Don’t Give Up (Slight Return)

That was me at Horror-on-Sea earlier this month, delivering the gospel of never giving up.

You can tell I mean it.

I try not to stand on stages, or in lecture halls, or whatever, and say things I don’t mean. My sign-off line of ‘my conscience is clear’ (which I seem to have used for 9 years now, which shows how insanely time flies) is tied to that, I suppose.

You can tell I mean it, and you can probably also tell I’m tired. Not just because I’m just finishing up an hour or so of talking non-stop, but because not giving up is exhausting.

When I wrote that final piece of advice for the 2019 show (the last of 50 bits of advice scattered through it), it was as much for me as for anyone in the audience. My career over the last 15 years has had an awful lot of points at which I’ve nearly quit. Funnily enough, they often seem insignificant in the past tense.

One stands out, though.

Some time after we’d shot TrashHouse (my first movie), I hadn’t been able to sell it to a distributor. I’d sunk a huge chunk of savings and over a year of my life into something that looked unlikely to ever see screens other than those of cast and crew. This was before YouTube or streaming sites; there wasn’t even a way of allowing people to watch it for free.

I can remember dropping in and visiting my parents, having a coffee and announcing very calmly “I really blew this, and I think I’m done”. At that moment I not only thought I’d never get to make another movie, I also thought I’d never write another script. I looked out at the rest of my life stretching ahead of me without screenwriting and filmmaking at the heart of it, and I actually made peace with it.

Made peace because I’d given it my best shot. Made peace because I’d genuinely thrown everything I could into it, and my massive gamble hadn’t paid off.

This story has become a punchline to an anecdote I sometimes tell onstage (“I added three seconds of nudity and sold it to the very next distributor to watch it”), but it was something a lot more profound than that. The desire to quit resurfaces all the time. Every time a project collapses or someone in a comments section tells you to kill yourself, that glimmer of despondency flickers your internal resolve. Your motivation often feels like a pilot light threatening to go out. That’s the day-to-day version of ‘not giving up’. It’s just what you do.

The TrashHouse one was different because of that sense of peace. In that moment, at least, it wasn’t just that I felt like giving up. It was that I genuinely thought that I already had, and it was only inertia carrying me forward.

I think about that sometimes, but I also think this:

Don’t give up.

Don’t give up.

Feel like giving up. Think about giving up.

Then don’t.

My name is Pat Higgins and my conscience is clear.

Am I My Brand?

Goddammit, I don’t know. Help me out.

Back when I started out in the shallow end of the film industry (where I’ve been splashing around for the last decade and a half, never venturing into the deep end but never actually getting out of the water), my brand was easy. My brand was Jinx Media.

Jinx as a brand happened organically. I wrote an unpublished novel called Jinxing Mosquitoes, which led me to start branding things as ‘Jinx’ if I was stuck for a name. Thus, when I set up a comedy club in the late nineties along with some like-minded friends the ‘Jinx’ brand was a no-brainer. The Jinx Comedy Club ran for three relatively happy years in my home town of Leigh-on-Sea, providing me with my first ever experience of standing on a stage talking to people. We used to get acts like Micky Flanagan and Gary Delaney onstage in a room above my local pub. We charged £3.50 on the door, it was great and it meant that I registered jinx.co.uk back when internet domain names were expensive but loads of good ones were still freely available.

Jinx.co.uk ran as a comedy site for several years, with some terrible topical puns and the sort of visual jokes that regularly got us cease and desist letters (yes, letters) in the post from brands who weren’t yet used to seeing their logos get satirised online. We used to update every fortnight, then less often, and then we kind of fell dormant. I still remember our debate as to whether to run an update on the week of 9/11. We opted not to, but I was always blown away by the sites that did. That was a tougher gig than we were ready for.

Once the website stopped updating and the club closed its doors for the last time, I wasn’t sure where the brand would go next. However, when my wife and I made the decision to set up a company in 2003, I can’t really remember ever seriously considering anything else. Jinx it was.

And so, Jinx Media became the brand associated with all of my early micro-budget movies, my chapters of the Death Tales films and, much more recently, The House on the Witchpit (the film I destroyed onstage after its premiere). I knew where I was with Jinx. To a certain degree, I was it and it was me.

Over the last few years, though, things have been a bit different. I’ve not only been doing live shows under my own name, separate to the Jinx brand, but I’ve also been doing a lot of writing gigs for other people. Obviously, any scripts I sell to third parties get made by companies other than my own (the brilliant sale I made a few months back will likely result in a movie without Jinx branding anywhere to be seen), and my micro-budget work has very much taken a backseat over the last five years or so.

Thus, this site. My name, front and centre.

The Jinx site has been a bit neglected, in fairness. The Twitter account is still relatively active, tweeting out never-before-seen photos and, lets face it, retweeting a bunch of my own stuff. The website, though, only really kicks into gear when something happens with Witchpit or with one of my old movies.

So, am I now my brand? Does it actually make sense to try and plug ‘Pat Higgins’ as a creative entity, rather than the individual products that I get associated with? I’m honestly not entirely sure. I’m still working it out. Feels daft to ‘double up’ and end up plugging both the company on one hand and me on the other.

Speaking of which, go and watch my 2018 live show on Amazon Prime. I should have worked out a more subtle way to get that plug in, really, shouldn’t I?

