Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A different tack

 I don't know if anyone will bother reading this, but I've decided to use this blog in a more creative and personal way.

I'm in the middle of a screen production course at Auckland University. I have to write a 10 minute piece which will be my big filming project next semester. I'm using an idea I had at the beginning of this for a feature film...


It started in a weird way. I watched a crime movie called AT CLOSE RANGE, which was about this psychopath dealing with his son's attempts to join his gang. The son had a girlfriend, and there was a slightly uncomfortable sense of a triangular dynamic forming throughout the story which I found really interesting. The movie kinda didn't fulfill my expectations and awhile later, January this year, it struck me that a story based around a middle-aged man coming to grips with both his son's maturity and his own loss of vitality, with the introduction of a girlfriend who unknowingly catalyzes this conflict was kinda... cool. I thought it would make for a potentially really exciting and unpredictable story. Plus it was something a little more sophisticated than anything I'd done previously, which increased its appeal. So I just started free-writing, to see where it went...


Since I wanted to strip away anything potentially 'generic' that would get away from this triangular relationshipI initially set the story on a camping trip. It seemed like a natural platform for the male characters to act out their competitiveness (building tents, cooking, gathering wood, sports etc). I got about halfway through and started to run out of steam. I had no idea how it was going to end, and I could not decide on how dark and twisted I wanted it to be. I guess I was trying to follow Polanski's KNIFE IN THE WATER a wee bit, and the story could not breath on its own. In the end it just kind of died, and I started my Screen Production course, which curtailed any hopes of re-starting it.


That is, until my instructor for the screen-writing component of my course laid out the limitations for our final assignment - pitch 2 ideas for a 10 minute short film. One idea would then be workshopped into a script which we would have the option of shooting next semester. In a rare moment of cohesive thought, I realized this was a golden opportunity for developing ideas I wanted to do 'when I have the money'. So I dusted off the camping idea.

The first thing I did was get rid of the camp bit. Realizing the logistics of camping AND filming, I came up with a more economical notion: a trek up the side of a mountain. The progression seemed dramatically more appropriate, and it seemed apparent that a sense of competition could be sustained within a shorter running time.

When I delivered my pitch, people really liked it, and the feedback I got was really interesting. For one thing, I had always felt the idea would be very dark and probing of issues of masculinity. However, everyone saw it as a comedy. Just shows how you can get lost so far in a project that you lose some sense of perspective on its possibilities.

So I revised my pitch, trying to lay out character and plot points. And that's where I'm at at the moment. I'm currently awaiting feedback on my latest synopsis. I'm not that happy with the ending, so I'm hoping the feedback spurs me in a new direction. A bit of good news though: A mate has agreed to provide the soundtrack for it, which is exciting. He's going to cook up some demos which I can use as inspiration.

I really hope this project works out. It's considerably more personal than anything else I've done, and the themes really resonate with the kinds of stories I like to watch, and tell: Namely the objectification of women and the failure of masculinity. Watch this space...