I had a conversation with two colleagues recently over the films we made, and the creative decisions we choose to make. It was after discussing my short, Pie Money, and the long form it was shot in.
When I was younger, I was a very quiet child. "Very shy, and lacking confidence" must have appeared on my school reports nearly every year. When I went to university, the filmmaking process helped me to be more confident. Directing a cast and crew, arranging actors and locations; you're really in the deep end, but when it all started going well, I had belief in what I could do.
I originally came up with the idea for Pie Money after going to Clermont Ferrand short film festival. The films you see there are brilliant, and the decisions made by directors are brave. Such a valuable learning experience, you'd never see those sort of films at Odeon, and I'm sure many other blogs from Staffordshire University students will say similar things.
So I came back from the trip, wanting to make something in long form. I wanted to test the audience's patience; make them feel isolated within the characters environment. Share the characters emotions. I knew when writing the script, people would complain about the length. I still remember the excitement on set after filming the one shot scene at 5:00 and choosing not to get any close ups. Now, after the film has been screened in multiple countries, it looks like that's it now for Pie Money for the festival circuit. Yet I still get people telling me it's way too long.
When you're coming up with an idea, you're choosing the character traits, the moral message, the colour of the costumes. It's all your creation, and if you have a valid reason for every single decision you've made, then you should have the confidence to stand up for those decisions. It's a good learning process taking on people's feedback. Knowing what jokes aren't funny, what cuts could be tighter, what characters are underdeveloped. And that's where it's vital to know when to take on feedback and when not to.
One colleague of mine had a script consultant on board for one of his shorts. There was feedback that he now admits took something away from the film, and he walked out during the screening. This same director failed in getting funding for a more recent short, but made the film anyway. At the premiere, someone from where he applied for funding, asked "why didn't you come to us?"
For my short Dawid and Dominik, one of my tutors gave some feedback on the script before it was shot, summarising with the words: "it's just not funny". The film went on to win a couple of awards, but the sweetest moment for me was hearing my tutor laugh all the way through its first screening.
I guess it comes down to the fact that you need to have a certain respect for your vision. I'm confident in the decisions I make, but I know I'm at the start of my career. My films have flaws, and I learn from them. I take on all feedback, and if it makes the story stronger then I will listen. Stubbornness is a good thing to have, but you need to have good ears.
The short I'm making in 2 weeks time will probably split audiences because of its abrupt ending. I believe it's a funny ending though, and it works well with the rest of the script. Time will tell whether audiences will like it, but I'm happy with my decisions and I look forward to seeing the response on FilmAnnex.