway, onto Borat. My throat still hurts from shrieking with laughter and horror, and then whisperiing "oh no, oh noooooo" to myself when something horrific happened. Back at the scary lodge now, we're having one final drink, and are then crashing into bed to get some sleep.

The film festival hasn't even started yet. It starts tomorrow. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I'm off

It's 10.20pm. I have to get up at 5am to get a cab to the airport. I haven't packed yet. And here I am, doing a final blog post. That, folks, is dedication to the bloggy cause.

The NPA panel was great fun, I was a bit nervous going in as I've only got one credit to my name, and the other guys had lots of stuff, been in the business for years. But they were really cool, down to earth, and funny. Started off a bit slow, wondering if people would start shouting "fraud", or "who the fuck are you to tell us how it is", but nobody tried anything, so I was okay after that. There were lots of questions, great questions, and hopefully we answered them all to your satisfaction. If not, you know how to contact me, give us a shout. Sorry I couldn't stay after in the bar for more questions, but see above re: packing, sleeping, etc. Good luck to all of you in your various projects, and thanks for having me along. Hopefully I'll be doing more of them.

And finally, I'm now a member of BAFTA, which is cool. It means I can vote at the awards, use their bar and restaurant, and get free invites to all their special movie screenings, events, Q+A's, and so on. It's great because they decide on new members once a year, no matter when you apply, they only choose people in September, for some reason. Membership is capped at a certain amount too, so I'm really glad I got in.

Right. I'm really, really tired (only got a few hours sleep last night), I need to pack, and sleep, in that order preferably. Next update will hopefully be from Texas, if I ever make it on to the internet. Austin, here I come...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bear, Urination Scene, Topless Woman

Okay, my big news is... drumroll... I'm going to a film festival! This week, 21-28 September, the Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, to be precise, where they're having a couple of screenings of Severance. It's on at the Alamo Drafthouse cinema on South Lamar, where the seats all have tables, and you can have food and booze delivered right to your seat. It's all a bit last minute because I didn't know about it until very recently, so it's a nice surprise. My mate Jay introduced me to Tim, the guy who runs it, and Tim asked me if I wanted to go over and do a Q+A session after one of the screenings. I gave it 2 or 3 nanoseconds of thought, and obviously said yes. So I'll get to see some movies, meet some new people, drink some booze, eat some steaks, and do another Q+A, but on my own this time. Yeah, bit nervous, but after the last one went so well, I'm really looking forward to it. I will be there, live and in person, says the website, and I can't argue with that. There will be tons of cool movies to see, famous people (R. Lee Ermey, Angela Bettis, Lucky McKee among many others), exec-type people too, and the chance to network like crazy. So I've had some business cards made, with links to all my web details, email, and phone number, and a groovy design I came up with. Have a look (contact stuff is correct on the real card):

The idea is that I hand them over with my thumb on the thumbprint, for maximum impact. They'll either be really impressed, or think I'm a weirdo. I'll be taking my laptop with me, and because Austin is pretty much wi-fi'd up to the eyeballs, I'll be able to blog my progress as I get drunker and more insane. So if you're a member of the scriboblogothingosphere or just the general thingosphere, and you're in or near Austin between the 21st and 29th, let me know. Also, if you know any cool bars to visit in the area, that is information I must have.

Trying to finish off all my writing stuff before Wednesday morning, which is when I fly out. Got meetings all day Monday, NPA panel on Tuesday evening, it's all crammed in. I did manage to plough through the first, rough, get-it-all-down draft of my spec though, so yay for me. It feels like a huge mess that doesn't work, I even changed the setting halfway through without breaking stride or worrying about consistency, but I didn't look back, just got on with it until I finished the bastard. It won't be as bad as I think. Hopefully. At least I have 92 pages of *something*, which is a start. It just feels good to be writing something that is purely for me (until it's finished and ready to go out to interested parties), something I can take my time with and enjoy. Most of it was done during breaks from paid-for stuff - I have to work that way, shuffling things around, to keep my mind fresh. I'll give it a week or so, then go through it and see what the damage is like. Will try and do a last blog update before I hit the road, so watch this space.

Here's the groovy French poster for Severance, thanks to Claudette for taking a pic of it for me from the French issue of Premiere magazine:

Not sure if I've mentioned it on here, but the soundtrack for Severance is available on iTunes (link will open iTunes if you have it), a fantastic score by Christian Henson, really atmospheric and haunting. It's not on sale as a CD, just a digital download. I think other online shops have it, no idea, as I'm an iTunes geezer myself.

