Thoughts on running a small production company

I’ve been Googling templates for business plans. There are quite a lot of them out there, with varying levels of complexity and helpfulness. Most of them make me a little uneasy, but the fact is that I want to get some kind of focus as to what my company is going to achieve over the next five years and somewhere in all these various bits of paper I hope that I can start to find the answer.

The business/company side of things is something I still find challenging to manage. Jinx Media has existed for ten years (this July!), but the basic mechanics of keeping a company going is something I doubt I’ll ever find simple. I’m a creative guy rather than a business guy, and I’d have never ended up as a company director were it not the only sensible way legal framework with which to pull my projects together.

Completing the end-of-year accounts that first year was a rude awakening. I attended various seminars about doing your own accounts and ended up panicking that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I signed with an accountancy firm who ended up billing me over three times the amount that they’d verbally estimated, despite the fact that the first year’s accounts literally couldn’t have been simpler (mainly because they consisted of a single page of A4 and were ALL outgoing). That experience left me annoyed and feeling a bit helpless. I didn’t feel capable of doing my own accounts, but couldn’t afford to keep paying stupid amounts of money to other people to do them for me. I eventually ended up signing with a local accountant who was friendly, reliable and charged exactly what he said he would, and we stayed with him for many years, but that first experience still haunts me a bit. It sometimes feels like there are traps all over the place when you’re running a company, and some of them can cost you serious amounts of cash.

In the ten years since we got our articles of association the industry has changed almost beyond belief. The giants who seemed enormous and permanent in 2003 are now largely either laid low or gone altogether. Everything has changed, from the way films are shot through to the way they are delivered to consumers. In terms of our particular niche (horror features shot on micro-budgets in the UK) we’ve gone from being a small fish in a deserted small pond to being a small fish in a small pond that’s so full of other small fish you can barely see any water. The arrival of home computers that can edit video straight out of the box, buddied up with countless devices that can shoot high-quality video, has meant that the filmmaking process has been thoroughly democratised. The disappearance of any ‘gatekeepers’ standing between filmmakers and their potential audience has meant that anyone can get their stuff out there.

In other words, it’s a very, very different jungle out there to the way it was ten years ago. Not necessarily easier or harder, but very different.

The smartest thing we ever did was to get TrashHouse shot before it was easy to edit on home PCs. I can’t help feeling that if we’d have shot that same movie five years later, it would have been forever lost in the deluge of home-grown horror and would probably never have seen the light of day. Luckily, back in 2004 a cheap home-grown horror movie was still something of a novelty; novelty enough that people would watch it, anyway. Nowadays there are a couple of hundred such flicks slated for completion in the UK this year alone, and nobody thinks there’s anything particularly special about shooting a feature all by yourself. I would hate to be in this environment trying to get people to pay attention to my first film. It may be a million times easier to make something nowadays, but getting people to pay attention to it (let alone give you money for it) gets tougher with each passing week.

So, where does this leave the business plan? Well, we announced our feature for 2013 at the Horror-on-Sea festival last week. Our official online launch for the project is still a couple of weeks off, so if you weren’t in that room last Saturday I’m afraid my lips are still sealed, but the fact that I’m still talking about feature shoots will be enough to tell you that we’re not suddenly putting our 7Ds down and entering the flower arranging business any time soon. What happens before and after that shoot, however, is the stuff of business plans and late-night brainstorming sessions. We aren’t in a position to simply think, “hey, we’ve already done this a half-dozen times, let’s just do the same thing again” because that’s the kind of thinking that would land us on that pesky extinct pile pretty damn quickly.

We’ve made mistakes over the last decade, of course we have, but I’ve always prided myself on making all-new mistakes every time rather than making the same ones over and over again. So we need a plan. A plan to ensure that I’m still sitting here typing something about Jinx Media when we’re approaching our 20th anniversary, too.

I’m really proud of the work that’s being done on the new movie, and we’ll be giving you guys the chance to get involved in that production like never before. But that’s a tale for another update.

Me, I’m just looking at these business plans.

Regardless the size of fish, the size of pond or the amount of competition out there.

A five-year plan.

A ten-year plan.

No matter what, we’re going to keep swimming.

PS. Since writing this blog, we’ve released a filmed version of our 2013 live show Werewolves, Cheerleaders & Chainsaws, which details many of the experiences of running a small production company. The video can be seen below. Please note that it features strong language, bloody violence and partial nudity.

