Posts Tagged ‘film’

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All Change, All Panic, All Part of the Job

July 3, 2012

Originally this post was going to be entitled “Two Weeks Til I Shit Myself” because the shoot dates for the new Persona story are looming and while we’re confident in the story and the script, all the other ingredients in this cinematic cake are still sat on the shelves in ASDA. Three elements in particular worry me:

1) None of the locations have been tied down.

2) The DoP isn’t confirmed, neither is the soundo or the make up artist.

3) We’ve started the casting process but not really seen anyone for the roles yet.

About the only tangible progress made has been with the breakdown and storyboarding- more on that in another post- but even that’s debatable now because after a few weeks of exec producer incommunicado we hear that there have been a few changes in Camp Persona:

1) Our broadcast date has been pushed back to September meaning there’s no pressure to shoot everything in two weeks time. This has metaphorically saved me buying plastic pants.

2) The structure of the show has changed- rather than twelve appisodes of 60-90sec, it’s now eighteen episodes of 60sec. This has sent me on an errand back to the metaphorical plastic pants shop, wallet in hand.

Why is this an issue? Because it means some scenes will have to be cut down, new ones added and some deleted altogether. There’s actually a lot you can do in a 90sec time slot. There’s a lot less you can achieve in 60sec. 33% less to be anally exact. Currently, I like the script. The writer likes the script. The potential leading man likes the script. With the restructuring, a lot of the scenes and stylistic choices we were looking at doing become impossible or ineffective. And annoyingly, since I’ve already started storyboarding (using the rather excellent Celtx cloud system I might add), a lot of my work is going to have to be thrown out.

Am I annoyed? A little. Obviously the shoot dates being pushed back is a blessing, but the extra restructuring and redrafting is going to eat into that extra time quite easily. Also, I’m not sure the story’s going to work so well in its new guise. It was hard enough to tell a story in the old pattern- as I found out with the previous story!

But these are the sorts of things you encounter as a gun-for-hire director. Studios and executives change their minds on what the show needs to be, you get asked to shoehorn certain elements or actors or product placements into the piece and you have to field all this stuff while trying desperately to cling on to an ever-changing story that’s wriggling around like a puppy that doesn’t want to be held. Many directors, lured by the idyllic life of the indie filmmaker or the triple A above-the-line Speilbergs of the industry, would probably give up and put all their eggs in the “being discovered” basket when faced with this. But I see this as an opportunity to practice the necessary skills to actually get regular (ish), professional (ish), paid work- these are the working director’s equivalent of dealing with difficult customers or an incompetent boss or dealing with company rules. Sure, they’re a pain in the arse, but you have to deal with them if you want to get paid.

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Arr, There Be Pirates!

June 23, 2012

I’ve been meaning to write a post on downloads, piracy and media business-type stuff but have avoided the topic like a friday night burger van because the chance of coming off as a twat is too high.

The issue is that so much media now is consumed via computer or computer-type devices with internet connections (iPhone, PS3, ipTV etc) that the opportunities for acquiring it through less than official or legal ways are easily taken advantage of. If you work in a media industry- music, film, TV, print- there’s always the concern that while lots of people are seeing/listening/reading your work, you won’t be earning a penny for it. This leads to many of us whining about how people are ripping us off- a sentiment that doesn’t endear us to the average consumer. Especially because they believe all media types earn enough money as it is (as a side note, we don’t…) but also because they know the media industry is led and controlled by billionaires like Rupert Murdoch- which apparently makes content theft okay. The idea that piracy is acceptable because your money is lining the pockets of some conveniently-evil (and undoubtedly puppy-kicking) cigar-chomping fat-cat is quite frankly bollocks because while they’ll miss their large cut of the profits, the poor sods whose hard graft actually made the product will miss it a whole lot more.

Although, if you start pointing that shit out, you’re usually on the receiving end of disbelief/doubt/non-sympathy and look like the aforementioned twat. As such, I’ve always avoided throwing my small change on the matter into the fountain of debate (til thirty seconds ago obviously…).

And then I saw this little article (http://techcrunch.com/2012/06/09/meet-the-filmmaker-who-talked-back-to-the-pirate-bay/) and felt that the man had a point. For those too lazy to read the article, Tom Lowe is a filmmaker who found his (quite excellent) Koyaanisqatsi-esque film “Timescapes” available on a torrent site and rather than bitch and moan about it, posted a comment along the lines of “If you like the film, please consider buying a copy from our website.” Hats off and fair play to the man. In the interview he says that piracy and illegal downloads are a reality filmmakers now have to face but if you alter your business model and preconceptions, you can still earn from your film and audiences still see your work.

It’s a refreshing, down-to-earth and, frankly, mature outlook on the state of the industry and I for one applaud him for it. Filmmakers, production companies and studios need to adjust their business model to reflect the world and the way audiences want to experience their work.

Take music downloads as an example. Ten years ago, the music industry was panic-stricken about illegal downloads- people ripping their CDs and sharing the files via P2P services. It was only when the likes of iTunes store came along with their not-free-but-cheap-enough-to-be-painless brand of legal download did the worry about shareware disappear. Lets face it, who’s used any torrent service to download music any time recently? Most people just fire up iTunes, pay their 79p and don’t worry about it. In fact, more people buy tracks from iTunes than they do CDs from HMV.

The film and TV industry really needs to take a leaf out of the music industry to combat piracy by making legal downloads a viable cost option for punters and yet still turn a profit. The music industry still has a way to go with regard to sharing out those profit pie slices (many musicians find they’re not getting much out of the downloads system) and I suppose a lot of that is to do with the cost of downloads. It just goes to show that it’s a new market environment out there and the old methods just don’t apply anymore, but as long as there are people like Tom Lowe willing to see things in a progressive and mature light, we should be able to create an industry where customers get their stuff and the artist gets a living wage.