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Monday, March 29, 2010

Welcome to the 140 NATION.

First On-Air interview for 140 this morning at LMFM, a radio station here in Drogheda that cover the entire North-East of Ireland, broadcasting to upwards of 300,000 people I believe! Eek! If I had have known that before I went on I might have been a little more nervous!!! - Probably not though, Daire Nelson always makes me film welcome and comfortable. It was a short interview, but great to start getting the word out and nice to talk about the film. hopefully it's the first of many! (I will be posting a recording soon - stay tuned!)

I've done some new designs for the 140 logo, the flag design (pictured above). I will be making it available on the T-shirts soon, one for each of the 23 countries that took part in the film. It has also reminded me of the idea I had to continue the 140 project and I suppose I can announce it here for the first time!

I want make a 140 film in as many countries as possible. I want 140 filmmakers in every country to shoot a 140 film for that specific country - 140 USA, 140 Canada, 140 Australia, 140 France and so on. A huge undertaken, yes, but I think it good be fun and interesting. Obviously Impossible for me to do it alone, especially if we can organise a global 140 day, were each of the 140 countries shoot their footage on the same day... can you imagine?! With 195 countries in the world that could potentially be 27,300 filmmakers shooting at the same moment worldwide! How mind-bogglingly awesome would that be!!!

To do it I would need to set up one producer per-country to do exactly what I did for the original 140. It would be their job to recruit from their own country and then co-ordinate and edit the footage, or at least work with an editor. I would set them up with a process plan, press kits, designs etc. I would over see it as the main producer to keep quality control in check!

To be quite honest I'm not sure this would be possible without some money. It's a huge commitment to the main producer involved, we're talking 6 months of nearly full-time, day to day work. Recruiting is difficult, getting the clips in is fun, but hard to chase people down and editing takes a lot of thought, time, you also have music to consider (It would be a great opportunity for local indy bands to get in on the action and get their music out to the world - that's what I did)

So that's my idea for the future of 140. It's in it's early stages, and still may of may not happen, but there it is. I call it 140 NATION © Frank W Kelly 2010.

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I also want to give a shout out to a young and talented actor and Drogheda-man, Colin O'Donoghue, who recently landed a role in the new movie The Rite (based on the Matt Baglio book), starring alongside Anthony Hopkins. I've been acquainted with Colin for a few years and always thought he had what it took to become a star (That's why I was always getting him to read my scripts!) he's an exceptional actor. Well done Colin and best of luck!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Recent Activity

Here's a recent Article from my local Newspaper, the Drogheda Independent, giving a mention about the Newport Beach Film festival Premiere! Great, always a little moment of pride when the local paper picks up on your work!
Also, received my 140 T-shirt from Cafe-press this morning, it's great! I love it!!! Nice quality fabric and the logo came out great! I'm excited! I'd recommend one ;) You can show all your friends how cool you are if you buy one!!! I have to admit, the profit margin on these things is miniscule, I won't be getting rich! But I thought it'd be a fun and cool thing to have and make available - and it is! Very happy.
Any other news... the fanpage is tipping 1,400 fans! Which is great! I've started a new thing, each day I'll mention a new 140 filmmaker and link to their website, so if you become a fan and check in each day, you'll find out more about the talent involved. And there's a lot of talent there, believe me!

Away from 140 I've started a new project with Elliot Kotek (once again) and photographer Scott McDermott. It's quite different and very unique. And it's got one hell of a cast list!!! I'm really excited about it. It's going to be good, but I wont say too much about it yet. We're just getting started and we have a few lose ends to tie up - watch this space!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Writing Exercise

As I've mentioned on several occasions here in the blog Thomas and I have been working on a script for a while now, first entitled Night then Iscariot. Often thought to have been finished, only to have been proven otherwise upon further probing and through several different writing exercises, all of which revealed there was a lot more to do.

It all began with a simple, if not somewhat incomplete, idea from Thomas. I came on board and together we completed the idea and began the script, adding several new characters and situations. The blast draft (to coin a phrase - ie. the first draft is usually just blasted onto the page without too much thought and couldn't really be considered a draft, rather a platform to work from) took a couple of months - Thomas and I don't write together on a regular basis, we grab a day, a morning, an afternoon, an hour, wherever whenever we can. I guess we're lucky though, we've been writing together almost 10 years, so we know each other and each other habits very well, we can always pick up where we left off very quickly and we're very intuitive when it comes to writing, often finishing each other sentences and one saying what the other is thinking - happens a lot, where I'll suddenly light on something and Thomas will say exactly what's in my head before I get a chance, or visa versa. We're usually on the same wave length, which is great.

