The Indestructibles Film Journal #7: Inventing Something New

Has Everything Been Done?

The question I keep asking myself as I plan the shots for the film is: Is there a new cinematic language to be invented?

I have a problem with the old cinematic language. It’s built for budgets. Everything we see falls under the scale that has Hollywood on one side, goes through almost-Hollywood, down the scale to not-even-close-to-Hollywood which is only a step above just-pure-piss.

As you recall, The Indestructibles was born out of the fact that these days I have the technology to create film. There’s no need to beg for big budgets or to kowtow notes from executives who know nothing about story or art. I have a writer, director, and cameraman at home (me), I have a camera, and I know great actors who would be willing to participate. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to create new, original SF films at home! In fact, there’s no reason not to create epic SF films with absolutely no budget… if you know what you’re doing.

The Indestructibles is an epic SF film about superheroes, designed to be created with everyday means. In this film journal, I’ve talked about how I created the story in a way designed to give the full SF epic experience, about how I got rid of the editor by shooting in one-shots (editors are expensive and the budget is zero), choosing the actors, the rehearsals, and about the different choices I had to make along the way.

But one thing still haunted me. I didn’t want to make the mistake I saw repeated around me.

What Are Others Doing?

Look around at the absolutely best web series that exist today. Some use ordinary shots and look homemade. I don’t want to be that. Others try to create a look that’s as sleek as a Hollywood movie, trying to hide the fact that they had a budget that’s only in the thousands of dollars or, if they’re lucky, in the tens of thousands of dollars.

What you get then is a shot that’s taken out of a professionally sleek Hollywood film, followed by a shot that’s trying to be, but clearly didn’t have the budget for it. The switch from one to the other is bad for the film. It takes the viewers out of the film and magnifies the not-Hollywood issue rather than hides it.

So the question that keeps haunting me is this: Is there a way to create entirely new language that is completely different from what the viewers have ever seen? Something that tells you how much it cost and at the same time looks artistic and professional? Something that when you watch it doesn’t feel like it tried to be something it couldn’t be? Something that is so authentic it doesn’t get you thinking about how cheaply it was done?

Has everything been done or can I find something new?

The Solution

It starts with the credits.

Credits are something we’re so used to seeing, we never really think about them. Today, almost any editing program gives you a way to show the credits in a way that seems to be taken out of a Hollywood film. They give you the same fonts, the same effects of the credits in the beginning of the movie appearing and disappearing. The goal is to look professional. You know, like Hollywood.

But, as I said above, I don’t want to create even a whiff of Hollywood so as not to create a dissonance with the rest of the film. The credits had to be different, too. Could I find an alternative to the credits that fits all the criteria I’ve mentioned above?

The Indestructibles, as you recall, is about superheroes, but also about superheroes that are brain-dead but just can’t die. One of the characters is, somewhere during the story, just such a female superhero (played by Nathalie klein Selle, whom you’ve seen in the poster below). Part of the film is about how these ‘almost-dead’ superheroes are abused by regular people, and their bodies treated like trash.

The Indestructibles

The Indestructibles

Here’s my solution for The Indestructibles. I’m going to write the credits, in handwriting, on Nathalie’s (the ‘dead’ superheroine’s) body. So you’re going to have a shot of her foot with the text ‘Old Man Productions Presents’, then you’re going to have a shot of her bare legs with the name of the film ‘The Indestructibles’. You’re going to have her name written on her face, as she plays a vegetable with eyes open. You get the idea. (I’ll do my best to avoid it looking sexy, since the film isn’t about that, and make it about the credits and the body-is-garbage theme.)

It’s not something you’ve seen before. It’s inexpensive but doesn’t appear to be created from a lack of budget. It’s jarring. It’s emotional. It’s not Hollywood, but it doesn’t make you think: These people couldn’t do Hollywood.

That’s the new language I’m trying to create.

In planning the shots for the film, I’m trying to create the same effect. I won’t reveal any more than I have now, but I will say that the point is to make something that was shot by an unprofessional (a character in the film) and to suddenly fall into great moments of art without meaning to, then to snap back to the regular composition.

Will it work? That’s for you to say.

Speaking of which, the film will be released on the web, but at first it won’t be released publicly. It will only be released to a small audience. If you want to be part of that audience and you want to see it before everyone else does, please email sfonweb@gmail.com with the subject line, The Indestructibles. You’ll immediately be added to the list.

 

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