Where did Too Young to Die go?

Behind the scenes of a momentary movie misadventure.

After we wrote Too Young to Die in 2013 we started looking to get the movie made and created a couple of teaser trailers, posters and various other bits and bobs, doing interviews with online magazines and blogs and radio shows and promoting ourselves all we could.

We talked to who we could and set up meetings whenever we were able. Being we’re based in the North East of England and don’t have the cash to hit festivals, after burning through the arts and local councils (who refused to get involved with a film where children run the risk of dying) we turned to try and find private investors.

We met a lot of interesting people and had a lot of people interested in the film. 90% of people who read the script loved it or would like to watch it but naturally we got a lot of “if it was already made I’d buy a ticket” as opposed to “here goes some money!”

But overtime with a hell of a lot of work we managed to start getting some people interested. We got letters of intent from Bill Oberst Jr. and Melissa Suffield which helped sweeten our pot. It was all on the up and up and we managed to snag a few people who were willing to “promise” us amounts.

I’ve heard this same patter at Cannes before when I was pitching another film. Investors would promise us a percentage of money if we could raise another percentage of money. No one wanted to dig in and be the first to give us actual money – which is fine because once we get enough promises we would eventually hit the full amount and we’d have enough back to back to convince each other to pony up. Creative England even said they’d be willing to drop 150k if we gathered the full other 350k.

All in all we had a promise of around half the budget but no money in hand. Everything looking good. Feeling right. Then one day inexplicably we get a ton of hits to our website and a sudden surge of people congratulating us on making the movie but complaining we changed the name and one of our investors telling us that they are unsure about the movie suddenly. We were confused at first, but then we found out: the Elijah Wood movie Cooties was getting promoted with a new poster. Which looked almost identical to ours.

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Our movies are very different. Theirs is a comedy and ours is a straight horror. We are small fish. We have little reach, almost entirely built up of word of mouth and over a years’ worth of spreading the word was overshadowed in one hour as tens of hundreds of websites reported and listed Cooties’ news and poster. So even though we were here first, we look like rip offs all of a sudden.

We sent letters to Lionsgate and SpectreVision explaining that this greatly affected our credibility and postulated that they had either a: directly copied our design or b: had not done sufficient research into competition/other products before they released this and as it could limit our odds of making the movie, we asked for compensation for loss of potential.

We got a letter back from Lionsgate legal department advising that it was outsourced to an ad company and they take no responsibility but both designs are inspired by American road signs and therefore no matter how similar they feel it should not be contested. But we argued that its color, style, spacing, etc. Was all SO similar that it is suspect. We got in touch with their ad company and the buck was passed back to Lionsgate. Lionsgate argue that it is clearly a misunderstanding and make it known it will not go any further – subsequently as a complete coincidence they no longer use this poster as they “only intended to use it for the first wave of advertising”

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But regardless of any of this, the damage was done. “Child zombie movie” or variation there of used to feature us as the 2nd response – now we were pushed right down. Our investors had cold feet. “Wait and see how Cooties goes.” Etc.

Months later, Cooties comes and goes with barely a whimper or bang. By this point our investors are convinced if it failed to light the world on fire, neither will our movie and they all moved on. We face a lot of adversity in our filmmaking world. Being we’re low rung guys we’ve had to deal with a lot and we can handle setbacks. But this was not a setback, this was back to square one. ALL progress practically undone.

Meanwhile we are all still working 40 hour weeks. Making barely enough money to pay the bills. Trips to London and Manchester don’t come cheap and we had nothing left. Wayne’s declining health and my severe depression I’ve suffered with for years just took over and we couldn’t help but step back for a while. For a while we didn’t know what to do at all.

Since then we have put together a few ideas for films we can do for 10% of Too Young to Die’s intended budget. (Movies which don’t have 8 main child actors whose happiness, schooling and welfare you have to take into account, along with multiple extras, make up, visual effects, locations, etc.) And we worked these scripts up in the meantime as well as porting Too Young to Die to a novelization as well and also our 2 web series which we’re working on.nathan-small

Now, a full year later, we are pushing Too Young to Die again, spurred on by a few devout fans who ask us about the film every week and actor Bill Oberst Jr. Who still supports us tremendously. “good to hear that the project is on the search for funding again. I am a firm believer that things happen when they are meant to, in God’s time. It’s a project with such tremendous potential!” He says.