Then we began work on the first draft, this probably took 6 months and when we got to the end we were very proud and happy with it. We sent it out to some people to read. The reviews were mixed, and it seemed to divide the readers right down the middle - some people loved it, were thrilled and utterly excited by it, others - HATED it! They were reviled by it, and they seemed to me anyway to be at pains to hold back insults! But that was fine, we actually quite enjoyed the fact that it effected people so much! We knew then it was a very specified audience we were aiming at, people would either love this film or hate it, get it, or not. And that was fine with us. Forget the people who hated it in that case, we knew we were never going to please them. So we went with what the people who loved it and probed them a little more. They still thought there were holes and mechanical faults within.

Next we held a rehearsed reading of that draft at the Attic studio with a cast of about 13 actors. It was interesting, insightful, very useful and of course loads of fun. We began to understand very quickly what was working, where we were repeating ourselves and how characters were standing up. The audience reaction was equally useful, they spoke at length about what they liked and disliked. Again, certain mechanical faults began to emerge, character's whose presence and actions made no sense, repetition, tone - some people found it very funny! Something we didn't aim to do. We were writing a harsh dark thriller after all. But in all honesty, the writing of it was loads of fun and we spent most of the time laughing with glee as we wrote these scenes, perhaps that came across?!

We came away with some thoughts, but I think I was more confused and muddled then I was before. I had started to get too close to the project and could no longer see the wood from the trees. I needed distance. And that's what I got, about 4/5 months. I went off to finish 140 and have a baby!

We eventually came back to it and upon the suggestion of another reader, who also enjoyed it immensely, we sat down to write of a Beat Sheet. Honestly I had never heard of one, or at least I had, but never knew what one looked like. It's basically the script broken down beat by beat, or action by action. Every time a new action happens you bullet point it. I did this, single spaced, paragraphed for each sequence, it worked out at about 1 page of beats to every 10 pages of script and it was incredibly helpful, perhaps even more so than the reading (though the distance probably helped as well)

Straight away I could see repetition. I could see were characters were not taking part in the action, for example, one of the main characters hardly featured in the beat sheet, even though they were only almost every page - because they weren't taking part, they were just spectating. I began to see character flaws in the main characters, his actions were schizophrenic when broken into points, one minute he was clear and focused, next he was angry and unpredictable. Didn't make any sense. From this we began to work on characters and their relationship. But even so, there was something not quite working, an elephant in the room we were ignoring, without realising we were doing so.

At this stage we had been on this script for 1 1/2 years! Longest I've ever spent on a script. But I never felt like walking away. I enjoyed every moment of writing it, even when it got frustrating, I figured it was worth sticking with. But we were stuck, no question. We began trying to restructure the script to make it work. But we had written ourselves into a corner and every time we tried to move scenes around, the whole thing fell apart. We had given ourselves to many restrictions. We began to see that there was something severely wrong, deep inside and we were skating on very thin ice. A turn in any direction could spell disaster!

So Thomas gave the script to a colleague of his, Paul Freeny, the head of the Masters in Screenwriting in the National Film School IADT. He's observations and thoughts turned everything on it's head. He questioned everything, and asked the simplest questions we hadn't even thought about asking, things that just got to the heart of the script. Like "What's it about?" and "Whose story is it?" - simple, yes, but fundamental and essential to know and be aware of every step of the way. I think we had been meandering somewhat, we knew what it was about, but we had taken detours with other characters. We needed to refocus everything toward what the film was about, the journey of our main character.

He pointed out that the main premise, the set up within the film, didn't hold water - this was our elephant, what we had avoided looking at, when we were forced to look at it the scale of the problem became very clear. The script could have fallen apart at that stage, except for one very simple suggestion by Paul, to change one specific characters actions. Once we did that, everything slotted back into place and the script worked beautifully, better than before! It was incredibly freeing! - There's a reason Mr. Paul Freeny is the head of the Masters in Screenwriting at the National Film School! His observations were clear, concise, honest and cut to the heart of the script, but they were also positive and constructive. It really is hard to come across good advice when it comes to work like this, people are so subjective and often base their thoughts on their emotional reaction to a piece and come back with what they would write, which is never helpful, they're different people with different views and tastes who want to tell a different story (I've done it myself!) But Paul's advice was invaluable.

We started again, with new verve. We restructured the script, we changed characters, motivation and their relationship to one another. It quickly became a much richer piece. The ending changed and yesterday, to make it better, we added a new character, who's added a whole other dimension. This new found clarity has given us the freedom to get creative again and every scene has been given an added depth, texture and flavour because of it. I'm loving writing this script now and I love the script. I really do think it's good, perhaps the best thing Thomas and I have done.

