Here is the story of "Homegrown." A film about a woman that decides to grow a man! This is probably the best of the films I have done (which I admit is not saying much) and probably the most technically successful. In the sense that although we had many disasters we overcame them and eventually had a coherent film to show. We also had a lot of fun.
As is always the case, it could not have been done without the hard work, kindness and generosity of so very many people and I thank you all. I wrote the script and directed and I must admit that many of the things that went wrong have to be blamed on the director. One of the jobs of a director is to bring order out of chaos and I should have done the pre planning better and checked the equipment we hired better and done more rehearsals and etc, etc, etc. One day I would like to do it again. On the other hand when I remember how much work went into fifteen minutes of footage - not just on the day but for weeks beforehand and many, many more weeks afterwards - maybe not! The story line is pretty simple.
1. Woman plants dildo and grows a man.
2. Woman digs up man, washes off the mud and then exit to the bedroom.
3. Romance and tenderness flower.
4. Man discovers beer, footy and bludging.... and other woman.
5. Man is recycled.
6. Plan "B". The woman starts to grow a woman.
7. Then the film ends.
But as the author I can assure you that she finds deep and abiding happiness! The day we filmed was utterly atrocious. High winds, driving rain and a top of 15C. The weather was sometimes so bad that even indoors we had to stop filming because of the noise. Maggie Miles (our wonderful actress) had to dress for most scenes as if it was summer and we had to film the outdoor shots between rain and (literally) hail. Our sound guy had managed to score some equipment from his work (let's not name names here). But it didn't match up with our camera. No harm in trying is there? Except he turned off the microphone while he was fiddling and we didn't record a single second of sound the entire day! We had to re-record ambient sound and dub it back in later. Luckily I wrote the script with no dialogue. So it could have been worse (I suppose).
But there were a few things I learnt that I would like to share. Write a script you can actually do that maximises the resources to hand. I had access to a perfect house with the perfect garden. I deliberately had no dialogue because I knew that would make everything easier. Check the equipment you borrow or hire BEFORE you actually use it so you can come up with alternatives if you have to (the camera we hired didn't come with a cable to download onto a computer).
Put everything you need to do on paper. Pre plan! You will inevitably have to improvise at times but try as much as you can to be prepared. Rehearse the crew as well as the actors. Remember food and drink. Everyone is working for free. The least you can do is feed them. Film alternate scenes. Sometimes you can't tell what will work on film until you see it on screen. Give yourself some alternatives. Film everything at least three times. There is nothing worse than being forced to use a crappy scene because you don't have anything else you can use.
The script for Home Grown
An amateur film production.
1 Opening shot is of the woman pottering around in a large garden shed as the title and some credits roll over the top. She is putting things in her gardening basket – a trowel, a hand rake, fertiliser, etc.
2 Woman walks into a garden dressed in classic “gardening” clothes. She is in plain, prim, sturdy “work” clothes with a floppy straw hat and gloves and is carrying a basket full of gardening implements. She is youngish middle aged and somewhat plain.
3 She does all the usual things that people do in the garden before they actually start to garden. She picks up a few stray leaves, prunes a few undisciplined twigs, turns on flowerbed irrigation. It will be a continuous long shot (to show how immaculate the garden is) with the occasional close up of her actually doing the actions.
4 She kneels down next to a freshly turned flowerbed after having put down a small mat (so her knees don’t get dirty), lays out some gardening tools and begins digging a small hole as if preparing to plant something. Scene 4 will be from the front (slightly offset), looking down at her and the fussily neat array of gardening implements. Then a close up of her as she begins digging.
5 We do close ups from different angles to suggest the passage of time. In the next scene the camera is to her 10 o’clock and far enough out to show her and the basket.
6 She takes the cover cloth off the basket and neatly folds it and puts it to one side. From the basket she pulls out a large, pink, plastic dildo and gently (even lovingly) plants it in the hole. (close up at this point) She covers it up and waters it with a sprinkler.
