The last ever Friends… sniff, sob. Anyhoo, I’ve been making arrangements for the pick-ups day on the 8th. At one point it looked like it wasn’t going to happen because my PL insurance has lapsed and I was getting quoted ludicrous minimum premiums for one day’s cover. Then there’s the fact that Transco has several huge holes in the middle of High Town right now whilst they replace the gas main – something of a continuity nightmare (“There’s so many holes in Fifth Avenue, we didn’t think anyone would notice one more.”) – plus I managed to pick the one day of the year that they start setting up a giant marquee there in the early hours of the morning. However, I will have my crane shot, in this life or the next, and I seem to have gotten around these problems. Shooting People proved invaluable in tracking down a cheaper insurer.
James showed Soul Searcher to a few of his students at Gloucester Uni yesterday, and was hoping to show it to some more today. I don’t know how it went, but he was expecting a poor turn-out since their term is essentially over. One thing I was able to glean from yesterday’s results is that the Doodies scenes are a lot more popular now they’re shorter. Last night I cut another minute and a half out of the movie.
Today, whilst watching all the Friends repeats out of the corner of my eye, I’ve been working on the FX for the nightclub scene. I’d been holding off doing them in case the scene wound up getting reshot. I think when I grade that sequence I’m going to do something pretty extreme, maybe turn it really red like that scene from Aliens.
It just wouldn’t be a proper film without some incendiary effects filmed in Chris Jenkins’ massive garden in Malvern Wells. Jeff, he of the mono-appellation and small beard, took time out from his quest to learn every musical instrument known to man in order to assist Chris and myself in the detonation of sundry items. Those of you who’ve been blessed with the chance to see The Beacon will be familiar with the Jenkins Dell, it being the setting for John McLachlan’s final demise in said action fest. The explosions were shot against black for matting into plates of scattering demons and the like. We also made perpendicular use of a fountain firework, whose shower of sparks now constitutes the visual report of Luca’s rifle.
I’m aiming for picture lock on June 11th. It’s a little scary but it’s about time. I know there will be at least one more test screening before then (June 8th, Gloucester University) and am hoping to squeeze in a couple more.
Jon Hayes and I have been searching for model Mustangs to use for the miniature sequence. The closest we’ve found so far is a 1:18 scale ’71 Mach One perfect in every respect save for its hard top roof. If we can’t find a soft top one, Jon will have to butcher this. Work cannot truly get underway on the top secret vehicle without the Mustang, as we need ensure the scales match.
Other areas of FX work are not going anywhere very fast. I’ve been let down a couple of times and a lot of people have seemed interested but never got round to sending me their showreels.
AJ introduced me to a guy named Kevin McDonagh, who is keen to take on the marketing and publicity work for Soul Searcher as well as trying to raise further finance. We’ve met a couple of times and he’s currently busy putting together an investment proposal.
(Not his 24th, obviously)
I got another three and a half minutes out of the cut, bringing the total running time down to under 107 minutes. One of the many great things about the DVD format is that it makes it a lot easier to cut scenes, knowing that people will eventually see them on the disc release. It’s satisfying anyway to trim things down and make them work better.
With the nightclub reshoot off the cards, the only remaining live action photography is a mottley assortment of inserts, and a few extra shots of some of the leads, One of these is a high fall which AJ is keen on doing himself. At his suggestion I’m contacting Hereford Swimming Pool with a view to chucking Mr. Nicol off their top diving board.
It’s well past midnight and I’ve just called it a night on the edit, having managed to trim five minutes off the movie. I aim to lose another five before the weekend’s out. Yes, one inevitable finding of the test screening was that it’s too slow.
Here are some other choice statistics…
Favourite scenes: opening sequence in High Town (I was very pleased to see everyone jumping out of their skins when the Shifter popped up at the street sweeper window), and the climactic sequence with the vehicle that cannot be mentioned (even though it’s still in Legomation).
Least favourite scenes: the Doodies ones (snip snip).
Favourite character: Joe (mostly voted for by the ladies; Chris and AJ got all jealous).
