Things I Learnt Reading the First Draft of ‘The Adventures of Abigail Storm’

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A first draft is like good whiskey, it needs to age. You can’t just finish the thing, put a stamp of approval on it and send it out into the world. You need to barrel it, distil it and you forget about it. Yep, forget about it like a girlfriend that broke your heart, forget about it like you’ve forgotten about Phantom Menace, forget about it like… well, you get the idea. Once I finish writing a first draft I try my hardest to forget it even exists at all. I go to the bar, I play pool, I read more books but the single most important thing I do, I start another project.

After I finished the first draft of The Adventures of Abigail Storm, the very first thing I did was start a new project. Now that I’m trying to forget about that, it’s time to crack open the barrel and retrieve Abigail.

Here’s a couple of things I learnt while reading the first draft of The Adventures of Abigail Storm.

  1. Come armed with coffee.
  2. The first draft is always shit. No matter how much I hope that the novel has rewritten itself in my absence, it’s never happened. I expect the worst, from typos to clunky writing, to embarrassing dialogue and logic holes the size of that asteroid in Armageddon.
  3. Lock the door and turn off the phone. I’m only going to get the chance to read the novel from beginning to end for the first time once. For me, this has to be done in one day. It’s one very long day, but that way I can see the flow of the story in one hit.
  4. The first paragraph isn’t needed. This has been consistent for all my books. I spend hours crafting that first paragraph to perfection like a fine artist in the first draft, only to come by a couple of months later with a red pen and kick it out of the novel. First paragraphs in first drafts are almost always never needed.
  5. Cut ten thousand words, at least. If that sounds like a lot, it is. Ten thousand words is roughly forty to fifty pages and probably a week’s worth of work. Right now this novel is on the fat side and I want it lean and mean and precise. Every single word needs to earn its place, every cliff hanger, every joke and every single word needs to earn its place if I want the reader to turn the page. There’s no room for useless words.

What if what I read is bad? See point number 2. IT IS BAD! But don’t cry. Have a beer. Get up tomorrow and rewrite that bastard.

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DAY ? of ‘THE ADVENTURES OF ABIGAIL STORM’

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After 10 weeks, 3 bags of coffee, 2 sets of guitar strings, 5 neighbourly complaints about noise, 4 bottles of Wild Turkey, 566 pages, and over one hundred thousand words, the first draft of The Adventures of Abigail Storm is finished.

There’s always a bit of tradition and ritual when finishing a book. Some people get out of town for a week, others don’t leave their room for a week. For me, it’s whiskey and Van Morrison. I wait until I’m typing the very last page, I pour myself a glass, put on the rare Van Morrison live in Japan, 1974 and hammer away at the typer.

Now the choice of whiskey is a very important one. You don’t just go and drink any run of the mill whiskey that you would drink any old day of the week, because what would be so special about that? You have to pull out the big guns for finishing a book, no Jamisons or Makers Mark. So for the past couple of months I’ve had an unopened bottle of Writer’s Tears sitting on my desk taunting me, begging to be opened and enjoyed. I have resisted the urge to crack it open and now the day has finally come.

2014-12-21 14.14.10With Van Morrison in the air, and those words ‘THE END’ not far from my fingertips, I poured myself a glass. And it was the best damn glass of whiskey I had ever tasted. I even dragged out writing the last page so I could knock off a third of the bottle.

So now what? Pop it in the mail and send it straight to the agent and publisher? Hell, no. This monster is full of typos and bad writing. I’m going to let it sit on it for a couple of weeks while I go and finish off that bottle of Writer’s Tears and forget about the entire thing. I’ve got a movie or two to write, some Playstation to play and guitars to annoy the neighbours with. Then, when I’ve just about forgotten about the entire thing, I’ll turn over page one and rewrite the entire thing.

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DAY 65 of ‘THE ADVENTURES OF ABIGAIL STORM’

Pink Abby

What happens when you realise that your 80,000 word science fiction novel is going to be more like a 150,000 word science fiction monster?

