Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Season's Greeblings

Merry Christmas, folks!

Have a safe and happy day, regardless of your faith. And watch Doctor Who.

I'm off to re-do some failed soup (my conrtibution to this year's Christmas dinner). Pong.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Ray Harryhausen - Effects Titan

 While I'm scribbling away on an outline for a feature project, I found time to squeeze in a review of a documentary I recently watched on Ray Harryhausen, who regular readers of this blog (is there such a person? And why??) will know I consider to be a bit of a special chap.

Geek Chocolate: Ray Harryhausen - Special Effects Titan review.

Honestly, it's not the best review I've written, as my attention is kept by my current feature project.

He's a movie god, as far as I'm concerned and the brief time I met him will always stand out as one of the best in my life so far. I shook the hand that gave life to Mighty Joe Young, Telos, Kali and Medusa. I'm glad he's still with us.

Oh, and it's December and this is my first post of the month. Bugger.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Plodding Onwards

 I'm still around. Got another deadline at the end of this week for a project I'm collaborating on. A lot to do. Also trying to squeeze in a few films as well. There's some good stuff coming out now; I plan to take in Silver Linings Playbook, End of Watch and Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan all later this week as well as watching films and TV relevant to the project I'm working on.

Rotten news last week on two counts; my lovely in-laws lost their neighbour of about 40 years suddenly. A shame. Only met him once or twice but he was a good man.

And someone I knew only briefly at university, but who several close friends were much closer to, sadly took his own life last week as well. Very sad. He was a memorable character from those days and a specific night at La Belle Angele in Edinburgh's Cowgate sprang to mind when I heard of his passing: A jumper. A smart ass Indie arsehole (not the chap in question). A smirk. A glass. A fight. Another friend tossed down the stairs (the last person I'd have expected that to happen to). And a bloodied demand to the bouncers for said jumper back. And the night ended with laughter. RIP Olly Lassman.

But there is also good news. Looks like, all going to plan, I'll be an uncle next May. I'm ecstatic about this.

Back to the bloody mess on the page.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

I Am Breathing - Trailer

Anyone who's read this blog for the last few years will likely be aware of the loss of my good friend, Neil Platt, in 2009 to Motor Neurone Disease (known as ALS in the US), an appalling affliction that has robbed his family of several loved ones. Another good friend, filmmaker Morag MacKinnon and her comrade in arms, Emma Davie, were asked by Neil to document his final few months. They did and after several years the film will receive it's premiere on Saturday 17th November in Amsterdam at the International Documentary Film Festival.

A new trailer for the film has been released.


More information about Neil, MND and the film can be found at the official website - I Am Breathing.

I still miss that no-nonsense Yorkshireman and our Saturday pissups at Edinburgh rock clubs. Some people leave the deepest impressions and Platt was no exception.

8 Sequences - The Last Crusade.

I've recently been using the 8 Sequence theory, made popular by the late screenwriting tutor, Frank Daniel. While I never like to adhere to one train of though on these matters, I've been finding it incredibly useful and is a real boost when dealing with the dangers of Act 2. My current project, which I'm expanding from outline to longer treatment right now, has benefited from it and I thought I'd try a simple experiment of applying the 8 Act structure to a film I know well. I have to emphasise that this is a very simple application.

If you're using a 3 act structure, this can be applied. Each of your 3 acts is broken down, Act 1 into 2 sequences; Act 2 into 4 sequences; Act 3 into 2 sequences.

Essentially, it boils down to a problem, or want/desire, gives us a complication to get in the way of achieving that goal and then resolves the problem. Screenwriting 101, frankly. But the most important thing is that the resolution must propel the story further on. It has to not only solve what has gone before (or not, as the case may be) but also serve to set up more complications. To quote a screenwriter (Aline Brosh McKenna) I recently read on writing, "you want your movies to have a 'because' between each of your scenes and not an 'and then' between them".

