The Black Spitfire – a spec script that’s learning to fly… UPDATED WITH REVIEWS

Feast your eyes on this (clicken to embiggen)…

A girl, a gun and a Spitfire...
A girl, a gun and a Spitfire… Artwork by Brian Taylor

The Black Spitfire is a script project that Paddy Eason and I have been working on for a couple of years now. Here’s our logline…

May, 1940: Headstrong young pilot Ginny Albion crashes in France as the Nazi Blitzkrieg sweeps across the country. Her passenger is Winston Churchill, and the fate of the world is in her hands.

Who could resist that, eh?

It’s a spec script – meaning that it’s not been commissioned by any entity – and we’re doing this in the hope that a producer or director will take it under their wing and make it fly (apologies for the abundance of flying metaphors throughout this post).

Spec scripts are nigh-on impossible to get off the ground these days: the studios are more interested in building on their existing brands, and anything original is branded as “untested”, putting the fear of God into those clutching to the studio purse strings.

But we’ve had a fantastic response from those who have read the script, and we’ve already met with a few eager producers. It’s still early days, but Paddy and I commissioned artist Brian Taylor to put together a poster concept (these things help when you’re pitching to producers and directors) and he blew our minds with the results, perfectly capturing the adventurous spirit of the film and our heroine Ginny Albion. Our model was actress Claire Garvey, who gamely posed for photos as I wafted slabs of polystyrene at her to make her hair billow (no budget for a wind machine, sadly) as Paddy snapped the pics.

If you’re in the industry and want to read the script, it’s over on the Black List, if you want the latest news do please follow us on Twitter @GinnyAlbion, and if you’re a producer with, say, £30 million handy, we’d like to buy you lunch.

We hope you like it, and we hope to see Ginny in action at the movies soon.

UPDATE: We’ve had some great reviews over at the Black List. Here are a few choice quotes…

“What a terrific read! The script starts off with a bang and our brilliant Ginny anchors a wonderful story about courage, self-actualization, love, and friendship. As our charming heroine, Ginny is flawed but never lacking in gumption or charisma. She leaps off the page and lights up an otherwise monotonous time period. Her rapport with Kit is absolutely darling, and the friendship that develops between her and Churchill is deftly written. Churchill himself is captured beautifully – from the wry commentary on his unlikely guide to the humor that arises from his verbosity, he’s all there and with a pout to boot. Although at times the narrative feels a bit predictable, it’s a delight to read. Tonally, it’s similar to INDIANA JONES, but this time we get a kickass female protagonist. Overall, a well structured story with engaging, dynamic characters, a commercial tone, and strong dialogue.”

“A great piece of writing and a killer idea, demonstrating excellent world building and character work… it’s a fantastic read and at the very least, the writers should have no problem getting hired off of this.”

“This script is rooted first and foremost in a strong and engaging lead with Ginny… She’s brave, funny, and moody all at once. She’s compelling to follow. The action is also quite exciting throughout. It’s cleanly written and easy to envision from what’s on the page. Later on, Ginny saves a number of Allied prisoners from German executioners at the last moment. It’s tense and fun all at once. Ginny’s relationship to Churchill is also cannily drawn and entertaining. The two bicker and fight and like each other. At one point, he excoriates her for radioing details to the enemy in a panic, and they argue and she shoves him down. He then stomps off in the middle of a war. It’s memorable and gives the piece a good sense of personality.”

“This is an invigorating and original concept that is sure to catch the attention of industry readers. The dialogue stands out as the major macro strength to the project as it’s upbeat, quick and natural throughout. The banter between Ginny and Churchill is funny a lot of the time, but in a very grounded way — especially after they land. It adds a comedic relief, that is extremely dry and grounded… Churchill’s voice and character development overall is fantastic and will prove to be captivating for readers as his dialogue is accurate to portray his place in history, but shown in an exciting way. One of the coolest things about his character is the standard he holds Ginny to the entire time, but also how he begins to trust her and respect her more and more as they continue on and it’s a fantastic moment when she holds the knife to his throat… physically and emotionally. Ginny’s character gets comfortable around Churchill as well and it’s tracked nicely alongside her growth as a character. It’s very triumphant in the end when Winston’s calling out for Ginny over the radio and along with being extremely cinematic it ties up their story well for the audience.”

My EasterCon 2015 schedule

If you’re coming along to Dysprosium 2015 (EasterCon to the rest of us!), then here’s what I’ll be up to on the Saturday and the Sunday.

Saturday 4th April:

10-11am Build your awesome robot – Wright room

Described in the brochure thusly…

Build Your Awesome Robot: Child-friendly activity. Priority is given to children 17 and under. Children under 16 must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Using cardboard boxes, egg boxes, toilet rolls, metal food trays, cereal boxes etc, plus some coloured card, tape, and glue, you can build your own ready-to-wear robot. Zandy has an incredible book that gives suggestions on things you can put on your robot. We’ll make sure to copy the relevant bits and people can draw their own signs on card. Zandy Hemsley, Mark Stay.

Yup, Zandy and me will be helping kids build their own robots. What could possibly go wrong?! Assuming that we haven’t all been enslaved by the children’s automations you can always come to…

12.30-1.30 Author reading (following Jaine Fenn) – Johnson room

This hardly seems fair: I have to follow the awesome Jaine Fenn! She’s a proper science fiction writer with a garret and everything! I’ll do my best and maybe read the bit from the novelisation with the exploding head.


10-11am Robot Overlords from script to screen – Bleriot room

This will be great fun. Myself and Paddy Eason (VFX supervisor on Robot Overlords) will take you on a journey from a page of script right through to a finished scene from the film. It’s also a great way to show just how an indie Brit sci-fi film gets made these days (with great difficulty, as it happens). This will be a multimedia tour de force with never-before-seen concept art and behind-the-scenes material.

11.15-12.15 Gollancz Room party

This will be where all the cool kids will be hanging out. So be there, or be a giant robot cube…

Robot Overlords Cube concept art by Paul Caitling
Robot Overlords Cube concept art by Paul Caitling

The finished film and the dark arts of post-production

Last night I was invited to a screening room at Molinare, where I was lucky enough to sit with a few of the folks who’ve been working these past few months like hyperactive worker bees on Red Bull as they put the final polish on ROBOT OVERLORDS. The ADR, the sound effects, the sound mixing, the score, the VFX and the grading. All of these dark arts have finally come together to present the finished film. I can’t see into the future, so I don’t know if the movie will be a massive hit, a red-stinger of a bellyflop, or the kind of film that sneaks into cinemas for a fortnight and then disappears forever, only to sporadically reappear on cable TV on Sunday afternoons like some celluloid spectre. But I can tell you that we’ve made the film that we set out to create. A fun adventure for the young at heart. And these final flourishes have elevated it to a whole new level of incredibleness*, making me grin like a loon throughout as I watched. It’s funny, thrilling, moving and a feast for the eyes and ears (see it in a cinema with the best sound system you can find!). I hoped it would be good. I had no idea it could be this good. So many people have worked above and beyond the call of duty to make it happen. It deserves to be seen and enjoyed, and I throw myself prostrate at the mighty gods of cinema in the hope that it will. The very moment that we have any news on a firm release date, I shall shout it from the rooftops. In the meantime, here’s a fuzzy photo of Paddy’s hand on the first day of filming as he prepares to take a pic of the first clapperboard of the shoot (don’t say I never give you exclusives)…

Aaaaaaaaand action!
Aaaaaaaaand action!

*Shakespeare invented words. So can I…