Tuesday 31 January 2012

Wings For Wheels

"Thunder Road" is my favourite song by Springsteen. Well, It's basically my favourite song by anyone.

But before "Thunder Road", came "Wings For Wheels". We only have the live versions. Is it really a great song? I don't know. I don't care! The important thing is the energy! If you want to know where The Boss finds all his energy, it's in this SONG!

You can hear his young excited mind whirring up and whizzing by and firing out into the world through this song. You can hear it in the whole band. There is no way they could have performed songs like this and NOT ended up as one of the greatest bands ever.

"Now the season's over and I feel it getting cold,
I wish I could take you to some sandy beach where we'd never grow old,
Ah but baby you know thats just jive,
But tonight's bustin' open and I'M ALIVE"

That line just kills me, in a GREAT WAY. BUT TONIGHT'S BUSTIN' OPEN AND I'M ALIVE!

This was Springsteen in the 70's. "Thunder Road" went on to be one of the greatest and most loved songs ever written. But this came first. This was "Thunder Road" before it was "Thunder Road." 

Makes you think about all the times you didn't quite nail it and wanted to ditch your work. It's important to remember you don't make your greatest hits right out of the gate, you gotta create a whole life's worth of junk first. 

But here's the thing. The junk ain't junk. "Wings For Wheels" has a magic that is undeniable. The energy and the vision and the idealism and the beauty; it screams through your speakers and makes you want to wake up in the 1970's at a concert, as part of a small group of people who really got to be a part of something.

That's all we want in life, to be a part of something. To matter.

"Wings For Wheels" matters. The scraps of junk you create on the road to your masterpieces, they matter. They're pieces of you. Probably bigger pieces than you realise. And the people who dig these pieces will dig everything you do. It's like the girlfriend who likes all the things about you that everyone else finds insufferable. You reach people by just putting yourself out there; by saying TONIGHT'S BUSTIN' OPEN AND I'M ALIVE!

"And maybe I can't lay the stars at your feet,
But I got this old car and she's pretty tough to beat."

That could be a metaphor for Springsteen's career. He beat everyone. He did it honestly, with integrity, and he outlasted all the other acts. He doesn't top the charts, but he sells out every venue he plays, all around the world. His fans are obsessed. It's a religion. 

And I'm telling you right now; if he played "Wings For Wheels" at a concert, the roof would explode. And if the gig was outdoors we'd all build a roof over it just to prove how powerful the moment was. 

I can feel all of Bruce Springsteen's career in this song. I can feel my own too. That's what the best songs do -- they sound like you, they encourage you, they ARE you. I don't have the creativity or the genius or the magic of Bruce Springsteen; but when you really really delve into a song you love, a song that makes you want to jump up and scream and run and write and dream and see and believe -- you think, even if just for a moment; WHY NOT? Why can't I achieve greatness? 

That is why I Love Bruce Springsteen. 

Care to share?

The Luckiest

The simple things are always the best. I heard Lionel Richie and Diana Ross singing "Endless Love" on the radio a few days back, and what I found remarkable was the simplicity. That's pretty much always the way when people achieve greatness; they do it with simplicity.

As artists we're always looking for the complex route. We think we have to mix things up and make them complicated to be original.

It shouldn't be about being complicated. It should be about being authentic.

Authentic wins every time.

Don't get me wrong, authentic isn't enough. You've got to be good also.

But eventually -- when someone really nails a piece of art -- it's so often when preparation meets.... simplicity and authenticity. 

Ben Folds
has always been quirky and strange and funny. "Song For The Dumped" is the song you play to friends to make them laugh, to grab them and turn them into fans.

"The Luckiest" is the song you play for the person you love, when they deserve it. It says everything ---- everything you're afraid to say. Everything you can't say in a simple way because nobody in the history of the world has ever been able to say anything in a simple way.

Except for the artists. When the artists are at their best; they reflect life back to us; in the most simple ways possible.

When it comes to death. What songs resonate? It's "I'll Be Missing You" by Puff Daddy, and "Dance With My Father" by Luther Vandross. These are the things that resonate when we
get down to what it's really all about. They're simple, they make the point, and they reach into our hearts and express how we feel. 

"Next door there's an old man,    
Who lived to his nineties and one day,
Passed away, in his sleep.     
And his wife, she stayed for a couple of days,
And passed away.      
I'm sorry, I know that's a strange way to tell you,
That I know we belong."

I woke up with this song in my head. Funny how they get there, don't you think? They just sneak in. It kept popping into my head all day. I'm not sure what "The Luckiest" means to me, although it means many things -- and has been the theme tune to relationships over the years, as well as some people who passed away, as well as often being the song I've listened to when flying home from my home away from home in the middle of the night feeling all profound and caught up in everything. 

What it means on this particular day, I don't know. But I'm glad my subconscious kicked it up and stuck it in my mental playlist for the day. 

