By strathiefilm, 24-Apr-2013 20:08:00
After long dicussions, and lots of early drafts written for a hell of a lot of screenplays, our first full-length film has finally been decided, and we're pushing as hard as possible to get things happening really soon. Title and plot will be kept tight for the time being, but it's a science fiction time travel crime thriller; "Seven" meets "Looper", overflowing with drama, horror, emotion, action, gore and tension. The next stages are further script development over the next few weeks, before hitting business plans and making things happen. Watch this space! Further updates on the project coming soon!
By strathiefilm, 31-Mar-2013 22:48:00
After 4 years of making no-budget shorts and promo's, here, at STRATHIE FILM, we have finally decided to make our final short film, taking the next big step into feature films. However, our final short is quite different.
"Hollows" is a science fiction drama/thriller with elements of horror: A killer fungus spreads across the globe in attempt to cull mankind, leaving a Woman to face the fears to search for her husband amongst the chaos.
However, the science fiction genre category of our short could be questioned, as it's disturbing nature could very well become science fact in the near future! To explain the nature and horror of the short, we can actually look into nature itself, regarding a natural threat that already exists:
The Cordyceps fungus releases spores into the air. Once airbone these spores only infect specific insects. The insects targeted are only the species with the upperhand in the jungle or rainforest, that are causing the most damage. The most commonly target species are Ants, as you can imagine, due to their number and destructive characteristics (sounds like a familiar species, right?)
The spores of the fungus attatch themselves to the surface of the Ant where they germinate. They then enter the ant’s body through the tracheae (which insects breathe), holes in the exoskeleton called spiracles. Fine fungal filaments called mycelia eventually grow inside the ant’s body cavity, absorbing the host’s delicate tissues, but avoiding vital organs. It keeps the Ant alive!
When the fungus is ready to sporulate, the mycelia grow into the brain. The fungus produces chemicals which alter its perception of pheromones and literally hijack the Ants brain! The fungus takes complete control of the nervous system. Completely Zombie-like, the fungus makes the Ant walk to a certain spot with ideal conditions for the new fungus to continue to grow. Usually, for the Ant, it is directed up a branch, up high, for new spores to spread easier.
The fungus then devours the ant’s brain, eventually killing the host. Fruiting bodies erupt from the ant’s head, through gaps in the joints of the exoskeleton. Once mature, the fruiting bodies burst, releasing clusters of new and improved spores into the air. These spores then infect other ants, completing the life cycle of the fungus, and freaky-as-hell horror-show continues.
You can learn more on the Cordyceps fungus here; Sir David Attenborough - "Planet Earth" : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuKjBIBBAL8
The Cordyceps fungus acts a 'population control mechanism', keeping species under Mother Natures command. So, now we reach the purpose of our short film . . . why not Humans?
Apparently, the cordyceps fungus itself is relatively safe for humans, and considered a useful herb with little toxicity. But could something natual, directly from Mother Nature herself, be 'designed specifically' to cull us Humans? I mean, let's look at the big picture, we're quite like Ants ourselves. Let's look at the damage we do to our planet and other species around us: Anthropogenic hazards, or human-made hazards, human-made disasters, such as arson, civil disorder, terrorism, and, of course, war (particulary nuclear and chemical warfare). There's the damagaing Hazardous materials we have introduced: Radiation contamination, chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear. Human transportation; aviation, sea travel, cars, space travel. Almost all of the above, of course, eventually lead to the speeding-up process of climate change.
Of course, there's the big fact that WE are part of nature, and Mother Nature has made us and allowed us to evolve. So, suerly we can't be that bad for the planet if the planet made us in the first place? Surely all the things we do that affect our planet are the inevitable outcome of an advanced species? The case might be the same if Dinosuars weren't killed off 65 million years ago and continued to evolve into intelligant beings? But, is there a limit we can reach where Mother nature decides enough is enough? Could we ever out-stay our welcome as the dominant species of this planet?