I’m zcarstheme on Twitter, which again seems like a pretty crap piece of branding that I feel I should probably change if I’m putting myself at the centre of my own image.

Tweet at me, anyway. Advice gratefully received.

 

Watch FEAR & FILM on Amazon Prime NOW!

So, you missed the live shows?

Well, we’re proud to announce that the version of FEAR & FILM from the 2018 Horror-on-Sea festival was filmed, and is available to watch RIGHT NOW on Amazon Prime. It’s free if you’re a subscriber, or can be rented or bought if you’re not.

It was the first performance of the show we ever did, so forgive me for any stumbles or cock-ups along the way.

Just click the image below. We really hope you enjoy it.

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Getting FEAR & FILM to visit your town!

Hey folks

Had loads of fun gigging FEAR & FILM so far. What started as a kicking off point for my TEDx talk last year became a fully fledged interactive show at this year’s brilliant Horror-on-Sea festival, and since then we’ve expanded it a bit and taken it around some more venues.

It’s a 70 minute (or two hour, depending on the venue/situation) show covering horror, screenwriting, fear and a bunch of other stuff. We’ve got an Atmosfear-style horror host called The Scissors Man interrupting proceedings throughout, and we’ve had a load of fun with it.

But we don’t know where to gig next.

The show works best with an audience of 20-50. It’s aimed at grown-ups with some swearing here and there (so it’s not for an all-ages crowd).

Basically, if you can suggest a venue and we can see that there’s a potential audience, we’d love to bring the show to your fair town. But how can you let us know, I hear you cry?

Easy. There’s a Facebook page for FEAR & FILM that I’ve just set up and is right over here. If you ‘like’ the page and just make a post with the town of your choice (and maybe encourage a few of your townfolk to do the same), we’ll try and set up a gig.

I have, of course, no idea if this plan will work. But at the moment, I get people if I’m going to bring it to x town, and then I never know whether they’d be the only person to want to buy a ticket. We’ll always keep the ticket prices to under £11 for this tour, so if we can’t make that work we won’t set up the gig. But we’d love to come and visit you.

If you’d like to meet the Scissors Man, head over and make your voice heard.

Peace and love,

Pat

 

Gigging FEAR & FILM

Last week I did a bit of a landmark FEAR & FILM gig, in that it was my first ever non-festival solo show.

I’ve spent quite a lot of my adult life talking to groups of people. I’ve done this in a bunch of different contexts: from stand-up comedy, academic lecturing, festival shows and one-day masterclasses through to last year’s TEDx talk. What I’ve never done, until last week, was have a show that was unconnected to a festival or event and consisted of me standing on stage for two hours.

Well, cross that one off the list.

I had no idea if anyone would turn up (they did) and whether they’d enjoy it (apparently they did). I’m massively glad I took the leap, and I’ll book up some more shows throughout the rest of the year until next year’s Horror-on-Sea rolls around and I’ll unleash the 2019 show (which I’ve already started working on and is tentatively called Pat Higgins vs The Scissors Man).

At this point, I’d also like to give an absolutely massive shout out to Three Wise Monkeys in Colchester, who provided an absolutely wonderful venue and were flat-out amazing through the whole gig. Go and visit them, because they rock.

So the next date for FEAR & FILM is the Ruined Childhood evening in Downham Market Town Hall on Sunday, May 27th. Tickets are on sale already, and I hope you can make it. It’s a double-bill with David Lawrence and Stephen Brotherstone, who wrote the brilliant Scarred for Life about terrifying kids’ TV from the Seventies. It should be a great evening.

Oh, and I’ve had a couple of people asking whether we’ll be making a filmed version of FEAR & FILM available. The short answer is ‘yes’, but we’re going to hold off until we’ve finished doing gigs with the show (hopefully avoiding that problem of audiences watching the filmed version then going to see the live show, which messes things up a little for everyone). Having said that, the filmed version is in the can, so if there’s any bloggers or horror websites out there who think they’d be interested in the show but aren’t going to be able to make it along to any of the dates, get in touch via Twitter and I’ll sort it out for you to watch the recorded version.

Likewise, if there are venues or festivals who really want a show about horror and screenwriting (now available in 1 hour or 2 hour versions! Wooo!) please give me a shout.

I bloody love doing this stuff.

 

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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Get the Screenwriting Masterclass to Visit Your Town!

I love running workshops and masterclass sessions on screenwriting.

Over the years, I’ve built up a real arsenal of exercises and techniques which can help screenwriters tap into their full potential regardless of whether they’re just starting out or have been writing professionally for a while. I’ve been lucky enough to spend time lecturing in very different environments, (having taught elements of screenwriting to everyone from film festival audiences to BA undergraduates), which has not only been fun but has allowed me to get used to using different techniques with different classes.

There are still a few places available for our full-day workshop in Southend-on-Sea on 4th June, but they’re going fast. We haven’t announced further dates after that yet, but I’m open to suggestions. If you can’t make it to Southend but would be interested in a masterclass taking place in your home town in the UK, drop me a line via Twitter. If we can find a suitable venue in your town, (and round up at least a dozen delegates wanting to buy a ticket), we might well be able to make it happen.

In the meantime, don’t miss the chance to grab one of the last tickets for Southend. We’ll be covering everything from idea generation to character motivation and crafting the perfect ending.

Look forward to seeing you there!

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