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'The Mortal Maze', a modern thriller set in the Middle East

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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Mega money for films

As a screenwriter, I have always been acutely aware that feature films are very expensive to make. Never mind the money that has to be paid to the actors, directors and writers, think of all the production, technical and support people required. 

The huge cost was brought home to me yesterday when my street in West London was swamped by crew, extras and actors filming just a few scenes for Simon Pegg's new movie Man Up. There were at least 10 huge lorries and buses, including a large catering one immediately outside my house. And, of course, the people who flooded our street did not included the film editors or the public relations and marketing men and women.

The setting up began about 9am and the filming began at 4pm and will continue until about 2am. All this, for just a few minutes of film, some of which might not even make it into the final cut.I can't even guess at the cost of yesterday's filming.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

When does a film become "period" in Australia?

A long-standing mate who runs a TV production company in Australia is passing through London this week and we caught up for lunch today. In addition to selling his programmes, he is looking for small-budget films to make. I gently suggested that he might be interested in Blind Mike, a music-laden screenplay that I had written, inspired by Grantley Dee, the famous Australian pop singer  and the world's first blind DJ. He couldn't remember Grantley and in any case, "we don't have a market for period films". "What do you mean 'period films'?" I responded with some astonishment, "this was in the 1960s!"  "But that was last century, mate!" he said dismissively.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

TV: changing social attitudes

My wife and I have just finished watching a re-run on BBC4 of the wonderful comedy series Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads. It was a laugh-out-loud series in which the humour had worn extremely well, despite it being first broadcast 40 years ago. But there were occasions -- particularly in the final episode -- when we were taken aback by comments that would not get past script editors today. Example: would a comedy be produced in this age in which homosexuals were routinely referred to as "poofs"? Most unlikely. And would there be scenes in which it was made to appear normal for young men to drink several pints of beer and a couple of whisky "shorts" -- then go out and drive away from the pub in a car? I doubt it.

Still, with those reservations, I thank the BBC for giving viewers another chance to watch and enjoy this fine series.It was high-class, finely-tuned comedy.