Saturday, December 27, 2008

Father Christmas to the (half) rescue

Well, it's been a funny seven days. Last weekend, I was more or less ready to give the whole thing up, and part of my car exploding only seemed to confirm that I suspected: things felt like they were ganging up on me to prevent the film from ever being completed. You may know the feeling: the postman brings one too many shitty letters from the bank, the toaster cremates your breakfast, the dog farts so badly you have to have the windows open all day - that kind of thing. (A more poetic version of this is, of course, Algernon Blackwood's marvellous phrase 'The willows were against us.')

In what can only be described as a sudden reversal of fortune, we now have half the money we need to complete. The remaining cash is still being sought. But I feel as though things are at last coming together. We're not out of the woods yet, and I don't want to put a completion date on the film, given that we're somewhat behind schedule, but at least if the dog farts now, I won't mind so much.

I hope you have had a good Christmas. I am looking forward to seeing Carry on Cleo on New Year's Eve, as it features the acting talents of a certain B. Douglas....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Music Completed

Sharon has just completed the score. Or, I should say, she finished it about a week ago, and I've spent the intervening time trying to download it! One track in particular didn't like my FTP client - or maybe it was the other way round - but eventually I managed to access the piece via the good offices of I have only watched the film with the first cue in place, and I have to say it works wonderfully well. Sharon has intuitively understood the needs of the film.... as I knew she would. It makes the struggle - and believe me, every filmmaker ought to write a book called My Struggle (although that wouldn't be very popular in London NW11) - bearable when you are collaborating with people who understand what you are looking for, and manage to surprise you in the process by not only giving you what you want, but more than you asked for.

We now are about to start mixing and grading. Stay tuned! The film will be ready in 2009, finally.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New CD from Composer Sharon Farber

While we wait for Sharon to finish the score for Folie, I'm pleased to report that her marvellous score for the movie When Nietzsche Wept has just been released on CD and download. More info and purchase details here. Congratulations, Sharon!

“Some scores are worth fighting for - for more than a year we have been working on acquiring the rights to release this immensely beautiful orchestral score by the hugely talented Sharon Farber. Based on the novel by Irvin D. Yalom, scoring When Nietzsche Wept was a dream project for the composer, who had read the book as a teenager and immediately fell in love with it."

Mikael Carlsson
Moviescore Media

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Composer Sharon Farber has been hard at work this month on the film's music, and I watched the near-final cut last week with the score for the first time, and the difference Sharon's work makes is palpable. She has given us some wonderful, sensitive, enigmatic and haunting music, which will only serve to take the whole film up several notches... Hopefully we'll be mixing in October/November, and have the film finally ready by Christmas. Cannes 2009 awaits!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Picture Locked

After sending Wendy another 10 page memo about changes that we felt necessary, I can now report with considerable relief and even a bit of mild elation - careful, now - that Folie is now locked. The decision to extend all the cutaways has proved very effective - everything now appears as a memento mori - which gives the film a deeper feel, I think. And the new ending certain works a treat. True, we'll need to make a few minor cosmetic nips and tucks - there have been calls for the shot of the cat to be put back in! - but the film is now, to all intents and purposes, done and we are into the final stages of post at long last. Composer Sharon Farber is now busy with the score, and we should be mixing and grading in October. Oh, and did I say, there is even a director cameo in the film now? It's a blink and you'll miss him type of shot. Play spot the auteur at a multiplex near you in 2009...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Behind the Scenes Trailer Online

A taster of both the finished film, and Rhys Hayward's fine 'Behind the Scenes' documentary can be found here:, featuring Adam Napier summarising the film rather well, and a comparatively young, carefree and happy director talking about how the film was cast.

A full trailer for Folie will be uploaded later in the summer.

Meanwhile, please buy a copy of The Bill Douglas Trilogy, finally out on DVD and with a contribution to the booklet by your humble auteur himself...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Deadline Dates Loom

On the last day we were in Cannes, we had some interest in Folie from a film festival - and a rather good one at that. Their submission deadline is looming - it's in about 6 weeks - so we're hoping to get the film more or less finished by then. We're shooting the final pick-ups this weekend (final, that is, apart from re-doing the final shot, which will have to be done in either early July or early September), and hopefully these few extra shots will be in the cut by the end of this month. Completion can't some soon enough, believe me. I feel rather like the song says, 'Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington', the stage in this case being the whole ordeal of producing an independent feature...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sturgeon's Law

Someone once told the SF writer Ted Sturgeon that 90% of SF was crap. Sturgeon agreed, but then addded, 'But 90% of everything is crap.'

I had this infallible truth on my mind this last week in Cannes, where there was indeed a lot of cinematic crap on display, and a lot of idiots talking the usual merde.

