Saturday 30th October 2010
John Simm was absolutely brilliant in Hamlet. The moment when he brought the skull up in the graveyard scene and paused before the line was sublime. He had the whole audience in the palm of his hand at that moment, as if an invisible camera tracked into close up. While talking about that scene later in the bar with John and Marc it occurred to me that the scene in the graveyard in Boston Kickout with Ray and Phil had been subconsciously influenced by that scene in Hamlet.
When I got back to London, a text from Soren appeared. The defect in the sync of the DCP had been corrected with 5 days to spare. I couldn’t check it so instead I delivered it the next day. The following Saturday – the 9th – would be the moment of truth. Frederica from Raindance gave me the contact of the head projectionist at the Apollo cinema. I left him many messages but he didn’t return my call on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
On Tuesday I saw a whole load of films at the festival including “Freight” by my friend Stuart St. Paul. John Hakalax, a crazy Finnish guy I know was also in town and I spent some time with him. I saw about two per day from Tuesday to Friday to catch up for what I’d missed the previous week.
On Thursday Jonnie got an e-mail from Marbella asking where the print with the subtitles was? It had been sent the week before but somehow had not arrived. They threatened to cancel the film. I sprung into action again and called Mac, the festival director, on his mobile to sort it out.
The Saturday screening was packed out despite the lack of take-up from the UK press. There were many familiar faces in the audience but not Pete Stevenson though. It was the first time Jonnie, Julie, Marc and I were at the same screening. In the Q&A afterwards, the first time I met both Julie and Marc were discussed with much hilarity. Afterwards a good many people sought me out to offer their complements and download their emotions. It was pleasant but the spectre of not being in competition hung over me a bit.
Afterwards many of us went to the Phoenix bar. Dougal was a riot. Grace danced on a chair. Marc spent time talking to Julie – as they didn’t have a scene together it was their first proper opportunity to get to know each other. Straight after, thanks to a postponement the previous night, I had to watch the Japanese GP qualifying at 2 am and then the race at 4am. Come Sunday I was absolutely exhausted – something I barely recovered from until last week.
The Sunday screening was poorly attended; only about 25 people, a couple of which were familiar faces. For an investor who saw it for the first time, the ending was devastating. Rather than wait around for the awards ceremony, I went home to pack for Marbella and try and get some sleep. As we were not in competition, we couldn’t win. Jonnie texted me details. I had hoped, like him, that there would have been some miraculous act of God and he lifted a prize - but it was not to be. The film that won the Micro-budget category (“Macho”) had a budget three times our own and was mainly set in one apartment. It was a good and truthful film (I saw it and praised the director for his honesty) but if we had been in competition, I truly believe that we would have won.
But we weren’t. Marbella though, was a different story…
The day after getting back from winning Marbella, I talked to Steve Norris who congratulated us on the award. He also told me that he had spoken to Pete Stevenson and that Pete had been ill while the Raindance screenings had been on.
The next day, talking again to Jonnie, I had a “road to Damascus” style revelation. I feel now that we need to show distributors that there is an audience for the film. Because, thus far, if people actually have the chance to see it, the vast majority love it and (if Marbella is anything to go by) that goes for people from all round the world. Grace and Yoram have since taken up the banner by instigating a facebook campaign.
The last two weeks have been dedicated to catching up on things, following up with distributors who are still to respond to the film either way and also chasing up Caroline (about a new trailer for the film) and Rhys (who still hasn’t actually delivered the completed master of the doc). It transpires with the doc that there were phasing problems on the lay-down to tape. I only discovered this last week. Aggh!
On Monday the BIFA nominations for this year are announced. On Tuesday I will see Jonnie to do some admin etc.
Saturday 27th November 2010
The month started with the failure to secure a nomination for the Bifa’s. I seriously believed that we had a chance for one in the category of the “Best achievement in Production”. What we’ve done on DEP considering how much money we’ve had is a colossal achievement - but it wasn’t recognised. Jonnie texted me the “You are never a prophet in your own land” quote that I know all too well. I had really set my heart on this and was encouraged to think it was likely. In years past it would get a nomination hands down.
Over the next week, many people told me that the nominations are rigged towards films that have distributors willing to buy a table at the gala event and that I shouldn’t feel it is a failure. I don’t want to believe that was the case.
