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16
May
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Written by Seb Hunter

 

This doesn't actually mean 'action', rather 'get ready for action - just in case there may be some action coming along soon'.

Thus I am exhorting my torpid Elder movie colleagues to prepare for events. Real events!

My old friend Ross came round my house yesterday afternoon, to drop off his film camera for us to use to shoot our forthcoming Elder movie trailer, and ended up getting hassled by my two young children throughout. As we attempted to elbow them out of the way, Ross explained to me how a film camera works - about aperture, and shutter speed, and manual focus, and white balance, and depth of field and all this jazz. I had no fucking idea what he was talking about. Ross then drove back to Brighton.

Owen and I had a meeting last week with quasi-legendary Winchester City Councillor and ex-mayor Chris Pines, at which we pitched the film project in the hope of getting the city officially on board. The film is set in Wessex and is to be shot in Wessex, so the idea is that we bring attention to the region and they give us access to prime locations and other general assistance (and money, right? Money??). Once Pines had finished laughing he was very helpful indeed and supplied us with lots of great contacts and had some excellent suggestions regarding potential local shooting locations. One of these was the Portsdown Tunnels, a mythical network of World War Two defences build deep into the chalk up on the long hill/down that looms up behind Portsmouth. The following day I drove down there to investigate, and spend several hours getting scratched to fuck whilst attempting to circumnavigate giant rolls of barbed wire and increasingly threatening Ministry Of Defence KEEP OUT signs. I belatedly came to realise that the best way to experience this fabled subterranean network was in fact via the entirely barbed-wire-free and open-to-the-public Fort Nelson, a Portsdown tourist attraction with FREE ACCESS to a load of these tunnels. They also have a cafe. With Quavers.

BECAUSE YOU SEE Blackwell's compound on the island is going to be entirely underground. When the Order of the Rose storm the island, there are no signs of living settlements. Just a bunch of vents. To avoid the airborne virus, Blackwell went underground, stayed underground. And it's here that things start to get somewhat Joseph Fritzl.

The tunnels beneath Fort Nelson are BEYOND PERFECT to shoot some of this stuff. Certainly for the purposes of the trailer. And the site is maintained by Hampshire County Council. So we are now busy fixing up meetings with both the city and county councils.

Thank you Chris Pines!!

The trailer script is now FINISHED. And it's GREAT. I would say that - I wrote it.

We are also preparing for our exhibiting at London Film & Comic Con 2012 at London's Olympia. This gigantic annual event takes place over three days - July 6, 7 & 8. The Elder movie will have a stand, manned by myself and various members of our team over the three days. If you plan to attend, please come and say hello. We will be selling t-shirts and posters, and maybe some other stuff too, we're in the middle of working it all out. We are also working on a very cool teaser/viral site that will work alongside the main movie site. Steve will inevitably be shooting a load of documentary footage there too. It all promises to be PRETTY GOOD FUN.

So now we really need to start to sort out the castings for the trailer.

More on this next time. Featuring Ian Danter from TalkSport.

Yes that's Ian Danter from TalkSport.

 

04
May
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Written by Seb Hunter

 

Gawd, loads to write about. Almost too much to write about. Things are going brilliantly. We have stormed forward with purpose, momentum and fearlessness. There is a feeling of joy, of true achievement, of RELEASE in the air. For yes, Saints have been promoted back to the Premier League after a seven-year absence. 

*tish*

There is also purpose, momentum and fearlessness here at the Elder movie clearing house. 

Our movie poster with tagline and spindly-font credit block along the bottom is being worked on as I type by art director David Bailey. David also had the brilliant idea of asking legendary heavy metal logo designer Christophe Szpajdel to design us a new logo, as the one we've been using so far is the one from the original album, which we don't have the rights to use. Christophe has come back super-keen, saying he "cannot miss this one", so we're all excited to see what he comes up with. 

