Pat’s Halloween Letter

Hey folks

Some of you will be reading this on Halloween night 2017. That’s when I’m writing it. This isn’t a post I wrote a while back that’s been stored in a buffer. I’m sitting typing these words with a lit Jack O’Lantern outside our door, and the sounds of kids laughing in the street outside.

Halloween used to be shit when I was a kid, growing up in the UK. We knew it COULD be good. We’d seen E.T., and marvelled at the kids roaming around in costumes. There was NONE of that for us. There was a vague awareness of the holiday, in that the TV would show a horror movie or two (I fondly remember watching the airing of Ghostwatch in a hotel TV room packed full of terrified students a few years later, when I was at Uni) but that was about it.

Britain just didn’t GET Halloween, and the first Trick or Treater who ever knocked on my door was in 1994. Just one angry looking teenager in a non-costume. I was a bit surprised, simply because it had never happened before. I gave him an apple, (which was all I had in the house except beer and cigarettes: I was only 20 myself) and he sprayed the words ‘fuck off’ on the side of my house. So, not the greatest initial Trick or Treat experience.

It kind of carried on like that for a good few years, with the only people roaming around being older kids who really wanted to throw stuff at peoples houses whether treats were forthcoming or not. And that kind of sucked even more than when nobody knocked at all. It was a rocky start to the holiday.

Slowly but surely, though, the nation started to get it. More kids started Trick or Treating, and the majority of the angry late-teens kind of vanished in embarrassment, not wanting to be seen doing something that kids a third of their age were doing. Nowadays, frankly, the whole thing rocks. At least round these parts: I imagine that mileage may vary depending on where you’re based.

Anyway, this Halloween we decided to make my mysterious ‘lost’ movie, THE HOUSE ON THE WITCHPIT, available for one night only. The links are up (at the time of writing) on the front page of the Jinx Media website – Choose your option from Amazon or Vimeo. Come tomorrow, we’re deleting the movie and the Halloween 2017 version will never be seen again, just like the version that we premiered in at Horror-on-Sea in 2016 (which I promptly destroyed onstage after the premiere). We do this stuff because it’s fun. If you choose to spend Halloween night with our film, I hope you enjoy it. We’re very grateful for your support, and hope you find our odd little spookshow a worthwhile diversion on this crisp autumn night.

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But that’s enough plugging stuff. After all, an awful lot of you will be reading this after Halloween has long passed. Besides, I’m in reflective mood and don’t want to launch into endless sales pitches.

Still haven’t decided on exactly what flick we’ll be watching ourselves this evening. Probably Boys in the Trees because I keep hearing amazing stuff about it. Either way, I’ll be curling up with a glass of red and quietly cheering the fact that Halloween isn’t shit in the UK anymore.

I’m going to be taking a little while off from my social media accounts after tonight, so if you follow me on Twitter (or Facebook or whatever) you’ll probably find I’ve gone silent.

It’s ok. Don’t worry. Just like every good Halloween boogeyman, I’ll be back.

My name is Pat Higgins and my conscience is clear.

End of Part One.

Horror-on-Sea – Awesome as Usual

We love Horror on Sea around these parts.

It’s a genuinely independent film festival, showcasing some really unusual movies that other fests might overlook. Of course, I’m slightly biased, seeing as H-o-S has been kind enough to host my talks on various aspects of filmmaking since the first festival five years ago.

This year’s big festival weekend was no different. We got to hang out with terrific independent filmmakers and catch awesome movies like the world premiere of MJ Dixon’s Slasher House II – a movie which represents a jaw-dropping achievement on a very, very small budget.

My talk this year was called ‘Horror Stories’ and was rather more focused on the screenwriting side of things than the talks I’ve done before. It was great fun, and I extend my heartfelt thanks to all those who came along (and especially those who contributed their own ideas to the mix!)

Next week, the festival continues with a second (slightly smaller, but no less excellent) weekend of unusual features and fascinating shorts. You can still grab tickets and we wholeheartedly recommend that you do.

