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Friday, 30 March 2012

Long Live the Video Store

I'm in Sevilla, Spain. I just came across this place. It's closed down now, of course, but I bet it was really cool.




Care to share?

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Lump of Meat

The human brain is amazing.

Look at a picture of a young Charlie Chaplin, he really was that young once. That young boy grew up to invent 'The Tramp', create lasting comedic masterpieces, and change the history of cinema.

He was like the rest of us --- a body walking around with a lump of meat encased in his skull.

We romanticize greatness. Even that TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert is enticing, where she talks about catching an idea from the ether as it passes you by. She thought the problem with creatives and depression/suicide is that they place too much emphasis on genius being personal.

I agree, partially. We all start out thinking we'll be exceptional and discovered immediately for our brilliance. It doesn't work like that and it takes years to understand it.

I'm happy to get rid of the concept of genius and also the idea of catching ideas from the ether -- at least in any spiritual sense.

The ideas ARE out there. When you meet new people and see new places, your brain fires up, you create new neural pathways. Creativity occurs in all humans but it happens differently in artists. Or at least, the end result is different.

The more you create, the better you get. Especially when you make mistakes. We only really learn when we humiliate ourselves by trying projects a little too complex for our current skills.

Those skills improve. You become hardwired for creativity and output. Every project you complete makes it more likely you'll complete the next one. We're habitual creatures.

But the fact remains: It's just a lump of meat in our heads. When we're dead, it does nothing, it's just like anything else. Can we be as great as Chaplin, or Lionel Messi, or Einstein? Probably not. But let's not think of them as geniuses. Let's think of them as talented people who concentrated on their work. Work they had an aptitude for.

There are so many variables to creativity. Most perplexing is the social aspect. Society asks not "were you creative?", but "did you make money?" -- that mindbender is enough to give most artists a breakdown every time a well meaning friend or family member asks "how is it going?"

To realize the brain is just a grey lump of flesh is freeing. It does what you instruct it to do. It does what you focus on. It creates based on what you're thinking and feeling and experiencing.

You want to do your best creative work? Then make sure you're creating with every chance you get, and tempering it with enough time for rest, socialising and being spontaneous.

You are as capable as anyone else. You're nothing special, just a lump of grey matter encased in a skull.

Actually, that IS pretty special-- you're a piece of meat in a skull and the neurons are firing, but a hundred years from now, they won't be. Let's get creative and leave our imprint while we can.

Care to share?

Tea With Milk: The Difficulty of Being English and Abroad

In England you get tea with milk. In America you get tea but if you want the milk they look at you funny.

In Spain you get tea with a glass of milk. In Germany you get a pint of water with a tea bag on the side and they refuse to bring you milk. In Sweden you get tea with milk but nobody ever goes to Sweden.

In the Netherlands they give you tea but if you ask for milk they think you're high. In France they don't give you tea and they don't give you milk. In Ireland they give you tea with milk but only after a few pints of Guiness.

In Sicily you ask for tea with milk and they give you coffee. You explain the error and they give you tea, but still with no milk. You explain again and they give you milk, but take away the tea. You go to complain but see the mafia sitting outside and instantly buy everyone an espresso.

Care to share?

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Twenty Seconds Of Insane Courage



"Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just, literally, twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it."

Care to share?

An Enormous Anger Grows in Brooklyn: Discovering THE RECORD SUMMER

There's something magical about discovering a band right at the beginning of their journey. Not that it's the beginning of the journey for 'The Record Summer', the songs I'm going to be talking about were released two years ago.

Who are 'The Record Summer'? Where have they been? Where are they heading? To be honest, I don't have a clue, I just discovered them. But this is one of the purest songs I've ever heard.


At the time of writing, 'An Enormous Anger Grows in Brooklyn' has 758 views on YouTube. Their Facebook Fan Page has 196 followers. How exciting! The journey is beginning.

