Thursday 29 April 2010

Sing A Song For Me.

"The bus is running,
it's time to leave,
the summer's gone,
and so are we."

This song, this version of this song, is exactly how I feel today.

Counting Crows - Miami (acoustic)

How do you feel? Youtube links in the comments please!

"If you knew everything,
If you could see everything before it happened,
then what would you do?
If you knew that the love you threw away,
that it meant everything to her,
If you knew that you could ruin her,
then what would you do?"

Care to share?

Scarlett Johannson & Pete Yorn singing "RELATOR"

I like this song. I like Scarlett's voice. I also like other things about Scarlett, but we'll save those for another time.

Care to share?

Lovefilm: Faulty Rentals, Guaranteed.

The idea of and their online rental service is a great one. They send you DVD's, and when you're done with them, you send them back. This part works wonderfully. The part that doesn't work so well is when you put the DVD's in your player and attempt to watch them.
It can be quite exciting trying to guess when the rented DVD will freeze. Will it be whilst navigating the menu system, will it be in the opening minutes - or will it be just before the film reaches its climax? This is the genius of lovefilm; you never know when the disc will freeze.

Lovefilm offer a variety of discs. Most common is the 'Scratchtastic' disc. When Lovefilm order their stock, before sending discs to members - they invite four year old children to sit in their warehouse. They supply them with knives, scissors, and anything else that may be able to produce interesting scratched designs on the data side of the disc. The kids then get a few hours to make a ridiculous mess, scratching up the discs as much as possible. It is believed that 75% of all discs posted by the online rental service, LoveFilm, are in fact Scratchtastic.

Another popular disc type is the 'Liquid Disc'. Not only will Lovefilm send you a latest release; but the disc will also be discoloured due to a strange dried liquid on the underside. Potential liquids include tea, orange juice, and salad dressing. It is rumoured that Lovefilm invite top chefs from around the country into their DVD disc storehouse and allow them to experiment with adding various sauces to the surface of the discs. You may not be able to play them in your DVD player, but they will sure taste nice.

The 'Smashomatic' DVD was once a rare thing to find - but due to increased popularity, Lovefilm now commonly send out DVD's which have many cracks and are occasionally smashed up in various ways. Lovefilm promise that they check all discs before sending them out. But the question remains: how thoroughly do they check them? If a disc looks playable, do they immediately make a crack and urinate on it, or do they hope it will get damaged whilst passing through the postal system?

My current recommendation is: do not sign up for a rental account. Lovefilm is a wonderful idea, and they have an incredible selection of DVD's available. On the plus side, they do have a good customer service team who always offer to replace DVD's and may even discount you for the following month if you've had consistent problems. However, the quality of DVD's are constantly getting WORSE. Of course, members of the public are often terrible at looking after them; but the fact that someone called Joe in Manchester has to put his grubby finger prints all over a disc should not affect the service I receive on the other side of the country. It's time for LoveFilm to seriously look at ways to improve their discs and provide a more consistent quality of films to their ever-growing base of customers who have made them the UK's leading online DVD rental service.

I am CONSTANTLY having DVD's freeze and skip; I rarely get to finish a film received from Lovefilm. What is your experience with their service?

Care to share?

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Planes, Auschwitz, Nowa Huta, A Short Story & UK Elections.

I am on a plane, flying from Krakow to London. I have no particular reason to blog, but then, I figured it'd be good to blog for no reason like a thirty five year old housewife in Minnesota blogging about her conversation with a man in a clothes store. You know the kind. Or maybe the real reason I'm blogging is to avoid an article I'm meant to be writing for a magazine. Planes are not the time to be doing real work, especially when listening to Augustana, and talking you.

Krakow is a fascinating place. On the one hand, it's a sweet old town full of picturesque buildings and lovely people. On the other hand, it's still dealing with it's complex history. I was in Krakow for five days. I visited Auschwitz and saw the terrifying scale the Nazi's went to towards exterminating the Jewish race. I visited Nowa Huta in East Krakow, a town built by the communist government surrounding the steel mill there. Communism in Poland ended in 1989, and now-- much of the town is out of work and poor. The older folk long for things how they were, the younger people turn to crime. Everything about Nowa Huta is grey and depressing. The oppression of Communism is still present in strange ways. I was also privileged to be on this journey through Polish Communism with a guy from Belgium, who spends four months a year in Cuba. He had a lot of amazing insight into the situation there which was really eye opening!

We saw a field which was advertised by the Communist government as a holiday place with a beautiful lake with space to put up tents. The lake was a piece of propaganda magic; there was no lake. Many citizens around Poland believed there was, and even travelled there for holidays.

It's funny how people so often say, "don't worry, it's in the past." It's normally said by people with privileges, people who are not the oppressed. You might hear "Stop going on about the Holocaust, it's in the past, what has it got to do with me?" We've all come across attitudes like this. If Poland teaches you anything, it's that history is always present with us and there is a lot to learn from it.

