Thursday, June 22, 2006

Up and running

I think I can consider myself a film producer! A very new, very junior, lots-to-learn producer, but everyone has to start somewhere. Wednesday's meeting was very successful, in that Kirsty the very helpful Arts and Culture officer said she should be able to give us "a few hundred" pounds to support "Echoes", and also gave me the names of other people I should contact who might also be able to help. So, it looks like we've got a start - we still need to raise more money, but once there's a little bit in the pot, it proves someone believes in us, and hopefully will lead to other people thinking we're worth supporting. We should know by mid July about our main bid, but meanwhile we keep finding people who want to be involved (last week Darren got a PR/Marketing person on board), and continue to search for finance. It's all pretty exciting really.

Some pages of the play got done - not as many as I would have liked, but still, there's more of it today than yesterday.

Finally got round to seeing "Da Vinci Code" - I'd expected it to be worse than it was, given the reviews, but in fact I didn't think it was that bad. It wasn't great, by any means, and I won't be rushing out to see it twice, but it had its moments. Most of those were the bits when Ian McKellen was on screen - IMO his was easily the best performance. I think it was almost too faithful a rendition of the book - some parts of it felt like one of those essays where you can tell the student has done masses of research and is bloody well going to get it into the essay whether needed or not - that made it feel rather too stodgy and slow, and for a chase movie the chases just weren't thrilling or threatening enough (although the backwards Smart car segment was pretty neat).

I also saw "Brick", which I really liked. Quite quirky, not sure it will have quite the cult status of films like "Donnie Darko", but it has some great elements. I loved the old fashioned dialogue and music, which really set it apart in tone from other films that might fall into a teen genre. I was also determined to see it because my local Cineworld usually gets such a limited slate of films that to see anything remotely indie on the programme means I feel I have to go, just to prove that there's an audience for non-blockbusters up here in the arse-end of nowhere. Not that I hate blockbusters; I don't, at all. I just want a choice.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Windy City

My workspace is up in my loft (conversion job I had done a few years ago - excellent investment) and right now I'm up here with the Velux window open, listening to the wind whipping fiercely through the trees - it's pretty nice, like being at sea without the risk of drowning. Yesterday I decided it was about time I got back into a routine; I was doing really well before Cannes, but since then it's kind of fallen apart for all sorts of reasons - but anyway, spurred on by the dimly remembered yet inspirational words of Richard Linklater ("just get on with it. If you don't love writing, then stop doing it and go and find something you do love, and do that instead" - that was the gist of it, anyway) I got up, made coffee, and cracked on with writing the play. Result! It's not finished (yet) but all the bits are in place, I just need to put them in the right order and fill in some bits in the middle. I'm much more organised when I'm writing screenplays than stage plays - do other people find this to be the case? Or is everyone much more organised than me, full stop? Anyway, I don't feel quite so despairing about the play as I did last week, and I don't totally hate it any more.

I returned to the computer fully intending to do more work last night, but instead was hideously distracted by discovering the "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" website (henceforth to be known as POTC2 - much quicker). I gathered all the plunder, but be warned, it takes AGES and the rewards aren't that great. Still, if you're mad keen to hear Mr Depp whisper "I know what I want, I know what I want", it may well be worth losing an evening.

Tomorrow I have a meeting with the Arts and Culture Officer for the city council where we're hoping to make "Echoes". I've had some fabulously encouraging emails from her department, and they seem really interested in film-making, so fingers crossed. I don't know what type of support (if any) they'll be able to give us, but it will be good to go and chat anyway. Part of the deal with applying for funding through the regional agencies of the Film Council is that you have to raise a certain percentage of the funding yourself, although part of this can be "in kind", as well as in hard cash. We're really well off as far as "in kind" is concerned, it's just the money we're short of.

And in other news - it's no wonder my Astilbe was reduced to mere stalks - yesterday's beer traps had over 100 slugs in them, and this morning's contained 50+. What's interesting is that the pile of 100+ dead slugs I tipped out yesterday was much reduced this morning, so either they were pretending to be dead because they had mega hangovers (and after the cheap lager I gave them, who wouldn't?), or my local hedgehogs really enjoyed marinated slug for dinner. Happily, the slugs have been so preoccupied with attempting to reduce my flower border to twigs that they have left the salad project alone - lettuces and rocket are popping up nicely, as are tomatoes, but spinach and spring onions are totally non-germinating so far while the five varieties of peppers I sowed are a bit patchy. But hoorah, five jalapeno seedlings have emerged. Looks like everyone's getting chilli oil for Christmas again.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A bug's life

Rule #1 for this time of year - if there are little bitey insects around, they will find me. And then, once they've bitten me, I'll react spectacularly, usually somewhere either very public (big red bite on upper arm in Cannes, just when I wanted to wear sleeveless tops), or somewhere very itchy (right under a strap or a hem or some other thing that will rub). I've tried anti-bug stuff, I've tried eating brown bread and drinking beer (for the vitamin B; insects don't like it, apparently - that's my excuse anyway); other than moving to a place without insects, if anyone has any guaranteed ways of not getting bitten, please let me know.

