UK novelist James Follett has launched an on-line attack on Avalon Films, accusing the British production company of using his name as "window dressing" to encourage would-be screenwriters to pay registration fees.
Follett put up a warning on his own website after Avalon - which is not related to the UK TV company Avalon Television or its film arm Avalon Motion Pictures - repeatedly announced start dates for film adaptations of his books but failed to shoot a single reel. The genre author, who last year gave Avalon a free option on several properties, slammed the company for charging some new writers signing-on fees of $210 (£150).
"They were even giving seemingly impossible dates for the start of shooting of some projects," said Follett in the on-line statement. "Nothing about Avalon Films made sense. Then a sister company, Avalon Associates, appeared on their website. My attention was drawn to this over the recent May bank holiday weekend, and everything started to make horrible sense. Avalon Associates is a literary agency. Moreover, a literary agency that is actually soliciting scripts, and...charging a reading fee."
Follett demanded his name be withdrawn from Avalon's site, where the company claimed until last Friday that it was moving into production this year on at least two Follett projects. The $10m occult thriller Hellborn was to start shooting August 6, while $30m WW2 drama U570 was to go in October. Avalon, which has not made a feature since launching in 1997, said in November that it would shoot four Follett projects - U570, A Town At The End Of Time, The Cage Of Eagles and Dark Messiah - in the first half of this year.
Robin Price, who founded Avalon with Andrew Vincent, dismissed Follett's accusations as "absolute rubbish", saying that "a lot of stuff goes back' Look at any production company," he said. "A lot of films move [their start dates]."
Avalon removed references to Follett's projects on its website on Friday. Instead, the company claims it will go into production this year on The Devil & All His Works, Once A Knight, Stinger and Shadows On A Pagan Altar, while End Of The Night is to go late this year or early 2002.
But in November's Screen International production listings, which are based on information provided by companies themselves, the company said that two of those titles - The Devil & All His Works and Stinger - would have started shooting by March.
Another would-be filmmaker, Eddy Weatherill, has slammed Avalon after production on his Our Days Of Adversity failed to come together, despite the company setting a February start. Avalon declined to comment on the $2.1m (£1.5m) drama, which Weatherill said was dropped from the company's website after he complained. "We spent a year of our life on that project," he said.