My time is Poland came only weeks after President Lech Kaczynski was killed whilst en-route to Russia to commemorate the Katyn tragedy. I arrived after his funeral but there were many other services taking place for people who were on the plane. The pride and passion the Poles have for their nation is incredible to see. A nation invaded and oppressed by the Nazi's, followed by half a century of communistic rule... It's incredible how strong a sense of individuality you get being there. Poland is Poland, you can't mistake it for anything else.

There are still things to be answered about Katyn. Bodies to be found, acts to be accounted for and compensation sought, more than 70 years later. The disaster on the 10th of April with President Lech Kaczynski may have been a one off accident, But it feels like just another in a long line of Traumas to hit this wonderful nation. His body now lies in Wawel castle, Krakow.

I'm listening to Van Morrison and Sinead O'Connor sing 'Have I Told You Lately' I just realized; in the process of avoiding writing an article about Krakow, I've written extensively about the topic here.

I have decided to drastically alter my sleep patterns. I don't sleep well, I have no pattern--- but it's getting to the point where I realize, life isn't about lying in until 11am on a Tuesday. I am going to get up early, consistently-- and I think it will force me into having earlier nights and in the process my days will be more productive by taking control of my sleep rather than my sleep controlling me, or pulling the random crap that it often does.

Here's a short story I started but got bored of. I do this a lot. I could publish a book of single paragraph things written for no reason, for nobody to read. So here's the most recent:

The girl buried herself under a sea of tasks and problems as a way of convincing herself that life had meaning. She always wanted to believe the friendships in her life were special and that her part in others lives was profound. It was the only way she could distract herself from the fact that deep down, she knew only too well. The fact was: she was ordinary. Completely ordinary. Pains in her feet, an ache in her heart and a frown on her face; she was just like everyone else - and all she could do was reject this knowledge.

The UK elections are pissing me off. They're all bad mouthing each other and launching fresh new promises each day. It's all so ridiculous and all we can do is go along for the ride and vote for whomever seems the least fake come the end. I'm still planning to vote for Jed Bartlet.

Okay, time to stop writing. And here's one more picture from Krakow.

Care to share?

20 Word Film Blogathon TODAY!

The task: In NO MORE than 20 words, explain WHY you LOVE the MOVIES!

Everyone who takes part will have their entry linked to from the Facebook Fan Page!

The Blogathon will run for 24 hours. Starting NOW. Get blogging!

Care to share?

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Visiting Oscar Schindler's Factory

Oscar Schindler's factory is difficult to find and pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

We got there, and it was completely closed. Apparently they are doing some preservation/rebuilding work.

However, I am not one to let a few fences and pinned up notices stop me from doing what I feel I have a right to do: explore history. So I did a small piece of trespassing, and took these pictures.

What I'm looking at, I don't really know. Had I not known that this was Schindler's factory, I wouldn't have even had a second glance at it.

Anyways, this is the famous Schindler factory as it looks today, at least in the eyes of a trespassing iPhone.

Care to share?

Facebook Fan Page

Kid In The Front Row now has a Facebook Fan Page, and I'd really appreciate it if you could join it. The page has become another great way of building a community of people who love the films I love, with posts getting comments on the fan page as well as on here.

I will be scrapping the Google Follow function on this site soon and introducing an email subscription service instead. However, in terms of communication between readers and contributors (i.e guest writers, other bloggers), the page is becoming a great way to keep in touch.

Please join and invite some friends too (using the 'suggest to friends' function).

Join the page here:

Kid In The Front Row Fan Page

Thanks :)

Care to share?

Monday 26 April 2010

Reflecting On Auschwitz

I am currently in Kazimierz, the Jewish District in Krakow. Except there aren't really any Jews here anymore, because they are all dead. Prior to World War 2 there were 2.7 million Jews in Poland. After the war, there were 75,000. 98% of the Jewish population of Poland were killed.

It's very easy to label it as something that happened to 'The Jews', because of 'Those Nazi's' -- it's far less comfortable to realize, they were both ordinary humans on both sides. Over 7000 people worked at Auschwitz. That's 7000 people who were implicit in the killings. Less than a thousand of those stood trial after the war. 6000 of them got away with their crimes, and many of them are probably still alive today. God may deal with them further down the line. If not, they've gone unpunished and they are free to do as they please.

Auschwitz is a strange place to visit. Weirdly, it's surprisingly unemotional. You stroll around; seeing unimaginably horrific things; gas chambers, thousands of dead people's shoes, little children's clothes, etc--- but it doesn't quite hit you in the emotional way you might expect. At least, this is how it has been for me and the various people I have visited the camps with. It's impossible to fathom the grand scale of what took place. The main emotion I feel walking around Auschwitz is one of bemusement. One of 'Jesus--- this place is so fucking big! How??? How can people do this?'

