Tuesday, December 12, 2006


We now have the first 4 pages of the script roughcut. The footage runs for about 15 minutes, so we're averaging about 3 minutes per page at the moment, rather than the traditional 1. Well, balls to tradition. The script for Stalker was apparently only 35 pages long, and the film was 161 minutes, which works out at about 4.5 mins per page. Anyway, it's looking good. We should have a roughcut of the whole film by January.

Monday, November 27, 2006


I spent all of last week at the Mannheim-Heidelberg Film Festival, where Folie had been invited to participate in the Co-Production Meetings. They generally invite projects that are still at script stage, so we were quite lucky to get in. Only one other film, an Italian film called Nemesis, had already been shot. I also spent most of my time there suffering from some sort of flu-like virus, which knocked me out completely for a day.

When not in meetings, I visited Heidelberg and also managed to catch a couple of films: a Turkish film called Times and Winds that used a lot of Arvo Pärt's music, a Swiss film called Stealth, a very low budget Polish film called This is Me Now and a couple of Kieslowski films that I'd never seen before, Short Working Day and The Calm.

Now that I'm back in front of my desk, I'm realising that I still need another few days to recover. Still, we have a lot of interest in the film. Fingers remain devoutly crossed.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Editing Begins

Editing begins this week. Last week was spent getting all the material digitised at Doghouse in Bristol, which was then Fed Exed to our editor Wendy in LA. I'm hoping she can cut a scene by next week in order to have something to show in Mannheim, but I'm not sure whether she'll have enough time to actually finish something by then. We're aiming to get the fine cut done by the end of January, and spend Febuary doing the sound and grading. Our first market screening will probably still be Cannes, where we hope to get a few festival scouts along to watch it...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Movie Poster

The poster. At least for now. Photo by David Hamnett.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Lucas's Photos

Lucas, the character played in the film by Adam Napier, is a photographer. These are some of his pictures, as seen in the film. Photos by and (c) Louise Milne.

Friday, November 03, 2006

William Styron

William Styron, who wrote Sophie's Choice and Darkness Visible, the billiant memoir of depression that we've relied on a lot for Folie, has died. Obit here:


Thank you, William. Sleep well. We'll raise a glass of whisky in your direction.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cry God for Larry!

We wrapped yesterday. More posts will be uploaded once I've found time to re-enter the Pepys Zone (if you know what I mean). Or, to put it another way, once I've found time to do a John Evelyn (another C17th diarist, whose diary actually covers a much greater time span than Pepys).

But for now, a huge thank you to everyone who worked on the film. As Ray so memorably got his lines wrong: 'Cry God for Larry, England and St George!'

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Day 11 - All Hallows

The biggie: the final scene. The morning was taken up with finishing off the hotel room stuff, and then we had to shoot Adam and Sally driving to the beach, which saw our trusty Manfrotto car clamp being used yet again. Rich hit upon the idea of having the B camera taped to the dashboard for some shots, and then taping it to the boot area, facing the windscreen.

The beach scene itself was incredibly difficult to shoot, mainly due to the howling gale that was blowing. The chill factor was almost unbearable, so much so that Rich, who has often worked in just a T shirt, asked for his coat, declaring that he would die if he didn't get it. Someone fetched it for him, and he promptly put his hood up, and stayed in hoodie mode for the rest of the afternoon. I must say, I can't blame him; I was absolutely freezing my knackers off, and had to go and sit in my car while takes were going on (there not being enough room in Adam's car for more than him, Sally, Rich and Stu). Sally was totally frozen, bless her, given that she was only wearing an evening dress. (You'll understand why when you see the film.)

The scene on paper is now only 2 pages long, but Adam, Sally and co-writer Nick and I all knew that, for it to work, it would have to be a 10 minute scene. The first take was precisely that long, and after I'd called cut, Adam got out of the car looking somewhat ashen (maybe it was just the perishing cold), but all he said to me was, 'That was so sad.' I was greatly encouraged by this, as this is precisely the feeling I've always had about this scene. It is incredibly sad. Bresson once said something like 'your film is beginning when your secret desires pass into your models [actors]' - I feel that, with Adam's comment, the film really is achieving itself. This feeling was borne out by a comment Rich made a night or two ago in the hotel bar (or The Regency - my memory gets a tad hazy the later we get into the p.m.), when he said that at some point - I think it was during the hotel scenes - that the penny dropped as to what the film is actually about, and he said that he felt sickened.

Again, I have had the same feelings reading the research books (things like William Styron's Darkness Visible, and Kay Redfield Jamison's Night Falls Fast). What we are ultimately dealing with here is a sickening and inexplicable subject that makes one question almost all of one's values. It's a story that calls everything into question. And again, I think that Bresson was right: the film has now taken on a life of its own, which will hopefully see it through post, and out the other side into festival land.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Day 10

I forgot to add that yesterday's cafe scenes between Lucas and Ogilvy (Adam and Chris) were rehearsed for the final time in the Queenswood bar late on Saturday night in what has come to be dubbed 'The Glenmorangie Rehearsal', in which the scene somehow got better as more refreshment was taken. Quite extraordinary.

Anyway, this morning Rich decided that we needed more bridging shots, so we spent an hour or so shooting Adam and Sally walking around, either together or on their own. After lunch, we started the hotel room scenes, whereby hangs a tail.

I'd envisioned a large hotel room, with that rarity of rarities, a large bathroom. We were going to shoot at the same hotel where we shot Michaels's mother's scene, but their bathrooms proved to be far too small. Will, our tireless production manager, found an alternative on Friday, which we recce'd during the lunch break. This was a lot better, and I had my heart set on it until last night, when Rich suggested over his nightly Magners that we shoot the scenes in his room (Room 10), as he has a decent shower cubicle. A quick recce proved right, so we started the scenes there. The other hotel were a bit pissed off when I called them to blow them out, but fuck it, the Queenswood is a much nicer hotel, with better WCs! (I would say it's one of the best hotels in the whole of Weston; I stayed there on Thursday night, and it was marvellous! And again on Saturday night, in the fabled Room 1, which has a very New England feel to it.) Because of the unscheduled bridging stuff this morning, we're now a little behind schedule, and wrapped at the ungodly hour of 8pm. Most days we've wrapped at 6. Mind you, as feature shoots go, this has largely been a picnic, especially compared to Cornelius Crow. And we have the nightly blessing of the Queenswood bar...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Day 9

Today was potentially the most confusing and demanding day of the shoot, in that it's the one day of the film where we have the most hands on deck, mainly in the shape of extras for the cafe scenes. It was also one of the few scenes to not be shot in sequence, as the main cafe scenes - between Lucas and Ogilvy - happen early on in the film. The reason for this is quite simple: the cafe we were using - the Heritage Coffee House in Wadham Street (does great veggie good!) - is only shut on Sundays, and we couldn't shoot during the week as that would have meant recompensing them for a day's lost trade, which we couldn't afford, and we also couldn't shoot it last Sunday, as Chris (Ogilvy) wasn't available.

