A lot of time has elapsed since I wrote last –hot off the press at the Berlinale. Such fun times! The scent of hope in the air, that ‘anything’s possible’ feeling oh what a difference nine months can make No no no! I’m not pregnant! Gosh no! I don’t even have a womb! I’m going to be taking part in the Youth Panel at the Media Mash-Up conference at the Exeter Phoenix this Friday, so I thought I’d check in. Here’s some of what I’ve been getting up to
On my return from Berlin I started a couple of devised projects, one with a pretty large ensemble cast based around the 1968 ‘sit-in’ at Hornsey College of Art and the other a two hander that follows up on the film I shot for the 48 hour film challenge. The latter being the start of workshop process that will hopefully spit a feature script out the other end, here’s a little taste;
I also returned to find that someone had left my pet rabbit on the leather sofa at my office and that he’d chewed a hole in the upholstery; a snip to repair at just over £2,000 -I’m still trying to put aside enough money sort it out. Gotta laugh eh! (I didn’t laugh by the way.)
After starting the year totally focused on drama work I realised I should probably earn some money and set about pushing the commercial side of things a bit more. This is a hard balance to strike, making the work that reflects where you want to end up and making the kind of work that means you can eat and pay the rent. It’s a great irony that the work that pays the best is always the most boring -it’s like you get paid extra for patience.
Luckily I also managed to do some interesting things as well, for example a krunky little low-fi ‘making of’ for a Radio 4 play;
At the start of the spring I was approached by someone I had known back in Bournemouth, who was now doing an MA specialising as a producer. He was looking for a director to attach to his graduation film. It seemed like a good opportunity to make another short film with a decent production value, so I accepted. We shot over a week in July using the Red One camera (still very clearly a prototype but capable of producing stunning photography) and the film was screened last Friday at the 50th Thessaloniki International Film Festival in Greece.
Ultimately, what we produced was interesting but I have to say I’m pretty disappointed with the overall piece. It’s good but it’s not great. On the positive side though, it was a really important experience, the producer did an amazing job of pulling off a very ambitious shoot and I feel that I took another big step forward as a director – that’s enough to feel grateful for I think. Here’s a short clip;
I’ve also inevitably been spending a lot of time working for free; some interesting stuff and some very boring stuff, I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles. A couple of the better ones; a video for ‘Waiting For Godot, The Musical, On Ice!’ great fun! I’ve also taken on an assistant editor role on a feature documentary that tells the story of a group of Masaii Warriors who came to London a couple of years ago to run in the London Marathon and raise money for a bore hole in their village; things begin to fall horribly apart as soon as money enters the equation. This project is really exciting and my role is to create a rough cut in order to show to the various TV and distribution companies that are interested in the film. That’s all lovely but when you’ve got over 150 hours of footage to work through in your spare time for £0 it can be quite demoralising. Fingers crossed the film gets the finance and I get paid then carried on the shoulders of beautiful Amazonian woman who fan me with palm leaves and feed me sweetmeats and peeled grapes.
As the year wore on I also began to find the commercial work starting to pick up, I had quite a nice job for a Microsoft product launch and things began to look feasible for the first time in my two years in the big smoke! A sigh of relief, a spring in the step, I begin to leap out of bed with a broad grin on my face singing to world as a veritable menagerie of wildlife scuttled around my feet, resting on my shoulders and harmonising with me for the chorus. But wait what’s that out there in the distance? It’s not Oh, it is here comes reality to mess everything up again.
How quickly things can grind to a halt. I am at present waiting to hear on a few really exciting projects, exciting projects that I’d get paid for! Hard to believe I know. But before I get too excited, let me frame this correctly There are several things that seem very likely but are still up in the air – and that’s the frustration, the seemingly endless waiting. You can never really rely on anything actually coming to fruition. You pitch, they love it and then you sit alone in a dark room, waiting for them to email, waiting for them to call, waiting for them to tie up something or other at their end and then they say ‘Oh, sorry! Looks like that won’t be going ahead after all have a nice day!’ Utterly dementing. Something I’ve had to get really good at since I started working in London is being disappointed; perhaps I should take a hint, but that’s just not really my style!
And so it is that I crawl towards the midwinter festival; barely surviving, incapable of managing what meagre finances I have and uncertain whether I’m going to be working solidly for the next six months or signing on. Bloody exciting stuff!
As for the feature I took to Berlin in search funding, I’m still no closer to rolling the camera, but I continue to write and develop and I think that’s truthfully where the project needs to be at the moment. The past year has really re-enforced those basic principles that I will need to get me there. ie don’t bother wasting anyone’s time (including your own) until you’ve developed a script so tight that the ink is literally being squeezed from the pages, invest your time in making yourself the kind of director that people can trust their investment with, put your name and work out there as much as possible, keep on making films, keep on making mistakes and, hopefully, keep on getting better at what you do.
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- Ours to Protect | doc follows volunteer lifeguards in St Ives - April 6, 2021
- Tregellick Rising | gritty revenge in Cornish language short - March 22, 2021