Stalker

The HMV high

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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.

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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!

 

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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?”

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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

2012

Every year, for reasons I can’t quite remember, I do a post which rounds up exactly what happened to me over the past twelve months. To me, these recap posts seem interminably long, dull and quite pointless … but for some reason they always get read more than the original posts did. I have two theories to explain this odd behaviour:

  1. The majority of you wait until the end of the year so you can get the whole  sordid tale in one go.
  2. The majority of you are fucking mental.
  3. I said two theories, why would there be a three?

But with that in mind, let’s  begin. I promise this list will be as dull and as pointless as ever. We begin, in …

JANUARY

I began the year seven days after everyone else because I’m fucking hardcore, despite having been teetotal for 22 years now.

Maybe I just forgot the new year had begun?

Either way, I began with an explanation of one of my favourite writing techniques, THE BOX.

This technique is so awesome and so useful, not only have I not used it since; but I have no recollection of ever using it in the first place. I’m assuming I just made it up.

You know, lied.

Then I had a moment of genius. I know it was genius because Steven Moffat said it was. On Twitter. This is as close to a fact as you can possibly get without using things like set-squares and alphabet-heavy theorems.

This post garnered more views than my arse did that time I accidentally left it in Trafalgar Square. What’s more, people seemed to  like it. It wasn’t really anything much to do with writing and had more to do with my inability to repair a car … but it’s quite funny.

Essentially, I explained How to beat procrastination and was generally awesome while I was doing it. Assuming ‘awesome’ is a synonym for ‘a bit sad’.

You should read it.

I’ll wait.

I immediately failed to capitalise on this massive new following by bloging about some confused Thundercats and rounded off January by having a film I had almost nothing to do with, Stalker, released on DVD.

FEBRUARY

And lo, the second month did dawn and lower, I did shout a bit about baby-earrings, hotel sink-plugs, iTunes and shitty writing advice.

Ten days later, I was still pretty upset about people charging writers for bad advice and gave my own bad advice for free. This time about dual time-period script writing. I have since ignored every single one of these ‘rules’ … with catastrophic results.

I should learn to listen to me more.

Or at least learn to read the stuff I write.

I also got upset about Tuesdays and stupidity.

Decided Rosie Claverton is ace …

… and then drowned in bullshit.

MARCH

I watched Deviation in various international locations.

Wondered when The Descendants was going to end.

Showed you the quad for Strippers vs. Werewolves

… which is far better than the film itself.

And then went on a trailer frenzy for season three of Persona:

I finished March by getting into the quarter-finals of The Sitcom Mission.

APRIL

Don’t know about you, but I’m bored now. I’m also full of duck and empty of sleep. I might give up at any minute.

April!

April was the month … some stuff happened.

Stuff a bit like …

Pointed out ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITIES happened fairly regularly, best not to get too upset about them.

Explained the difference between a character being likeable and people fucking right off with their stupid fucking notes about kittens and fucking rainbows. Or something.

Swore I’d fucking show you all by explaining why script format was important. This would be it, the definitive guide to every aspect of script format explaining why I’m right and you’re all fucking wrong.

Which isn’t egotistical at all, it’s just the way of the world.

And then there was the Strippers vs. Werewolves première.

This post is well worth reading. It’s a master-class in how to blog about the première of your own film when you think it’s shit, without mentioning how shit you think the film is; but instead mentioning sausages. A lot.

Seriously, go read it. See if you can find any mention of how shit the film is.

They were fucking awesome sausages, mind.

After the première, the film came out in the cinemas because this is what happens.

Here, watch the trailer. Just because, alright? Just fucking watch it so I can have a rest from all this fucking typing.

MAY

I began May by making good on my promise to explain every aspect of script format. I started with the title page … and then gave up. For ever. I mean … what’s  the fucking point?

The 7th of May was Me Day when the whole world revolved around me for 24 hours.

It wasn’t my birthday or anything, it was just a day when the whole world gathered round to worship me and celebrate how amazing I am. Or was. You may not remember it because I think you were temporarily dead that day.

