Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Unfinished/Unmade Uncinema Undone!

Over the past 5 or 6 years, I've been writing and developing projects constantly. Some of these have been made, some of them are Indevelopments and some of them are hiding in folders on various computers. It seems sad that they shouldn't even be recognised. So, here is a brief, selected Unfilmography.

'Colder' (Feature, Outline/Treatment) - with Tim Cunningham and Chris Cooke, shortlisted for BFI New Directors Scheme 2000
This was a feature idea that myself and Cunningham were working on, based on an idea of a man arriving in a city with no identity, who then makes a life for himself by stealing an identity from someone else. It went through a few incarnations, especially when it was suggested that we pitch it to the BFI New Director’s Scheme as a script for Cooke. Went down to BigTown to pitch it, but it was one of those where you can really tell that it’s not flying. Too depresssing, not enough focus on character, not developed enough. Weirdly enough, a Finnish film called Man Without A Past came out a few years later which had a similar set-up. But that was a comedy, not a dry-as-dust existential art-movie.

'Case' (Feature, First Draft) - with Tim Cunningham 2000/01
Another feature idea that myself and Cunningham were working on, except this time we actually got as far as a draft. Based loosely on a character I’d created in a couple of short stories – a guy called Paterson, who thought of himself as a detective – this was a story about an aimless call-centre worker who moves into a new flat which he then finds invaded by a rich middle-aged businessman looking for a missing girl. Paterson – despite having no experience in detection – volunteers to find her. What happens next is a picaresque tale that takes us through Straight-Edge Punk, Over 80s Poker Circles, Orgone Accumulators and bitter ex-Forest footballers.

'Cargo Fleet' (Feature, Outline) - with Tim Cunningham 2001
Blimey we were prolific in the early part of the century. This time it was an idea of Cunningham’s that we worked up – about a recidivist car thief on a journey back to his home in the North East. Again, this went though many incarnations – lightening and darkening the tone, changing the ending, changing the age of the car thief from 18 to 30+. Not even sure I remember where it ended up. Think we had a 15 page outline, which we showed to Peter Carlton, at that time still working for Em-media. Didn’t really get any further than that.

'The Signalmen' (Feature, Outline) - with Tim Cunningham 2002
Our final attempt in this period at putting together a feature outline, this one (with a title inspired by Charles Dickens short story and the Ghost Story for Christmas adaptation ‘The Signalman’) was about two security guards in a big corporate headquarters who are guarding the greatest evil in the world. The script had a surreal, slightly Bunuelian feel to it, with bits of time looping back on each other, some violent Tom and Jerry style slapstick and a good drop of paranoia.

'Provisions For Survival In A World Less Fantastic' - short script, shortlisted for Cinema Extreme, 2002
This short script was written at the same time as Cry – in fact it was pitched at the same time for DV Shorts, but they preferred to go for the horror. I subsequently put this in for Cinema Extreme – and it got through to the second round. It was a story about a bloke who runs away from his life and goes and lives in the woods. Had a good scene at a Sunday league football match and a sequence featuring an emaciated dead squirrel roasting on a twig over a fire.

'The Breaks' - short script, shortlisted for The Slot, 2002
This was planned as a series of 5 minute dramas based around cigarette breaks at work. Got shortlisted, but then no further.

'Touched' - (Feature, Pitch) - longlisted for New Steps Beyond 2002
A feature pitch for a Film Council Sci-Fi scheme, about identity, flesh and contagion. Went down for a meeting in BigTown, seemed to go okay. Never heard from them again.

'They' – short script, submitted for Cinema Extreme 2002
Intended as a slice of Argento-style horror madness, this got rejected at the first hurdle. Starting to think that I hadn’t really got a handle on what this scheme was about…

'White Light' – short script, shortlisted for Cinema Extreme 2003
…which was confirmed when this got shortlisted, then rejected the next year. I really like d this script – based on Guy de Maupassant’s short story The Devil – but the feedback I got was that they weren’t sure whether it was ‘cinematic’ enough. It was about a girl who takes on a job of sitting with a dying woman while her son runs his ailing pub over a critical weekend. Mostly in one room, only about three characters, but I still thought that I could make something look really good (Cry was only one room and one actor…) The Bureau and the Film Council didn’t agree. Decided against applying this year…

'Everything Dies' – short outline
Zombie short. Needs funding to do it properly – it’s set in an office block with a horde of zombies and some graphic effects – but I don’t know where I’d get that from. Besides, Shaun of the Dead came out and the idea of trying to pitch a British zombie film made me feel like a desperate bandwagon-jumping oaf.

'Charlie Why' – website/treatment
This is probably the longest-gestating project on here. I wanted to do something about a cursed TV show from the late Sixties (kind of in the ilk of The Prisoner, The Avengers and The Champions). I wrote a whole history for the show and made a website out of it – including episode guides, character profiles, critical articles. I also did a live event, where I got an actor (Michael Craze) to play the part of the former child star actor who’s career had been in the doldrums since finishing in the show. I interviewed him on stage and broadcast it through the Moon Radio site. There was even a painstakingly assembled fanzine called ‘Whys and Wherefours’, with exclusive interviews and articles about the show. The plan was to develop a film/Tv project alongside the website, focusing on the curse of the show and how it had impacted on all those associated with it since the show folded, with kind of a murder mystery aspect (the grown-up child star was going to be the main character). I was going to develop it through Em-media’s Words and Vision scheme, but at the last minute they decided that they wanted only feature ideas, so I had to drop in in favour of Savage. That’s the last I worked on it – and not long after Garth Marenghi’s Dark Side TV show came out, with a similar basic idea – and that seemed to put the kibosh on it. Keep thinking about reviving it, but really need to put aside a block of time to develop it. It takes ages coming up with episode synopses.

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