Thursday 17 June 2010

And that's all I have to say about that.

I'm blogged out.
Stay out of trouble.

Care to share?

My Friends.

My friend Ally Mcbeal is waiting for me somewhere in the middle of season three, just before Billy dies but just as John Cage is getting really funny. John Cage is great. We've been hanging out for over ten years now yet we see still each other a lot. Not every day, but often intensely for a few weeks at a time.

I don't see my old friends Phoebe, Joey, Ross, Rachel, Chandler & Monica very often, I've kinda outgrown them - but I pop in to see them every now and again.

I still keep in regular contact with Frasier and Niles. How could I not? They're two of my closest friends. It's weird because I thought I'd have outgrown Dawson and Joey by now but I haven't, I still spend a lot of time with them. It's a bit like Ally Mcbeal, I won't see her for months and then I'll spend a lot of time with her.

Right now, I'm spending time with Ari Gold and Vinny Chase, occasionally visiting Victor Meldrew and I even saw Basil Fawlty recently. I haven't seen the Trotters in a good few years, maybe I should pay them a visit.

I long to see Sam Seaborn, Jed Bartlet and Josh Lyman, they're some of my closest friends. The problem is, when we hang out-- we hang out for hours and hours and hours for nights on end, they never let me sleep, and we talk about such big issues! Even though a part of me resists, I will definitely see them soon. I miss them.

The thing you all need to realise, is that all the people I've mentioned, are some of my very best friends. They have provided me with years of wisdom, companionship and laughs. And I am forever grateful - I would be a different person without them.

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Monday 14 June 2010

'Benda Bilili!' Documentary, MUST-SEE!!!

I'm not sure where or when you're going to be able to see it, but if you EVER get the chance, then you really MUST. 'Benda Bilini' is one of the most inspiring documentaries I've ever seen. It's about a group of mostly disabled Congolese musicans who; in the midst of abject poverty, crime & corruption in the heart of the Congo; manage to keep going by being creative and following what they believe and know to be their destiny: that they will be known as the world's greatest disabled band.

The music is INCREDIBLE, the camaraderie of the band is INCREDIBLE, the strength and resolve of the Congolese is INCREDIBLE. These are guys who've spent most of their lives sleeping outdoors on cardboard boxes. They would spend their days in a center for disabled people and when that place got burned down, they carried on as normal, because it's part of life in the Congo. These musicians literally had NOTHING, except each other and their instruments-- instruments that were often broken, or custom-made/invented by themselves. With passion, hope, and some help from French filmmaker Renaud Barret and a record company, they went on to record their inspired music, and then take it on tour to Paris, and then this year--- around the World.

I cannot really explain what is great about this documentary and what it meant to me, I don't have the words; I can only recommend you see it. On the one hand, it makes you realize how difficult life in the Congo really is, it makes you realize just how privileged we are. But on the other hand, you realize, Staff Benda Bilini don't want our sympathy, they just want us to hear their music, to appreciate their remarkable talent, and we really should.

Below is a YouTube video of one of Benda Bilini's songs-- unfortunately, there's not a great deal of them on the net, at least; not with subtitles. You can appreciate their talent without knowing the lyrics, but seeing them adds something because you get to see the depth of what they're singing about. Luckily, all the songs in the documentary 'Benda Bilini!' are subtitled.

The film is being released in France in September, and hopefully in the rest of the world soon after. I write this today not expecting that you'll see the documentary in your multiplex any time soon, but just in case you do, or if you see a band called 'Staff Benda Bilini' touring near you- then you should check them out. These are a group of people who have had tough, tough lives; living in poverty, with no money, on the streets, for pretty much their whole lives. But rather than bitterness, anger and resentment; they come at us instead with beautiful music. Inspirational in the extreme.

"My instrument is made from a tin can that held fish, and one single guitar string, and some wood. There's nothing else."
-Roger Landu

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Saturday 12 June 2010

Film Career FAQ.

Last month, I wrote a list of questions (with some help from you guys) that keep popping up from friends/family/locals passing by/strangers/internet people/career advisors/teachers/pets/priests. All of these people, in fact nearly everyone you meet, happens to have many fascinating questions to ask about what we do for a living. It's very nice of them to show so much interest. Of course, as we're quite busy acting/directing/writing, etc-- we often don't find the time to work on the correct answers. I've put some answers together, that you can refer back to whenever you need.

So what do you do exactly?

I work hard every single day to follow my dreams, to develop myself to be the very best I can be. What do you do?

Are you sure you are what the industry is looking for?

No, that's what's so exciting about it! I have no idea!

Did you hear about that guy who made a film for $1 and got into Cannes? Have you thought of doing that?

I heard about it, that's amazing. There's also a guy who made a film for $50million and didn't get into Cannes, I'd like to do that as well!

Any progress with your films yet?

