Sometimes it pays to just take a chance.
About two and a half years ago an odd email dropped into my inbox out of nowhere. It seemed to be a quickly written email from someone in Ireland. The writer, Liam, said he was asking if I had any stories that I thought might be worth filming. In particular, he was trying to find something under fifteen minutes long that he, and a crew of others from his village in Ireland, could enter into a film competition. And they needed it, like, yesterday.
I decided to follow up, and asked more questions, instead of just moving on. And I was glad I did. Despite the hastiness of the initial email, Liam went on to explain further that he and his crew had entered several weekend film competitions and won them. They were looking for a script they could film over a weekend for a ‘make a film in a weekend’ competition coming up, but they couldn’t use their current script.
I thought All Her Children Fought could be filmed, so I sent the story along, and Liam loved it. I spent a week turning it into a script that I sent to Liam.
And then things went quiet for a long while. Past the time I thought they were going to try to film for that weekend.
They got back into touch. They hadn’t been able to get things ready to use my script in time, they’d gone with another. But they were still super excited about my script and wanted to film it. Only, they said they wanted to level up from their regional wins and do something even better. They wanted to hire a director and audition actors and get really serious.
A friend of mine joked that this was when the request for me to invest money would come, but pretty soon Liam and the Snugboro team were sending me clips of directors they were looking at, along with actors they were thinking of using. I suddenly realized this was going to really happen.
The director had done some adverts, and been to film school. Pretty soon they got their hands on my script and we had some back and forth edits. The director had some tweaks, all of which punched things up (the cat and the end shot, which really boosted the whole thing, came from that pass and weren’t in my original, but I loved them).
Knowing that I was working with a team that didn’t have a Hollywood budget, I’d tried to take things that would require special effects and get them off screen. I suggested using fans to blow leaves across the field for the ship taking off at the end. But someone on the team knew a computer graphics guy, and soon I was getting mpegs of test imagery for the ship to see what I thought, as they were going to include that as the penultimate shot. It was going to look totally SF-nal! That blew me away.
When I got the DVD in the mail it wouldn’t work on my player, but I was able to get my Xbox 360 to show the movie. I was nervous. No doubt. But the quality of the filming and acting were far beyond anything I hoped for.
And then, seeing words I wrote played out in front of me, it really gut punched me. Here was something I’d dreamed, and they’d done such an amazing job of nailing what I was trying to do. And even taken it up a level. Of course, having been so involved in seeing the actors chosen, the drafts of the script, my own mind’s eye for what happened in it, and the fact that I was so close to the project, meant I had no idea if what I was seeing had the same effect on anyone else.
So I, very nervously, did a screening in Bluffton at the local movie theater early one Saturday. Fifty or so people in town and from the college came out to see it, and it seemed to have an effect. I also screened it for people at Blue Heaven, the writing workshop, right after it came out, to see what my peers thought.
So now, I get to share it with everyone, as Liam has allowed me to upload it to YouTube and pass it around. I loved the chance to write a script. I loved the opportunity to see something of mine transferred to a whole new medium.
And here’s the film again:
Details about the film:
Based on the short story by Tobias Buckell (http://www.TobiasBuckell.com). Script by Tobias S. Buckell, Cathal Feeney, and Patrick Ryan.
Produced by Liam Grant (Snugboro Films: http://snugborofilms.com) and directed by Patrick Ryan, who has a number of award winning short films to his credit. The film was shortlisted for showing at the Belfast Film Festival in April 2013 and the Tokyo Short Shorts Festival May/June 2013.
When every pound to orbit counts, who will fight for our future in deep space?