Monthly Archives: May 2010

isms

One warning flag raised during the writing of ‘Just for the Record‘ was the potential for perception of racism in the script. The concern was all the black characters had negative characteristics attached to them, specifically:

“There are only two black characters, one is a toilet attendant and the other is gay.”

To my mind there are several things wrong with that line of thought:

  1. There aren’t only two black characters – there are only two specified black characters. In other words, only two of the characters need to be black for the sake of the story. Any, all or some of the others could be black; it just doesn’t matter. Just because a character’s colour isn’t specified doesn’t automatically make him white.
  2. “one is a toilet attendant and the other is gay.” Why equate one man’s job to another’s sexuality? That’s like saying a script is sexist because one of the women is a secretary and the other is tall. They’re two unconnected things. If you wanted to be fair about it: one is a professional and competent toilet attendant and the other is a professional and competent film editor. Even if you rate ‘toilet attendant’ as a bad job which reflects poorly on anyone choosing to do it*, it’s still balanced out by the other character having a highly skilled job. Which leads onto the third point:
  3. Being gay isn’t a bad thing. It’s not a negative characteristic, it’s just what it is. Some people are, some people aren’t and some people don’t care whose hole they prang. So what? It’s hardly equivalent to granny-raping or kitten-tennis, is it? Being gay does not make you a bad person … mind you, it doesn’t automatically make you a good person either.

And that’s something I think sometimes cripples film makers – no (actual) negative characteristics may be assigned to any (perceived) minority. You can’t have unpleasant black, Asian, gay, lesbian, foreign, religious or (God forbid!) female characters because that’s leading down the path of an ‘ism’ … and nobody wants to be seen to be an ‘ist’.

Thing is, blacks, Asians, gays, lesbians, foreigners, the religious and women can be selfish, stupid, violent and complete cunts too.

I seem to remember ‘Smack the Pony‘ was created to fill the void of no silly women on telly. I could be wrong about that mind.

But people are afraid – let’s say you have four characters and one of them is a lying, cheating, thieving prick. I know people who would be afraid to cast a black actor for that role because it might look like they’re saying all black people are like that.

And, sadly, they are right to be afraid because people will complain.

So you cast two black people and two white people with one of the black people being a cunt and the other being a saint.

Then the Chinese get upset.

So you make two male, two female, one black, one white, one Chinese and one rainbow coloured in vertical striped. One man and one woman are gay, one man and one woman are straight. One is incredibly tall, one is incredibly short, one is incredibly slim, one is incredibly fat.

Then people complain because the black one’s fat, the white one’s short, the Chinese one’s slim and the rainbow one is just fucking stupid. And clearly an Indian guy under the make-up.

So you use CGI to even them all out.

Then you remember it’s a radio program and no one can fucking see them anyway.

Christ, why am I still typing? What was the fucking point of this post? I think I lost the thread quite a while ago now. Mind you, I’m white, middle class, straight and male so I can present myself as stupid, ignorant and as pointless as I like without fear of recrimination or being any kind of ‘ist’.

Mind you, I am ginger. Balding and greying, I give you, but it’s still a definite ginge tinge underneath. I am the last oppressed minority in Britain. The only group of people you can assign negative characteristics to on TV without anyone …

Oh no, wait, that’s not true any more, is it? Not since people misunderstood Matt Smith’s ‘Still not ginger’ line.

Oh fuck, I’ve no idea what I’m saying now. I’m just going to stop.

I think the point was racism is institutionalised in the system rather than …

No, that makes no fucking sense either.

I’ll just stop.

Here.

————————————————————————————

* Personally, I hate toilet attendants, not the people, the position – why are they paying someone to watch me go for a piss? I can pick up my own fucking towel too, thanks very much.
Categories: Industry Musings, Just for the Record, Random Witterings, Sad Bastard | 6 Comments

The architects of nightmares

Let’s say you’re an architect and a client commissions you to build a house. You sit down with him, ask him what he wants and he says he’s after three, three-bedroom Victorian terraces.

Fair enough, you do your research, find out what Victorian terraces look like, add your own twist and present your design.

