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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Circumference; the documentary

A few long-time blog readers will remember a feature proposal of mine called Circumference. It was a narrative film, where the protagonist was a salesman. The interesting new business model that went with it was that as the main character he would step out of the story and perform some adverts.

I liked the transparency of this idea, and the humour within it.

I see that Morgan Spurlock had the same idea, but for his new documentary called The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. I can't wait to see how his adventure compared to mine.

With Circumference we said that as the advertisers had already paid for the film then you, as the audience, shouldn't have to! I wonder if Morgan will do likewise?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

POV quick test

As you may have noticed over the past, I always strive to try new ways of working as much as possible. 'Try' as opposed to 'think about'.

When my action-orientated friend James lent me his GoPro camera I was thinking of making a 'proper' short film with it. But that takes a lot of planning and time. Instead, I just got out there and improvised something.

My thinking was, "Let's explore what the big issues are quickly and cheaply, before spending any money".

I think a lot of other film makers could do the same. 80% of the questions can be answered with only 20% of the time. This then frees you up to make sure the next stage is much more targeted.

For example, I think this particular camera just isn't up to the job of drama at all and I will be exploring the 'DSLR on the head' method next.

Monday, March 14, 2011

POV / first person films

I've been exploring the idea of rewriting Friend Request as a first person story. In other words, we see the story from the protagonist's point of view (POV). More of the definition of this, here.

There have been a few films shot in this manner. Recently, The Diving Bell And The Butterfly did it - and I remember as a young lad being inspired by the opening to Dr Jekyll. Fellow film fans have also pointed me in the direction of Lady in the Lake from 1942.

None of these however seemed to capture the mood I was after. Plus, they left questions in my mind about how far the technique can go, especially around using modern equipment, post techniques and visual language.

How do you compress time when you can't cut away? How much can the audience take? Can you move about it time?

A search online found the rather excellent - Last Day Dream.

Last Day Dream from Chris Milk.

So, as this super-short shows, jumping around in time is obviously not a problem, provided you add temporal context. I emailed the director, Chris Milk, for his opinion on the POV technique now he has done it. In his reply he wondered if the technique has more to give or if it is a quick gimmick. But he did point me towards another great example, a longer music video...

Cinnamon Chasers - Luv Deluxe (Music Video) from Saman Keshavarz.

So it seems that more complex ideas of moving around in time will work, again with strong visual signposts to act as hooks.

What was also strange about seeing that film (which was sent by pure chance by Chris Milk) was that I knew the girl in it.

Darcy did some artwork for some of my films proposals a few years back as she is an art student who admired the Circumference trailer. This is one of hers...

I'm not a believer in fate. But I am a believer that if your talented friends are also interested in something - then there must be something in it.

More on POV as this work progresses. Particularly around how I find the rewriting process for this style of story, plus why I feel it will work for this film.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Big Society, Short Films

Recently, while looking at the BAFTA shorts, I was reflecting on the perceived prevalence of 'worthy films' in the short film arena.

These are films that feature a social issue, normally one that isn't very contentious or in need of further debate (e.g. human rights, who is going to argue against them!!!). Whether there is an abundance of these kinds of short films being produced, or whether they really do get selected for awards more readily than other films is hard to actually tell. But if you speak to a lot of short film festival goers they seem to feel so.

So I was extra pleased to see the above film. It is by a few people I know and features Jonathan Rhodes - aka Mr Vista.

Obviously, as they are film making friends, I was ready and willing to hate their film and deride their efforts so as to make myself feel better. Unfortunately for me - it is a great film. It is a kind of antidote to those worthy short films. Yes, it tackles a social issue. But it is a social issue that actually needs debate. Yes, it has a heart. But it shows it off in an entertaining manner that provokes and forces internal questions.

So my one bit of job news is... at least they have no chance of winning any awards. The poor fools have made a film that is too good!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


I was pointed towards a new webtool that is on line now. It is called SlickFlick and it helps you create an interactive storyboard for sharing with others. It could be a great way of making your existing storyboard material come to life.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The opposite of Ye Olde Scriptwriter's Code

William Shatner disagrees with the code / oath idea and instead decides to focus on the all the things that he is against!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Ye Olde Scriptwriter's Code

pirate code
The Pirate Code
I was asked to look into the Pirate Code for a forthcoming corporate gig. The thinking behind this idea is "even the lawless pirates had a code of behaviour that meant they had a set of rules, so what's yours?"

Now, it's just a bit of fun in order to make a point and to make people think about what they stand for. For instance, as you won't be able to see on the little image above unless you click to embiggen, number 9 is "No man to talk of breaking up their way of living, till each had shared one thousand pounds. If in order to this, any man should lose a limb, or become a cripple in their service, he was to have eight hundred dollars, out of the public stock."

This really was a spirit of "all in it together", plus they had health insurance! Perhaps a better known code is the hippocratic oath. This is the living and evolving set of philospohies for doctors. Doctors no longer automatically take the oath but here is a version that is used at one college in the U.S.

Hippocratic Oath
You get the idea. This isn't about a set of targets or a set of standards as the NHS would use the term. It isn't about activity and what you do day to day, as in the Scriptwriter's Life. It is deeper than that.

What would be the scriptwriter's code then? What is it that we believe beneath all else?

I'll end with a clip that William Gallagher sent me, illustrating the pirate code!