Why I love CHUD 2 (in less than a minute)

This world has too much negativity, and it’s getting to me.

I’ve decided to record occasional videos about movies that I love, particularly movies that might sometimes be neglected or glossed over.

Here’s one such video about CHUD 2: Bud the CHUD, a movie I’ve greatly enjoyed over the years.

Let’s face it, I’ll probably forget to post most of these videos to this blog (this poor blog has been somewhat neglected over the last decade or so), but follow me on Twitter if you like this one because I’ll probably do some more.

In between shooting Powertool Cheerleaders vs the Boyband of the Screeching Dead and writing my mystery project, that is.

Hope you’re doing well.

Now Shooting: Powertool Cheerleaders

I’m exhausted, of course.

Filming is tiring at the best of times. Filming in times of a global pandemic, with all the attendant concerns regarding isolating, distancing, bubbling, tests, masks and so on is even more tiring.

Filming with the intention of making the movie absolutely epic despite all the budgetary and pandemic and time concerns is enough to leave you knackered just from looking at the to-do list.

The cast and crew that I’ve been working with to bring Powertool Cheerleaders vs the Boyband of the Screeching Dead to life have been astonishing. They have dedicated themselves to bringing such a load of heart and soul to this project and I’m absolutely in awe at what they are achieving at every turn. I’d love to namecheck them, but if I start I won’t be able to stop.

Every single person on the set has been incredible and I absolutely cannot wait to show you the results of what we’re doing.

How long is the shoot going to take, I hear you cry? Well, we’ve now wrapped block one. We’ve got about a third of the movie shot, which is quite incredible really considering the amount of love and care that has gone into each and every shot. Big chunk of the journey done, but still, miles to go before we sleep.

Thank you to our Kickstarter backers, our social media followers, and our friends and loved ones.

This movie will kick your ass and smile while it’s doing it.

Bloody bring it on.

The Rodriguez List

Here’s a thing.

We’re making a movie, as many of you know. We got a budget through Kickstarter, which was absolutely AWESOME. However, we’re still shooting a movie on a tiny, tiny fraction of a Hollywood budget (less than 1%) so we need to get any cool stuff we possibly can onscreen without breaking our budget. This is where the idea of a Rodriguez List comes in.
Before Robert Rodriguez shot his first movie, he made a list of all the cool stuff he could get hold of for free and then he stuck it in the movie. That’s why there’s a turtle in it!
If you’ve got cool stuff that you’d like to get featured in a movie in exchange for a credit or a thank you or whatever, drop us a line through our form at http://powertoolcheerleaders.com – maybe you’ve spent years on a piece of artwork and want to show it off? Or you own a business or a location that you’d like to feature in the movie? This film is going to get made and it’s going to be awesome, so if you’ve got something you’d like to get featured in front of the camera why not let us know before it’s too late!
I’ve run the Rodriguez List as an exercise at live gigs and lectures many times. Sometimes you come across truly amazing stuff (like someone with a train carriage in their back garden, for example) and it’s always fascinating. There was a sequence of me running a Rodriguez List as part of my live show Werewolves, Cheerleaders & Chainsaws which I was about to link to, but I’ve just discovered that the show is no longer online. Damn. I should probably sort that out.

Anyway, go and complete the form on the website, and feel free to spread the word.
You are all awesome.

Five kick-ass cheerleaders carrying assorted heavy weaponry

Write a Movie in 30 Days – Perk Version!

I love running sessions for Write a Movie in 30 Days. Since Covid-19 arrived, these sessions have been online rather than in person but they’ve still sometimes been in front of quite large audiences. The newly-announced sessions are a little different: online classrooms of ten (at most) and the only way to get a ticket right now is to back Powertool Cheerleaders vs the Boyband of the Screeching Dead.

Yes, tickets to the online classroom are being made available as a perk when you support the movie.

Powertool Cheerleaders vs the Boyband of the Screeching Dead

Five kick-ass cheerleaders carrying assorted heavy weaponry

So, last week we launched a Kickstarter for our new movie and by Saturday night we were the MOST POPULAR FILM KICKSTARTER IN THE WORLD.

Out of 74,563.

Bloody hell.

Five kick-ass cheerleaders carrying assorted heavy weaponry

Powertool Cheerleaders vs the Boyband of the Screeching Dead is a movie I’ve wanted to make for my whole life. It’s big and loud and gory and funny and musical(!) and it’s being made by a wonderful team of people who are doing it for the love of it.

Not gonna lie. Eight years or so ago, I had a major wobble about my film career.

When I started out, I’d intended to make fun midnight movies. My first film, TrashHouse, was an attempt to capture that crazy, eccentric vibe. I thought it might end up being the only film I ever made so I threw everything at it. We had monsters, weapons, retro fashions, stupid one-liners and it was the best thing I could have put together at the time.