In short, each bit of a story has to set up the next; a logical progression of flow. Of course, this story propulsion must be applied to any technique of screenwriting (or dramatic writing of any type) unless you deliberately want to go for an episodic structure. From 3 Act to anything else, but even then I try to let things become organic in my head and not stick slavishly to a template. Some people complain about screenwriting theory and say it is damaging to true creativity but I disagree. Just don't let it rule what you right.

I picked Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as its structure has stood out to me, even when I was a kid. One of the things I discovered is that it tends to shift location with each new sequence. I think it's an easy way to start making sense of the theory.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in Eight Sequences

Sequence 1 – Young Indy

Problem: Young Indy steals the Cross of Coronado from treasure thieves.
Complicated by: Indy must escape from the pursuing thieves.
Resolution: The thieves retain the Cross of Coronado. Indy gets his hat and scar and his path in life is set.

Sequence 2 – Donovan and The Grail Quest

Problem:  Walter Donovan wants Indy to help him find the Holy Grail.
Complicated by: Indy’s father, Henry, has disappeared looking for the Grail.
Resolution: Indy goes in search of Henry.

Sequence 3 - Venice

Problem: Indy, Marcus and Elsa look for the second marker on the trail of the Grail.
Complicated by: The Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, led by Kazim, tries to kill Indy.
Resolution: The second marker is found and Kazim tells Indy where Henry is being held.

Sequence 4 - Austria

Problem: Indy searches the castle for his Dad.
Complicated by: Elsa is a traitor, the Grail diary is taken and Indy is captured.
Resolution: Indy escapes the castle with Henry via motorbike chase.

Sequence 5 - Germany

Problem: Indy and Henry must find Marcus as he has the map.
Complicated by: They still need the Grail Diary, now in the hands of the Nazis in Berlin.
Resolution: Indy and Henry escape Germany with the Diary aboard a zeppelin.

Sequence 6 – Keeping up with the Joneses / Turkey

Problem: Indy and Henry have been detected aboard the zeppelin and must get to Sallah in Iskenderun.
Complicated by: German fighter planes are pursuing them and Indy has no bullets left.
Resolution: Indy watches his father defeat the planes and sees value in his Father's knowledge.

Sequence 7 – Hatay / Tank Chase

Problem: Indy must beat the Nazis to the location of the Grail using the map.
Complicated by: The Nazis have the map and Indy’s father is captured.
Resolution: Indy rescues Henry and Marcus. Henry realises he loves his son.

Sequence 8 – The Grail Temple

Problem: Donovan and the Nazis have reached the final stage in the search for the Grail.
Complicated by: Donovan shoots Henry, forcing Indy to endure the final tests of the Grail.
Resolution:  Indy finds the Grail and heals his father (relationship is also healed) and finally Henry lets the Grail go.

Many of the sequences, especially the latter ones, also end with an emotional beat as well, demonstrating one of the reasons Last Crusade is well regarded; it's not just a treasure hunt but a story about a father and son reconciling.

Like I said, simple stuff but it helps tremendously in the planning and outline stages, which is important to me.I may try this with other films and recommend it to others as a way of trying to make things a bit more ordered and coherent. And, like I also said, it's just one of many tools out there.

Increase your writing toolbox!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Back from the ether...

Bimey. 2 and a half months.

A few nights ago, a friend a fellow blogger, Conan the Librarian, asked if I'd stopped my blog. The simple answer was no but I understood what he meant. It's been a long while since I last posted and before then I had all sorts of things I wanted to post about (and still do).

What have I been doing? Well, for the bulk of that time I had been writing an outline for a new feature project I'm collaborating on with some friends. That went down well and so now I'm working on a longer treatment document before we go to a first draft. I was also working full time for a while but that job ended (the hazards of temping) and I'm still looking for more work (the hazards of relying on temping). And sometimes it's just so easy to let something like this blog slip away. That, and trying to get through the episodes of Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, The Thick of It and Dallas (yes, Dallas, so sue me; I'm a child of the 70s & 80s) that are dominating our DVR right now.

