This post has been a long time coming, it’s another love letter to a film-maker who I think is one of the best, if not the best, working in the industry at the moment. The film-maker I speak of is the uber-awesome JJ Abrams. I was watching the behind the scenes stuff on the Super 8 DVD and listening to him speak so passionatley about film and making films is probably the most inspiring thing I’ve ever heard. He talks of making his own little Super 8 movies on a camera his grandfather bought him and working for Spielberg when he was 14, cutting his old films. I know many people dismiss JJ Abrams as ‘The Lens Flare Guy’ and many of you couldn’t care less about him, but he has played an important part in me wrapping my head around film-making. I don’t know where I’ll be in 10 years, I could be sitting in an office in Hollywood, basking in the glory of my recent Academy Award win, or I could be down at the local Tesco (Or Wal-Mart for you americans?) working the till (cash register).
What I know for certain is that listening to JJ Abrams talk about film, makes me want to aim for the first option. I want to make films. I want to make films that make me happy and hopefully appeal to an audience. I’m not worried about money, although almost every student film-maker makes the same claim, I actually mean it. I’m not getting into the industry for money, there are a shit load of other career paths I could have taken that would have gotten me alot of money in a quicker ammount of time. I want to make films because I like telling stories. Since I was a kid, it’s really the only thing I was good at. I’m not academic, by any means, I hated school, I used it as an excuse to piss about with my mates, except when it came down to two subjects, English and Music. In English, I think it was down to having very inspiring teachers, which is surprising coming from a Secondary School in a very working class area. I loved writing and people actually liked reading what I wrote, then I’d have a few periods in between with boring classes like Maths or Geography, then it’d be time for music. A class where I excelled, which was a strange feeling. I was top of the class, spring and summer the entire time I was there. I almost have zero logic, I think I might have ADD because I can’t do anything if I can’t put my heart into it, but English and Music allowed me to go where ever I wanted. I was writing my own stories and my own music, not reading someone elses.
This is turning somewhat autobiographical so I’ll reign it in, JJ Abrams, for me, symbolises the future of Hollywood. He’s a real film-maker because he pours his heart, blood and sweat into everything he works on. He’s a true inspiration, a true film-maker and he’s the reason I’m so driven to be successful.
I think it’s fair to say I’ve had a massive lack of motivation/inspiration for the past few months. I just couldn’t be bothered to do anything. I haven’t done any writing and I haven’t made a new film in a year. I don’t really count the last one I made, not because I didn’t like it but just because it’s not really where I want to go, it’s not really my style, or what I think my style is, if that makes sense. All the shit aside however, I’m fully motivated now to start getting stuff done! My University work is slacking, so was my general life so I’ve given myself a much needed kick up the arse. I literally just finshed the script for a new short, which I’m hoping is going to be seriously awesome now that I can finally divuldge what it’s actually about.. Ready?.. ROBIN! I’m going with the working title of ‘Grayson’ but I’m floating in and out of ‘Birth Of The Boy Wonder’ and just plain ‘Robin’. So yeah, it’s basically a Batman fan film. I’ve taken the story of Robin from the comics and slightly updated it, it takes place in the modern day. It picks up right after his parents are killed and follows him on his journey to his eventual run in with Batman. Although in the comic he actually meets Batman that night, I think it’s better if I introduce him to Batman later in the story. It’s hopefully going to be alot different from the Chris Nolan/Tim Burton film versions, think of a middle ground between the two, not uber-realistic but not that campy either. Anyway, I hope to shoot mid-may.
As for now however, I;m going to throwing a few films together for YouTube’s Yout Film Festival. The opportunity not only to get your film shown at the Venice Film Festival, but to be awarded $500,000 for your next project and the chance to work with Ridley Scott and Michael Fassbender is one that I’m not going to miss out on! I’m hopefully going to submit two pieces, neither of which I might add have even been started but I’m staying optimistic. I don’t want to give anythign away about these yet but just keep on the look out!
