The first in a ten part series sharing 101 things I learnt whilst writing, directing and producing my first feature.
- Not all ideas are born equal. I completed three screenplays in total before the story of 'Strange Factories' even existed. None of them were right. 'GraveLand' was even set in the same location as 'Strange Factories'. I re-wrote many, many drafts to make 'GraveLand' the one, but it just wasn't. It was tough for me to accept, but I'm glad I suffered the process as the lessons I learnt over those re-drafts are immensely valuable. Don't willingly accept the first idea for a screenplay that comes to mind. You may need to clear some distance to reach the place in your imagination that holds the key to the right story.
- It's easier to write a script for an incredible location than it is to find an incredible location for a script that already exists. 'Strange Factories' was written with full knowledge of the environment and location that we would be using. This location inspired and shaped the story.
- You never have enough time to rewrite and you can never do enough drafts of your script. Leave time for another draft after your rehearsal period.
- Fundraising and crowd funding require more focus, work and attention than any other element of pre-production. They're easily one of the most brutal elements of the filmmaking process. Be willing to get your hands dirty. You'll learn why having a pair of human eyes on your funding page means people are more willing to give money to your campaign, and this will feel like a small victory. If you take it seriously, you'll learn a whole set of skills that will aid you in the future, not only in filmmaking. I recommend picking up a copy of the 'Influential Fundraiser.'
- Rehearsals are not only for actors. The more time you spend with your team working out how you'll shoot together, the better.
- Your mind and body is as much a resource as your camera and your location. Making a feature film is a marathon. You need to be healthy and fit enough to not only direct, but to carry equipment and props (sometimes for miles and miles up very large hills if you can't afford transport). The entire process of making a feature on a tiny budget will push you to your limits and beyond. Don't underestimate how much you need to prepare and get fit before you start. Not only physically, but mentally too. A daily meditation routine is the reason I'm still here.
- Instincts are rarely wrong when it comes to what you feel you need to shoot. There are scenes in 'Strange Factories' that exist only because of mad moments of inspiration. I couldn't always explain why I needed them, but I just knew and some of these scenes have proven crucial to the story I wanted to tell.
- You make your film more than once, some say it's three times: when you write the script, during the shoot and in the edit. I'd say it's more than three times. I'd count the rehearsal process and also how you choose to eventually share your story when you exhibit or unveil the work. You could also include the creation of any transmedia elements if they have depth and truly exist within the story world. The 'Strange Factories' live cinema event will be another chance to create and tell the story that first came to me four years ago.
- I've never had much patience, but as a filmmaker I've learnt that patience is a prerequisite on many, many levels. Sometimes there's nothing you can do but wait.
- Have faith, because if you don't have faith in your film, who will?.
That's it for part one, part two will be posted in late April.