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Saturday, January 20, 2007

You know, for the kids.

It's been a while since I've but seeing as no one reads this anyway I don't suppose there have been many chomping at the bit to read the next instalment... anyway, here's what's happening.

I've been writing a lot, an awful lot. I've been trying to get several scripts done for the end of this month, two feature scripts and two short scripts. One of the shorts all ready existed, it just needed polishing and some adjusting. I'm trying to get it down from 14 pages to 11/10 pages. So that went well, it's called Puca and is about a young boy named Harvey and his imaginary friend, "You know, for the kids".

The other was a three page short story that I wrote years ago that I always thought would make a fun little movie, so I wrote that into a 20page script, which I feel is bit long at the moment, but we'll see. It's called 'The Perfect Word' and is about a young man looking for the perfect way to describe his love for a beautiful young maiden, with unexpected results.

Those are the shorts, they all ready existed elsewhere so they didn't take too long to get sorted. Next step for them is to apply for funding to the Irish Filmboard and see if we can't get one of them made. Who knows though, the filmboard is a tough nut to crack, sometimes I wonder if it shouldn't just be called The 'we only make wishy washy depressing bleak Irish films about child abuse and nuns' Board. But we'll see.
I'm also going to approach Jim Henson's about the possibility of a co-production. I spoke to them before about building the suit for Puca, but their fee was twice what the entire film cost so screw that! Anyway, maybe is they'd like to produce it. Can't hurt right?

Now, the feature films, a whole other kettle of banana fish.

Thomas and I talked about pushing hard on Puca, doing what we did on Emily's Song and getting out there to try everything to get it made. Which is what any film needs to get done. There are no two ways about it, you're either 100% committed and giving everything you have or it's not getting made.

So after thinking about we figured that there is no real commercial value in shorts. People are hesitant to invest in a film that's probably not going to make any money back, and there's no garuntee with shorts. So we figured to make another short would just as difficult as trying to get a low budget feature made, where there would be commercial value, so why not make a feature?

So we put Puca to one side and started writing our first feature script together. A family sports drama about cycling, called The Race.

It was an odd choice, I'm not a sports fan, but I've grown up with cycling, my dad does it, my brother, my uncles, friends and friends of the family, I guess it was our family sport. I always loved the atmosphere at the races, such a buzz. And Thomas the same, his family cycled too. His brother Stephen came seventh one year in the Ras, Irelands longest and toughest race, which takes place over eight days.

We had been developing a feature script about three friends who decide to go to india following the death of their best friend. While there the discover the have nothing in common with one another, it was their friend who held them together and madness ensues! It was based on Thomas's mental adventures in India, which I always felt needed to be made into a film.

Anyway, one day while reading Empire magazine i found out that Wes Anderson was making a film about three brothers who trek across india following the death of a friend... Bastard!

I just thought, now matter how different the script is investor, producers or studios are all going to say the same thing "Didn't Wes Anderson just make that film with Owen and Luke Wilson and Bill Murray?" What hope would we have?! So we shelved it. But I know some day we'll take it down.

So one disallusioned day while sitting staring out the window I said "Let's make a cycling movie", thomas's eyes lit up and I knew we were on the road again, literally. I always had this idea about a dad beyond his prime who comes back to ride the Ras and shows everyone who doubted him that he could do it. That's as far as my idea went. So Thomas and I went with that and developed the Race.

That part remains, but it's slightly different now. It's about a forgotten australian cycling champ who almost died following a crash twenty years ago, he broke his neck and was left in a coma. Although not paralized he was warned that if he crashed again he could be, or even killed. His wife made him promise never to cycle again. It starts twenty years later. He's now living in Ireland and working on a building site. We soon realise that he didn't keep the promise, not only that but he's been keeping it a secret from his wife and not only that, now his two sons cycle, and they're good. It's when they decide to cycle the Ras that the trouble starts.

