How did we leave things? Oh yes, a critical panning for Trauma in the UK and me fleeing to northern Canada in search of, theoretically, snowy locations midst Ontario's fields of gold. Two days in that wide-open country certainly helped blow away some of the cobwebs of anxiety that had lodged in various cranial corners after the release of the film. The sun on the corn and the windswept beaches of Lake Huron brought some perspective to bear. But no real distance - that takes more time.
Resurrection Man suffered a similar fate to Trauma on its release but somehow acquired more respect and even affection in retrospect. I am not suggesting for a moment that Trauma will one day be hailed as a neglected classic, but simply reminding myself that it is not yet time to write its obituary. So I won't.
"ENCHANTED ENCLAVE KNOWN AS HOLLYWOOD"
And so, after a whistle-stop tour of Canadian one-horse towns I find myself on a plane heading west, to the City of Angels, Los Angeles. Or to be more exact, the enchanted enclave of that city known as Hollywood. For LA is not Hollywood and it is only on the drive in from the airport, through the urban sprawl, that you remember this. There are more murders here daily than in the whole of Canada. And yet once you enter the land of dreams, this enormous hinterland of poverty disappears in a dreamy ripple dissolve; the palm trees pass overhead in a Hockney-blue sky saluting your arrival, while Steely Dan serenade you from the radio of your hired SUV with Showbiz Kids, the ultimate Hollywood song. "They don't give a fig about anybody else." Or something like that. Welcome to the dream.
I am met by producer Ynyr Williams, whose first name is so Welsh that it confounds everybody we meet. It's pronounced Un - Ir we explain. Un as is in Un-reliable, Ir as in Ir-responsible. It becomes a kind of mantra. He and I are here to talk to Beau Sinclair, Pierce Brosnan's producing partner, about Caitlin, a script that charts the relationship between Dylan Thomas and his wife, muse and combatant, Caitlin. It is a script that has found little support in the UK, where films about poets and their personal lives are viewed with suspicion. (Both Sylvia and Nora are cited as reasons to be wary.) So why should Caitlin be any different?
Basically because Dylan Thomas is the poet that more than any other inspires teenagers of all ages and was the first to be treated like a rock and roll star. Women threw underwear at him in New York, which was all too much for the rotund Welshman. New York, drink and this kind of easy adulation eventually killed him leaving Caitlin to make sense of it all. There's a kind of Sid And Nancy intensity to the whole story, and if the film can capture that then it won't fall into the trap of being too literary and elegant. It is not a film about poetry but about love - messy love - with poetry providing the soundtrack. That's the idea anyway; and that's the pitch.
What's interesting to us is that Beau has responded so strongly to the material, as have the American agents. What helps their view of things is that there is here a part an actress can get her teeth into, maybe win awards for (an American obsession!), but it is nevertheless intriguing that the script is having a much more positive response on this side of the Atlantic. Part of the reason is perhaps cultural. I can't help feeling that the Americans have a more romantic view of the artist/poet than we do. Are we more inclined towards debunking the myth rather than celebrating it? And aren't we even more scared of pretentiousness than we are of banality? Artists and their myths carry a health warning in Britain.
"THERE IS A FAMOUSLY 'CAN DO' CULTURE HERE"
Whatever the reasons behind it, it is this positive American response that has brought us to LA. There is a famously "can do" culture here and the mere fact that we have flown over to "meet" has already helped our cause. We have lunch with Beau and her team from Irish Dreamtime, and Pierce Brosnan comes too. Did I mention that Caitlin was Irish? Well she was, and this surely helps a little. As does the fact that Pierce's son is called Dylan Thomas Brosnan! Actually he is named after Bob Dylan and Pierce's father Thomas, but no matter, the young Robert Zimmerman took his name from Dylan Thomas so there is a kind of continuity here. And some serendipity? Who knows. Pierce is very gracious about the fact that we have already cast the part of Dylan (Michael Sheen) and it no doubt helps that this tall, tanned Irishman is as unlike the squat, curly-haired Welshman as it is possible to be. Actors can imagine themselves playing almost any role but there are limits! I mean, we are talking about the man who became James Bond for god's sake!
While in LA I also do meetings about my beloved Snow Cake and am introduced to the entire team at Gersch, my US agents. It's two days of non-stop hand-shaking culminating in a high-speed rush to the airport through that sobering urban sprawl. Then I am in Malmo in Sweden, driving to the university town of Lund with the car radio playing Swedish hip-hop very loudly. I am here for the Fantastic Film Festival, a small affair specialising in weird and wonderful cinema. I would like to tell you more but I'm running out of space. However I must mention a small Catalan science fiction film I saw here called Tempus Fugit, made by the charming and talented Enric Folch. It won all the prizes and deservedly so. The fact that it was in a minority language made it an even sweeter victory in my eyes. I remember taking a black and white Welsh language science fiction film to Göthenborg some years ago (Arthur's Departure) and being thrilled at the lack of prejudice against its lack of Anglo-American credentials. After the hubbub of Hollywood this was something worth remembering. "To thyself be true" I guess. Then take the rough with the smooth. Go forth and make movies! And good luck out there, whoever you are.