Ezine Archives - 2001 - indevelopment.org

Scourge of many an industry player, film news websites are popping up on the 'net. Often accused of ruining films before they've been released (Godzilla, please stand here), they are also credited with creating positive buzz for unreleased films (Blair Witch Project).

Recently, those within this wired film society have been involved in slanging matches over innaccuracy, lack of ethics and future direction. It's a timely argument in the post-Drudge Report era as the Internet becomes the main information resource for people.

We had a chat with Garth Franklin, emerging scriptwriter and webmeister of the brilliant Dark Horizons, a film website renowned for its accuracy, humour and modesty.

What prompted you to create www.darkhorizons.com?
It just began as a hobby really. I'd seen various sites doing text-only based film-related stuff and wanted to do something which utilised multimedia. From there it quickly exploded into a business.

Do you find, after years of doing Dark Horizons, that going to the films isn't as enjoyable anymore after hearing all the scoops and rumours and seeing various production shots/drawings?
On occasion yes, but for the most part no. I avoid most major spoiler material so many of the big twists and turns are unknown to me when seeing it, and in fact covering these films weeks & months ahead of time it means by the time I get to see the film I know most of the characters names off by heart so some complex films are easier to follow than if I had gone in completely not knowing what to expect.

It's known that you are studying part time, occasionally heading off to the US, developing scripts AND doing a regularly maintained web site. How the hell do you do it and still get sleep and a social life?
I try. The studying has been put on hold for the last year or so as I'm sick of the degree (info tech) and will likely change to a correspondence film course with one of the unis/colleges in LA. Social life is usually the first thing that suffers though I force myself to take time off sometimes. My days usually consist of about 6-8 hours working, 2 hours exercise, sleep and then 3-4 hours of something else - usually screenings or script writing on weekdays. Weekends I go out and party if possible.

How's the script for your film, "Dark Horizons", going? Do you plan to shoot the film here or abroad?
Still in very preliminary stages yet. I've been receiving notes from various directors and producers I know giving me their advice. I've now got a few agencies interested in reading it and will send it off to them sometime in August. It's a slow process but as this is my first script it HAS to be good. It's undergone regular 'repolishing' and rewrites, mainly of dialogue, and each time it gets better and better. The fact I've read it about 30 times and still find it very enjoyable is a good sign I hope.

You've got a steady legion of fans and many in the industry respect you for your dillgent and accurate reporting. How do you separate genuine scoops from rumour?
It's difficult and I still slip up sometimes, but there's a sort of - I guess the word is sense one develops, in any field of writing, about what's real and what's not. Usually I trust my regular sources, and combining that with a sense of logic and basic knowledge of the industry does help.

What's been your proudest scoop on the site?
Easily the "Star Wars: Episode I" trailer description which DH got a month before anyone saw it.

Much has been made of the recent clash between AICN (www.aint-it-cool-news.com) and CA (www.corona.bc.ca), including false allegations of you being the source who leaked the letter to Harry. Do you think that the film news sites are taken too seriously?
On the contrary I think in many cases its us webmasters who take ourselves too seriously whereas the readers truly realise what it's all about - fun and entertainment. Nevertheless these sites do provide our incomes so you can understand why we're all like that. We also want credibility, something which is much harder to get if you work in online rather than print journalism.

Regarding other allegations made against AICN: do you think a film web site can be tainted if it associates with industry players?
It really depends on how much of an association. I regularly meet with film studios and distributors, as most film reporters do, but actual filmmakers as such I rarely talk with personally because of that possibility. What few times I have I always make sure to them I have to do my job with complete objectivity.

What upcoming films excite you? Hollow Man - Verhoeven always does dark stuffy with real edgy humour Vertical Limit - the trailer rocked and Director Martin Campbell's record (Goldeneye, MAsk of Zorro) is very good so far Charlie's Angels - Man the trailer looks SO bad its gotta be fun enjoyable trash. Hannibal - Loved the first and hope the second will be even half as good Lord of the Rings - of course

What film, apart from your own scripts, would you love to see reach the big screen? (we're still hanging out for the Watchmen here)
The Stephen King story "The Mist" I would LOVE to see on the big screen as its a truly great tale. That non-fiction novel "The Hot Zone" about the true Ebola virus near outbreaks was a chilling book and would be cool at the movies. If it could be done right, the computer game "Doom" would also make a very atmospheric movie - sort of like those scenes with Ripley in the first "Alien" movie toward the end with steam and strobe lighting (and lots of heavy breathing).

Which people and what films inspire your love of the medium?
There are various actors and directors I really like but none that really 'inspire' me. Films though are ones like the "Alien" movies, "A Fish Called Wanda", "Silence of the Lambs", "The Hunt for Red October", the Bond movies, etc. I like pure escapism entertainment that's also filled with good stories and characters.

What's sitting on your desk right now?
Let's see, its a bit of a mess at the moment: My wallet, a TV controller, my mobile phone, a couple of DVDs, some floppy disks, a few chocolate wrappers, empty cups with Coca-Cola traces, screening invites to "Frequency" & "Road Trip", and press kits for "The Perfect Storm" and "X-Men".

Do you think the Internet is going through its infancy or teenage years?
Just beginning its teen years. It's had its infancy, now responsibilities and hardships have begun coming in such as the stock crash, the copyright lawsuits, and the realisation of old business that the Internet is finally worth getting involved in.

Finally, you try to sneak on to the set of Lord of the Rings. Do you disguise yourself as:
a) Hobbit
b) Non-descript goblin
c) Plank of wood/Liv Tyler
d) Just hide in Peter Jackson's beard?

Goblin - that way I could use my natural face instead of layers of makeup.

Check out www.darkhorizons.com and discover for yourself why it got the thumbs up from netizens world over.

All images and Dark Horizons logo are (c) Garth Franklin: used with permission
Article (c) Amoir and published with permission

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