So I went along to Exploding Cinema on Friday night.
The venue was a pub called The Cross Kings, which also does live music. They had screens and projectors everywhere, some displaying the work of an art collective called Genetic Moo, and some displaying the main features.
I had read their manifesto on their website, and Exploding Cinema is very much a grass-roots collective devoted to getting cinematic work into the public eye. Any cinematic work. They are completely open access and don't censor anything. The only proviso is that your work needs to be less than 25 minutes. The collective shuns the establishment of video art and filmmaking in favour of individuals doing it themselves. I was a little worried that they might be quite elitist, but they were in fact a lovely and very welcoming bunch indeed!
The night is split into 3 segment with two intervals. Very sadly I was only able to stay for the first two segments of short films, as otherwise I would be left stranded in King's Cross having missed my last train! They showed about 8 films in each segment, some a minute long, some 15 minutes long. The quality was mixed, to be utterly honest, but I really like the fact that the event is so open so I had no qualms at all.
The Exploding Cinema collective does shun pretentiousness and try-hard "arty" films in their manifesto, but the majority of the films on show tried very hard to be arty to the point of utter pretentiousness. Some of the films served no real purpose, and some where the execution of an idea that probably shouldn't have made it to celluloid. Or DVD or VHS. A few of the pieces were very cliched and badly-realised, some were a little dull and a little over-long. I know I'm being very harsh here, but some (not all!) of the films were boring, self absorbed, self important and pretentious. And that's fine! This is open access, everyone should be able to put their work up, even if it done-by-numbers or pointless, and of course, that is just my own opinion!!
What worried me was that while I want to work on a short film that would most likely be narrative based or dramatic, most of the films here were overtly arty pieces so my one would stick out a little. While there were one or two dialogue/narrative based films on show; they were quirky and different enough to work as unusual and interesting pieces. Am I trying to make something too mainstream? Should I try and make it a little more outrageous? I am not confined by censorship and I don't need to please people to get funding, so I could make whatever I want. But at the same time, making my film weird just to fit in surely the worst idea in the universe. I think I should stick to my ideas, but maybe be more aware of the lack of limitations upon me. I've got the story mostly worked out for my first short film, I just need to turn that story into a script and then work from there. Exploding Cinema will screen it, because they are lovely and screen anything. People might not like it, but that's fine.
Another major concern, is that one of the videos I saw was shot on low resolution digital video, and when blown up on the big screen suffered from terrible horizontal banding. This is a problem I have encountered before but correct compression when exporting the video cleaned it up, I hope that when my video is blown up by a projector that it doesn't suddenly look awful. I am also worried by the look of some of the dialogue/talky short films we saw. The difference between the films shot on video and the ones shot on actual film were startlingly obvious, even though they were edited well and used interesting angles, the films shot on video just looked so terribly homemade to be almost jarring. A person pointing a camcorder at their friend who is clearly acting. My problem being that I have never directed actors delivering dialogue and I am concerned that my film is going to look terrible, absolutely terrible. I was sitting in the pub oscilating between thinking "I can do better than this" and putting my fist in my mouth and screaming silently in fear of how awful my film is going to look.
I just need to make it. The first few are allowed to be terrible. I need an arc. Everyone has an arc. No-one is great at anything straight away. Except Orson Welles but fuck him, that was a long time ago. But knowing I have to make terrible films before I can make good ones is deflating. I want to skip straight to the good stuff! So I'm going to try to do that!
Sometimes the self doubt of making something so permanent that could be so terrible is crippling. I also worry about making my actors look absolutely rubbish because I am incompetent. Argh.