Making Get Well Soon – Part 4

Feb 2010 – Production Support

We received an email in mid Feb from BRAG Productions: “Alison and I both read the script yesterday and liked it very much.  We would really like to know your plans to shoot and see if and how we can be of help.”

I’ve become an enormously cynical person over the years, and this holds me back for sure. I’ve invested large amounts of emotional energy in projects that have never even resulted in a finished article, let alone any kind of critical appraisal, so while it was exciting to be taken seriously by an industry professional, it was also fairly anxiety inducing. In order to take the project forward, we’d be moving on with a revised set of rules that we hadn’t anticipated. Whereas before Ian and I were using the project purely to prove something to ourselves, now there were others involved.

Rael, Ian and I sat down with Gregory Rinaldi from BRAG Productions at Century in Leicester  Square. I don’t get on with members clubs, perhaps from my brief flirtation with the music industry when I was making pop music in Brand Violet. I saw them as weird, fun-fair offices; places where people came to work and drink. Places where you would end up signing something you shouldn’t have because you got a bit excitable after a few bottles of Duvel.

The reality of the meeting was quite different. Greg seemed very hands off with issues of creative control, although the main issue he had was with the length. Irrespective of the totally unworkable scheduling we were suggesting, (30 pages in one weekend), the issue was raised about the usefiulness of making a 30 minute short. A 30 minute piece was less useful from a festival perspective. If it was 30 minutes long, it might as well be stretched out to a feature. Occupying that odd space between a short and a feature meant that many established festivals wouldn’t have a submission category for it. It needed to ideally be 15 minutes long, (20 at a push).

In any case, as our budget would only just cover catering and expenses, we realistically needed to simplify. In most cases, this is good for the script, because it forces to think about what is absolutely necessary to tell the story.  After the meeting, we ended up losing all the exterior shots, and an additional character. In retrospect, both of these elements were superfluous and confusing.

Meeting with Greg, it was clear how naïve I was. I had never been on a film set at all, and had never even considered the necessity of insurance relating to the shoot, (I had images of a few people floating round a massive airy space with weightless cameras and a few bags of Jaffa cakes). The financial investment remained ours, but Greg was suggesting that he could gather together a crew of top industry professionals who would become interested enough in the project to want to work for expenses only. I didn’t understand at all how our project could be pitched in such a way.

Greg explained – it presented opportunities for people to get valuable experience, and to network with crew members that they might want to work with again on a larger project. The runners we had picked up from The Runner’s Club would get experience and an IMDB credit. The director of photography would get a chance to experiment with different technology, (hence the final decision to shoot the whole thing on a tiny digital SLR camera – the Canon 5D). It would be a relatively safe environment to address the camera’s benefits and limitations. The whole thing became a safe, experimental environment, and elaborate business card at the same time. Most importantly for Ian and I, this would turn a film that would reasonably be budgeted at £50,000 into something which costed significantly less.

This all reinforces the fact that as skilled as you are, you are only likely to be given opportunities if you exploit the networks you are in.

Next: Late Feb /March 2010 – Location, funding, crew and camera

Michael Woodman:
This blog is also updated on the Punchdrunk in Matalan blog.

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