I can tell you exactly what happens. First comes the disbelief. Maybe I calculated the words incorrectly? Which in my case could be very likely considering I can’t even remember a phone number. Nope, I crunch them numbers again and it still rolls in at 150,000 words. In the next stage, comes the panic. And I’m not talking about a little internal flutter of panic. I’m talking about ‘the someone has just told you there’s a spider on your back and you run around the house yelling. “is it gone, is it gone”‘ type of panic.

So after I stopped running around the house yelling ‘is it gone, is it gone,’ I sat down at the typer pulled up my outline and poured myself a drink (and left the bottle on the desk). Now, the only really editing tool I possess, is being able to go through a story and working out exactly what is not needed. I try to work out how to tell as much story in as little words as possible.

Half a bottle of whiskey and three hours later, I managed to trim this behemoth of a story back from the 150,000 word nightmare to a more reasonable 100,000 words. That number is still not exactly a walk in the park, but it’s much easier to achieve. How did I pull off such a task you may ask, or you may not, but I’m going to tell you anyways. It was simple, I deleted all the nouns… I’m kidding, that would be crazy talk. I went back to basics and deleted absolutely every sequence, chapter, or scene that didn’t do one of two things:

1) Advance the plot or,

2) Reveal something new about character.

In other words, I trimmed all the fat. Now I still have another 30,000 words to write to reach that 100,000 word target (which is the most of anything I’ve ever written), and I’m sure there’s going to be other obstacles from now until then, but at least for the time being the crisis has been adverted and the spider my back type panic has subsided.

DAY 39 OF ‘THE ADVENTURES OF ABIGAIL STORM’

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After a very long search for Abigail’s hero weapon, I’ve finally found a bad boy that would be dangerous, ridiculous and baddass enough to save the world with. This here is the Remington 1740, double barrel pump shotgun. What it really is, is actually two Remington 870’s that some maniac has attached to each other. One ejects to the left of the barrel and the other to the right. I’m sure it’s loud as hell, kicks like Bruce Lee and does more damage than Gary Busey on a coke binge.

DAY 35 OF ‘THE ADVENTURES OF ABIGAIL STORM’

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The Writing Schedule

Time to put away the Playstation and hide the booze – this shit just got real. I have to write 50,000 words in five weeks to meet the deadline on the first draft of ‘The Adventures of Abigail Storm’. 

For the mathmactically challenged (me), that’s 10,000 words a week or more specficically, 2000 words a day.

Here’s how this God awful word count is going to be achieved:

8.00 am: Crawl out of bed,  brew a gallon of coffee and blast some rock ‘n roll.

8.30 am: Look up stuff on the internet. Others may refer to this as ‘procrastination’. A writer will always refer to it as ‘research.’

9.00 am: Write first sentence of the day.

9.10 am: Rewrite first sentence of the day.

9.30 am: Rewrite, the rewritten first sentence of the day.

9.40 am: Cry.

10.00 am: Make some more coffee.

12.00 pm: Head down to the local pub for some lunch.

1.00 pm: Back at the typer. Stare at the laptop.

2.00 pm: Play guitar.

2.30 pm: Stare at the laptop.

3.00 pm: Look at the clock and panic about all the words I haven’t written.

4.30 pm: Second guess every single word written to date.

5.00 pm: Make an Old Fashioned.

5.30 pm: Make another Old Fashioned.

6.00 pm: Put the ‘Closed’ sign up on the office door.

And somehow, if everything goes to plan I would have written 2000 words in-between all that.

This will be my schedule for the next 5 weeks. So nobody call or come around because I’ll be busy… (please call, please come around… please?)

DAY 23 OF ‘THE ADVENTURES OF ABIGAIL STORM’

Here’s 5 things I’ve learnt after sitting at the typer for 5 days:

1. Sometimes there just isn’t enough coffee in the world.

2. Page 1 is never as scary as it sounds.

3. Never read what you’ve written until you’re done.

4. 2000 words a day is sometimes very easy, and at other times it’s harder than watching a Twilight marathon.

