Thursday, 11 October 2012

Fiction vs. Mockumentary

Here I discuss my dilemma on whether to do a fiction film or a mockumentary short film.
I think the only way I’m going to decide which road to take is to go down both roads and then pick the one which provides the more interesting views.

I was part of a similar problem last year when my housemate asked me to write a short film script for his final year CMP project. In the end, he decided not to make a short film. However, from the process of working from his original idea – something based around video gaming – and trying to produce a script he liked, I wrote one short fiction script, Xbox Junkie, and one short mockumentary treatment, The Gaming Complex. Two different stories and approaches but both based around video gaming. I’m glad that I ended up trying the two different approaches back then because it demonstrates the advantages of doing it now with Eyes. I think I’ll also have another look at the gaming stories to see if there are any ideas that can be recycled.

Certainly, I think my subconscious has already started to pinch ideas from the gaming scripts! The theme of obsession, that was present in The Gaming Complex, is migrating into Eyes. I’m also suspecting that Boris uses his eye obsession as a means of procrastination; in Xbox Junkie video gaming was the main character’s means of procrastination.

From the thought I've already given to the two different approaches, I can see that the two roads go in two different directions.

If I go with the mockumentary - the direction will be backwards. The film would start with Boris and his eye obsession. Then the film would move backwards and explore the story of where Boris’ eye obsession comes from.

Whereas, if I go with the fiction film - the direction will be forwards. The film would start with Boris and his eye obsession. Then, through a conflict arising from his eye obsession which creates a complication, the story would go forward into a wider playing field, where the eye obsession would be only one element.

So in a sense the fiction film is sort of the sequel to the mockumentary. I realise, with the mocumentary you could tell a much wider story (like the fiction film counterpart), but my thinking is a short mocumentary needs to be like a short documentary - the focus has to be simple. If the focus is simple it enables the film to much more thoroughly and satisfactorily explore the essence of its focus in the limited running time it has.

In my mind, these are the ways I would want to do the two approaches. Therefore, it makes sense for me to start with the mockumentary: find out who Boris is and where his eye obsession comes from. Then move onto the fiction film and see how his eye obsession can put him at odds with other forces in the world.

Although, now that I've written this reflection, I’m about 70% certain I’m going to do a fiction film. I know a mockumentary still has a lot of potential and artistically a mockumentary would make for a nice middle ground between Matt’s fiction film and Tish’s documentary (which I hope to end up working on). However, in the end, I would probably be more satisfied with a fiction film. Therefore, In order to satisfy myself that the mockumentary is a no-goer, I will develop a treatment for it. That way it removes the “what if” from my mind.

In terms of developing the fiction counterpart, I believe it makes more sense for me to first figure out who Boris is and where the hell is eye obsession comes from, which I can do by creating a treatment for the mockumentary. Once I know him and his obsession I’ll know what types of people and situations Boris is likely to come in to conflict with. This is the information I need to make the fiction script have a really compelling story. If there’s no conflict – there’s no story!