Saturday 27 November 2010


My favorite song at the moment is ANGIE by THE ROLLING STONES. I've been listening to it again and again; it's basically my theme tune for a writing project I'm beginning. By theme tune, I mean-- sometimes an idea, a script, or whatever-- it comes with a sound, or a song. At least it does, for me. So I've been listening to the song a lot-- and a little earlier today I was looking for different versions and came across one by a young singer/songwriter called ANA FREE. And she's magnificent!

Here she is covering Tom Petty's FREE FALLIN' with a guy called JOE MARTINEZ. Not only is it a great version, but after the song they, and another friend who joins in, do an impromptu medley of songs--- and wow, I loved it! So much TALENT! So much FUN! We don't get enough of this energy in music (or in films). Just thought I'd share it, I hope you like her. Ana has quite a fanbase, it's obvious to see why.

Care to share?

Monday 22 November 2010

NOTTING HILL - Surreal But Nice

"The world is no longer a romantic place. Some of its people still are however, and therein lies the promise."
-John Cage, in 'Ally McBeal'

NOTTING HILL is a great movie. It's exactly what a romantic comedy should be. Of course, we don't call movies like this great because it's not very cool; and we're all too busy watching French New Wave masterpieces; but when it comes down to it -- there isn't much that's better better than watching a rom-com that resonates, which they can occasionally do.

Of course, we love movies that challenge us -- but we normally want those challenges to be a complex plot or a surprise ending; and we look down upon a challenge which might be, 'to believe in love' or 'to be swept away in a nice story,' which is strange because these things are actually quite rare. But when we let our guard down at 11pm on a Monday night and throw on a DVD like this, we normally enjoy it. Or maybe I'm just talking for myself.

'Notting Hill' is not a movie that tries to rock the world of cinema or redefine the rom-com genre, yet it is a great example of why, when it really comes down to it, there isn't much better than a comedy that makes us care. After-all; the problems and concerns of our lives don't tend to be based on gun chases and explosions, sometimes we really just need to see two beautiful people falling in love; because it can give us hope.

We can all relate to William Thacker and Anna Scott. We're all either hoping for something more exciting to come along, or something to protect us from all the crazy madness going on. We can project all of that onto these characters as we indulge in their journey for two hours.

And that's essentially what a rom-com is; watching people live out our romantic fantasies a little more interestingly that we do in reality. In the movies, they climb into out-of-bounds-gardens with 'When You Say Nothing At All' on the soundtrack, whereas in reality a romance is sending a text message and waiting six hours for a response. In the movies, they meet at Rick's in Casablanca and get Sam to play it again, in real life we wait outside a bar in the rain while the one you were meeting is thirty minutes late because they just don't care about you as much as they would in the movies.

I always forget how much fun 'Notting Hill' is until I watch it again. The supporting cast are ALL absolutely HILARIOUS!

 So, yeah, I really like 'Notting Hill' and I'm sure some of you do, too, and many of you don't. What I like, is how old-fashioned it is. It's just a well told story, with some great comedic touches, and most importantly - a good heart. It doesn't try to overawe us with cleverness or impress us with coolness; it just feels real, and welcoming, like a good cup of English tea.

Care to share?

The Project Of Yours That Lacks Clarity

What is the project that you've been avoiding for ten years? I think we all have that one elusive project that pops its head into your consciousness every now and then, but whenever you look at it closely you lose clarity and confidence.

Many of the films we see are created by people who made them as a way of avoiding a more personal and meaningful idea that they couldn't quite get to grips with, or feel confident about.

I thought maybe some of you might like to share a bit about your projects; where for today we will celebrate the almost forgotten, almost scary, always elusive ideas that sit somewhere just outside of our focus and full awareness.

By all means, don't give away your plot secrets; but maybe you can tell us something either about your project, or your experience of clarity, or lack thereof.

For me, I have always wanted to write a coming of age tale -- somewhere between 'Dawson's Creek' and 'Garden State,' but with a bit more at stake. The lack of clarity comes because: I find it difficult to really see why it's important (even though I know it is) and a critical voice says 'it'll be too touchy feely,' -- and, well I don't know what else, the clarity monkey makes my brain go foggy even thinking about it.

Your turn...

Care to share?

Saturday 20 November 2010

The Best Of Neither Worlds

I am realizing that I don't rest, and I also don't work hard. When I'm working hard I'm dreaming of resting, and when I'm resting, I'm not resting at all; because I feel guilty for not doing anything. So my life goes like this..

Do some writing.... But keep flicking around on Facebook trying to get out of my brain.... Tell myself I need a break... put on a DVD.... realize I need to edit that video project..... Start editing.... Remember that I haven't read all the script contest entries yet..... read a script.... feel tired... decide to go to bed..... start getting pissed off that I haven't had a new script idea recently.... get up in middle of the night and bash out ten pages of a script... realise I need sleep... go to sleep.... wake up determined to do something amazing..... sit around feeling uninspired... write a blog post about how inspired I am... feel that I need to see my friends... arrange to see my friends..... keep emailing my film's producer whilst out with friends........

And so on! I am finding that I am not FULLY engaged in my creative work, because I always want to be doing NOTHING. But whenever the chance comes up to do nothing, I am determined to do EVERYTHING. 

So nothing gets done, and nothing gets-- errr, not done. And I've known this for a while but am realising now that, it's getting to the point where it could be a problem. 