Ooh, this post on Script Trajectory was quite good. Must have been ill that day.

The papers in May did a mighty fine job of promoting the BluRay/DVD release of Strippers vs. Werewolves by pretending not to know something they patently do and being all sniffy about it in a headline grabbing way.

I can’t be fucked with this, I’m knackered. I’ll finish it off tomorrow.

JUNE

Hooray! It’s tomorrow!

For me, probably not for you.

June! The month of … more stuff.

Surprisingly little stuff, actually.

All I did was make a mis-step and bitch about people asking me perfectly reasonable questions.

Fuck you, June, you suck.

JULY

July was the month I was recruited by a clandestine organisation to invade a nation of pixie warmongers who live in an old forgotten tea cup behind my garden shed. I was given a spud gun, a nifty secret hat and a licence to break wind in public and sent off to murder pixies. After a series of, frankly, quite dull adventures involving grit and teaspoons, I found myself in Yakatang (the capital of the pixie nation, it looks a bit like Harlow only not quite so grim and with a few extra pixies). I was all set to assassinate King Ian (Yakatang’s chief biscuit maker and all round bastard) when I realised the whole incident was merely the result of a dodgy kipper that morning and I had actually invaded Lakeland, naked save for a pink Santa’s hat and brandishing a small clockwork frog.

Come to think of it, that might not have happened either.

I can’t really remember July, can you?

Oh wait, yes I can. In July I …

Went to the BBC TV Writers’ Festival, met all sorts of splendid people and burbled insanely about The Dukes of Hazzard at every opportunity.

I also said Fuck You, Mr Arnopp.

… and then got all serious with some musings on disability in scripts. That one’s worth reading again.

AUGUST

In August I declared myself FREE to whatever the fuck I want, any time I fucking want to do it!

Then did this …

… which probably wasn’t worth the effort.

Then I watched The Dark Knight Rises … which was worth even less effort.

I did fuck all for a couple of weeks and then I had a serious think about the difference between horizontal and vertical careers. Basically, producers can opt for horizontal careers, scriptwriters can’t.

I rounded off August by giving away literally hundreds of literal pounds … because I’m either nice or a complete fucking mug.

HELLO-is-it-tea-youre-looking-for-Mug

SEPTEMBER

Slipped off to the secret writing island for interesting conversations about ‘the first ever genital piercing’ and ‘how to wake someone up with a spoon’ before proclaiming I had a new regime … and then failing to do anything about it.

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Bigged up Helen Smith‘s new book The Miracle Inspector, because she’s all kinds of lovely and I felt like it.

The Miracle Inspector by Helen Smith

I paused for a bit longer and dropped in a secret plug for Jason Arnopp’s new book without anyone knowing I’d done it.

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Hmm … it kind of looks like I spent the entire month on my secret writing island. Wonder if that was true?

Ooh! I got really shouty about people giving bad advice!

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Which was probably uncalled for. Except it wasn’t! Don’t listen to the cunts!

And finally I rambled a bit about changing writers/directors/producers on a film. Which is just fucking annoying, so stop it.

OCTOBER

For fuck’s sake, are you still reading? Go out, get some air. Have some fun or otherwise do something more useful than your time.

Like what I am.

October was the month I …

Rambled about recycling jokes.

BillHicksDenisLeary

Realised I shouldn’t be allowed to write horror movies because I don’t really like ’em.

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Wrote a long, boring, yet strangely fascinating blog about file names.

And then gave away a free BluRay of some shit or other.

Here’s a photo of me with a spoon.

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Why? Why the fuck not?

NOVEMBER

Thank fuck this is nearly over. I’m not doing this again, I’m bored shitless, fuck knows how you feel.

Met up with some writers …

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… and talked about Pets and Zombies. A subject which is nothing to do with either, but just more dull talk about scripts.

And then I saw Looper and explained the RULES OF THE UNIVERSE. There are surprisingly few of them.

