Thanks to the financial support of 150 people – and the moral support of countless more – we went to Cannes, we did some deals, we return with an international sales agent for the Zomblogalypse movie (or movies) and some potential deals for Whoops! and Amber. We are happy.
Cannes is a great experience but despite the glitz and swagger that you may associate with the name, it’s really just a (mostly) sunny place to talk to people and make friends and deals that could shape your film career.
So without further (we didn’t get into the press screening of Much) Ado (About Nothing), here are ten things I noticed while I was out there.
1. It’s vital to learn all aspects of the film industry. Whether you’re creative or business-minded, the bigger picture – and your place in it – is essential to understand.
2. Thanks to the Digital Film Library, I have a newfound love of short films. So many ideas and styles and it’s inspiring to dip into over two thousand films and try to select about one percent of them that you might enjoy. The ones with the best-written blurbs and eye-catching posters stood out the most. It’s a good lesson in marketing for filmmakers everywhere.
3. Cannes has its share of loud, obnoxious, swaggering people but we noticed it’s mostly the quiet ones doing the deals. The best ones played it down.
4. My boredom threshold for parties is approximately one hour. Free booze, however, is nice.
5. Panamanian filmmakers are much more welcoming and friendly than British ones. Plus you get free hats.
6. Some people will genuinely wish you well and share in the joy of your journey. Treasure those people.
7. Being 20 feet away from Marion Cotillard with no-one in between you is a lot more exciting when you realise the day after who it was.
8. Always be nice. Get on with people and forge new working friendships.
9. Believe in your work, be realistic and find the best deal. Compromise but don’t sell out, have a solid grasp of what you’re selling and pick the most fitting people to work with, people who share your vision.
10. Never give up. Even if you start small, think big and work hard. Amaze yourself, worry less about amazing others.
So that was our Cannes 2013. Coming soon: deals, news and a new phase of filmmaking in York. You can catch up with our adventures in Cannes over at One&Other where we blogged the hell out of the whole experience.
We attended an event by new initiative Proudly In York last night.
I’m very wary of backslapping/networking events in general as there are too many of them but this is the exact opposite; full and enthusiastic support from the local community, a chance to meet other creatives and celebrate the diversity and ambition of the arts and culture of York and its people as we look toward the future.
A few of us gave speeches and I was one of them. I wanted to express how important a sense of community has been to us in our filmmaking.
Here’s that speech. I meant every word and I’m excited about what the future may bring:
We started making films when we were kids and thankfully, that spark of excitement has never gone away. Filmmakers are often asked, ‘Why don’t you go to London?’ in order to get a film career going. We’ve known people who have gone there and either been absorbed into corporate work, been generally overwhelmed or come back because they didn’t get the support or sense of community that you get in somewhere like York. Rather than seeing this as not being able to hack it in the big city, I’ve always seen it as trying to develop York as a filmmaking city rather than run away from it because it was ‘a bit quiet.’
There’s much talk in small towns about being a big fish in a small pond and I’ve always hated that expression; that’s not a reason to stay in York and is a very cynical outlook, as if we all want to be megastars or something, idolised by the ‘little people.’ What Proudly and One & Other represent is the evolution of the idea of community; it’s not even ‘Yorkshire pride’ which is another phrase I’m uncomfortable with. It’s about a particular place and the people who happen to live in it or are drawn to it, the people who try and evolve the arts and culture of that place… and this is just about the most exciting time to live here.
What Proudly stands for, I think, is looking around and noticing & appreciating the immense talent, skill and industry that exists in York. In filmmaking terms, it was very important for us to break out of that provincial ‘small pond’ view and start getting our films into international festivals but remaining very much a part of the York film community and encouraging new filmmaking talent, so that film students leaving Uni don’t graduate asking, ‘So… what the hell do I do now?’ York is a very attractive city for filmmakers, not just aesthetically but for ease of filming and friendliness of locals.
MilesTone Films have two features coming out this year, both made in York, and we’re off to Cannes in May to prep for another – also to be filmed in York and which we hope will bring money and industry into the city – and it’s largely due to York people and York talent that the industry has sat up and started taking notice of our little town.
