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Sunday, 28 February 2010

Patch Adams.


"So what now, huh? What do you want from me? Yeah I could do it [JUMP], we both know you wouldn't stop me.

So answer me, please. Tell me what you're doing. Okay; let's look at the logic, you create man. Man suffers enormous amounts of pain. Man dies. Heh, maybe you should have had just a few more brainstorming sessions prior to creation. You rested on the seventh day, maybe you should have spent that day on compassion. "

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Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Let Your Inner Critic Do The Work

Your inner-critic, or your block, or whatever you want to call it -- he may call at the beginning of a screenplay, or in the middle, or months before you even get to the page. You never get to the page because there's a voice telling you that you suck. That you're talentless. That your script is bland/pointless/retarded/not-ready, etc.

And we take this voice to be the voice of God, most of the time. It talks, we stop. This inner-voice, it's a voice inside of you that believes it knows better. Whether this inner-critic turned up because of your parents, or a teacher, or because of the environment you're in or because you're just damn sure that hating yourself is the way to go; whatever the reasons, there is something you can do when the big ole' critic monster stops you. You can hand over the pen.

If there's a voice in my head that tells me "You're awful! Your ideas are cliche! Your characters are bland!" Well, then it sounds like this dude knows his stuff. So I've found a useful thing to do is to literally give him the pen.

As you're writing--- your critic may say..

Your characters aren't doing anything interesting.
You are not really a writer.
Wouldn't you be better off just browsing pictures of Sally Stinley on Facebook?
You're an idiot!
You need a real job. Everyone knows it. Everyone knows you're not a writer.

No-one will watch this.


If my critic was saying that, I would see that my inner-critic-monster-madman is a) PERSISTENT (with capitals), b) Clearly clued up on what a great script should be, c) Better than me.

Now of course, if you read any self-help-guru-new-age thingy on inner critics, or if you're in therapy, of course, you're not meant to believe your inner-critic is better than you, that would be pretty suicidal, literally. But for this exercise, go with me. Your critic is a persistent know-it-all who thinks he's better than you.

SO GIVE HIM YOUR KEYBOARD! Let the critic write.

a) Close your eyes - really feel that critical voice in your head.
b) Start saying things in his voice, become the voice, access that part of you.
c) Really let rip - scream about how talentless and pathetic you are.
d) Notice your body language - maybe act out this critic whilst looking in the mirror.
e) You will notice a confident person, with a body posture different to you, possibly quite intimidating.
f) Keep throwing those insults at yourself; but from the point of view of your inner-critic-madman.
g) Realise that this critic dude sure has persistence.
h) Decide whether this persistence is something that could aide you in your writing, maybe it's something you've been missing.
i) Now that you've accessed the critical maniac inside of you, now you really feel him, let him WRITE.
j) See what comes out! See what ends up on the page.


One of two things will happen.

a) The work will be genius -- The inner-critic is just a part of you that protects you. He's just a persistent worrier. If the work is genius, it's because you've turned his negativity into creativity.

b) The writing will STINK - In which case, from now on, you can tell your inner critic to SHUT UP because he has NO AUTHORITY OVER YOU AS HIS WRITING IS AWFUL!

After all this, take a breather. Maybe have a cup of tea. And when you're done, write up some ground rules for your inner critic.

a) If you have problems with my writing, you will tell me in a calm and friendly manner.
b) You are not allowed to insult me, only express concern and then ideas of how to improve.
c) If I am busy writing, please don't insult me mid-flow. Grab some crayons and do yourself some drawings. I'll let you know when I'm free.

Don't get taken over by your inner critic. Just realize it's a part of you, a part that isn't as authority and important as it likes to think.

One last thing you can do with your inner critic is have a laugh with it. Next time you feel that pressure in your head; as your stomach feels funny and the self-doubt creeps in as the voice says "you are not very good, people think you're awful" -- reply to the voice with "Excuse me, how would you feel if I spoke to you like that?" or "Who said you can speak?" Or even "take the day off!"

My inner-critic is telling me that this post is awful, that I'll be ridiculed. Maybe he's right, or maybe he just feels threatened.

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Facebook Fan Page.

I now have a Facebook Fan Page - which you can join HERE

And for those of you who use Twitter, please follow me/tweet me and whatever else it is twitter people do at:


And here's a song for you to listen too. It's exactly how I feel right now.


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Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Malèna

"I pedaled as fast as I could, as if I were escaping,
From longing, from innocence, from her.
Time has passed, and I have loved many women.
And as they've held me close,
and asked me if I'll remember them,
I've said, "Yes, I'll remember you."
But the only one I've never forgotten,
is the one who never asked:

Malena."

There was a moment, at around 11pm, when I considered going to bed. That plan was soon laid to rest when a voice inside my head said "watch a film, watch Malèna." My film viewing decisions aren't always made by this particular voice, but when they are - it's like magic; I find myself watching films that I need to watch. Exactly why I need to watch them is often difficult to explain - it's like that magic moment you get sometimes on a random Thursday when you're in your car and just as you're about to flick over to another radio station a song comes on that you haven't heard since 1997 - and you realize, at that very moment, that the song is exactly what's been missing in your life. And what I needed, tonight, was 'Malèna.'

