Check out our latest behind the scenes video with the super talented hip-hop artist and all around good guy Mantra. This is our most extensive video update yet, and Mantra takes us through the process of creating some of Play It Safe's original music, the relationship between improvised music and acting, as well as the music video for his track "The Fear" which was created by the core creative team behind Play It Safe.
From the beginning of Play It Safe's development the idea of authenticity has been really crucial, and so it's very important to me that we portray the events in the film as accurately and realistically as possible. In the film's second act, Jamie (the film's protagonist, played by the very talented Nick Kato) gets a job as a piano teacher and we spend quite a lot of time watching him work at the music school. I knew early on that this was something we had to get exactly right.
For the past twelve months, Chris and I have been developing the script that has turned into PLAY IT SAFE. As the project now approaches the production phase, we occasionally remark with wonder that, "Hey, we're making a movie!" Though a lot of work remains - really, the bulk of it - to get to the finishing point, reflecting on the project's humble origins to the broad, collaborative task it has now become is quite inspiring.
When Jack and I agreed to write the screenplay, we both knew that realising that (seemingly simple) and was going to be very challenging. Neither of us had written a feature length script before, and we both enjoyed procrastinating as much as the next writer. To combat this, we decided to set up a bunch of commandments or rules to help us along the way.
Over the next few months I'm going to do my best to not only keep you updated with our progress as we begin shooting Play It Safe, but to also fill you in on its development during 2011. The first step in charting our journey must be a discussion of the aims I had when I set out to make Play It Safe.
Okay, just a quick update for today. (I'm trying to get into the habit of making short updates regularly instead of putting them off because they have to be long and detailed - we'll see how it goes.)
I just wrapped up a day of workshopping with Spencer that went really well. On the one hand, workshopping can be quite challenging - both for the actors, and for myself as the director. However, on the other hand, it's hard to call something that's this fun "work"...
I’ve read stories where people like Kevin Smith recall seeing Richard Linklater’s “Slacker” and then they thought “my god, I can make movies too”. The film that did that for me was “Mutual Appreciation”, directed by Andrew Bujalski.
I first saw “Mutual Appreciation” at the 2006 Melbourne International Film Festival and it was an absolute revelation to me. I’d never seen anything like it. I found the stories interesting, I was fascinated by its naturalism, and I felt like for one of the first times I was watching characters who I could really relate to. They were doing and talking about things that I did myself. How to be a young artist. How to make it. Growing up and finding your way in life. I saw “Mutual Appreciation” and something clicked. It was as if someone had suddenly given me permission. I felt like I could now make the kinds of movies I wanted to, and maybe here was a way I could do it.
One of the best film-related decisions I’ve ever made was enlisting the help of my good friend, Jack White, in writing the screenplay for my first feature film. Without him, I really doubt whether this film would have ever gotten made.
In my office I’ve got whole boxes filled with drafts for novels, novellas, screenplays, all sorts of crap, that I start but never get around to finishing. A lot of this stuff hangs around for years. I might pull it out every now and again to have a look, but I usually end up shoving it back in its box despondently. It’s a pretty terrible thing to see the result of years and years of work in such a scrappy state and know deep down that most of it is never going to see the light of day.
I believe that learning to work within limitations is an incredibly important part of being a filmmaker. On many (if not not all) projects it is simply a requirement. In addition to this, however, I believe that it can actually be a very big help to the creative process. This is something I learned early on in my film career and I still believe it today. Some of my best work has come out of the technical or logistical limitations I had to work with. So with every new project, instead of cursing the limitations and restrictions I face (even though sometimes it’s mighty tempting) I do my best to actually embrace them.
In late February this year I started work on a feature film project called "Ten Easy Steps". Six months (and a lot of work) later, that same project now has a completed script draft and a new title: Play It Safe.
Play It Safe is set to be my first feature film. I've already learnt a lot in the last six months and I'm sure I will be learning a whole lot more over the coming months (and probably years). I'm going to try to document this process as frequently and in as much detail as I can. I've gotten a lot of benefit from indie film websites like No Film School and Hope for Film so I hope I can give a little back that some of you might find useful.