I am realizing, of course, that both are important. But what is important, is to do them consciously. I need to allow myself to rest. That's what I am going to do tomorrow. I need to drink tea and see my friends and realize the value in those things. And I can even watch three movies back to back if I want to.

Care to share?

The World In The Front Row

Talking with your friends about movies is always fun. But now, I have the privilege of talking to you, my online friends, who are literally from all over the world! And you all love cinema in such amazing ways. So exciting!

Judit is from Hungary but lives in London, and loves the great Hungarian work like the animations from the Pannon Filmstudió, and director's like Miklós Jancsó, Istvan Szabó and Nimród Antal. Dr. Sadiye Kuş is from Istanbul and thinks we should all watch "Bal" and "Vavien."

Lady Isis is from Bosnia and loves movies, especially the great Bosnian ones. Did you know Bruce Lee is an icon in Bosnia? Yellowgirl6 is from Israel and loves going to the cinema but prefers watching American movies, as most Israeli films are either about the army, or they're comedies, and she prefers horror and drama!

Désirée loves great Swedish movies but unfortunately there's not a lot of money in the industry there. She prefers watching movies in her home rather than going to the cinema, and she thinks Änglagård, Jägarna, Göta Kanal and Jalla are great examples of Swedish directors. Anna is also from Sweden, she loves Änglagård films but in general doesn't think that Swedish films are a good representation of the people. 

Allyn lives in Malaysia and has found films to be great teachers of moral values; things like respecting your elders and taking responsibility. Allyn says that Malaysian films are good but don't always live up to expectations! Jeanie Black Page lives in Seattle, USA, and would love for us all to visit the Seattle Film Festival, as apparently it's pretty good!

Dlaydii explained that some pretty amazing films have been made in Australia recently. Australians have a different kind of humour; and usually, the films made there represent the people quite well. Lucy is also from Australia but lives in China now, where she finds that the best films tend to be the ones that are low budget.

Cucipata is always travelling around; and has recently seen films in South America, North America, Spain, Germany and Luxumburg, "There is nothing like watching movies in their original language, much of the culture is lost in every translation."

Neon is from New Zealand and tells us that cinema is very important to the Kiwi's, and that when they make a good film, "we basically brand it on our forehead when we go overseas." Filmmusic100 is from the Phillipines but is currently living in Nevada. In the Phillipines she prefers watching Soap Operas, but in the USA prefers watching movies.

Mirette says Egyptian films are a big chunk of their culture and represent the country well, but would prefer if they used more effects. Tizzy is in the UK is a little frustrated by how cinemas are dominated by Hollywood blockbusters and by the fact that even the English films now tend to have a more glamorous American style.  When she can, she goes to a very small cinema built in the middle of some woodlands, and apparently it's very quaint. Maybe she'll get us some pictures!

Elle is from Switzerland, and doesn't have much to say about their movies -- as film is not a big part of their culture, but the good news is that their cinemas are very clean! 

Caterpillar is from India, where most people are movie buffs; and would also like us to know that films are made in every language that is spoken in India. Semi is also from India are refers to India beautifully as "the largest cinema watching and producing fraternity" and says "Cinema is our breathe, passion and life!!"

Robin is from Wisconsin, USA, and thinks that the cinemas there are a great place for a date, but would be a lot more happy if there were more anime films in the theaters. Cool.kid lives in Poland and loves Polanksi films and the films of Andrzej Wajda. 

Shruthi wrote me a wonderful email which gave me a great education in Indian cinema and in particular the Tamil film industry. "Did you know that Tamil film actors Namitha and Khushboo have temples built in their honour? Did you know that every Rajini film is preceeded by fans bursting firecrackers, pouring milk over a giant cutout of Rajini, throwing money at the screen when he makes his entrance in the film." Film is an important part of the culture where Shruthi lives, as she explains: "From the bangles we wear to the jewellery to the saree blouses to the make up, etc, a lot of it is taken from film."

Cinema is such a powerful thing, and it means different things to different people. Film is a unique experience for nations, cultures and individuals. How you watch a film in New York is different to how you watch a film in India. Yet, somehow, it's also exactly the same. I would love to hear more of your experiences, and feel free to email me images. 

Care to share?

Wednesday 17 November 2010

How We Fit In: The Future Of Our Art

A film is picture and sound, on a screen. That's it. That's all it takes. A Chaplin film was a man with a cane falling over in front of pretty girls. The most watched videos today are cats running into walls on Youtube, and big-breasted girls miming to music on the TV. 

Watching a cat running into a wall is only funny the first four times. And the Miley Cyrus video is no more interesting than the Rihanna one last year or the Britney Spears one before that, they're all the same but with a new pretty girl. And we can't do what Chaplin did because it's hard enough getting your best friend to watch a three minute Chaplin clip on Youtube, let alone your own variation.

But even so: It's just things we see and things we hear. That's all it takes. The power is with us; the storytellers. The writers, the directors, the producers, the actors. We share this enormous power to do what we want, to bring it out into the world. 

Look at this blog: I write about Jimmy Stewart and I write about my friend Henrietta and I write about making films with no money. This stuff isn't marketable, it's not part of a brand and it's not going to get me invited to the Oscars. But I have an audience, and it's growing every day, because people care about what I say, and because I care about what I say, and because I'm being honest, and truthful. And there are people like Mr London Street who write beautiful stories and people like Color Me Katie who inspire people with beautiful, exciting art. People respond because they bring meaning to the world. And they may only have a hundred readers, or two thousand, or ten thousand; but a few years ago they had fifty, or they had none. But people care about them now. They have longevity. They matter in people's lives. They'll be around for longer than the latest manufactured pop act and they'll mean more to people than the predictable action film I've already forgotten the name of.