The film is about first love. Unrequited love. It's about a young boy called Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro), who, like every man in his town, falls in love with the beautiful Malena (Monica Bellucci). What we soon realize is that the other men don't love her, they just want her. The men of the town want to have sex with her, and the women of the town spread vicious rumors about her. The only person who takes the time to get to know her and believe in her is Renato.

Renato and Malèna don't say a word to each other in the entire film - and that's what's so beautiful about it. It masterfully shows what it is to be a 14 year old who doesn't exist to the opposite sex - it shows the pain, the longing, the hope and the sad beauty of it. At the same time; there are far deeper and more painful things going on with Malena - whose husband died at war, whose Father disowned her and whose town was against her and eventually forced her out. I haven't followed much of Monica Bellucci's film work since; I find her Italian films hard to track down and her Hollywood efforts aren't the type of films I actively seek to watch -- but in this film, she is incredible. Sure, she's stunning to look at, but far and beyond that - she spends most of the film in silence, and her grace, elegance, heartbreak and sorrow are handled with subtlety and beauty in a way rarely seen since the silent era. Monica Bellucci, based on this performance, is extremely talented.

'Malèna' is written & directed by Giuseppe Tornatore who, along with Wilder, Chaplin and Woody Allen-- is amongst my favorite writer/directors. His work always speaks to me in a way that no other director really can. His films speak to my heart, to my hopes, to my dreams, to my ideals. I felt the inner-editor in me cringe as I wrote 'speaks to my heart' but then, if I can't speak about what speaks to my heart, then really, what's the point in living? A lot of people criticise his work as being too sentimental, too heart-warming. I'm not the type of person who can really take those words as a criticism. It works for me. He dares to have characters that are innocent, that are naive, that do good. There is a magic in 'Malèna' and 'Cinema Paradiso' that I've not found in the works of any other writer/director. Another thing about 'Malèna' is how outstandingly, outrageously, achingly beautiful it looks. Okay, it probably helps that they had Sicily as a location - but Lajos Koltai, the DP, deserves credit for the cinematography - I'd happily watch this film without sound just to take in the visuals.

The attention to detail in Tornatore's films is what really sets his work apart from others. Everything fits together so perfectly. The core of the crew have done a lot of films together; and it shows. The editing is absolutely perfect (Massimo Quaglia cut two of Tornatore's previous films and has continued to be his editor since) - and the film was also scored, as all of the Director's films are, by Ennio Morricone. Morricone's composing is perfect in everything he does, he's one of the all time greats - but to me, he feels most at home when working with Tornatore. The music in 'Malèna' is possibly my favorite film score -- and even tonight, when deciding to stay up and watch the film, part of the reason was that I really wanted to hear the music.

'Malèna' is about as wonderful as cinema can be. If you've ever found your filmic sensibilities to be similar to mine - then please consider my recommendation. That being: buy this film.

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Monday, 22 February 2010

How Not To Network In The Industry.

One night last year, I was watching a show - let's call it 'SuperCoolTVShow' and I spotted that there was a scene which used exactly the same dialogue and style as 'KindaLameTeenShow' from many years ago. It was a bit weird, but I also thought it was really cool, because I love both shows; and in particular that scene was incredibly moving (in 'SuperCoolTVShow' and 'KindaLameTeenShow.') A quick bit of IMDBing confirmed what I expected, the same writer had worked on both shows. I got in contact with him and wrote about the similarity.

He replied with surprise, I'm the only person who'd noticed that he stole from himself. I told him how wonderful I think his writing is, how 'SuperCoolTVShow' is the most amazing thing on the box right now, and we struck up some good conversation. In fact, he was even going to do an interview for this site. We got along well - which isn't all that surprising, we are similar writers, I think, except he's a lot more successful.

I should tell you now, I'm a bad researcher. I had, for some reason, been under the impression that he only wrote episodes for the last season of 'KindaLameTVShow' - so, completely sucking up to him, I told him how I thought the show was great, then lost it's way, and then became great again in the last season (I do actually believe this to be true, his writing is very good).

And he kind of took the compliment but didn't seem as enthused as before. Anyways, me being me, I decided to really slam into the old episodes of 'KindaLameTVShow' and I went on and on about how the writers didn't get the characters, how the storylines were pretty lame etc. I figured he would agree, especially as he had indicated that there were things in the earlier seasons that he hadn't liked.

I'm sure many of you know what's coming. I never heard from him again- and he deleted me from Facebook. It was then, on further research; that I discovered, he had written all those old episodes that I ruthlessly bashed. Oops. Oh well, it's not like he's a totally-awesome-award-winning-genius-writer who I admire, who I stupidly insulted and then got blocked by. Oh wait, it is.

The moral of this story is; a) do research. b) stick to praise.

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Monday.

My new spec screenplay. In its entirety. Enjoy. Feedback welcome.

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Sunday, 21 February 2010

Watching and Listening.

Lately I've watched:
  • A lot of 'Californication' episodes. (amazing)
  • A lot of 'October Road' episodes. (amazing)
  • Gone In Sixty Seconds (pretty cool!)
  • Gran Torino (genius)
  • I Love You Beth, Cooper (meh.)
  • Jennifer's Body (I like her body, the rest kind of bored me.)