We’re doing what we can to bring this film back. To get it made. To get the funding we need to make this movie a reality. We’re pushing as hard as we can again. If you like the film, dig the script or are just an indie / zombie film fan. Please spread the word about our movie. Tell your friends and help us push word of mouth further.

Thank you for reading and know that we will do anything to bring this movie to life. 

  • Hank.
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The poor hard working actors of the North East.

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Prepare to think I’m an asshole.

… So I see a lot of people I know, actors primarily, saying please keep Beowulf going. Please renew for a season two. Please start a campaign page, spread the word, share this, link that, etc. I’ve bit my tongue. But I’ll throw a penny in the fountain of opinion.

It’s pretty sad. How desperate we are North Easterners are that we latch onto any single production which has put any time into our little part of the world. I can imagine a few actors I know hosting parties, watching the episodes recorded on their Sky TV boxes and pointing at the screen “there!” every 1.2 seconds they appear in the background as a guard. Most of these people appeared as day players, extras but they act like they were integral parts of the production because they were there, it happened and it happened here.

The North East desperately needs this! They cry.

No, it doesn’t. Bullshit like this sets the North East back even further. All the North East was used for is its lush country and cheap extras. Even its lead actor – who is actually from Hartlepoole, was living in LA when he was cast! You have to get out of here – even to come back!

The show was an unoriginal cheap production which aimed to take a stab at bigger fish it couldn’t begin to latch onto. It tried to be the sexless, violence free Game of Thrones – because as one pointless exec said: “What about the kids who can’t watch Game of Thrones because of its sex and violence?” I’m sorry but they made that show it was called paint drying.

But typical of England, the production values vary dramatically department by department. The sets and locations look great. The lighting is great. Some of the acting is alright. But the direction is very poor. There is no atmosphere. No mood. The writing is poor. The effects are crude. Sci-fi channel syndication here we go. But part of that is England’s unwillingness to spend money to make money. Game of Thrones season one cost over $60 million. Big risk. But big reward. Beowulf was around a third of that. Hardly any actors worth note. And adapting one of the oldest epic songs of all time is the laziest jumping off point yet.

Didn’t learn from Robert Zemeckis’ movie? Or the one with Christopher Lambert? Or the one a couple of years later?

I don’t want to be harsh because there are genuinely lovely people in the North East who just want to be seen for their acting and they deserve screen time. They deserve original productions. They deserve to be more than background characters. They deserve better than bullshit. They are so passionate in trying to save this TV show – Just in case they can stand in the background for a few more days. This is dedication and that’s heart breaking to me.

Yeah, me and my team are trying to bring projects for the North East to life by building buildings from grains of salt, but this is not a self dick suck in disguise as we push that boulder, for months at a time its like we get nowhere, then we get somewhere, then nowhere again. We’re fighting, but we’re not alone. There are a ton of independent production teams in the North East all trying to make their break. Some want to break free, and some want to big up the area.

We’re all after the same thing, to live our dreams and turn those dreams into careers. Same as these actors who sat around in the cold in Durham for days at a time to appear in the background eating a radish for 3 seconds of episode 2: Gathering of the turnips.

There is serious talent in the North East. We need more support, we need more money and we need more press. These collective boroughs are more than just a great listing in a location scouts book.

So to put it quite bluntly. Fuck Beowulf. So long and thanks for all the fish. Let’s make some shit to put it to shame. Who is with me?

 

 

 

Another year nearing its close.

A lot has happened over the last 12 months.

I left a decent (though soul destroying) job to focus on writing and producing fulltime. Worked with my brothers and managed to write a script which has been getting acclaim nearly everywhere it’s been read. We’ve talked with investors, producers, actors, companies and more who two years ago would not have took our calls or responded to our emails. Took meetings where we ended up being the bigger fish. Produced and screened several short films. Produced a TV pilot which is nearing completion. (And a second episode next year already.) Got a lot of footage still waiting to see the light of day and a hell of a lot more waiting to finish getting written in the first place.