5. You never leave the office. You can close the laptop, go do something else but your mind will keep working on those next words.

Current word count is 10,081 of 80,000.

I’m thinking of making the wise investment of a Playstation 4. But I can’t see how that could possibly have an effect on my word count this week… no not at all.

DAY 12 OF ‘THE ADVENTURES OF ABIGAIL STORM’

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After a couple of weeks of filling my notebook with scribbles and madness, it’s now time to move into the future and commit those words to Scriviner.  What’s Scriviner you ask? Or maybe you don’t but I’m going to tell you anyway.  Here’s the pitch from the Scriviner peoples: Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.

But what it really is, is a word processor that is not going to shit its pants when a manuscript starts to run over one hundred pages (I’m not pointing any fingers here Microsoft Word).

When you first open it, it might look like one of those puzzles they give little kids to see if they are geniuses, but if you’re keen on writing a novel, stick with it. Unless you like hurling abuse at Microsoft Word for the last three hundred pages of your book… I don’t don’t know, maybe you’re into that kind of thing.

You can find it here: Scrivener

 

 

 

 

Sorry, Cormac

 

So, I was at this 90s party the other week… a lot of my stories start like this, although they are not always 90s parties. I’m talking to a girl in Lisa Loeb glasses and trying to think of the name of the one hit Lisa Loeb had that was on the Reality Bites soundtrack. Then I’m thinking about how cool Ethan Hawke was in that movie and how he still rocks a goatee even though the 90s were over fifteen years ago. Then I thought, could I pull off a goatee? Would I look cool like Ethan Hawke? Then I gave up on that idea; no one could look as cool as Ethan Hawke. The girl in the Lisa Loeb glasses went to grab a drink and left me with a guy in a Kurt Cobain cardigan so bad that Kurt Cobain wouldn’t even be caught dead in. He had his head buried in his phone, checking Twitter, Grinder or whatever and when he glanced up for a split second to see that I was still there, he must have felt obliged to say something, so when he opened his mouth the most generic stranger on stranger questions came out of his mouth.

So what do you do for a living? He asked.

I’m a writer, I said.

Yeah, he said with his face lit from the phone. Written anything I would have read?

I generally don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge on what people at parties have read.

Not sure. I use a pen name.

Oh, yeah. What’s that?

A pseudonym. When you use a…

No the name?

Cormac McCarthy, I said.

The fact that Cormac is fifty years older than me, American and the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize didn’t seem to register with Cobain.

What kinda stuff you write?

I wrote All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, Blood Meridian, The Road

The Road! His head snapped away from his phone and I could see it took his eyes a moment to adjust to the real world. I love that movie!

Well, a movie and a book are two different…

My girlfriend is reading it right now! He threw a look over his shoulder and waved to a girl who was dressed as Brenda from the hit TV series Beverly Hills 90210. This guy wrote The Road, he yelled.

What?

THE ROAD!

Brenda made her way past a couple of Reservoir Dogs and a Forest Gump to join us. You’re Comac McCarthy?

He’s the guy, I told you. He wrote the movie.

The book, I said again.

Brenda sized me up. I wasn’t sure if she was buying my ruse and I didn’t care one way or another but then she said, I’ve been trying to get into it. It’s a bit shit though isn’t it?

I looked at her, I looked at him and back to her again. What?

Yeah, I just can’t get into it. No offence.

No offence?

You should see the movie, babe. Cobain said. It’s probably better.

I left my heart and soul on the page. I said complete with hand gestures to demonstrate the process. Years!

I’m sorry, she said, I’ll stick with it.

Hey! Cobain said as if he had just had his first thought. Have you got it on you?

She dug her hand into her Country Road bag (very popular in the Australian 90s) and pulled out a movie tie-in edition of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Will you sign it?

Of course, I said. I took out a pen from my pocket, because Cormac always carries a pen with him and I flicked through the first couple of pages and scrawled out a very illegitimate signature and handed it back.

