The Ever Elusive Feature Film

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Hollywood in Shinagawa, Japan. Photo by Paul Leeming.

Short films are fine, but they haven’t really made money since the end of the era where audiences would sit in the cinema all day and watch a Newsreel, a Cartoon, a Short Film and then a Double Feature. All for less than a dollar. But that era has long gone. The B-Movie has now overtaken cinema, and the A-movie, has been relegated to the indie scene, TV or now, Netflix and the like in the VOD wasteland. And how can one prove that they understand the movie business unless they actually get out there and make some serious – as the kids would say – bank.

I’ve spent a lot of my time as a screenwriter thinking that I’ll somehow get plucked out of obscurity and that a studio executive will wave a magic wand and I’ll be showered with money. This is never going to happen. As they say, it takes ten years to become an overnight success.

So, the game plan has radically changed. I’ve actually known this strategy for some time, but I’ve ignored it thinking that I was better than the hard slog, that I was somehow special and deserving of an express pass to fame and glory.

The strategy is this. Make a zero-budget feature film. Hopefully it only costs $10K and then we make $20K. Put the $20K into the next feature. It makes $50K, and we repeat the process until we are making million dollar features that actually get seen in a real cinema. Then, get “plucked out of obscurity” to remake Spiderman for the umpteenth time. Fail upwards, as Paul would say. Look at my new favourite filmmaker Andrew Haigh. His first film, “Greek Pete” won a few awards on the LGBT film circuit, but wasn’t setting the box office or the critics on fire. However, it was cheaply made and proved that indeed he could make a feature film. His next film, “Weekend” was the breakthrough film that set the LGBT festival circuit on fire and even went on to some box office success. This led to the “Looking” TV series, which is his most successful project, but was cancelled by HBO in it’s second season due to a lack of ratings. Yet, the fan interest has warranted a TV-movie to finish off the series. And, then, his third film, “45 Years” was nominated for an Oscar and was a minor Arthouse hit. From zero-budget to Oscar nomination in just a few steps. Fail upwards.

So, ever since going to Cannes a couple of years ago, this has been the strategy. But, ideas for zero-budget features don’t fall out of the sky. It’s hard enough to write something good, let alone something that fits a minuscule budget. But, after three (or more) attempts at writing a cheap screenplay and failing, Paul and I might have finally done it.

The key word being MIGHT.

Stay tuned. Something delicious is cooking. We’ve got a couple of buns in the oven. And the world is pregnant with possibilities.


New interview (TG Geeks)

Hello everyone, sorry I’ve been missing in action, but I’ve got this new short film out, and it’s premiering at the Shorts Off Film Festival in Wales, and it’s called “Silence”.

To celebrate, I was interviewed by TG Geeks, a great podcast coming out of Arizona in the good ol’ US of A. Hope you enjoy it!

TG Geeks Podcast Interview with Hamish Downie


More great advice on screenwriting (reblog)

by Angela Bourassa My Saturday at ScriptFest was a whirlwind experience. I sat on a panel about pitching with John Bucher, Tara Bennett, and Scotty Mullen, then I got to meet one-on-one with writers for the entire afternoon, helping them perfect their pitches before the Pitchfest on Sunday. That meant that I only got to…

via 6 Screenwriting Lessons from Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) — LA Screenwriter


Great advice for screenwriters (reblog)

by Fin Wheeler Every time an award-winning screenwriter gives an interview, the reporter inevitably asks what they consider the essential elements to success in screenwriting. Just as inevitably, the successful subject responds that talent, determination, hard work, luck, and the right attitude are fundamental ingredients in gaining and maintaining a high profile as a professional…

via Is Your Attitude Affecting Your Screenwriting Career? — LA Screenwriter


Updates

I’ve been really busy this past 5 months since my last post. I’ve been mainly working on writing new scripts (of which there are two now), and hopefully we’ll be moving towards making a feature this year.

Recently, because of some issues with the licensing, our fan film, “Silent Hill: Stolen Heart” was taken down from youtube. However, this gave us a great opportunity to re-do the colour and do new original music for the film. We used Tim Hilberts (who worked on the music for “Pieces of 8”), and you can see the results here:

The theme song, “My mistakes” is available from Tim’s soundcloud account as a free download.

Tim’s band, “He and Him” are also teasing the release of their debut single, “Never should’ve known”, which you can see here:

Paul and I are getting the “An American Piano” DVD ready for release, but first there are two more festivals which we’ve got into – which brings the total to over 15 festivals. It’s crazy to think of the places this film has traveled. I just hope that the film’s message can be heard by more people. The world seems like it gunning towards a major world war, and I just hope that that doesn’t eventuate.

 


The vital importance of LEGO

21. Hamish's house (with ackground light mode)(12.05 pm  Sun 27 Jan 1991).jpgThis photo was taken back in 1991. Lego was such an important part of my childhood. If you think I love music and film now, it’s nothing compared to how much I loved Lego as a kid. I spent every last dime I had on lego bricks (not unlike filmmaking now).
It’s a little embarrassing, but you can see how I used to use the cheaper bricks in the back to make up for the fact I didn’t have enough of the more expensive white bricks. I was inspired by the exhibition homes that I used to force my suffering family to visit when I wanted to become an architect (now I make scripts – the blueprint for a film – not a house). A lot of houses which were designed to look more expensive than they were used to be brick in the front, and weatherboard in the back.

Robyn Loau – “The Last Time”

Thank you as always to the ‘Big Gay Horror Fan’ for sharing my latest short film/music video for Robyn Loau – “The Last Time”🙂

Big Gay Horror Fan

hamish
As the GLBT community finally gains its rights and full respects in the eyes of the law, it seems like the worst time to genuflect before its faults. But, humanity is a complex and varied beast and, for years now, queer publications have covered the very harrowing (and unfortunately) truthful stories of domestic violence that occur in same sex relationships.

Recently, director-writer Hamish Downie and cinematographer Paul Lemming gave these circumstances a very Silent Hill twist with their video for singer Robyn Loau’s The Last Time. Imbued with a restrained toxicity, this tale of a lesbian couple caught in a loop of violence, is, ultimately, haunting on many levels.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

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