Saturday, 21 September 2013

Pitching Script for Cast and Crew


We're going to pitch our scripts for cast and crew this Saturday. By We, I mean Marrie and I.

The script I'm pitching is my 2nd script, entitled "Heart Flutters".

Before I talk about this script, let me just do a brief flashback, and talk about my 1st script, entitled "The Gift". I already talked about this in my previous post (by the way, going by pageview count, lots more people read this post than I had anticipated. As I type this, it ranks 9th in the Popular Posts section within a few weeks. So I'm not just talking to myself. Good to know).

But I need to tell you more bumpy road - or using the same metaphor as the previous post - open rough seas that happened to my 1st script.

After I showed Marrie my 1st script the 1st time, she was unimpressed. I went back to do an overhaul (with some help from Kit). I was reasonably happy (not saying it's perfect, just happier). She read it, but no comment. Well, she just tried to spare my feeling. I got the silent message.

Well, on hindsight, I agree with that silent, but loud appraisal. While it's got an entertaining plot, the characters' depth aren't sufficiently fleshed out in my view. O alas, my 1st script, how you have suffered for your artistry. Let me make it up to you.

Even before I've got my silent treatment, I was struck by a flash of inspiration. This spurred me to work on my next script. After many twists and turns, self-doubts, writer's block the size of the Moon, and once again with help from Kit, I finally finished my 2nd script. It got 23 pages, and took me 4 or 6 weeks to get it done. In other words, 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.

It looks like I will have to put my 1st script on ice, or into the bottom drawer (it's drier and warmer here).

With the experience of the 1st script, my optimism this time is more cautious. Marrie read it, and the reply was, in her exact wording, "Bravo Francis. I like your script...very much". My reply was, "Thanks. I like it too...."

Well, who doesn't like his own script? It's just a matter of degree.

That praise is her greenlight to produce the film from the script.

Ok, end of the flashback.

Marrie Lee pitching her script in Reel Frenz Group
Marrie pitching her script in Talent Cafe
This snapshot shows the diversity of our group members in terms
of age, gender, race, social and professional backgrounds that
united by the shared passion of movie making
I pitched my script in the meeting, and the resounding response from the new (and a few old) attendees was "I love your script". I think I could more confidently remove my previous self-doubts.

Apart from the ego stroking (stroke it away, I don't mind, pat my back if you need to), my pitch turned out to be irrelevant. The question who - among the new attendees - want to be casted in my script, no hands were raised. This is in fact a good thing. Getting cast members are easy, large number of people believe they can act (after all, most of us do this at least some of the time since we were born). There're more than enough old members from our previous project whom could be casted in my script, I suspect. Our ratio of cast to crew size is about 3 to 1.

Getting technical people are more difficult. You really do have to know your stuff. And all the new attendees we have today want to get involved in working behind the camera. This is excellent for the growth of our group.

In general, going from personal experience and gut feeling, the list shows the level of difficulties in recruiting various talents in ascending order, for an amateur film group.

Actor
Script writer
Cameraman / DOP
Director
Dance choreographer
Musician/composer
Editor
Animator
Foley artist

It's obvious that actors are easy to find. The belief in their own ability to do it plus the glamour factor making this role with a great pull. Yes, writers are also a dime a dozen. In our group, we have double the number of members who write scripts than the number of DOPs. Because story telling, like acting, is part of our daily life, and it's not technical. Especially writing of short film. So people think they can do it without any formal training unlike the technical expertise such as foley or animation.

The last and most crucial factor for the last few experts in this list so hard to find is that they're people working behind the camera. And so no matter how many tens of thousands of movies you've watched, you can't see how they're being done and learn from it, unlike acting where audience could learn by imitation. This applies to script writing as well. A movie is simply a materialisation of a script.

After the meeting, Marrie asked me if I finished my script.
I said, "What do you mean?"
"Have you done your storyboarding?", she said.
"Not yet", I said.

If you say that it's not a script writer's responsibility to do the storyboarding, you're right. It's the director's responsibility. Well, in big budget movies, they've story illustrators to do this job. In indie/amateur production like ours, we do everything. So big budget productions are made by specialists, and smaller budget productions like ours are made by jacks/jills-of-all-trades.

She suggests that whoever writes the script directs it as well because nobody knows the story better than the script writer. As far as a small budget film is concerned, this is absolutely true. When I wrote the script, I did visualise the script from a director's viewpoint. Being a long-time shutterbug also comes in handy in terms of understanding framing, lighting, colour, etc. Some of the best directors come from a still photographer background. Zhang Yimou, the most well Chinese director, is such an example.

Well, back to the drawing story board.


My first storyboarding
My 1st attempt at storyboarding


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