Then I took a beer and got the hell out of there.

So if you see an autographed copy of Cormac McCarthy’s movie tie-in edition of his masterpiece, The Road on ebay, tread lightly and please… I still haven’t looked it up, so if anyone could tell me the name of the Lisa Loeb song that was on the Reality Bites soundtrack, that would be awesome

First published at Murder is Everywhere

30 WAYS TO KNOW YOU’RE A WRITER

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You know you’re a writer when…
  1. You don’t know how to do anything else
  2. Your back is sore
  3. Your taste in music is awesome and you have a rocking record collection
  4. You can go days without speaking to a single person
  5. Anyone who likes your writing is immediately far sexier than they were before they told you they liked your writing
  6. You spend most of the day staring at the wall
  7. You have at least one unpublishable manuscript hiding in your office
  8. Whenever you’re doing something else, you feel like you should be writing
  9. You never leave the house without a book
  10. You keep telling yourself you need to go to the gym, but to the gym you never go
  11. You drink too much coffee during the day and too much booze during night
  12. You believe stories can change the world
  13. You see people who say ‘I don’t read,’ as Morlocks
  14. You know what the hell a Morlock is
  15. You can convince yourself that laying on the couch, drinking beer and watching re-runs of Miami Vice is just part of your working day
  16. You believe that people who say ‘I would write a book, I just don’t have the time’ should be beaten with a copy of Crime & Punishment
  17. Nobody really knows what you do
  18. Complete strangers pitch you stories to write
  19. You are egotistic and insecure at the same time
  20. You fear going to an accountant
  21. Your favorite place in the world is your desk
  22. Your second favorite place in the world is a bookstore
  23. You fear that reading a bad review is one day going to give you a heart attack
  24. Working from home has lost its appeal
  25. It matters to you where a comma goes
  26. Typos haunt you
  27. You feel guilty about writing
  28. You feel guilty about not writing
  29. People ask you ‘Where you get your ideas from?’ and you tell them there’s a little shop around the corner from your house that sells them
  30. There is absolutely nothing else in the world you would rather be doing than writing

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First published on Murder is Everywhere

Escape From Melbourne

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As I am writing this, it is 2:43 AM and I am sitting in the downstairs bar of Tony Starr’s Kitten Club. The upstairs band are murdering a Stevie Wonder song, the crowd is starting to leave and I’m starting to think about doing the same. Although getting out of the city of Melbourne at 2:43 on a Saturday night can be as dangerous as Alcatraz in the 30s, Iran in the 70s or Ikea around Christmas time. Melbourne in the heart of a Saturday night is one filled with danger and darkness, fear and ugliness; women with too much make-up and men with too much to testosterone.

Getting home anytime after midnight is always a gamble.

I sit at the bar, order another drink and weigh up my options. I could catch a taxi, and in theory, that sounds like a plan but I know from experience the trials and tribulations of implementing this logical train of thought. Empty cabs are scarce and if I were lucky enough to stumble across one, the bastard wouldn’t let me in until he knew my destination, and upon hearing my address, they speed off in search of a bigger fare. Nope, cabs are out.

Melbourne does not have a 24 hour public transport system. To supplement this embarrassment, they run the ‘Night Rider’ service, which is nowhere near as cool as it sounds. The ‘Night Rider’ is a series of busses that specializes in ferrying drunks out of the city and back to the suburbs. They’re flooded with blue light to stop poor junkies from finding a vein and shooting up, but as a result they make the drunks nauseous so there’s a faint air of vomit in the air. These booze busses may get you out of the city but any chance of them getting me anywhere near where I live is slim, so as tempting as that mode of transport sounds, I am still in for a walk.