And been listening to:
  • Ryan Adams - particularly his album 'Gold'
  • Bruce Springsteen (mainly on 'Youtube', him doing solo piano stuff)
  • Augustana - Boston
  • Tracey Chapman - Fast Car
  • RadioIO Acoustic (radio station through my iPhone)
  • WWOZ - a community radio station broadcasting from the French Quarter in New Orleans, truly one of the best radio stations/things in life.

How about you?

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Saturday, 20 February 2010

Woody Allen - Wild Man Blues - where can I see it?

I have been trying to track down this documentary for a while now. 'Wild Man Blues' is a film that follows Woody Allen and his Jazz band to Europe on tour.

I desperately want to see it and was hoping that by posting it here; through luck, or coincidence or cosmic force, someone would pass by who knows how I could get a copy. If you have any ideas, please be in touch. If this works out, I'll start asking for other things, like three picture deals with DreamWorks.

*Update - I just realized this isn't so difficult afterall, It's available on Region 1. So I just need to import it.

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Friday, 19 February 2010

The Nightmare Of Script Feedback

When I give you my screenplay to read; I desperately desperately need you to say "wow, this is GENIUS! Are you Billy Wilder in disguise?!!?!?!" It's the only thing that will do, I must be told how wonderful I am. But, paradoxically, I know the script is far from perfect so if you do give me anything remotely resembling praise, I will shut you down, scream at you, and tell you you're insane.

What you might say, is that this is all a bit tricky.

I have a trusted group of friends who I show my screenplays to before I send them out on a wider scale. Feedback from each of them varies. For example, on my feature script this week, one person gave me a seven page analysis detailing every thing she loved and hated. Another friend told me an anecodotal amusing story, before telling me I'm very wonderful. Another friend jumped immediately into what was wrong with the script, which made me immediately confirm with myself that, yes, I am the world's worst writer and should give up writing and become a babysitter or a person who says "Can I help you?" when you're browsing for shoes. It took me a while to realise that her feedback was pretty correct, and that I am still a writer, I just need to fix some little errors. Another reader thought the script was great but my lead character was an asshole. That wasn't quite what I wanted, especially by the end after he's meant to have, y'know, learned life lessons and become wonderful.

I find it hard to figure out what is personal taste/preference, and what is bad writing. For example, I wrote one character as a really crazy, weird therapist. When you read it, you can't help but have an opinion about him. The thing is, half of the readers have said "it doesn't work, he's not realistic," and half of them have said "oh my god! The therapist scenes are amazing!" So what do you do? The problem is that it's scenes like this which could turn off a reader/producer/studio, but then again, those scenes could be the very thing that that is different and exciting about your script. It just depends who reads it.

I think that everyone having such wide and varied opinions is a good thing. If everyone came back and said the same scenes were awful, or that all the characters were boring; then there'd be a problem. But the fact that people focus on different bits and pieces they are not sure about; I don't mind so much, it's exactly how it is when you come out of a movie theater. I do, however, have a clearer idea of some of the areas where I've messed up, or given too much information, or not enough information.

And I'm now about to embark on a second draft; but with the confidence of knowing I've written something that, for the most part, is very good and quite moving, which was what I was hoping for.

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Something that made my week...

"Just did my bi-weekly catchup on the blog, and man, I can't express how much I enjoy, appreciate, and identify with your writing. I'll have anxieties or worries about certain aspects of trying to make a career and you'll have a whole post putting my mind at ease, another post reminding me how lucky we are, and then another one after that giving me some of the best filmmaking advice I could ask for. It's impossible to visit your blog and come away with anything less than a smile!"

-Jon Sands

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Five Question Film School With Writer/Director Scott Prendergast.

Rather than ask questions about where he grew up and what his pets were called, I decided to get straight down to business with first time Writer/Director Scott Prendergast, whose debut feature 'Kabluey' (starring himself, and Friends star Lisa Kudrow) is now available on DVD.


1. What is the one dumb, stupid, silly, idiotic mistake that you made when making Kabluey?

I wish i had gotten to know - and hired - a Director of Photography long before we began pre-production. I did not know any DPs and I had never worked on film as all my shorts were on video. I wish I had had an ally who knew all the technical ins and outs. I wish I had worked with someone incredibly talented. I wish that I had a DP who I had worked with for years who I knew very well, and trusted.

2. How do you direct yourself? How do you know when you've got it right?

I've only ever made short films where I was the writer/director/actor. So I kinda knew what I wanted and just hoped that I was getting it right. Because I had written the material I had a pretty firm grasp on what I wanted to do. And every now and then I would turn to my producer Sarah Feinberg and I would ask her "Am I doing this OK? Am I awful? Was that good?" I think you can just feel it when it's going right. It's better to FEEL good about it than to obsess over "does it LOOK right?" I think that's a good rule of thumb for directing yourself and for acting.

3. How did Lisa Kudrow get involved?

We sent her the script - she read it - and she called me and said yes. It was kind of a crazy miracle. I really respect her for being so adventurous and doing this tiny movie. She was perfect in the film and wonderful on set. It all just fell into place very quickly. Which I guess is kind of rare and weird. But I am very very happy we were so lucky.

