the seed is sown…

8 May

18 months ago, I quit a steady TV production coordinator job to work (for deferred pay) on an indie feature film.  it was slightly shambolic: no forethought had gone into lighting night scenes in the middle of a 40,000 acre wood; several crew members suffered from hyperthermia while on set; and the ‘making of’ cameraman recorded over 8 solid hours of arguing between the producer, director and lead cast.  all of this was fuelled nicely by the cast and crew developing a united penchance for the local French cider.  myself and the first AD (who I knew previously from a film production degree) looked around, and thought “we can do this”.

after the shoot ended, I slept for two days solid, then woke up and wondered where to begin.  the script we wanted to make was a quirky British horror which my friend had first written when he was 15.  we reviewed the most recent draft, last tweaked for a screenwriting module at university: hmm, minimal character development.  lack of emotional depth.  a lot of dog and syphilis jokes.

screenwriting isn't just about ticking buzz words off a "how to write a screenplay" list. it is far harder than this, and requires both skill and natural talent. recognise when you don't have it, and collaborate with someone who does. hint: if you're planning on producing as well, then you probably don't have it. very few great producers are also great film writers

I drew the conclusion that we needed a screenwriter to rework it, so wrote up a treatment pack outlining the basic story structure and the main characters.  then I sent this out to some writers I found on young writer workshop websites.  although the young writers were all pretty unenthusiastic about it, an established writer who mentors them emailed me back saying he’d be interested in coming on board.  I reeled with elation and shock: this guy had written a film starring Elijah Wood, for chrissake.  this was the fatal moment I became addicted with making the film.  who says flattery isn’t dangerous?

at this point, I was living at my parent’s house.  when their friends dropped by and heard I was beginning to produce a film, they weren’t sure whether to congratulate me or ask me had I lost my senses, do I want to lose my money as well, and why don’t I go back to work for that big company RDF TV in Kensington?

I tried to ignore them, and concentrated instead on giving myself a business studies crash course via Google.  aproximately every 10 minutes I ground my teeth at having taken useless subjects like art and history for GCSE, and even more useless ones like philosophy for A-level.  but eventually I had a company set up to make the film through, and my thoughts turned to creating a plan of attack for developing the project into something tangible, and which was worth money.

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