My feature film – A brief introduction.
So I’ve been planning on making a feature film for a very long time now. Since I was seven years old actually! Back then I wanted to do something like Star Wars. I remember drawing some characters on this old 70’s printer paper that we had then that someone gave us. On the paper I had drawn what I guess would essentially be a storyboard, with laser gun fights, bad guys, a hero and an old guy similar to Obi Wan.
But somewhere from the age of eight onwards I lost interest. At age twelve I was breakdancing and a year later recording my own music, if you could even call it that. Then grafitti, dj’ing, recording more music and setting up my own home studio.
In the 90’s I was listening to a lot of music by a group called The Future Sound of London. These guys had a big deal with Sony which enabled them to set up their own Betacam SP video edit suite. Expensive gear at the time, but broadcast quality. They had a guy doing 3D animation for them, and their early Photoshop album covers always looked impressive. Babylon 5 came out around the same time with amazing looking 3D animation created using Commodore Amiga computers. I remember around the mid 90’s visiting an office in North Sydney where they had a system that let you edit almost VHS quality video on 386 or 486 IBM computers as they were called then. It was all coming together.
Thankfully by the end of that decade we had DV cameras which offered much better video quality than VHS along with the ability to edit the footage on almost any computer. The Matrix and Star Wars Episode 1 were released in 1999 and my interest in making a movie had been rekindled. At the time I was going to use friends as actors. I’d also thought about shooting it using a DV camera, and even had a rough cheesy storyline figured out that a friend told me reminded him of a Voyager episode.
Now here I am roughly 10 years later and still haven’t made that movie! A friend was criticising me a month or so ago for still not having done it yet. But during that time I’ve made the switch from DV to HD, taught myself about 3D animation and compositing, worked on a few short films as DOP, done sound design and some audio on a feature, and have completed quite a few music videos. All providing me additional experience that I’m sure will help me do a much better job on my own feature film than I would have 10 years ago. So basically I’m confident I now know enough to be able to do this properly using whatever resources I have at my disposal.
These past couple of days I’ve seriously been considering what this movie will actually be now. The plan has always been to create a sci fi film and do the whole thing myself, like how Robert Rodriguez made El Mariachi on his own. Or more recently how Jeff Lew made Killer Bean Forever, an animated feature film he put together almost entirely by himself, which took roughly 4 years to make. But what can I create on my own that won’t suck like most low budget sci fi films? The type with cliche space ships, big guns, over dramatic bad acting, and lots of fake blood? Or worse still, something really nerdy that would only appeal to hardcore sci fi fans? Those who would geek out at the thought of a ‘plasma vortex’, ‘space time continuum’ or a ‘refractive wormhole’. Whatever that means?
Well, I actually have a pretty clear idea of what I’m after, but don’t want to make the movie using traditional methods. The most obvious being a screen play. Creating a storyline using animatics makes more sense to me. Dialogue too, the less, the better. Too much dialogue and you might as well be watching a tv show. Then there’s the overall look of the movie. Do I really need shallow depth of field for most shots? I’m actually more interested in shooting the movie on my pocket sized Canon S95 with almost no shallow depth of field. But it does nice clean 720P at 24fps, and with a CCD sensor so rolling shutter artifacts will never be an issue. A feature film shot on a pocket sized consumer camera? Yeah, why not? I’d even shoot it using an iPhone4, except I don’t own one.
So what kind of movie will I be making? Right now I can say that it will be very experimental in many ways. Stay tuned for more.