FRAGILE: IDEAS – THIS WAY UP: Remembering Brain Freeze

Four years ago, I assembled a group of friends and we made a film. We didn’t set out to blow our minds or create something of undeniable genius or change the world; we set out to make a film, have fun, and feel as though we’d created something special and wonderful out of a bunch of words on a page. That was our goal, our sole reason.
In a nutshell, the film – brain freeze – is about Leonard, a struggling author, and his attempts to end the writers’ block that has been plaguing him for the past eon. Onceuponatime, he was a successful author, but he hasn’t written anything for months. Desperate and at his wit’s end, he decides to go into his mind to see what old ideas he can use. But as he soon finds out, his characters have other ideas.
Working from a stage-play by a good friend, I tried to add a synthesis of a number of the ideas and influences that made up my world at that point in time, thus putting my own stamp on the screenplay. There were echoes of Doctor Who, Life on Mars, Paganini, Debussy, Max Steiner, Sherlock Holmes-via-Dirk Gently, Narnia and Peter Pan, and somehow or other we made it work. As the director, I wanted to keep a certain book-like aesthetic to the piece, so each of Leonard’s characters was costumed as an homage to the books he was inspired by, by the literary worlds and genres the characters inhabited. And though they mightn’t show up on the film, each of the books Leonard – and I – was paying homage to ended up in the pile on his desk.
It was a project that allowed all of us to muck around and enjoy ourselves whilst simultaneously working towards something bigger, something that we could keep as a record of those three mad days in July 2008. If anything, it wasn’t so much the film as the making of the film that I remember most, four years later, and the license we gave ourselves to create something that was unbounded by anything other than combined our imaginations, skills, talents, and passions.
Liz, our wonderful director of photography, says on her blog: “I see the film now… and realise that it doesn’t quite hold the aesthetic value we once thought, but that doesn’t detract from the magic of it. For all of us, it was about what cinema could be. We had created something that momentarily transported us, and that was bold.” Similarly, for me, the most rewarding part of the project – and indeed any project I work on – comes not through the end product, but the journey to get there: within the words and fabric of each project is a record of the bloodsweatandtears spilt, the trials and struggles and hurdles we had to overcome, the dreams and ideas we were tying to explore, the fun and thrilling sense of accomplishment we had whilst we were in the thick of it, the passion and thrilling daring of the first germ of the idea. Watching brain freeze now, I get the same adrenaline-pumping buzz as I had on those sets, of being with nine friends in the empty darkly-lit room of the inside of Leonard’s mind, as we ran around and acted out dreams. 
As I write this, I’m working on three separate projects, each of which is driven by a thrilling sense of exploring the unknown territory of an idea, of watching a thought-acorn grow into its oak tree and climbing its branches while it’s still maturing. Some days I feel as though I’m on a tall-ship heading into the unchartered waters of dreams, fierce beasts and sea-dragons marked in empty spaces, and for all I know, those beasts exist. But not once do I wish I hadn’t embarked on a project, because I don’t like where it’s going or how it’s turned out. Since we made brain freeze – and screened it to our friends and families six-and-a-half months later – there have only been a handful of projects that I’ve worked on that have made me hum with the same excitement as brain freeze did. But every single project has been worth it because I’ve allowed myself to dream, to follow those dreams wherever they lead. And that is why I write, why I made brain freeze in the first place: to follow the dreams…

We recently made brain freeze viewable on the internet via Hipster Pictures, and it can be found below:

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