FilmWorks: Ideas

Last week I was delighted to be accepted onto FilmWorks, a fast-track development scheme for regional filmmakers, based at the Watershed Media Centre in Bristol. As part of the programme we’re encouraged to blog about our progress on the FilmWorks site, and I’ll be duplicating some if not all of those blogs right here on,┬ástarting now.

FilmWorks kicked off this week with a masterclass on developing an idea. “Where do you get your ideas from?” is never an easy question to answer, but the speakers had plenty of interesting things to say on the subject. I particularly enjoyed hearing from Peter Lord, co-director of Chicken Run and Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! Apart from a few FX shots in my feature Soul Searcher I haven’t worked with stop motion animators, but I’ve always admired and been fascinated by their art. Peter was very open and generous with his knowledge when I briefly chatted to him, which seems to be the spirit of FilmWorks.

The masterclass introduced me to mood reels, montages of clips from other films which demonstrate the tone and style of a project you’re pitching. In the past I’ve used concept art, scrapbooks, videomatics and even once a full-blown 35mm demo scene (see, but I never thought of just half-inching other people’s films!

The workshop session afterwards was mostly about us participants getting to know each other. The organisers have pulled together a nice mix of people and I’m sure we can all learn a thing or two from each other.

As the session drew to a close, it was time to focus on our own projects. In my case it’s Stop/Eject, a fantasy-drama about a bereaved woman who finds a mysterious old cassette recorder that can stop and rewind time – but can she undo her husband’s death? Currently it’s a short film in postproduction, but co-writer Tommy Draper and I have just embarked on the development of a feature-length version.

Where did this idea come from? I made a podcast last year explaining exactly that.

And what would be on my mood reel? Films that cover similar ground in terms of emotion, tone and story elements include The Adjustment Bureau, The Time Traveller’s Wife, A Thousand Kisses Deep, P.S. I Love You and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I’ll continue to ponder this.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading up on my fellow FilmWorks participants, checking out their websites and watching their work. (Hmmm, sounds a bit like creepy cyberstalking.) I particularly enjoyed Matt Freeth’s short, Luke and the Void, which you can check out here.

FilmWorks: Ideas