1/ David, what is mission X representing for you?
Mission X doesn’t really represent anything as such to me. It was a small concept, character driven story that I could finance myself, so it ticked all the boxes there. I am not Ex military, and don’t have military friends. But as a story teller, you don’t have to be. I could do a u turn and make a film about astronauts, aliens, cops, or cowboys, so I never wrote it because I was really specifically interested in the military. Its all story telling to me, regardless of the world its set in
We all bring ourselves to a project in some way, then when that is mixed with some research, I think filmmakers should be able to tell any story. I am not a big believer in the “write what you know” attitude. However, there are elements in MX that I understand. How people have personal battles that can be more destructive on them than any war, or terror threat. And I also liked the aspect of Mercenaries as men that have kind of sold out, but at the same time you can understand why. Not that much different from a lot of people in the entertainment biz!
So whatever the genre, I still like to know quite a bit about that world, but on a whole, people are people, so I think I can understand elements of this world. I also wanted to do a tiny film in the spirit of what Rodriguez did with El Mariachi, and Nolan done with “Following” Get a camera, shoot a tiny movie to just show some sort of vision. No more, no less.
2/ A remake is already on the way, the first one being such a “solid” indie movie, apart from the obvious financial side of the project (more funds equals more artistic freedom to express on tape what goes in your head) what will you drastically change?
I will be honest, I never thought of a bigger film when I made Mission X. I knew talk was cheap, I could shoot a little action, and I thought the rough gritty feel could add to the authenticity. But sure, like all films there was compromises. But if I had thought about a bigger film, more action focussed, well thats another film, I knew I could not pull that off with a $6000 budget.
When I saw the completed film, I then saw the bigger film. The potential for it. And the world to the web for it. The “concept” will be the same, but with many changes. The film student getting to do a documentary will not really be the reason they film it. In the new film, they all know they are going on a suicide mission. They also know they will be demonized as terrorists by media, so they want their 24 hours before the attack documented on video, so their families and web media can get the truth why they are doing this. This doc will counteract all the lies that the media will pump out about them, because they hit at the heart of the government.
The film will be shot on HD, will have much better sound, bigger gun battles, action. The first MX spends about an hour getting to know the men, then some action. The first film really is about “The men”. The new one will be the opposite. Kind of “Black Hawk Down” style, still getting to know the men, but an hour of solid thrills and spills. The first version was like a talky mockumentary. The new one will be more about a character witnessing the events as they unfold. The way that “Cloverfield” was a thriller, or like the “REC” movies.
One minute we are in the world of this young gamer in his bedroom, playing war, the next minute he is going through a battle with 50 mercenaries, as if he has just been flown to Iraq, and into the worst war zone. Shot, battered, bruised. But the most exciting aspect for me, is the opportunity to make a movie that also bleeds into the web. We get to flesh out more characters, footage, scenes, time frames.
I am out to make a film that could appeal to the global gamer market. So the action in this film has to deliver. And the type of non cgi action that Hollywood are not good at. The accents have to be fully understandable for an international audience too. On a whole, this will be a very different movie from the first one, but still retain the simple “concept” Thats still fresh, because the first MX is invisible to the mass world.
3/ Would you say that the DIY and multitasking involved in such a micro-budget project is The best way to be complete as a director?
I had a team on my first movie. Decent sized crew, producers, sales agents, distributor who part financed, marketing people. I had the team of people filmmakers dream of when they start out. But it was a bad experience for me. Why? When you start out, nobody really trusts you to take the full reigns. So all along the way, people put in their two cents, and its hard to fight them off when they have gave you the money and you have no past experience, track record. So I ended up with a movie I hated.
This in turn means I did not have a calling card. So how do you beat that? When you start out, you make a movie that you can learn with, experiment, totally control. You do one or two, or more movies like that. If you have talent, some sort of vision, money or industry people can then see that, so in a bigger budget film, you will then get more control. This means you have to self finance.
It’s not by co-incidence that some of the biggest filmmakers in the world self funded, kick started their own first films in production. Rodriguez, Nolan, Rami, Jackson, Kubrick, Coens, and many others. Some might have got help with finishing funds, but they controlled the shoot of the film themselves. You need to get as much control as you can when you start out, make your own mistakes. Especially if you have no past experience of actually shooting a film. Guys like Ridley Scott, Fincher started out in commercials, so they still had experience in shooting.
So I made Mission X to simply control my story. Filmmaking is obviously a collaborative effort, but controlling in terms of keeping away from the money people. I just wanted to paint my picture, without suits holding a brush too. Of course I do want to work with big budgets too one day, but if I get to that level, it will only be because I have made a great movie, or had a global hit. Which in turn means I will get more control. That trust then grows if you have one success after another.
4/ Any other projects? Could you tell us more about it? Maybe it is a secret….
At this time, all my focus is on the remake. Then I would like to make http://www.screen-movie.com A horror film I got and lost the money for just before Mission X. I also have an original US hit man road movie that is pretty wild, a western, sci fi, and a limitless amount of ideas and scripts. I am never short of an idea, I am just short of time in life.
5/ If you had to describe yourself in one word what would it be?
6/ If someone knocks on your door and offer you to direct the remake of a classic movie… Which one would it be?
I am not big on remakes, unless its for the reasons I am redoing MX. But I do believe some films should be
remade to update to our current times. Mines would be “The Demon Seed”. Its screaming to be remade. A technology in the home movie, but the technology in the 70’s was so primitive compared to today. It would look and work so much better, and I think it could strike a chord globally if it was remade. If I get the clout, and nobody else does it, I would love to do this.
7/ Any advice for young artists that decide to start an auto-funded project out there?
Make your film for almost nothing, so you can afford to experiment with it, practice, do the film you want. Learn to walk before you can run. Forget about global markets, festivals, just make a very cheap film fast to learn. Also, 50% of this biz is now about marketing too, so educate yourself on whats happening in this new industry.
Don’t just make a film, think about who you are also making the film for. This is the new world whether we like it or not. You need that discipline of knowing who your audience is, even if your first film is just for practice, you still need to have the right attitude to marketing. You need to wake up to the fact this is a “creative business”, even if you make an art film. An art film is still a “product” with a bar code or credit card button link.
So make your first film fast, make all the mistakes, then use the first one to help get the second one made. And then set your sites higher with that. Unless you have been shooting music videos for years, and you have a great script, you might want to go for a bigger budget on the first film. But if its your first film in terms of shooting, just do it cheaply with a wage.
Most important of all too, practice at writing great scripts, or find a great writer. You have NOTHING without a decent script. And finally, you need a good cast if you are doing a no budget film. Thats where most no budgets fail. Bad actors will kill your film stone dead.
Theres no excuse not to shoot your movie today.
8/ And the most important thing: how can people help you with your project?
If people want to get on board my remake project, simply buy a dvd, flash drive bullet, rent my movie, buy one of the perk packages, or
sign up for my army and you will get a dog tag. This tag has a unique ID number that could win you some great prizes. You can find
out about this at http://www.missionx.co.uk If my remake becomes a hit, who knows, the small MX film could become a hot collectors item!