Not much news to blog about, so I spent some time adding links, without messing up my page, so I'm pretty happy with this morning's work. Now I need to do some proper work - I've got to submit my report to the Arts Council at the end of the month to tell them how their grant helped me write my play. Better finish the play, then. I'll just go and mow the grass, do a bit of weeding, and net the strawberries (went down to pick some last night only to find the blackbirds had got there first.) Oh, and water all the salad seedlings that have started to pop up. If I ever make lots and lots of money, I'm going to hire a gardener to do all the boring stuff so I can just do the nice bits.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Just a minute

A while ago I saw a call for scripts from an organisation called Screaming Media, requesting one minute plays for a thing called "Gone in 60 Seconds", to be put on in either Harrogate (UK) or Brooklyn (USA), by theatre students. And I thought for a while, came up with an idea, wrote it and got the giggles while I wrote it because I thought it was funny, sent it off and forgot all about it.

Well, I guess I'll find out soon enough if anyone else thinks it's funny, because it got selected. For the Brooklyn part of the project.


And the other bit of me is going "hmm, it's going to put on in NYC, will they think it's funny over there?" Maybe my odd English sense of humour won't translate. When I wrote it, I thought it might be the sort of thing actors could have fun with, so I can only hope they do. I'll find out eventually, because the plays are going to be filmed and broadcast on the net.

Here's some blurb:
"The performances at New Workshop Theater, Brooklyn College, will take place at 8pm on June 16th and 17th, and at 2pm on June 18th. Tickets cost $5.00 (All proceeds go to the Harrogate Theatre Brooklyn College Collaboration given annually to a deserving undergraduate theater major who embodies the spirit of collaboration) and can be reserved by calling (718) 951-5000 extension 2762."

Sadly, I can't afford a trip to NYC right now but at least I'll get to see it on film, online. Watch this space.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Next year?

Both Sue and Jenny asked me if I'd go back to Cannes next year. Oh yes. This trip was a recce, at least that's all it was supposed to be. Find out how it works, discover the lie of the land, anything else is a bonus (thanks for the advice, girls). And as it turned out, there were plenty of bonuses. So, an evening spent going over photos is a nice way of extending the trip to the place where the only thing that seems to matter is film. Avoid reality, me? Never.

Most of the major hotels are taken over by film companies during the festival, and the whole place is covered in film hoardings. This is the Majestic, where you need to show your badge just to get in. Nice terrace, though, and a good spotting place, apparently, although true to form I didn't see anyone famous there. Good loos too, and handy for the pavilions!

This is part of the harbour - these are by no means the smartest boats around, but they're still pretty cool - and I think the one nearest is the one we went on.

This is looking along the Croisette towards the Carlton hotel (very welcome air-conditioning in the lobby)

And this is the entrance and the front of the Carlton. As you can see, some ads are for films showing at the festival, but more often, they're ads for big summer pictures, e.g. Pirates 2.

And that's it. I've sent out some follow-up emails, had some sent to me, got a couple of people reading stuff, so now I wait.

What's next? Well, I got the funding forms in for "Echoes" and now have to try and forget about that for six weeks until we get a decision. I might enter I-blink, though. I spent yesterday in a recording studio recording a radio play which I'd had a part in writing as a result of a Script Yorkshire workshop - I did sound effects, and am now pretty good at opening and closing a door in as many different ways as possible to make it sound as if we actually had different doors! And I have to get on with some writing. Yeah, that would be a good idea, wouldn't it? That way I might have something to talk about next year in Cannes.

Here's one I took earlier

Finally getting around to putting up a few photos from Cannes. You'll notice that there are none of me - the advantage of being behind the camera rather than in front. This batch of pics is all around the Palais and the International Village.

This is a view of the pavilions from the beach side - each pavilion has a little sitting out area as well as the more office-like indoor section. The UK pavilion is to my left, and the one with the red umbrellas is the American pavilion.

This is taken in front of the main Palais building, looking towards the Grand Theatre Lumiere, which is where the main Competition and Out of Competition screenings are held. The screen on the left shows arrivals at red carpet time for gala screenings, and the entrance to the red carpet which we used is just to the right of that. There's nothing happening at the time of this photo, so this is a relatively quiet scene.

This is taken at the bottom of the red carpet steps, where the stars enter. We came on just to the left or right, at the side. The photographers stand on either side under the canopy.

And this is looking towards the steps when there's a gala going on. I'm in roughly the same place as I was for the first photo of the Palais - this counts as fairly busy, but not the most manic night I saw.

And this is what it looks like once you've walked the red carpet, past the photographers, and climbed the steps. Behind the white railings at the back of the photo are more photographers, and members of the public who've sometimes waited for hours in the hope of a glimpse of someone famous. It's a little odd going to a 7:30 screening, lots of people in evening wear walking along the street, alongside people in T shirts and shorts just off the beach.