Saturday before last I went up to Glasgow's Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in the centre of town and sat in a room with about forty other people who had also gained entry to something called the GMAC Talent Pool. GMAC is the Glasgow Media Access Centre, whose purpose is to 'bridge the gap between the local community and screen industry'.
So there I was with about forty people I've never met before, all of whom are involved in or interested in film making on some level. And let me tell you, the range was impressive: producers and directors who'd worked for the BBC, or the Discovery Channel, or had worked on a range of movies including the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films, along with several other writers in a position not unlike my own. The idea is by getting all these people together into a room - people who might otherwise never get to meet - Things Could Happen. Open, brazen networking might even take place.
Out of these forty or so people, about a dozen projects will be put together consisting of, I think, a director, a writer, possibly a producer, with a development officer negotiating between them all. Out of these dozen projects, five or six short movies will end up being commissioned, to be eventually transferred to 35mm for showing at film festivals as well as receiving some level of potential, perhaps limited syndication in the national cinema chains (or so I understand it). In other words, it's a kind of shortlist. I've got a short script in the running called 'Personal Jesus'.
Towards all this, we get various workshops on stuff like scriptwriting, direction, etc etc, thrown in - free. The whole process should take a couple of months. First there's getting a project together, then there's the commissioning, and then, if you're lucky enough to get far enough as getting the moolah to direct the damn thing, there's directing the film.
I talked about my script until I was hoarse. Same for the rest of them. I got maybe half a dozen email addresses, and a rapid enquiry of interest from a local director who's previously worked in documentary.
The one thing that really frightens me is figuring out how to visually create some of the ideas I've come up with on the script without actually hiring Industrial Light and Magic. The money available for each commissioned film is somewhere between five and fifteen grand, which is terrific if you're filming in someone's living room or street, but ... well, put it this way: there are robots in my script. Little knee high robots that look like soft toys. And a remote religious community, somewhere up in the North of Scotland, all with a vaguely 'Children of Men' atmosphere. And all kinds of stuff I'm (er, we're) going to have to think of a way to do really, really cheaply.
I spent part of Sunday afternoon wandering around Toys R'Us wondering if there was a way to rip the plastic carapace off one of those RoboSapiens toys and stuffing it inside something that looks like a two foot tall cuddly mannequin.
One of the things that interests me about all this, is that the script that got me this far is only about two and a half thousand words long. That's nothing, if you've written a novel. That's like some writers shopping lists. But those few pages of script have taken me to some interesting places.
Early days yet: but we'll see.