Pitch Feedback

While there was a lot of overwhelming and heartening positive feedback surrounding my pitch, I found that one particular element of feedback stuck out to me and was almost universal amongst the panel.

That this world I had created was a very familiar one, with a strange and intriguing new twist (the incorporation of the “Duck and Cover” ritual).

For me, this feedback was interesting because it represented my work’s connection and disparity from a conventional view of a “propaganda town”.

Being someone who blatantly rejects convention in many ways, I enjoyed this explanation of my world, as it showed its progression from the comforting world we have come to know quite well in recent times, with films such as Pleasantville () and The Stepford Wives () using this ideological facade to reveal the inner workings beneath; to my absurd version of events leaning more towards a Charlie Kaufman film. It was great to hear that this ‘method’ of transitioning from the familiarity of genre and convention, into the absurd is a good way to convey complex ideas. I definitely agree with this statement, as I have found that it is easier to ease an audience into the absurdity and the deeper message. When dealing with complex issues, sometimes the use of subtlety to portray your message, is a better course of action than beating them over the heads with it.

I guess this makes my film quite like the young protagonist, comfortable until something tells her she should pull a string and reveal what is beneath, starting the tumble of events. In this way, her questioning and deciding to pull that string is the inciting incident and the beginning of the absurdity curve.

The absurdity, of course, begins as soon as the “Duck and Cover” ritual begins. It was great to hear how this distinguishing element was what truly allowed for this disunity from convention. This element was described as “original” and “taking something factual and real out of context and taking it to its limits”. I enjoyed these descriptions as it showed that this element of reality, although an absurd use of it, conveyed the strange reality and likeness to our own current situation. The era of fake news and Donald Trump/Putin, taken to the nth degree.

It was great to hear that my pitch was almost as though I were pitching my idea for real, out there in the industry. I really appreciated hearing this, because not only did it make me feel confident within my own idea, but it made me feel as though this idea, and possibly others would be successful pitches and move through various stages of production to get to the final point – being able to see my ideas on the big screen.

I learnt a lot from this pitch session and the subsequent feedback. Especially seeing how this process of ideation and pitching works in screenwriting. This has only affirmed my dream of one-day writing and directing my work in a larger context to larger audiences.

Exploration of a New and Exciting Possible World

For me, I find that there always seem to be too many possibilities, too many ideas to narrow in on one particular one. But more importantly, an idea I am attached to, something that I want to explore and develop, not simply an idea for a grade.

This meant getting every idea I had out on paper. Mind maps, I must admit, have always been dear friends to me. Through mind-mapping my ideas, I have found that the ideas I am least attached to, but would almost always inevitably come first, are put on the page and never really become a creative niggle again. I decided to create two mind maps. The first of which was centered around the idea of space:

Every ‘space’ I thought of was a world within itself. This, to me, was an exploration of the setting of whatever idea I chose. An exploration and freeing up of possibilities, the more abstract and absurd the better. In fact, the idea of a rocket in space was the final idea added to the mind map, as it didn’t feel right not having something so bleedingly obvious on there.

The thing I like the most about both of these mind maps is that there are infinite possibilities, an infinite number of ways each ‘space’ can be envisioned/mind-mapped and can create its own world with its own internal logic, culture, etc.

This is where I went off on a more precise track. An exploration of what I like and would want in a world:

This mind map distorts and dodges convention and realism at every turn. I have always been an absurdist at heart and this mind map really allowed me to realise that. In fact, the world I chose in the end was one of the examples I used on the mind map. It was originally the rules of the world that I came up with, that at a specified and unified time in the day, everyone on this street exits their houses and does something ridiculous. When pitching my idea to my table, that was when I inserted that they would all shout “hail Caesar”, but talking about it with my table made me realise that this act could be replaced with anything ridiculous and out of place and still work. This led me to a PSA that I have used in my previous work, in a found footage documentary by the same name:


This PSA is originally from 1951. It was used to control the emotions of the public in a dire time, when many were questioning their safety and the capability of the government to stop imminent nuclear bomb attacks. The ‘Duck and Cover’ technique was useless against a nuclear strike.

Because of the facade of this PSA, it has more dimensions than simply yelling “Hail Caesar”. Since the ultimate purpose of this PSA is to control the emotions of the public, it allows for this ‘propaganda town’ to take on more of a controlled internal logic, given the context of the “Duck and Cover” message.

I found myself inspired for this idea of a world (in which the internal logic seems to be that of reality with one simple twist), by many of my favourite films and writers, as the idea seemed to be reminiscent of their own works. From The Lobster (2015, Lanthimos), to Being John Malkovich (1999, Jonze) and Adaptation (2002, Jonze), each world has a strange, seemingly minor tweak to the logic of the film that allows the tiniest pull to unravel an entirely new and absurd plot.

I was also inspired by Franz Kafka and Samuel Beckett, both of whose works explore the way habits and social constructs affect how we live in different situations and determine our own internal working logic.

This idea is intensely political and has a clear agenda. For me, this is the only way to work. Just like blatant propaganda, everything we make is communicating a message, so you might as well communicate a message you want to be propagated. A message you would be proud to debate about. I want this film to promote critical thinking and awareness of messages being propagated to them every day. As this world is intended to critique human behaviour, but most importantly complacency and gullibility, I hope it will achieve this goal. Coming away from this film I want the audience to question their own internal logic and rules, and ask themselves, why.