"What if I'd been born fifty years before you,  
In a house on the street where you live.     
Maybe I'd be outside as you passed on your bike,
Would I know?"

Care to share?

Sunday 29 January 2012

Love and Commitment

It's difficult to dedicate yourself for any amount of time. Deep down we want to be in it for the long haul, but that kind of commitment is hard.

What you strive for, is love. You want to give your life meaning and structure. I found that with 'The West Wing,' and it was heaven, we were made for each other. But it ended years ago and I still think I'm suffering.

I've tried. You take it easy and try out a pilot episode of something new. Usually you know straight away that it isn't for you, but occasionally you give it a few more episodes just to see if there's anything there. 

It's so rare. People take it for granted when they find the one, they think it's easy. People committed to 'Friends' and it was a breeze. Same with 'Frasier', too. Life was like a fantasy back then, but now it's harder.

There's so much choice. We want to commit, but we're afraid. What happens if you get three seasons in and realise you want different things? Or you realise they never cared about you at all? We all know what happened with 'Lost', and experiences like that are hard to recover from. 

It's easier when you're young, you'll give anything a go. You experiment and mess around and don't care about the consequences. But when you're an adult, you have less time. You have less optimism too, because you've been hurt so many times by inferior programming. In some cases people lose all drive to watch anything at all. Or they flit from one show to the next without a care for what they're doing.

Deep down we all want the same thing. We want to fall in love with a box-set that we can keep exploring again and again. That's when you know you've found something special, when you keep going back for more.

It's happened to me a few times, and I hope it has for you. If you've not been in love for a long while, don't worry, it'll come along when you least expect it. I remember a few years ago I was going through a particularly bad spell, but then 'Arrested Development' and 'Studio 60' came along. There's hope for everyone. 

Care to share?

Warhorse Review

Spielberg once spoke about being disappointed with his own complacency as a director with the making of 'Hook', and promised to never work in that way again. Sadly, 'Warhorse' feels like a work full of complacency and predictability.

The film begins promisingly. You sense the Spielbergness of it all -- interesting characters young and old, the complexity of parent/child relations, epic cinematography, and the backdrop of war.

Unfortunately, those early resemblances stick; and don't take us anywhere new. Usually I'm on board with Spielberg's sentimentality and emotional manipulation -- It's good storytelling with a bit of heart. 'Warhorse' falls short in this manner. The scene where the German soldier and English soldier come together to help the horse get out of the barbed wire -- this is such a flagrant attempt at tugging the heart strings that I seriously doubt anyone could ever find it moving or touching. Spielberg is a crowd pleaser and makes movies for the whole family to watch; but even so, it seems too broad and simple in this movie, even by the standards of the lowest common denominator. 

The same can be said for John William's score. He is, undoubtedly, the greatest living film composer, but his work on 'Warhorse' is overly-familiar and predictable -- and the horse's theme reoccurs like clockwork whenever something emotional happens. It's obvious and panderous. 

What I am saying, I think; is that this feels like Spielberg at his laziest, creatively. The elements are there; but it falls short of truly grabbing you, of inspiring. Of course, we expect too much from Spielberg. We expect 'Jaws' and 'Saving Private Ryan' every time. That's not possible, which is obvious; but the problem with 'Warhorse' is that Spielberg doesn't take risks, he doesn't tread new ground. When he's at his best; regardless of genre, he brings something new to the table. As bizarre as this comment might sound -- 'Warhorse' felt like a re-make of some of his older films. It was Spielberg doing Spielberg. 

Care to share?

Saturday 28 January 2012

Feel Flows

I had a bunch of night shoots and am now, I believe, somewhere near a Sunday, and I'm clinging on to being awake just because the music I'm listening to is so great.

It's like a barrier breaks down when you're super-tired, and the music can get in on a different, deeper level, somehow. I'm listening to one of my favorite film scores by a friend in L.A, and before that I was listening to 'Feel Flows' by The Beach Boys which I only know because of "Almost Famous."

It's weird how these pieces of music remind me so deeply of the films but also of myself, and life. And now some tracks from George Fenton's "You've Got Mail" score are playing--- and wow, it's a beautiful score. I always wonder why a seemingly average rom-com like that resonated with me so deeply. Maybe It's the music. As I write this, the music has had my mind travelling to New York and to women of past and emails lost and I never know where a movie ends and I begin. The music blends the line even more.

I've had something like seven hours sleep in the last three nights and everything about that sucks apart from the fact every piece of music right now is sinking in.

Now It's not film music. It's Fleetwood Mac, with a live version of 'Landslide'. Every line in this song is profound. Do you think you know that when you write it? Do you think the producer or exec who tells you to cut a line is fully aware of everything they're risking losing? Art is hard to do. Impossible to stick by. But occasionally someone does, and what they leave us is magic. I guess when that happens, people are able to have the kind of experiences that I am enjoying right at this precise moment.