Later this month I saw “Monsters”, one of the nominee’s. It’s very hard to find out a true figure on how much a film costs. People lie all too frequently for different reasons. In the press they are talking about a figure ten times our budget. In private conversations I have heard a figure three times our budget. In either event the film is an amazing achievement and - hand on heart - I must say a more deserving film for best achievement in production than DEP. Like our film, it is road film. Instead of a crew of twelve it had a crew of just four. Rather than travel across two countries, it travelled across four. The director (a CGI expert) took the DoP and the Designer credits as well. As much of the backgrounds were also created by him on a computer the latter is only fitting.
On Tuesday 2nd I saw Jonnie to go through the accounts and admin etc. I haven’t seen him since as he has been in “a nightmare” working on a Zombie film. Jonnie had done the huge application form last month and I sent everything in to the DCMS this month. Presently I am trying to sort out some perceived formatting problems with the final accounts.
On the 4th I had an express lunch with Julie, the time having been eroded by John Last who had wanted to see her beforehand! Apparently she will be back again early next month.
My film “Boston Kickout” returned to me from its international licenses a couple of months ago and this month I have placed it with a new sales agent. It means that I have to re-deliver the film which is a good bit of work that thus far I have only dented. Two doors for distribution of DEP closed this month but strangely two have opened. I have been saying it for months, but I really feel we need to place it somewhere soon.
The best thing that happened to me this month, was while on a bus on my way home from a Bafta screening, someone from Marbella called me out of the blue on my mobile and said “I’ve decided I want to put some money into your next film.” For a film-maker, that is the sweetest line anyone can whisper to you.
Of the many Bafta qualifying films I have seen this month, by far “Biutiful” is the one that stands out. Javier Bardem is brilliant in it. The world created within it is amazingly striking.
Having finally completed my reading of Stendahl this month, I am now back on Thomas Mann. Over the festive break I plan to read the mammoth “Joseph and his Brothers”.
Friday 31st December 2010
I was right about “Monsters”. It won the award for best achievement in Production at the annual BIFA’s.
I am still working on deliverables for “Boston Kickout.” The formatting of the 15 year old dialogue list is my greatest bane. I am now three quarters of the way through.
On the 8th Roger bought me lunch. I hadn’t seen him for a while. On the 9th I met the director of the Southend Film Festival who offered DEP a screening at the festival in April. As Seanne was born in Southend, I texted her immediately saying that she should definitely attend. A second UK festival at last!
The final DCMS application has been as difficult as the interim one. Like before there is an interaction that is necessary rather than a blind submitting of the documents. Both Jonnie and I need to provide proof of nationality and residence. I have done mine. Jonnie will do his in early January.
I have not been able to see Caroline to work on the new trailer for two months now as she has been busy but at last, I am due to see her early in the new year.
There has been no movement on UK distribution but for International Sales there has been a significant sea change. Earlier this month I negotiated a deal in principal with a UK based Sales Agent that we would have to take or leave at the end of January if it was to bare fruit. On the 20th, I got an unexpected call from a Spain based Sales Agent who had heard about the film as a consequence of our Marbella triumph - the win that Stéphy predicted would “change everything”. He wanted to meet in Mayfair on the day before Christmas Eve. In the meeting he said he had seen the first half of the film and liked it. Apparently the DVD he had didn’t play beyond that point. I hurriedly arranged a screening of the second half later the same day. After the screening we talked about the rudiments of a deal.
Next day, a freak accident occurred and the Ganesh elephant statue that Williams had given Jonnie as a peace offering (and that I inherited when Jonnie moved country) was accidentally displaced from its perch and smashed to pieces. I’ve never really considered it my Ganesh. It was not given to me personally by either Williams or Jonnie. I do have a little one, though, that I was given by a kindly old man in Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu. It’s been beside my desk since 2003.
As I’m always one for signs, I immediately texted Jonnie saying “maybe this is a good omen”. Its timing was impeccable considering the prevalent deals. Some people have suggested to me that there is a cloud hanging over the film somehow because of Williams’ and Jonnie’s contretemps way back in 2007. Could the destruction of the token signal the end of this cloud?
Over the past week I corresponded with the Spain based Sales Agent until we had all the deal terms. On Wednesday I called Jonnie and we talked through the two alternative deals.
I hope to be able to announce that we have signed an international sales deal next month. I am presently awaiting a contract. If we sign in January that will be a big part of the burden shifted leaving us just the debt management and UK territory to worry about.
With me spending Xmas in the UK and no long haul flights to eat up the pages, I am just over half way through “Joseph and his Brothers” back in the real world it may take another two weeks to finish.
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