Auschwitz-Birkenau is the second part of Auschwitz. Built mid-war with the sole purpose of mass extermination. Thousands would arrive by train and most of them would be transported directly to the gas chambers. When I watch movies and documentaries about these events, it's emotional-- you get the haunting music and close ups. But actually at the site, i feel more of a general bewilderment. All that's left are bricks and rubble and barbed wire--- on a giant scale. An incredibly giant scale. And it makes no sense-- that what happened could have happened. The bewilderment does turn into emotion, but it's one I can't explain very well.

I read in the New York Times that there's been an election in Austria in the last week. 15% of the electorate voted for a candidate who denies the Holocaust ever happened. That's 15% who happily and freely voted for her, so I'm assuming many more thought about voting for her. And this is what concerns me, about our world-- do we ever learn? is the killing of six million Jews not enough?

Despite what I'm saying, for me; it isn't really about Jews or Germans or Austrians or Jamaicans or Swedes or any particular group - the Holocaust was and is about human beings. In nearly every country in the world, bubbling just below the surface; are the seeds of another catastrophy. In the UK, we have a political group who have members who deny the Holocaust ever happened. It's disgusting but what do you do? Our tendency is to ridicule them, to find ways to make them not exist or be heard. It's like we want to fight oppression with oppression, and in the process we create more marginalized and under-represented groups, and it's those groups who get pushed to the extremes.

I find myself trying to comprehend what happened by looking more closely at myself. Who is the person inside of me who oppresses others? Could I have done what the Nazi's did? I feel there is NO WAY I could follow orders and kill others, I'd rather shoot myself or get killed. But I am also very aware that the people who committed these atrocities were just people -- people pushed to the extremes of killing on a mass scale. The incredibly large amount of people who knew about, and didn't do anything about the Holocaust is mind-boggling.

Tonight, I ate in a restaurant in Kazimierz, wondering what it should really look like here. Wondering and dreaming about the 60,000 Jews of Krakow who were closer to 1,000 by the end of World War 2. This is a part of history that continually upsets, fascinates and confuses me. And despite people moaning about how the Holocaust gets mentioned too often, I still think it's many stories and truths need to be unravelled and processed, rather than pushed over and forgotten. There are still questions to be asked, lessons to learn. By doing so, I can only hope - we will one day really learn how to love one another. Because we've tried hating for long enough.

Care to share?

Sunday 25 April 2010

Off Plus Camera 2010: International Festival Of Independent Cinema.

Film festivals in Poland are great. First, you need to find the well hidden directions.

Then you need to head up the steps of a fascinating old building.

You head up a variety of staircases, feeling like you've trespassed somewhere by mistake.

And finally, at last, you see a screen and know a movie is about to commence.

This is the Off Plus Camera 2010 International Festival Of Independent Cinema, in Krakow, Poland, and it ends today.

Care to share?

Saturday 24 April 2010

Ten Movie Facts About Me

Film blogger Danny King has passed the baton on to me - to tell you 'Ten Movie Facts About Me', and then I need to nominate two people to do the same. TheUmwashedMass and Mike Lippert, if you're reading, please carry this on.

I am currently in Poland, and blogging from an app on my iPhone, which explains why there are no hyperlinks, but hopefully the guy's mentioned here will post in the comments so you can find them.

So, ten movie facts about me.

1) I can't always watch movies. I can often get bored during them. There are people who can watch any movie, no matter how bad, all the way through: I am not one of them.

2) I think American screen actors are far superior to English.

3. I am always happy to watch 'You've Got Mail'

4. I find the whole Bruce Willis segment of Pulp Fiction really boring.

5. I have only recently begun sitting in the front row at the cinema, I like it.

6. I studied film for one week. I achieved two things, 1) I had to write a paper analysing a scene for metaphors and mise-en-scene and all that nonsense. I wrote sarcastically about a trivial scene from Jerry Maguire. I didn't stick around to find my grade for it. 2) I disagreed with the entire hall of people about the meaning of a silent film. It was a clip of someone walking across a road. The lecturer said it was made to represent class difference and was a metaphor for society at the time, I said it was a man crossing the street and if it was a metaphor for anything it was a metaphor for a man crossing the street and that the reason I think the director had him walking across the street was just because, at that time, at the birth of cinema, walking across a street, on screen, was very interesting.

I never saw any of these people again.

7. I rarely like French movies.

8. I often like Italian and Danish movies.

9. My directing style is not very visual. I don't like to distract from what the actors are doing.

10. I like going to see movies in other countries, in languages I don't understand. It forces me to concentrate in a different way and it's fascinating to see how different cultures respond to films.

Care to share?

Friday 23 April 2010

One Role, 700 Applicants: How Can You Stand Out And How Can I Not Shoot Myself?

