Archive for November, 2012

Project Two-Min-Max

Posted: 26/11/2012 in Uncategorized

Here are some things I will be doing in 2013:

1. Watching the movie “2012” in an attempt to be ironic and clever;

2. Convincing as many members of Surrey Rollergirls as possible that ‘Roller Derby: The Musical’ is a good and plausible idea;

3. Starting a new movie project with the working title “Two-Min-Max”.

After taking part in the shooting of the upcoming trailer for Profound Decisions‘ new LARP system Empire as 3rd Assistant Director, several people have heartily encouraged me to take some steps towards what I would really like to do with my life, which is to find a place in the movie-making industry. Since that weekend I have struggled with various strong impulses to buy a lot of expensive camera equipment and editing software and instead focused on drawing up some plans to set this in motion.¬†Project Two-Min-Max, short for “two minutes maximum”, is the first of these: a series of super-short movies designed to allow the director (that’s me) to make a lot of stupid mistakes and hopefully learn something from them.

This began after managing to get some experienced, hard-working and very talented faces in the actual movie-making industry to agree to help me make my first short, the screenplay for which I wrote myself. At the same time, I was introduced to a recently graduated screenplay writer who had decided to write several screenplays based on the same concept of being simple, short and easy for the newcomer to hit head on. After agreeing on one of these screenplays for me to tackle after my own piece, I decided that two is a stupid number and I’m the director and I can do whatever I want.

From that point, I started approaching any amateur writers and film enthusiasts I could find to see if they would knock together something for me to shoot over the next year. The criteria for material was as follows:

  1. No longer than three pages (average of two minutes)
  2. No more than two or three main characters and minimal backgroundies
  3. No more than two easy-access settings
  4. Minimal dialogue for the most part, not including voiceovers

And, on top of that, understanding that the project is completely profit-free and next-to-no-budget, and that creative licence may be taken with the submissions in the interest of feasibility. The point of the project was not for me to be lazy (I am), or because I didn’t have many original ideas for screenplays (I didn’t), but for two reasons:

A) It would push me out of my comfort zone to direct someone else’s screenplay, not to mention be more interesting

B) More people being involved means more people benefiting in the long run (assuming the overall results are good, and time will tell on that one)

Essentially one of three things could happen in 2013: I could walk away from this with a showreel and beg people to watch it and love me (that’s if I do everything on my own, the first thing I learned from Bill Thomas of Savage Media NOT to do); or, I could get a showreel and some very experienced people might fondly remember teaching me lots of things; OR, a whole pack of amateur enthusiasts trying to break into a big, scary world could all learn a bunch of stuff, make some new contacts and come away with a showreel, however terrible, of their work to show the world that they are putting in effort to make what they want a reality, that someone was interested enough to work with them to make it happen, and that they believe in their ambitions so much that maybe others should, too.

At time of writing there are four confirmed participants to Project Two-Min-Max on the writing side, myself included, along with several wonderful people who have already agreed to help in various other ways. Here are the screenplays already in place for the project, in reverse chronological order, and I will update this list as and when I get more participants.

> Battle Brothers, by Andrew Cunningham – one I commissioned because the stupid idea made me laugh

> Awaiting a title from Alex Twinn – he claims he doesn’t write any more, but I set him straight: once a writer, ALWAYS…

> Out of Breath, by Ben Daly – whose first submission inspired the whole idea

> Strings, by Ceri Williams – which will hopefully start this adventure

INTERESTED? Submissions are totally open to anyone in the world. I want as many people as I can find to be as keen as me. Email me at if you have a two-min-max screenplay to offer!

During an interview for a roller derby documentary I ended up voicing some poignant and heartfelt (read: cheesy and lame) ideas, of which the following was my favourite. It sort of got put in my mouth by the interviewer, who brought the word ‘philosophy’ into play after mentioning that something they noticed about the way I play was that when I fall, I get back up very quickly. Between us we strung this together.

“Falling over when skating is scary at first, because you don’t want to get hurt. If you’ve ever fallen over when running fast, or off a bike, you know that it hurts. But you forget that you’re wearing specially-made protection, and it isn’t until you take that first fall that you find that it doesn’t hurt at all. Once you realise the worst you’ll end up with is a bit of a shake and maybe a bruise or two, it stops being scary, and becomes pretty funny. I’ve turned around in the pack and found my teammates sprawled on their backs with their legs in the air, and I’ve watched the pack maneuver around and over me from my belly in the middle of the track, and it’s hilarious. And once you realise that, the falls, even the fast and hard ones, stop being frightening and become nothing more than a hinderance to the game. You didn’t come here to lie on the floor and watch wheels whipping past your face – you came here to, in the words of a musician I know, ‘derby hard or go home’. So you trust to that protection, and you get back to your feet, and you skate back into the pack. And when that becomes your aim, you get better and better at it, until you can roll with the fall and bounce back onto your wheels with more dexterity and grace than you actually skate with. And one could, indeed, see this as a philosophy for life: missing goals, falling off the track, losing your way, can be scary at first, but with the right setup and surroundings to protect you, it needn’t be painful. When you realise that falling over isn’t something to be dreaded, rather something to skate headfirst at, then when it does happen, whatever track you fell from, whatever goal you missed or path you lost, at least you know how to roll with the fall, bounce back up and rejoin the pack. What you do once you’re back in that maelstrom of blockers and jammers might be a mystery, but it’s one you can tackle whole-heartedly without worrying about what will happen if you get knocked out again. You just knock your way back in.”