[Originally posted on 15th July 2017 – another old post I’ve tried to republish]
DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE
DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE (aka NO TE OLVIDES DE RESPIRAR) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6207538/?) – a film I co-wrote with Darwin Reina, is being shot right now in Barcelona, and I’m not there. It’s a weird feeling. On the one hand, I am super stoked that the film is going ahead – after a lengthy but much needed pre-production period. On the other, I’m feeling a bit disconnected from it – a social media lurker, merely peering in through the lens of posts on Facebook and Instagram and checking up on progress. It’s strange… so why am I not there?
Wow. Filmmaking is tiring. You forget this, when you don’t do it for years. I mean real filmmaking, which involves putting a full production together, and building a crew up from the ground, because you’re living somewhere where you don’t know anyone in the industry and have to start from scratch. And you are trying to wear so many hats and perform so many different tasks, and all while doing a day job with urgent aggressive deadline requirements. Kudos to anyone who does this and doesn’t whinge about it and takes it on the chin and gets it done!
Anyway, this time since the last update has been fraught. It’s been a real rollercoaster of ups and downs. Where one minute we have ‘this’ and then we lose ‘that’. Where ‘that’ is back again and ‘this’ is now missing. The twists and turns of real life filmmaking are more exhausting than the plots I can contrive. But that is what pre-production is like…. One minute I want to do a feature film already and the next minute I never want to pick up a camera or plan a shoot, or break the bad news to an unsuccessful auditioning actor again….
Feeling enthusiastic about the coming year? I am. Very much so.
I don’t mean to sound smug, but unlike the previous [bleak] most recent years 2014 was a productive year for me. I stuck to my goals and completed all but 2 of them; including relocating to Sweden to continue to pursue my happiness, giving up a perfectly good job, renting my house out and throwing myself into the unemployment pool, setting up my own company and then luckily finding a new job – with my first happy clients. All so that I could be where I felt I needed to be, do what I felt I needed to do with my life and ultimately, because my life felt like a trap. It felt stagnant and I felt like I was doing nothing with it; at least nothing that I wanted to be doing.
Some of the creative things I was proud of:
I made more films earlier in the year – not for public consumption. Merely for fun and to get back into making films. We even had a club going at work, where we each made a ‘Ten Second Film’ a week; purely to prove to each other that creativity was possible for anyone and there was a way to tell a story with a variety of methods and everyone came to the same story theme from a completely different perspective and often using very different techniques and tools. Want to know more about how this works?
I wrote a novel as part of Nanowrimo 2014. Yes it still needs to be rewritten, but it’s down – out of my head and on the page.
I joined two writing groups (one for writing and one for critique) – in order to overcome my shyness and seek out others, to help look at my work objectively and constructively and also to see if I could be of assistance to others. I made some new friends in a new country and I’m sure that it will be a great help in 2015.
I took a few online courses to help learn my craft. And I read every article that seemed relevant to what I was trying to achieve – in order to learn more.
I also sought out more books on my craft. And I downloaded any free screenplay that I could get my hands on – I suspect that 2015 will be very much about reading more of those scripts and learning form the best.
I wrote something almost every day – even if it was my journal or some short #VSS tales in Twitter; something I was never good at before.
I used meditation to help fight my way out of creative blocks / writing block.
I’m currently setting my goals for 2015 and I’m looking forward to using more of what this great online community / the interwebz has to offer – attend more courses, develop and refine my writing skills and seek more professional critical feedback and to also help others, where I can, to achieve some of their goals. This year was a rehearsal, to see if I could still muster the gumption to take this seriously and invest serious amounts of time and energy. I did it. But I can give more. Much more.
More on my goals in the new year. I tend to like to let them simmer for a bit to see which ones fight to the surface more.
But if I may be so bold, can I suggest that we all help each other to get a step further up the path to creative freedom and feel the buzz of a little more success!
Have a great 2015 all!! Don’t fight the good fight alone! Let me know if I can help in any way in 2015.
This post is a minor break from my Nanowrimo – which has been going well by the way – thanks for asking. 🙂 but I hope you enjoy it.
So the game we played today in my Writing Group – was something I’ll call ‘Like meets Like’ – inspired by how film pitches to studio execs often begin with very simple ‘elevator pitch’ – to convey what your new idea might be like, by likening it to a previous successful movie idea, or changing the genre or the time setting:
Many successful / cult movies were pitched this way (and some not so successfully):
ALIEN – “JAWS in space” – this very cleverly conjures up the isolation of being out in the middle of nowhere, paying a nod to the second half of JAWS, by taking the crew of a ship in space, fighting a man eating alien in close confines.
ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 – was originally pitched as an exploitation / horror film, because the studios weren’t funding westerns – as RIO BRAVO in modern LA; where a homicidal gang that do not fear death, target the cops at a run down police station and mark them for death (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assault_on_Precinct_13_(1976_film)
OUTLAND – “HIGH NOON in space” – this takes the classic Western trope and transfers it to space, where a lawman (Sean Connery) decides to take a stand against corruption, despite the hired killers coming for him and the fact that everyone else is turning their back on him.
I’m sure there are many more better examples. I’d be pleased if you could share them with me 🙂
One other way to approach this is to compare two movie titles and see if they conjure up a film idea – this could be to reinvigorate a tired film idea and give it a new spin.
The film FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116367/) – is a good example of what happens when you take a vampire movie and put it together with a heist / gangster movie. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE WITH ZOMBIES (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1374989/) is another.
So why do it?
It’s fun to put different things together to see what combinations may inspire different ideas. And you never know, some interesting plot variations might come out of this experimentation, at least you get you on the road towards fleshing out characters and situations. And to that end, try then taking that film title combination and then trying to work that up into a logline.
For example – I might say “It’s like JAWS meets DUMB AND DUMBER – a tale of three incredibly stupid men, attempting to capture and kill a mythical Megalodon Shark that’s targeting the population of a small island – and it’s far bigger and more dangerous than any Great White – only they’ve lost their boat, and they’re too dumb to know anything about hunting sharks.”
I’d love to know the proper name for this activity – if there is one. For now the name stays. 🙂 Please let me know if you can think of a more well known technique term for it though.
Here’s the two I came up with: (they need work 🙂 )
1. Think RAVENOUS meets ZERO DARK THIRTY – A darkly comic action/horror film about an alcoholic CIA operative, recovering from a botched mission that went fatally wrong, who is forced to find the secret location of a cannibal cult, before they consume her kidnapped boss; the one person who stood by her in her hour of need. Ref: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt012… and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt179…
2. Think REAR WINDOW meets L’APARTMENT – A drama / mystery / romance – about a bored advertising executive, recovering from an injury, who is forced to solve the murder he believes he witnessed, when spying on his new female neighbour; he’s already engaged to marry another woman. And he’s convinced that one of these women might be the killer. Ref: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt011… and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt004…
The others in the group thought of an even better spin on the game, for the random factor, to throw different film names, genres into a hat and to pick them out at random. That way, no one has to struggle for good combinations to work with, but instead can just practice the technique when using ideas purely for fun and practise.
Why don’t you give it a try, in those moments when you might be short of inspiration? they don’t have to be keepers, those ideas that you’ll eventually pitch to an exec, in a Hollywood meeting, but they might help you practice starting to develop that elevator pitch – so that you can later take the meeting that launches your career.
Please let me know if this was useful – and if you prefer a variation, tell me what works for you. And also, especially in time for next year’s Nanowrimo, why not use this technique to inspire your next novel plot.