Care to share?

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Kid In The Front Row Disaster Filmmaking Competition, WINNER!!!

A reminder of the competition:

The world is about to end. A poisonous gas has descended over the planet, and everyone is about to die. With this knowledge and realisation, you pick up your video-phone, and capture the final two minutes of your life, and in fact, the last moments of humankind on the planet. 

All films must be NO LONGER than TWO MINUTES.

All films must take place in ONE SINGLE SHOT ONLY. NO CUTTING. NO EDITING. 

The WINNER in the Kid In The Front Row Disaster Filmmaking Competition is "LUCKY" by Chloe Thorpe.

The guest judge, actor PETER JAMES SMITH (The West Wing) chose Chloe's film because, against the competition he said he "felt more from it." I agreed. What made this film compelling was not that she had cancer -- but the concept that the actor/director built around it -- that she now feels equal again to those around her, because everyone is dying, not just her. It was a touching concept, which worked due to her subtle performance.

Care to share?

Kid In The Front Row Disaster Filmmaking Competition, 2nd Place

A reminder of the competition:

The world is about to end. A poisonous gas has descended over the planet, and everyone is about to die. With this knowledge and realisation, you pick up your video-phone, and capture the final two minutes of your life, and in fact, the last moments of humankind on the planet. 

All films must be NO LONGER than TWO MINUTES.

All films must take place in ONE SINGLE SHOT ONLY. NO CUTTING. NO EDITING. 

The runner-up in the Kid In The Front Row Disaster Filmmaking Competition is "The Last Man Breathing" by Nabil Shaban.

You can watch it here:

I chose this film as a finalist because I thought it was very unique, and intriguing throughout. It also had a quietly hilarious undertone throughout -- especially towards the end when he justifies using the gas mask over giving it to his girlfriend.

The guest judge, actor PETER JAMES SMITH (The West Wing), had a hard time deciding on a winner; it was down to this and one other. Here's what he liked about "The Last Man Breathing":

"I liked his use of visual--it wasn't just his face the whole time." He also said that it was "accomplished, intellectually and visually". However, unfortunately for Nabil, it didn't quite grab first place. But Nabil, if you're reading --- you should know that Peter and myself both loved your work!

Care to share?

Monday 23 January 2012

Mixed Nuts

1. Bruce Springsteen

Bruce's live stuff from the 70's is electrifying. Listen to the passion and LIFE in 'Wings For Wheels', or heart and soul in those versions of 'Racing In The Street' from the late 70's. Nothing like it.

2. The Big Year

Is a very cool movie with terrific actors. I love people that have passion for the sake of passion. If you're passionate about film, I get it, but there are millions of us. But 'The Big Year'? The characters are passionate about spotting birds.

3. Julie & Julia, Helvetica

That's why I loved Helvetica. It was lots of geeks, obsessed with fonts. They see the world in helvetica, georgia and verdana.

'Julie & Julia' is a film based on a true story, about a woman who decided to cook every meal from a Julia Child cookbook, in one year.

Passion is unique, It's personal. Most people say they never find their passions. I think they do, they're just scared to stand up for them. Try telling your wife you want to go bird watching for a year, or that you're obsessed with fonts--- It's not an easy ride. But how freeing when we embrace the hobbies and passions we're drawn to.

4. Shame

I went to see SHAME with Anna. She's the coolest. We get each other. We know how to piss each other off and we know how to inspire one another.

'Shame' did not inspire us. The performances were good and New York looked great; but not much else worked for me. I like small, artistic films; but this one I just didn't really get. Couldn't care about it.

I do like Carey Mulligan though.

5. Bon Iver

Just discovered Bon Iver. It's good when you learn music can still be amazing. Not for everyone but certainly for me.

6. Composers

I'm still figuring out how to communicate best with them. I love music and always know what I want; but I have no skill to really get that across. I'm still working on that. We usually get there in the end, in spite of me.

7. Upcoming films

Should I be excited about anything? I'm not feeling it.

8. Peter James Smith is the judge for The KITFR Disaster Filmmaking competition. Results soon.

9. Interviewing one of my favourite directors soon, just working around our schedules.

Actually I'm free all the time, so It's his schedule. Anyway, he's awesome and you love his films and we're in for a treat when he does it.

10. Up in 5 hours. When will I learn?

Care to share?

Sunday 22 January 2012

we were

long lost distant nights
somewhere else
and i was someone else
you're gone gone gone

long lost distant nights
all those places we called home
young and laughing
whispers of years gone by

long lost distant nights
coke cans ice cream vans
we used to be 24

long lost distant nights
were we ever really here at all?

Care to share?

Saturday 21 January 2012

The Jim Carrey Bang and Swerve

I was introduced to an actor today, and about an hour later we were standing on the platform at Sloane Square station, heading the same way home. And we got to talking about Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler.

