Aims: What Are We Trying To Achieve?

Over the next few months I'm going to do my best to not only keep you updated with our progress as we begin shooting Play It Safe, but to also fill you in on its development during 2011. The first step in charting our journey must be a discussion of the aims I had when I set out to make Play It Safe.

As I famously exclaimed to my co-writer Jack White one night back in early 2011: “If I’m doing things then I want to be doing them, not like not doing them!” In some ways this eloquent statement sums up what Play It Safe has been about from the beginning. Namely, I wanted to make a feature film!

After years of making short films and then music videos I needed a change. In late 2010 I decided to take a risk and make my first feature film. I also decided that I wanted to get it done as soon as possible. There were a few external factors in this, but primarily I just wanted to force myself to get it done. I'd heard many stories about films ending up in development hell, just gestating for years and years. I didn't want to go through that. I didn't have a concept that I was precious about and would give up anything to realise. I just wanted to direct a movie. If someone handed me a great script that I could direct on a micro-budget, then I would have just done it. Unfortunately that wasn’t really an option for me, so the next best thing was to just do it myself.

I love (and also loathe) writing, but it wasn't (and still isn't) my primary aim to work as a writer. I wanted work as a director. I wanted to make films. And any kind of screenplay that Jack and I were going to write needed to feed into that, regardless of how much we might want to write about explosions and dragons and all those other awesome things. I needed a screenplay that I could shoot as soon as possible! I wasn't interested in developing a spec script that I would probably never be able to sell or get funded.

That's what I meant when I said “If I’m doing things then I want to be doing them, not like not doing them!” I certainly could have put it better, but that sentiment has guided everything we have done since then. It might be fun to imagine a grand epic, but if it can't be realised with the resources we have then it's not a road we can go down. I've mentioned before that working with limitations can have a lot of benefits, and this has definitely been true with Play It Safe so far. Our focus on practicality has forced us to be really creative, and consequently I think that the final film will be a lot more nuanced and interesting than if we just threw in a few CGI dragons and explosions. (Although I guess you guys will be the final judge of that.)

That's all for today. Coming up soon will be the next stage: Defining some commandments that were essential in creating the screenplay.

Chris Pahlow

Chris Pahlow is an independent writer/director currently in post-production on his debut feature film PLAY IT SAFE. Chris has been fascinated with storytelling since he first earned his pen license and he’s spent the last ten years bringing stories to life through music videos, documentaries, and short films.