Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Movie Project 2011: So Far

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

What is the Project?

A couple of months ago, I spoke with my friend, Jessica, who I’d not seen for about a decade. Her life love is acting. She is a creative person who Miguel and I had worked with a little bit at one point. Jessica and I spoke of what we’d been doing over the last decade, and I told her I would attempt to introduce her to Nathan. So far as yet, they haven’t met face to face. Jessica and I did shoot a sketch with Miguel that Miguel might one day edit together and post.

The idea was to get to work on something that got us together as a group. It could be According To Whim sketches or another project of some form. A little time passed after we first spoke and there was nothing happening until one night she sent me an outline for a script. Based on this, I explained to Nathan and Miguel that we should start looking at a feature length. It was soon after this that Miguel and I did the sketch with Jessica.

Since the sketch we shot with Miguel, I’m not entirely sure what we’re doing. I’ll deal with what has been done later in this article. What I know is that I want to get together and work on a movie, and that is basically the project: Get everyone together and work on some sketches, a short movie, an episodic movie, or a feature length. While I’m hoping for a feature length movie at this point to get that goal out of the way, I simply want to work collaboratively with the people I respect.

What is My Intent?

I’ve wanted to do a feature length movie since around 1996. Depending on whether you count “ATW: Season Two” as a feature or an episodic story arc; it is now 2011, and I still want to do a feature length movie. I’ve heard that it’s what moviemakers do. They make movies. It feels like that’s what we should be doing.

We’ve done stuff in the last few years. We have a blog devoted to the stuff we’ve done. You’re reading it right now. Lately, Nathan has talked about how tough it has been to come up with topics, and I’m feeling the same way. As you can see in my CTFU series, I have no real problem with brainstorming topics, but we typically have had a mix of project topics and general topics. We have very few project topics lately.

I’ve been working a lot this year. It’s been nice for two reasons. I’m not struggling financially as much as I once was. I’ve had a lot of time to write. The problem is that I was always expecting the hours to dry up a little bit. So far as yet, they haven’t. I’m still working basically two full time jobs. The last time I worked two full time jobs, I had so much trouble maintaining 65 hours a week that I actually started to look into taxi driving to have better control over my work hours (as in working enough hours to pay my bills). I figured that this time around I would have the same issue of not getting enough hours, and I haven’t.

If I had a band or if we’d had a schedule here for project completion, I would have asked time off, but in lieu of all of that, I’ve just been working. I’m grateful for the hours, but it’s wearing thin. I always have a lot of personal projects going, and it’s been nice to work on them, but I miss collaborative efforts. I like collaborating with people. I like stepping away from the world of Chris’s ideas from time to time.

This movie is an attempt to get my cohorts together to work on something as a group. It hardly matters to me what it is. I just want it to be something that I can justify missing out on money on my paychecks to do. I’m not looking to make Chris’s movie, or for this to be Chris’s project. I simply want to do something, and in the process, we will have some blog material that has to do with the project work we’re doing. The problem is that while we’re doing some stuff on our own, “I sat down and I wrote for a few hours,” doesn’t make for a compelling blog post.

Writing and Assisting

So then what of the, “I sat down and I wrote for a few hours,” work that has been done?

Jessica presented a script outline. I asked her some questions to get a better idea of what her vision for the story is. Next, I asked her what she felt were the most important scenes and told her that those scenes might be a good place to start. She said she has done some writing on the script, but then she said a movie was just released that was a little too similar to her plot, so she wishes to rework her script.

Miguel, Jessica, and I arranged to get together to shoot a sketch one night after Nathan, Miguel, and I did some work on “ATW: Season Two.” I brainstormed but I only came up with one idea that we could shoot that day. When Miguel didn’t like my script I made suggestions. One of my suggestions was to start developing a short movie to do or a longer project to be done as webisodes. We shot the sketch in spite of Miguel’s misgivings.