There was interest in our proposed documentary about Tarkovsky, Cinema of Dreams, and interest in Folie from a film festival. Their deadline is a mere eight weeks away, but we may be able to get it about 80% or 90% done by then, financial fairies permitting.

More anon, once I've recovered from the usual festival rigours (sore feet, bad diet etc).

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Blackballing Bastards

Another fruitless meeting with a so-called 'very keen' investor who was making noises about how he wanted to put some money into Folie so we can get it finished has just left us feeling rather like Mr Wiggin, from Monty Python's Architect Sketch:

Mr. Wiggin:
May I ask you to reconsider?


Mr. Wiggin:
You wouldn't regret this. Think of the tourist trade.

Client 1:
I'm sorry. We want a block of flats, not an abattoir.

Mr. Wiggin:
...I see. Well, of course, this is just the sort of blinkered philistine pig-ignorance I've come to expect from you non-creative garbage. You sit there on your loathsome spotty behinds squeezing blackheads, not caring a tinker's cuss for the struggling artist. You excrement, you whining hypocritical toadies with your colour TV sets and your Tony Jacklin golf clubs and your bleeding masonic secret handshakes. You wouldn't let me join, would you, you blackballing bastards. Well I wouldn't become a Freemason now if you went down on your lousy stinking knees and begged me!


It is of course heavily ironic that Weston-super-Mare's not very much missed MP was called Wiggin, Mr Wiggin in the sketch was played by Weston's very own John Cleese (shot at the time Wiggin was MP - surely no coincidence), and Folie was of course shot there. It is verily a town of blackballing bastards. And we're still waiting to get in at Hendon.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mikloś Jancsó (and the latest edit)

Last weekend we went up to London to see the great Mikloś Jancsó in person at the Curzon Mayfair and the Curzon Soho, as part of the Curzon /Second Run Jancsó festival. The great man was in very fine form, especially considering he is 86 (and certainly doesn't look it or act it). Apart from answering questions about The Round-Up, which was screening to celebrate its release on DVD, Jancsó talked about some of his ideas about film. He complained that many films don't give the viewer enough time to think, which I can heartily agree with. The point of most Hollywood cinema (and western culture/consumerism in general) is not to make people think. If you stop to think, you realise what a pile of crap it all is, and they don't want that, offering instead the vicarious, emotionally dead pleasures of shallow, poorly conceived stories that basically reinforce the status quo, or what Philip K. Dick called the Empire. (A term also used by Alain Badiou - thanks Nathan!) It is of course tempting to add the word 'Evil' before that word. There are a lot of them out there. We need - indeed, must have, films that make us think. And not just films - anything that makes us think: books, art, music, media (the list could go on...).

I was reminded of all this the night before last when I finally got round to watching the latest cut of Folie. The new version of the film certainly made me think, perhaps because it's the first new edit we've had a in a few months, so it was akin to seeing the film for the first time. I found myself wanting to know what was going on in these characters' heads, what their pasts were like - something that would be killed by the inclusion of voice-over. So, in a U-turn worthy of any government (and they're nearly all despicable), I have now decided to omit voice-over from the film, which also means that the dreams will be cut as well. Actually, it's the other way round: watching the film the other night made me realise that the dreams really have to go; they're darlings that simply have to be murdered. I think the film will be better without them. And hopefully it will make people think more, which must surely be a good thing.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Latest Edit

Got the latest edit from the FTP server last night. At only 2GB, it managed to download OK even with my rather slow broadband (surely an oxymoron?). Anyway, the film is looking good - nearly there I hope. For the first time in cutting, instead of getting shorter, it is now getting longer. This present edit is 89 minutes, which is a couple of minutes longer than the last version. We want something that's just right, of course; a lot of the decisions we now need to make are trying to strike a balance between style and story. I'm quite pleased that some shots have been held way beyond their 'normal' time, but obviously we can't do that with every single shot, so I need to try and reign in my desire to make this Weston-super-Mare's answer to Sátántangó. (Maybe that will be a DVD extra...)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Into the Last Stretch of Post

I've just gotten back from Edinburgh, where I spent all day Tuesday making copies of the pick-ups for Folie à Deux. I was originally intending to do them in Bristol, but the price I was quoted by a certain post-production facility near the BBC was a ludicrous £460 + VAT. It worked out to cheaper to get the train to the other end of the country and get the copies done north of Hadrian's Wall, where I have a well-placed contact in post land. Total expenditure: £4.50 (for three new mini DV tapes). The material was shot piecemeal between June and November last year, and will definitely enhance the film considerably. I've also decided that the film will have a voice-over from both Adam Napier's and Sally Scott's characters, which we'll try and record sometime in March. A Cannes screening in May remains a possibility, as does fame, fortune and reforming the Baader-Meinhof gang to settle a few scores with a well-known high street bank... The film definitely feels like it's nearing completion at last, and I'm feeling very inspired by the extra footage and the impact the voice-overs will have.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Director Seeking Inspiration

