Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dark Side and the moon

With a month to go before the release of my film 'Mum & Dad', the activity surrounding the film has kicked up a notch. After a short delay while we got all the artwork sorted, the official website for the film is now up and running, with all the details about how to see the film - in cinemas, on DVD, on VOD and on download (we discussed beaming it onto the insides of people's eyelids while they slept, but the technology's not quite there yet) as well as the new trailer, some stills, cast and crew biogs and updates on other screenings. There's also a new Facebook group and MySpace page, if you're that way inclined.

I've been doing a lot of interviews around the film, including one in the latest issue of The Dark Side magazine

(which also features us - or rather a bloody, hanging Lena - on the cover). We've also kept the film going on the festival circuit, with another couple of screenings at the Northern Lights Film Festival in Newcastle and Gateshead next week. Lisa and I are also going to be on a panel about How to make a low-budget horror.

Ironically enough, one of the only festivals we didn't go to - only due to other commitments - was the Leeds International Film Festival where, we found out this week, we actually won an award (obviously our attendance at a festival must have a detrimental effect on the film's award prospects...). It was a real surprise - but greatly appreciated, especially as winning the award - a Silver Melies, named after George Melies, who made (amongst many others) the silent classic 'A Voyage to the Moon'

- means that we get entered for the Golden Melies, which is presented at Sitges next year, and is contested by the films which have been awarded the Silver Melies by each of the members of the European Fantastic Film Federation. If that means that there is even a slim chance of us getting a trophy of a grumpy moonface with a rocket sticking out of it, I'm there. The festival have posted up the Jury's comments on the programme, including their reasons for choosing 'Mum & Dad' here.

In other news - that's not all about me, me, me - Jeanie's film Goth Cruise is showing on IFC in the States tomorrow. You can see the American trailer for the film, complete with Trailer Voice Man, here. What with Jeanie screening on Thanksgiving and me on Boxing Day, we're seem to be staging a two-pronged assault on all national and international Bank Holidays. Watch it, Easter, you're next.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

His fist is devastating

It was my birthday last week, and in a notable display of hitherto unrevealed almost supernatural detective powers, my brother managed to get me a copy of Death of the Fuhrer, the brilliantly insane pulp novel about Hitler, brain transplants, sexy German countesses with dark secrets and DIY surgery. Not only is the book the same edition - with the female Hitler on the cover - but it actually contains the ending of the story! (Unlike my previous copy which had a misprinted Mills and Boon denoument.) I haven't read it all the way through yet, but I'm hoping that the pay-off can match my expectations for it - which, admittedly, is probably very unlikely...

I also got a book on Jack Kirby by Mark Evanier (which has the only cover that it should have - a giant fist punching you in the face, like you're being chinned by brilliance.) When I was a kid reading comics, I was never really into Kirby all that much - and when I saw his stuff it always seemed to chunky and big and unnaturalistic and weird. But as I got older, all of those things suddenly became more and more appealing and the sheer scale of Kirby's imagination became apparent. I love his 70s stuff especially, or what I've seen of it - comics where he was editor, writer and artist all at once, and got to create entire worlds. Stuff like OMAC - 'One Man Army Corps', set in 'The World That's Coming', a dystopian future where you can buy a girlfriend in a box, the super-rich hire cities to play assassination games in and, if you're OMAC, you can punch 10 people in the face at once.
There's also The Eternals, about ancient space gods, which is the dictionary definition of Grand Scale in every sense. (No.11 of the series starts like this:




Now that's how you write an attention-grabbing opening.)

I also love Kamandi, another dystopian future (actually linked to the one in OMAC), where, in a scenario slightly influenced by a very popular 70s film series, TALKING ANIMALS HAVE TAKEN OVER THE WORLD AND HUMANS ARE THEIR BEASTS OF BURDEN!! What I especially love about all these comics is the fact that everything is so BIG - big ideas, big splash pages, big stakes - and especially Big Close-Ups

Man, Kirby did great freak-out faces. I mean, just look at the guy in the bottom left corner of this two-page spread. That's what's happening in The World That's Coming - Space Gods, One Man Armys and Jack Kirby freaking you out.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Zombie Footballers, Bloody Brides and Pumpkin Sick

And now it's November already. The past few weeks have gone by in a bit of a blur, what with Mayhem (which was on last weekend) and loads of stuff to prep for the release of 'Mum & Dad', and trying to work on a couple of new outlines, so AiU has suffered. I'll attempt a bit of a catch-up...

Mayhem 2008 went brilliantly well. We had a couple of sell-outs, a couple more near sell-outs and some great crowds throughout. This being the first year that we've run for a whole weekend as opposed to a single night, our workload increased exponentially, so that despite there being three of us, we still needed to constantly be in two places at once.