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Horror Stories @ Horror-on-Sea

Pat’s first live show of 2017 takes place this Saturday at the amazing and brilliant Horror-on-Sea festival in Southend. This annual festival is a huge highlight of the year (every year!) for the crew at Jinx Media. There are countless premieres and special events, including the World Premiere of Slasher House II from our wonderful friends at Mycho Entertainment.

Pat’s show will feature a whole load of stuff about structuring horror movies, together with uncensored anecdotes and clips from his journey through horror cinema. Don’t miss it! Tickets are only a fiver and can be bought by clicking the logo below…

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The Devil’s Music – The Plan

Hi folks, Pat here.

You may have seen my entry a couple of weeks back about how the release of The Devil’s Music fell through. We’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the movie and the situation, and I want to share my plan with you.

Quick recap: The Devil’s Music is our rock and roll horror mockumentary which an awful lot of people think is very cool. It’s described as ‘magnificent’ in MJ Simpson’s Urban Terrors book, ‘swiftly paced and visually inventive’ in Stuart Willis’ The New Flesh and is even positively namechecked a couple of times in Kim Newman’s magnificent Nightmare Movies. AintItCoolNews called it ‘highly recommended’ and namechecked the director’s cut in their countdown of best horror movies of the year. It won Best Independent Feature at the Festival of Fantastic Films. And more. And more.

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We had a short UK release of the original cut when it was streamed by IndieMoviesOnline, a really ahead-of-its-time streaming site which has now unfortunately gone under. IMO treated the film really well, taking out full page ads in the press and (gasp) actually paying us some money. The US release was handled by a company called Lono, who were lovely and wonderful and ceased trading almost as soon as the film came out, effectively deleting it before it had properly hit the shops. All of this meant that by the end of 2010, our film was effectively ‘lost’, (in that, there was no legitimate way for the public to buy the movie very easily) and all the rights came back to us because both IMO and Lono were lovely, honourable companies.

We started setting up a special edition UK DVD release in 2012, working with the wonderful Cine du Monde, which ended up getting delayed for reasons outside of our control until it ran straight into the ridiculous BBFC situation in 2014 that you probably already know about. That DVD special edition, therefore, also remains in limbo. It sits as a pre-order on Amazon but is unlikely to ever materialise in that form. So if you’ve ordered it, you might as well cancel it.

Since running the last piece about this situation, people have emailed me with a lot of suggestions. We’ve looked at everything people have suggested and examined every possibility.

The following is what we’ve come up with..

We’re going to launch the movie on October 21st 2016 on as many platforms as we can afford, in as many territories as we can. And rather than doing my usual magician’s trick of keeping all this under wraps, I’m going to be honest about it as it comes together. Ask me questions on Twitter, make suggestions via the comments here or wherever. I’m been looking at the usual platforms and making the usual kinds of decisions. I’ve been eyeing up aggregators, particularly Distribber, and would love to hear from other filmmakers’ experiences with them.

We don’t have much money in the bank, but we’ve got a cool movie and a handful of people who’ve really enjoyed it.

Let’s see whether that’s enough.

If you’re interested in helping, there are a bunch of things you can do. If you’re a producer who has worked with distribution platforms anywhere in the world that you’ve had a positive experience, it’d be great to hear about it. If you run a genre-based website, magazine or blog, it’d be brilliant if we could generate as much coverage for the movie as possible for the month of October; if you’d like to review a screener, or run an interview, or feature an exclusive image or whatever we’d love to arrange it. Just contact us via Twitter either on my account or the Jinx Media one.

Anything else? Well, we’ll be firing up the long-dormant Facebook page for the movie too, so if you feel like liking and sharing that page (and the Jinx Media one while you’re at it!), that would be awesome. The more visible support the film has, the more possibilities we have in terms of sorting international platforms.

I’m really sorry you guys have waited so long. I’ll be honest about the way this shakes down, so that people can either cheer at this success story or wince at how NOT to do it in future.

We love you guys. Now let’s finally get this goddam movie out there.