A bit before that, we'd been talking about the industry and acting-- he was really interested in what I had to say because he'd not done much screen acting and was on the hunt for some advice. He brought up Jim Carrey to challenge my concepts about 'natural' acting and the 'less is more theory'. After that I rambled about how Carrey's films are different, because the world that exists in his movies is different-- like with Sandler, or Will Ferrell, the films give them permission to be bizarre and over the top.

Anyway, that's not what this post is about. The interesting part came after we stopped talking about the craft (our jobs), and instead, randomly, started talking about our favourite Jim Carrey films and moments.

I shared my favourite Carrey moment, and I was in hysterics as I explained it -- and then it got funnier because I remembered how the scene made me and my friend Nick laugh back when we were in school many a year ago.

Here's my favourite Jim Carrey moment. It's in 'Dumb and Dumber'. Harry and Lloyd have stopped talking to each other-- they go their separate ways.

A few scenes later-- Harry is walking through the desert, alone-- and then in a wide shot we hear Lloyd calling "Harry! Harry!".

Then we see it: Lloyd on a tiny, pathetic scooter. Then there's a BANG, and Lloyd swerves and skids, and then....

The rest is irrelevant. THAT is my favourite moment. And the actor today was like "That's so specific!". But that's the point! That's what we love about movies, those little moments that stick.

'Dumb & Dumber' is hilarious and I find that particular scene masterful for numerous different reasons, there's just something quietly hilarious about it. You couldn't reproduce it, couldn't copy it. The magic is etched in a moment caught on film nearly twenty years ago. It's amazing to me how I can love a scene in such an exact way, and recall it so randomly and unexpectedly on a tube platform in London. And the actor guy GOT IT. And I also remembered Nick from school, and how we spent the whole of school just quoting that damn movie and laughing and laughing.

Aren't movies just magic?

Care to share?

When You Are Self-Critical And Hating On Yourself

Remember that It's just acting! Only writing! It's play! Make believe!

Everyone produces really terrible work sometimes if not often.

Why all the misery? Why beat yourself up? It's just pretending, It's out in the playground making up stories.

Why so serious? Because it's your life's Passion? Then have a nap, and start fresh in the morning.

It's fun and games. We're movie makers, this is all!

Care to share?

Emails In The Front Row

Been blown away by some of the emails I've received recently. Really makes me realise how lucky I am to have such wonderful readers; that's all I've ever wanted here -- to connect with people, to share a view of art in the world. 


I am a big fan of your blog.  I am someone who has known that I am a writer since I was nine years old, but has spent the last 30+ years denying that's what I am, trying to fit in as everything but.  Somehow I expect you to understand that, although not many people do.  At any rate, after a prolonged dark night of the soul, I have chosen to be who I am, and write, because it's the only thing I know I'm good at, the only thing I truly feel good doing.

None of this was inspired by you.  However, once I decided to stop my life dead in its tracks and change directions, the first thing I did is start a blog:  www.thunderstrokes.com.  Shortly after starting my blog, I found yours.  Since the moment I first read it, your blog has inspired me both as a blogger and as someone who's trying to figure out how to live a creative life, after so many years spent ignoring my gifts. Your advice has been second only the best advice I have ever received, and that was from F. Scott Fitzgerald, who once recommended that writers "give the best part of their day to their writing." For me that meant getting up early, before the day had a chance to beat me down again, and I lost confidence in my abilities.

I feel compelled to let you know how much your writing means to me.  You are a fantastic writer, and a gifted voice.  I don't know who you are really, and I don't know that it really matters.  You speak with clarity and truth about writing in a way which encourages and challenges me to become a better, and more honest, writer.  I'm sure that's true for many, many people beyond myself. You deserve to know that.

Whether you check out anything I've written or not, I just wanted to make sure you knew how important what you're doing is to someone like me.  

And to tell you once again, thanks for being there.

Kevin Thorson

Hi Kid,

I just wanted to drop you a quick email to say how much I've enjoyed catching up tonight on the blog posts you published this week. I feel bad that you haven't got as many comments on them as I feel you should have but perhaps there are other people out there typing emails to you rather than putting comments directly under the posts; I hope so.

For me it has been one of those weeks where the universe seems hell bent against me and yet I'm still persevering and certainly today has been pretty rewarding creatively. 

I guess I just wanted to let you know that I read your posts whenever I get a minute to myself and that I do get a lot out of them. Thanks for putting them out there.

All the best,


Dear Kid,

In the process of creating
More often than not
We seek validation
That we are worth
What comes out of what we create

You taught me
The one person that needs to validate my work
Is myself

And only when that happens
Can we reach out and touch people's hearts
In places so deep
So within

You write for yourself
That's why others read it
Keep doing it
Because it reminds others to keep on keepin'

In gratitude,

Care to share?

Friday 20 January 2012


Your dialogue is not very believable.

In my script?

When you speak.

It's not believable?

You are asking too many questions, which is not believable.

