You may well have heard by now, probably in hushed tones, probably on the wind; “The guys at (Y) are putting together a cinematic universe each”. Excitement crackles through the air around your head like electricity, what possibly could those brilliant minds have devised for us this time? Well, wonder no more, just follow the jump.
Unlike Henry and Joe who started from stage one with the idea of putting together a universe, mine started with a singular feature script and then a second, which subconsciously was very thematically similar. Organically, my universe fell into place and with the conception of the idea for a third feature, it became a thematic trilogy, tentatively title The Narcissist Trilogy.
As they stand, I have finished the first script, One For Sorrow, which I’m currently in the process of refining and redrafting, which is what I’ll be talking about here. The Brainless, the second in the trilogy was initially a university project before my dropping out. That’s ten or fifteen pages deep and slowly morphing into a multi-parted saga containing a feature and a series of shorts encasing a larger narrative, but alas is on hold until OFS is complete. The third, is untitled and is just an idea, I’ll begin work on that when I’m happy that the other two are complete.
Back to OFS, I’ve been working on this script since December 2011 as far as I can tell, It’s possibly even earlier than that. It was finished in first draft form in August/September. As I’ve previously stated, my Mother is a huge influence on my tastes and a huge Horror buff so as a result, I’ve a taste for the macabre myself. The seed that germinated into this film was my disillusion with the state of that genre in the modern age.
I count films like The Shining, Cronenberg’s The Fly, Carpenter’s The Thing, The Lost Boys, An American Werewolf in London etc. amongst my favourite films, but as the maxim goes, “they ain’t make ‘em like that anymore”. I was fed up with the Twilight’s, borrowing lore and fucking it up and remakes slathering CG onto classics and sucking all character from them. Between that and the never ending slew of bargain basement no budget B-movies, it seemed to me like an area of filmmaking that was lacking in any artistry.
(Jim Jarmusch since then has put together an artsy Vampire film in his signature style but it looks kind of sappy and doesn’t seem to deviate from previous formulas too much. That’s what I glean from the trailer anyway.)
The more I though about it, the more things came together in my head. I am an ardent fan of good physical effects, so a sense of realism seemed to me to be the way to go and Vampires seemed like the sub-genre with the weakest currency thanks to the aforementioned Twilight series, combine these two and you get the very basis of what OFS was to become; a realist, urbanite, reinvigorating of Vampire lore. So the first marks in my notebook read something like this: “lead inadvertently gets himself addicted to Heroin and convinces himself he’s a Vampire, feeding only on the blood of other addicts.”
Now I think the protagonist had already been conceived for another film, a series of shorts I canned for being awful, I just moved him over into this new project. His stuffy attitude, misanthropy and general unsavouriness are all traits of my own, simply ratcheted up to the nth degree.
He is an arrogant man, intelligent yet fully aware of the fact, probably giving himself a lot more credit than he deserves, sequestered into a reclusive life thanks to his parents imploding marriage and his mothers subsequent accidental death. He finds escape in movies and in turn, grows up with the same distaste I have for the dreck being churned out in the current day and age. It’s all very meta.
After losing his job, he is finally granted the time to realise his potential, amongst a drunken episode driven by despair, he ends up writing a script, one that will revitalise the Vampire film and eventually the entire industry. Like I said, very meta. The film became about filmmaking, his descent into the life of a filmmaker becomes entwined with his exponential addiction to heroin and via association, blood and murder.
As he progresses into a downward spiral, the world around him opens up and becomes increasingly cinematic, characters are no longer people to him but caricatures, archetypes he can put in his movie. As he moves from corpse to corpse, he takes his camera with him, filming everything in a drug addled haze. His intent is to make the most realistic, most grotesque Vampire film ever, in his own shaky-cam style he achieves that, getting deeper and deeper into trouble with various drug-lords and gangsters, who may or may not be hallucinations.
As the piece stands today, the filmmaking aspect has taken an aside as I got caught up in surrealist imagery and the drug side of things. I know there is a more taught, more connected story there and page by page, day by day I’m reigning it back in. It’s been a definitive learning curve for me as a writer, I had a uni module on screenwriting when I was halfway through so the second half is considerably stronger. As I progress with my alterations I shall be posting thoughts and updates right here. Expect articles about my process as a writer, maybe breaking it down into excerpts and explaining my motivations and articles about those aforementioned influences. Stay tuned and wish me luck.
– Oliver Drew