Friday, November 23, 2007

Pick-Ups Finished

Today we shot the final pick-ups for Folie. Sally came down from London to shoot three shots: Cleo picking up an envelope from a mantelpiece in her flat (a nicely austere shot, a little homage perhaps to Bresson, Dreyer or Hammershøi); Cleo looking through Lucas's photos in the hotel and a close-up of her feet (a bit of Buñuelian foot fetishism, perhaps?). The envelope was deemed necessary, because it later reappears in the film at a very crucial stage in the story, while the photos and shoes were things we could have got on the day if we'd had time. We also battled valiantly against traffic, birdsong and the occasional dog to record a very brief wildtrack. Not the hardest day's work imaginable, but it feels good to finally have everything in the can. Very good, in fact. Once we have the pick-ups dropped into the cut, we're onto music, mixing and grading and hopefully a preview screening within the next few months. And then I can retire/do a Lord Lucan/Reggie Perrin/Jim-Morrison-splitting-to-Africa...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shooting Pick Ups

On Monday we shot pick-ups with our male lead, Adam Napier. We've had to wait this long as Adam has been in a play in London's West End all year, and the run has only just finished. It was a long, frustrating wait, but it was good to see him again, and we got some good stuff in the can. We also attempted to reshoot the final shot of the film, but we're not at the moment sure if what we got is useable. It's a fairly simple shot - the camera tracks away from a car - but was fraught with all sorts of little problems (reflections, temperamental smoke machines, bumping into things, the public, shadows, sunlight too bright etc). So: we may have to have another go at that shot sometime.

This coming week, we are shooting pick-ups with our other lead, Sally Scott. Again, we've had to wait all year for Sally's schedule to free up enough to allow her one day in Weston. At the moment she can be seen in Boeing Boeing at the Comedy. Once we've done Sally's pick-ups - and had another crack at the final shot - the film will finally be all in the can, and the final push in post can begin. And not before time. Roll on 2008 and red carpets.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Another Short Post

A few slight changes to my next book, New Waves in Cinema. It was originally scheduled for June 08 with a still from Rivette's marvellous Va Savoir on the cover (Jeanne Balibar emerging through the skylight, a cover I liked a lot). The new publication date is next September, which is good for me, as it's still nowhere near finished, and the cover now features a certain gentleman by the name of Kinksi. More info here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mannheim News: Sales Agent Picks up the Film

Just got back from the Mannheim-Heidelberg Film Festival, where Folie has been picked up by a sales agent, despite being incomplete. More info soon.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Seeking Funding, Meeting Fools

In our current search for a bit of cash to complete Folie, I have been exploring various funding options. One of these is that bastion of filmic culture and wisdom, the UK Film Council. Yesterday they turned our application down on the basis that the acting and directing were weak, despite the fact that these are precisely two of the areas that have been singled out for praise by the various good gentlemen and women who have seen the film as it stands at the moment. What planet are the Film Council on? They are obviously so far up their own arses that they can't see out. Oh yes, and I suppose we did commit the cardinal sin of actually needing money, as it seems they only give handouts to films that don't really need it. And then of course the film is about white middle-class southerners, with nary a member of the lower socio-economic orders in sight, to say nothing of homosexuals (that was my last film), non-Caucasians (the film before that), northerners, Scots or any other group who might appear to myopic fools in plush offices in central London to be worthy of portraying on screen. Oh yes, and the style of the film - decidedly not MTV, Shane Meadows or Guy Ritchie. So, really, we stood fuck all chance of getting money. What a fucking riduculous country this is. Reminds me, sadly, that Truffaut was right: cinema and Britain are incompatible terms.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Gospel According to PJ Harvey

Just read this interview with PJ Harvey in The Grauniad. This bit caught my eye, as what she says is completely on the money:

'Our time is almost up. In the car park, Harvey points out the remains of Abbotsbury's 11th-century abbey and a chapel dedicated to St Catherine - the patron saint of spinsters, she tells me - and then goes on her way. On my long journey home, I tune into Radio 1, and hear Zane Lowe once again playing When Under Ether, which sounds every bit as singular as Harvey had suggested. By comparison, the music that follows it seems hollow and generic, which rather puts me in mind of something she had said earlier on - an outburst, by her standards, in which she said her sense was that the quality of music, literature and film seems to be going "down and down and down, and I struggle so hard to get excited about anything".

Characteristically, she wouldn't be drawn on exactly who or what she was railing against, but lurking in what she said, there was a kind of mission statement. "There's too much of everything in the world, but particularly too much of everything that's not all that good. The world doesn't need any more art that's just all right. It only needs mind-blowing, inspirational, life-changing stuff."'