We spend too much time being pissed at film studios who won't read our scripts, and director's who won't let us act properly, and investors who won't give us the money we need -- these are the wrong things to be focusing on. We need to be focusing on the bigger picture. We need to focus on the things that inspire us and the things that make us happy. If you love romance, why are you writing a 150 page script about car chases? Write a three minute film for YouTube about that girl you loved when you were fifteen. Why are you writing loads of three minute YouTube films when what you really want is to be making films like Woody Allen? We all gotta start, and we all gotta learn how to write and direct and act and design sets and do make-up and whatever it is that you want and have to do. But I think we keep getting sidetracked. We keep focusing on the problems; the fact our partner's want us to earn money, the fact the studios want some sex scenes, the fact the guy at the seminar said we need some action before page 4. How long have you been following this pattern? Is there something more you can do, to really do, what you want to do?

"You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.  What you'll discover will be wonderful.  What you'll discover is yourself."
-Alan Alda

The Dogme films, a project started in Denmark - were about getting people to forget about money and forget about lighting and forget about special effects. Instead; they focused on telling stories. Some of them look like shit; they look like my Brother directed them. But they've got HEART, they've got TRUTH. They resonate. Just like the 'Mumblecore' movement in the USA. Some people hate them; they say they're just annoying white people moaning about their dating lives. But for some people, they're the best cinema in years; they RESONATE. They mean something. They mean everything.

The Dogme filmmakers and the Mumblecore filmmakers took control of things themselves. They made everything about story. About creating things that reflect who they are. If you try to write something marketable, or if you try to brand yourself as an actor; you're going to fail. Because it means nothing. People see through it. Your favorite writers, directors and actors; they aren't where they are because of their branding. They're there because they found themselves and brought out the essence of who they are into the world. A lot of us start from a place of bullshit and waste too much time there; constantly shifting and changing and trying to be 'edgy' enough or 'quirky' enough or 'sexy' enough. Did you get into this work to be quirky or did you get into it to be yourself? 

It's hard to be yourself at first. Why the fuck is this Elvis guy dancing around like an idiot? Why is this Spike Lee guy making films about black people? Why is this Chaplin fella falling over all the time? Why is Steve Martin's stand up really strange?  Why is that Twilight girl so moody?

“I would much rather have regrets about not doing what people said, than regretting not doing what my heart led me to and wondering what life had been like if I'd just been myself.”
 Brittany Renée 

Don't give all your power to the gatekeepers in Hollywood. They don't even know you exist. If you keep ringing them up and emailing their agents and begging them, they're gonna be fed up because they have no idea who you are. They haven't seen your ART, they haven't seen YOU, they've only seen the insane part of you that keeps begging and wanting and expecting. Go away and be yourself, find your audience, find your friends; and do the work. Make a movie. Make a screenplay. Make a cake. Make a cake, sell the cake, make a movie with the twenty dollars you made. 

It's not about getting agents and producers and studios and Spielberg to give you an opportunity. It's about giving them an opportunity. Because you've been working on your art for twenty years; and to show for it you've got a ton of people who go insane for what you do. 

Bruce Springsteen's Dad wanted him to join the army, Counting Crows toured coffee houses and washed dishes while all the record companies rejected them, the Farelly Brothers had their screenplay 'Dumb & Dumber' rejected by every studio and production company, Michael J Fox was told he was too small and too Canadian to make it in Hollywood. These people stuck at their art, they stayed true to who they are. And now they're major successes.

The world may seem like it's run by the people who greenlight superhero movies, and maybe it is. But meanwhile, there's a lot we can be doing and we don't need to feel oppressed, or depressed; or like outsiders. Instead, we can just make art and whether our audience is ten million people, or ten; that's exactly how it's meant to be right now and that's enough. Those ten people love you, and they're gonna tell all their friends, and their friends are gonna do the same.

"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."
-Robin Williams

Care to share?

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Cinema In Your Country

I've just been looking at the stats for visits to this blog, it's incredible! There is so much diversity here; and I want to know all about you!

Where are you from? What are the cinemas like in your country? Can you tell us something interesting about the film-going experience where you are? Is film an important part of your culture? Are you able to see all the films you're interested in seeing? 

Are good films made in your country? Are they a good representation of you and the people in your nation? 

Please feel free to comment, whether you're a new follower, a passer by, whether you have a lot to say or very little; I think this is a great chance for us to see how we are similar and also how we are different; all around the world.

Wherever you are from, Spain, Russia, Germany, India, Taiwan, Romania, etc-- I'd love to know more about YOU, where you come from, and what films mean to you; and how they are or aren't a part of your culture.

Care to share?

Monday 15 November 2010

Heights Coffee, Brooklyn, On A Cold Day In November

In 2008 I met a make-up girl called Jenny. She was vegetarian, which almost all make-up artists are. It was 6am and I climbed into the back of a white van on Union Square where the Virgin Store was but isn't anymore. I originally got into another white van but they were for another shoot. In my inexperience of doing crew work in New York I didn't realize that absolutely everyone meets at 6am in Union Square and jumps into white vans to go to film shoots. In fact, if any of you want to work in film but don't know how to get a job I suggest going down to Union Square at 6am and getting in a white van (for legal and common sense reasons I must stress: I don't *actually* recommend doing that). So, I met Jenny, and she was pretty cool, and we kept in touch.

