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UNMADE FILMS Manifesto

by Monkles

29  June 2017

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Cinema was the pre-eminent medium for story telling when I first wrote this Manifesto for UNMADE FILMS and even when I rewrote it in 2002.

 

I speculated that this would survive into the Twenty First Century, having concluded that the novel no longer had the prime function of story telling.

 

I understood that film on TV just doesn't match the function of cinema, because TV viewers are really thinking about the lottery draw and the next cup of tea.

 

Much has changed since then. Movies are now made and viewed on phones via the medium of YouTube and Vimeo.

This week Werner Herzog said that there is no excuse for not making movies, but somehow I don't see an Apocalypse Now being made on a phone and the notion of viewing such a film on a phone would seem bizarrely unfulfilling.


In Robert Altman's 1992 film, The Player, he cynically mocks the screenwriter's five minute pitch to a Hollywood studio executive. In fact, if a screenwriter is able to get five futile minutes with a movie executive, describing their Unmade Films, he or she, has done quite well.

Film makers are severely encumbered by this process.

 

Unmade Films on these pages are lost stories neglected by the film making  process. There are screenplays not realised into film, or yet worse, screenplays which are not even read.

 

UNMADE FILMS, is here to provide a forum for film as described by the written word, the raw item usually referred to as "the screenplay", though here, not necessarily in that form.

 

The early drafts of screenplays are, shall we say, the original conception; often precious to the writer, but, if chance would have it, destined to be abandoned at an early stage.

 

Abandonment might however be a good thing, because if the project were to move on to the next stage, the author might then be obliged by the money-people, to compromise his or her work. These compromises can frustrate a promising idea, or devour a work of art.

 

Let's not be too precious; the demands of the money-men may, after all, have constructive consequences. A popular masterpiece may deserve a significant audience, while an indulgent Lottery-funded art-house film, may not. But the investor may also have a reductive influence, diminishing the potential masterpiece to video pulp, before it's time.

Cash is the lubricant of the film industry and, and just what does the poor author get out of it? A fortune! So the joke goes.

 

The money men do have a tough job though, since more worthwhile films lose money, than make money, and a low budget film is less likely to reap the serious profits that can be made. There have been some notable recent exceptions, but nevertheless, the bigger the budget, the less philanthropic and the more popularist the investor tends to be.

 

While producers juggle with these imponderables, a mountain of screenplays are in the corner pile, yellowing.

 

Film is a marketable commodity, like potatoes or plutonium, but the serious effort of creative writing is not so regarded. There is a glut of unwanted and undervalued screenplays. The screenplay does not exist as literature, and has no meaningful life, unless developed beyond the page into film, and beyond film into cinema. Few developed screenplays resemble the early drafts; the original screenplay gets a raw deal.

 

It might be argued that the unadulterated first draft of a screenplay is not necessarily better than the amended studio draft, that has been endlessly re-heated by hired hacks, long after the author has been fired, ....or paid off.

These hacks would have been charged with deconstructing the first draft, and with infusing the remains with formulaic cinematic devices from last season's blockbuster, that worked so well at the box-office.

 

But that is not the point; the point is that UNMADE FILMS are different; neither better, nor potentially worse, than any realised project, ....but different.

 

UNMADE FILMS, provides an additional opportunity, for the original screenplay, to get realised, either into a completed film, or otherwise, to simply get published, and publicised.

 

The narrative form is not important to this exercise, and the content of UNMADE FILMS is only restricted to stories conceived as cinema, preferably in it's rawest state..

unabridged, uncompromised and unmade.                  lm

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