Some of my heroes took time out of their day to give me direct inspiration:

Henry Rollins “Henry. Hello. I watched part of your film and will try to check out more if I can. I am jammed with work, meetings and shows this week, so i have to stay in that. i am glad you’re getting the work done, film is hard to put across. Hang in there and thanks for sending. Looking good. Henry”

Bruce Campbell “Glad to hear you are still at it. You’ll have ups send downs along the way. Don’t let the downs define you and don’t let the ups make you forget who you are. Stay strong. Stay busy. Regards, Bruce”

Got praise from new heroes.

Bill Oberst Jr. “I have just read the script. It is terrifying and will be quite disturbing. This movie really does deserve to be made. I am delighted to be a potential part of this innovative project.”

All these ups keep me going, but so many downs keep me grounded in reality. We are closer than ever to getting where we need to be. But I am back working to keep bills paid and spend more time working a grill for strangers than I do editing or writing now. My business card reads “creative director” but day to day I pull pints and flip burgers. It’s disheartening. So many people turn and tell me they love it, they love the movie or the work we do and they would do anything to help us move forward then do nothing. Words are beautiful but actions are louder.

Day work, the movie career, home life and family, all blend together and you can’t focus on any one more than the rest without letting at least one of them suffer. So I find myself a jack of all trades and master of none. Good at my job, but not on track for a promotion. Producing good work but with slow turnaround and not reaching its potential. A good boyfriend, but she isn’t sending letters to Cosmo about me. A good son, but not taking care of my mom (she had a heart attack a while back and I’ve tried to help her, so she lives with us) enough that she doesn’t have to take care of herself as much.

Wayne, Jim and I are not related but I trust them with my life. We are brothers and best friends and I would see them everyday if I could. But we only see one another occasionally and because of our schedules, every single time we meet all we do is work and push and plot and produce and make our films. We don’t socialize. We don’t have the luxury and it can be very painful. Especially when Wayne is going through so much with his health and I cannot be as supportive as I want to be because I have to keep treating him as a co-worker and not a brother. Otherwise we risk losing momentum. And him the same on me when I am suffering from my depression. Or Jim when he is suffering with family or finance.

Everyone likely has similar complaints and I don’t intend to whine, I will push as hard as I can every single day whether I feel like it or not, it’s what you do to get where you need to be, but at the same time, I feel spread thin and sure of the work but unsure of myself, all I need is the next few hurdles hopped and things will be easier. We are on the edge of a blade. One side is success and the other is poverty. 2015 will decide once and for all. Will all this hard work pay off? Will we be elevated from obscurity? Will our few fans finally get the entertainment they deserve? Can we leave our day posts and film for the rest of our lives? Or will I be handing over shoes at a bowling alley in a years’ time?

I have my fingers crossed. Talent is not enough. Luck, connections, support make all the difference. And I thank every single person who wishes us luck, everyone who supports us in big and small ways and keeps me, Wayne and Jim moving forward and pushing our films, dreams and hopes. All those people who open their minds, hearts or wallets to make this thing work will always be forever in my heart.

Thank you.

Happy holidays everyone.

  • Hank.

On a semi-related topic:

The year I finally saw the third and final act in DON HERTZFELDT’S It’s such a beautiful day trilogy. I saw the first parts “Everything will be OK” and “I’m so proud of you” years and years ago and have waited with baited breath for the finale and I must say I was not disappointed. It’s right up there on my list of flicks that every single viewing I wind up crying like a baby over its sentiment and beauty. (Along with things like The curious case of Benjamin Button, Strange Days, Terminator 2, etc.) and it is for me, hands down the best movie I saw in 2014. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to reflect on life for an hour.

A few words about selling out

Some people will call us sell outs for getting involved with companies about product placements in our upcoming feature film Too Young to Die. (http://www.WeareTooYoungtoDie.com)

 

The simple fact is those people forget that the film business is a business. We are still in the process of raising the funds to make this movie and without money it won’t be released. As nice as it would be to have a full studio or investor fully back the movie, it is being funded piece by piece and by whomever wants to put the cash into the movie.

