The idea and story for 'Predawn' lends itself to Cinema verite. Or "truthful "Cinema. Why? Well here is the idea: it takes place over one night (Predawn) condensed into an hour and a half. The film will be characterised by a gritty "Kitchen Sink" realism.
A young girl misses her last train one night and goes for a stroll to kill time. She is spotted by a homeless lad who realises she is a "naive" in a dangerous area and offers to escort her to a local Cafe where they know him well. He has to go to attend to his dog on the other side of town and promises he will be back before the first train in the morning. As he heads out they communicate via social media. Due to a set of circumstances he finds getting back a harder task than he imagined. His dog is kidnapped, he is beaten senseless and even drugged.
It is edge of your seat stuff.
Our main performer Sam Kirkpatrick (aka Sir Real) is not a trained actor. In fact, he was homeless for 6 years after being brought up in care homes. He is not an actor who will have to imagine what it is like to go without a meal, to sleep on a pavement at zero degrees. He won't have to imagine the years of damage done by years of street-fighting. He won't have to imagine the arthritis he now gets in his legs because he jumped off a 30ft wall in a chase. He won't have to imagine any of that because he has lived it. That is why he is perfect for the part.
The girl who plays opposite him with be a trained actor who will help maintain momentum in the scene. Other parts will be played by Ex Homeless people.
We can't expect everyone to be able to learn extensive lines and heavy dialogue. We will block out the scenes, explain the scenarios and use improvisation. I have seen some of the best performances ever this way. Beforehand we will use many of the rehearsal techniques that Mike Leigh utilises to get his results. There will be nothing stilted here as it will feel real.
Here is a quote by Mike Leigh that will give you an insight into our approach to ‘Predawn’:
"The world of the characters and their relationships is brought into existence by discussion and a great amount of improvisation ... And research into anything and everything that will fill out the authenticity of the character."
It is after months of rehearsal, or 'preparing for going out on location to make up a film', that Leigh writes a shooting script, a bare scenario. Then, on location, after further 'real rehearsing', the script is finalised:
"I'll set up an improvisation, ... I'll analyse and discuss it, ... we'll do another, and I'll ... refine and refine... until the actions and dialogue are totally integrated. Then we shoot it."
It is not an easy route to take and for traditional financiers even harder as they like to see a locked down script. A safe script. That is why Hollywood has become so boring. The big fight at the end; the happy ending with a twist. We've seen it all before.
Not in ‘Predawn’.
You are in for a few surprises.
To help get 'Predawn' made click here.
Richard Bazley is an award winning filmmaker and animator who has worked on some of Disney's most successful feature films. A full list of his credits can be found on the IMDb or at GBK Hybrid, a production company he set up with 'Star Wars' producer Gary Kurtz and Paul Goodenough.