4. What is the one part of the film that makes you think "wow, I really nailed that!"

Lisa walking down the road crying. I had worked on that a lot - thought about it forever - planned it out a million times. And lisa just walked on and nailed it. I love that scene. She's so good. Also I'm very happy with the look of the suit and the physical comedy with the suit out on the side of the road.

5. What's the hardest thing about directing a feature?

Everything is hard. But the hardest thing? Hmmm... just getting the money probably. Finding people who will give you their money and not demand that you turn over all creative control. Getting a movie made at all is a miracle.

Check out the trailer!


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Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Dream Analysis Needed.

I am about to embark on writing a new screenplay. I have these two ideas that have been swimming around; one is a comedy - guy meets girl, guy can't get girl, guy does insane things, etc. The other is a more serious tale about twentysomethings and their struggles.

Last night, I had a dream. A dream that I stole a car, drove it into a bunch of shops, smashing all the windows. People started getting pretty pissed at me, but I blamed it all on Steve Martin. Steve Martin and me argued a bit, but then I got away with the crime, with Steve Martin left behind. At this point, I woke up.


Now, I see two potential meanings:

1. Steve Martin is a comedy guy. And me stealing a car, smashing things up, and blaming him is quite funny. So it makes me think I need to focus on writing my comedy screenplay.

2. Steve Martin has made terrible comedies now for many years. Also, in the dream, things are getting smashed up. Would me writing this comedy be a car wreck?

I can't figure it out. Any thoughts?

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Californication Is Hilarious.

I've done very little in the last twenty four hours besides watch Season 2 of Californication. The show is amazing on many levels - of which I feel unable to write about as I am saving my writing mojo for elsewhere right now (a screenplay) -- but here is a scene that is absolutely hilarious.

Hank Moody (David Duchovny), much to the dismay of his on/off girlfriend and soulmate Karen, has impregnated another woman. When it finally comes to her giving birth, Moody and Karen are there when this hilarious moment happened. Great TV!


If you haven't already seen Californication, I definitely recommend it. It blends profanity and controversy with tenderness and emotion; it's pretty magic.

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Monday, 15 February 2010

"Eighty Percent Of Success Is Showing Up" - Woody Allen

Have you ever waited seventeen months to return a phone call that could lead to a great opportunity?

Have you ever said "I'll definitely come and see your play!" and then not bothered to go?

Have you ever fought and battled for an audition only to not go on the day?

Have you ever called yourself a writer but waited five years to write anything?

Have you ever let someone down because you were 'really busy and had no time' when really you were not doing much of anything at all?

Have you ever promised someone that definitely, yes, this week I will sit down and watch your film, and then not done it?

I think we all have this destructive and lazy side to us. The worst part is the guilt you feel afterwards (towards others if you let them down, or to yourself if you pass up an opportunity.)
The fact is -- the most successful people in the world can always find the time. To be 'too busy' is, in my experience, a sign of bad organization, a sign of laziness, a lack of professionalism and a lack of self-discipline.

I have been that guy many, many times. One of my favorite writer/directors agreed to do an interview for this blog. I stalled on setting up the call for six months. That's not cool. I can't be doing that anymore. When we complain about how our careers aren't going right, or how we're not getting the right opportunities, we rarely mention that "oh, yeah, a Producer is interested in hiring me for a big project and said I should call him - but I haven't and fourteen months have gone by."

I think it's about discipline. I now make myself sit down and read, I make myself do paperwork, I make myself do whatever it is I need to do to get the things I am doing done (wow that was a mouthful).

"Decisions are made by those who show up."
-Aaron Sorkin

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Saturday, 13 February 2010

Watching Movies With Girls

I invited her back to mine. I wanted her to see 'Anatomy Of A Murder' as it really is one of Jimmy Stewart's finest films and the way Otis Preminger handled the material is incredible. She had been saying how she wanted to see more of the films I liked, so I was excited to be starting with this wonderful courtroom drama. We sat back on my bed and I hit play - and so it began, an absolutely perfect black and white film.

He asked me to his house, to his room! It was all under the pretense of an old movie or something. Yeah, right, 'I want to show you my movie collection,' I've heard that one before. If this is about movies then why am I on your bed and why is no-one else home? I snuggled up to him closely. At first I was concerned that he wasn't into me, but the way he was fidgeting around, trying to get comfortable was really sweet; and the way he pushed his foot onto my leg sent shivers through my body.

Her knee kept sneaking into the bottom of the frame, what the fuck? Does she not know I'm trying to watch? She mistook my searching for the remote as me trying to snuggle, which was fine, as we moved swiftly onto that 'touching each other' stage, which allowed me to gently push her knee downwards so I could actually see the film. Jeez. Wow, Jimmy Stewart is really something.

I whispered to him that I loved how passionate he was about films. He said, "I could stay up all night long watching movies." "All night?" I said. "yeah," he said, with a smile in his eyes, as he again caressed my leg with his foot.

I think she has some kind of issue with her legs? She keeps stretching them and raising them upwards, it's pretty bizarre. And she keeps asking really dumb questions like "Is she the killer?" "Does Jimmy Stewart die?" and "Do you want me to stay with you tonight?". I mean, it's good that she's interested, but now that she keeps blocking my view, maybe her staying over to watch the 'Three Colours Trilogy' is a bad idea.

