Horror Film Writer
It took me a long time to realise that I write because it is within me. That it needs to out. And looking back throughout my life it’s emerged from me in some form or another from unfinished childish jotting to a couple of short stories sent to magazines; and from a student website built from scratch to programmes for parties after I’d told people that parties required such a thing; and all of this despite being a slow reader where English was my weakest subject.
Whilst having the science job, and fulfilling my potential as an organic chemist, my lunchtimes were still my own and so I tried to spend them productively either sat in the corner of a staff tearoom on a bland science park or outside the university refectory in the fresh air.3
At one location I learned how that by daydreaming in a general direction, before dropping your head and writing frantically, you could instil paranoia in certain work colleagues; whilst at the other, sat on a windy park bench or concrete veranda, surrounded by the young and the pretty, I got to see the seasons pass before my eyes – as the weather got colder the Manchester girls’ dresses only got shorter – and the years too even though the students somehow all stayed the same age whilst I correspondingly must have just withered before theirs like something out of HG Wells’ The Time Machine (1960).
A previous attempt to gain some writing experience, in amongst a period of earlier science unemployment, saw me answering a Job Centre advert from a guy making a horror film on the south coast. Such avant-garde listings weren’t so uncommon as I’d already been numbed by the plethora of advertised positions for pole dancers – which, in a complete disregard to discrimination laws, were all restricted to women – and after firing off an e-mail in hope I soon found myself buying an expensive return train ticket to the Isle of Thanet where I quickly discovered that the guy in question appeared to be as slippery as chip pan oil.
His advert probably passed the Job Centre criteria – if they had any – because despite there not being a proper paid job at the end of this interview there was a structure of “profit share” bandied about by him and his henchman for those who worked on the project: they added that if it all went Blair Witch (1999) then we’d all be quids in. Whilst it all seemed suspiciously not above board I was also told that I should have contrived to sting the Job Centre for my travel costs too.
Despite the seemingly pointlessness of my journey I made the most of it by spending the rest of my time exploring London and on the Underground I overheard the cultural throwback of a visiting American lady asking why there were no bins on the platforms to be told that it was a hangover from the days of the IRA. Twenty-four hours later that sort of thinking changed for ever when, after getting the late train home, I woke up to the eerie experience of live rolling news as the city was brought to a standstill as a new wave of terror emerged.4
The film guy got back in touch with me partly because of my mentioned writing aspirations but mostly because, despite him being organised enough to arrange a series of interviews through the Job Centre, the film script they were about to begin shooting, which they said was obtained from Paramount Pictures, wasn’t actually finished yet.
It was written, but then it was also set in Malibu and some hackneyed effort where the policeman kept shooting people with his gun and everybody else owned their own boat. It was in no way fit for being realistically filmed in Kent.
Given just a couple of days to turn this transformation around I thrashed it out – profit share being my watchword – and with the new completed script e-mailed back, and all Americanisms removed, I never heard from that guy again.
As is my way of never forgetting a wrong done I determined to keep an eye on this character, never to let him go, to hound him to the ends of the earth, and I do believe that this horror film was actually made. I also found lots of accounts of people accusing him of not paying them for work he’d commissioned and in amongst other projects he boasted about for a long time he claimed that he was set to begin filming Ghostbusters 3 which, in something of a departure from the previous two films, wasn’t to be set in New York, but in the Yorkshire original.
I finally discovered his lifestyle catching up with him when I found media reports that – under a different name – he was described as a “penniless crook” at his trial in York Crown Court after he’d been caught red-handed in a protracted effort to try and cash in a pensioner’s £20,000 life insurance pay-out.5
The newspaper contained some interesting new details about this guy, but still, I’m sure he’s lovely…as well as a previously convicted eBay fraudster.6
3 – I’d later channel a piece of Victoria sandwich I once bought there into a short theatre piece by describing it as “a triumph of economic prudence”, which had “cheap sponge with jam that looked like it had been painted on and clotted cream that resembles cottage cheese”. There are websites set up for such reviews these days and so I guess that social media’s gain is now theatre’s loss.
4 – The London bombings of 7th July 2005. This was on the Circle and Piccadilly lines and even though I never even touched any of those for someone who only made the very occasional visits to London it still felt like a close shave.
5 – The only reason he didn’t get a custodial sentence upon being found guilty was that he was seemingly too calamitous to ever get away with his crime, posting off documents covered in his fingerprints, and was described by the judge as a dismal failure of a fraudster.
6 – There was also a much-mentioned children’s charity involved with this film which was to have benefited financially from the profits of this horror film. Profit share. It was a charity, I would later discover, that was run by the same guy. Still, as bad as that smells, I’m sure he wouldn’t have stiffed the kids.