 

Forgetting about direct financing, filmmaking and marketing is all about branding and connections and by having companies invested into the making of this film, it will help us in the long run reach more investors, more markets and inevitably increase the films saleability when it comes to securing distribution.  

 

So there will be some product placements in the film, but they will not detract from the experience. No one is going to stop what they are doing in a scene and grab a can of soda and swallow it down before commenting “wow, now that is a soda!”. All brands featured in the movie will be displayed as discreetly as possible.

 

We’re doing everything we can to make this movie happen. Some will consider this selling out. Some will say we’re not indie unless 100% privately or personally funded, and some won’t care one bit. Hopefully our fans will understand and appreciate that we’re working hard to get this movie made – and made at the highest quality so it can be the best movie possible.

 

  • Hank

Another night smoked to the filter.

I take a lot on. With my team we have a ton of projects we’re doing at once. Myself I’m spearheading six of them. Three of which are priorities. And I’m working on them at least some of every day. And they are very time consuming. But despite how important they are and despite just how much work it all is. I know they could have been done yesterday, if I wasn’t so damn depressed.

Depression is not something which comes and goes. It has no cure. It has no spark which triggers it.

Me and my girlfriend are financially stable enough to have the bills paid, but not stable enough to grantee food in the refrigerator. But this doesn’t trigger me. I’ve been homeless before. It sucks. But life will find a way, or I’ll find a way to bottom it out and ride the storm. We’ve had so many set backs, but so much potential. Everyday more people notice our films and we’re gaining traction.

But all I can focus on is the setbacks. I’m always facing forward but being pulled back. I sit at my desk and I scrub through an hour of footage and I snip here and cut there and then I stare at it and I feel the chair sinking into the ground. The room getting darker and I just don’t know what I am doing anymore. I can’t control myself.

I have pills. I have tens of friends who would tell me it will be OK, that we’re doing great. Most would say we’ve already made it! (which we haven’t) and my girlfriend is my rock and I have two adopted brothers who support me through the darkest nights whether I ask them to or not. I don’t know what I would do without these people and still there is nothing any of them can do to change the chemistry of my brain. If I wasn’t so damn determined to live this life I’d curl into a ball and die right now.

We will make it. We will get this movie made. These projects will see light of day. We’re entertainers, it’s what we do. I will finish what I have started. Just have to get through these dark patches. Maybe not unscathed. But alive.

Nothing can stop me. Not even myself.

Just need to keep repeating that.

Just keep repeating that.

A new short story.

Mah last walk down Hope Street.
By Henry P. Thompson

                Ah remember when there wus a general store there – right there, that spot in all. They knocked it down a good few year back now, though. That an a few other lil places that made up the Eastan most side of Hope Street. Built themselves up one of those “super” markets. A Winn Dixie. Ah personally do not find anythin’ super about the place. Is just too damn big an too damn over priced an all. A dollah five for a loaf of Wunderbread, that’s whut it has come down to now.

That’s just how it is ah ‘spose. The past is all done an sold up an died out to make way for the new. Everythin’ keeps getting’ faster an faster an more proficient whether anyone want it or not. Same with people too! Remove the old an replace em with the young. Faster an smarter an all whut else.

Seems these days all whut wus is just takin’ up space for whut all will be.

Ah wus born here an ah always knew ah wus gonna die here. Is not uncommon, not uncommon at all, for folk to live an die in one place. Spend they whole lives in the same town. When ah wus a boy, ah quite fancied the thought of seeing Paris. Ah have always been told it to be a beautiful place. Kinda place you remember your whole life an all. But there you go. Ah mahself have never been outta state. Nor will ah ever.

Ol’ man Denny, he whut done owned the general store, when they bought him out, recession they he said, didn’t make much of it. His family took him down Louisiana way an ah ain’t seen him since. Folk like us that may as well be Paris it’s so far! Sad to see him go, but that’s life. Here an gone. Rise an fall. Did get a postcard one time. Said ‘all is well’. Good for Ol’ Denny. Can’t say ah can say the same nowadays for round here.

