Wednesday, 17 August 2016

A Student Film: Introduction

Next week I'll be shooting the centrepiece of my final year at film school: a fantasy short film called Conductor of Earth. I first began working on this project almost a year ago, so the many stages of pre-production have been long and extensive, particularly for a short film. And as I will examine to some degree in this post and to a greater extent in future posts, therein lies the primary challenge—maintaining interest and enthusiasm in a single, short narrative for an entire year. As someone with little patience for perfection (a concept I think to be undesirable anyway), and who idealises the rapid production pace of television, this process has at times been—to employ a healthy dose of hyperbole—torturous.

As alluded, I'll be delving into these thoughts more in future posts, as in addition to not having processed them, I don't want to risk my wavering uncertainties in any way hampering or undermining the commitment and excitement of my cast & crew, who are doing brilliant work to heave this film through production. I also don't mean to imply that I'm negative about this production at all. There are simply elements of it I will avoid in future. Like, last week I put zucchini in a beef stew, and I just don't think it tasted very good in the ecosystem of the meal, so in future I'll avoid that.

Anyway, so far I've written more about what I'm not going to write about than what I will. Here's some real stuff. A very brief history of Conductor of Earth till now:

1. Many Drafts

There have been dozens of drafts of the script over the past year. Obviously this is the norm, and to be expected. Kill your darlings and all that. It's not supposed to be easy. But a painful truth is that I do still miss my very early drafts. This script has changed a lot, you see. The first draft and our locked shooting script  of today really are totally different stories, with totally different themes. The only common denominator is an angel character named Aidan. As much as I am pleased with the shooting script, which is shorter and tighter and simpler and more straightforward, I look forward to one day recycling the ideas of the first draft, which were raw and sprawling and still excite me the most.

2. Many Pitches

I had to pitch the film a lot this year, both casually and formally, alone and with a group. I don't want to go into this, as it was just never-ending and I don't like it.

3. Teaser

A key assessed deliverable of this process was a short teaser trailer for the film, which had to be produced months ago, before we shoot the film actual. This was a nice exercise in trying to capture a bit of the tone of the film, and it's therefore somewhat grating when people say they are confused by the projected world or narrative of the teaser. If I could fit the narrative in a teaser video I wouldn't be making a 12 minute film. I don't mean to sound like a stereotypical grouchy "angry-at-the-audience" storyteller, but sometimes I wish for viewers to relax more. Don't worry if you don't understand everything, just drink in what you can. Anyhow, here is that very teaser for you to misunderstand as it please you:

Also, despite the grouch, I generally don't mind negative feedback. It's the only kind of feedback that's easier to process than positive feedback.

4. Crowdfunding

I've known for years that one day I'd find myself on the "wrong end" (the needing-money end) of crowdfunding. In many cases it is now an unavoidable facet of small-time arts ventures. So we put a lot of thought into the Conductor of Earth crowdfunding campaign, and tried to have a lot of fun with it. And in the end we did reach our goal, so it was all a success, but this definitely reminds me of the zucchini in my beef stew. It's a bit slimy and mushy and not to my liking. I genuinely hope not to crowdfund ever again. (We'll see how that goes.) I hate money, particularly spending it, and particularly spending it on filmmaking which I see as (at best and by design) a terribly risky venture. Anyhow, you can give the Conductor of Earth Pozible campaign a squiz here.

Abruptly and with some disatisfaction, so ends my first ramble about my 2016 student filmmaking experience. More to come after we shoot, when there's an actual film for me to write about.