He doesn’t like it.

First off, he doesn’t want to build all three terraced houses now, he wants to just build one and see how it goes. Okay, fair enough, so you alter the designs so that the first house is free-standing but can link onto two more in the future.

He doesn’t like it.

He wants the house to be completely stand-alone with windows on all four sides. When it comes time to build the other houses, if he ever bothers, he’ll worry about that then. You point out convincing a house owner to pretend they never had windows after you’ve removed them might not go down to well, but he’s adamant and he’s the client, so you do as you’re asked.

He still doesn’t like it.

It’s too old-fashioned. For starters, a pointed roof? What’s that about? No one wants pointed roofs any more. Flat roofs, that’s where it’s at. You point out flat roofs aren’t very Victorian, but he’s not interested. And those sash windows, they have to go – he wants floor to ceiling glass walls on two sides. In fact, he’s seen these Scandinavian kit-houses and he wants you to make his Victorian, three bedroom, non-terraced terrace to look more like them.

This is when you realise he has no idea what a Victorian, three-bedroom house, looks like and actually he wants a modern, free-standing, kit house. Okay, so you redesign the whole thing and he’s happy.

Except, he needs more bedrooms. He’s met this woman he wants to sleep with and he thinks adding an extra bedroom especially for her will impress her enough to open her legs. And, come to think of it, a fifth bedroom would look good in the adverts, so add that. But don’t make the house any bigger … or the existing rooms any smaller.

One feat of Gallifreyan engineering later and he’s happy with the design. It’s amazing, the best design ever. And he hires a Project Manager to supervise the build.

The first the thing the Project Manager does is complain it isn’t a Victorian, three-bedroom, terrace and insists you fix it. He thinks you’re an idiot who can’t design a house since the client is insisting he asked you for a Victorian terrace in the first place and has the emails to prove it.

Fair enough, so you resubmit the original design and everyone’s happy.

For about five minutes.

The Project Manager has some new ideas. The downstairs arrangement of rooms – living room, dining room, kitchen … it’s all been done before. Let’s move them around a bit. You point out people expect the dining room to be next to the kitchen so they can move dinner easily from one room to the other. The project Manager disagrees. Let’s shake up people’s expectations – let’s put all three rooms next to each other! Presumably he means in some kind of triangle so that’s what you do. Sadly that means the front door has to open onto one of the rooms, so you do that and you put the staircase in the middle.

Apparently that’s wrong and only proves you have no creative vision. The Project Manager has had a better idea. What if the kitchen is a separate building in the garden … with no doors or windows! No one’s ever done that before!

You, politely, point out no one’s done it before because it’s fucking stupid; but the client is in awe of the Project Manager because the first project he managed won some awards and he is, therefore, a genius.

The fact his next six projects were shit and fell down within two weeks of being completed is neither here nor there. That first batch of awards proves he can deliver the goods.

So you move the kitchen into the garden and wall it off. The Project Manager thinks this adds a sense of mystery to the house. You think the only mystery is ‘why the fuck is the kitchen a detached building with no way in?’ But what do you know? You’re just an architect and therefore know nothing about actually building houses.

Some of the Project Manager’s other genius ideas involve turning the dining room into a block of ice, knocking all the bedrooms into one big space full of plastic rats and having hot and cold running piss in the bathroom instead of the normal, boring water.

By this point you’re considering resigning, but they keep promising you more money and the client wants to finance another house you’ve designed, one which is the best thing you’ve ever designed … so you swallow your pride, do the best job you can … and stick with it.

The Project Manager hires his builders. Some of them are good, some of them … not so good. Still, as long as they follow the (mostly ridiculous) plans, it should be at worst adequate. And who knows, maybe the Project Manager is a genius? The builders certainly seem to think so, so do the electricians and the plumbers so … maybe you’re wrong?

During the build, the Project Manager tells the builders not to pay too much attention to the plans. Try not to stick too closely to the boring straight lines with one brick straddling the two below – improvise, go wild, have some fun with it.