Dear Julie,

My Name is Blah. I am blah. I was lucky enough to train with the Blah Blah. I was also cast in Blah and flown to Blah because they think I am a talented Blah. I won the Blah of Blah in Blah. Blah Blah Blah.

Yours Sincerely,

First of all: my name is not Julie. I am male. That was your first mistake. 40% of cover letters I receive that have names on them are not names that belong to me. If you're going to address me by name, use my name. Or you can say 'Dear Sir/Madam,' but if you do - I won't carry on reading.

If you have emailed me for every role I've cast for the past seven years - try not to send me the same covering letter. The one that says "I was recently invited to visit the Hollywood elite" didn't sound real seven years ago, it still doesn't now. Vary things up a bit.

Visiting my website is helpful. Knowing the name of a film I've done is helpful. Anything that remotely shows you care is helpful. Say, for example, you wanted to write for the Kid In The Front Row blog; saying "I love Billy Wilder too, he is such an inspiration!" is going to interest me more than "Dear Sir/Madam, I have a lot of writing experience and I feel I am enthusiastic and able to bring expertise to your blog." Same goes for casting; I don't want to cast a robot, I want to cast a human being; so I give preference to those who are show signs of being one.

Tell me what you're passionate about. Tell me why you love movies. Tell me why you're interested in this movie. "I do not normally do low-budget work, but yours could be interesting" is not particularly endearing, "You are making a film about pigeons and I LOVE pigeons" is more interesting. Unless the film isn't about pigeons, in which case you'd look weird.

If you were that woman across the road looking at sunglasses, partially out of shot and partially blocked in the frame by an Asian man in the eleventh scene in the film 'Phone Booth,' don't put that on your Resume. You were an extra. A cellphone shot of you and Colin Farrell in the background isn't convincing of anything, either.

It's great that you are enthusiastic, hard-working and reliable. So is everyone. Maybe find some different words. I want to know you can do different things on set, too. So maybe instead of those things; maybe you are industrious, courageous, and spontaneous. Or maybe you are controlled, decisive, and determined. Or maybe you are excited by ideas, drawn to originality and inspired by collaboration. Whatever it is that you really are, figure it out and put it in your cover letter. But take out enthusiastic. Everyone says they are enthusiastic.

Yes- headshots do matter and often I do make judgements made solely on them. That's the way it is. You're playing a character. If I'm casting a black woman called Renee, I have little use for a white girl called Sally. That's just how it is. If I want someone pretty, and you're not, that's how it is. If I want someone ugly, and you're not, that's the way it is. It's not personal. But by all means - let me know you have different headshots and let me know you have a lot of different styles/images/etc.

If I am casting a drug dealer; don't send me a headshot of you smiling and looking like Meg Ryan in a rom-com. If I am casting a rom-com, don't send me a headshot that looks like you're investigating a murder.

Don't send me fourteen emails. Really: DO NOT DO THAT. DO NOT EMAIL EVERY DAY. DO NOT DO THAT.

However, four days after you've applied; DO write back to say how excited you were by the project and how you're still really interested. The human mind forgets, and a gentle reminder always helps. I once hired a composer for a film because he wrote me a wonderful, personal second email.

Be yourself. Write something true. Be a human.

I didn't get it?

No. They said you 'Weren't believable as a human being.'
So, you can work on that.

Okay, what else?

Um, the off-Broadway play people said 'You were
pretty but dumb'.


Oh no wait, I'm sorry, that's 'pretty dumb.'

Care to share?

Sasha Grey Will Blow Your Mind, Among Other Things.

Last night, I watched 'The Girlfriend Experience,' directed by Steven Soderbergh ('Erin Brockovich', 'Traffic', 'Oceans Eleven'). The film was excellent - some beautiful cinematography, great performances and subtle directorial touches. I usually like Soderbergh's work - I always forget to name him when talking about directors - but when I remember, I check out his work and tend to enjoy it. He's known for doing 'one for them, one for me' - i.e. for every big studio picture, like 'Ocean's Twelve', he does a smaller, more personal project, like 'The Girlfriend Experience.'

Most of all though, I was blown away by Sasha Grey's performance. And I was eager to find more work by her. This is where I am incredible naive and stupid. It turns out, she has had a lot of jobs. She's worked pretty hardcore for many years. Pretty hardcore. This is where I make a complete ass of myself because it would seem I am the only person unaware of her interesting career. For example, she was won multiple awards, for example: 'Best Three Way Sex Scene' and 'Best Group Sex Scene' at the 2007 AVN Awards.

I found all this out after googling 'Sasha Grey Clips'. Let's just say, I now realize this is an incredibly popular search term and, in my naivity and innocence, I was unaware of the onslaught of material I was to be presented with.

This wonderful actress; I thought she had a lot of talent, I just didn't expect to find those types of talents. I was thinking I'd find some interesting short films, maybe a bit of TV work (which meant television, for me, but in her line of work I now realize, it means something else). How strange! I guess, on the plus side, she's up for doing things most actresses aren't, or at least, don't mention on their Resumes.

