BAFTA-winning producer Mark Herbert, whose credits include Submarine and This Is England, offers Film4.com a peek at his diary from the Sundance Film Festival, where he’s shepherding Chris Morris’ Four Lions through its world premiere.
12pm Heathrow: I’m at airport, flight is delayed. Somehow our head of Finance has managed to blag a free business class ticket to LA. I’m used to low budget – on our last film Le Donk And Scor-Zey-Zee the entire travel budget was less than this flight. Drinks are free and you can get a massage, its a different world – everyone is really smart. I’m sat next to this bloke with the best shoes ever. Hopefully at some point on trip I’ll have more interesting things to write about than flash shoes. I’m that bored I’ve just worked out that an anagram for Shane Meadows is ‘Awesome Hands’. I will call him this from now on.”
12pm Standard Hotel, Hollywood: Weird hotel, it’s like a Mighty Boosh sketch. There is a glass tank behind reception and every night from 8pm to midnight a woman gets in, half naked, and reads a book. I’ve taken a picture of it this morning without woman. It’s art!
8.30am Not too bad on jet lag. Woke up at 3am due to noisy goings-on in room above: sounded like Paris Hilton was making one of her home movies. Managed to sleep until 6am, then went for a long run to clear head ahead of day of meetings. I ran along Hollywood Walk of Fame and took a snap of a star honouring my all-time favourite thespian.
The meetings start properly today. Am meeting studios about Awesome Hands’ new film that we hope to shoot in 2010. This year he’ll be working on the TV series based on This Is England, but set three years later in 1986. But he has a great project based on a true account of a man who became possessed by the devil. It’s going into the territory Shane touched on in last half of Dead Man’s Shoes, and with it being horror there seems to be a lot of interest already. We’re developing it with Film4. This evening I have a follow-up meeting with Alan Ball, creator of True Blood and Six Feet Under. He came to see Warp back end of last year and seemed to like our slightly ‘warped’ taste so that could lead to something.
I am a bit worried about my teeth though, everyone I’ve met so far (from room service to taxi driver) has amazing white and straight teeth. I’m no Steptoe but mine are that normal off-white colour. I’m not joking: there is a place opposite my hotel on Sunset Blvd called Hollywood Hounds that whitens dog’s teeth. I may call in there on way to Paramount.
8.30am Standard Hotel Breakfast bar: No Paris shenanigans above last night but still been awake most of night. Yesterday was mental in LA, there was a massive storm at about 10.30am and everyone went crazy. I found out that when it rains here they react like we do after a foot of snow, it all grinds to a halt – shops close and everyone flees the streets. It was like the opening of The Road on Melrose yesterday morning.
It cleared for a bit around 3pm which was when I was at Paramount. The entrance there is amazing, it sort of reminds you that these places were really powerful machines. You walk into an entrance with great pictures from the mogul days and cabinets full of Oscars, a bit like Film4 now.
All the meetings were productive. After the success of Paranormal Activity the studios are wanting to find more ultra low-budget films (of course). There seems to be a realisation that some of these DIY made-at-home films with a Mac and HD cam have got huge potential. They all are really desperate to see the first draft of Shane’s new project, which is good at this stage. It’s weird on these meetings, you can really tell when they like something – it’s the way they shift in their chair or change eye contact. I like to throw in a couple of made-up bad projects in before hitting them with – yesterday I pitched Fanny Be Tender With My Love which is a Donk idea. You should check out his other favourites on YouTube.
Chris Morris arrived last night and we had a couple of beers and discussed Sundance. He flew to Salt Lake this morning. I will fly out later as I have some more meetings today, at Warner Bros, Universal and HBO. I’ll report on Sundance later – it should be fun.
Also managed a long Skype with my wife, Anita, and kids this morning. They’d just got in from school. I promised I’d say hi to them all on this so: Hi Evie, Bethany and Sam, missing you loads. Love Daddy xx
Will report tomorrow from snowy Utah…