2004 was a tough time to be making movies; celluloid was still the ruler, digital was frowned upon or not even thought about. Micro-budget flicks were thin on the ground, and the year TrashHouse came out it was one of only 16 British horror features released that year (according to the figures of the mighty MJ Simpson) because the technology really wasn’t there yet.

And it really WASN’T there. I cut the film on a 20GB hard drive. There was nowhere to research when you didn’t know how to do something, as this was in the days before YouTube and all the OLD instructions about how to do stuff were based on celluloid not DV.

As a result, bits of TrashHouse look… What’s the word? Well, they look shit.

They didn’t look great in 2004, and in 2020 they just look painful. But you know what TrashHouse got right?

It got the spirit right.

It was nuts and ambitious and it was edited on a 20GB hard drive and yet it somehow got into every Blockbuster in the UK. 

In the years that followed, I started to take narratives a bit more seriously. I made films with a bit more craftmanship and possibly a more focused intent. When my fourth feature, The Devil’s Music, got the best critical reviews of my career I started looking more carefully at the ‘respectable’ screenwriting side of things and the possibilities of moving away from blood-up-the-walls midnight movies.

And then along came Strippers vs Werewolves, the worst professional experience of my entire life and something that drained the fun out of midnight movies for me altogether.

As always, I need to add the disclaimer that the horrific nature of working on Strippers vs Werewolves was in no way the fault of either the director (the brilliant and talented Jonathan Glendening) or the unfortunate man tasked with rewriting my script on an almost daily basis (Phill Barron). The project became misery incarnate, and left not only a sour taste in my mouth but also a growing feeling that I no longer wanted anything to do with the industry I’d once dreamed of being a part of.

I had a major wobble.

I pivoted a bit, shifting my focus to talking about movies on stages at festivals (and at TEDx) rather than actually directing anything. I continued writing, optioning scripts to third parties, and doing rewrites on other people’s projects. My filmmaking from 2015-2020 consisted of shooting an arthouse micro-micro-micro-budget horror movie then destroying it at the premiere and endlessly recutting, reshaping and reimagining it before showing it to a handful of people and starting the process again. I’d lost something, and I had no way of knowing whether I’d ever get it back.

And then came this tweet.

Rather than ditching my fledgling script (which was way more like a ‘funny title’ than an actual draft) I started chatting to Charlie about it. And, over the course of two years, it actually became something that I not only wanted to film but something I was DESPERATE to film.

The ultimate midnight movie.

A horror/musical/comedy with a brilliant and talented cast, a load of great songs and a defiantly independent spirit.

Something with a brain, a heart and an AWFUL lot of blood.

Last month we shot a promo. It was masked, distanced and a ridiculous amount of fun regardless.

Look, since the dizzying heights of the weekend, the Kickstarter traffic has dropped massively. That always happens in the second week of a Kickstarter, apparently, but JESUS it’s depressing. If you’ve got any interest in seeing this sucker onscreen (or even just seeing our promo video!) head over to the Kickstarter right now. If you could back us (even a quid!) that would be amazing. If you can’t afford it, a share or an RT would be brilliant too.

Once you recover from a wobble, all you want to do is get back on the horse and ride.

It would mean the world if you helped us make this project a crazy, blood-up-the-walls, big-hearted reality.

Outlines as a Creative Exercise

It’s not always easy to get your brain into a creative state.

Life during lockdown seems to have a lot of unpredictable side effects when it comes to creativity. Personally, I often fall victim to endless mental circling. My mind will get preoccupied with one idea and refuse to budge from it, just circling away rather than exploring other things to think about. These kinds of mental circles can be the enemy of positive creativity so I’m always looking for new ways to break my mind out of unhealthy habits.

This morning I opted for creating a short film outline (or pitch document) for a brand new movie idea. I gave myself a limit of 30 minutes to get it produced, just to make sure that I didn’t just end up spending my entire day doing it. I grabbed two blockbuster movies and took them as inspirational jumping-off points, mashing concepts together until I got something I kinda liked. In this case, I grabbed the biggest grossing movies of 1989 and 1990. Ghost and Terminator 2.

The result of my 30 minutes of labour is below.

Now, this obviously isn’t representative of my best work. It leans heavily on very obvious tropes and shows my inability to make a decision as to whether I prefer to spell it ‘grandad’ or ‘granddad’. For 30 minute exercise, though, it’s actually not too bad. It’s the sort of thing might be worth keeping in a back pocket, just in case I have another one of those meetings with a producer that includes the words “So, what else you got?”

In my experience, those meetings tend to crop up when the producer likes something about you but isn’t hugely interested in the project you’re touting at that point. If you walk into one of them without a scrap of a back-up idea, it can sometimes end up with you both looking a little bit blankly at each other and trying to remember exactly why you’re having a meeting in the first place.

