Here’s part two of the director’s notes on E V E N T
With this short experiment I wanted to play around with the convention that “the audience expects to, and must, understand”. The late great Alfred Hitchcock said “never confuse you audience as you will lose them” (not his exact words), which I agree with, but part of ‘Event’s’ philosophy is about looking for meaning in things that cannot be understood or explained and therefore having to draw your own conclusion. It was important to me that there would be no final answer to the film and times where the audience would hear but not ‘hear’, and see but not ‘see’.
With such an unconventional film there is always a danger that the audience will come away empty handed or thinking “the quality is crap”, “I couldn’t hear some of it”, “I don’t know what it was about”, but I felt that it was important to undo convention and to try and strive for innovation.
The choices made during editing were always governed by what adheres to the film’s philosophies and themes, rather than what the audience is feeling or expecting.
Changes from the concept to final film:
The script was originally much longer than the current 5 minute running time. Though I had (naively) intended the 5 page script to be about 7-8 mins, in reality it would have been closer to 10-15 mins.
I originally wanted 8 subjects to represent a broad cross section of our population; young, old, male, female, different nationalities etc. But due to the original shoot being sabotaged (see shooting journal) we had to run with the 5 actors who were able to make the new shooting date.
I also wanted to include news footage from disasters, riots and wars that had occurred in recent years to add authenticity to what I surmised would follow the ‘event’. After reviewing the rushes and realising that the film needed to be shorter we abandoned the news footage to reduce the running time and avoid any issues with rights to news/stock footage.
There was also a lot of critical allegory within the script about how we use the news, and how the news reacts during times of tragedy and disaster, but this was cut to reduce the running time and ensure the film did not outstay its welcome.
Further details/rules (mentioned early) about the ‘being’, and people’s interaction with it, and the themes associated, were also lost to the editing room floor.
From the very start this film was an experiment that I expected to fail, with my concerns being:
- Whether the style I was intending to create would be possible or credible under the conditions of the production.
- Whether the message I wanted to convey would ring true or go over the audience’s heads.
- Whether it would be too abstract, and therefore not enjoyable, for anyone kind enough to give it their time.
Even with the hard luck experienced during the shoot, and the subsequent compromises that followed, I’m very pleased with this little short. I can’t say we achieved everything we set out to achieve, but considering it was one of our ‘£50, 1 week of pre-production specials’ (See Spot and Remain) I am happy with the result.
The lessons learnt have been small, but always important. After making a few missteps as a director during The Long Hard Goodbye, with EVENT I felt I exercised restraint whenever anxiety crept in about the film not making an impact with the audience or functioning.
As much as we relish the challenge of these ‘£50’ Short-shorts, we’re keen to get our teeth into another, much larger, project. We plan to film the pilot for a sitcom set in a art gallery called IMITATING LIFE in May of 2012. Whether we can depends solely on being able to raise the £5,000 budget needed, and we’ll reveal more details about this over the next few months.
Our best films are always in front of us, and we just try not to make the same mistakes twice, or make the same film twice.
Thanks for reading.
Pre-production: 1 week
Shoot: 1 day
Post: 3 weekends of ‘um’ing and ‘ah’ing
Equipment: 3 x £230 Camcorders, 1 x Dictaphone
Props: 4 x grey t-shirts (various sizes)