There already are natural culling systems in existance; Cancer is a big one. A horrid thought though it is, but without Cancer, where Human population would be overflowing into the sea! Without the natural disasters, (tsnami's, earthquakes) the case would be the same. Devestating though it is, but without these catasrophies and horrors of reality, there'd simply be too many of us in one place (resulting in more deaths anyway, due to over-popularity). But, the population IS rising. Technolgy is also helping people live longer and die less easily. So, could there be a Cordyceps fungus ever made specifically for the destructive Homo Sapiens?
"Hollows" was inspired by the Cordyceps fungus itself. In our short film, we begin a year or so after the rise of a particular fungus, attacking humanity world-wide. The parasite has evolved directly from a Cordyceps strain, the prime difference being it affects only Humans.
However, we were very cautious not to make "Hollows" just another "zombie-flick". We wanted to keep it very different. We aimed for disturbing, emotional, dramatic, eerie, and most importantly, real. We avoided the zombie-feel at all costs to create something different and unexpected from this kind of nature and story, which viewers might not expect. Think more "The Road" as opposed to "28 Days Later".
"Hollows" is originally a featrue concept, with early drafts written (in primitive conditions). The decision to make a short film, inspired by the feature concept, was decided when we wanted to make a cinematic short, as our last short film, that everyone could releate to and that had some worthy and important subject matter. The short is a far toned-down version of the feature, focussing on a completely seperate story and set of characters. The feature version will be world-wide, will need a mass budget, and has, since the creation of the short, evolved into something much darker and more powerful. More on the "Hollows" feature in the future! (The "Hollows" feature is not our debut feature film, by the way! Instead, our debut feature is a time travel crime thriller, which is set to enter PreProduction later this year).
Over the past couple of years others have been inspired by the infamous Cordyceps fungus. A new video game is coming out sometime in the next few months, called "The Last of Us", focusing on the Cordyceps fungus, with, I believe, a 'Walking Dead"-style live-action TV series in the works, apparently. However, the take on this is very different to ours. The game has taken the hollywood route, where those infected become rampaging zombies, rushing around to infect others and spread the infection further. Still looks like a damn good, intelligent game from the Naughty Dog guys who brought us the amazing "Uncharted" series. Certainly the most anticipated game of the year: http://www.thelastofus.com/
"Hollows", our latest and last short film, is released online this friday . . .
By strathiefilm, 27-Mar-2013 12:07:00
Useful steps to writing a screenplay - part 2: "What makes a good story?"
-------------------- WHAT MAKES A GOOD STORY? --------------------
Is the concept actually any good?
If you don’t have a compelling concept, nothing else matters. Your concept is the single most important choice you’ll make in your script. Are people going to get REALLY excited about your script? It doesn’t matter about cameras, actors, lighting, locations, money – story/script is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING OF YOUR ENTIRE FILM. So, is it any good? If you open your mind and REALLY think about whether your concept is actually any good or not, you probably will come to one conclusion: . . . . “I don’t actually know”. This is actually a good conclusion. Why? Because you’re being honest to yourself and your idea. You understand that “ok, my story won’t appeal to EVERYONE”. You’re mind will be open. You’re not being biased to your own idea. You must accept what others say and listen (you don’t have to take on board what everyone says, but just listen to them) Keep your mind open about your concept, really strip it down: “is it any good? Really? And don’t kid yourself”. So, how do you know if you’re story is actually any good or not?
