B L O G
...the story behind the story...
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A blog - Part 1
In 2010 my producers and I had managed to secure two point six million pounds to shoot a romantic comedy in London. Camped at a London studio, sets designed, cast rehearsing and on the verge of having affairs already and I’m in the starting gate and ready to be released into the bull ring. The money fell through at the last minute and I remained in the starting gate, bucking, bolting and rearing myself against the penn. The doors however, never opened.
As they say in Hollywood, “I should sell shoes” until a very experienced filmmaker assured me that this is just the opposite, it’s the beginning and that I had earned a stripe and some battle scars to prove it. To me it just felt like a kicking. So, I retreated back to my office, a photograph of a smiling me and my producers shaking hands on the 1st day of pre-production on the film that had just fallen apart, facing me on the wall opposite,
What to do next. I drew on all the scriptwriting books, seminars, courses I had taken. I imagined Robert Mckee, screenwriting guru, on his last legs, screaming and spitting in my face “write what you know! Write what you know!” however, all I knew, at that point was a writer sitting alone in his office, wondering whether he had taken the wrong turn in his life and where that had lead him, wondering what to write. That’s not a film! - Or is Is it?
Having had produced and directed the odd commercial here and there, along with music videos and shorts, before turning to screenwriting, literature’s bastard naughty little cousin. Eight writing options under my belt for movies that never saw the light of day, Tv shows that never hit the small screen along with a dead exec who keeled over and had a heart attack the day before the official green-light. From specs scripts to, murderous jet lag induced, three day, LA trips for supposed Hollywood deals, that my agent was trying to set up and more spitballing- idea lunches that were on the verge leading to a liver complaint. And through it all, my fare share of the dreaded ‘script notes’.
Script notes. Those meanderings of development executives, those sometimes generic musings of those who hope they can shape your story into a palatable screen version for wide eyed popcorn chomping audiences.
For better or for worse an idea had stuck and when those rare moments occur, you stick with that as a concept, and find the story. I started writing the screenplay, I didn’t have a title, so it was by pure definition UNTITLED.
I was going to be a guy, who would write a script, to make a film about a guy, making a film, about another guy writing a script. Art imitating life, imitating art. A modern and twisted film noir in gloriously controversial, black and white. A dark twisted, sexy thriller about one man in a room who's day at the office is invaded by video calls, texts, phone calls and networking sites by the wonderful, bizarre and sometimes dangerous characters in his life as he ducks and dives to success.
Once the process had started, it became clear that by the very nature of the film I was making, made it mirror my life, whilst making it. It was strangely weird. As my character, Kurt Lovell discussed his low budget films on set, in between takes, I discussed mine on the phone. I was essentially shooting in the day and raising finance at night. Much like Kurt. I remember discussing a nude shot with an actress on the day we shot Kurt’s discussion about a nude shot with an actress, to his agent in his fictional life.
The truth is, film making is all consuming. No matter what story you tell. To be able to climb inside that story, that world, ensconce yourself in the characters and create the feeling you need to create for an audience and still keep it all afloat in the real world. Indie film making feels like something comedian Robin Williams once said, like riding a psychotic horse into a burning stable. But at the same time, working with such great talent, those who are helping you push that giant jelly up a hill, is always an honour and it still amazes me that you can find a crew of people of the same mind who can get together and put in all the little nuts and bolts and create a piece of entertainment, is extraordinary.