Friday, 8 June 2012

Screamers

Across the country, a team of post-production elves are busy stitching shoes together from the threadbare rags that Jake and I have provided them.

The sensible movie-related activities have all flown the Charmed coop, and are now growing up with different parents until August. Every so often a new piece of music or some tidied dialogue appears in our in-box, like a postcard home to tell us that they’re all having a great time and not to worry.

But it’s just that it all feels so, well… out of our hands.

These guys really know what they’re doing, and it is wildly inappropriate to be micro-managing them; Jake and I spent some time a while back detailing exactly what we were after from the sound, music, titles and digital splatter, and now we’ve just got to let them get on with it. After a year and a bit of being intimately involved in the minutiae of the film, this bit of the process simply doesn’t need us anymore.

And with all this work going on, it just doesn’t feel right to be sat around twiddling my thumbs.

Distributors don’t want to hear from us again until the film is finished, and we shouldn’t be going back to Sales Agents until we’ve secured the UK distribution. Surely there must be something to do before August?

Ah, yes – horror film festivals. Time to plan our strategy for getting the movie out there.

For me at least, getting the film up on a big screen and in front of the genre faithful is the pay-off for the last eighteen months of hard work. In the darkest moments on set and in the most excruciatingly dull moments since then, it is the thought of being sat at the back of a cinema watching other people reacting to our movie that has kept me going.

It’s like planning an enormous society wedding. Time to organise the church, I think.

Horror film festivals are universally awesome places to hang out. It’s a widely accepted adage that horror fans are the nicest audiences out there: most enthusiasts have a personal temperament completely at odds with the gore and carnage that they sit themselves through for entertainment. At FrightFest each year, after the last movie has screened, everybody with any energy left decamps to the same bar till the early hours – audience members, organisers, directors and stars. And it is an extraordinarily relaxed and collegiate atmosphere – this was the first time that I met Johannes Roberts; I’ve shared a cigarette with Adam Green, talked sex scenes with Tony “Candyman” Todd and bullied movie recommendations out of Kim Newman.

And it’s a great audience, a crowd of people willing the movies to be so much scarier / gorier / funnier than they actually are. Every genre fan there has sat through hours of really, really bad movies as part of their horror education, and now they’re having to actually pay to watch the buggers they’re determined to enjoy themselves.

Every gory death gets a round of applause. No one checks their phone or walks out halfway through. And anybody with enough nerve has the opportunity to go and chat up Emily Booth.

So, this week Jake and I have been compiling a list of all the very coolest horror film festivals across the globe, from Texas to Lapland. When they run, and what’s the last date for submissions.

And, given that we’ll be all done with the movie in August, three particular festivals have emerged as contenders; I’m obviously not going to tell you where they are in case they turn us down and we look like a couple of mugs. Just to say that the FrightFest biggie isn’t amongst them (we’ve missed the submission deadline by some margin). But, if everything goes exactly to plan, October will see us tattooed, tanned and sat on a train to Glasgow with a stomach full of T-bone and polenta.

And in the process we get to manufacture a completely new specious deadline for our post-production posse, principally as a way of artificially involving Jake and me a little bit more in what’s going on – the festival screener deadline.

The screener is not necessarily the cut of the film that will play at the festival; it’s simply about securing a ticket for the big party. It doesn’t need to be technically perfect, but it does need to give someone on the organising committee a sufficiently warm glow that they’ll take it on faith that you’ll not be embarrassing them later in the year. Some remaining green socks are OK; missing ADR should be fine; the light and chroma balancing of the technical grade doesn’t need to be perfect. Sometime between the screener going off and the final film being projected, we’ve got to tweak the edit, get in some people that know nothing about the film to watch it and tell us where it doesn’t work, tighten the score and colour it all in properly.

And the whole thing is contingent on us getting a sensible version of the movie together by the beginning of July. Three weeks back cracking the whip; damn, does that feel good. Overbearing.