Things got off to a slightly slow start, with Steve Dineen coming down again to do his final turn as the by now rather sympathetically sad, rather than annoyingly sad, Paul, who is now faced with the prospect that he won't be able to get to the Cravatter's Guild Conference in Torquay (something he boasted about to Cleo in the car just after he picked her up). We then re-made the scene where Ogilvy and Lucas head off for the Dream Roads, the consensus being that the scene was working a lot better (probably due to a miraculous absence of busses, taxis and buzzsaw wielding stonemasons).

The main cafe interiors were all shot with Rich's patent Two Camera TM method, which again speeded things along nicely, although, as we haven't had a shot list for the entire film - a partially deliberate ploy - it was a bit of a headache trying to remember what coverage we actually needed. Again, the reasons for this are due to the nature of the story: when Lucas and Cleo are together, there is a definite 'conspiracy of two' feeling, conveyed by knowing, troubled silences, looking away, minimal dialogue. When they're with other people, however, things are different; they wear masks, play along, try to pretend that all is well. So with Lucas and Ogilvy, we need to have as much 'normal' coverage as possible, and keep the Bogo Tarr stuff on the back burner. One splendid moment occurred during the wild track, when Stu called for general cafe ambience. Suddenly, everyone was a percussionist, moving tables, coughing, clattering knives and forks etc. I even reiterated Ray's words from Wednesday: 'Any chance of another, dear boy?'

The final hour or so of the day saw us shooting the scene in which Sally's character buys a dress for her 3 year old niece. We shot this in my sister Lois's shop Mya Rosa, with Chris's daughter Catherine playing the shop assistant. As the clocks went back last night, we lost the daylight at 1700, meaning that Rich had to frame out the window onto Waterloo Street. Again, 2 cameras were called into play, one on the good legs (my tripod; the hired tripod, which came with the hired camera, turned out to be shit, hence being called the Bad Legs) and the other gaffer taped to a shelf.

I now feel like I'm heading towards a state of relief: we've broken the back of the schedule, but still have two very demanding days to go. Thank God for licensing hours, I say.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Day 8

After the semi-debacle of yesterday afternoon, I was keen that today went better. Thankfully, it did. The main grumbling points were shaky camera (again), due as ever to bumpy ground. We tried another Bogo Tarr tracking shot from a wheelchair, but none of the takes came out smoothly. And on the way back up the lane where we were filming, Rich decided to turn the camera on and shoot Adam and Sally walking up the lane instead of down it. This inevitably meant that our two crew members at the top of the lane - Helen and stills photographer David - were in shot. Helen realised, and ducked into Grove Park. David, on the other hand, didn't realise that our waves to him were meant 'get out of shot!' He thought we were being friendly and waved back. Repeatedly. Such was his enthusiasm, he even started jumping up and down, making him even more visible in shot.

This gaffe was followed by a return to Dog Shit Car Park, where there was a bit more actorly annoyance. This time they were complaining of being rushed. I must say, I agreed with them; I felt rushed and unable to think as well, but what do you expect when you're trying to shoot an entire feature in ten days?

Things went a lot smoother after that, with the Picnic Scene going remarkably well, much to my surprise. (For whatever reason, it was one scene I was sure would be a bitch to shoot.) We ended the day with more semi-improvised Ogilvy/Paul stuff, before we all descended on both the hotel bar and the Regency for much needed refreshment. DRINK! FECK!

Oh, I forgot to add from earlier in the week, that my camera has been bench tested at Visual Impact. Apparently, there's nothing wrong with it. The hiss is simply a design fault. Even Z1s have hiss problems, so they told Stuart. Anyway, good to know my kit is AOK.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Day 7

Today was very much a game of two halves. The morning's work entailed an improvised scene with Martin walking about looking pissed off. I myself was in quite a similar mood: just as we were about to start shooting, I stepped in a veritable Somme of dog shit. Nobody seems to have poop scoops in Weston and, as a result, canine faeces are everywhere, much to my - and Rich's annoyance (dog diarrhoea being one of his pet hates, if you'll pardon the pun). We got some good stuff in the can, and then allowed Martin to get the train back to London (incidentally, he'd found Ray slumped unconscious in the hotel bar yesterday afternoon - we all got a bit worried that he hadn't made his 8pm train due to getting wrecked).

The rest of the morning went pretty well, with more Ogilvy/Lucas scenes, and the scene where Ogilvy encounters Lucas and Cleo. We shot this around Holy Trinity, one of Weston's more prominent landmarks, which can be seen the Grand Pier end of the sea front.

The afternoon, however, was a different matter. Although so far when the actors have been given free reign to change scenes, the scenes in question have improved, today's bit of thespianic re-jigging came a cropper. Nobody was happy with the scene, something they only realised when we were trying to shoot it. The public were a bloody nightmare as well, and to cap it all, a ghastly little woman whose cafe we were shooting in front of came out to complain that we were scaring off her customers (one awful piece of housing estate trash who'd taken offence when she was politely asked to move out of shot a few paces). I could have punched the fucking bitch.

I left the location fuming, vowing to never again try and shoot a scene that hasn't been thoroughly nailed down beforehand. I'm afraid to say, the actors were the main culprits in this fuck-up. But Rich seemed to think we got the scene in the can, and the Queenswood bar has never been so welcoming.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Day 6

Back in Grove Park again this morning, shooting Lucas and Cleo walking about, and then past Priestly, who quotes a bit of Hamlet at them. Ray also had the brilliant idea of quoting from The Winter's Tale in the scene where he's sitting next to Lucas near the start of the film in the Italian Gardens (so-named after Marconi, who made the first ever radio transmission across water from Weston to Cardiff in 1897 - quite why he chose Weston is still something of a mystery; perhaps he was a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, who had a temple in town). The Shakespeare quote really transformed the scene into something quite strong. In another bit of off the cuff improvising, we shot the scene where Lucas goes to a newsagent to buy cigarettes outside a newsagent we were passing on the way back to Grove Park for more Lucas and Cleo stuff.

