Penny Woolcock
A Director's Diary

This is my last diary. It would be perfect if I could wrap up the story of The Principles Of Lust and Twist! Had a good showing of The Principles Of Lust for Shooting People at The Other Cinema on Saturday morning. Some really interesting and talented people really got it so I'm not going to hold my breath but I'm going to keep a little faith alive that it will live on. Or resurrect. It is Easter after all. The DVD will be released on 5th July.

I've been remembering that when I was first making The Principles Of Lust for FilmFour Lab I had no expectations at all - a week in the cinema seemed a fabulous ambition for such a tiny budget film - £850,000 for delivering a 35mm blow-up print with all the post-production completed. The blow-up alone took over £300 grand out of the budget). But then we locked the picture and showed the Avid fine cut in the FilmFour cinema to the Number One from Pathé who came over from Paris with his Number Two. Paul Webster, who still ran FilmFour, was also there and, to my surprise, there was a huge buzz. Francois was blown away and the three of them were convinced it would go to Cannes and be an arthouse hit like Y Tu Mamá También!

Lost In Translation - why was it a success?

Then I was visiting producers all over town and everyone was saying they had heard about the film and couldn't wait to see it. So I think the disappointment has been more acute because hopes were initially so high. But as they say, nobody knows anything about why some films take off and others don't. Alison Thompson from Pathé says she thinks the attacks on the World Trade Center affected the market for darker material. Who knows? Why has Lost In Translation been such a massive success? (And I really liked it.) Maybe this tale of American innocents abroad, bemused by strange foreign people in a culture they don't understand, who manage to sail through without anything bad happening or anybody hating them, is the reassuring subtext audiences have an appetite for now?

Twist. I am still here in my yellow jumper. I washed it the other day so am not quite so smelly. I had a script meeting with my producer, George Faber, on Friday morning. I was feeling on the brink of a really black depression and struggled through the meeting. George was really helpful although obviously affected by my mood. That night I had dreamt about my father. My father died a few years ago but in the dream he was as tall as a giant. The relationship between Becca (my main character) and her magician father is becoming more central and I think the dream was telling me to go with it... the film is getting darker. I am heading for next Friday, 23rd April, to give George the next rewrite. So eight weeks on I have nothing to wrap up. The process continues.


I think that at the centre of my Twist dilemma has been a fear that if I allow myself to write what comes naturally, the film will disturb people and I'll be attacked for it. Although this has happened to me since the very beginning of my so-called career - my first film for Channel Four was When The Dog Bites. When I walked back into the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle after the screening a woman shouted out "Shoot her!" Another voice yelled "Bang!" I got to the front and someone stood up all red in the face and screeched "Why don't you crawl back into the gutter where you belong?" So I should be used to it by now.

The Death Of Klinghoffer has had a lot of praise but also its fair share of opprobrium. "Your film is disgusting rubbish and you are disgusting!"... "Penny Woolcock's repulsive anti-Semitic film." For years I have been able to shrug this off and get on with it, maybe because it hasn't stopped the films being transmitted. But the Killing of The Principles Of Lust meant that it was pulled after the first week. The decision to keep a film on for a second week is made after the first weekend's box office takings. If I had read those reviews I wouldn't have bothered either. (So if there is a blockbuster and a small film you want to see, go and see the small one first.) I know I have to get over it and keep going. I know that. And be true to myself and my own voice. Whining doesn't help.

I am going to finish this rewrite on Friday. In a couple of years you may hear about a film called Twist...