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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Contradiction in Terms.

(Derelict Cast - Clockwise from top left: Michael Bates, Kieth Ward, Gerry Shanahan,
Steve Gunn, Brian Fortune, Elaine Reddy, Rory Mullen and Andy Gallagher.)

We had our first cast reading last Saturday in Filmbase. Read through the script and had a discussion afterwards. I think it went really well. Everyone got on, seemed to click and enjoyed the reading. Of course the glaring problems in the script jumped out at me - as they do! But nothing detrimental. I was delighted that everyone was so involved and had alot of ideas themselves, good ideas that I will incorporate into the next draft.

I would usually spend months, even years working on a script before I would let anyone read it, that's if I'd even let them read it! But this is the first time I've taken a first-draft to a bunch of people and just laid it all out there. It was quite refreshing. Admitedly, this draft only took 3 nights to write, so it probably could have been given at least one more going over (especially for typos! Sorry guys!) But in saying that, the fact that it was so raw gives everyone a chance to be involved right from the start and to help in the growth of the story and their characters. I like this approach.

After a two and half hour meeting I came away feeling confident, excited and eager to get writing again -but as yet I haven't had the time! Why is it when you're busy people suddenly want you?! Everything is quiet for 3 months and now, two months out from shooting my first feature film, everyone's calling me looking for favours! I shouldn't complain really. After all, I'm asking a whole bunch of people to work for free for me. Karma. You give you get. (But I'm still secretly praying I'll get out of the Indies some day soon!)

Still lots to do. First, to work on the script and then meet again. But I still need a location, backing, lights, sound equipment, sponsorship of one kind or another - bottled water and food would be a good start! Any supermarkets reading? Want a credit on a film?! Hotel would be nice for cast and crew. D? Scholars? So, plenty to be getting on with, all while I try to write, produce and direct...

This is now the hard part of Indie filmmaking, the Doing Everything. The One-Man-Show part. This is where I need the most help. As the writer and the director I really should be concentrating on those two things so the film can benefit from my undivided attention, but it's not a luxury I have. I just hope I'm as good at time management as I am at daydreaming... bit of a contradiction in terms there! Such is the film business!

More soon.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A Thing of the Past.

Ever feel like you're forgetting something? You're walking home from town and you just know there was something you forgot, but you never remember, you just have to live with that gnawing blank spot in your brain. Or ever get that feeling like you're waiting for something to happen? But you don't know what. Am I expecting someone? Is someone going to call? But no one arrives, no one calls and it just hangs there. You can't shake it. So you pace the house. Check emails. Check your phone. Walk in out of rooms. Well that's what it feels like when you're gearing up to make a film.

I remember now. It been a while since I was in this position. Two years in fact, which is hard to believe! 140 was such a long process and I don't even count that as a shoot, considering the actual shoot was, well, 140 seconds! So I guess Slán agus Beannacht was the last time I directed a film with a cast and crew. That was April 2009! Almost two years ago. I find that hard to believe. But I guess I've done alot in between.

But yes, that feeling, that irritation at the back of my mind. Anxiety I guess. Nervous energy. Excitement. Anticipation. Fear. Doubt. It's all there. I've been lucky this week. I've been sick. Lucky? You might ask. Well, it meant I had to take Night Nurse, a cold and flu remedy that basically knocks you out at night. I don't think I'd be sleeping otherwise. Sleep takes a back seat leading up to these things. The two nights previous to being sick I awoke at 4am. Brain alight. And awoken I stayed. I got some work done. Plenty of emailing. Thoughts on the script. To do lists. Got a head start on things.

There's very little time and a hell of a lot to do. I guess I'm lucky we're fully cast. Lesson learned from previous films with a week to go before shooting and still parts to be cast. But as mention below, crew, money, location all to be got. These things will keep me up nights until the first day of shooting. I wont relax until "CUT" is called on the very last take on the very last day. But that's OK. I think the nervous energy is important. You need adrenaline to do something like this, it's fuel. And the fear and doubt, well that'll keep me in check and make sure I'm prepared.