We have another movie poster to show you too. This one happened completely by accident - last Sunday my five-year-old son Reuben and I were walking past Winchester Cathedral, whose three giant red-painted front doors all have these huge round brass knockers mounted on the front. Seizing the moment, and Reuben's arm, I dragged him over the the nearest door and rolled up the sleeve of his raincoat and told him to get down onto his knees and upon my say-so, reach up to put his hand on the knocker. He did so, and I took one single photo with my iPhone. A church warden then came out and told us off, as there was a service underway, and Reuben had noisily banged the knocker against the door. I said sorry, it was his fault, pointing at Reuben accusingly. Still standing outside the cathedral (in pouring rain) I stuck this single pic through a few bits of photo-editing software on my phone and BINGO. We'd stumbled upon a TERRIFIC image - a brilliant dark, spooky, contemporary update on the original Elder LP sleeve. I emailed this straight to David, who overlaid the text onto it, and.... we had something. We REALLY had something. And it was all just done in passing. Suddenly saw it. Did it. It worked. Weird how shit like that happens sometimes.

The week before last we also had a few very cool, very positive meetings in London - the first was with famed documentary-maker and uber-KISS fan Alan G Parker (who is currently working on the big official Status Quo movie), whom I met in a hotel bar in Soho. Alan is a bit of a legend, and loves the idea of our film, and I THINK pledged his support to this movie project, I'm not entirely sure, so rapt was I by his brilliant stream of KISS-related gossip. In fact all we did was discuss KISS, and then I had to run off to get to the next meeting, so Alan and me fixed up another, perhaps more professional meeting, for a few weeks' time, when we'll no doubt do the same again, but this time over a few beers, and with Owen throwing in the occasional pretentious comment. 

Our next meeting was at the bar of the British Film Institute with the delightful Andrew Calloway and Ian Williams. These guys are experts at making professional corporate films, and we are delighted and proud to now be in a position to be able to utilize their considerable technical and directorial clout for our own film. Yay! Welcome on board, Andrew and Ian!

And this all begins with our next project: the Elder movie trailer. 

This movie trailer will do three things:
1. Promote / advertise the movie project generally
2. Act as a very useful fundraising device
3. Give myself and Owen some hands-on experience shooting and editing before we start to shoot the feature film proper next Spring

Yer standard movie trailer has the luxury of being able to select any number of miniature slices from the completed feature film in question, skillfully sewn together to sex-up the finished product in a moreish collage of vision and sound. We, of course, are denied this. We have shot nothing yet - we have no footage to edit down. So we have had to think laterally. And I have come up with a nice idea. I have spent this week working on this trailer script, and in fact just this morning emailed off a first draft to the rest of our 
production team. All being well, the plan is to shoot this trailer on the last weekend of June. More on this soon. 

Our all-new doco-maker Steve Webster has also now started his own YouTube channel to host snippets, vignettes, of his documentary-in-progress for all to see, and laugh at (us, not his documentary skills). This ElderTube is accessible via YouTube itself, or via the front page of the main Elder movie website. Steve is learning as he goes, and asks viewers to be patient as he learns the ropes of documentary filmmaking. The examples he's already put up feature his first ever attempts at editing moving images, so please be gentle with him, ladies and gentlemen. But it seems to me he already has the general hang of what that particular discipline is essentially all about - and that's telling a story. 

ElderTube will be updated regularly. Think of it as a kind of video blog. In case there isn't enough Elder movie in your lives already. I can only wish. 

Colin has also revamped the front page of the movie site. THANKS, COLIN!!

I am up to page 98 of the screenplay. It's nearly finished. It's good!!

Next: further drafts of the trailer script. Trailer shoot pre-production. Locations. And we'll need to cast Grigorss (the Boy). That's a big one. The biggest one of all.

 

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25
Apr
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So, Wednesday 18th April, 3pm, in the freezing rain, in a car-park at the bottom of St Catherine's Hill in Winchester. My oldest, dearest friend is standing over me holding a Kalashnikov AK47 assault rifle and a bottle of whiskey, saying quietly:

"On your knees, Owen. Now."

I am wearing a red priest's cassock. I close my eyes, grit my teeth, and kneel in front of him. How did it possibly come to this?

Well, like this:

Problems to be overcome, part one: where to get a a pretend gun.

Fortuitously, my last acting gig was about Mr Kalashnikov himself, so I know a fair amount about the AK47. For instance, a child could dismantle and re-assemble the Avtomat Kalashnikova in five minutes flat. (Unless the child's an idiot.) Also, in Kalashnikov's former tank regiment, they had a saying: "If it can rain, it will - so for the love of Stalin, give us a gun that'll work when it's pissing down." (In Russian.) Now, if: 

a) the only thing separating the three gentlemen assembled at the foot of Cat's Hill today from a gathering of idiot children is a few decades and a mishandled education; and:

b) it's pissing down;

then it follows that the choice of an AK47 for the photo-shoot is the height of shrewdness.

