This week we hit a massive milestone: Play It Safe is officially picture locked! After about a year and half of editing (and three and a half years since I first started the project) I now have a final edit sitting on my computer!
Back in early February we had what was almost certainly the challenging and intense weekend of shooting of Play It Safe's entire production. The scenes we shot are from the very end of Play It Safe's first act, where (the protagonist) Jamie's band has their final gig. We had a massive amount of coverage to get, there were three different musical acts to film, three dialogue scenes, a buttload of extras to manage, and to make matters worse we were forced to find a new location only two days before the shoot! I can safely say that this weekend was definitely the most stressful one I have ever encountered.
Yesterday I received the first batch of "pitch cards" for Play It Safe. I'm not sure if this is a standard practice for indie films. I've certainly never seen one before (at least not when a film is in pre-production), but it's something that I think makes sense and that I'm really excited about.
So what the hell is a pitch card?
The Film Collaborative have just released an amazing resource: the new book “Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul”. This book is availible in a variety of formats. It’s available for free in PDF format, and it is free for a limited time for iOS and Android. It’s also available on Kindle and in paperback for a small fee.
I never went to film school, so I had to learn all the protocols of filmmaking on my own. I didn’t actually learn some of the basics until about three years into my career as an indie director. By this time I’d already won Best Australian Film at MIAF and been commissioned to direct a short docco for the BBC World Service. But still, I didn’t know the basic protocol of working on a film set. This was because of the way I’d come up - fiercely independent, making up the rules as I went. This approach got me some terrific results, but it also had its limitations.
Inevitably, my (lack of) knowledge was tested, and in quite an embarrassing way. Back in 2008 I had somehow managed to score a roll as First Assistant Director on my friend Alan Lam’s final honours film. I thought I knew enough about filmmaking, indie production, and visual storytelling to be of use, but it was a steep learning curve when it came to working with the crew.
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.