Right, I better go take some Night Nurse and get some sleep before I get better and it becomes a thing of the past!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Derelict Diary: New Entry

Day one of the new year on Derelict. The shoot is scheduled for the end of March, 23rd to April 1st to be precise, with a weeks rehearsal beforehand. I'm putting out a crew call. The positions available are:

1st AD
Production manager
Lighting Technician
Sound Recordist
Make-up Artist (including special f/x)
Script Supervisor
Costume Designer
Runner

Other positions may open up but at the moment I want to keep the crew as small as possible, given the nature of the shoot itself. There's no need for a bunch of people running around.

1st AD, essential position in my view! It would be nice to get someone with experience to wrangle everyone, keep an eye on the clock, make sure everyone's doing what they're supposed to be and are where they're supposed to be! (I've had some experience of disappearing cast and crew! I think because it's no-budget people sometimes feel as though they can take it a little bit easier, hang out, have a laugh - but if anything it's the opposite!)

Production Manager, again experienced manager to look after contracts, insurance, locations, budget (if we get one) etc.

Sound Recordist, possibly the most essential part of the whole thing. This is going to be cheap, on the fly, bare bones, I know the performances will be good and I know we'll be able to capture them, and with some style, but this film will fall flat on it's face if the sound isn't good.

Make-up, plenty for one, maybe two people to be getting on with. Lots of blood. Also a bit of prosthetic work and blood f/x.

Script Supervisor, another important role, someone to keep an eye on the script is essential. We're going to be shooting in long takes, I'll need someone to keep an eye on things, make sure we're heading in the right direction and be on hand to nudge us back should we loose our way.

Costumes, it would be nice to have someone think about costumes for the actors. At this level it's often just what the actors have themselves and charity shops. But it would be nice to have some thought behind it, someone to create cinematic looks, strong silhouettes etc.

Runner, might be more then one place here. This is a position for someone who likes helping, getting their hands dirty, doesn't mind slogging it, running here there and everywhere at a moments notices. You'll be doing everything from running for teas and coffees, to carrying gear, to making phone calls and driving people around (own car and full license a major plus).

I've had a few emails already. So I'm going to go through everyone and then I'll see where we stand and start building the crew. But please, if you're interested get in touch. The positions are unpaid, this is a labour of poverty... I mean Love! There simply is no money, experience aplenty, but no money. So click on the contact button on the right or email me at derelicmovie(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks.

Spot the Difference.

A couple of things that bothered me in 2010 was of course waking up one morning to find out that Ridley Scott was making a film with the exact same premise as 140 and that he was premiering at Sundance sight-unseen even though they had rejected 140 a few months earlier!

Another incident was when I had been developing a premise for a new take on the Cú Chulain legend. I thought it could really work well, and was different to anything I had heard from anyone else who wanted to tell that story. Then another production company announced they were making it with almost the exact same premise. This has happened me before. I know I wasn't ripped off. I didn't tell anyone about my idea, it's just one of those things. Annoying nonetheless.

But the thing that probably irked me the most was when the new Sky HD campaign was launched. The one featuring the big furry blue monsters "The Spenglers", you know the one.

5 years ago Thomas and I had been developing a script called Puca (you'll find it in these pages) It was about a boy and his imaginary friend, Puca, a large furry blue monster. Not too strange, I mean Monsters Inc. has a furry blue monster. But there was something really familiar about these monsters. So I did a little digging, went back through some designs and emails to a certain company and discovered that the same company I spoke to about make our big furry blue monster suit was the very same company who made the Spengler suits! Check out below, see if you can see why I might find this particular incident irksome...

My Design:
Their Design:
Similar? No?

Ah well, no point letting these thing annoy me. Happens I guess. On ward an upward. I have enough to be getting one with this year. Will be interesting to see what ideas of mine people get to before I do though!