YOU'VE GOT TO DO MOST OF IT WRONG BEFORE YOU GET IT RIGHT

It was in the summer before graduating from university that I realised that I didn’t just want to make a film. I needed to make one, and before I graduated. It wasn’t until nearing the end that I realised just how much I’d taken for granted the equipment and crew I’d had at my fingertips for the last three years. Making Bitter Natives was as important to me as getting a degree in film. Because what’s the point in having one, if you’ve nothing to show for it.

That summer I began writing the script and putting together a timeline of the shoot process (throwing any work I’d been set from the University out of the window). I assembled a crew; we set up a Kickstarter and were ready to go for January 2014. Of course when I say we were ready to go for January 2014, this was entirely dependent on whether or not we got the funding from Kickstarter, oh and actors. Luckily, the Kickstarter funding was a success thanks to some incredibly kind people, including one incredibly generous benefactor who donated £500, and by January we’d found our actors! That was until they dropped out a week later.

What do you do when the public have just donated you the kindly sum of £1500 to make a movie and at this point all you can give in return is a script? We considered every option we could think of. We advertised in forums, casting websites and even considered using our own crew members if it came down to it. But not many actors are keen on working for free on a low budget film being made by some random students, and our crew weren’t the most experienced of actors. It was a hell of an awkward situation to be in. But it all worked out in the end right? Thankfully, our sound engineer tried a long shot and contacted someone whom he did a theatre class with years ago. Turns out he was up for it, and also knew two other people who’d be up for it, and they were the best bloody audition we’d seen!

Everything was back on track, better than that if anything; we now had a stellar cast to work with as well as a happy crew and all of our locations sorted. What could go wrong? Well… everything. But that is just a product of the environment you work in when filming, after all, you can’t control the weather. And for that matter, you can’t control lost taxi drivers, midge swarms, double booked premiere venues, broken microphones, corrupt external hard-drives and elderly people wandering into frame either.

Admittedly some of the questions that haunt me surround the fact that this film, if not for the lucky contact one of crew got in touch with on a whim, could have taken a very different direction. But in a strange way, I’m glad a lot of this went wrong. Because eventually it turned out better than we could have asked for, and next time I’ll make sure that the pre-production stages are finished before I request the public donate me their hard earned cash. It is a learning curve, but it’s worth it as I’ve certainly had more attention from the industry with Bitter Natives than I I’ve had with my first class honours degree.

Written by Rob Potter, Director of Bitter Natives

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