I've also joined a gym. Been quite disgusted at my appearance of late so I'm bidding farewell to a few stone (one stone is 14 llbs, to my US friends). Getting fitter ought to help with the old motivation and general demeanour.

So, it's back on with the blog. There was a tiny wee news story about Star Wars last week I might just have something to say about.

In the meantime, this is brilliant and is a good shot in the arm when needing reminded about the ultimate goal in filmmaking (for me, anyway).

Good, no? See you at the movies.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Jerry Nelson

Original Muppeteer Jerry Nelson has passed away at 78.

He was Robin, the Count von Count, Floyd Pepper, Lew Zealand and many, many other wonderful characters.

I'm at work at the moment so can't write anything too long. I just felt I had to mark the passing of one of those amazing people who had a marked affect on my childhood. I'm gutted at this.

Something longer and more appropriate will be posted later this afternoon.

There are too many obits on this blog. Not because I'm obsessed with that kind of thing (as some folks claim) but because when someone who has affected me through popular culture, I feel the need to speak about them. And unfortunately, there have been too many of these, particularly this past year. My message to the cosmos? Give it a break.

Monday, 20 August 2012

The Boy from South Shields.

As I'm sure everybody knows now, Tony Scott took his own life yesterday, aged 68. To be honest, his reasons for doing so are nobody's business but his own and his family's.

He was responsible for a lot of the way modern blockbusters are filmed these days. Especially in the 1980s, his films had a fabulous, sleek sheen to them. Lots of rain, gradient filters, screwed up angles and a pervading sense of heat. No Tony Scott pretty much means no Michael Bay, for good or ill. Much of the style he developed has been used by modern filmmakers to varying degrees, mostly poorly. I was never a fan of Top Gun but consider The Last Boy Scout and Crimson Tide to be my favourites of his films. But of course a special mention must go out to True Romance, considered by many to be his best.

One of those moments when it all comes together in a movie. Scott's direction, Tarantino's writing and Walken & Hopper's performances. In fact I consider this scene to be Scott & Hopper's finest hour. Hopper's character is a man at ease with the universe and all of those around him because he knows exactly what the deal is. That there is no way out so enjoy the ride.

A sad day for his family and a sad day for the movies.

Thank you, Mr Scott. Give 'em hell.

Back from wherever...

Been a while since my last blog. Had a few things on and getting into a new routine.

I've started a new temp job - not bad so far - and am in the early stages of a new feature project with some great collaborators. Not much I can say about that just now but I am very excited about it and it's right up my alley. A lot of work to do on that.

A bit fucked off at some of the right-wing US gun enthusiasts who thought my last blog post was a good place to spread their brainless, simple-minded and selfish propaganda. But this is the internet so there we are.

The Doug McLure dinosaur posts are coming, I promise. Just not had the time to get it going. But I have re-watched The Land That Time Forgot recently. Thoughts to be posted soon.

I'm still getting over a quick trip to London at the weekend for an old friend's birthday party. It ended at 5.45am, listening to The Grumbleweeds.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Aurora - no adequate words of my own.

Something appalling and terrible happened in Colorado yesterday. One of those things that tends to put things in a clearer focus but at the same time manages to bewilder us at a fundamental level. A lot has been said and I'm sure anything I have to say would be one of countless versions of the same sentiment most people are expressing.

But a friend posted something on Facebook that I think is pretty appropriate

Thoughts with all of those affected by yesterday's events.

And thanks to Barry Davie for the idea.

The Trailer That Time Forgot

I've been belted with a rotten cold these past few days so I'm still to begin my Lure of McClure series of posts. And now it seems I've given my cold to my wife, so there's grovelling to be done.

This will have to tide you over until then.

Great stuff on several levels.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The lure of McClure...

Presuming this is from The People That Time Forgot.

