"It's easier to bone the President's wife than to get a movie made." Ray Charles.

How a cult music book became a cult music documentary, and it only took ten years.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Post-Christmas catch-up time. Lots of stuff has been going on, and nothing at all at the same time. I left for Ireland on Christmas Eve, flew out at a stupidly early time – I arrived at Heathrow at five AM, before the check-in desks were even open – straight from a party where I’d met some old acquaintances (the last time I saw them was at their wedding, nearly a year ago) and sat down to talk. Turns out their current project is a West End musical on the life of Otis Redding! So of course there was plenty for us to talk about. I hope to talk to them about it again soon, and maybe help put them in touch with some people who could be of assistance. So much stuff relating to Memphis is going on at the moment, it’s bizarre.

Just before Christmas I met with this very interesting financial geezer, a former professional musician who now specialises in putting investors together with interesting media projects. The next step was to introduce him to my co-producer, a woman of massive experience and legendary repuation, and see how we can go about making this work. The only trouble was, I managed to misremember my travel plans, and booked the meeting for the fifth thinking I was returning on the third... when, of course, it transpired that at lunchtime on the fifth, when I shoulda been sitting in Soho House tucking into some lunch, I’d be in mid-air over Heathrow Airport. No panic – I merely asked Co-producer if she’d mind going ahead without me, and that was all fine.

So, touchdown happens and I turn my phone on to find messages from Co-producer saying, “No sign of (finance guy) – please call me” and “Please call me ASAP”. Mild panic sets in. I disembark and try to call her, no reply. I’m standing at the baggage carousel, calling her, calling Finance Guy, no reply from either. Then I realise that I’m the only one standing here and all the bags are off the plane, and mine hasn’t appeared. Fuck it. I go and report it missing and start to practically run to the Heathrow Express, and remembering that my house keys are in the lost bag. Just as I’m about to board, really getting worried now (did I mention that the plane was also late?) I get a call from Co-producer saying that she and Finance Guy have met and all’s fine. Great. I sit in a little puddle of cold sweat all the way into central London.

Anyway, the upshot of that meeting is that we have to have more meetings, draw up a business plan to show investors, and work our arses off – and still it’s going to be tough, especially if we want to shoot in April, which we certainly do. He’s massively enthusiastic, though, which really helps, and he has access to some real money, which is a prerequisite.

Then off to meeting no. 2 which is also running ridiculously late. This is a meet with what in theatrical circles is referred to as an ‘angel’, I believe – someone who wants to invest their own money. Our angel is a longtime Memphis music fanatic and isn’t doing it for glory or reward, but because he wants to see the film get made. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, as his (relatively small) investment will allow us to pay for a proper business plan, and pay for travel to a couple of crucial meetings – some, possibly, in New York. For the time being, I’m going to limit my travel plans to the Rotterdam Film Festival’s Cinemart – I’ve been before, it’s an amazingly useful way to meet the kinds of people we need to meet, full of distributors, producers and film funders of various kinds. I’ve got another project I want to pitch there anyway, a slate of four low-budget horror movies, and it makes sense to go there with a range of stuff. It’s going to be a bit intimidating, as I’ve never gone to something like this solo – as a director, I’ve always had a producer to take up the slack, talk the money talk while I do the art, but if I’m going to be a producer I better start acting like one.

Enough boring biz talk. More confirmed names for the Barbican: Billy Lee (‘Flying Saucers Rock’n’Roll’!) Riley! Sonny Burgess! And the amazing Cowboy Jack Clement, who is the subject of Robert Gordon’s most recent film, one I’m dying to see, premiering at the Nashville Film Festival if any of y’all are in the area. That should be a night....
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