We want to evolve the York filmmaking scene so that the industry can thrive and grow. It’s not about taking all the gold and buggering off to Hollywood, it’s about bringing something back to a community that has nurtured and supported us and many others. It’s a privilege to be here, now, in this town amongst such creative people, and we thank Proudly for recognising and bringing together all this talent and representing the true meaning of community.
Hello! This is a very special blog entry that’s also a plea for support like you’ve never given before.
Actually that’s not true; you’ve all given maximum support over the years and that’s why we’re at this stage: MAKING THE ZOMBLOGALYPSE MOVIE!
I can’t tell you how excited I am and what a dream this is, but I’ll try, without sounding like an Oscar recipient.
Making this film represents a lot of things: The culmination of years of toil to get the kind of recognition and budgets we need to make films in the way we want but with the degree of independence and ferocity of spirit that we greatly treasure; to make the kind of big, funny, exciting films that we grew up loving; to give our friends and colleagues in the York Film Community the film work they deserve after years of working on low and no-budget films… and so many other things.
The film will create money and industry in York & Yorkshire, something that we sorely need in these troubled times. There may not be a real zombie apocalypse but we shall fight with the Dunkirk spirit to make sure the future is bright, not bleak and mouldy!
For me personally, the Zomblogalypse movie is something for which we planted the seed almost five years ago: a big, bold, British, balls-out slice of entertainment that encapsulates the spirit of three friends with a comically bleak world view: we may all be going to Hell in a shopping trolley, but by GUM we’re going to have fun doing it!
We have started making this film for no money: writing the script, filming a funding campaign, starting talks with the crew. We aim to continue making the film with your help and your money – for which there are many treats including being in the film and coming to the premiere – then going to Cannes to do the deals necessary to get this film into production.
If you’re from York, this film is going to be a fun and exciting part of our lives for the next year and we hope you feel the same way. If you’re from outside York, we aim to serve you up a sparkling piece of cinema you’ll never forget.
PLEASE HELP in any way that you can and become part of filmmaking history:
- SHARE the above banner/change your Facebook image for the month…
- DONATE as much as you can in exchange for some truly fun perks… (click that link to see our IndieGoGo campaign including a new episode, concept art, videos and tons of fun stuff)
- RECOMMEND the series at ZOMBLOGALYPSE.COM to your friends, family, cousins, enemies and pets…
- SHARE, PIMP, TWEET and WHORE the Zomblog movie around the internet like you’ve never whored before!
We’re truly grateful for every sliver of help, money and support you can throw our way, and we’ll repay you by throwing ourselves into this film to make it a huge, cinematic experience you’ll never forget. This means a lot to us, hopefully something to you, and even more perhaps to York and the indie filmmaking community.
Post production on a feature film looks something like this.
And that’s in the later stages. It’s a lot of leisurely weeks of co-ordinating the various departments of editing, sound, music, picture grading and so forth.
It’s all far from the panic of shooting the film and haemorrhaging money, blood and energy but it’s not without its stresses and strains. At this point the cast and crew (and money) have long since left the production… and everyone else starts asking when the film is coming out.
A feature usually takes at least six months of post production, especially if there are only a few unpaid or underpaid people carrying it out. Even if you’re a fast editor, there are the inevitable rough screenings, tweaks, meetings, more tweaks and file sharing galore.
With Whoops! there are also some FX shots that involve painstaking CGI and image correction. You know, that thing with the wireframes that looks really boring in Making Ofs but its essential to ‘rescue’ shots or add elements that you didn’t or couldn’t film.
We have another couple of months of this process and it involves all of the above: lists, phone calls, email and Dropbox. Pretty amazing that filmmakers can send files whooshing about in cyberspace when they used to have to courier cans of film across the country/World. One of our guys is working from Miami Beach, which is less glamourous than it sounds.
The list of stuff to do grows ever shorter. The film is now being finished from the comfort of our own offices and bedrooms. It’s so important at this vital stage to remain focused and not lose momentum. Eyes on the prize, the summit, whatever you want to call it.
We may have been working on the film now for about 18 months but our enthusiasm for it has never dwindled. The reward for all this work is a film we can be proud of.
Now, back to that list…
We’ve just signed off our next feature film. I say signed off, we’ll probably still tinker with it until the last minute. But Amber is done.
It’s been a long journey only in the sense that feature films always are. From the start to end of the process is usually about two years and it has been in Amber‘s case.
