Creative Projects & Start-ups – Multi-media with Jack Delaney

Next in our Creative Projects series is film & new-media maker Jack Delaney.

Tell us a little bit about your background as a filmmaker and how you go about getting your work out there?

Hello! I studied Broadcast Post Production at Ravensbourne and spent a few years working as an editor before gravitating into directing stuff. It’s a good route to go as you know what coverage you need to get to have a happy time in post. The amount of times as an editor I was handed rushes that just didn’t cut was untold, it meant I never made those mistakes myself. It’s also a good way to craft a story.

I made several shorts whilst still at Uni but wanted to push things further – there’s so so many shorts out there as the barrier to entry is so low now that it’s hard to a) stand out and b) make any money. I started making a fair few music videos – people will actually pay for them, not a huge amount but enough to get them made without cutting corners and you have a pretty large amount of creative freedom.

I applied for a job looking for director/producers for a new media soap series, although soap wasn’t my kind of thing I applied and landed the gig directing a story arc. I got to work on the script and make it more my own, probably far too dark for a soap but that’s what I wanted to do, the production company were pretty good in that regard. I shot 16 episodes of that, then 2 more stories after. Then I got chatting with the Exec about pitching a few ideas for new shows.

Getting work out there is easy. Getting people to find it and watch it is the tricky thing. That’s why having it app-delivered marks it out as a bit different, plus the company had a fair bit of marketing clout, with it being the world’s first, so they could get some decent heat that way. It really is a numbers game like I say, as there’s like thousands of videos uploaded every day to Youtube, Vimeo etc. and so you need to have a bit of a… well I wont say gimmick, but have an edge which is going to make your stuff stand out for people.

Building a reputation is another tricky one, you can have good work and be respected by your peer group, but they’re just other filmmakers in the same position as you. The people who actually commission stuff and can sign you on to their productions are somewhere else entirely. For me it’s all about just getting on with things and hoping stuff comes together eventually – I do the social media thing with Twitter a bit but I can’t say I’ve got any gigs directly through it…

What is ‘Making Sparks‘? Making Sparks is a wicked cool 7-part supernatural thriller series. Each ep is about 5 minutes long. It’s about Perry, a battle-scarred ex-soldier and his girlfriend Anna. A package from his past leads them to a journey of possessed friends, underground fight clubs, rogue vicars and charity workers dressed as monkeys (no really). Its awesome and you should watch it. Twice.

What do you like about working with new media platforms?
I like the fact that it’s evolving constantly. I love watching flicks, but the feature film has reach that state of stasis decades ago. It’s 90ish minutes to 3 hours long and follows the typical heroes journey path. Of course there’s art house cinema et al, but they don’t get to play with form and tech in the same way as innovative new & trans media does. ‘Making Sparks’ I liken to those little cartoon strips you had in each daily paper, it’s a tit bit of a story told over just a few cells (the newspaper sketch) – or minutes (Making Sparks). But it hopefully has the strength to get you hooked in, just that small space of time, and in today’s environment of constant media distraction I think that’s a real benefit.

It’s worth mentioning I also did a Dungeons & Dragons-esque radio play with Adrian Reynolds, the writer of ‘Sparks. That was more than 7 hours of interactive audio which again is app-delivered. It was wicked fun too and just shows you can draw together on different media to give new sides to each narrative. I’m working on an interactive ‘tell your own story’ type video at the moment where viewers/players choose different routes through the story. It’s challenging but interesting.

How does the process differ from e.g. making a film short?
Not substantially to be honest, I can imagine it’s a lot different for the writer as they have to hit a story beat at the end of each episode, so you’d structure it a fair bit differently as compared with the classic three act or whatever structure. But in terms of the actual filmmaking not much at all it’s the same rehearsals, block shooting, rinse and repeat.

Do you like working on collaborative projects? How do you meet the people you work with?
I love collaboration – I’m not a huge fan of the auteur theory of single authorship. I love sitting with crew in production meetings and figuring out a look and a feel to the thing and seeing what ideas other people bring to the table. Without wanting to sound like a complete wanker, it’s that organic approach which I love about filmmaking – making these intangible, ineffable ideas and feelings into something you can share with an audience – that excites me hugely.

How have you funded your projects?
The shorts at uni I self-funded, they were only a couple hundred quid and I did things like offer to edit actors showreels if they acted in it for free and stuff. The other projects were mostly from production companies or directly from clients or record labels. I haven’t dabbled in crowd funding yet but intend to at some point in the future. It’s pretty inevitable that you’ll be broke as fuck during the first stage of your creative career, that’s why its good to have other skill sets, for instance I have the editing to fall back on if directing work dries up, but (touching every bit of wood I can find here) that hasn’t been the case yet.

Any tips for young people interested in new media artforms? Where do you start with an idea?
That’s a good question. To be honest with you I’m still very much a stranger to all this stuff myself so probably not the best to give advice but I’m excited to see what will come up next.
I think it’s crucial to either get tech savvy yourself or buddy up with someone who is tech savvy. I don’t know the first thing about apps but the prodco I was working for did, and so that worked out. I guess also look at converging two or more well known forms – if they work well enough already on their own perhaps they’ll work as well integrated or combined. Also as with anything – find your demographic and work backwards from there in what you’re trying to produce. Fantasy and supernatural genre stuff has a HUGE following online and lots of blogs and forums. If they like what they see they’ll support it with a zest you wouldn’t get with fans of say, Eastenders who just watch the show. That’s why I wanted to make something within that genre.

Any useful links to internet resources for filmmakers and digital artists?
Here are some of my faves:
The Black and Blue – Tips for camera assistants
BBC The Network Filmmaking Guide
Film School Rejects

Many thanks to Jack Delaney, for more of his work visit his Vimeo page & follow him on Twitter here. More good stuff on the forthcoming Making Sparks right here.

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