Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Mr Smith Goes to Cannes

Part of the inevitable process of making a film is going to Cannes. People who do not have first hand experience of the film industry will generally know it from TV clips of stars walking up the red carpet, or starlets exposing themselves on the beach to crowds of photographers. People in the film industry, however, tend to have a different experience, one that does not include red carpets (unless you happen to bleed all over your hotel room due to some drunken accident/attempt to take your own life) or starlets (unless you happen to drunkenly meet a shemale in a back alley near the train station).

No, experience for people like us is quite simply summed up by two things: sore feet and sore heads. The former are acquired through countless trapes around the bowels of the Palais des Festivals (the place with the red carpet), and journeys up and down the Croisette (sea-front in plain Skegness English) to see numerous persons based in hotels along said stretch of road. And no, they're not high-class call girls or rent boys, but sometimes you think they just may as well be, given the amount they want to charge to interfere with your bottom (metaphorically speaking of course). And the sore heads are due to the copious amounts of free alcohol that are dished out on an almost-continual basis.

So, having braved free bars and bottom-abusers, I spent three frantic days in Cannes talking up Smith. 'Talking up' is an arcane film industry art that, to the non-initiate, may be confused for someone getting a) carried away b) talking bollocks and/or c) getting arseholed and talking any old crap. However, the non-initiate would be wrong to assume any of a), b) or c), as talking a film up requires a) nerves of steel, b) the confidence of someone who knows he's got a very large penis and c) the decorum, affability and sobriety of someone meeting either the Queen of England or at least a local bishop (who may be looking to cook the diocesan books in order to invest in the film).

So, there you have it. That's how to take a film to Cannes. And if you've got time, also dine on a daily basis at L'Avion, 4 rue Jean de Riouffe (near that bloody place with the carpet); it's the best pizza in Cannes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Research Notes #1

The second draft (the numbering system is already faulty given the number of drafts I've had from Mr Screenwriter over the last week or so) has got me a) thinking - mainly how well it's shaping up and how much this film will hit a chord with people - and b) doing research.

Obviously, Robert Bolt and I have been doing 'research' on this subject for years. In other words, we have both been reading around the whole topic of UFOs and have also had first hand experience of people like Mr Smith. Believe me, I have met people so paranoid there are no words in the Oxford English Dictionary for them. Herr Bolt would agree, as he is the man - out of the two of us - who actually met the real- life Smith. And was perturbed by the lunacy.

But back to my research: I've been re-familiarising myself with the likes of Betty and Barney Hill, the Mothman, etc, but have been freaked out by a very strange alien encounter at South Ken tube station, in broad daylight. A woman asked a little man in a mac with a big head if he was lost, and he replied to her telepathically. This was weird, although she couldn't say later on whether it was all telepathic or not. Anyway. Decidedly odd and no mistake. She felt there was something obviously strange about him, although he wasn't threatening. On the contrary, he was more nervous of her than she was of him. She gave him directions to where he wanted to go - the Science Musuem - but when she followed him, he vanished.

It's funny, we tell ourselves 'we've heard it all before' and 'it's all hearsay' and so on and so forth, but I was quite surprised at how primeval the South Ken thing was for me. Got under my skin. Mainly because it was almost normal. But not quite. I think that is one of the reasons Smith will speak to people. The film is saying, life's weird. Get used to it. And maybe the aliens are just as lost and confused as we are.