Thursday, 31 March 2011

A tart amongst pies

Today Jake and I really started to put it about a bit.

It should come as no surprise to the repeat visitor to hear that we are currently fixating on the cash. Such is life at the choke point – what to do without some promise of investment injection? So most of what we are doing now is planning inventive ways to secure that elusive introduction to prospective financiers; finding people willing to listen to the pitch.

We need to get out there and network.

Bingo. My favourite word again. Although this is not so much like the networking I know and mistrust; this is more akin to aggressive kerb-crawling. Tonight Jake and I went to tart our wares in the company of local small-business people at Wired Wessex’s Secrets of Successful Entrepreneurs event, armed only with a pocket full of business cards and some really cheesy ice-breakers.

The event organiser thoughtfully picked a local pie magnate and the owner of a Hampshire micro-brewery to come and talk about the secrets to their success; at least this ensured a pint and a pie alongside the chat. No one likes to network sober.

And it seems that everybody has something to sell. From VoIP telephony, to geo-mapping solutions, to any number of local IT firms; no one is there to invest. As I waxed lyrically about the best way to decapitate a zombie, all I could see were a mass of eyes glazing over in an ah-so-you’re-not-going-to-be-a-future-customer-after-all manner.

Still, it’s a learning experience, and we have plenty more meet-and-greets lined up. We are looking at one event in July where we will get given a booth large enough to hang a prosthetic corpse in, and maybe even throw a bit of fake blood about too. Now that’s marketing. Sold.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

We buy any carnage.com

A small amount of knackered goes a long way, it seems.

Following up on yesterday's contingency planning exercise, today was all about the question "how do we make a normal building look like there's been an apocalypse"; we may very well need to make a perfectly attractive school look like its been trodden on by the risen dead for fifteen months.

And the answer appears to be "pretty easily". Phew.

So today, Jake and I have been doing that thing that may look to other people like us watching zombie movies for shits and giggles, but which we term as research. Although we all know that what we're doing is mainly watching zombie movies for shits and giggles.

28 Days Later, Mutants and The Walking Dead TV series. Come sell us your vision of the end of the world.

We know it's bad in 28 Days Later from the off. Within two minutes the well-meaning-but-catastrophically-misinformed woman releases the grumpiest monkey; David Schneider has a moment; cue much spurting blood, zombie eyes and antsy chimps. Fade to a blank card saying "28 days later" and then immediately to Cillian Murphy's opening eye. A full month of the zombie holocaust has passed, while Mr Murphy has slept through it in a locked room. Peering out into this desolate world for the first time through the window in his door, he spies the awful wreckage of an abandoned hospital, over-run by the powerful and highly-contagious infected of Westminster.

A gurney is lying on its side…

Honestly. Go watch the film again. That's all they've done to sell the after-party of four weeks of zombie carnage. No blood up the walls, or crackling wires hanging from the ceiling, or broken furniture in disarray. Just a spilled gurney. And we buy it.

So, what else have we learned?
  1. Litter looks lovely. Especially pieces of paper strewn everywhere, for some reason. Add in a few ceiling tiles and discarded bags and you're home.
  2. Nothing says terminal civil breakdown quite like a looted vending machine.
  3. Sticking newspaper to every available window looks awesome, even if you can't logically figure out what purpose it serves. And it saves you from having to break every third one for effect.
  4. For maximum apocalypse, put up an untended missing persons' board, and cover it in children's drawings.
Set dressing 101, and filming at night is also going to buy us some bonus latitude. Who knows – we may not even have to worry about the harder-to-clear-up carnage, like bloody hand-prints on the walls, or zombie-themed graffiti, or perpetual dust mites hanging in the air.

That said, throwing in the odd corpse can’t hurt, can it? Reassured.

Monday, 28 March 2011

School's cool

Today Jake and I have been musing over the possibilities that naturally arise when answering the question “what happens if we don’t meet our investment targets?”

Contingency planning. Risk management. Call it what you will, but in essence we need to know what our bottom line is. This is not about figuring out the smallest amount of money required to make the film we want to make, this is the dividing line between “a film” and “no film”. A cruel and premature act of pessimism given that the taste of envelopes from letters to potential investors is still fresh on my tongue, but something we certainly should be considering.

