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Sunday 31 August 2008

Behind the Scenes

I was aware that NBC had a crew on the set when we were filming our UK sequences in and around York, and then I heard from Jonathan Lee that they were covering the South Africa shoot as well.

Here's some of what they saw:

Jonathan - seen there in the clip - is the show's production designer and a tireless, inventive and much-travelled professional.

Crusoe really got started when Power TV's Justin Bodle asked him to produce concept sketches, and the series was pretty much financed on the back of them. For several months, Jonathan and his portfolio were the show.

NBC have posted more of the material in the photos section of the show site.

Life in Transit

Chapter 9 of David Mace's unfolding online story is now up and available.

“So,” said Dr Catenary, “there we are.”
There, indeed, they were.
He swivelled from whiteboard to class. “Now we get down to the nitty gritty, the nuts and bolts, the perspiration and even a hint of inspiration. Or rather…” His head turned and his mirror shades moved from face to face as he scanned his students.
Vicky didn’t like being scanned by Dr Catenary. You were never quite sure exactly what lay behind those sunglasses. How icy cold – or altered – were his eyes?

Modesty forbids me from telling you who gets a namecheck along with this episode.

Sunday 24 August 2008

Playing in Starsky's World

According to Variety, Fox Searchlight has arrested production on Brit cop thriller "The Sweeney" following concerns about its international prospects.

Well into pre-production and only weeks away from shooting, the project's been put on hold and the team stood down. Wow. I've been there, I know exactly what that feels like. Mostly in features but a couple of times in TV as well. In a business where managing disappointment is an essential survival skill, there's no greater test of nerve, no torture more exquisite.

DNA reps said Fox execs are believed to have had doubts the $16 million pic, while looking a sure-fire hit in Blighty because it's based on a cult 1970s TV series, would sell elsewhere without a major star.

I wish them well but I wonder whether there isn't a better way to go; the French make their theatrical-quality policiers with no American component at all. And eight million quid is a low budget.

The TV show was deeply British in a way that could only be achieved with no eye for the US market, and it succeeded here for exactly that reason. My mother was working as a switchboard operator for the Manchester police around the time it was going out; she said that all the coppers loved The Sweeney and most of them never missed an episode. It didn't show them as they were, but as they liked to think they were.

The Sweeney's fantasised take on '70s London crime and rule-bending hard-man policing was an obvious springboard for Life on Mars. Gene Hunt presents us with an appalling/attractive picture of what a real-world Jack Regan might be like. The continuous tension between life and art was one of the show's great joys.

I suspect that the reason for the struggle to perfect a US version of the show may lie in an attempt to reference the actual 1970s, rather than a shared cultural memory of them. I've seen the first pilot, the one that got leaked onto the internet, and I thought it wasn't half bad. Well-crafted, well-shot. And the clothes and cars reminded me of the '70s, well enough. But it fell short of the original in that it didn't recreate any of the feel of '70s TV.

I wasn't really looking for history. I was hoping to see our guy in Starsky's world.

Friday 22 August 2008

NBC Crusoe Promotion

If you've been watching NBC's Olympics coverage, you'll probably have seen this already; it's the Crusoe promo they've been playing throughout.

Or you can go to NBC's own site for a bigger image, but there you have to sit through an ad first.

But hey, this is showbusiness.

Simon just added this to the Comments section of Crusoe Cast:

Just stumbled upon your blog and may I say it's a real pleasure working on the set of Crusoe. (I am playing an extra in a few of the shots) The team is working very hard and all is progressing well. Without giving too much of the plot away I must say this series is going to be a smash hit.

So far I have been privileged to work alongside Philip Winchester, Tongayi Chirisa, Joaquim de Almeida, the lovely Mia Maestro and a few other well known South African actors.

I really can't wait to see the final product, lets hope it doesn't take too long to be screened in South Africa.

A message from the front line, no less!

The internet is cool.

Saturday 16 August 2008

Free Story Download - IN GETHSEMANE

As promised, I'm offering my story In Gethsemane as a free PDF download to tie in with the paperback launch of The Kingdom of Bones in September.

Set in the aftermath of the Great War, it follows the pairing of stage magician Will Goulston and spiritualist Frederick Kelly as they tour the lecture halls of provincial Britain.

In the afterword to Out of His Mind (winner of the British Fantasy Award for best short story collection, with an introduction by Brian Clemens, thangyouverymuch), I wrote this:

It was at Peter Crowther's suggestion or inducement that I wrote In Gethsemane for an angel-themed collection titled Heaven Sent, and although it's hardly right for me to say so it's something of a favourite of mine...

As far as the device at its heart is concerned, that came about when I heard of how, in the late '70s, ideological opponents G Gordon Liddy and Timothy Leary partnered up to tour on the debate circuit. I thought of them berating each other's beliefs at every engagement and then checking unto the same hotel afterwards. I'd been looking for a form in which I could do something about the conflict of science and superstition that would allow for the kind of complexity that I felt it needed, and here it was on a plate. It was human, it was absurd, and yet it still made perfect sense.

Help yourself. No charge. One of the best things I ever wrote. Just click here and if you like it, go buy the book and get more of the same.

Thursday 14 August 2008

Curse You, Candy-Coloured Clown

I had the weirdest dream last night. Dreamt I couldn't sleep.

Woke up knackered.

Saturday 9 August 2008

More Plots, More Misadventures

I've now been told that this second volume of my stories has made the 'best collection' shortlist for both the World Fantasy Award and the British Fantasy Award.

That's in addition to being one of the finalists in the International Horror Guild's awards.

I reckon that when I put the three nominations together, that's just as cheering as a win.

I won't be able to get to Calgary's World Fantasy Convention for the ceremony - I've got a lot happening at the end of October, which I'm sure I'll blab about in due course - but I'm lining up a mate to stand ready to accept on my behalf, should the occasion arise.

I'll have to supply him or her with a little speech. One of those strange little paragraphs that you know will look so pathetic in the aftermath of a non-win, but hey-ho.

Maybe all the losers at these events should get together in the bar afterwards and read each other's speeches for a laugh, while beating their fists on the tables and crying bitter tears into the Bombay Mix and peanuts.

My special thanks to Bill Schafer of Subterranean Press, who both suggested the collection and came up with its title.

Tuesday 5 August 2008

Crusoe - the trailer

This trailer's just been posted as part of the new Crusoe page at NBC.com: