What follows is a conversation I had with Chip Thompson where we chat about Chip’s film making roles and his adventure in the media world. His contact information is at the bottom of this article for anyone who wishes to get in touch with him
FromPage2Screen: So Hello Chip Thompson
UK Film maker, screenwriter.You Tube Channel owner. Which of those titles do you prefer?
Do you find that you enjoy the writing process more than the film making process or vice versa?
Chip:I wouldn’t say I enjoy one craft more than the other, it all depends on the circumstances. There are times when you feel like you’ve written a really good scene or short script and can’t wait to shoot it but then come the day of the shoot, everything seems to go wrong and it doesn’t pan out the way you expected. And vice versa, the blinking cursor is a writers worst enemy and you can stare at a blank page for what feels like years until something falls out and you decide to keep it in as nothing better is working for the time being. Then you shoot that scene and it just comes to life, and you’re left wondering why it was so tough to write.
To summarise, I enjoy both the writing and the shooting of films, both have their rewards and challenges in equal measure.
FromPage2Screen:Tell me a bit about your background, when did you first decide to make a film and then did you first think ‘Im going to write a screenplay’
Chip: I made my first film at college, I was on a Media course, when I was 15 years old. It was a documentary about the boxing club I belonged to at the time. I really had no idea what I was doing haha. It was full of transitions and star wipes, plus I gave it a Linkin Park & Eminem soundtrack. I knew the basic format of a documentary and just did my best to tell a story. Looking back at it now I would cringe but I got top marks from my tutor so I was pretty proud of it at the time.
Since then I’ve just made silly little short films, mostly just playing around. I guess you could say I was honing my craft but it was mostly about experimenting and using new techniques and having fun editing it all together.
My screenwriting followed a similar pattern. I couldn’t tell you the first script I wrote but I would imagine it was awful. I knew nothing of how to correctly format a script or anything like that. I used to write short stories as a kid so it just came from that. Over the years I’ve learnt how a script is laid out, how to focus on pacing, the three-act structure etc. There’s such a thing as “industry standard” but I honestly don’t believe in that. If you’re creative and you’ve got a good idea for a script or a film, you should run with it. Don’t let anything hold you back in that regard.
In terms of feature scripts, my first 90+ page script I co-wrote with two other friends. We saw a script competition that wanted feature length romantic comedies. None of us had ever written a feature or a rom-com before so we thought it might be fun. The only trouble was the deadline was in two days. I had a premise, an idea about two people stalking each other without either of them knowing and out of that we wrote a feature length screenplay in two days. We never did submit the script to the competition as it was still too rough having bought three pieces of script together. But we continued to work on it and I believe it’s a very solid piece of work that I myself would like to make, or possibly sell one day.
In the past couple of years I’ve finished a number of features myself and the goal of 2012 was to get one of them into production, even if I wasn’t directing. Just to get my name on a finished feature film with a writing credit would have been brilliant. That hasn’t happened yet but I shall keep plugging away.
Chip:Well, I shot a third of the film earlier this year and always intended to finish it off, I just didn’t have the funds. It was someone on Twitter, a fellow Kent filmmaker who is fan funding his feature, who recommended the website www.sponsume.com to me. It became a necessity to get the film finished. I felt a bit awkward about asking people for money, and still do, so I set initial target quite low at £500. It was a figure I could make the film on and I thought we could raise that amount within 30 days. We did it in a week. The whole experience has been wonderful so far! The generosity of people has been astounding.
FromPage2Screen:Is there a guarantee that the film will be completed? My question is, from an investor side of things what sort of guarantee does fundraising offer anyone donating money?
Chip:The film will most definitely be completed, hopefully before the end of October. Now I know we are successfully raising money, I can start to plan ahead. I’ve already looked into holding auditions up in London to cast the rest of the film and have started to organise dates for the shoot with my trusty crew.
For any size donation to ‘Laughter of the World’, you would receive a DVD copy of the film once it’s finished, as well as your name in the end credits, thanking you for making the film possible. I will also be keeping a list of e-mail addresses of all those who have donated so I can inform them where the film will be screening (we’ll be submitting it to many short film competitions and festivals) so if it is near showing near them, they can come along, see the film on the big screen along with their name and also to give me a chance to meet them face to face and give them a personal thank you.
FromPage2Screen:Other than financing, do you feel there is any other assistance people can give to get involved and help you complete projects?
Chip:I always say when plugging my fundraising that if you can’t donate, then please retweet and share the link so we can attempt to reach as many people as possible. That is just as appreciated as someone donating to the film. The fact someone believes in the project enough to share it with the people they know really does mean a lot.
Other than that, networking is also important, especially for future projects. I’m working with very limited equipment, the camera and editing programme I use combined are around thirty years old! Not exactly brand spanking new equipment. So you never know when someone might have a nice HD camera or some editing facilities they’re not using one weekend which they might consider loaning out to help a fellow filmmaker. And an extra pair of hands is always useful on a set and of course that works both ways. I love being on a film set, whether I’m directing or just making the tea
FromPage2Screen:Once completed, what is your plan for the journey of the film? Whats next once the film is completed?
Chip:To get it seen! I’ll be looking at what budget we have left and see what short film competitions and festivals are coming up and get it out to as many of them as possible. I’m always working on scripts and such, then it’ll be a case of seeing what I want to shoot next. I might even attempt a bigger crowd fund raiser, to make a more ambitious project
FromPage2Screen: And finally, someone reading this who has a question or perhaps several questions to ask about your project.
How approachable are you to answering questions about the project. How can they contact you?
Chip I’m more than happy to answer any questions! Another positive thing about crowd funding is being able to interact with everyone who donates. That’s been amazing! To get in contact you can e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org, find me on Twitter @Thompson_film, and there’s my youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/ChipThompsonVlog/videos and of course, the crowd funding site http://www.sponsume.com/user/16158/projects:
FromPage2Screen I would very much like to thank you Chip, for taking the time to answer these questions for me. I know I for one will be keeping an eye on your progress and very much look forward to seeing the film upon release as well as chatting to you online as we have been. Good luck with all your ventures.