Friday, 30 October 2009
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Sunday, 25 October 2009
Monday, 19 October 2009
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
I remember sitting on a train earlier in the year, feeling like a project was about to begin. I wanted a space to write more-- the idea of a blog came up. The idea of an anonymous film blog was certainly appealing. I thought also about an anonymous sex blog, but would only have had enough content for one post.
Thank you for all being here. My hope was to build a little community - to engage on a level with each other that I often find lacking from the industry. I feel we are building that, one follower at a time. You guys really have become my friends - and I am excited whenever you respond. I've been really busy filming over the past few weeks.. that's nearly over, and I'll be making sure I get more involved in all of your blogs again, and help promote and share many more wonderous and often obscure blogs.
Thanks for sticking around.
Part of this lack of energy is that I am very tired. Another part, perhaps, is that I haven't quite formulated my ideas for these blogs. So I figured, rather than wait it out; I would blog about not being ready to blog, and maybe I would touch upon some or none of those topics. And then I'd see where we end up.
Clint Eastwood is awesome, by the way. Did you know that? Like, he's really awesome. We really need to start appreciating that he is a truly, truly masterful film director. I'm not sure anyone else out there is currently as consistent as he is right now. He's making some beautiful, thought-provoking films. 'Mystic River,' 'Million Dollar Baby,' 'Changeling,' 'Gran Torino.' Incredible. Clint is awesome.
I think the most amazing thing about his films is how steady they are. They're just completely steady. I don't even know what I mean. Actually, I do know what I mean, I mean they're steady. If I didn't know I wouldn't have written that they're steady. I also wonder if the word steady has been used this many times in a paragraph before, but I am aware that if I keep wondering about this we will steadily fall off topic. Not that this post has any topic.
Please Buy/Rent/Steal a copy of 'Mystic River' and skip to 1hour 22minutes in. It's Sean Penn sitting on the steps of his house, as Tim Robbins is talking to him. Penn's daughter had died a few days back, or about an hour back -- depending on whether you follow DVD running time or actual-in-the-story-time, and Robbins says something to Penn about how his daughter looked really happy (just before she got killed) -- and Penn does this look, and then he does this thing with his lip--- and he looks away and stops himself from crying. This little moment, this little look, is probably the best acting I've ever seen. And it's just a moment. But it makes sense to me that it happened in a Clint Eastwood film.. because he really gives his actors the space to be themselves. To find themselves in a role. Despite the concise and steady nature of all of his films (especially in the last ten years) there's a real freedom to them; which allows the actors to find themselves in their characters. It's incredible. I learned something the other day that I didn't know -- that Clint doesn't say 'action' - he just mumbles something along the lines of, "whenever you're ready." I think that's brilliant, and something I am going to do on future shoots. How can you expect an actor to be natural and truthful in a scene about his dead daughter when someone yells 'Action!'
'Million Dollar Baby' is a great film. It's tone, it's style, it's rhythm, the way the relationships build between the three main characters, played by Clint, Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank arereally amazing to see. I'm sure the script was great, but the genius is in the direction and the acting. So much is said with looks, or without looks, with words, and without words. It's all in the space between the characters. I have a feeling that Clint could take a script about a guy deciding which paint brush to buy, and he'd be able to make it incredibly profound.
I just realized that by giving myself permission to talk about anything other than my chosen topics, it freed me to write a load about Clint, after all. Thereby is lesson #1 today regarding creativity --- don't let your mind get in the way. Free yourself, give yourself permission to do other stuff, and maybe it'll come after-all.
I was slightly tempted to edit this post and make it a nice, clean, Clint-a-thon, but I kind of like how it's unfolded in this random way.
I went to a Richard Curtis masterclass the other day at the Royal Haymarket theatre the other day. He had some great advice for writers, and for actors. And I've forgotten it all. But let me try to remember................ Actually, I'm popping downstairs for dinner. Meanwhile, hopefully my brain will remember some Richard Curtisisms.
---- Am now back from dinner. Although, I find it hard for you to appreciate the time that has passed. Maybe I should press enter a few more times to suggest that time has passed.