Every day I'm progressing, even on the days it's going horribly wrong! I had no idea you were interested in progress-- what can you teach me about it?

Are you famous yet?

I hope not!

Why are you still working here?

It's helping me support the career that I am so outrageously, crazily, obsessively in love with. Is that why you're still here too?

Do you want to hear my idea about a a Sci-Fi film about the devil and death and life and vampires and good versus evil where the devil plays chess and did you know my idea is totally amazing and original?

Sure! Write out a full treatment and email it to me, great.

Are you talented enough?


It's been a year already and you're not famous yet, shouldn't you consider a career change?

You're so good at these questions, maybe you could be a journalist!

Oh you're an actor? I know a girl who is an actor and she's only been able to get a Herpes commercial so far?

Cool. At least she didn't get Herpes.

You do know that hundreds of women try out for those parts, right?

Oh no, really!? I thought it was just me! Now I know those rejections aren't so personal!

Have you ever thought about making a film that people actually want to watch?

You mean, like a Transformers movie? I'll give it a go, if you want.

Have I seen you in anything?

I've been fortunate enough so far to do great work that hasn't been big, international stuff. I'm worried that one day I might be 'a star', then I'd have to deal with all the stuff that comes with it!

You know that EVERYONE wants to direct features, right?

Wow, I didn't know. But that's great! Maybe they'll start making much better films than we have at the moment.

Are you still trying to make films?

I like that you use the word trying. I always forget how much I try. What a great quality! Thank you for reminding me, that was really kind of you.

And how old are you again?

I'm [age]. And judging by your question, you're 96.

Why don't you get a real job?

Let me tell you a secret. This job is the greatest thing in the world. Whether it's real or not, I don't know. I mean, you seem to know. But even if it's not real, it's still the greatest in the world!

Are you rich yet?

I met five wonderful actors last week. I worked with a truly inspirational production designer the week before, and yesterday I spent the evening watching a life-altering play. So, yes, I am very rich, in many wonderful ways!!

[To an actor] So that means you make a living at lying, right?

Whatever my answer, how do you know I'm telling the truth?

Care to share?

Has anyone seen my DVD?

Dear Readers,

I woke up this morning with the sudden and unexplainable urge to watch the film 'CRASH' (Haggis, 2004). Unfortunately, as I look around my room - I am unable to locate the DVD. And I'm wondering -- have you seen it? Did I lend it to you? Did you steal it from me?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Kid In The Front Row

Care to share?

One Night Stand

I first saw 'One Night Stand' on the TV, late at night, probably around 1999. I remember taping it; and watching it again and again on VHS. This is a film that could always grab my attention and keep me engaged. Over the years, I've watched it many times. Weirdly, I've never owned it - but have rented it time after time, including this week. I would go as far as to say it's one of my favorite films.
Here's the fascinating thing - the film is generally disliked by all. And any who do like it would, at best, give it a 6.5 out of 10. But I think it's an incredible movie! It was generally misunderstood on release; if you watch the trailer, it makes it look like it's primarily about sex. The sex is a small part at the beginning of the movie - but it goes on to be about much more.

Robert Downey Jr, who plays a gay man dying of AIDS, gives one of his strongest performances, the type of subtle genius we're unlikely to see again in this, the age of Iron Sherlock Man Holmes. The scenes between him and his best friend, played by Wesley Snipes in the lead role; are painful to watch; they capture the truth of losing someone you love in a powerful way.

I notice now, being a lot older, that there is a lot more going on in the film than I had originally realised. It's that complexity that keeps me coming back again and again. I don't have a lot to say, really; just that I find it interesting how sometimes we can completely love a film that, so far as we can tell, nobody else really cares about. I recommend seeing it. I hope some of you can enjoy as much as I have.

Care to share?

Friday 11 June 2010

"England - The World Cup Movie."

Rumors fresh out of South Africa indicate that film director Fabio Capello is remaking the football film 'England - The World Cup Movie' - only eight years after the last one (there was another remake shot four years ago, but it didn't even make it to DVD).

Fans of the original movie, an unexpected smash hit in 1966; are adamant that new directors must stop remaking it every four years as the newer versions have been appalling, and mostly unwatchable. "Every four years somebody tries to remake it again," said football fan James Innes, "but it's always so predictable." This was an opinion echoed by Greg Baker, not because his opinion was similar but because there was an echo in the room when I asked him.

The problem isn't, as many people believe, that they remake the film every four years - it's that they never have any originality and are always the same. "The film's always start off so promising!" screamed Eric Flump, as he battled to be heard over a passing motorbike, "I always go into it with fresh enthusiasm and belief; and literally, the whole of the UK expects the film to be great. What starts off with lots of energy in the opening stages, soon becomes a pitiful mess towards the end."

"You'd think one of the studio execs would have changed things up a little, or made them a little less predictable, but they're always the same" explained Harry The Hooligan, "but you know exactly what's going to happen---- either halfway through or after three-quarters, one of the character's is going to get angry and cause a scene, or one of the stars is going to leave the movie half way through due to a tight hamstring."

