Saturday, 4 August 2012

Into the great beyond…

Sobering times in Charmed Central.

So, let’s just take a moment to consider where we currently are with Zombie Resurrection. The first pass of the music is written, the sound is tidy, and everything has been coloured in. The current best copy of the film still has a long way to go before it’s finished, but it does finally look and behave like a film should. Prospective horror festivals will accept nothing less.

Zombie Resurrection is open for judgement.

With our eyes on an early September finishing line (to hit the first of the possible festival screenings), this is now the last moment we have to make it better. Over the 150 times that Jake and I have watched the latest cut over the past few weeks, a couple of moments have jumped out at us that need work. Tweaks; nothing drastic. A finessed edit here and an extended beat there.

But, really, what the fuck do we know? 150 viewings later and the jokes aren’t funny anymore. The jumps don’t shock, the gore doesn’t offend, and the emotional moments don’t move. For us the film exists as a series of moments: shots needing light balancing; dialogue needing replacement; bludgeonings needing a liberal coating in digital gore.

Gone is the big picture. Gone is any concept of whether the film actually hangs together as an entity.

And now is the last moment that we have to sort that out.

So, now is also the perfect moment to get a bunch of people together who have no previous attachment to the film, and ask them. The great British zombie-loving public. These are the only people we can trust to let us know where the problems are.

Time to organise a couple of screenings. Get in a load of beer and pizza, sit a panel of people that we’ve never met before down in front of the largest telly we can find, and watch them watching it. Our first completely dispassionate audiences.

And it’s as daunting a prospect as we’ve had to face since the shoot wrapped; well, more specifically, since I had to deal with the unwelcome stains on my girlfriend’s floor after the wrap party.

The first session was last night, hosted by hero-zombie-Ross in his Winchester cathedral of technology. Having taken a slug in the head over the course of the shoot, he isn’t allowed to have an opinion, but his pals are. Grab a beer, sit down, and get comfortable, Simon, Louise, Row, Daren and Ormy.

Please don’t underestimate what a painful evening this was for Jake and me. Sat to one side, the film suddenly seemed to race by without ever catching its breath. Wasn’t that last moment meant to be funnier? Did anybody actually find that last jump scary? Can anybody understand Mac’s Glaswegian accent?

And the biggest laugh of the night? An overly-graphic sound effect that Tom had added to his foley reel to accompany the premature ending of some woodland coitus. It’s an immediate answer to the question that Jake and I had been wrestling with beforehand – is that squelch just a little bit too much? No, it turns out.

A braver man than me would have looked at the completed questionnaires by now, but I may save that moment for a stiff scotch later in the week. We have another screening in Winchester University on Tuesday, bizarrely back in the same room within which we shot all our Chapel footage last year; it’ll be interesting to see whether they’ve managed to get all the blood out of the floor tiles.

So, until then, I’ll content myself with the nagging butterflies, and save the analysis until all the votes are in. But in any case it’s a big Charmed thank you to Ross, Simon, Louise, Row, Daren and Ormy for giving over their Friday night to make two grown men nervous. Suddenly I understand where all the worry-lines on Andy Murray’s mum’s face have come from. Tweaking.

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