Whilst flipping through the DVD review section of this month's copy of Empire, I caught a quick glance at their thoughts on Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. One particular bit amused me where the film in question was compared thus:

"pleasingly naff, like a Doug McClure movie on space dust."

This got me thinking about the great man (TM) and those 4 films he did with Amicus based on Edgar Rice Burroughs stories, The Land That Time Forgot, The People That Time Forgot, At The Earth's Core and Warlords Of Atlantis. I have the classic Doug McClure Fantasy Adventure Triple Bill DVD set. Classy.

All pretty terrible films but mostly films I love. Go figure. In fact, At The Earth's Core was the one that really got my attention as a kid, particularly with it's bizarre electronic soundtrack. It's frankly ridiculous but fantastic. Forgive me if I've gone on about this before, but if so, it's going to happen again.

Therefore, be aware that some of the next posts will feature ropey miniature effects, rubber dinosaurs, cavemen and Keith Barron.

Consider yourself warned.

Saturday, 14 July 2012


Jeez, not another obit.

Richard D. Zanuck.

The Sound of Music
Planet of the Apes
The Sugarland Express
Jaws 2
Road to Perdition
Sweeney Todd
Driving Miss Daisy
The Verdict
The Eiger Sanction
The Sting

Speaks for itself.

Oh, and in all likelihood, no Zanuck = no Spielberg.

Mark Harris' Scenes from a Revolution and Leonard Mosley's Zanuck (a biography of his father, Daryl F. Zanuck, who both hired him and fired him as head of 20th Century Fox) are good references on his career.

He was working right up to his sudden end and had produced a lot of Tim Burton's recent output.

Thank you and rest in peace, sir.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Living the dream

The thing about working from home (working? Doesn't that imply earnings? Not for me so far...) is all the other jobs that crop up. Take this, for instance.

That's been my Thursday. One shed down, another one up. With a lot of help from my Dad. Writing? Not a word. I may try and squeeze some in this evening before I collapse.

It needed doing. The old one was a spider cemetery and mouse flop house. Not pleasant clearing the old one out, the work of the past couple of days, which led to no blog posts. And it's not over yet.

Who cares? I care. It's my blog, I'll say what I like.

Ah, life.

Monday, 9 July 2012



Catching up on my Fellini. That could be a euphemism, I suppose. This thought saddens me.

After several aborted attempts, I finally watched La Strada a few nights ago. I admit, I had trouble watching it but it's worth it by the end.

Incredibly moving. Utter desolation.

But the fact that Anthony Quinn and Richard Basehart are dubbed was off putting. I can barely stand foreign films dubbed into English, unless they're mad Japanese monster movies, but it seemed that dubbing English Language performances was common in Europe, or Italy at least. While Quinn's dubbed voice of Zampano is relatively close to his own in tone, the fact that it's not him (I'm presuming) took me out of the final scene slightly. Zampano sobs in grief/guilt finally at the fate of Guilietta Masina's Gelsomina and buries his face in the sand. It's an incredible moment but it made me think of how Quinn's performance might have been altered by the use of someone elses voice. It really worked against Richard Basehart's Fool / Il Matto. The voice dubbed over his performance is ridiculously overdone and pitched much higher than Basehart's own, making him sound like a caricature of a clown. Obviously my own knowledge of Basehart's voice (he was, after all, the deep, gravelly voice in the opening of Knight Rider) affects my opinion of this, but the fact that Fellini chose such a daft voice for the character is odd. Would an actor find that insulting? I found this equally distracting with Donald Sutherland's performance in Fellini's Casanova.

Here's an example (without subtitles). There is something a bit too childlike or clownish about it for me.

And then, oddly, Basehart dubs his own performance into the English language version in the same scene as above.

But this is still a great film with moments of  utter sadness, particularly when Gelsomina waves goodbye to the nuns. An awful resignation from a girl who's naivete is torn from her by a cruelly indifferent man who realises his error far too late.And a beautiful score from Nino Rota.