The film was shot in April 2011; pick ups were in May 2012 and final pick ups November 2012. This is mainly because it was a leisurely shoot and we didn’t intend to release it until we were done with it. The middle needed to be longer; it needed an opening credits sequence and so forth, and we learned this over the course of putting it all together from the improvised material.
We had no intention of rushing Amber to deadline as we had to with CrimeFighters; Amber is a small, personal film made on even less of a budget.
Even soon, when we release the film to festivals, the film will only ever be 99.9% complete in our minds, as we could tinker with it for years, but one way or another now we are done, and the sense of immense satisfaction has led, as it does, to thinking about why we make films. After all, it is a lot of planning, wrestling something into reality, enduring the weather, poverty, self-doubt, obscurity and all the other lovely things that come with the self-created job of indie filmmaker.
Yet somehow we keep doing it. And finishing a feature highlights why. It’s easy to get caught up in the business side of it all: YouTube view counts and Facebook fan numbers and Twitter followers – and the modern filmmaker has to be aware of the importance of doing all this – but amid the often obsessive focus on all these things, it’s easy to forget that they are not the work itself. It’s a little distracting sometimes, which is why finishing a film is a wonderful feeling.
A film’s marketing is not the film; neither is the ‘making of’ or anything we say about it: the film is the film. This sounds obvious but it’s something we ourselves need to remember with some regularity. Amber is about people, their lives and frustrations and seemingly small and petty trials & tribulations. It comes from somewhere we’ve all been. Yes, it only cost a couple of grand but everyone involved is proud of it and can’t wait to get it into festivals and to the viewing public, so hopefully they can also experience the joy of involving themselves in a film.
That time is nearly upon us and we intend to enjoy whatever it brings. A friend of mine who’s just had a baby said recently, ‘I imagine finishing a film is like giving birth; you forget all the bad stuff.’
Not knowing what it’s like to have a baby – and I’ll probably never know unless science does something terrifying in the next 20 years or so – I’ll just have to appreciate the metaphor.
Despite the fact that I can be a snarky depressive, it has been remarked by fellow filmmakers over the years that I am rather a cheerful soul. One guy even said I had a ‘Mickey Mouse’ cheerfulness about life. He meant it as a backhanded compliment, I think, because cheerfulness don’t pay the bills, do it.
His veiled point was that I am an optimist. Because when you’re depressive, being anything other than optimistic is a fatal wander down the wrong country lane, if truth be told. But we live and learn. Those close to me will know that the main thing I enjoy moaning and being negative about is negative moaners. After years of being like that myself in my twenties, I’m totally allergic to it now.
Look, a pretty picture I took today. Very keen to see Spring this year… Anyway…
Filmmaking. Optimism and filmmaking, that’s what this blog is about. When we at MilesTone semi-seriously decided to start making films, a few years ago, we had the lofty goal of making one feature and showing it to our mates at the local cinema. Afterwards, I don’t know what we expected to happen but we knew it wouldn’t be a Robert Rodriguez-style storming of Hollywood.
That myth, the ‘I’ll make a feature when I’m 23 (or at least 26 like what Orson Welles did with that Kane film) and it’ll get shown in a major festival and I’ll be off on my film career’ is a persistent one; both ridiculously ambitious and unlikely AND YET strangely more possible now that anyone can make a film. But I’ll come to that.
The main reason it’s unlikely is because MOST filmmakers (and I’m excluding Spielberg, Lucas, Tarantino, Edgar Wright and Rodriguez) aren’t born knowing what they want to do or how to do it, and it takes them a long time to learn how filmmaking works, and more importantly HOW NOT TO SUCK AT IT. I wasn’t an early bloomer in that regard and I of course envy those who are.
Most people’s early efforts are something like this but less hilarious (and this has ended up making Tommy Wiseau a bit of cash, so you never know):
But an important thing I’ve learned is that slow progress, rather than attempting to be some kind of teenage genius (which again I wasn’t), is probably a good approach for most filmmakers; learning technique at the same time as you’re learning about marketing and that kind of stuff.
The films I’ve made have only really progressed in scale and style (I hope) because of the vomitously talented people I’ve surrounded myself with and the things I’ve learned by trial and error.
