“Pretty mediocre photographic fake. They cut off your brother’s head.”
The first draft of the screenplay for The Dark Side of the Earth contained eleven Back to the Future references. I’m not sure how many are still in there, maybe half a dozen, but the spirit of Marty McFly and friend are still guiding the development of the story.
A new draft has begun. Battling with the complexities of Dark Side’s plot is one of my least favourite pastimes, but this time I have the invaluable help of a script editor, Quay Chu. Last week we had a long conversation about what needs addressing in this draft and what some of the ways to achieve those things might be. Such as how to make the plot clearer by having a character draw a diagram of the timelines, like a certain Doctor Emmett L. Brown I could mention in Back to the Future Part II, or by using a handy prop like the fading family photo from Part I.
Yesterday Carl and I met Quay face to face, albeit briefly, and continued to wrangle with parallel universes. Earlier we had met with another writer about The Black Donald, my other feature project in the early stages of development. This story has less complexity, but could still be streamlined. Here we talked in terms of Ghostbusters rather than BTTF. “According to this morning’s PKE sample, the current level in the city would be a Twinkie 35 feet long weighing approximately six hundred pounds.”
After the writing meetings, we went on to Cinesite in Soho. Since the grade two weeks ago, the images had been dust-busted, delivered to Cinesite, recorded onto 35mm internegative stock (kindly suppled by Fuji) and then printed. Now it was time to view this print and make sure the grade looked the same as it had in Pepper’s DI suite. Carl had had a bad experience in the past with this process (not with the same companies) but it was all new to me.
We were greeted by Ben and Alex from Pepper, as well as Cinesite’s Mitch Mitchell, Head of Imaging. While we waited for the projectionist, the topic of 3D arose again and Mitch told us many horror stories about all the technical problems it causes, some avoidable, some not. This only served to cement the view I had developed in Cannes that 3D filmmaking is as different to 2D filmmaking as 2D filmmaking is to still photography. I think from now on I will have to boycott 3D films as a viewer, in the hope that the lack of my bum-on-seat might at least help to slow in some tiny measure the almost-inevitable domination of 3D.
Anyway, on to the actual screening. The print started rolling and there was a big scratch on the start of it. Some directors might have been annoyed at this. Not me. First off, the sole purpose of this print was to check the grade, so it didn’t matter if it got a bit damaged. More importantly – it was a SCRATCH. An actual physical mark on the filmstrip. Not a digital filter someone had put on the image to make it appear scratched. A real, genuine scratch. I love film.
The grade looked exactly like it had at Pepper – bang on. These guys certainly know what they’re doing. The whole thing looked amazing. Now all that’s left is to shoot the soundtrack onto film and put the two elements together.
Random link of the day.