A year later I was back in New York and sitting on Jenny's rooftop somewhere between the Saturday night and the Sunday morning, with a bunch of her friends who were mostly friendly apart from one guy who kept looking at me and repeatedly asking "How do you guys like having healthcare over there?" without ever letting me answer. I didn't realize at the time but when I was sitting on her rooftop I really should have been sitting on a British Airways seat somewhere across the Atlantic. The next morning I was awoken by a phone call from home reminding me that I should have been in London by now. I wasn't on the plane, wasn't in London, and wasn't sure what to do - so I walked over to 7th Ave Station, Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, and met up with my friend Henrietta; who had only been my friend for about two weeks but she is one of those people who, when you meet her, you just know you're going to know her forever.

I told her that I missed my flight and that I wasn't sure what I was meant to do, so we went for a long walk through Brooklyn and we talked about films and we talked about life and we talked about films some more and eventually we stopped for breakfast, in some place that was near to Park Slope but somewhere further on up the road. We had a conversation that I am certain covered absolutely everything, and then we talked about movies some more and then she told me everything about who she is, where she's been and where she's going and I sat there in awe of how amazing she was and in denial of the fact that I wouldn't be coming back to New York any time soon.

We headed back to Park Slope and we figured I should head back to London. I walked her back to the station except she didn't go in the station because instead we went to Heights Coffee on the other side of the road. She got a coffee because she was thirsty and I got a tea because I'm English and we had another one of those talks that covered absolutely all of life and then I said that we should decide exactly what we're going to do with ourselves in the next year. We decided to write down one very specific career goal each; hers about acting, and mine about writing and directing.

She emailed me today for the first time in a while; and I don't think she realised that we're only a week away from being exactly a year since we spent a day figuring out the world and casting our plans out into the future. She told me about all the wonderful things she's doing and this incredible role she's currently playing; and it made me remember that morning, sitting in Heights Coffee; even though we'd have rather been in Gorilla Coffee but it was way too crowded in there that day. We made big dreamy plans on that cold November morning last year about these things we wanted to achieve in the next year. And you know what? We've achieved more than the goals we set. A year ago we were two dreamers. A year later we're doing the work we always knew we were meant to do. 

I think I'll email Henrietta back.

Care to share?

Sunday 14 November 2010

BAND OF BROTHERS on Remembrance Sunday

This is a wonderful moment from the final episode of BAND OF BROTHERS. The German Army have surrended at the end of World War 2; and their Officer requests a brief moment to address his men, which he does, with the American soldiers watching on. A beautiful scene; that really hits home the first time you see it.

Care to share?

What If Piracy Really Did Ruin The Industry?

What if, by downloading a movie, it meant that Tom Cruise only got paid $3million instead of $15million? What if we all downloaded pirated films and only bothered to go see films if they were actually good?

What would happen if doing this did completely and utterly ruin the industry? Studios would shut down, director's couldn't afford their big houses and hundreds of actors would decide to take up plumbing. Hollywood is gone and the $100million movie is over.

Everybody goes home - cinema's shut down. Goodnight, and goodbye.

BUT then what? There'd still be cameras. People would keep making films. But what films would they make?

Care to share?

Friday 12 November 2010

Chicken And Eggs

Do people watch movies because they're ill, or do they get ill so they can stay home and watch movies?

Care to share?

Dealing With Criticism

Here's a question from a blogger member called filmmusic100, who writes this new blog

Although I have such a big heart for filmmaking, I cannot sugarcoat that its environment is harsh. I personally think that filmmakers should not be criticized for their film because little is known of how much work, effort, and time they put into it, and no one can really understand enough how much a filmmaker loves what he/she does. But I know that criticizing isn't gonna disappear and, in a way, it is needed. I want to know how, if you had been criticized for your work, you deal with it and how you react to other people judging your scripts? 

This is a great question. And before I write a bunch of answers - let me first say, I don't really know what I'm talking about. Sometimes I feel invincible, and sometimes criticism can wreck me. It's a strange thing. There have been times where people have slammed my work in a big way and I've handled it incredibly, and then other times I've had a conversation with my Brother where he says something like "Do you really think the line about the fish is worth having?" and I've gone a bit insane and convinced myself I should give up altogether; and what he said wasn't even criticism it was just a question about a fish. 

Another thing to remember is that even Shawshank Redemption has its critics. There are people out there that think it sucks. The difference is that when you're starting out, you don't have that buffer of success, accolades and dollars. You just have you, and people telling you you're terrible. But the critics are there every step of the way. But if you're getting criticism; you're doing something RIGHT. If nobody is criticising you, then you're probably not doing very good work. 

To be truly creative, is to do things that haven't be done before - or at least, to do them differently. So of course, when you're doing something that hasn't been seen before; people are initially uncomfortable with it and they like to criticise it. The problem is that, after you've heard criticism enough times, it becomes internalized in a really strong way. 

Think about it. You're a writer, or a director, or an actor. And from the age of four or whatever, you're made to do Maths. You're made to stand in line. But you wanna write a story or you want to do a little drawing. And pretty soon you're fourteen and people are saying "what do you want to do with your life?" and you can't say writer or artist or actor because people will laugh at you because it's not real work, or because it's too competitive, or whatever it is that your teachers/friends/society project onto it. 

