Thursday, 19 November 2009

Its not where you've been, it's where you're going

This is a post I originally wrote on the 13th of October, but never got around to uploading...there's some bits regarding the below I'll be posting about and updating on next...

I really shouldn’t be writing this. I should be working on a film proposal.

The deadline for the Screen South Digital Shorts scheme closes in a week and a half. I’d always planned to have something ready well in advance and have time to get feedback from some people, rework it, hone it…but that hasn’t happened.

Perhaps in a way, my momentum has been lost after going to a Screen South open day. There was a very good lecture from a script editor, who talked about scripts (obviously.) She reiterated some points I’ve come across before, mostly in Blake Snyder’s “Saves The Cat” – the idea of the obvious “conscious” desires of the characters, and the underlying “subconscious” desires, which is what the characters need to attain by the end of the film (or equally not, perhaps…)

It made me realise that the idea I’d had gestating in my head for several months was totally half baked – it had a beginning (I think), it had an ending (I think) but the middle really was a series of repetitious events which I realise now didn’t help to move the story along. This realisation was difficult, as it means I need to go back and figure out the story again.

This is one of the hardest parts of writing, that the story which may come out of the tweaks and frustration may not be the one you actually set out to write, or even wanted to write. I worry I may be in that territory with this film.

In the last few days I’ve tried to create a stronger backstory for the characters and the relationship between the father and daughter and somewhere along the way the film has changed, from a melancholic character piece of a lonely old man, to a morality play. How do I feel about this? I’m not sure…

In the last few months The Crunch has been dismissed from most of the film festivals I’ve entered it to. There’s still a couple I’m waiting to hear from, but as my mate Terry has already heard back from one of those festivals successfully with his film (which is brilliant news) I’m assuming The Crunch hasn’t made the bill. Which has made me worry that The Crunch could possibly get the same response from most festivals and that the old issues still remain, that it’s too long and it possibly doesn’t work. As a flashy piece of film making, with the lighting, make up and editing, it’s possibly got an initial wow factor, but after that it’s perhaps unsatisfying.
Perhaps it’s this at the back of my mind which is forcing me to make this Screen South proposal work, even if it’s at the detriment of the story I wanted to tell, as I can’t see how that story would fit into Screen South’s parameters. Maybe there is a way, but I just don’t have the time now to figure it out. Whenever I’ve given the film more and more thought, the daughter has become an increasingly important character, reducing the film from being a character piece focussed mostly on her father.

Still, I think this process can only be beneficial in the long run – I have to accept changes, I have to accept that nothing in film making is ever concrete. Maybe it’s more a plate of mashed potato, it’s solid enough, but can be constantly shifted in to many shapes.

This seems to fit my feelings towards Stranded, which Terry and I have finally started editing the final storyline. With the first scene (or the 3rd scene in the film) edited, I’m already looking at the film differently, that perhaps the current opening isn’t the strongest, either visually, performance wise or scripting. Once we’ve got the film assembled in the script running order, I think we will need to take a look at it and perhaps break some scenes down in to two. I’m reluctant to reduce this film to 30 second sound bite scenes, as that seems to make it a touch soap opera-esque, but at the end of the day that’s probably what audiences feel more comfortable with these days.

Similarly, should I get to shoot the Screen South proposal, in my head I plan to shoot it as a very modern film. What do I mean by this? The best example I can think of would be “Quantum Of Solace” – I found the film interesting, not a complete success, but I didn’t dislike it. There seems to be many many different camera angles, with very rapid cuts – I felt like it had been made for people with attention deficit disorder, which is probably reflective of modern film audiences. It’s not my style as such, but I think it would be good for me to attempt a film in this style.

Okay, I best get back on with that proposal. All I seem to have right now since abandoning my original 1 and a half page story outline (which needs to be 1 page) is a series of snippet lines about the characters. Not only have I got to get this done, but also a director’s statement and a showreel, where they want to see that I can direct a narrative. Unfortunately the only modern film I have to show for that is The Crunch. Yikes.

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