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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Failing to sleep in

There's nothing like a day when you can sleep in, especially when you are in a hotel a long way from home and you don't have to take anyone to school or take anyone for a walk. It almost never happens -- normally if I'm in a hotel I have to set alarm clocks. And the whole sleeping in bit is made even better when the day before was long and exhausting, and made better than that by the fact the clocks have gone back an hour so I can really sleep as long as I want to plus an hour...

But the front desk phoned at seven a.m. to let me know I had a driver I didn't want or need or order waiting to take me nowhere at all. And that was that on sleeping in for the morning. So I shall write a slightly sleepy morning blogpost instead.

It's weird. They call these things junkets. It's a word that means either "a sweet dessert", "a party" or "a trip made for pleasure at someone else's expense". And the pleasure trip aspect is certainly there for the journalists, who get flown to somewhere nice by the film company, put up in hotels, see the film and then spend a day or a few hours talking to the people who made it. When I was a journalist, getting on a junket was always considered a good thing -- a small amount of work for a fair amount of pleasure and adventure.

Having done a few of them now on the other side of the press conference table I think it's worth mentioning that they aren't really junkets for the people organising them or for the people being interviewed. They are work.

We assembled yesterday morning early in a hotel back room. A lady did hair and make up for the cameras (which means, in my case, a bit of powder, and then her looking at my hair and asking "Is it meant to be like that?" and me saying, um, yes, sorry). Then into a back room to be led onto the stage for a press conference. Ray Winstone and Crispin Glover had just seen the film and loved it (Crispin: "And mostly I don't like films I'm in,"), John Malkovitch, Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie haven't yet seen it. Bob Zemeckis was there but decided some years ago not to do things like interviews and junkets and press conferences (very wise, and I rather wish I could do likewise).

I like Angelina. She's nice, very professional, and has a slightly goofy sense of humour. Last time I met her was November 2005, when she was doing the acting bit of Beowulf. Even then, it had already been reported in the papers that she had closed down production on Beowulf by walking off the set after a fight with Ray Winstone -- two weeks before her first day on set. I realised that where she was concerned the press were happy to simply make up stuff that sounded credible. It didn't need have to have any basis at all in reality.

It was obvious during the press conference that a large contingent of the press just wanted to talk to her and talk about her private life, something she declined to do and handled with grace and aplomb. Overall, the press conference went well (I think my favourite bit was the way Ray Winstone, answering questions, always refers to me and Roger Avary as "The Boys", as if we're a couple of writing hardcases who will come over to your house and beat you up with our typewriters.)

And then on to interviews. Round tables: a dozen journalists in each room, and Roger and I go in, talk for half an hour and are then moved to the next room, where another dozen journalists are waiting to ask the same questions, while Anthony Hopkins, always one room behind, is moved into the room we were in.

And then it was off to hotel rooms for individual interviews, and telephone interviews with journalists in Kansas and suchlike places. And then, brain dead, we were done.

The reaction to the film from the journalists and interviewers, who had seen it the previous night, seemed overwhelmingly positive, which was a relief.

It's nice that people have started to see the film, and are now actually talking about the thing they've seen. (I got a bit tired of reading online "reviews" of the film, which were always mash-ups of what people thought they'd seen in the trailers with what they imagined we were doing to the story, along with complaints about visuals they hadn't properly seen yet, which then normally concluded with the loud and proud announcement that as they knew they wouldn't like it, they wouldn't be seeing it, and it certainly wouldn't be Beowulf. Several of them were written by people who should, I thought, know better. I've never minded getting bad reviews, but in the past they've always come from people who had at least read or seen the thing they were complaining about.)

Anyway, now we've started screening it, real reactions are coming in.

Here's a letter Jeff Wells that he put up at his blog in advance of his review appearing, which he's posted I think partly because he was embarrassed by having said nasty things about Beowulf last week before seeing it http://hollywood-elsewhere.com/archives/2007/11/beowulf_2.php
Here's someone who saw a preview screening at UCLA - http://strstruckdreamr9.blogspot.com/2007/11/beowulf.html
and another early screening blog http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=43263288&blogID=325323587
Moriarty reviewed it over at aintitcool -- http://www.aintitcool.com/node/34678 -- and I'm sure that lots of other reviews are going to start surfacing now that people are seeing it. (It's not that we were playing the completed film close to our chest. It's just that it wasn't completed -- the film, in its final form, was only emitted from the computers this week. And the Imax 3D print people started seeing on Friday afternoon was only completed on Friday morning.)

...

Dear Neil,

About two or three months ago I was found a book in the New Release section by you and Micheal Reaves. Being a fan of yours, I bought the book, presuming it would be good. It was good.

However, it didn't seem to be your style exactly so I checked the release date: 2007.

I was surprised that I hadn't heard anything about this book on your blog since I have been reading it for about a year, maybe more.

I thought that maybe, albeit doubtfully, there was someone else in the world named Neil Gaiman.

Nope. Under OTHER NOVELS FOR YOUNG READERS BY NEIL GAIMAN, was Coraline.

The book is called Interworld.

Just asking why you havent mentioned it at all on your blog.

-Camille

I'm posting this to remind people that there is a SEARCH function on the www.neilgaiman.com pages. They take you to http://www.neilgaiman.com/search_form/. If you typed in Interworld it would give you about 15 hits from the website, first among them http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/labels/Interworld.html which is all the times I've labelled a blog entry Interworld since I've been doing labelling on this blog (basically this year). And which would answer all your questions...

Hello, Neil!

Sorry if this is old news, but your journal has been nominated for Best Literature Blog on the 2007 Weblog Awards.

http://2007.weblogawards.org/polls/best-literature-blog-1.php

The voting closes November 8 and you're currently in the lead!

Best of luck,

Leanne

Thank you! What fun. (Which left me suddenly wondering what happened to the "Bloggers Choice" awards -- looks like they get handed out next week in Las Vegas.)


...

Lots of people asking what's happening in the Philippines in a couple of weeks. I'm talking to an ad congress -- I don't think the event is open to the public -- and doing something with Fully Booked (I googled but only found http://www.fullybookedonline.com/adsdetail.php?id=53).

Anyway. Maddy is here -- I've told her she has to blog the Premiere please -- and I am going off to be a dad now. (In the interests of fairness, I should add that an apologetic fruit basket has just arrived from the people who sent the 7.00 am car and driver, putting me in mind of the Elvis Costello bit on the old Larry Sanders Show. And that Maddy has been eating the gummi bears out of it.)

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