Saturday, December 1, 2012

When Words Become A Film - Screening Night!

I had the great pleasure of going to the graduation night screenings for the Central Institute of Technology on Thursday. Amongst the five films was For Better Or Worse, the one I wrote (based on previous drafts by Nathan Abrahams and Jacob Kemp). So I was excited and nervous as I had not seen anything up to this point.

The night was held at the Cinema Paradiso and there were "VIP" drinks upstairs beforehand with the soon to be no longer students, staff from CIT, actors and, yes, they even invited the writer!

I was greeted with the poster which looked quite slick and eager members of the creative team and crew who were far more nervous and amped than I was. It was interesting as many of them stated that they really wanted me to like the film.

I must have been pretty relaxed as normally the paranoid, angst driven writer within would have screamed, "what the hell have you done to my script?!!!" Just kidding... I wouldn't have screamed. Instead, I took this as a great compliment and headed for the bar to cash in my free drink token.

These nights are wonderful as everyone is keen to show off the fruits of their hard labour and talent over the previous year. There are also the proud parents and, from what I recall, quite a lot of kids running around. So it's a really different type of atmosphere. I should also mention this. There were far too many tall people in the room including our divine leading lady Clara Helms and sundry other actors. Special mention then to Emilia - we shared the crick inducing neck pain with good humour and fortitude!

Okay, enough of the preamble, onto the heart of the matter, the screening!

Each producer and director introduced their film and I would like to thank Cathryn Langman and Jacob Kemp for their gracious and kind words in regard to my involvement and the script.

Then came the film itself. Now this is where it gets really interesting. I know the film that's in my head. I was now seeing another film. Let me make it clear, the following is for the purposes of exploring that difference only. The short film was a collaborative effort of which I was only a small part. I have no idea of any of the issues in post-production other than someone said there was a 17 minute rough cut and it appears all the graduating films could be no longer than 12 minutes (it is a 12 page script).

People were asking me afterwards if I liked the film, and I did, but I was still processing what those two versions were - what I'd just seen and what was in my head. I was probably the least qualified person in the room to ask that question at that point. The people I spoke to seemed to all like it and understood the story which is my primary concern.

Here's the thing, I know what was missing. I haven't looked at the script but there were at least three scenes that never made the cut; the ending was played out differently to what was written (largely, as I understand it, to logistical issues on that shooting day) and there were other choices that weren't what I expected. Now, that could be entirely my doing if I wasn't clear enough on the page. But from the feedback it still worked and I'm not in a position to second guess the decision making process in the edit. Five minutes is a lot to lose!

There's only one scene I lament being lost. That was an early set-up scene between Vincent (Justin Burford) and Joelene (Clara Helms) which would have given the world and relationships more context. However, people clapped, the advanced diploma students were rightfully proud and I saw my words come to life off the page. My head even didn't explode when different dialogue had been looped in at certain parts! That's a pretty good result I reckon - proud filmmakers that is, not the exploding head bit.

The other four films were great; speeches were made; graduation - I think they were engraved tablets of some kind - were handed out. More applause and a collective sigh of relief and excitement as the now fully fledged filmmaking class disappeared to eat cake and party into the night.

Of our cast I think I am right in saying only Clara was able to attend but it was fabulous to talk to her parents who were lovely and so supportive of their talented daughter. As was watching the reaction of other parents in the audience during the ceremonies. Those things really are important - the support of family and friends but also being able to share your creative passion so they get to see what all the hard work (and tears) amounts to. It was left then to chat with colleagues and make plans for the next project!

A really good night and thank you and congratulations to all the people who worked on For Better Or Worse; the Central Institute of Technology; and special mention to David Revill who brought me on board, albeit late in the piece, but we got there in the end!

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