I remember seeing Jason Mraz in the basement at the Betsey Trotwood in Farringdon, London. There were only 40 of us, and we all knew we were discovering something special. We got to request songs, we got to talk to him, we got to know him. And then a few years later he was selling out Wembley Arena and "I'm Yours" was all over the radio. That's how it goes.


We're over-saturated with bands these days. How do you stand out? You just get good, that's all there is. Get good at whatever it is you do. What do 'The Record Summer' do? That's open to interpretation. For me, they reach for something pure, that's the only way I can describe it. They sound truthful, they sound like they mean it.

I guess 'Put You Out' is the hit, it has 4,667 views on YouTube.

That's what it's about these days. You don't reach everyone, you just gotta reach someone. Really reach them. I've had 'An Enormous Anger Grows in Brooklyn' on repeat for days. You might hate it, you might not see why I'm making a fuss --- but that's what it's about in the modern era. You make music and films that sound and feel and smell like YOU, and then if people relate, they'll love you and spread the word. I've got no reason to care about this band, yet here I am demanding you at least give them a listen.


This is how it starts. You don't need the record labels and the big film studios, you just need people who want to repeatedly watch and listen to your art. I can't stop watching the Cameron Crowe film 'We Bought A Zoo'. It's a friggin' family drama with zoo animals! I didn't expect to love it as much as I did, but it's Cameron Crowe. And I dig his stuff. Who he is and what he says matters, to me.

"They don't even know what it is to be a fan. Y'know? To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts."
-Sapphire in 'Almost Famous'
Written & Directed By Cameron Crowe

I have no idea if 'The Record Summer' are any good. I don't know if they're the real deal, it's too soon to tell. I can tell you that I love everything I've heard so far, and that's something, right? 

Care to share?

Friday, 23 March 2012

21 Blog Street

1. I love Danish movies.

2. 'The Vow' is not very good. But I like Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams.


3. Tatum is good with comedy. '21 Jump Street' has some hilarious moments. It gets a bit daft towards the end, but what do you expect? It's a Hollywood movie.

4. That's why I love Danish movies. Story comes first. The characters are real. It's not about genre - it's about an experience.

5. I completed the 1st draft of a screenplay this week and the producer absolutely loves it. This confuses me.

6.  People sure are getting excited about 'The Hunger Games'. Any good? There's a great article in the New York Times about how it was hyped by the marketing people. I love this sentence: "Lionsgate has generated this high level of interest with a marketing staff of 21 people working with a relatively tiny budget of about $45 million". Makes you realize what an insane industry we're in. A company spends close to fifty million dollars on brainwashing a movie into our skulls, and that's deemed a 'relatively tiny budget'.

7. Bill Hicks on marketing: "By the way, if anyone here is in marketing or advertising...kill yourself. Thank you. Just planting seeds, planting seeds is all I'm doing. No joke here, really. Seriously, kill yourself, you have no rationalisation for what you do, you are Satan's little helpers. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now. Now, back to the show. Seriously, I know the marketing people: 'There's gonna be a joke comin' up.' There's no fuckin' joke. Suck a tail pipe, hang yourself...borrow a pistol from an NRA buddy, do something...rid the world of your evil fuckin' presence."

8. Sometimes I am really cynical about her, but that's mostly because I'm insanely jealous of her creativity, optimism and vision. Check out this wonderful little blog post by Color Me Katie. If more people were like her, the world would be wonderful and peaceful.

9. When '21 Jump Street' was nearing the end -- about 12 people behind us in the cinema decided to get into a mass brawl. My friend and I had no idea why it happened, we were just glad we had popcorn.

10. I enjoyed 'We Bought A Zoo'. Is it actually any good? I DON'T CARE! I just know I love it! Cameron Crowe movies are full of vitality and life. That's why I love 'Elizabethtown'. In many ways, it sucks, but some moments are golden. Most films, even the good ones, have no golden moments at all. What are these moments I talk of? They're moments of life - of fresh air - of feeling. Cameron Crowe is the master of that. 