Lunchtime saw something of an ecclesiastical emergency in that we realised that Chris Dunne's dog collar looks more like, in Adam's words, 'a bandage'. Much merriment was had by all, but it then meant we had to either find a real vicar and appropriate parts of his clothing, or try and make a new collar of our own. This is what Helen, our brilliant make-up artist, managed to do, so we were able to carry on with Chris's scenes. It's good to have Chris down - he was great to work with in Cornelius Crow, and will no doubt become a regular feature at the Regency (the unit's other watering hole, down the road from the Queenswood).

Another quirk of the film came to light today. We were shooting the Dream Roads scene around the Shrubbery (a strange little part of Weston you can only access by going under a mock Venetian bridge), an area I chose for its charm, and the fact that it's quiet. Well, when I say 'quiet' I meant it's like that provided film crews aren't around. As soon as we showed up, there were cars, vans and busses galore, to say nothing of a stone mason with a circular saw cutting big chunks out of Weston's answer to the Bridge of Sighs (the sighs in question being our own). There must be some obscure branch of physics that could explain why all it takes to turn a quiet street into Piccadilly Circus is about half a dozen people, two actors, and a small HDV camera... Needless to say, we had to set the world to rights in the pub afterwards.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Day 5

Today has been a day of contrasts. First thing on the agenda this morning was Michael's breakdown scene, which we shot in Clarence Park. Apart from Fed Ex vans appearing in the background when we, in all honesty, least needed them, we also had to contend with learner drivers - of both the two wheeled and four wheeled variety - doing three point turns and emergency stops. Joe and Josephine public were not too bad - a few old biddies walking their lap dogs (that looked more like toupees than anything) - but the main problem was the weather. It rained, not to make too fine a point of it. In the 15 or so takes we did (another Bogo Tarr tracking shot), we only had 2 or 3 without rain on the lens.

This was followed by shooting a lengthy single take (6 minutes) of Sally in church. The script specifies that she leaves £500 in the collection plate, but the cash machine would only let me take £300 out, so I gave Sally that, plus the £20 already in my wallet. Yes, you actually see production cash in the film! The scene went well, although we lost the focus momentarily about halfway through, which means we may have to cut away to something. (I think in the script we have another Lucas/Ogilvy scene that bisects the church scene.) My mother, who has been doing the catering, put in a cameo as flower-arranging lady in background (a role she plays in real life).

The logical place to go after church is of course a pub, and the afternoon saw us in the Cooper's Arms in Highbridge (one of my spiritual locals). I'd originally booked the upstairs room, but John, the landlord, kindly let us use the actual back of the pub, which is a lot better. The trouble was, the scene, having been changed quite a lot, now no longer worked as originally envisioned. That, combined with the fact that we ran over time, causing a bit of friction with the locals, meant that the scene was quite stressful to shoot. The scene also marked the debut on the shoot of Ray Callaghan, as the drunken Greek chorus, Priestly. When not shooting, he was drinking and chatting up women a quarter his age.

Perhaps the day has best been summed up by the man who was walking his dog this morning in Clarence Park. He took one look at us in the pouring rain, smiled, and said, 'You must be mad.'
I think I would agree with him.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Day 4

We are trying to shoot in sequence wherever possible, mainly to aid Adam and Sally's growing onscreen relationship. This morning saw us shoot a long, Bela Tarr-style tracking shot in which the two of them reminisce - a bit - and then lapse into silence. This was shot at the end of Weston's High Street, and on into Grove Park (my favourite of Weston's parks). The traffic didn't present too much of a problem. More direct problems were created by the public standing and staring at the camera. They're like animals caught in car headlights. I mean, why are they so stupid? One particularly dense and obese example - a female of the species - started going on loudly from the other side of the stree about how she was now going to be on telly. Continued talk like that will see her on TV; specifically, on the news, in a body bag.

The other problem was the Hague camera stabilizer I bought for the shoot. I tried one out back in February at Video Forum at Earl's Court, where I walked up and down with either a Z1 or a PD170 mounted on it, and it was perfectly smooth. Great, I thought, a Steadicam-like effect, and for only £200! The trouble Rich is now having is that, as we are recording sound directly into the camera via my mixer, any slight tug from the sound cables destabilizes the camera. As Stu is following Rich during the tracking shots, this is unavoidable. Also, wind (as in breeze, not crew flatulence) similarly fucks things up. As Rich said tonight in the Queenswood bar, it's more like Bogo Tarr than Bela Tarr. Still, we hopefully have a few usuable takes in the can.

The PM saw us shoot the Priory scene, which was finalized last night in the bar at the Queenswood. All done in one 4 minute take. A definite nod to Tarkovsky, Nostalgia in particular (the location, Woodspring Priory, would not have looked out of place in that film).

Our final scene was the one in which Michaels - played by the marvellous Martin Trent - goes to visit his ailing mother in a hospice. He'd re-worked the dialogue brilliantly; it's now quite a touching scene. His mother was played by the irrepressible Di from Backwell Drama Group. It's quite ironic that in the scene, she likes inert in bed, but that was about the only time she wasn't talking. She's a great lady, a real character. She informed us all that she was having a great time being in a hotel room with 6 young men! (Nice to be called young! Ah! Youth slipping away.... Sensitive crimes in a punt etc... if I may lapse into Uncle Monty mode for a minute).

Monday, October 23, 2006

Day 3

This morning, we shot the scene where Paul buys Cleo a drink and tries to woo her in his thoroughly inept way. Our location was my (geographical) local, The Red Cow in Brent Knoll. This was the first scene we shot using both cameras, which speeded things up considerably. Stuart, our very able soundman, has detected a hiss on my camera, so we've swapped them over, with the hired camera now being our 'A' camera, and mine being relegated to the Second XI. The scene looked good, with Steve Dineen acting his little socks off while wearing a truly hideous tie. Sally was amazing too: she has an ability to do almost nothing, yet at the same time convey a huge amount of unsaid emotion. Her understanding of the role is spot on.

The afternoon saw us shoot the first meeting between Cleo and Lucas. Like a lot of their scenes together, it's been completely stripped down. There's now only about 5 or 6 lines of dialogue, but the scene lasts around 4 minutes. The final line in the scene, Sally's 'Shall we?' had a big effect on me. Those two words now seem to be the most important in the film. Given the ending of the film, they will hopefully have the same effect on the audience as they did on me today; I was actually quite moved when she uttered those words. Simle is strong, as Bill Douglas used to say.

