Dracula sojourn

One of the reasons for doing the Exclusive project was that it allowed me to continue working with Hammer\’s output, but take me away from the horror films which seem to interest everyone else, and which I\’m not sure I have that much left to say about (well, I might…, but didn\’t want to study it academically for three years).

And yet, this month I\’ve taken a little side step and a week out of research fully to concentrate on one of Hammer\’s horror films, the rather brilliant 1958 version of Dracula.

I was approached a couple of months ago (via my supervisor) by someone from the Irish Film Institute as they were putting together a weekend of films on Dracula to tie in with Dublin City Council\’s One City One Book festival this year, which was all about Stoker\’s vampire novel. I\’ve been working with Hammer for a decade now in one form or another, so we soon got talking about plans.

Ultimately, rights costs and print sourcing problems prevented some of the proposed screenings, but Hammer\’s Dracula was screened from the new digital print, and the rather dull (and unrelated) Countess Dracula aired as well, alongside Nosferatu, the Lugosi Dracula, Blacula and more. I introduced the screening of Hammer\’s Dracula at the IFI, Saturday week ago. And it was woeful. I completely dried after being distracted by latecomers, shuffling, mobile phone noises, and a member of the audience who opted to wave his arms around at the wrong moment.

Frankly embarassing, and anyone who saw me there must wonder why I was asked at all.

Sunday morning was by contrast much better. There had been talk about doing some sort of talk or educational element, and I was keen to preserve this as the original organiser left for a new job. So, I put them in touch with the Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies at Trinity, who in turn roped in Kim Newman for the proceedings. Alongside Kim, were vampiroligist Sorcha Ni Fhlainn, Stoker biographer Paul Murray, and chairing the whole thing was author and vampire expert Brian J Showers.

We sat down on a long table in the screen 2 at the IFI, and talked between ourselves for 90 minutes on Stoker\’s classic novel and the various film incarnations and vampire mythology. The session continued after the talk over lunch, and could easily have gone on longer. A rich, and stimulating discussion, which is far beyond my remit for the PhD but allowed a new slant to my existing research. Thankfully I was more coherant, more alert and considered in my responses than during my intro. Face saved… I hope!

I\’ve recorded the session, and a transcription will be made available in due course. If I can get the audio tweaked (as you can see from the photo, I\’m on the left, not quite on mic), we\’ll podcast it too.

I\’d happily do more of these, but we\’ll see…

Possible project…

I need to get down to writing, regardless of the state of my research now. I\’d been holding off putting too much into prose form until I\’d exhausted research in various areas, archives and so on. Potentially there\’s nothing worse than writing several thousand words crucial to your thesis and then go and discover you were completely wrong!

As it is, I\’ve turned up a good deal of new information and I\’m getting a structure in place. I think perhaps the best thing is to start putting it down, and if I do find anything else then great. 
Its all tied into the great money pit problem. With finances in dire straits, and feeling the pinch with more fees to come and no sponsor, I need to get through this as quickly as possible. I can barely afford to spend three years on this never mind four, at least not without some sort of financial return.
Which brings me to the other development this week (well there might be a third, but I\’m holding it off for a week or two). After much deliberation I finally formalised a proposal for a related book project, and it looks like there\’s an initial green light. Now, we have the nightmare of trying to secure a publisher and a suitable deal (an advance would be nice…). I reckon I could have it compiled in six months from contract signing date which is good, but depends on them. If we could get it ready and published quickly it might at least offer me some revenue to help with fees for the next year or so. Once its contracted and work has begun I\’ll let you know, but not before.
I gather we\’ve got a couple of meetings planned already with publishers, and I should know more by the end of the month. I can wait those few weeks.
Of course, I could also do with some prudent tax advice. I don\’t know if I\’m entitled to any special discounts or claim backs or anything else. 
Help, anyone?!