Bottom line: I know there’s a spark of heartfelt entertainment at the centre of everything we make and a desire to make people laugh and cry, so that we’re always proud of the final film and how hard we worked to make it. Real ‘laughs round the campfire’ type moments. Oh how we’ve comically wiped tears from our eyes…
(THINK that’s the context of this photo)
The reason I bring up filmmaking careers a lot lately is because we’re in the process of learning so much about what it takes to have one. The first time someone asks you to write a script for them feels magical. The first time you charge someone for your screenwriting services is a bit special and then when you start getting paid to make a feature, you can start to see how this whole ‘career’ thing might work.
(This entire documentary should be mandatory viewing for every filmmaker.)
The next step, one which we’re taking with Amber, Whoops! and the Zomblogalypse movie, is to learn what to do with a finished film. Because the most important thing I would advise anyone on concerning making a film is FINISH IT. Finish that screenplay, finish that edit, finish that post production. And while you’re doing that, learn how the indie film market works. Meet Producers. Pitch stuff. Chat. Pick up hints and tips.
This blog about how to maintain an indie film career and this clip more eloquently explain what I’m talking about:
If I had the experience to teach a filmmaking course, I wouldn’t teach all that ‘Long Shot, Mid Shot’ stuff first, I would teach people to learn how to write, draft and finish a screenplay – one that had something to say – and then send them out with a cheap camera to film it. And then I’d make them finish the edit and deliver the film to SOMEONE, be it a tutor or a festival or a Producer or a bunch of mates. And then I’d tell them to take that experience and move on, make something else but do it better. And so forth.
I know a lot of talented young (and some older) filmmakers and I’m genuinely excited to see what we all come up with over the next few years. We’re ALL still learning and I hope that sense of development and improvement never ends. It’s not about who gets there first or who does better than the rest (although we’re a naturally competitive lot), it’s about sharing and improving skills, building film careers AND ENJOYING THE JOURNEY.
It’s about LOVING EACH OTHER, MAAAAAN. Okay I went too far. Shut up and make some films. And it doesn’t matter if you’re 23, 30 or bloody 45. Just get filming.
I wrote this 3 years ago. It hasn’t changed.
After much deliberation (not that much actually, more like a bored fifteen minutes) I picked 10 films that for one reason or another I adore more than most. And here they are.
10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Or ESOTSM if you’re a fan of brevity. A staggeringly close to the bone portrayal of why people love and hate each other, and get together and don’t. Visually amazing and emotionally shattering, this is what cinema was made for and possibly the most astute and honest film about relationships, since you see all the good and bad points unglamorously presented for our joy and horror.
The best way I can put it is that this film feels like a relationship. And it bloody hurts.
9. Blade Runner
I was obsessed with this film as a kid, and back then we only had a crummy VHS copy with the voiceover (which some still prefer) but I didn’t see this on the big screen until 2000, unbelievably, and it had such an effect on me that I left the cinema thinking I’d seen a new film. The same thing happened in 2007 with the Final Cut version which was just staggeringly beautiful.
A complex visual feast, this was also one of the most notoriously awful shoots in film history, and a complete flop at the cinema in 1982, but in the 28 years since it has more than earned its legendary status as a film of beauty and quality, and a film that seems to change every time you see it, with more to notice each time and food for thought on just what it means to be human. Believing that Deckard is a non-human replicant is just the start; whether he is or isn’t, what does that mean? I can’t think of many sci-fi action films with this much philosophical heart and soul. Or another film in which Ridley Scott was this much of a genius.
8. Raiders of the Lost Ark
Oh look, it’s Uncle Harrison again. This is one of the reasons I love films and filmmaking. Admittedly I saw Temple of Doom in the cinema before I saw this on video, but the whole rumpled adventurer thing caught my attention and so did the Making Ofs that kept being on TV. I wanted not only to be the hero (we made our own Indy film on Super 8 when I was 10) but also the director, stunt guy and storyboard artist. So, a holistic experience, this one! As you can probably already tell, Ford, Lucas and Spielberg were my childhood heroes. Not so much now, but I’ll never forget their early influence on me.
7. Edward Scissorhands
I’m such a sucker for this film, it gets me every time. It helped that I saw this first when I was a shy, lonely, awkward 17 year old (instead of an all of the above 35 year old), but what gets me about this film apart from the emotional whallop is the production design & cinematography (Bo Welch, Stefan Czapsky) and the music (Elfman). It’s just one of the best looking, best sounding films I’ve ever seen. Burton’s best work. In fact just a downright masterpiece.
