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The Firm – crowdfunding, crew, and pre-production

Film director Maxwell Morrison on his latest short film ‘The Firm’ and his efforts to get it financed through crowdfunding.

The Firm film poster

“I try to push ideas away, and the ones that will not leave me alone are the ones that ultimately end up happening”.

This fantastic quote from JJ. Abrams helps to describe what my next short film ‘The Firm’ is all about – an idea that didn’t go away.

I’m Maxwell Morrison, and I am the director, producer and writer on the upcoming British short film ‘The Firm’. I’m 19 years old and based in North Yorkshire. Making films is my passion, specifically writing and directing, but I’m passionate about the whole process.

I’m currently looking to make several shorts over the next year and a half, with the goal of producing my debut feature film towards the end of 2019.

This article is the first in a series of articles featuring exclusively right here on Filmburner.com regarding the entire process from start to finish of making ‘The Firm’.

Around 2 years ago, I began writing the screenplay for this project that I thought would never actually get made. Why? Because I love writing, and I love writing films. After running the script through several draft stages and working on it over the course of a few months, I decided to leave it where it was, and eventually began to forget about it. At the time I was still in school, working hard to achieve half decent exam results, and my focus and time for filmmaking was forcibly diluted, which is something I didn’t want to happen – but at the time, had to. This led to the slowdown of scripts I was writing, and of course, one of the main reasons why ‘The Firm’ was forgotten about and never developed further.

However, just over three weeks ago now, an actor I have worked with previously contacted me with an idea. The idea being that we shoot ‘The Firm’ and make it happen because of its potential to be a brilliant short. The actor himself had seen a copy of ‘The Firm’ back when I wrote it, but like I said, it was a project that never materialised. I was on board with the idea straight away, and for the first time in nearly two years re-opened the last draft of the screenplay and began working on it, relentlessly.

I loved the idea then, and I love it even more now. The film itself follows the short story of a criminal defence lawyer’s alleged betrayal of one of his most notorious clients, in a series of events that result in a dark and twisted outcome. After making more amends to the script and re-writing some key scenes, I was ready to crew up for my project and get the thing moving.

After bringing on board a camera team, led by a talented and experienced cinematographer, I was already incredibly confident in the fact that ‘The Firm’ was going to look visually very impressive. After securing an equally as talented sound recordist and other crew members who were willing to work for food and expenses only – the crew for the project was set.

A late decision I made to secure some sort of small funding for the film was to set up a crowdfunding page, on which to date, we’ve raised a fantastic £420 so far.

To me, the crowd funder was essential to the project in the sense that it would allow me to be able to look after a very dedicated crew who I’d got to work for free; to provide a small budget for the camera and lighting department as well as to secure a couple of fantastic locations I really wanted to film in. The exact locations themselves are still being tied down, with more scouting planned for this Friday coming up, I’m very excited to fully secure one of the several dynamic locations we really want to film in. For me, a location tells a lot of the story already, from the moment the first establishing shot is shown to a viewer, half the story of that scene needs to have been told already in that one shot. The rest of course is down to the way the scene plays out from a visual, performance, sound and direction point of view, but locations are incredibly important to me personally.

All of this said and done brings us up to the present day, where preproduction is in full swing and the whole team is already working hard to ensure we’re ready to make some movie magic when shooting arrives. The project so far has been largely successful in the sense that we’ve not had any major hiccups yet, but it is inevitable in the film industry that these will come at some point soon. With this film involving a fast-paced, dramatic scene on a bicycle, one of our main shooting challenges will be to shoot that successfully, which myself and the director of photography are currently working on.

With this being part 1, in a series of articles written regarding the ‘The Firm’ keep your eyes peeled for the next chapter full of shooting updates, inside behind the scenes stories from the shoot itself, and more news anticipating the general and festival releases of this very exciting project!

At time of writing we’re just £180 away from our final target of £600. If you haven’t already, please visit our Crowdfunder page and go and follow our Twitter account @TheFirmFilm for production updates and exciting behind the scenes exclusives!

The main reward for backing the film is knowing that the film gets made, and being part of that! Rewards go from £10.00 for updates on the production process; all the way to premium rewards like an executive producer credit.

With your support I’m going to attempt to get this film made and invite you to come along for the ride—for the crowdfunding process, the shoot, the edit, and the premiere!

But first we must make the film! So please support ‘The Firm’ — a short film unlike any other! Thank you.

Maxwell Morrison is a director/producer/writer based in York. He is currently studying politics and philosophy at the University of York, but hopes to one day go into filmmaking full time. He has a keen interest in short films, television dramas, and documentary filmmaking. He is looking to release his first feature film by the end of 2019.

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