The only remake of the world cup movie that was even mildly loved by fans and critics was the 1990 version, although some felt that the choice of ending was an unfair penalty for what otherwise had solid performances. Betsy Betson, former editor of SoccerWeekly, is hopeful for a fresh approach in the 2010 version but is hardly optimistic; "Jesus, it's pointless, isn't it. Absolutely insane, mental. Outrageous," shouted Betsy, in near meltdown, before following it with, "sorry, what was the question?" As I asked her again about the poor state of the remakes, she instantly blamed Hollywood. "Jesus! They're clearly out of ideas! They think by casting Wayne Rooney they stand a chance of succeeding, but it's ridiculous. Pointless. It's written into their contracts that the film has to die pathetically at least ten minutes before the end."

Various drafts of the screenplay for the 2010 reboot have been read across town (and by town, we mean West London) - but various elements are since believed to have been dropped. Carlo Ancellotti, a talented and experienced screenwriter/director, added in elements where footballers sleep with each others wives, and team captains take large payments for stadium tours, but they were deemed too unrealistic by the producers.

In summary - the new version is believed to be in keeping with all the others. Hugely promising, with a large and overpaid cast. There'll be signs of good dialogue, fun action sequences and occasional inspiration-- only to be let down by a sloppy ending.

Care to share?

Thursday 10 June 2010

Are you taking your career seriously?

I know some people who moan about the industry. They moan about how it's "impossible to make it as a director" before they've even directed a stranger on how to get to the train station. I know actors who moan about being unable to meet director's, who then go on to cancel three meetings in a row with me. The majority of people don't fail in this industry because it's hard, they fail because they're not trying.

Today I did a filming job in the morning. It was meant to finish at 3pm but it finished at 11am. Fine by me. I got paid. I came home. I was reading a screenwriting book on the way back. When I got home, I decided to watch a film. It was 'Milk'. It was difficult to watch, really challenging-- being that it's pretty much the first film I have watched which is very much about homosexuality (I mean, in 'Philadelphia' Tom Hanks is gay, but it's not as primary a thing in every scene as with 'Milk'). The film was fascinating, and Sean Penn was amazing. Then the DVD stopped working on 53 minutes. Those damn rentals. I made some lunch. Then I watched another rental, 'Look Who's Talking'. Stupid thing stopped working after 23 minutes! I got a phone call from a film festival programmer who's going to screen a couple of my short films. We talked for a bit, talked about arrangements. Tonight I watched about six Tom Hanks interviews, then two episodes of 'The Actors Studio' - one with Will Smith, and one with Kevin Costner. I wrote a film blog about Tom Hanks, I wrote a film blog about Kevin Costner. I set up a Facebook event for the film festival and invited my friends. I emailed a feature screenplay I've recently written to the Head Of Development at a medium-sized production company. He said he'd read it. I am constantly doing the work. Now, I'm not saying I'm successful. I'm just saying, I'm doing the work. I'm in the zone. I'm clearing out the movie trash.

Too many actors say they're going to make showreels, and don't. Too many actors wait too many years for too many films they don't even like anyway. Too many actors put DVD's on their cabinet and wait for some magical mystery day before doing anything to make a showreel. Jesus, there's going to be a Black President before these guys get their showreels done!

Too many people are busy. Busy running around meeting for 'coffee' and discussing projects, and quoting lines from George Bernard Shaw, instead of doing the work, creating the work, being the work, finding the work. By work I mean work, and I mean studying, and I mean chasing, and I mean living. You are too talented to be sitting on Facebook. You are too talented to be too tired to work on your business plan, or your storyboards, or your composition. You are too talented to repeatedly meet up with the same 'safe' people who are all industry-talk-but-no-action.

Yesterday, I had a free day. I had nothing to do. Luckily, I had friends who wanted to see me. One of them is a music composer who I've worked with in the past, but we've never really spent much time talking. So we met for coffee. And we talked for hours about all aspects of our industry; and all the things we talk about here like creativity, inner critics, Tom Hanks, gender issues in film, etc -- and he taught me lots about music rights and publishing. How awesome! Instead I could have been at home, talking to some girl on MSN who I don't really know and don't really care about. I learned a lot, and got to understand more about how he works and how he finds and channels his creativity. The only problem was - I paid for the damn coffee.

I know actors that are constantly late for meetings, I know film director's who haven't watched a film in four months, I know writers who know everything that is wrong with every film ever made, yet have never written one right thing themselves; not because their writing is bad but because they've never actually written anything.

