Saturday, 23 May 2015

Quick Film Review, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD 

The Dreamtime of Jeremy Clarkson 

'In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max, a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa, a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.'

Mad Max is basically an extended demolition derby style car chase in a desert world of competing tribes of unhinged car worshippers. it delivers gothic weirdness and spectacle in spades, and, accordingly, its best bits are the most unhinged - flamethrower guitar guy, engine tattoo guy, war granny etc etc. 

It's well paced - they stop driving occasionally, so there's at least some rythmn there, and the world building (always the trickiest part of sci-fi) is awesome. I guess it helps that they can create tribal cultures from scratch in the desert. Though I do wonder if a post apocalyptic world would really be so reliant on petrol. They don't reference our times, there's no Ozymandias moment where they drive through, say, the ruins of the Sydney Opera House - and I think that's a really smart decision.

The characters are suitably larger than life. Max is basically the same as Eastwood's Man with no Name. Actually, I wished Hardy looked a bit more Eastwoody, he looks a bit too like a bouncer IMO. Theron as Furiosa is his equal as action hero, and the story is clunkily feminist, in that it's about nurturing women taking the world back from tyrannical men.  

Looking at it in terms of writing - there's very little dialogue, it relies entirely on visual story telling. The two leads start by trying to kill each other and end up as allies, and that is charted entirely in moments - Max letting Furiosa use his shoulder to steady her rifle, her letting him drive her rig, and so on. Action only works when it also develops character and on that point this film is really worth studying. 


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

I just got asked by someone how to get into the film industry as a writer. Thought I would repeat the advice I gave him here. There’s nothing definitive about this, I’m sure there’s lots of ways in, this is just what I know. 

First, get a copy of FINAL DRAFT or one of those other script writing programs and get yourself used to script format, it won’t take long. I hate script format, I convert my stuff from word into proper format by copy and pasting when the thing is basically finished - but you can’t not submit your stuff in the proper format, because the people who you hope will read it won't read it unless it’s in the right format. So that’s lesson one.

Go look at You’ll find up-and-coming directors on there who need scripts. Maybe they’re film students, or deluded accountants with a new camera, who cares. They need stuff to shoot. Bang out some short scripts. Keep it simple, two actors in a room or a park or such like, ten pages long. Don’t get involved in the production, let them do the hard work of getting the thing made and then entering it into festivals and all that. There’s probably lots of other similar websites, have a nose around. Basically there are a lot of people out there who want to make a short film but don’t know much about telling a story - go help them.

When you’ve got the knack of short films, have a go at some longer form stories - a feature or a TV pilot. Then enter competitions, lots of competitions, you'll find lists online. 

Now, with a couple of short films under your belt and third place in an obscure US script competition, you can try the next stage, approaching agents and production companies. You can get a list of agents out of The Writers and Artists Yearbook. These people are deluged with stuff, but the fact that you’ve had something shot and been placed in a competition gives you a vastly better chance of getting some kind of hearing. Enter the Channel Four Coming Up competition too. 

Films need producers, directors and actors. Make connections with people who want to do those jobs. And stay in touch with them. Maybe four years on that deluded accountant has raised a million dollars for a feature...