And speaking of a walk, that seems to be the only option I have left. I generally have a violent reaction to anything even remotely exercise-esk but hell, when all other options are exhausted I may just have to endure. Like many Melbournians before me, I have made that drunken trek home in the middle of the night. It is a journey fraught with Hobbit like perils of in the middle of the night. It is a journey fraught with Hobbit like perils of danger and mayhem. Violent packs of drunken men prowl the concrete streets, many of whom have been kicked out of a club and continue their frustrated search for a good time on the streets but in the meantime will settle with starting a fight with anyone who they think has looked at them wrong.

Now, it’s almost 3 AM and these are my options. I ask the bartender what time the bar is licensed to and he tells me it’s 7 AM. I order another drink, peel open the pages of the book in my pocket and am happy to wait out the night until the sun is in the sky and the streets are laid bare from the night before. For no matter how dangerous the streets of Melbourne are on a Saturday night, there is always a warm bar to seek refuge in and with a book in one hand and a drink in the other, what more could you want?

First published in Murder is Everywhere

The Music Behind the Words

Every writer on the face of the planet has at some stage sat behind a typer and pounded out those ever elusive words… And more times than not, they were listening to music all the while. Those notes filter through our hearts, our minds and out our fingertips and into words. For me, I listen to music through every part of the writing process. From staring at the wall and cursing myself for not being smarter and coming up with better ideas, to feverishly bashing out that first draft to carefully interrogating each and every word in order to justify its existence in each sentence. But how important is music in the creative expression of stories? For me, I cannot separate the two.

When I have an idea for a novel, the very first thing I do is spend a day playing through my playlists and records (yep, I still have ’em). What I am trying to do is find the musical personalty of the novel. When I wrote Dark City Blue a tale about a career cop who tears apart the police force to expose corruption, I had complied close to one hundred songs that I thought best musically represented that story.

Although there were many songs blasting out of my office during the writing of that novel, the following six were instrumental in the exorcism of Dark City Blue.

KILLING IN THE NAME – RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE

 

I knew the novel needed an opening that was as close to a literary kick in the balls as you could get. Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name’ was that and more. I couldn’t start writing until I had found that song and once I had, I couldn’t stop writing.

STATE TROOPER – BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

 

There were nights when I pulled the second shift at the desk and it would be 2.30 am, the street would be quite and I would put Springsteen’s Nebraska on the turn table and let it spin. The album is full of working class beauty, but ‘State Trooper’ was the one track that got more than its fair share of repeats.

INTO MY ARMS – NICK CAVE

 

I never write my action scenes to blaring rock ‘n roll or thumping Hip-Hop. I write my action scenes to ballads. A lot of Nick Cave, a fair share of Leonard Cohen and a dash of Johnny Cash in some of his more redemptive moments. Writing action scenes to songs of love and loss allows me to slow everything down so I can hunt out and discover those small details of human emotion that make a scene memorable.

NOTHINGMAN – PEARL JAM

 

Every story has a ‘all hope is lost’ moment. It’s usually close to the second act turning point and places the hero in a situation where it looks as if they will never achieve their goal. Peal Jam’s Nothingman was Dark City Blue‘s all hope is lost song and that thing played on repeat for the better part of a Thursday afternoon as the scene was written and rewritten, beaten down and rewritten again.

ENTER SANDMAN – METALLICA

 

Enter Sandman was always my first song of the day on Dark City Blue. It filled that time between waiting for the laptop to boot up and typing my first words. Just me and the computer staring each other out like a couple of boxers while the neighbors were blasted awake by hard metal.

AUTO ROCK – MOGWAI

 

When I know I’m coming to write the final pages of a story, I’m talking about being able to smell the words END OF MANUSCRIPT, I pour myself a glass of Jameson’s (and I keep the bottle) and I choose a song that musically demonstrates what I want the reader to emotionally feel and I play that song until my glass is empty and there are no more words to write.

As every novel is unique, so is its musical DNA. I’ve moved on emotionally, intellectually and musically from Dark City Blue and I’ll probably never listen to those songs ever again. But one night, I might be at a bar or at a party and one of those songs may come out of the speakers and I’ll be transported back to those early mornings and late nights and it will be as if an old friend is whispering dirty secrets into my ear and I’ll smile at the memory of writing Dark City Blue.

