Friday, February 27, 2009

Script Meetings and Scorpions

Down to London this week for a meeting about my new script, 'Empire of Flesh', with my producers, script editor and development funder from Em-media. I always try and be open-minded and responsive at these meetings, although it can be tough sometimes when you have face a lot of questions you'd really rather not have to face (even though you know at heart that you are going to have to). I try to do a lot of listening, letting stuff sink in and percolate a bit, rather than reacting immediately because I know that the people I'm talking to a) want the best script possible, b) believe that I can produce it and c) are an audience - so if the script isn't working and they've got questions, then it's likely that any other audience might have similar questions. It's hard though, sometimes I can't help but get defensive - in this instance I ended up using the phrase 'it's not fucking Dora the Explorer' to object to a suggested story direction I wasn't immediately sure of, which was both very childish, and very revealing of the extent of my current cultural frames of reference. (I've often thought that it would be great to do an Alan Moore style fictional mash-up (in the manner of his recent 'The Black Dossier' wherein Bertie Wooster meets one of The Great Old Ones from H.P.Lovecraft's fiction) between Dora and the 2000AD character Rogue Trooper - I could just see Dora, grown up now, in a future science-fiction war, with only her friends Backpack and Map for company...)

So, now I've got a bunch of notes and a few thorny problems to deal with. I've spent today wrestling with one of the key problems - which actually threads its way through the whole script - and potentially come up with a workable solution, but I'm going to let it mull over the weekend, just to see if it still hangs together on Monday morning...

Another good thing about going down to London was that I got to try out my new portable DVD player on the train. Although it's a bit of a weight to lug around, it was great to have something to do apart from read the paper (I find it really hard to do any work on the train). It also gives me the chance to catch up on films which I've been meaning to see but not had the chance to watch yet. This time around it was the brilliantly (and lengthily) titled 'Female Prisoner #701: Beast Stable' the third in the series of early seventies Japanese exploitation films featuring the brilliant Meiko Kaji as the stone-faced, taciturn (she doesn't say more than about 30 words in the entire film) and almost supernaturally resilient lead character Scorpion. Whereas the first film was a women-in-prison film and the second more an escape and siege film, 'Beast Stable' is more of a crime drama. It might be my favourite of the three - all of which are great - because it is so beautfully shot, with terrific flashes of more avant-garde technique - the picture allowed to white out as the exposure changes from inside to out, a fantastic strobe sequence in a garish neon-lit bar, a fish-eye lens on top of a police car - and horribly memorable sequences - the film starts with Scorpion escaping the police on a tube train and, after getting handcuffed by a cop, cutting his arm off to free herself. She is subsequently discovered in a graveyard by lonely prostitute Yuki (who nightly allows her mentally disabled big brother to have sex with her to satisfy his sexual urges), holding the severed arm with her mouth while she tries to scrape the handcuffs loose on a gravestone. And you don't get to write sentences like that too often. There's also a horrible scene with a golfclub and a beautiful image involving matches and sewage. I'm not sure it was the most appropriate thing to watch on the 10.02 to St. Pancras (I had to angle the screen away from the aisle a couple of times - especially during the sequence labelled simply as 'Abortions!' on the chapter list) - but it's a terrific film. And it's got a great theme song - "Her Song of Vengeance" - sung by Meiko Kaji (Scorpion) herself. I love it when films use title songs to comment on the action, especially when they're sung by actors from the film...

1 comment:

Chrus said...

looking forward to reading it! And to seeing Beast Stable - to complete the trilogy I been buying(though there are later ones)... sounds great!