There I was, an innocent, 9 year old boy, who had just seen Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice for the first time. The effect was immediate. The characters, the sets and most importantly, the comedy had really resonated with me. I was so emmersed in this film that I remember believing it was all real. This film is far from perfect, by Hollywood’s standards at least, if anything it’s the total opposite but that’s why I feel in love with it. It felt like a home movie. There wasn’t much special effects being used and everything looked and still looks to this day, insanely low budget. This film was so different from the other films I was watching at the time, most notably Muppet’s Treasure Island and the glorious Peter Pan Robin Williams/Dustin Hoffman vehicle that is Hook (I liked Pirates as a kid incase you didn’t pick up on that.)
I really owe my initial interest in film and passion to make film to Tim Burton. The man has balls, in every sense of the word. He doesn’t give a shit about how much money his films take at the Box Office, he just loves making films and getting them out there. It’s this attitude that leads me to think that every Burton film is a piece of art. The word Auteur isn’t thrown around as much as it should be these days but I think it’s definitley a word to describe Tim Burton. I’m rambling now, so I’ll get back on topic. The reason for all the Burton-loving is to help create a contrast between his early, low budget-esque films and the utter shit that comes out of Hollywood today.
I’ll use the goto bad film-maker for my first example, Michael Bay. Transformers, is a piece of shit. All of them. The casting is horrible, the CGI is dodgy and it’s just a horrible film by anyones standards. Now, ask yourself, ‘Why did they make this Film?’ I don’t know the answer but it was definitley not a passion project for Michael Bay, the film lacks passion in every possible way, it’s so lazy. The writing is lazy, as is the direction and don’t get me started on the acting. MEGAN FOX. Are you freaking kidding me? I don’t think Kristen Stewart can act, she just sits there look all angsty, but Megan Fox makes Kristen Stewart look fucking like Meryl Streep. Then when she leaves, who do they get to replace her? A MODEL. With no real acting experience. This is exactly why I hate Hollywood. It’s definitley likely that she’s just there so that the idiots who paid to go see this film has something pretty to look at and to take their attention away from the general horribleness of the films.
Another thing that pisses me off is money. When did film-making become all about the money? Once upon a time, people made films because they wanted to tell a story. Now however the majority of people that work in Hollywood only care about the opening numbers. Who do I think is to blame? James Cameron. Titanic and Avatar, the two highest grossing films ever, both directied by Cameron. Are they good films? No. Did they do well? Yes. Why? Because they were both marketed well. With Titanic, it was an epic about a story everyone had heard. Avatar was big because the 3D was ‘breathtaking’ although the plot is basically Pocahontas meets Dancing With Wolves. Everyone wants a big blockbuster to attach their name to. The worst part of this whole process is, before these blockbusters are even RELEASED there are sequel and trilogy deals already in the contract the film-maker signs. American Studios, and this is what it comes down to, think audiences are fucking stupid. All of this generic shit, being pumped out at the speed of light simply for financial gain and not for audience satisfaction is why I’m quickly loosing faith in Hollywood. Therefore, I beg you, STOP SPENDING SO MUCH MONEY. There’s a recession on, didn’t you know? How about instead of giving hundreds of millions our to make blockbusters, give them £1,000,000 and make them stick to a tight budget. I’ve seen films that look like they could be blockbusters made on Home Computers by 12-14 year olds. Yet Hollywood feels it needs to feed this horribly greedy industry to make everything look pretty much the same as you could at home.
There’s a difference between high production value and an expensive production. If this whole film thing works out for me and I am remotely successful, I will NEVER accept a large ammount of money to make a film. Where is the fun in that? It’s nice to overcome problems and to try and work around things, that’s why I love film-making. I like doing things for as cheap as they can possibly be done (and that’s not because I’m a student!) Take Iron Man, Millions upon Millions of Dollars in it’s budget.. Why? I actually like the Iron Man films but I still think it’s stupid for them to get so much money to make them. Heres a solution; Take a Canon 7d/5d Mk II/550D, Adobe’s Production Suite and Cinema 4d/3ds Max for some CG work. That costs under £10,000 so $15,000+? Sign the big name at the lowest price possible. The Director, instead of taking a fee, get’s a cut of the profits, which due to the low production cost (but high production value) would mean you’d end up getting the same amnmount of money if you’d signed a contract assuming the film does well. Then the crew get a regular rate. That’s easily a whole blockbuster for under $100,000. This frees up alot of money for other projects. I hate criticising things without knowing the ins and outs, and I’m no expert on Hollywood, but the generic crap they are shelling out now needs to be corrected. I appreciate and respect ANYONE who makes a film, it needs drive and dedication and most of all talent, if your making a film, you’re bound to have some of those qualities (Yes, even Michael Bay and James Cameron) Stop trying to change things, take a step back and look at yourself Hollywood. Then go upstairs to the bathroom, get in the shower and wash yourself clean. Cut your hair, buy some nice clothes and be presentable again. Then start working on a new film strategy. Put on a coat before you go out in the pissing rain.
