Friday, 31 August 2012

Fright-night


If hanging around on a tenterhook is your idea of fun, may I suggest submitting a film to a festival?

With the Texas Fantastic Fest due to kick off on September 20th, we still haven’t been informed whether we’re in or out. And we aren’t due to get the final word until the 7th September. That’s a lot of house to get in order in under two weeks… pulling together a press-pack, squeezing the movie onto an HDCAM tape, booking flights, finding a hotel; Christ, Fantastic Fest would be doing quite well just to get all their printing turned around.

But this is the way they roll, and until we get told differently we need to keep the testicular cuffs wrapped tightly around our VFX, titles and sound guys. And so far everyone appears squeakily confident.

Not that anything ever works perfectly first time. There was a trite sound-bite that my last employers used to liberally bandy around as programme management panacea – failing to plan means planning to fail. But actually, I find planning to fail a much safer default. If we ask for stuff a few days ahead of when we actually need it, it means that when the inevitable internet issues and incomplete deliveries push everything past the deadline, it doesn’t automatically drop us in the shit.

And with the Charmed-imposed finishing date of the 7th September looming large, we had a bonus moment this week to reflect on our progress. The FrightFest screener.

God, I love FrightFest. What better way to spend a glorious summer bank-holiday weekend than sat in a dark room ploughing through a mountain of gore and monsters? It means I can switch of that nagging voice that tries to tell me to get off my fat arse and head outdoors and make the most of whatever fleeting sunshine there is. Fuck you – I paid good money for the opportunity to sit indoors, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Five days, 35 films, ten hasty KFC meals and five late night boozing sessions amongst the horror faithful.

Heaven. And, yes – I do realise that FrightFest just happened last weekend. Without Jake, me or Zombie Resurrection in attendance.

Not this year, Phelps; a catastrophic mix of extraordinarily depleted personal funds, a rapidly evolving production diary that doesn’t allow me to plan for time-off more than a week in advance, and all the work involved in getting another cut of the film together.

But there is another. The FrightFest Halloween all-nighter. A bonus selection of horror mayhem on the last Saturday of October, back in the West End. The spiritual home for the UK premiere of Zombie Resurrection.

And they want screeners today. No rest for the peddlers of the wicked – the poor FrightFest guys get to move seamlessly from watching films in a cinema all weekend to watching more films from the comfort of their respective sofas.

Zombie Resurrection has moved on substantially from the earlier screeners last month. Glen-the-sound has a bucket-load of ADR to play with, Dale-the-tunes has had another spin with his music, Ads-and-Matt-the-VFX have been sending through plenty of updated splatter, Tom-the-foley has been tirelessly generating better zombie noises, and Marcelo-the-edit has fixed some of the more persistent confusions from the test screenings. We can do so much better now.

And FrightFest deserve a better screener. Send us your latest, gents, and let’s see where we are.

So, after another mental couple of days, the DVD that got delivered to them yesterday is that much happier. All of the ADR is in, all the cracks in the music resulting from the final edit have been pasted over, and we are now officially without a green sock to be seen.

Happier, but not quite there yet. There is still some way to go before we can unleash it on the paying public: another 22 CGI shots, 23 more that need attention, and 117 tweaks to the sound. So, it’s another busy seven days on full alert as we snipe off these last moments, and only then do we get to find out whether we needed to rush after all.

But in any case, September is when we plan on gathering the cast, crew and horde together for the first mass screening, at an awkward time of day on an as yet undetermined cinema screen that will be mildly inconvenient for most people to get to.

And sadly, this will also be the moment when rash pub promises come back to blight us on the arms – it’s almost time to start looking for a sober tattooist in the Winchester environs to dispense a couple of Charmed logos. Any recommendations? Stuck.

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