“The Closure”: Adapting Theatre to Film and Writing for Low Budget

19 Feb

Even though I have been recently very busy with the documentary, I have not forgotten about all those fiction projects that have been dusting in the drawers. So with the days getting that bit longer and some sun coming my way, I started itching to do some story led film.

Making a low- or more precisely no-budget movie is an art on its own. The path to success is laid with a number of obstructions, mostly due to the lack of money.

One of the project I was considering was a short theatre play I directed over a year ago and had been planning to adapt for a screen ever since. The writer, Doc Watson, made an awesome job by setting the action in one room, a large, empty basement. A genius concept for a theatre play. No furniture, limited props, open space. Brilliant. Yet, for a short film you need to have an actual large and empty basement, which is not so common, especially in London, where every square meter is utilised for accomodation. Not to mention that getting it for free is nearly impossible.  This was mainly why I hadn’t had a chance of making the film so far. However, this time I was very lucky as I found out that one of my recently made friends had an access to a large basement and an empty house for sale. Perfect! That was exactly what I needed.

Without much thinking, my talented cinematographer and a friend Martyna and I set up a very short deadline and sent out casting calls. One would ask why I needed to cast again, having worked on the play before. Well, I was very pleased with my actors who took part in the theatre production,but the idea I had for film called for different physical appearance of both actors. This just shows how what a difficult and ungrateful profession acting can be.

As our posts are being verified and approved by casting websites and we can start receiving applications from actors (fingers crossed!), I have time to adapt the script to a screenplay.
A theatre play usually requires more dialog than a screenplay. In film characters’ thoughts or emotions can be communicated through specific images that are impossible to create on a stage. Visualising the possible shots can be dangerously exciting and it’s easy to go wild. Unfortunately, writing for low budget requires following certain rules.

Kim Simone and Mark Postgate in 'Closure' by Doc Watson, directed by me

Kim Simone and Mark Postgate in ‘Closure’ by Doc Watson, directed by me

Yet, right at the beginning of the work, I nearly made a classic mistake by plotting the action in too many locations. Luckily, I stopped myself as soon as I wrote the first scene. Careful, not too waste my time again, I looked up at some online articles about the topic of writing for low-budget. I linked them up for you at the bottom of this post.

Here is our casting post for The Closure:
‘The Closure’ is a story of a man hunted by his relative’s crime. It asks a question about the dark side of a human mind and how much of it we share with our family.
Mr Willis, Male, 35-55
At first, Mr Willis comes across as confident, powerful man. Yet as the story develops he reveals a troubled psyche and ill fascination with his relative’s past actions that mades him question his own sanity. This is a great and challenging role for a male actor. It requires a wide range of emotions presented in a short time. An actor playing this role needs to be able to ooze the cold and threatening confidence of Hannibal Lecter, dangerous innocence of Norman Bates and break down to child-like sobs at the end. A striking physics would be an advantage.

Anna Smith, Female, 20-35 

Anna is a young and a bit too eager to succeed estate agent. Tempted by a potential quick sale and large bonus, she falls into the trap of a kidnaper. This role requires an actress with a mixture of subtle comic skills and an ability to present believable and complex emotional responses to the threat her character is under.

This production company has signed up to the <a href=’http://www.protectingactors.org/terms.php’>Protecting Actors Casting Agreement</a>, helping to ensure all actors involved receive a copy of the final footage in a timely fashion.

Protecting Actors : SHIELD:5295
<a href=’http://www.protectingactors.org/production.php?uid=5295′><img src=’http://www.protectingactors.org/img/badge.jpg&#8217; width=”200″ height=”76″></a>


Writing scripts for a low budget features: Reservoir Dogs as a Model by Script Teach

8 Secrets to Writing a Low Budget Screenplay by ZedFest


Adapting from Theatre to Film by Mikuro.Mak-Sima

20 Greatest Stage to Screen Adaptations by GeekWeek

2 Responses to ““The Closure”: Adapting Theatre to Film and Writing for Low Budget”

  1. Jaye P March 4, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    This sounds like an interesting project. It would be great to be involved in something like this!!

    • mallywinifilms March 4, 2014 at 7:18 pm #

      Thank you, Jeye P. I already have a team for this project, but if you stayed tuned there will be some new projects, hopefully soon. Thanks for reading the post.

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