Change, my dear...

You may have noticed a slight change in the look of the blog. I've tried to make it more in line with the look of my main website and have also added buttons to take you to pages over there as well in an attempt to make it seem like the same beast. As I tweak/massively overhaul/make a mess of the website, the blog may change correspondingly.

I am my own corporate brand whore.

"Sykes and a..."

Completely remiss of me not to comment on Eric Sykes' death last week.

Much has been said so let's let the man's work speak for itself.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Ernest Borgnine

Just like Eric Sykes, who we also lost this past week, Ernest Borgnine was one of those guys who never seemed to stop.

I loved him. A really great character actor. A lot of folks knew him as a villain from movies like From Here to Eternity, Bad Day at Black Rock and Johnny Guitar, but seeing as I grew up in the late 70's and 80's, I knew him first from movies like The Poseidon Adventure, Flight of the Phoenix, Escape from New York and The Black Hole and on TV in Airwolf.

And then I saw Marty.

To my young mind, what a revelation.

He seemed a lovely, genial man who was not afraid to poke fun at himself on The Simpsons or even on live television when whispering about how had achieved such longevity.

He kept working up until recently and was even known to young kids as the voice of Mermaid Man on Spongebob Squarepants. Just a cool, hard working actor who seemed to really love what he did.

The man was a ubiquitous element to my viewing as a youngster and even afterwards. 96 is a great age.

Thank you and rest in peace, sir.

Also does fim reviews. Sometimes.

I occasionally write film reviews for Geek Chocolate, normally on comic book movies and other in your face event films. I should probably branch out and do others as I have pretty catholic taste in movies.

Geek Chocolate is a pretty good place for modern geek culture. Setting itself wide apart from the likes of Aint It Cool News (not a put down as they often have good articles, especially on Doctor Who), it doesn't just focus on movies but also includes thoughtful interviews with comic, science fiction and fantasy authors and similar figures (the likes of Neil Gaiman and China Mieville...), has great pieces on genre TV and film and great reviews on new science fiction books. It's run by a good bunch of guys who take their love of these things seriously. But not too seriously.

You can find my opinions on The Amazing Spider-Man here if you're so inclined.

The annoying thing is that after submitting reviews, I often find new thoughts popping into my head. May add a few thoughts on the film in another post.


Regular readers (I believe you exist...) will know I don't just write about movies and may also know of my aversion to sport.

This summer has been a nightmare for the non-sport folks, like myself. The football season ended and then the never-ending Rangers saga took hold and is still pummelling our senses every day. We've had to endure even more football with Euro 2012. The build up to the Olympics is becoming unbearable. And Wimbledon. Well, I don't mind Wimbledon. My wife loves tennis and taught me the rules so I can watch a match (for a short time at least) and not want to shear my face of with a broken pint glass.

So, Andy Murray.

Good luck to the guy. But I feel a bit sorry for him. It's amazing he's gotten to the final (first for 74 years or something like that?) but the pressure on the guy from the media is staggering. I have to be honest and say I don't think he'll win. It's Federer and, even if he has an injury and isn't quite up to scratch, it's Federer.

And so all the gags about him suddenly being Scottish for not winning. Which is pathetic, really. There is such a bizarre culture in the UK of either congratulating failure (hello Scottish Film Industry) or eviscerating it. There's no such thing as accepting a situation, taking stock of it and planning ahead. We're just shit in the UK, or so the prevailing attitude from "geniuses" such as Charlie Brooker and Andy Parsons seems to teach us. We think encouragement is a bad thing. No wonder things aren't great right now. And that seeps its way into peoples' lives. How about we take things a step at a time, instead of meeting failure and then raising our collective hands up about other peoples' achievements and having a go at them? Folks who win see failure as a lesson and learn from it, a habit I'm trying to get into myself.

Rant, rant, rant. But I think my point is somewhere in there.