The right time to do the work is, surely, right now, otherwise what's the point? If you said you'd read my script, you should. If I said I'd watch that musical from 1937 that you lent me two years ago, then now is a good time. If we said we'd go to the ocean to get some inspiration from nature for our screenplays, then we damn well should. The time is now and the time is now and the time is now. We are too healthy and too privileged and too alive to not do anything now. And if some of you can honestly say "hey, actually, I'm not healthy enough right now," then that's even more of a reason why the rest of us should get off our asses and actually do the work we were put on this Earth to do.

I know you have talent, I know you love movies. Whatever has stopped you, be it laziness, confusion, or a lack of confidence. Whatever is behind that; debt, bad parents, negative teachers, depression;- your freedom will come from your passions, from your dreams, from your talents; if only you bother to start finding them and using them. DO IT.

I beg you
Do something
Learn a dance step
Something to justify your existence
Something that gives you the right
To be dressed in your skin in your body hair
Learn to walk and to laugh
Because it would be too senseless
After all
For so many to have died
While you live
Doing nothing with your life.

-Charlotte Delbo, Holocaust Survivor.

Care to share?

Kevin Costner On The Animals That Understand You

"I knew what I wanted to be. I was really really happy. I didn't care if I took out trash. I just knew in my psyche, that it needed to be movie trash, it needed to be stage trash, I needed to be close to the business. And I think that's what you have to be, you have to be close, you have to talk with the animals that understand you."

-Kevin Costner

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Tom Hanks & His Corporate Duties...

I've always admired Tom Hanks and his career choices. Until 'The Da Vinci Code', when it seemed like he was jumping on the latest-craze bandwagon. But then again, he's earned the right to do so - having satisfied his fans again and again and again and again and again making great movies, giving perfect performances. So by all means, he should get the golden paycheck. But then he did the sequel. And again, why not, I guess. But Tom Hanks is my favorite actor of the modern era - and I long to see him doing more subtle and fascinating characters.. (I can't wait for 'LARRY BROWNE'!). Anyways--

Here's something difficult to watch. It's Tom Hanks giving a keynote speech for SONY in 2009, and it's rather painful to watch. Whilst I, as a fan, have felt a bit uncomfortable seeing my acting hero doing the giant-budget-bore films recently, I think there's an element of that feeling in him too.
He had to give this keynote speech as part of his contract for Angels & Demons. As the speech progresses, he gets more and more awkward with the material he's made to read from the prompter; and when the big Sony boss comes on stage, their joking with each other does have some 'ouch' moments - and there's genuine tension between them. Hanks jokes that he's not getting his Angels & Demons paycheck until the speech is done - yet, funnily enough, there is truth to that.

Here's Tom Hanks, doing his corporate duty; yet remarkably, by some miracle, maintaining his integrity and remaining my complete All-American hero. Fascinating, funny, and painful. This video demonstrates the remarkable tension that exists between the business side and the creative side of the industry. Even Tom Hanks isn't immune.

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Tuesday 8 June 2010

Interview with GIUSEPPE SULFARO, Star Of 'Malèna'

Malèna is a perfect film. One of the most memorable things about it is the incredible performance by GIUSEPPE SULFARO. When they shot the movie, he was only fourteen years of age, and had never acted before. He was discovered by one of the world's finest director's, Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso) - who gave him the enviable privilege of working alongside Monica Bellucci. I talked to Giuseppe about what it was like to be discovered at such a young age and given such a great opportunity - and found out about the great work he's been doing since.

When did you first know that you wanted to be an actor?

It all started when my aunt read in a newspaper that Tornatore was looking for the protagonist of his new movie with Monica Bellucci. My aunt has always been convinced since I was a child that I had very expressive eyes, so I took pictures and sent them to the production, and from there began the road that allowed me to discover this world to me which was completely unknown but fantastic at the same time. Tornatore began to select 2500 photos of kids from here and summoned 90. These 90 kids he met for an interview, where he liked to tease my adolescence! The first was followed by another two or three, the second meeting was a test on hand, from the 90 kids we were then 40. In the next audition an actress took the place of what would be Monica Bellucci, From 40 actors we were down to 9, then another meeting with Tornatore, who chose three finalists, then a video with the 3 finalists was sent to Miramax. Miramax was also thrilled with me, so from that day, I was catapulted into the world of cinema for a year.

In "MALENA". It's amazing that your performance was so perfect, considering you were only 14. What was the experience like for you?

It was the best year of my life, I was away from home for about one year, I followed my father as I was underage, I did not go to school but when I went to the production, I kept in touch with my teachers, so I could integrate school. Filming began in September.I was the youngest and most spoiled, even though my father was very hard with me, but he understood the time and sometimes turned a blind eye and let me do what I liked.

Giuseppe Tornatore is such an amazing writer and director. What is his directing style like? How would he direct you?