And the first thing we need to look at is the location.

Oh marvellous, Phelps. You’re on about the location again. Just when I thought I’d been spared from any more Lost Jonny.

But, the location is where the money creeps in. Beautiful though it is, the hospital is based in faraway Essex, meaning that we have to billet around about 35 people in the environs. And because the place has no electricity or running water, we need to sort out toilets and a generator. And because the local pikeys are picking the place to pieces wing by wing, we will need additional security. All of this is in the budget.

Paying for a location? Johannes says “no”, and who are we to argue.

So, let’s pull this back to basics. What if we found a freebie broken psychiatric hospital in South Hampshire, with its own working toilets and electricity, and we were able to use local people as crew and put the cast up ourselves?

Wow. Big savings.

OK. Then given that there isn’t a freebie broken psychiatric hospital in South Hampshire, what other buildings would work from a practical and a thematic perspective? It isn’t enough that there’s lots of space to get lost in and plenty of nooks and crannies, but it also has to look like the kind of place within which you’d find a mysterious zombie with the power to raise the undead back to life.

Er… how about a school?

Interesting. Shooting at night in a school… OK. We could make this work.

And then it hit us – if we do this we are going to need to film in the summer holidays. These coming summer holidays. It means pulling the shoot forward by six weeks; if we push this button we need to make sure we are ready to roll out, and roll out quickly.

Nothing like looking at a panic-button to coax out the voices of sweet rationality. And so it was just about now that we did something really stupid.

You need to understand that there are two primary constituents that underpin the entire Resurrection enterprise… the first is a particular brand of Earl Grey tea, and the other is our perennial quest for new and interesting ways to ingest chillies.

And today we hit a new low. Worse than the phalls and the shot-glass snifters of neat Encona, today we brewed up some chilli coffee.

A scoop and a half of Peruvian Java plus two finely diced Scotch Bonnets. Absolutely disgusting. I predict a diet of Gaviscon and stomach cramps for the foreseeable future. Gullible.


Thursday, 24 March 2011

Star Wreck

With my primordial fascination recently re-awakened, last night I unadvisedly dipped my toes into the Caroline Munro back-catalogue. And I really, really wish that I hadn’t.

Starcrash. Italy’s 1979 answer to Star Wars, featuring Ms. Munro, a pre-Knight Rider David Hasselhoff and an embarrassed Christopher Plummer. I say “answer to”; I mean “direct rip-off” – when the hero pulls out a light-sabre half way through the movie I was so past counting the moments of über-homage that it didn’t even register as inappropriate.

Sometimes a film is genuinely so bad it’s good. I have to ‘fess up to being charmed all the way through Troll 2, although my son and girlfriend have slightly different memories of the experience. Future Force, House of the Dead, Maniac Cop… you all have thoroughly un-deserved places in my heart.

And sometimes a film is so bad that it just plain sucks.

From the opening shot of a disappointingly short space-craft passing slowly over the top of the camera, I knew that I was in for 94 minutes of stuff that I’d already seen somewhere else. Better.

And therein lies the difference between a guilty pleasure and a wasted couple of hours… ambition. If you try and show me something new, albeit in a way that offends every cinematically-sensitive neurone in my brain, I’m at least engaged. Show me something derivative, and I’m bored. Sadly, this is where a massive number of low-budget zombie movies land; something to bear in mind if you’re planning to throw something new into a densely populated genre.

Anyway, I’ll leave it as an exercise for the attentive viewer to figure out why I had fond memories of this from my deepest darkest youth. For everyone else, I’ll just leave you with a nagging sense of “yeah, but what has this got to do with the Resurrection film?”


Welcome to the problem with blogging. Some days something entertaining happens; some days are spent working through the unbloggably-boring details. Edited.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Professional fowls

Late at night, when the only sound normally heard is an incessant tap-tap-tap from the blogging fairies, Jake has been busy playing in his PhotoShop.

For as long as we’ve been thinking about the movie, we’ve been talking about ideas for poster-art. For a low-budget horror movie it’s one of the most important marketing tools you have – get the front of the DVD box right and you’re almost home dry, regardless of the quality of the contents. It’s not like there’s a law or something that says that the artwork has to have anything remotely to do with what’s actually in the movie. It seems.