After some exhaustive research, I uncover a company in Portsmouth called 'Making History'. Run by a stern chap called Hamish McCloud they provide battle re-enactments for village fetes, stunt directors, and LOTS of pretend guns. When I inform Hamish of our plans for the day, I can clearly detect from his tone of voice that he is standing with his hands on his hips, shaking his head and tutting like a contemptuous plumber considering an ambitious new boiler installation. He informs me that if we're going to be doing anything in public with a replica gun, we need to tell the police first. "Good luck," he mutters, ominously. Oh lorks.

Trembling, I phone Winchester Constabulary HQ. I eventually manage to speak to a copper called Liz who mans the General Inquiries switchboard. Hilariously, because of a fault on the line, there's a delay in being put through to her after she's said hello. So I spend the first 20 seconds of my call to Winchester police saying: "Hello hello hello". I was nano-seconds away from adding: "What's going on here then?", before, thank Christ, the line resumed normal service. Stammering, I introduce myself to Liz and explain our situation, all the while imagining vile Kafka-esque scenarios featuring naked light-bulbs, orange jump-suits and snarling men officialLy probing intimate areas of concern. 

How wrong. 

Liz merely asked us where we would be, how long it would take and would we like a police incident number? I said: "Why, thankyou, Liz.” To which she replied: "615. Any problems, Owen, just mention that number. Goodbye & good luck."  

And that, ladies & gentlemen, if you happen to be planning a terrorist atrocity in the heart of a Hampshire market town on a wet Wednesday afternoon, is all you need: an incident number.

Surveillance state Britain? Surveillance, my arse.

Problems to be overcome, part two: how to get a mucky chasuble.

Now, Seb had gone out and bought a priest's cassock for Father Morpheus a few weeks back. He's been boring me incessantly over the intervening period with photos of it, like a Golden Retriever eager for praise for having retrieved something. An interesting garment, to be sure, but murder to run in. However, as he so delicately pointed out after I'd brought up this tangle-foot dilemma: “Well, the Taliban seem to fucking manage, innit?” The logic – if not its expression - was impeccable. A bit like his script.

To be fair, the whole 'war-on-terror, failed-state, clerics-on-mopeds-&-fire-arms' aesthetic seems to be just right for us. However, these vestments need to be considerably dirtier than the one we had in our possession. Lived in, farted in, any-other-bodily-function'd in that priests presumably would now admit to in this new, violent, history-on-its-head world that we seem to be creating.

Cue the first bit of direction I receive – indeed, that anyone will have received – for The Elder:

On your knees, Owen. Now.”

Cometh the hour, cometh the puddle, and down I go, submitting to the imperative of the moment by dowsing myself in rain, mud & excrement. Sadly, as with all good insurgencies, this one gathers momentum, until Sebastian has me rolling around like a dog in a frock for a goodly five minutes, assailed by clods of earth, his greasy palms and the sight of Steve Webster bent double pissing himself laughing in a bush while simultaneously attempting to film something.

It is precisely during one of these forced encounters with Hampshire sludge, held down by Seb as if waterboarding a bishop in a car-park, that I consider my three seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company, my guest role in nineties comedy sitcom, 'Birds of a Feather', my appearance in a succession of adverts for a Belgian brand of kitchen cleaner in 2003, and wonder wistfully: “Wither now?” And then, to alleviate the indignity still further (aswell as to generally show off), I quote some Latin to everyone.“Omnes vanitas” (Book of Ecclesisates.1:2)

Hell, never mind - our objectives are reached:

  • the cassock is distressed (as indeed am I).
  • passing ramblers are duly startled to witness a man of the cloth abused in public, hence contributing to the general decline in authority of the Church of England (a key aim when the film was first conceived.)

  • we get some great photos. 

After the shoot, we descended St Catherine's Hill to go to the pub, and Seb fell over.

23
Apr
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Written by Seb Hunter

photo1 

Wednesday April 18th was a landmark day for this movie project. This was our first day In The Field, actually Making Stuff, as opposed to merely Talking About Stuff, and Arguing About Stuff, and indeed Having Email Tiffs About Stuff.