Friday, September 21, 2007

Folie: Clip Now Online

A short clip of the making of Folie is now online. Go to and click on the bottom right-hand image of the four displayed (showing Sally Scott in the shelter scene). The clip is from Rhys's documentary about the making of the film, which I saw for the first time yesterday, and a fine piece of work it is. Hopefully it will be on the DVD, once that comes out sometime next year. Right now, I'm in the midst of trying to get the remaining pick-ups in the can and trying to get things on track for the final stage of post. Watching Rhys's film reminded me as to why we got into this particular adventure in the first place - I only wish it was longer. Perhaps I can talk him into a longer cut, for those keen on the realtime experience...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Why We Need Art

Mikhail Kononov, who played Foma in Andrei Rublev, has died. Obituaries can be found here and here. Something he said which is reported in the latter of these two articles reminded me of something I've been thinking about in the past few days. To quote:

"I am guided by the precepts with which our generation regarded art. This is why I desperately refuse to act in the TV-serials I am offered. I am terrified by the scripts I read: they are horrible! ... I have no right to allow myself playing in such nonsense. During one role test I even burst into tears. They all thought I was weeping because of growing into my role, while I cried for the horrible state of today’s cinematography and TV. I rejected the role, though it offered big money. One cannot meet the viewer on such a low moral and intellectual level. If we follow the mass public tastes we can lose our way. This is what is happening in cinema today. This is anti-art, anti-aesthetics. We must not support vice and mass psychosis. Otherwise our profession is not needed. Neither artists nor writers are needed."

It occurred to me that one of the reasons why arthouse/world cinema - call it what you will - is needed more than ever is due to the psychotic nature of Western civilisation. The film The Corporation makes that clear: that putting profit about all else has lead us into a state of cultural pyschosis. Money matters more than anything else. Now, I'm not against making money, but it seems fairly clear that we need to value other things as much as, if not more than, making a profit. These other values could include nuturing the imagination, pronoia, fostering the idea that each one of us has repsonsibilities for our own lives and other people, that every decision we make matters, etc.

This is where so-called unprofitable arthouse films come in. The best of them do foster, I think, some of the values mentioned above. In order to make these films more viable for exhibitors, maybe we need to change the whole cinema-going experience. Your average multiplex has perverted the whole idea of a 'House of Culture' that the French were trying to establish in the 50s, where you could go to the same place for films, dance, galleries, theatre and music. The multiplex simply gives you a dozen or twenty choices to choose from, and they're mainly all crap, junk food for the mind and soul. Plus you can't even get anything decent to eat or drink: it's all sugary crap. (Popcorn ought to be illegal at film screenings. If you eat it during a film, you are effectively saying you are a moron.)

We need art and culture (high culture) more than ever to fight against the relentless drivel of our society. Tarkovsky quoted Gurdjieff in The Sacrifice, and it is a quote worth repeating here:

"If sin is that which is inessential, then our civilization is built on sin from beginning to end."

Mikhail Kononov was right to cry: we should all be crying. The inmates have been running the asylum for far too long. It is time to pity them, and begin their re-eduction, otherwise the asylum will turn into a prison, from which there will be no escape.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Sunset Song

Now that we are out of the Dog Days of August, which have been very frustrating with little progress on the project (July remains largely unspeakable - never my favourite time of the year), I have a few updates: we should have the film finished in time for the Berlinale deadline (around 01/11/07), as we now have a smidgin of cash potentially in the bank. More cash is of course needed, but I am now starting to feel that the whole bloody film will finally finish itself by the end of the year, meaning that 2008 will be our year! If we miss the Berlinale, we'll show it somewhere else instead (somewhere slightly warmer would be nice!).

I have also had some interesting conversations with people who have seen the cut. All have been positive, but a chat I had tonight in Glastonbury (of all places) has made me wonder whether we should add something else to the film, namely a voice-over. (Think Sunset Boulevard or American Beauty.) What Folie is about, in one respect, is the sense of being alive in the world, the sheer strangeness of being in a body, of feeling the wind against your skin, hearing a dog bark or a church bell, smelling the sea or a bonfire, smelling the salt of the sea. So the idea of a voice-over adds to the general ontological conundrum posed by the film. In other words, I want the film to ask the viewer, Is It Worth Being Alive At All? And If So, Why? Why Do You Appreciate Life? You should, because one day it will be taken from you. As The Doors said, 'Someday soon you're going to die.' This is the inherent tension at the heart of Folie - when will they (we) die? And how?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

FTP Horrors

At Wendy's suggestion, I have set up an FTP server so that she can upload the new cuts of the film instead of posting DVDs. The main problem I've had in downloading the new version of the film is that, at 4.42 GB, it's a tad larger than the last version (699 MB), mainly due to resolution issues etc. After trying to download the bugger for 4 days, I switched laptops and it finally worked. 'Laptop' is a swear word around here at the moment, given the current major attack of gremlins that seems to be going on. Gremlins, in fact, might be an understatment. Think poltergeists. Think Amityville Horror, for that matter. Still, I now have the latest cut, and now need to sit down and watch it. (Provided the TV doesn't blow up, that is.)

