It's been mentioned before and it will be mentioned again, but Back to the Future is an incredible film. I make no hesitation in saying Septembers film is heavily influenced by Back to the Future!
I write a lot of stuff that isn't always so optimistic. I like writing that kind of stuff, however every now and again it's worth trying something different. With Septembers film I wanted to see if could tell a simple story that was a little more traditional and tell it in an interesting way. It doesn't get more interesting than time travel!
Time Travel however is one of those things (along with Kids and Animals) that your encouraged to stay away from. Kid's and Animals are notorious for adding extra stress on shoots, they are not as controllable and there are certain rules that apply to them. Time Travel adds stress upfront, at the very first stage; writing. It is a plot devices that has too many possibilities and everything you write (literally everything) will eventually contradict it's self.
Here is a 'simple' example: A Man ages 20 goes in to the past and kills his brother (also aged 20) at age 5. Lets say his bother slept with his wife. So he kills his brother at age 5 meaning In the present his brother no longer exists. This means he can never sleep with this wife.
On the surface he has succeeded, it makes sense. But then you think about it in more detail. If he killed his brother at age 5 he would never get to age 20 where he sleeps with the wife. This means there is no motivation to go back and kill his brother so it never would have happened.
Back to the Future doesn't really care about this. The film understands time travel but handles it in the simplest way possible. It doesn't feel the need to go in to the details, it tells good story and gives you just enough to make you think. It is not meant to stand up against the 'laws' of time travel, it really isn't that kind of film. The story takes priority over science.
This is something hollywood is very good at (Check this link out about the film Armageddon) But it only works if the story is a good one to begin with (Yes I do genuinely think Armageddon is a good film!). If you want to watch something that goes a little more scientific with the whole time travel thing then can I suggest watching the Film 'Primer'. It is a hard one to watch but it's focus on the science of Time Travel is admirable and it is also a great example of low budget film making!
With my film I took the the Back to the Future approach. I would tell a simple story of a Kid just trying to understand his parents a little better and Time Travel would play its part in this.
The idea for the story came about a few years ago when I realised I had more in common with my parents than I first realised. When you are a kid growing up, the things you are into and the things your parents are into are quite different. As you get older these differences become less and less until you find yourself rediscovering or understanding the things you did not a a kid. This can be better explained (certainly in my case) with Music. I got into music very late in life or that is to say I got interested in traditional (pop) music very late. When I was growing up I was all about listening to sound tracks! I could only appreciate music if I could relate it to a film or TV show. My parents would play a lot of music they grew up with from the 70's and I paid no attention to that. So when I finally did discovered pop music, it inevitably lead down the the road of discovering what influenced that music. This takes you right back to the music of the 60s and 70s. Now I would say I listen to this kind of music most of all right next to soundtracks (sorry pop music). This made me think that if I went back in time and met my parents in their mid twenties we would probably get on pretty well. Thats not to say we don't get on now but you see my point.
This is not just restricted to music, it applies to things like food and cooking, films, clothes etc.
This was the basic premise for the film...
This film was basically an ensemble cast of everyone I know who live's in the Oxfordshire area. With the exception of Dan Blacker who comes from the midlands. This made the shooting day very 'natural' (for want of a better phrase) and as this film is all about family, the fact that the cast knows one another really shows when you see them on screen. So Bruce was back (you will remember him form January's film and Compulsion). Bert was back (you will remember him form May's film). Anjella came along (who you will know as the voice from June's film 'Death Baby') though this was the first time I had really work with her. She did appear as a voice in Compulsion but this was the first time really working together. Then finally there is Dan. I met Dan a long time ago as an actor doing some small rolls in corporate work I was involved with. We seemed to get on pretty well and I think thats down to the fact he is a really funny guy! I knew one day we we would end up shooting something together and (as with all these films) it has been nice to have actually done that instead of just talk about it. He is also a huge huge fan of Back to the Future so I knew he would understand what I was trying to achieve. Dan carries this film and I don't think I could have found any one better.
I don't have as much experience working with actors which is one of the reason for doing all of these films. I was nervous about getting the tone right. This film allowed me to see if I could get the balance between a film being slightly odd and yet still evoke emotion. I realised very quickly that I didn't need to know exactly how to do that because all the actors were able to do it for me! I shouldn't be surprised as they are a talented bunch but in my lack of experience I guess I thought it would be harder. Thats a testament to how great all these guys are! Incredible performances all round.
This film is a period piece and so I needed some quite specific things to make it work. The film was going to cover two time periods, the 70's and the 90's! I needed to know how I could achieve the look of those periods without having to spend all my money. I needed costumes and props, little things that hint at the time periods. And I needed locations....
The best find was the pub location. About half the film is set their and as this was the setting that was furthest back in time it needed to work as a 70's pub. The Cape of Good Hope in Oxford was the pub and thier slightly out dated decoration in their private party section was just about right. Purple walls, very worn furniture and enough space to work in. Trust me finding a location that is pretty much perfect doesn't happen everyday day. Location finding is hard work especially on a tight budget!
So the pub worked out well and once again I ended up asking if any one I knew wanted to help out and be extras. Turns out that the promise of free food and drink for the day is a good way of achieving this. Much like with April's Drinking Competition film the pitch can be summed up in one sentence. 'Please come and be background actors in a pub, you can have free food and drink all day I just need you to act like you are in a pub.' Oh and also 'Dress for the 70's'. This also felt like a great opportunity to give my Mum and Dad a cameo, so if you check out the bar scene you will see them there.
Costumes were fun but hard to get hold of as you can get quite far not buying actual 70 clothes you just have to shop around. Charity shops are great but you need to know what you are looking for.
For the 90's it was a little easier, too easy in fact. I ended up giving some of my own clothes to Dan so he looked more 90's. In fact all you see him waring in the film (apart from the socks and the boxer shorts) is mine, some of it stuff I still ware today!
Finally we get to the time machine its self. The idea for the time travel part of this film actually came from a song. The film is title Silver Machine so its not a great surprise that it was Silver Machine by Hawkwind. Love the song and if you remember what I mentioned above (about appreciating your parents taste) there is again no surprise that this is one is a big favorite of my Dad's.
There is a very interesting back story as to why this song was the starting point for this film. Read this and you will understand!
So that meant I had to find a silver bike which I thought would be easy. But leaving it a little late I ended up borrowing one from Gemma's Dad (thanks John) which I then had to spray chrome (thats is a messy process). This bike served it's purpose, I had to take to apart a bit and then put it back together so i couldn't vouch for its integrity but it got one good run down a really big hill. Then became a true prop in every sense of the word in that it ceased to function as a bike at all. It now is mostly for show (sorry John).
But it has a cool Silver Machine bumper sticker!!