11. In this day and age, do relationships ever truly end? Do you ever get closure? Even if you do the whole 'deleting' each other thing, there still comes the day when someone adds someone back again, or stalks them on another site. That never happened back in the day, right? How will it be when we're old? How do you ever truly get away from the exes? I think it's impossible. This topic reminds me of this little short story I wrote. It didn't get much attention but I think it's one of the best things I've written on the blog. It's called 'A Modern Break-Up'. Let me know what you think of it.

12. Reminds me of a thing I wrote last year, where I imitated the writing styles of Woody Allen, Roald Dahl and Jack Kerouac, and called it 'Facebook Stories'. It was fun!

13. 'The Four Tops' were a great band.

14. I'm really looking forward to 'American Reunion'. It'll be like hanging out with old friends.


15. I'm going on a trip soon and I plan to not tell anyone what I do for a living. I'm gonna lie and say I'm a plumber, or that I invented the iPod. I just wanna get away from it, from who I am, just for a little bit. Sometimes I think you can be too identified with who you are and what you do for a living. In fact, I saw a quote this morning that resonated. Let me find it...........

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."
-Lao Tzu

Not that I really know what it means, but it sounds nice. That's the thing, we're all guilty of the bastardisation of great traditions and inspirational quotes. Ever read Eckhart Tolle? (a spiritual hack); he uses phrases like, "What Jesus meant to say was....", can you believe that? How would he know?

None of us know what any of the great wisdom means, we just like to pretend we do.

That being said, Lao Tzu quotes always inspire me.

16. Which reminds me of a story I wrote back in 2010, called "Lesser Known Inspirational Quotes". Here's a snippet:

"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.""

17. Whenever I feel a little lost, a little off centre, I listen to music from 'The Apartment' and it brings me immediately home.

What song or piece of music does that for you?

18. Here is my in depth analysis of the screenplay 'The Apartment' by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond.  

19. Three actresses I really like: Helen Hunt, Patricia Clarkson, Ellen Page. I'm a little bit in love with Ellen Page. And also Rachel McAdams. Which reminds me of a great Woody Allen joke from the film 'Anything Else':

"Last night, I was home by myself and I conjured up a threesome with me, Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren. It was very erotic. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, it was the first time those two great actresses ever appeared in anything together."
-Woody Allen

20. My Top Three Seasons of 'Friends': 2, 4, 8.My top three characters: Ross, Joey, Chandler (sorry, girls). Although, from season six onwards I'd change that to Ross, Joey, Rachel.

21. I feel I need to choose between Ellen Page and Rachel McAdams. I just worry the one who misses out will be heartbroken.

Care to share?

Thursday, 22 March 2012

12 ANGRY MEN (1957 Vs 1997)

'12 Angry Men' is a classic film from 1957, directed by the legendary Sidney Lumet. The whole film takes place in one room. But this isn't 'Saw', it doesn't resort to shock and awe, and it isn't 'Reservoir Dogs': no ears get chopped off.

It's 12 people in a room, talking. That's ALL it is. Yet it's riveting! A perfect film. 

For those of you who haven't seen it: the film is about a jury who has to reach a unanimous verdict on a murder case. 11 of them are certain he's guilty, yet one of them is not sure. Juror no #8 is played by Henry Fonda. You can't take your eyes off him in this film, you sit there spellbound for 90 minutes.


They remade it in 1997, and Fonda's role was played by Jack Lemmon. I understand the casting. Juror No #8 was an everyman. He's who we like to think we are. And if that isn't an exact description of Jack Lemmon then I don't know what is.

But guess what? It doesn't work with Jack Lemmon! In fact, the remake hardly works at all. 

It looks simple, right? 12 men in a room talking, easy! Just follow the script, get the shots, and be done with it.


But the original was directed by Sidney Lumet, one of the all time great directors. When someone nails subtlety and simplicity, they make it seem like anyone can do it, but it's not true, it takes skill, talent and awareness. Lumet made a masterpiece in 1957. The remake in 1997 is flat, you don't believe the characters. It crosses your mind that you're just watching 12 people sitting in a room talking.