Why not?

See, I didn't believe a word of that.

You've been reading scripts for far too long.

You should be more natural.

Every word that comes out of my mouth you think is unnatural.

The way you said unnatural was actually very natural.

Since when were you an expert on how to speak?

Again, with the questions. Your dialogue is terrible and completely unrealistic.

How can the way I speak be realistic or unrealistic?

You are being confusing and nothing you're saying is helpful to the plot.

You are truly bizarre and I have to say; the only thing I know about the plot -- is that you've lost it.

Care to share?

The Void

"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life. Well, valuable, but small. And sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So goodnight, dear void."

-Kathleen Kelly, in 'You've Got Mail' 

Care to share?

Please Answer

What song gets you out of a bad mood?

What song captures how you feel when you're down?

What song captures what life is all about?

Which song feels like it was written by you?

What song reminds you of someone you've not seen in a long time?

Care to share?

Etta James

She died and I'm not going to claim I was a big fan, but wow, her voice was something. How often does a voice like that come along? And even when a talent like that does comes along, how many have the discipline and self-belief to follow through?

Michael Jackson's impact was obvious, it reverberated throughout the entire world. Yet someone like Etta James gets into you differently. She turned up on compilation discs and your old lover's mix tapes. You found her in your parent's Vinyl collections. 'At Last' described love coming along after waiting forever, in a way so few other songs ever did.

And that's her legacy. The voice, the songs; the famous ones and whatever our personal favourites might be.

Etta probably hasn't crossed my mind at all in recent years, but what a beautiful thing that, hours after her death, I can be walking through the streets of London, profoundly moved by what I'm hearing through my headphones.

I've not found much meaning to life. It all seems so random -- we can only hold on to loved ones and our memories. But It's made all the more sweeter by these angels who turn up out of nowhere and leave a film or a song that burns into our consciousness and stays there for the rest of our lives.

Don't you think it's magic when that happens? Etta James is, we are told, gone. And sure, if you believe in the religious stuff, she might be floating on a cloud some place, catching up with Elvis. Instead of all that, we can see, she is more alive than ever before - all across the world - as people reach for old records, hunt her down on YouTube and stream her rarities on Spotify.

I can't get enough of this voice. It's only when they die that we truly focus on who they were -- just like in ordinary life. Something sad about that but, in the end, it gives some meaning to all of this insanity.

Her death is sad, but, to briefly evaluate; the fact she lived at all has made my life better.

And that's why the artists are important. That's why you'll pick up a pen or a guitar or a paintbrush tonight and tomorrow and the day after that. The only thing that lasts is what we leave. 

Care to share?

Thursday 19 January 2012

All In A Day's Work

Yesterday I preached about being on time. Today I was late.

We got on the train. Everything was going well, until a woman came over and asked if it goes to the airport.

We said yes.

And then some passenger said no.

And we said what?

And he said no.

Turns out it didn't go to the airport and it didn't go to our film location but it did go to the seaside.

We didn't believe the passenger and stayed on for an extra stop and then realised we should start believing the passenger. The woman looking for the airport told us she had an interview for an airline as a plane designer, which frankly we didn't care that much about but she seemed to be in what us Brits affectionately refer to as 'a pickle'.

So, me, the production assistant and the airplane designer got off the wrong train and went to look for the right one.

I made a joke about how she should've designed a train instead of a plane, but she didn't laugh. It's understandable, as she was late for the biggest interview of her life.

And then I asked her why she didn't fly to the interview.

The production assistant gave me the 'why are you such an idiot' look and then we left the airplane woman alone and went in search of the right train and I'm pretty sure at some point we arrived on location.

Care to share?

Wednesday 18 January 2012

The Kid In The Front Row Screen Acting School

1. Cinema has been around less than 200 years. No-one can claim any technique is perfect. The art is still developing.

2. Don't yap on about your technique until you're awesome. Nothing worse than an actor yammering on about some teacher with an unusual name, when they can't even remember their lines.

3. Turn up on time.

4. Don't make diva like demands, you're just an actor, and there is nothing inherently special about that.

5. And when I say 'just an actor' It's not a put down, It's just that It's just a job, a career choice, like anything else.

6. Be in it for the long haul. People want to be cast when they're 24 and pretty but there's nothing interesting about being 24 and pretty.

7. Watch films. No excuses.

8. Be careful not to zone out after three takes. Stay in the game.

9. Get clarity from your director.

10. Make decisions about your character, bring it to the table. A director has the vision but you have the inner life. The more you believe in it, the more a director will leave you alone to work.

11. Be the one actor on set at 3am in a frozen cold field who doesn't moan that It's 3am in a frozen cold field.

12. Find something about yourself that you love and don't let anyone shake it. Start at that very point whenever you feel nervous, unsupported or lost on set.

Main Points: Turn up on time, be in it for the long haul.

Care to share?

