There’s a real possibility Chris Harrison could find himself stranded in film-production-land in the same way his space travelling protagonist Theo Aldiss is stranded in his upcoming movie, Planetfall.
Despite that apparently pessimistic introduction, I’m optimistic for director Chris and writer Gav Balfour’s attempts to make a sci-fi movie on next-to-no resources.
Although there’s no money, no tech, no camera and no crew, they’re gradually piecing together a production built on goodwill and volunteers.
They’ve got what they feel is a solid story and actors are about to be appointed (I think they may have been chosen by now).
An American graphic artist Tim Anderson has contributed concept art for free (see below) and a local theatre has offered space for the spaceship build.
Check out any indie film website or Facebook page and you’ll see them thanking the people who give up their time to help.
This is an important part of a huge section of the indie film sector.
Bear in mind that the ‘indie’ world is broad. There are many indie films that hire crew, pay decent day rates, attract big name actors and look and feel just like a ‘real’ film.
That’s not who this podcast interview is aimed at. It’s for those that are at the start of their filmmaking journey. Most filmmakers will have experienced what Chris and his team are up against. It’s part of the gig.
This is a better way to think of your predicament as a filmmaker, starting out. Don’t focus on the fact you’ve got very little or nothing. Instead, see these as challenges. (Hey, that’s a good life lesson…)
Beware the following words in the title of your next script: sci-fi, underwater, lost world, planet, dinosaur, car chase, Mars, David Beckham.
I’m not saying dump these scripts, just that you should sit down and think in detail about what sets you will require.
Script titles that are less likely to pose such great production challenges include the following words and phrases: kitchen sink, sofa, back garden, mum, little brother, kettle, spoon.
The more of these workarounds they find, the better filmmakers they become. Filmmaking is project management as much as it is creativity.
Writer Gav Balfour offered this script to Chris after the two established a shared interest in sci-fi while working together on a production at the Little Theatre in Dundee.
It’s a short, character-based film about a stranded space traveller, whose shuttle has crashed on a planet and who has only hours to live before the spacecraft self-destructs.
It’s set in the not-too distant future, when space travel has become as common as Eddie Stobart lorries on the M64.
The question is: will central character Theo Aldiss pull it together to find a way to survive?
Chris is an actor and theatre director turned filmmaker. He’s made a couple of documentaries so far, through the Dundee Repertory Theatre, and is now stepping out into the world of narrative filmmaking.
As you’d expect, he’s got most experience in dialogue and performance, but he’s picking up lots of ideas and knowledge through filmmaking members of Dundee’s creative Jam Collective.
A group from the collective is currently in production with their own fantasy/sci-fi movie, Ninth Maiden. Marine/underwater filmmaker Lindsay Brown, who features in next Monday’s IADF podcast, is directing and coordinating scenes on the River Tay.
Chris was fortunate to find American graphic artist Tim Anderson, who gave up his time and expertise to generate some concept sketches of the inside of Theo Aldiss’ space shuttle.
Check out Tim’s artwork at his website: Timothy Anderson Concepts. You’ll see why Chris was drawn to his work. The black and white, computer-generated artwork below helps Chris and the production team work out a number of things:
Dundee rock band Brave Men Run has agreed to provide the soundtrack to the film. Watch the You Tube video below and you’ll hear some of their music.
The soundtrack for any film may consist of dialogue, FX and music, and getting the mood right is a huge step in keeping the audience onside and believing in the imaginary world of the film.
You can hear examples of the band’s music at their SoundCloud page here: http://soundcloud.com/brave-men-run