We used both cameras again for this scene. Stuart has not been able to sort out the hiss on my camera, despite being on the phone to Visual Impact for about half an hour. Still, we got the scene done. The location is wonderfully bleak, up by Weston's Old Pier, the sort of place which would be an ideal location for a seaside remake of Stalker. The Fig Rig has now been rechristened Figgus Riggus, which reminds me of Biggus Dickus from Life of Brian. Perhaps Figgus was Biggus's brother in law? (Which would make him Incontinentia Buttocks's brother... or something.)

Our final scene of the day was another Cleo and Paul scene. Again, Steve was truly ghastly as Paul. And I mean that as a great compliment! He's fantastic.

The actors have rather warmed to the Queenswood. Not surprising, it's a fantastic place. The bar and lounge area have now become our base, and spiritual home.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Day 2

Today was the second day of the shoot. In the morning, we shot Adam Napier driving around Weston. Simple stuff, but actually very difficult to keep the camera steady. We shot the service station scene at Sedgmeoor Services (Northbound, in case any of you are location fetishists!), and then drove onto the M5. Mein Gott! Talk about an urgent neeed to resurface that part of motorway! Rich (our brilliant DOP) had the camera on the Fig Rig, but even so, it was a tad tricky. Once we got into Weston, we drove past the beach bike races, and passed the longest traffic jam I've ever seen in the town (going all the way from the Beach Lawns to the Anchor at Bleadon - a distance of several miles).

The afternoon saw us shooting the first dialogue scene of the film, where Cleo hitches a lift from Paul, the sad and lonely tie salesman. (Come to think of if, ALL the characters are sad and lonely... but I don't want to give away too much of the plot!) We shot it on the A38 just outside Weare, where there's a good layby. Unfortunately, the weather was rather inclement, and there was a lot of traffic (beach race-related?). It was one of those scenes where you really need walkie-talkies - even two yoghurt pots connected by a bit of thread would have helped - but we didn't have any, so I had to do a lot of running back and forth across the road. The car scenes themselves - framed a la Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry - were good, although the mic was in shot for nearly all of Sally's shots. I think we can fix it in post, so no worries.

Tonight was the first night the actors and Rich could stay at the hotel, the rather marvellous Queenswood (www.queenswoodhotel.com). Rich has been on my floor for the last two nights, while Adam has been in Wells, Sally with friends in Redhill. Onwards and upwards!

Day 1

Shooting started yesterday. We did the opening scene first, which was in the rather surreal settings of a local garden centre, complete with life-size Father Christmasses that said Ho Ho Ho! a lot to small children, and a visiting Kenyan choir, who were doing a charity gig. Luckily, we managed to frame both out during the takes. The afternoon saw us filming in the rather restricted confines of my flat. We shot a great sequence on the front stairs, and even had time to fall over during a backwards walking steadicam shot. (A modest homage to Bela Tarr!) More anon.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

As Tough as Bresson

'Martin Scorsese praised Bresson in uniquely American terms: "Elvis Costello said that whenever he's writing a song he asks himself, is it as tough as Hank Williams? Meaning--is it as ruthlessly pared down, as direct as unflinching in its gaze at aspects of life I might feel more comfortable ignoring? Young filmmakers might well ask themselves, 'Is it as tough as Bresson?"'

From Robert Bresson: A Spiritual Style in Film.
By Joseph Cunneen.
Continuum, 224 pp., $29.95.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Rehearsal Diary #1

Just back from London, where we've been rehearsing for the last four days. Things went better than expected, and that's not just my feeling, but everyone else's. Am absolutely shattered, so will write more tomorrow.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Once More Unto the Breach

OK, two weeks to go before we start shooting. Have been down to Holland and Barrett for some Rescue Remedy (as recommended to me by my sister, in whose shop www.myarosa.co.uk we'll be shooting a significant scene) just to keep the blues away. In fact, I have the spray version, which reminds me uncannily of the PKD novel Ubik, in which the titular substance first appears as a spray... We are definitely living in a Phildickian world, what with android presidents etc.

Anyway, talking of Rescue Remedy, I should add that we're in the grips of good old pre-production stress (as if you hadn't sussed!). It's very much a case of, to quote Animal House, 'My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.' Still one of the best lines of dialogue ever. But, stress is part of the job, and it amazes me how it comes and goes (am I quoting Black Sabbath there?!); some days it's awful, quite frankly, and I think any director you'd ask about this would agree. Hence drinking, smoking, and dying in your 50s. (e.g. Tarkovsky, Truffaut, Douglas). (Mind you, I'd rather give up than keel over.)

But on other days, there's no stress at all: things just seem to happen, in a rather tao-like way. Which reminds me of the wisdom of a Buddhist teacher or two whose names have escaped me: the advice being, rather than 'Don't just stand there, do something!', in fact being 'Don't just do something, stand there!' I think this could be a great motto for this film.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Rehearsals Start Next Week

We are now just about to start rehearsing. I've found a great space in Swiss Cottage, which we are sharing with Ken Campbell. (He and his lot are only in there one or two evenings, so we hopefully won't clash.) The owner of the space is a big Tarkovsky fan, and knows my book on him, while the lady downstairs is into the Cathars. Whether she's read my b0ok on them, I don't know. (Perhaps I could offer her a signed copy in exchange for a reduction in the hire charges.) Anyway, it's big, bright and easy to get to.

We're going to be shooting the rehearsals, and hopefully will have something to post online soon, probably at the MySpace page (www.myspace.com/891filmhouse).

We almost have a DOP, too. I've met someone who I think's our man, just waiting for his reel to show up. Or rather, as I'm currently in Edinburgh, the reel is probably lying there just inside the letterbox waiting for me to show up.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Sven Nykvist

Legenary cinematographer Sven Nykvist has died. He was 83. Although best remembered for being Bergman's cameraman, I will always love Sven for his work with Tarkovsky. His photography on The Sacrifice is just amazing - a strong contender for some of the best cinematography ever.

The Independent Obituary is here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Tonight, on the 36th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's death, I watched the clear night sky while listenting to the Jimi Hendrix C0ncerts version of "Little Wing". Uttlerly sublime. RIP Jimi. You'd have loved the sky tonight.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Heard on Thursday deep in the p.m. that Folie has been accepted by the Mannheim Co-Production Meetings, a prestigious affair that takes place during the Mannheim-Heidelberg Film Festival in November.