Best of luck today to Murray, Di Resta, Hamilton, Button and anyone else out there who's putting their arse on the line for the UK. Just remember to thank them.

And now back to our regularly scheduled rantings...

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Pointy Eared Anticipation

The interwebs are beginning to fill up with very good word about The Dark Knight Rises.

After the massive disappointment of Prometheus (seriously, Sir Ridley, what were you thinking?) and the enjoyable but ultimately frustrating Amazing Spider-Man, something is telling me to temper my expectations for other big releases this year. But the more I hear about the finale to Christopher Nolan's Batman series, the more I want to do an Eric Cartman and find some way to hibernate for the next 19 days until the movie comes out. I may have to make do with a double bill of Batman Begins (still a weak title) and The Dark Knight at Cineworld in a week and a half. The Cameo is doing all three films, from 11.30pm on the 19th, finishing with The Dark Knight Rises at 6.30am but I won't be doing that - their seats are so damn comfortable I'd likely not make it 30 minutes into the first film.

Some spoilers are slipping out now so blindfolds on, fingers crossed and find other things to do...

Until, of course, it comes time for Warner Bros to start a new Batman series (I hate using that word, "reboot"), which I have little problem with, as much as I love the Nolan films. I'd like to see something a little closer to the recent comics. Quite a fan of the look Jim Lee gave Batman. Very curious as to which direction they choose to go. Nolan has given us a very real world Batman and the degree of direction change is going to be very tough for whomever succeeds him.

Accidental Ego

Somehow, after following two other blogs this morning, I've managed to become a follower of my own blog. Who the hell follows their own blog? Who the hell needs to? Purely accidental.

Good things do happen.

This is one of the best things I have ever seen.

Ron Perlman donned the Hellboy make up (a process I hear can take up to 4 hours at times) to help make the wish of young Zachary, as part of the US Make A Wish Foundation. Zach not only wanted to meet Big Red himself but also wanted to become Hellboy. So the guys at Spectral Motion granted this for him.

People can be good. In fact, in all of the useless cynicism of today - not all of it is useless, mind you, it can just be a lazy default setting for some folks who don't know they're alive -  we get to see a good deed like this. I always liked Ron Perlman and this just seals the deal. Hellboy 3 is meant to be very unlikely as he says he's getting on and isn't keen on the daily make up sessions anymore. As others have said elsewhere, what a class act.

You can see more photos of this amazing day at Spectral Motion's Facebook Album.

The UK Make a Wish Foundation can also be found here.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Seuss Droids

Love this.

Pilfered from Rebel Scum and Stealthisart.

Django Unchained

Everyone has been going on (quite rightfully in most cases) about several films that are most anticipated this year, namely The Avengers (yay!), Prometheus (boo!) The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall and The Hobbit. But there is another movie out later this year that most definitely sits in that category.

I stone cold LOVED Inglourious Bastards and Django Unchained seems to be taking the same kind of bent to a different genre. I'm really glad Tarantino's cast Christoph Waltz as Dr King Schultz. Bring it on, Mr T.

I'll be bracing myself for The Amazing Spider-Man tomorrow. Please don't be crap...

Sunday, 1 July 2012


Wow. I posted about the new website on Facebook earlier today and not only has it had over 100 hits (yes, I know, first day glories soon to drop off) but this blog has today had the most hits ever.

A massive thank you to folks who have been spreading the word about the new site.

Now to get on with some glamourous work. That garden won't dig itself...

Total Recall. Again.

I'll be seeing Total Recall in cinemas this summer. But it won't be the remake.


After a bit of a down period, I've got my backside in gear and created a professional website now to put myself out there in the real world. Time to stop hiding the light under the old bushel (what the hell is a bushel anyway?) and push myself in a more professional manner.