Ah step off the blacktop an onto the sidewalk, west side, into the shade. Heat is a killer this time of year. More than a few full bodied fellas been struck down by ol sunny than a bullet round here. Back when all the ol timers would be stretchin out in chairs all along in the shade here just waitin’ for a sale or someone to talk to em for a spell. Too fast for all that’n now.

Caruthas comes out whut used to be McKinney’s hardware, carrying one of them plastic coffys. Smug little crackah. Always givin’ the stink eye to us old folks. But today he wide eyed as a badger in a trap! That’s right, back up. An in he goes. Oh he probably tell em everythin. Ah don’t care.

This street used to be alive. Aptly named. It gave us hope as youngins. We never did have much cept each other. Community. Oh ah could tell you everyone’s name an where they going when they pass me in the street ah could! But not these days. Like a ghost town. No one walks no where no more. Drive everywhere. Street smells of gas an exhaust. Ah don’t like it much. I miss the smell of wood.

Ol’ man Denny whaddin’t the only one to get kicked out. Fella named Smithy used to run the hardware store. Ol’ Anderson, he had himsell a lil butchers stand, sellin’ off the hogs an all from Swanson’s farm. Fresh vegetables from miss Swanson down at the side of the general. Sweet ol’ girl, even gave us flowers, just ‘cause they were pretty an it looked nice havin’ one in yo lapel or pocket. Boy she could make any old body feel a right gentleman that one.

Hot day like today, any onna em would set you down an give you a big ol’ glass of lemonade whether you ask or not! You walk through now jus’ a stranger in a strange place. Most time these days ah’m invisible. Just some ol’ nigger, come in now an then for food an out again. Not today. No sir! All them peoples lookin’ on me today. Ah see em across the street, jaws on the god damn floor! ah don’t even care.

After Ol’ Denny went unner ah got mahself a job at that “super” market. They said ah couldn’t do much ‘cause of mah age. So they had me take people’s bags to they cars. Like they damn arms are broken an all! People these days is lazy. When ah wus a youngin times wus tough. Had to work the fields with little to eat, drink, an ah wus thankful for every second god would do spare for me to take for mahself. Now everyone just got time for they selves. Too much time. An ah’m all out. As it goes.

Ah cross the intersection to the North side of Hope street. Not far now. Ah can feel butterflies in mah basket for the first time in ah don’t know how long. Ah don’t much have call to be this far inna town. Don’t got much call for nothin’ really. Truth be told. In this world, you get to a certain age an you do little more than wait to leave it. It’s not right. Ah did all that bullshit of cryin’ on to god an all else for a spell. But be fair, it ain’t gods doin’ leavin’ a man like this. We all just livin’ too long now. World ain’t got a place for us no more. It’s technology.

Young white couple stop dead in they tracks an cross the street. Ha, they practically runnin’! you’d think they never seen a nigger with a shotgun before.

Thissen here used to be a lil bar, The Horseshoe. Now it’s a gymnasium. Not a sports like gymnasium. A weights an whatnot gymnasium. People are so lazy these days. Computers an all else that they need to build they muscles because life ain’t doin’ it for em no more. As it goes.

After a long day a work we’d all cram up in that Horseshoe an have a drink or two. Ah remember like it were yesterday, there were this mighty storm came up an the Swanson’s place took it pretty hard. Lost a lot of crop an all an it wus bad times. No money comin’ in an little work beyond resowin’ an still, we all cooled off with a cool beer an talked it out. Ah met mah Rose there. Prettiest young thing you ever did see! Ah can still remember the first time ah saw her, ah didn’t quite have the courage to say much but ah did buy her a drink. An ah kept buyin’ em till ah wus pulling out mah pockets! Ha ha!

Every week we’d come back, an if the times were good, the drinks were flowing an if the times weren’t so good, we’d just stare at each other an talk. We took it slow, as you did back then. Of course.