 

The Witchpit Awaits

The long-awaited fifth feature from Jinx Media, The House on the Witchpit, will have its world premiere at the awesome Horror-on-Sea festival in Southend, Essex on January 23rd 2016. This will be straight after the first performance of Pat Higgins’ 2016 live show/masterclass/thing “Watch Horror. Write Horror. Make Horror” – full details can be found over at the Horror-on-Sea website.

The House on the Witchpit is an unusual movie for a number of reasons, some of which are discussed in Pat’s latest article for Huffington Post – “Why You Can’t See my New Horror Movie”

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Pitching to Joel Schumacher in a Lift

Screenwriters get introduced to the idea of the ‘elevator pitch’ with the following scenario:

Imagine that you found yourself in a lift with a Hollywood power-player, and you only had that 60 seconds or so to sell them on the idea of your movie. 60 seconds to convince them that the idea might be worth further investigation. 60 seconds to make them care.

This scenario works quite well as a means of making people think about the hook of their story. Amazingly gifted screenwriters can still be amazingly poor orators, and those words that flow so beautifully on paper can often dry up to a series of splutters and false starts when someone asks what their brilliant movie is actually about. Focusing on communicating the essence of a proposed movie in an incredibly short space of time can be a really useful exercise, but the idea of actually pitching in a lift is largely meant to be a metaphor.

Nonetheless, last year I accidentally found myself pitching in a lift to Joel Schumacher. And, hey, I was a teenager when The Lost Boys came out. It’s one of those movies that made me who I am; everything I’ve ever written has contained elements of both comedy and horror. There’s strands of Lost Boys DNA running through every screenplay to leave my office. I owe Joel Schumacher a lot, and I finally got to repay him by babbling for around a minute about a screenplay that I’m extremely proud of called Your Lying Eyes.

Let me back up a bit. First of all, I’m not one to engineer meetings with people whose work I admire. I feel much happier watching and listening to such people rather than speaking to them. There’s a speech about never meeting your heroes in my script for The Devil’s Music which sums up largely how I feel about it. There’s simply too much riding on it for it to be any fun. Look, I’m a massive Springsteen fan, but if you gave me the chance to sit and have a drink with the guy I’d probably run a mile. Not because I’d be intimidated (people are just people, after all), but what if it went badly? What if we simply didn’t get on? Would I still feel the same way about Thunder Road, or would there be a nagging ‘but…’ in the back of my head every time I listened to it?

So, in the interests of never getting a nagging ‘but…’ every time I watched Falling Down, I probably wouldn’t have engineered a situation where I got to pitch a movie to Joel Schumacher in a lift. But the London Screenwriters Festival had other plans.

If you haven’t heard of the festival, it’s now the largest screenwriting festival in the world. 800-odd screenwriters and speakers, plus a fair few producers and agents knocking about. Lots of people drinking coffee and talking about movies, lots of interesting events and cool stuff. On the Sunday of the festival, I had a meeting about Your Lying Eyes lined up which I was excited but mildly stressed about. It’s a really good script, probably the best thing I’ve ever written, and for this particular meeting I was determined to bring my A-game.

My mate Jim Eaves and I grabbed coffee, and we ended up in a queue for The Elevator Pitch. This was a thing set up by the festival where screenwriters could do the elevator pitch thing for real, usually to somebody connected with the UK industry. I figured it might be a nice little dry-run prior to my meeting. I figured it might be with someone I’d spoken to previously (either at the festival or in the world at large).

It wasn’t, of course. It was Joel Schumacher.

Joel Schumacher in a lift getting babbled at

I think it’s safe to say that my tight-as-a-drum pitch got punctured somewhere on its way out of my mouth and emerged as a bundle of jumbled character motivation and messy beats. Seriously, though, what do you want from me? Dude directed The Lost Boys, for chrissakes.

So elevator pitches are sometimes very real. And not just at orchestrated events at screenwriting festivals. My mate Jim I mentioned? On another occasion, he ended up randomly in a lift with a certain notorious Hollywood mega producer. But that’s his story to tell, not mine.

What floor do you want?