I Did This, This And This

Yes, I know the film updates are turning into a catalog of events punctuated by my head bangings. I don’t think I’m writing them particularly well, probably because it gets so mundane in my own mind. I don’t know if the ongoing saga of trying to finish Fate & Fortune is either resonant or inspiring for anyone else any more. I’m learning a lot about the process of film making, and in particular surround sound. However, does anyone care?

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Lionel and Simon, the writers of Last Train, sent me a new script the other week. ‘Oh, goody,’ I thought. ‘This is nice and succinct.’ It was a neat one-gag outing, like their previous short and we could probably have filmed it in two days. Flash bang wallop.

I asked them to cut out some scenes to save time and money, make the graphics part of the story to save more money and change some dialogue into visuals because that’s the essence of moving pictures. Plus less dialogue, more action means more chance of people in other countries following it all.

I also wanted to make the lead character a person of colour (is that the right phrase?) because it felt right and I also wanted to use an incidental character to create a subplot to tie the whole thing together.

Yesterday afternoon I read the second draft and fell about laughing.

The Car, as it’s called, is now 17 minutes long, has no less than five new characters, four new action vehicle sequences set on the open road, a scene paying homage to The Straight Story and more opening titles than you shake a big stick at. It’s not shorter or more succinct and is impossible to film in two days. But it’s full of funny material and pregnant with possibility.

So I’m faced with two choices: ask them to cut all the new stuff out and get it down to five minutes, or suggest they play with some of these new characters and come up with directions to take them in with the idea of creating a much longer film. Seventeen minutes could be roughly a quarter of a full-length feature. They went for option B, expanding the characters.

Guys, if you’re reading this, stop! There’s writing to be done!

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Last night I went to another film maker’s screening of their first short. It was in a flat in Gospel Oak, a few doors away from Michael Palin’s house. Apparently. Anyway, great short story but the actors had all the presence of a used Kleenex. Interesting to see what other people are doing. Encouraging in a way. It’s funny that the first thing you notice are the technical details but then you ignore them and get caught up in the plot.

Next week I’m going to another one. The Tail is a new short co-produced by my buddies at Whatever Pictures. A chance to network, to compare notes and also to see how other people set up a screening before I do mine.

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Last week, I did the second draft of my own short based on the short story, Strawberries, which I posted on the net last year. The second draft was less satisfying than the first in that it felt less whole, less rounded out. I found myself changing things mainly to add movement in this draft.

The process of converting thoughts in people’s heads into action meant some of the plotting changed. Film as a translation of literature means some shifts in emphasis and story. Draft three is falling into place in my head based on that. It feels good. Right. I particularly like that it’s a very personal project.

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Fate & Fortune to do list:
– check and sign off graphics proof (about six names still to check)
– call neg cutters to confirm they’re happy (tomorrow)
– get LCR Tascam from re-recording mixer (calling them today)
– get LCR Dolby SR encoded (hire studio in London)
– have optical soundtrack made from Tascam
– deliver graphics to neg cutters
– deliver cut neg to lab
– check answer print at lab with Director of Photography
– collect print
– distribute and exhibit
– fame, fortune, awards and next film

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Feel free to ignore all this. I’m really just organising things in my own head in these update posts and putting down markers to show myself that I’m making some kind of progress, no matter how slow or slight. It’s that feeling of moving forwards that’s important to me. Change and growth.

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