TF 1: "WHAT'S IN A NAME?"

or "Would a cheap film by any other name be just as avoidable?"


By

Hugh Moir

 

Thingy


Noun

1 - Temporary name for something or someone. Used when memory fails.

“You know, Thingy, who makes those funny films we saw that time.”


Adjective

1 - Used when words fail to capture a description successfully.

“It was so thingy! You’ll just have to see it for yourself. Words don’t do it justice.”


2 - Term used by Daniel Hutchings to differentiate his feature-length art comedies from other low/micro/no budget movies and festival films.

“It might not be much of a movie, but it was certainly a terrific Thingy!”


Thingy, thingy, thingy! That’s all I hear, all day long! Daniel Hutchings, the human responsible for the camcorder home movies Django Away! and Freelance Giggle-oh, has what he calls “a deep affinity” with the term Thingy. Feeling it best describes the results of his approach to filmmaking and performance, he uses it often to describe everything, from the abstract to the banal. Having been involved in some form or another in all of Hutchings’ work since his 2011-12 webseries Hutchings’ Half Minute, I can say that the more he uses it, the more he feels he is accurately communicating his thoughts. From my perspective, I feel the opposite is true. The word is only given meaning by its context, not Hutchings’ intent, which quite often results in hilarity and sometimes even a productive miscommunication. Hutchings always seems pleased by such scenarios. Perhaps the laughter brings him joy. Perhaps he enjoys people coming up with their own meanings. Perhaps he is more interested in these meanings than his own.


We have often talked about the value of films made for little money with a lot of passion. No interesting conclusions were ever drawn, but a repeating theme occurred: that films that are less indebted to making an immediate financial return can offer a terrific freedom of topic and experimentation in their filmmaking. That these films would be bound by a lack of resource for manifesting the experimentations effectively never seemed to be an issue for Hutchings as he believes that these limitations are part of what they offer, not what should be tolerated in the name of fairness.


Hutchings’ filmmaking methods are often closer to a sculpting process than a filmmaking one: adding material, shaping it, removing some, smoothing it, adding texture, and all as one organic process. For him, the comparisons between Thingymaking and budgeted movie-making is not that appropriate.


“Zero budget is a medium, not a price. Like comparing oil paintings to watercolours: both are paintings but direct comparisons are not that useful. Like comparing a fountain pen to a felt tip, both have different uses and qualities and are used for different reasons.”


I guess that's a way of saying appreciate what Thingy is, not what Thingy ain't.


If you are reading this book, then you are probably interested in making a film in some way. Maybe you’re sitting in your bedroom toying with making something, maybe you’re several features into a career and wondering what to make next. Whatever your situation, I hope Thingyfesto helps you realise your project in some way and, if it does, do get in touch! All of us here at Presents Inc really enjoy seeing feature-length films, made in different ways, from a wide variety of people, from different places with different faces. Like Snide said, "it takes all sorts to make a world".


So here it is, Thingyfesto! A little book of inspiration for filmmakers to carry in their pocket for whenever practical advice is needed or when morale is low and progress slow.


Good luck in all your filmmaking endeavours you stranger we’ve not met yet.


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