I hope she does some more, shall we say, traditional acting - although, I think there are a lot more people out there who hope that she sticks to what she's used to.

Care to share?

Thursday 22 April 2010

Is The Devil Responsible For Unpaid Casting Notices?

The person casting the feature film and not paying actors is probably not actually evil. Their intention in making a movie is, in all likelihood, not to make life miserable for struggling actors. Unfortunately, some actors are a bit paranoid and convince themselves that the world is out there trying to make me do deferred payment roles which means I will never earn money ever and all directors and producers are evil.

Rich Producer.

Sure, there are people out there who can afford to pay actors, and don't. Here's what you do: don't work for them. Or do work for them; whatever, it's your choice. However, most people aren't like that. It's very rare for producers to sit around saying "oooh, I know, I'll take $50,000, you can take $40,000, we'll give the production assistants $5,000 a day and the actors will get ZERO, ever." This kind of practice is rarer than a good Ashton Kutcher performance.

The reality of it is - unless you are on a big budget, things are tight. Money is needed in other areas, before paying ANYONE. This is the shopping list, with some small notes.

A Camera: Without renting a camera and filming, it's much harder to convince distributors that the film exists, or is any good.

Costumes: Without buying/renting/making costumes, the actors are left in their underpants. Which is fine, but looks a little odd when you're making a film about the Iraq War. Although, the Avante Garde crowd may find it revolutionary.

Locations: Without securing locations, you are often left filming in the room where you keep the camera equipment. Unless you can't afford a camera because you paid the actors, in which case: there is plenty of room in the room where the camera isn't and you can use it for various set-ups.

Travel & Food: Feeding everyone on set, as well as paying for them to get there and back is of key importance - this soon adds up to the thousands on a feature. When your budget is $8,000 - most of this will go on this very thing. Of course, you could just pay the actors a small fee instead, but then you'd have to leave them in one location, the camera room room; where there is no camera, and everyone is in their underpants.

Here is the reality: People don't have any money. The films you are applying for. i.e., the level, professionally, where you struggle to get paid - is equal to the level where producers are desperately trying to put a project together with precious little money.

Again, it's very very very rare that everyone is getting paid and huddling around in little corners mocking and laughing at the actors who are the only ones not getting paid. Actors, Producers, Directors; they're all the same, they all want to get paid for their talents. The difference is that the actor shoots their part for three days, the Director is on the project for nine months. Nine months of not getting paid is, more often than not, worse than three days of not getting paid. "But it's the director's project, that's his choice," you say - yes, just like it's your choice to produce your own projects if you're not happy!

Crying Actor.

To clarify: When people can afford to pay actors, or anyone else on a set, and don't. That is bad. In this instance, how will actor's afford their new headshots? However- in the bigger scheme of things; when something is unpaid or deferred; it's usually because someone is passionate about making a film, casting you in it, and doing something special. It's rare that they're in their homes plotting to short change actors.

Care to share?

Wednesday 21 April 2010

A Part Of Me That I Just Found.

I used to make Tapes. I used to make CD's. I used to sit by the radio waiting for a great song to come on back when they used to play great songs on the radio. I used to make CD's. I said that already but I'm saying it again because it was such an important thing to me. When I made tapes, it meant sitting there and listening to ninety minutes of music as I recorded it to the cassette. When I was seventeen, I had this job in town - this horrible, depressing job; and the only way I could stomach it was to make myself tapes, every night, that I would listen to on the way to work, during my lunch break, and on my way home.

I have tapes and CD's scattered everywhere. In them they hold the memories of girls who have been and gone, friends who have moved on and away and loved ones cherished and lost. I've made tapes during hard times that beamed with joy and I've made CD's during great times that bleed with pain. I have my whole life as told by Springsteen, and Van Morrison, and The Spice Girls and Billy Preston and whoever else came by at the time. There are people who've stayed along for the ride (Bruce) and people who were there very briefly and often for the oddest reasons (The Spice Girls). They've come and gone, just like everything in life.

I guess it's a part of growing up where you don't find the time to make tapes and CD's. You see, when I make a CD with 80 minutes of track - it takes me 80 minutes. Whether using a CD Mixer or a programme on a PC; I would mix 80 minutes together continuously. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean 'mix' like a super talented DJ who matches beats and rhythms. I'm talking me; starting out thinking I'm in a Led Zeppelin mood, and three tracks later finding I'm in a Joni Mitchell mood, before pondering why the hell I'm in a Simply Red mood before finally realizing I'm in a Neil Young mood.

Music was everything to me. It was a great leveller- whatever is going on in my life was only half the story, the music told the rest. A Mix CD was like art-- like a setlist, like a movie. A lot of people don't like the same music as me, a lot of people don't have the patience to play a continuous mixed 80 minute track. But a lot of people did. I have a few close friends who I used to give CD's to regularly. They know more about me than most people.