The result barely resembles a house. Some of the builders have stuck to the plans, but their walls don’t meet up with the guy next to them who’s decided to build a tower of single bricks a mile high. Another builder has built in a circle and has accidentally walled himself in. The electricians do the best they can, but since part of the Project Manager’s vision is ‘no switches, no sockets, no wires’ they’re a bit hamstrung and have wasted three times the budget trying to replicate Tesla’s ‘electricity through the air’ experiments.

In the end, they give up and the house is declared finished without electricity.

The plumbers have a slightly worse time when they all contract hepatitis B and die.

Still, the house is finished and professional courtesy prevents you from publicly declaring the Project Manager to be an incompetent twat so you smile about it in public and swear never to work with him again in private.

When the house is sold, the percentage of the profits you were promised never materialises because they spent seven times the price of the house on advertising.

Which didn’t work.

The adventurous couple who eventually buy the house are killed when it collapses.

But fuck it, you still have the original design – that’s your product, that’s what you’re selling. You can prove the finished house has nothing to do with you, but the worst bit, the absolute worst bit of the whole experience, is when the building inspectors come round to look at it, they declare it’s the worst design ever and take out adverts in the paper claiming it’s all your fault DESPITE NEVER, EVER HAVING ACTUALLY SEEN THE FUCKING PLANS.

I’m not trying to make a point here, just idly typing random words and musing on how different an architect’s life must be to that of a scriptwriters.

Poor bastards.

Categories: Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard | 6 Comments

Unlucky for some

Just for the Record‘ went on sale today … and straight into the charts at number 1!

And number 3!

Um … hang on, is that right?

Oh I see …

I’ll start again.

Just for the Record‘ went on sale today … and straight into the charts at number 13!

Look, here’s proof:

Okay, so that’s Asda’s chart, but it still counts. Apparently it’s thereabouts in most places, which is quite nice.

One small worry, because there’s always one, is in most places they’re using the distributor’s cover:

Meaning most of the people who’ve bought it think they’ve bought a gangster film, as opposed to a comedy. Asda, bless ’em, look like they’re using the flip-side of the cover which actually portrays it as a comedy:

Which is also nice. I imagine there are going to be some quite miffed Danny Dyer fans who kick back for a night of British violence only to discover there’s no ACTION and nobody gets CUT. At least not in that sense. What can I say, except ‘I’m sorry’? You were lied to – not by me, I hasten to add.

For anyone who’s thinking of buying it but hasn’t yet, please read the following carefully:

IT’S NOT A BRITISH GANGSTER FILM!

Honestly.

It’s a comedy. Or at least it’s meant to be. Decide for yourself if you think it’s funny or not.

Still, number 13, eh? Fancy that, I’m in the charts! This calls for an extra strong cup of tea. I might even skip the decaf and go fully loaded … but perhaps not. No need to push the boat out quite that far.

Hee, hee … I’m in the charts.

Categories: Just for the Record, Progress | 3 Comments

Tens and ones

‘Just for the Record’ is out on DVD tomorrow, but already nine people have voted on IMDb.

Ah, IMDb, the battleground of fragile egos.

Given that no one has really seen the film yet except for the premiere (and the cinema release – which I think we can safely assume no one saw) then where do these nine people come from?

Well, let’s have a look. 4 people have voted 10 out of 10, 4 people have voted 1 out 0f 10 (small difference of opinion there?) and 1 person voted 8 out of 10.

Let’s break that down and compare it to some other films. How many films score 10 out of 10? Not many, at least not in my book. I thought ‘Kick Ass‘ was fucking awesome, but I wouldn’t give it 10 out of 10. But then, maybe I just don’t give 10 out of 10 on principle? How can anything be perfect?

I think we can make an educated guess here and say, fairly confidently, that those four people are involved with the production in some way.

I wish people wouldn’t do that, it’s just embarrassing and blatantly obvious. It gets far worse when people make up aliases and write a glowing  paragraph or so and then give themselves 10 out of 10.

One guy I know got so defensive, over what most people agreed was a distinctly mediocre film, he created no less than 14 fake identities and completely took over the message board for his film. 14 voices clamouring about how amazing the film was … all of whom hadn’t posted on any other film, but felt so strongly about this middling D2DVD movie that they just had to speak out.

