Friday, 23 June 2006

Second Act Blues

One gets to a point - in the second act - when one hits the blues. Phil and I fear it as we write. As we edge closer to the midpoint. The second act is doing a lot of stuff. It's more than 60 pages long. It's the new world and its midpoint . . . the belly of the beast. That's if you wanna quote the Syd Fields, Chris Voglers or the Bobby McKees of this world. We prefer not to at this stage.

So far we haven't hit it. Maybe it's coming - maybe not - but we are treading very carefully (p55) as we go . . . Everything seems to be in order. Katy is having some very interesting moments of self-discovery. She is certainly finding herself. That's clear. But where will she go next? We wonder (we actually know because this is a 4th draft not a rough draft - but we wonder anyway).

We've nearly finished our synopsis. 3 drafts of that so far. 5 and it will be ready to send. The AWG want synopses by Tuesday.

Later . . .

Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Short Films, Festivals and Feature Films

The more one plods along, the more one understands that the gap between feature filmmaking and short film production is one gaping big canyon.

A Stone Throw was finalist in an LA festival this month called Moondance. But that has little or no impact on the feature film we were writing last night.

If it had won an award, it would make no difference to what we are doing right now (there is only now, people).

I remember Australian filmmaker, Shirley Barret's Love Serenade (Two sisters will do anything to hook the right man) winning the Camera D'or at Cannes in 1996 . . .

"Notably, the stuntman used in the final sequences died while shooting the scene, and this scene was retained for the finished product: consequently Barrett, distraught, did not make another film for four years, and then it was the major disappointment WALK THE TALK" (leask81 review on IMDB)

What a thing to happen - and then to make Walk the Talk years after. It must have been heart-breaking. Going all that way - from humble short film beginnings in the late 80s to this momentous and horrible experience. Now she's working in TV. Naturally.

Phil and I are half way through our screenplay (page 45). Our synopsis is due next Tuesday and I'm currently clearing my desk of all student marking so I can make a start on our next project.

There is nothing I'd rather be doing than this right now. Writing this brilliant script . . . well, talking and pumping iron while Phil writes ;)

Writing a short screenplay and a feature movie are vastly different. It's the difference between one day and three months - or 3 days and 26 weeks. It's like comparing fixing a car with open heart surgery - or a 100m sprint with a 40km marathon. You're kind of doing the same thing with your hands, but your brain is doing somersaults.

It feels really close . . . The feature . . . I dunno why. It's a sterling script (if I may say so myself) and the creases are coming out easily. I don't know why this hasn't happened before.

Better go press my shirt . . .

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

In Development

As a newbie, one may ask, "How do I get into the film industry here in Australia?" What do I have to do?

Writing and organising a team of like-minded individuals towards the common goal of actually making a movie is being in the industry. All you do is write and put together submissions or proposals. Once you are writing - you are in the film industry. You don't need anybody else to tell you otherwise.

Over 95% of your time will be spent writing scripts, auditioning for a gig or meeting with actors, producers and financiers.

In the last two years, I have been lucky. I was actually on set, directing . . . for nearly two whole weeks! (A Stone Throw and Streetsmartz).

The rest of my time was spent:
  • Writing (I'm pleased to report . . . most wannabes talk about writing. Don't be a wannabe!).
  • Earning a living (building websites).
  • Teaching others how to write, direct and build websites (at Curtin University).
  • Meeting with producers and greater mortals who may help get new projects happening.
Unfortunately I wasn't one of the 60+ directors chosen for a gig on Marx and Venus *sniff*. It's possible that my screenplay will be one of the 25 selected from the 1,700+ screenplays SBSi received (although I won't wait by the phone).

Either would have been nice - but these things come in waves.

The Hottest Director in Town

Usually the hottest directors in town get the gigs - and then they move aside as new heat comes into play. The heat is off me right now because my latest short film didn't hit too many festivals or accumulate gongs. You're considered hot if your film so much as hits a festival these days as it's difficult to even get a screening. Another industry truism to consider as a director is that you are only as good as your last film.

All of this is twaddle, naturally. But it's something you feel as you walk into a room filled with investors. Who is this guy - what's he done recently? The corridor rumours are that Troy Lum (Hopscotch Distribution) will only consider developing screenplays which have a hot director attached.

Nobody tells you that you are hot. But it's your job to know it . . . Ask an honest friend. None-hot directors need hot people attached to their projects. This usually translates to a producer or an actor. And here's a tip for for the non-hot.

Every actor is looking for a good role.

Our New Screenplay

Phil and I have manged to scrabble together a sketchy outline for a new horror screenplay. This one is much straighter than we usually write . . . a genre piece. But interesting enough to keep us amused. We don't have a producer attached just yet. Which, in itself, is a bit exciting.

Meetings with Tait Brady (FFC) have been organised with the Australian Writers' Guild. Hitting the submit-your-synopsis-for-a-meeting deadline is next cab off the rank.

So . . . as usual it's back to the pen.

If you want to be part of the great Australian film industry - you might want to stope earning money and get out your own. I hear it's mightier than the sword.

Ninety-nine percent of the time!

Tuesday, 6 June 2006

Characters leaping out of the woodwork

I'm writing with Phil. He's just popped out. We're planning our next screenplay. A traditional horror about a man who sees the error of his ways - just in time.

The early draft of Beware the Stingray is so busy that we've managed to extricate three screenplays out of it. One of them - the short film, A Stone Throw - is doing the festival circuit as we speak.

And as we write, more characters keep leaping out - threatening to muddy the waters of our existing screenplay.

But we remain vigilant. As interesting as all our ideas are, only the story-oriented ideas should remain. Jot the others in a notepad, or do like we're doing and embark on a completely different screenplay.

Why are you reading this?

Stop it. Get on with your own screenplay.

In this materialistic, cancer-ridden nuclear paranoid society - it seems to be the only reasonable thing to do. So - if you've come to Geoffrey because you've got a really good idea. Write it! I'll tell you this for nothing . . . Nobody else will.