Auditions: from both sides of the table

It’s been a while since we’ve run auditions, but I thought it might be worth writing about the subject. What follows is meant for both low-budget indie filmmakers/producers and also those kind prospective cast members who come along to audition.

Sod it, let’s turn this into a game of advice-tennis.

Producers: Hire someone pleasant and professional to hold auditions, or at least as close to pleasant and professional as you can afford. Don’t invite people to audition ‘at your house’ because it not only sounds massively dodgy but also suggests you have no organisational skills whatsoever. A room above a pub will do at a push, and you can probably get that for free if you ask arouund and get it during the day when nobody else is using it. Better than a room above a pub would be one of the business or function rooms in a hotel. If you go this route, though, for Christ’s sake you make sure that you specify ‘Function Room 1’ or whatever on the directions to your prospective cast. Asking them to audition ‘at your hotel room’ sounds even dodgier than ‘at your house’.

Cast: Turn up on time. If you’re not going to turn up on time, send a polite message as soon as you can letting the producers know. If you’re not going to turn up AT ALL, let them know at least a day in advance. Weirdly enough, I can still remember the names of pretty much every actor who has completely failed to turn up for an audition and just left us sitting there, and not in a good way. A special note for one guy who failed to show in Summer 2007: if you’re going to fail to turn up for an audition, and you’re going to fail to notify the people sitting in the room waiting for you, please do NOT then send an excited email a couple of days later trying to plug the project that you decided to work on rather than attend the audition. For fuck’s sake.

Producers: Be absolutely upfront about everything. You might feel awkward telling people what crappy money you’ll be paying them, but you need to do this BEFORE you expect people to drag themselves across town (or further) to attend an audition. If you’re explaining how little you’re going to pay when you’re sitting face to face YOU HAVE LEFT IT TOO LATE. Likewise, if your script requires nudity, or being held underwater or licking live rats or whatever, (and there’s no possibility of dropping these elements if your actor isn’t up for them), then if you’re telling them face to face YOU HAVE LEFT IT TOO LATE. If there’s something that might absolutely rule out an actor’s participation other than them being simply wrong for the role, you have a duty to try everything in your power to find that out before asking them to travel anywhere. That’s your bare minimum.

Cast: If you’ve been given a script extract in advance, read it in advance. I know, I know. There ain’t enough hours in the day for any of us. Personally, I wouldn’t expect you to know an extract by heart, necessarily, (although some might), but I won’t be expecting you to say ‘I haven’t had a chance to look at this, sorry’ either. Oh, and if you’re too hungover to audition properly I’m not sure it particularly matters whether you announce this fact or not. I suspect you won’t get the role regardless.

Producers: Telling people they haven’t got the role after they’ve auditioned sucks. Just because it sucks doesn’t mean you don’t have to do it. A prompt, courteous email is the bare minimum for people you’ve face-to-faced. A phone call can more problematic on both sides but is probably the better option for someone you’ve seen more than once (or led to believe they were a front-runner). Professionalism, courtesy and respect, folks.

Cast: once you’ve had that email or call, that’s the bit where you go away, I’m afraid. Sending endless emails at this point isn’t a good look for anyone. Try not to over-analyse why you didn’t get the part, either; odds are it was something someone else did incredibly right rather than anything you did wrong.

Everyone: Be nice. Be kind and friendly and professional. Remember that people’s feelings are at stake as well as the movie. Being professional but pleasant is possibly almost as important as being right for the role. I can remember thinking “this person seems very talented, but seems like they might be a nightmare” quite often, and that factor has probably swung my decision more times than I care to admit. A set only works when everyone is pulling in the same direction; if you’re openly rude to hotel staff at an audition, the odds are that you won’t be much more considerate to those around you on a set.

Usual disclaimer: I’m not saying any of this stuff putting myself forward as some kind of guru or role model. Shit, I know I’ve failed to follow my own advice on a few occasions (as anyone who has auditioned at my house will attest) but I put these ideas forward in the hope that we can keep the experience of auditioning as painless as possible for everyone concerned.

See you in Function Room 1, guys.

Shit Rolls Downhill

People often assume that because you’ve got movies on the shelves of mainstream shops, these films will be supplying you (or your company) with a regular supply of money. When they start digging for details of deals that you may have signed in the past, this belief seems to get more deeply ingrained.

Let’s take a hypothetical example.

“Right, so let me get this straight. You signed a worldwide distribution deal on this movie, right? And it has come out in at least ten territories in the world, right? And you’ve got a deal for how much of the profit? 50%? Jesus, that must be bringing you in at least some money” And then you truthfully admit that in the case of that particular movie, your company has seen nothing. Not just no profit, but nothing. Not a single cheque has been written to you in the two years since the movie came out. And then they ask; “But people are buying it, right?”

