About 3 weeks ago I got the approval and funding to attend a screenwriting conference in Santiago, Chile. Straight away I had the crazy idea of making a short film whilst there. I wrote a script, Skinned, and based the story on the resources I would have at hand.
Or so I thought…
A writer/director colleague of mine who also happens to be a trained actor had also applied for the conference, so I wrote the main Skinned character for her to play the role. It would be simple and straightforward as the synopsis suggests. I figured that I’d play the other role (no dialogue) and act as cinematographer too. The film is a no-budget, low-fi short film. Easy.
Alas, my colleague did not get the approval nor the funding to go. I very quickly had no actor. I immediately realised that I couldn’t play the role nor shoot the film as I’d need help in Chile and I don’t speak a word of Spanish.
Worse, Skinned starts with the main character in Australia travels to Chile and returns to Australia again. This, obviously poses a problem as there is no budget to fly an actor from Australia to Chile return.
I contacted an English-speaking theatre group based in Santiago to try and find an actor however, so far, have heard nothing back.
At this point, things did not look good.
Alas, the organisers were not too confident that I’d be able to do that (approval is pending). Understandably they’re very busy with a number of international guests. So, it’s possible I’d lost a major location too.
Oh, of course, then the local volcano erupted – just to add some drama.
With this in mind, I knew I’d now require someone else on camera as I’d have actors to direct and a language barrier to get past if Skinned were to go ahead. Things were now complicated.
So very quickly I had nothing except a transnational screenplay with no actors, no crew and no key location – and a ticket to fly in 10 days time.
I was ready to call the film off.
ONE CHANCE MEETING
Three weeks ago, Gonzalo Manzo, a young screenwriter from Chile, came to live in Melbourne to “make films”. Last Tuesday, to find a way to meet Melbourne filmmakers, he phoned the VCA School of Film and Television and, quite quickly, his phone number was on my desk.
We met yesterday over a pint of Guinness.
Gonzalo: “Let’s talk about your film. What do you need?”
Andrew: “Two actors.”
Gonzalo: “A producer? Cinematographer? Locations?”
Gonzalo: “Right. Let’s get on facebook.”
As of now, Gonzalo is one of the producers of the film. We have made a rough Spanish translation of the Skinned screenplay using Google Translate to send to Chile. We have cast the actors. A cinematographer is on board. Sound gear has been organised. Locations have been digitally scouted.
This is not the first time I have experienced the power of using Facebook as a practical filmmaking tool. During the filming of Crime & Punishment, FB was used extensively by the production to instantly post photos of props and locations to a closed group page where myself and the other HoD’s can comment and make decisions. For me, it was revelatory.
So, thanks to one chance meeting with a Chilean filmmaker and his facebook connections, Skinned is officially in pre-production.
Filming on Skinned commences the 4th May in Santiago, Chile with remaining scenes to be filmed in Melbourne later in the year.
Stay tuned for more updates.