No, unfortunately this is not a post about the glorious sequel to Sister Act… Anyone else? No..? Alright then. This is a post to say that I’m BACK. I’ve been insanely busy this past while and I’ve been neglecting my wonderful Tumblr, which is sad. I have alot of of filmic things I need to get off my chest so you can expect alot of rants over the next few weeks/days. I’m actually going to post one in a matter of minutes which should be quite interesting. It’s about how much I hate Hollywood! So yeah, look out for that but in the mean time..
It’s exactly 9 days until Christmas and I’m probably way more excited than what I should be! It’s always fun to get the whole family together for the holidays. On another, less festive note, I’ve finished a film! YES, actually FINISHED one. It’s pretty good. I might post it soon. I have got back into writing recently and I’ve got a really good script for a quirky comedy that I have made my first priority to shoot when the Holidays are over. It’s all very exciting.. I’m basically going to attempt to blow the majority of my studio loan on film-making equipment. Hopefully Santa will leave a nice little DSLR under my tree this christmas and in January I’ll have a crap load of money to spend on professional equipment.
I’ve also recently noticed something about myself. It’s taken a while but I think I’ve finally decided on the sort of Films I want to make. After making my the last one, I’m very set on leaving all types of experimental film behind. It’s not that I don’t enjoy doing it or even watching it, I just feel that particular genre isn’t for me. I like realism or at least pseudo-realism if you will. It always needs to make sense. I guess I’m just not into that kind of thing.
Peace out, Homeslice!
It’s been months since my last post. I know barely anyone is remotely interested in what I have to say but Tumblr is a strange release for me. It gives me somewhere to vent my current feelings on the world and more importantly, the film industry. Now, I have thought long and hard about what I actually want the theme of this blog to be about because, as of late, it’s been all over the place. I have therefore decided that this will be a blog about my film-making adventures! I’ll still be partial to the odd rant here and there but really I just want a dedicated place to talk about my films and the production process. If anything just so I’ll have something to look back on.
I’ve really started to open up to working as part of a team and that I can’t do everything by myself. Up until now I’ve been under the impression that I can Produce, Direct and Edit entire films by myself. Up until now I’ve been able to do this but now that I’m at university, things are alot bigger. The scale of the films I’m working on has significantly increased and you wouldn’t be able to do what you want by yourself, especially with very ambitious ideas.
So what are these ideas of which I speak? There are a few still in development in my little blue book but I can tell you about what I’m planning to do. I have a collab project coming up soon with some people from University, I don’t really want to give too much away about that project but it’s going to be a good one! I’m also planning a Batman fan film in which key focus will be on Robin, which one though I’m not sure, possibly Damien Wayne or Tim Drake. I’m also working on a stop animation called “Something Wicked” which I’ve got the sets done for and I’m talking to someone next week about creating the stop motion characters. I can say that the main set is a graveyard. I also want to get “Sleeping Rough” shot in Janurary! Busy quarter for me I think!
As I’ve continued to persue my career in the film industry, I’ve had a chance to experiment with alot of different “styles” of film-making in an attempt to see where I fit in. In all honesty, I still don’t know. However, what I have discovered is that you can’t please everyone. Whether it be someone working on the production on a member of a somewhat hopeful audience, you’re bound to upset someone along the way. This is where I encounter my personal problem. I’m not out to make films to have people praise me about how good they are (or throw things at me if they’re shit) I want to make films because I like making films. That’s it. However, I like people to be happy, so I reach this slight paradox. I make films that I want to make, however, I don’t want people to be upset, or annoyed by said film. The Solution? I don’t know. I power on though. The way I look at it, if I make a film and the majority of people like it, then that’s good. If however, alot of people don’t like it, I apologise and move on. I will NEVER take a film down. I made it, I’m proud of it, or else i wouldn’t put it up in the first place. Unless I’m making a film for a specific audience, I can’t tread on eggshells. You either like it, or you don’t.
