Well, a childhood spent alone in my bedroom writing computer games on my Amstrad CPC instead of drinking beer with alcohol in the Winter Gardens, has finally paid off. Having nothing better to do with my time at the moment, I decided to see just how much versatility I could get out of a Digital Versatile Disc, by coding an interactive editing feature which would allow the viewer to recut a scene from The Beacon in whatever way they saw fit. By a staggering stroke of luck, the likes of which are rarely seen outside of a Douglas Adams novel, it worked first time. Okay, so the limitations of the DVD scripting language mean that essentially all you are doing is compiling an eight item playlist from a choice of 20 clips, but it does mean that you can make one of the SAS soldiers apparently shoot a fellow trooper, from the comfort of your home cinema system. And, the scene in question being the infamous Fields vs. Harrison fight, maybe even Simon can cut a version which satisfies him. (But I doubt it.) In other news, I’ve been coerced into placing an advert in Hereford Admag, which will obviously fail to recoup even the slightest percentage of its UKP50 cost. I’m sorry. The Prime Minister made me do it. Also, I’ve today sent a copy of the film States-ward (always an amusing situation at the post office – “Can I ask what the contents of the parcel are, sir?” “It’s a videotape.” “Right, sir. Is it porn?”), to the New York-based straight-to-video distributor www.b-movie.com (go on, check it out – you’ll wish you hadn’t) in the hope that they might buy it, thus relieving me of the annoying, and insurmountably difficult, obligation of trying to sell it to punters.
Mike and Dave took their turn at my newly constructed, state-of-the-art DVD commentary recording suite – a breath-taking compendium of VCR, minidisc recorder and old-but-comfy sofa. I can now sleep soundly in the knowledge that The BeaconDVD covers both bases on the commentary pitch, sewing up as it does the divergent approaches of Info-Packed Trivia Fest [(C) Rodriguez] and Two Blokes Having a Chat [(C) Carpenter/Russell]. The animated menus are mostly complete, and look great, and there have been a couple of changes to the extras line-up for the disc. The screen tests, which turned out to be deathly dull on viewing this afternoon, will be dropped in favour of an interactive feature on the sound mixing, and the defunct Stunts featurette will be replaced by the hilariously titled “Location, Location, Location”, featuring recce footage from last May.
Simon Wyndham came round yesterday to record his portion of the crew commentary, and I did Dave’s dirty work and interviewed him for the documentary. Simon also delivered his funky finished featurette, The Tao of Choreography (eh? Is that some kind of foreign speak?), which, no disrespect, is cheesy beyond belief, although I have yet to see Dave’s doc to assess its fromage factor, so Simon can’t claim the gold yet.
I started work on the DVD’s structure yesterday, and now it’s virtually complete. The second commentary – featuring Simon Wyndham (fight arranger), David Abbott (practical FX) and Mike Hodges (3D FX) – will be recorded in the next week, but for Dave’s documentary and animated menus, I’m going to have to wait until the last week of March, due to his unfortunate discovery of the effects of VCR’s magnetic fields on neighbouring hard drives. Anyway, I’ve set a release date for the DVD, which is April 2nd, the day after Easter Monday. Due to poor sales of the VHS, I can’t afford to get the DVD professionally duplicated. This means it will only be available on DVD-R, which works in most stand-alone DVD players and all DVD-ROM drives. Visit the order page for more information.