Highlights for me were the guests. On Friday, Mark Tonderai, director of 'Hush' (who I met at the Fantasy Filmfest in Germany recently) and his producer Zoe Stewart, who both came to our special preview screening of the film. It seemed to go down really well - even with an unscheduled intermission, when the fire alarm went off about ten minutes before the end of the film after the smoke machine in the bar got a bit out of control (and which Mark and Zoe were thankfully very understanding about). It was great to see Mark again and get the chance to catch up - even if he was faced with my specially-grown-for-the-night Beard of Evil.

Also on Friday was the Halloween party at Broadway, run by No More Parachutes, which we as Mayhem piggyback onto each year. I don't know why, but this year everybody seemed to really go for it with the costumes, including these great zombie American footballers(who seem to be haunted by a tiny ghoul...)

Jeanie and her friend Katie also did their bitwith Jeanie previewing the look she'll be wearing for our wedding next year.

Winner of first prize in the fancy dress costume was Scary Hellraiser Lady (otherwise known as Annie), seen here being presented with her prize by Chris Cooke with a Freddie Mercury tribute microphone pose
On Saturday our guest was Mark Gatiss. I interviewed Mark in front of an audience for our 'What Are You Scared Of?' spot, where we ask people to talk about the formative horror moments in their lives, the moments that have really frightened them. Mark was terrific - very entertaining and charming, and we showed a clutch of clips from 70s Doctor Who ('Terror of the Autons') to Hammer House of Horror, Carry On Screaming and the BBC Ghost Stories for Christmas. These last clips were especially relevant, as Mark is just finishing three of his own Christmas Ghost Stories - a horror anthology spread over three nights leading up to Christmas called 'Crooked House'. He brought us a short trailer to show and it looks great. I can't wait. Talking to Mark about Carry on Screaming, he told me that it was one of the formative experiences in the lives of all of the League of Gentlemen, having all watched it one Bonfire night in the 70s. When he said it, it brought back my own memory of the same night - I burnt my hand on a sparkler and was allowed to sit up and watch the film as some sort of comfort. Pain, shock, horror and comedy all melding together in my little brain...

Also on Saturday, we had a screening of 'Mum & Dad' which was unexpectedly nerve-wracking for me. It was weird showing it at Broadway, especially as a load of people I knew were in the audience. It felt a bit like dropping your trousers at a christening. Afterwards I got some good feedback from some and some perturbed looks from others, which I've come to expect as par for the course with this film.

By Sunday, we were all feeling mental with tiredness, but still had a whole day of films to show, as well as runing events like Horror Wii tennis (basically Wii tennis on a big screen, except you get to play as a variety of horror characters - a werewolf, a vampire, Freddie, Jason, Sadako amongst others).

Our guests on Sunday, for a special screening of their new film 'Salvage' - another microbudget production, this time from the Digital Departures production scheme - were writer Colin O'Donell, director Lawrence Gough and actor Shaun Dooley, who I last met at FrightFest, where he was promoting 'Eden Lake'. They were all really nervous as the film hasn't really been seen before, but it went down really well with our crowd, who gave them a great response at the end.

The last film of the festival was 'Martyrs', which left a lot of the audience looking pretty battered (it's a very intense and brutal film), although that might have been me projecting my own feelings onto them, feeling as I did, like my brain was about to pour out through my ears and collect in a puddle on the floor.

I didn't get much of a chance to recover from the weekend as I had an outline to finish for 'Empire of Flesh', plus some teaching to do. Then, on Wednesday, myself and Lisa went in to do the DVD commentary for 'Mum & Dad'. (Because the film is having this all-platform release on Boxing Day, it means that everything has to be done now - film trailer, DVD box, cinema poster...). It was strange sitting there talking away imagining that people are going to be listening to us (hopefully) in a couple of months. We pretty much went straight through in one take, with only a couple of moments where we paused for breath. It actually went really quickly - it felt like the minute we got into talking about one scene, we were straight on to another. Having done a load of Q and As and interviews over the last couple of months, it felt like a lot of elements in the film were really fresh in my mind, but I also did some homework by reading up on my blog from the time, which, even though it's only 18 months ago, felt a bit like leafing through a leather-bound journal you find next to a bricked-up corpse from the late 19th century.

After that, we had a meeting with our distributors Revolver, to discuss the poster and artwork for the cinema release and DVD, plus some more press stuff, screenings and the new trailer. During the meeting I got a fleeting icy jab of fear through my intestines as I realised that, yes, the film will be OUT on Boxing Day - but I quickly dismissed it by telling myself that Yes, That's Been The Whole Bloody Point Of The Past Two Years, You Idiot....