More info here: http://www.mannheim-filmfestival.com/en/Homepage/
It's a major step in the right direction, and it's also a great festival. Unlike Cannes, everyone gets an invite to all the parties, half the festival happens in the beautiful town of Heidelberg (which also has a bloody good record shop - record as in vinyl), plus there is also a great cocktail bar which hovers like a lighthouse over the Stadhaus, Stars, whose site is here: http://www.turmcafe-stars.de/

I can recommend a Fred Astaire, to be taken each day just as the lights come on. Impossible not to marvel at the beauty of the world - even the industrial bits that you can see from the bar - at a time like that.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Psychogeographer's Guide to Weston-super-Mare

Spent yesterday recce-ing for locations, which generally meant driving around Weston with my camera, doing emergency stops whenever I saw something of interest. We've decided to try and make Weston look interesting, which, for people who are only familiar with such delights as the Sea Front, the Grand Pier and the Sovereign Centre, will sound like a challenge too far.

In fact, a lot of the older part of town - on the hill - looks great, so we will be shooting around there. It almost has a Lovecraftian feel to it on certain days, or at certain times of day. Something to do with the light. On the day, of course, we won't have the sunlight at our beck and call, but a nice even light should be good enough.

I'm doing another day of recce-ing, probably on Friday. Tomorrow I'm off to see the Film Council and a prospective DOP in London

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Friday, August 25, 2006

Start Date Set

After spending two days in London, where I managed to touch base with four of the cast - Sally, Chris, Steve and Martin - we have now agreed on a timetable. We'll start rehearsing on 10th Oct, start shooting on the 20th, and hopefully have the wrap party on the 30th.

We have also all been discussing the script, and I can report that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to the need to pare things down to a level of minimalism that wouldn't look out of place in a Bresson or Bill Douglas film.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A General Update

I now have confirmation that Sally is doing her stint in Fool For Love on 23/8/06 at 1600. Tickets will be free, so if you want to see Folie's leading lady in the flesh, just turn up at the Apollo (which is way down Shaftesbury Ave towards Piccadilly Circus).

I will be meeting with Sally and the other actors both on that day, and the day after. Our main business at the moment is deciding on a start date. I think it will be either the week after Sally finishes Fool for Love (11/9) or the week after Adso finishes his [Noel] Coward piece (2/10). As Sally wants to go to NYC in late October, that will be our cut off point.

Before any of this happens, however, I still have another 48 hours in which to finish my Gnostic book before flying to Edinburgh for a much needed break. I haven't felt this tired in years, and in general, feel almost unspeakably awful. Only two weeks ago I was going running most evenings listening to Tord Gustavsen on my iPod. Where's it all gone wrong?!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sally on Stage in the West End

Looks like Sally Scott, our female lead, will be taking over from Juliette Lewis in Fool for Love for a matinee on 23 August. More details to follow when I have them.

Still not finished the Gnostic book, but am in the home strait. Bloody nightmare.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Just noticed this comment on Theo Angelopoulos's site, relating to his film Landscape in the Mist:

I would use Bergman's words to say that the goal of cinema is to bring the dream back into our life, and thus help us to confront life's difficulties.

~ Dusan Makavajev

Sunday, June 25, 2006

On the Noble Art of Paring Things Down

On Monday I met up with our two leads, Adam Napier and Sally Scott to discuss how we're going to approach the whole workshopping aspect of Folie. We've decided to work from a scene breakdown rather than a script to beging with, as a lot of the film will be told through what is not said. Nick Harding and I will also be working on - indeed, are working on - a new draft of the script taking into account some of the suggestions that the actors have made. Not only are Adam and Sally very keen on the idea of paring the whole script right down, but also the entire supporting cast which, at the moment, is Christopher Dunne as the depressed and slightly mad soon to be ex-vicar, Martin Trent as a bartender who swears a lot and Steve Dineen as a vacuous and really rather sad tie salesman.

Another thing we decided on on Monday was the start date. I'm to get the scene breakdown to Adam and Sally within the next week or two, and we'll start knocking ideas back and forth, with a view to starting rehearsals in mid-late August, and shooting the film in the week beginning 11 September. This is the week after Sally's play ends, and we've decided that it will make all our lives a lot easier if we shoot then, and not in July as originally planned. (Apart from Sally's play, I also have a book to finish.) We'd ideally like to get the film finished in time to show it to the Cannes selection committee when they make their annual trip to London in March. Getting into the main competition will be almost impossible, so we're hoping for one of the sidebars like Director's Fortnight to smile benignly upon us.

Speaking of Sally's play, she's understudying Juliette Lewis in Sam Shepard's Fool For Love at the Apollo. Sally will have at least one night of taking over from Juliette, so I'm looking forward to that. Indeed, we may have a cast night out in the West End to cheer her on and generally applaud loudly, shower the stage with flowers during the curtain call and generally be well-oiled luvvies of the first water.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Anatoly Solonitsyn

Today is the 24th anniversary of the death of Anatoly Solonitsyn, Tarkovsky's favourite actor. He played the lead in Andrei Rublev, Dr Sartorius in Solaris, the country doctor in Mirror, and, perhaps best of all, the Writer in Stalker. Stalker has some bearing on what we're doing in Folie, in that it's one of the great films of the human face. For minutes on end, the camera simply watches the three actors be, rather than do. The ride into the Zone on the trolley car is perhaps the most celebrated example, where, for over three minutes of screen time, nothing happens, but at the same time, everything happens. A more extreme example is when the men reach the Room, and, after a lengthy squabble in the dirt - which sums up the plot of the whole film, come to think of it - they sit down in a puddle for well over four minutes, and the camera slowly pulls back to reveal that they're sitting on the threshold of the Room, which they are afraid to enter. It's one of the greatest things I've ever seen. So simple, but absolutely stunning to watch. And the last time we see Writer - and in fact the last time we see Anatoly Solonitsyn in a Tarkovsky film (he was too ill to play in Nostalgia) - he's having a contemplative smoke in the bar at the end of the film. Again, so much is conveyed by the simplest of means.

Another reason to cite Stalker is that I've been thinking for months about the look of Folie. I'd originally toyed with the idea of setting the film in increasingly bleak locations (like the world outside the Zone), but on a recent trip to the bank (appeasing the National Socialists) I walked through Weston's Grove Park. It was a warm, but overcast day, and the park seemed incredibly verdant: the grass was long, the trees heavy in leaf, and I thought of the verdant, intense quality of the Zone. It somehow felt right for the film. As we're now shooting in September - that's another story/post - we should still be OK when it comes to foliage. I had the feeling, walking through the park, that I was in the middle of mystery. It was all about me, in the rustle of the leaves, in the swaying of the grass in the wind.

