Those of you who read my blog will know that generally the only posts I make are regarding Alfred Hitchcock and the ‘Year of Hitchcock’ challenge which I am currently undertaking.
Whilst these posts are fun and I am thoroughly enjoying the challenge and love watching and reviewing each and every Hitchcock film, it is only a small part of what I do with my time and I’ve decided that from this week I’m going to start updating more regularly on my other passion; filmmaking.
I apologise for the length of this post but it has been floating around in my subconscious for some months but with university and other commitments is only just being written.
With this weeks blog I’d like to provide a little background information on myself, the work I do and the sort of posts which you can be expecting in future weeks.
So here goes…
My name is Jacob L. Williams and I have recently finished a degree in Film Production & Technology at Birmingham City University. For much of my three years working on my degree I have not been impressed by my course; I love University life and the people I’ve met. However since one particularly moment in my second year there has always been a sense of dread and pointless about both my course and my future after university.
The moment which filled me with this feeling came when we got to meet a successful graduate from our course – he worked as a camera operator on the BBC show Merlin, which is pretty cool. The graduate came in and spoke in detail about his career after finishing the course and during the discussion revealed that in all his time working he had never once mentioned the fact that he had a degree to any of the filmmakers who employed him. He had got to the point at which he was purely by being confident, lucking and knowing the right people.
This came as a shock to me as a degree is sold on the premise that it will enhance your future career; however if the most successful graduate from our course didn’t use his degree in such a way; what was the point?
I did however persevere with my degree; mainly because I was already halfway through and I was having a lot of fun. The rest of second year passed and third year began with a heavy weight of dissertations to be written and a 10-minute group film to create. This ten-minute film proved to be the saviour of my future as it re-ignited the passion for filmmaking that was lost on the day of the talk in second year.
In October 2012 I came home from a nightclub at 3am; extremely drunk, sat down at my computer and typed out a fifteen page screenplay – well it was barely a screenplay what with several pages of drunken typos and a lot of nonsensical language there was very little to it. However upon waking up (with the predictably hangover) I trawled through what I had written and realised I had come up with an idea that was very original.
The film which would later become entitled ‘Pinot Rouge’, has the simple premise that it follows an alcoholic who is for no real reason is transported inside a wine bottle – I know, it sounds crazy? Inside the wine bottle he finds himself in a labyrinth of red corridors and is pursued by his demons (mainly appearing in the form of a rather threatening Red-suited Man who speaks in strange metaphors that don’t quite make sense).
A sober re-write in which plot-points where adapted and meaning added to certain parts the script was pitched to my to my group of friends who where to be the crew.
I should probably explain here that for the assignment the course was split into groups of six and each member was given a specific role for which they would be marked i.e. director of photography, editor etc. As I’m a rather organised person I was given/chose the role of producer (which was thoroughly enjoyable).
Anyway back to the script; as I’m obviously not the only wannabe scriptwriter on my course, there where other member of my group who has also written short films which they wanted to be made. In the interest of fairness each member of the group was given the opportunity to pitch a ten-minute script and then a vote would take place. Two members of the group abstained, as they did not feel confident enough in their own screenplays. This meant that Pinot Rouge had competition from three other (very strong and different) scripts. Upon reading my coursemates scripts, the confidence I had for my own strange David Lynch-esque work being picked waned. Somehow, however it was chosen and a meeting with the Director – the very talented Mr. Jordan Cochrane – was set-up to discuss ideas and a direction for the film.
Around this time I had some reservations about being writer/producer on the film rather than the typical writer/director; which every other group on my course opted for. However Jordan quashed my fears as in our first few meetings as he knew exactly what he wanted and showed originality in his plans that I would never of dreamed off (when I direct things – although I believe myself to be competent I sometimes lack a little imagination – Jordan suffers no such issues). Collaborations with Jordan turned out to be very simple because he showed extreme respect for my screenplay and ideas whilst also bringing originality and fresh ideas to the table.
Upon Jordan’s advice and the feasibility of actually being able to make the film, re-writes where undertaken; this mainly included the cutting down of scenes taking place in the corridors, it was important for the story that the corridors were red and no such corridors could be found.
These cuts proved a brilliant decision as their removal helped the script move away from a final episode of ‘Twin Peaks’ rip-off (which admittedly it kind of was) and allowed the addition of extra set-pieces which would in the end make the output less pretentious, more fun and the metaphors stronger.
I won’t go into too much more detail onto the production of the film (that is for another post) other than to say after many problems the film was successfully made and has been well-received by all that have seen it. Recently I achieved one of my lifetime ambitions and watched it on the big screen at the wonderful Electric Cinema (which also happens to be the oldest cinema in the UK); the response from the audience at the screening was just incredible, there reactions to each scene truly surprised me laughs, screams and groans in all the places they should have been. This filled me with a tremendous sense of pride and joy. The compliments I received afterwards for the story where also incredibly gratifying and unexpected with many people finding it hilarious that I was drunk when the original draft was written. We are currently looking at entering the film into some film festivals however if you are interested you can watch a teaser trailer: http://www.vimeo.com/purplecamera/pinotrougetrailer
The main point however of this post is to say that the creation of such a well-received film has inspired me for my own future and my own filmmaking and alongside Jordan and a few others from my group we are starting up our own production company – Purple Camera Media – and are looking to build on our success (and hopefully make some money).
In future weeks on this blog I will be updating more information about the company and aiming to give an insight into the trials and tribulations which an indie filmmaker goes through when setting up a new company and creating films and music videos.
Purple Camera Media also recently entered our first competition a West Midlands music video one called 2Weeks2Makeit. As you can guess from its title it essentially means we have two weeks to make a music video for our artist. We’ve been paired with a wonderful acoustic singer/songwriter called Hollie Aires and I’m really looking forward to creating a video in the next two weeks (expect a post about this also).
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and will check back for more updates; for more information and keeping in touch follow one of the twitter accounts @PurpleCamera1 (not run by myself but very interesting) or @PinotRouge (which is run by me and therefore not very interesting) and check out my posts about Hitchcock Challenge!