Last night, I watched 'Almost Famous' - a film that was my favorite film until a few years ago when I started saying it was 'Cinema Paradiso' and 'The Apartment'. I think it may be 'Almost Famous' afterall. Regardless, the film was exactly what I needed. The music is what I needed. Tonight, my plan was to watch a film. That plan didn't happen - not one film in my collection interested me. Then it happened-- I realized, I really wanted to make a CD. So I did.

Would you like a copy? Email me your address; and I'll pop a copy in the post.

Care to share?

The UK General Elections.

The election campaigns are hotting up. They're promising 'change' and 'big ideas' and doing it by bad mouthing the other guys. Just the other day, David Cameron, the leader of the blue lot, said "I am going to redouble the positive. I am going to accentuate everything positive." In the same speech he called voters "desperate" for considering the yellow team and hurled abuse at the grumpy dude in the red corner for something to do with "fudge" and spending everyone's money.

The British electorate have been accused of being apathetic - but I challenge the Politicians to hand any voter a gun and then stand together against a large wall, the results would not be apathetic.

Anyways - I would like to announce that the Kid In The Front Row will officially be endorsing JED BARTLET.

"You know, I was watching a television program before with a sort of a roving moderator who spoke to a seated panel of young women who were having some sort of problem with their boyfriends, apparently because the boyfriends had all slept with the girlfriends' mothers. Then they brought the boyfriends out, and they all fought; right there on television. Tell me: These people don't vote, do they?"


Care to share?

Tuesday 20 April 2010

You're Coming Along At A Very Dangerous Time For Rock 'N Roll.

"They don't even know what it is to be a fan, y'know, to
truly love some silly little piece of music,
or some band, so MUCH that it HURTS."

Care to share?

Sunday 18 April 2010

Erupt With Enthusiasm And Drive.

I flick from Facebook to Gmail. I Retweet a Buddha quote and smile as I think about all the writing I'll do tomorrow. Just like I did yesterday. This isn't good enough.

"Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today."
-Phil Conners, in 'Groundhog Day'

Today. Now. Now is the time to erupt into action. Life is always in the way and life always has problems. There is no such thing as a perfect day or a peaceful day, there are just days. If you died NOW; think of how much time you've wasted in this last week. Dreaming of collecting all those Oscars, dreams of inspiring people --- stop dreaming and take action. Inspire yourself and do it right now.

You've been Reading positive books? Self-development books? That's cool. But sitting around in coffee houses having little moments of enlightenment with friends is not going to get you a career. You need to take those ideas and put them out into the world, the time for dormancy is over. You've been grounded for long enough.

The world is ready for your ideas. Ready for what you've got to offer. That's exactly why you're doing it. That meeting you're meant to have, that phone call you're avoiding, that script you're not getting through, that thing you're considering purchasing. Do it, now. Today. Act on it! Do it! We are not getting younger.

"So you're scared and you're thinking, that maybe we ain't that young anymore."
-Bruce Springsteen, 'Thunder Road'

"I'm not quite ready yet," you say. Maybe Barack should have waited longer before running for President. Maybe Michael Jackson should have waited until 2015 for a comeback. Maybe you did have a long day at work so you need a bit of a lay down and an episode of Lost. After you're done, maybe you can think about starting a project but instead have a bag of Doritos and look at cats running into walls on Youtube.

Maybe the idea isn't quite formed, maybe the confidence is hiding. So what should you do? Find it! Hunt it down! Ask for it! Search everywhere! It's bubbling up somewhere in you but it's only going to come out if you make it your sole purpose starting NOW!

You are not out of ideas. The world is not out of ideas. Every day new things excite, scare, oppress, confuse and change. Engage with them. Fight, learn, grow, lose, win.

It's tough, I know. You're worn out, I'm worn out. The world keeps changing your plans when you least expect it. The minute you are ready to take flight something keeps you on the ground. That person who let you down in 2007 is now working on something else, they're not letting you down anymore. That person that stole your idea/girlfriend/enthusiasm isn't doing it anymore, they've moved on to someone else. The only person holding you back is you.

There may be real problems but if you seriously want to make your amazing creative ambitions come true you need to overcome them starting now. Read an extra page tonight, get up twenty minutes early tomorrow, get that helpful podcast ready on your iPod, write them pages. If you struggle, write bad pages. Get things started.

Today will soon be tomorrow. Another opportunity gone. Step out into the world starting now. You have great spirit and imagination and talent and passion: but it's useless if you sit at home.

Get up. Change your life. Change my life. Change the world around you. One small volcano in a country no-one knows about has changed the world in one week-- changed how people travel, communicate and problem solve. Nature is our greatest teacher. Be a volcano-- explode into action right now--- your idea, your script, your performance, your dance, your voice: they're no good to anyone if they're locked in your room watching Scrubs re-runs.


