Plotting a movie: Two heads are better than one, especially when you’re spooked

Something amazing happened on Sunday evening. Andy was at my house. We were in the living room chatting, while the sun was going down. When it was dark, Andy looked out of the window and said, “There’s your mate.” (This was in reference to Arnie, whom I was expecting to call.) When I looked out of the window, I couldn’t see Arnie’s car in the driveway, which was odd because he never leaves it out on the street. I said, “There’s no one there.” Andy replied, “I could swear I saw somebody walking down your driveway.”

Okay, now I was a little unnerved. But, being a big manly man, I quickly waved off the irrational notion of someone skulking around my property in the dark. Andy reckoned he probably misjudged what he had seen at the top of my driveway; somebody was probably walking past the driveway, not into. But it bugged me that he had to use the word “probably.”

I received a text from Arnie to say he couldn’t make it, so Andy and I got on with our chat. After a bit, he said, “Darryl, would you mind closing the blinds. I hate the thought of glancing out of the window and seeing somebody staring back at me.” I did so.

There was a spooky mood in the air now. We ended up talking about the trapdoor in my hallway floor (something I’ve mentioned previously in the context of sewer manholes). I said, “Imagine you get up in the middle of the night to take a pee, and you walk along the hallway in the dark, unable to see much of anything. And when your foot comes down on the trapdoor, you’re surprised to discover that it’s sitting up at an angle, as if someone or something is peering out. The weight of your foot closes the trapdoor, and you’re left wondering: What the hell is underneath me? It starts banging the door, but is unable to shift your weight. But what can you do? You’re all alone in the house and you can’t take another single step.”

Andy and I started bouncing ideas off each other for where the story could go next. A couple of hours later, we had a pretty neat short film all figured out. We have no definite plans to make it, but we’re excited. Comparisons are unavoidable with the theme of our previous film Don’t Look in the Attic, but this one goes in a different direction (and we’d never call Don’t Look in the Basement, you’ll be glad to know). I don’t want to say too much, beause I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I’m just trying to convey something of the magic that happens occasionally and unexpectedly when Andy and I get together. Two heads are most definitely better than one.

What’s interesting is that Andy would have went home two hours earlier, and the story would have remained undiscovered, if not for the fact that he happened to glance out of the window at a particular moment and spot somebody walking past my driveway whom he thought was walking in. Heck, never mind Andy; the existence of the story hinges every bit as much on the walking dude doing what he did at the exact moment that he did. It also depends on Arnie cancelling. Without all these factors, Andy and I wouldn’t have creeped ourselves out and started talking about trapdoors. It seems amazing to me how a terrific story can be born into the world hanging on such a thin thread.

P.S. If anybody is wondering what has become of The End of the World and Beyond, I’ve decided to abandon the enterprise. I need to concentrate on where my passions lie (i.e. writing and filmmaking), or I’ll end up spreading myself out too thin and getting nothing done. I am, however, committed to the idea of podcasting my fiction. Is There Anybody Out There? went down a treat and generated a lot more feedback than The End of the World and Beyond.

4 thoughts on “Plotting a movie: Two heads are better than one, especially when you’re spooked

  1. Eddie Mullan

    Don’t Look in the Basement is such a terrible film..i own it! bought it off ebay for a quid or two and had a double bill one night with Last House On The Left (as it was shown originally in the drive-in double bill in the 70s)

    very funny watching it before Last House though.

  2. Darryl Sloan

    I don’t think I’ve seen either of those, although I think Andy owns the latter.

    The working title for the new film is Not Alone. I’m not sold on it, but it’s the best we’ve come up with so far. I’m trying to come up with something that conveys the catch-22 situation of being stuck in the one spot, unable to move for fear that the “thing” will get out, yet knowing that you can’t wait forever or you’ll die of dehydration. Proving difficult.

  3. Eddie Mullan

    that’s shocking you having seen last hoiuse. last house is one of very few films that are still partially banned (heavily edited) in the UK. Also it was one of those few exploitation horrors from the 70s that really changed film-making…everything looked real, it wasnt just bang bang your dead anymore.

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