Sunday, 12 October 2014

Week One: I'm making a film.

A short film, to be clear. But a long post to be sure.

Do please excuse the dust, and here take this stick to move the cobwebs out of the way of these typed words. Yes its been a while since I updated this blog... but lets not pretend you were waiting.

I'm now in my third and final year of university, its gone fast... too fast, its like time is slipping me by and Im not skilled enough find a way to slow it down again. The scary moment was turning 22 this week and not really thinking much of it. The top of my birthday list is a new desk chair! What happened to wanting Lego, DVDs and sweets? In fairness I still want Lego... and copious amounts of DVDs, and lets not discuss my sweet tooth... where was I? OH YEAH! Clumsily discussing the passage of time! Theres a reason for that and it ties into the title of this post... BUT FIRST ~

Some backstory or somethin'

Animation Production at AUB
At AUB (Arts University Bournemouth) the third year is given over to the production of 12 (or 13 depending on the whim of the tutors) animated short films. So during the second half of my second year myself and my piers worked on the creation and development of individual film pitches. 
In the first week of third year, you step onto a stage, project your animatic onto a cinema screen and nervously pitch your idea to 200 or so tired and hungover animation students. 

In years past its been a riveting affair with memorable pitches sending myself and friends into dumb stupors and proclaiming we could do better. Last week was our pitch week, time to put our ideas out there. 

I'd like to thank a few people at this point, they helped me though bleak late nights and talked me down when I nearly pulled my idea from pitching. So cheers to my Housemates (who shall remain a singular entity), Richard B Brookes and Guy Lambert, you all gave me advice and courage that really, REALLY helped.


I must state now that I will not be saying the names of the films pitched or picked, partly because I don't know if the University will let me yet (rules 'n' such) and partly because the other directors deserve to release the information when they are ready on their own grounds.

Super-Duper Pitching Location, Sawnage
I watched my friends pitch for a day and half before I stepped out onto stage, into the beam of a bright light and switched to some form of autopilot. I remember very little about my pitch, but it must of been good, right? 
My ending words of "Romantic Kiss... Steam... Train." (I had to do a second screening of my animatic with running commentary (usually seen as a death sign)) have been recited at me so many times, I genuinely think those four words might have won me that pitch. 

The flowing day was voting. 

Everyone is given a sheet with all the films pitched (29 this year I think?) and they vote from 1 to 10 (10 being highest) on the films they want to get made. 
After that me and some friends went to the student bar at BU (the university next door) we ate, drank and waited for about 3 hours, it was kinda maddening.
I was preparing myself to not get through, Id already lined up films to work on. Sure, Id be miffed if my film didn't get made, I had put myself behind it and it would be a blow to my confidence, but I was ready to be an animator on someone else's film and be happy with that.

As a year group we sat waiting patiently in the studio, you could really feel the tension. Finally the tutors came in with folders under their arms and annotated papers. The votes were in and counted.
We were assured we had presented a great pitch week, that not getting your film made was not a reflection on you/ your work and that we would never know the numbers of votes (quite right too).

From out of a box of 13, one of our tutors produced a randomly selected piece of paper and read aloud a name of a film. 

My friends films and some other great films came out of the hat, by the ninth I realised there was a great selection of films to work on, and then "Ten, ****** ******" (My film).

I was happy. I still am.

My mad, slightly hockey and tragically romantic film had been voted for, and it was/ IS to be made. Theres a budget and everything! I've got a great team of talented people working with me. I've got a producer who keeps me on schedule. I'm a director, one of 13, part of a pedigree if you'll indulge me. I love it. 

Yes its terrifying, its going to be stressful and of course I don't know what I'm doing.
But thats the point right? Now I get to learn, and get others to see my vision so we can work together to produce a strong film. Im so excited, I'm a kid in a toy store and... you get the picture.

As for the film itself? It's about regret, it's about obsession, it's about building a new future and making the right choices. It's also about a Train. 

Storyboard Panel for the film

The first day of scheduled production was Tuesday 7th October, my birthday (SEE IT ALL TIES TOGETHER!) This week has been getting the ball rolling, getting to grips with being the head decision maker and beginning to understand the mammoth task ahead.
This coming week will be all about getting the story down and getting a new storyboard/ animatic together. 

I'm in a poison I've coveted for years, and I love it.

Cheers, Jon.