Just for the Record

The HMV high

bixrec104hmv

On the day it was announced HMV was going into administration, producer Jonathan Sothcott posted this on his Facebook page (reprinted here with his permission, don’t go copying and pasting it willy nilly now):

524694_227574980676343_1530184419_nAdministration doesn’t mean closure but today’s news about HMV appointing administrators makes it a dark day for the UK film industry. With 90% of physical sales made at supermarkets, HMV was the last bastion of the niche title after the fall of Virgin, Zavvi, MVC, Choices, Tower Records etc. With the supermarkets (understandably) focussing on big budget studio product and uber-commercial top 20 material it means there is nowhere left to buy independent films that don’t make the cut. As a producer, I’m fortunate that my films generally get picked up by the supermarkets. As someone who loves DVDs, I’m gutted that my choices have been so limited.

As a teenager I caught up on more cult movies in the Brighton and Croydon branches of HMV than anywhere else. I know there wasn’t an internet then so the concept of ‘rare films’ made collecting videos more exciting but it was an experience that generations to come are unlikely to have. On Christmas Eve I queued for over an hour in HMV in Croydon buying Christmas presents and it gave me a renewed hope that the rumours were not true and that HMV might live to fight another day.

Alas it was not to be. There’s a lot of silly talk about downloads replacing physical formats and how you have to ‘face up’ to it – scant comfort for the 4,300 people facing unemployment. Download might be on the horizon but I promise you it isn’t here yet. No HMV will push piracy rates up and it will be the illegal downloads that skyrocket.

Sad, sad news.

And it got me thinking.

It got me thinking about how much I enjoy the act of buying something physical, of walking into a shop with cash and walking out with a product I have to wait until I get home to watch.

It got me thinking about what it will mean for low-budget film-makers in the UK and how (apart from a select few who “qualify” for supermarket sales) HMV is the only outlet where people can buy their films; but most of all it got me thinking about how exciting it is to see your own DVD for sale in a shop.

evolved-dvd.jpg

Now, I don’t know if that means anything to you. Mainly because I don’t know who you are.

You may not think seeing a DVD of a film you’ve had a hand in creating on an actual shelf in an actual shop is particularly exciting. Maybe you’ve had so many DVDs released you no longer care? Maybe you’re far too cool to get excited about such trivial things? Maybe you’ve never made any contribution to a film, script or otherwise, and just don’t see what the fuss is about?

Me? I fucking love it.

Regardless of the quality of the film itself, I find something electrifying about seeing my work in a shop. Being able to buy it in public is part of it; but a greater thrill is anyone else can buy it too!

They might buy it in front of me!

They might even tell their mate what they’ve heard about the film. Good or bad, doesn’t matter – it would be an unfiltered opinion!

Okay, so you could argue that the internet is full of unfiltered opinions; but you could equally argue most internet opinions are written using the ‘cunt’ filter. (Yes, including the ones expressed here.)

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Even better than that, maybe the guy behind the counter will make some comment on my purchase? Maybe he’ll tell me I’m wasting my money and should buy Football Fuck Ups Vol 18 instead? Maybe he’ll look me in the eye, recognise I’m in some way connected to the making of this DVD and acknowledge me with a knowing nod of the head?

None of these things have ever happened,  by the way; but they could! One day, they might, who knows?

Okay, they probably won’t; but buying your own DVD in an actual shop is so exciting (to me) that it overrides all reason.

First time I saw a DVD of my work on sale was The Evolved. Annoyingly, I bought it before I’d thought of taking a pic.  I had to go back into the shop (or store, for t’was in America) and ask the clerk if I could put it back on the shelf and take a photo of it (lest he saw me taking it off again afterwards and accused me of stealing).

Surely this would be the moment where he recognised my greatness!

 

2012-01-31 14.59.03

No. He just said “Yeah, whatever. Do what you like.” and strolled off to be impossibly cool somewhere else while I giggled insanely and snapped the photo above.

Not immediately above, higher than that.

Not that one, the one above that.

Go back and look at it! Between The Exorcist and The Evil Dead! How fucking cool is that?

The photos are in chronological order, by the way. I suppose I should move them around so that one is next to this sentence; but I just can’t be fucking bothered.

