Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Call to Pens and Keyboards

Let me paint you a picture: I am a recent film school graduate who is committed to writing his first feature film script. And so, I put lots of time aside, sit at my computer and… play lots of sudoku and Scrabble on the internet.

Let me paint you another picture: on March 21, 2011 Jim Schembri wrote a strong article about how 3 Aussie films (representing over $9million of investment) all opened on the same weekend and all, financially speaking, died on their arses. That is the industry we are in.

So what is an answer?

Stephen Cleary (former Head of Development of British Screen and founder of the famous ARISTA workshops) has suggested that technology has reached a stage where traditional screenplay development (draft/feedback/redraft/feedback/etc ad nauseum) can change. That producers, directors and even cinematographers can be a part of a screenwriter’s development process. Such a collaboration could present a marked difference from the current model of a debut screenwriter working on that script for years and years only for the resulting film to find no audience.

Along a similar line, Duncan Jones (director of Moon and Source Code) was recently asked what should emerging or aspiring filmmakers do in order to move their projects and careers along. He replied:

Gather a group of like-minded people around you, find people who want to be producers, cinematographers, actors and composers, because you're always going to have far more ability to get things made if you have the momentum of a group of people working together. It's hard work trying to do it on your own, and you'll be taken more seriously if there's a group of you.

Which, in a round-about fashion, brings me to Line by Line. I needed a community of filmmakers (not just writers) to bounce my ideas off, to provide invaluable feedback, to remind me that I am using a visual medium, to encourage me to meet the deadlines I have set for myself and, above all, to never forget that I am writing for an audience.

When talking about it, it appears that others wanted such a community as well – to develop their own projects or simply to develop their story-telling skills. Among these filmmakers, Pony, Khrobberini and Marie in particular have decided to make sure this community happens. Here is why:

Pony: Ambitions can't be achieved without the work. With Line By Line we can be accountable to our dreams by setting goals with like-minded collaborators and jointly chip away at the obstacles between us and great possibilities. So, let the work begin!

Khrobberini: For me it's about the survival of the fittest ideas. Line by Line seems to be the perfect place to practice a little Darwinian 'natural selection.' Following the repetitive process of Selection -> Mutation, (pitching/discussuin -> alcohol) I hope Line by Line will evolve my scripts into efficient killers. Stories! Efficient STORIES. About sharks. Maybe a shark terrorising a seaside community... hmmm...

Marie: As a Producer, I'm interested in good stories and want to help provide opportunities for writers to develop those stories. I know that working in isolation can be uninspiring, and sometimes the best work can come from trusted collaborations or simply by knowing the guy next to you is writing too. That's the environment we're trying to create here. You decide how you want to tap into it!

Line by line is now happening and I am so excited to think that in 4 months I will have a treatment or a first draft that is stronger than a document I could have taken 18 months to write when left to my own devices (such as the aforementioned sudoku)!

And so… it begins!

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