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Thursday, 27 July 2017

Syns of a Film maker.

My new short Syn has recently been released. It has taken an insane amount of time from inception to release and I wanted to address why and what it has meant which will basically describe my last 3 years of film making.

If you haven't seen it here it is:

We begin maybe five years ago with my first foray into long form script writing Return to Earth
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A pilot for a science fiction show I have had in my head since college which mixes tonnes of my favourite sci fi from Firefly to Cable comics with bits of The Matrix, Terminator and Alien thrown in for good measure. I literally have 90 odd pages but I always knew I didn't want to attempt to make this, I can't. It is beyond me. Whilst I knew that from the start I spent months with a large amount of my imagination in that world so I decided to make a short. It was coming to the end of university, projects were basically all done and I wanted to take advantage of the equipment.

The idea came about as I sat just thinking at night about images I want to shoot. Before long I had a fairly vivid idea of a scene which I drew like a comic. Its rough and nasty but small panels would be short shots and longer panels more important, it translates fairly well. I knew I had to shoot that scene.
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I wrote a quick fairly poor and generic script about a lonely wanderer in the post apocalyptic setting of my R2E universe. I basically wanted to shoot a camera exercise. Whilst at university I barely got a chance to actually direct. I barely got to make 'my' film. I spent the majority of my time as a part of other peoples films and so when this chance came about I wanted a lot of control. So I made props

I cast the film and I prepared to shoot. With just one partner who covered sound. This was a mistake. Whilst I wanted the simplicity of a small shoot I simply had to do too much. Produce, direct, dress sets and actors and operate.
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The result was fairly unclear at the time as I drove off to shoot a music video all over Europe with my brothers band.

I came back and began editing. I wasn't super happy. footage was shakier and darker than I wanted, there were a few shots I missed etc. My first edit was with some nice images and half a tensionless fight scene with an unconvincing villain. Havi pretty bad. It stuck fairly well to script and idea but it was sort of stuck in between. Half an artsy ideang been the main creative force and being a bit lost I stepped back. I edited the video above as well as some other live videos from the tour with the idea of a full hour long tour doc. But it didn't work. There was some nice footage but the fact that I was sort of a last minute add on meant there was no concept for why I was filming at the start of the tour. There was no obligation from me or the band to make a reasonable documentary so the footage basically wasn't there.

So I swam in gigabytes of gig footage for about a month or so to make what was released and make some stuff that still hasn't and I doubt will see the light of day.

At this point my quick pet project is probably six months into production four of which are post. The time away was helpful. I cleaned everything up and had a fine cut of a poor film. I knew I wasn't happy and started to get busy with the idea of making a film company.
Over the next few month I shot some bands and tackled bits of film work here and there. Working at a school and with a theatre company. All of which again gave me time away from Syn. I think with labours of love you go through periods of confidence and doubt. At a time where financially I wasn't in the best place it was difficult to be positive about a film that was taking so long but couldn't really be changed. Without another creative lead to challenge my ideas I had to distance myself and then come back with a scalpel and cut the film to pieces and rebuild it. Which finally happened.

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I did a minor reshoot for a potential different ending and then over the next month or so hammered out a final cut. For an eight minute short that was still a crazy long editing time but I spent a lot of that time on changing shot selection and clipping single frames to get what I was happiest with.

Here comes the first of the delays which were less of my control. Probably about a year into the film now I really wanted a friend to do the colour correction. It's his thing, he is hands down the best person I know at it. But after about a month of trying to get the file to him in different ways, in different formats and over different file sharing sites I had to give up. By this time the pressure to release however was gone. Despite my insistence nobody really knew much about the project and even those in it had pretty much passed it off.

Anyway I got a fine cut and colour corrected myself. My initial sound engineer no longer worked in sound so I looked for someone else to do the sound for me. I gave no deadlines and heard a few drafts over basically a year of back and fourth. That is ridiculous but it was a year in which I started a company, got a business loan, tried to book work, made three ish music videos, shot three or four gigs and worked with a theatre company again. Unfortunately all to fairly low financial gain.

That motivated my more recent decision maybe four months ago to dive full time into my job and put film making on the back burner. So last month when I finally got the master audio back I had the film. I even uploaded it privately to YouTube but I didn't really know what to do with it. Do I hype it up a bit or just release it? I was delaying the release because at this point it doesn't matter when it is released, what's another month?

'A week later (George A Romero) was dead.'

That motivated me. Romero wasn't the greatest film maker ever but damn did he make a few gems. Not only did his films spawn the zombie genre but it was done as a loose adaptation of my favourite book I am Legend. Whilst the films of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg inspired me to make films I think Romero was one of the first directors who showed me that films were political. His political critiques helped shape how I read not only films, not only media but the wider world. On the nose political perhaps but it was eye opening. Since I saw his films I have written essays, made zombie shorts and rewatched his films countless times.

I nearly snap released the film that night. But I decided I wanted to write this. For catharsis and for explanation.

Thank you to anyone who helped make this film. So many people have indirectly helped. Even if I just talked your ear off about it or about something else entirely. This film became almost a cloud hanging over me. It could never live up to the film it should be considering how damn long it took to make. It took a lot for me not to give up on it and ultimately not to give up on film.

I cannot apologise enough to those who have waited and ultimately forgotten about Syn. It took too long, I am sorry.

I'm not sure what I am making next. I have some ideas. It wont be for profit. I'm going to enjoy it. You might be a part of it. Keep your eyes out, now the pressure is off I'm gonna have some fun with it.

Like Romero and his Zombies I won't stay dead.

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