Archive for January, 2010

I want them alive if possible. If not, wasted!

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

All of a sudden it’s looking like this might have been the first in a series. Because here’s another of  those moments when I’ve been watching a movie and I’ve suddenly stumbled on a line or two I recognise from one of my favourite songs.

[Update 11/04/2014] Original clip was taken down, but here’s the whole damn film, set to kick in at the relevant scene:

I only saw The Warriors for the first time a couple of years ago, not long after I first heard Stanton Warriors’ Stanton Sessions Vol 2.  Both hold a pretty special place in their respective forms.  The former is a seventies cinematic beat-em-up that makes Gangs of New York look like a teddy bears’ picnic, the latter a rich, imposing soundscape of bustling beats and towering vocals, built on a foundation of deep, heart-stopping bass.

This isn’t my favourite version of Track 10, Who Are The Warriors, but it’s still well worth a listen:

Oh, and for anybody wondering what a Stanton Warrior is, the answer comes care of friend and colleague @henryryder:

We go in. We get what we want. We come out.

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Assault On #Plan9

That was me yesterday.

After

And that, there on the left, looking slightly pissed off, is twenty-four hours later.

Nice to know I can shave ten years off myself armed with nothing more than a razor. Not to mention the fact that my good lady wife is prepared to be physically intimate with me again.

I hadn’t shaved since my cousin Max’s funeral back in November. I knew all along I was growing a beard for a reason, I just didn’t know what exactly what that reason was. Turns out it was #Plan9.

I’m going to assume that you’re a regular reader of my blog, and that if you’re not, you know how to follow a link. If you don’t know what Loch Ghoon is, you might want to read this.

The potted version is that late last year I saw a cousin four years my junior exit this world, and about forty-eight hours later decided to adopt a pet film project of his and see it through to fruition. Maybe it was actually just a moment of selfish psychological opportunism, a bid to try and revive my own faltering aspirations as a film-maker, jumpstarted by the shock of his loss. I don’t really know.

But I do know that we’re none of us, however many beards we shave off, getting any younger. And I know Max would have loved what we got up to yesterday, if only the sheer audacity of it. A shoot at one of the best locations in London, a cast of thousands, and it didn’t cost us a bean.

So what the hell is #Plan9? Well, it started life as just a regular Plan B. Driving back from Scotland after New Year, contemplating my spectacular failure to shoot the original Loch Ghoon teaser.

I guess I should have seen it coming, as soon as I settled on the title for this post. Sizemore or no Sizemore, you don’t get to rub it in the faces of the god of indie film-making without rebuke. And sure enough, things started to go awry almost as soon as the imaginary ink was figuratively dry.

With the entire Cairngorms cloaked in snow, and the temperature plummeting, a call came through from Walter. Just a delicate suggestion that we might want to start to rethink any plans to film outside. Or, for that matter, go outside.

If the house was to be our box, we had, at the very least, to think outside of it. I attempted some frantic rewrites, but quickly ran into trouble. It’s one thing for your protagonist to encounter an ancient amphibian aggressor lurking on the banks of a small Scottish loch. I found myself struggling to rationalise the hitherto reclusive creature’s decision to depart the sanctuary of its icebound home, climb several hundred yards up a steep hill, and break into a nearby house, for the sole purpose of molesting its peace-loving inhabitants. Anything I produced seemed to require not so much the suspension of disbelief as its unconditional expulsion.

Loch

Meanwhile, as the flavour of our original script was being diluted thus, it became increasingly apparent that the heroic intentions of our leading man – you may know him under the name of Benny Crime – were in danger of crossing the fine line that divides stoicism and lunacy.

Benny had kindly agreed to take the pivotal role in our original teaser, that of a gentleman thief called The Otter (so named because of his propensity for escaping over water).  His other half, Judy, had subsequently agreed to direct.  Both had committed, in doing so, to driving a small and notoriously erratic car called Colin the length of the country, in order to shoot thirty-six scenes, and then drive all the way back to London.  And all this over the course of just three calendar days.

Oh, and the penalty for failing to get back on time?  No biggie.  Just that they would miss Judy’s mother’s wedding, taking place on New Year’s Eve.

Car

Finally, common sense prevailed.  And thank fuck, because when Emma and I reached the end of our own horrific journey north – the last two hours of which were spent driving blindly into a maelstrom of darkness and snow, punctuated by occasional bursts of bright light and sharp metal – we found a house full of party. Never a bad result, au contraire, but no place for an elaborate and already wildly over-ambitious film shoot.