Uh-huh, right.

Similarly, how many films are so bad they warrant 1 out of 10? I mean, come on, I’ve seen some fucking awful films, ‘Mutant on the Bounty‘, ‘Gator Bait‘, ‘Star Wars: Attack of the Clowns‘ but even they merit more than 1 out of 10.

Except, maybe, ‘Gator Bait’.

1 out of 10’ers on a big budget movie are probably just aggrieved Internet loons. 1 out of 10’ers on a low budget movie more than likely have an axe to grind. On ‘Just for the Record’ it’s probably one of the producers or directors who seem insanely convinced the characters are based on them – despite not actually having seen the film.

By the way, the characters are all stereotypical idiots, if you recognise yourself in them … guess what that makes you? Yep, not as special or unique as you believe you are.

Of course, it could be a crew member who didn’t get paid what they think they’re worth or felt they were slighted during the shoot in some way. Then again, it could be someone who’s taken offense with someone who worked on the production. I know a guy who votes down a particular actor’s work simply because they were at school together and … something, something, something. I never did find out exactly what the problem is.

Similarly, there are friends and family of certain people who take a healthy interest in their career and automatically vote 10 for every film they lit/did the make-up/served tea on.

In other words, it’s all a bit pointless really. Or at least, it is on low budget stuff which only has a small audience. On a big studio release where thousands of people vote it tends to even out, but on a film of this type? Best just to ignore it.

Still, there is that one 8 out of 10 … who the hell was that?

Categories: Just for the Record, Random Witterings | 1 Comment

Cold reading, hot bullshit

One very important skill as a scriptwriter is cold reading – the ability to make the client (whether that’s the producer or director or whoever) think you’re telling them what’s in their brain.

“It’s amazing, we’re on exactly the same wavelength!”

Uh-huh, that’s right. Amazing.

The basic principles of cold reading are just to throw out shit loads of ideas and information at someone until something strikes a nerve. As soon as you see a reaction focus on that bit, dismiss the rest and repeat until you have a complete story.

When someone invites you in for a meeting and asks for your take/opinion on a pre-existing script or an idea for a specific genre – do not give it to them. Instead, talk in general terms about similar films, stories and ideas. Frame random ideas as dreams, other people’s films, funny stories which happened to you or someone else – these are not suggestions, this is just chit-chat. During the course of all this, you can gradually whittle away what they don’t want (bearing in mind, they probably don’t know what they do want until they hear it) until you’re left with a pretty good idea of what they’re looking for.

Then you pitch your idea/take/opinion which is built purely around the ideas they’ve either given you or the things you’ve said they didn’t screw their face up at.

For example, let’s say you designed kitchens for a living.  A client asks you (and a few others) to suggest a design. You’ve got one chance, they’re going to look at all the suggestions and pick the one they like. Your job is to make sure they pick yours. In an ideal world, you find out exactly what they want in a kitchen before committing anything to paper – but imagine, for a second, people who want kitchens consider themselves to be artistic and creative – in other words, arty-farty, airy-fairy, haven’t got a fucking clue what they want and generally fucking useless. You can’t just ask them, because apparently gaining information restricts the creative process. And anyway, you’re the expert, they want to know what you think.

Except, they don’t actually want to know what you think, they just want you to translate their mental (in every sense of the word) image of a kitchen into reality.

But how?

Well, you start by telling them, as a story/joke, about some friends of yours who’ve got a blue kitchen!

They’ll either say, ‘Ooh, I like blue’. Or ‘Blue? Are they fucking morons?’

In either case, you now have one piece of information on which to build. You haven’t suggested a blue kitchen and so haven’t gained any black marks – it was just idle chit-chat. And so on. This is why it’s always easier to meet someone in person to discuss script ideas – it’s very hard to do this sort of thing via email.

Never has cold reading been more useful to me than a recent (and by recent, I mean sometime in the last two years) meeting for a job re-writing someone else’s script. Imagine the scene, you’ve been sent two previous drafts by two different writers, a couple of script readers’ reports and a list of notes for improvements. You sit down in the office of the director who not only wrote the first draft, but wants to pay you to re-write it. At this point you realise one, fairly important, fact.

