Check out the production blog for my new film THE STAY to see - The Stay: First Movie Still.
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FEB 1st: Today is my birthday. I’ve been overwhelmed by all the well-wishes, thanks everyone. I spent a lovely morning with my family opening presents, cards and eating cake!
Then I hit the road and travelled to a cottage in deepest, darkest Gloucestershire. For today is also another birthday – the birth of my new short film ‘The Stay’.
Last October I was at the London Screenwriter’s Festival participating in a panel discussion on Horror Films. After the panel, at the wrap-up session, organiser Chris Jones challenged all attendees to turn to the person next to them and pledge their goal to be accomplished by the next festival. Talented writer/director Steven Sheil (Mum & Dad) was with me and I pledged that I would direct my next film by the next Festival.
And today, that pledge was fulfilled thanks to the generosity and support of our Sponsume backers and my amazing cast & crew.
Everyone arrived right on cue, we set up and shot the first couple of scenes before dinner and a quick drink. Now it’s time for some shut-eye before 2 more days of shooting.
I’ll be Tweeting throughout the shoot & post-production, and posting updates, photos & videos on the official movie blog, so please check out Twitter hashtag #TheStay / http://twitter.com/frazer_lee and visit http://thestaymovie.wordpress.com
Best birthday ever?
This one will Stay with me for a long, long time
A few thoughts on filmmaking today, inspired by recent events and trends.
In addition to my screenwriting, novel writing and short stories, I also directed a couple of short films; On Edge (1999), Red Lines (2002) both with the now defunct Robber Baron Productions, and some TV promos; True Horror With Anthony Head (Discovery Channel, 2004).
So, I haven’t directed anything in eight years, and am often asked the question, in interviews and Q&As, why not?
Naive (and much younger) me thought that making a couple of award-winning shorts would pave the way to feature directing. Not so. I have scratched a living these past 8 years as a screenwriter/script doctor, secretly hoping those credits would also stand me in good stead for a feature debut. No dice, as yet.
It’s certainly not for lack of trying. Over the past decade I’ve had a number of potentially brilliant feature length projects in the works, writing and polishing and rewriting dozens of screenplay drafts for each at the behest of producers and executives keen on shaping the project to the demands of the marketplace.
Truth is, financing a movie seems to be the most difficult thing on earth. I recently completed a round of talks about one of my screenplays to which I’m attached as director and I was told point blank, by the producer that not one of his investors would risk financing a movie with a first time director attached – too risky.
So how do first time directors get to cut their first feature if no-one is willing to risk taking a punt on them? Surely the film biz is one built entirely on risk? “Nobody knows anything,” William Goldman reminds us – and even a seasoned director can make a turkey. It’s a frustrating chicken and egg situation and the longer it goes on, the greater the (perceived) risk.
All the meetings I’ve taken, all the unsuccessful funding applications I’ve made (for shorts and features) have taught me one thing – one simple, inconvenient truth:
Movies cost money – and it is usually someone else’s money. Even if you go down the microbudget route, you have to pay insurance for your shoot, catering for your cast and crew, transportation costs, etc., etc.
Add to that the growing trend in the movie business; first-timers get it done for free. “Just pick up a camera and shoot” is an approach that has worked for some, sure. But it sets a precedent. First timers are expected to self-finance and prove themselves, screenplays are expected to be optioned for free. This is a difficult environment for anyone who has a family to support, bills to pay. It’s “a game for the young” as wise old Admiral James T. Kirk once said.
After reading Christopher Fowler’s revealing blog post on the subject of “the death of the script“, it seems the new wave of first-timers are eschewing a script entirely in favour of improvised microbudgeters, edited on-set on laptops. No risk to anyone else, and the filmmaker (no longer a first-timer anymore) then gets hired to do studio remakes…
See, after a decade in development hell I’m becoming cynical! Maybe it is time to give up after all.
But I might just take one more meeting first.
Remember I said ‘On Edge‘ is playing WHC 2012? Well, the full film festival schedule has been released by the organizers, who have put together an amazing line-up of cinematic horrors old and new.
‘On Edge’, starring Doug Bradley (Hellraiser), Charley Boorman (The Emerald Forest) and Beth Murray, based on the short story by Christopher Fowler (Spanky, Hell Train) with cinematography by Alan Stewart (Sherlock Holmes) and special FX by Bob Keen (Hellraiser), screens in the International Horror Shorts selection on Friday March 30th, 3pm.
Entry to the film festival is free to anyone attending WHC 2012, and separate tickets are available for all screenings for those wishing to take in a few movies outside of the main event.
If you’re in Salt Lake City this weekend, be sure to check out the films. It is an honor to be part of such a cool line-up.
Here are the full details, courtesy of the WHC 2012 website: http://www.whc2012.org/filmfestival.html
Here is the film festival schedule for WHC 2012. We will be featuring entries from filmmakers across the U.S. as well as England and Australia, with a special emphasis on locally made (Utah) films. The festival will also serve as the world premiere location for “Down the Road” starring Clint Howard, and “Abraham vs. Zombies” from The Asylum. With the exception of “Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies” all films will be screened in the Blue Spruce Room:
Film Festival ~ Screening Schedule
Thursday, March 29th
4:00 p.m. “The Bake Street Haunting” (feature film)
6:00 p.m. “Down the Road” (feature film)
Friday, March 30th
1:00 p.m. “Bite Nite” (feature film)
3:00 p.m. International Horror Shorts, featuring “Alistair,” “On Edge,” “Love Bug,” and “Night of the Little Dead”
4:00 p.m. Viscera Film Festival Shorts, featuring 10 horror films from women filmmakers
5:00 p.m. John Skipp Screening, featuring “Stay at Home Dad” and “Rose: Fetching Danny” with filmmaker Q&A
6:00 p.m. “Ground Zero” (feature film) with filmmaker Q&A
Saturday, March 31st
12:00 p.m. “Disembodied” (short) and “Disembodied 2” (feature film) with filmmaker Q&A.
2:00 p.m. Favorite Shorts, featuring “Skye,” “Seance,” and three films from Killship Productions: “Living With Zombies,” “Ben Whitman Hears Voices,” and “Offing Adolf” with filmmaker Q&A
3:00 p.m. Best of Utah Shorts, featuring “Monstrosity,” “4,” “Capital Punishment,” and “Doppelganger” with filmmaker Q&A
4:30 p.m. “The Jar” (short) with filmmaker Q&A
5:00 p.m. “An Evening with My Comatose Mother” with filmmaker Q&A
6:00 p.m. Best of Utah Shorts 2, featuring the premiere of a zombie music video from Amorous, “Amendment,” “Serum X,” “All Night Laundry,” and “The Brink” with filmmaker Q&A
10:30 p.m. “Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies” (feature film)
Sunday, April 1st
12:00 p.m. Best Feature Film
2:00 p.m. Best Short Films
3:30 p.m. Awards Ceremony
4:00 p.m. 2012 WHC Film Festival Ends