Looking back at the AUTUMN movie

So, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times in the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the AUTUMN series a lot recently. AUTUMN was the first of my books which really took off. As you may recall, I gave it away free online between 2001 and 2008 (when, strange as it now seems, eBooks were rare and very few people were giving them away), and it was downloaded many hundreds of thousands of times. I wrote a series of sequels which were well received, and the first book was even adapted as an online full cast audio drama which you can still listen to.

But then HATER came along and my focus shifted. I then moved onto other books and projects, and it’s now a sobering five years since the last book – AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION – was released. Yet even now people still get in touch regularly to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed the series.

When I wrote the very first draft of the very first book, way back in 1997, no one was writing about zombies. Very few people were watching zombie movies, either. In fact, no one was paying zombies any attention in any way, shape or form. But in the years which followed, a totally unexpected thing happened and, for the first time, the living dead became mainstream. In films, Danny Boyle’s 28 DAYS LATER was a huge hit (which sparked endless pointless debate about whether zombies should run or not, and whether or not his infected were zombies at all), and Zack Synder’s remake of George Romero’s ground-breaking DAWN OF THE DEAD bucked the trend and proved that not all remakes were worthless cash-ins. THE WALKING DEAD comic was launched and a number of writers including myself, BRIAN KEENE and DAVID WELLINGTON precipitated the flood of zombie fiction.

And despite hearing rumours to the contrary every few months since then, the bubble hasn’t burst. People still love the living dead.

I’m going to write two more AUTUMN novels. There – I’ve said it out loud and in public now. I have an idea which I can’t stop thinking about and that, for me, is the acid test. If an idea for a book won’t go away, then that book needs writing. I have a couple of other projects to wrap up first, then I’ll dive straight into what I’m currently calling AUTUMN: DAWN. I don’t want to say too much at the moment, but I think the time’s right for these new books. As I’ve already said, the world has changed dramatically since I first wrote AUTUMN. To my mind, zombies have always been the ultimate story-telling device for allowing writers and film-makers to study the human condition. By turning people into something so similar yet inherently different, it enables us to look back and consider what makes us human in the first place. Socially we’re in a vastly different place now to where we were in 2001, and I think it’ll be fascinating to imagine how we’d react to the events of AUTUMN if they took place today. The new books won’t replace the original novels, nor will they undermine them. Same dead world, different people. Not a rehash or reboot. It’s funny… one of the rules of zombie fiction and movies when I first started writing was that the characters had to have an unspoken innocence and couldn’t know what a zombie was. Given the pop culture explosion I’ve just been talking about, there’s no way I could get away with that in the new AUTUMN books!

So what about the movie?

It was released in 2008 to a torrent of abuse and ill-feeling. It creaks and it groans. It was made on a shoestring budget and it shows. People either loved it or hated it (mostly they hated it). I stopped trying to defend it and used the backlash to try and promote the books, working on the dubious premise that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Tellingly, none of the publishers of the series around the world mentioned the film in their marketing, though an editor who worked on the books did once tell me that ‘it’s always better to have a bad film made of one of your books than no film at all’. And with hindsight, I think I agree. But how bad a film is it? Was all the negativity justified? This week I took a deep breath and watched AUTUMN from start to finish for the first time in a decade. And you know what? I really enjoyed it. I’m under no illusions, it’s not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t think it’s the absolute car crash that most people assume.

Here’s a trailer, and my thoughts follow. And yes, that is me on the DVD cover above.

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Steven Rumbelow – the director of AUTUMN – has passed away

I’ve sad news to report. Steven Rumbelow, who directed the 2009 movie adaptation of AUTUMN, has passed away. You can read Variety’s obituary here.

rp_51mrBhRXn3L._SS500_.jpgIf you’ve heard me talk about the AUTUMN movie, you might be surprised to hear this, but I think I’ve a lot to thank Steven for. I’ve been pretty vocal in the past about my feelings for the film – it was a valiant attempt to adapt the film for the screen, but it fell well short of its potential. The main cast was great (in particular Dexter Fletcher, Dickon Tolson and David Carradine) and some scenes really caught the look and feel of the novel beautifully. Technical shortcomings hampered production, and ultimately the level of the budget didn’t allow the film-makers to fully realise their ambition.