We tell stories to each other verbally, or we read them in print. It's enough, when the story is great and handled well. That's why the original movie is so good. Henry Fonda grabs your attention and you're in awe of him standing up to 11 men who disagree with him.

With the Jack Lemmon version, he's not brave, he's just disagreeing with people, he's just unsure. It's just as valid,  but it's not as compelling. But Fonda is magnetic, he pulls you in and holds onto you for the entire film.


The first film does an incredible job of putting you in the room. You feel like you're in the jury. Each member of the group is distinct and different. Some are reasonable, some are apathetic, some are angry and hostile. Thing is, you relate to all of them! That's why Fonda's character is so powerful, because you know how hard it is for people's minds to get changed. You feel it yourself when you're certain about something.

The craziest thing about '12 Angry Men' is that we don't know the full case, only what we hear in the jurors room afterwards.  Our interest in the story isn't even based on the merits of the case, we don't even know them!

The 1957 version is genius, a masterclass in simplicity, story, and character. The 1997 version has everything in place, but it doesn't feel as natural. It's worth a watch, but the original is the masterpiece.

Care to share?

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Perfect Time to be Perfect

You figure, when you get the house sorted, then you'll be ready. Or maybe after the winter, when the sun comes out and you can stand being outside more.

You feel like you just need to get that annoying script out of the way before you can focus on the one that's truly 'you'. You'll just act in one more zombie film before you really take the time to figure out what you really want to be involved in.

It always manages to be five miles further down the road.

It's a bizarre side effect of creativity --- you always feel like you're doing the thing you need to do, so that you can get to the thing you really want to do.

Even those people who are doing the really deep 'personal projects'. Most of the time they're dying to get them out of the way so they can finally go and do what they really want to do, which is probably a zombie comedy.

I've just completed a project that's been around my neck for half a year that I didn't want to be there in the first place. And another project, something I've put a huge amount of energy and commitment into, is now not going to happen. Although these may sound like negative things, in many ways it's freeing. I feel like now I have the chance to really focus and be me.

The failures are difficult, though. Because you have nothing to show anyone. You can't take them to 'The Museum of Near Misses and Full on Failures', all you have is a blank space where an accomplishment should be.

But then again, everyone has this. The path to success is tempered with rough terrain, full of obstacles and let downs. There are so many bad projects out there, so many terrible people to collaborate with. Can you expect to miss them all out? You can't.

Sometimes we fail because we're no good. Mostly, we're just with the wrong crowd. People are scared of committing to lovers, but throw a producer their way and they'll sign the worst of deals. I signed a bad deal in 2007. I wasted two years helping someone else make a terrible movie in 2008 and 2009. After that I tried getting something off the ground with a producer who could never really get to grips with who I was and what I was trying to do.

I only say all this because I feel like many of you will relate to it. Many of you have had hard work, failures and sleepless nights disappear into unaccounted for history. People just don't see the work you put in. You have to counsel yourself through the bad times, cause everyone else thinks you're cruising.

Care to share?

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Three Years In The Front Row

Three years and nearly 900 posts later. Crazy how time flies, don't you think? Thanks for sticking around. Looking back, I'm surprised by some of the things I've written. Surprised in terms of quality, some things I think are mini masterpieces! And, um--- some things are awful! I've interviewed some wonderful people in the industry and I've made some great friends here, some are bloggers, others are readers who've emailed me because something I wrote resonated with them. 

Sometimes I wonder, what is Kid In The Front Row? It's like a split personality for me --- things come up in my brain and I either use them on this site, or in my other work. Some things just hit me in a certain way, and I think 'YES, that is for the blog.' Why? I don't know. But I love this site. Sometimes I'm inspired, and the writing shows. Other times I'm in a slump, blog-wise, with nothing to say-- which I quietly hope you don't notice for a few months at a time. 

