Janette Griffiths

Archive Newer | Older

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Saturday Film School at Raindance and the pesky business of 'magnifying trouts'

There's a  small plaque to the side of the stage in the Old Cinema theatre in the University of Westminster that says that the Lumière brothers chose the venue to for the first public showing  in England of moving pictures, back in 1896. Today, Raindance is holding a one-day Saturday film school here. Because the Raindance Festival was founded to provide a platform for independent film, this  seems wonderfully appropriate. But nobody on the platform mentions it which I also like - it has a 'goes without saying' feel to it.

Besides, Elliot Grove, the Raindance founder and the main speaker has an awful lot to say about an awful lot of other things. In a lightning-speed morning, he covers his  Amish childhood in Ontario and his magical adolescent  discovery of cinema, his early days working with sculptor, Henry Moore, and on movies with a lovesick Richard Burton. He gives us a demonstration of the potential of making films with a £100 Flip video camera and still finds time to share some fresh insights into basic story structure.

I wasn't expecting that. I've been writing professionally  for years and have, what I like to think, is a healthy distrust of the industry that often preys on aspiring screenwriters and film-makers so I'd come to this event thinking that I'd probably doze through Elliot's opening bit on writing. But Elliot Grove is a brilliant and charismatic speaker - nobody is likely to doze when he's on stage.  I've got, what I like to think, is a healthy distrust of charismatic speakers but Grove also seems grounded and full of common- sense. I take so many notes and my pen flies so rapidly across the paper that I spend an hour after the session trying to figure out why Grove claims that the writers in "Goodwill Hunting" gave Matt Damon's protagonist the "special trout" of being brilliant at maths and that to add to a character's appeal, they made him the absolute best in his field which is he explains, a writers' ploy of "magnifying a trout."  Now why would they want to do that?

 He said 'trait', of course. It was just one of many points he managed to squeeze into a talk that included a look at high and low concept, and  why Seinfeld helped bring down the Soviet Union, before whooshing on to demystifying the business of film production. Simon Hunter came on in the afternoon and demystified directing. If anybody walked into the venerable Old Cinema with the illusion that film is a glamorous business, they were rapidly relieved of that illusion. But Raindance does emphasize the joy of film-making. And surely that's far better. 

Sun, January 15, 2012 | link

Archive Newer | Older