My favourite bit is when it all goes horribly wrong for Edward, because I’m an emotional masochist (or maybe just emo?). So when Winona says, ‘Hold me’ and Edward replies, ‘I can’t', followed by their hug (see picture) and the subsequent scene in which the Inventor dies and Edward’s human hands are destroyed forever… I’m a wreck. A happy wreck.
6. It’s a Wonderful Life
People get sick of the mention of this film at Christmas, as it’s very bittersweet and never goes away, BUT this isn’t by any means a ‘Feelgood Film’. This is the classic example of a film that seems to change as you do, so that it’s always relevant to your life. It’s the story of a man who has big hopes and dreams but never fulfils them, I mean that’s depressing right? Not only that, but he resorts to shouting at his kids’ teacher, his wife and children, and smashing up his lounge on Christmas Eve, then trying to commit fucking suicide! ‘Feelgood’? NO.
BUT… the whole point of the film is that people get discouraged. Your hopes and dreams, if you don’t fulfil them, can drive you to the brink of despair and misery. I’m sure we all know this. Ok, still depressing. But then comes the heart and soul of the film; your friends want you to do well, but they love you for who you are and what you mean to them, not what you’ve achieved. And by the end of the film, George Bailey really is the richest man in town. He may not have built skyscrapers and bridges but he’s housed and cared for an entire community who love him for it. The moral is, if you’ve got good friends, you’re one lucky son of a bitch, so appreciate them. It’s a point of view I happen to subscribe to.
The moment where George’s little brother arrives at the end absolutely kills me. Every time.
“You just have to have a little faith in people”. It’s hard to say much about this film without sounding like every other review ever written about it, so I’ll focus on the last three scenes where Woody sits down to list all the things that make life worth living, and lasts about two minutes before mentioning the girl he let go… and then he sprints about fifty blocks through New York to reach her before she can escape, only to have a very sobering yet heartwarming conversation in which 18-year old Mariel Hemingway manages to say the most wise and insightful thing in the whole film. And that last shot of Woody’s smile as he gets it is just magical.
Much imitated but never equalled, this is a truly complete film with incisive, witty comedy, comments on love and relationships, THE most beautiful black and white cinematography, and the George Gershwin soundtrack is the icing on the caaaake.
4. The Empire Strikes Back
Yes, so I do admit to having had a little man crush on Harrison Ford when I was a kid. Here he is again for the third and (nearly) final time
Star Wars started it all, but this is the best thing that ever came from Lucas’ space epic. Contender for the best music score ever, too. Han and Leia bantering and snogging, C-3P0 a genuinely hilarious comedy sidekick, Yoda, Cloud City, “I love you” – “I know”, a sweeping sense of impending doom throughout, this is the Act II that everyone can’t help copying. Visually the best of the Star Wars films too, with that amazingly exciting asteroid chase, and the fight between Luke and Vader is still my favourite set piece in the whole saga. The prequels aren’t fit to lick Empire’s saber.
3. Back to the Future
It was 1985. I was 11, it was a cold November, and I left the cinema having seen Back to the Future. I was a changed man/boy. Ok, so this is pure entertainment, nothing deep or arty, but it’s just so fucking COOL and memorable that it’s been in my Top Ten ever since. I love the look, the sound, the feel of it. And this was another troubled production, with Michael J. Fox replacing Eric Stoltz at the last minute, filming this and Family Ties back-to-back for 3 months and nearly dying of exhaustion in the process.
But Mr. Fox, it was so worth it. This Capra-esque comedy is the one everyone wants to copy; small town, young hero, sci-fi twist, being fancied by your mother… hmm, no wonder Disney and about 10 other studios turned it down. Boasts the most nail-biting finale as well. Kudos to Alan Silvestri and a big bolt of lightning.
WOOHOO! Who doesn’t love this one? Not only is it the most quotable, entertaining comedy ever, the effects are awesome and the monsters are great and it’s actually SCARY! At least when I was 10 and went to see it at the cinema four times (explains a lot, doesn’t it) it scared the shite out of the audience.