Pitching and first reactions
Really, the only true way to find out if your story is a great concept and works with an audience or not is to get your script written, made into a film, and have vast audiences watch it at the cinema or on DVD. But that will take up lots of money, lots of time, and lots of pride (if it turns out to not be so good after all). Instead, pitch early! Should you pitch to other film makers? I personally wouldn’t recommend pitching your idea to other writers. I’m not saying DON’T pitch your idea to other writers, but I’m saying they’re probably the worst people to give feedback on your story. Many will disagree, but here's why. A writer does exactly what you do, and they will give too much alternate-creative feedback (“this is what I’d do instead of that” – this kind of feedback is good, but it's YOUR idea and it’s not why you’re pitching it to them. But then again, they might come up with an ending which is far better than your own! And, any feedback is good feedback). Not all of them will do this, of course, you may find another writer who will give you the best feedback! And it happens a lot! But, through my experiences, they’re writer’s themselves, and their feedback can often be too “creative from their personal perspective”. But take what I just said with a pinch of salt, as it’s not always the case at all. Other film makers, like directors, first assistant directors, actors and producers, and so on, will give you the best feedback from within the industry itself. But it still probably won’t be the BEST feedback. So, who do I think can give you the best feedback possible? . . . . . . your AUDIENCE! Not Film makers. Pitch your idea to non-film makers who like movies, but know nothing really about how they're made. Tell people your concept (people you trust!) and get their immediate reactions. You don’t have to necessarily take in what they say (friends and family can be biased. If you ask people you don’t know so well, they can be biased too because they’re being nice to this crazy stranger. Maybe people you know who can be brutally honest), just take in their initial, first reactions; what do their voices and eyes tell you? Honestly, if they are truly blown away by your concept, you will know the second they hear it. But, at the end of the day, regardless about pitching to other film makers, friends, and family, it doesn't really matter! Pitch to anyone and everyone, but all I've pointed out are things to watch out for.
Your ending is vital to your story. Let’s say you have a great end, it’s a really original concept. AMAZING! But people will finish your script, or finish watching it as a final product, and will most probably think it’s trash, because of your weak ending. People may say “Have you seen this film? It’s really good, but it’s a shame about the ending”. The words “bad ending” will be tattooed onto your movie forever. Your entire story has built up to this point. Your story should only EXIST because of your ending! So you NEED to get it right, and get it right early. The audiences HATE BAD ENDINGS! You’re a member of the audience too, so you know firsthand! However, getting an outstanding endings is hard. Damn hard!
What is the one and only purpose of films existence? . . . entertainment!
Your film NEEDS to entertain. This is something which gets overlooked far too often. It may be really appealing and fun and interesting to YOU, but is it to others? Your film ISN’T FOR YOU, it’s for a paying audience who have brought their cinema tickets, or brought the DVD, and are willing to give two hours of their life for a film they hope and believe is worth watching (entertaining). So don’t disappoint! Make it entertaining! But how can you make your story entertaining?
What’s the secret to writing a successful screenplay?
What is the most powerful tool you can use, in your screenplay, to make the movie incredibly entertaining? It isn’t action scenes, it isn’t high concept science fiction, it isn’t 3D or blow-your-balls-off special effects. So what is it? Is it story? Well yes, of course it is story, but it’s something your great story HAS TO DO in order to make it an incredibly entertaining story, regardless of how great your concept is: you must CONNECT WITH YOUR AUDIENCE. (if your concept and characters are amazingly entertaining then you're halfway there!) This tool can be used from script development all the way to the edit suite (the final draft of your screenplay will be technically ‘written’ in the editing room). When filming the movie, the power to connect to your audience lies in the hands of the director. Depending on how they shoot the scenes, tells the story visually, all depends on how well (or how badly) they connect with the audience; cameras, actors, lighting and sound are all part of that tool. In the edit room a director/editor can connect further with the audience depending on how, and where, they cut the scenes etc. There are many powerful tricks. When it comes to writing, you, THE WRITER, have more power than ANYONE to connect to the audience. You, as the writer, have the ultimate strength and best ability to bring the audience into the movie. You are drawing the blueprint for the building the director will eventually make. It’s all down to your characters (audience needs to root for the protagonist and believe in every other character) and the story/world/situations the characters are caught in. All you need to do is to connect your audience to your story, and this all depends on HOW you tell your story (which must be incredibly worth telling in the first place). But there’s no right or wrong way to connect to your audience. THERE ARE NO RULES and there’s a infinite number of ways this can be done creatively in your writing, within the story and within originality.
The best way to connect to your audience is to think of your audience continuously as you write. Every word, the audience/reader must be on your mind. Think about what THEY know and don’t know, and what THEY might or might not understand. WHAT'S GOING TO ENTERTAIN AN AUDIENCE!? If you write for the audience, with powerful characters and a great story, you will engage them (well, you hope so anyway!). The main trick, in my eyes, are your CHARACTERS. People watch films for people. They watch it for the characters. So, what's the secret to writing a successful screenplay? Connecting to your audience! But, that still won't determin it's success, unfortunatley. The true answer is NOTHING. The sad thing is there are some truly brilliant films out there, with great concepts that connected to ME, as the audience, but simply aren't that successful. Just write the best script you possible can, and the rest in in fates hands.
