Every film made for a Create50 has two potential lives. First and foremost, each film takes its place in the final Create50 film, making its way to a big screen alongside the work of other filmmakers in a celebration of creative collaboration.
The second life is as a standalone film, allowing the filmmakers to send their film out into the world through festivals, social media, short film platforms.
The first Create50 film, ’50 Kisses’ was made up of unconnected short films with just one thing in common – they all contained a kiss. Each story was unique and confined within its running time. The Impact is different – it has a big idea at its heart and every film must fit into this overarching narrative and do so in a chronological manner. Getting this right – choosing which films to include and making the story work is going to be a huge challenge for Chris Jones and his team. I do not envy them.
I decided very late in the process to submit a film to The Impact, mainly because I was busy soothing my bruised ego after none of my scripts made the cut. When I started reading the scripts I was looking for something that I could deliver quickly, that had an emotional core I related to, and finally that had potential as a standalone film. For the contributing filmmakers, the challenge of turning their film from a chapter of The Impact into a standalone short is much more challenging than with 50 Kisses. These stories all exist within the context of a catastrophic event that will effectively end human life as we know it. Those are pretty big stakes – but how do you present a slice of the story without that context? Do you add a title card ahead of your five-minute short? “The world is ending…” Feels pretty clumsy. Nothing I was reading seemed to have an alternative version that could take place outside of the extremity of the end of mankind.
Then I read Rachel Welch’s script for Life’s A Beach. I connected with this script immediately (I love surfing!) and started to visualise how it would look and feel. I loved the characters Leo and Charlotte and the dynamic between them. An important factor in Life’s A Beach is that Leo doesn’t know – he’s unaware of the impending doom, and Charlotte never tells him. There was still a tragedy, but it was confined to Charlotte’s experience. Rachel’s script set’s this up through Leo’s mobile phone. Its dead. He’s on a beach. There’s no way of news getting to him.
I realised that having a shot of a mobile phone screen in the opening minute of the film was a gift – it allowed me to tell any story I wanted, so I started looking for one. In the script, Charlotte’s best friend has perished in London. For my version, it didn’t have to be because of a killer asteroid, but it had to be worthy of international news in order for it to appear as a notification on a phone in Australia. So, this single shot had to tell the audience that something newsworthy and terrible had happened in London, and that someone had died as a result.
Sadly, London has fallen prey to such events. On 3rd June 2017 a van drove into pedestrians on Westminster bridge and the occupants went on to attack people in surrounding pubs and restaurants with knives. The terrorist attack only ended when the perpetrators were shot dead by the police. In my version of Life’s A Beach this would be the terrible event that had left Charlotte’s best friend dead.
I mocked up a phone alert from an Australian news channel to appear on Leo’s iPhone. To account for the time difference between the UK and Australia it shows the next day’s date, 4th June. As it comes to life, we see the details.
Breaking News: LONDON TERROR INCIDENT Several confirmed dead in London attack.
Importantly, this happens after Leo has left his phone in the van to get on with his day – we see the news, but Leo doesn’t. This required a re-edit of the opening sequence. For The Impact I had Leo wake up with a start. I thought this would be an interesting transition in the overall edit and added a sense of foreboding. For the standalone version this is gone and we open on Leo’s VW camper before cutting to Leo looking expectantly out of the window to the beach below.
With the new story told by the single shot of the phone the rest of the film plays out exactly as before apart from moment in which Charlotte casually drops the line ‘Don’t think you’re going to get a shag just because we’re all going to die.’ It’s a funny line and a shame to lose it, but it just didn’t fit anymore.
So far Life’s A Beach has been selected for the CFK International Film Festival and was nominated for Best Short Film at the Hollywood Verge Film Awards. I am hoping for a UK screening sometime this year. I’m really for Rachel and my cast and crew to see their work up on the big screen, they all did wonderful work and it deserves to be seen!