Mentioning no titles, but I have sat through an astonishing array of immaculately packaged turkeys recently. It's like being at a Norfolk beauty pageant.

Anyway, this is the latest in the line, and I really quite like this one.


The sound-bite is 100% GhoulFool (not his real name, thankfully – think Alistair Campbell as a gothic fop, but without the redeeming humanity); the postcard oddly reminiscent of an earlier missive; the face shamelessly appropriated from Google. Bootiful!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Who will buy this wonderful morning?

I gotta tell you – our investor pack looks awesome.

I mean, it should do given the inordinately large amount of time and energy it has taken to put together.

For some people this is going to be their initial contact with the project; their first impression of the entertainingly disturbed Resurrection nether-world. Sure, it needs to be chock full of case studies, budget breakdowns, projected sales figures, tax relief details and investment safeguards. But it also has to convey our passion for the film; to translate the tone and spirit of what we’re trying to achieve; to pass on our conviction to the reader.

And having the GhoulFool’s delicious concept art as punctuation doesn’t hurt.

So, the business case is solid, the plans for the film are realistic, and we’re bringing something new to a hackneyed genre. If we get a chance to pitch it to a prospective financier, I’m relaxed that we’d be able to give a good account of ourselves.

But there’s the rub. How to get ourselves into a position to be able to pitch the project.

Facilitating this introduction is, I think, the single largest challenge that we are going to face over the course of the movie. This is the narrowest production door that we will need to squeeze through, and as jamb-lubricant Jake and I have chosen the medium of “enigmatic postcard”.


On the back is scrawled the message: “We have taken refuge in the water tower. They are everywhere now. Send for help.”

And that’s it. Apart from more dried blood, of course.

Well, not quite it. Obviously we follow up with a letter a couple of days later, and include a clean self-addressed postcard. Want more info? Pop your details on the card, and stick it back in the post. Simple and efficient.

The narrowest door it may well be, but now is the time to butter-up and squeeze our fat arses through it. Fairy God-mothers, friends of Fairy God-mothers and personal trainers should make themselves known to the cabin crew now. Starving.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Bad habits

With the investment rods fully baited-up and cast into the stream, Jake and I can now move back to more creative arguments.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but when we wrote Resurrection last summer, we were hoping to off-load it onto somebody else to make. And although it was always conceived as a low-budget affair from the offing, we may have let certain bad habits creep in.

Bad habits, under the guise of them someday being “someone else’s problem”.

And to the strains of a thousand pigeons suddenly coming home to roost, we now have to fix them ourselves. Such is our Friday.

I’ll give you an example. One of our characters (Beaumont) is a guy in his early forties, with a stalwart set of middle-class values that have been largely un-affected by the apocalypse. And we gave him two pre-teen kids, who he is chaperoning across the badlands.

Jake and I have always really liked the kids. They are written as two completely un-traumatised youngsters happily getting on with life after the end of the world. It allows us to poke fun at some of the more peculiar middle-class values in today’s society, like how a parent can be relaxed about exposing their kids to extraordinary levels of violence but get grumpy if someone swears within ear-shot. And having young kids in peril throws some completely unearned but welcome tension into the mix; we’ll take it wherever we can.

Then we put on our producer’s hat. The world looks very different from under here.

It’s clear to us now that wherever we set the film we’re most likely going to be forced to shoot at night to keep the surrounding noise levels manageable. And to get enough hours of darkness without it getting too chilly, we need to shoot during autumn term time.

Oh. Bugger.

Reading through the reams of regulations about using child actors is enough to fill an inexperienced producer with the creeping terrors. Maximum performance times? Rest breaks? Provision of tutors? And it all tightens up like a puckered sphincter when you move into night shoots. The Guerilla Film-Maker's Handbook is less equivocal just don't write speaking roles for kids.

There is only one answer. They’ve got to go.

Like ripples in a pond, making a decision like that has implications throughout the screenplay, but now Resurrection has two fewer pre-teen kids and one replacement sixteen year-old (probably being played by a young-looking eighteen year-old actress). And taking recent advice on board, it’d probably help if she was cute with it. There was no larger debate between Jake and me – it had to happen, and that’s that.

But like the bitch I am, I know that if we’d have off-loaded the film onto another producer I’d have fought this change with a passion.