The greatest sin in your story?
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Boredom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
This famous concept is based on theatre performance; a curtain falls between each act. So, in film, this structure suggests that ACT 1 is ¼ of the film, ACT 2 is ½ and ACT 3 is the final ¼ . The diagram below show the three act structure diagram for a 120 page script:
ACT 1 ACT 2 ACT 3
SETUP CHAIN OF CONFLICT CLIMAX/RESOLUTION
1 30 60 90 120
This is a great structure to go by and almost everyone does. However, there is a problem with this structure. To novice script writers they see each turning point, each transition into the next act, and the half way point, as an indication to a plot point in their story. This is fine and I certainly recommend going by it, but this only leaves you 5 plot points; page 10 (call to adventure/inciting incident), page 30 (transition into second act), page 60 (midway point/ point of no return), page 90 (transition into third and final act) and page 120 (resolution/ending). This really isn’t enough. If you only have 5 plot points your story is really going to sag and must be pinned with more plot points/turning points to strengthen it up. Some stories will work with 5, but in my opinion, more will make it far more entertaining. Study great, entertaining movies; they most probably don’t have 5 plot points. They have many. In my view, more the merrier, but not too many as it’ll become an insane mess where a lot of shit goes down but not a lot actually happens. Use the three act structure, but don’t let it limit you. And, remember, THERE ARE NO RULES : of course there are certain regulations (entertainment, write for the audience, a beginning, middle and end, and so on) but when it comes to telling your story, don’t get weighed down with all these do’s and don’ts of writing ‘the perfect screenplay’. There is no perfect screenplay. Be the first and do something original. Maybe you’re a maverick? If so, you really could attract some big success, because it all boils down to not necessarily “what works” but to “what hasn’t been done before”. But make your idea strong and powerful and relentless with a genius structure. Something else to keep in mind: the structure of your story is pretty much a 99% DNA match to the character arc of your protagonist. Story structure (the way your story is told / tale assembly) and protagonist character development are both incredibly and tightly woven together. Almost one of the same thing. Keep it mind!
After thinking long and hard about your great, original story, and spending a good deal of time planning like crazy, now to the next step; writing the damn thing . . .
By strathiefilm, 19-Mar-2013 21:19:00
USEFUL STEPS TO WRITING A SCREENPLAY - PART 1 - "PLANNING YOUR SCREENPLAY"
---------- PLANNING YOUR SCREENPLAY ----------
Plan, plan, plan!
Some plan more than others. Some don’t plan at all. But I personally can’t stress enough that preparation is key.
Do you know your story as well as your favourite movie?
I like to know my story, before I start writing, as well as one of my best films. Let’s just choose something as an example; “Star Wars : A New Hope”. Lets just pretend this film doesn’t exist (can you fucking imagine!?) , and that it is, in fact, YOUR idea (lucky bastard) . Now, watch it religiously. Watch it so much you know it scene-by-scene. Now, start writing this film, as if it’s an idea, not an existing material. The writing process should be rather easy. Writing YOUR script should be as easy as writing an existing film you know so well. Preparation is the hard part, writing should be the payoff.
No right or wrong way to plan a script
We all think differently, therefore, we will all cope differently, and uniquely, when planning OUR story. Don’t try and learn, or teach yourself the ‘right way’ to plan a script, because there simply isn’t one. Plan your script YOUR way.
Step-by-step outlining; a step-by-step breakdown of your story. Novice writers sometimes skip this stage (or, the planning stage in general) and just start writing. They’re up for a lot of headaches, as step-outlining can save a lot of time with rewrites. This method, however, ISN’T scene-by scene. It’s event-by-event.
Jumping straight into it?
As I said on the previous section, some writers jump straight into writing, without planning at all. In all honesty, this can be a useful method. A sort of “stream of consciousness” can come flowing out of your mind if you sit with a pen and pad (or keyboard) and just start writing your story. Ok, it’ll probably be rubbish, but the ideas are coming out quick and strong, which you may forget or lose the feel of later on. It may work for you.
