It’s winter here, and once again we can’t afford to switch the heating on. It doesn’t matter, it’s not as depressing as it sounds, somehow it makes everything seem that little bit more special – reinforcing how important it is that we do what we do.
I’m Dave, and by ‘we’ I mean Realm Pictures – an independent film company based in the UK. Producers of ‘Zomblies‘ and ‘The UnderWater Realm‘, creators of a weekly indie filmmaking blog that has thousands waiting to see what happens next in our journey to create a series of low budget fantasy films set predominantly underwater. It all sounds amazing when you put it like that, but to me, it’s still just me and a bunch of old school friends, working like crazy to turn our dreams into 24 frames a second.
This part of our journey started just a short year ago when we entered a national competition to show ‘how we take it to the max’ (it was run by Raindance and Pepsi…). To most people I think that meant ‘extreme’, but for us ‘max’ had other connotations – filling the kettle up to max for a production meeting in the basement, maxing out the power on a borrowed generator on a shoot and, of course, the most familiar of all – maxing out our credit cards.
We produced a two-minute love letter to the art of indie filmmaking, pouring your soul into producing something beautiful with your friends, but with no money. Then more than ever life was imitating art, or the other way around. The piece drew from the two years we had spent freezing our nuts off, balls deep in debt, struggling to produce an hour-long action b-movie on the barren lands of Dartmoor with almost 200 volunteers. So faithful in fact was the representation, that many of our viewers thought the short had been created using b-roll from the production.
Success didn’t come directly as a result of the zombie b-movie, but the attention and reaction the short attracted was a different story. We went on to win the competition – the short opened Raindance festival this year – and the prize money formed the genesis of the project we are now working on, propelling us forward into the next stage of our careers.
The lesson here was a hard one too see at first, that in some way making that zombie movie was exactly what needed to happen. Regardless of the outcome, it was the way it changed us as people, the things it taught us about the art and who we were, that eventually propelled us
Of course since then ‘Zomblies’ has had almost 100,000 views on YouTube and is set for UK DVD release. It’s validating, but nothing compared to the reaction we are getting from the far more ambitious project we are working on now.
Plastered across the ceiling of the basement of ‘Realm House’ are some words from Michaelangelo: “It’s pizza time!”
Sorry – couldn’t resist… The words are:
“The greatest danger for a man is not that he will reach too high and fail, it is that he will reach too low and succeed.”
I have been making movies since I was seventeen (a feature length medieval romantic tragedy replete with horses, knights, castles and a medieval village we built in a local field). What I have come to appreciate over the years, through writing and living, is that the nature of man is to aspire to great things. The small, the mundane, do not excite people. Small dreams are just as hard to realise as big ones – but the magic of a big dream is the way it inspires and infects those around you.
None of what we do, none of what I do, would be possible with out the energy, commitment and skill devoted by all those that work with us, a network of talented, but most of all passionate people who will pour a little bit of their soul into what we are creating. Everybody here is a volunteer, we all work nine-to-five jobs to pay the rent while we set about making this dream a reality. It’s that struggle that makes us want it so bad, that lack of overheads that lets us punch way above our weight, and that attitude that means every one of the dozens of artists involved will always go beyond the call of duty to make this thing a reality.
If I have one piece of advice for people out there it’s this:
We are currently running a kickstarter campaign to keep our current project moving forward. Nobody else in the world is making a film underwater (except possibly Jim Cameron…) and we have a long way to go, reinventing new ways to do the most simple of things underwater.
We have created a set of underwater LED lights; auditioned in deep water tanks; shot in the ocean at home and in the Red Sea – it has been, and will continue to be, an amazing journey.
Speaking of which, I have to get back to twitter.
I’ll leave you with this:
“If you build it, they will come.”
Again, couldn’t resist… but it’s true. Positivity and the will to act really do pay off and attract goodness.
Maybe I’ll switch the heating on after all.