A little while back, I sent a speculative script to Terry Illot at Hammer Films. Although Terry wasn’t interested in the script as such (a Cronenberg-esque thriller with a couple of buckets of blood thrown in), he was still intrigued (or repulsed) enough to set up a meeting to discuss the sort of thing he was looking for.
Terry ran through Hammer’s extensive and illustrious history before settling on the fact that he wanted to see something with what he termed “franchise potential” – not necessarily another Dracula or Frankenstein (tried and tested Hammer staples of course), but a character strong enough to withstand a barrage of 'cross platform’ marketing opportunities. Well, that’s what I think he said – my notes from the meeting were extremely vague, mostly because I didn’t get a strong impression that Terry really knew what he was looking for. You know the sort of thing: you’re out shopping for that certain something – you don’t know what exactly, but by golly, when you see it, you’ll know. It’s a gut reaction, an instinct thing. Terry wasn’t prescriptive at all in his requirements, which was great. Sling me those loglines, he said – crank out those synopses and e-mail ‘em over, the more the merrier. Just like catapulting custard at a wall – sooner or later something was bound to stick.
As the meeting went on, Terry outlined a few of the projects that Hammer was attempting to get off the ground in a joint venture with an Australian company called Paradise Pictures (I think that’s what they were called). He was then off to Cannes, ostensibly to drum up a bit of funding I guess. The pitches for the projects he showed me seemed OK – ultra low-budget (single location, three characters maximum), although not necessarily scoring high on the Hammer ‘franchisometer’ (if that’s not a word then it should be).
I came away from the meeting excited and energised, but a little depressed. I knew damn well that the one thing I wouldn’t be able to do would be to create a Freddy Krueger type-character for Hammer to exploit at will. So I gave Terry something else entirely – a Nigel Kneale inspired synopsis about a haunted Wiltshire village seconded by the Ministry of Defence. I wrote what I thought was an intriguing synopsis and sent it to Terry, only for it to disappear into a vacuum. I chased it up a few weeks later, but the inevitable reply came back that Terry was too busy – probably putting the final touches to this, which came to fruition this year.
My synopsis? Well, I liked it, so what the heck – I went ahead and wrote the script, a script that seems destined to get stuck in the mud wherever it lands up (this is the same script that a few production companies have been using to prop open doors with for the last year or so – see the previous post).
I never heard how ‘Hammer in Paradise’ fared, so I can only guess that nothing came of it (a brief Google search turns up nothing of significance). I can only assume that Terry was busy managing Hammer’s vast back catalogue and running Bridge Media, his other consultancy sideline.
As of May 2006, Terry was heading up something called the Film Business Academy (FBA) and was no longer involved at Hammer Films.
An interview with Terry Illot and further links below:
Like it or not, looks like the MBAs are coming…
Scriptnotes, Ep 354: Upgrade — Transcript
3 days ago