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Saturday 17 April 2010

Favorite FRIENDS Quote.

"It was Summer. And it was hot. Rachel was there. A lonely grey couch. "Oh look!" cried Ned, and the Kingdom was his forever. The end."
-Chandler Bing.

...Is my favorite quote. What is yours?

Care to share?

Sponsored Blog Posts.

We'd like to write a sponsored blog post for your amazing blog. It'll be on topic and we'll pay you.

Wow, that's great. It'll be on topic?


What will it be about?


How much do you pay?

$0.02 for every third time someone clicks on the fourth link, depending on the time difference between when Google refreshs and the Earth spins on its axis.

I worry that this is selling out.

You don't have any readers.

Then why do you want to do a sponsored blog post?

We like your blog. We want to help you. That's why we'll pay you.

Can I put at the top of the article, 'This is a sponsored post and I am selling out just for one post, just to make some cash?"

No, you can't bad mouth us.

I would never do that. It's not like some bloggers out there who would write a dialogue-based blog post mocking you.

I don't think we want to work with you anymore.

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Friday 16 April 2010

Part-Time Insomiac

Im not an insomniac. I do sleep. It's just that I sleep from about 4.46am until 8.07am, waking up twice to jot down a great idea which turns out to not be a great idea. I look at my notes the next day, "film. horror. of running not particular." Sure, great idea. Get those oscars ready.

If only I could spend these hours doing something constructive, like writing a script. Instead I find myself laying in bed at 3.34am pondering:

"Who invented the word invention? And why? How did they invent it? What came first, the invention of the word invention, or the knowledge that a word for inventing needed the be invented?"

Strange. Anyway, it's only 1.44am now. It's not insomnia yet, everyone is still on Facebook.

Care to share?

The Casting Process.

Me: film nerd, director, casting a film.

You: actress, beautiful, wanting a role.

Don't pretend we are friends. I see through it.

Care to share?

Thursday 15 April 2010

The Pee Issue.

What is the cut off time? How long before a movie should you stop drinking? Or, what's the most you can drink? Of course, different people have different bladders (obviously. If bladders were communal, that would be bizarre). Some people can drink 50 litres and still say "no big deal, I'll pee tomorrow." But for many of us, we need to pee more. In fact, I think it's possible that people with perfectly good bladders find their bladders falling apart around the beginning of a movie.

Why do they put the bathrooms so bloody far away from the screen you're in? What's that about? It's sexist, that's what it is. You come out of screen 14, and right there is a women's toilet. The men's? It's over there by screen 2. And by other there I mean down two flights of escalators. There's some kind of conspiracy going on here and I'm not best pleased about it.

The good thing about watching a lot of movies is that you know the exact point when they turn SHIT. When the girl turns to the guy and says "You either choose to come to your daughters school play, or choose to go to North Dakota for the business meeting." When that happens, you know what's coming next - so you can go and do some urinary depletion without losing the plot (of the movie). But then, once a year, they show a good film at the cinema. It's three hours long. You've just three teas and a double sized over sized super sized triple sized coke because it was 'only' £4 more expensive than the smaller one. So there you are, in the middle of the film; and the woman says "You can go to your daughters play, or you can save the Earth, or you can go back in time and save my Brother and change the course of history." Wow. You're hooked. You have to stay. But you need to pee! You look around. It's dark. The coke cup is empty. Do you dare? You don't. After all, the lady sitting two seats from you might complain. Or worse: enjoy it.

So what do you do? Why do they sell you a big drink and put the restrooms so far away? (I used the phrase restrooms for you Americans. And yes, your toilets are as terribly placed as English ones).

This problem can also end friendships. When you sneak back into the screen having had a much needed piss - you will inevitably ask your friend, "What did I miss?". The trusted friend responds, "nothing, she just got on that boat." Later on, you realize, she didn't just get on the boat. She got on the boat, shot three people, and released nine hostages. It's a pivotal point in the film, but your friend neglects to share this.

They need to put some headphones by the seats. You pick them up, put them on - and go pee. Still able to listen to the movie. Or, the weaker bladdered audience members should get a remote control. "Sorry everyone. I need to pee." That would work.

Care to share?

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Dito Montiel - Writer-Director Series, Part 1.

Dito Montiel, thus far, has only written and directed two feature films. One of them, 'Fighting', I didn't love; although I did enjoy it. His debut film, 'A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints' - is one of my favorite films. When people ask me what my favorite movie is - I name three; 'A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints', 'The Apartment' and 'Cinema Paradiso'.

I think Dito's first film is a work of art, something truly truly masterful, his second film was pretty cool - and his third one, 'Son Of No-One' is currently in production. It could be genius, it could be awful; I have no idea. But based on 'Saints..' I will always follow his work and always believe in what he is capable of. And there are not many writers I can say that about.