Wait, is that all I did in November?

Cool. Let’s hope December was as pointless and then I can go and get some food. I’m having a curry, in case you cared.

DECEMBER

Got beaten up by a four year old.

Explained why fighting naked isn’t always sexy and having your arse and boobs on the same side definitely isn’t.

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Somehow managed to defend iPhones while slagging off myself. How the fuck did that happen?

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And then promoted a festival because someone asked me to and it was easier than thinking of anything new to write.

totally serialized

And really, that was it. That was the whole year.

Fuck me.

I did do quite a lot of proper writing too, I just didn’t really talk about it much. I script edited hours and fucking hours of Persona, wrote far too much of it and worked on multiple drafts of seven features … so not too bad.

But not good enough.

I will do better next year.

Which is in about five hours’ time.

If you want proper stats and all kinds of flashy animation about all the stuff I blogged about this year, then you need help.

Or this link.

Hope 2012 was super-sexy-awesome for you, now stop reading this, go out and get pissed.

New-Year-2013-Celebration-Wallpaper-600x450

Categories: Bored, Career Path, Festivals, Industry Musings, My Way, Opportunity, Persona, Progress, Publicity, Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard, Sitcom Mission, Someone Else's Way, Stalker, Strippers vs. Werewolves, Things I've Learnt Recently, Two steps back, Writing and life | Leave a comment

Stalker on DVD

Stalker is out on DVD today and is available from Amazon, HMV, Tesco, Play.com and … well, lots of places. If you have a few pennies and 84 mins to spare, it’s well worth a watch.

Here’s the trailer again for those who may have missed it:

Categories: Stalker | 3 Comments

2011

As the year limps to a close in a trickle of damp grayness, it’s time to reflect on what’s gone before and wonder vaguely about what may come.

How was your 2011? Mine went something like, if not exactly the same as, this:

 

JANUARY

I began the year by joining Twitter. Actually, I began the year by tweeting using an account some mysterious person set up for me against my will a year earlier. I still don’t know who that was, but would dearly love to know.

Wrote a post about a project so secret I can no longer remember what it was about.

Offered to write someone’s name on a fighter jet.

And then gave a free video projector to anyone who wanted it. Turns out the people who wanted it most were the people who were supposed to have been given it eight years earlier until idiocy intervened.

 

FEBRUARY

I was a guest on #scriptchat (transcript here) and waffled at great length about getting work without an agent.

Karma Magnet turned up online. You can still watch it here.

Persona launched!

If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, then I’ve failed and that’s pretty much all there is to it.

I revealed my deepest secrets. No, wait, not secrets … just a bit of witter about junk files.

And then tried to encourage everyone to whip off their drama condoms and ride that script bareback. Dramatically speaking.

 

MARCH

In which I finally explain how to read.

Gave some people £25 each.

Explained what a reboot means for the hard of thinking.

And explained why having your script re-written was exactly like having your best friend spunk in your face. (An analogy which came back to haunt me months later when someone pointed out I’d spunked in their face.)

 

APRIL

Karma Magnet was shown at the Brighton Movie Bar and I was invited to talk shit about it. And talk shit I did. And I won the movie quiz. ME! I WON FOR I AM THE WINNER (on this specific occasion).

Had a bit of a rant about sexism.

And another rant about getting excited in the wrong places.

And another one about why you should all feel inspired by my presence.

Then apologised for not ranting more.

 

MAY

I went on holiday and did this to my child:

Stole ideas from Jason Arnopp.

Felt guilty, so I linked to the Stormhouse teaser:

Was amazed to find out half of Neil Gaiman’s Doctor Who episode was exactly the same as half an episode I’d outlined for Big Finish. Just not the good half.

Told you all how to eBehave. Actually, this one’s important, you should all go and read it and spread the word.

Took you on a tour of my rooms on the secret writing island:

And reviewed a book I didn’t want to read about a program I don’t use.

