I Wish I Was A Spaceman (for Gerry Anderson)

I Wish I Was A Spaceman

I Wish I Was A Spaceman (for Gerry Anderson) December 2012

Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds and UFO were Gerry Anderson’s most significant and important work as a producer.

His contribution to television and film remains one of the least appreciated and underrated by the industry in his own country. He gave creative technicians their first real chance to experiment on a continuous basis and show what could be achieved.

Modern films are still, knowingly or otherwise, influenced by what he pioneered. He may have been the first producer to tell his writers, designers and technicians to ‘show it all!’

For many parents and children he is still ‘Mister 21st Century’.

Mister Night Sky (for Sir Patrick Moore)

Mister Night Sky (For Sir Patrick Moore)
Mister Night Sky (For Sir Patrick Moore)

Mister Night Sky (for Sir Patrick Moore) December 2012.

This began as a simple ‘Man in the Moon’ picture, then I added a satellite. I then thought that it would be nice if I included some Patrick Moore icons, so the realistic satellite was gradually replaced with one made from cricket stumps, a xylophone and a monocle.

Patrick Moore encouraged me with an astronomy examination, when (for some unknown reason) most of my teachers opposed me taking it.

He entertained me and my family at his home and paid my first subscription for the British Astronomical Association.

He gave me his own copy of ‘The Amateur Astronomer’ from his book shelf, and signed it to me. Nice man. A gentleman.

I will miss him every time I look into space.

Digression

Got a text this morning from the set of ‘Jack The Giant Killer’. A mediæval fantasy now shooting on location near London.

The 1962 film of the same name is one of the few films not made by Ray Harryhausen to feature (as opposed to merely utilise) the stop-motion process, and demonstrated the formidable talents of Jim Danforth. He was a protégé of Harryhausen, assisting him on several films including ‘Clash of the Titans’ (1981). Danforth was Oscar nominated for ‘The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao’, (1964), and ‘When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth’ (1971).

The 1962 ‘Jack’ was made following the success of Harryhausen’s ‘7th Voyage of Sinbad’ and shared its lead, Kerwin Mathews and villain, Torin Thatcher.

The latest Giant Killer may owe its existence to the recent success of ‘Clash of the Titans’ (2010) which was based on the screenplay for the Harryhausen film.

It seems the new production is unconnected with the 1962 film and has been described as an adult look at the Jack and the Beanstalk legend, although Jack The Giant Killer is an entirely different English folk tale.

‘When good King Arthur reigned, there lived near the Land’s End of England, in the county of Cornwall, a farmer who had one only son called Jack….’

The story so far . . .

A few months ago I embarked on a film project, producing a number of story proposals before the producer and I decided on a fantasy.

The film was to be shot on a reasonable low budget (£500,000) but would be planned to look much more expensive. We set about finding and developing ways to achieve this by deftly combing new technology with some tried and tested traditional budget saving methods, some now forgotten or, at least, overlooked by the industry.

For various reasons the project stalled, as most of them do, but it set me thinking and propelled me into a series of discussions, and a couple of hastily written short scripts to test some ideas, and a careful look at scriptwriting, new technology and old production methods.

The result of these ideas is the development of a collection of projects, the first of which is a film called ‘Breakfast With Strangers’.

 

To be continued . . .