... or how it took me 745 days to finish an ad and I loved every minute of it.
As you may have already guessed from the title I love what I do. The problem is doing what you love is even harder when so many other people, ideas and money get in the way. It’s the cross commercial director’s have to bear in the ruthless world of advertising, but I’ve realised it only seems to happen on the lower end of the spectrum … the big time is like the wild west … everything goes or at least it seems like it does.
The low down: I wanted my big time.
Directing comedy is a bit like exercising … you need to keep doing it to stay in shape. I wouldn’t say I’m flabby, but I decided to hit the gym and dedicate a lot of my own time, money and other people’s generosity to achieving a new piece of ridiculousness for the reel. It was time to flex the muscle and do something I’d never done before.
Enough backstory … I'll let you dig into this meat and two veg - settle in this is going to be a long chew.
I’m an avid reader and sometimes my reading takes me to some pretty disturbing and intriguing places. Sometimes it leads you to a Huffington Post Article about a man having an intimate relationship with a dolphin [http://huff.to/1H6qWzY] which than leads you to buying his book ‘Wet Goddess’ on Amazon [http://amzn.com/0615334601] and then reading it [links are provided for you the reader to part take in the fun].
After all this reading I walked away with a couple of thoughts:
Dolly was a really great name for a Dolphin.
How would the ‘Sex’ work … this was later explored, but will never be fully understood.
People make some seriously funny comments on Amazon … see if you can find the one about a guinea pig named Fluffy - it had me in stitches.
Finally, all this reading would be a waste if I didn’t make something from it.
Most people would make a 10 minute short film on a shoestring budget and enter it into a prestigious festival. Not me … I did what most people would regard as tasteless or crass and made a TV advert from it. I took all this research and dedicated it to a brand I loved and actually use on a regular basis.
[Update: While writing this piece it appears I’m not the only one who found all of this a bit interesting. See: www.dolphinlovermovie.com]
So, I called up my writing pal Matt Gray and I pitched him a lose as idea …
The pitch was a fumble mess of these words:
“So, I read an article about a man who had intimate relationship with a Dolphin named Dolly … now imagine if this relationship continued and she decided to migrate from the sea and they both became characters in spec advert for Zipcar.”
His first response was: "What’s a Zipcar?". After about 3 minutes of explanation we got stuck into a brainstorming session. 5 pints later we stumbled away champions with a bible of ideas and one seriously tight tagline.
Couple of days later we had this:
As you can see it wasn’t good, in-fact it was god awful … like most first drafts should be.
Matt and I continued to massage the script like a Japanese farmer massages a Tajima-gyu cow and in the end we had ourselves something a bit more marbled than your average 60sec script - well at least we thought so.
It's all well and good to write a crazy idea without thinking about how to finance it. This is what I like to call ‘The Filmmaker’s Dilemma’ ... it's a common problem.
I actually swear there is three types of pricing in the world … the ‘oh it’s a wedding’ price, the ‘oh you don’t speak [insert local language]’ price and the most dangerous of all the ‘oh your filming something’ price. People have this hair brain idea that we’re all backed by a bottomless money pit of studio … if only this was the case.
Look I was happy to throw money at the wind, but unfortunately my pockets aren’t that deep.
So, I did the done thing at the time and crowdfunded it. Genius. All I need to do was beg my friends and family to help finance this beast and if they didn’t they would be publicly shamed on social media. And you know what … it worked. I was seriously blow away by the generosity of my friends and family - Kickstarter you should think about doing crowdfunding for birthday gifts, weddings ... maybe even deposits for a house. Missed opportunities.
[On a positive note I’m currently in the process of delivering on my promises / gifts to my backers. 8hrs of Dolphins sounds isn’t easy, but my word is my bond.]
With partial financing in place [aka. a percentage of Grace and my savings] I plotted ahead ... except there was one very large issue. In order for any of this to happen we needed a Dolphin - not a stuffed toy or a cartoon character an actual real to life looking Dolphin. Google "Dolphin Aquarium UK" and you'll come up with nothing. So, stealing a Dolphin wasn't going to work.
Luckily, my Swiss Army Knife of mate Gareth Ward has friends in some seriously high places and arranged a meet-up with Absolute Post in Soho.
A quick sidebar.
With all the people I’ve meet in the London Film Industry I have discovered two very important things:
Everyone will give you all the time in the world and there’s no wadding thru piles of bullshit.
Someone knows someone who already knows you - so behave.