He gently stroked my kneecaps with his feet; it was like a slow, sensual massage, it was really getting me in the mood. As I lowered my body under the pressure, I saw his cute face light up with a smile. I like how dominant he is. Every time I try to speak he tells me to be quiet, I like being talked to like that. And I know he knows it too because he keeps doing it more and more every time I open my mouth. He's driving me wild. I subtly brushed my hand across his jeans and said "Maybe we should concentrate on something else for a while."

I suddenly realised how stupid I'd been. There was me trying to watch a three hour courtroom drama when she CLEARLY had other things on her mind. "Can you guess what I'm thinking?" she asked. She had barely finished the question before I had quietly slipped 'Notting Hill' into the DVD player.

Care to share?

Friday, 12 February 2010

Criticism and Rejection.

A couple of years back, I met this musician. We were getting along really well, talking about each others projects. And we were both into the whole 'positive thinking' thing, and we were talking about how we hate all the negative people and all that stuff. We were like, y'know, everybody the day after they've just read 'The Secret.' It was all very inspiring and touching to have found a friend -- and I remember telling her how I hate the way that people can be belittling. What always really pissed me off was when people would say "how are your little films going?" and "Are you still doing the filmmaking? Still giving it a go?" It would always get to me. The musician woman agreed, she hated all that too. And then she said "what are you currently working on?"

"I'm just doing this little short film, nothing serious," came my reply.

"Aha!" she said, "just a LITTLE short film!" I was doing to myself EXACTLY what they do to me.

How could I expect others to think of my work as important and brilliant if I myself saw it as 'little' and 'nothing serious.' That's not how I see my work, it's not how I feel about my work - but I realised that, so often when talking about it, I put myself down. I started thinking back to screenings where there have been Q+A sessions. I always handled these Q+A sessions really well, I guess I was quite likeable because I'd always do this "I'm a little nobody making films and having fun" schtick, but it didn't really serve me that well, really, because I was putting myself down needlessly.

If you observe what you hate about the judgements and criticisms you receive, you can be pretty sure that you give them to yourself far worse. Just ask any actor heading into an audition. The Casting Director really doesn't need to judge the actor's acting, because the actor already has. In fact, most of the time, after auditioning for only six minutes; an actor will have, in their head, a definite perception of what the opinion was of their acting talents, height, weight, look, voice, personality. When rejection inevitably comes, it's usually because the person wasn't right for the role. But the person rejected knows the 'truth' - that it was because they're overweight, too short, with small breasts, weird eyes, a deep voice, and because they were boring. No-one else can really reject us when we're like this, because we do it to ourselves, over and over and over again.

The seeds of rejection get placed every day, moment to moment, in really subtle ways. I think we all have this successful version of ourselves that we dream about who sits on the Letterman couch, and playfully talks about their work like they're Tom Hanks promoting their latest flick. Yet we see this version of ourselves as who we'll be when we're ready/better/successful/had surgery/gained confidence/got rid of rustiness.

Not that the when-I-am-famous version of you is a complete waste. You should fantasise about it, really FEEL it. Feel what's it's like to have the role, be holding the award, spending the money. You'll probably feel relaxed and at ease now. You need to take that back with you to your audition/first draft/interview, because that's part of you, that's who you are -- you need access to that now rather than the self-hating, nervous-wreck you've become.

Take a moment to think of the criticism or way of being rejected that hurts you the most. And then notice how you do it to yourself. Criticism is painful. Really painful. But when someone tells you/implies that you're a wasteful, talentless, no good piece of shit - it's not really them that's hurting you, it's you, because deep down - you've feared those very things all along.

It doesn't have to be this way. Spot that voice in your head, the one that criticises you and second guesses you. It's like this.

I want to play that role.
You're not attractive enough. You're not interesting enough.

I am writing a screenplay about the NYPD.
What the fuck do you know about the NYPD? You're pathetic. Everyone will see the holes in your script!

I want to get back into acting again.
You're not ready! You're too much of a mess! You're rusty!.

I want to direct a feature.
you're not quite ready.

I want to think about directing a feature.
you're not quite ready.

I want to be a costume designer.
you're not quite ready.

Nobody is quite ready. You're only ready when you do it. It's just getting over that belief system that is the tricky part.

I speak like I'm an expert, I'm not, I am more than capable of smashing myself to pieces every single time. I guess all I'm saying is, to the rest of you, you're not alone, and we should talk about this stuff. And perhaps we should realise; it isn't earthquakes, genocides and terminal illnesses; it's film & TV. We should get up off the floor and go to the stuff that our inner child's demand.

Care to share?

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Lesser Known Inspirational Quotes - A Short Story.

There are few things in life better than an inspirational quote. History is full of wise men and women who have managed to use their imaginations to inspire the world by reducing the wisdom of the Universe into single sentences. For example, everyone remembers Winston Churchill's “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” We can even go back to Epicurus, who was alive when all the other old Greek people were. He said magical things like "The greater the difficulty, the more the glory in surmounting it," and "You don't develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity." The great thing about the Internet is that we now have all this wisdom at our fingertips - Mark Twain, Socrates, Ralph Waldo Emerson, George Bernard Shaw, they are all just a Google search away.

