So, 'Mum & Dad' played at Frightfest 2008 - and went down great. We had a good-sized crowd (the Odeon West End is 800+ seats and we were pretty full for the screening), and we got a terrific response at the end. A lot of people stayed for the Q and A, with myself, Lisa, Perry, Dido and Ainsley, with some great questions and comments ("Yours is the sleaziest film I've seen at Frightfest - and I mean that as a compliment"), and a really appreciative round of applause for the actors. Revolver, who have picked up the film for distribution, organised a raffle for the audience, with tickets handed out beforehand and 'Mum' and 'Dad' handing out the prizes at the end. (Hey, maybe that's why so many people stayed for the Q and A...). The prizes were a set of kitchen knives ('Mum') and a toolbox ('Dad') which were both won by happy but probably slightly concerned audience members (I don't know if it's the best time at the moment to be walking through London with a set of knives...). Afterwards we signed a few programmes and spoke with a lot of the audience, with Perry being very popular, especially as he's also in Shane Meadows' 'Somers Town' at the moment. Someone kindly video'd a bit of it and posted it pretty much the same day
Unfortunately, I didn't get to see much else on that day, as I had to do some press for the film, including an interview for Zone Horror and a weird one for Radio One, for a documentary they're doing for Halloween - weird, because the main questions they wanted to put to me were about torture porn, even after I'd said that a) I haven't seen the majority of the films they're talking about, b) I don't think 'Mum & Dad' is torture porn and c) I dont' even know what a definition of the term is. It all felt a bit two years ago. I was so knackered by the end of the day (and also had to get back to where I was staying) that I missed Frank ('Basket Case', 'Brain Damage', 'Frankenhooker') Henenlotter's 'Bad Biology' which I really wanted to see. I actually got to meet Frank at the Frightfest party the night before and told him that his interview in a book that I've got called 'Incredibly Strange Films' (not the Johnathan Ross book of the same name, but this one which features interviews with people like Russ Meyer, Herschell Gordon Lewis Larry Cohen and Doris Wishman and articles on genres like women in prison film, mondo films, exploitation films, beach party films, Santo films and sexploitation films. It's great.) was really inspirational. He told me that, at the time, he was really embarassed about it being in the book because he'd only really made one film ('Basket Case') - but in a way, that's what's great about it, and about a lot of the interviews in the book - they're with people who aren't fully 'in' the industry and therefore have a whole different approach to filmmaking.
I stayed in London for the next couple of days, watching as many films as I could, including 'Martyrs', 'Let The Right One In', 'Midnight Meat Train', 'The Chaser', 'Eden Lake', 'Fear(s) of the Dark', 'Autopsy' and 'The Broken', and trying to avoid dying of scurvy by only eating takeaway food purchased from a Spar just of Leicester Square. I wish I could have seen more, but I'm obviously much more of a lightweight than the regular Frightfest crowd. Maybe next year, once I've built up my stamina...
Well, the interview with Film4 went out on Friday, preceding the opening of the FrightFest season on the channel. They intercut me sitting in the crypt with a lot of mini-clips of the film, not spoiling much but giving a good sense of the atmosphere. I thought I came across okay, although my friend Mark (camera op on Goth Cruise, and co-tenant of our office) insisted on rewinding the clip straight afterwards (thanks to Sky+) and pinpointing the bit where I apparently looked 'actually quite insane'. Cheers for that.
In a weekend of screen appearances, I also went to see the cast and crew screening of Mark Devenport's 'Big Things', where I have a tiny role as a pissy pirate working in a fancy dress shop. It was a great turn-out for the film, especially seeing as it was on at 10am on a Sunday morning, and it was really good to see it on the big screen. Mark, for the first time since I've known him, was very nervous beforehand, but it sounded as though they got some really good audience responses. Most of the cast and crew were there, including Johnny Phillips, who is really funny as the on-again, off-again professional actor who auditions for the film-within-a-film. London-based, Johnny has been involved with filmmaking around Nottingham since he worked on Chris's 'One For The Road' as a bullying alcohol management group leader, and was around one day when I was writing the script for 'Mum & Dad'. I needed a story for dad to tell at the dinner table, and Johnny told me one about a friend of his who worked in a warehouse. The story makes it into the film, where it is told by Perry Benson - who happens to be one of Johnny's best friends, and had no idea that the story had come from him. It's like an intricate spider's web of coincidence and fate. Or something.
