"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: On Writing and Making Movies

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On Writing and Making Movies

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Current Thoughts On Writing

Rob Parnell

You've probably realized that recently I've been shooting my latest horror movie.

It's called First Cut - and is kinda like a cross between Amityville and The Shining - but without the supernatural elements. I think the horror is more scary because it's reality based.

The story is constructed on the idea that a failing relationship doesn't take much to push it over the edge.

We've all been there.

At the end of a relationship nothing we say to each other works. Everything rubs us up the wrong way. Our goals are misaligned and we have difficulty connecting.

In the movie, Jess and Doug are living separate lives and hate each other with a passion. Every comment is meant as a barb to bait the other - until eventually Doug snaps.

In fact there are only eight lines of dialog in the entire film - the rest is taken up with the lead characters 'terrorizing' each other.

I wanted to make a movie where it wasn't necessary to have lots of people talking all the time - like much of American TV drama.

Film is a visual medium and requires a different way of telling a story. Writers often forget this and fill their screenplays with lots of talking when an image - as the saying goes - is often worth a thousand words.

We all had a blast during the shoot, working quickly with the two actors, a tiny crew and a bucket-load of fake blood, we managed to create 700 shots in just four days, using my beautiful Canon XF300 and a whole bunch of new light and sound gear bought specially for the occasion.

The whole project's in HD and broadcast quality. I wanted to make it as professional looking as possible. You never know where it might end up being seen.

When it's ready, early next year, probably February, I'll be putting the movie in to film festivals around the world.

I want to use the movie to raise money for the next one, a 'kids confront a monster in the desert' feature called Resolution Falls, currently in development - as the saying goes!

I have this idea that kids these days, what with technology and the feeling we have when we're young - that perhaps we'll live forever - that there's an emptiness of sorts in young people's lives. I want to play with this idea in Resolution Falls.

The heroine is Gina, a 19 year old who is trying to find meaning in a world she's grown bored with. 

When she's on work experience with a bunch of young engineers in the desert, she's forced to confront a monster (half vampire, half zombie, all demon) which makes her question the nature of humanity - what it means to be alive, in other words.

As a long term writer, I have to say that, to me, making movies is the ultimate in creative expression.

You start with an idea, which you then have to develop into a script, which, even after all that work, becomes a mere template for the shot list.

Then all the hard work starts to get everything into the camera you need to tell your story.

Then, the really hard part comes when you have to put it all together into a coherent narrative with pictures, sound and music.

All things I love to do!

I must say it's great to be making horror movies in particular. 

It's a dream I've been working on for about five years now. 

After a lifetime of writing horror and loving the genre, I feel I'm finally giving back! 

All those apparently wasted hours watching horror movies and studying how it's done are now bearing fruit.

To me, horror is not about the scares. 

In fact I think one of the reasons why horror doesn't have the credibility it should is that much of the stuff we get in the cinema is all about the scares.

This is the reason I think why The Exorcist and Texas Chainsaw are still voted the best horror movies ever made. Even though they were both produced over thirty years ago! 

They're not actually 'scary' movies in the modern sense, they're true 'horror' stories.

I'd like to think I'm not making mere 'scary' movies but in some way bringing back the 'horror' movie - as in telling stories about real people facing the extraordinary - and not necessarily the supernatural, CGI created silliness we see so often these days.

Anyway, I know that horror isn't everybody's thing, so I won't bore you any longer - even though many of the horror conventions fill our screens all the time nowadays.

They're just called different things like dark fantasy, superhero movies and action pictures!

If I sound a little obsessed I've done nothing this last three weeks but edit First Cut, day in day out.

As with writing, I believe you have to get obsessed with perfection to really create something of value.

Till next time. 

Keep writing!
 rob at home

"A professional is someone who respects his trade, tries as hard as he can to perfect his work, and realizes that one failure isn’t the end of the world. Or two…or three." Nathaniel Benchley

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