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Monday, July 24, 2006

New ideas - the mysterious source from where they come

Apologies for poor English in the title.

Looking at my web stats the number one search term that leads people to the Projector Films blog is 'new ideas'. Obviously with having a by-line of 'new ideas for film makers' this isn't such a surprise. And I tried to think about the situation (maybe dear reader your situation) that would lead someone to type in the words 'new film ideas' into a search engine. Where do new ideas come from? Something that we have never actually answered on this blog. Today's post fixes that problem.

So where do new film ideas come from? If you are sitting at your computer, or note pad, or empty board for structure cards where is your big film idea going to come from?

Does it come from a mysterious well in the middle of a desolate plateau?

Do you need to consult the stars and use black magic to conjur up a fantastical new insight into human nature?

Do you need to handed down a great idea by a soothsayer? Will you profit from the use of a prophet? Even one that looks like Billy Zane?

Or do you just send away for new ideas and they come in a box? Perhaps in a similar way as you would order a new cat?

No. Of course it is none of these things. New ideas are not what we are looking for. As an analogy - they are like new fonts and a new layout for a newsletter. What actually matters is the content of the newsletter.

That is something that you can't send away for. And it boils down to this. What is it that you want to say or want the audience to feel? Only you can answer that. What is your goal? To say something, to change something, or just to take people on a crazy ride - or all 3 - or something else.

That must come first.

So when we say 'new film ideas' we mean new ways of presenting these stories, new ways of delivering them, new ways of selling them or dressing them up. New stories - they must come from within. If you have nothing to say or don't want to move an audience then no new devices or techniques will ever save you.


OnMeJack said...

Before I read this, I saw a review for The Sentinel on aintitcoolnews and thought this part was appopriate...

00:40 -- Oh, that person's in it, and they're listed x number of people down. Yeah, that's the mystery bad guy.

See, we're at a new stage in cinematic evolution (or cinematic design, if you prefer). We've passed the stage where we recognise the codes and conventions of various genres. We're now at a stage where we know well in advance what each and every single plot point is going to be, and exactly how they will all unfold. It's an interesting cultural phenomenon, and unfortunately THE SENTINEL suffers from our advanced understanding of--

No. Screw theories about intelligent audiences recognising codes and conventions. THE SENTINEL is just plain predictable, and in the worst ways possible.

Tim Clague said...

For some films (and I know as film makers this hurts us to know it) the audience feels safe on a predictable journey. They like it! They like a safe, unchallenging ride with no surprises.

OnMeJack said...

Sounds like green vegatables film making.

The audience might not like original approaches, surprises and breaking with convention, but its good for them.

Tim Clague said...

Yes - because 'safe' films are McDonalds. You may not like it and it may not be good for you - but at least you know what you're going to get. Going to a new restuarant is risky - will you like it, will you be ill, will it be empty etc etc

OnMeJack said...

which is why despite critical panning, X-Men 3 and McDonalds still make Millions.

whilst Brick and the restaurant dont...

so is there an answer?

Do we work our way through the chef system until we can start up our own restaurant, with a menu we believe in, or do we take the grill job at the local greasy spoon?

(Am now stepping away from the metaphor)

Tim Clague said...

The metaphor is a good one. Do we take out a franchise and get rich or do we bring exciting new food to discerning customers and have a hard life.

The choice is ours.

Anonymous said...

do you have any ideas for small films max 20 mins ish ?

Tim Clague said...

Yes I do. But what matters is - do you have something that YOU want to say? Only then will you make a great film.