Some people loved the film, though. The UK’s well respected Empire Magazine called AUTUMN “surprisingly downbeat and intelligent“. 365Horror.co.uk said “It’s slow and thoughtful and mesmerising to watch, allowing the viewer to think and reflect. Rumbelow has created something worthy of the Romero tip of the hat here.Reviewer Nicholas Bergquist wroteIf you’re a bit tired of the same-old same-old zombie films, you need to see Autumn. If you’re just keen for a good horror movie that eschews standard formulae and obligatory kill counts, you need to see Autumn. If you want to watch a really damned fine end of the world tale that tries for a more measured pace… Autumn’s your movie.

But it’s fair to say, the criticism massively outweighed the praise. Also, the project never really stood a chance after David Carradine’s death and the subsequent leaking of an unfinished cut of the movie online which was seen (and slated) by hundreds of thousands of people.

I said I’ve a lot to thank Steven for, and I meant that. Watching the production of AUTUMN progress, both from a distance and when I was on set, and seeing how the film fared after release taught me a huge amount about the highs and lows of the movie business. I got to go to Canada and play zombie. I ended up on the DVD cover (yes, that’s me). I got to meet a number of very cool people along the way and was able to attend a number of film festivals and other events. Most importantly, in one way or another the movie had a huge effect on my demographic and made substantial numbers of people aware of my books who might not have heard of me otherwise. Someone once said to me it’s better to have a bad movie made of your book than no movie at all, and I’m inclined to agree. I think AUTUMN is a seriously flawed movie more than an out and out bad film, but I’m pleased it happened. I’ll never forget the thrill of sitting in the first UK cinema showing and seeing the words ‘based on the novel by David Moody’ appear on screen.

Visiting the set of AUTUMN in December 2007

Visiting the set of AUTUMN in December 2007 (pictured with Steven Rumbelow)

My sincere condolences go out to Rachel, Dickon, and the rest of the Rumbelow and Renegade Motion Pictures families.

THE HATER MOVIE

Right… I think that announcement is long overdue. The all-important press release follows. There will be opportunity to ask me questions in the coming weeks, and there will be ANOTHER HATER-related announcement next week. For now, here are the facts:

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Hook Pictures producer Ed Barratt and David Moody announce a deal to bring Moody’s classic novel of violence and paranoia – HATER – to the screen.

David Moody independently released HATER onto an unsuspecting world in 2006, and within a couple of short months the movie rights had been snapped up by Hollywood. The production was fast-tracked and attracted some big names. Then, as is frequently the way, the project stalled.

Moody and his fans were left in limbo.

The novel went on to be republished by St Martins Press in the US, Gollancz in the UK, Goldmann in Germany and by numerous other publishers around the world. Two well-received sequels – DOG BLOOD and THEM OR US – followed.

But still no movie.

Enter Ed Barratt and Hook Pictures. Ed said “From the first page of the series I could see the potential for Hater to be adapted into a defining piece of British cinema; that I’m now working with David towards that end is almost as big a thrill as the books themselves”.

Ed and David are thrilled to announce that the development of the HATER movie is now underway from a script by Moody.

I’m delighted to be working with Ed on this project,” said Moody. “The buzz of having Hollywood interest in my work never really wore off, despite the film not reaching the screen, but there was always a part of me that regretted selling such a small-scale, gritty and uniquely British story to a huge production company. I met with Ed and was immediately impressed by his enthusiasm for the books, and it quickly became apparent that we share a common vision with regard to how this story should be told on screen. When the opportunity to take back the rights and work with Ed arose, I took it without hesitation.

The central theme of HATER is, I think, more prescient than ever. It deals with some major sociological issues in a unique and confrontational way and I’m confident we’ll create a wildly original movie the likes of which hasn’t been seen before. HATER is a collision between the normality of day-to-day life in the UK today and a full-on apocalyptic nightmare.

HATER is currently in development for a late 2016 shoot.

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EdAnd I’d like to introduce you to Ed:  Hook Pictures was founded in 2012 as a vehicle for creative producer Ed Barratt to continue to work with fresh and ambitious writing and directing talent to create critically and commercially successful feature films.

