Thursday 28 January 2010
If you're like me, you just want to get on with the work. When you finish a script or a short film or a story or a painting or whatever it is you do -- you feel good, the work is done, and nine people loved it. But that doesn't build a career. So you have to be able to whore yourself out. If you're an actor, it's easy-- you just sit in a cafe and talk really loudly, "YEAH SO I HAD A CALL BACK, AND I WAS LIKE, NO FUCKING WAY, I JUST WORKED WITH HANKS. SO, YEAH- I'M DOING SOME MODELLING AND THEN I'M DOING THAT THING WITH DE NIRO. YEAH. YEAH. OH YEAH, I LOVE ACTING. IT REALLY FULFILLS ME. I AM FULFILLED. I AM AN ACTOR. I AM AN ACTOR THAT IS WHY I TALK SO LOUD IN CAFES."
Note: After writing this article, but before posting it, I went to a restaurant with two friends. There was a birthday on a table near us. A waitress came out with a cake, and was really loud and obnoxious - and I said to my friends jokingly, "Another failed actress." And then later on, our friend who works there introduced us to her. And she's an 'actress'. Found it amusing.
But if you're not an actor, the self-promotion can be tough. And of course, there is the fear that nobody really gives a shit what you're doing anyway. And to a point that's true. Nobody cares. But you need to get out there. And it's easier than you think. If you are an upcoming writer/actor/producer/director, etc -- you can write to your local newspaper right now. They have no news-- the pages need filling. Yeah, old ladies are getting their shopping stolen, big deal. It's the same every week.
I have written to my local papers many times. I tell them that the local area inspires me, I tell them how I shot in the area because of the wealth of talent in the community. I tell them that their newspaper was the reason I took up filmmaking. I tell them that their newspaper was the reason I took up a newspaper delivery job when I was fourteen. Whatever, who cares-- the bottom line is, the old lady gets a week out of the newspapers and everyone gets told the story of the local Spielberg.
Likewise, if I'm on holiday in Greece, I pick up a local newspaper, ask some local "Editor? Email? You see?". And then I email Eleftherios_the_editor@greeklocalpaper.com and tell him I took up filmmaking because of Greek cinema and because the area inspired me to write a screenplay and that I learned acting by studying the locals. And sure enough, some little old greek lady will get a week out of being in the news and instead; a few thousand people in Greece will learn about you.
You may think you're lying. But you're not. You're just playing the game. Just like when the director on the DVD says "Ashton is such a talented actor, we were really lucky," or when Nicolas Cage says "I fell in love with the script" every time he gets cast in something. The point of this is, it's really easy.
Are you a Norwegian Actor working in London? Write to the editor and tell him what it's like for a Norwegian actor carving out a name in London. Are you a Colombian DOP struggling to get a job in New York? Write to a NY paper and tell them how you're bringing the beauty of Colombian filmmaking to America. Are you sixty years old and struggling to get work? Write to your local paper and tell them "At 60 I have decided to follow my dream." Whatever it is - do it! Create the very thing you wish to be and make it a reality. When they print it, it's real.
Tarantino wrote his own press pack for 'Reservoir Dogs' - heralding himself as the greatest director of all time. All the lazy hacks wrote exactly what he fed them.
When I first started doing this - I used to write to people and say "I am trying to make it in the industry, my films are okay and I'm doing alright and I'd like your support." They'd write about me, but they'd make me sound a bit pathetic- it was like, "Awww, The Kid has a dream, aww sweet. Here's a picture of him with an old lady called Ethel." But then I started getting more clever, and confident. I'd write "Whilst my friends are laying on the beaches of Ibiza and drinking in the bars - I am penning a feature film inspired by the beautiful sands and the rich, complex characters that permeate the coast." They'd print exactly that, and everyone would think I knew what the hell I was doing.
These things are massive confidence boosters. It's almost like writing down a dream list of aspirations and getting some crazy person to print them. The weird part is - they make things come true. When someone prints that you're a talented Director or Nottingham's greatest on set gun control expert, it makes you become one.
So, if you're doing anything creative - tell your local newspaper about it. Tell your favourite bloggers about it. If you write to me and say "Kid, I love your blog! I have made this inspiring two minute short film - could you share it with your readers?" -- I might share it. I might not, because I'm jealous that you're more talented than me -- but I might. And then, a few hundred people would see it. But it won't happen if you don't ask. That's how it is with the writers of 'The West Part Of East Nowhere Gazette' -- they won't randomly write about you. But if you ask, they might. And when they do, maybe it's near to where Danny Boyle lives, or maybe a copy will be left in the gym where your favourite actor goes to work out. Maybe they'll read about you. Maybe they'll google you. Maybe they'll see your talent. Maybe a ninety year old woman will ask you out on a date. I don't know, but you may as well try it, even if you do it right now in nineteen seconds just by emailing your local rag. Worth a shot right? What do you have to lose? Nothing. What do you have to gain? Everything.