Sunday, April 20, 2014

Breaking the Rules

          I’ve always been a fan of the folks who break rules when it comes to creativity; as long as nobody gets hurt, the result is always something new.  It might be a brilliant breakthrough success or a fantastic failure, but it will be worthy in originality and ambition, regardless.   Watch a Ken Russell film or a Peter Greenaway film; you may be fascinated or frustrated, but you will know you’ve seen something truly unique.

          I certainly broke rules when it came to my Stonewall Award winning novella “Spewing Pulp”.  I wanted to tell a story in both prose and screenplay format, showing (for those who were paying attention and/or cared) the differences between how the two media worked) since the story was about a poet who eventually pondered writing a screenplay.

          Steve Oakley is also a breaking the rules with his film “Natural Born Filmmaker”.  Unwilling to be constrained by the traditional filmmaking process, Steve is writing the film in pieces, shaping it around the characters vis-a-vis the actors he’s brought on board to portray them and what they are bringing to each character.   Each actor brings their own take to the project and Steve adjusts the story to best enhance the strongest choices.  The final moments of the film completely changed on set and the film’s ending is far better as a result.

         But the tossing aside of tradition goes beyond the script; the film shoot itself is a hybrid of traditional filmmaking, sitcom television shoots and improv shows.   Each scene is set up to be shot with three cameras at different angles the same time; instead of doing several takes of a full scene, Steve goes practically line by line, having each actor do several takes of the same line, one right after the other—often incorporating adjustments and improv.  It takes tremendous concentration to keep the dialogue flowing as though it were one, continuous conversation; each actor has to focus on the flow of the scene in spite of the actual stops and starts.  It's a challenge, but it's also terrifically fun.

          Of course, it will all come down to, as it always does, the choices made in the editing room.  But I won’t be surprised if Steve breaks a bunch of rules in that department as well.

For more info on “Natural Born Filmmaker, check out: