February 2011 Archives
We are still recovering from the snow, ice and cold that descended upon us through December and early January.
Despite fears that wildlife will suffer great losses, nature just gets on with the business of life.
People tend to forget that plants and animals have survived millions of winters and are well adapted to get through this one.
Another year, another set of difficult problems to solve. Just before the big break the latest plans for the High Speed Rail route (HS2) were unveiled. Some might say that releasing such details just as everyone is focusing on the Christmas holiday is a way of attracting minimum rather than maximum interest. Major infrastructure projects such as this deserve the closest attention, both in terms of meeting their objectives and understanding their impacts - good and bad.
For a project being partly promoted on its green benefits the plans display a startling lack of attention to the effects on wildlife and the places it lives. The proposed route will affect wildlife in Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Warwickshire, the Chilterns and so on into the heart of London. In Staffordshire alone 19 prime wildlife sites and 17 ancient woodlands may be affected. In Birmingham the important wetlands of Park Hall Farm near Castle Vale are plumb in line with the proposed new track. This raises the question as to how much destruction we should allow to save a few minutes on a train journey?
They came in their red doctor martens, beanie hats and heavy metal t shirts.
They were our highly precious, first ever 18 - 24 year old test audience for Turbulence Film.
They had no connection with the production and I had no idea what they would make of it.
For Julia and I this was the first time that we had seen the film on a big screen. Just that was a revelation - it felt good this big, even on a standard dvd. But.... I felt acutely exposed.
They're Young, Gifted and Clueless
We are moving into the final phase of our film Turbulence. Lately I've been feeling a bit 'gifted' but clueless myself. I'm glad to say that after a decent nights sleep, I even feel young. More importantly, I think I may finally have a clue.
Young, Gifted and Clueless is the 'tag' line for our film. It is the equivalent of Alien's 'In Space No One Can Hear You Scream'. It's a line that gives you a feel of the film without laying out the content. Young, Gifted and Clueless says this is gonna be fun, its about creativity and young people on a journey. It says a bunch of other things as well, ultimately so few words are open to interpretation. Anyway, the beauty of this line is that it is so easy to picture it on a poster with a picture of the cast, our ensemble. What's also great is that its totally portable and fits in a tweet.
Alongside the tag line we now have a log line, which is
'When a failing music venue staffed by idiots looks set to close, manager Keith launches a last ditch Battle of the Bands competition. More by accident than by design, musical genius is unleashed by a rapping transvestite, some precocious indie rockers and a bar maid with a golden voice, who together save the world they love'.
You wouldn't think that that is such a hard thing to write, or indeed that it would be so important. It's both hard and important. In the traditional film making process, a log line would be written at the same time as the script, then probably re written when the film is cut together. I say probably because this is the first time I've done it. Either way, our film is different, the script came out of improvisation with the actors, its not a traditional model. This means that at the rough cut stage the film has reached, the question has been asked 'what is this film about'. Now, I have to say that that question has been asked of pretty much every film I have worked on. Its particularly so for documentaries but even in more traditionally scripted dramas I have had to answer that question, not just to describe the film to someone but to actually make the film, by making the right choices in the edit. Turbulence is an ensemble film, so there are perhaps more choices, though not that many more than usual.
It has fallen to the Producer Natasha and Co Producer Julia to ask that question, which they have asked in various ways. And it has been down to me to provide an answer. Along the way, I've also had to answer what I am about. Directing requires tunnel vision, but a particular kind of tunnel vision. You have to be focused on the goal and be singular in vision but at the same time be able to share the film, trust those in the most critical roles and appreciate the work that they are doing for you, even when you are in the middle of working it out for yourself. Sometimes I get the balance wrong, mistaking service to the film as necessitating the exclusion of others. Ultimately that is a disservice to the film. I'm learning.
So, now we know what the film's about. It comes in handy. In shooting pick up scenes, in re-structuring the cut, in making the trailer which began yesterday with Adam. As with a number of things where Turbulence is concerned, it has arrived in the nick of time (I hope!)
Although its challenging, I think we have got it right where the creative process of Turbulence is concerned. The beauty of avoiding development hell is that we can avoid the many pitfalls that that process brings to a film. One of the biggest pitfalls in the UK is that so many of our films are utterly predictable, when you see a film or read a script you know exactly what is going to happen within the first few minutes but worse than that, you know what is going to happen along the way. My hope for Turbulence is that in creating the log line, we know what the film is about and how it begins and ends. It has definition. But my real hope is that we are able to hang on to what makes this film special, which has been created by the process. So I hope that when you watch the film, you may have an idea of where it will end and there will be a satisfaction in seeing that play out. What will deliver greater satisfaction though is that it will have a number of surprises along the way, the kind of surprises that would be killed off by a traditional script development process. Put another way, this is an ensemble film and the story of the venue frames the individual stories in the film.
The other thing often killed off is the pure joy that is so patently present in our daft film, a joy that I hope proves to be catching.
Very many, many thanks to Stavros for helping me to answer the question and to Natasha and Julia for asking the question. Thanks to everyone at Aquila. Please note that our 'failing venue' is entirely fictional and in no way represents the thriving Hare and Hounds, who so kindly allowed us to make our film in their beautiful pub.