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Good Offices and the Bad

Well, it looks like we now have a deal for online and grading, thanks to the good offices of our DOP, Richard J. Wood. I need to call the guy in question and get something arranged. Anyway, well done Rich, that's another big weight off my shoulders.

Speaking of good offices, there must surely be bad offices as well. First in line are those amateur halfwits, Shooting People. The last 4 or so messages I've tried to post there have all been rejected for the most pedantic of reasons. (One or possibly two of these messages were appeals for online editors and graders.) The latest was rejected yesterday on the grounds that I had not included the 'going price' for the item I'm trying to sell. (A Z1 training DVD) As it's an auction, the whole notion of 'going price' is a little dimwitted to say the least. It costs £30 a year to belong to SP, and, quite frankly, it's just not worth it. If anyone else feels likewise about these idiots, please leave a comment and cheer me up! I thank you.

BTW, if you want to bid on my DVD, go here. Bidding ends on Tuesday 1845 BST.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cut No. 6

We're currently trimming the cut down a little, to tighten the pace. I sent Wendy nearly 100 things that I wanted changing, and she's done most of those. We're still fine-tuning, but hopefully we're nearer to getting the picture cutting finished.

The search for money to get it finished continues very slowly. Hopefully we should have some news on this front over the summer. Folie is shaping up to be the first film I've made where I'm very happy with both style and subject. It has a real time feel, a lot of silence and stillness, nothing is properly explained, especially the ending, which I think some people will not be able to accept.

Funnily enough, having nearly finished a film I can say is the 'real me' stylistically, I also for the first time ever feel like giving this malarky up. Perhaps it's Folie's subject matter, turning 40, I don't know. So, I may be going off the air, or at least I might spend a bit of time doing other things, e.g. documentaries, or even a few shorts. We'll have to see. It's best not to plan too much. As John Lennon said, 'Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.'

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Back (side) from Cannes

I spent a few days in Cannes last week, having what are euphemistically known as 'meetings'. This should mean, in normal (i.e. non film industry) circumstances, that you arrange to meet someone who might, perchance, be beneficial to your current endeavour, and that you meet at arranged said time and place, and business proceeds forthwith. In Cannes, however, that usually means that whoever you have arranged to meet isn't actually there when you turn up, and you then spend all your available time trying to leave messages for all the people you missed, while trying to see some films and having a bloody good time. Because, if you don't have the latter, the whole business is a waste of time. I mean, on the one hand, you have the great auteurs and a few geriatric critics expressing their belief that film is/can be/ought to be an art form here and there, but for most of us, it's not; it's sadly a load of old shite most of the time.

Look at the poor response Béla Tarr's marvellous The Man from London got in Cannes. Is this a recognition of art? No, it's a bunch of ignorant, self-appointed cultural arbiters (e.g. Simon Mellons or whatever he's called at The Grauniad) talking about that which they are not intelligent enough to talk about, except which parties they've been to. Whoever said there is no high culture or low culture, there's only culture, is clearly wrong. Most of our self-appointed experts are decidely low culture, and they wouldn't recognize a masterpiece if it came up behind them and had their way with their fat ignorant bottoms. Viva Béla!

Anyway, enough of ranting about the intellectually challenged. Better out than in, as Jung said. (Well, it might have been that Freudian who encouraged his patients to go to the toilet as often as possible.) There are vague filigrees of interest in Folie, from various parties in Europe, North America and the UK being the usual wastelands of the Challenged, as I think I shall refer to them from now on. We are still ploughing on with post, just in case. Wendy is trimming the film down a little, as I feel we could improve the pace somewhat. The film is 90% there, it just needs that little extra je ne sais quoi. (For the Challenged, that's French for 'I don't know', whose meaning is rather more along the lines of 'A Certain Ineffable Something'.)

I did manage to chill out on my last afternoon there on the wonderful Ile St Honorat, where I visited the C11th/12th fortified monastery, and generally tried to think about what really matters (in other words, Cannes wasn't on my mind much).

Congratulations, finally, to Christian Mungiu, whose 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days - which cost under £500,000 to make, had no stars and was about a tricky subject - won the Palme d'Or. I wonder which party Simon Mellons was at when that was screened?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Off to Cannes

Off to Cannes first thing tomorrow. I don't normally go this late in the festival, but was away last week in the wilds of North Wales, writing. While in Cannes, I hope to sign a distribution agreement for Folie à Deux, and also discuss festival strategy with the sales agent.

