Tag Archives: filmmaking

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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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.

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.

Dis guy’s lament. Pay no attention to it.

It’s hard to keep excited sometimes, the more you push and the more life pushes back. The film world is notoriously hard to break into – unless you know someone – and so many close calls to success, deals in place that fall apart before they close, and all of the turmoil that comes with trying to lead the double life of no cash independent filmmaker and regular 9 to 5 worker drone. It’s tiring. I sometimes wonder if being clinically depressed makes this a poor career choice. It would be all too much if not for our small but devoted following.

The few fans we have that support us, no matter what, is reinforcement that we’re doing something right. Just not getting enough exposure. I could blame a lot of it on being stuck in the North East of England, but that would be belittling, as while it’s very difficult to rock this boat much, it can be done, people have done it in the past, found a channel to shout into and been whisked away to success. The area is still a dead zone as who stays after they’ve made it?

We do so much with so little here. We have so much going for us, and nothing to do with it. One step forward and two steps back. It’s almost too much. But regardless of how much it hurts and how long the struggle. Nearly ten years on and I’m still committed completely. Committed is a good choice of words as sometimes I feel like I need to be locked up as I’m crazy as hell.

It can feel very lonely. And it’s easy to second guess yourself. When you try your hardest to make something and you release it and so few people see it, it’s crushing. Instead of appreciating the few good reviews you get, you long for a bunch of bad ones just to know people are watching. It’s hard to look at other people’s work and not be resentful. Sure there is a lot of amazing stuff out there. But there is a lot of terrible stuff too.

But there again, good and bad is in the eye of the beholder and those same people I think so little of, most likely, think the same of me.

This is just how it is. Some people toil in obscurity, some magnificently talented and overlooked and others rightfully so. While others can achieve their dreams without so much as a lick of sweat because of circumstance. Again, who am I to judge? Everyone deserves to get their chance to be doing what they want to do. So I can’t be negative about those who get further than me. Plus it would be ignorant to assume I know they’ve gone through less struggles than me. I may only be seeing the tip of their iceberg.

Isolated and overlooked. It’s difficult to push on. Am I doing right? Am I wasting my time? Am I talented? Am I forgettable? It would depend on who I ask. Even my mirror gives me mixed responses. But someone likes what I’m doing. My team appreciates everything I do. And those few fans that keep sending me a few kind words now and then. You keep me going. Regardless of how dark the road ahead looks.

Thank you.

I’ll keep trying my best to entertain you.

  • Hank.