You haven’t read any of it.

Not one single word.

You’ve been busy, you forget – it just slipped your mind amidst the maelstrom of idiocy which is your daily life.

 And then she asks the first question:

‘So, what did you think of the script?’

You have to be tactful here, she wrote it – so you can’t say it’s shit. On the other hand, she knows it’s not good enough – that’s why you’re here. She’s expecting you to tell her why it’s bad and how you can fix it. Obviously you need to toe a line which goes something like:

‘I can see what you intended and there’s a great story at the heart of it, but it’s obscured at the moment by… sorry, can I just use your toilet?’

Genius, you’ve got out of that one.

In the toilet, scan the script for character names, plot points, genre, locations – big tip, keep a copy of all scripts you’re working on on your phone. It’s quite easy to take your phone into the toilet for a refresher, quite hard to disappear with a paper script.

In this case, of course, I didn’t even have the script or any of the notes with me. I did actually cry a little at this point.

When you get back from the toilet, take charge. Talk to them about why they want to tell this particular story. What, to them, is the essence of what they want to say? With any luck, they’ll give you the entire plot. If they mention a character and you’ve no idea if it’s the protagonist, antagonist or comedy cameo on page 92 – again, dodge the issue. Don’t ask any questions whose answers may be obvious if you’d actually read the script – find out who they had in mind to play that part first. That’s always a good one – it should at least narrow it down to male or female. When they tell you, act like that’s a genius suggestion and one which you hadn’t considered but now they’ve mentioned it – yeah, he/she would be perfect. Which performance of theirs led her to choose that actor?

Which, hopefully, should give you the genre of the script.

And so on.

Eventually she’ll have told you the entire plot, the characters, their motivations and goals. If it all sounds good, then the script’s problem will be none of this comes across. If it sounds bad, then the problem is here and you can completely discount the script. Ignore it, fix the basics.

If it is all good and the script must therefore struggle to convey it properly, ask them ‘So of the two script reports, which criticisms do you feel hit the nail on the head? What do you agree with? What do you disagree with?’ But be wary, they might throw the same question back at you. If so, time for another toilet break. Seriously, the toilet is your friend, use it. By the time you get back they’ll have forgotten what they asked you.

‘Where were we?’

‘You were writing me a cheque, weren’t you?’

Of course, the most important piece of advice in this kind of situation is never, ever get yourself into this kind of situation in the first place. I mean, come on, it’s not professional, is it? Don’t behave like this, it’s just embarrassing.

Still, cold reading – important skill. You can already do it, everyone can – just practise hard and learn how to do it properly.

Categories: My Way, Random Witterings | 3 Comments

Just for the Record – in the cinema

So here’s something new – I’ve been to a cinema and paid for a ticket to see a film (based on a script) I wrote.

What’s more, it’s the same cinema where I saw a shit load of the films which ultimately inspired me to become a writer in the first place:

Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, E.T., Gremlins, all three Back to the Futures … etc.

Sort of.

It’s a cinema in the same location and building, if not the actual cinema. It was the Regal back then:

This was the only photo I could find.

Obviously, it hasn’t looked anything like this during my lifetime, much less during the eight years of the eighties when I lived there. In fact, I’m pretty certain that balcony entrance has been a brick wall for my entire life; but you get the point. It used to be one of those cool old cinemas with really dark, sinister ceilings you could never quite see and, for reasons which never quite seemed fair, the entire centre section reserved for smokers.

Now, of course, it looks rather more like this:

Which, although not unpleasant as modern cinemas go (and certainly a step up from the aluminium box of most multiplexes) doesn’t quite have the same charm.

But never mind. The principle is still the same, it’s a cinema on the same location and mostly in the same building and I’m going, with my friends (and Auntie Sheila) to watch a film based on my script.

Here’s what a ticket to a watch your own film looks like:

And here’s what it looks like when you’re actually sitting in the auditorium:

I was going to take a photo of the bit where it says WRITTEN BY PHILLIP BARRON, because, you know, I’m like that – but unfortunately we missed that bit due to the cinema starting the film 10 minutes early.