Happily for some, one of the knock-on effects is that we will be losing the “crass blow-job scene”, with only the GhoulFool’s comic-book artwork surviving the cull. Sadly the line “Boy - I’m gonna suck you like you’ve got the cure for death in there” will also be lost to future cinema-goers. Such is our Friday. Compromised.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Fox Force Five

Never underestimate the enduring appeal of the 70s über-vixen.

One of the things I’ve inherited from working with Jake and his disturbed SEO ways over the last couple of months is a growing fascination for internet stats. Everyday in Charmed Central starts with the two of us pouring over Google Analytics and Blogger’s built-in stat-collector, trying to make sense of the chaos. When is the best time to ping out a Facebook update? What are the best hash-tags for pulling in referred traffic from bored Tweet-surfers? Who the hell is reading about us in China anyway?

And all this time we have been trying way too hard, it seems.

Amongst the myriad pieces of information that Blogger likes to keep you abreast of are the most popular traffic sources; the links that people follow to arrive at your posting. And something bizarre appeared there today in amongst the more predictable Facebook and Twitter entries.

Today two people paid the blog a visit simply because we mentioned Caroline Munro a couple of days ago.

That’s right. Someone typed Caroline’s name into Google’s blog search tool, scrolled down the list, and followed our link. And more strange is that this happened twice in one day.

Am I being naïve here? I know the internet is a big place, but do people regularly scan blogs for fleeting mentions of fading starlets? I can understand Google Images taking a regular pounding (and I need to be really careful here about my choice of language), but stalking them on Google Blog Search seems bizarre.

Ah. Actually, given that we’ve already mentioned Ms. Munro again in this post, they’re probably back. Hi guys (and I think I’m safe in assuming that they are guys). Sorry to waste your time. Again.

I mean, it’s not like we picked a contemporary honey either; imagine what would have happened if I’d mentioned Lindsay Lohan or Michelle Rodriguez. Or Kylie Minogue.

Now that’s how to fuck with your stats; I foresee a big traffic spike in my near future and a thousand irritated comments. Shameless.


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Jo-royal-hannes

Accepted wisdom within the Charmed Apocalypse office is that there were two really great films at FrightFest 2010.

The first was Monsters; Gareth Edwards’ road-trip romance through Central America, with a back-drop comprising an alien invasion cooked-up entirely on the director’s laptop.

The second was F.

F came at us out of nowhere and smashed us in all the right places. Demon parkour hoodies creeping around a school at night and picking off the teaching staff. Quietly menacing, with an excellent central performance by David Schofield, and absolutely beautifully lit and filmed.


For those of you that haven’t seen it, stop reading this and go do so. Shit, I’ve just about talked myself into another viewing.

The film is essentially a template for Resurrection – hand-held camera-work throughout, heavily de-saturated with subdued lighting, filmed in a single location, and with a middle-aged protagonist. Can we have one of those, but with zombies in, please?

So, it was with no small amount of excitement that Jake and I hooked up with veteran writer / director and low-budget horror legend Johannes Roberts for a pint, a chat and a session of brain-pickery.

Johannes has been round the mill a number of times (F is his fifth movie), and it is safe to say that if he doesn’t know something about getting a film made, it probably isn’t worth knowing. Jake and I tried to tap as much of this font of knowledge as ninety minutes in an Aldgate boozer allowed.

In this time we found out that we shouldn’t ever be paying for our locations. And we need to make sure we don’t miss our audience – if we insist on having a middle-aged lead, make sure we surround him with hot girls. And a whole load of gore.

And we need to learn how to direct actors.

This last point is key. Of all the low-budget horror I’ve watched over the last few months, there have been only a handful of individual performances that weren’t shocking. I’m not talking about a limited amount of great acting, I’m talking about a limited amount of acting that didn’t suck out loud. And completely against the grain, F doesn’t put a foot wrong.

There’s a simple answer, it seems. Make it all about the performance, and the camera comes second. Obvious really, but it evidently doesn’t stop so many film-makers getting it wrong. Show the actors respect; don’t treat them like props; let them make their own choices and decisions.