Does that work? Anyways, the loneliness of creativity. Here's what happens, Julie says to you "you're going to be an amazing writer some day!" or Billy says "you have talent, you're going to be the best actor ever!" This belief/support/insane pressure is very good, on the one hand, because people believe in you. But of course, the writing of that script, or the constant auditioning, or the ploughing through months of pre-production paper work is a rather solitary journey. If you write a giant, complex novel, and nobody gives a shit, Only you fail. But Julie and her chubby pink cheeks didn't fail. They just sit there and say "aww, don't worry. You'll still be an amazing writer when you learn to put the full stops in the right place and everything." And you realize, you're lonely.
"Don't forget me when you get an Oscar!" Don't you just love that one. Normally somebody says it after helping you out, maybe by moving a camera bag across the room, or by helping you locate a clapper board that you misplaced in your apartment. So what happens is that you go and Direct your films for twenty three more years; and then when you finally get that well-deserved Oscar, the dude who found your clapper board wants a thank you for their support. That's lonely. That's a lonely twenty three years.
I'm writing this in a sarcastic way, I admit. In truth, that kind of support from people is important, and in many ways helpful. But you also find yourself marginalized, pushed into this position; the lonely position of being the one who has to deliver the goods. It's like when someone has cancer. Everyone rallies around and says "We're in this together," -- but only one person jumps on the operating table.
There's a real loneliness to the journey of fulfilling your creative dreams. Whereas Chubby Cheeked Julie who smells of banana for some strange reason is surrounded by a hundred people who think you're going to be a great writer.
I touched upon something in my last post, about recognizing your milestones, and I think it's a really key thing. You become your own support system. Whatever your achievements, be they short film awards, a large cheque or completing three sentences before dinner, celebrate them, appreciate them. You did well. You did it yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back. We don't do that nearly enough. There is nothing wrong with appreciating what you've achieved, in fact; it's integral to what we do. I have a tendency to finish a project and go straight onto the next one. But to truly learn from our past efforts, we need to see the good in what we've done, not just the negative stuff as pointed by some obese dude with cheese around his mouth who says "there was a cup behind the girls head, then when it cut back it was gone, which is really dumb, you're really dumb, your film stinks, what are you doing." We spend too much time listening to that guy. That guy's not nearly as important as that guy inside you who says "WOW! You're alive, you cleaned the whole kitchen today, picked the kids up from school, and wrote four pages! wow!"
And in the words of the great Forest Gump, "that's all I have to say about that."
Monday, 12 October 2009
Sunday, 11 October 2009
Saturday, 10 October 2009
I remember, I remember--- I used to rush to school for 8.45am, even though school started at 9.20am. I only did it for the one year. I was 10 years old. I'd get there because I had this little group of friends who I loved being around. And there was a girl, of course. I don't really remember anything, except we'd laugh. And I'd make them laugh. There was a real connection.
And I remember in class assembly, some teacher would be rattling on about something uninteresting, but somewhere near the back row, as we sat with our legs crossed--- I remember. I'd tie my shoelaces up again and again, until they were knotted as many times as possible. And then I'd pretend they were characters, like in a play or something. These little tiny shoelaces. And all my friends around me, and whatever random kids were nearby. I'd do these little plays. They consisted of the left shoelace fighting with the right shoelace. And maybe silly discussions. I remember one of the shoelaces had the nickname 'Putt Putt' -- and everyone liked the character the most. He was the funny one. He was the Chandler Bing of primary school shoelace comedy.
I remember walking out of an assembly thinking It'd amuse people if I put my left arm in the right-arm-sleeve, and the right in the left--- but I remember my arms getting stuck the wrong way round. And I couldn't do anything about it as I left the assembly. I remember being pulled out by our head-teacher who had a big go at me for being so stupid. I agreed. But I was still stuck in my jumper, unable to untangle. I don't remember what else happened.
I remember being excited by Roald Dahl.My wrestling figures were often, I'm sure, confused by my experimental storylines. Hulk Hogan often had interesting back stories, and the Ultimate Warrior was undefeated in three years.