Initially, before six months of shooting, me and Tornatore talked about much of the script in general and, once we started filming - every night we met and talked of the work to be done the next day. Sometimes Monica attended, this was so Monica and I gained great confidence that would help us in the "hottest" scenes, other times I let the scenes play at my leisure and if there was something he did not like we would talk about it and try to reach an agreement .... I was very young and had my first experience at the cinema, he was very patient with me, as I was with him, since he is very meticulous and precise, sometimes too much. Tornatore carefully thought how to complete the whole film, as the attention to detail in dubbing and editing.. sometimes the perfectionism borders on madness!

I'm trying to think of what it would be like to be 14 and working with Monica Bellucci. Was it exciting? Scary?

With Monica I had a great relationship from the beginning, we talked about everything, obviously being 14 years old, after a couple of days you will begin meetings with Monica Bellucci to fall in love; this she understood and maintained this relationship of complicity to facilitate the work later. Well I was glad of this, Monica greeted me every morning with a little kiss on the lips, and it made me feel like her husband Vincent Cassel [Giuseppe smiles]. The film was turning into reality - a reality that I knew would fade when the film was released. This was good and made me feel safer at work, sometimes I feel Monica and I remember with great joy and satisfaction the moments spent with her.

What to say more?!?! I was 14 when they called me to make the film and I had never seen a live naked woman, the first was Monica, now you can understand my teenage years ...... [the memory makes Giuseppe smile] it was a special and wonderful experience.

Recently you have been doing TV work, which most of us don't get to see in other countries. What have you been working on?

A couple of years ago I was in a film by Krzysztof Zanussi "The Black Sun" nothing special, but always a great experience. Then I was in Greece to shoot a film in original Greek, was a good challenge; I was there for three months learning Greek.. just for the script. The film screenplay was nice, but technically quite poor even though the budget was not so strangely low ... but always an experience. I recently worked in Italy for a fiction with Thérence Hill, do not know if you know it, the new series will resume in December for another year.

Do you think you will always work in Italy, or would you like to work elsewhere?

If I had to leave Italy and learn another language, after acting in Greek does not scare me or anything .... almost. [smiles].

What Film Director would you most like to work with?

To be honest I do not have a favorite director to work with, the important thing is to work... but if I have to say a few names there are many like Pupi Avati, Ettore Scola, Giovanni Veronesi, Gabriele Muccino, Neri Parenti.

MALENA is one of my favorite films, by one of my favorite director's, with one of my favorite acting performances (Giuseppe's, of course). If you haven't seen it already, I thoroughly recommend it - it's a magical, heartbreaking film about youth and unrequited love.

Care to share?

Monday 7 June 2010

Self-Confidence & The Importance Of Your Work In The World.

In my previous post I asked people to talk about what projects they're working on, why they're important in the world, what obstacles they are facing, and when the projects will be completed. First of all, it has been wonderful to learn about everyone's projects-- it's inspiring and exciting. I can't wait to see them all (and to those of you who posted completed projects, I will check them out very soon.)

There were some very interesting things to observe when people were talking about their projects; many of them have similar patterns. They are patterns that are common in creative people; and I think just naming them and having awareness around them can be helpful.

1. When talking about what 'project' they are working on - people often name 2, or 4, or 9 projects. Or even more, endless amounts..

2. People don't see why their projects are important in the world.

3. People lack confidence.

4. People don't set deadlines.

These are all linked. Paying more attention to each stage can really transform your creativity, and your confidence.

It is a common thing for creative people to jump from project to project. Even when you meet a sixteen year old just getting into filmmaking, they'll tell you nine different story ideas. They want to do them all. It's easier and cooler to say "I wanna do a Sci-Fi film, then do an action film, then do a Tarantino-ish thing...". It's very hard to stop, draw attention to one, and focus on it. To stand up and say, "I am making a Sci-fi film. It means the world to me."

In February, I completed a first draft of a feature. And then practically dismissed it -- and kept hunting around for a new project. In fact, I've spent many months spending ALL my energy on an endless pursuit, this giant urge for a new idea. I completely disregarded what I'd just written. This is something we all do. We work and work and then we dismiss. We never reap the benefits of our hard work, we never accept our wonderful achievements or recognize them, which leads to a........

..Lack Of Confidence. But first we should take comfort in realising: everyone is in the same boat. Everyone has self-doubt. Just look at the comments on the previous article. In the first question, people shared their wonderful, exciting ideas. Two questions later, they were hiding behind their blocks, inner-critics, and lacking creative juices. We have this miraculous ability to slam the door shut on our creativity and excitement and make it hard for ourselves. Take comfort in the fact that we all do this. I write blogs, and then - moments later, have crippling fear that I've written a load of bullshit and nobody will give a crap. A few days back, I spent a whole day watching and then writing about Forrest Gump. For hours, there were no responses: and I completely lost confidence in my writing, blogging, knowledge of Forrest Gump, reason for existence, etc etc--- and I am pretty sure none of you would have imagined that of me. We all have it - the confidence and belief waivers. The only thing we can make sure we do, is STAY IN THE GAME. Keep working.

