Sunday, 31 May 2009

Quota Quickie Directors Notes.

From the diary of George McBride, director of Dracula's Soho Virgin Bride.
Written 1957

Terrible morning. Woke, went to the studio to see Gustav before filming begins tomorrow, that bore with his grotesque wandering accent. Where does this fat and annoying man come from? Seems to have no real past, accents and stories wandering from all over. Most of them were made up from what I've have heard but have moments of truth, like the story of him helping Howard Hawks dispose of a body in someone's pool. I hear it had something to do with a homosexual actor in one of Hawks' films, a night of passion gone awry, and no police. Or the tale of helping three forgettable hussies rip-off a Howard Hughes flunky of no little stature and doing it so well that Hughes himself gave them better parts in his movies, as he found the story so tremendously funny. He calls me the jock and complains I offer no direction. How to direct a man as offensively verbal as he, whose response to avoid leaving the light is I'm Dracula, I know what Vampires do, and then spins off a yarn involving Valentino's dead body and a cabal of strange yet well-paying fans, who wanted the body for reasons that he would not go into but assumes me that its got to do with his portrayal of Dracula.

Walking into the ramshackle studio in the morning, saw a dead body of a young actor lying at the front door. Recognised the actor. He's not very good so its no great loss. That grotesque leading man Michael Deer walked up behind me, saw the body and started kicking it violently for ten minutes, in a rage, yelling obscenities at this deceased thespian. The stagehands then took the body and threw it over a bridge nearby, then called the police, who found the body. Now the bruising and method of death is a great mystery but is free publicity for three as yet unreleased of my films, which this actor tried to ruin. With Help from Mr's Deer and Trebeck.

Jackson Tulord Breen DeWitt Delauncy 111 called me into his office, where he crawled from the door back to his seat, his desk surrounded by lots of paper that he'll never read. So much dust in this office that it's hard to breath. He is our studio head as he calls it, owns 30 percent of studio, some annoying lord owning the rest but wants to keep it quiet. In his mid-seventies, wears a ridiculous brown wig like a teddy boy while he coughs for breath. He is most famous for a line he said last week when his accountant (who was in his mid-fifties and still lived with his mother) decapitated a minor actor in a rage. He said "There's an ugly head in my soup and I know ugly as I work in the British film industry!" Informs me that I owe him three more films in the next two months so I better get cracking. Also informs me I'll have a good writer for one of them but doesn't know what the plots are as of yet. Also says don't worry about the dead body outside. Payments have been made. His accountant also has gotten off as they have framed the now-dead actor and said they were after the same woman. Which is odd as the one who died last week was gay and the other one had his balls cut off. Which led to a unique acting style that is difficult to write for.

Met with two writers.

One was an actor, then my assistant, now a writer. not bad for a man who has been here six months. He's pitched me the sequel to Soho Bride involving lesbians but I have been told by Delauncy 111 that no lesbians shall pass in a horror nor any other British movie. Therefore the new blood have to be male. I think we're onto something yet the writer looks disappointed.

The other one is an alien invasion movie set in a public school. I give the nod, having no idea how we'll be able to afford it. It'll get cancelled and they'll still have to pay me.

Met with third writer in private. He is drunk and a national poet (and pulp writer under an alternate name for the money). he can only come here while drunk as we offend his dignity but is paid and says he'll come up with something. Which is good enough for me. I'm going up in the world.

P.S. His name is Alistair Brian Jones McLellan and his poetry is bloody awful. As are his novels, and lamentably, his film scripts.


Shooting is going okay. Gustav Trebeck continues to annoy and molest the leading lady but she doesn't say anything, is terrified of losing this job. Getting fired from here is the next direct step to prostitution. Although she can probably keep the same agent for those services.

The set looks bloody awful and my DP keeps spitting up blood. I do say eventually that he should go see a doctor but he says "No bloody way do I go see a duck." I don't know exactly what that means. It kind of makes sense yet the way he said it was crazy enough for me to think it meant something more sinister and oddly sexual.


Gustav has started importing prostitutes and is grooming his leading lady to be one of them. And she seems willing. Odd his late forties fiancee is watching with interest and not disgust. I just don't get these people and am not sure that I want to. A mature-looking youngster also appears on set, making Gustav very nervous. He makes some sinister visual suggestions to his fiancee, who nods in a way that suggests, well, I don't want to know.


Gustav refuses to learn his lines. He has them placed out of camera view, meaning few establishing shots are possible as this vampire talks way too much, most of it improvised so why demand that there are cards. I can't see any rise or lowering of quality in the improvising though, to be honest. The D.P worries me. he seems to be very ill.


Gustav Trebeck died this morning. Heart gave out after being drown in fat and being full of s**t. Oh god, what do I do now? On the plus side, my D.P looks to be a lot better now.


Start shooting Dracula's Virgin Soho Bride with a stand-in for Gustav. Kinda looks like him and I am assured that no-one will notice the difference. I am not convinced but am under contract and will do as I am told.