Caught up with intra-West-Midlands jet-setter Mike “Matt” Hodges to film his interview and cheesily staged cutaways for the In-Flight Movie DVD featurette. Every time I go back to Malvern I hate it a little bit more. The leaflet distribution process has made sickeningly apparent the narrow-minded, uber-jobsworth attitude that makes the overly steep town such a suffocating environment. Getting the flyers round Hereford was easy – all the local shopkeepers were keen to help promote the film as a piece of enterprising, spirited local culture – one chip shop owner even got his kids to hand out flyers for me in the highstreet. Dropping off flyers at Malvern’s Tourist Info Office this afternoon, the guy behind the counter asked why the film – which he had read about with great interest in the local paper – had not been screened at Malvern Festival Theatre/cinema. It was a question which was answered for me five minutes later, when I visited the Festival Theatres with an innocent request to leave some flyers. And they said no. Now I’m sorry to get all puerile about this, but just what kind of a fucked-up attitude is that? As if it wasn’t enough that the Malvern Hills Conservators, whose job should be to promote Malvern to tourists, were extremely unhelpful in filming negotiations, the Malvern Gazette failed to send a reporter to the premiere, and the Theatres had unreasonable demands in return for us filming there (they insisted on being credited on all the promotional material, despite proposing to let us film a mere 30 second scene), now I find that the Theatres are utterly disinterested in promoting, let alone screening, what is (a) an excellent piece of advertising for a town which depends at least partly on tourism for its survival, (b) a piece of local culture which would be of interest to that segment of the population which doesn’t have a mind narrower than Calista Flockhart’s waist, and (c) something other than plays, spring water and walking. Here endeth my wrath.
Checked out the Art College – looks like there could be quite an enthusiastic turn-out – and got some flyers in Andy’s Records, and on the way home bought a glossy international magazine called Impact, containing features on such quality movies as Men In Black II, Ocean’s Eleven and The Beacon. Yes, that’s right, I’ve stepped up to the next rung on the ladder of fame. For there I am, staring out from a very nice four page article by Simon “I know the editor” Wyndham, along with lovely pics of LJ, John, Josh and co. Available now at all good newsagents, but not any bad ones.
I’ve been working on the static sub-menus for the DVD the last couple of days. I’m also on the verge of sorting out a screening at Hereford Art College. On a more surreal note, the BBC’s new Hereford & Worcester website launched today, and features an article on The Beacon, plus a competition to win a signed copy… simply answer ten ludicrously easy questions… and there are four runners-up prizes of signed posters! It’s prize-tastic!
I got the flyers round Hereford on Wednesday, at such locations as the cinema, the skaters’ shop, the Software Store, some music shops and a whole heap of chip shops. Odeon Worcester and a couple of other locations in Oliver Cromwell’s favourite city got the flyer treatement this afternoon. Malvern will have to wait till next week. In spite of all this foot-blistering effort, sales are still slow, though I hope a general awareness will lead to word-of-mouth snowballing eventually. A lot of people seem to be waiting for the DVD. On that front, I got the storyboard and stills galleries together this week. I decided to put on storyboards for scenes that were cut before the final draft of the script – more interesting than looking at shots that are in the film, although there are three storyboard comparison scenes for your delectation. The stills gallery contains 100 photos, a mixture of in-character stills which I took, and previously unseen behind-the-scenes photos by Simon Ball.
So largely positive reviews in the local press, then. The Hereford Times’ praise-singing included: “The audience was gripped… The Beacon is an entertaining film… Several of the key players gave impressive performances – none more so than the hero of the day, Lorna-Jane Hamer… The music score by Hereford musician Alan Jones is in a class above what you would anticipate on this budget and Oseman’s technical skills are remarkable.” DVD-wise, I’ve so far completed a featurette on the window smash effect, some multi-angle scenes, storyboard comparisons, and the deleted scenes, plus of course the director’s commentary. Later I’m going to do commentaries for the deleted scenes, then I’m going to start work on a featurette about the cinema FX sequence. The flyers haven’t been done, so no-one’s actually going to know about the official VHS release on Monday. Hello, poverty…
I cut another trailer – come on, I had to do one with some 3D FX in. I don’t have enough webspace to put it up on this site, but you can view it on BT’s Get Out There website. I’m currently laying the sound effects on the deleted scenes – yes, I decided to go down the Star Wars: Episode I route and finish them, rather than just leaving them in rough cut form. And tonight I record the director’s commentary.