Now Don’t Look To Us

Usually I do entries in this block after I’ve finished a writing spell. It’s like a cool down from a long run and after spending so long trying to make stuff up it’s a bit of a relief to have a few paragraphs just writing about how the day is going.

It is getting a little bit old though. There’s only really so much I can give away when I’m writing about writing a book lest the entire story be dropped out there before time. I was thinking about writing a little bit about movies I like. Nothing greatly critical or in depth but just something to say why a particular title appeals to me and how I discovered it.

If anything it’ll give you a break from reading about me getting stressed at various chapters. I also means I can get some pictures up to brighten it up because there are not many interesting pictures I can place here to convey the writing process.

The first time I ever heard of the terms ‘Manga’ and ‘Anime’ were when I read Super Play magazine in the early 90’s. The vast majority of the magazine’s contents were about the Super Nintendo and there were certainly many magazines covering the same topic at the time. What made Super Play special though was the fact that, despite being written and made in the UK, it was designed as if it were Japanese. This was even right down to the price being in both Pounds and Yen on the front cover. Nobody in the UK used the term ‘Japanese Role Playing Game’ (or JRPG) in 1993 because nobody really knew anything about the culture. Super Play made an effort to change all that.

In between the sections of video games Super Play had regular columns about Japanese comics and animated TV series and films. Names like Appleseed and Ghost In The Shell cropped up a whole but one title seemed to be lauded as the pinnacle of anime at the time. That was when I first read about Akira. Not only was it apparently a fantastic movie but it was also constantly being lined up for video game adaptations that were either poor or didn’t turn up at all.

I don’t think I ever took steps to seek out Akira though. Japanese animation seemed a whole world away from Scotland, there were certainly no streaming services to watch it on at the time and buying it would involve importing a VHS copy that may or may not work on our current VCR set up. It bypassed me for a good few years. Eventually though it was screened as a special on Channel 4 in the very early hours of the morning. I happened to flick through channels, land on it and instantly recognise the opening bike chase scene through Neo Tokyo. I stuck around and watched the whole thing. It instantly became one of my favourite films.

I always have a theory that certain themes in films are often tackled much better by those from countries who experienced such events themselves. District 9, a film made in South Africa about aliens being segregated from humans in Johannesburg is all the more compelling as it comes from a country has seen apartheid. Akira is the story about a weapon being set off that will destroy the city and its inhabitants from a country that experienced two atomic bombs.

Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo and based on his mage series of the same name Akira tells the story of the leader of a biker gang called Kaneda trying to save his friend Tetsuo from secret government experiments that turn him into a weapon. Tokyo was bombed twenty years previously in the story and it’s very possible it may happen again. This feeling of everything being one step away from destruction feeds Akira and keeps it going right until the end.

There isn’t really a frame out of place in Akira and as I watched it in my room on a 14 inch Sony TV in 1993 I was blown away. Being made in the late 80’s meant that computer technology wasn’t really up to speed yet for something like Akira’s scope. Everything in the movie is hand drawn and painted, each individual cell and it’s all the more staggering when you see it flowing. Akira was the movie that convinced me that animation can say something and not just be the reserve of Saturday morning kid’s TV. It lead into a great appreciation of Japanese art in general. Akira tapped into my love of sci fi but put a whole other cultural spin on it. For that reason it’s a high entry in my favourite film list.

Also I never got around to buying the VHS. I did buy the DVD when it came out though. I’ll probably get the bluray as well.

The Glass Jarred Dust Of All That Remained

The occasion has arisen when, whilst writing one script, I feel that the idea was possibly stronger and better for another one that I was just planning out. Then that thought process carries on to thinking if that better idea would be better still if it wasn’t a film script at all but a book. A straightforward book when the costs of locations for filming could be jettisoned out of the window at great speed and shatter on the pavement below.

One great thing in the positive marker for this would be the fact that text would be complete with only me working on it. It wouldn’t need another person to agree to it after reading, making sure it was worth putting on screen and taking the time and the money to gather everything needed and go forth and make the thing. The idea would be there, it would only take me to get something readable.

But then I’ve never written a full scale book before and I probably think very visually anyway so delving into such a different craft is probably not something that would come off well. Also, putting some changes into a ninety page script is fine but I can only imagine the pain of having to change paragraph after paragraph of pure text.

Yet, I still want to see what it would be like.

The Sound Of The Hollow

I would love to be writing a new entry about how I’ve spent the last few days battling through e-mails that I’ve received from producers all wanting to move forward with The Unlocked Project. To inform you of the sleepless nights of constant negotiation and rewrites I’ve had. If I did I’d be lying through my teeth to you.

The listing was distributed on Wednesday morning and nothing has arrived yet. True it’s only 48 hours and there’s time yet but it’s looking like the script won’t get the attention I hoped. I’m not dismayed by this in any way as becoming dejected would be counter productive. It’s more a case of going over the pitch again and seeing what went wrong. Is the pitch appealing? Is it concise? Does it give the idea there’s a good story to be made here? In the current state of Unlocked I’m not sure I can give positive answers to all those points.

The ending still bugs me and it would take a far longer film to advance on that idea of controlled fear. In this current state the ending firstly comes across as science fiction nonsense and, worse, it’s SciFi nonsense placed there purely for the sake of it. I remain unsure how to resolve that yet.

For now I think I shall press on with other projects, mainly the couple of features I’ve been planning. Seven Lucky Stars could easily be made into a film seeing as it’s already running at 90 minutes and that’s just the stuff that suited the one stage set. Making it as a film means we can expand on a lot of sections of Edward’s life which would have been too much of a change in the theatre. With a little push I could probably have a version of this ready to roll in six weeks or so.

Then we have the SciFi film that’s been at the planning stages for a long time now. It’s currently under the title ‘The Last Alive’ but like most things at this point it could all change.