I mentioned in my last post that it becomes very difficult to remain interested in your own work after a certain length of time. The original plan had been to get Folie finished by last summer, but that didn't happen due to the necessity of getting pick-ups, which was done piecemeal between June and November of last year (with a possible further day of pick-ups still to come). Varying degrees of soul-searching and questioning whether it really is worth dedicating one's life - or at least large portions of it - to making films, while not exactly slowly down the shooting of pick-ups, did at least mean that it was harder than ever to get back into the right mindset to get the film finished.

To that end, I've been trying in the last few weeks to seek inspiration via other means than various ancient country hostelries, and have renewed my membership. Almost the first two things I watched were Louis Malle's great 1963 film Le Feu Follet, and Fassbinder's In a Year With 13 Moons (1978). One could say Folie is tangentially related to both in terms of certain themes, while being stylistically very different. What interests me about both films is the use of dialogue, especially the main characters' attempts to articulate their feelings. Fassbinder makes great use of a tape recording at the end of 13 Moons, and this has led me back to thinking that short voice-overs could go into Folie, perhaps over the dream sequences.

On the subject of voice-over, I learned last week that Bresson's Mouchette was one of Bill Douglas's favourite films, and that contains no voice-over at all, so I may go back and watch that again, too. On the other hand, Diary of a Country Priest is a great voice-over film, so one could assume that Bresson had no particular aversion to it as a storytelling tool. My main feeling is that, if voice-overs are used, it would be to deepen the film and, if anything, make it more enigmatic, rather that explaining anything. There are very few explanations in our lives, and most of the time, we are adrift in a sea of seeming certainties, but which, on closer inspection, turn out to be as solid and long-lasting as a cobweb.

Another film that made an impression on me recently was The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which I saw at one of my favourite cinemas, the Cameo in Edinburgh. Again, a voice-over film, and one with a voice-of-God narrator as well, which added a sense of inevitability about the whole thing, which I think suited the story. But perhaps the thing that struck me most was the sense that it was a film about the passing of time, and the briefness of meaningful moments, suggested by numerous shots of apparently inanimate objects - various domestic still lives, the sunlight on the floorboards, views through lace curtains or windows, etc. As any good filmmaker knows, there's no such thing as an inanimate object. Everything should play a part in your film; there is only inanimate writing, direction and acting. (To say nothing of inanimate distribution, criticism and overall cultural stagnation... but perhaps I'm going off on a tangent here. Or am I?)

How all this will feed into the last stage of Folie, I don't know, but it feels somehow like it is finally gelling. If I make another film after this, I'm tempted to take a leaf out of Fassbinder's book and do the whole thing from start to finish in 3 months. He averaged one feature every hundred days. No wonder the poor man died at 37. I'd quite like to survive a bit longer than that, Manoel de Oliveira being my main inspiration in this department, still making films in his 100th year. If there's one lesson to be learned from the Portuguese Master, it's this: whatever happens, keep going.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Finishing Folie

We are now hopefully in the final stretch of post on Folie, after far too long in limbo, a limbo largely created by actor's schedules (unintentionally and unavoidably delaying the shooting of vital pick-ups) and the ever present spectre of a profound lack of cash. If the Gods of Post permit, we could screen the film in the Cannes Market in May, and hopefully finally get the film out into the world thereafter.

The main problem with being in post for so long is that it becomes very difficult to remain interested and inspired in one's own work, and the last few months have certainly been an object lesson in how to do so. I can't say I have any secrets, you just have to learn to watch something totally uncritically, and imagine that you are a member of the audience seeing it for the first time. Also to recall what got you excited about the story in the first place, excited/obsessed enough to get tangled up in the chaos and all-round assault course that is making a film.

The main artistic quandaries we have at the moment are deciding whether to add a bit of voice-over to the film, not to explain things, but to deepen the film, and also the vexed issue of music. I'm not sure that it needs very much, and seeing 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days on Saturday, which has no music at all, strengthens my feeling that less will probably be more.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sir Edmund Hillary RIP

More film news anon, but at the moment I would just like to doff my hat to one of the greatest chaps of recent decades, Sir Edmund Hillary (L, here with the great Tenzing Norgay, just after the conquest of Everest in 1953). God Bless You Sir, and may we all learn from your example. (And have a quick single malt for Tenzing, too!)