Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The other side of Cannes: film markets

While most people see Cannes or Berlin as posh festivals where a bunch of stars drink champagne and rub their feet on a prestigious red carpet, there is also a whole other side that is mostly known to industry professionals: film markets.

Getting a film made and seen is not only a creative process involving preparation, shooting and post-production. It's also a business, as is evident when you walk the corridors of one of the major film markets. There are only a fistful of them: Berlin EFM (European Film Market) in February, Cannes in May, the Los Angeles AFM (American Film Market) in November, and a few others in Hong Kong, Dubai, and now in Montreal and Bruxelles for horror and fantasy movies.

The innocent passersby will have a hard time sorting out which film is already completed (and sometimes available in some territories), and which film is still only a title and a poster, waiting for filming or still looking for funding. A quick look at the projects reveals that even today, 40 years after the release of Jaws, there is still an incredible amount of love for shark movies: Sharknado comes to mind, of course, but the market also bears titles such as Sky Sharks, Sharktopus, Atomic Shark, 2-Headed Shark Attack, 3-Headed Shark Attack or even the incredible Raiders of the Lost Shark. If you don't have sharks in the film, you probably should attach a strategic actor to your cast: Steven Seagal and Dolph Lundgren are still incredibly popular on an international level, as are Gary Daniels, Eric Robert, Danny Trejo and Michael Madsen. Of course, having a film with both Dolph Lundgren and a shark is a double win, as the producers of Shark Lake obviously know.

In a market overflooded with very low budget movies and prefinanced action flicks, it is really hard to secure funding for an ambitious movie like Sherlock Holmes vs Frankenstein. Until there's a strategic name on the poster, or an indisputable wave of interest for the project, our film remains one of the many posters waiting in line for money. In order to speed things up, we will be running a big crowdfunding campaign starting next Monday, to raise 25,000€ and begin filming a few scenes. If we can pull off this stunt, the rest of the budget will be much easier to assemble – and you will finally get to see Shane Briant, Clement von Franckenstein and a few other familiar faces in an exciting gothic mystery.

Join the effort on Indiegogo next week if you want to watch Sherlock Holmes vs Frankenstein in the near future and see your name in the credits!

Monday, 4 May 2015

Not dead! Alive!

On this day in 1891, Sherlock Holmes met his doom at Reichenbach Fall... Or did he? Everyone thought him dead for several years, after his battle against Professor Moriarty. But he returned, as if brought back to life by a mad scientist à la Frankenstein.

In a very similar way, the project “Sherlock Holmes vs Frankenstein” was thought dead for a while. But there's no way I would throw in the towel on this story. There are too many people involved, too many wanting to see it, and hell, even I want to see it more than anyone else!

Finishing my first feature film Houseof VHS took forever, partly because I had to fight off my business partner and say goodbye to a 20-year-old friendship. Also because there was less and less money available, for a movie that barely had any budget to begin with. Also, on a much lighter side, because I had my second child last year. All of this took up a lot of time and energy, and sometimes it seemed that my hair would turn white before the movie would be finished. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to meet a bunch of people who were passionate, creative and talented enough to bring the project to its completion.

Now it's time for Sherlock Holmes vs Frankenstein to make its comeback. So far, financiers have asked “have you ever made a feature film before?” and “who wants to see a movie called Sherlock Holmes vs Frankenstein?”. The answer to the first question is now “Yes”, and I hope to prove that the answer to the second is “A lot of people”. In order to do that, we will run a crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo from May 25th to June 25th, and try to raise the first chunk of the budget.

So if you wish to see the movie come to life, you can have a hand in that by supporting the campaign, not only by donating on May 25th, but also by posting messages, videos or pictures and by stating loud and clear “I want to see Sherlock Holmes vs Frankenstein!”

To be continued...

Saturday, 2 May 2015

May 2d: St. Boris's Day

Today, we celebrate people with the name Boris. But isn't it ironic that the most famous Boris of all is actually called... William?! Boris Karloff, whom we all know for his portrayal of Frankenstein's monster in the first three Universal movies, was born William Henry Pratt in 1887, and there was nothing russian about him. A bit indian on his paternal grandmother's side, but no reason for him to choose Boris Karloff as his stage name.

Before he became an icon of horror, he was an intimidating supporting actor in stage plays and a truckload of silent films. He was already 32 when he first appeared on screen. Finding these early performances can be a bit tricky, but you should be able to find a copy of Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1927) somewhere.

In 1931, James Whale directed a lavish screen version of Frankenstein, which was not adapted from the book but from a successful stage play. The scientist was played by Colin Clive, but the creature was embodied by an mysterious uncredited actor, whose name was only revealed in the closing credits. Boris Karloff became a star overnight, and returned of course in The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Son of Frankenstein with Basil Rathbone and Bela Lugosi (1939), House of Frankenstein (1944, where Karloff didn't play the monster but a Dr Gustav Niemann), but also played Fu Manchu, Mr Wong (a Fu Manchu ripoff), the Mummy Imhotep, various mad scientists and a bunch of villains who antagonize Dick Tracy and Charlie Chan.

In 1953, the golden age of black & white horror was almost over, and Karloff only played Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde for laughs, opposite Abbott & Costello. In 1958, at a time where Hammer Films was taking over gothic horror, he played Baron Frankenstein himself in a weak movie called Frankenstein 1970, where he used body parts from a film crew to create his monster.

In the 60s, he became mostly a guest star in TV shows like I Spy and The Wild Wild West, but he also returned to Frankenstein in a weird little movie called Mad Monster Party, where he provided the voice of Baron Boris von Frankenstein (!)

Boris Karloff died in 1971, but he's very fondly remembered by classic horror fans, along with Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. However, it seems that these three never shared the same bond as their successors Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Vincent Price.

Boris is the name of the dog in Sherlock Holmes vs Frankenstein, and I admit to it being a not-so-subtle wink to Karloff!