And you have to tell them that, yes, you get sent a sales report every three months detailing these international unit sales and advances for different territories, and how many hundreds of thousands of dollars your feature has generated for the distributors, all neatly accounted for down to the last cent. But there’s another column of expenses detailing exactly why none of that is going to be heading your way. And every three months, just as the incoming sales figure grows so does the expenses column, so it seems that you actually get further away from being due your cut the more money the film generates.

And then they say “But, hang on, that’s got to be illegal, right?” And you say no. And then they frustrated and start insisting that it must be illegal, surely, because you can’t just make profit disappear with accounting, and how can you just sit there are take it and why don’t you do something? It only crossed my mind this week to point out that, effectively, that international distributor is in the same position as Starbucks (who paid £8.6m in corporation tax in 14 years of trading in the UK, and nothing in the last three years up to 2012, despite UK sales of nearly £400m in 2011) with the small indie producer playing the role of the UK taxman. As long as the expenses on paper tot up faster than the income, they never have to pay that indie producer a single penny of the money generated by their film.

This goes on, frankly, all over the fucking place. Just because it’s morally rotten that doesn’t make it illegal. It’s a tough world out there for those distributors too, and shit rolls downhill. If there’s a legal way to hang on to every penny then quite a few of them will do exactly that. A few, however, don’t. A few write up contracts that they actually honour in spirit as well as in small print; a few have decided that, ultimately, totally screwing over the people who make the product that they sell isn’t always the most cost-effective way to do business, as you’re effectively kicking the geese to death before you even find out whether they can lay golden eggs or not. Which is why when those decent honourable distribs start getting crapped on by the companies larger than them, it breaks my heart all over again.

A colleague of mine who has worked in distribution for decades posted on Facebook this morning bemoaning the nightmare situation that indie distribs sometimes face when the big chains go into administration, namely; “…administrators approaching distributors/labels and offering them pence in the pound for stock sold and also for stock they don’t actually own. Look out for lots of small indie labels going to the wall because of this” Now, hopefully this won’t be the case with any of the current high-profile chains that might be crossing your mind but it’s clearly something that has happened in the past. Once again, shit rolls downhill, and when a giant crashes to the ground it might just use a few smaller folks to cushion the fall a bit.

All this stuff is, obviously, utterly depressing. Another symptom of a dying business model? Perhaps. Either way, it’s something that makes me hate and fear the small print of contracts even more. It’s not just distribution contracts, of course; screenwriters everywhere should beware of the type of contract that promises enormous rewards over countless pages, (percentage points, payments, etc.) and then has a tiny caveat of ‘subject to retaining sole screenwriting credit’ somewhere around page 8. Unless this caveat gets argued tooth and nail, it simply allows the producers to bring someone else onto the project to make some contributions to rewrites and thus void all of the rights that the screenwriter has fought for, leaving them in some cases with absolutely nothing.

Once again, back to the old mantra. Make sure you treat everyone with decency and respect, and hang on to all the ones who do the same to you. It’s a lifelong process of whittling out the assholes and making sure that, when the shit rolls downhill, as it inevitably does, there isn’t someone trying to make you get splattered worse than everyone else.

Horror-on-Sea: The Aftermath

Pat at Werewolves, Cheerleaders & Chainsaws

Well, that was damn cool.

The Horror-on-Sea festival dominated my weekend. As the first year of the only horror festival to run in my home town, I’ve been rooting for this weekend to be a huge success ever since I was told about it around last June. I was delighted that the organisers selected Nazi Zombie Death Tales
 to play in one of the high-profile evening slots and then even happier when we agreed that my new lecture/talk/live show thing Werewolves, Cheerleaders & Chainsaws: Filming Horror for No Bloody Money (as pictured above) would launch at the festival.

The arrival of the long-threatened snow occurred, with depressing inevitability, at exactly the worst time possible as far as the festival was concerned. Adverse travel conditions are always going to put people off venturing outside their front doors, and as I saw the snow start falling and just not stop as the weekend kicked off I began to worry that sub-zero temperatures might cause the fledgling festival some serious problems.

