So we have a first draft of the script now; it took a full 22 months less than the first draft of The Beacon. And is about 22 times better. It was kinda fundy to read James’ half, which stuck to my outline a lot more closely than I was expecting. Things that I had put in, not really liking them but having no better alternatives at the time, he had fleshed out into really good sequences. The last ten pages of course were pretty much pure action – though very much driven by the character relationships – and I had expected to go through a process much like The Beacon did, where the third act’s cacophony of action sequences changed radically from draft to draft, but James has nailed it first time. I guess part of that is down to the fact that this script is so character-based, so there is a solid foundation to start from, ie. “What does the character need to be put through now in order to progress their arc?” rather than just “What cool thing can happen next?”, to which the answer could be almost anything.
Needless to say, given the way we split the writing chores, there are discrepancies between the two halves. These are mainly to do with the supporting characters, some of whom have been portrayed quite differently in the two halves. In one case at least, we plan to solve this by creating a smooth development of the character in the middle of the film from one type to the other, rather than rewriting all their stuff in one half to match the other. There were also a couple of little subplots I had added into my half to flesh the thing out which will need paying off in part two.
We also had a flick through some mythology books and thought a bit more about what the monsters would look like. James’ idea of them having tattooed faces, which I initially disliked, is now growing on me and we expanded it a little, starting to think of them as tribal, so perhaps some groups of demons could have a more Celtic look, whereas others might have an Egyptian feel or whatever to their make-up, and then each group could have different weapons and/or powers.
I’m off to London for a week now to shoot a corporate, so there won’t be any updates for a few days. In the meantime James is going to redraft the script according to the changes we decided on today, and I’m going to try to find time to rewrite one or two scenes which I have a particularly strong vision of.
A very nice day. The perfect day to sit under the funky architecture of the Courtyard, on an outdoor table, drinking OJ and failing to discuss Soul Searcher in any serious way. I’ve started storyboarding – an amazing seven shots so far – those poor rain forests…. James will have his half of the script done for the weekend, when we plan to spend an intense day gelling the two halves together. The Deep Pan Pizza Agony Aunt Waitress showed up again, but luckily James wasn’t there yet to demand inappropriate ex-relationship counselling of her.
Please welcome to the stage a new character, Mr. Doug Kirk-Patrick, who is designing us a nice spectral light background thing for our funding proposals and will doubtless be doing further design stuff on the project as it advances like some kind of spiky, punning army. DKP also works at the Courtyard, which is quickly becoming a hive of networking and general creativity, the likes of which have not been seen since the hallowed Doodies institution closed its doors.
I’ve started discussing what the fight scenes might be like with Beacon veteran and all round rumble-meister Simon Wyndham. James’ half of the script is coming on perdy sweet, whilst mine remains stalled a few pages short of completion, though I’m sure I can knock it on the head this weekend.
James went away to write the press release, to announce ourselves to the world.
Hereford is such a small town. Today was the art college screening of The Beacon, which went down pretty well, but whilst waiting in reception I bumped into a lady whose farm I had shot my short film Cow Trek on. After the screening, James and I did a little spiel (as in Berg) about SS and asked any interested actors, designers and the like to come see us afterwards. Amongst the hopefuls was the waitress James had asked advice from in Deep Pan Pizza a few weeks back. And a guy who had auditioned for one of my early films, Traction. Then I went to Tesco and the guy on the checkout had been at the screening. Hereford – population: 57.
We’ve built the foundation for what should be a mutually cool relationship with the art college. I can’t believe we’re not shooting until October – I feel like we’ll be ready to go in a few weeks.
Finally got to screen the movie to the audience it was designed for: students. The reaction was good – they got it in a way that none of the previous (older) audiences had. Everyone else had taken it too seriously. Hell, I took it too seriously, but that probably makes it funnier. Anyway, a good turn out and a lot of people came back after a short break to watch Behind The Beacon and hear about the next project.
Just a quick one to say the website for my next feature project is now up and running, though I warn you it looks awful at the moment: www.soulsearchermovie.com
Once again meeting at the Courtyard, James and I exchanged our script scribblings thusfar and talked about how to proceed. I had got to the end of my half of the plot, and only clocked in 30 pages, not the 45 you would expect for half a feature script (one page in standard layout equates to about a minute of screen time). We discussed subplots, further characterisation, and the sticky issue of what the physical laws of our fictional universe would be, I having sent James a rather long e-mail giving suggestions on this. It’s important to establish these rules right from the start. Can the ghosts fly? Can they touch the living? Do they have any special powers or weapons? What do they want – are they just making mischief or they trying to extract humans’ lifeforce or just looking for a payphone so they can call their mom?
Or 4/3/02, as I statesidedly dated my letter to Subsurface Distribution, enclosing a DVD copy of The Beacon for their perusal and hopeful purchase for distribution. Interestingly, the woman in the post office didn’t ask if it was porn this time. Perhaps she saw my large hair and dark glasses and made up her own mind. So that would be the DVD finished then, except for me to burn lots of copies, and print out lots of covers, the first of which is currently rendering my typing sluggish as it background-spools its way out of my Epson. I’ve just completed a poster which features the obligatory context-ignoring quote from a review, in this case last Friday’s crit by Malvern Gazette’s very own Phill Tromans: “Genius.” (As in “You don’t have to be a genius to see this film is shit.” Not really, of course.) Actually, Phill’s review hit the relevant nails on their respective heads, though one wonders if it might have been even more favourable if my early films (the oft-spoken of but rarely aired Bob trilogy) hadn’t included so many jokes at his expense. I met with The Courtyard’s director and film programmer this morning, who are keen to screen The Beacon for two nights in early June, as part of their next film season. Also involved will be Behind The Beacon, a Q&A session with the director (that’s me, folks) and a red carpet. Yes, really. Anyone who wants a complimentary ticket, start being nice to me now.
We convened at James’ on Aylestone Hill to drink Diet Coke. I’d sketched a few characters and shots, and managed the first ten pages of a script, so James looked over these, and we talked to his camcorder quite a lot about our vision for the movie, in readiness for the inevitable behind-the-scenes documentary.
James had to go to London to pitch a book to the British Film Institute, so I tagged along. On the way back, we made some progress with the SS outline and ideas. We decided to write half the script each – I the first half, and James the second.