Then you're eighteen -- and you're doing your drawings or making your short films or writing your stories; but you're shy about it, because society is telling you to learn more about Maths or go and do a degree with an 'ology' in it. Our society doesn't support creativity. Society thinks that if you're up at 4am writing down ideas, you've got a sleeping problem, they don't think that you've got a problem in act three or a problem getting the right shading on your drawing. 

So when everyone around you finds it hard to support you, you're going to find it hard to support yourself. Standing up and saying "I am a film director" is HARD. Everyone thinks you're insane, or dreaming. Worst of all, they see dreaming as bad!?!?! 

Every time I read a bad review it bothers me not because I think the critic is wrong but because secretly I think they're right. "How did the lady from the Bergen County Shopper's Guide get it right but not the guy from the New York Times." 

Meanwhile you want to write a movie about giraffes who land on Mars, or you want to be an actor even though you have a strange face, or you want to write a novel about flowers--- but you look around you and all the actors look like Megan Fox or Jude Law, and the people giving seminars say there's no market for Mars giraffes and your friends keep telling you only old people will read a book about flowers. 

The point is -- it's hard! We've been socialized this way and it is difficult. It's difficult for people to support what we do, because they don't understand, and because they wish they could do what you do, and because they can't comprehend how a book about flowers or a movie about giraffes that land on Mars will inspire people. THAT'S YOUR JOB. Your job is to show people the world through the eyes of you; you'll give them a different angle. That's what artists do. Make us see our lives in a different way, or help give us some release from our complicated jobs, relationships, and lives. 

People will criticise you and you'll criticise yourself. But then, so does everyone else. And you probably criticise people too in ways you don't even realise. Just remember; there will always be criticism. And people will always disagree with what you do, or have an opinion, right up until they point they love what you do. 

Care to share?

Thursday 11 November 2010

Your Questions, My Answers!

The other day, I said a hello to all the new readers here by asking some questions as a way of getting to know you, and said that, if you had any questions for me, feel free to ask. And many of you did. So here are all your questions and hopefully some of my answers will be of interest! Thanks for the wonderful questions!

Sometimes I swear the melodrama will destroy me........
Two things, 1.your breaking in story, how you got to where you are, is it who you know, or talent that gets picked up these days? and 2. What inspires you? I need advice! Mine's dried up!!!

'Breaking in' is such a strange concept. I think believing in it immediately puts you on the outside; and you feel like you have to be extra special to smash through a wall to 'get in.' But in reality; there's just people making projects. And of course, it's hard to get involved in a big project when you're fifteen and living in Sweden or something. So you do what you can, maybe you make a little movie. And then it gets in a festival. And then you do a bigger film, and so on and so forth; and more and more doors open up... not because you have the magic password, but just because: you're doing the work. 

Industry secret: Most people can't be bothered to turn up in a freezing cold field at 3am to be on an unpaid film shoot. If you DO do it, people will like you. And their next project will pay 50 euros/dollars/pounds a day. And they'll still like you. And then on and on and so forth. It's about showing up, constantly working on your craft. Most (not all) actors and directors struggled MASSIVELY for a LONG time. That's what the journey is. Here's a quote from my interview with LAWRENCE SHER, who's now one of the best DOP's in the business; " The year that I made 'Kissing Jessica Stein' was one of the first years where I decided I would not do any more camera assisting even though that was basically how I was earning a living. What a miserable year, it was my only job all year and I think I made $7,000 on the whole movie. So, here I was, a 30 year old guy and I made $7,000 that year." 

Is it talent or who you know, you asked. Use whatever you've got. If you happen to know Spielberg, great! What a wonderful privilege! If you don't -- then use your talent. But make sure you use your talent; and you don't pander too much to someone else's idea of what your talent means, cause then you'll lose your focus. That's my experience at least. As for what inspires me; new experiences mainly. New places, new faces, new blog readers! :) Or just put a pretty girl in my life and get her to not reply to my messages and it'll give me enough angst to inspire three screenplay's...

Sorry if you've answered this in a post already... I haven't read through them all... but if you could've written any movie or acted in any movie... what would it be???

I'd love to have written 'The Apartment' - just because it's such a perfect screenplay. There are many technically perfect screenplay's, I guess, but The Apartment is some kind of magic -- it's just amazing how much joy I feel when reading it, and how beautifully it's put together. 

I'd like to have acted with Jimmy Stewart. Or Ginger Rogers. Actually-- no, most of all, I'd LOVE to have been in a scene with Mr. Chaplin. 

How different is what you are today from what you wanted to be/thought you would be as a child? Are you where you ultimately want to be or do you have a wish to climb higher?

I am where I want to be. I have bigger ambitions, of course; but I don't stress about them otherwise I'd be stressed all the time and feeling incomplete. As for the difference from when I was younger till now. I think my creative life, my writing and directing, is going the way I always hoped and expected--- but what's different is that, I find myself very interested in helping other people be creative. I don't mean by giving script notes or telling them what to do, because I have no idea--- but I like reminding people of how talented they are, and making them feel a bit better and more confident. Sometimes I can succeed in that! I'm not sure where it came from. 

Matt Zurcher
What's your favorite movie?

Cinema Paradiso. 

