Little Acorns

Can anyone remember the AVP (that’s Aliens vs Predators) tagline “Whoever wins, we lose”? I have formulated my own family orientated version. Parents vs Toddlers. Whoever wakes, we lose! Both of my little ones are going through a non-sleeping patch. Now film-making is hard work, but being a good parent is significantly harder. Attempting both at the same time is a ridiculously tall order (I find myself frequently discussing this with Magda Olchawska – who is in the same boat. Note: aside from the excellent film-making blog she already runs, she has just started a new blog which features a daily activity to try with children).

Many probably believe that having children and making a film are two totally completely incompatible areas. So off the top of my head (and in characteristic rambling form) I’ve tried to convince myself otherwise for the following reasons:

  • Let’s get the sappy bit out-of-the-way quickly.  🙂 I love my kids and I can’t image life without them now.
  • Once you have children your outlook on life will change completely (you will never fully appreciates this until it happens, you might think you know – but you don’t). During child-birth alone (apparently I got the easy part) – there are so many emotions that you will change profoundly forever in a very short space of time. For me this has helped my film-making. There is a new side to life which I now appreciate which I didn’t fully understand before, it has opened me up emotionally. When I look back at any scripting I did BC (Before Children) it feels like I had blinkers on. Does this mean that all I produce is now sappy and sentimental material? No, if anything the complete opposite has happened.
  • It will teach you patience. A skill I was somewhat lacking with beforehand and a useful skill to have when dealing with others.
  • You will realise how laughable Hollywood birth-scenes are. For some reason this just puts a goofy smile on my face – can’t really explain why.
  • Kids are creative. The home-truth is that they are actually significantly more creative than we are with all our predisposed ideals. They are non-stop idea generating machines. “Daddy you really need to make a film about a Vampire chair which goes around tickling people!”. Sure most of the ideas are complete daft or disposable – but creativity is good and it helps to get us thinking out of the box!
  • It will teach you scheduling and structure. In fact there is no way you can be a parent and a film-maker if you don’t learn this. My organisational skill has improved ten-fold. It has also forced me to sit down and do things with my free-time rather than just squandering it. If you don’t take it, you will lose it. It can give you a tremendous feeling of productivity afterwards.
  • Young kids are honest. You can show them something and they will give you an honest opinion, rather than what you might like to hear.
  • That annoyingly cute kid in the film which originally probably made you want to hurl is somehow far more palatable. In fact they really were kind of sweet. Let’s take the scene in Jaws where Brody has a bad day and his son mimics his actions. You don’t need to be a parent to get this scene. However the power of this scene seems dramatically magnified when you have children yourself.
  • Film-making is like going to war. Just like potty training. So you learn a bit more about which battles are important to fight and which ones you should ignore. You can therefore relax more and focus on what is truly important.
  • Further down the line, you might have an extra pair of hands to help out on your films. Perhaps! 🙂 (This worked for Ben Jacobson who cast his daughter in Candy Crime amongst other projects).
  • It will teach you to live without much sleep. It will also therefore teach you the value of sleep when you can get it!
  • It pushes you out of your natural comfort zone, which is the way it should be with any reasonable film-maker.
  • Kids are so enthusiastic. It’s infectious. If we could harness even a fraction of their “bounce” we would solve the world’s energy problems overnight.
  • We all know that making films can take a lot out of you. Children will definitely wear you out also! So it’s all good practice! If you didn’t make films before you had kids, you clearly were thinking about the wrong profession anyway.

The only other advice I will share with any aspiring film-maker is that they should never NEVER under any circumstances decide to make a film when your wife is 6 months pregnant and already you have a toddler. Only a mad-man would do this! Hang on a minute… 🙂

In other “Acorn” related news, Sherilee and I are planning to form a production company called Baby Oak. The name and idea behind this is that we aim to help promote new talent and help people enter the film industry and enjoy their experience. Everyone has to start somewhere! Etiquette will be the first film produced under this banner.

Etiquette-wise we are currently looking through the cast applications and there are still several days to go. We have managed to secure a quiet location to hold the sessions and are looking forward to meeting actors on Tuesday and Friday next week.

Meanwhile, here are some of the crew members we can currently announce:

1. Rachael Ballard with be handling the costume department
2. Diego Carvalho will be handling make-up
3. Jeff Daniels (no not that one) is handling set design
4. Adam Evans will be our DoP (Director of Photography)
5. Jim Gwilliam will help out and be our secondary camera operator
6. Adam (Tardis building) Radley will be on hand to help out if any (or rather when) disasters happen and will hopefully be helping us keep an eye on continuity.

The main unfilled crew role is sound recordist, so we’ve just put an advert out on OFVM and Mandy)  for this. Fingers crossed!

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