New documentary out!

Recently, I wrote and co-directed a documentary about my good friends Bob & Barn (aka Paul Arnold and Andrew Barnabas) who have composed many truly epic scores for a whole host of games, film and TV – not least, Sony’s MediEvil series. And today, it’s out there – courtesy of OfficialPSMag.

The film was co-directed, shot, edited, sound tweaked and, to be honest, pretty much everything by Richard Jackson – noted DoP, director and host of Val Verde Broadcasting.

It’s only short – take a little look…

His House premieres at Sundance 2020

sundanceWell, it’s been a while. Plenty has been happening, much of which – inevitably, all the most exciting things – I have been unable to talk about. Until now.

One, at least I can shout about. And it’s a biggie. Way back I-don’t-know-when Felicity Evans and I pitched an idea, then called The Welcome, to Starchild Pictures – a story involving asylum seekers in the UK and a house with a bad reputation. It was commissioned, got a director on board (the hugely talented Remi Weekes), got written, and then attracted the attention of New Regency and BBC Films. They decided to join the party – and from that point on, things got a little crazy.

On the one hand, the project – now called His House – grew considerably in size. On the other, the buzz around it – and the desire of others to get involved – created some inexplicable friction with no less than the Weinstein’s, who slapped a $10m lawsuit on it. For a while things were stalled, but when the Weinstein’s started having bigger things to worry about than sole distribution of a modest budget horror with a social theme, the project was once again free to get underway. And by now, it had a cast that included Sope Dirisu, Wunmi Mosaku, Matt Smith and Javier Botet.

And now here we are. His House was finished in November 2019. It was selected for Sundance 2020 in December and will premiere there on 27 January.

At the time of writing, that’s just one week away. To say we are excited is an understatement. What the response will be, we don’t know – but I will, of course, keep you posted.

You can read about the crop of UK films at Sundance, including His House, here.

Read a little more about His House and other films showing at Sundance at the official Sundance website.

So, we’re making a movie…

It’s a long story.

I co-wrote a screenplay with Felicity Evans, based on her idea, which at the time was called The Welcome – a horror movie with a social slant, about immigrants coming to the UK. It was commissioned by Starchild Pictures, who got ace director Remi Weekes involved. There were a couple of drafts, with Remi doing his own take on the original screenplay and giving it a new title: His House.

Then the fun began. The buzz around it was huge. Numerous companies expressed interest. The Weinstein Company was one. They said they wanted exclusive distribution rights, didn’t get them, and then got annoyed about it. To express their irritation at the producers taking the project to New Regency – or just throw a spanner in the works – they slapped a $10m lawsuit on them.

So, the whole project was stalled just when it was hot to trot and precisely because everyone wanted it. All dressed up and nowhere to go.

That was how it was for a while. But then Harvey hit the headlines. As investors and partners fled to distance themselves from the allegations of rape and sexual misconduct, the Weinstein Co took a tumble. Eventually it collapsed and filed for bankruptcy.

And that, pretty much, is where we are now, with the project apparently free to progress – which it is doing. You can read the full story by clicking on the image above or by going here.

Right now, we have a director, casting director and set designer and casting is beginning, so things are looking good. Obviously, I’ll keep you posted – but keep your fingers crossed…

Werewolf? There wolf.

So, I prepared a little surprise for any potential trick-or-treaters (well, there’s no point making it easy, is there?).

Meet Wilf – a six-foot, free-standing werewolf with glowing red eyes. Should sort out the sheep from the goats.

The head is a relic from Halloweens past, actually made for a hoax story in a magazine many years ago. More on that later. For the ‘body’ I used Sir Pell (see previous post) and added some poseable arms. Just because.

Here’s the work in progress pic.

As you see, Wilf actually appears pretty friendly in daylight. At night, however, emerging from the bushes with an uplighter and his eyes lit… Well, we’ll see who makes it to the door.


Sir Pell

Sometimes, you need to hit something with a sword. And occasionally, you want to do so without maiming or killing it. That’s where a pell comes in.

A mainstay of a knight’s training, the pell was essentially a post of approximately human height upon which an individual could practise sword strokes without restraint, building strength and accuracy in a manner that was – in terms of physical commitment, at least – as close to real combat as possible. Often the pell would simply be a rough pole, but later in the medieval period might be fashioned to resemble the enemy of the day.

I wanted a pell I could seriously twat with a variety of weapons. So I made one.

Anyone who has read Hood will recall that Gisburne has an elaborate training device which he calls ‘Sir Pell’, featuring free swinging arms with gimbals and counterweights so it actually responds to attacks with its own counterblows. On one occasion, it knocks Gisburne senseless. I decided to start more simply.

The post is plain timber with a crosspiece at the top, the whole length tightly padded and tied around with hessian sacking. Dimensions are about those of an average man, so mail or other armour can be hung on it if desired. The head is not really designed to withstand heavy blows unprotected (what head is?) but is properly proportioned so a helm will fit it, and is made it so it can take strikes from arrows. An archery target can also be hung over the chest.

I have now given it a good few whacks and can confirm it works well (though the base needs some widening to make it more stable). It’s also immensely therapeutic. You think a punch bag is satisfying? Well, this is the next level.

Even better, though, will be when I dress it up over Halloween to scare the crap out of trick-or-treaters. Time to dig out the old fake wolf’s head, I reckon…

Zombies and guns

zombie meJust in case you missed yesterday’s, #zombiesurvivaltips tweetfest, here they are all gathered into one place, like zed-heads in a mall:

  • The zombie apocalypse (ZA) has happened. You’re in a huge mall that sells everything. What do you grab first?
  • Guns? Lots of guns?
  • You’ve just ensured you’ll last the week. Maybe five days.
  • Minor problem: Guns are loud. That one zed you shot? Great job – but now 100 more are coming your way.
  • Major problem: Guns need ammunition, and no one is making that shit any more.
  • Unless you can make it from scratch, it is a finite resource – and the clock is ticking.
  • I give it a week.
  • A bow, however… It’s quiet. No unwanted attention when you dispatch that one walker that happened to see you.
  • It kills at a distance – better than relying on that machete. (Much as I respect the machete.)
  • Ammunition for a bow CAN be made from scratch. Even a badly made arrow can do the job at close range.
  • But keep it simple. Forget compound bows. If they break, they’re hard to fix. Maybe impossible.
  • So, man up. Train up. Learn to draw a longbow.
  • If you had to, you could even make a simple bow. The materials are all around.
  • This the key to your strategy for surviving a ZA. Get medieval on its ass. Learn to make and do.
  • Learn to live free of industry. Of mass production. Of anything you cannot achieve with your own two hands.
  • So what should you have grabbed in that mall, besides food?
  • Tools. The means to make and do.
  • Congratulations. You just increased your survival chances by 1000%


The Red Hand deleted scenes – free ebook download

image001“Too much! Too much!”

That’s what my editor had said upon receipt of the manuscript of The Red Hand, whilst banging his head repeatedly on the desk.

So, I did the cutting thing – to the book, that is, not him. The end result has now been striding about the world since January, and, I’m happy to say, nabbing four and five star reviews.

But then there were the leftovers. Too good to waste. So, to mark the anniversary of Good King John’s darkest hour I cooked them up into a tasty ebook, which you can have right now, free.

To open and start reading right away, or to download and keep, just click on:

The Red Hand deleted scenes.pdf

God bless King John, and the Devil take the Lionheart!