It was a long yet productive day. 

First Steve, our documentary-maker, came round my house. The first I knew of this was when I saw a man lurking outside in our front garden filming me through the window. I quickly zipped up. Steve and I then drove to an industrial estate in Waterlooville to collect the AK-47 we were renting for the day. We were greeted at History in the Making Ltd by the lovely Jean, who gave us the tantalizing glimpse of rows and rows of authentic old military uniforms, helmets, boots, the whole nine yards; they supply kit for film & TV, and their topsy-turvy premises are purest manna for anyone brought up on miniature plastic soldiers and Commando magazine. Sadly I was then shouted at by Jean's formidable partner Hamish for attempting to wander down an aisle stuffed with some Napoleonic things, I'm not sure what exactly because I was being suddenly shouted at, and then Steve was also shouted at for attempting to film Jean opening the case with our AK in it. We both apologized profusely for our unwitting transgressions but it was no good - Hamish simply hated our fucking guts. Our theoretically triumphant drive back to Winchester was thus soiled with rueful melancholy and intermittent discussion of Hamish's bad breath and erectile dysfunction.

We picked ourselves up again, however, by stopping off at Hedge End retail superstore super park, in order to buy an HD camcorder for Steve to film his documentary with. We also bought a tripod and a bunch of SD memory cards. The Elder Movie Productions Ltd debit card was then turned down at the cash register. 

Back in Winchester, we met Owen and got him into his cassock for the first time. I imagine this historic sensation was akin to the feeling Kenny Baker must have had the first time he climbed into the R2-D2 bin on the set of Star Wars. We then slipped the white dog collar over his black shirt and the legend was complete: he looked a bit like a vicar. I passed him the machine gun. He looked like a vicar holding a machine gun. We were clearly getting somewhere. 

Next we all drove across town to the car park at the base of St Catherine's Hill, which as well as being a hill, used to be an old Iron Age fort. As we emerged blinking into the heavy rain, it became apparent that Owen's shiny new cassock was inappropriately shiny for the task at hand, so I smeared mud and dog excrement all over him. First, however, Steve made us get back into the car again so that he could film us getting out of the car. I immediately regretted smearing Owen's cassock with dog excrement. 

The three of us then laboured up the steep hill in the pouring rain, with me continuing to smear Owen with mud from a big stick, until I became jammed in a kissing gate with the machine gun case. 

Fast approaching the summit, I adjudged our elevation to be suitably appropriate, so we all downed luggage and we got the machine gun out and I began to crossly direct Owen while I took photos sprawled out in wet grass and sheep excrement with Simon Nicholson our script editor's SLR. For all you peasants out there, this is a camera - a camera I truly did not understand. 

An hour or so later and it was a wrap. We trudged down the hill and Owen fell over. The heavy rain continued. I went to collect my children from the workhouse and Owen and Steve drove back to Waterlooville to give the machine gun back. We had had absolutely no need for our exciting Police Incident Number. In Waterlooville, Steve sent Owen into History in the Making Ltd, because he was so scared of Hamish shouting at him again. 

Several hours later the three of us liaised at the public house, by which time I'd managed to upload ten of the best of the day's photographs onto my iPhone, which we all gathered around to peruse. There was one picture in particular which we all agreed was The One. So big relief: we had our photo for the movie poster. We had succeeded in this, our first real test. Our first attempt at capturing a visual context for the film we are attempting to make. 

Steve went on to film some of the conversations Owen and me had in the pub. This was eventually brought to a halt by Owen starting to slur all his answers. 

I wrote this blog on the train, that's how modern I am.

16
Apr
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Written by Seb Hunter

 

The annoying thing about a blog is that you blink and it's time to write another one. Well, I blinked. 

In two days time - this coming Wednesday - we are shooting the movie poster, up on St Catherine's Hill here in Winchester. Like I mentioned last time, the poster is going to be an image of Father Morpheus in his full-length burgundy cassock standing on a windswept hillside holding a machine gun. "THE ELDER" above. "LIFE IS PRECIOUS. YOU'VE GOT TO KILL TO PROTECT IT" - our tag line - below. And beneath it all, the movie credits in the tall spindly font you always see on film posters. Bingo. 

