Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 November 2011 10:00
From today I’ll be blogging regularly about my attempts to make the feature film of Kiss’s 1981 concept album (Music From) The Elder.
30 years down the line. Let’s put this right.
Where are we, exactly, at the moment? Everywhere and nowhere, it feels. We have no money, no permission from Kiss, no documentary confirmed yet, but PLENTY OF ENTHUSIASM and heady delusion. Which is the main thing.
This week I have been working on preparing the Elder website. My friend Colin in Bedford is a pro web designer Shyne Web Design, and he has been putting the thing together, and it has been a lot of work (which he has done entirely for free – everybody involved in this project so far is working for no money, instead out of passion, enthusiasm and sheer stupidity). Today I put together my bio for the site – quite an amusing exercise since it means jamming together three pretty unrelated spheres of my activity: the humorous books I write, the mostly improvised, avant garde music I make, and… this film. Hardly the most natural of bedfellows. But still, I need a bio for the site, and that is my bio, for better for worse. I also added some nice quotes from reviews of the books to make me look good. I can only imagine perusal of the bio will cause confusion and some bewilderment.
Colin gave me a long list of stuff he needs from me before the site goes live, so I’ve been going down the list trying to get it all together. This first blog post is one of them. I have just supplied a photograph, again for the site, of me sitting in my conservatory wearing an old Kiss t-shirt and holding my neighbour Simon’s old video camera to make me look LIKE A FILM MAKER. I don’t think it really worked. My wife Faye broke off from looking at shoes on the internet long enough to sarcastically, mockingly take 10 or 11 photographs of me sitting awkwardly in our cold conservatory. I looked at the first few and realised my socks clashed with my clothes and so removed them. Faye then thought it was ‘weird’ me being barefoot, but I thought it made me look a bit San Francisco arty. We went with the eighth picture. A slightly quizzical, ironical yet earnest expression. I don’t really like it.
I also had a severe haircut last week and currently resemble, as somebody put it, ‘a Russian army conscript’, especially since I am simultaneously attempting to grow my annual Winter Beard. Faye despises my annual Winter Beard, but I like it, despite its current unbearable itchiness. It keeps my face warm through the winter and makes me look Russian. Our children (aged five and two) find it amusing to pull at.
Most significantly today, I emailed my friend (well, we were once on BBC Radio Five Live together discussing Metal – Dee Snider shouted down the phone at me for ten minutes over the course of our fascinating panel discussion) Alexander Milas, who is the editor of Metal Hammer magazine, asking whether he had contacts for Gene Simmons and/or Kiss. He replied that yes he did, and that Gene was in fact in London at the moment, to compere the Classic Rock annual awards ceremony, among other things. Alex asked me to elaborate on my plans for this project, so that he could perhaps pass these onto Gene and/or his management. I hurried excitedly down to my basement and wrote out a couple of paragraphs of hard-hitting self-promotional explanation and illumination, and emailed it over to Alex immediately. Wow, will Gene read it? I really want Gene / Kiss to be at least aware of what we are trying to do with this before we go any further, and Kiss find out via third parties and send their lawyers in with heavy boots. I certainly don’t think we can go asking people for money to make the film before Kiss give the project even an unofficial blessing. We could, I suppose, go completely renegade and unofficial and include ZERO MENTION of Kiss anywhere, and make an entirely unauthorized movie, but I’d really rather not have to go down that route. I hope we’ll be able to convince Kiss to allow us at least a modicum of authorisation. Ideally I would LOVE Kiss themselves to get involved – as much or as little as they want. And in a perfect world Gene himself will play Blackwell, my arch-villain. Gene can act – I enjoyed his performances (as an arch-villain, natch) in both Runaway and Wanted Dead or Alive back in the 1980s. (Let’s ignore Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, for the purposes of this argument, shall we?)
So this could be a critical moment for us. Gene possibly coming into the loop. Gene’s awareness of us. Please Gene don’t shut us down. Please see the potential in this! Join us! I have been following Gene’s Twitter feed closely today to see if he mentions it. He hasn’t mentioned it.
I spoke to Owen on the phone. Owen (Oakeshott) is my best friend and an accomplished (ex-Royal Shakespeare Company) actor – he is going to play Morpheus in the movie. He is currently touring in a play about Kalashnikov, the chap who invented the machine gun of the same name. Owen is also going to co-produce the movie (alongside me, I guess). I was talking to Owen about fixing up a meeting with my accountant, Richard Best at HW Fisher and Co, to discuss how we should set up the financing for the movie. That feels like the sort of grown-up thing we probably ought to be doing. I have emailed Richard to try and get a date in. (We now have a date in – November 23rd!)
We won’t begin to attempt to raise money until Kiss are in the loop. Feels morally wrong. The fundraising can all come later. I don’t even known how much we’ll need. $10,000? $100,000? A million? Ten million?!? Should we have a target or just work with what we have a on a rolling basis? Gawd knows. All this is to worry about later.
With the documentary (Mentorn Media, a big UK TV independent production company, want to make a feature-length documentary – currently entitled Exhuming the Elder - following my attempts to make this movie), Emma Morgan, producer at Mentorn, recently had a meeting with Sky Atlantic, with some positive feedback. A few months ago Mentorn shot a five-minute promo taster/commercial for this documentary, for use in pitches to various television stations. I shall let you know what happens. The BBC are in the mix too, but I don't know about Channel 4 or others yet. Watch this space. I've decided to plough ahead with the website, the blog, and writing the screenplay in the meantime. We could be waiting for months for the documentary to get commissioned /funded, so we might as well get on with it. There’s a lot to do in the meantime. I am going to make this film, whatever happens with the documentary.
Talking of the screenplay, I need to start writing it. I know how I want my film to be, and I have worked out most of the plot. More on this later.
I’ve not got the hang of this blog-writing lark yet. The tone feels all wrong and I feel super self-conscious and not at all laid-back and off the cuff, as this medium is supposed to come across: breezy, informal. It feels quite the opposite: stilted, unnatural. Hopefully I’ll get a feel for it soon, and improve.
Over and out, brothers and sisters. Here endeth the first gospel.
Let us pray.