7 The last shot is a medium shot of her smiling in satisfaction as she waters her “plant”.
8 There are a number of scenes that suggest the passing of time. The woman moving around in the garden – each time in different clothes and at different times of the day. We see her watering the “plant”, applying fertiliser, etc, etc. For scene 8 we do a number of long shots showing her and the garden but from at least three different angles.
9 We show the sun and lengthening shadows and end with a sunset. We fast forward the film.
10 She returns to the garden bed. We see her with a trowel, gently scraping away dirt. Eventually there is a large (man sized) hole. She reaches in and can be seen pulling, or trying to pull, something out of the large hole. She moves to a different side and then another side. Obviously trying to pull something out of the hole. Finally, she is successful. She pulls a leg out of the hole.
For this scene the opening shot is of her laying down her little mat and grabbing tools out of her basket. The shot is then taken from very low looking up so that the audience cant tell how shallow the dirt is.
11 Close up on leg.
12 In the next scene the camera follows a furrow in the dirt, followed by a trail of dirt leading into the back door. The camera follows the trail into the bathroom where the woman is washing something large but indistinct in the bathtub. It is covered in mud and the water is black. We see flashes and glimpses of what seems to be an earth covered man being scrubbed with a stiff brush.
Scene A. We see the woman standing next to the flowerbed holding a shovel. We see a very close shot of the shovel entering the ground. The scene cuts to the hole after it has been dug.
Scene B. The camera is very low down – peeking over the edge of the ring of dirt (so we cant see how shallow the hole is. Out of focus and to the side we can see the girl dragging something large and man shaped across the lawn. We hear her grunting – obviously putting in a lot of effort.
Scene C. Close up of the woman's hands turning on both bath taps as hard as they will go. – steam rises up. We see her across the bath tub a bar of soap in one had and a big stiff brush in the other.
13 The bathroom scene is one establishing shot followed by a large number of very short very close up (but “disconnected”) images that show only the most fragmentary glimpses of what is happening in the bathroom.
14 In the next scene we see a naked man (from the back) standing in a steamy bathroom.
15 The shot in this scene is of the left of the actor (from the back) his arms slightly splayed. The woman is kneeling on the floor next to the bath tub looking up at the man. She scans down slowly until she reaches his crotch. From here we will do three reactions and see what looks best on film.
A she slowly smiles.
B she looks away in embarrassment – and then peeks again out of the corner of her eye and then covers her eyes with her hands.
C raises her eyebrows and makes a face of awe and then grins.
16 The next scene is the man being led by the hand to the bedroom – a towel around his midriff. We get a glimpse of a bed from behind and the door closes in our face.
17 The camera shows them from behind. First we see an empty corridor (well lit) with a room at the end of it. We can see a bed in the room (which is in darkness). The girl leads the man by the hand down the corridor into the bedroom. She shuts the door and we get a couple of seconds of looking at the door.
The door opens and we see her poke arm out - holding the towel. She drops the towel and closes the door!
(Supplementary Scene. We see the man being dressed in a stylish business suit by the girl. She steps back and smiles approvingly.)
18 Eating breakfast together. He takes a flower out of a vase on the table and hands it to her. She smiles lovingly.
19 Man heading off to work, briefcase and newspaper in hand. Big kiss goodbye.
20 we see the front door open. The man has a paper under his arm, a briefcase and is wearing a suit. Go to close up as they kiss. There is a medium shot of the woman smiling and hugging herself in delight after the man is out of shot.
21 Man and woman watch TV, arm in arm, they are watching some chick movie/program (Titanic?). Woman goes out of the room and comes back with a tray with two cups of tea on it.
