In the beginning – Part Three

The thing I had to learn as a writer, after being a writer/director/producer/editor for so long was that now there was someone else in the relationship.

From the first meeting with Geoff after the initial vomit draft there were notes; notes I agreed with, notes I didn’t agree with, notes to try things, notes to discard things. His opinion here mattered, obviously, as he would be the one directing it and the biggest lesson I learnt from having someone else in the relationship was that I WASN’T ALWAYS RIGHT.

Some of the notes Geoff gave I initially sneered at, then tried and actually found they worked, worked better than what I had initially. I felt, after so many years writing purely for myself that I was growing as a writer, even If I were just throwing gallons of blood around; it made sense, and having that person invest their time in the script as much as you did made it a better thing.

Next, I tried writing the script as a silent movie. No dialogue at all. It worked, kind of, but the humour wasn’t 100% there. We found a middle ground with minimal dialogue. I wanted it to play as well to, say, a Japanese audience as a Western audience. Hopefully with the script, we’ve kind of found that ‘middle ground’.

In those early meetings we had 3 distinct sections in the script, which haven’t really changed to this day, but the things that have changed have made the project evolve into a different ‘beast’.

Firstly, the initial draft was male and female characters in the band. They had no name as a band, they were just the ‘band’.

Secondly, they started out as an 80’s metal band.

Third, the AN2.

Fourth, those glowing eyes.

Firstly, the male and female roles were never a major head scratcher. They just fell that way. The Singer and Drummer were always female, the others started out as male, and we were thinking of various people that could potentially play those characters (note: Stacy Hart was always, since day one, the drummer. The role was written for her)

There came a day though where I thought, why not make the band all female. It actually made the characters stronger. Geoff pushed me to try it, it worked. We kept it.

By one of the early cast members we were queried as to why the band didn’t have a name. We gave them the name ‘The Stiffs’, but that was too on the nose, plus there was a band called that. So we thought and I came up with ‘Monster Kitten’

‘I like it’ said Geoff. So it stayed.

This second one, the music of the band, was one we flipped and flopped on so much. I loved both punk and metal, probably punk more now than metal, but Geoff has always been a metal fan, so one week they were a metal band, influenced by the likes of Iron Maiden, the next they were a punk band like the Ramones. This kind of back and forth really went on for the best part of the year, until we decided that the band’s main influences in the ‘real world’ were punk (pop punk/industrial punk etc).  They were now a female punk band. Attitude to the end.

Third, the AN2.

When I first wrote the script, it was like a live action cartoon, very Peter Jackson’s Braindead meets Dead Snow 2 meets Deathgasm kind of humour. Geoff’s main concern was how was the anarchy of the script going to work on the plane we had. I had no clue, I had just googled images of the plane and then written an ambitious short, something I’d want to see. So in going to see the plane when I did, I immediately saw there was a problem there.

How on Earth were we going to shoot this script on that plane?

Cross that bridge when we got to it was my initial assessment. Looking back now, with our bigger plane, I’m thinking ‘OMG, no way would we have been able to do ANYTHING on the AN2, no cat swinging, no nothing!’. The AN2 still looks lovely, but nothing that I had written would’ve worked on it. I’m glad we were able to move to Black Hangar Studios (causing yet more rewrites to the script, but in a good way). Otherwise lots of people (crew, cast, puppeteers, directors) would’ve hated me.

Fourth, those glowing eyes. They were written in the script to give reason to the zombie outbreak, but the more we thought about what were in those cages (inspired equally by Critters, Braindead and Gremlins) the more we thought ‘why does it have to be zombies’, why couldn’t infection turn into something else?

In fact, this started to be the one thing I was fighting for, get rid of the zombies!!!

Luckily, Geoff is such an easy guy to work with, it didn’t turn into a battle, it turned into a collaboration, of the best kind. We just now needed to work out what the humans would turn into? This would take some pondering.

But back to the glowing eyes. From the start they were going to be an effect, they would have been a post effect, until I opened my mouth one day in one of our coffee shop meetings and said.

‘Wouldn’t it be good if our glowing eyes were actual puppets?’

‘Yes’ said Geoff ‘but how are we going to do that, do you know puppeteers, puppet makers?’

‘Leave it with me’ was my response.

I was making a rod for my own back (pun intended). Where was I going to find puppet makers?

I had suddenly turned from ‘just being a writer’ to being someone that was trying to make life more difficult for himself, by making it even more complex.

I was loving it.

To Be Continued…

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30% Funded on Indiegogo

3 days into our crowdfunding and we were 30% funded.  We are humbled by the support so far.

We still need help though.

The more backers we get, the better the film can look, feel, be.  The more we can do with it.  Help us raise an army of people that want to see this film made.  We cannot wait to get started.

Shout us from the rooftops.  Follow us on twitter.  Back our crowdfunder

DEAD AIR INDIEGOGO

 

In the beginning – Part Two


I pulled out all the zombie films I had enjoyed including Return of the Living Dead, Braindead, as well as really enjoying the zombie fun of Dead Snow 2 & yes, Deathgasm.
Music and zombies worked well together in that.

What if, I thought, those that were on the plane weren’t random people that just happened to be on a flight together, but were a band?

In my head, that sounded cool, a band expecting to get a private jet to a gig turn up to an airfield, only to realise they are at the wrong airfield. The only thing at the airfield is an AN2, so they commandeer it.

But then, I thought, how do I incorporate zombies? I didn’t want it to be a virus, cos that sounded dull and done to death. I didn’t want it to be records played backwards. How could I do it?

Turns out, that was the week I was rewatching Critters.

