SEARCHERS 2.0 is now complete, and I've embarked on a new HDV project - a documentary about the Trident missile system. It's early days for this one: I've just started recording interviews with scientists, politicians and academics - but if you're interested in funding or supporting my investigation of the new generation of Anglo-American nuclear weapons systems - and what they might be used for - please get in touch.
- Alex Cox
Other "microfeature" projects:
PROJECT 1 "SEARCHERS 2.0 plays at the Venice Film Festival in September 2007. More info on the
blog page here.
PROJECT 2 "UN/EASY
STREET" INFO IS HERE
- PROJECT 3 "AGAINST THE WORLD " INFO
Project 3: "AGAINST THE
AGAINST THE WORLD is a documentary about American war-fighting plans, based on government files from the 1920s and 1930s, available from the US National Records Office. (The plans, formerly top secret, were declassified in 1974.) It mixes interviews, documentary footage, and dramatic recreation.
The budget is $200,000 - just over a hundred thousand pounds - this is flexible: depending on the amount and price of documentary footage used. I have been offered a co-production/services deal by Vive TV in Venezuela.
Prior to the Second World War the United States made plans for war against its three closest allies, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Mexico. These plans, developed by the armed forces, were approved by Congress and by President Franklin D Roosevelt.
In the same period the US made no plans for war against the Fascist powers, Germany, Italy and Spain.
The US war plans involved the destruction of two of these nations as independent powers. In the case of Canada, the justification for war was an imaginary build-up of Canadian fighter and bomber planes, floating on pontoons, on lakes. The devastation of Britain and Mexico was rationalised on economic grounds.
Part One - WAR AGAINST BRITAIN
US war plans against the UK were code-named War Plan Red. This was a plan for world-wide war. The US did not expect to win this war outright, but rather to fight Britain to a stalemate. The losses of Hawaii and the Panama Canal were contemplated, in return for a crippling of British imperial power.
Part Two - THE ANNEXATION OF CANADA
This was War Plan Crimson. First drafted in 1924, the plan involved the invasion and seizure of Canada along with other British possessions. Even if Canada declared itself neutral, it would be invaded and occupied.
In October 1934 the US Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy authorised the strategic bombing of Halifax, Montreal, and Quebec City. The US Army simultaneously made "all necessary preparations for the use of chemical warfare from the outbreak of war."
The US military believed that poison gas, dropped on Canadian cities, would make the Canadians surrender more quickly, and reduce US casualties.
In 1935, the US held its largest-ever military manoeuvres, with more than 50,000 troops practicing a motorized invasion of Canada.
By 1939 the plans - approved by congress, cabinet officers, and the President - were well advanced. The US War College was planning a land- and sea-based invasion beginning in Halifax, Nova Scotia, when the outbreak of World War II - in Europe - caused it to be put on hold.
Part Three - WAR FOR OIL
The plan to invade and conquer Mexico was code-named War Plan Green. It entailed a blockade and economic sanctions, followed by two strikes: the seizure of Mexican oil wells in Tampico and Tuxpan, and the simultaneous invasion of Mexico City, to engagethe Mexican army in a decisive battle.
Due to their superior air power, the Americans anticipated that they would quickly anihilate the Mexican army, destroying much of the city in the process.
At this point, the US planned to install a puppet government, create a new Mexican army, and prepare for a long period of guerrilla war.
"The early disbandment of US troops is highly desirable," War Plan Green stated. "It is the testimony of all well acquainted with Mexican character that any number ofMexicans can be hired to fight against anywone and for anyone who will regularly pay and feed them."
What this means:
As the American psychologist Floyd Rudmin has observed, War Plan Green was the same strategy today being employed in Iraq; economic sanctions, seizure of oil assets, the creation of a new government and army (paid for by the conquered nation) and US disengagement in the face of a prolonged guerrilla war.
This is the crucial importance of these 'old' American war plans. The Iraq war is not the mad adventure of some 21st century Neocons. It is part of a long-term strategy for US seizure of the world's oil assets, fuelled by the collective neuroses of the most powerful and paranoid state the planet has yet seen.
When the BBC rejected this project, they told me "We don't do hypothetical." Yet these plans were real. AGAINST THE WORLD is as contemporary as the stolen presidential election in Mexico, the privatisation of PEMEX, and the creation of permanent US bases in Iraq.
AGAINST THE WORLD will feature interviews with military specialists and economists, with historians and psychologists, with medical experts and with politicians.
It will depict - via computer-generated graphics - how the American war machine planned to fight London to a standstill, while 'taking out' Mexico City, and four Canadian cities.
