Time to decide: Birmingham, are you serious?

Birmingham

Last week we started announcing cast and have so far revealed almost half of those who will appear in the film. They’ve made a commitment to the project’s values of experimentation with the filmmaking process, and are all appearing on ‘favoured nation’ contracts, whereby they are all paid the same as one another. We believe we’ve put together a great cast of quality performers who will all excel at the comedy.

It has been quite a challenge building an ensemble team, envisaging how they will all interact with one another in their different combinations. Our auditions focused on the ways in which the actors like to be directed, and whether they’d not only cope with the pressure of 72 hour filmmaking, but actually enjoy it.

The plan is to have rehearsals in a way in which the audience can watch too. Whether this happens depends on the crowd funding campaign. We must make our total in order for this project to happen. It isn’t enough to simply make a film in 72 hours, we’ve done that and we’ve proved it, and we don’t need to do that again.

One of the reasons that we are no longer within a film festival is because we were tempted to try using the model to generate momentum in an area where it hasn’t already solidified into a scene with an established festival. Whereas before, we were arguably preaching to the converted, we are now trying to engage with new audiences to get our message across.

And what exactly is that message? Digital changes everything. The notion that we can carry on making the same films in the same ways, but with digital instead of analogue, is stupid. Digital means that the ‘who, how, when, why and where’ of filmmaking can all change. It is changing anyway, with a mix of social, economic and technological determinants, but factors of repeatability and sustainability are rarely on the minds of independents or artists. Making a film is still the equivalent of a lottery, in which very few win big, most don’t, and the odds are stacked in favour of the house (content aggregators).

We’re attempting to use the 72 project in Birmingham to spark a debate around regional production (that doesn’t rely on government subsidy or tax breaks, which is ultimately undercutting someone else’s business and racing to the bottom) and build a model of sustainability that has progression routes for new entrants, the freedom to fail and better gender representation, as well as other ideals. Sounds pretty unachievable right? Like we are hippies or something? Well, we’ve built prototypes in Dublin (Ireland) after the first 72 Project that have made four features in three years. The model isn’t achieving all these ideals at once but we are engaging in a process of sustainability, and that is now established. Refinements are part of that process.

The film industry doesn’t fund this kind of research, because its doing quite well out of how it works right now. The image of ‘working in Hollywood’ is so alluring that workers are exploited in the hope of ‘making it’. Most academic research into this topic is ethnographic observation of existing film sets or semi-structured interviews with practitioners, all of which refers to industry as it stands. Our action research proposes production models and then tests them, which is unusual because it is EXPENSIVE. But without real world case studies and examples, it is going to be difficult proposing a new model in theory alone. We’re not proposing that all movies be made in 72 hours. Most importantly, we’re proposing that films can be made differently, and we’re shooting them in 72 hours to prove it.

So Birmingham, do you want films or not? You can support there project here.

James and the 72 team

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