Over the course of the next few weeks and months, people around the world are finally going to be able to see the AUTUMN movie (and I mean the proper, finished movie – not the poor quality, unfinished rip that was leaked online and which has been unfairly generating bad press around the Internet recently). At the end of the day, AUTUMN is a low budget indie horror film which, like many indies, will be released wherever deals are made, whenever those deals are made. It would have been great if there could have been a single, massive, coordinated, worldwide release but these are challenging times and I’m just grateful that the film’s complete and ready to be enjoyed.
Bizarrely, if you’re in Thailand, you can already buy the DVD and if you’re in Germany, you can pre-order it from Amazon.de (it’s out in October – apologies for the unique, market-specific update to the title!). If you’re in the UK or Canada… please bear with me for a little longer – more news is coming very soon.
The journey to get AUTUMN to the screen has been frustratingly long for a number of reasons but, now that we’ve almost reached the finish line, I thought it was time I properly documented some of my thoughts and feelings on the process, the film itself, and the issues and experiences we’ve had along the way. I’ll be posting a series of articles over the coming weeks, starting today with a brief look at the origins of the project. My next AUTUMN post will be an updated version of the set report I previously published in early 2008 on theinfected.co.uk (the official AUTUMN website – soon to be re-launched). Later I’ll be talking about the bizarre series of events which thrust the film firmly into the spotlight after the tragic death of David Carradine. A Q&A with director Steven Rumbelow will follow (I’ll be asking you for questions to put to Steven later) and I’ll wrap the series up with a look at the finished movie. By then I hope many of you will have had chance to see the film and I’m looking forward to discussing it with you on the forum (and, hopefully, in the flesh if you’re in the UK!).
I should start out by saying that if you’re expecting a full-blown review of the film from me, you’re not going to get one. More to the point, I can’t write one. Why? Because as a writer, having a story you’ve written adapted for the screen is a unique and very emotional experience – far more so than I anticipated or imagined. It’s difficult to be completely impartial and objective about the finished result because you’re impossibly close and yet frustratingly distant from the project at the same time. When I write I spend months (often years) planning and preparing each story to the point where I can almost just shut my eyes and watch the whole thing play out in my head like a movie. By the time the book’s finished, I know exactly how each character looks, behaves and sounds. I know the locations they inhabit, the size and layout of the buildings and rooms where they interact, the undulations of the land outside, the cars they drive, the clothes they wear, the colour of the wallpaper in their living rooms… On a more technical level, I know how the scenes flow, how they cut into each other, what I can hear and see at any given moment… I write listening to music and invariably I build up a playlisted soundtrack for each book that matches the atmosphere and feel of the story…
Give one hundred directors the same script, and you’ll probably end up with one hundred very different films. The point I’m trying to make is that everything is open to personal interpretation. No-one is able to fully see what I see as I write and the movie I involuntarily plan in my head – with its perfect cast, jaw-dropping locations, ground-breaking special effects and limitless budget – is the invisible, intangible benchmark that I’m sure every author unknowingly sets. In the nicest possible way, no movie will ever match it, so it would be unfair to write a review.
Enough of that. Back to the beginning…
The AUTUMN movie came about as the result of an approach from Renegade Motion Pictures for the film rights in September 2006. They weren’t alone in their interest – I’d had several other enquiries from production companies of various statures and sizes – but Renegade’s attitude and the dialogue we quickly established soon made them my ‘partner of choice’. I liked the way Rumbelow talked about the themes of the story with me and the plans he had for keeping the movie close to the indie spirit of the original novel. Those of you who’ve followed my writing for some time will know that, up until that point, I’d previously taken responsibility for every aspect of the publishing process – writing, editing, designing, marketing etc. – and the prospect of working with an independent production company like Renegade appealed to me more than the idea of letting a larger, corporate outfit loose with AUTUMN. It was the book that put me on the map and a huge part of my heart and soul was ploughed into the series as a whole. With Renegade I knew I’d be able to have some influence on the project, and at that stage in my career that mattered.
Once the formalities were completed (including the addition of a unique clause in the rights agreement stating that the film would not be allowed to become a ‘Hollywood-style’ zombie movie!), Renegade began work on the project in earnest.
In late-2005, some twelve months before the movie was first mooted, I decided to write a ‘spec-script’ for AUTUMN, more because I wanted to try my hand at screenplay writing than for any other reason. That script later became the basis for Darker Projects’ audio dramatization of the book and, after a further re-write, I sent it to Renegade where Steven Rumbelow used elements of it to put together his vision of AUTUMN. If I’m honest, my attempt was far too bloated and overlong, an attempt to literally translate virtually every page of the book to the screen, but it was something I enjoyed doing (and something I plan to do again in the near future).
With the screenplay well advanced and much of the required funding in place, Renegade took the unusual step of inviting fans to become shareholders in the movie. This wasn’t just a means to generate extra cash and publicity, it was also a genuine attempt to bridge the gap between the film-makers and those people who’d been following the books since 2001 when the first AUTUMN novel appeared online. There was a great response and to those of you who invested, check your inboxes for an update from Renegade in the very near future.
As the end of 2007 neared, the movie was cast, locations were scouted and filming was ready to begin.