However, today I would like to focus on some of the lesser known inspirational and motivational quotes from throughout history. For example, in 336 BCE, Quaqulus, a part-time swimming instructor, had big dreams - he wanted to inspire the world with his wisdom. Unfortunately, he was not as gifted as Epicurus - and his legacy is not quite as impressive. He is perhaps best known for, "The world is really big, and that's why it's difficult to go everywhere." He tried to better this a year later; when he penned "The value of friendship is quite high." He finally gave up inspirational quotes the year before his death, when the best he could come up with was "Sometimes things are really difficult. The key is to not always have times that are really difficult, if possible."

One of the biggest tragedies from the Ancient Greeks, apart from the Greek Tragedies, was that of Dyslexicus. It was known throughout Greece in 325 BCE that Dyslexicus was a greatly gifted writer and philosopher, but unfortunately; due to being unable to afford a proofreader, many of his greatest quotes make little sense. For example, "The greatest in life difficult is when of love challenge believing," and "All men have the power power of change was."

Afred. B. Plimpton was an extremely gifted writer and businessman in the early nineteen hundreds. He was believed to be way ahead of time, a true visionary who could inspire dozens of people. However, his speeches never quite reached the masses. Looking back over his transcripts, we can now see why. Although he had a great imagination, he could never quite find the right wording. It wasn't until much later that other big thinkers were to take his ideas and improve them. For example, during a speech to members of Congress in 1910 he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do inside of your own home," and "You may say that I'm a dreamer, I am not only a dreamer." It's interesting to see how agonizingly close he came to inspiring the world.

In August 1933, only months before his death, Plimpton released his Autobiography. His writing had matured, and he was now tackling bigger subjects. On talking about the rise of consumerism, he said - "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know which shop to buy them in." At the end of the book, he wrote about witnessing the invention of the automobile. "That was one small step for man, one giant leap for the people who made the cars." History has gone on to forget Plimpton and his almost-genius -- but I think we can all see the potential.

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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Screenplay First Draft Complete

The script may be genius, it may be awful. Right now, it doesn't really matter. 101 pages later, this baby is complete. The pressure has literally been lifted - I can feel it floating away into the ether, where I'm sure it will stay for at least a few hours.

A bath and a book to free my mind are now in order, before reading the whole thing through - before sending it off to my selected group for feedback.

I would write more but I have used up my allotted brain capacity for thinking of, and typing up words this week.

Care to share?

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Wanted: Young Naive Idiot For Great Film Job - UNPAID.

We are a wonderful, brilliant and exciting company with a slate of commercials, films and TV shows in production.

We are looking for a young, enthusiastic, dynamic youth to do all of our work for us, especially the really annoying stuff like moving things into other rooms and labelling boxes and making our coffee and getting our lunches and delivering things across town. This is a really great chance if you want to get into movies but an even better chance if you want to get into moving boxes.

Unfortunately, as this is the entertainment industry, we are unable to pay. But don't worry, everyone started there once, so it's okay. Oh and for those of you going on about 'Minimum Wage' we don't need to pay anyone because we just used the word intern. You will be an intern. This will give you great experience in internment.

Care to share?

Monday, 8 February 2010

Finding People That Get You.

"..and some of the people that you meet on the road are really amazing people. Like you."
-Russell Hammond, 'Almost Famous'

Occasionally someone just gets it. It's the most magical thing. You might be working at it for ten years before you find one, but when you do, it makes everything worthwhile.

I met this guy last year who auditioned for two scenes in a film I did. I cast him, we shot it in one day, and we met up again a few weeks later to hang out. I haven't seen him since - we're in different continents, but he's one of them. One of those rare finds -- someone who just gets what I'm doing, and supports it, and believes in it. When he praises something I've done, well -- not much in the world feels better, or more right.

I was casting someone in the role of a war hero, this must have been five years ago. The guy I cast - his daughter saw the advert and contacted me for him. He was great in the film - but it was the daughter who went on to act in three of my recent films and eventually be my Assistant Director. Actors don't generally become AD's, but she's one of them. I can think of no better person to be on set with. She's a giant ball of positivity. We could be shooting a film where someone steals our kit and murders the cast. She would take a moment, think it through, and get everything back on schedule without moaning or complaining once.

There was this girl who came over from New Zealand, landed in London - and did one audition. It was for a short film I was doing. Her audition was great, she was perfect, but I didn't cast her. But she definitely had it. I've helped her a bunch of times with her career and she's helped me even more times. We're countries apart, but we are always involved in each others careers and lives. I cast her in a project last year. I barely had to say a word when directing her, she just got it. Because she get's me. I have this painting (which she bought for me) above the door in my room which reminds me of who she is and where she is anytime I look up.

And there's this guy in the middle of America who I've never met - he's a musician. But fuck, he GETS me. He gets my work, he gets my struggles; he's a mentor and an elder without even knowing it. He's got more class as a musician than anyone in the charts today. When we have a gripe, a complaint, a joke, a problem, a song--- whatever it is we have, we email each other. If I'm scared because I haven't written a script in a year, I email him, he tells me what to do. If I'm so excited because I've written four scripts in three months; I tell him, he understands. He's like a Brother.

