The longlist for the Reed Short Film Competition is up! And I’m not on it. 😦
But the good thing about filmmaking – well, about creating stuff in general – is that it’s the doing the counts. And for this year’s competition I have been involved in two very different shorts that I’m very proud of, and that I learned an enormous amount from. And lots of people watched them, and quite a few liked them, and those that didn’t told me why, which helps.* All good!
I entered last year with This is Susan, left, as part of a very tiny team – Kate Madison of Actors at Work, actor Sheila Tait, and my son, Lachlan, as boom guy. I wrote the script and found the location, Kate filmed it, sound went directly into her camera, we used natural light only, Sheila did a fantastic job in the role of Susan, and Kate and I edited it together (well, I sat next to Kate while she did magical seeming things on Final Cut). But this year I decided to be more collaborative. A team consisting of myself, Kate, actor/writer/director Christopher Dane, actor Robert Jezek, and student and aspiring producer Jen Ruppert, whom I met when she was SFX operator at a WRiTEON event, got together at a pub to brainstorm ideas around the Reed theme – The Boss.
I recommend this. It’s loads of fun, and very effective. As it turns out, several of the ideas we came up with were actually made by other people (listening devices in the pub, obviously) and one of those has been chosen for the longlist (won’t embarrass them by saying which…oh alright it’s this one and by the way it’s brilliant.) I volunteered to write our ideas up as treatments or even scripts if I was inspired. I spent a long time trying to make one based on Paranormal Activity work (never did), and ended up writing two full scripts, one from an idea of Chris’s and another from an idea of Jen’s. I was getting an email together to send these to everyone when a new idea went Pa-Zing! and popped into my head pretty much complete. It made me laugh, so I wrote it down in the body of the email and said something like, “Or how about this cowboy film…which obviously we can’t do but wouldn’t it be fun?”
After I’d sent it I felt curious so I started googling things like Western Riding, UK, and discovered that there was this amazing community out there – the Great British West, I call it (documentary, anyone?) – of people who love the style, values and horses of the American West – including a quarter horse breeder and Western riding school just down the road in March!
Kate hadn’t let the manure sit on the paddock either – almost as soon as she got my message, she’d rung up Laredo Western Town in, can you believe it, Kent. That didn’t work out in the end – they couldn’t supply horses and we didn’t have any money, but just looking at the pictures of the place made us all even keener to have a go at our own Western. Not least because in Chris and Robert we had two hunky guys who just had to be seen in cowboy attire. I sent my search results to our producer, Jen Ruppert, and next thing I knew she and I were heading out to March to meet the amazing David and Sarah Deptford, owners of Horse Creek Ranch, home of Sovereign Quarter Horses.
Meanwhile, Chris had taken my draft script of his idea and reworked it (depressingly brilliantly – he writes action so well and that was a lesson in itself). There was a great part for Kate, and Chris’s first choice for the other key role, Paul Richards, was miraculously available, and Jen came up trumps with an office location, so we were good to go for Reed number one – Mr Abernathy, also directed (again rather brilliantly) by Chris. I got a script contribution credit and a cameo, which was fun.
Two weeks later, we were back at Horse Creek Ranch to shoot my last minute cowboy idea, under my own somewhat terrified direction (crew of 12 this time, including our amazing DOP, David Hands, who has more than 20 years experience in the field including being a founding Director of Crewhouse Media). Kate took the job of 1st AD, which mean that both DOP and AD had vastly more experience than the director and carried on several heated conversations which I didn’t even understand, but that’s another story.
The result (fanfare here) is Rustlers (CLICK TO WATCH).
This wonderful photo, by the way, was taken by up and coming cinematographer Alexandra Medeville (maxing out on the link love in this post…).
Right. So that’s the Reed done for this year. Currently I’m working on scripts for the 50 Kisses and VM Shorts competitions. I’ve done four so far. If you are interested in working with me, get in touch!
*Footnote: I read this somewhere recently: When someone tells you what they didn’t like about your work, be very happy. It means they still think there’s hope for you.