Posts tagged ‘film’

XTRO Re-boot

We – Harry Bromley Davenport and I – are at the start of a plan to make a new version of XTRO. It’s going to be called XTRO -The Big One, and I’ll explain why later. Harry and I made the original XTRO in 1981-2 and it was released in 1983. It was very successful for New Line Cinema, who were in dire need of cash-flow at that time and XTRO kept the company afloat until they found massive success with A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Harry went on to do two sequels to XTRO, neither of which I produced. Two years ago he asked me if I was interested in working with him again on a new version and I thought that was a good idea. Harry introduced me to a writer he wanted to work with- Ken Segall. With Harry and Ken in LA and me in London, we had to use email and skype to send scripts, notes, ideas and comments back and forth. A slightly cumbersome process, but one which seems to have worked. The new script, which has gone through about 6 drafts,  is now in good shape. It’s full of that special blend of XTRO weirdness.

The story of the new film imagines what it would be like if an alien invasion took place during a massive earthquake – hence the title XTRO – The Big One. The new film is certainly not lacking in scope or ambition. We are really pushing the boat out.

So now comes the big problem of all indie producers – raising the money.  How do you raise enough to make an exciting film featuring good actors and with imaginative and striking FX that will stand comparison with other Sci-Fi films?

Easy ? Difficult? Impossible ?

More next time.

January 6, 2017 at 8:19 pm 1 comment

Why I Wrote the 7th Python – Part 2

Reading my journals from 2005-2013 also reminded me of the impact that these 7 years had on my health, my finances, and on my relationships. Going to court is never a cheap option, and the fact that I had to pursue this claim for so long meant that my finances not only were stretched, but finally gave out. These financial worries in turn affected my health, and I had some stress related symptoms that were difficult to control. My stomach kind of rebelled, and my blood pressure and cholesterol levels both increased. I really didn’t need this kind of change in my health at this late stage of life. I’m sure the Pythons never thought about what I had to endure. I am a follower of the Tao, and I have been meditating for about 20 years, so when this struggle was at its worst, I had some tools of self-cultivation to use in order to stay sane and balanced under duress. The journals capture these times.

The legal battle was a bit lop-sided. After all, there were 5 of them (plus Graham’s estate) against me, and their money, fame and influence far outweighed my limited resources. I was suing them for £ 300,000, which is a significant amount of money, but given there were six of them this worked out to only £ 50k each. Given that the money I was owed was revenue from Spamalot, it was not even coming out of their pockets, but was derived from the box office. In this sense, the amount of money (for them) was insignificant. Why did they persist in pursuing it? I still don’t know.

But I knew that I had to pursue this case, partly for financial reasons, and partly for personal ones. I believe in standing up for myself, and not letting others cheat me. This was a wrong done to me, and I just couldn’t let it go. This attitude was instilled into me by my mother. For this reason I have dedicated the book to her for the lessons she taught me.

I thought my saga could be of interest to other people so I decided to write it up. Interestingly, I found that all of the puzzling unanswered questions that had disturbed me at the beginning of the dispute remained to the end. I wanted to share these questions with other people, since I think they offer revealing insights into contemporary celebrity. But I could also see a disturbing pattern in the behaviour of the Pythons during this 7 year struggle. During this entire period, not one Python rang or emailed me wanting to discuss the problem. I was forced to deal only with their lawyers and managers. And when I did reach out to Michael Palin and Terry Jones by letter, it didn’t make any difference.

The only way I could manage to get this kind of overview of the 7 year long ‘little life’ was by working my way through the legal events from start to finish, while charting my own reactions to them. This is what the book does. Along the way it reveals a lot about the Law, about celebrity culture, about Taoism, and about my character and that of the Pythons. As I thought about this legal/personal story, I realised that I would need to fill in quite a few areas that form the context of my time with the Pythons. One was the making of the film in 1973-5 and another was how I got to be the producer of the film. Lastly I realised that some people who bought the book might not know about the Pythons’ history, so I had to tell their own stories as well as the state of British comedy on film and TV in the early 70s. So the book is a mixture of many elements, which I think hold together and illuminate a specific area of contemporary culture.

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November 16, 2015 at 10:48 am Leave a comment

Shakespeare’s Quadrophenia- Part 1

This summer Ian Manson, who was the director of the ‘making of’ doc for my last film The Power, asked me to attend a meeting with his colleagues who were interested in making a feature film adaptation of a Shakespeare play – King John.  Now I had heard of King John but had never seen it performed and had never read it. So in advance of the meeting I started to read it. It was heavy going, partly because the plot was extremely complex, and I have to admit I gave up before the end. However I did clock a unique and compelling character in The Bastard.

I am not a great fan of Shakespeare on film. I admired the cleverness of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, always had a soft spot for Orson Welles’ adaptations of Macbeth and Othello, and remember fondly the Russian Hamlet. But Olivier’s and Branagh’s adaptations never worked for me, so I am a sceptic when it comes to Shakespeare on film.

However, I thought I should hear them out. At the first meeting I was told that the play had been put on recently at the Unicorn theatre where it sold out every night. This is partly due to the fact that the play is rarely put on. The idea of the adaptation was to set the play in the first world war, which I believe was the theatre adaptation as well. With 2014 coming up, and the expectation of a great memorial to 1914 being mounted, I thought that this idea had some legs. I said I was interested, and would wait to hear more.

A couple of weeks later, Ian summoned me to a second meeting, and now I was told of a new idea: the play would be adapted to the 1960s, as a replay of the famous battles between the mods and rockers. The film would cover the historical rise of mod culture, and have a rich soundtrack of 60s songs. Now this idea lit me up. This was clever and original and I thought could be a winner.

I went to film school with Franc Roddam, who directed Quadrophenia, and I had noticed that his film has grown in stature year after year. It is still popular 30 years after it was made. The idea of making Shakespeare’s Quadrophenia is intriguing and we are now starting to raise the finance to get it made.

It turns out that Shakespeare is the most credited person on IMDB, and King John was the first of his plays ever to be filmed – in 1899 I am told. So I hope that in 2013, only 114 years later, we will be able to do the remake.

October 22, 2012 at 11:29 pm 2 comments

The Blog That Fell From The Sky

Reflections on an age of anxiety.