In the grand scheme of things, 30 minutes of my time is nothing. When you consider how many hours I sacrifice to the great God of Twitter, frantically scrolling my endless pointless tribute, the idea of spending 30 minutes and actually getting something out of it seems like a massive bargain. After all, every screenplay on my hard drive (not to mention the ones that made it out into the real world and are now Blu-rays on my shelf) started out as a tiny scrap of an idea. So, I think I’m gonna do another one of these tomorrow morning. And maybe the morning after that. And the one after that.

Oh, I forgot to mention the London Screenwriters Festival 365, which I’m very proud to be a part of. Starting at the weekend, it’s an online festival of sessions for screenwriters. I’ll be bringing three online sessions to the programme over the next couple of weeks from the comfort of my front room, and I very much hope to see some of you there!*

* ‘there’ being online, not in my front room. That would be weird for all kinds of reasons, and would definitely break social distancing guidelines.

 

Prolific is Not Enough

I used to call myself a ‘prolific’ writer. I still do, sometimes, but I waver about how true it is nowadays.

See, I still produce a LOT of content. Thanks to the various methods I’ve honed and stuck to over the years, my words-on-page-per-day count is still pretty goddamn high (especially considering that there are an awful lot of other factors at play in my life). The thing that’s changed is the percentage of those words making it out into the public in one form or another.

For example, I started writing a book about screenwriting a couple of years ago. I genuinely intended to get the book written and out in a few months. I used to be pretty proficient at getting something produced, getting it ‘good enough’ and getting it out into the marketplace. Somehow, though, my screenwriting book still needs a good sort and a polish. Three years after I started writing it, it’s been seen by precisely nobody.

This would have destroyed the ‘me’ of 20 years ago. He’d seen too many promising careers lost to procrastination and perfectionism. People who’d let ‘perfect’ become the enemy of ‘good enough’ and had somehow gone from decade to decade without letting their projects grow up and leave home. People who’d lost the ability to finish something and move the hell on.

I don’t think that’s me, even now. I’m pretty sure that the screenwriting book will find its way out to the public sooner rather than later, and that its delay is just down to the fact that I’ve got so many other damn projects at varying stages of completion. That’s what I think. What I hope.

We’re going to lock The House on the Witchpit in the next few weeks, closing the lid on a movie that I’ve been shooting on and off for five years now, and which has already been publicly premiered twice despite the fact that the latest scenes for it were shot just last month. Maybe Witchpit has let a sickness into my bones: permission not to finish things.

If that’s the case, I’m revoking that permission. I’m reclaiming my ability to see things through to completion. Reclaiming the title of being the guy who actually finishes the damn things, gets them out to the public and moves on. Because being prolific is a good trick, but it’s not a good enough trick.

It’s not just the words you make, it’s making sure that they reach their destination.

2020 and Beyond

Bloody hell, 2020.

I wrote a dice-based role-playing game called 2020 when I was a kid. Got all my friends to play it. In the game, everyone was flying around in cool spaceships and trading exotic space goods. The reality is a bit more down-to-earth, but isn’t it always?

Got a great year ahead, and I’m intending to get as much stuff done as possible.

First order of business is a couple of gigs to kick the year off. On Thursday the 16th I’ll be bringing my ‘Write a Movie in 30 Days’ talk to Milton Keynes, then on Saturday 18th I’ve got the horror-based variant ‘Write a Bloody Movie in 30 Days’ over at the mighty Horror-on-Sea festival in Southend.

The first half of the year is also going to be crammed (crammed, I tell you) with pre-production for our sensational horror musical Powertool Cheerleaders vs the Boyband of the Screeching Dead…

PTCLVBBSD_animated_gif.gif

We’ve got eleven awesome songs written, a script full of gags, gore and heart. We’ve been assembling a killer cast. Still a LONG way to go if we’re going to get the film in front of the cameras in July (which is the current plan) but I’m feeling quietly confident. It’s going to be awesome.

Elsewhere this year, I’m hoping to finally get my screenwriting book (also called ‘Write a Movie in 30 Days’, like this year’s live show) finished and out on the shelves. It’s been sitting nearly completed for way too long now. I’ve also nearly finished a children’s novel that I started writing in order to keep my kids entertained, but which might now find a life outside of the Higgins household. Because I really like it.

I hope that your 2020 proves to be a huge success, and that you find joy in the things you do.

Don’t forget to hug each other as often as possible. Life’s pretty goddamn short.

 

 

Birmingham Film Festival INCOMING

On Thursday 7th November I’ll be bringing Write a Movie in 30 Days to the wonderful Birmingham Film Festival!

You can grab your ticket here for the insanely low price of a FIVER.

Yes, nuts isn’t it?

Just click my smiling face, and I’ll see you there. It’ll be the only Birmingham date for the talk, which covers all sorts of tips and tricks to get you up and running with your screenplay. Trust me, it’ll be cool.

See you there!

write a movieii