Thursday, 24 February 2011

Hit the Big Time - Episode 8...

Here's the final episode of Hit the Big Time, the short-film-turned-web-series what I wrote...

Hit The Big Time Episode 8 from Hit The Big Time on Vimeo.

If you missed any episodes you can find links to them all on the website. You can also support the film and keep up to date on any further developments by joining the Facebook group.

Anyway, it's a project that's about as old as this blog and it's nice to see it finally come full circle. I'm really glad it exists and I think everyone involved did a great job. It certainly looks very slick and professional and it definitely has high production values for something I assume cost next to nothing to make.

I'm not entirely happy with the film as a showcase of my writing. On the one hand that's okay because the credit is split four ways, but at the same time I've improved a lot since 2008 and some of the stuff I don't like is definitely mine. I do remember my first draft being a lot neater - originally the whole thing ended with Cooper and Crouch being chased by the gang they ran into earlier. The narrative was split, so it cut to the 'I've got an ending for you' line but this time being delivered to the producer character, Lenny Rosenstein, then cut back to the present where Rosenstein is about to run them over as they escape from the gang. When he stops, they steal his car and toss Rosenstein out the back as a distraction to make their escape. Cut to the hotel room where they're frantically packing their stuff to leave town when Rosenstein's assistant (and Byron Richmond's nephew) Martin shows up with a suitcase full of cash for killing Barry Brutowski. They then realise the old guy they hit in the opening scene was Brutowski and the final lines were 'It was all planned. We're professionals.'

Not that the above is necessarily better, but it did tie up all the loose ends in a much tider way and I think some of that has been lost. Yes, the Park City location certainly adds more production value but I think ultimately it was at the cost of the narrative and it feels a bit tacked on. To be fair, I could've fought harder for my version, or I could've worked harder to make the Park City scenes work. I didn't. By then I knew I was sharing the credit with three other people and I couldn't be bothered. I know that's not necessarily the most accommodating attitude but nothing that's happened to me since has really changed my opinion. I recently heard Aaron Sorkin compare a script to a car, in that your structure is the engine and the thing that makes it go, while everything else basically comes down to what colour the car is. Someone else can always come along and change the colour, but I think that the writer's credit belongs to the guy who built the engine. In this case that was definitely me, but I guess at least my 'story by' credit comes up first at the end so I can't complain too much.

On a slightly different note, had I had completely free reign over the film from the start I would definitely have made them gay. I considered this briefly when I started, but figured those involved would never go for it so I never brought it up. But when Ten Dead Men was released everyone I spoke to about the Parker and Garrett characters (whose dialogue was mostly improvised) referred to them as the gay hitmen. Most assumed this was a deliberate reference to Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd in Diamonds are Forever. It wasn't, but watching the short I think maybe it should've been. As it is, I think there's something a little unsettling about the treatment of the Martin character (whose extreme campness was an invention of the actor) that reminded me a little of the scene from Vanishing Point when Barry Newman beats up the two gay car-jackers and I guess we're supposed to cheer. At the same time, the film itself is so camp and over-the-top that something doesn't quite sit right with Cooper and Crouch leering over the women in the film. It feels like the whole thing is in denial. Had I been in total control of the script I would attribute this to my reluctance to write the characters the way I really wanted to write them, only I wasn't so I am using the only advantage of sharing the credit and saying that the odd tone of the film is not my fault.

It's been so long now none of this really matters. The film exists and is out there in the world which is the main thing, because now at least all the work everyone put in means something now. I think JC, Jason and Helen all did an amazing job to get it this far, especially considering the long and arduous post-production process. It is certainly a lot of fun, and I am proud of the fact that it is at least a short that tells a big story and is not, as Brother Pete puts it, 'about the death of the world, juxtapositioned with the lack of Wheatabix left in the box on a Monday morning.'

And that reminds me, I really must get my short finished...

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