Saturday, 17 November 2007

Dealing with the Dead Ends

This happens a lot in the filmmaking industry especially on forums where keen filmmakers will post 'wanted' or 'interest' requests to a forum and then in due time drop the project leaving a bunch of hopefuls hanging onto the topic thread - inevitably the hopeful gets pissed off and complains about it. There are reasons perhaps why this happens and it is best that we examine several of them so that we can nurse our tempers better.

Often when an idea is hit upon it can work in the same frame of mood of those ideas that sometimes pop into our head at 4am in the morning - yep, the great idea that we are going to execute the next morning which in hindsight whilst showering off an over-sleeping migraine we decide wasn't that good an idea after-all. So, what happens is a filmmaker is all in the mood to spark a project off and the communicating of that is the easiest part and therefore usually the first action that takes place in the sincere hope that production will magically come about without much effort.

Unfortunately because nothing has been solidified around this idea the action is as good as blowing sherbet in someones face. The fact that as filmmakers it is all too tempting to communicate the "next project" perhaps before we are ready to embark upon it. This also happens in post as well but is more acceptable due to the prolonged process that post-production is well renowned for.

I have my own experience of this when for a patch I wanted to loosen my work as an editor and do a bit of acting. I emailed a guy who was preparing a television series. He invited me over for an audition so off I traveled to some part of town I wasn't familiar with and looked for an office. First off the guy never told me his office was in a block of ordinary units but I gave the project the benefit of the doubt and knocked on the door. Inside was a tiny flat, a table cramped in the corner where sat a woman of middle age, and a range of plaques and certificates all over the guy's lounge room wall. When I say tiny flat is was virtually a bedsit but still who am I to judge? I did however begin thinking about the validity of the project not because of the circumstances but because he had alluded me to something greater.

He had a pile of scripts on a coffee table of which he referred to as "the gold", I flicked through my part, it was pretty mediocre stuff and to be honest I was quite bored immediately by the writing but I thought to myself that this was just an acting job for experience and I wasn't going to inflict my opinions on his creative output. He explained to me who the woman was but I now forget her story - she was there as some kind of production manager but she was Indonesian and seemed to speak little English. I was becoming increasingly confused but the eager writer/director continued to champion his work and the project whilst showing off his triumphs on the lounge-room wall, all the television station pats on the back for series I neither knew of or probably would care for.

I should have realised the warning bells then and there, he gave me the part straight away without even having me read for the role. He also was keen for me to double up as crew as my experience was fairly extensive as an all rounder. I could smell desperation and delusion in the air. Another actor arrived and I made my farewells. I got into the car I had at the time and drove away thinking about what had happened. Afterwards I exchanged a number of emails with him and got responses regarding production difficulties but yet it was still going ahead. Then blank. Nothing. No responses. I left it at that and he never contacted me again. That was the end of it and I suppose it hadn't been so bad for me because I wasn't hard on chasing work.

We all have these time waster stories - I do believe however it is different in post-production and filmmakers should never be badgered from that end of production because you've done the work and it is time to move onto other projects, and whether or not the film gets made is no business of those who have washed their hands of it. That is part of the gamble. In pre-production however people find themselves making time for an upcoming project, they re-schedule appointments, ease off chasing work, and wake up in the morning looking forward to a new venture.

Unfortunately I do not think there is any way to tell if someone is just having a fit of productivity that will all too soon fizzle without informing others of its demise. You can either take it like pub talk where new fantastic ideas are being conjured up all the time but never realised and see it as just that, not getting hung up on it or as filmmakers we ourselves can contact people as soon as we realise our dream has deteriorated in order to give them the courtesy of not delaying other work they could be chasing or organising. There is nothing to be ashamed about projects that don't take off but there is everything to be ashamed about when leaving crew and actors on the runway.

What are your stories? If you have any then feel free to share them here on snuffboxfilms.

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