Not to mention that, as a filmmaker, this has been the biggest influence on everything I’ve ever made, from BandWagons to Zomblog to CrimeFighters. Ghostbusters is so entertaining on every level; another tightly-scripted, beautifully performed and executed blockbuster made by comedy pros, that delivers the goods even if you’ve seen it 200 times which I probably have by now. Wasn’t sure about the sequel, and even more not sure about Ghostbusters 3, but we shall see…
AND HERE’S MY TOP FILM EVER WHICH I KNOW MAKES ME A BIG SOPPY SAP:
1. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
This film is my first ever cinema memory, maybe that’s why it’s so special. 1982, queues round the block, not being able to leave for twenty minutes afterwards because my big sis was a complete snotty mess, going down the woods on my bike immediately afterwards, collecting the Figurine Panini stickers… yes, this one links me with my childhood like nothing else.
This serves as a kind of ‘Best of Spielberg’ too; lonely central character from broken home, friendly alien, lights and beams all over the shop (Allen Daviau was the DP on this one and still my favourite work of any Director of Photography), John Williams’ best score, the list goes on and on. Spielberg laments sometimes that this film is seen as a ‘hamburger served to the World’ when actually it’s his most personal, small, heartfelt movie yet. The iconic moment where the bicycle soars across the moon still gives me goosebumps.
And as for that moment where I totally lose it (there’s one in nearly every film on this list), how about the moment where they hug goodbye? So much said with no actual words, like in Lost In Translation; a friendship that means as much to you as you want it to.
Also, Harrison Ford was actually in this film but they cut his scene. Fact.
So there we have it, and I am aware that I am very much a child of the 80s and that these films are pretty much all big American blockbusters, but this is genuinely my Top Ten… for now, but probably for a long time. And hey, there’s one French and one British director on there Hope you enjoyed. Let’s see yours now!
After some initial apathy I watched Frankenweenie, Tim Burton’s latest, last night.
I was apathetic because – despite a couple of recent minor classics – Sweeney Todd and Big Fish – Burton’s output has been patchy for the last decade or so. His adaptations of children’s literature, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and Alice In Wonderland, and his own Corpse Bride, were weirdly commercial, heartless and lacklustre, lacking the magic touch of the more assured Burton of my youth.
When I was getting seriously into films and the idea of being a filmmaker, I went to see Beetlejuice, aged fourteen (my first underage cinematic transgression in 1988.) I was blown away by the amazing visuals, Danny Elfman’s music and the degree of originality and PERSONALITY Burton exuded in only his second feature.
In the years to come we’d get two great Batman movies, the stop-motion genius of The Nightmare Before Christmas, the kooky, funny Ed Wood, the Hammer-esque Sleepy Hollow and Burton’s undisputed masterpiece Edward Scissorhands and I’d continue to be influenced by Burton; as a misfit in a small town, a fantasist, an admirer of cemeteries and slightly weird girls… and later as a filmmaker. My own feature CrimeFighters has many nods to early Burton.
I admired Tim Burton greatly because these films were his persona writ large: a blend of queasy American suburbia, misfit geek boy fantasy and celebrations of cinematic style from F.W. Murnau and Fritz Lang to Ed Wood and Alfred Hitchcock. Burton could do no wrong as far as this misfit geek boy was concerned.
Then in the 90s, Burton had a couple of misfires with Planet of the Apes, which strayed way too far from Burton’s sensibilities and Mars Attacks!, which didn’t but was essentially a series of set pieces in which flashy guest stars got blown up by Martians, albeit amusingly and with some great Burton flourishes…
So when Burton announced he was making a stop-motion feature version of his short live action film Frankenweenie, included as an extra on the DVD for The Nightmare Before Christmas, I did find myself thinking that the director might have taken one too many trips to the well; perhaps he was jaded by the high profile fairy tales and wanted to revisit something safe, something he’d already made. After all, his previous film Dark Shadows was disappointing on almost every level and felt tired and predictable.
I was delighted when Frankenweenie turned out to be Burton’s best work in years.
Part Burton retrospective, part autobiography, part homage to the magic of cinema, Frankenweenie is the kind of film you’ve seen before and can probably predict to some degree: boy called Victor Frankenstein loses dog, boy discovers the wonders of lightning in his science class… you know the rest.
