I am currently down in the deep South of the United States watching my first script be brought to life. As one can imagine, this is a huge moment for me, well, for any writer really. As they say, you always remember your first.
This particular project has been a long time in the making. I wrote the script many years ago and our little female driven team had been looking for money for several years in hopes of getting it made. For those of you not well versed in the of the world of filmmaking, there are big studio films (that most of you run to see on a Friday night and curse yourselves for in the morning) and then there are the smaller, independently financed films [that fight to keep their integrity and often struggle to see the light of day!] This little script is definitely the latter.
The process of making a film is utterly eye opening, inspiring, and surreal (and of course time consuming, as I’m sure the crew will eagerly attest!) Not simply because it is my script that people are walking around talking about, deconstructing and furiously planning for, but to see the team effort that is required to make a film – any film – gives you new admiration for the process as a whole (OR total ire for those idiots that take ownership of a film like it took one person alone to get it to screen). From the location scouts, to the sound crew, to lighting, to art direction, to transportation, and so on – every detail is thought about, poured over, double checked and discussed in such depth it makes your head spin (And the producers’. Ain’t that right CH).
Take the job of location scout, a job I often imagined would be so fun because you get to travel around and check out all these cool locations; the job of course has so much more involved than one would think. First and foremost, finding the location to fit something that the writer has in their head (and us writers take a lot of liberties when it comes to reality and drive location scouts utterly nuts), seeing if this location is actually available which takes a sh*tload of cajoling and sweet talking, securing permits, or replacing the people you’re politely kicking out of their home/business/car etc., and figuring out how one can shoot there with a large team of people, a ton of equipment, and make it come in within budget. And that is the very short version.
The art department is another area that is fun to watch in motion, as they are responsible for transforming that bedroom, or old diner, or grocery store, or whatever set is in the particular film into what you need it to be. We drove around to umpteenth old style gas stations in the Mississippi (and there are many) to discuss what needed dressing, undressing, what colours matched the desired palette, what needed to be painted, repainted etc. you get the idea. And you can see the sheer the delight on their faces when they start thinking about the nitty gritty (or the non delight when the location turns out not to work for one reason or another); the old treasures they will unearth to decorate the set, down to the most minute of things most of you will probably not even notice. But they do, as do the junky film buffs like myself who delight themselves on finding those little purposeful gems in every scene.
Overall, it’s the collaboration of things that is most inspiring to witness. A movie cannot be made without a script, but a script alone is not a movie made. Every single person working on the film brings something to it and most of these individuals go unnoticed and underappreciated; obviously at the end of the day, the actors and directors receive most of the acclaim, although that said, they also receive a fair share of abuse if the film isn’t well received. But it is very rare for any member of the public to walk out of the cinema and say ‘Wow, I loved the way that film was lit.’ Like anything in life, it takes a village to nurture something along, and I couldn’t be happier or more grateful of the team involved in this project.
So off I go to watch them play with make up for our lead actor and make sure it looks good on camera – a little detail that will have a big impact in the end. Details, details….And don’t think that I am not reveling in every single mundane detail of this process, soaking it in and savouring every last drop.