And now for something completely different…

So what exactly are we up to and the moment? What kind of crazy nut-case film are we trying to bring to life? Well, a quite a big one actually. At the end of last year we were worked on a documentary called “Superb Menura”. It was a major step up from our previous 16mm short, “Happy Sundaes”. And whilst we were busy filming doco footage, and getting surround sound recordings at absolutely crazy hours of the night, we were always plotting and planning for what we would do this year.

One thing that I’ve always wanted to do, ever since working on the BBC Kids show “Tweenies“, is create a movie about a bunch of kids show characters that are actually aliens. And so we started work on “TV Tubsters” – a full length feature film concept. However, due to the fact that our doco took over our lives for a lengthy period of time, the first story outline wasn’t completed until the start of November. It was also hopeless and massively incomplete. Then throughout November and December we continued, as a team to build upon the general outline. It grew and evolved. Characters were introduced, and then destroyed. Plot outlines grew in size. What started out as a 1000 word outline became a 2000 word outline, and then 4000 word outline. Ideas were accepted, and rejected. Christmas and New Years came and went. Then in the new year, despite our better judgement, we decided to stop trying to develop the story as a team, and sent Isaac to work solo on a first draft of the script. While he went absolutely crazy writing like a mad man, the rest of the time started organising all the pre-production elements – despite the fact that we didn’t have a completed script. After a few weeks or writing it became very clear that we were never going to pull off a feature film script in the time that we had. As heart breaking as this reality was, we decided to press on writing the script, and actually produce a teaser/trailer this year to use as a promotional tool to get the funding required to get the feature film script off the ground the following year. Everything continued along slowly but smoothly. The script grew in size and complexity.

And then Anli, Isaac and myself went to Hong Kong for the International Film Festival. We all had an amazing time – saw lots of great films, and also got to see all the sights and sounds. But when we came back, after some quite intensive script sessions, we came to the conclusion that we were in the world of shit. Because Isaac was writing solo, the idea was morphing, re-shaping and changing – which is fine, as it was definitely turning into a really fantastic script – however, Anli and myself just weren’t involved enough. We didn’t really know the characters on the page – nor could we relate to a lot of events that were taking place. This normally wouldn’t be a problem, as the writer could have continued to do his or her thing, and after a few rewrites, the director could then bring the script to life in their own special way. But because we’re really building this film “as a team” from scratch, everyone needed to be across everything.

We learnt a valuable lesson – in our case, we needed to do everything as a team to achieve the best results in the given timetable. Sure, if we had years to write the script that Isaac could have taken the first pass, then we could discuss it, make changes, move on to the next draft and continue along like that. We also made the fatal mistake of tackling the first draft without a clear plan of attack. We had a beginning and a middle, but no end. I don’t think you should start writing a draft without any idea of what direction you want the film to go.

So, despite having written thousands and thousands of words already, we made the tough decision to go back to the start, and revisit the story from line one. It was tough. We spent several weeks going back to basics and seriously reviewing all our decisions. What’s the story about? Who’s story is it? We started re-reading scriptwriting books, and re-visiting fantastic movies from the past. We spent a lot of time locked in confined spaces, forced to just put pen to paper and come up with something of value. Slowly but surely, things started falling into place.

Now it’s time to step into the present. Where are we up to now? What’s going on? Well, the good news is that we have a completed story outline – it has a very well defined beginning, middle and end. The characters have been completely built from the ground up, and we basically know everything there is to know about them. We’ve started work on the teaser/trailer script (based on the story outline) and everything is heading in the right direction. Costume design is under way, and next week we start meeting up with our Director of Photography, and other key crew members to start working out how exactly we’re going to pull this off.

This really isn’t the right way to make a movie. You shouldn’t really “force” a script out of people – although it seemed to work. Ideally, we would have loved to have spent two of three years developing the feature film script, spent all of last year getting funding, and then actually made the feature film this year. But that just didn’t happen. So the plan is, to create the basis for a feature film concept NOW, produce and shoot a teaser/trailer this year (to mainly use as a promotional tool), and at the same time start writing the 1st draft of the full length feature film so that it’s ready for a re-write later in the year. The aim is to have a completed teaser/trailer, as well as a feature film script, promotional website, and extensive marketing tools all in operation by the end of the year. Can we pull this off? Only time will tell…

But by far the most frequent question we get asked, is why are we “jumping the queue” and working on a feature film now? Seeing as we’re studying 3rd year university – why not just produce an amazing short film? If it’s really good then we’ll get into all kind of fantastic International festivals, and who knows were we’ll end up… Well, that all very well and good, and sure it works for some people, but we don’t want to head down that route. Why make shorts when you can make a feature? We’ve very much of the opinion that if you want to do something, then just get out there and do it. I’m personally a huge fan of Peter Jackson – despite all the limitations, he just pushed every boundary and made amazing films. Sure, he made a hell of a lot of short films before he started work on the bigger features – but so have we. Although Happy Sundaes is the first narrative film under the latenite banner, individually, we’ve all worked on well over one hundred short films, video clips, television commercials, low-budget/independent and professional feature films, etc.

Don’t take me the wrong way, we haven’t learnt everything – and we’re by no means experts when it comes to film making. But, we think, for better or for worse, we’re ready for the next step. It’s time to make a feature film! Unfortunately it’s going to take a bit longer than we originally hoped (as we’re making the teaser/trailer before the full length feature this time round), but that’s all part of the fun.

So that’s the current situation! It hasn’t been an easy ride so far. Ignoring all the script/story problems, we’ve also had many other unavoidable set backs: marriage break-ups, couples break-ups, team member partings, sickness, car crashes… the list goes on. But we’re all alive (although you probably wouldn’t think it by looking), and feeling great about the project thus far! It’s not going to be easy – but that should at least mean that this blog will be half interesting…

As Chris Jones always says, Onward & Upward !