Tuesday, 7 August 2012

That Resolute Desk

When your pen doesn't work, what do you do?

You find any scrap bit of paper, and scribble on it - frantically - until you get the result you want; the pen works again.

That's That Resolute Desk.

I hadn't written much in a long while. I did a couple of papers of The Fool (my sequel to 2007's Self) here and there, but overall since the end of university I'd been content just getting on with life, and work, and largely ignored my writing.

Days became weeks, which became months, and then years.

2006 - April 3rd (short film - written by myself, directed by Rebecca McIntyre)
2007 - Self (short film - written & directed by myself)
2008 - Eyes Down (short documentary - devised & directed by myself)
2008 - Semblance of Norm (short film - directed by myself)
2009 - Vue Bury Quiz Night (Film Quiz - written & directed by myself)
2010 - Come Dine With Me Vue Bury (Filmed by myself - never edited)

I slowly longed to do something new - anything, really. I was desperate to get my creative juices flowing - especially when you consider that elongated dry run.

Look at it this way; the last piece of filming I did was 2010. But that was for a mock Come Dine With Me, so doesn't count. Before that, again, a film quiz - which is nul creatively.

We reach back to 2008, then, for Semblance of Norm. Even then, I only directed the thing.

My last piece of self-scripted 'stuff' was Self, back in 2007.

I needed something new.

Very quickly, around March 2012, I sat down and wrote That Resolute Desk. The idea had come to me a few days before: originally just a title - "How To Survive Your Future Employment". Then an idea... what would you do if you filmed a handover video for your replacement?

Slowly That Resolute Desk came into being.

With the script done relatively quickly, I was detirmined to film it, by any means possible. I don't have access to any fancy cameras at the moment, so I had to settle for what I did have. An iPhone 4. Oh yes.

The first day of filming was Sunday April 15th. I tried to film in 'real time' - so if the next scene was set a day later, I shot it a day later and so on. It created a neat continuity - spots appeared, and vanished. Bits and bobs moved around my room (where the entire thing was shot) and I got to shoehorn in as many of my Doctor Who Character Option action figures as I could. It worked a treat!

A few stories from filming:

1: I managed to get a shot of my nephew's baby scan image into the background. Yep. So look out for him - Tyler Watts; due to be born any day now, and already a minor celebrity having appeared in one film!

2: I work at a cinema, and we'd just hosted the Avengers Assemble European Premiere, when I went home and shot one scene ("Janice has issued a company memo..."). Notice my voice is more than a little creaky here... I'd spent the day shoting orders at my staff team, getting them ready for Disney's high profile event.

3: The last 'regular' scene (before we - SPOILERS! - cut ahead to the future) was recorded the day I interviewed for a promotion at work. It seemed to work. I passed!

I'm not sure when filming finished - although it was definitely by the end of April. The 29th rings a bell, for whatever reason.

I then had to wait. See, I'd devised an ending set five years in the future, where the protagonist (the 'lovely chap' Jarvis O'Hara) was long gone; replaced by somebody new. It meant I had to find an actor to replace me, and act out those last few scenes. I quickly settled on a friend/colleague called Keiichi.

Right, easy peasy, right?

Wrong! It turned into a multiple month wait; red herrings and mis-directions as to when Keiichi would be free to film the thing. Eventually we'd reached July, and the rest of the film sat fully edited on my laptop. All it needed now was Keiichi's contribution to be added and it'd be ago.

I'd decided somewhere along the way that I'd return in these future scenes for a fun 'cameo' - as my character, but five years older. I shaved my hair, lost a little weight (not deliberately!) and grew a beard - with the effect being I suddenly did resemble an older version of myself!

We shot these 'final' scenes at the end of July.

All that was left were various cutaways and dates I'd decided to add (having originally used horrible on screen subtitles - it lacked any class). With that done, the video was posted online July 31st.

It's ended up as a very strange beast. I don't think it's the most entertaining video in the world (it's subject matter, at times, is horribly dour) and I do think it's a little too long for its own good (but what to cut?). It is most certainly not viral material; and even those who HAVE seen it can't quite put their finger on what it is, or whether they liked it.

I suppose that's good. It's unique!

Hmm. I am terribly proud of it, despite its many obvious flaws. For what it is - a frantic scribble on a scrap bit of paper - it works. How well? I dunno. I need some distance, and time away to analyse it properly.

In the meantime, job done. The pen is working again. I'm back writing. There's a few things I want to get made now. Here's a quick update of their statuses below:

1: Wake Up Jeffrey & Smell the Coffee (I've already written & will shortly direct)
2: Ushers (I've already written & will maybe direct)
3: Yes, I Have a Beard Now (Half a first draft written; I'll give to my friend Jack Porter to direct)
4: The Fool (Half a first draft written & I will definitely look to direct this one)

Here's a link to watch That Resolute Desk on Youtube:
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