10 minutes.

At least.

We walked in at 13.03 for a 13.10 showing to find the film already well past the credits and the opening scenes.

Nice.

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed there are no heads obscuring the view of the screen in the above photo. That will be because there are no other people in the cinema. None, save the four of us. It appears the projectionists were so confident they wouldn’t sell any tickets they just whacked the film on early and fucked off for lunch.

Okay, so fair enough, it’s a lunchtime showing – no fucker is going to go and see it. Particularly since there’s no advertising to promote the film. I mean, why would you? What the hell would have to go wrong with your life before you’re rushing to the cinema midday, midweek to see a film you’ve never heard of? But still, come on! At least wait until the advertised time before starting it. Hell, if you waited an extra five minutes you could just not bother running it at all – it’s basically just a waste of electricity.

And there, perhaps, is another contributing factor to the total lack of ticket sales: the advertised time.

Here’s a photo of the film times, as displayed outside the cinema:

Click that one, make it bigger. Really take a good look at it.

Notice anything?

Apart from me reflected in the glass?

Yup, that’s right – Just for the Record isn’t even fucking mentioned! The cinema isn’t even admitting they’re showing the fucking thing. Is it really that embarrassing? I mean, more embarrassing than Furry Vengeance, for example?

So to sum up  – it’s a film no one’s heard of, with no adverts anywhere, no posters outside and not even the film time listed on the actual fucking cinema itself … who wants to guess at the total number of ticket sales for the week?

I’m guessing four: me, Mike, Mark and Auntie Sheila.

So what do a paying audience think of it?

Well … they were very polite …

Categories: Just for the Record | 6 Comments

Give me your fucking money

As a hairy Irishman may or may not have once said.

Please.

Actually, I don’t want your money. Well, I do, but I’m not about to go around demanding you hand it over – it just seems a bit crass.

No, in fact it’s Mandy, my surprisingly attractive wife*, who wants your money … but for a very good reason. I’ll let her explain:

I was inspired by my lovely friend Lucy last year when she did the moonlight walk round london at midnight in the rain. When she told me she was doing just a short jaunt this year over the south downs, I decided I wanted to be pro-active, give myself a challenge and maybe try to improve my fitness. So I have signed up to do a 20km walk around the south downs on the 15th of May.

The charity I am supporting is the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. My darling cousin, Kenny, has suffered with this condition for many, many years and finally had a double lung transplant nearly 2 years ago, which sadly hasn’t worked as well as expected; but he stays positive with the amazing support of his wife and son and close family, he is truly inspirational.

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity and make sure Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation by a UK taxpayer. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – I raise more, whilst saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

So please dig deep and donate now.

http://www.justgiving.com/mandyhiflyer

So there you go. If you could spare a pound, that would be lovely. Ten pounds would be lovelier still. 100 pounds would just be silly and unneccessary.

Thank you very much, you lovely people.

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*It surprises me on a daily basis. Really? You married me? How did that happen? Were you drunk/blind/temporarily insane?

Categories: Someone Else's Way | 3 Comments

Just for the Record – The Premiere

Last night was the premiere for ‘Just for the Record‘ (have I mentioned ‘Just for the Record’? The film (based on a script) wot I wrote? I’m sure I’ve mentioned it once or twice) and … well, how did it go?

Let me set the scene a little for you first, give you some background information:

I’ve spent the last three days shitting myself.

This is not a metaphor§, I’ve literally been shitting myself. I was throwing up for a day or so, but it’s surprising how much faster you run out of stomach contents than arse liquid. Basically I’ve had the kind of few days where it’s not really worth leaving the bathroom, far easier just to sleep on the floor. Not that there was much opportunity to sleep between bouts.

So by the time the premiere rolled around I was feeling a little fragile, especially when you factor in the jetlag and the … did I mention the jetlag? Oh, I was throwing up here:

Which is about 5 hours behind here:

And about 8 hours away.

Hence, by the time I sat down in the cinema, I’d been thoroughly evacuating myself for three days, awake for 36 hours straight and was mentally still in a different time zone.

