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?

“How Not To Make A Horror Movie” – Saturday 24th February 2015 @ Horror on Sea

Getting all set for the first live date of 2015; my new show ‘How Not To Make a Horror Movie’.

This takes place on Saturday 24th February at the Horror-on-Sea festival in Southend – my favourite film festival of the year. This year’s line-up has got some amazing movies, including the latest from my old mate MJ Dixon “The Legacy of Thorn”, which is playing on Sunday 25th at 8pm. Click through below to check out the Mycho site.

Legacy of Thorn

The online ticket sales for Horror-on-Sea have now closed, but all remaining tickets and Festival passes will now be on sale from the Festival desk at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival from 10am on Friday Morning and throughout the Festival. Please call this number if you require any further information – 07981 824283.

Horror-on-Sea

‘How Not To Make as Horror Movie’ contains video contributions from several UK filmmakers, along with the usual hour or so of me rambling on about everything from cables getting broken through to using sausages and offal instead of plastic guts (tip: it’s not a good idea). I’m really looking forward to it.

My Horror-on-Sea show from a couple of years ago, “Werewolves, Cheerleaders & Chainsaws” is still available in full below, which probably means I should find some new anecdotes. Look forward to seeing a bunch of you there.

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.

 

Evil Apps

There’s a script called Evil Apps which, frankly, shouldn’t exist.

As I write these words, the week before Christmas in 2012, I’ve already got two screenplays in fairly decent shape. They need a bit of a tweak here and there, granted, but my old friends House on the Witchpit and Chainsaw Fairytale are sitting cheerfully on my hard drive awaiting their fate, (which will be, in each case, to either end up in front of the lens as a Jinx Media feature or get sold off to another company and be put into production over there). Those should be my top priority.

Not to mention the fact that I’m also putting together delivery packages for various DVD releases at the moment (including the director’s cut of The Devil’s Music that will be going out through Cine Du Monde in the new year), plus assembling a new version of the live show for Horror on Sea, plus the various lecturing and stuff that I do as well.

In other words, there is no room in my life for a new script.

And then, out of the blue, I tweeted:

 Image

So, yeah. It was a script that was an ‘idea I’d never get time to write’ on December 5th.

A week and a half later, I had the majority of the first draft written. Weird the way these things sometimes drop into your head more or less fully formed. It was absolutely the easiest writing experience of my life, even beyond the oddly simple first draft of KillerKiller back in 2005.

Evil Apps went from being a cute idea to a fully functioning script with characters I cared about and a (hopefully) engaging plot in a matter of days. Crazy.

So, how does this affect my plans for next year? Well, time will tell. Once the honeymoon period with this project ends, we’ll see where we stand. Either way, it’s been a hell of a productive couple of weeks.

So, yeah. Stay tuned. Make sure you follow me on Twitter to hear how the whole thing develops. And come along to the live show, because I’ll probably talk about it there too.

I love this planet.