And if you check out this link on the IMDB, you'll see that the plot keywords for Severance are Bear, Urination Scene, and Topless Woman. It's the only movie to feature all three! And it's still in the cinemas! Although at less times during the day, so this is probably your last-ish chance to catch it on the big screen if you haven't, you know who you are. How can you stay away? It's got a bear, a urination scene, and a topless woman. What more could you possibly want?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

You're my best mate, you are

Got a Q from Lucy in the comments:

Now you're a respectable screenwriter with credits and everything (damn you and well done), do you find people kiss your ass more? Or is too early to say?

(Before I answer, this is my first and last apology for the self-analysis that is about to happen: this blog was always meant to explain and demystify the whole process from the inside out, from the point of view of a writer (me) trying to get into the business, and what happens when you do get in. I'm not boasting, or being narcissistic, just relaying my experiences etc etc. If that bothers you, please feel free to get your own blog and write about what self obsessed wankers we all are. Message ends.)

I'm still waiting for the "everyone is my new best friend" thing to kick in, but I suspect I won't get as much of that. Mainly because (a) I'm not an actor, and (b) I'm not a director. Even when I do get interviewed, there's rarely an accompanying photo, and, let's face it, nobody ever broke into the business by sleeping with a writer. Except that time I slept with that writer who got me into the business (Gallagher, you never call anymore, did I mean *nothing* to you?) Besides, I can spot bullshit a mile away, so I won't be taken in by ass kissers should they ever appear. There is a definite dividing line between my life before Severance was released, and after, but things aren't actually that much different. The 5 things that needed writing were on the go before it was released, they just happen to need finishing this week. I have been getting a lot of emails, but they're mostly "well done", "how did you manage it", or "loved the movie". Only one person has sent me one of their scripts, but it was a very polite email and they weren't asking for or expecting anything (side note: I really will probably never get time to read anybody's stuff, and I don't think I'm allowed to anyway for legal reasons, so it's probably best not to send anything). Several people have asked if I have any tips for breaking in, to which I can only answer "write a script and sell it", as that's what I did. But that's not very helpful, so I point them towards other, more knowledgeable sites. Anyone who has asked for advice, I've answered to the best of my knowledge, because I know what it's like trying to find information when you're starting out, so I'll always do that, either by reply or on here.

I'm going to a special thing next week that came directly off the back of Severance (more news on that later), and have been invited to that NPA panel thing as a writer/expert/bluffer. Neither of those would have happened without the movie. Apart from that, I still have to finish the things I'm working on, still have to find solutions to story problems, figure out endings, and so on. I've got quite a few meetings lined up, but I'm still doing 2 days a week in the dayjob, so my life is more or less the same, in that sense.

The only thing I've noticed is a gradual shift in the way I'm treated at meetings and in general in the industry. Having a credit somehow magically bestows a certain something on you, it automatically means you're some sort of professional, and not to be dismissed so lightly. Make no mistake, I'm not suddenly all powerful. But there's definitely some slight change there. Part of it is probably my own self belief - I've noticed myself just getting on with it in these meetings and story discussions, not apologising for ideas, not downplaying myself, just stating my opinions and standing behind them solidly, good or bad. And I think it's probably that more than any sort of perceived importance that is affecting how I think I'm being treated. Of course, I may just be imagining the whole thing. But there's definitely something there. I feel more confident, very much so.

Still though, I'm hoping to collect at least a few ass kissers, yes-men, and sycophants, surely writing has to be good for some freebies...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Catching up, and being a panellist

Slowly getting on top of things. Had 5 things that needed doing, and I've now done 3 of them. Hoping to finish one tomorrow, and make a start on the last one the day after. I'm 50 pages into my new spec, it seems to be chugging along nicely. Had a great meeting with some TV people over a potential project I'm really excited about. And I'm actually considering starting another spec, even before finishing the first one, because I'm dying to get going on it. But that way madness lies. Been doing a few interviews lately, mostly web ones, I'll do a separate post to round them all up, as they're not all online yet. Did a really good fun one today for Shooting People, looking forward to seeing that. Got bucketloads of meetings this week, and early next week, and some big news coming about what I'm up to soon...