Oh, I’ve just remembered! I got so excited about seeing The Evolved in store that next time I passed an FYE, some months later, I went in and bought it again. Yes, I am the guy who bought all the physical copies ever sold! Both of them, that was me!

The guy in that shop did pass comment on the DVD, he looked at the cover, looked up at me and said …

“Holy shit! What the fuck is that?”

2012-07-13 14.54.12

 

I love seeing my work on shop shelves and I love buying them with my own cash … and it saddens me that generations of film-makers to come may not have that opportunity.

If HMV goes (as it probably will) then only those who make the kind of movies supermarkets want to sell will get to experience that buzz; and supermarkets are notoriously fickle about what they will and won’t stock.

Yes the death of HMV would have wider implications for the UK film industry (this article in The Guardian highlights most of them); but from a purely selfish level, I need that small victory at the end of the process.

Writing a film is fucking hard. Dealing with the development process is even fucking harder. Watching the final product emerge as an absolute fucking mess is just soul destroying; but being able to walk into a shop and buy a copy of the DVD, no matter how atrocious its contents … it’s a high I genuinely hope those who’ve never experienced it get to love one day.

But realistically, no HMV means you probably won’t.

You can’t see this, but I’m now doing my sad face.

HMV history in pics

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Categories: Industry Musings, Just for the Record, My Way, Random Witterings, Sad Bastard, Stalker, Strippers vs. Werewolves, The Evolved | 1 Comment

2010

I know it’s traditional to do your end-of-year-blog-round-up at the end of the year you’re rounding-up, but I didn’t, so I’m doing it now.

And no, I haven’t caved in, bought an iPhone and then failed to wake up for three days in a row (although I do find it highly amusing and can’t wait to smile smugly at certain friends of mine whose most cherished and deeply held belief is ‘Apple products never go wrong’.); but I’ve just been excruciatingly busy with Persona … which the more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed completely failed to manifest itself two days ago. There is a reason for that, but it will have to wait.

So, what did I do in 2010 (which I can’t believe I’m talking about, it’s so last year)? Well, I did something rather like this …

JANUARY

I explained how to be happy, in a rather long winded post which went on for so long it annoyed the piss out of me; Lord knows how you felt about it.

I discovered there was a 5,50 in the morning, ate my first school dinner since I was 11 and became the world’s first, ginger Bollywood consultant.

Updated Quicktime.

Discovered a watched kettle does boil and took a video to prove it:

Equated ‘In the Night Garden’ to genital piercing.

Then ran head-first at a wall and played with some bunnies.

FEBRUARY

Posted lots of behind the scenes videos for ‘Just for the Record’.

Talked about Piers‘ Writers’ Social.

Got lost in America and had to ask where I was.

Updated iTunes.

Spend a weekend in a fabulous house on Anglesey (which may or may not have some connection to St Seiriol) with a Lord who taught me how to con money out of people on Waltzers and a young woman who tries to bring helicopters down by hitting golf balls at them (but is considering giving it up because she almost hit a car and feels that’s a bit dangerous), whilst working out a plan to invade the Falklands as the first step towards exploiting the untapped mineral wealth of Antarctica and being served dinner by William Wordsworth’s great-granddaughter … surprisingly, this wasn’t a dream and did actually happen.

Failed to get mentioned in The Sun, Broadcast and GMTV.

That was pretty much it for February.

MARCH

Wondered if Caprica would get any better – decided it wasn’t worth spending the time to find out. Did it get better?

Got given a note I didn’t understand.

Accidentally saw Superman Returns and got all shouty and upset.

Updated Quicktime and iTunes.

Explained how to deal with notes by wearing a skirt and letting other men in skirts stab you.

Broke down exactly how I deal with a thirty-day deadline … badly, is the answer, in case you were wondering.

Went to Piers‘ Writers’ Social.

The DVD for ‘Just for the Record’ became available to pre-order.

Remained unconvinced by 3D. I’m still not convinced – good idea or pointless gimmick?

APRIL

Got very stressed because I was working on five projects at the same time – five! How pitifully small that number seems now. My stress dissolved in the face of this pretty picture:

Which may or may not be in pre-production around about now. Probably isn’t.

Got held prisoner in France due to a dastardly plot involving my parents, British Airways and an Icelandic volcano.