On the subject of anniversaries, yesterday was the 24th anniversary of Fassbinder's death. June 1982 was evidently not a good month for films...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Test Post

This is just a test to see if I can email the blog from Outlook.

Proper update to follow.

Things be afoot...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

And a word about customs officials...

Amongst the other news of the week is the long-awaited arrival of a Libec tripod, which I ordered ages ago and has been held up for reasons unknown at customs. I don't know whether HM Customs were checking the legs of the tripod for heroin or illegal immigrants, but it has now arrived (sans drugs, Chinese cockle pickers and Vietnamese boat people) and is indeed a thing of beauty.

Due to the horrendous hours I've been putting in of late, I wasn't able to get it back to my flat and out of the box until about 0300 one morning last week, so there I was, in the dead of night in my kitchen, practicing very slow pans.

Ah, little boys and their train sets...

Post Cannes

I've just returned from Cannes, where I was meeting a few people to get Folie on their radars. They're all interested, and all that remains for us to do is shoot the bugger.

In a case of serendipity twice over, the Irish Pavilion were giving away free copies of the current issue (#110) of Film Ireland, which carries a good review of my book on Tarkovsky.

I also discovered that I was appearing in a film screening there, namely Jonathan Stack's Secrets of the Code, a feature length doc about the ideas behind the Da Vinci Code. Yours truly is the first person to appear in the film, saying (while walking down a street in Islington of all places - the interview was shot back in January) that one of the main reasons the book was so popular is that the theme of the Sacred Feminine has struck a chord in people, and the film proceeds to be basically a party political broadcast on behalf of Mary Magdalene. Other people in the film include Elaine Pagels, Richard Leigh, Timothy Freke, a rather cool Kabbala teacher whose name escapes me, John and Caitlin Matthews, Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince and one or two rather scary fundamentalists. Susan Sarandon narrates. It's a good film.

So, in addition to my Folie a Deux related meetings, I was also able to flash the Tarkovsky review around, and also wave the Secrets of the Code flyer in people's faces saying, 'I'm in a film screening here!' And not only that, but a film by a double Oscar-nominee. Which was a first.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Off to Cannes in the morning, and I've just realised I don't have a bag. Consequently, all my stuff is in carrier bags in my bedroom. Absolutely typical of the chaos that prevails when you make a film. I'll have to borrow a suitcase with wheels on from my mother or sister, one of whom will also draw the short straw and take me to the airport in the morning.

There are two types of being busy: one where you achieve things, and the other, where your blood pressure goes up and you don't seem to get very much done at all, except heighten the likelihood of keeling over and being rushed to the nearest hospital. Or preferrably, pub. It is the latter sort of being busy that has been rearing its ugly head today - and over the last few weeks in fact.

[DOP from Porlock enters the room - blog writing suspended while we go to the pub.]

OK, I didn't mean to end the post there, as I have just had to go out to the pub with a DOP who is interested in lighting Folie. So, now I'm back, and all my carrier bags are bulging with T shirts and the one or two pairs of trousers that still fit me. (After a recent 4 stone weight loss, almost everything I have in my cupboard resembles a circus tent.) Friday is the big day for meetings, but, to be honest, I rather hope that's it, and I can spend the next few days soaking up the sun and doing as little as possible, as I badly need a rest. Trouble is, 'rest' and 'Cannes' are not easy bedfellows. So, I will probably get home next week even more burnt out than I am at the moment.

Oh well, balls to it. We're making a film. It fucks your life up. Get used to it. To keep myself going at times like this, I have to remind myself what the fuck I think I'm trying to do, and I recall something a woman from Gorky (not that Gorky is in itself is important, it's just that that's where I remember her being from) once wrote to Tarkovsky. She'd seen Mirror, and wrote that the film made her feel that, for the first time in her life, she was no longer alone.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Personal Mountains

I remember once reading an anecdote that, during the shooting of Full Metal Jacket, Stanley was so tired from working round the clock that he could never remember what they were supposed to be shooting next. Or to quote Bresson again, 'You will not know till much later if your film is worth the mountain range of efforts it is costing you.' I seem to be constantly behind at the moment, and the exhaustion and frustration are really kicking in. I feel like I'm climbing the mountain range of efforts Bresson talked about. Or the twin peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro, to quote Graham Chapman.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Official Film Site

A site for Folie is now up here. It will of course be expanded over time, eventually having clips from the film etc.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Gospel According to Abbas... to say nothing of Lars

The Gospel of Judas has been much in the news of late, as they've just published the text of this lost Gnostic gospel, which paints Judas in a good light. I've just read it, as I'm currently writing a book on Gnosticism, which is due for publication later in the year. Non-canonical gospels appeal to me greatly, as I think I must have been a heretic in a previous life; I certainly feel like one in this life.

In order to make Folie as good a film as we can, therefore, we need to proceed in a mainly non-orthodox way. We don't have the money to do things normally, for a start, but it's one of those stories that doesn't need much money, as the drive and production value of the story are in the characters, their emotions and the extraordinary situation they find themselves in (and believe me, it is extraordinary. And based on a true story, as I think I've said elsewhere on this blog.) All the actors who are so far on board are very keen on the semi-improvised nature of the film, and we are all relishing the prospect of having this freedom, as we may not have it on the next film any of us do.

To keep the old inner man bright eyed and bushy tailed, I've been watching films by and about Abbas Kiarostami and Lars von Trier. Lars has been one of my favourite directors ever since Europa, and the fact that he could then abandon his style totally and start again from scratch with The Kingdom and Breaking the Waves only makes me love him even the more. My love for him, however, does not quite extend to seeing his johnson, which is on show in The Humiliated, a feature-length doc about the making of The Idiots. I admire him for directing naked from the waist down, but please, Lars, we don't do things like that in Old Blighty! (except in certain parts of Dorset, so I hear). Put it away! But the film is great as it shows him taking ludicrous risks, and, of course, it worked brilliantly.

I've also been watching Kiarostami's 10 on Ten, in which the great man holds forth on his theories of filmmaking. While I don't agree with him on certain things - the notion of what truth is, for instance; I'm much more in agreement with Werner Herzog on this one - he does say some great things. One of the statements I had to go and copy down is this:

I don’t believe a film is to be understood. Do we understand a piece of music? Do we understand a painting? Or the exact meaning of a poem? It’s ambiguity that attracts us to a work, not understanding the subject or the story. However, human beings are standing between heaven and hell because of their existential ambiguity, and art displays this ambiguity. Pascal said that you cannot show a single event in somebody’s life and claim to have said everything about him. The secret department of the soul prevents this, and this is what becomes the plinth, the basis for the art of cinema.