Hook Pictures’ debut feature film was Rowan Athale’s The Rise (aka Wasteland) – completed in 2012 – which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival before screening at London, Rotterdam and Santa Barbara Film Festivals whilst selling to distributors around the world and being nominated for several awards. Ed Barratt was recognised by BAFTA as a Breakthrough Brit for his work on the film.

Hook Pictures has a strong slate of projects in development and relationships with some of the UK’s most exciting new writing and directing talent. Three films are slated to enter production in 2015/16 and the company is venturing into new and original IP by launching comic book publisher Ninth Man in association with leading graphic novel publisher SelfMadeHero.

Another sighting – HATER news imminent

I was in Greece this weekend and spotted this scrawled on a wall. Does this mean the long-teased HATER news is imminent?

Yes it is. The deal is signed and the ink is dry. An official announcement will be made here next week (I hope) and who knows – there may even be a second piece of HATER news to follow.

Thanks for your patience. More very soon. Things are about to get exciting.

STRAIGHT TO YOU the movie (that wasn’t)

Straight to You will be released a month from today. By now I’m sure you know it’s a complete re-write of my debut novel, so the story has been around a fair while. I wanted to tell you about the time the book almost became a movie…

I was in two minds as to whether or not I should post this, but why not. I’ve removed all the names and other identifying details to protect the innocent (more to protect me, actually), but you’ll still be able to get the gist of this cautionary tale. This is an example of how the corporate entertainment machine can ‘acquire’ ideas. Though it’s probably all just coincidence (he adds quickly for legal reasons).

Given how much information I’ve deliberately missed out, I wasn’t sure how best to tell this story. I decided to use the power of Bitstrips.

It all starts back in 2007. When the film rights to Hater were sold, I suddenly had a lot of people very interested in my books.

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I received an email from the production company behind some very famous films. They were asking about Hater initially, but then they started looking at my lesser-known books. As you’d expect, I was really, really excited.

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HATER Competition time!

Yes I know… I’ve gone quiet on you again. That’s largely because I’m trying to get three novels finished before the end of October (see my recent update here).

I realised that I hadn’t mentioned the campaign recently started by a few of Moody’s Survivors to give Hollywood a hint and see if we can’t get the HATER movie moving forward (there are positive signs, but a little push wouldn’t hurt…). There’s a Facebook page here which I’d love for you to like and share if you feel so inclined. HBackSmall So the position is this: the movie rights were recently re-optioned by Mark Johnson and Guillermo del Toro et al, and J A Bayona (who was previously attached to direct) has mentioned the project a couple of times in recent interviews in connection with his excellent movie, THE IMPOSSIBLE. With THE WALKING DEAD continuing to do great business and with the WORLD WAR Z movie taking everybody by surprise and being a huge hit this summer, a lot of you seem to think – and, of course, I completely agree – that the time is right for the HATER film.

Hopefully I’ll have some more concrete news for you in the very near future. In the meantime, I thought it would be good to run a competition to keep the project in the public eye. All you have to do is design a HATER-themed T-shirt to promote either the books, the film, or the campaign to get the movie made.

Either post your design on Facebook or email it to davidmoody@djmoody.co.uk by the end of October. By that time I’ll have employed a top-notch judging panel (I’m looking at you, Survivors!) who I’ll ask to pick a winner. As well as receiving a few signed books and other odds and ends, the winner will also have their design printed up and made available for sale via the Infected Bookstore.

Let’s join together and spread The Hate!

Ain’t It Cool News liked the AUTUMN movie

It was really great to see the AUTUMN movie featured over at Ain’t It Cool News recently.

“Rather than diving into flesh eating ghoul territory, Moody’s AUTUMN takes a more patient and scientific approach. In many ways, this is a thinking man’s zombie flick with some fun performances and decent effects… AUTUMN makes for a damn fine zombie experience… definitely worth seeking out for the geek in search of genuine scares and interesting takes on the sub-genre.”

As luck would have it, those of you in the UK can catch the movie on TV again in the early hours of Friday morning. It’s also available on DVD in various countries. Click here for more information.