November 21st 2009
Well it’s that time of the year again and it’s coming up to Awards season again. I am seeing a lot of films, some great and others not so great. Knowing what goes into the making of a film, all the effort, time and hard work, I don’t want to denigrate the ones I did not like, so I won’t talk about them. but concentrate on the ones I did like. This is a tough time in the industry, which has been badly hit by the recession and the hardest thing of all is getting a film released after it has been made. The only ones with a guarantee of being released in the theatres are those sure fire ‘blockbuster’ films, backed by a major studio or a Disney movie, disaster films or a film like ‘New Moon’ the sequel to the vampire story ‘ Twilight’, which is having a phenomenal success. I was persuaded by my hairdresser to watch the first one, which is original and quite charming, but I would never have predicted the success it had, leading to $140m in its first week’s outing in the US, which is the sort of success that lottery and Las Vegas players dream of, when gambling. Because that’s what filmmaking, theatre, television are - a big gamble. It doesn’t matter who you put in it, how much money is spent on it and marketing it, if the story doesn’t work, it’s never going to work.
My heart fills with dread when I hear of writers being told to write and re-write, when Directors start re-writing every night after a day’s shoot and worst of all when the Producers start re-writing. The only reason for a Producer to re-write is when they are running out of money and have to start cutting scenes and pages. And frankly if they are a good Producer, they shouldn’t have got to that point in the first place!
Anyway I am drifting, I started to say all this because I was sent a DVD of a wonderful film called ‘The Messenger” and when the DVD’s start to arrive you ask yourself has this film got a release yet? All right, it’s on an unpopular subject - the Iraq war- but it’s a beautifully made, written, directed and acted film. I was riveted and one’s living room is not the best place for that. Still I hope it gets plenty of attention.
Yesterday at BAFTA I saw another lovely film “The Last Station”, again on a not very popular theme, old age and death, specifically Tolstoy’s. What an extraordinary story, I did not know that in despair of his neurotic wife and wanting some peace, he left his house and died in railway stationmaster’s house. It is a beautiful film again with terrific performances from Christopher Plummer (who gets better and better - I used to play poker with him and David Hemmings, many years ago), Helen Mirren and James McAvoy. I also loved “Up in The Air” - George Clooney, funny, charming and sad.
I had a first look at my own short film last week “Beware of What You Wish For” and I am very happy. It’s still needs much work and music, titles etc, but I am proud that we put together what we have in 2 and a half days, we lost half a day because the lighting suppliers sent the wrong gear and we had to hang around for half a day waiting for the right equipment. But what I have seen of our film looks good and it should only get better, with the work.
You may wonder what I planning to do with the film - I’m not a great believer in making films and spending the money, just for the fun of it and there is plan, but I’m not telling yet.
Take care, my dear readers.