Friday, December 21, 2007

Ho(rror) Ho(rror) Ho(rror)

Just in time for Christmas, we've finished the sound mix for 'Mum and Dad'. Now, with the visual post scheduled for January, the time when I will actually have a 'finished' version of the film - finished enough at least so that we can have a screening - is rapidly approaching. I really can't wait to get the chance to see the film with an audience - I feel like I've been coccooned up with it for so long on my own that I can't really see it with any fresh eyes anymore, so seeing it with a bunch of people who haven't seen anything of it (or, when we have a cast and crew, a bunch of people who will probably have forgotten what it was that we shot), will be very liberating. And horribly frightening.

At the same time, I've been trying to plough on with 'Empire of Flesh'. With Jeanie in her edit for 'Goth Cruise' almost full-time, I've not been able to work on the script full time, so I've tried to get into the same mode of writing I had with 'Mum and Dad' - ie. not waiting for inspiration to strike every time I sit down with a pen, but just plunging straight ahead, with the attitude that it's better to have something rather than nothing (and if it's shit i can always revise it at a later date when inspiration has belatedly struck). I've done about 40 pages - pretty much the first act of the film. It needs cutting down and revising, but I'm hoping that the structure and characters are at least becoming a little bit nailed down. Over the past couple of days, with the deadline of Christmas, I've probably knocked out about 12 pages, which is fairly good going for me - maybe the deadline is the thing that prompts me to get my arse in gear. (Earlier in the week, when I was finding it harder to get into gear, I wasted about half an hour assigning computer voices to my characters in Final Draft (scriptwriting software) and getting them to read out swear words. It was a bit like staging an all-Stephen-Hawking version of Shameless.)
I'm trying to get a move on with the script so that we can start putting together a plan to get some production funding early next year. The only stumbling block at the moment has been actually getting our script development money from Em-media, which we got told we'd been awarded a couple of months ago, but which has yet to make an appearance, despite me moaning on about it to the point where I'm actively irritating myself. The closer we get to Christmas and the more appeals we make to get the money, the more I feel like Bob fucking Cratchit.

As a final horror-themed precursor to Christmas, we had a special Horror Night screening of Bob Clark's classic 'Black Christmas'. Predating Halloween as a holiday themed horror, 'Black Christmas' is the story of a sorority house being menaced by obscene phone calls (and they are truly, horribly obscene and wrong and creepy) from a stalker-killer (mostly filmed in super wide-angle POV). It features Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder as a fantastic lush (I don't know if there's a 'Black Christmas' drinking game, but there probably should be) and John Saxon as the head of the most inept police force in Canada (or maybe it's supposed to be set in America - who knows, they sound Canadian anyway). It's a great horror film, despite being almost completely blood-free, with a terrific ending, and might be set to be our annual festive viewing choice.

Back in the New Year.

Oh, and Tiny Tim says "God bless us, every one!"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Proper Family Christmas

After some waiting around (for studio time and music) and some setbacks (namely the person who was going to be doing our mix going down with appendicitis the day before the mix was due to start), we're finally in the studio doing the sound mix for 'Mum & Dad'. We're doing a reel a day - even though we're not delivering on film at the moment, we still have to break things down in that way because of the potential of going there in the future - spread over three weeks - again a result of rescheduling -which is going to take us right up to Christmas. Lisa's also managed to find somewhere to do all of the picture post-production, which we're hoping to get done by the end of January. Christ it feels like it's taken a long time. I guess the thing is, the actual work - cutting, mixing, sound design - hasn't taken that long, it's just that the whole process has been spasmodic - an intense month or two here, followed by a barely-progressing batch of weeks, followed by another intense week or two. But we're nearly there now.

The funny thing is, the closer we get to the end, the more nasty the film becomes - doing the sound mix yesterday, Greg, the sound mixer, was talking about how bleak and horrible a certain bit was - which is obviously the intention, but it's only now as the film gets closer to being whole that it all comes together and starts working properly as a horror film.

As well as doing the mix, I've also been trying to sort out how the music is going to work in the end sequence. After initially claiming not to want any music at all in the film, I ended up soundtracking a Christmas sequence with five songs. Obviously, because we didn't have a composer on board - and also because I wanted the music just to be like a normal British family Christmas - we ended up using a load of Christmas hits. When the cut was okayed, we were already in the process of investigating whether it would be possible to use these tracks and for a while a couple of them seemed hopeful...But then our lack (or rather absence) of budget told and we ended up getting nothing. Which has meant we've spent the past month or so getting new tracks to fit in there. It's weird, having lived with the cut for so long with the original tracks in (which I pretty much always knew we were unlikely to get) now trying to listen to it with a whole bunch of new music, but any audience who sees it won't know what was there, so hopefully, as long as the music fits tonally, it'll be fine.

I never imagined that we'd still be working on the film at this late date (I remember saying to Lisa in about July that there was no way I could afford to still be working on 'Mum & Dad' in January...(and it's true, I can't afford it)), but I guess it's quite apt to be listening to loads of Christmas music at the moment - even if the 'Mum & Dad' version of Christmas isn't exactly the most festive scene, it still somehow gets you in the mood...