Alright, so we all know Martin Scorsese has adapted ‘The Invention Of Hugo Cabret’ into a feature film. That’s all well and good, the reason behind this post however is that I’m getting so sick of people saying that it’s going to be shit. Simply because Martin Scorsese isn’t known for family films. Some directors are good at working in specific genres, some aren’t, but how can you possibly make that assumption on this film without actually seeing it first? I’m a big fan of the book, it’s beautifully illustrated and at the helm of it is the story of French Pioneer Film Director, Georges Melies. I think thats what probably drew Scorsese to the project in the first place, I think I remeber him saying in a BAFTA interview that he considers Mr. Melies to be a big inspiration. If you had the chance to make a film about your hero, wouldn’t you take the leap? I know I would.
Martin Scorsese may not have done any family films before, but I think the story of Hugo is in very, very safe hands. Although I don’t think the casting of Sacha Baron Cohen (Of Borat Fame) was the best of ideas, he’s not the best actor, although he gave an outstanding performance in Sweeney Todd. ANYWAY, I’m getting side-tracked. Hugo Cabret is a great story, and Martin Scorsese loves telling stories so I think this is in the most capable of hands. I couldn’t see anyone else take this project on. The production design on this film alone looks fantastic, they recreated the famous traincrash to an amazing standard, you couldn’t even tell it was CG. I’m seeing alot of coggs and insides of clocks turning, because while working at the train station Hugo’s job is to keep the clocks running on time, but they look fantastic. I just wish people would stop whining, it’s a great book, he’s a great director, I’ve alot of hope that it’ll make one hell of a fim. Also, the kid performances look fantastic from what I’ve seen. Chloe Moretz has a believable English Accent and Asa Butterfield looks very natural on screen. Oh! I almost forgot, Jude Law (Who I can’t stand) is just reprising his character from “A Series Of Unfortunate Events” I feel, which although that film was good, I found him intollerable!
So. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I feel it’s time for me to express another thing that annoys me in the worderful industry that is film. This argument has two sides, both of which I will express with equal ammounts of fairness, as I am still somewhere in the middle as far as picking a side is concerned. So, Let us begin!
First of all, It’s so hard to get an entry level job, especially in a country where the film industry isn’t exactly thriving. We get maybe, 4-5 features a year, only 1-2 of which are really substancial. Now, the easiest way to break into the industry is to start off as a runner and then slowly working your way up to trainee AD, then 3rd AD and so on and so on. It’s really all about who you know, big productions to tend to advertise open positions, someone on set knows someone on the outside who’s slightly interested in the industry and then you can get in that way.
Now, on the other side of this spectrum, you can do it all yourself. If you write an amazing short, or even a feautre, then you shoot it and it turns out it’s actually pretty good, you can skip out the first few entry level jobs if your film made a big enough impact. Because I’m lazy, this option calls to me the most. I would like to be acknowledged for somethign I did rather than attach my name to something that’s being made by a big production company. The point is of course, I haven’t amde anything decent as of yet. I don’t necessarily point this down to me, it’s just a lack of time. I have a few decent short scripts ready to be made and I plan to do it in September once I get to grips with the delightful Canon 7D. Anyway, I’m moving away from what I’m trying to say. I think that studios should be trying to get alot more people thinking about going into film as a career path, therefore they should advertise in places that people actually know about or check regularly. I think that as an aspiring film-maker, the chance to get to see what a real set and a real production looks like, it’ll inspire people to want to move further in the industry.
Last year I had the oppertunity to work a little on a feature film, I’m not sure if I can say the name of it or not so I’m not going, when I check the credits though and see my name on there I’ll post it, I just dont want people to think I’m walking shit. Anyway, it helped me get a goods view of the industry. You get to see all the roles that are needed to make a film and you get to talk to the people in those roles about their experience. It’s nice to be surrounded by people you have so much in common with. You could spend the whole day talking about film references that the “outside world” would not be able to understand in the slightest. Film-making is such a collaborative process that when you get to be a part of it, when you get the first taste of that delicious film-making (vegetarian) pie, you get addicted.
That’s it for now, Peace out!