I really don't know anything about you yet! Are you a working screenwriter? Have you written anything I would know? I love your blog so far! :)

Sorry to tell you this, but I'm not Charlie Kaufman. But I am a screenwriter. You probably haven't seen my work, but who knows? I was once standing outside a building in the Lower East Side, in Manhattan; after a screenwriting thing, and this girl came up to me, as she'd heard my name mentioned-- and she knew all about my film work and really loved it. But that's rare. I'm like one of those Bruce Springsteen bootleg's that only about twenty-six people own. Most people don't know he recorded them, but those that have them really like them! :)

what i want to know about you? your least favorite movies. we may hate the same ones lol

The American Pie movies that came after the third one -- what were they thinking?!

What do I want to know about you? I want you to answer those exact questions!

I knew someone would make me do this! ha

What is your favorite movie?

Cinema Paradiso. 

What is the movie that you secretly watch five times a year even though it's way too cheesy/terrible?

'You've Got Mail.' Or 'One Fine Day.'

What inspires you?

New York.

What do I want to know about you? Your blog is so inspirational day in and day out. Just keep up the good work Kid!

Wow - Thank You!!

What do I want to Know? Do you believe that the story or the actors make the movie? Just curious, heh

I think the story is the most important thing. Otherwise what's the point? There's a reason we don't go back very often to watch Tom Hanks in 'Joe Versus The Volcano.' 

T. Knowley
What would I like to know about you, What was the first movie you remember seeing in the theater as a kid and did you like it?

I don't have a good answer for this! Most writers and directors, when interviewed, have these amazing stories about being three months old and jumping out of their Mother's arms, stealing a car; and hiding out in a cinema watching French New Wave films. I don't have that, at all. I don't remember anything. I have no idea! And it bothers me!

What movies/shows do you hate?

Scrubs. I don't get it. 

I am working on that whole passionate part. I am just so lost right now trying to find my way... The one question I have for you is How did you become so passionate about movies?

I used to find it really exciting to sit in my room, in my early teens, and just watch movies non-stop. I just loved it all - I loved the stories, I loved seeing great acting, I loved laughing, I loved the shape of the frame, it just felt right to me. The rest of the world was all Math's book and girls who wouldn't talk to me and boys who were into smoking and I just didn't get it. But I got movies. They were important to me. 

Draven Ames
Your dreams and aspirations. Do you like horror?
 I like the layout of your blog and congratulations on being put in the spotlight! Wow! Surreal?

I would pretty much never choose to watch a horror. I do like them though! I just don't like bad ones. And I think most of them are bad. But it's not my thing. My dreams and aspirations; in regard to film; are to be like Woody Allen -- to be able to have a modest budget, year after year, and to be able to write and direct the projects I want to do. 

And yeah; it's surreal! my blog hits was in the hundreds each day, and suddenly it's in the thousands (I realise this boost is temporary) -- but I felt suddenly silenced! Like, eeeeeeeeeek - what the hell do I talk about? I'm sure all these masses of people won't want to read my weird stories about tea drinking

Roy Hutabarat
perspective, i guess.. since u surely won't give me some money.. hahaha, kidding.. perspective is what i'm looking for by blogging.. it helps me see thing in a better eyes..

My perspective is that we really suffocate when we think about money! Especially when it comes to creativity. 

I want to know if your as sick as me of all the latest hollywood garbage..i also dont really care how much the latest superhero film took ;]

I used to feel like that. But now, my perspective is a bit different. I don't really pay attention to a lot of the big releases. I mean, I'll take a look at a trailer and if I'm interested, I'll go. But, if there's a trailer for SAW 19, and it looks terrible; what does it have to do with me? Nothing. People will go and see SAW 26, just like they'll rot their teeth with Pepsi. We're human, we like dumb shit. But rather than lose sleep over it, the truth is that if you write an INCREDIBLE screenplay, or if you make a GENIUS low-budget movie; you'll be fine, people will respond to it. Look at 'Once,' look at 'In Search Of A Midnight Kiss' - they're not miracles, they're just pieces of art that people decided to make. 

Tim Riley
Question for Kid: What was your original plan when you started this blog?

Stimulate Photography
What made you start this blog?

I don't know if you can relate to this, but I find that; for anyone who's creative-- everyone always has an opinion, and it's often quite personal. If I see a plumber do a job; I don't really know whether it's particularly good or not. But if a Plumber sees a film I've made; he'll happily tell me I'm a useless sack of shit. Back when I started the blog-- I was tired of putting myself on the line; and I wanted a place where I could go back to the essence of being a little kid who was excited by the movies. And I wanted to write from that perspective, without my best friend telling me "your dialogue is a bit stiff" y'know? So that was my initial reason, I think. 

Question for you: What was your favorite interview you've done?

Eeek - how can you make me choose? There's two really exciting ones coming up that I'll be posting very soon.....

But, let's see. Of the ones I've done. The four that are on the left side bar of this blog are probably my favorites. Scott Rosenberg is a real screenwriting hero for me. I think 'Beautiful Girls' is a perfect movie. And what I like about Scott is how he can talk about writing for Jerry Bruckheimer without any ego, or bullshit, he just explains things and you realise that Scott isn't a God, he's just a man. An extremely talented one. He's awesome. I hope you guys have seen his TV show October Road. It only lasted for two seasons but it's really wonderful.

Josh Malina and Giuseppe Sulfaro were great-- I love their work. Lawrence Sher is also brilliant. He also took the time to speak to me at length about my project, and he was full of advice and ideas.

--- Thank you all for the questions, I hope the answers are interesting! And feel free to join the Facebook Fan Page!

