I’m under no allusions, making feature films is a tricky business.
When our team successfully raised £72,000 on Kickstarter at the end of 2012 to make The Fitzroy, I never would have thought that almost three years on I would be sitting here without a finished feature film. Though that is exactly the situation we find ourselves in, not for a lack of trying I might add.
In many ways I was lucky, as the film was only in development for around half a year before we managed to raise the funding to make the film. Many films spend as long trying to get funded as we have spent in production and post-production.
The success of our Kickstarter and the potential in the script we had, led us to be possibly over ambitious with the project. A feature film about a post apocalyptic 1950s Britain set on a hotel submarine was always going to be an ambitious project – though perhaps we stretched ourselves too thin for the resources we had available. Not much funding meant putting our own money in to keep the production afloat, its meant having to beg, borrow and steal where possible and to ask constant favours of our post production team rather than spending money to get the job done in a timely fashion.
Though it was this same ambition that allowed us to get funding on Kickstarter in the first place.
In 2012 crowdfunding was still a relatively new idea, particularly in the UK and we had very few case studies to refer to. If we were going to reach our target it would be doing something no one else had ever done before. That ambition pushed us on.
Ambition can only last so long. After time it does become very tiresome when a project has gone long past its delivery date. I have friends and supporters who asked when the film would be ready. In the early days it was easy to answer these questions as the time goes by fewer and fewer people ask as it become somewhat embarrassing, and when they do ask I likely give a very jaded “soon, soon”. But it feels like I’ve been saying that for two years now.
I feel bad for the people who have supported the film and who have helped make it happen – I know many of them are desperate to see it. That said they likely aren’t as desperate as I and the rest of the filmmakers are. However much we love this project, we want to use it as a calling card to move on to other films and its difficult to do so until we have a finished film to show for our efforts.
It’s difficult to not lose your enthusiasm for something when it feels like at times your going around in circles and looking at the same problems for months.
Keeping the end goal in mind
When you’re talking about the same VFX shots for weeks on end it does become draining. However from time to time I step back and appreciate what we have and what we’ve done. That’s when I get excited and I think the film punches well above its weight.
It’s exciting that we have an inbuilt audience for the film. I’m delighted with how the film looks, the audio and music is a stunning accompaniment and highly original. The VFX are better than we possibly could have imagined. The VFX have certainly been the trickiest part of the film to nail and if we had our time again we likely wouldn’t have anything like the close to 100 visual effect shots we have. That said they elevate the film to another level and I hope by the end everyone will think it was worth the hassle.
As the real testament for the film will be when we start showing it to audiences and thats what really excites me. It’s that goal of showing the film to packed cinema audience that is extremely enticing. Even with the delays I think we have an opportunity to do something very exciting and somewhat unique with this film and we can’t forget the potential we have – particularly compared to 3 years ago when the reality of a finished film was only a figment of our imagination.
At least now we will have a film; that’s for sure and whatever happens we will be in a stronger position than we were before we had it. We’ve had achievements along the way and you need to celebrate them, whether they are big (winning two awards at SXSW for the titles) or small (simply wrapping a long and tough day’s shoot).
It’s about having patience in your goals and taking the necessary steps to get there, even if they are just baby steps - they help make up the giant steps that bring you closer to the finishing line that makes it all worth while.
So when will the film be finished? Soon, soon...