I remember playing football with my brother in the garden. But we'd pretend we were the managers of our favourite team. I remember we'd play out a whole season, over many months. I would make up stories of players getting injured, of players being sold-- we'd give interviews after matches, we had this whole imaginary football league, played out between the two of us in our garden.I remember starring in my own imaginary TV show called 'Man' - it was a bit like the A-Team. I was a cop/general all round awesome guy. In most episodes I narrowly avoided getting shot. In one episode, I shocked the enemy when they thought they had finished me off --- What the enemy didn't know what that I had a Ghostbusters proton pack, which took them by surprise as they were expecting me to attack with my He-Man sword.
Me and some other Kid used to spend break times sat up against this battered old brown shed. We'd sit there and we'd talk for the whole of break time about the last repeated episode we saw of 'Steptoe & Son.' I'd do my impression of the son. It wasn't very good. But we'd laugh. We'd laugh at how funny the show was and how funny we were for liking such an old show.
I am in the business of making people laugh by telling stories, created from my imagination. I realize now, I've done this all my life.
Friday, 9 October 2009
1. What are you working on?
2. Why is it important to you?
Look forward to finding out.
Tuesday, 6 October 2009
I wasn't good at science. I wasn't much good at anything. But I did stay on to do 'A Levels.' But don't get excited-- I only stayed for two weeks. I don't even remember the subjects I chose. One of them was Media Studies, that thing where you sit there making stuff up like "The green coloring of Buzz Lightyear is a metaphor for the decay of society and is symbolic of aubergines." So, I knew deep inside that A Levels were not for me. And then everyone was saying, "well, you gotta get a job, you gotta earn some money, you gotta make a living." So I got a job as an office junior for a Quantity Surveying company. I didn't know what Quantity Surveying was (I still don't), but I forged ahead with my little job and the most depressing period of my life. Don't get me wrong, I've had years that were much tougher, where life really threw curve balls - but being 17 was tough because I had a terrible job, no goals, and nothing seemed to be on the horizon. And there were no girls. Well, I'm sure there were, just not in my life.
I remember in a very exact way that I went to a lot of gigs when I was 17. I guess it was a survival thing. Depressing, awful job by day, but gigs by night. I would love to pretend I was some cool rock kid, but I was seeing acts like Vonda Shepard, John Mayer, Ryan Adams, etc-- it was all Americana-ish, alt-rock blandity. But I don't mean to put it down - this is something I am learning to stand up for more, it's the music I love. I make no apologies. Anyways, the music became this incredibly important thing to me. It offered an alternative world to the one of moving boxes from storage space to storage space, and talking boring office talk to colleagues. I guess day by day it would build up and build up - my deep interest in music. I think I'm only realising the relevance of music to my life then, as I think about it now, many years later.
And then two things happened. One is because of Bruce Springsteen, and one is because of Counting Crows. But somewhere within those two events; the thing that was bubbling up finally came to fruition, the alchemy of my situation, my dreams, and my love for music. Here's how I remember it.
Bruce Springsteen announced a one off gig at Wembley Arena. And I guess I should tell you, I absolutely loved Bruce Springsteen. 'Thunder Road' was fast becoming my favorite song, and 'Born To Run' felt just like the bubbling, bubbling that'd been firing up inside of me. And 'Dancing In The Dark' was gaining in relevance.
So, I really wanted to go see The Boss live. But no-one would come with me. I asked all my friends. The collective response was, "the Born in the USA guy? No thanks." I made a very important decision. I decided to go by myself. Which shouldn't be a big deal, but for the lonely, worried little me, it was a big deal. It was confirmation that I was pathetic. This was supported by the build up to the event - culminating on me getting the train to the concert and feeling like a complete outsider. I didn't relate to my friends and I didn't really know why I was listening to Springsteen rather than, I dunno, whatever was popular at the time. So I was really miserable. I remember sitting in my seat, alone, at Wembley Arena. And I just felt--- so separated from everything, from everyone I knew. These things are so painful when you're 17.
And then Springsteen came on stage. And the music started.