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The Richness Of Our History: My Personal Experience Of Remembrance Day 2010

I often despair about how my generation is so willing to disregard the past. Yesterday, thousands upon thousands of young students took to the streets of London in protest at the Government rising tuition fees. The protests weren't peaceful; they were violent. During a week when a large percentage of the population are wearing red poppies, I found it quite upsetting that with our freedom, we turn to violence. Whilst some would say "it would only a very small minority" there was a much larger, silent minority, that were cheering them on and supporting them.

For me there is a big link - between what was happening yesterday, and what was happening today as me and my friend Raz made our way to a local remembrance service at a site that's historical significance has mostly been lost to the younger generations. I was saddened to see that me and my friend were the youngest people by about 40 years. Where were the other people of my generation? Where was everyone in between? My friend, Raz, was in agreement. And we felt quite sad about it. But then something changed in me-- which I'll mention in a bit but first let me talk about Derek and Bryan.

Derek came up to us before the service and, I guess, mistaking us for nine year old's asked "are you from the school?" We explained that we weren't -- and we got chatting. He began sharing many stories with us from when he was a young kid during the war. Like so many, his home was bombed. Like so many, he was so nearly killed. Like so many, he was injured in a way that has affected him his whole life. Like so many, he was evacuated as a child and taken away from his family, with no way to contact them. His stories were so amazing; at times inspiring, at times upsetting, but more often than not just extremely EXCITING! He was a young boy during wartime. And he had some great times. But he also had some very bad times -- and his emotions ranged from ecstatic and excited to deeply moved and emotional. Here was a man, in his late seventies, remembering vividly being a tiny kid in London.

I said previously that something changed in me. It was perspective. It came during the remembrance service as many incredible people stood up and shared a part of a story, a part of history, a part of themselves with the gathered crowd. I realized that, in terms of my generation and remembrance, the important people aren't the millions who don't show up. The important ones are people like me and Raz. That's what it is now. That's how history lives on, through two people or four people or one person or one school project that does something to help it live on. That's more powerful than a mass crowd. 30,000 students descended on London yesterday and smashed some buildings up -- the issue was lost, we were left with destruction. But two friends surrounded by warm and inspiring war veterans is something more powerful. My friend, Raz; is a very open, sensitive, and passionate Muslim man -- who came along on this cold, wet morning; to stand side by side with lots of old white people. Because he knew that color wasn't the issue. It's bigger than that. And there's me, a writer and a film director. If I go to a remembrance service but the 300 Facebook friends I invited didn't--- it doesn't matter. It's not about them. It's about me. It's about people like me. It's about showing up.

Who cares? It's in the past!? Have you ever heard that one? History is not in the past -- it relives itself every day. We can see history all around us. Today, as I connected with Derek and Bryan; they talked and they laughed and they cried, and so did we. They told me stories about the places I grew up --- places I know as parks and fields and shops but they know as airfields and command offices and places they'd find interesting bits of shrapnel.

Today was important, because we were able to say we're here. We're listening. We care. Our generation doesn't do that enough. We sit on Facebook, we write on our blogs and we send our text messages; but we don't have a great deal of awareness about what people have gone through in order for us to have those privileges. Derek was telling us stories today about people like the RAF BOMBER COMMAND, who had 55,000 aircrew KILLED during World War 2. Nothing has been done to commemorate these people. And to commemorate is important. That piece of cement in the ground, it needs to be there so we can say WE CARE. WE KNOW WHAT YOU DID. WE LOVE ALL OF YOU. What could be more important? The most I've volunteered to do recently was look after my friend's daughter for a night so she could have a night out. These fighters volunteered their lives, FOR US. FOR YOU, FOR ME, for everyone who's ever felt a moment of freedom in their lives. From the RAF Bomber Squad website "They died in blazing, crashing aircraft whilst fighting against the enemies of our free world. It is nothing short of a national disgrace that Britain has so far failed to properly recognise this brave and talented group of individuals." That's just one example of people who aren't recognized as much as they should be. There are many more. I'm sure you'll have examples, and people that are meaningful to you. 

Today was a good day. I felt a shift in the world, in my world. It's not about the apathy of those who don't take time to remember, or of the school who are ACROSS THE ROAD from the memorial who didn't respond to their Remembrance Service invite. It's about those men and women who were there. It's about those who fought, those who looked after our children, those who worked in factories contributing to the effort. It's about those who died and those who survived. And it's about me and you, in whatever way we can, REMEMBERING. And SHARING. And engaging people who have the capacity to be engaged on this topic; the topic being to remember. History is present all around us. There is a lot of pain, for a lot of people, and by taking the time to hear their pain you are giving them so much, and you are being given so much. There is also a richness and beauty to their memories; the joy, the victories and the camaraderie that they felt and still do. 

I'm glad you're all here.

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Wednesday 10 November 2010

New Visitors..

This blog was chosen as a 'Blog Of Note' by the Blogger team a few days ago, and since then, there's been an incredible amount of new visitors, which is amazing to see! I'd really love to know more about you all!

What is your favorite movie? 

What is the movie that you secretly watch five times a year even though it's way too cheesy/terrible?

What inspires you? 

What do you want to know about me? 

Welcome to Kid In The Front Row - I hope you all stick around!

Care to share?

Taken By TAKEN

Have you seen TAKEN? It's amazing! There's people smashing through windows, people getting shot square in the head, people being tortured----- all the things I DISLIKE in movies (and in life too, of course). But in this film? AMAZING! Everything that happens is justified.