Saturday, 16 May 2009


I've seen Caprica, the new Battlestar Galactica prequel.

The good news on this project is that, following a slightly dramatically unfocused first fifteen minutes, it becomes a terrific sci-fi show. It isn't as unrelated to Battlestar as the producers have suggested, although I do think if you haven't seen Battlestar, there isn't anything that will alienate. But if you are a Battlestar fan then there's a lot of details that will thrill.

The big link is that Adama is in it as a child. But he's not developed in a way to suggest that he will be significantly confusing. He's a child who has lost his mother and older sister and that is it. The central drama is between his father Joseph, and Daniel Greystone, a genius advancing AI. They both lose their families in a terrorist attack and are hell-bent on finding a way to get their families back. With the advance in AI, there may be a way to do this.

The show has two areas of interest. First is in the central two characters, One Joseph, has shady mob connections, the other Daniel, is a genius with a mix of compassion and coldness that mirrors Battlestar's Baltar, although his demons are unique. Daniel is the most intriguing character in the show, the one who is most likely to do odd, immoral actions. He gives the drama its life in the pilot, and is the character you want to see in his full mad-bastard glory as the show continues. Eric Stoltz plays him and its great casting, as Stoltz's coldness and suppressed emotions that are there usually as an actor give his character as sense of an odd, unusual life.

The second interest is in the technology. The Internet has advanced in this show to be able to project avatars as people going through virtual landscapes that resemble real-life locations, so people can go to clubs, take part on group sex without ever doing it physically. By the time the show has begun, Daniel's daughter has found a way to download memories, emotions, so an avatar can be a person. The existence of this avatar is the propellant for Stoltz and how he goes to hell. he finale, where Stoltz downloads his daughter's avatar into the first cylon, is a great moment, both for Battlestar fans (as it explains so much about what follows in various ways) and in sci-fi, as you see a new life form emerging, evolving.

Like Battlestar there is religion and it is intriguing, propelling the plot, with a belief that society is sinful and failing, that there is only one true god versus other religions. But this is set-up in the pilot, so it doesn't propel the story as interestingly as the central characters.

There are flaws. As I stated, the first fifteen minutes don't work so well. There's an investigator character that's pretty dull. That's kind of s situation where they need to invent a new character that can slot into a plot-line that is building rather than anything else. But that's two minor flaws in a great new series. It's not as strong as the Battlestar Galactica miniseries but its still pretty great.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

30 Days Of Night

This will be brief. 30 Days Of Night is a terrific little vampire film starring Josh Hartnett. Set in Alaska, in an area that have thirty days of darkness, the occupants have the misfortune to be attacked by very brutal vampires, who act like animals on the hunt rather than humans. Cut off for these thirty days, these people have to hide from the attacking vampires, in the middle of a very cold winter, over this time, being picked off one by one.

The film has a wonderful sense of build. From the start something is off, little details adding to unease as the characters are introduced, the vampires finally going brutal at the thirty minute mark, taking out most of the town in a coldly executed style. In the next section of the story we watch the survivors hide and get hungry as days past, all of them very human, making the kind of mistakes that would be expected under pressure, getting themselves and family members skilled, which is fascinating to watch. In the final section, as the final days before sunlight approaches, the humans and vampires both get desperate and up the ante in horrific ways.

What the film has going for it is its bleakness. Decent people are established and are killed, have their families suffer in the most horrific ways. Even Hartnett, as the hero, is given few hero moments, any he does have coming with tragic consequences. Its probably one of the darkest horror films in events since the eighties with films such as The Thing and Day Of the Dead. Its got that essential bleakness which is thrilling in a horror film, having been lost for so long in a genre that is gimmicky as hell. It has good solid performances all round and is calmly framed within the horror, kept at a distance for the more horrific moments.

So this is a very good film that's likely to be a cult film pretty soon and deserves that status. It was produced by Sam Raimi's production company, the first really solid film I've seen from them. The Grudge remake was okay but weak in comparison to the terrific original, and the rest of them have had reviews to make you want to avoid the films like the plague.

So this and Star Trek has made it an excellent weekend for films for me.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Star Trek

This is a very brief blog for now. Just saw Star Trek and thought it was loads of fun. Its was well cast, fast-paced and tied its plot together pretty well (even if the third act seemed pretty short). It had its plot contrivances but nothing that was painful, all done to keep the story moving at a fast pace. It had good character moments through-out, on the pulp level, and had a nice build and mix of scenes that kept the story constantly interesting. Most importantly, while it never went for the more idea-led idealistic face of Star Trek (which a lot of the times leads to dull pretension) it got back to the fun side of the show that has been achingly missing from Trek for years, with the Next Generations and the like, who simply talk slowly to signify something needs thought and leave out the fun. This Trek blows up planets and has Kirk screw a green chick. It reminds of of the fun movies of last year such as Iron Man, Speed Racer and Hellboy 2, where the emphasis was on fun. Basically its a drunken riot, and can that be wrong.