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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

140 at the Screen Director's Guild

I forgot to blog about this! I think I just had a busy week straight after! Yes, I screened 140 for the Screen Directors Guild of Ireland on the 16th of this month. A select group of directors from film and television came along as the first audience to the most recent cut of 140.

I must admit, it was quite nerve wracking! Having work so close to the project for months it is hard to separate myself from it and get some distance, enough to see if it's working, which why I thought it was important to do this screening and find out how an audience of strangers reacted to it.

I got a lot from the screening. Watching in that state, being fully aware that other people were seeing it for the first time and trying to prejudge what they might think, I did feel it was running too long. This cut is 95 minutes, up from the 80 minute version that screened at Hatchfest, which feels much better. So I need to bring it down.

With new clips going in late some of the balance was effected and carefully constructed music was thrown off too. I still need to figure it out, I'm not entirely happy with how it's all sitting at the moment. I was. But now I feel it needs a bit more time to make it the best it can be. I don't think it's going to be done this side of Christmas. But I'm sure the filmmakers involved will understand this delay. I want to present their work in the best light possible.

I've digested the comments from the night, which were positive, and where critical, constructive. So I am now able to look at the film with new energy and some distance. So I'm looking forward to getting back into it and getting it out into the world.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Iscariot in the Attic

Just back from the reading of Iscariot at the Attic Studio. Great read through. Loads of fun, and really helped a lot. As you will know dear reader, we have been working on Iscariot (Formally Night) for a long time, since July 2008! So this is a mile stone in the progress of this script. And it was really nice to get it out of our heads and hear it out load for the first time. I through some light on what needs to be looked at, and there were a couple of things. Thankfully nothing major and nothing that can't be fixed in a short period of time.

The crowd were great, very generous with their time and their comments. Most people seemed to really like, with one or two issues, again stuff, that as a first draft, will need to be looked at. Again I think it's a script that you either get or you don't, the people who did rally connected with it, really like it and were on our wave length, understood where we were coming from and even compared it to films we talked about a lot while making it, Get Carter, No Country For Old Men and the like, which was really nice. The people who didn't seem to get it again I felt like they wanted it to be a different film. It's a very specific genre piece, so I understand that.

But the night was great, 5:30 to 10:30, so 5 hours! Wow! Didn't feel like that at all, flew by. I said it after the Ghoster reading back in January, the Attic is a fantastic thing, great people doing brilliant work and creating a secure and creative environment to take work in progress and help in the building of it. For us writers it's tough sending our work into the world, especially before it's finished, so many people are all to ready and willing to shoot it down, smash up and tear it apart. But the Attic provides an environment that nurtures rather then destroys. There are other institutes in the country that could learn a thing or two from them.

My thanks to the cast tonight, they did a fantastic job. And very special thanks to Camille, who organised the night and assembled everyone... and made us tea! Awesome as always! My thanks to the audience for coming out on such a miserable night and for all the feedback, it's really going to help us on the journey to getting this film made.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Stripped-Down, Raw and Angry.

A busy couple of weeks. I'm so grateful for everyone for the positive responses to the clip from 140. With regard the to the film itself, I had hope it would be finished by now, but I added in some new clips, which made the film longer and feel longer too. So I need to bring it down again. I also had a screening for the Screen Directors Guild of Ireland, which went great, but through up some issues. Not only from the comments for those present, but with myself as I watched it with an audience for the first time.

The general response was a positive one, but I felt while watching it, and people confirmed this afterwards, that it was too long, fatigue was an issue, simply because as the audience you were never sure when the film was going to end. So I need a little more time to pace it better and address that issue. I have an idea though, which I think will work well. The sound needs to be sorted out and timing with music, the new clips effected a lot of the previous decisions I had made with regard to that.

But overall it was a great experience. I think if I just take a little more time with it now it will be a better film for it. So bear with me a little longer!

In other news, Iscariot (previously Night) is in the hands of quite a few people at the moment and we are getting a very interesting response. It's the first script I've written that has divided people in such a polar fashion. People either love it of hate it - and I mean hate it!

It's a brutal and violent script, but it really seems to have effected it's readers, perhaps more than they would like to have been effected reading a script, and they have been none-to-pleased about it, which is great, it means we've done our job. The people who loved it are thrilled by it and have actually read it over and over. They find it visual, visceral, fast paced and thoroughly entertaining.

We wrote Iscariot to tell a story in a very specific genre. It's a B-Movie and a modern take on Film Noir, in a stripped-down, raw and angry way that is raging against the state of the country at the moment. And while it's not about that specifically, it is certainly draws from the feelings that are created because of this situation: angst, anger, panic, betrayal and disillusionment. I think we achieved that.

But it's odd, that's what the critics are criticizing it for, they don't seem to realize it's effecting them for that very reason, because it's successful. They don't want to take the script for what it is, they'd rather it be something different and interpret the negative feeling they have been left with as failure, it's not, that's how we want you to feel. We want you to be left with that sour taste in you mouth because that's what the film is about, it's a cry, a rage, it's angry and unapologetic for being so.

There's no escaping that, and why should we try? Why can't cinema be about pushing audiences to places they don't necessarily want to go and exploring these emotions. Take a film like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, much loved, but equally reviled. The people who hate it do so because it's so vile, failing to see how successful it actually is. The filmmaker has achieved what he set out to do. You don't have to like it, but you must not dismiss it out of hand because it's not The Sixth Sense.

But I guess some people are like that. I remember watching Roger Dodger with a friend once, she didn't enjoy it very much and at the end said, "it would have been better if it was a comedy with Adam Sandler!" ;)

All that is not to say the script doesn't need work, we have been working on it for a long time but it is still a first draft. To that end we are holding a reading of the script on Tuesday night with the Attic Studio, thanks again to Camille Donegan, who has organised it. So we're looking forward to that. It will help get the script out of our heads, let us hear it for the first time and we can gage a reaction from the audience as to how it plays. I'm sure it will have the same reaction as the private readings, there will be people there who love it and hate it alike! Hopefully more the former!

Not much else going on. Saw "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus" and loved it, I'd highly recommend going to see it. Gilliam is awesome. Go see it.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009