Next Tuesday I'm a panellist at the New Producer's Alliance "9 Point Script Development Training": "An overview of the script development process. Who’s who in the development world. The basic questions: What is a Script Report? What is Script Coverage? Where can you get them? How do you copyright a script? Can you copyright an idea? Where do you go to get help with your writing skills? Who’s out there to help writer producers, script editors with development? How do you find the right team? The Panel: A writer, Producer, Script Editor, Director. Guess which one I am? I'm really looking forward to it, because I can pretend to be an expert for a couple of hours, and hope nobody calls my bluff - and maybe help some people out along the way, of course. It's open to everyone, non-members are charged £10, no idea what members pay, if anything. It's an ongoing course thing, I'm only expected to do this one, but if it goes well, they might ask me back again.

Severance is still out in many cinemas, so still time to check it out if you haven't. It just played at the Telluride film festival, and was apparently the first slasher ever to be shown in its 33 year history - they don't announce the movies they're showing until the opening day of the festival. They still insist on describing it as "The Office meets Deliverance", neither of which it is anything like, although one of them did say "The Office meets Evil Dead 2" - which is still not quite right, but a bit closer to the mark. Anyway, apparently it went down well:

...one of the festival’s biggest sleepers was the unlikely success of the British slasher film, Severance... probably the slyest and most subversive evisceration of the military industrial complex since Bob Dylan’s "Masters of War." The sight of septuagenarians emerging glassy eyed and giddy from this Ten Little Indians meets Friday the 13th extolling its merits was truly a sight I had never beheld at Telluride.

Another reviewer didn't seem too keen, finding it less than hilarious, but did concede: "Who knows? This made-for- midnight movie might just find an audience in the real world. At minimum, those who market Severance probably will be encouraged by what one woman was overheard saying in line. She reported that after the movie her companion wanted to go into the bathroom and throw up. If you're in the horror business, you can't buy publicity like that." - Indeed you can't. Ch-ching!

Thank you to everyone who is emailing, probably thanks to the Shooting People posts. The most common question is still how did you get started/how did you get Severance made - the answer to the first one is here, and the answer to the second one is in many, many posts following that one. Second most common question is how do you get financing/get your films made - sadly, I have no idea about how to get financing for a film, or how to get them made, I got an agent, wrote a script, and sold the script. That is the extent of my knowledge on "getting your script made", sorry about that. Any other questions though, I'm happy to answer, and will do so here on this very blog which you are reading right now. Using "words"!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Welcome new folk, and more links

Got plenty of new people dropping into the blog this week, thanks to the good folks at Shooting People, and general web searches. Feel free to look around, browse the archives - I'll be doing a proper index soon, as the post titles are either dates or meaningless phrases, but in the meantime, if you want to know how I got started and got an agent, go to the very first post here. It's a bit scatty and fragmented, but I'm going to leave it the way it is, because it's a good representation of how excited I was about everything getting started. Thanks to everyone sending me emails, too, I really appreciate it - I'm trying to reply to everyone, but if I'm a bit slow it's because I've got loads of stuff that needs doing, and I forget things quite easily.

Sorry for the lack of updates since the charity screening, got a bucketload of deadlines and things on the go - have to do notes for the Curfew revisions (all going well, just letting them know what changes I'll be doing), rewrite an outline for a horror film I'm working with a director on, finish an outline for another adventure/mystery movie I'm working with another director on, write some notes for a meeting this week with some TV people who I hope to be working with on their project, type up answers for 2 email interviews, and try and find time to carry on with my new spec script. In the meantime, here's a couple of quick links for your clicky pleasure:

Severance hits number 7 in the top 10 at the UK box office in its first week, which is pretty cool. We've been increasing our ticket sales all the time, it looks like the word of mouth effect is kicking in.

It's time to vote in the Total Film Readers' Awards, and they've got Severance as one of the options for Scariest Scene, with the bear trap scene. Cheers, Total Film geezers! You can choose their options, or add in your own, so feel free to go and vote for Severance in any of the other categories - best movie, director, man of the year, woman of the year, breakout star (Babou!), best villain, gem of the year, funniest scene, and best movie death (spoilers!). You can vote for best child performance if you like, but there were no kids in it. Go vote!

Did a web interview for Solace in Cinema - it was good fun, quite in-depth, and he really liked Severance too, so he obviously has taste as good as the Ferrero Rocher ambassador.

And finally, my most excellent mate Corin has a new website, where you can check out his work - he's done lots of really cool music videos, and spent 5 years making an amazing stop-motion film called Butterfly. Check out his stuff, he's a bit of a genius. Plus he took us all to Garlic and Shots the night of the Severance screening, which gets him 500 cool points.