22 The first shot is of the two arm in arm on a couch dressed in “comfortable” clothes. The man is stroking the woman’s arm lovingly. She gets up and the scene cuts to a brief shot of a boiling kettle with two mugs next to it with tea bag strings hanging over their sides. The scene returns to show a close shot of the guy grabbing the TV remote and suddenly we hear "and he kicks a beautiful goal as the crowd roars….” The man clenches his fist in the “yes, yes” gesture. The camera zooms back to show surprised disapproval on the woman’s face as she stands in the doorway – holding a tray with two cups of tea on it. 23 Man drinking beer in backyard while woman struggles with lawn mower. Man burps
24 The man is lying on a banana lounge wearing raggedy shorts and sunglasses – a beer in hand a few empties around him. The camera is low down and at his feet. The next shot is a wide one showing the man and in the background, the woman struggling to mow the lawn (the sound is overemphasised). The lawnmower sputters and dies (if we can get hold of an old fashioned hand mower that would be even better). Close up from exactly the same angle – man farts.
25 Man walks out of bathroom (scratching his backside) dressed in singlet and boxers and socks (sound of toilet flushing). Woman walks into bathroom and then exits hurriedly, holding her nose.
26 Alternate scene to 25 First shot (if possible) from side and pans to show man scratching bum as he walks away. Fade out and then (from same angle) pan as woman walks into bathroom (sound of door opening and closing).Camera is directly in front of bathroom door as woman hurriedly opened door and rushes out – holding her nose and slamming the door behind her. Then comes back spraying air freshener everywhere.
27 Man comes home at night very drunk – shirt undone, tie askew, jacket disarranged. (The shot is from outside – the man staggering up to the front door until he gets to the pool of light cast by the outside light. The next shot is from behind him as the front door opens – the woman frowns and the man lurches).
We see the man lurching down the hallway the woman guiding him and trying to stop him from knocking things over. He almost knocks over a hallway table and drops his coat. The woman picks it up and notices something about to fall out of the pocket. (The scene cuts to the man dropping into a lounge chair) She pulls whatever it is out of his jacket pocket (A fairly wide shot which cuts to a close up as she…) Drops the jacket to the floor and holds up some sexy looking panties. She frowns at them and a look of decision comes over her face. (The shot changes to the man in the chair for a few seconds, a TV reflecting off his face, then - ) The man leans to the left and does a big fart.
28 (A very wide shot encompassing the entire garden followed by a whole body shot that clearly shows what the woman is doing) The woman is working in the garden again. Dressed in “gardening” clothes with a big floppy hat and gloves. She is aerating the compost heap with a pitch fork. As she turns over some mulch something gets stuck on the tines of the pitchfork. (camera goes to close up) She holds it up for inspection. It is a dismembered hairy male hand. She looks to the left and then looks to the right……….and then (wide shot) hurriedly drops it onto the heap and covers it with compost. (Camera is still a wide shot but different angle)
Alternative Scene 28 (From the other side of a flower bed) We are seeing the woman shovelling dirt onto a suspiciously man shaped pile of dirt. She pats the dirt down with the shovel and puts it down – at the same time she picks up her gardening basket. She walks away.
Scene A. as she walks away - the camera pans down (we can see the entire man shaped pile of dirt) and zooms onto the edge of the pile of dirt. We see the tips of three fingers peeking out of the edge of the pile of dirt.
Alternative Scene B As she walks away there are a number of jump shots that zero onto a small sign that says “compost” . It is held by a human hand sprouting from the soil.
29. Finished, she picks up her “gardening” basket and goes over to the same flower bed that she used before.
(close up from the direct front) She kneels down on her mat and begins to dig a small hole. From a basket next to her she take out a cloth covered object. Taking off the cloth she reveals a plastic, vibrating vagina. (close up on toy and then the camera pulls back) She places it in the hole and covers it with dirt and, as she waters it, she smiles and hums a small note of satisfaction………….hhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmm!
30 A wide shot from very far away which gets bigger and zooms out to show the backyard (maybe try and do it from the roof). The shot ends with the blue sky, white clouds and suburbia.