Jessica called me up with two ideas for webisodes. We decided that she would develop one and I would develop the other. I’m not sure what work she has done on hers. I’ve done no work on mine. By the time she’d made these suggestions, Miguel was distracted by his life, and when I brought up doing a movie to Nathan, he had little to say.

Jessica called me wanting to meet and figure out what was going on with the project. I told her that at that point I figured we should each write a script for a feature length and schedule to get started in September. She agreed. I told Miguel and Nathan. I started working on two scripts, after brainstorming a number of ideas; more about these in a moment.

Nathan came up with a script idea and started writing the opening to it. He told me very little about it, hoping to get a first impression opinion when I read it.

I brought up the idea of doing a couple of short scripts that Nathan and I wrote a few years ago. Miguel told me that he had used Nathan’s idea as a jumping off point for his own script. He sent me the outline for it, but told me that he probably wouldn’t try to write it as a full script. He said that I could write it if I wanted to.

Nathan presented us with the opening for his script. He wrote eight and a half pages, as well as some ideas for how the plot would unfold, and then asked for help from Miguel and me. I’ve since asked him questions and then presented five possibilities for character development. I also put together a rough outline based on Nathan’s notes. I’m currently waiting for him to tell me what direction he feels the story should go. Once I understand his full vision, I can start helping him write if he still needs help.

As all of these things were happening, I have been working on scripts as well. I’ve written a 34 page script that translates to a 2 hour and 40 minute movie. I still need to fill in some more dialogue, because most of the movie has no dialogue, which is why it’s so short page wise. I will be presenting this to the group near the end of this week when I have it better completed. I don’t expect them to want to do my script because it is what Miguel calls a “two people talking” script, and it’s not even meant to have a whole lot of talking either.

I’ve written five and a half pages on an idea that I had a long while back, which is a short cyberpunk style movie that should be mostly in our budget range. I will finish writing that as soon as my feature length rough draft is done.

I brainstormed ten ideas (of varying quality) for short movies based around having a pregnant woman in the movie, as Jessica is five months pregnant (I didn’t do it!) at the moment. I also have about 1,000 words of five other basic ideas that I might work on while we’re shooting whatever we shoot.

I wrote a five and a half page script for a fourteen minute short, based on one of the brainstormed ideas with a pregnant woman. It’s not great, but it will be sufficient to get us started working together.

At this point, I’m simply waiting for a better idea of what Nathan and Jessica wish to do with their scripts, and if they want help, I’ll do some writing on those. I intend to continue working on my own ideas for possible future projects. I also intend to try to further develop Miguel’s script outline, as well as do the second draft of a feature length script he wrote in 1999.

Meetings

We will be having our first pre-production meetings on September 24 & 25, 2011, and three weekends in October. My original hope was that we would have scripts completed and read prior to the meetings and that we would have an idea what we would be working on. As it stands, the first few meetings might be script development, and discussion of what will need to be done to shoot one or more of the three short scripts we have ready (the two Nathan and I wrote a few years ago, and the one I wrote last week). I will write about the meetings as blog posts to the extent of any legwork we do.

Looking for Others

A while back, Nathan decided to look for other actors. He posted to Craigslist, and received two packets from actors who are clearly more professional than we are. Nathan was a little intimidated by this, because we do public access/You Tube stuff. I’ve discussed going to drama departments of the different colleges locally to find people interested in acting. Sometime in the next few weeks we will need to start gathering contacts for people we can call to audition when we start shooting projects that require actors that we can’t already gather. For instance, my short script requires three people. Jessica and Nathan could play two of the characters. The third character is a woman, so we would need to find someone to play her part. If it’s possible that Stacy, who played the landlady in Season Two, could play the role, or if Nathan’s wife could play the role, we would not need to audition anyone. If neither of these two can do it, we would need to find someone.

All for Now

This is all the blog topic I can get out of the project so far, and this has been since late June. Hopefully, in the next month and a half, we will have plenty to talk about as far as work we’ve done on the project.

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