Case Study: Bouba & Kiki

A young librarian suffering from a strange form of synaesthesia where he associates the sound of voices with flavours, is lured out of his self-appointed recluse when he meets a young jazz singer whose voice doesn't seem to have any flavour at all.

Jack Goessens is a Dutch-born, UK based writer/director. Jack studied creative writing and literature in evening classes during his  economics/business degree. As he was mostly interested in screenwriting, he then followed some classes in directing and consequently got into the filmmaking BA at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

“Don’t wait too long to shoot an idea you have.

                    Just do it.”

Why synesthesia?

“I initially got the idea for Bouba & Kiki from a friend who told me that she could taste names. This led me to research synesthesia and realise that I have it a little bit as well, but with numbers and colours. At the time I was studying film at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and this became one of the stories that I developed there as a potential graduation film but eventually shelved.”

A self-funded showcase piece

“After graduation I missed the support and feedback from other writers and teachers. I attended talent development and funding organisations but quickly learned you have to have had some level of success already to be picked up. I decided I was going to self-fund a short to use as a showcase piece and Bouba & Kiki seemed like the one that I could most realistically do on a low budget. During this time, I wrote a lot of different drafts of the script and even started from scratch again a few times. I tend to move back and forth between outlines and scripts drafts when I write anyway because it gives me a better overview of the storyline. The soundtrack was very important for this film so I’d often listen to the type of music that I wanted to use (jazz) for this while writing. Sometimes I even wrote in the library that I eventually ended up filming in.”

Winning is a good start

“Even though I had decided to self-fund, I did still submit the script to places as I found it a good way to learn if the story was working or not. When the script made quarter-finalist for the Shorescripts script competition I decided it was time to shoot and started pre-production. I found most of the cast and crew through people I had studied with at the RCS. I finally submitted the project to the Glasgow Short Film Festival for their GSFF Production Attic Pitch, which would mean getting free equipment and £400 to make the film. When I won the pitch, it was only 3 more weeks until the actual shoot but having the support from such a prestigious film festival really helped.”

Watch this short and more at Euregion Film Fest 2019

Pre and post

“Pre-production was tough because unlike when I filmed things before, I was now also working 45 hours a week while preparing for the shoot. The cinematographer who worked on the film lives and works in Germany so communicating long distance was difficult but luckily I’ve been working with him for so many years that we have a shorthand. It was a great learning experience as I’d never done such a big shoot before. We did run out of time on the shoot and I ended up dropping a few things to do as pick-ups later.”

“Because I work in post-production this part was the easiest. I didn’t want to wear too many hats so I asked my colleagues to help me. When I direct I have an idea of how it will cut together in my head already so the edit was fairly fast. Once we had a cut, I showed it to a few people for feedback and incorporated that in the pick-ups.”

A good sign for things to come

“A week before the screening at the Euregion Film Festival, the film is premiering as part of the Glasgow Short Film Festival’s Scottish Competition. This is a BAFTA and BIFA qualifying festival so hopefully a good sign for things to come.”

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