At it's best, Kid In The Front Row has not just been another blog where someone prattles on about themselves; it's actually had the feeling of a community, of a place where ideas are shared and creativity encouraged. 

Three years later and I haven't really figured out what this site is, or what I'm meant to be writing about, but I'm glad that so many of you have stuck by me here. I've won some awards, I've pissed some people off; it's been an adventure. The idea was to have a blog to share a few little film thoughts every now and then; but actually, it's become as important a part of my life as everything else. Not because of what I write, but because of how you guys respond. Thank you.

Care to share?

Friday, 16 March 2012

WE BOUGHT A ZOO Film Review

There are people who want Cameron Crowe to do a sequel to 'Say Anything', because they want to see what Lloyd Dobbler (John Cusack) is up to twenty-something years later. But the thing is, you can see a little bit of him in Benjamin Mee. You can see a bit of Penny Lane and Jerry Maguire in him too. Of course, what you're really seeing in all of these characters, is Cameron Crowe himself.


Not everyone loves Crowe's movies, but that's life. The best you can do as an artist is be authentic. When you're truthful and real, there'll still be people that hate you; but there'll be people who absolutely and completely love you, too. 'Say Anything', 'Jerry Maguire' and 'Almost Famous' are among my favourite films of all time. To me, they're masterpieces.

What is it that I love about this guy's movies? It's simple: they make me feel alive. They remind me of the simple joys of life. You feel it when William Miller is contemplating going to Morrocco for a year, and you feel it when Jerry Maguire is shoplifting the pootie. And you feel it in 'We Bought A Zoo' when Benjamin (Matt Damon) and Kelly Foster (Scarlett Johansson) are exchanging glances. In fact, there's a beautiful moment when Damon's character is simply telling Kelly to "go home", because she's been working too hard. The text of the scene isn't romantic, but the scene is positively ALIVE! Makes you want to run out into the streets and find someone adorable just so you can make a connection happen. Life is about the connections, it's about feeling those subtle flows and big booms in your heart, but we forget this; we go years without it. Cameron Crowe reminds us of who we are, and how we felt once.


There was a time when I thought Cameron Crowe was only capable of masterpieces. Turns out, it's not true -- he is human after all. The truth is, 'Elizabethtown' was uneven and strange and didn't always ring true. But then again, some bits of it were magical and transcendent. That's the thing about Crowe - he stays true to who he is. As he seques into family-comedy with 'We Bought A Zoo' you could be forgiven for thinking he's sold out, or been downgraded from auteur to studio-fluff-director. But that's not what this is.

So what IS IT?

It's a little piece of magic, is what it is. It currently sits at 7.3 on IMDB. And that's probably fair. It's not a masterpiece--- but what it does have, is a beating heart. Like I said before, his work makes you feel alive. The nuanced characters and the joyful little life moments--- NO-ONE does them like Crowe. Just seeing a clip of a Cameron Crowe character waving goodbye to someone can sometimes send me spiralling upwards into full joy that lasts for days. If you wonder what I mean by a Cameron Crowe character waving, watch the trailer from 0.38-0.43 -- it's those moments, they kill me, in the best possible way. I can't even explain it, it's just one element of the many many tiny little elements that make Cameron Crowe movies fantastic.


'We Bought A Zoo' is sweet, heartwarming and life-affirming. It's a family-comedy that doesn't try to be anything more or anything less than what it is. Cameron Crowe has a distinct artistic voice, and this film is a worthy addition to his body of work which has had a huge hand in shaping my artistic sensibilities as a writer and director. For Cameron Crowe, 'We Bought A Zoo' proves, It's all happening, still.

Care to share?

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN @ SXSW - The Keynote Address will BLOW YOUR MIND

Thank you, SXSW.


I'm blown away by this. How often do we get this much access to the greatest artists? Hardly ever. And wow, he's so human.

When I speak passionately about Springsteen, people often disregard it; they don't like his music. Fine, maybe his music isn't for you--- in fact, he talks about that exact thing. Shit, he talks about EVERYTHING in this address. Anything that you've ever thought or felt as a creative person, Bruce has it covered in this speech.

