Saturday, June 28, 2014

Short Film Update or I Think I Wrote That or A Writer’s Lament

It’s been a shitty week at work. Scrap that, it’s been a shitty month. I’m not usually prone to work related stress but I’ve been feeling it of late – overwhelmed by the sheer volume of activity and the kind of long hours I promised myself I’d never return to when I went back to the corporate world. A state of affairs that I will be redressing as of next week I can assure you, good reader.

It’s fair to say then that I wasn’t my usual witty self when I wandered over to the latest PAC Script Lab reading straight from work. Not helped by the fact that, for some reason (perhaps because it was much warmer in the State Library than the morgue-like temperature my office building is set at?), I suddenly couldn’t hear very well as if my ears were stuffed with cotton wool. I was tired and cranky, a state not immediately solved by free wine. A combination of my general absence from the ‘film scene’ and an unruly winter beard also meant that I was largely incognito. I suspect my general demeanour may have been a contributing factor, another issue to address.

I did, however, have a conversation with the director of Filmbites who is easily one of the nicest people in the local film business. Amongst the general chitchat she gave me an update on the short film Darkness that I wrote in the second half of 2011 after attending two sessions with Filmbites’ advanced acting students in the middle of that year.


Apparently the footage is looking great, the special effects are now being done, and the producer and director are really happy with some local act that will be doing the music.

My reaction was interesting. I nodded politely and smiled but I had no personal or emotional response as such at all.

Three years ago I created the story from basically two disparate improvisations by those young actors. Initially I wrote, I think, three drafts. Then a director needed to be attached. I had a meeting with the person who would become the director one evening in a cafĂ© to do the pitch. He came on board but requested changes to the script. This was fine as the basic idea was unaltered – it was mainly tweaking the ending which changed the tone somewhat but that wasn’t a deal breaker. As this was part of an inaugural programme for the film school the goal was to have as strong a script as possible. The director subsequently brought on board an up and coming producer and things were all set. I attended auditions, an entire afternoon of rehearsals in about April 2012, and was on location a few times when the film was finally in production. In other words I was an integral part of the process… up to that point.

Since then I haven’t seen one second of footage or had any input into or even been advised of any creative decisions. I briefly met the editor earlier this year who is an expatriate Western Australian now working in LA (with many impressive assistant editor credits on some big Hollywood films) and she was lovely but talk of possibly seeing an edit ended up being just that, talk.

I understand that as everyone is volunteering their time this was going to be a long process but from being one of the early driving forces I’m not even a bit player anymore. I haven’t had any conversations with the director or producer for ages so I really have no idea what the final film is going to be like. I’ve also lost touch with the actors who’ve gone on to varied things, one now attempting to forge a career in LA. This may be a screenwriter’s fate in the greater scheme of things though a little disappointing given the nature of the programme that was the impetus in the first place. I probably also cast an envious eye at tightknit creative teams like Seventh Continent Productions and others doing well with their short films.

So when I was hearing the update Thursday night I felt very remote from it all. Unfortunate but I guess I did my job a long time ago and once that’s complete my involvement to all intents and purposes is over.

I hope it turns out well.

I suppose I’ll find out the same time everyone else does.