So, my details can now be found at robinsonwritesfilm where you can also find some samples of my screenwriting, previous experience and some films I've made or contributed to. I can see the website expanding over time with more things and a better headshot. It also links to this blog and consequently I'm considering changing the name of the blog to keep it in line with the new website but the old content will remain. If I do, there'll be plenty of warning about changing where to go to if you want to continue to observe my haverings.

This is a good thing.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Ralph McQuarrie

Another little bit of my childhood passed into eternity tonight.

Ralph McQuarrie started out as an industrial graphic designer. His work for NASA around the moon landings caught the attention of filmmakers but it was one in particular who really let McQuarrie's imagination loose on all of our eyes; yep, that fella again, George Lucas.

In an effort to try and raise funding for his embryonic project, The Star Wars (as it was known at that time), Lucas employed the awesome talents of McQuarrie to try and convey his proposed film in visual terms. McQuarrie was tasked with creating quality paintings that encapsulated specific scenes from what was (I believe) merely an outline and a series of ideas that Lucas had at the time. While his work for NASA showed his talent for designing believable space craft, his work on Star Wars also showed  a flair for character design, be it human, alien or droid. Many of these images persevered and survive in culturally iconic form in the finished film as we still know it today. Such was McQuarrie's talent. And he helped keep Star Wars alive visually, being a major contributor to Coruscant in the Shadows of the Empire project, something that carried over into the prequels.

Or to put it another way, he pretty much designed Darth Vader. No mean feat.

McQuarrie went on to design further aspects of Star Wars and did the same for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and contributed to the Indiana Jones films and other movies and his work is even felt in its influence of designers such as Doug Chiang and Ian Gracie in the newer Star Wars films.

In a time when we lose guys like Ralph and Bob Anderson (the sword master from the original trilogy - when we saw Vader duel, it was mostly Bob) I feel that little bit older. Ralph was 82 but this still feels like a bit of a gut punch to this geek.

Thank you, Mr McQuarrie. Word has it you were a kind, self effacing gentleman. Thanks for all the wonderful sights you filled my life with.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Of Tinned Tomatoes and Oscars.

  In the summer of 1984, the BBC was broadcasting the summer Olympics from Los Angeles, mostly late at night due to the time difference. It seemed a pretty big deal at the time and ITV, in an effort to counter this in the ratings, began broadcasting a mini series from the US that appeared to have done well; V, a tale of alien invasion and a tribute to resistance fighters and those who stand up against fascist oppression, but done with laser guns and spaceships. Disregarding any thought of the recent limp remake, I loved it. As an 11 year old who was allowed to stay up late to watch this sci-fi show, I appreciated it and lapped it up. The alien invaders were known as the Visitors who, while they appeared benevolent and looked human thanks to rubber skin, were actually reptiles bent on world domination, water theft and human rotisserie. And as I recall, there was a particular scene where one of the aliens Visitors, Willie (played by a sympathetic Robert England)  is brought before some youngsters by human resistance fighters in an effort to show them who they really are and has the fake skin ripped from the back of his hand, revealing scaly reptile skin underneath. It was a great moment and one we would talk about at school for a while.

  The next morning a friend was coming over to hang out, it being the summer holidays. This friend also loved movie make up, especially the old Universal monsters and the work of guys like Jack Pierce and Dick Smith, and would try out experiments on himself with putty, yak hair and greasepaint. This particular morning the doorbells rings and I go to get it, expecting my friend and rightfully so. There he was. And with a simple "Hello", he raised his arm and proceeded to tear the skin from the back of his forearm, revealing green, scaly reptile flesh underneath; perhaps I should reiterate that we were both 11 at the time. And I think my immediate reaction was pretty much, "Wow". This was just part of an ongoing passion my friend had with special effects make up and it got better as we progressed through school, making films where fake severed limbs, ripped eyes and washing up liquid bottles full of tinned tomatoes were sprayed at walls and faces were a relatively regular occurrence.

Some people leave that kind of thing behind when they leave school and enter the world of grown ups. And some people don't. Nor should they ever.