Keep production in mind
How much is this going to cost? No matter the budget, keep production in mind when writing. If you’re writing an ultra-micro budget script, maybe your debut feature, that might cost anywhere between £5,000 and £30,000, I strongly recommend to avoid seven- car pile-ups, exploding skyscrapers, massive gun fights, space operas, nuclear explosions, and so on. Of course, there are ways to get these special effects today, thanks to technology, but if you want it to look good, you need to spend lots of time and lots of money making it look believable; resources which you probably won’t have. You’ll have to juggle your story around production costs. As an example, the script I’m currently writing involves an Ambulance, six cars and an arctic lorry, crashing on a motorway, exploding into massive balls of flame. Everyone dies. But the feature will be ultra-micro-budget. Yet, I NEED the scene. If this is you, really contemplate whether you need the scene or not. You think it may look good and exciting, but if your film is low budget there’s just no way. There’s an infinitive number of creative, visual ways to tell the same story/event. Can we HEAR it instead? Such glorious tools of film make things more powerful (as well as cheaper!) Look at M. Night Shyamalan’s “Unbreakable”: Bruce Willis needs to be in that train crash at the start of the film to prove, as he’s the only survivor, that he’s unbreakable. Shyamalan chooses not to visually show the train crash. A mindless Hollywood producer would want the train crash in mind-blowing 3D, coming out the screen for the sheer hell of it!!! Shyamalan, on the other hand, regardless of production costs, chooses NOT to show it, making the film much more emotionally powerful. So, just because you’re probably shooting on a no-budget, doesn’t mean you film will be dull at all. But, when writing, keep production in mind at all times. It’ll make your life easier later on.
Keep it epic!
Not as in car crashes, gun fights, fight scenes and crazy action, but epic in story, through drama , character conflict., etc.
There are some obsessive researchers. There are some who don’t research at all. Some enjoy it. Other’s hate it. Quentin Tarantino didn’t research for “Django Unchained” as he knew all he needed to know on the subject matter. Research is just knowledge you need in order to make the world you’re creating real and believable. Even if it’s science fiction, set in an alien world, there may be research you should do on weapons, space flight, etc. Not to make it ‘realistic’ but to create a ground floor of believability. Some research can be saved for later, before the film goes into production. Say a bartender is mixing drinks. In the script all you truly need to say is “THE BARMAN MIXES DRINKS”, then it must be researched at a later date to make sure the actor does this correctly. However, if your film is ABOUT mixing drinks and bartending, then research on mixing drinks and bartending would be crucial. In short, just make sure you know the shit you’re writing about. There’ll be experts on everything in the audience.
Hurry up and get your 1st draft written!
Don’t put it off for too long! Yes, you must plan like hell, but your 1st draft is often the best and most crucial part of your planning experience. Things will make more sense when you get it written; what does and doesn’t work so well; weaknesses and strengths, what characters need more work; the villain doesn’t feel evil enough; the hero doesn’t feel heroic enough; there’s too many action sequences; it’s too long; and so on. To get it down on paper for the first time is a massive step forward to the next stage . . .
By strathiefilm, 10-Mar-2013 14:06:00
From the sublime storytelling of "Toy Story" to the powerful emotion of "Up", Pixar's films are great examples of perfect storytelling. From these award-winning films you can learn how to tell a great story, and it doesn't matter if you're making a Slasher Horror or a Psychological Thriller; the elements of how to tell a great story will always stay the same. The following 22 rules were originally tweeted by Emma Coates, Pixar’s Story Artist. My personal favorite two points are 2 and 7:
2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
These rules are very important and very well established and can apply to all writers in all genres.
WRITERS; Read on - take note:
1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
4. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
6. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
8. Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
14. Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
17. No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
20. Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
21. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
22. What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
By strathiefilm, 07-Mar-2013 17:31:00
Always have a Plan B up your sleeve when making movies. We have taken this into serious account here, at STRATHIE FILM, and have decided to take the film industry head on with, not just one feature script as planned, but two!