The film also shows him shooting A Taste of Cherry with a crew of about 4 or 5. He's very much against doing things the Hollywood way, but stresses the importance of looking at why American films work. It's a paradox I like. Like the idea of Judas being a good man, and Christ's favourite disciple (after, presumably, Mary Margadelene!). Many people, it seems, can't handle that life itself is one big paradox, and it's up to us as storytellers to remind them. Whether they want to be reminded or not.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Life's Rich Pageant

I can't believe I haven't posted here for two weeks. A lot has happened: I've now got the camera, the small but perfectly formed Sony A1, and am picking up more kit this week - an audio mixer and a tripod. That will just leave a Fig Rig or camera stabiliser and flight case on the shopping list.

We have also been casting the part of Cleo, the female lead. We selected a shortlist of 15 or so actors to see, and spent last Thursday and Friday seeing them all. We are recalling 4 on 10 May. It'll be a tough decision to make - I only hope a gut feeling is involved! I've always ignored gut feelings at my peril, so let's hope the old inner man is in some kind of shape to help select the right person for the job!

The next draft of the script is also in the air, if not actually being worked on at the moment. The general consensus seems to be to pare it right down, and cut any speeches where the two characters exhibit anything like self-pity or self-loathing. They're probably beyond that by the time we see them in the film. I hope I can say the same about myself by the time we come to shoot it.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Notes from the Cinematographer

The title is a pun on Bresson's book, Notes on the Cinematographer. He noted down various thoughts over the years, aphoristically, and it was first published in French in 1975. I had a copy of the English first edition from 1977, but lent it to someone I was involved with and never got it back when we stopped seeing each other. (Moral: Never lend books. Especially to someone you're going out with.)

Anyway, here's food for thought: 'Rid myself of accumulated errors and untruths. Get to know my resources, make sure of them.' And that's just the opening entry. It's something I will need to keep in mind, as the last few weeks have been a bit stressful to say the least.

We're trying at the moment to whittle down the hundreds of potential Cleos (the female lead) who answered the PCR ad to a short list of around 15 to audition in London at the end of the month. I also have to go and pick up the camera, probably next week, in order to start shooting tests. I've decided to go for the Sony A1 in the end, not the Z1. Some of the most important scenes in the film are set in cars, so the smaller A1 is more suitable for that.

Another major factor in choosing the A1 over the Z1 is that it's only half the price of the Z1, something that has been weighing on my mind a lot, as I have decided to use money I had inherited to pay for it, rather than get a loan. Big trauma, as I hate to see all that money leave my account, but on the other hand, I think if I take the plunge and put my own money into the film, it's a sign of total commitment that the Universe can't ignore, and hopefully will help us make a good film. It will also hopefully attract investors. If they can see that I'm serious about the film and willing to put my money where my mouth is, that hopefully will be enough of a guarantee that we are serious about making the film, and serious about making it work.

Well, it's either a sign of that, or insanity, or desperation, and they're not things I think Bresson made notes about. I'd better check Notes again...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Start Date Set, Casting Begins

Since my last post (not the piece of music I hasten to add!), my male lead Adam Napier has returned to Old Blighty after touring abroad. We have had several phone conversations about Folie, and have decided that the earliest we can start shooting would be the week of 12 June, so that is now our official start date. Until it gets put back, which is always possible, but hopefully we'll stick to it, as without a start date, we'd face the almost inevitable danger of the film regressing into the future and never being made at all.

Today an ad went into PCR for the female lead, Cleo, so I am now just waiting for the postman to start taking my name in vain as he will no doubt have to deliver sacks of mail every day for the next week or so, and I'm at the top of four flights of stairs.

Once the part is cast, we'll start rehearsing, probably around the beginning of May. Adam's doing a play at the White Bear in the second half of May, so we plan to take a break and then come back to Folie once he's finished.

I must admit, when Adam first called me to tell me he was back, the realisation that it's 'now or never' with Folie suddenly hit me, and I have to confess to repairing to an alehouse to steady my nerves. I guess this is natural, as making a feature - even one with no budget - is still an exhausting, but exciting journey. 'Once more unto the breech' I think is the expression...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Mysteries of the Rose

For Folie to work as well as it can, one feature that needs to be foregrounded is the direction. I've never liked most British films because they look like TV, and it's no coincidence that the filmmakers from this country I do admire - e.g. Bill Douglas - look more European than British.

How can we make our film stand out from the crowd? I think the answer is to 'stand before your god and commit' if I can paraphrase one of my favourite writers, the great Paul Watkins. The gods in question are, for me, long tracking shots, their polar opposite - completely static shots, and long takes. I think from these three basic building blocks a whole vocabulary can be built, one which we can use to tell the story we want to tell in Folie. I've always disliked conventional blocking - wide establishing shots, moving in close, shot/reverse shot for conversations etc, which is little more than painting by numbers - and I think that now is the time to go the way I feel I really should be going and shoot the film this way.

The polarity between tracking shots (Gods: Tarkovsky, Angelopoulos, Tarr) and the completely static camera (Gods: Douglas, Bresson) also calls to mind the essential polarity of things themselves. For example, if you show a rose, it's just a plant, a flower, the thing itself, but it also has inescapable mythological and symbolic baggage, whether you intend it or not (think of The Name of the Rose, The Romance of the Rose and so on). Therefore, if I make a film using largely these two methods of blocking a scene, I am also hinting that the film is always going to be a case of 'both/and' not 'either/or', such as it's going to be unversal and particular, fiction and fact, real and illusory. Rather like our daily lives.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Lanterna Magicka Starts Shooting

On Friday we started shooting Lanterna Magicka (see separate blog here), with and interview with the film critic Ian Christie. It was a little rushed, but I think we got some interesting stuff. We used a Sony Z1, which is the camera we'll shoot Folie with, so Friday's shoot was also a test shoot of sorts for the feature. I'll shoot some more test footage with the camera before taking it back to the hire company. They also sell equipment, and have quoted me a very reasonable price for one. As soon as I've actually bought one, it will bring the reality of shooting Folie that much closer. Once more unto the breech, dear friends...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

La Vita Nuova

Here's something I just found on Nostalghia.com, the Tarkovsky website. Tonino Guerra, Tarkovsky's longtime friend and co-writer of Nostalgia and Tempo di Viaggio, is asking the Master about Stalker, which he had then (1979) just completed. Tarkovsky's comments seem very prescient about the advent of digital filmmaking, and sums up very well how we're going about making Folie à Deux.