'A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints' is about growing up in Queens, New York, in the 1980's. It's about friendship and family and violence and loyalty and many other things. In fact, it might not be about friendship and family and violence and loyalty, I don't really know - I've never really thought about summarizing or intellectualizing it before. All I know is that I relate to it, heavily, and exactly why is hard to say. I have nothing in common with the characters, have never had to deal with any of the issues that are dealt with in the film: yet somehow every time I watch it I feel like Dito Montiel understands my life. What the hell is that about?

That is exactly why I love 'Saints', because it's so real. It has real truth to it. It touches on something meaningful. And I think you know a film is really something important, and special, when it completely polarizes opinion. I made my brother watch the film, and he turned it off half way through. "It's boring," he said, "nothing happens!." This made no sense to me. Everything happens, I thought. Here's the thing though, I watched it with my girlfriend a few years ago, and she was in tears all the way through the film. Come to think of it, maybe it's because she was going out with me, but I think the tears were because of the film. It touched something deeply inside of her. She went out and bought it the day after I had shown it to her. I LOVE IT when a movie has this affect; the effect of love or hate. When I write a script, if someone says "yeah, it's alright, pretty funny. Good job," I worry. If they say "it's fucking awful!" then I know I've got something worthwhile. There are people that hate 'Saints', as there should be - it's a work of art, it's something personal. And when it's something truly personal, you either get it and are moved by it, or you reject it. Or it just doesn't speak to you personally.

So why is Dito Montiel one of my favorite writer/director's? I mean, I loved 'Garden State' but I would never think of having Zach Braff in my list. So what's different?

What makes 'Saints' something special is how everything was done for the art of it, based on feeling. In my interview with the film's editor, Jake Pushinsky (which you can read here), he talked constantly about feeling. He edited based on feeling and instinct, and he had the freedom to do that because he had the trust of his Director. So many decisions were based purely on instinct. The film was set in the eighties, but many people criticised the film because the costumes looked more like they were from the seventies. Dito's response? "It just felt right to me." There's a moment on the director-editor DVD commentary when one of them mentions a subway train in the background is clearly more modern than the year the movie is set in. Dito didn't care, it wasn't important. They chose what felt true rather than what was true: and that to me is art.

"I still remember when Anthony Ripoli (the greatest Assistant Editor out there, and now an editor too) came to me and said, "you can't do that, you're crossing the line." I had no idea what he was talking about. I still don't really get it. If it feels right, it feels right. If it doesn't, it definitely doesn't. But back to the scene... Editing to me is all feeling. I always go to performance first. If the actors don't feel real, the scene won't feel real and then movie doesn't feel real. Dito and I are always trying to get the real emotion out there. Ask anybody that hasn't been to film school if it bothers them when the line is crossed - there will be no response. But if you ask them if they are bothered by a bad performance? I don't know if there's a person out there that isn't."
-Jake Pushinsky, Editor.

People have said the editing is disjointed. Doesn't matter, it felt right. People say Eric Roberts casting is unrealistic. Doesn't matter, it felt right. People say the age difference between Robert Downey Jr and Rosario Dawson is stupid, doesn't matter, it felt right. People say there are continuity/realism issues, doesn't matter, it felt right. The film was written, directed and edited based on what the director felt was right. That is courageous. You might think every film is based on what the director feels is right but in reality, that is rarely the case. Of course, continuity is important; if in one scene Robert Downey Jr has a pony tail and in the next he's bald and in the one after that he has a German accent, of course; that doesn't work. But in 'Saints' - the Director's view was if there's some little issue/mistake, it's not important - the film is about the characters and what they're going through.

More than anything, this film just clicks for me in a way precious few films do. I love every piece of music (composed and source), I love every actor, every bit of dialogue - and throughout the film there is a tone, pace, style and level of emotion that holds consistent throughout - and for that, Montiel should be applauded. It happened, I can only assume, because of how in touch he was with what he had in script form, and where he wanted it to end up.

It's amazing to me how improvised/accidental/unscripted so many of my favorite parts of the movie are. Again, that's something Jake Pushinsky shed light on in his interview - they filmed extra things just to try stuff out, they filmed bits when Dito wasn't sure what he wanted, they acted on suggestions from actors; there were key moments that came together by a complete accident in the editing room. Dito was open as a writer and a director; open to suggestion and influence, but at the same time; held everything together so expertly.

I can think of no better film to clearly show what it is that a writer-director does. Whilst Dito's style, energy, content and talents are completely different to my own - his debut film and his attitude towards creating it is something that inspires me on a huge scale; and I can't wait to see what he does next.

Care to share?

Name The Film! Screenshot Competition.

Look at the screenshots, figure out what films they are and email me your answers. The winner gets a couple of DVD's and a film related book or two. First person to get them right wins! Good luck!

Email your answers to this address!

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