We have two very original, powerful scripts that both can be made on an ultra-low budget. A plan B is always needed, in case something horrid goes wrong (and, if something CAN go wrong, it WILL go wrong!). Being able to swing from the ships mast onto the next boat, which isn't sinking, is always comforting. It's also a nice thought for the following possible scenario: "oh, if you don't like this script, how about this one?". That is our plan here, but we’re throwing both scripts forward at once.
Pre-Production can be accomplished on the second script, as production on the first begins. Of course, there will be more things to juggle around, and plenty more headaches (and film making is quite a head f**k with just the one project on the go as it is!), but we won't be making two films at once.
The first script is an emotional Science Fiction / Road Movie / Thriller / Horror with elements of "The Road", "The Sixth Sense" and "I Am Legend".
The seconds script is a dark Science Fiction / Crime Mystery / Time Travel / Thriller with elements of "Seven", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" and "Looper".
Both scripts are being written back-to-back, by Writer-Director Carl Strathie, with Producers, Charlette Kilby and Beth Aynsley over-seeing the process with intricate detail, whilst getting the ball rolling business wise. Massive progress is being made, and the team are moving along swiftly with final drafts of both scripts estimated for completion in just a few months.
Watch this space at STRATHIE FILM!
By strathiefilm, 14-Jan-2013 12:53:00
After spending the past 6 months writing early drafts of screenplays, we have finally decided on which feature script will become our debut feature film.
Our team currently consists of Carl Strathie (Writer/Director), Charlette Kilby (Producer, 1ST AD) and Beth aynsley (Producer), and our aim is to produce a high-concept, marketable feature film, to put every penny on-screen, and to ensure that the feature project will have vast interest with commercialized value. The feature is an emotional science fiction thriller, with lots of heart-wrenching drama and terrifying thrills.
Currently, a final draft of the screenplay is being worked on by Carl Strathie, and together, with Charlette and Beth's assistantance, they plan to make the script as good as it can be, before storming into Pre-Production in a few months time.
It's very early stages at the moment, so this is all we can say, (frustrating though it is!) but we're very excited and can't wait to get going, and to reveal more of the project in the very near future! Below, you can see some very early storyboard cocnept sketches from very talented professional storyboard artist Andrew Lamb.
By strathiefilm, 13-Jan-2013 13:35:00
With an almost non-existant budget of just £200, our latest and last short film, emotional science fiction thriller, "Hollows", reaches the very last stages of Post-Production.
We have been making short films for the past 2 years, here at Strathie Film. We've learnt the ins and outs of practical film making through our no-budget short films. Each short film was designed to have a specific style containing different themes and elements, both visual and within the story telling. We done this to ensure that we get first-hand experience with the different themes, styles and elements of film making and story telling. When it came to "Hollows" we decided it would be our most ambitious short filmyet. And we're very pleased with the results.
"Hollows" was shot over an 8 day shoot. We started prduction in December 2011. Massive delays have thrown 'Hollows" down, and down again, as we're now in January 2013, and haven't yet released it! The production of the short was contasntly held back due to personal and financial issues. But the film was eventually shot. We entered Post Production around 6 months ago. During that time "Hollows" has been painfully held back, with yet more personal reasons, the music department was held up for many months, unable to work due to technical difficulties, and the list goes ever on. But no one is blame for the delay.
For all those involved, cast, extras, crew; we're very sorry for the delay! But the wait is practically over!
We've been back on track for a few weeks now, and we're very pleased with how it's looking. With only a few Visual Effects to master by our Director Of Photography, Tom Lee, "Hollows" will be released (finally) very, very soon. And we shall ensure no further delay!
In the 6 month period of "Hollows" being put to one side, Strathie Film managed to shoot two other short films while waiting ("Into The White": http://vimeo.com/41194133 and "Glitch": http://vimeo.com/45726811 ). Also, within that period, we have managed to get the ball rolling for our debut feature film. A feature script has been selected and Pre-Production will begin very, very soon.
A release date for "Hollows" isn't yet in sight, due to Tom's busy schedule, but it won't be long! With just a few visual effects to complete, the film will be released in no time at all.
A release date will be confirmed very shortly. Thanks all for waiting!
