Let me just start by saying that one might think that listening to the same person speak for most of the day could be tedious. Perhaps, but that was definitely not the case when I recently sat and listened to Elliot Grove, founder of Raindance, whilst he reminisced about his life and filmmaking.
I was sitting in an auditorium filled with other budding filmmakers, all hungry for his tips and know how on how to succeed in this cut-throat industry. There it was, one of the first things he said was why we would never succeed. He whittled it down to 3 reasons: lack of confidence, procrastination and our own weaknesses. They all ring true with me and I feel that I have now run out of excuses.
There was a good mixture of age groups and specialisations, some already making movies or getting started and others still looking for a way in; some open to anything that could help them gain extra insight and answers, others who sadly had it all figured out.
The first person I spoke to was a young girl sitting to my right. She had a love of filmmaking but had yet to join the industry and wasn't sure what role she wanted to have in it. She is a science graduate and her day job involves reading science articles and spotting mistakes in the theory. I hope she realises that she has a great skill and could offer herself as a researcher for sci-fi movies or science programmes. If she wants to write, well half of it is to read and she does it on a daily basis.
No Money No Problem
Once we were assured that money does not have to be an issue we became our only barriers. If you are now thinking, but my script has a aeroplane, I can't afford to hire one; I need a certain actor for it to work, I don't know him; whatever it is you think is a problem, then you are just searching for yet another excuse. If you are serious about it, passionate about it, there is always a way. You make do with what you have. Write that big script which will cost a million, why not? but also write the no budget script, the one you know can be filmed on your street, in your uncle's bungalow, at the local playground, the one that will only require your home made props and the available and very willing actors you've met along the way.
The award winning short Sign Language directed by Oscar Sharp and written by Stephen Follows is a great example of a no budget short.
The Big Announcement
Once you have decided this is definitely what you want to do with your life, it's time to make the big announcement. Tell the world what you want to be when you grow up. My announcement was made many years ago whilst still at Uni. When a lecturer enquired who we aspired to be I announced very boldly that I was going to be a famous Producer. Yes, I know, I still laugh and cringe at the thought of it. Even though it's still an area I would like to pursue, being a writer is what I'm in love with at the moment.
Life is what it is though, you can plan as much as you wish, but you never know where you will end and I've had a fantastic journey so far even if I'm yet to Produce a short.
I Have Several Projects at Various Stages of Development
That has to be one of the best lines delivered by Elliot and we will probably all remember it for a while. It says it all whilst saying nothing. What does it really mean? Is it not an easy way out when you are announcing to the world you are a writer, a director, an editor, yet you have nothing to show for it? Maybe some people will buy it and applaud you for it, but you also have to be true to yourself.
No one is out to get you, no one cares if you have many projects in the making or not, you are your worst judge and if you've made the announcement but have yet to take the first step then the only one you are letting down is yourself (unless you have a family to support and have quit your day job to become a writer).
We Make our Own Luck
Elliot also talked about luck and what we each call it. I believe luck doesn't happen, it's made. You don't get lucky by writing one script and then sitting and waiting to be discovered. You work bloody hard at it, work around your day job, push yourself, get your name out there, meet people and then after maybe a year or maybe ten years you get your reward, if you're lucky.
The Movie is a Lie
In the afternoon, we all enjoyed a session about Directing with Patrick Tucker and from that I learned the cinema is a lie - what we don't see on screen doesn't exist. It was a very interesting session in which he demonstrated various different shots and how they are best captured on camera, even if that means having to strike some very uncomfortable or even embarrassing poses. They might look odd in real life, but on screen appear natural.
At the end of the day, I felt refreshed and inspired, I was ready to get out there and make movies. It was time to network and meet all those like minded people whose minds had all been equally blown away. Where better to start then the pub next door filled with those same people.
I was glad to have met some fantastic people whom I hope to keep in touch with and who knows we could one day collaborate.
I wish all of those who attended the course good luck and keep smiling.