It's 52 minutes. That's long, I know. And after six or seven minutes you'll have stamina issues, you'll wonder if you can make it. But just do this one thing for me, please, watch it. 

You think these big rock stars are just guys who got lucky, who had a hit record once. But LISTEN TO HIM, he knows EVERYTHING, about EVERY genre of music. He digs it. He loves it. The passion drives him. There's no way this guy could have NOT succeeded. There's no-one like this.


I wish I had what he has. Truth is, sometimes films just piss me off and I wanna run away and give it all up. But then, how can any of us compare ourselves to someone like The Boss? 

His level of expertise, care and humanity is just mind-blowing. I've never seen anything like this speech. He knows music, the history of it, the evolution. This is what it takes if you really wanna make it. 

I think what he speaks about here has relevance for everyone who calls themselves an artist. 

"By the time I reached my twenties, I'd spent a thousand nights employing their lessons in local clubs and bars, honing my own skills."
-Bruce Springsteen

He ain't exaggerating. A thousand nights, that's what it takes. That's not rehearsals and practising at home. That's a thousand nights in front of an audience. The Beatles and Stones did that too. What's the equivalent for you with your art?

You can say you don't like Springsteen's music, but you can't deny his achievements and WHY they happened. The path to being an artist has rarely been explained with as much clarity as in this video. Watch it. Trust me, you'll be better for it.
 
 "Rumble young musicians rumble. 
Open your ears and open your hearts.

Don't take yourself too seriously.
And take yourself as seriously as death itself. 

Don't worry.
Worry your ass off.

Have iron-clad confidence.
But doubt, it keeps you awake and alert.

Believe you are the baddest ass in town.
And....
YOU SUCK!
It keeps you honest, it keeps you honest.

Be able to keep two completely contradictory ideas alive and well inside of your heart and head at all times.

If it doesn't drive you crazy,
It will make you strong.

And stay hard.
Stay hungry.
And stay alive.
And when you walk on stage tonight.
To bring the noise.
Treat it like it's all we have.

And then remember,
It's only rock 'n roll. 

I think I may go out and catch a little black death metal, thank you."
-Bruce Springsteen

Care to share?

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Scott Rosenberg's Zen Approach To Screenwriting

Wisdom from screenwriter Scott Rosenberg (Con Air, Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead, Beautiful Girls)

"When you think you have a great script - if it really is great - they will find you. The town is starving for great scripts. It sounds awful and pat and overly simplistic: but if you want to succeed as a screenwriter, write a dope script. I am not saying that shitty scripts don't get made. Of course they do. More times than not. And a good 65 % of working screenwriters should have their laptops revoked. But at some point, they wrote that one. That one that people noticed. A Zen approach is a good one. Don't do a mass mailing introducing yourself to every agent in town. Don't foist your script on the guy at the next table in the diner, who happens to be reading "THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER". Just know that they will find you. It sounds strange. It's not. L.A. is a city fueled by the frantic frenzy to find the next great script. The key is write it. And then watch them tumble..."

Read the full interview HERE.

Care to share?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

GREG MOTTOLA - Film Director Interview

GREG MOTTOLA wrote and directed "ADVENTURELAND", which anyone who reads this blog will know is one of my favourite movies. He also directed the fantastic "SUPERBAD" and last year's "PAUL". His other credits as a director include Judd Apatow's "UNDECLARED" and the hilarious "ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT". He recently shot the pilot for the Aaron Sorkin penned HBO series "THE NEWSROOM", as well as numerous additional episodes.

This conversation gives us some fascinating insights into the production of "THE NEWSROOM", the difficulty of getting films made in the Hollywood system, and the struggle to find time to write when you're raising three children. Enjoy!


You've been working on 'The Newsroom' recently, is there anything you can tell us about that? It's all a little mysterious so far.