And so, sitting next to a good friend when they find out that something they worked on in a rather major way has just won an Academy Award is a pretty good feeling.

Taken a few days to write this, but I figured, what the hell. Congratulations to Mark Coulier, Stephen Murphy (said friend) Barrie Gower and everyone else who contributed to the make up for The Iron Lady.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Space Pep Talk - Prometheus Viral

I love viral marketing like this. And this has to be one of my two most anticipated films this year (along with ol' pointy ears).

I hear it's not a clip from Prometheus itself but it whets an already ravenous appetite to see the movie.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

"Boring" History and a Certain Point of View.

Good to be back in the swing of things. I've had more good feedback from readers on my current project which I am now revising once again. As such, I'm having to go back to research. Just a few things, but that part of the process carries on.

Writing something based on actual events, the research doesn't really end. And the funny thing is I enjoy it. I hated history at school, even if our teacher was brilliant, intimidating and hilarious (in his way) and now that I am able to look at history on my own terms and in a particular context, I find I really enjoy it. I never would have thought that the Restoration period and the Glorious Revolution in British history (from a Scottish Perspective) would hold my attention the way it does. Finding a good story amongst all of it is the key, I think. Take all of the stuff I might have found boring and look at it through the eyes of someone of the time, as young and impatient as that character may be (and boy, does he have a harsh lesson coming).

Placing a point of view within historical events as expressed by a main character makes it exciting.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

On the Up

Well, what a couple of miserable few posts I've made recently. January is a terrible month and the old enemy (depression) coupled with some unpleasant events can lead to some dark moods. I've not been looking for sympathy, just to vent a little, which everyone needs to do. So, no apologies. Oh, and the not drinking ting fell to the wayside. Not a problem, but it was a good couple of weeks off and I felt better for it. Moderation as they say. I can never drink more than one day a week really anyway.

Well then, lots to do. I'm still not earning any money from my writing at the moment but sitting on one's arse and complaining only makes it worse. As Adrian Mead says, you get what you put in. This time of year puts me in mind of a friend I lost a few years ago at far too young an age and reminds me how much time we all have. I'm not getting any younger. Essentially, we have nothing to lose in aiming high in life. Keeping disciplined and structuring work is important. I've three writing projects on the go at the moment, all in very different stages. One last revision of a feature involving rewriting scenes the villains appear in, finishing the outline for a horror and the new job collaborating on a sitcom idea, something I've never done before. And so I am trying to structure my day more, making sure that everything that needs me attention gets it and in the proportion it needs.

The days are getting lighter.

Monday, 9 January 2012

New Year Schmear.

I ended my last post claiming the next one would be positive. Best laid plans...

Nine days into the year and I haven't blogged. Have I nothing to say? Not sure. Only that I feel that life is dominated by worry right now. Not life threatening, or anything. Just worry and my old friend anxiety. Not earning enough money. At all. One of those times when things seem bleak and I wonder what the point of it all is. Years spent learning about filmmaking and screenwriting and I seem to be nowhere. I feel old and like I'm staggering around in the dark on my own. Really old. Have I wasted the past two decades?

Still trying to write but it's difficult just now. House in partial upheaval at the moment as a good friend of mine of re-doing our woodwork from the just-not-right-at-all dark brown to white. Makes the main hall seem like a different room. A relatively simple task like getting rid of dark outlines makes a hell of a difference.

Quit booze. Made a fool of myself on New Year's Day. A week into sobriety and have been tested a few times already and didn't fall off the wagon. Resolute. Good. I don't want a drink again for a long time. Even a few pints will make me tired the following day and getting pished knocks me over for two days. This isn't age. Always been that way.

Looking at some of the yo-yo nature of my posts, I sometimes wonder if I'm bi-polar. Unlikely. But the niggling little thought about mild Aspergers still pecks away. Not something to be joked about.

Who knows what the rest of the year will bring? Something better, I hope.

It's good to vent.