All of which meant that, coming back down the M1 on January 2nd, the car needlessly burdened with all manner of unused film-making equipment, and my brain going overtime trying to synthesise serotonin from the various chemical constituents of pickled onion Monster Munch, I was feeling a little downbeat about the whole thing.

But you can’t beat yourself up over these things, not too much, not too long. You have to take the regret, the failure, the frustration, and shape it into something worthwhile, something better, something that couldn’t exist if it not for being forged in the fires of your own self-reproach.

So it was that Plan B came into being. Plan B, which swiftly became #Plan9, on account of the extent to which I was starting to identify with a man hailed the worst film-maker of all time – the writer, director and producer of Plan 9 from Outer Space, Ed Wood.

And #Plan9 is better. I’m not going to go into why – the stories you still hope to tell can always keep. I do want to thank the people who helped out though, I guess that’s what this post is building up to, even if it isn’t quite Oscar night.

It’s quite a roll-call. I’m talking @whatleydude, @_AKA_, @ruperthowe and @katiesol, the latter two of whom had volunteered to help without our ever having met in the flesh before. Then there’s @saffront, @scudamour and @skinnertron, all of whom had no reason to be there but for the readiness to help out, and be involved. And of course @bennycrime and @sizemore, even if Mike didn’t technically turn up, in the tediously corporeal sense at least.

And what did we achieve? I guess that remains to be seen. I’ll tell you what it meant to me though.

It meant an original idea getting off the page. Trust me, we’ve got the footage to prove it. It might be awful, but that’s got fuck all to do with it. If you’re like me, if you’ve talked up enough projects and never delivered, nailing a few scenes feels like blowing up the Hoover Dam.

It meant poking a finger through the slippery membrane that constitutes my comfort zone, and finding that I could pretty easily slide my whole body through. It was invigorating, it always is, when you realise that your essential insignificance is the greatest freedom you’ll ever enjoy. Rejuvenating even.

Meaning that, in a building full of things that aren’t getting any younger, I stole back just a day or two.

It’s a start.

Three of the best

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Just what is it that you want to do?

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Posting this because, if you’re anything like me, and you’re discovering this for the first time, it will make the hairs on your neck stand up.

If not, take yourself back nineteen years, and listen to this:

#VHSMovieClub presents… THE THING

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

The Thing - Japanese poster

Yup, #VHSMovieClub is BACK.  This time our venue will be SCOOTERWORKS from around 6PM on the evening of MONDAY JANUARY 25th, bringing you the mother of all creature double-features.

First up we have the original CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954).  This will be followed by the main event – John Carpenter’s THE THING (1982).

Why this particular line-up?  The reason is my cousin, Max Biles, who passed away on the morning of our first #VHSMovieClub get-together, and would have loved this shit.  I’ll elaborate a little on the night, if I’m feeling it.  If not, we’ll just kick back, raise a glass, and watch two of his favourite movies.

For anybody wondering about the venue, you can find it here:

And it looks like this:
Scooterworks

It’s not costing anything to hire, so the only thing you’ll need any money for is the bar. Which is probably for the best, in that many of us won’t have seen a pay cheque for the best part of six weeks.

Try and ping @VHSMovieClub or @ewebber on Twitter if you want to come along, just so we can keep a sense of where we are with numbers. Shouldn’t be an issue though – if last time was anything to go by, we do quality, not quantity.

See you there X

Creature from the Black Lagoon - long poster

UPDATE 07/01/10: I just created a Twtvite.


A-to-Z: My road map for 2010

Monday, January 4th, 2010

A is for AFK – I seem to get some of my best work done when I’m not staring at a screen.  I guess I’m more of a pencil person.

B is for BREAKFAST – The most important meal of the day.  And a chance to get ahead on all the fruit and fibre of which my diet seems to be otherwise totally devoid.  Take my word for it, breakfast is going to be BIG in 2010.  And fibrous.  And, well, rather boring.

C is for CRUNKMy version of Lent, involving a break from all the crap drugs.  You know the ones;  booze; coke; sugar; television.  I’m not damning them outright, they just aren’t my cup of green tea.  Last year I managed 37 days.  As of right now I’m four down and counting.

D is for @danlight – Twitter’s become an outlet through which I waste time and energy trying to validate inconsequential aspects of my life in the eyes of people who likely couldn’t give a shit.  Which would be fine, except that that’s what my blog’s for. Going to try and mix it up a bit on Twitter.

E is for ELECTION – Some of my favourite blog posts (by me, that is) were written about the 2008 US presidential election campaign.  Hopefully I can find some time to conjure a bit of commentary on the ‘compassionate conservative’ clusterfuck we can look forward to in the run-up to May 6th.  Without having to break my leg in two places in the process.