By strathiefilm, 27-Nov-2012 17:00:00
"Buffy The Vampire Slayer". "Angel". A short lived "Firefly" series. The incredibly underrated "Serenity". And, of course, this film called "Avengers Assemble", which was kind of a hit. With regards to writing credits the list goes ever on (Toy Story, Alien: Resurrection, The Cabin In The Woods, just to name a few . . .). Here, Joss Whedon shares his top 10 tips to writing a screenplay:
Written by Art Fuller:
1. FINISH IT
Actually finishing it is what I’m gonna put in as step one. You may laugh at this, but it’s true. I have so many friends who have written two-thirds of a screenplay, and then re-written it for about three years. Finishing a screenplay is first of all truly difficult, and secondly really liberating. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you know you’re gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You have to have a little closure.
Structure means knowing where you’re going ; making sure you don’t meander about. Some great films have been made by meandering people, like Terrence Malick and Robert Altman, but it’s not as well done today and I don’t recommend it. I’m a structure nut. I actually make charts. Where are the jokes ? The thrills ? The romance ? Who knows what, and when ? You need these things to happen at the right times, and that’s what you build your structure around : the way you want your audience to feel. Charts, graphs, coloured pens, anything that means you don’t go in blind is useful.
3. HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY
This really should be number one. Even if you’re writing a Die Hard rip-off, have something to say about Die Hard rip-offs. The number of movies that are not about what they purport to be about is staggering. It’s rare, especially in genres, to find a movie with an idea and not just, ‘This’ll lead to many fine set-pieces’. The Island evolves into a car-chase movie, and the moments of joy are when they have clone moments and you say, ‘What does it feel like to be those guys ?’
4. EVERYBODY HAS A REASON TO LIVE
Everybody has a perspective. Everybody in your scene, including the thug flanking your bad guy, has a reason. They have their own voice, their own identity, their own history. If anyone speaks in such a way that they’re just setting up the next person’s lines, then you don’t get dialogue : you get soundbites. Not everybody has to be funny ; not everybody has to be cute ; not everybody has to be delightful, and not everybody has to speak, but if you don’t know who everybody is and why they’re there, why they’re feeling what they’re feeling and why they’re doing what they’re doing, then you’re in trouble.
5. CUT WHAT YOU LOVE
Here’s one trick that I learned early on. If something isn’t working, if you have a story that you’ve built and it’s blocked and you can’t figure it out, take your favourite scene, or your very best idea or set-piece, and cut it. It’s brutal, but sometimes inevitable. That thing may find its way back in, but cutting it is usually an enormously freeing exercise.
When I’ve been hired as a script doctor, it’s usually because someone else can’t get it through to the next level. It’s true that writers are replaced when executives don’t know what else to do, and that’s terrible, but the fact of the matter is that for most of the screenplays I’ve worked on, I’ve been needed, whether or not I’ve been allowed to do anything good. Often someone’s just got locked, they’ve ossified, they’re so stuck in their heads that they can’t see the people around them. It’s very important to know when to stick to your guns, but it’s also very important to listen to absolutely everybody. The stupidest person in the room might have the best idea.
7. TRACK THE AUDIENCE MOOD
You have one goal : to connect with your audience. Therefore, you must track what your audience is feeling at all times. One of the biggest problems I face when watching other people’s movies is I’ll say, ‘This part confuses me’, or whatever, and they’ll say, ‘What I’m intending to say is this’, and they’ll go on about their intentions. None of this has anything to do with my experience as an audience member. Think in terms of what audiences think. They go to the theatre, and they either notice that their butts are numb, or they don’t. If you’re doing your job right, they don’t. People think of studio test screenings as terrible, and that’s because a lot of studios are pretty stupid about it. They panic and re-shoot, or they go, ‘Gee, Brazil can’t have an unhappy ending,’ and that’s the horror story. But it can make a lot of sense.
8. WRITE LIKE A MOVIE
Write the movie as much as you can. If something is lush and extensive, you can describe it glowingly ; if something isn’t that important, just get past it tersely. Let the read feel like the movie ; it does a lot of the work for you, for the director, and for the executives who go, ‘What will this be like when we put it on its feet ?’