Sometimes every Facebook poke, every browse of Google News, every cup of coffee--- they're just these little slices of lacking self-belief; we convince ourselves we need a coffee or need to check the news before we work on our projects. The truth is, we are desperate for those distractions. Anything to keep us from the giant, full of failure careers that are waiting for us. At some point, the truth dawns: this is the reason it's failing. Three hours of chatting to Mary Frumpley on Facebook about her Niece's health problems is not conducive to your productivity, to your projects, to your success. Confidence comes from being in the room, in the zone, in the chair, in the project.

Your project has a place in the world. If you're making a three minute short film about trash cans-- it may seem pointless and just for laughs- but truth is, what you're making, it's saying something you want in the world. The message might be, 'don't take life too seriously', it might be 'life is pointless so let's throw everything away' -- who knows. Whatever it is, there is some part of you, your brain, your heart, your humor, or something--- there is some part of you that you want to get out into the world. It's that part of you that makes friends, that has connections, that responds to music-- it's that part of you that is your essence, it's where your magic lies. That needs to be out there in the world. Even if your project is 'making a chess board' - there's still a reason why the world needs that. Maybe you're mourning the loss of game players to the internet age, maybe you remember as a kid how chess brought your family together. Whatever it is, you can be less alone and less narcissistic about your project when you realize; it isn't just yours. It's for the world. Who you are, what you're about and what you're doing have a place in the world.

Think about it. Find it. Get excited about it. It will give you confidence.

Your OBSTACLES will begin to change -- it's important that you focus on one thing at a time. Spielberg or Soderbergh might be able to jump from idea to idea, genre to genre, but even they can't do them all at once. Don't be afraid to focus on one thing: nobody will think you're any less productive. And even if they do, it doesn't matter-- because you WILL be more productive by dedicating yourself to one thing. Do one thing, and do it amazingly - and your self-belief will begin to grow as you really get in touch with why you wanted to do it in the first place.

Set a deadline! This is so important. Next week on Thursday; Thursday will just be Thursday, like all the other Thursday's. Maybe you'll work on your script, maybe you'll get new headshots, maybe you'll phone that scary person who might be able to help with financing your project. Maybe. Or, you could definitely do those things. A 'definite' will only happen if you make concrete plans. I know you're busy next Thursday, you have work, then you have to look after the kids, then you have to fill in your tax form and then you need to cook dinner and then you need to get sleep and then you need to get rid of your horrible flu. But you also NEED to work on your project. MILLIONS OF TALENTED CREATIVE PEOPLE PROCRASTINATE AND WAIT EVERY SINGLE DAY. You will be different, you will succeed; by the mere act of participating, by setting goals and working towards them.

And then when everything is done, you can take a short rest: safe in the knowledge you did everything you could, every time you had a chance.

Care to share?

Friday 4 June 2010

Your Projects - What Are You Working On?

I'd love to know more about your projects, whether you're producing a feature, trying to land a gig as a costume designer, writing a short film, trying to lose weight--- whatever it is, it'd be great to hear from all of you!


1. What project are you currently working on or thinking of working on? (keep this very short)

2. Why is it important to you and why is it needed in the world? (Feel free to ramble at length)

3. What obstacles are you facing or anticipating facing?

4. When will this project be completed? (Must set a date!)

Can't wait to hear from you all!

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Dawson's Creek - Ruined My Life?

I still live my life like every girl I meet is a potential Joey Potter, I still feel like any problems with my friends will be resolved come the end of the day with some tender piano background music and some soul-searching, I still feel Dawson-like passion for film is enough in this industry, I still feel like the conversations I have with people are full of meaning and relevance to our lives, I still feel like I am not-the-cool-kid-but-am-kind-of-cool-in-the-slightly-different-way-like-Dawson-Pacey-Joey-Jen-Jack, I still feel like people generally look for the good side in others, I still believe my friends would jump into a pool randomly just for the fun of it, I still expect cute girls to climb in my window, despite my window not having the capacity for such an event, I still convince myself my female friends believe in me the way Joey believes in Dawson/Pacey, I still watch this damn show and more than ten years have gone by.


For those of you in the mood for some Creek-nostalgia, or if you want to be messed up psychologically for life, please watch.

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Thursday 3 June 2010

Proof That Movies Can Negatively Impact People.

My friend Carl dropped me home. I got out of the car and in a moment of hyperactivity decided to sprint really fast beside his car as he drove away. "Run, Forrest Run!" I shouted. As most of you will know, I watched Forrest Gump the other day. I found myself extremely inspired by the themes of running and freedom.

It was in that spirit that I sprinted alongside Carl's car. My purpose, more than really wanting to run or to experience actual freedom - was to make my friend laugh. He didn't find my Gump like running particularly funny, but I was enjoying myself, acting like a complete chump. And then he turned into another road and, unwilling to give up - I kept on sprinting, and kept on shouting Forrest Gump quotes, mostly for my own amusement.