We stood side by side each one fightin' for the other,
We said until we died we'd always be blood brothers
-Bruce Springsteen - 'Blood Brothers'

There's this girl in New York City who came to the neighborhood I was staying in, on the morning I was leaving, just to see me before I left. We sat down and made goals for the year-- confident we're much more likely to achieve them with the support of each other in our lives. She has this amazing, spontaneous, electric energy-- it's unlike anything I've ever known. It pops up in random ten word emails, in instant messages I find when I've left my laptop on, in Facebook wall messages linking to a video she thinks will inspire me. She's like some angel sent down to help me along the road. She's got it. Loads of it.

There's an actress I know who's moving to L.A. It's not that I'd necessarily say we're that close, it's just that--- I really believe in her. I believe in her talent, in her ambition, in how she approaches what she does. She has got it. We were emailing back and forth recently, and at the bottom of one of her emails she'd written "P.S I believe in you." Wow. That was one of the greatest things I'd ever read. It occurred to me that everyone who's ever emailed me had the opportunity to write that, and hadn't. And in every email I'd written to people I believe in, I could have said that, but didn't. She believes in me.

They believe in me. They get me. They see beyond 'structure problems' in a script or 'weird lighting' in a scene; they Get It.

And that is the precise reason why, when I finish a draft of a script, it's them I send it to.

"I'll be there to comfort you
Build my world of dreams around you
I'm so glad that I found you
I'll be there with a love that's strong
I'll be your strength; I'll keep holdin' on"
-Jackson Five - 'I'll Be There'

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Sunday, 7 February 2010

Charlotte Delbo Poem.

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.

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Friday, 5 February 2010

Building Awareness Around The Pressure To Succeed.

The society we live in isn't one that celebrates creativity. Most upcoming filmmakers and actors would love to be able to work on the projects that excite them, and just do whatever creatively drives them. That is what it would be to be truly creative. However, in modern Western society - we are success-oriented. The values of our friends, families and the people we come into contact with are based on achievement and succeeding.

Have you been in anything I would have seen? Are you a millionaire yet?

This is a giant pressure on the back of someone trying to make it in the arts. It's my theory that, anyone who hasn't 'made it' in the Spielberg-called-and-offered-you-a-million sense is rarely going to find time to relax. Ever.

You might sit down to watch a movie. But you only allow yourself to do it because it's helpful to your career. Even if you sit down for a glass of wine, your mind says Do you have any script ideas? Are you calling that producer tomorrow? Don't you need more money? What if Dad asks 'how is work?'

And you never really relax. Your body might, occasionally, be quite still - but you keep chugging away. When your body stops running around for the day, your mind keeps going.


I've also found that most people have a body symptom which represents this. Might be a nervous twitch, or a constant headache. It's something that says "hey, you're not taking care of yourself."

We all fight to make it in this industry. We work hard. And when we don't work, we're still on the go-- defending ourselves to people and plotting career paths.

Just yesterday, during a meal, I was telling my friends a funny story about when I went to the cinema with a friend the other day; and right in the middle of the story a guy who is one of my best friends stopped me and said "Hold on, you went to see a film in the middle of the day?". The meaning of course being, "hold on, I work 9-5 every day and work really hard and you just float around and work 1 hour a month?" -- The defences go up, you're under attack. You deal with it. And then you have a toothache, or a headache, or something-- some little part of you that holds in all the crap that just needs to be released and would be released if you would JUST RELAX.

In terms of success in our industry, and doing it healthily - I really think you need to prescribe some TRUE RELAXATION.

There is a collective pressure from everyone around you to live in the way society expects, to go out, earn your money, pay your bills. That is not quite how it works for people with the artistic sensibility.

You need to go to the cinema.
You need to spend a day scribbling.
You need to spend a day laying on your bed talking to yourself.
You need to sing out loud.

You must not feel guilty about these things.

PEOPLE AROUND YOU
What did you do today?

YOU
(comfortably)
I didn't do anything.

We need to be able to do that.

Rest does not need to be justified. If your girlfriend comes home from working in the supermarket and she's grumpy as hell because she worked eleven hours and the boss was horrible, that is sad, it's terrible and needs addressing - but it is not your fault. You are still allowed a day to watch movies.

Most people rest on a Sunday. You might rest on a Tuesday. It's fine.

Rest. Truly rest. Don't justify it. Don't explain it. Don't say "I've just been reading up on stuff and writing to people and applying for stuff." Feel that pressure but RISE ABOVE IT.

Breath. Lay Down. Take a break - you deserve it. You've not had a rest in five years.

Care to share?

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Making Friends -- a chance to get to know you all!

I was thinking today about how so many of you follow this blog now, and how many hits the blog gets - its growth has been amazing to me. But even with you regular commenters, I know so little about you!

I'd love to know more about you all! So, if you have the time, please answer these three questions in the comments.

1. What work do you do?


2. What are your hopes and dreams?


3. What makes you smile?


I'm excited to hear from you all!

Care to share?

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Up In The American Airlines Air Review.

George Clooney Gets on an American Airlines plane, and then afterwards stays at a Hilton Hotel. He then tells a few people he wants to become a special frequent flyer member person thing like only six other people in the world have ever been. He then gets in a rental car from Hertz and stays at another Hilton Hotel before boarding an American Airlines flight to St Louis, before boarding an American Airlines flight to Omaha or some place.