Sunday 15 January 2012

New Ground

You reach a dead end. You have the same thoughts, same complaints, same answers.

You're torn between getting away from yourself, or fighting deeper into it.

Watch a film, go for a walk, read a self-help book, whatever you think will pull you through. But nothing you purposefully do, will.

Creativity is when you all your knowledge, talent, ambition and ideas find a new pathway. And then you're free, you can flow non-stop, and your complaints become opportunities, and life feels good again.

You can't force it, because you don't know where the path is. But without getting lost, you never find new terrain.

Care to share?

Friday 13 January 2012

Band Of Brothers. Michael Kamen. My Grandfather.

He says it's nothing like the real thing, he dismissed it. Same with Private Ryan. But It's as near as I'll ever get to the real thing cause I'm just a lucky Kid who can sit around making lists of Top 5 War films. But he really lived it, and lost people.

'Band Of Brothers' was a profound show for me. It captured everything I love about my Grandfather and his generation. I mean, they stood up. They did something. It's immeasurable.

So I'm listening to 'Band Of Brothers Requiem' (composed by Michael Kamen) on repeat and it hits me on a level hardly anything ever hits me. The world is so different now. We're so lucky in Europe, and America, but how often do we really appreciate why?

Care to share?

Illegal Streaming of Movies

Some kid from the UK was running an illegal streaming site, called TV Shack, and he's in the process of being extradited so he can face trial in a US Court. Read about it here.

Now, that's fair enough. He broke numerous laws, probably lost the studios hundreds of thousands of dollars, and he profited through advertising.

So, he's the bad guy.

But watch what happens two years from now, when the studios make websites that look exactly like the illegal ones. Why? Because It's what the people want, and soon the studios will follow.

These kids who set up video sites are catering to what the people are demanding. The studios could do the same thing now -- cut prices and stream the films online. Give the public what they want.

That's what we learned from the music industry. The argument was "people just want to steal", but it wasn't true. People just wanted mp3's. And remember when they tried to stop music being on YouTube? They used to ban your account if you put a track online. Now they welcome it with a big advert on your video, because they found out how to monetize it.

I'm tired of this game. I'm tired of the crazy prices. When I was a teenager I saved up week after week to buy 'FRIENDS' on VHS. It was £19.99 per video. Each video had four episodes. I spent hundreds and hundreds.

And then the DVD'S came out, and they put eight episodes on a disc and a deleted scene or two. And we accepted it because the technology was better.

And then eventually they put it on a single box set, which cost a couple of hundred but now only costs £40.

But if I go on a website tonight and stream an episode because one of my DVDs won't play properly, I'm breaking the law?

Netflix just launched in the UK, streaming only, £5.99 a month. This kind of thing is the future, but right now their catalogue sucks, it's half-assed. Same goes for lovefilm.

But all the major broadcasters in the UK stream their programmes the next day online. And you can get them through your Xbox. Netflix is here from the USA and maybe someday we'll get Hulu.

The point is, everyone is coming up with answers, but the Studios sue the kids who supply them. But a year or two from now, they'll copy them. One way to look at the people behind these sites is as lawbreakers, but in my opinion, they're just leading the way. The studios will follow, right after they've put them all in jail.

Care to share?

Thursday 12 January 2012

ONLINE STREAMING: The Future Of Film Distribution?

1. Streaming movies online, illegally, for free - nearly everyone I know does this.

2. The music industry tried to kill Napster, they thought it was just people stealing -- but something else was happening, a revolution of music distribution. This is why we have iTunes and Spotify.

3. Physical media isn't needed anymore. I keep going to buy DVDs but then realise I don't want them taking up my space. Discs are dead.

4. Everyone loves YouTube.

5. People's computer screens are getting bigger. People don't need the giant TV to watch a movie, they can do it on their computer.

6. We harp on about the cinematic experience, but this is not everyone's cup of tea. The majority of people are happy at home.

7. Yes, free streaming and bit torrents do hurt the film business. But we need to start looking at it in a more open-minded way.

8. People are tired of getting conned. The bankers stole, the car insurance went up, and have you seen how much it is to see a film in 3D!?

9. Louis CK sold his new show online for $5 and the people flocked to it, he's made nearly $2million. This is not an anomaly, people pay for things when they're of value. That's why the DVD rental sites did well, they were a good deal.

10. But DVD rental is a thing of the past. People can go to the cinema, spend a days wages in tickets and popcorn, and still the movies suck. Or they can sit at home and stream them for free. They're doing the latter. Why?

a) The cinema is too expensive.
b) They like being at their computers.
c) So many films are terrible.
d) Cinema is changing. People like to stream and now the quality can be amazing.

The industry can go after people, sue them, and try to force them to watch movies in the cinema, but the people don't want to! If they did, audiences wouldn't be in decline and everyone wouldn't be streaming illegally.