Tonino Guerra: Someone told me that you would like to completely change your way of making cinema. Is this true?

Andrei Tarkovsky: Yes, only that I still don't know how. It would be nice, let us say, to shoot a film in complete freedom, like amateurs make their films. Reject large financing. Have the possibility to observe nature and people, and film them, without haste. The story would be born autonomously: as the result of these observations, not from oblidged shots, planned in the tiniest detail. Such a film would be difficult to realize in the manner that commercial films are realized. It would have to be shot in absolute freedom, independent from lighting, from actors, from the time employed in filming, etc., etc. And with a reduced gauge camera. I believe that such a method of filming could push me to move much further forward.

London, Berlin, Woodspring Priory

It's been a very hectic month. First of all, I went to Video Forum in London to have a crash course in the Sony Z1, which we'll use to shoot Folie on, and then I went over to the Berlin Film Festival to chase up a producer I know who might be interested in the film. I didn't have his cell phone number, and he couldn't get through to me on mine (he kept getting messages saying that the call was barred for some reason), and I was giving up hope of finding him. On my last night before coming home, I made one last ditch attempt to leave a message at his hotel, and - lo and behold - he was actually in his room. We went out for dinner and things went well. He wants to see the script and roughcut, and we'll take things from there.

I also had a number of ideas for the second draft while in Berlin, which I'm now trying to get down on paper. As we did with The Notebooks of Cornelius Crow, my old partner in crime Nick Harding has written the first draft based on my initial idea, and now I'm once more unto the breech for the second draft.

Amongst the new ideas are to shoot one scene in a mediaeval priory, to make the setting's geography slightly dreamlike (homage to Stalker) and to shoot it all in long takes (numerous homages here: Tarkovsky of course, Theo Angelopoulos, and someone I've been thinking a lot about recently, Bela Tarr.) I've always felt that 'real' films are made in the camera, not the cutting room, but I suppose that's all down to what you do with the camera in the first place. Someone like Martin Scorsese, for instance, is very much a filmmaker who makes his films in the cutting room, and they are certainly none the worse for it, but that's because of how he covers his scenes. Doing Folie in long takes - and I feel as though I'm coming out of some kind of closet here - will mean more camera rehearsals for sure, but I hope that won't elongate the shoot too much. Hopefully we will avoid the sort of nightmarish shut-downs that seem to plague the great Bela every time he shoots a film...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Kit and Caboodle

For Folie, I'm thinking of buying an HDV camera, and possibly also a sound recorder of some sort. The idea behind buying as opposed to renting is that the same gear can then be used on other projects (such as a documentary on The Knights Templar, which has been mooted on and off over the last few years - usually after drink has been taken). My first thought was to buy a Sony HDR FX1, which I know has been used for features, but I have since discovered a site selling a better camera, the HVR Z1P. Alternatively, there is also the HVR A1P, which is the cheap option. (There is in fact a cheaper camera still, the HDR HC1, but that would only be used if there was a serious lack of cash. Which is always possible.) I'm off to a trade show in two weeks' time to talk to the good people at Sony to find out the whys and wherefores of these various cameras. Soundwise, we will probably use a Marantz PMD 670, which again, I know has been successfully used on low-budget features. If there's any money left, I can either then buy a microphone, or hire one.

Once a camera has been sorted, I will be shooting a short documentary as a dry run, to get to know the equipment. This will be called - almost certainly - Lanterna Magicka, and will be a documentary about Bill Douglas and his collection of pre-cinema optical devices. We are hoping to get it screened at the National Film Theatre in London in June 06, as part of a season of Bill's films. (June being the 15th anniversary of his death.) I'm firing off letters to potential interviewees over the next few days.

On an artistic note, we now have the first 24 pages of the script done. Or at least a draft of them. No rest for the wicked, or, indeed, the overdrawn.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Simple is Strong

The title of this post is something the late, great Scottish filmmaker Bill Douglas used to have as something of a mantra whenever he was working on a film or a script. As I want this film to be something of a return to basics, it's a phrase I think I would do well to recall as often as possible. I also want to study again not just his films, but also those by filmmakers who have consistently used this as a working principle: Bresson, above all, but also Kieslowski, whose relentless paring down was also coupled with a fairly high emotional charge (the same could be said of Bill's films). Of course, I do not want to compare myself to any of these people, but their work is something I think we can keep in mind during the run-up to the shoot.

I may of course post my own mantras, once I can think of some...

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Gospel According to Jean-Luc

Jean-Luc Godard once said that all you need to make a movie was a girl, a car and a gun. I think he also said that films could be described by one word: emotion. (Echoing this, one of Wim Wenders' books of articles is called Emotion Pictures.)

Well, for this one, we have a girl - she's half the cast - and a car (a crucial scene takes place in it towards the end), but no gun. This is England, after all. We don't generally have guns, unless we're blasting burglars in remote farm houses or shooting clay pigeons.

But what the film does have, I hope in droves, is emotion. I sometimes think that a film is like a pair of scales: in order to make it balance - and therefore have a successful (at least on its own terms) - film, you need to make the scales balance. So if you have lots of plot and action, you probably don't need that much in the way of character development, and vice versa. For Folie à Deux, we don't have a great deal of plot: a guy and a girl meet, and spend the afternoon talking. But what happens between them becomes increasingly emotional, so I hope that that is what will make the scales balance. Only time will tell if my scales theory is right, or just a load of old cobblers.

Happy Birthday to Jimmy Page (OBE!), by the way.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Folie à un

On a long nighttime drive last week - 29 December - I was mulling over various film projects that could be done while we search for money for The Gulf Breeze Caravan Park UFO Society. The essential factors would need to be that they are cheap to make - very - and quick to do - 6-8 months from start to finish.

I have occassionally thought about doing something along the lines of Straw Dogs -people in a country house becoming increasingly psychopathic as only the repressed English middle and upper classes can be, and decided that all this would require would be about 6 actors and one or two locations (the house, the village pub), and lots of stage blood. However, the problem with this idea was just that - the bloood and the lack of a redemptive ending, as what I have in mind is basically something that reminds the audience that we're not even noble savages, a pretty pessimistic ending.

This led me on to my other idea, which I've only been thinking about for around a month, after reading something in the paper. The more I thought about this idea, the more it appealed to me. Minimal story, maximum emotion. And very cheap to shoot. I can't tell you what it was I read, as that will give the film away completely, but all I can say at the moment is that it's along the lines of Before Sunrise. With a twist. A big twist.