Least favourite character: Luca (that took me by surprise; wish I’d asked them to say why).
And in the “tick any words/phrases you think describe this film” bit, the top four were “cheesy” (63%), “entertaining” (58%), “good storyline” (42%) and “humorous” (42%). To my surprise, a fair number of people also ticked the “too much action” box.
Oh, and it’s official: no-one gives a rat’s ass about the concert scene being shot in three different nightclubs.
The UK Film Council has elected not to fund Soul Searcher. Reading between the lines, part of the reason for this seems to be that it’s too mainstream, which is fair enough. I don’t think they’re big fans of genre movies. Certain other comments they made I just found downright strange. Time will tell whether they’re right or not.
When Soul Searcher bombs and I need a new career, I’m going to start up a coffee house and call it Accost A Coffee. But until then, if I want to accost a coffee I have to go to Hereford’s new Costa Coffee. It’s like the new Doodies, only without the soul. Yes, this is going somewhere. This is where James and I met up to talk about a new script. I brought the SS sequel outlines to the table (the more I think about them, the more I don’t want to make them), plus two other proto-ideas for features. We’re not planning to write any scripts for now, just treatments, so we’ve got something if people ask what’s next.
James said the college in Cheltenham where he teaches might be into having a Soul Searcher test screening.
I was at a bit of a loose end over the weekend, having expected to be re-editing as a result of the Hereford test screening. Instead I took the opportunity to sleep a lot, and went back and redid some of the first FX I did back in December. In the intervening five months I’ve learnt a bit more about what works and what doesn’t, and was able to considerably improve the scene. I used to really hate the opening scene but it’s gradually getting better. One of the FX involved blasting sugar out of a bowl with a hair dryer (to represent dust blowing out of the street sweeper brushes). Of course my vacuum cleaner chose that afternoon, with my living room plastered in new glucose decor, to pack up.
Jonny’s thinking of selling his Mustang, so I’m off to London tomorrow to record the sound of the engine (although I have a track on a sound effects CD called “Nuclear War” which sounds about the same).
The college has postponed the test screening until next week.
It is now two years since James and I finished the first draft of the Soul Searcher script. Things have certainly changed around here. This was all farmland as far as the eye could see. Old Man Peabody owned all of it – had this crazy idea about breeding pine trees. But enough now. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, several ice ages have been and gone, and the only thing that’s stayed the same is that I’m still sat alone at a computer trying to make myself do work.
A couple of things have been happening in very vague ways, but to stick to the hard facts, all I’ve been doing is working on some FX shots and laying more sound effects for the test screening on Friday. As for the nightclub reshoot, we’ve hit a bit of an obstacle in that Bex says a good wig for Ray is going to cost a grand. I thought about having Joe have his hood up for the scene, but that could well be pretty daft. Also I fear we’re not going to get as long in the Marrs Bar as I’d like (familiar, huh?). I’m considering a compromise whereby we reshoot only certain shots that really jar – papering over the cracks rather than redecorating the whole room, if you will. The test audience may have something to say on the matter anyway.
It’s worth me recording here that in the last couple of weeks I’ve passed a certain defined point which I also recall passing during post on The Beacon. You’re never totally happy with anything, right? Your rushes suck, but as you start to cut, add visual FX, add sound FX, add music, it gets better and better. Whatever you can do to close the gap between the film you had in your head a year ago and the one that’s on your edit suite today. But as post goes on you’re able to see that some things have got pretty much as good as they’re ever going to get (unless you raise a million bucks and reshoot the whole goddamn thing). You realise at last that this film will never be perfect. So what do you do? The only thing you can do: you start writing another one, knowing that this one… THIS ONE will be the perfect film. And so on forever and ever. Disclaimer: (1) I haven’t started writing another script, though I have finally hit upon an idea that interests me. (2) I still ain’t making it unless someone up-ends a truck-load of greenbacks on me. (3) None of this means that I won’t keep trying to make Soul Searcher as good as it can possibly be, it just means that I’m now able to see it as part of a larger picture. (4) This sucker’s electrical, but I need a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21 jigawatts to power the Flux Capacitor.