Actually, somewhere around here Strippers vs. Werewolves went into production; but for reasons too horribly complex and horribly horrible, I didn’t actually mention it until months later.

 

JUNE

Explained why having to do re-writes mid-production is a good thing.

Denied I’d written The Dark Knight Rises. Because I didn’t.

Shouted at critics for reviewing the script they haven’t read instead of the film they have seen.

And promised to include more joy in my scripts. Joy like this:

 

JULY

I learnt a new word! Callipygous … and then explained why you should never use it in a script.

Explained why comedy is and isn’t subjective.

Called a producer a parochial twat.

Wrote a film-makers’ glossary. Wish I hadn’t.

Swore at Final Draft. A lot.

Debated misogyny. Still not convinced I spelt it right.

Gave you one of the most useful writing tools you’ll ever use: snippety-snip.

And voiced an opinion on gangsters and the low budget movie industry.

 

AUGUST

I explained why I keep swimming with the gangster fishes.

Demanded you tell me what to feel.

Explained my career in a series of pretty graphs and charts. Like this one:

Explained why I quite like being replaced on a project. Sometimes.

Warned everyone to stay clear of hyphenates … whilst consistently using a slash instead of a hyphen. I did a flowchart too:

And unsuccessfully tried to give everyone £30.

 

SEPTEMBER

Finally admitted I’d done the production re-writes on Pat Higgins‘ Strippers vs. Werewolves:

And listed all the lovely press about it.

Told people to stop hassling me, the script will be done when it’s fucking done.

Ranted about notes … before remembering Sam Bain said it better.

 

OCTOBER

Persona relaunched.

This time for the bargain price of free!

iPhone app here: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/persona-drama/id417940950?mt=8

Android app here: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.appmedia.persona

Explained the secret of success

Talked about the sheer horror of realising someone’s made a bad film out of your script.

Stalker had its London Première – hooray! Here’s the trailer:

Strippers vs. Werewolves had a fantastic set report in Bizzare Magazine:

http://www.bizarremag.com/entertainment/movies/11503/strippers_vs_werewolves.html

Highlighted why slagging people off and then asking them for a job is a bit daft.

Re-wrote Monty Python’s Parrot Sketch in an ill-advised attempt at humour.

Mumbled about being depressed in the middle of every script.

Was disappointed by the American art for Strippers vs. Werewolves:

Tacky. And has one notable lie on it.

Blogged about Fade In scriptwriting software – nearly what I want, but not quite.

And finally revealed the AFM Promo for Strippers vs. Werewolves:

My favourite comment about that promo is:

Looks pretty bad, but I like werewolf movies and tits, so I’ll probably watch it.

NOVEMBER

In which I finally admit there are no stupid notes.

Explained why Scrivener is brilliant … but no use to me.

Defended soapstars.

Reaffirmed the old maxim: PATRICK STEWART IS ALWAYS RIGHT.

Gave away a (very) small library.

And began using Fade In scriptwriting software because the developer developed it to suit me. Sort of.

DECEMBER

Explained how to think.

Debated the lack of comedy tribute acts.

Explained how to action a note now and undo it in the future.

Expounded my theory on how writers sideline themselves.

Went to see Piers‘ production of Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales. It’s awesome, if you hurry, you’ll catch it too.

Rambled on, at great length about mystery in TV

And rounded off the year by analysing decades old Star Trek films. Because I like to be topical.

—————————————————————————————-

So that was 2011. Wow. I explained lots of stuff, didn’t I? Did you need those things explaining to you or was I just being presumptuous? If the former, you’re welcome. If the latter, sorry.

But onwards and upwards!

What does 2012 hold?

Well, hopefully it holds nothing new.

Or rather, nothing new film-wise.

I’m hoping not to get involved in any more writer-for-hire jobs for a year or so. I really, really want to write some spec stuff, you know, something just for me.

I’ve got one or two commitments to tie up and then I’m going to (hopefully) spend the whole year writing stuff I want to write so I can build up a decent catalogue of spec scripts and venture into pastures new.