What proceeded to happen was as near to a religious experience as I've ever had. I realized that I wasn't alone, I was with 12,000 of my closest friends. This wasn't just music, it a man who sang my dreams. His views on the world were the same as mine. There was a dream to be had and he was singin' it and chasin' it. I was truly transformed. I realized the reason I was there, at that gig, was because THAT WAS WHO I WAS. It is who I am. It is me. If everybody I knew who was going see Bruce Springsteen alone, and obsessing over his setlists and having this outrageously great experience, then I'd be just like everybody else. And being like everyone else wouldn't make me a very interesting writer. And it was like I GOT IT, right there, in that crap old tin of an arena.
For the same old played out scenes
I don't give a damn
For just the in betweens
Honey, I want the heart, I want the soul
I want control right now
Talk about a dream
Try to make it real
you wake up in the night
With a fear so real
Spend your life waiting
for a moment that just don't come
Well, don't waste your time waiting
Badlands, you gotta live it everyday
Let the broken hearts stand
As the price you've gotta pay
We'll keep pushin' till it's understood
and these badlands start treating us good
- Bruce Springsteen - Badlands
A week later; I was trying to figure out what that experience meant in relation to my career as a guy who re-alphabetizes an archiving system on a weekly basis. I remember very specifically being downstairs in the basement of the company I was working in. I was having a particularly hard time remembering the alphabet properly. Not because I'm dumb, but because I truly didn't give a shit.
Aside from Springsteen, my other obsession were Counting Crows. And this memory seems really cheesy now. But it happens to be true. I was down in the basement doing the archiving nonsense, moving 'N' nearer to 'B' and hiding 'L' just because I was a rebel. And the song 'A Murder Of One' by the Crows came into my head. And it really got a hold of me. I really began feeling the message of the song. I was enjoying it, it really felt alive. The words were really hitting me hard.
All your love is just a dream, dream, dream.
Open up your eyes.
You can see the flames, flames, flames of your wasted life.
You should be ashamed.
You don't wanna waste your life, now darlin.
You don't wanna waste your life, baby.
You don't wanna waste your life, now darlin.
Oh, you don't wanna waste your life, now baby.
I said you don't wanna waste your life, now darlin.
Oh, you don't wanna waste your life, now baby.
Oh, you don't wanna, you don't wanna waste your life, now darlin.
Change, change, change.
- Counting Crows - A Murder Of One
It was the second of my transformations. It was so sudden. Shit, I really wish I had these epiphanies every day. It hit me that I am NOT an office junior, I am not someone who moves boxes around for a living. I had a burning desire in me to CHANGE. To be something. I fucking loved films; my obsessive watching them and thinking about them was for a reason. I couldn't deny it anymore, it was time to come out of the closet and declare, "I am a Writer! I am a Director!" - I didn't outwardly declare it like that, but I did tell myself, it was time to be confident in who I really was and to make it my life.
I handed in my resignation on a Tuesday. By the Friday, I was gone. And now I'm the Kid In The Front Row.
It takes a leap of faith to get things going
It takes a leap of faith you gotta show some guts
It takes a leap of faith to get things going
In your heart you must trust
Bruce Springsteen - Leap Of Faith
Sunday, 4 October 2009
Saturday, 3 October 2009
I have a lot of friends who are actors, and every single one of them has this same process at work. On the one hand, they've done all the courses and gone to all the auditions; they're like a powerhouse of ambition and self-belief. But there is also the flip side to this-- a deep insecurity; something telling you you're not quite good enough for the role, or that you're not quite ready. Strangely, sometimes as an actor you DO get the role. And then the actor feels like they've cheated the system. They're just worried that one day somebody will figure out that they weren't supposed to be there.
This is something we can all do, starting today. Build a new relationship with the thing that zaps at your confidence. For me, next time I have a meeting or interview; instead of nerves or feelings of lack, I'm going to have new found perservence and definiteness, something that was always in me. Afterall, who the FUCK is my inner critic? Why am I taking him so seriously? Why do I believe him? What gives me the right to talk to me in that way? I know what I am doing with my creativity; of that I am sure, and I am going to perservere. And this new certainty has come from engaging with my inner critic, and learning from it. When something is part of you, you can either fight it, or learn from it and work with it. The same goes for external systems, like producers, film studios, script analysts, etc! Fix the thing inside yourself, and then you're going to do much better out there. I'd love to know your thoughts.