Luckily, I was underestimating the enthusiasm and determination of the wonderful crowd of filmmakers, film fans and cinema enthusiasts that this festival was destined to attract. It may have been bloody freezing outside, but in terms of atmosphere and mood I think this was the warmest festival I’ve ever attended in my life. There were brilliant filmmakers like Alex Chandon and MJ Dixon around for pretty much the whole festival. There were attendees throwing themselves into the spirit dressed as everything from Resident Evil zombies to Juliet from Lollipop Chainsaw

Then, there was the line-up itself. Brilliantly put together by Paul Cotgrove from The White Bus, it featured loads of brand new indie horrors from all over the world and some smart nods to the pioneers (such as Darren Buxton’s excellent event about Michael J Murphy‘s career; don’t let that sparse IMDB resume fool you… The gent has shot countless movies, and this talk featured hard-to-find clips from loads of them).

I had a fantastic time and really hope that the festival returns next year.

As for Werewolves, Chainsaws & Cheerleaders itself, the event was great fun. We filmed it, and it’s currently being edited. Hopefully we’ll have it up online before too long, so those of you who either got foiled by the snow or just weren’t able to make it to Southend this time around will have the chance to check it out.

Here’s to Horror-on-Sea, my new favourite festival.

 

Last Call for Werewolves, Cheerleaders & Chainsaws at Horror-on-Sea

WCLCS_logo

We’re into the final week before Werewolves Cheerleaders and Chainsaws at the Horror-on-Sea festival. As I write these words there are still a handful of tickets left, which can be snatched up by just clicking the logo above. It’s a 90 min live event about low budget horror filmmaking, including all sorts of clips, anecdotes and advice. Should be a hell of a lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to it; hope to see you there!

The Lost Tales of Erika Spawn

The long-awaited release of the Director’s Cut of The Devil’s Music via the folks at Cine Du Monde is almost upon us. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be giving you some glimpses of exciting new stuff. New artwork. New material.

So what better time than to take a look back at some of the background of the story? The tale of Erika Spawn is a dark and complicated one that still arouses strong feelings all these years later. Regardless of how you feel about the woman herself and her legacy, this tale of music, madness and mass murder is hard to ignore. Although the story may have faded from the headlines, it still burns brightly in the memories of those who were involved in some way.

Including, inevitably, those of us at Jinx Media.

Nudity in Independent Horror Films

I’ve read a couple of pieces about nudity in horror films recently.

As an independent horror filmmaker who needs to get my stuff distributed in order to stay in the game, the question of nudity tends to crop up in every film we make. I’ve seen it argued that horror tends to shy away from nudity nowadays; that in the 70s it was seen as an essential part of the mix for a successful flick (particularly an indie) but that nowadays, what with the internet and everything, people can look elsewhere for a dose of skin and really don’t expect (or necessarily want) to see nudity in horror films.

I also read a piece which framed the discussion in somewhat different way, suggesting that there’s a section of the horror fanbase operating a massive double standard and that although they expect a degree of female nudity in horror they are actively repulsed by any male nudity. I must admit that particular article lit something of a fire in the back of my mind, and I found myself rewriting a scene in a spec script to include full male nudity that I could just put into the background of a shot and leave a dick swinging there for ages.

Seriously, if you’re a male who is not grown up enough to deal with male nudity as just one of the elements likely to crop up in a film aimed at adults, (yet are perfectly happy with female nudity), you’re not grown up enough to be watching horror films in the first place. Leave the DVD on the shelf, and go check out a footballing blunders compilation or something. You’ll enjoy it more. Seriously, just bugger off and let the grown ups have a conversation without having to put up with your pantomime cringing and inability to relate to your own body.

There clearly isn’t enough male nudity in my back-catalogue. There is, however, a certain amount of female nudity, so I worry that I’m feeding into this vibe. The roots of this trace back to 2004 when I was knocking on doors (literally and figuratively) and trying to sell my first movie, TrashHouse. I’d included an awful lot of stuff that I’d figured would make the flick a viable commodity, from chainsaws to decent one-liners, but that initial cut didn’t have any kind of nudity.

I tried to sell the flick for about a year after we locked it. No dice. I was increasingly worried that we were going to lose our entire investment and never even see the thing get released. In a vague state of panic some time in 2005, I commissioned an agency in Essex to shoot cutaways of a glamour model. I dropped about 3 seconds of partial nudity into the next cut of the movie and, by complete coincidence, shifted the UK and US DVD rights to the very next distribution company to view the film.

TrashHouse

I’m sure it was coincidence.

Don’t you reckon?

Either way, those three seconds of partial nudity were enough for our very first ever review to mention ‘boobs’ in their list of things to enjoy about the flick, and that review quote ended up on the DVD cover for both the original release of the movie and the re-release.

