Teen Titans Go! To The Movies (2018)

This film was weird, and I’m not entirely sure in a good way. It felt like it was written by people who never spoke to each other about what kind of film they wanted to make. About 30% of it is really good, meta as hell about superhero movies and the recent overabundance of them. But when it’s bad, it’s embarrassingly bad. The good moments make you laugh out loud, but the bad moments make you remember that what you are watching is fundamentally a kids movie; terrible accents and dialogue by “cool” characters, singing and dancing (although there is one song in it which is pretty cool actually), really juvenile humour (I know, childish humour in a kids movie, who’d have thunk it?), and just a general lack of substance. I suppose the is plot okay; the one they actually use anyway. The film goes through about 4 plots they could have used, one of which (when they travel back in time to stop superheroes trauma from happening, thus stopping them from becoming heroes. yet when they travel back to their timeline the world is overrun with supervillains) would have been a MUCH better film, but instead is used for a quick 4-minute sequence which is never referenced again. Usually, films which are adapted from television shows have bigger stories than usuals; ones they couldn’t fit into a standard episode. This film is just 88 minutes long and has A LOT of padding, you could easily condense the plot into a 30-minute episode. It seems like the only reason it’s a feature is because the plot revolves around them wanting a super-hero movie, so thematically it suits a feature-length film better. But whilst the story suits a feature, the way its told does not. I mean, I suppose the feature-length nature of it made it easier to get big names like Nicholas Cage and Stan Lee (and Greg Davies for some reason). And it meant the mid-credits reveal had more weight to it, if that was done in an episode it wouldn’t really be that notable, but it happened in a big event, so it’s talked about.

So that’s enough about the things I didn’t like. What about the good things? When the jokes land, they REALLY land. When it’s funny, it’s very very funny and will make you think it’s one of the funniest films you’ve seen all year, it’s a shame that doesn’t happen often enough though. The animation style has been criticised as being too basic, but to me, it works for the film. It’s aimed at a very young audience, and young people prefer bright colours that pop. It brings to mind spending weekends at home, waking up before everyone else in the house did, and using that time to watch cartoons. But my favourite memory of this film is something that wasn’t intentional; a few days later I was on my way to see another film and was sitting down eating food beforehand. Behind me there was a bloke and his son who had just left the cinema after seeing this. They were sitting there discussing comic book movies, breaking the fourth wall, and the history of British comics. It was such a lovely and touching moment, one of the most adorable things I’ve been witness to. That’s when it hit me; it’s okay if I didn’t love this film, I don’t have to, it’s not for me. It’s not for the cynical and jaded, it’s the cinematic equivalent of bubblegum and aimed at kids, and that’s okay.

How we (I) made (wrote) Projector.

So as my Troubled Production’s colleague so subtly hinted I should, I’m gonna talk about my influences on writing Projector and how it came to be. There’s not much else I can add about the production, but this is where the story came from, before that.

Projector neon version jpg
The original concept poster. And don’t worry, the tagline is explained.

Well if you’ve seen the film, there’s a flashback during the lengthy Film Noir section where two characters discuss a film idea as they throw a ball, called ‘The Great Party’. In short, its a Great Gatsby  themed film about a guy looking for his girlfriend at a surreal party, where every room uses the same actors to play different characters. That’s the idea Projector stemmed from. But it became something so different; we could still make that film without any crossover of story or events.

The real foundation of Projector started when I decided I needed to tell a story that really meant something to me, something personal, for my final film at university. And not just the typical murder mystery, rom-com, with suicide probably in there, party films, that a lot of film students tend to crap out. So of course I made a film about a struggling filmmaker in the middle of a quarter life crises (I pride myself on originality).

Orginal thought]

A lot of the idea developed from a scheme to make a film where typical film mistakes, audio glitches, double shadows, crew reflections ect, where actually part of the film, with the whole film within a film concept. An idea I thought of mainly as a bit of a middle finger to the people who (rightfully so) complained about the lack of quality in Schism.

get to wrok
Saying its just about a play within a play is actually overly simplifying it a lot.

The films I stole most of my ideas from where mainly Charlie Kaufman’s (a personal favorite writer), Synecdoche, New York and Adaptation. The former, a film about a play writer who’s lines of reality and fiction start to blur as he puts on a play within a play within- you get the idea, and the other about a fictional version of Kaufman writing the film he’s in. Synecdoche ended up having a more lasting impact overall, because in early drafts Projector was about me, I mean of course it’s about me, I mean literally, it was about fictional versions of me and people I know, in a uber-meta self-indulgent kinda way. Luckily the rest of my group had the sense to talk me down from that ledge.


So instead I went the Woody Allen root and just made the main character so blatantly me, everyone wondered where I got an actor who resembles me so much. Woody’s Star Dust Memories (the first of his films to make me understand why he’s a big deal) was also a key inspiration for me, dealing with a filmmaker in creative crises whose reality blurs into his own films (though oddly enough I wasn’t the one who added his name drop in the script, twice). Now I’m sure for those of you who know a bit about cinema are wondering, “how can you talk thus far about your surreal meta film about film making, without bringing up Fellini’s 81/2?” Well, that’s because I didn’t see it till after I’d written the script. I knew about it, and its influences on the other films that did influences me, but it was only inspiration by association.

But Scrooged was clearly my one true inspiration.

The idea to make parallels with A Christmas Carol came a bit late in the writing, after the first draft I believe. I’d just seen Wild at Heart and loved the way it paralleled The Wizard of Oz, so I thought adding an underline theme of classic literature would be good, but what I thought? What? And I had no idea, till I picked up the mail one day and there was a flyer for a local production of A Christmas Carol, and like Diana on prom night, it hit me; the perfect story to wrap Projector around, three films, three ghosts, and a lead character with a barrel of regrets.

What’s next?


As it was said, the plan is to adapt Projector into a feature, the idea being to add a whole new parallel narrative on top of the already existing one, as well as to develop the original out. The new narrative would follow the same aspiring filmmakers Christopher and Phillip on an odyssey of a night out, going from parties to dives to who knows where, as Christopher talks through Projector with Phillip. Cutting back to that story as he goes, as the night-out starts to parallel with the film and the two- in a complete breakdown of the meta-verse – coincide. But when we’ll write that still waits to be seen.