And then a classic line drifted into my head, "Now you wouldn't believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows," - hilarious, I thought-- I'll shout that at Carl as I sprint even faster! So I did:

"Now, you wouldn't beli-----"

I was stopped mid flow as my foot got caught on the curb, my body hurtled forward as my knees smashed down on the road; a split second later as the rest of my body came crashing to the ground I threw my hands down; crunch--- my hands felt the sudden jolt of impact, but so not to do too much damage to them I instinctively spun my body, crashing back against the curb with the upper part of my right leg--- forcing me to roll like I was some movie star "rolling in" after the stuntman did his thing. The good news is, Carl was finally laughing.

My hands and knees have cuts and bruises, I am struggling to walk properly, and my wrist is in extreme pain. If I had never seen Forrest Gump, this wouldn't have happened. My point being: films definitely influence people to do stupid things. And I am proof. Next time someone is in court, and the prosecution claims they were influenced by 'Taxi Driver', 'Clockwork Orange' or 'The Horse Whisperer,' feel free to call on me as an expert witness. I've been there, I was a victim of being influenced by films. Movies corrupt people. Fuck Forrest Gump.

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Wednesday 2 June 2010

Sex And The City 2: A Review Of The People Lining Up To See It.

So me and my friend Pete decided to go and see a movie, although we didn't actually see a movie we just decided to see one, but we didn't see it. You see, what we did see, Pete and me, is we saw an abundance of women. Hundreds of women. I can't say exactly how many but somewhere between a hundred and a million, and they were all lining up to see 'Sex And The City 2.' Or maybe I'm wrong, maybe the women were out in numbers to see 'Furry Vengeance' but it's unlikely.
Now, I have no problem with women liking Sex And The City, they can like Sex And anything they want, but --- the problem was, that the line to buy a ticket was about this long. I just demonstrated how long with my arms, but you can't see, because this is a blog. I mean, you can see, I'm not saying your eyesight is bad; I just mean you can't see what I'm doing, because this is a blog, and not a video of me stretching my arms out like this. Again, you can't see that, either, because this isn't a video. Anyways. Where were we? We were in line at the cinema.

So, there we were. And there were hundreds of women of all ages, although not quite as old as a hundred, and not quite as young as five although some were acting like it. The problem we had was that we wanted to just quietly walk over to the cinema dude and buy a ticket for 'Death At A Funeral' -- I don't mean I wanted death, or a funeral, although after witnessing the effects of Sex And The City, it perhaps seemed more appealing. But we couldn't buy a ticket, because the lines were so long, so we decided to go to Pizza Hut.

The Pizza was okay, it was quite nice, although not as friendly as some other Pizza's. We also had a dessert due to the waitress demanding we try the cookie thingy dessert. And then it was time to go and see the later showing of the film, or maybe even seeing the other film that was on, I forget which one, but just before we left; about sixty females suddenly left Pizza Hut and walked towards the cinema. I got out the movies app on my iPhone. Indeed, SATC2 was starting at the same time as the movies we were considering, which meant more lines. Indeed, as we looked beyond the cookie dessert and on out of the window, we could see another sea of woman seemingly seeing one thing only -- it's like that scene in 'War Of The Worlds' when they're all going up that mountain towards the Alien thingy. We realized we had no chance, once again there were to be at least a million women in line to get tickets for the movie about the shopping bags.

And then we went home.

Overall - I give the audience members of Sex & The City 1 out of 10.

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Tuesday 1 June 2010

Forrest Gump - What Does Normal Mean Anyway?

Forrest Gump is one of those rare films that truly captured the imagination of the world. You can never predict when a film is going to do such a thing, nor would you really want to. Producers are always putting the 'elements' together; big stars, directors with track records, and safe storylines. With Forrest Gump - you get the feeling that wasn't the case. And even if it was; the success of the film and effect it has had on the world could never have been planned, or expected. To realize just how much of an effect the film has had-- go to a busy place right now and, after a few moments-- start running. You will undoubtedly hear, "run Forrest, run!". As anyone who likes to go running will confirm, this is not a rare occurrence.
So what is so special about Forrest Gump? I feel an important place to start, when looking at Forrest Gump the movie, is to look at Forrest Gump, the character. To just say "he's simple," is to make a huge mistake. Within this simpleness there's a man who has strong morals, unyielding loyalty, and a heart of gold. What is striking about Gump is how he is void of prejudice and judgement of those he loves. Throughout his life he accepts Jenny for who she is. Often, through not knowing or understanding the predicaments she is in, but also because-- he sees past them. Likewise, his admiration and respect for Lieutenant Dan doesn't change after he becomes disabled. The film touches upon issues of race, throughout-- but with Forrest and his friend Bubba, it isn't a factor. So much so that when Lieutenant Dan asks them, "Are you twins?" -- Forrest's "We are not relations, Sir" is said without irony. For Gump, the reason why it's obvious they're not Brothers is because they're not related, not because one's black and one is white.
Diversity is a big theme throughout the film. Not only with race; but even around the subject of disability, both mentality and physically. Lieutenant Dan is often angry at Forrest Gump, but never because of his IQ. One of the most profound moments of the film is when Dan and Gump take two girls up to their room; and Lieutenant Dan kicks the girls out the moment they insinuate Forrest is "stupid." It's profound because, we realize, the beef that the Lieutenant has with his friend is not based on his 'simpleness' or any of his character flaws; but merely, the complexity of the fact that Dan felt it was his destiny to die in battle, like all of his family - and of course Forrest was the one who stopped him from doing so, by saving him and leaving him crippled.