I say hopefully because I am easily swayed by money and may end up doing something completely different. Feel free to sway me. I like a good swaying.

How was your 2011? Did you enjoy it? Have you learnt stuff? What will 2012 hold for you?

Whatever happens, have a great New Year and I’ll see you in January.

Categories: Career Path, Future Tense, Industry Musings, LVJ, My Way, Persona, Progress, Publicity, Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard, Software, Someone Else's Way, Stalker, Strippers vs. Werewolves, Things I've Learnt Recently, Writing and life | 2 Comments

Stalker – London Première

Stalker had its London Première last night at the Empire Leicester Square, which is cool.

Even cooler, the film won three awards at Scream Horror Magazine‘s British Horror Film Awards:

Martin Kemp – Best Director

Billy Murray – Best Supporting Actor

Stalker – Best Picture

 

All of which is fantastic news. Congratulations to Billy and everyone else involved for their sterling efforts; but the most praise has to go to Martin Kemp for writing and directing this, his first feature film.

For those who want to know more about last night, there are some photos and a post about the evening over at Shirlie Kemp’s blog.

The film is in selected cinemas this week, I would give you a list; but I haven’t got one. So I’m not. If, however, you happen to live near a cinema where it’s showing, then it’s showing at a cinema near you!

If you don’t, it’s not.

Does that help?

Categories: Stalker | Leave a comment

Stalker trailer and competition

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer for Stalker:

The London gala première is on this Saturday, the 15th October, at Empire Leicester Square. There’s a competition on the Facebook page to win tickets to see the film as Martin Kemp’s guest, including the opportunity to have a drink with Martin before the film.

That’s actually pretty cool and definitely worth entering for four reasons:

  1. Ladies (or men who are so inclined), he’s gorgeous.
  2. Men (or ladies who are so inclined), he’s a really nice bloke.
  3. Scriptwriters (of either gender or persuasion) he runs his own production company, has directed one film and will probably want to do so again.
  4. It’s Martin Kemp! He’s awesome!

The closing date is midnight tomorrow, so … I haven’t really given you enough notice. Sorry. ENTER NOW! GO!

Then come back and watch the trailer again.

Categories: Opportunity, Stalker | Leave a comment

Grimm Up North

Ooh, festival goodness!

Trailer and info here:

Martin Kemp’s Directorial Debut to Screen at Grimm Up North with Exclusive Q+A

Stalker stars Billy Murray, Jane March and Linda Hayden

On Friday October 7th, the festival will host a very special premiere screening of Stalker– the directorial feature debut of TV and music icon Martin Kemp – ahead of its national theatrical release. In addition, the former Eastenders star and Spandau Ballet bass hero will be joined by members of the film’s cast and crew, including producer Jonathan Sothcott (Devil’s Playground, Dead Cert) and actress Jane March (The Lover, Clash of the Titans) to take part in an exclusive Q&A session after the movie.

Sure to be a controversial festival talking point, Stalker is based on the infamous 1976 sex-and-slash shocker – and previously banned ‘video nasty’ – The House on Straw Hill(aka Expose). For 2011, Kemp has reworked this cult gem into a tense, psychological thriller focusing on memory, identity and the creative imagination. Fans of the original might also be interested to hear the movie features Linda Hayden, cult horror actress and star of the seventies chiller, in a supporting role.

Commenting on the film, Producer Jonathan Sothcott said: “Stalker is the slickest, best-directed film we’ve made to date and a genuinely well-made, creepy horror film in its own right. We feel it is strong enough to stand a theatrical release in selected UK cinemas and we’re looking forward to unleashing it on the world.”

The Grimm Up North team are delighted to be able to unveil Stalker as the first entry in its official 2011 programme and look forward to welcoming Director Martin Kemp to the City of Manchester in October. Tickets for this event plus the entire programme will go on sale soon so keep your eyes peeled Grimmlins.

Categories: Festivals, Publicity, Stalker | Leave a comment

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