We are hoping to get a near-finished version ready by the end of June, so that we can get it into the Mannheim Film Festival, but that all depends on raising more money. Right now, the piggy bank is empty, and more of the old folding stuff needs to be procured ASAP.

I also hope to visit St Honorat and go to the monastery, catch the new Béla Tarr, The Man from London - the first time the great man has been in Competition - and of course visit the Scandinavian Terrace every day for Happy Hour. (The one place you're always guaranteed to find me.) Wih me luck. We need more cash, otherwise the film will remain an unseen and rumoured masterpiece...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Online Editor and Grader Needed

We are in search of some facilities and hard-working, inspiration-filled folk put at our disposal to online the film for next to nothing, and also to grade it. The film has been made on a wing and a prayer (OK, not forgetting Magners and Glenmorangie, with the odd spot of Thai massage), and we don't have the wonga to pay for a day's onlining, plus the marrying of the sound to the master. If you can help, or know of someone who can, drop me a line. We would need to do this probably early summer (e.g. June-ish), so that the film can be ready for autumn festivals.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Trailer Online in April

A trailer will be up online sometime during April, hopefully before Easter. A link will be put here, and also on

Monday, February 12, 2007

Post: The View from Here

I'm now back in rainy, windy Old Blighty, and have to crack on with the rest of post. The plan is still to show the film in Cannes this year, at least in the Market, which will mean filling in the online forms and, of course, paying for the screenings. Whilst sorting this out, the cut as it currently stands needs to go out to the various interested parties to see who - if anyone - will come on board as a co-producer. And while this is going on, I need to start looking around for alternative sources of funding, just in case no one comes on board. Plus I'm also supposed to be re-working an old, now out of print book for republication, and also getting on with the Bill Douglas documentary. No rest for the wicked (I'll leave you to guess who they are...) Nor filmmakers.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Picture Cutting Complete (ish)

We've now finished picture cutting - for the time being. The film runs 99 mins without credits. Now it's time to get feedback from various interested parties and see what they have to say. I'm happy with a lot of the film, and will be looking at the few things that I'm not sure about once I get back to Old Blighty and proper (i.e. bad!) weather. LA is tediously warm, and I'm looking forward to my car arriving to take me to LAX in about 3 hours' time (time enough for a final visit to Amoeba and the Cat and Fiddle while singing that Clash song I'm So Bored with the USA quietly to myself.)

The things that I'm not entirely sure of are the dreams, the first and last shots, the final scene and the start of the second pub scene. Apart from those things, I think the film has a stylistic coherence that I'm pleased with (a lot of long-ish takes, with the camera simply following the actors around; very simple blocking in general), some humour (mainly courtesy of the supporting characters, especially Steve Dineen's tie salesman), and also a quietly spooky feel to it (or so I've been told by the people over here to whom I've shown clips). I hope we can still make Cannes, but if not, it's not the end of the world, and however long it takes to get it fully completed from now, it won't be as bad as your average Bela Tarr shoot (I believe the great man has been trying to get his few film, The Man from London, completed for the last two years now). All being well, we'll have a fully finished film in a matter of months, not years...

Friday, February 02, 2007

98 Minutes and Counting

We now have a 98 minute cut of the film, which is certainly getting there. I've just emailed Wendy (the editor) a few pages of notes for what we should do for the next version of the film. Although we've had to control our urges (well, my urges, to be honest) to do everything in long takes (we'd have ended up with a 3 hour film otherwise), the film still has a convincing real-time feel to it, and a lot of the scenes are shot with a moving camera (our trusty and esteemed colleague Figgus Riggus in action!). So I'm quite pleased with the style of the film, and its overall pace. Once I get back to Blighty next week, I'll be showing it to various interested parties to get their feedback. Hopefully they won't ask for too many changes, especially reinstating the Busby Berkeley ending... Actually, I'm not sure what changes any one could ask for, other than the film be quicker, which I think would be wrong, so acquiescing to demands of various sorts may not be possible, other than demanding the finest wines available to humanity...

Sunday, January 28, 2007


I'm currently editing the film in Los Angeles (the 'g' should of course be pronounced hard, like the narrator does in The Big Lebowski...) with Wendy Elford-Argent, who cut The Notebooks of Cornelius Crow. Folie is, of course, a very different film, and we have to trim out anything that reminds us of Crow. The film has gone down from 135 to 118 to 108 mins. Not bad for something with a shooting script of only 38 pages. We need to cut it down even further, of course. The dream sequences aren't really working at the moment, and the other characters tend to deflect too much from Adam Napier and Sally Scott's characters in the second half of the film, so they may well end up getting cut or judiciously trimmed. Adam and Sally are superb, IMHO, and the best of the rest at the moment is Steve Dineen as the wonderfully ridiculous tie salesman. That's all I have time for at the moment. More later.

BTW, Happy Birthday Sir John (Tavener)!