Wednesday, 27 August 2008

The Trickshot Story: Part 2 - Don’t Get It Right, Get It Shot

As a low (or, more often than not, no) budget filmmaker, there are two elements which are always against you – time and money. To be fair, these elements plague the big boys as well but they inspire a lot more invention when you have to work around pretty much everything. Our first attempt at our own stuff was a sort of scaled back version of the Constantine story – a short film this time at least, around 10 minutes long. Called The Deal, written by Yours Truly and starring Yours Truly and Yours Truly’s Little Brother, it is, quite frankly, a shambles. Firstly, it’s entirely dialogue based so would work perfectly fine on the radio. (That’s not to say that there aren’t great dialogue films, just that this wasn’t one of them.) Secondly, it’s set in bar and was shot in Rich’s parents living room and looks like it’s set in bar but shot in Rich’s parents living room. Thirdly, we had no idea of shot composition and, as we hadn’t learned the lines, shot it shot by shot from different angles. The result? Nobody knows who these two characters are supposed to be making eye contact with at any given time. You can find it as an easter egg on one of our DVDs But I’m not gonna tell you which one and how to find it (partly because I can’t remember how to find it, yes).

Still, every experience is learning experience and this has been our whole approach to filmmaking – try it. If it doesn’t work or you balls it up, make damn sure you don’t do that again. We didn’t go to film school… hmmm, that sounds a little bit like the bitter guy in the pub who resents the students getting all the jobs. It’s not meant like that. It’s just that we didn’t realise this was what we wanted to do until late in our school careers and, although we went to a private school, it didn’t offer anything in the way of media-related courses. So, come university time, the people going to film school were the ones that had done media studies already or had built up a showreel in their spare time. Trial and error for us it was.

I managed to do some media related courses at university (let’s face it, a Media Studies degree is mainly waffle) which helped with our concepts of shot composition but we mostly watched, read and learned ourselves.

Next up was out of the gate was an homage to things very dear to our heart. More on that later…

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The Trickshot Story: Part 1 - My Life In Film

I love films. Not all films. Some of them are rubbish.* However, there are enough films out to evoke a sense of wonder, of enjoyment, of fear, of disgust, of pleasure, of anger and of many other shades inbetween to justify my love. It’s a lifelong thing for me. I can always remember watching lots of films as a youngling and, if I loved it, wanting to watch it again. I know a number who will hardly ever a film again once they’ve seen it – their argument being that once they’ve seen it, they don’t need to watch it again (and besides there are a lot more films out there to get through). I can understand that argument to an extent but, having the need to rewatch deeply ingrained from a young age, I don’t fully get it. For me, it’s the same as an album – you wouldn’t listen to it once and then not listen to it again. (That’s not to say that I watch everything more than once – good grief, no, there aren’t enough hours in the day.)

I don’t want to get the impression that my love of film is somehow elitist, either. I love so many different types of film – even my most hated of genres can, when providing exceptions to their generic crappy rules, provide something great (yes, Romcom**, I’m looking at you and, for everything that should make you hang your head in shame, there are Amelie and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind).

So I guess it was only natural that I’d want to start making them myself. I’m not sure when I first decided to start making films. My schoolfriend Rich (my co-conspirator in things filmic for nigh on 15 years now) and I have discussed this recently and we don’t really remember a moment where we said, “Yes, we are to be filmmakers and, lo, shall the word tremble to our mighty combination of moving picture and sound” (or words to that effect). We went through a phase of watching lots of films like Clerks, Reservoir Dogs and El Mariachi and suddenly realising that these people were just going out there and doing it (sometimes on their credit cards). I do remember that we tried to film an adaptation of the DC comic Hellblazer (the exact storyline which was later adapted and utterly ruined to make the film Constantine with Keanu Reeves – our version would have been better. I’m a better actor. But then plankton is a better actor than Reeves.) Fortunately, only a few scenes were shot and, even more fortunately, they’ll never see the light of day. We may have slightly ambitious trying to film a 90 minute feature in the school holidays with one VHS camera and our mates. Still, aim high and, if you’re gonna, fall spectacularly. Well, everyone remembers an impressive fall.

We re-grouped at university and started again with Trickshot Films. And there I shall leave it for today…

*You may believe that to be a subjective, qualitative statement but it’s not. It’s true. Some films are rubbish. Like Batman and Robin. It’s rubbish. That’s a fact. No, no, a fact. Well, I see what you’re saying. But you’re wrong. Anyway, go back to the top.

**Eurgh, even the term makes me feel all sour and grumpy.

Monday, 25 August 2008

A New Beginning

Introduction #1 - The New Reader

Hello, I'm Nick. Nice to meet you, yes. I suppose I should give you a proper welcome, really. Willkommen, bienvenue and hearty felicitations to you, my new inter-web friend. This here selection of blog-style writings promises to be rambling, meandering, wittering and aimless in a simultaneous fashion. And if that doesn't entice you in then I'll probably just start handing out fivers round about the third post.* Feel free to skip the next paragraph and head on down the page - that's for any old-timers lurking about.

Introduction #2 - The MySpace Reader

Yes, well, that was the shortest retirement from the world of blogging ever, wasn't it? Although technically I haven't contradicted myself. It was more a resignation from one site and a new post at another. The MySpace blog is dead, it has ceased to be, it is an ex...well, you get where I'm going with that one. It's just always the way that, as soon as you tell yourself you're not going to do something anymore, it becomes the only thing you want to do. Psychology - tricky blighter, eh? Maybe I'll become a sort of Littlest Hobo of the blogging world (only without the neckerchief and with just the two legs), moving from site to site once that voice keeps on calling me, down the road that's where I'll always be.... There we go, I'm digressing already. Like putting on a comfortable pair of old shoes, isn't it?

Anyhoo, old and new, we're all here. So what's today's selection of reasonably random ramblings? Well, I've been thinking about thinking recently. I know that seems like a somewhat circular pastime which may well lead to migraining of the head and eventually bleeding of the nose but I can't help it. I'm a thinker. My mind tends to get caught up in little digressions and dialogues all of it's own. We all do it. We all have those moments where we find ourselves imagining how a conversation will go / should have gone / could have oh-so-much better if only I'd said that. And we all have those moments where we imagine someone asking us something so that we can launch into a fabulously well-informed mini-lecture on our favourite subject which will both scintillate and fascinate (come on, I know I'm not the only one who does it). I'm more thinking about those moments between all those thoughts that somehow link them from one to the next that take you from, say, a mini internal critique of the film you've just watched through to wondering if the back window is open all via
I've been trying to trace my trains of thought and it's a tricky beast. Mainly because once you start thinking about trying to keep track of your thought flow, you're no longer just going through - you're now influencing it's direction. Yep, I think I'm heading into migraine territory...

All of which is to say that most posts in these here pages will very probably meander along like the twists and turns of a small river until they very suddenly reach a dam.

Like this one.

No change there then, some of you are thinking. Whether that's a good or a bad thing is entirely a matter for you to decide...

*Disclaimer: Under no circumstances should the previous statement be seen as a binding contract for the distribution of fivers between That Baldy Fella Blogging Industries and the reader.