How we adapted a novel into a book trailer

A few months before Dark City Blue was unleashed on the world I thought creating a book trailer would be a fun way to raise awareness for its release. This post chronicles my adventures of creating a book trailer, from the development of the script, through the various stages of production, and finally the launch.

Until deciding to shoot a trailer for DCB, my exposure to them was, on a whole, relatively limited. So armed with nothing but an iPad, I researched book trailers like I was on the Warren Commission. They generally fell into one of three categories.

The ‘Fuck Yeah’ Book Trailer – The one where straight after you watch it, you buy the book.

The ‘Eh?’ Book Trailer – The one that has no emotional impact on you, you don’t give a shit and you don’t buy the book.

The ‘Turn that thing off’ Book trailer – The one where you contemplate suicide while watching it. My obituary would be a better read.

I wanted DCB to have a ‘Fuck Yeah’ book trailer and found they all had similar things in common:

  • They were cinematic
  • They were 60-90 seconds in length
  • They had one, single message to convey to the audience

DEVELOPMENT

I went down to my local pub, pulled out my pen and notebook and came up with twenty ideas. They were all rubbish and it wasn’t the booze. The first twenty ideas of anything are always the weakest. They’re the ideas that come off the top of your head, the ideas that everybody else has. It isn’t until you start putting in those hard hours of staring at the wall that you truly come up with something original.

Well, I didn’t come up with anything that night, I got drunk and went home. But the next night I went back the Post Office Hotel and stared at the wall of their toilet block for a few hours until I came up with the concept which went on to become the script… One location, one shot and we pull back to reveal the hero standing in the aftermath of a bloody shootout (it’s that kind of book).

I wanted a trailer that would best represent the essence of the book. A trailer that would make a promise to the reader that in reading Dark City Blue, they’re in for a hell of an action ride where the line between cop and criminal is blurred.

That one idea was all I started with before writing the script.

After the script was in place, the fun started.

PRE-PRODUCTION

With a script in hand, the next steps were to put together the elements needed to realise the words on the page. Once the awesome Jason Christou came on board to direct the production jumped along in leaps and bounds. He understood the script and the book and how one needed to represent the other.

We were only in pre-production for two weeks and for that time, Jason and I turned into a newly married couple. We hung out, we emailed we were on the phone everyday. The trailer became our baby and we wanted it to be the best it could be.

The key to a smooth film shoot, and despite the length of the trailer, it was still a film shoot, is planning. Something is always going to go wrong and if you’re organised, you can adapt and stop that one small problem from turning into a disaster that destroys the whole bloody thing.

So we created a pre-production checklist:

LOCATION: Shooting in one location was a great idea to cut down on production costs and time. What we were looking for needed to be rough, gritty and just downright authentic. I hit the streets of Brunswick in search of back alley’s and graffiti covered car parks but in the end the best place to shoot was in the car park underneath my flat (currently available for rent, blood stains included). Creatively, it fitted what we needed, we could control the light, the weather and importantly we had access to electricity.

CAST & CREW: For a crew, we needed a director of photography, a camera crew, a make-up artist and a sound designer. Not to forget two principal actors and a couple of extras to play dead bodies. Jason hit the phone and the principal cast and crew came together quickly. They were guys he had worked with previously; he knew how they operated and what their work looked on screen. Finding a handful corpses proved to be a little harder. Nobody wanted to lay on the cold concrete for half a day and who could blame them. Family members were recruited and they did their duty like method actors.

GEAR: When it came to gear we were armed with:

  • HD Camera and a DOP who knew how to use it.
  • 35mm lenses
  • 1 4K light to blast our dank car park with light.
  • A dolly for that smooth pull back feel.
  • And gaffer tape, because on a shoot, it will save your life.

