Time to get off the technobabble hardware geek stuff for a little bit…
The script for “Outside In” has been through quite a journey but now that production is starting up, I fortunately feel very good about where it stands. “Outside In” actually started as an entry in the 3-minute category for a local film event I created called “Short Shorts” through our Triad Indie Film Network (see the actual films from that summer of 2004 here). I had just seen the incredible first images of Saturn from Cassini and it was a life changing event – I had to write something about it.
So I wrote a very stylized dialogue scene between a man and a woman arguing about the Cassini photographs and the question of “why explore space?” It ended up way too long for the film event, so I shelved it as it seem too stylized to actually film – an experimental play maybe, but not a film. A few months later, I did a couple of readings with actors and people seemed to really connect with it and I started wondering if there was something there.
In the fall of 2004, I had bought a song via an import CD I had wanted for some time, Ferry Corsten’s remix of “Adagio for Strings”. It’s one of my favorite pieces ever and listening to it in my car one day, I had vision of a new film about Saturn, Cassini and the question of “why explore space”. I outlined a high-definition film that would feature a journey from the big bang to Saturn and back to earth.
At that time, I wanted to keep the dialogue as it had a lot of ideas and feelings I wanted to express. So began a long process of trying different ways of incorporating it into the film. I went from real actors to stylized humans and back again. I wrote 9 different versions and actually filmed three of them with two different sets of actors, at considerable expense.
But it never quite worked. So then, last year when I pursued “Outside In” as a investor-funded, for-profit film, I felt I needed to make the film more traditional and accessible. So I cut the dialogue and replaced it more traditional IMAX-style narration/voice-over. It worked okay, but I was not really happy with it as I felt I had lost some of the “pure cinema” visual symphony of a film I had originally envisioned.
Then, late last year when I moved back to a not-for-profit, donation-based film, one of the reasons to do so was to allow me total creative freedom in making the film. But it’s not easy to replace words, dialogue, narration with just images, sound, music without drifting into awkward symbolism.
So nothing came immediately. But I’m a big fan letting ideas come naturally. I highly recommend David Lynch’s book “Catching the Big Fish” – you don’t have to do TM do reap the benefits — walking, playing or listening to music, deep breathing, even a nice shower works.
So, one day it just came to me (while walking) – I can make the film, losing all the narration and dialogue and replacing it with some variations on visuals I already plus some new sound design.
I’m pretty excited. One of the things I’ve learned as filmmaker is trusting your gut. There can be a lot of pressures to start a film before you have that gut feeling “I’m ready – I know what film I want to make and how I’m going to get there”. But it’s worth waiting for. That does not mean you don’t change your mind – I’m always open to new ideas as things move along, “happy accidents”. But with the bazillions of choices at every stage of creating a film, a guiding vision helps make those choices become clear.
The best part about all of this is the summary line about the film, the logline, has not changed from the beginning. It’s the film I want to make and want to see, finally in a form that I feel is full of my ideas and passion, but will be pretty wide open for audiences to have the own experience with it.