Jake and I have been instructed to get moving; to get whatever money we can raise and just go for it. Mr. Roberts – your message is received and understood. A massive thank you again for your time yesterday, and if anyone can get SyFy on their TV and might have a Jake-and-Andy shaped space on their sofa on April 23rd they should let us know now. Impatient.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Chewsday

On a day that started out with me licking envelopes, today actually blossomed into quite an event.

So much so that I’m going to need to blog about it in two chunks. Shall we say the same time tomorrow?

Because, after all the fannying about with investment packages over the last couple of weeks, we finally took a day out to go chat to proper film people. In London.

Not that we completely forsook our financing responsibilities. I spent the first half an hour of the day chatting sales and distribution with Steven Sheil, writer and director of 2008’s deliciously disturbing family torture movie Mum & Dad.


As a recent low-budget UK horror film that generated a fair amount of notoriety, it’s an important case study to help predict the marketplace for Resurrection; Steven was very generous with his time and info. And brilliantly, it seems that he got to travel the world to dozens of festivals without ever getting a 35 mm blow-up done from his digital HD master.

Bingo. That’s £30k saved on our post-production budget straightaway. Were that every conversation was so lucrative.

So, on to Add and Matt, two guys that work in digital FX (and thanks to Dave for the introduction). Fine fellows, the pair; as well as knowing their way around the London production scene, and a shit-load about camera technology, they are also the owners of today’s best idea. Want to get onto a whole load of film sets and see how other people run them? Sign up as Extras. Genius.

Yeah - let's see if they still want to come and play once they’ve read the screenplay.

And then on to introduce ourselves to Robbie Drake, over a well-earned pint. Robbie-the-gore is so very, very our SFX guy. At 41, he’s the same age as me, and has all the same horror touch-stones… I mean, has anyone else seen Dracula AD 1972?

Robbie has been at this since he was sixteen, and rinsed through our take-down breakdown with professional ease. Want a character to look like they’ve lost a leg? Stick them in a green sock. Want to make a bullet hole suddenly appear on a character’s head? Stick a prosthetic wound on, and then digitally remove it up to the point that the guy gets shot. Want to spray an actor with maggots? Cooked rice looks pretty realistic; but we’re still going to use real maggots.

He even offered to bring a big bag of spare body parts to scatter round the set.

All through the chat I was scribbling down the stuff he’d worked on – Night Breed, The Cottage, Centurion, Harry Brown, er… The Two Ronnies. The man has an absolutely glittering CV, although what finally swung it for me was when he admitted to being friends with Hammer diva Caroline Munro.

As the focus of a profound school-boy crush, I probably shouldn’t describe her as one of these “horror touch-stones”. But you get what I mean. Nostalgic.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Fin de Finn

A quick Sunday post, mainly for my Finnish pals. It arrived, it is so much nicer, and I’ve rather cruelly made my last one take this photo before casting it into a dark drawer forever. Spiteful.


Thursday, 10 March 2011

Factotum

One thing I didn’t bank on when we kicked this off was having to become a pseudo-expert in just about everything.

From our earliest crash-courses in basic accountancy, through budget preparation, web-design, production breakdowns, and that activity that looks like the deformed off-spring from an unholy union between marketing and grovelling. Today’s lesson was all about printing; ask me anything about bleed areas and guillotine tolerances (two phrases that mean something completely different in every other conversation we’ve had about the film).

But now we’re finally ready to go, to start spreading the word to potential investors. Bringing law to the lawless. I’m sat amongst boxes of postcards, reams of parchment paper and a December’s worth of stamps – everything we need for the Long Walk. Herein lies our passport to a brighter future, or the very dampest of squibs; the lynchpin between all that has been and all that is to come (whatever it may be); our Sliding Doors moment, where we get on the train or get left at the station.

Meh. It can wait till Monday. Indifferent.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Confessions of a sfx maniac

Every once in a while I get reminded just what a daft enterprise this whole making-a-film thing is.

And like so many other things in my life right now, this story starts with the gore.

I grew up in the 80s. The first VHS machines, an explosion in freely available splatterific videos, and with a government kind enough to compile a list of the very nastiest so that we didn’t have to. These were my formative years, and also the heyday of the in-camera special effect. Long before CG came along and made everybody’s lives safer, this is where my filmic sensibilities lie. If you can point me towards anything that looks half as awesome as Rob Bottin’s creatures in The Thing, or that elicits the same astonishment as the first time I watched A Nightmare on Elm Street, or is just plain cooler than watching David getting his wolf on in An American Werewolf in London, I’d be mighty surprised.

