Working in the micro budget movie industry is a task fraught with inexperience, incompetence and sheer bloody idiocy. It’s been a long standing joke for me that it’s easier to get a script into production, than it is to get a completed film out of the other end – a joke which might be vaguely funny if it wasn’t so heart achingly true.
I’ve worked on 40 feature films, of which only 7 were spec scripts, the other 33 were written specifically for someone. 17 of the 33 never got past the synopsis or treatment stage, but the rest all underwent at least one, usually several, drafts before vanishing into the ether. Of all these projects (689 documents!), only 7 have made it as far as production – not the same 7 as the spec 7, I hasten to add – that would be damn impressive.
40 projects, 7 films entering production – 17.5%, that’s not too bad in the grand scheme of things.
Until you realise only one completed film has so far made it out of the other end.
Which no one’s ever really seen.
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, I still believe one or two of the others might limp home; but really, after starting 33 feature projects at the request of various producers and directors – what do I have to show for it?
- Some cash, which I’ve long since spent.
- A CV full of things which, at best, only partially exist.
- A shit load of bizarre and idiotic stories.
I can’t get the cash back and my CV is what it is, but the stories accrued from years of failed projects … there just might be something there:
JUST FOR THE RECORD
In 2008 an independent production company set out to make the micro-budget feature film ‘Just For The Record’.
Armed with a stellar cast of top TV actors, the world’s most advanced digital camera and a quirky location to die for … what could possibly go wrong?
A lot, as it happens.
A year after the film has been abandoned, the cast and crew reunite for a series of interviews about the ill-fated production. It’s a constant round of accusations, recriminations and humorous anecdotes as everyone tries to answer the central burning question: Why did the film fail and whose fault was it?
The interviews reveal a host of possible candidates: For a start there’s the alcoholic, womanising and mostly incompetent Producer. Then there’s the wunderkind Director who doesn’t make films, he creates experiences – bad ones; the writer who’s read every screenplay book going without actually managing to develop any talent; the bi-polar editor who can’t even agree with himself and the DOP who would struggle to understand a ZX Spectrum, let alone a state of the art camera.
Mix them all together with a two week night shoot, a budget smaller than most films’ catering bill, an incompetent crew, a cast who can’t stand each other and a location which proves to be dark, inaccessible and downright un-filmable … and you have the perfect conditions for laying a cinematic turd.
JUST FOR THE RECORD is a warning to anyone thinking of making a feature film on the cheap. By turns hilarious, tragic and poignant the direct to camera interviews of the cast and crew expose what it’s really like in the seedy, cash strapped and ultimately thankless world of micro budget filmmaking.
Reminiscing about every stage of the process from conception through scripting, casting, preproduction, shooting, editing and ultimately giving up in despair – this pathetic tale will entertain, inform and warn off anyone thinking of getting involved in a similar project.
JUST FOR THE RECORD is a how-not-to manual which proves you can have all the talent in the world … or you can have a micro-budget movie.
Shooting starts on the 17th (ten days to go – nothing’s gone wrong yet!) and the cast is superb.
I know, I know, I always say that and be fair, I’m hardly likely to say “The film shoots next week, the script’s good but the cast is fucking awful.” am I? However, in this case I think the cast list speaks for itself:
- Dirk Benedict
- Rik Mayall
- Steven Berkoff
- Geoff Bell
- Roland Manookian
- Phil Davis
- Ian Virgo
- Frank Harper
- Martin Kove
- Craig Fairbrass
- Victoria Silvstedt
- Ciaran Griffiths
- Lots of other people!
For a full cast list, including photos, why not join the Facebook group?
Dirk Benedict! Face! Starbuck! The proper Starbuck! The cool one! The man who’s more or less directly responsible for my arrest for counterfeiting and fraud!
I’m very excited about this cast … but in retrospect, if I’d known Rik Mayall was going to be involved I probably wouldn’t have stolen quite so many jokes from him.
JUST FOR THE RECORD – feature project number forty-one and who knows, maybe completed film number two?