F is for FAMILY – It’s the easiest thing in the world to cite work/writing/whatever-you-fancy as a reason for being an absent or inadequate husband/father/son.  Even worse, you might actually try to convince yourself that it’s more difficult, or more important. It’s not.

G is for graze.com – One of my oldest friends, Tommy P, is one of the founders of graze.com.  Honestly, I didn’t see them surviving the downturn, but they seem to be doing just that.  What’s more, I met a few of the guys behind the business, and they’re an impressive bunch.  Expect good things in 2010.

H is for HELIOPOLISJames Scudamore, another very old friend  – try 30-odd years – published his second novel, Heliopolis, exactly one year ago.  It ha since received considerable critical acclaim, and was long-listed for the Booker Prize.  I still haven’t read it.  (In fairness, it’s not like I read any other novels in 2009.)  This is lame as fuck.  I will read Heliopolis in 2010.

I is for INSHRIACH – The hard-working highland estate owned and managed by our pal Walter.  Just back from spending a truly magnificent few days seeing in the new year, and set to get back up there for one family holiday, three stag weekends and one music festival over the next six months.  Oh, and I want to try and shoot a film there (see L).  Project Inshriach goes from strength to strength.

J is for JUICE – Just don’t drink enough of it.  Cranberry is best, for the kidney win.

K is for kickstarter.com – a clever little site, recognising the amplified power of Internet crowdsourcing as the basis for funding a range of worthwhile endeavours.  Hope to try it out with something, quite possibly…

L is for LOCH GHOON – …a film I’m going to make.  So far I’ve failed spectacularly in almost everything I’ve set out to do.  Fortunately, for as long as I’m only playing with my time or money, that doesn’t really matter.  Expect more spectacular failures in 2010.

M is for MAX – My cousin, who passed away in 2009.  I’m going to honour his memory in the year to come, in a number of ways.  (See L, N and V.)

N is for NORTH DORSET RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB – Max was their Club Captain.  Going to make sure I get a long to a game or two, starting with the home game against joint-leaders of the Southern Counties League, Frome, on January 30th.  Let me know if you fancy it.

O is for ORGANISED – Not very.  Just a bit.  I’m talking a to-do list on a Monday morning, is all.  Meaning that O is also for Optimistic.

P is for PSYCHOTHERAPY – The new vocation Ems has chosen for herself, following almost a decade in corporate public relations.  Her foundation year starts right here, and four years down the line…

Q is for QUALIFICATIONS – …enabling her to practice Psychotherapy in a professional capacity.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about what could come out in the wash along the way, but it feels great that she’s pursuing a vocation that has the potential to play to her real strengths.

R is for RESOLVE – Emma has it.  Once she commits herself to something, she gets the job done.  I’ve always been more of a butterfly, but I don’t beat myself up over it – it has its own advantages.  Between us we both seem to get stuff done.  I guess R is also for Rapport.

S is for SLINGERS SIZZLE – Very keen to see where this ends up, after generating such a huge buzz back in early December.  So I guess S is also for Sizemore and Sleepydog.

T is for TOMMY P – He’s getting married in May.  I figure that gets him his own entry, especially being that I’m best man.  Soon as I’m done with this list, I need to make a start on that speech.

U is for UNSUBSCRIBE – Meaning I don’t care how many of my friends took quizzes this week.  Or what kind of dried fruit you are.  Or what kind of dried fruit I am.

V is for #VHSMovieClub – and the 365 VHS videos I’m going to watch in 2010.  Follow @VHSMovieClub to keep pace, and for details of our occasional outings, the first of which is the Max Biles Memorial #VHSMovieClub taking place at The Scooterworks on January 25th

W is for WILLIAM DESMOND TAYLOR – The subject of the most grown-up thing I’ve ever attempted.  Watch this space.

X is for EXERCISE – kind of.  Because I’m going to start taking regular exercise. Kind of.  It starts with getting back on a climbing wall.  Reckon my leg is back where it needs to be, and I can probably squeeze a spare evening out of the week, especially during Crunk.  Probably Thursdays at The Castle in Green Lanes, if anybody fancies it.

Y is for WHY NOT? – It’s a much better question than ‘Why?’  For someone who’s supposed to be creative, I think my mind is sometimes far too closed to the more challenging ideas of the people around me.  Need to fix that.

Z is for ZZZ – Every aspect of my life seems to be improved off the back of a good night’s sleep.  It’s effortless, enjoyable, and a great way to experience the extraordinary imaginative energy and latent creativity of the human mind.   Speaking of which, I fancy a kip.  See you in 2011.