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.
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”
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.
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.