Not the best way to attend anything, let alone a thing which involves sitting very still in the dark.

But there you go.

So, how was the premiere?

Well, it was a lot like going to the cinema under any other circumstances, to be honest* – a dark, semi-comfortable room full of people I don’t know. Oh, except you get free water and popcorn on your seat. That was nice.

Quite a few of the stars were there, which was nice too. Didn’t really talk to any of them mind, but in fairness, they didn’t talk to me either so … I think we both lost out there.

I fairly quickly realised introducing myself as the writer to people makes no impression whatsoever. In fact, it just seems to confuse some people since I don’t think they fully understand what that means.

Still, never mind, eh?

As for the reaction, did people like it? Did they think it’s a good film?

Well, it’s hard to say, really. People laughed regularly, from beginning to end – which is kind of the point of a comedy. It didn’t sound like polite laughter, it sounded fairly genuine and everyone I spoke to afterwards said they enjoyed it … but then they would since nobody knows who’s standing behind them.

One thing was apparent, it took some people a while to work out what kind of film it was – they’d obviously turned up without any kind of idea of genre or story. Quite how they got there is beyond me, but once they’d worked out what the hell was going on they seemed to enjoy it too.

So all good then.

I guess the next step is to see how a properly paying, non-fawning audience reacts when it opens on Friday …

Except, I don’t think there’ll be one.

An audience, that is.

This isn’t a reflection on the quality of the film, it’s not even a bout of paranoia, it’s just a frank opinion based on an examination of the facts.

Let me explain:

Just for the Record is indeed opening in cinemas as of Friday … but not quite in a useful way. Here are the full details:

ALTRINCHAM

  • Fri 7th – 12.50
  • Mon 10th – 12.50
  • Tues 11th – 12.50
  • Wed 12th – 12.50
  • Thurs 10th – 12.50

BURNLEY

  • Mon 10th – 13.25
  • Tues 11th – 13.25
  • Wed 12th – 13.25
  • Thurs 10th – 13.25

ROYAL LEAMINGTON SPA

  • Mon 10th – 13.10
  • Tues 11th – 13.10
  • Wed 12th – 12.00
  • Thurs 10th – 12.00

STROUD

  • Mon 10th – 12.40
  • Tues 11th – 12.40
  • Wed 12th – 12.40
  • Thurs 10th – 12.40

TORBAY

  • Mon 10th – 13.40
  • Tues 11th – 13.40
  • Wed 12th – 13.40
  • Thurs 10th – 13.40

The first thing you may notice is that’s only five cinemas as opposed to the planned six. Redditch seemed to have bottled it at the last minute. The second might be that although it does technically open on the Friday – that’s only in one cinema and not over the weekend. The third thing might be that all the show times are around midday.

It’s only showing midday and mid-week – in other words, no fucker is going to watch it. Except possibly the unemployable and the retired … which is just the audience it’s written for.

Let’s add one more piece to this puzzle: the film is being advertised as a British gangster film.

Seriously.

This is the blurb the distributors are going with, both for the cinemas and on the DVD:

Danny Dyer (‘The Football Factory’, ‘The Business’), Craig Fairbrass (‘Rise Of The Footsoldier’, ‘The Bank Job’), Sean Pertwee (‘Dog Soldiers’, ‘Doomsday’), Phil Davis (‘Dead Man Running’), Steven Berkoff (‘The Krays’) and Billy Murray (‘Rise Of The Footsoldier’) come together as one of the greatest British casts in recent memory. Dirty dealings, back-stabbing, insults, threats, blackmail and deception – it’s all in a days work for this motley crew who have been assembled for a business venture more treacherous than any kind of criminal endeavour! As sparks fly, it’s everyman for himself, take no prisoners and, hopefully, get out in one piece with reputation still in one mangled piece!

It’s a fucking mockumentary about film making!

You know what this means? It means not only is nobody going to go and see it, because they’ll be working; but if on the off chance someone does happen to pull a sickie and drop in, they’re going to think it’s the worst fucking gangster film they’ve ever seen.

Oh fuck it, it’s still a cinema release and still damned exciting.