I got spoilt.

Safe to say that just chucking a load of ketchup around the Resurrection set and then trying to digitally polish it in post isn’t going to cut it. We need to get a man in. While there are plenty of SFX experts advertising their wares on the internet, it’s pretty easy to tell the really good ones apart. And when I say that Robbie-the-gore’s work looks old school, you’ll know that there is no finer compliment that I can pay him.

We got in touch; we sent him the screenplay, and he seemed genuinely excited. But he did flag up the number of “quite big set pieces” as areas of concern; it would help if Jake and I did our own breakdown of what we wanted to see in the specials, so that we can have a sensible chat about it next Tuesday night in London.

So, today Jake and I have been breaking down our specials.

And in doing so I found myself typing one of those sentences that can look disturbing if taken out of context. And it was originally meant to be reassuring.

It read: “Don’t worry - this is going to be replaced with a simple make-shift indoor crucifixion.”

We pause. We reflect. We move on.

In other news, the GhoulFool went and dropped a surprise bombshell into our FTP folder. Not his real name, thankfully – think more a baroque version of the Stig, raised on a diet of Stella and Timotei.

It now seems that the GhoulFool is no longer satisfied just providing art inspired by the film, as he is also drawing inspiration from the blog of the film. And so I present to you “Cold Dead Hands”; actually a fairly good likeness of Charlton Heston circa 2011.


A daft enterprise all round, but I can’t think of a better way to do it. Tickled.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Shooting the shit

If there’s one word guaranteed to make my blood curdle, it’s “networking”.

Maybe it’s something to do with how disproportionately important it is in determining how successful you will be; maybe it’s because I’m usually the person with the questions (“the Sponge”) rather than the one with the answers (“the Rock”), with no real hope of a reach-around; maybe it’s because these kind of events allow the UK Film Industry to kid themselves that they’re doing enough to support independent film-making.

Or maybe it’s just because it seems so very un-British. You can’t just go up and talk to someone – surely you need to wait until you’ve been introduced.

“Networking” means two hours of advanced charming, arse-kissing and being interested in what other people doing. Not something that comes naturally to me.

In case you hadn’t figured it out, my route into this whole Resurrection thing is as a frustrated writer. Frustrated because no one was ever going to make my films unless I did it myself. Give me a laptop, a copy of Final Draft and a new box of tea-bags and I’ll happily disappear up my own arsehole for weeks on end (or should that be “in end”?). If you’re a people person, you go become a Producer; it’s a whole load less work and you may even get paid at some point.

So when Jake and I popped along to tonight’s Shooting People networking event in Southampton, you will appreciate that it’s a massive understatement when I say that I did it with a sense of obligation rather than eager anticipation. A feeling exacerbated by my role as the designated driver; if there’s one thing worse than networking it’s networking sober.

It turns out I needn’t have worried.

This is Southampton, after all. Around the country I’m sure that similar Shooting People events drew vast crowds of eager film-makers with diverse skills and talents; a heady mix of enthusiastic neophytes and experienced mentors; all the necessary ingredients for a film, just waiting for someone to step up and appoint themselves chef.

In Southampton, we were five. And two of them were Jake and me.

In any case, to Phil et al. (if you’re reading), thanks for an entertaining evening, and see you in April.

And another bizarre thing happened today. Jake and I were working so hard on getting all the bits together to kick-start our investor marketing campaign, that I failed to go into the ex-office to hand in my security pass, router, SIM card, etc. And that bizarre thing was... nothing. Nothing happened. I can still make phone calls on the company phone-bill; I can still get corporation-sponsored porn on my computer; I may still being paid for all I know. I’m tempted to see how long I can tough this one out for, before I have to move into the catchment area of Winchester’s only free wi-fi service. Cheeky.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Dawn of the Deaf

Rest easy, son – you’ve had a busy week.

Sadly most of it has been spent doing to the most unbloggably boring tasks – finishing off our investor pack, phoning producers for their sales figures, preparing PowerPoint presentations, planning our viral marketing campaign, blah blah bleeding blah. But, after a stupid number of hours behind the desk and a couple of heated discussions, it’s all done. Good to go.