In the style of Peter Watkins' THE WAR GAME, it will recreate an Iraq-style seizure of the Mexican oil fields, and the mass killing of civilians in Vancouver and Quebec with poison gas.
"America's historical war plans offer a rare opportunity for insight into the militarization of the American mind," Rudmin writes. "We should take a look inside and try to learn."
AMERICA AGAINST THE WORLD puts the Iraq war in context, and shines essential light upon that militarized mind.
Please visit the Exterminating Angel site, where you can read a full treatment of AGAINST THE WORLD, and follow its progress.
Project 2: "UN/EASY STREET "
UN/EASY STREET is a horror
film, about a standup comic, infatuated with a gorgeous
gangster's moll. Our comedian is also a ventriloquist...
or so it seems. Threatened with death - or worse - by hoodlums,
our hero must get paid, get the girl, and catch the last
train out. Did I mention there's a serial killer, and a
price on the hero's head? And a Thing in a Bag? You get
It's to be shot quickly, at night, in a city you'd like to escape from, in the style of Hitchcock's ROPE, or RUSSIAN ARK. That is, giving the appearance of one continuous take, 90 minutes long. We might disguise a cut, here or there. Or maybe we really will shoot the whole story in 90 minutes, in real time. It'll be fun, either way.
As with SEARCHERS 2.0, this 'low road' costs less and breaks even sooner - SEARCHERS 2.0, still in production, is already pre-sold to the BBC and JVC Victor in Japan. A studio film has a vertically-structured distribution system, but it also has enormous overheads and creative accounting: it's a long, long time before a studio film breaks even - if it ever does at all.
And studio films take longer to shoot, involve predictable casting choices, endless convoys of trucks and trailers, and can't be shot all in one take!
The main characters in UN/EASY STREET are Dean, the comic, Stella, the temptress, Big Henry, the gangster, and Tuxton, the ventriloquist's stuffed bear.
Tuxton and Derek Jacobi, in REVENGERS TRAGEDY
To be shot in a single night UN/EASY STREET will require plenty of rehearsal; broken into discrete takes, it will take a couple of weeks to shoot; as with SEARCHERS 2.0, the editing/sound design/music process
will take an additional three-to-four months. So, if shot
in April, the film will be finished by the end of August 2007. If shot in a British city, or by a British crew (the cinematographer is Len Gowing, who also shot REVENGERS TRAGEDY), UN/EASY may qualify
- for tax purposes - as a British film. But that's a matter
for experts in tax issues to advise upon. Better to regard
the investment as what it is: part-ownership of a feature
film with world-wide sales potential.
£100,000 buys 50
producer's points - half of the equity in the film. This
is the total cash budget - excluding distribution and sales
costs. The film breaks even - and pays out to the producers
- when it has recouped its out-of-pocket expenses. These
include the costs of marketing it, and finding distributors
or sales agents. They will not be excessive. All costs
on a microfeature must be minimal: otherwise we defeat
the purpose of it.
At the same time, there
are no financial certainties in filmmaking! Some films
don't make money, and you should only buy shares in the production company if
you can afford to lose the money: it's venture capital,
not a pension fund.
But a high-definition,
digital feature with genre elements is likely to make
TV and DVD sales - and pre-sales, just as SEARCHERS 2.0 has. (In the past, I've
sold individual films to Channel 4, US cable rights
to three of my features, and DVD
rights to four of them
- the international sales agent for STRAIGHT TO HELL, 3
BUSINESSMEN, EL PATRULLERO, and DEATH & THE COMPASS
is the BFI.)
Love, Frank Murray, STRAIGHT TO HELL
Several films are better
than one, of course: if you make four or eight your costs are further
reduced and there is a bigger 'spread' of films, one or
more of which may succeed. If you'd like to finance several features
for £300,000 up, we can do that, too.
Send no money now! Just
email me (it's easy to figure out how to do so, via this site) or contact me
via the 8408.co.uk site.
Depending on the reaction, I may sell individual shares in the picture, but - based on the response to SEARCHERS 2.0 - I'm guessing the money will be more rapidly forthcoming from one source.
Chris Eccleston, Peter Boyle, Arianne Pellicer, DEATH & THE COMPASS
Casting is the most important part of this process: once we have Dean, Stella, Big Henry and Tuxton on board, all will follow naturally. UN/EASY STREET can be shot in an American or European provincial city (if we shoot in Mexico, the absence of passenger rail stations means we'll relocate the final scene to the bus station or local airport). Allow two weeks, shooting on HD or HDV, to get it in the can.
Recognise this location?
Post production: 11-15
weeks, including sound design and musical score.
Online: Fubar, Duke St,
If you're interested, get in touch, and I'll get back to you.