No, not Dying... but it starts with a D
Yeeeeeeees, that's correct, I'm now officially the Director of a little comedic documentary called 'THIS is Alan Chapman' (working title). Boy did I have to play it hard and fast to get this Doco green-lit.
The night before the announcement of green-lit documentaries I found out that I hadn't received an all important email, telling me that 'THIS is Alan Chapman' hadn't even been short-listed for production. What? I had come second in the class vote which is usually a good indication on being short-listed (not of being green-lit though).
I was at Film School to see some Slide Shows to Music* so I after I had cried in the corner for a while (actually, I ate a muesli bar while seething) I decided to go and see the Doco Producers and ask for some feedback on why the film hadn't been short-listed. Apparently compared to my first Doco idea they didn't think I would be that interested in making 'THIS is Alan Chapman'. What? I'm competing against my own idea... That's not right! I explained that I was competing against the film ideas from other students and not against myself, I believed very strongly in the ideas of the new film, and that I was sorry if only have a weeks prep before pitching didn't allow me to convey that during the pitch. Luckily, I hadn't known I was out of the running so I had written a Treatment (how and why the film should be shot) and I used that to explain why I believed the film should be made. They, of course, thanked me for talking to them but made it clear that the green-lit Doco's would be announced the following day. A nice way to say, 'too late buddy, should have talked to us earlier'.
So, despondent, I dragged myself to school the next day muttering to myself about how I would hold a boom pole** on someone else's production. And when they announced the three Doco's to be made this semester I was really struggling to decide which story I wanted to help make. Which meant I missed the moment where they said that they had decided to make a fourth Doco. Then people where shaking my hand and clapping me on the back and I was all, 'What? Leave me alone! I'm trying to decide which boom pole I want to hold.' It didn't take long before I figured out I'd been made Director.
Never underestimate the power of showing you're passionate about your ideas. Of course, I have a reduced crew compared to the other productions and as I'm 'stealing' other Director's crew I'm going to do Camera Operator on another Director's film. Scheduling is going to be a reaaaal issue for me...
... who cares, I like hard work and I get to Direct a Documentary. Although, I think maybe I should change the title to WHO is Alan Chapman? Because no-one seems to know... the whole point of the Doco.
Alan comes from six generations of very successful people in English Stage and Screen. Actors, opera singers, playwrights, directors, producers. At 19, Alan (now 43) could have been like the rest of his family, successful, but in a matter of weeks Alan went from owning the title role in a motion picture and being signed by a well known Agent to not being allowed to Act within England. He was blacklisted by the Stage and Screen Union. Oooooo, why? And how did that affect him? And how the HELL am I going to make that funny... you'll see!
Anyway, that's been my last couple of days. Highs, lows, stress, relief. And I'm loving it. What have you all been up to?
*Great exercise - try telling a story in 10 Slides paced to music, it's fascinating to see what an audience does and doesn't pick up about your story (on one viewing) and why. One of the best learning experiences so far in the course. Every film-maker should watch and evaluate as many as possible. Our slide show, it's produced in groups of two people, was really hit very hard by the people critiquing it. Appropriately we thought, we were trying to tell a hard story (which I wrote - ooops, my fault). We shot for the stars and missed. Happily, the guy I did my slide-show with was given the position of Director on one of the three 16mm film productions. So our slide show can't have been too bad. I've since come to realise that if the people critiquing your piece are hammering it to pieces it means they see something in it. If they ask you no questions then they're bored and disinterested. They'll be expecting big things from me next semester when I do 16mm productions I'm sure.
**Sound technician is actually one of the hardest jobs on a documentary I've discovered. And I'm baaaad at it! Never underestimate the complexity of any role on any film production.