If you’ve been following my site over the last few months, you probably know that I am developing a feature film – currently titled ‘Ivy’. This post is the third instalment of my Feature Film Journal, which is intended to loosely document the filmmaking process from start to finish for all of you readers out there.
For those of you that are more recent followers of the blog –
I first had the idea to start developing a feature back in the summer, and after a lot of conceptual changes the treatment is now complete and the screenplay is well on it’s way. You can read about how I first started conceptualizing the idea in this blog post here, and how I refined the idea and created the beat sheet in this post.
Since my last entry, the idea has morphed significantly both in terms of the story and the characters. I’m a big believer that your first idea is never the best one, and if you want to create the best possible final product (in my case a screenplay that will be turned into a feature), you need to continually challenge and re-shape your idea until it starts to click. This is exactly what happened when developing ‘Ivy’. The idea started out as a very straight forward drama, with an A-story that followed the lead character on a cross country road trip… But it’s now become far more genre oriented and stylized. As the characters became much more clear to me, they started to dictate the story and the film subsequently shifted genres, becoming very much a contemplative thriller. There were always genre elements in the original story, but after re-working the idea time and time again those elements were brought to the forefront and ultimately the story is benefitting because of it.
In a future post, I will be sharing the updated concept and possibly the entire pitch package as well, but for now I wanted to do a very brief write up on why I chose to create a visual package.
The Visual Treatment
I have been chatting with a number of producers, distributors, and other potential collaborators that have been eager to get their hands on this story, and ultimately I thought that it would be best to share the treatment in a visual format. In other words, rather than simply creating a black and white text based PDF file to send out, I felt that it would be advantageous to include some imagery that would help to capture the mood of the film – even though it was not mandatory by any stretch. I knew that I didn’t want to use stock photos or screen grabs from any existing films, so instead I decided to set up an original photoshoot that would serve the purpose of supplementing the treatment.
For the shoot, I teamed up with the very talented makeup artist Dalina In and model/actress Kayleigh Gilbert. Rather than attempting to recreate scenes or moments from the story, I simply wanted to capture the tonality and texture of the story, which ultimately left a lot of creative options open.
In the end, we decided to shoot at 4 different locations, all of which metaphorically represented a different part of the character’s journey. I shot these stills on a Canon 6D, all with natural light and a flex fill. Here are a few of the lightly color corrected shots:
With the shots now complete, my next step will involve marrying them together with a sparse version of my outline in a visually oriented pitch package. The package itself will also include character bios, the logline, and a director’s statement.
Going The Extra Mile
The main reason I wanted to share this post was to illustrate a point that I believe to be extremely important in film, and in life in general – going above and beyond is critical to success. I didn’t need to take a day off of work to go out and shoot these promo stills, and no one asked me to do them. I could have just as easily not done them, and simply sent over a written pitch… However if they help in any small way to convey my idea more accurately to potential collaborators, it was very well worth the effort.
If you are developing a creative project, or just trying to get ahead with your career in any way, you need to give everything you do 110%. It sounds basic, but after many years of working in a creative industry I’ve found that the vast majority of people trying to break into this business just aren’t working as hard as they need to be. People are inclined to take the easiest path to their goal, but unfortunately the easiest path doesn’t always lead there… So whether you are developing a pitch package of your own, or tackling any other type of creative endeavour, always push yourself to go the extra mile and create something that will stand out from the crowd.
These ‘Feature Film Journals’ will keep trickling in slowly during the pre-production stage, but once we get into production and post they will get far more frequent. My goal is to capture lots of behind the scenes videos, showcasing everything from our casting process to lighting setups, to color sessions and everything in between… So stay tuned!