Just keep digging… Just keep digging…

It’s July already. How crazy is that. The last two weeks just flew by. It’s scary. Seriously.

I’ve just looked through my diary, trying to remember what we’ve been doing since I last wrote on this blog, and to be honest – I have no idea. It’s been chaotic. I wish I had some exact stats – we’ve driven so many km’s, wrote thousands of e-mails, made hundreds of phone calls, seen hundreds of people, drank so much coffee, watched no TV, ate very little food, seen many fantastic locations, begged countless times, etc. over the last few weeks. I know I say this every single blog entry – but it’s true. Everything is getting rapidly more intense with every day.

Due to the fact that we’re pulling in so many favours, this also means that we are restricted to certain shooting dates (i.e. a gaffer might be willing to donate a light or two, but he can only do it on specific days when he’s got nothing else on). This has forced us to shoot even sooner than planned – our first shoot dates are now on the 26th and 27th of July! That’s not that long away… 16 days to be precise! And we’ve still got so much stuff to do before then… Luckily, however, we’re not shooting again until the 11th of August, which means we have two weeks in between to sort out everything else. It’s not a lot of time – but at least it’s something.

So where are we up to in terms of the production? Casting is now almost completely locked in. We only have one major character that we haven’t cast yet. We’ve locked in 80% of our locations. All the majors ones have been finalised – we’re now just after some of the smaller (yet still important) locations, such as hallways and store rooms. Costumes and animatronics are coming along slowly, but we should JUST make the deadline. Set Construction is a big issue at the moment – we have a lot to do in this department, and not a lot of time (or money!) to do it. Which brings me to our biggest issue at the moment: money! It’s so incredibly hard to find the funds to get things off the ground.

This is one of the biggest problems with university courses. Sure you get access to all this great gear – but, as a student, you are not allowed to apply for any of the various federal, state or local government grants. This seems really stupid! Surely the whole point of all these grants is to help create the best possible content possible? If students could get access to these grants, then not only would they have access to all of the great university facilities, but all the money they save in equipment hire could be devoted to other departments. The result? Vastly better production values! Also, because students would have to spend less time trying to find money for their products, they can spend more time actually making their films!

I think that’s one of the primary reasons why a lot of crap comes out of film schools – students simply don’t have the funds to boost their production values. Now I’m sure I’m going to get e-mail after e-mail abusing me about all this. Everyone’s going to say, “you don’t need a lot of money to make a good film”, “you just need a good story”, “you just need a good script”, “a good story shot on a mobile phone is better than a bad film shot on 35mm”, etc. And of course, this is all true! But I’m not suggesting that governments just throw money at any old project! Obviously there would be very strict guidelines and procedures, and only the best scripts would get green-lit and funded. And for this simple reason, I think this would push students to spend more time creating beautiful scripts, simply so they can get the funding to make the film. As sad and bad as it is, money is always such a strong driving force. I think if there was some kind of funding incentive, then it would help force students to really fine tune their script drafts, and help ensure that the shooting script is really at the best it can be.

Anyway – this isn’t going to happen in the short term, so in our case there’s no point worrying about it! What we need to do is focus our attention on finding money via untraditional means. We have a couple of tricks up our sleeves, but the biggest enemy is time. As we’re shooting very shortly, and we have so much other stuff do it, we simply don’t have time to pursue our other money-making ventures. It’s such a difficult thing to try and juggle!

I guess the one thing we’ve all learnt so far this year, is that in the film world, a year isn’t a very long time. We’ve been working much more than full time on this production all year, and yet we’re still so far behind. Now I really do understand why it takes so many years from concept to creation to get a film up. And we’ve made it a lot harder for ourselves – even though we’re only doing a two and a half minute teaser/trailer, we have to basically treat it like a feature film. We need to work everything out – and then only shoot sections of it. But I guess, all this work means that when it eventually becomes time to make the feature film, we’re going to be so prepared it’s not funny… Well, I say this, but no doubt when it comes to making it we’ll have 9 billion new problems!

So what’s in store in the weeks ahead. Lots. We need to get so much done, it’s really not funny. But at the end of the day, it’s just a matter of doing it. Some might say it’s impossible. Some might say it’s crazy. But we tend to keep our mouths shut, and just get on with it! Oh, of course with the exception of keeping you all informed via this blog!

Finally, to wrap things up, for those that haven’t already, make sure you sign up for the Red Centre podcast, courtesy of the team at fxguide/fxphd. It’s the one thing that’s been keeping us entertained while we drive around location scouting.


Seriously – if you haven’t listened to any of the episodes already, open up a new tab, and start downloading!

Well, that’s all for today. Time to get back to work!