Right now were completing the new beat sheet, based on these changes we've made, making sure we're clear on them before we start the script. That way we'll only have one more draft to do. We still have the climax of the film to write - it take place in a different location and is somewhat more exciting then it had been. So that needs a total rewrite. The plan is to do that on Friday, then complete the beat sheet and then start the real first draft, the one we'll be sending into the world and asking people to invest in! Easy! Only took two years!

What I've learned from this experience is that there are many different ways to write a script, and every new avenue you explore opens up new possibilities. But what's important is to remain focused of the what kind of story you're trying to tell. Figure out what it's about and stick to it. Who's story is it? And tell that story! As tempting as it is to meander and explore other stories along the way, you have to stay focused on the job in hand, maybe those stories will make other scripts someday!

It's also important to stick with it and push it. If you feel it's not working, never say "it'll do," push it, find a way to distance yourself from the material, whether that's by staging a reading, doing a beat sheet, having trusted people read it, taking time away from or all of those, then do it, it's worth it and your script and the work you've put it should be worthy of it. If you know you're onto a good thing then don't give up on it. Do whatever you have to do to make it work.

Ps. Sorry to be so vague about what it is we're writing, I'm sure all this would be a lot more interesting if I could actually refer to the script and specific examples, but I'm sure you can understand why I'm not divulging! Hopefully someday, when it gets made, I can delve deeper into the process of writing the script and pick specific examples! Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Exciting News!!!


I'm excited to to announce that the World Premiere of 140 will be held at the Newport Beach Film Festival in California, USA, at the end of April. This is a fantastic festival and a great honour to have it be the first official screening of our film.

The festival is 11 years old and has premiered some great films, Crash and Dogtown and Z-Boys among them. It runs from April 22nd to 29th and I hope to be able to attend... still not sure on that one though. But I'm sure all of the California filmmakers will be able to make it down and represent!

This is a great platform to launch 140 into the world. I've already had interest from other festivals, so I'm hoping this is the start of many good things to come for 140.

Here's an article from Australia's number one film magazine Film Ink: A Film Worth Tweeting About!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Hurray for the Internet!

I'm finding it hard to keep up with my blog at the moment, because every time I sit down to my computer I keep getting bowled over! I'm talking about the response for the 140 fan page on facebook! This day last week 140 had 123 fans. I think it had been at that for a few weeks. I decided it was time to do something about that so I emailed links to the filmmakers, asking them to ask their friends. Today, 6 days after I sent that request out, the 140 fan page has 1,152 fans!

It was quite something watching it shoot up to 300 and 400 in a day. When it got over 800 by Wednesday I thought, first: Whoa! and then - why not try for 1000 by Friday - and so we did. So thanks to everyone who are spreading the word.

It's an interesting process, making and marketing a movie online. I watched Julie & Julia last night, enjoyable film, but it was interesting to watch the journey of a new blogger, I mean before blogging even took off to the extent that it did. Internet-wise 2003 seems like age ago. I suppose it is in terms of how far technology has come. So much has changed. I can't imagine quite being able to do what I'm doing now back then... Maybe. I didn't own a computer until 2003 - with limited internet access. It wasn't until 2004 I had full use of the internet. How it changed my life! I remember when all this was farmland! Now look where I am, 140 certainly wouldn't exist without out it. I don't think I'd have a lot of the friends and connections I have now and I'm sure a lot of the opportunities I've had would not have happened.

However I do sometimes feel chained to the thing with this whole other online existence! It does become tiring, I do occasionally suffer online fatigue and suddenly feel like my head is about to fall off or pop. I know I'm over doing it when my online world start invading my dreams, when I start to dream tweet, or update my facebook dream status. In those moments I need to get out, leave, no matter what I'm in the middle on. Take a walk. See the world. Have a coffee in a cafe and remember what it's like to write with a pen on paper.

But the thing is, as I explained to a friend who wasn't quite down with acquiring fans before they've seen the film, I have no other avenue to market my work, at least not this piece. Being an independent filmmaker, one who struggles alone and is unemployed and broke, it is nearly impossible to get my films out to the world. Unfortunately I can't afford to promote my films, I can't afford festival entry fees, many of which are just crazy! Entry fees are anything from $15 all the way to $100, usually around the $50 mark though. At the moment even buying envelopes, blank DVDs and postage is out of my reach! The best I can hope to do is ask my friends to help spread the word, get people interested and get them wanting to see it.

But thankfully, with the internet and the likes of twitter and facebook, there are ways of doing that. In the way digital technology put the art of cinema into the hands of the poor, the internet has done the same for getting those films out, letting the world know they exist and enticing an audience to watch it. It's an amazing thing. I feel lucky to live in this age. Even as I finish writing this I've noticed 140 has gone up 7 fans to 1159!

Hurray for the Internet!