Got a bit disappointed by the Daleks and their magic Easter egg.

Decided I don’t trust anyone’s opinion.

Updated Quicktime.

Got in a bit of a tangle about an exclamation mark!

MAY

Updated Quicktime.

Spent three days shitting myself here:

Stayed awake for 36 hours, whilst travelling eight hours across five time zones so I could get to here:

Just so I could attend the premiere of ‘Just for the Record’

Updated iTunes.

Went to see ‘Just for the Record’ in the same cinema I went to see all of the films which initially inspired me to be a writer. A film (based on) a script I wrote showing in an actual cinema! And not just one cinema, several across the country. Something I wrote got a theatrical release! … Shame it was a bit shit really.

Explained how cold reading helps get you out of holes you dig by being thoroughly unprofessional.

Realised IMDb ratings may be a slightly better work of fiction than the films themselves.

Was deeply surprised to find ‘Just for the Record’ in the DVD charts. Number 13, if you’re interested:

Updated Quicktime.

Went on a long and pointless rant about builders.

Updated iTunes.

Went on a long and pointless rant about isms.

JUNE

Was surprised to receive a smattering of complimentary emails.

Updated Quicktime and iTunes.

Stole some money:

Wrote my most popular post of the year: It’s not fair

JULY

Listened to two Jamaicans argue about the best way to spray paint an elephant.

Had a First Look at LVJ:

Got called a lying bastard for failing to recognise Apple as the true inventor of video calling.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Pause/beat – not the fucking same.

‘The Wrong Door’ came out on DVD! No one bought it! Hooray!

Got angry about some spelling.

Updated iTunes.

AUGUST

Updated iTunes.

Promoted some random shit.

Updated Quicktime.

Saw some films.

Updated iTunes.

Failed to understand semi-colons.

Updated Quicktime.

Invented a new sport.

Failed to win at the sport I’d just invented.

Updated iTunes.

Got removed from a project for waiting too long for them to send me some feedback.

Updated Quicktime.

Made some robots swear:

Updated iTunes.

Swore I’d make the robots swear once a month, just for fun.

Updated Quicktime.

Failed to make the robots swear ever again. This will probably be a lifelong failure.

Updated iTunes.

Got annoyed with people slagging off Richard Curtis.

Updated Quicktime.

Someone set up a Twitter account in my name … still don’t know who.

Updated iTunes.

SEPTEMBER

Realised I don’t know what iTunes is or why it’s on my computer. I mean, I know you can use it to buy music and stuff; but what’s all the rest of it for? As far as I can tell it’s something which gets between your computer and an mp3 player or a phone and … makes it all a bit more complicated. A bit like a geriatric butler who insists on chewing your food for you. I mean, what the fuck is it for?

Decided to uninstall iTunes.

Got excited about a poster I haven’t seen for twenty-five years.

Liked ‘Roger and Val Have Just Got In’ even if no one else did.

Uninstalled iTunes.

Moaned about people fucking up my (admittedly poor) scripts by removing, changing or otherwise tampering with the protagonist AFTER the fucking script has been shot.

Uninstalled iTunes.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Uninstalled iTunes.

Went to the theatre – nothing blew up, no one got naked and there was a surprising lack of giant killer robots; but it was actually very enjoyable.

Updated Quicktime.

Expressed a desire to project a photo of my balls onto various people’s faces.

Uninstalled iTunes.

Uninstalled iTunes.

Updated Quicktime.

Uninstalled iTunes – what the fuck is this shit? Where does it keep coming from? I don’t want it. I don’t need it. Please, please fuck off!

Gave up and updated iTunes.

OCTOBER

Tried to name a space shuttle ‘Brian’.

Updated Quicktime.

Learnt there is such a thing as a one word pitch.

Updated Quicktime.

Had a warm gooey feeling because I did something uncharacteristically nice.

Updated Quicktime.

Got confused between my imagination and a piece of paper.

Updated Quicktime.

Tried to decipher the numbering system of a script competition.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Realised iTunes seems to have given up asking to be updated.

Updated iTunes.

And Quicktime.

NOVEMBER

Confessed my sexual fondness for a cartoon character.

Updated Quicktime.

Ranted about working for two producers who hated each other.

