So I made a short film recently.
I wrote it in my spare time between numerous freelancing jobs mid-late last year.
I tinkered away at draft after draft. Consulting friends on their thoughts, drinking many coffees from my local cafe as I finessed typos and minor directions and overall smoothed out the wrinkles of my story to make it the best I thought it could be. I had been to film school (International Film School Sydney) and had learnt a thing or two about writing. I was taught by one of the best, Duncan Thompson, who gave his students every bit of info we could possibly need to make a good story.
I’d made a whole bunch of films beforehand, some good, some not so good and I had learnt a lot from each of those experiences.
But at the end of the day, even when you dot all your ‘i’s and cross all your ‘t’s, any movie could be a flop.
I’ve been to the movies a fair bit of late. A new hobby of mine as a filmmaker – go see films. It’s the best way to see whats on, get ideas, be inspired and to see what not to do.
It’s amazing, but I have seen three films in a row that have all had the underlying theme of ‘what not to do’. Which is a shame for me experientially on a Friday night but as a filmmaker it’s the best kind of movie.
In case you are wondering, I watched ‘Anna Karenina‘ (starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law), ‘Great Expectations‘ (Starring Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter) and ‘Oz the Great and Powerful‘ (Starring James Franco, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz) (To see the trailers click on the film titles links).
These three films were absolutely appalling to me – so much so that I will be writing much more detailed reviews on each. Kick my movie reviewing career off with a positive BANG!
I recently found this quote by recent oscar winner Ang Lee, director of Life of Pi, who pretty much summed up my thoughts on these three atrocious films for me. A quote which I found quite a pleasant reminder.
“If there’s something that can be formulated, regulated, give you security, then nobody would lose money. Every movie would be successful. And that’s certainly not the case.”
~ Ang Lee
I find it very reassuring that;
Even with big stars, big budgets and enormous resources and publicity – Hollywood still can’t guarantee a success.
Films are hard to make – news flash! There is no formula to guarantee a great film. Which is why anyone can have a crack at it.
You don’t have to be a hollywood hotshot to pick up a camera, throw together a film and have a success (Blair Witch Project). You don’t need you Mum, Dad, Friends, Teachers to believe in you – though it’s great to have. (Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman were voted by their acting school as “Most Unlikely to succeed”). You don’t even have to be a writer to make a hit film (Good Will Hunting)
For the independent filmmaker, the process of making a film is a daunting one. Writing a knock out script, building a team of people who can volunteer their time so you can save money, raise the money, survive the shoot and then polish off whatever footage you managed to get and try to get it into the few small festivals that Australia has to offer in the hope to get some kind of audience.
Whether you are in Hollywood or just sitting in your local cafe trying to punch together scraps of ideas that have been festering in your mind for months in the hope of writing a winner that will help you pay your rent and become a world-renowned filmmaker. The point is, don’t give up trying because you can’t compare to every other filmmaker who has had a better education, more years of experience, even more success than you. Because even they have had their flops. No one is immune to the elements.
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“With my head in the stars, a twinkle in my eye and a love for cinema and nostalgia, filmmaking is a fun, creative way to express myself.”