Upon landing he gets in a little Hilton Hotel travel bus which takes him to a Hilton Hotel where everyone knows him because he's a regular at the Hilton, probably because the staff are so lovely.

He gets in his Hertz rental car and drives to the airport where they only have American Airlines planes. By this point, the plot is thickening, as he wants to go and sleep with a woman who is waiting in a Hilton Hotel somewhere across the country.

The film ends with George Clooney boarding an American Airlines flight, after someone shouts "You forgot your Hertz Gold Card!" as he leaves a Hilton hotel whilst Tom Hanks delivers the Fedex package.


IN THE CATEGORY OF BEST PRODUCT PLACEMENT THE NOMINEES ARE

American Airlines
Hertz
Hilton Hotels

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Tuesday, 2 February 2010

44 Pages, 45 Minutes and A Funeral.

Okay, there was no funeral yesterday. I just want to make that clear. There probably was a funeral, somewhere, just not in a way that relates to my blog. And if you lost someone yesterday, I apologise. Not that I'd have offended you because if you lost them only yesterday, it wouldn't be the funeral yet. And if they're only lost, we don't know for sure they're dead. So hang in there. Anyways - the part about 44 pages will make more sense.

I headed to the office yesterday to write some pages. I'd been writing at home but I was writing at the rate of one word a day, which isn't very good. I mean, the words were fine, I think last Tuesday I wrote the word "envelope" which I was incredibly proud of. But when you're trying to write a feature length screenplay, you need to write a little more. Being only 14 pages into the script - I decided I needed to sit down in a place with the specific purpose of writing a film. When I'm at home, it's like "Oh, hold on - forget the screenplay, I should just write a ten sentence blog about Nora Ephron," and then the script gets forgotten.

I managed to write 30 pages, taking me from 14 to 44 pages, (as I write that I realise you don't really need me to tell you how many more than 14 pages there are, you could have figured it out..). Anyways, I was very happy with myself. 30 Pages is a lot of pages, but that's how I write --- I float away onto a different planet and it comes out fast and quick, much like after you've eaten a good curry. I planned to write until half past four but by three o'clock I was done, I had nothing left to write. My energy was gone for the day. This was slightly annoying as I realised I had a meeting at five o'clock in Angel (that's a place, in London, not a person. I don't have meetings in people).

I left the office and started walking towards Picadilly Circus. Just before I got there, I got a text saying "Could we meet in Picadilly Circus?" - and of course, that was very convenient for me, so I said "Yes." Of course, having told you it was convenient it's unlikely I would have said no, I'm just enjoying stating the obvious today. With 45 minutes to spare, I decided to go to the cinema.

'Up In The Air' was just about to start. I wanted to see it for two reasons. One, because I'm actually seeing it on Wednesday with a friend - so I thought it'd be good to see the first forty five minutes in case it's awful. And also, having just written 44 pages, it seemed like a good idea, using the 'page a minute' ratio, to see 45 pages worth of a film so that I could compare. Of course, comparing your writing to an Oscar nominated film is perhaps a bit crazy. But then, when they nominate Avatar for best picture, it makes me think I should enter my seven year old cousins home movies to the Academy Awards.

I soon realised I wouldn't be seeing 45 minutes of the film because there were about thirty minutes of trailers. This annoyed me. But then, as if by magic, the actress I was meeting text me to say she'd be half an hour late. And by this point I was thinking, she must be psychic or something, I should definitely use her in a project.

Then it happened. A short, dense, low THUD to the back of my chair. I felt special --- out of a near empty cinema the couple had chosen to sit behind me. I was sitting one row in front of the back row, on the far far right. I sat there because it was nearest the exit and I knew I'd be leaving after forty five minutes. Why they chose to sit directly behind me on the far far right, I don't know. I can only assume they had to leave to go see a play after 46 minutes. Whatever the reasons, they wouldn't have bothered me- it was just the THUD.

It completely boggled my mind. It wasn't like I was being kicked in a traditional way, like the nine year old little shithead on the plane, or the sixteen year old on the bus who's trying to impress his friends by practically bullying you with a constant banging against your seat . No, this was more sophisticated than that.

Imagine Rocky punching someone in the face as hard as he could. Now imagine that slowed down by 700% until it is an agonizingly slow, meticulous THUD. That is what I had to put up with, every two and a half minutes, or so. I tried to figure out what was going on -- involuntary leg spasms? Was it some kind of code to invite me to the back row for a threesome? If I had been there for the whole film, I would have said something. Something like "DO YOU WANT ME TO TAKE YOUR GIRLFRIEND'S POPCORN AND SMASH EACH PIECE INTO YOUR FOREHEAD IN SLOW MOTION SO IT'S LIKE 700 UNUSUALLY INTENSE THUDS?"

Unfortunately, when I do things like that, people find me odd - especially if I'm with a girl. Then she's like "What Thud? What are you talking about? You're imagining things."

I'll let you know my thoughts on the rest of 'Up In The Air' tomorrow, when I see all of it, unless Mr & Mrs Dull Thud are there, in which case, I'll update you when my prison cell gets Wi-Fi.

Care to share?