Updated Quicktime.

Wished Apple would just make Quicktime work properly in the first place. Or at least the last place, since it seems to update every fucking two days and still doesn’t actually fucking work. What exactly is updating? Is inability to play any fucking file whatsoever?

Uninstalled Quicktime.

DECEMBER

Reinstalled Quicktime so I could watch a film trailer.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated iTunes.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated iTunes.

Updated Quicktime.

Talked about the snow for fucking ages.

Updated Quicktime.

Realised I’d spent more time updating Quicktime than fucking breathing. In fact, I’d go so far as to say updating Quicktime is 80% of my social interaction with the world.

Talked about some loveliness.

Realised Quicktime hasn’t asked to be updated for a week. I miss that little guy.

Did something I didn’t want to do and enjoyed it.

Made writing ridiculous complex with all sorts of colour-coded formulas.

Where’s Quicktime? Why isn’t it talking to me any more? Have I upset it somehow?

Got really excited about the trailer for:

And began the nine day countdown to … nothing.

UPDATED QUICKTIME! HE’S BACK! HE DOES LOVE ME! … Bollocks.

And that was about it. There wasn’t a lot of actual blogging happening this year, primarily because 2010 was the year of taking on too many projects. 12 features in all. 12 – fucking ridiculous. Behind the scenes, unblogged, I managed to work my way through 9 of those 12 features – 3 of them are still waiting patiently in the wings; invented the format for, hired writers for, developed, wrote and script-edited Persona (which has been delayed, but is definitely starting in January this year); attended a lot of meetings; met the world’s most pretentious man; travelled 8402 miles in 16 hours just to wank into a pot; became a sort of Producer; was forced to interact with actors; set fire to lots of things which went fizz …. bang; ruined four rolls of really expensive wallpaper; loved my wife and my daughter and generally had an absolute fucking ball.

What does 2011 hold?

Well, Persona for one thing. Those last three films and then a break from films for a while. Probably. Maybe some features going into production. Twitter – maybe? I might just follow people for a while and see what happens. And … um … sleep. I need some sleep. Quite a lot of it, really.

Happy New Year!

Categories: BBC, Career Path, Industry Musings, Just for the Record, LVJ, My Way, Opportunity, Persona, Progress, Publicity, Rants, Sad Bastard, Software, Someone Else's Way, Sparkle, That Band, The Wrong Door, Things I've Learnt Recently, Two steps back, Writing and life | 2 Comments

Thank you

… to everyone who’s emailed with polite, supportive comments about ‘Just for the Record‘. That’s jolly nice of you and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

Obviously, I can’t take any credit for anything you liked in the film – that privilege is reserved for either director, Steve Lawson, or the specific performers; but on the off-chance the bit you liked was in some way connected to the script I wrote – I’ll bask in that little glow.

That’s not to say the happenings on screen bear little or no resemblance to the script – far from it. In fact, I’d say 90 odd percent of what’s there comes from my script – but obviously anything you write is made or killed by the performances, the editing, the direction … a whole myriad of stuff.

Crap scripts make good films, good scripts make crap films and all possible variations of in-between.

The bottom line, at the end of the day, when all’s said and done is I’m touched by how supportive you lot have been. It’s great you’ve gone out of your way to buy/rent the film and that alone is heartwarming and deserves a thank you.

Whether you enjoyed it or not is a secondary issue, but if you did (assuming you’re not lying in an unsolicited email for no personal gain) then all the better.

Buy yourself a drink, on me*.

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* Reimbursement for any drinks bought as a result of this statement will only be honoured if the receipt is submitted in person, at my home address, in fancy dress and signed by Jesus.

Categories: Just for the Record | 10 Comments

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.

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* 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

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

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

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

Just for the Record – Poster

Ooh, new poster for Just for the Record:

You can click it if you like. Go on, try it. I promise you won’t regret it.

I’m not saying you’ll necessarily enjoy it,  but it probably won’t be an action you rue in days to come.

Or maybe it will, I have no idea how you feel about slightly larger images.

It’s quite nice though, isn’t it?

And here, just to show I’m in no way biased towards Play.com, is the Amazon.co.uk link. You know, just in case you felt the need.

Categories: Just for the Record | 3 Comments

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