Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Philip K. Dick would be proud

Today the Director shaped one and I visited the main location for the film in our producer roles - a campsite south of nowhere in particular and a surreal experience it was. A total and unique world cut off from reality. It was something of a faux community but just the thing we're looking for. Much framing was done as is the case when one or more film makers are gathered together. I think the collective noun for film makers is a 'Reel' as in a 'reel of producers' etc. There were, in a bleak Somerset afternoon, palm trees growing on the site so we have decided to make them a running gag as if a cosmic set designer were at work (there isn't by the way) adjusting things here and there. Anyway the location was straight out of a P.K.Dick novel.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Rewrite after rewrite after rewrite

Well, it was actually twenty years ago that this script first saw the light of day. So director wasn't listening! It was based on my own experiences back in the late 70's where the eponymous hero Ian Smith - not his real name in reality (if that makes sense?) - had set up a UFO group in town in which an eclectic mix of individuals, yours truly included, turned up to see what it was all about. Having had such a peculiar and downright silly evening I put it swiftly into the back of my mind until 85 when I thought a film script would be an ideal way to exorcise that particular demonic memory. But as is normal for these things a script was written and then nothing done about it for many years. It was dusted off, winced at then rewritten - this process was then repeated for many years until director turns up and tells me he's heard odd noises in a caravan in Brean. Call to adventure!.....Again. Script is promptly dusted off, rewritten in about a week - blimey! And then served in small bite size morsels to the Helmer for his critical eye. With the passing of the years (and much else) yon writing skills had seen much improvement - they were taken off the critical list, fed warm helpings of textural porridge and were allowed to leave the TB clinic for semi-retired scripts. So now, at last, the life and times of Smith can be brought to life.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Or Perhaps Not...

Having thought about it, I am fairly certain that the project didn't begin as described in the previous post, so please ignore it. Not a very auspicious way to start a blog. Oh well, start as you mean to continue. I hope future posts will excel in contradicting each other, and, in the end, nobody will really know how the film came to be made.

Anyway, my previous post is more or less true - so perhaps all I've contradicted is the preceeding paragraph - but I think the impetus to get going on Smith came from another bike ride, this one down a road I'd never taken before, and was curious to see what I would find if I cycled down it. It was one of those small roads that are maybe near your house, but you've never been down them, and either take them for granted, or ignore them completely. So I set off down the road, and it took me past a farm or two, a tiny church (which in fact I only noticed yesterday) and a narrow bridge over the railway line. But there was also a campsite, quite a large one in fact. I think it was passing this place that made me think of Mr Smith and his disastrous life.

As it happens, I actually visited the place on Wednesday evening, a sort of unofficial recce. Looks promising. Nick and I are doing a proper recce there next week. If we meet a resident who is obsessed with UFOs, we shall be in weird land for sure. But that wouldn't surprise me. There's a lot of it about, after all.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Making a film. Accidentally.

Well, this is all rather unexpected. I was recently (February 2005) out on my bike, cycling up the road from Berrow to Brean. Berrow isn't famous for anything, and doesn't deserve to be. It's one of those places that you don't get out of the car in, while Brean is only famous for its theme park, which was recently blessed with a visit from Jordan and Peter Andre. They closed the whole place to the public while Madam and her silly man had a go on all the rides. Brean is also awash with caravan sites. It's a strange, self-contained world, with its own shops and pubs, almost cut off from everyday reality (whatever that is). As I was cycling past one of the caravan sites, I heard what either sounded like very vocal sex (one assumes two people were involved) or somone having some kind of violent seizure. I did not stop to investigate. Maybe farm animals were being introduced to 'the lifestyle'. Who knows. Anyway, it reminded me of what a strange little world caravan sites are, which in turn reminded me of 'Mr Smith and the Flying Saucers', a script written about 10 years ago by my old chum Nick Harding, whose titular hero, Ian Smith (not to be confused with the last prime minister of Rhodesia) lives on a caravan site. I suggested to Nick that he do a rewrite, as it was a good idea, and could also be made quickly and cheaply. Nick rummaged around at home for a while, but couldn't find the first draft, so he decided to start again from scratch. And that's how it all began. I think.