But it’s in the details where Frankenweenie ascends predictability and becomes a modern Burton classic. Lovingly rendered, Victor’s world is a warmer version of Edward Scissorhands‘ bungalow-strewn suburbia. Obvious references to classic Hammer films are painted in broad strokes but it’s all done so charmingly that the ride is never dull or anything less than magical.
In fact it’s the magic of cinema that comes to the fore, from Victor’s screening of his 8mm masterpiece to his parents – a wry nod to Burton’s own sophomoric cinematic efforts, no doubt – and knowing references to classic black and white Hollywood and 50s B monster movies, to the overall message that true-hearted friendship conquers all.
Plus it has one of Elfman’s most thrilling scores to date:
It’s easy to write Burton off as a man who falls victim to his own tropes – always casts his wife and Johnny Depp, always uses Elfman’s choppy scores, puts candy stripes on everything – but Frankenweenie feels simultaneously like a reminder of classic Burton (no Depp and Bonham Carter in sight, incidentally, but there is the welcome return of Winona Ryder, albeit in voice only) and a reminder of why I love moviemaking.
Put all those ingredients together and you have perhaps Burton’s most personal film to date and definitely that rare oxymoron: a modern classic.
I was going to write a post about a few things we’ve learned while filmmaking but then I realised the legendary Bruce Campbell, deadite batterer and all round chinny good guy, already said it years ago.
Campbell and Sam Raimi have been an inspiration to many filmmakers I know, and not just horror Directors. Their bare-faced cheek and guts in getting the first Evil Dead film made is the stuff of legend.
These words got me through my early days of screenwriting and trying to figure out how the hell to start making movies, and I really can’t top his wisdom, so without further ado:
‘If you want to be a good writer, don’t IMITATE — be original enough so that, a few years down the line, some poor slob in film school wants to copy YOU.
In other words, don’t get your literary inspiration from TV or movies. Writers should be readers and, most importantly, doers. Go to your library, read the classics, hop a train, hitchhike across America — get off your butt and experience the world!
And, for heaven’s sake, don’t “chase” trends, and don’t write for a budget. Just write a good, solid screenplay, work your fingers to the bone and hey, something just might happen…’
We get asked a lot when our films will be ‘in cinemas’ or ‘on the telly’ (the latter usually while filming them) so I thought I’d demystify the process a little.
With CrimeFighters, we went for the fast turnaround of filming in August 2009 and screening at the Edinburgh Film Festival in June 2010. That’s pretty swift but it was a low budget film that didn’t require… actually it did require a lot of post production, but nothing expensive or complicated, just months of tinkering.
10 months is a rare fast turnaround for a feature though, and it was because we were eager to send the film off into the world that we moved so fast. With our next few features, we’re taking things a little more slowly.
With Amber, although we filmed it in 2011, there was no rush to bring out what is essentially a no-budget arthouse film so we took our time, filmed some extra scenes, tweaked to our heart’s content and plan to send it out into the world early next year. If it does anything at all we’ll be happy because it’s a small, personal film that hardly cost anything to make.
What that means is that if any festivals accept the film, it will do the rounds for a few months, either pick up a distribution deal or not, then probably play in some small, independent cinemas as did CrimeFighters and eventually – possibly in 2014 – appear on DVD.
That’s why the Amber trailer says 2012 and that’s why there’s currently no Whoops! trailer predicting when the film will be out. Trailers and publicity are the kind of thing the eventual distributors of the film will deal with.
Whoops! has a more involved post production phase than our previous films. It needs extra shots filming in February 2013, sound and music work to be finished over the next few months, CGI work on some shots, an edit lock, picture grading the whole film, then submission to several film festivals, a list of which we are currently compiling.
A few people have asked, ‘When do we get to see it?’ and that’s impossible to answer at this stage.
If Whoops! is accepted in film festivals (and we’d like to take it and the prepped Zomblogalypse movie to Cannes in May) it will tour around for a good few months before, like Amber, it gets picked up. After that, the film may appear to paying audiences in cinemas in late 2013 or early 2014, then onto DVD shortly afterwards.
So the short answer (too late) is it may be a year or so before the general public get to see Whoops!; that’s just the way it goes. We won’t be allowed to screen the film to audiences while it’s in festivals, and we want the film to be considered for proper distribution so we must observe this process.
Trust us though. It’ll be worth waiting for…