9. DON’T LISTEN
Having given the advice about listening, I have to give the opposite advice, because ultimately the best work comes when somebody’s fucked the system ; done the unexpected and let their own personal voice into the machine that is moviemaking. Choose your battles. You wouldn’t get Paul Thomas Anderson, or Wes Anderson, or any of these guys if all moviemaking was completely cookie-cutter. But the process drives you in that direction ; it’s a homogenising process, and you have to fight that a bit. There was a point while we were making Firefly when I asked the network not to pick it up : they’d started talking about a different show.
10. DON’T SELL OUT
The first penny I ever earned, I saved. Then I made sure that I never had to take a job just because I needed to. I still needed jobs of course, but I was able to take ones that I loved. When I say that includes Waterworld, people scratch their heads, but it’s a wonderful idea for a movie. Anything can be good. Even Last Action Hero could’ve been good. There’s an idea somewhere in almost any movie : if you can find something that you love, then you can do it. If you can’t, it doesn’t matter how skilful you are : that’s called whoring.
By strathiefilm, 23-Nov-2012 20:40:00
Our 8th and last short film, "Hollows" is back on track with the release day in our sights. Huge technical issues brought the short to a grinding halt. But now, back, and well and truly on track, things are looking good, and very promising. With the musical score the last major creative step to get the short completed, it's just a matter of weeks before it's ready for a Christmas release.
James Gray is a very talented muscisian and composer who's currently working on the "Hollows" score. James as had great success so far, creating vivid, powerful, original music, who's populairty is rapidly rising.
Here's the official Music Video to James' "Chaos Concerto" (video shot by "Hollows" and Strathie Film's much loved Director Of Photography, Thomas J.K Lee) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9uVNdgvtaY&feature=relmfu
As well as creating his own music, James is also Piano and Bassist for rising Rock/Classical/Electronic band "Dear Sherlock": http://www.facebook.com/dearsherlock/info
Strathie Film conacted James for his talent of creating original, epic and often orchestral work. James jumped at the chance to compose the score for "Hollows", and has always had great interst in working in film music as a serious profession for the future. He is currently making the magic happen with his expensive kit and brilliant, professional tools:
"My main recording software at the moment is Logic Pro. I used to use Cubase, but my bands studio uses Logic Pro and I've grown to love it! For sound libraries, I have a few different packages. For the orchestral stuff I use East West Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra, which contains some amazing sounds, all recorded beautifully in Hollywood. It also has a carefully sampled Steinway piano, so I either use that, or my Roland RD-700 SX built in, but customised, piano sound. Although many parts of the recording involve MIDI, rather than 'drawing' in the notes on Logic, I prefer to play everything on my piano, which is attached to Logic and the plug-ins via MIDI . . ."
James currently in his element, having a great time bringing the short to life and creating some highly original, high concept music:
"I love film music, and have studied it in both organised education and in personal research, however, it is important to me to not be just 'one of the bunch'. I watched an Ennio Morricone interview (he is one of my favourite film composers of all time - famous particularly for his work in Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western films), and he mentioned the same desire… for his music to have a unique character, that is different to the standard or expected score. However, taking some influence from the standard scores is very necessary and important, as they are still genius works. "Hollows" doesn't fully fit into the usual stereotype of a specific genre off the top of my head, for example, it is bordering on horror, however a lot of the shots are in daylight. I like this contradiction and it is giving me the opportunity and inspiration to find new ways for me to represent and enhance the film through music. Chords and melody are very important to me, and if the opportunity arises, I like to make something that can also be listened to and enjoyed outside of the context of the film . . ."
"Hollows" is a science fiction thriller about a killer fungus (based on the real-life Cordyceps fungus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordyceps ) that spreads across the globe in attempt to cull mankind, leaving a Woman to face her fears to search for her husband amongst the chaos. It's an ambitious short film, shot only on a budget of £200, with an 8 day shoot and numerous locations, it has been a massive useful learning experience for the Strathie Film team. "Hollows" is to be the last short film from Strathie Film, their next project being their debut feature. "Hollows" will be released over the Christmas period.
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