Sunday, 5 June 2011

That was the week that was

Has it been that long? Rest assured that I am still here.

Just. Having fought my way through to the back-end of the most insane of weeks, I’m finally in a position to post the first blog update since last Tuesday. This is no way to keep in touch, Phelps. I know. Sorry.

You’ll be happy to hear that the intervening time has been all about the zombies. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is how it’s going to be from here on; shit getting crazy. Jake and I are locked in the submarine and it’s surfacing at increasingly infrequent intervals; a point not missed by my girlfriend and former drinking buddies.

So, in no particular order, here’s what we’ve been up to: finishing our auditioning; meeting our prospective Production Designer to chat over props and the best way to post-apocalypsise a perfectly nice looking college; filing our first VAT return; chatting fake mantraps, snappable golf-clubs and fire-extinguishers filled with eye-happy foam with prop designers; and filling my son’s face with Alginate.

Actually, I think that last one probably needs some further explanation, before a red-flag gets posted against my name on a child-protection register. On Wednesday night, the Charmed office took a road trip to see our man Robbie-the-gore in London to get some face moulds done; my son Leif and Mary-4th-from-the-right-in-our-read-through were also in attendance, along with Rob-the-camera-assist to take plenty of photos.

Leif and Mary have bravely volunteered to play the roles of two of our “shit-sack” zombies; old, decayed and utterly without threat. And Robbie needs the imprints of their faces to lovingly transform them into a mess of rotten gore over the next few weeks. It was an experience not dissimilar to apple-bobbing in quick-setting cold blue porridge, apparently. With a bonus couple of holes to breath through.


So far, so goo.

And then came the big one. A weekend at Chris Jones’ Guerilla Film-Maker’s Masterclass in Regent’s College, London. He of the low-budget film bible of almost the same name. 300 or so delegates piled into the middle of Regent’s Park to hear him tell us everything we need to know about making our first feature films: writing, budgeting, scheduling, crewing, post-production and selling the bugger. The next eighteen months of Jake’s and my lives, laid before us in all their cold, harsh reality.

And, by Christ, the man can talk.

Twenty hours of hugely entertaining presentation and nineteen pages of Phelpenscrawl later, and we are now significantly better tooled up for the job in hand than we were on Friday. There is nothing that can touch this course for anybody wanting to make a feature; a reality-checked low-budget film-school in just two days. Even the horror of the £22-a-night back-packers’ hostel couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm. Although it really tried.

And the best bit? The inception of the second movie – Zombies on an Oil Rig. The networking that we both love so much chanced us a meeting with an extraordinarily sound fellow called Pete; designer of the business bits of Oil Rigs and film-maker gottabe. It was still an awesome idea even when the three of us had sobered up. Pete is going to be driving across from Norway to join the fun on 31st July, and he is most welcome.

Suggestions for a suitable title are welcome. You have Drill Bitten to beat.

And that brings you all just about up to date. There was a time when I was working for the man that the week just used to disappear; Mondays quickly became Fridays, and became Mondays again in a blink. Coasting for a living. But looking back, burying my son in latex must have been months ago, when it was actually only last Wednesday. There are plenty of things that I’m loving about this year, but not least is the feeling of time finally slowing down again. It seems I’m going to be 41 for considerably longer than I was forty.

That said, it’ll count in dog years when I come to tot up the wrinkles. Corrugated.

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