This meant that my producer and I sat down and had a serious chat about how we’d deal with nudity in the next two movies (Hellbride and KillerKiller) which we’d already scheduled to shoot back-to-back in the summer of 2006. We decided to stick some nudity into the opening scenes of both movies just to tick the box for potential distributors, then not particularly worry about it for the rest of the running time. As it happened, this suited KillerKiller‘s intro rather beautifully and the opening scene remains one of my favourite things that we’ve ever done. Even a fairly bad review we got somewhere on the internet said of the opening ‘Now that, my friends, is how you start a fucking movie’.

However, this really wasn’t the case with Hellbride. Despite various attempts to make it work, the ‘opening scene nudity’ thing really didn’t fit the vibe of the film, which, as was increasingly apparent, was really a romantic comedy with horror elements rather than being a full-on fright flick. We ended up ditching that opening and going for something that felt true and right. The only nudity anywhere in the film is so massively out of focus I suspect that to all intents and purposes it doesn’t really count. We still sold the movie in the end, but it wasn’t as easy a sell as KillerKiller and we didn’t get nearly as many distribution offers.

Again, I imagine, coincidence.

I approach all of these elements with a fairly fierce desire to do right by everyone and not add to the problems of the world. I would never want any actor to ever feel pressured into shooting something they might regret being ‘out there’ at another point of their career. On the other hand, as long as the performers are fully onboard and it suits the movie, I figure it’s just another potential ingredient in the mix.

I bet I get pressure to cut that swinging dick in order to sell that spec script, though. Hypocrisy is alive and well and going straight to DVD in a horror section near you.

PS. Since writing this blog, we’ve made available a filmed version of our 2013 live show Werewolves, Cheerleaders & Chainsaws. It features a few anecdotes about nudity in movies. It’s NSFW and features bloody violence, strong language and, indeed, nudity. The video is below.

Childhood Terrors: Of Scanners, Spider-Man and Teeny Todd

Had a lovely interview over at Southend Radio at the weekend. Most of it should apparently be available soon over at the Horror on Sea Facebook page.

As I mentioned on air, the first time I ever went on the radio I was about seven or eight, and complaining about how much horror posters scared me. Particularly Scanners. There was something about the complete lack of context which utterly freaked out my imaginative child self. Something about the second-by-second breakdown of what will happen to you, without any kind of reassuring contextualisation to place it as a sci-fi concept. For some reason I got it into my head that Scanners was about medication; that somewhere there was a pill that if you swallowed it would make you explode. As a result, it was probably a right bitch getting my 7 year-old self to take a pill for any reason.

Scanners UK Quad

Scanners stayed with me, under my skin. It wasn’t, however, the biggest cause of childhood fear. That honour goes to Ronnie Barker in a blood-splattered dress.

When I was a little kid, I saw the Two Ronnies’ Teeny Todd sketch and it almost unhinged me with fear. It took me days to calm down, and only then because my parents took the time and care to reassure me that it was all just fun and pretend.

Unfortunately, I had a mischievous (some might say rather cruel) Gran. She waited until my folks were out of the room one day and hissed ‘He was real. The demon barber. Slit their throats, he did!’

As a result, I was terrified of getting my hair cut until I was about 11. And distrustful of pies. It wouldn’t take a particularly imaginative psychiatrist to suggest that the whole thing might have planted the seeds for an interest in comedy-horror which has been the focus of more or less everything I’ve done creatively for the last ten years. Weird the way stuff turns out.

teeny_todd1

There’s a video of me ranting about this over on the BBC website back in 2008, whilst ostensibly talking about the Johnny Depp Sweeney Todd. It’s an itch that I can’t seem to stop scratching. I also finally got the chance to see the sketch again a few years back, and I *still* think that it’s tonally genuinely fucking weird and I can see why it got under my skin so badly.

And, sod it, whilst we’re digging around in my psyche for the stuff that scared the piss out of me as a kid, we might as well go one step further.

When I was about six years old, in 1980, I bought a copy of Spider-Man Pocketbook. To this day, I can tell you the newsagent I bought it in and I can remember how excited and happy I was to have a new Spider-Man comic. Cover price of 15 pence, coughed up by my brilliant Mum.  I loved Spider-Man. He was my  favourite superhero and carried with him that odd sense of security that is such an important part of childhood. Kids like to know where the boundaries lie, and I felt I knew the rules with Spider-Man. I knew that his universe could sometimes have slightly scary bits. I knew that sometimes people died. But Spidey’s universe felt comforting despite the bad bits, because your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man would sort it out.

