I’ve spoken about Robotics almost endlessly during the two year span of this blog, I detailed the process of getting people to read it and then going through rewrites with producers and directors and yet I couldn’t show you it. It felt odd talking about the film when you, my dear reader, could not look at it.
That ends tonight…
Click play to watch.
I’d like to thank Jasper Bazuin and all at Alphabet Pictures for making this a reality and helping this Scotsman’s crazy idea he had in 2007 get on screen. I’d also like to thank Horace Cohen and Janna Fassaert for their brilliant performances which truly come across exactly as I’d have wanted. It’s crazy to think we’ve never met and yet you’ve done so much for me.
Please share this, tweet about it and generally shout from the rooftops. The festival run on Robotics isn’t quite finished yet either, it’ll play in Rome this September which is incredible news.
Still no word from Option 1, it’s now been around two weeks. It’s reaching the cut off stage now especially since I have a new draft ready to go. I’m unsure about sending it off if there will be no progress. Maybe another couple of days and then we’ll cut to the chase.
As I type, Robotics will be screening somewhere in Cannes which is something that makes me really proud. I’m trying not to be a horrendous idiot by shouting from the rooftops about it, instead just being content to smile to myself and look like a loon in the queue for the local bakery. The whole thing seems to have passed quietly. I live in the sort of place where people starting Facebook groups gets column inches in the local press, I’m thankful that I’ve avoided that as I can only imagine the horrible photo of me gripping a clapperboard in a grim fashion.
Because that’s the only photo anybody related to film gets isn’t it?
Having more than one option open to you to take a script forward is a very strange situation to be in as a writer. Usually I feel grateful that one person is reading something I’ve written and considering it worthwhile of their attention but to have three people in the running for The Salesman’s Gamble has left me in the rather strange set of circumstances of choosing one and rejecting the other two.
I receive an email from Option 1 the other night basically saying that he wants to take it further, has some ideas that he wants to suggest, wants to still retain my vision of the story but feels he needs a commitment from me to move it forward. I can see his side of the deal perfectly and how this represents the make or break time. I’ve stalled him enough but I had a good reason. Option 3 on the list was Alphabet Pictures based in Holland, the company who made ‘Robotics’. Obviously this felt like a natural fit as I’ve worked with them before with fantastic results but the last email I had from them contained feedback about the script and a link to a short film made with a similar story. It didn’t feel like they were for taking this one on and, as I said before, I have another young director wanting to take the project on but needing an answer either way very soon.
Option 2 was another first time director who had to be prompted to ask if she had read the first version of the script. The reply mention she had been busy but,upon waiting for two weeks after the second version was sent, I have yet to hear anything else from her. Whilst it may well be the case that she is busy it’s still an annoyance to have a sudden cut in communication. If it truly is the case that she doesn’t like it and doesn’t want to make it then a simple email back stating as such would work wonders. I’ve sent her a message thanking her for her time so far.
With all this taken into consideration I’ve gone with Option 1 because he was the only one with a concrete idea on moving forward. It’s a vex to have to write back to Alphabet and wish them well, especially with Cannes just round the corner. The gut feeling I have though is that I need to expand my horizons as a writer by working with different people and gaining different perspectives. It’s taken many years to actually get to the point when I can show my writing to producers and directors with some level of confidence, now it’s time to concentrate on working with these people to improve.
So it came to pass that the local paper landed in the newsagents up the road featuring the article about my Dad. They seemed to give him the nickname ‘Mr Hospitality’ somewhere along the line. I was squeezed in for the last paragraph.
‘His son Cameron works for a national chain of opticians and is a successful screenwriter’.
Looks like he got that ‘film maker’ tag changed at the last minute then. It still makes me sound like an arrogant berk.
By now Robotics will have been shown in London and will also be screening in Holland as I type this (it’s got 3 screenings at the Dutch Film Festival). I haven’t heard much about London, I don’t think anybody involved in the making was in attendance. I haven’t had any death threats yet so it can’t have been that bad.
Now some news I’ve had to sit on for a while, mainly due to the fact they wanted to save all the surprises for their press launch. Then I had the whole issue of them having the feature films up on their site but not the shorts so I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to mention anything or not. Having asked it seems I’m good to go.
‘Robotics’ makes its UK debut at The Raindance Film Festival in London on September 26th this year (two weeks tomorrow). The place you’re looking for is Screen 4 in the Vue Cinema in Piccadilly and it’s part of a strand called ‘Twilight Tales’ which starts at 1pm. If you’re in the area at the time then do pop by, it’ll be glorious fun and games.
I gazed upon this today just after I woke up, the poster is ready and we’re ready for the festivals. The credit of ‘Story’ is something which I agreed with the director. He asked to be credited for the screenplay which I thought fair enough as he did work on a lot of it and rearranged a fair chunk of it to make it better. Basically, I’m ecstatic it’s got this far and we have something to show.
I’m really not sure what I’m expecting from the festivals though, part of me wants a career to sky rocket from this and to be asked what other scripts I have and to be put in front of people who have the money and the clout to get other projects on the road. A more realistic scenario might be a fleeting moment of semi fame and then back to what I do usually. I cannot make it to Utrecht for the showing but I’ll be back here in Scotland raising a glass towards them at the time.
I’m still trying not to get too excited about it for worry that something, somewhere will occur and it won’t happen. When people I know asked about the film months ago I said I wouldn’t celebrate until it was up on screen and people were looking at it. These deals and arrangements are fragile, one slip could wreck them.