And all because on Monday the unspeakable happens…

They turn off my broadband.

Yup – today was my last official day of employment. Ninety days of consultation are up. I have been weighed, I have been measured, and I have been found wanting. On Monday I need to hand in my badge and my gun. And my router. And very possibly my phone as well.

From my cold, dead hands. As we in the zombie business like to say.

I’m really not sure how this will leave my blogging over the next three weeks. I have sorted out a new broadband package, but it takes 20 days to arrive; the law insists on a two week cooling off period with my last service provider in case I change my mind (great – thanks for that). Just understand that anything I manage to upload to Shooting the Dead until the beginning of April will attest to a manic commitment to keeping you informed, as I will be sat in the car with the engine running outside a Starbucks piking off their free wi-fi in the middle of the night.

Anyway, our man Xan dropped us a line to say that his article is ready (see Echo Tango. Bravo!), and it’s a total sweet peach. The longer version is up on his web-site, with the Southampton Echo still to run the short version. And for the record, that chocolate cake in the photo looked considerably nicer than it tasted. Xan has some awesome sounding plans for other zombie-related activities over the next few months, so watch this space. Mr Phillips – the next round of Earl Grey is on us.

And finally the video of the Essex hospital recce is ready. The faint-hearted may choose to watch with the sound down, as we welcome back Lost Jonny to play us out with Big Loader.

We haven’t heard back from Hannah at the agency yet; after listening to that you will no doubt be sharing our anguish to resolve the location issue once and for all, and thereby sparing you from another video. And I’m not proud to say that the next tune will be about shagging sheep (hey – we were 14, OK?). Help us Obi Han; you’re our only hope. Disconnected.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Please don't leave a Tip

So, here’s the dilemma…

Today we got our first bite on InkTip. Actually, we got our first two bites.

Zombie Resurrection (as was) finishes its six-month tour-of-duty on March 9th, and was due to gracefully slide into InkTip retirement. This enables Jake and me to curse the whole US screenwriter-wannabe scene and go make the movie ourselves in good conscience. We’ll show them, the myopic wankers.

And we came so close to getting out with our psyche unscathed.

The timing is a little fishy though, don’t you think? Look! Industry interest! Just think what another six months in the shop-window could do for this screenplay! No, you can make the cheque out to me directly, Mr. Sorkin; Oh, I’m sorry – I’m always getting you two confused…

Yeah, right.

But is this going to stop me sending a copy off to the guy that mailed me? Probably not. Curious.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The only way is Essex

Ah. All better.

Yup. We like. Oh, we really like. Unless Hannah from the location agency is reading this, in which case we’re completely ambivalent and there’s really very little point in playing hard-ball just because you think (wrongly) that you have us over a barrel.

So, waddayagot? Well, it’s a proper psychiatric hospital for starters, so it has all the requisite set-dressing minutiae already taken care of. And it’s got a green clock-tower…

… a flooded basement that you know we're going to make our cast wade about in...


 …and the all-important dark-room-with-a-bell-in…

 
And just when we’d given up waiting for a suitable Chapel, two come along at the same time…


I should point out that the first Chapel photo was all user-error and not chronic subsidence.

Bingo!

Ah, but come on Phelps, you miserable git. Tell us about the down-side. Like you always do.

Pikeys, apparently. Every night a different window gets smashed, something gets liberated, and every day the broken window gets boarded up. Over the weekend they lost some of the more easily-transportable kitchen units, and yesterday night saw the disappearance of an entire female toilet block. And this despite the fact that the only people that currently use the place are the daily drills conducted by armed police SWAT teams and police dog-handlers.

Dare I try for the “police are searching for the toilet thieves but they’ve got nothing to go on” gag? It’s so rare that all the necessary ingredients for that joke to work are together in one place.

Anyway, it’s a day off tomorrow from all things zombie-related as my former employers have kindly laid on a day of instruction in how to start up your own business; however, the video of today’s recce might just be ready by the evening. This gives you 24 hours to mentally prepare for another visit to the Lost Jonny back-catalogue. Spend them wisely.

But before I go, what are we supposed to do with this information? It’s almost like they were expecting us. Oh, shuuut uuup!


Not that I’m worried, of course. Blotchy.