Writing that difficult second book

Christopher Lambert

It was back in 2015 that I last posted on here, writing about the publication of my first book, Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to Tremors – I’m pleased to say the reviews were positive, the fans enjoyed it and sales are still ticking over.

But one book is never enough, and it wasnt too long after taking a breather from writing Seeking Perfection that I began considering another one, and it was during a podcast interview that I mentioned a book on the Highlander films could be a potential project.

Fast forward to June 2016 and I was interviewing one of Highlander‘s stars on the red carpet before a 30th anniversary screening of the film here in Edinburgh. I spoke to Clancy “The Kurgan” Brown about his time shooting in Scotland, before speaking to him in more detail a day or two later.

That interview sealed the deal for me and since 2016 I’ve been gathering interviews with cast and crew while delving back into the history of the British film industry in the 1980s.

Those inerviews include conversations with director Russell Mulcahy, actor Christopher Lambert and actors Beatie Edney and Roxanne Hart. Plus around 45 more cast and crew (you can see a photo of me and the main cast above, taken at a recent event in Birmingham).

I’ve also visited a few libraries to search for news articles and clippings and I’m building up what I hope will be a fascinating picture of filmmaking in the 80s, the work of Russell Mulcahy and the music of Queen.

It’s a fun process, though I don’t have quite as much spare time to write this book as I did for the first when I was self-employed and able to spend the odd quiet day transcribing interviews or writing. This time I’m getting up early in the morning and using some of my weekends while working as a Communications Manager the rest of the time.

I’m posting the odd update on my Facebook page and Twitter feed, and I was also interviewed recently by a Highlander podcast, Blood of Kings, where I discussed my progress and plans for the book’s release in Autumn/Fall 2019.

Unless I lose my head between now and then…

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New challenges for 2015

Hard to believe it’s been almost four months since my last blog post, during which time I’ve been busy being busy: finishing my first book, leaving behind the freelance world for full-time employment and planning new projects for 2015.

On the book front, a few unexpected occurrences – including the announcement of a fifth film in the Tremors franchise – led to me missing my over-ambitious December 2014 publication date. The book has been pushed back to later in 2015, which should allow better promotion and some extra content on Tremors 5.

Work-wise, as much as I enjoyed the freelance life, which allowed me to travel to France, work with the Screen Machine, create some iPad magazines and be involved with numerous other interesting projects, the opportunity to get my teeth into a longer term project arose and I couldn’t say no.

I’m now the UK Community Manager with the fast-growing online arts and entertainment site, WOW247, who I did some work for in June 2014 as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. I’ll be helping to grow the number of contributors to the site and increase its reach, while writing some content (including a new film column).

One personal project that finally came to fruition in December 2014 was a special screening of archive TV at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, which saw a couple of dozen people congregate to watch Hogmanay classics from the STV vaults. The event followed on from a 2013 event I organised with the BFI, and I hope there’ll be more screenings in 2015 – head over to the Facebook page for updates.

Here’s to a great 2015, hopefully it’ll be a memorable one for all the right reasons!

 

Tremors book cover and trailer online

A few months ago I announced that I was writing my first book, Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to the Tremors. Now the cover and trailer are online.

The cover was illustrated by the very talented Ben Morris, while the trailer was animated by Kayla Stuhr, with music from Emília Rovira Alegre. The book is on target for a December release, and you can follow its progress on the blog.

You can also read a short interview I gave to the horror magazine, Fangoria, over on their website.

Seeking Perfection cover
Watch the Seeking Perfection trailer on YouTube.

Writing the guide to Tremors

Creature with Kevin and Fred2

It’s taken a few years of procrastinating and a year of carrying out interviews, but I’m finally ready to announce that I’m in the process of writing my first book, all about giant underground worms…

A few years ago I had a feature published in SFX Magazine all about the Tremors film franchise, starring Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward (in the first one at least). With the first film due to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2015, I’ve been waiting for someone to write the definitive book on all four films and the TV series, but nobody has.

I’ve now taken the job on myself and have interviewed a few dozen cast and crew from all Tremors incarnations for Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to Tremors.

So, if you’re at all interested in 1990s horror/sci-fi/comedy/Western films that harken back to 1950s B-movies, please head over to the new Seeking Perfection blog or you can follow its progress on Twitter, Facebook or Google+, where I’ll be posting updates.

The book’s not due out until December, so hopefully you can put up with the posts till then…

On sequels and the return of Dunsinane

It’s been a while since I had a chance to review a theatre production, so I was delighted when The National Theatre of Scotland got in touch to commission me for an article for a tour of David Greig’s Dunsinane.

Dunsinane is Greig’s sequel to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, so the NTS team were keen to feature a piece on sequels in various media, focusing mainly on films and books. A bit of research dug up the fact that there aren’t too many sequels to theatre productions in existence, something I ponder in the article.

The play has now finished its most recent tour but hopefully it’ll be back soon with a reprint of the rather lovely programme.

New iPad magazine in iTunes

HOSF cover

It was just over a year ago that I wrote about a new iPad magazine I’d worked on for the Highlands of Scotland Film Commission.

Earlier this year, I headed up to Skye to start work on issue two of the magazine, interviewing a number of local filmmakers and educators. I visited Sabhal Mòr Ostaig college to speak to staff, while Chris Young, producer of The Inbetweeners, discussed his base on Skye.

The app also features a look around Skye’s best filming locations and a few other features of interest to production teams planning to shoot in the area.

Chris Young video

Alongside the written content, this issue includes some short video interviews I filmed/edited during the trip.

The magazine can now be downloaded for free over on iTunes for iPad and iPhone.

An epic end to the year

BBC Movie Cafe discusses The Hobbit

BBC Movie Cafe discusses The Hobbit

The world has once more gone Middle Earth mad, with the release this week of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit in cinemas, nine years after his last visit to The Shire.

I was asked by the BBC Movie Cafe and the Edinburgh Evening News to head along to Edinburgh’s Cameo Cinema last weekend for a special screening of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a 10 hour endurance test involving Orcs, Dwarves and people dressed as Hobbits.

The radio segment can be heard over on BBC iPlayer for another few days, while I’ve reproduced the Evening News column below:

With The Hobbit arriving in cinemas tomorrow, it seemed like a good idea last Sunday to head to the Cameo to watch The Lord of the Rings trilogy on the big screen.

At around 10 hours in duration, this was no ordinary film screening, meaning I had to be prepared for all eventualities. Forget the lembas bread wrapped in leaves favoured by Frodo and Sam, I went for some ham sandwiches and too much coffee.

The films were a joy to revisit, with Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth, a dark and brooding place with the occasional glimpse of light as our heroes made their way to Mordor, looking suitably epic in the original 35mm prints.

Leaving the screening on a high, I hoped The Hobbit would prove to be as exhilarating, as Jackson returned to his world with a new Bilbo Baggins in the shape of Martin Freeman alongside Sir Ian McKellan as Gandalf.

The director has embraced a pioneering new technology which doubles the normal frame rate of the film, 48 fps (frames per second) instead of 24. Jackson claims this is a more immersive experience and that all films will go this way.

Rather than looking as big and bold as Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit looks more like it’s shot on the set of a 1980s soap opera. While landscapes look lush and rich, close-ups of the actors bring you closer to them, making the heavy prosthetics and make-up more obvious.

Most importantly, the thin story doesn’t justify the three-hour length, with not much really happening apart from some fights, lots of running around and the appearance of Gollum.

With two more films to come, it looks like it’s going to be a slog to get to the end of this particular journey.