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Sunday, 24 July 2011

Bow Tai Chi

A few years ago, when I was regularly practising tai chi, I demonstrated a few, now long-forgotten, moves to a friend of mine. I stood there gradually raising my foot off the ground, slowly turning at the waist and sweeping my arm at the pace of a slow pan. He was amused at just how slowly you were supposed to do the moves, and laughed even more when I explained I had sped the process up. The thing is, he shouldn't have been, because he is an amateur film producer.

He is the main producer at Backyard Productions, and we affectionately call him The Executive Bully. Our group of friends have been making fan-films since the 90s, and throughout the journey from shaky, grainy VHS-C with equally shaky scripts and acting, to the semi-professional, I have always been surprised at how slow and deliberate the process of film-making can be. In the amateur film-making world this is even more so, with long learning curves and sometimes attempting the impossible. Not least of these are my 'American' accent in Batman Returns Forever, and my attempts to jump backwards through a door with a prosthetic head extension in The Emperor's New Clones. I'm no Olympic gymnast you know, but I did once do tai chi and the discipline and patience I learnt there has become invaluable.

Taking very small steps, holding my breath and with virtually imperceptible maneouvres, I have been building my own fan film project. The process ultimately started in 1963, ten years before I was even born, when Doctor Who first materialised. My fandom was well-established by the time of Destiny of the Daleks in the late 70s. It was always there throughout my early childhood, at least until I was 16. And even throughout the hiatus it was never forgotten.

The return of Doctor Who has gradually encouraged me to start creative writing again, something that hasn't happened since my schooldays. Just over a year ago, I then decided to start writing a series of short YouTube episodes of a Torchwood spoof. This was mainly because it's easier than a spoof of Doctor Who itself, a principle on which amateur film-making and tai chi do differ. However, this made it more difficult to sell to our film-making group, especially as, like Ianto, I mostly make the coffee and clear up the mess. It was also still too convoluted and uninspirational.  The original concept, with the working title of Flashlight Plastic had to be changed drastically and rewritten as something more generic and, more importantly, funnier.

But now Episodes 1-3 of Primewood have been written, under the tutelage of The Executive Bully, I am just about to breathe in and take the tentative step of creating a production plan. This will set out what each part of the film-making body needs to do and when, so that the whole moves with a firm stance and in perfect balance.

Produced in short 5-10 minute bursts for a YouTube audience, however, the final result will have to be anything but slow.

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