What if we had creatures that somehow turned people into zombies, with a scratch or a bite?

That sounded like fun.

Only because this was essentially a ‘no budget, we’ve got a free plane to shoot on’ affair, as I started to write, all I wrote of the creatures were glowing eyes in a box. I wrote it with Scrawl actors in mind, so a lot of the characters were a lot younger, and I also wrote the band, who at that point had no band name, as a mix of male and female characters. They also didn’t have names, so they were the Drummer, the Singer, the Guitarist etc, they were punk kids. It just felt…right.

The first draft, my typical vomit draft took a little over 2 days to write, and that was not 48 hrs but probably around 8? It flowed really well, I knew instinctively how I wanted it to start, what I wanted to happen in the middle, and how I wanted it to end. That never ever happens, but it did for this.

I was so excited I sent that vomit draft to Geoff.

I then panicked. I had sent a vomit draft to a director who had never actually seen my writing before, I had never worked with him before, I felt sick to my stomach. My arrogance at thinking this peas and carrots vomit draft was good was about to get undone by a director who was about to tell me it’s shit.

‘I really really like it’ said Geoff. ‘Lets meet up and go through it, this could work!’

‘Oh, and I love the title, Dead Air’

My smile was wider than a Cheshire Cat. But this was still only the beginning…

To be continued…

In the beginning – Part One

 

As we begin our crowdfunding journey again, I wanted to, as the writer of Dead Air, give those new (and old) to our plight a bit of background to what we are all about? As well as document the making of the film, both the short and ultimately, hopefully, the feature film idea, I wanted to take a trip back in time via my addled memory and bring us up to date, as much as I can, over the course of various blog entries.

I have always wanted to just be a writer. Somewhere along the way I found myself doing other jobs; editor, cameraman, producer, director, puppeteer 😉 but writing was what I really wanted to focus on.

The director Geoff Harmer and I met for the first time around November 2015. Whilst we had mutual friends, and had done for years, we had never met until this point. This meeting, in a coffee shop, was the beginnings of a journey, an adventure, one which started with a weird little horror film I had made a couple of years earlier, but only now was going out to festivals.

This was a horror feature film called ‘Scrawl’ which I had made with students and professionals working together to create a film to play festivals as well as give the students credits to ‘kickstart’ their careers. One of the professionals we worked with right at the start of her career was Daisy Ridley, who exploded onto the scene in mid 2014 by being cast in Star Wars episode 7.  What had started out for us as an independent feature for students to ‘learn their craft’ on, turned into something people were wanting to watch. Including Geoff.

Geoff watched the film over the Christmas period, and in early 2016 we met up again, where he posed the question.

‘Would you like to write something for me?’

‘Sure’ I said, trying to not explode with excitement at being asked to write something for someone else.

‘I have access to a plane’ Geoff said ‘and can do anything I like, as long as it involves zombies…’

Ugh, zombies, I thought. Aren’t we drowning in zombies at this point?? Turned out the zombies idea didn’t come from Geoff, but being given the ‘location’ for free we had to see if we could make it work.

The plane was a AN2 Russian Biplane, and the initial idea that Geoff had was good, involving our ‘fear of flying’ and ‘fear of those around us’ and it was something I would’ve gladly written if I WASN’T SUCH A CONTROL FREAK. I wanted to see what else I could do with it, and how to make zombies cool again.

I asked Geoff how closely he wanted me to stick to his idea. He replied

‘As long as it’s set on a plane, and has zombies…’

I went home excited at the new writing task, but also petrified. How was I going to make this all work?? I started thinking, and writing, and thinking some more.

My brain started to hurt. What was I going to do with this plane? Who was going to be on the plane? Why were they going to be on the plane?

Then I had an idea.

To be continued…

We Are Back!

Dead Air are back for another go at Crowdfunding, from Monday 24th April.  This time, rather than Kickstarter, we are on Indiegogo – and you will see from Monday why this is.

We’ve gone back to the script and budget to see what we can do to bring the film to life, without the production suffering.  We feel we have a new version of the film that has more fun, more tension and more puppet monsters!  We are busy busy busy bringing this new version to you – and we hope you’ll come on board for the ride.

For those of you stumbling upon this, going ‘what the heck is this Dead Air thingy?’, imagine Josie and the Pussycats meeting Peter Jackson’s Braindead by way of Gremlins and the Twilight Zone ‘Nightmare at 20,000 feet’ and you are pretty much there.  We are influenced by the 80’s, but this is not a retro affair.  It’s going to be ambitious, fun and as mad as a bagful of Squirrels.

We are all over the socials and all of them can be found by heading to our official website

http://www.deadairmovie.com

Or

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/deadairmovie

Instagram: http://www.Instagram.com/deadairmovie

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/deadairmovie

WordPress: http://www.deadairmovie.wordpress.com (which would take you on a loop back to here!)

and of course, from Monday: Indiegogo…

Keep checking back for new stuff, as we go along our merry way on Indiegogo, as we build our army, as we offer up exciting news, as we think of ways to finish blog posts…

 

Welcome to Dead Air

Set on a plane travelling to a final gig, Dead Air tells the story of Monster Kitten, an all female punk rock band who end up on a flight with some nasty little creatures who like to bite and infect their victims to the point of all hell breaking loose at 30,000 feet.  With the help of their instruments, a tape recorder, a dodgy crew member and a bottle of piss, the girls try to fend off the evil to get to play their final gig.

Welcome to our blog, which along with our website at http://www.deadairmovie.com will bring the world of Dead Air, and our journey to its creation, to life.