Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A shortage of directors?

I trust everyone had an enjoyable Christmas and is looking forward to the new year! I got some shiny presents from friends and family as well as some cash to spend the next time I get 5 minutes to wander near HMV.

This morning I posted a job advert on mandy.com for a short film I thought of on Boxing Day. It was one of those ideas where everything comes at once - the story, the characters, the theme, the message etc. It's also on a subject I feel very strongly about:

War Stories is a 20-30 minute film following a British Army regiment on an assignment in Afghanistan. As they carry out their mission, their stories are told through flashbacks to their previous lives. Every soldier is a person. Every soldier has someone at home who cares about them. And every soldier has a story to tell.

The first thing you'll notice is that for a short film, it's rather long (up to 30 minutes!). Nevertheless, i think the story justifies this length. Biting the bullet, I posted on mandy.com looking for a director. Now for some reason I thought this would be a fairly longshot. I thought I might get two, maybe three responses in the few weeks it was up. But within an hour I'd received 3 messages and as things stand at the moment, 13 directors have been in touch! UPDATE: make that 14 since posting this blog 2 minutes ago :S

So I think it's fair to say there's definitely not a shortage of directors out there. Problem #1 is choosing the "best" director. First they have to like my script (that is yet to be written) and secondly, we have to agree on what should be done. I'm in no rush to jump in and agree to work with a director before exploring every possible angle, which is why I intend to send the script to each of them and see what notes they make.

Problem #2 is the budget. Money isn't my strong suit - I'm not even sure how much money is sitting in my current account at the moment! But what I do know is that a 20-30 minute film set in 4 locations (one being Afghanistan) and featuring gunfire, military movements and an RPG (that's a rocket launcher for the pacifists out there) isn't going to come cheap! So I'm currently doing things the old fashioned way - emailing production companies and personal producers asking them if they'd be remotely interested.

So far......I have one possible lead. But it's early days yet and I'm not giving up. So if there's anyone out there who has an urge fork up £10,000 to produce a non-profit short film that pays tribute to the soldiers out in Afghanistan*, do let me know.

Over and out!

*See how I play on your feelings
towards people who die so you
can live? No? Not working?
, you cold-hearted bastard!


Anonymous said...

Just a quick note. Saw your post on Mandy.com and thought I would do a bit of research before responding. Not my kinda thing so I'm not responding but having read your blog post I thought I would flag up that £10,000 for a 30 min film with four loctaions (one AFGHANISTAN!) and arms fire is no were near enough, not even close. You need to be looking for £100,000 plus I'm afraid.

Neil said...

Appreciate the info, Anon. Obviously would hope to do it as cheaply as possible (filming in Afghan itself would probably be out of the question anyway, so I imagine we'd go for a place that looks as much like it as possible).

Again, thanks for the research - it's not going to be easy, but I;m not giving up yet lol

The Kid In The Front Row said...

Also, you won't get any funding interest from anyone when you just throw out a number like £10,000 - you need to budget the film, and that can only be done when there's a screenplay. At that point, you break it sound scene by scene, actor by actor, prop by prop, location by location.

Production companies are not going to fund a short film that they can't get any return on. Also, a 30 minute short film is a very tricky thing because production companies/distributors know they're hard to get people to watch-- at film festivals, it's the 30 minute films that get rejected. But, being about a topical issue, you are more likely to strike gold.

Why are you looking for a director when you don't have a screenplay? Getting Directors interested is easy, I could post an ad now for my 40 minute film about polar bears who rape lampposts, and I would get responses from Directors.

If you want to get the film made, for real, you should really knuckle down and write the screenplay.. only then can you truly budget it and only with a screenplay are you going to be able to get funding. The problem with having no script is that, you might be lucky and someone does want a script written about Afghanistan, and they might use you, but they're going to put their hands in the pie and want to dictate the story.

I write all this only because I believe in you and want to see you get things made... go and write the thing! Get it written, it might be a truly amazing script-- and when that's the case, you'll hold a lot of power when it comes to getting great directors, to negotiating funding, etc

Good Luck!

Neil said...

Thanks for the advice, Kid. Hoping to decide on a director soon and then work out budgetting. I'm going through all this blind with a limited knowledge of the process. Won't be easy, but should be fun!