We're really happy with the script so far. We're half way through the second draft and it has changed so much from what we started with. But all for the better. Last night we took out one of our favourtie characters. Henry, the grandfather, a really quirky spritly old man, who was a delight to write, we even had Peter O'Toole in mind for the casting and every time we thought of Peter O'Toole doing these things is was great.
But it just wasn't working overall, they were great scenes but they were getting in the way of what the film is about, the couple and their relationship. So we took him out.
It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do writing, but one of the easiest at the same time. As soon as he came out the script improved ten-fold. We gave his actions to another character, folding two into one and creating one great character instead of having two ok characters who were fighting for attention.

If there was one piece of advice I could give to anyone starting out writing it would be this, be fearless. Don't be afraid to tear down the walls you've built, tear apart the things you love. Don't be afriad to take an unexpected path, it may lead to a dead end, but you'll never have to wonder. So often there are fascinating magical things down those unexpected paths.

Right now we're trying to get the script finished for the start of febuary. The next step is to get an agent. we have a guy expecting the scipt so hopefully he'll like it. David Wolstencroft, who i met at heartland, recommended him. David's a good writer, he's had two novels, Good News Bad News and Contact Zero, he created the BBC show Spooks and wrote Shooting Dogs, the Micheal Canton-Jones film with John Hurt, I'd recommend any of them.

We're also talking to a producer about the prospect of gettig this thing made. A guy from hollywood who produced Shadow of the Vampire, with Willem Dafoe. So fingers crossed he likes the idea.

So more news on the ongoing of The Race here soon.

On top of that I was writing my own feature script over the last month. A ghost story called 'The Wolf of Nevermore'. I've been very careful and secretive about this one, I shant devulge any information regarding the story yet. It's something I've been thinking about for a long time, over ten years.



I've always wanted to write a ghost story, but it's harder then I ever imagined, certainly in film terms. Everything has been done. so often I went down a certain avenue to find that it had been explored before and although I didn't conciously do it I'd find that many of the themes and even scenes were similar to other horror films. It's hard to be orginal in such a distinctive genre. But I think the thing about originality is not to try to be different, but to be honest. I think if you're honest with your characters and your storytelling then it will be original becuase it is 100% ocming from you and no one else.

So I took several very personal stories and melded them into this piece and I'm happy enough at this stage. I'm finished the second draft and I think it's paced nicely and has an overall good/unsettling feeling. I need to iron out some kinks but I hope to have it finished for next week.

This one has been different form anything else I've written because of how carful I was. Usually when I have an idea for a script I'll pen it down, then I'll spend a few weeks writing ideas about the story, characters, scenes, whatever comes to me, in no real order. when I feel like I've gotten a good feeling, I'll staart on the narrative structure, that doesn't take that long because alot of it is their with the characters and their lives. Then when I feel i'm ready I'l sit at my computer nad blast out a first draft in a very short period of time, three days to a week, with very little sleep. What I get at the end of that is usually a 200-250 page draft that just tells everything about everything and is way to much. My job then is to get that down to 100 pages.
The first fifty is easy, the next fifty is harder, the next twenty is painful and the final leg can take a month to do. But over all it's four month process.
This one was different. I spent a year thinking about it before I put pen to paper. when I eventually did it was probably six months before I started typing and when I started typing I was very careful, I did just splat it out on the page. I edited as I went and took every page as seriously as possilbe. And when I got to the end it came in at 95 pages, which is a perfect length for a horror feature script. So that made me feel good.
I know I'm building it up hear! But I don't think it's finished, I know it needs a lot more work and I have to be careful with it. Some days I hate it and think its terible, other days I'm happy enough to keep going with what I have. I just hope it does justice to what I've been hoping for all these years.

the next step is send it to an actress who's expecting it, she's well known and in her homeland quite a big star. She's also an incredible gifted actress. I wont say who she is yet incase she says no, but if she likes it and wants to do it it will be very exciting. So more on that at a later stage.

So that's all my movie news for now. Emily's Song continues to do well and is selling at one of europes biggest markets Clermont-Ferrand this week, so fingers crossed we get some buyers. Even if not we still have a year of festivals ahead of us. So who knows where it will take us. It has all ready completely changed my life, such is the magic of movies.

Until next time.

Frank