There are legal options (not for new releases), we're slowly getting there. There are sites where you can stream films, and video on demand is growing. But the technology isn't fully being embraced. Sure, I'd love to keep the cinema's packed day and night, but that's not going to happen. And who can afford to go?

I never liked the multiplexes anyway. Too much junk that doesn't even deserve an audience. If the big chains died, maybe we would see the resurgence of the independent cinema? A place for community and good films? And sure, people would still come out for the superhero movies, but it'd be more of an event.


The cinema isn't dying. They still build them and when they advertise the latest big budget let down, the audiences flock.

But something is changing. People are feeling less inclined to leave the home. They like watching films from the comfort of their sofas. The technology is there now. People can stream, illegally, and It's all great quality.

In the modern era, we shouldn't be condemning those who do this, we should be finding a way to give them an incentive to do it legally. And that probably means brand new releases being streamed online legally for a small price.

The studios think people are skipping the cinema and watching films for free on the internet. This is true, but it doesn't mean what they think it means. Most people are happy to pay.

They just want value.

Especially now, people are getting hip to the marketing BS.

And they're tired of the same old movies. You can't remake 'Valentines Day', call it 'New Years Eve' and expect audiences to give a shit.

Care to share?


For my heart I go to Charlie Chaplin. 

For my creativity I go to Bruce Springsteen. 

For my happiness I go to New Orleans jazz.

For my heartbreaks I go to Counting Crows. 

For my optimism I go to Ally McBeal.

For my artistic discipline I go to Woody Allen.

For my politics I go to The West Wing. 

For my coolness I go to Ellen Page. 

For my rhythm I go to Aaron Sorkin.

For my insomnia I go to Ryan Adams. 

For the sweet and sour I go to Billy Wilder.

For my dreams I go to New York City. 

Care to share?

2012 Weblog Awards

I have been extremely fortunate in recent years to be nominated for 'Best Entertainment Blog' in the Weblog Awards; Kid In The Front Row was nominated in 2010 (and won) and 2011.

I am generally not the award type - I am a bit shy about it and see it as distracting -- but the flip side of that, is that the nominations in 2010 and 2011 greatly increased my readership, and helped my blog in numerous ways, getting me out into the blogosphere as a respected voice on film.

You can vote on the bloggies here. If you are interested in voting for me, please do so in the 'Best Entertainment' category. If you do other categories, the votes won't accumulate.

Thank you all for your continued supports!

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Wednesday 11 January 2012

Advice Culture

There's so much of it and I kind of despise of it.

And I know I'm a part of it, how hypocritical!

But do you think Woody Allen and Spielberg sat around sharing self-help books and Godard quotes? No, they were too busy building their careers and working through their failures!

Failure is not optional, it's a MUST! No writer, director or actor (who you care about) got anywhere without huge amounts of failure.

And I'm not talking about the kids from Harry Potter or the actress of the week with the perfect boobs.

I'm talking about the people you really care about who shaped your passion for cinema.

Your bad scripts, you're depressive days, your films that flopped, they're part of it! Everyone who ever did anything went through the same and more. You can sit around reading the story about Edison and the lightbulb ten more times or you can be practicing your art every spare moment.

Care to share?

Tuesday 10 January 2012

The Artist

Fascinating concept: a silent film about the death of silent film. 

And make no mistake, it is dead. This film works because of the nostalgia, we like to believe we want it the old way.. but how often do you listen to CDs and watch films on VHS?

That being said, in the last year, there has definitely been something in the air. 'Midnight In Paris', 'Hugo' and 'The Artist', all nostalgic films about bygone eras. We miss the heart and soul that these old movies had. Problem is, we can't access it in the modern age, we can only look back. 

'The Artist' is a sweet film that, in all probability, is not as good as the hype, and definitely not as good as the films from the era it's set in. I guess that was hard for me.. the old film sets and silent stylings got me thinking; thinking that I really want to watch 'City Lights', just like 'My Week With Marilyn' just made me want to see Marilyn Monroe again.

These films can't reproduce the magic they're inspired by, they can only remind us. And watching 'The Artist' you can't help but think I wish films were still like this, or even I wish life was like this.

'Midnight In Paris' put it the most poignantly; every generation longs for the ones that came before, and we cling to them rather than face the present. If we are to take anything from 'The Artist', 'Midnight In Paris' and 'Hugo', It's that the romance and magic of days gone by are still  here in us, otherwise these films would hold no appeal. They're hidden there behind our laptops, underneath our tweets, buried under the CGI.

We still care.

We still have hearts.

And we need to do more to make that a reality for and in our current lives, for they are the only ones we truly get to live. 

Care to share?

Monday 9 January 2012

Find The Collaborators You Want To Spend The Rest Of Your Life Working With

The best independent films are made by people who trust and believe in each other.

I was with a director and a producer today, watching the rough cut of a film I wrote. Afterwards we were talking about the crew. They both kept raving about one of the runners. The guy was getting paid hardly anything at all, but he gave so much to the production, they couldn't have done it without him.

