Sunday Shorts: Green River Part Two

Written and Directed by Nicholas Andrews
Produced by Lauren Orrell, Nicholas Andrews
Starring Rosie Keogh, Lauren Orrell, Hannah Goodwin, Peter Maple

1984. Small town USA. Over 40 women are dead. Troubled by the death of her close friend, Rebecca’s grief quickly manifests into a morbid series of encounters and uninvited guests.

Unfortunately we’re only discussing the release of Part Two at this time. In late 2017 we lost a much respected cast member under horrific circumstances, and out of respect for the family, have to withhold Part One at this time. Despite this, the content below applies to both parts of the production.

Article by Nicholas Andrews

Green River – Part Two is a surreal, fictional adaptation of the events surrounding Gary Ridgway – The Green River Killer – a narrative that explores the lives of those that lived amidst this horror, and the effect it had on them. It was crucial to depict this from the female perspective without the glorification of violence and present a meditation on loss that is as raw and delicate as the subject matter itself.

The project is an attempt at creating a real filmic vibe. Design and execution had to be heavily entwined with an extreme attention to detail, hopefully creating an authenticity that stands well above its budget and logistical constraints.

Having operated independently throughout my creative pursuits for over 10 years, I knew that I had to self-fund the film, not only to ensure it actually got finished, but to avoid the unnecessary red tape that comes from borrowing funds or favours. However, while I firmly believe that no one believes in your work as much as you do, pouring your own money into the filmmaking sieve isn’t without its drawbacks.

Stress, anger and confusion float around my head every day, and are only amplified by the filmmaking process. Throw hard-earned ‘rent-mortgage-holiday-savings’ money into that equation and the water becomes considerably murky. While I’m proud of the work, the input to output satisfaction ratio is a hard figure to calculate. While it is obvious money stands in the way of most filmmaker’s ideas going unrealised, having the luxury of paying your way doesn’t make the process of filmmaking any easier – during or after the film is completed.

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To anyone who hasn’t yet begun or completed their long-gestating creative project, the biggest question you should be asking yourself every step of the way is: ‘Will anybody even read/watch/listen to what I’ve created?’. The answer is yes, in some capacity, but that real number could be very underwhelming.

Green River – Part One and Part Two flew well under the radar during festival submissions throughout 2017 – all 30+ of them; too long, too intense, perhaps on the nose given our social-political climate, or it just simply went unwatched. That’s what the analytics and automated rejection letters have lead me to believe. The work is certainly capable and everyone has done a fantastic job in all departments, but once again – that guarantees you nothing.

Ever since the film was made available online, less than a third of viewers have made it to the end. Not even the entire cast and crew has got behind generating awareness for its release, even with self-promotion at the very core of social media. Had I known this sort of information going into filming, would I have continued making it? Maybe not. Would I have gutted the script and made something more palatable? Probably. Would the reception have been different? Who knows.

While it is often said creatives create for themselves, the very fact we release our work out into the world – for pleasure, purchase, kudos or recognition – highlights the reciprocal nature or sharing creative content. If no one engages with it, whether they love it or hate it, is it truly worth doing? How much is enough? Where has everyone’s attention spans gone? I wrestle with these thoughts all the time.

If nothing else, I hope the Green River project encourages others to own pursue their own work, their own way, but be mindful that your place in your chosen creative ecosystem isn’t one you control. What happens to your work beyond completion is an unknown mixture of talent, luck and timing. The fact that anyone engages with it at all is a privilege, but the risk of failure or dissatisfaction must always be weighted equally against that itch to simply tell a good story.

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