Posted by Alex Switzky
19. Aug, 2013
In a small common room on a high floor in a Bourke Street building, Kylie Eddy is hurting my brain. The furrowed brows and constant questions around the room show a confusion and curiosity I haven’t seen since high school. Kylie is telling us about Lean Filmmaking, and I’m not afraid to admit I’m still struggling with it.
Lean Filmmaking is an alternative to the traditional filmmaking model. The traditional model works like this: a script is presented, all the realities of the production are sorted out, you shoot, you edit and do all sorts of post-production magic, you show the film to a test audience, then you either edit again or send it to cinemas. This takes years, and perfection in each stage is the goal. Lean Filmmaking isn’t interested in perfection. It’s more interested in failure.
Lean Filmmaking takes the above model and flattens the timeframe. You gather a group, hash out a story idea, film, edit, get in front of an audience; and you do it fast. Kylie suggests that an entire cycle could only take a matter of hours. She knows that the product will probably suck, but by getting a germ of an idea in front of an audience that quickly, your team will know what’s working and what isn’t. You cut the bad parts, retain the good ones and start the cycle over. Repeat until done or out of money. Kylie makes it clear that the product for the first few cycles might not look anything like a film.
“It could be a staged reading, storyboards, a puppet show; as long as you can show it to an audience,” she says.
This is a colossal shift in thinking. The traditional model allows you to make maybe one film every nine months if you’re exceedingly quick and lucky. Lean Filmmaking can let you make one film a week, or maybe one film a day, if your cycle is tight enough. This level of output isn’t unheard of, just ask the people who have attempted 48 hour films, but this type of regimentation and focus on iteration could be one of the biggest breakthroughs in independent and low-budget filmmaking since the introduction of digital. Could. Maybe.
In the room there was a flood of “what ifs” and “what abouts,” many of which went unanswered. Kylie is quick to admit that this is radical and, yes, maybe impossible. She doesn’t know if it will work simply because she hasn’t tried it yet. The meet-ups she is organising are not only to inform, but to gauge interest in an experimental group. The plan is to spend a weekend (from Friday to Sunday evening) putting the ideas of Lean Filmmaking into practice, with a goal of three cycles in 48 hours. You’re more than welcome to put your hat in the ring for the experiment, the next meet-up to discuss the process is on the August 20. This could be the start of something big.
For more info on Lean Filmmaking and to sign up to any future sessions visit meetup.com/Lean-Filmmaking-Melbourne
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