And the producer loved my friend Henrietta. They'd auditoned her for a role based on my recommendation, but didn't think she was quite right for it. But the producer told me how great and enthusiastic she was.

And there was one person on the crew who was incredibly problematic and none of us will ever work with him again. Life is too short.

It's not so much about finding opportunities as It's about finding your creative soulmates. With this current project, we had problems, differences -- but the bottom line is, we believe in each other, and we're already looking at future projects. And those who made good impressions, it sticks. It's easy to get a runner, and you can get away with hardly paying them anything. But let me ask you, how many of them make themselves indispensable? And when they do, do you think they're on such low pay the next time around? Of course not.

Be the best and look out for the best. Build your team. You'll help each other grow as artists.

It's not always that simple. Sometimes you're stuck with a producer who doesn't get you or an actor who can't grasp what you're after.. but that's fine, that's art. The key is to hold on to the magic people when you find them and build on from there.

A final note on an unrelated point: you should listen to acoustic Ryan Adams tracks at around 1.34am, your life will change a little for the better.

Care to share?

Going To See THE ARTIST tomorrow..

...anything less than the greatest film ever, and I will be disappointed.

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Saturday 7 January 2012

Friends In The Front Row

Anthony Abatte has been following my blog for about a year now (at a guess). He's that friend who just 'gets it', you know what I mean? Everyone has friends they write for -- and he has become one of them. We're just on the same wavelength somehow. As is often the case, he lets me know often that he likes my work, but how often do I say thanks, or say I like his stuff? Not nearly enough.

Tay and Val have sent me some of the nicest emails I've ever received -- they make you feel like you can not only inspire a few readers, but maybe inspire the world. And I guess, there's some truth in that -- for people to inspire the masses, you first need a few people who believe in you. And the weirdest thing is how --and I hope they don't mind me saying this-- I felt like, when they first contacted me, they saw me as someone to look up to in terms of creativity. But the funny thing is, I feel the same about them. They're out there, doing their fantastic projects -- and it's inspiring. Artists are on an even playing field; and it's great to know that I'm out there doing my thing and they're out there doing theirs. That support is what keeps people going.

Teri is kind and supportive in an unbelievable way. She comments here on the blog, she 'likes' my Facebook updates and she retweets my articles. And she forgives me after I've been grumpy or ranting about something. It always gets me, how people can be so kind and supportive -- what makes a person do that? I have no idea. Sometimes you just have to be happy that people exist. The thing about Teri is that she's so creative and alive and full of ideas; which is what makes her blog so interesting.

Semi is the coolest. She has a way of popping up with a comment or email that makes my day. And she blogs too. I don't know Semi that well; I just know that she's young and intelligent and can potentially achieve anything and everything. In fact, anything less than achieving EVERYTHING and I will be disappointed.

Happy Frog and I quietly gets on with her writing; occasionally popping up to tweet me, or comment here, or send me an email. It's exciting knowing Happy Frog and seeing her work blossom -- because I really feel the sense of a writer gaining momentum and confidence each time I read something new. That's another great thing about being part of this community of bloggers -- we get to witness something. The good writing, the bad writing, the indifferent middle ground. We see it all. That would be hell, except that everyone cares about each other which somehow makes it all WORTH IT.

Care to share?

Thursday 5 January 2012

The Film

I watched our movie with someone else.

I held off, for a while. That was always the plan.

But you're not here and I'm not there. And we're neither here nor there anymore.

You could be anywhere, with anyone, watching anything. And that's fine, totally fine.

But tonight, I'm here, with her, watching this.

Care to share?

Film Directing Competition - Closes January 14th 2012

Forget the excuses! Forget your fears! Forget the fact you're not sure if your idea is good enough! Get making a movie!

The rules are here.

It all has to play out in a single take, of no longer than two minutes. So can you and a couple of friends/actors spare two minutes to make a movie? Sure you can! Get working!

Care to share?

Tuesday 3 January 2012

The Future: Truly Independent Art

"Aided by the support of blogs and the relative ease of modern recording, bands are making great records, touring, and - most importantly - surviving... all without major label contracts."
-Adam Duritz

The future is here. You can distribute your film online. You can get an audience for your band on YouTube. You can record your stand up comedy set on your iPhone. 

Counting Crows left the labels behind and went totally independent. Who'd have predicted that ten years ago? Louis C.K. cut out the TV networks and sold his comedy show for $5 online. Ten years ago, who'd have imagined that a leading comic would ditch the networks and make the product CHEAPER?

There's no need to chase everyone, the world is too big, and we all get our information from different places now. Find your home. Find your fans. Make your friends. 

Counting Crows and Louis C.K. are leaders in their fields, and the big corporations helped them get there. But they've seen the future, and so should we. Don't chase the big contract. Chase your audience, one person at a time. 

Care to share?