—————————————————————————————-

§Actually, it’s not an idiom; but you know what I mean.

*Except for the getting dressed up bit. Normally, I go to the cinema in just my pants.

You know, like actors, writers …

Categories: Just for the Record | 9 Comments

Nervous anticipation

I was looking over the list of blog topics in a file I keep on my desktop, a cornucopia of crap I can waffle about whenever I feel obliged to blog but haven’t got anything specific or timely to say.

In essence it’s just a list of titles – things I might like to blog about at some point. Some of the titles have been there so long I can no longer remember what they mean:

‘Water in the waffles!’

For example. Exclamation mark included. Or:

‘Hove into view’

Which feels like it might need an exclamation mark. Or my personal favourite:

‘Abrasive arsehole – tougher TP’

I’m assuming TP means Toilet Paper in that title, but who fucking knows why or what I was thinking at the time? Guess it’s just lost in the mists of posterior-ity.*

Normally I just pick a title and keep typing until I get bored. Then I stop; but today …

Today, I just can’t think of anything else to talk about. The only thing on my mind is Just for the Record – both the premiere tomorrow and the theatrical release on Friday.

Okay, so I’ve known about both for a while and apart from getting a little closer, why am I suddenly so excited? Why, now, are my balls beginning to tingle?

Oh, I know I may have said I was excited before, but that was mostly a lie. This blog (believe it or not) is the public face of Phill Barron and doesn’t necessarily reflect my true opinions.

Except when it does.

So what’s changed? Why the nervous anticipation?

Because now I’ve actually seen the film. I hadn’t before, and promoting something I haven’t seen worries me. What if it’s shit? Do I bother mentioning it on a daily basis or do I let it slide and hope nobody notices?

You see, the problem is, people I work with read this blog so if I fail to mention something they can get a bit upset. Obviously I never tell people the film or whatever they’ve made from my script is a pile of shit because … well, it’s just not polite, is it?

Also, they might point out they just filmed what I wrote and any resulting shitness was inherent and entirely my fault.

More importantly, they might want to pay me for something else one day. Please?

Having once been caught up in publicly and enthusiastically promoting something I privately thought was fucking awful, I get a bit worried in the lead up to something being finished – just in case it is still steaming when it hits the ground and splashes on your shoes.

But now, now I’ve finally seen the film. I’ve seen Just for the Record and …

Well, it’s not for me to say whether it’s good or not – you have to make up your own mind (when you buy the DVD from all good stockists!); but it made me laugh whilst sitting alone in my room so …

That’s got to be a start, right?

The nervous part of the anticipation comes from wondering if anyone else will find it funny. So far, everyone who’s seen it says they like it; but then they would, wouldn’t they? Because so far, everyone who’s seen it worked on the production or might end up working with me again some day. No one’s going to give you an honest critique under those circumstances.

On top of that, everyone who’s seen it works in the industry. Is it funny to anyone with little to no interest in the mechanics of film making?

I don’t know.

At the premiere tomorrow, I might find out.

Maybe.

Or maybe not. Again, most of the people there will have worked on or be sleeping with someone who worked on the production. Plus, most of the people there will either work in the industry or be bored shitless listening to the people they sleep with who work in the industry. They might not find it funny, but they should get it.

And they’re a friendly crowd. They have to mingle afterwards with people who have invested time and energy in the film. It’ll be a vague test of how funny it is since people tend not to fake laughter for the whole hour and a half, but they will laugh at things they’d probably just smile at in private.

No, the real litmus test comes on Friday when it opens before a (hopefully) paying audience (of hopefully more than one or two people).

Will they like it? Will they find it funny? Will they cyber-track me down afterwards to proffer death threats?

All these questions and more are making me frothy with excitement … and all I can do is wait.

But in the meantime, here are Rik Mayall’s thoughts on the production:

*Oh dear, a pun. Sorry. People say sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but they’re just fucking pricks. Puns, that’s the lowest form of wit. Or at best, the least funny.

Oh look, here’s a link! Here’s another one! And another! I wonder how they got here?

Categories: Just for the Record | 3 Comments

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