Thursday, April 21, 2005

Entering The Hidden Library

I have been rummaging through my books for the second draft. Owing to losing my then flat when I made my first feature (it's a long story), I had to hurriedly pack up all my books and get them into storage, where some of them still are, six years later. As Nick is planning a book on cults, and I told him I would dig out a few of my books on this subject, as one of the feature projects currently on the back burner is about an apocalyptic cult living on the north coast of Scotland, and I had amassed a small mass on the subject all in the name of research and being British.

When I entered the inner sanctum (an ancient Pictish burial mound, AKA the basement of a friend of my mother's), I not only found the cult books, but several ancient tomes on UFOs, including Ken Rogers' The Warminster Triangle, which recounts all of the odd activity in that strange part of Wiltshire. It's a classic, full of decidedly odd happenings and even odder people.

The other book I found was one that I had completely forgotten that I possessed, Peter Paget's The Welsh Triangle, which is about the flap of 1977-78. I remember seeing it on Newsround, in fact. John Craven was interviewing school kids somewhere in the Haverfordwest area saying that they'd seen a spaceman in the school playground. Or was it a field? I can't remember. But strange stuff, and no mistake.

Finding these two books is something of a sign, methinks. Precisely what kind of sign, we don't yet know. It could be rude, it could be a semiotician's worst nightmare, or it could be another good omen.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Caravan Site Shambhala

Something quite extraordinary has just happened. Let us hope it is an omen...

Nick was discussing the script with one of his caving buddies, Carruthers (not his real name), over the weekend. He (Nick) said that he couldn't remember where the original Smith (not his real name either) lived. Carruthers (still not his real name) immediately replied that he knew exactly where Smith lived, and, what's more, that the site still existed. Needless to say Nick was dumbfounded that this hazy piece of his teenage years was still there for all to see. Carruthers took him out to the site, which had changed a lot in the last 25 or so years. We have to keep the location secret, for various reasons (actually Maj-12 are pressuring us, as are the Bilderberg Group).

Nick emailed me to tell me all about this, and I was gobsmacked. Yesterday evening, he and I visited the site. I never thought I would see it, in fact, I was sure it no longer existed, as a lot of that part of Weston-super-Mare has been developed massively over the last 10 or 15 years. (New estates are still springing up like mushrooms after rain.) It was a part of town that is, to say the least, grim, as it is near both the airport (disused) and the old town tip (also disused, on which they have built a McDonald's - how apt is that?). It is also near the new tip (smellier than a caver/filmmaker/writer after an evening in the alehouse) and also cut off from the town by the railway line, and right next to a large pond that I wouldn't want to swim in.

It's an odd little world. You can easily feel cut off there, the way I'm sure the real Smith did. But the fact that it's still there is somehow a reminder that Smith's world is still with us, that the outsiders, the aliens/immigrants, the mad, the lonely, are still there. And they still have stories to tell. Perhaps our film will be a way of making those voices heard.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Time (and place) out of joint

The first recce was certainly encouraging. I had wondered whether the place was actually too well-kept to be the base of a ne'er do well like Smith, but Nick was quite taken with the surreality of the place. Believe me, given the number of caravan sites around here, surreality is almost the order of the day.

We were also impressed that the place had portable palm trees, which we want to get into the film. It reminded me of Philip K. Dick's Time out of Joint (ripped off by Hollywood as The Truman Show), where the hero's world is entirely stage-managed by the government. That's paranoia for you! And Smith is nothing if not paranoid, so the movement of palm trees around the site will no doubt be of primary concern for him, and confirm to him that Things are Afoot...