This was originally published elsewhere when the film was first made in 2014, decided to repost it on here to explain a few things. Over next few weeks I’ll be updating this page with the treatment and cast list etc, but until then, enjoy this.
So a couple of weeks ago we got told that we have to pitch a script idea to the class. Now, those of you who are lucky enough to know me know that pitching is not my strong point as it’s built up of two my biggest flaws:
The inability to sell myself or my ideas (seriously, if I invented the cure for cancer I’d still struggle to convince people it’s a good idea)
I knew there’s no chance this could end well for me. I knew what would happen: I’d plan the pitch, make notes on flash cards, stand in front of the class, and immediately forget how vowels work. It’s then I remembered that there have been a few occasions in classes where I can speak eloquently enough to be mistaken for an actual human: when I’m defending/arguing a point. And therein lied the solution to my self inflicted problem: I had to come up with an idea that I would have to defend, and it had to be easy to sum up. Basically: I had to think of a one-sentence story that would cause people to argue with me and tell me it’s awful and shit.
Some of you who have read anything I’ve written (or seen anything) know that my writing tends to have one trait: I focus on shining a light on relatively dark subject matter. That was my key here: I had to come up with a subject matter so dark that it would cause people to get angry enough to disembowel me, but it had to be something which I could genuinely approach from a light angle. Eventually, it came to me. An idea so twisted yet heartwarming, disgusting yet brilliant, so quintessentially me that I knew I had to pitch it:
A love story set amongst the backdrop of a school shooting.
That was perfect for me, I didn’t have to convince everyone it was a good idea, I just had to argue it well enough that it would completely mask the fact that I am terrible at public speaking. But when I went to pitch it something odd happened: nobody argued against it. In fact, people seemed to understand what I was trying to say with the story. I had done so well in countering every single argument, that I had somehow made a good story. In fact it was so well received, that it’s actually being made now. People who have seen the complete script love it, I love it, and we’re getting together a good cast. It’s f*cking strange, but very, very, exciting. I know that there are one or two people who still maintain that this is too dark an idea to work, and to them I say three simple words:
Projector is a 20 minute, surrealist dramedy. It follows Christopher, a young and burnt-out filmmaker, on a dreamlike odyssey through three of his films: with the help of his own fictional creations he confronts the bitter, lonely man he is becoming. It takes influence from Fellini’s 81/2 and Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York, with the surreal and meta techniques they use to explore the mind of a creative character, and the ways in which their lives influence their art, and vice versa.
Christopher: An amateur filmmaker, who after some critically successful shorts was contracted to adapt A Christmas Carol into a trendy and modern feature: a script that has now become his personal Moby Dick, and driven him into isolation. His small successes have caused him to become egocentric and a smartass, eschewing the people closest to him. His character arc progresses as he finally gets over himself by seeing where his attitude will get him, and rekindles his love of film, remembering the joy it used to bring him and others; in many ways it mirrors the Scrooge character arc from A Christmas Carol.
Phillip and Lesley
Philip: Christopher’s close friend and old writing partner, who shares his taste for snark. He was left out of the writing deal by Christopher. This fragmented their friendship, but Phil still genuinely cares for him and wants to help.
Lesley: The protagonist from one of Christopher’s earliest films, Venetian Blind. He was a happy-go-lucky detective jaded by the ‘film-noir’ detective lifestyle he idealised. He was portrayed by Phillip with a Bogart swagger, so takes his form and is a symbolic representation of their friendship. He is similar to Phillip, as he genuinely cares for Christopher and wants to help him, but is more hard-edged, and willing to push Christopher further to make him hear sense.
Maria: A character from Christopher’s second short film, Super-Ego, and based upon an ex of his. Because of this she thinks, and knows the worst of Christopher. Fiery and unapologetic, she speaks her mind and takes some pleasure cutting Christopher down to size, only showing the sympathetic sweet women she can be, after he shows her genuine remorse.
Mike: A stoner from Christopher’s comedy-horror, EXIT. He appears to be very passive to Christopher, not really caring about his problems and why he’s there, too busy doing nothing. A small character, but he represents Christopher’s possible future if he continues as he is, becoming a shut-in slacker with no ambition beyond the next bowl.
Act 1: Christopher is procrastinating from writing when Phillip calls him. They share a short conversation in which Phil tries to convince him to come out for his birthday, but Christopher refuses, using his script as an excuse. Phil offers to help, frustrating a defensive Christopher and the conversation ends bitterly.
Act 2: Christopher wanders through his first two films. He meets Lesley, who is coy about how or why Christopher is here, confronting him about his recent attitudes and the lack of work, showing an old video of him and Phillip and how they used to work ideas out together. But this only proves to aggravate Christopher, and he leaves. He then meets Maria in the second room, just after her angry break-up with Sean. This leads to a biting argument where Maria harshly calls Christopher out on his self-pitying nature and his short comings as a writer, while he tries to defend himself. But just as they seem to be coming to a break through, Maria’s ex bursts into the room and Christopher is forced to flee.
Act 3: Christopher enters the third room and meets Mike, a pot-head from his third short film, the comedy-horror EXIT. Still stressed Christopher sits and smokes with him, as he has no real interest in Chris, being far too occupied with his own smoking. Christopher spirals into a bad trip and is left alone in the dark, where he is confronted by a monstrous manifestation of his issues. He kills it, and it transforms into him. Faced with his own death and the possible repercussions of what his life will become, he is dragged away and forced into an intervention by Lesley. He finally watches his silly, cheap debut film Attack of the Deadly Gust, which he made when he was a teenager. Finally remembering the joy films use to bring him and others, rekindling his filmmaking spirit. He re-enters his room and calls Phillip with a new film idea, at which point the director, crew, and camera are revealed, and that Projector has really been a film.
The surreal elements of the film are largely visually meta, with a motif around common movie mistakes, e.g. boom shadows, crew reflections, audio glitches ect, which Christopher becomes more aware of as he goes further through his films, as the lines between fiction and reality break down. It also uses touches of psychological horror, with the appearance of a monstrous manifestation of his issues. The direction of the in movie films will be split between the group, with Mark directing the opening and closing scenes, Conor directing the film noir Venetian Blind, Chloe directing the horror EXIT, and Lee directing the superhero comedy Super-Ego. This is to give each of Christopher’s films their own unique look and style, and give each one its own in-film identity. With this in mind to help Projector feel like a coherent film, and not a series of shorts, there will be overarching trades, like each film existing in a black void, with the set and props lit like a stage production, with only his bedroom having visible walls.
Christopher: Bradley Godbeer
Gerald: Jordan Medley
Lesley Mattock: Adam Diskin
Maria: Amy Woods
Sean: Josh Hayes
Mark Tonkin: Camera Operator, Casting Director, Director, Director of Photography, Floor Manager, Location Scout, Producer, Prop Maker, Props Buyer, Set Designer, Writer
Conor Amos: Camera Operator, Director, Director of Photography, Editor, Sound Editor, Visual Effects Artist, Writer
Chloe Tennant: Director, Editor, Lighting Operator, Visual Effects Artist
Lee Garrod: Casting Director, Director, Floor Manager, Location Scout, Producer
Cristiana Alves: Location Scout, Producer, Props Buyer, Set Designer