Sadly, that particular issue of Spider-Man Pocketbook wasn’t destined to be a good experience for me. It had an illustration in it that utterly freaked me out; a picture which has been hovering around the fringes of my consciousness ever since.
Here are the basics: a stage magician levitates a volunteer. The man in the air comes to pieces; head and arms floating off. The now-corpse has a horrible blank expression on his face, and someone in the audience shouts out that the man is dead. That’s the way I remembered it, and then last year I found the image and I was pretty goddamn spot-on.

The illustration is at the bottom of this page. To scroll or not to scroll? If you look at it before you’ve read what follows, will my memories become laughable? If you look at it afterwards, will it have been built up way, way too much? I almost feel weird posting it without some kind of warning. I realise that a warning would just be ridiculous; this is a site for grown-ups, featuring various unpleasant elements dealt with in an often frivolous manner. But, fuck it, I’m not going to be frivolous about the picture. I want to talk about it.

I find it a rather strange thing to look at. I found the picture again on Monday 16th April 2012. Prior to that date, I hadn’t seen it since (by my rough calculations) around April 1980, when I would have been six years old.

The picture massively upset me as a child. I can’t help wondering how long I must have looked at it for after opening the comic, puzzling over it, trying to work out what I was looking at. I was certain, before finding the image last year, that my memory must be exaggerating or playing tricks because it just didn’t seem to make sense. Why would such a panel be in a Spider-Man comic? It didn’t fit the universe. I Googled every different thing I could think of that might lead me to the answer. I Googled ‘Murder Magic’ (which is how I remembered the title; my six year-old self clearly missed the ‘by’), I searched for info on the 1980 pocketbooks (and could only find that they held reprints of classic Ditko Spidey), and pulled up nothing. Then, last year,  I found a copy of Spider-Man Pocketbook issue 2 on Ebay. I thought there was only about a 30% chance that it would be the right issue (I remembered the magician image clearly, the cover of the hastily-binned comic was vaguer) but thought it was worth a few quid to find out. I was laid up in bed sick the day the comic turned up, and thus the fact I was vaguely feverish when confronted with the image again after 30+ years may well have added to the impact.
But, there it was.

It’s a reprint of a Marvel Boy story from ‘Astonishing’ comic circa 1951, and was thus almost 30 years old by the time it comprehensively ruined my day in 1980. The fucking thing is *exactly* as I remember it, and still seems incongruous to my eyes in the middle of a very child-friendly Spider-Man comic.

Of course, finding out that it was a Marvel Boy story made it a lot more Google-able, hence the fact that I was actually able to find an interactive
preview of the original issue of ‘Astonishing’ which you can peruse over here (and it’s that version that I grabbed the image at the bottom from). The version in the pocketbook is black & white. I don’t think the colour makes it any more reassuring.

Most things that scare you as a child become cuddly to you as an adult. That Scanners poster that freaked me so badly as a kid was on my wall by the time I was at Uni. I can’t see myself clutching this one to my chest in the same way.

Truth be told, it still creeps me out, and it also makes me feel angry and slightly sad. Much like Teeny Todd, I can trace the threads of Murder by Magic in various creative stuff I’ve done over the years, so I guess it’s given me something back for that ruined afternoon in 1980.

Here’s the image, folks.

Murder by Magic

These things that upset us get carried with us, though, and ultimately become part of us whether we want them to or not.

Hope everyone had a brilliant Christmas, and here’s to an awesome 2013.

PS. Since writing this blog entry, I’ve started buying Spider-Man comics again for the first time in decades. Not sure why. I’ve also performed a live show about no-budget horror filmmaking called Werewolves, Cheerleaders & Chainsaws and made it available online. There’s an embed of it below. Please check it out, and please spread the word. It’s a bit NSFW due to a bit or gore, nudity and bad language. Hope you dig it.

Horror-on-Sea: Pat speaks!


The Horror-on-Sea festival is shaping up to be a really terrific event for lovers of the genre. Alongside my live show/talk/thing there are screenings of fantastic, brand-new horror flicks from all over the world (including our own Nazi Zombie Death Tales) and other special events.

I’ll be chatting about what people might expect on Southend Radio tomorrow morning on Sunday Live (around 11-ish). We’re going to be making an announcement about our big 2013 project at the festival, so I’ll probably be dropping a few details on the radio show tomorrow.

Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas, and here’s to an amazing 2013.