Ah remember when she died. After the funeral ah planted her a sycamore tree just yonder on the edge of the cemetery. Every now an then ah’d come an on days ah felt up to it ah’d come an talk to her for a spell by her graveside an tell her how the kids been doing or whatnot an those days that ah missed her too much ah’d just stand by that tree an lean against it an just kind of look on over her grave from a distance.

Since they cut our tree down ah ain’t been over thissen ways that much. Ah just miss her too much these days. Ah can smell her on mah pillow as ah wake after all these years an it brings a tear to mah eye every mornin’.

With the kids all grown up an gone an everyone else gone or dead, ah just stuck mahself into mah work an with that gone now, there isn’t much but mah memories left. But ah am not an invalid. Ah’m a little slow, yeah, but ah am a man still an ah can work. He had no right to make me leave jussen ‘cause ah got gray hair. Whaddin’t even given a chance. Ain’t that just the way it is though? Faster. Smarter. Younger an all. As it goes.

Ah stop at the edge of the verge where Hope street ends an MLK street begins. Right at the edge of the divide, bordering the neighborhood ahead an the cemetery to the side is the stump of our tree. Too many rings on that flat thing to count with mah eyesight. Ah can’t bring mahself to look up to her grave yonder. Wherever she is, ah hope she ain’t watching me. An if she is, ah hope she has open arms, waitin’ for me.

Ah walk forward onto MLK an pass a few houses. You can always tell a rich neighborhood. ‘cause it’s a hot day like today an there ain’t no one sittin’ out on they porch. All inside, the hummin’ of air condition units like crickets. Ah had always promised her ah’d have got her a place like this. Jus’ didn’t work out an all. Ah’m sorry for that. Little else, though.

House number twenny three. Ah knock on the door an can’t help but tremble an take a minute. Mah eyes are waterin’ something fierce.

Little white thing comes to the door, Mrs. Tyker ah suppose. Before she can close the door ah bust it clear off its hinges an make mah way into the house. Ah grab her and push her forward, already ah’m feelin’ mah age an outta breath. Ah throw her to the floor an aim mah shotgun at her. Tell her to get her husband out here.

He comes out shakin’ like a shittin’ dog. Please oh please an all, ah tell em to shut up an get down on his knees. He does so. Bet it kills him inside, takin’ an order from an ol’ nigger like me! Know who ah am? I ask. He shakes his head. His white face. White walls. White carpet. Hell he even got a white TV! This man, this Mr. Tyker set me down in his office an told me ah’m too slow, ah’m no use. No good. Ah said ah’d have nothing. He said that ain’t his problem. Well it’s his problem now ain’t it?

Ah had a plan to come here an tell him everything. How much ah’ve lost an how all ah had left wus mah job at that market an how without cause, jussen ‘cause ah’m old, he kilt me. How ah ain’t got social security. Ah ain’t got a pension. Ah ain’t got mah wife. Mah kids. Ah ain’t got anything. Ah ain’t even got mah tree no more ‘cause when he came an they built up the neighborhood he said it wus a stain on they view. Mah Rose’s tree!

Ah have nothing. But ah had that job, an he took it away from me. Jussen ‘cause he could.

The pain ah been through. Ah can see on his face an from his house an his perfect life he ain’t been through none of it. He ain’t had to beg or fight once in his whole life. An ah know he don’t know how it feels to lose someone you love. His wife has her eyes closed. He’s asking me to stop pointing mah gun at her. Asking me please. So it goes.

Ah say “You don’t remember me.” He don’t say nothing. Ah say “but you ain’t never gonna forget this.” Ah ain’t got much ah can do with mah life. But decide how it’d end. An this seems right fittin’. Ah turn mah shotgun round an watch his face twist up. Ah ask Rose to forgive me an ah pull the trigger.

An leave a stain on his white carpet that ain’t never comin’ out.

Onward and upward.

I don’t understand complacency. I don’t understand settling. Content.

I’m never content. Next satisfied. Everything I do is garbage. Just a learning curve, helping make me better for next time. Everything I get, I want more. Everything I do, it’s not enough. I’m always hungry. Always thirsty. Always driven.

Every failure is a hurdle. Not a brick wall. Every success is an inspiration. Not a finish line.