I can’t make it to the festival sadly but I shall raise a small glass to those who will be there when the screening happens. My idea has been brought to fruition by some wonderfully talented people who have placed a smile on the face of somebody who thought this writing game wasn’t going to be much good to him.
In truth though I have been away, mainly on a family holiday to Legoland Windsor. This trip mainly saw my six year old son suddenly develop a taste for roller coasters which goes directly against my desire to keep my lunch down. I always hated the idea of roller coasters back in my youth, as a parent I had to put that idea on the back burner whilst being tossed around by a replica of a pirate ship. It shouldn’t be natural to go from a vertical to horizontal basis that quickly. I very nearly saw the waffles with maple syrup I’d had about an hour beforehand again. The trip also featured a baptism for my youngest nephew, an event which saw my son suggest halfway though that this was really all just ‘Jesus blah blah and God blah blah’.
Two pieces of news filtered through in the meantime, one before I left and one which came in just after I got back. Firstly, contrary to previous reports I received a response back from Square Go. My review of DC Comics fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us is now live on the site and can be read here. It looks like I’ll be writing more for the site in the upcoming months, a fact which pleases me no end as it’s already been a much better experience than the last gaming website I wrote a few pieces for.
Secondly, I received a Facebook message from the Dutch producers of ‘Robotics’. The film is nearly reaching the stage of completion and has now been accepted into the Dutch Film Festival and will have its debut screening there in the last week of September. I’m currently entertaining the idea of going over for the event but it’s going to depend on money and getting the time off work. Either way, I’m happy the film will be shown. It’s a far cry from 2007 when I had a draft of the script and was sat having lunch meetings in Dumfries with the intent of making it in my hometown.
So, two rather brilliant pieces of news in one week, It’s onwards from here.
A message on Facebook last night confirmed one thing, Robotics is finished. I cannot post it on here however, nor Facebook book it or tweet a link to the file because it’s under a lockdown. The plan is to get it shown in film festivals around the world and having the film freely viewable on the internet apparently ruins any chance you have of getting it into a major festival. Whilst frustrating I can certainly see the point of such an arrangement.
I can tell you that Robotics has turned into everything I hoped it would be. It’s looks and sounds fantastic and the central performances from Horace Cohen and Janne Fassaert are pitch perfect, summing up pretty much all the emotional quirks present in the script. There have been some changes as there was always going to be. The ending has been made a lot sharper and it gets to the point far quicker now. What’s also interesting is that Robotics got a lot of rejections initially because people thought it would be impossible to film an actor playing two different roles in the same shot on a lower budget. My point about them doing it 20 years ago in Back To The Future Part 2, in which Michael J Fox plays every member of the McFly family, didn’t seem to fly. I’m happy to report therefore that it’s worked out well with the occasional cut away.
So where do we go from here? The synopsis of Seven Lucky Stars was just sent to Shooting People so hopefully that will be on the script pitch network in the next few days. With luck we’ll be able to start negotiations with anybody who wants to carry that project forward. Until we get to that stage and before the rewrites kick in (and they will) I’ll set about starting ‘The Last Alive’ which takes me back to the science fiction I love so much. It’s almost Doctor Who territory and I’ll no doubt blog about my love for that show in the near future.
In late 2006, I wrote a script for a short film called ‘Robotics For Morons’. I entered it into a Scottish based competition organised by the Glasgow Media Access Centre (GMAC). It was read by two members of their reading team and gained two positives responses. It wasn’t picked as other projects were more viable at the time. I pressed on, forever rewriting the script.
It sat unused until 2010 when I put it on Shooting People’s Script Pitch Network. It gained a fair bit of interest with a few people asking for details. Eventually, a producer from Southern England took it on board. He even went as far as to get a shooting script together which seemed to remove all the humour from the original script and make it into a dark horror instead. I couldn’t really complain, if I wanted to make it as I saw it then I should have made it myself. Then, months went by with no word at all about the film. I had given him permission to use my script to make it and been greeted by complete radio silence.
I sent him an e-mail asking what was happening. The replied essentially admitted he’d ran out of money before he’d managed to cast it, that it would now take him ages to get more cash together and that I might as well take the script back and make it myself. This I agreed to do and our working relationship ended there. With more rewrites the script was re-listed on Shooting People in early 2012. Once again it gained a fair bit of interest. A Dutch film producer read the script, liked it and decided he wanted to make it.
Months went by and I heard little, instead finding myself doing the nervous writer thing of not wanting to get in the way by asking. The trouble with projects at this stage is the possibility that, much like my previous dealings with the film, it can all end in a moment. A couple of e-mails were exchanged months apart. They were finding locations on one occasion, casting the next, never quite building enough steam to get ahead. A project which, to me, still felt fragile. So fragile in fact that I didn’t feel like I could blog about it for fear of looking foolish when it failed.
Last week I received a message on Facebook from the producer. They’re moving ahead to film within the next two weeks. I received photos of the two main actors and the location where the story takes place. Just when I was imagining this script being returned to me it ends up being near to coming to life.
Alongside Henry Barstow being performed, Robotics For Morons being finished was one of the things I wanted in 2012. It’s part of the general motion to stop writing things in a vacuum, with no end result. Whilst I’m excited about the script being taken to film I’ll be even happier once I can see it in full and, even more, show it to you.