The Screening

Last night was the special preview screening for Fate & Fortune at the Curzon Soho, a cinema in London’s West End. I’d sent out 500 postcards to cast and crew, industry contacts, friends and relations. I’d also emailed about 200 people I work with. I was seriously worried about being able to fit everyone into the theater. I needn’t have.

This week, for those of you in the twilight zone, is the beginning of the major festival of sport that is the World Cup. Football. The Beautiful Game. The sport of sports. Everything else is, as my mate Mike would say, “muggy bonehead.” I must ask him what that means.

Football. For three and a half years I’m blissfully ignorant of the ins and outs of football, then like so many others, I become an instant expert and follow every England match. Beckham, Owen, Seaman, Coles, Schole, Butt, Sheringham… Now household names.

All of which means most people are getting up early in the morning and have no intention of going out in the evening. Even to see my film. Add to that that this is also the week of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, which means a four day weekend which many have extended into a week off, and London is pretty quiet. So the worries about overfilling the Curzon became worries about getting anyone at all.

So… So about fifty or sixty people turned up, in all. Maybe even seventy. Yes, let’s call it seventy. Hoorah! And it was good. Most of the cast and a good number of the crew, along with their partners and buddies. Plus a lot of old friends including people I haven’t seen for many many years. Even one school friend I haven’t seen for nearly a decade. I didn’t spot any industry people but then there were a few faces I didn’t know who kind of slipped in at the last minute then slipped away afterwards. Mystery guests.

I stood up on the stage without a microphone (Nkako, the organiser, suddenly realised I’d probably want one and just as quickly realised it was too late to sort one out). I shouted a few words at the assembled dark hordes to introduce Fate & Fortune, thanked people for coming, briefly described what they were about to see and thanked them for coming again. There was a round of applause, which was nice.

Then the lights went even lower and the film rolled. I think the most pleasing thing is that people laughed in the places I thought were funny. Afterwards they applauded again and said they’d enjoyed it.

In fact, it got two reactions, generally, in the bar afterwards: “I thought it was really great.” and, “I enjoyed it but I wasn’t sure what it was all about.” Haha! I’ve made a cult-ish arthouse film, as I intended. Well, we can but hope. People also commented on how good the sound was and the excellent visuals. Not bad, considering I’ve seen it so many times that I’m now hypercritical of both.

A group of us went onwards to eat bland Chinese food in Wong Kei’s, around the corner in London’s Chinatown. Okay, the crispy duck was quite nice because the sauce had a flavour. Otherwise it was bland bland bland. Even something that tasted of chicken would have been a bonus. But they could seat 19 people at the drop of a hat and conjured up food and wine for us all for only 15 a head.

Oh, digressing even more but still talking of Chinatown, it’s growing, I noticed, spreading on to Shaftesbury Avenue more and more. And what are all these acupuncture parlours that have sprung up everywhere this year, like prickly mushrooms? I even saw one in St Albans this afternoon.

Eventually we escaped Wong Kei’s with our wallets fairly unscathed and went on to Bar One-O-One, under Centre Point, because it has a late licence. This is good. The drawback is that they play the music so loud that you have to practically scream at the person next to you to have a conversation. But they are open until 2am. That’s rare anywhere in England. Nevertheless, this afternoon, when I finally got up, my voice sounded gravelly from so much shouting.

Now I have a load more festival applications to send out, two scripts to work on–which scriptwriter Simon and I discussed and dissected at length yesterday afternoon. And everyone wants a video, so no rest for the wicked. Today, however, was spent watching England beat Argentina one-nil in a nailbiting ninety minutes followed by a brief trip into town to take the Memento DVD back to the library. The whole of St Albans seemed to be full of people in England football shirts singing and blowing the car horns. Football is here. Football football football.

Otherwise I think, films. Films films films. Everything else that’s not films is the real muggy bonehead. Including my hangover.

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