The film is 89 minutes long. I wish all films were 89 minutes long. The great thing about TAKEN is that enough happens to make it a four hour film, but it isn't, it's just 89 minutes. Everything is short and to the point-- it rips through each scene like a rollercoaster on a mission. In fact, the way the film is packed together is as if it was edited by the character himself, BRYAN (played by LIAM NEESON). Unfortunately, Bryan can't edit films-- but he can kick everybody's ass and will always be ten seconds ahead of you if you plan on shooting him in the head. Bryan is retired; but in his previous work he was; well, I'm not sure-- the film may have explained but to be honest I'm not very good at remembering details. But he worked for the government as a spy, or something similar where you get to do important things and kill people in the national interest. 

Anyhow -- the film absolutely flies! It begins with opening credits and then, I swear, it's immediately fifty minutes into the film. It just flies by! So what makes this film so watchable? There's no bullshit, that's what it is. No over-complication. There's two things you need to know. 1) Bryan is trained in killing and is the best there is, and 2) His daughter has been kidnapped. 

By sheer coincidence, he happens to be on the phone when his daughter gets kidnapped. I know that sounds ridiculous but, when you're watching the film, you'll go with it. Trust me. Bryan is such an expert in these situations that he's able to stay calm and, in the midst of his daughter's kidnapping (while she's in France) he's able to set up an audio recording, instruct his daughter on specific things to do, and he probably updated his Facebook status too.

The film is the most concise film I've ever seen. It's so compact. But not in a boring way. It just doesn't waste any time. After five minutes, we know everything about the main characters -- a lesser writer and director would spend twenty five minutes following the family around trying to explain everything. Not here. Opening scenes = A Father. A Father struggling to be there for his daughter, and struggling to communicate with his ex-wife. The daughter deciding to travel. The Father trying to help his daughter to be a singer. 

That's all we need to know. And then she travels. And get's kidnapped. And the rest of the film is him trying to find his daughter, gain the respect of his ex-wife, and then maybe help her be a singer like she always dreamed. That's all we need to know! That's all Bryan would know, because he's that kind of guy. He runs around a lot and gets down to business and doesn't even stop to pee or eat a sandwich. He does this because he knows his character only has 89 minutes to exist before disappearing into film history. 

A great movie! Please watch it!

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Monday 8 November 2010

Magic MOMENTS - When Films Really Resonate

I am going to write about a common thread that runs through all of my favorite films, and hopefully it will resonate with many of you. I think it's an important thing to consider as a writer, and director; because delving into this can be very helpful.

My favorite films are often my favorite films; not necessarily because of plot, or characters (specifically) - but the space that develops around them which allows for a moment to be captured. What do I mean by a moment? The thing that makes a moment a moment, is that it isn't definable. If it was; then it wouldn't be a moment. A moment normally comes when the characters seemingly step out of the constraints of a story and purposeful dialogue; and exist truly in a moment that resonates personally with the viewer. 

In 'Almost Famous,' as Stillwater are selling their souls to the big-shot manager, Penny Lane is in the auditorium, alone, post-concert, dancing slowly to the Cat Stevens song 'The Wind.' That is a moment. At least, it was for me.

As most of you will know I've been obsessed with the movie 'Adventureland' recently. It's a film that captures many moments. When James and Lisa P sit on the out of commission ride-carriages, getting high; it really captures something. It captures life! It captures the very essence of what it is to be young-and-figuring-the-world-out, just by having two people sitting and interacting. Likewise, when James and Em sit back and watch fireworks as 'Don't dream it's over' plays over the speaker system-- it is strangely touching, and warm; which evokes something in the viewer.

I think moments only happen when they have been experienced first hand by the writer or director. Not necessarily the exact situation, but that feeling, that emotion. Do you know what I mean? In life, it's possible, on rare occasions; to forget your problems, your financial woes and your messed up relationships and instead you exist purely in a moment that means something. The best screenwriters capture the essence of these 'moments' that they have experienced themselves.

But what am I talking about? Part of me wants to get very specific and stop sounding so wishy washy, and part of me says 'an article about moments can't be too specific' so I feel stuck.
In screenplays, like in life, the character's tend to go to work, then to a restaurant, then to bed, then to work, then to a friends house, then to a bar, etc.

Moments are normally created outside of these societal norms (but only very slightly). They happen at work after everyone is gone, when only two people are left in the building. Or they happen on the way home from a restaurant, when a group of friends bond over a broken-down-car experience. I would guess your most memorable moments in life are similar. I think that's an important point.

As we get older, life gets more rigid. Jobs, relationships and responsibilities provide structures that make it difficult to have unexpected experiences. When we see someone similar to us on screen sitting around a fireplace at 3am with new friends, or we see two people spontaneously having a poem written for them on the streets of Vienna, we realise - This is us, this is ME. This is a part of my life, or my identity, or my hopes - that I can't quite reach at the moment. It's a feeling you've been longing for, or a part of yourself you've been repressing or ignoring.

The header of my blog says, "I like it when I look up at the big screen and see a part of me staring back at me" and I think that's what I'm really talking about. Great movies have the capacity to show us more rounded, complete versions of ourselves. You might relate and identify with Jerry Maguire working really hard and you might relate to his struggle; but the part that resonates might be when he's swinging Ray back and forth with Dorothy, or when Marcy is telling Rod Tidwell "you're the shit!"

These are unexpected, truthful moments. They're what life is about. They are the things that people forget about after a movie, but paradoxically, somehow never forget at all. 

Care to share?