Also at the weekend, I did one of my periodic sweeps of charity shops in Sherwood, home of a treasure trove of Big Box Eighties VHS Tapes. This time I managed to pick up the second sequel to Psycho, 'Psycho 3' directed by Anthony Perkins himself, which I don't think I've ever seen, but which, apparently, has a plot based around 'Vertigo'..., and also a sci-fi film called 'Space Island' which I mainly bought because, although you can't see it here, it has a holographic cover! (Also, on the back it's got one of those great drawings you used to get on posters which seems to have been done by an artist with access only to the two stills of Ernest Borgnine and Antony Quinn which appear next to it As the name implies, the film is a space version of 'Treasure Island' starring Borgnine and Quinn. It's a German and Italian co-production, directed by Antonio Margheriti (also known as Anthony M. Dawson), who also made 'Cannibal Apocalypse', 'Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye' and 'Castle of Blood'. He's got one of those great genre filmmaking careers that also includes titles like 'Hercules against Karate', 'The Unnaturals' and 'The Long Hair of Death'. (Oh, and 'Code Name: Wild Geese'...). Searching around, I found a great tribute website run by his son, which includes loads of trailers and clips.
The third purchase of the day was a real rarity - a DVD of 'Dark Shadows', the gothic Sixties American soap, produced by Dan Curtis ('The Night Stalker', 'Trilogy of Terror'). (I mean, 3 and a half hours for £2.99, that's got to be a bargain... ) I've only ever seen clips of the programme - which went out 'as live' on TV - but the story around it sounds really interesting, and it also partly feeds into another script idea I'm working on, set in New England.
Finally, and most terrifyingly, there was the one purchase I didn't make - this book: 100 per cent nightmare fuel. It's probably the most disturbing thing aimed at children I've seen since this: The Pop-up Safety Book, featuring a tiny clown with a knife and his pet raccoon. "Sleep well, kids. And don't have nightmares..."
Back in Nottingham now, after a few days of Londoning. On Sunday I was doing some shooting for Jeanie's proposed next documentary, filming a very loud rock band in a venue in Camden. Luckily the place provided free earplugs, because I spent half the gig on the stage with my ear next to a stack of speakers, and otherwise I'd probably be entirely deaf by now. On Monday, I had a meeting with the distributors for 'Mum & Dad' (more on that when we make the official announcement...) and then on Tuesday, I was interviewed by FILM4, who are putting on a season of horror films on the channel at the same time that FrightFest is on. Tying in with their 'Generation Next' season, they were interviewing British directors of first-time features at the festival- myself, Johnny Kervorkian ('The Disappeared') and James Watkins ('Eden Lake'). The interviews were shot in a crypt in West London and I had to do some lurking about in the shadows (as befits us fearmongers, I suppose), although I did manage to resist the tempation to try on one of the many religious robes which were hanging on a rail in the room next door.
After the interview I had a meeting with our script editor for 'Empire of Flesh', which was great - I like the fact that we've got someone who's continually pushing me to make the script tighter and whose job is to expose the bits of the story that I've tried to fudge (because they're too difficult to do or because I've not been able to think of a solution to them yet). We had a good chat about the politics (or lack of them) in horror films, and about what makes an audience stay with a character - do they have to be 'likable' or just 'convincing'?
In the evening, Jeanie had her first screening of 'Goth Cruise', for cast and crew and invited guests (and Goths). It was great to see it on the big screen (apart from the couple of shots that I did that were slightly soft...) and it got a great reaction. Even though it was only last September, the whole thing now seems very far away, and I had to remind myself that I was actually there. The film is screening tonight in the States at Convergence, a big American Goth festival in Tampa, Florida. Jeanie went over and filmed some stuff at the festival last year, when it was held in Portland and it looks great - I hope it goes down well.
Back here yesterday, and we're getting on with Mayhem stuff. We're slowly firming up the programme and trying to get some special events sorted out for the weekend. We also met up with Rhys Davies, who is currently filming a zombie feature in Leicester called Zombie Undead, which is an ultra-low-budget production with great effects and make-up. It's a long process for Rhys because he's only got the resources to film a couple of days at a time (at most), so if you feel like helping him get to the end (and you've got some spare money hanging about which you don't mind sinking into a low-budget zombie film), visit their 'Help fund a feature film with PayPal' page here., and become a (rotting) part of zombie cinema's future.
In a piece of news guaranteed to excite those, like me, who are fans of both comicbooks and impossibly hard-boiled crime fiction, writer and artist Darwyn Cooke, responsible for, amongst other things, the great recent revival of Will Eisner's 'The Spirit' is working on a comic book version of the Parker books. I hope to god that this is as good as I think it's going to be. The early art looks promising, and I loved what he did with 'The Spirit'. so it all bodes well. As I've probably said before, reading a Parker story is one of the unalloyed joys of life.