So I bought a cassock online from cassock-makers of distinction, Vanpoulles. It cost about £60. I also bought a dog collar and dog collar cufflink, or should that be necklink? The cassock arrived two days later and was brilliant. I put it on straight away and blessed my whole family who, it must be said, were very ungrateful, so I had no choice but to cast them all into a burning pit of hellfire, brimstone and feathers. That same night I was due to go out for another plot-storming session with my friend the accidentally-brilliant-at-plot-storming Richard Cross, and had to be firmly talked out of wearing the cassock up to the pub. Just think of all the fascinating theological conversations I could have incompetently blathered through whilst stacking up the free pints from well-wishers. Next time I'm simply going to sneak the cassock out in a plastic bag and put it on a little further down the street. And wear nothing underneath, just like Catholic priests, only perhaps not the stockings and suspenders. 

Richard and I had another very fruitful session whilst enjoying the kind hospitality of the redoubtable Polly Perry at the Black Boy public house on Wharf Hill here in Winchester, Hampshire. As a result of this session, look out in the final movie for skeletons in pews and an old Jag driven by a crazy white haired old priest. We also discussed how to make Blackwell himself as visually distinctive / disturbing / memorable as possible. Everyone always remembers Frank's mask in Blue Velvet, right? We need something equally iconic visually, and we have a couple of ideas. 

Owen (who has had a super-proactive couple of weeks) has sourced the machine gun for Wednesday, from a company called History in the Making Ltd in Portsmouth. For his weapon of choice, Owen has selected every good terrorist's friend the AK-47, a genuine, de-fatalized one too, not a replica. For this we have also had to contact the local police station and request an incident number, which Owen has now sorted out. So we now have a police incident number for Wednesday. This is rather cool, I reckon. (I am looking forward to playing with a real machine gun. In front of the mirror, natch. I'm also a little nervous about it. Machine guns are pretty heavy shit. They have immense, intense physical and symbolic power. The only time I've ever held a real gun was when I was 17 - it was just some old revolver, but it still felt terrifying, yet also strange, magical, DEATH SEX. It's not rocket science - you give some poor disenfranchised street kid gang member or poverty-stricken, warlord-drafted African teen a firearm: INSTANT POTENCY. It's like a drug. Death drug. Erm, close brackets.)

All this is going to be filmed for the documentary by Steve Webster. In fact Steve and I are going off together early Wednesday morning to buy an HD camcorder for him to make his film with. And a tripod. And maybe a microphone. Then we will figure out how it works. And then go and shoot the movie poster as soon as Owen arrives with his machine gun. For the photoshoot I'm going to be using our script editor Simon Nicholson's SLR camera (thanks Simon). Then after we're done we email the photos over to our art director David Bailey who will create both landscape and portrait versions of the poster. 

Then on Friday Owen and I have a meeting in London with a potential movie production company who have kindly offered their services. More on this in the next blog. But it's very cool and potentially extremely exciting. 

The screenplay is still going well. I am on page/minute 82. Flying along now. 

After we've sorted out the poster, and started on the subsequent branded merch (from the poster we'll officially have a LOOK, an AESTHETIC, a LOGO, a goddamn BRAND), the next big thing is filming a trailer short. This will give us experience shooting stuff; give us editing experience; get a real grip on our visual language and of course provide us with a crucial promotional and fundraising tool. The trailer short must SELL the film, SEX-UP the film, and perhaps most importantly LEGITIMIZE the fact that we're making THE (albeit currently unauthorized) MOVIE of KISS's 1981 concept album (Music From) The Elder. Lots of visual signifiers, in other words - the door, the table and chairs, Morpheus, Blackwell, the Order of the Rose, the Boy, the island, which will be escaped from, etc etc. All in a 3-5 minute trailer. This is our next challenge. And it's an exciting one! I'm going to be taking a brief diversion form the script proper to write this trailer (and its voiceover) in a few weeks' time, and we'll hopefully shoot the trailer as soon as we can, and get it up and viral here, there, everywhere.

And in EVEN MORE exciting news, the Elder movie is now confirmed to be exhibiting at the London Film & Comic Con 2012 (July 6-8, Olympia Grand Hall). Yes, we officially have a stall!

Phew, lots of cool stuff. 

We have momentum. 

Believe in us. 

Support us. 

Give us your fucking money.

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