If Forrest is simple, and all of us with the privilege of fully functioning minds are the 'normal' and complex ones-- then it seems that what Forrest is lacking is the prejudice and hate that most of us carry around day to day. Like, for example, the student who is angry that they're letting 'coons' into the school, or the peace activist whose peace doesn't extend to Jenny, who he happily beats when he feels like it.
I've read and heard many thoughts on the film before, where people have talked about how Forrest stumbles from opportunity to opportunity, through sheer luck. This is true, to an extent, but it's not the whole story. For example, it was sheer luck, or perhaps misfortune, that a man from the army handed him a leaflet-- but it wasn't luck that Forrest went back and saved all his comrades, or that he was consistently loyal to Lieutenant Dan. It's not all luck, it's not all chance. This is the beauty and complexity of the film--- the linking themes of chance and luck, mixed with the destiny you hold in your own hands.
"I don't know if Momma was right or if it's Lieutenant Dan. I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze... But I think maybe it's both... Maybe both is happening at the same time."
-Forrest Gump

We can never really know why films connect the way they do. If someone could figure it out, then they'd be making magical films every single day. One thing we can be sure of - is that is certainly not happening. With Forrest Gump - one thing is for sure; there is a certain magic to it. A mix of talent and luck and accident; something came floating along the ether and landed in this film. You could analyze it to death and you would still miss something, because it has a magic within it that can't be named or labelled.

But there are things we can know by watching it. Forrest Gump, for all his simplicity, is really the type of person we all want to be. Someone who can see the finer things in life, someone whose preoccupations are friendship, love, and life. We'd all like to go for a run on a whim, or start up a shrimping business purely because we promised it to an old friend. Forrest lives the life few of us dare to. Whatever our excuses; be they work, life, family, lack of money, disability-- Forrest doesn't have them. With his last dime, he bought a shrimping boat. At a time when he could have focused on earning more billions, he instead decided to cut grass simply because he liked doing it so much. He makes life look easy, by making the difficult decision to do what he says he's going to do, when he says he's going to do it. And whilst most of us would agonize and analyze over why we do or don't do a thing, Forrest just gets on with it.

Why are you running? Are you doing this for world peace? For the homeless? Are you running for women's rights? The environment? Why are you doing this?

I just felt like running.

The most incredible parts of the film are the extremely tender, personal moments-- moments where there is suddenly an overwhelming, yet not over the top, sense of emotion. I can't think of many films that have achieved this in such a subtle way. And this is where those 'elements' really earned their money--- the expert direction of Robert Zemeckis, the beautiful music of Alan Sylvestri and the genius of Tom Hanks.

An example of this is when Forrest visits Jenny, and finds out he has a son. Forrest steps back, almost losing his balance. The way Tom Hanks handles this is impeccable. Whilst his performance might be memorable for more obvious moments, his acting in this scene shows why he deserved his Oscar. As Forrest stumbles over the question that scares him so much, "But, is-- is he smart? or is he..." - Hanks' is able to say so much, by doing so little. His body language, the awkwardness in his eyes and the way his tone of voice changes--- he brings a truthfulness and a vulnerability to the moment which is so rare in movies, but is essentially why most of us keep watching them (in my website header I say I am looking for a piece of me staring back at me, it's moments like this I'm referring to). You can't write these moments, you can't even really direct them and you can't purposefully act them. You can just get the right people involved, in the right place, at the right time; and if you're lucky, you get magic like this. (Skip to 2min 50sec if you want to get straight to what I'm talking about.)

Back to my original question - why is Forrest Gump such a special film? I really don't know. But it is. The movie takes us through some of the most iconic moments of recent American and World history, and touches upon difficult topics such as war, race, sexual abuse and a whole seas of prejudices. If the film teaches us anything it's perhaps that history is not a static thing. It plays out differently depending on the perspective it's seen from. And looking at the journey of Forrest Gump, it reminds us that we are present in the world. We can make a difference. And maybe simplicity, kindness, love and courage are the important things after all.
"My Mama always told me, that miracles happen every day. Some people don't think so, but they do."
-Forrest Gump

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