COSTUME: Our costumes were a mismatch of what Jason and I rustled up from the depths of our wardrobes and what the actors bought with them on the day. We had a lot of fake blood that can destroy and outfit quicker than a real murder, so we needed what we called disposable clothes that could be thrown out at the end of the shoot.

PROPS: We needed guns. We were happy to use imitation guns, in fact we endorsed it. It was the right thing to do but somehow the process of hiring a couple of fake weapons was seedier than buying the real thing. We found an armourer and in the back of his dungeon like store was where he kept the guns. He looked over his shoulder before opening the drawer as if what he was about to do was highly questionable. The armourer wasn’t much of a people person or maybe he didn’t appreciate Jason and me pretending to be Riggs and Murtaugh? Either way, it was an uncomfortable situation and I’ve bought drugs in a more relaxed environment than this.

In the end, we got our hands on an imitation Glock as our hero gun and a bagful of plastic guns from the junk shop down the road from my house.

PRODUCTION

We had a call time of 7AM and a wrap of 4PM. I’m not going to go into a great deal of detail about being on set because our shoot went as smooth as any shoot can go. We had no problems, we shot exactly what we needed and we even finished a couple of hours ahead of schedule (I just love it when a plan comes together).

But here are the highlights:

One of our corpses, Harry, didn’t move for twenty five minutes. We thought we killed him but it turned out he was just one hell of a method actor.

Then there was some waiting…

A spider invaded Mia’s makeup bag. Bob saved the day while the rest of the guys froze up.

We had some lunch and then there was more waiting. Most of the time spent on a film shoot is waiting. It takes time to set up a location. The set needs to be lit, it needs to be dressed and the director and DOP need to work out the best way to shoot it.

POST PRODUCTION

Post production is really where the scripting, planning and shooting all came together and took shape. We broke our post up into two parts: The edit and sound.

EDIT: We shot on a Friday and by the end of the weekend Jason had a cut together. We only had half a dozen shots but the same rule of editing applied; if it doesn’t push the story forward, that bastard had to be cut. And with that methodology, Jason and I lost our favourite shot of the entire production; this cooler than cool mid shot of Bishop aiming his gun.

Whether it’s on the page or on the screen, you have to be a slave to the story. If something needs to be cut, then you rip it out and forget it was even there. Less is more and the audience will thank you. Always leave them wanting more.

SOUND: People typically forget about the audio component of the audio visual experience. They forget that the way we feel when we watch something is manipulated, without us even knowing it, by what we hear. It can be a high pitched ring that makes us feel uneasy or a whoosh to let us know that the character who just walked into the room is a guy that’s not to be trusted. Julian Langdon and Dan MacDonald were behind the music and sound of the Dark City Blue trailer and if you don’t think audio requires as much attention as the visual, watch the trailer with the sound turned down.

I turned up in the last couple of hours of the sound mix and by the time all the heavy lifting had been done and I was completely blown away by what I heard. The audio bought a whole other layer of dark complexity and foreboding that you wouldn’t get from the visual alone.

Great sound is invisible, but you feel it. Bad sound sticks out and you don’t feel anything.

Now that the trailer for Dark City Blue is complete and out in the world, its success and effectiveness is something that will have to be gauged over time. But for now being, we’re just going to have to be content with having a killer book trailer on our hands.

Check it out, I hope you enjoy it.

If you’re keen to see some ‘Fuck Yeah,’ trailers that inspired me, check these out.

Gone by Mo Hayder

The Last Policemen by Ben Winters

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

Dark City Blue Book Trailer Credits

Credits

Bishop: Brett Cousins
Walsh: Bob Morley
Dead Cops: Dale Eastwell Harry Emin Foad Comanderi

Director/Producer: Jason Christou
Writer/Producer: Luke Preston
DOP: Matt Wood
Make Up Mia-Kate Russell
Camera Assistant: Anthony Rilocapro
Prod Assistant: Todd Farley
Sound Recordist: Dan MacDonald

Editor: Jason Christou
Music: Julian Langdon
Sound Design: Dan MacDonald