Finding a Niche

I’ve been trying to learn Blender on and off for a few days. Sadly I’m too busy at work and prepping for next week’s Monsters pickups to really get into it, but there’s certainly a wealth of tutorial material, and lots of inspiring examples.

I’ve also recently followed a bunch of other filmmakers on Twitter, to the extent that my feed is swamped with examples of low-to-no budget films. It’s motivating to know what other people are doing, but also slightly intimidating. How will I get anyone to notice my work amongst so many?

But the conjuction of these two preoccupations made me think – I can stand out by playing to my strengths. My fascination with VFX and experience with CG in video games puts me a rung or two above many professional directors (in that field, at least), let alone film school graduates. Rather than playing safe with simple contemporary dramas, like everyone else, I should be working on more ambitious effects films – because in that niche, I will stand out.

I could be wrong, of course. Time will tell. But the Monsters pickups will require some effects work to properly convey the full scope of the story, so we’ll soon see if a few VFX help a project stand out…

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2 thoughts on “Finding a Niche

  1. In his brilliant exhortation of the power and cultural importance of story, (“Story: Substance, structure, style, and the principles of screenwriting.” Robert McKee says “CGI is neither a curse nor a panacea. It simply adds fresh hues to the story pallet.”
    I can understand the commercial imperative a film-maker might feel to harness the power of CGI in his work but I am troubled by your sentence; “Rather than playing safe with simple contemporary dramas, like everyone else, I should be working on more ambitious effects films – because in that niche, I will stand out.”
    Here and elsewhere in your blogs you speak of the pressures of time and money needed to acquire this power. I would ask, are you sure that this, then , is the right path for you? Particularly as you are not so sure that you may be right?
    I am surprised that you say “everyone else” is “playing safe with contemporary drama” because this goes against MvKee’s warning of the serious decline of story in film today. He implies the contrary, that too many are rushing to CGI at the expense of strong story craft.
    On the radio this morning Tarantino spoke of his enjoyment of “Avatar” and the brilliance of the CGI effects. This is a film which could not have been made so impressively without CGI but it is interesting that it is only for its CGI that it has been so highly praised.
    I don’t know whether “Inglorious Basterds” has any CGI in it but if it does I imagine that the film would not be so dependent on it for its success as does “Avatar”. I say this because Tarantino said he would not make a film that he had to wait eight years to see what he had got. He went on to say, when he shouts “Cut!” that’s it, it’s in the can. No months of “post” for him. Could this not be the way for you also?

    • You make a couple of excellent points!
      As McKee says, story is king, but given a great story, it can be transposed into a variety of settings to reflect different themes. I’m not suggesting CG will improve the story, but it will help the film stand out from the crowd, because most indie filmmakers are limited by budget to contemporary settings. I’m not competing with Avatar…yet 🙂
      At this stage of my filmmaking career, being noticed is vital. So I aim to use my CG skills to draw attention to my directing skills.
      It’s true that I need to spend some time learning Blender, but that time saves money and empowers my storytelling. Tarantino wants to do everything in camera because he is in control on set. If he was supervising the effects himself, I think he’d feel differently.

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