I can't wait for people to see it. It's an hour long show and it's very much -- it's much more comedic than 'The West Wing', it's a real comedy-drama. I mean, some of the drama is very serious but there's a ton of comedy. Every episode it goes through major tonal shifts, which I find really interesting.

When I first read the script I was really excited about the chance of working on it. I think Aaron Sorkin post-'The Social Network'; I think his writing has changed slightly. I think he's branching out, he's flexing different muscles. There are people who, y'know, will say he's doing what he does, which is write speeches and making characters exceedingly clever but, y'know, that's a lot of the fun of his writing and I'd hate to see him stop doing that.

It's an amazing cast -- it's sort of a mixture of people that you would have heard of like Jeff Daniels, Sam Waterston, Emily Mortimer.

There are two generations in the cast, there's an older generation and then the younger people are largely indie film and theatre actors. There's this guy John Gallagher Jr who's been in a few indie films, who's fantastic, and Alison Pill who's in 'Scott Pilgrim' is one of the leads, and she's unbelievably funny.

I'd done a lot of TV back when I first met Judd Apatow, and it's fun. But for a director, with television, you always feel like the writers and producers are having more fun than the directors, it's really their medium.

I wanted to ask a question about that exact thing. Something I always find interesting about directing for television -- you've been with this one since the pilot, but with something like 'Arrested Development' where you're coming in, and the characters are already set, and the visual style; and the actors know what they're doing -- I'm always curious about what the role of the director actually is.

It's a very specific kind of skillset. There are a lot of directors I'm quite impressed by, who work a lot, who do a lot of the HBO shows for instance. They'll move around to different shows that have very different styles,  and the fact they can work so efficiently in different styles is kind of amazing to me.

For this show, it was fun, because we were doing the pilot and we were really trying to create a very specific style for the show. I hired the English DP Barry Ackroyd to shoot it. Barry comes from documentaries and Ken Loach movies, and he did 'The Hurt Locker'. His way of shooting and his eye is very documentary and multi-camera style, and it would be very different from 'The West Wing', for instance. And it was kind of a style I was interested in for this show and Barry does that extraordinarily well, so getting him involved, we approached it differently to other shows of Aaron's.

Well that's the thing -- Aaron's shows have had such a distinct visual style, if you look at 'Sports Night', 'The West Wing' and 'Studio 60' they all had that certain style. So do you think that this is perhaps a departure from that?


I think so. There are hints of it, because Aaron's writing is very romantic, and there are times when you do want to have camera moves and beautiful lighting. But at the same time I wanted it to play against it, -- it's so beautifully written, so I wanted to play against it, so it feels a little bit like you are there. Part of that is the style that Barry employs; you get far back from the actors with long lenses, and you don't have to be super precise about marks, it doesn't get so technical, it becomes about the scene -- so maybe it'll be handheld, maybe it'll be on dollies that are all moving at the same time, depending on the feeling of the scene. We'd watch the scene first. I had a sense of what I thought the shooting style might be but I really let the scenes and the acting dictate. It was a good way to break out of what I've sometimes felt TV would be, which is that you have to adhere to a formula. But you know, when I worked on 'Undeclared' with Judd Apatow I was also a little spoiled, because Judd didn't care if every episode matched the style of the last episode. He really let us come in and do our own thing. He let the directors really be involved with the writers, re-writing episodes and it was extremely creative.

And I was lucky with 'Arrested Development' because I was one of the first directors in, so the show was still figuring out what it was, so I at least felt like I was a fly on the wall to watch Mitch Hurwitz and his writing staff -- and of course, all the actors were developing the voice of the characters. I mean it was, y'know, that show was so unique.

It really was something special. There's all this talk of it coming back, I don't know what you know about that. They're doing something with it aren't they?


It sounds like it's definitely happening. Just as a fan, I can't wait to see it.

You've worked with all these really strong, unique writers, but what I find also interesting is that, with 'Superbad' and 'Paul' you directed films that have been written by cast members. I'd imagine that can be difficult. Was there ever conflict or disagreements?


It can be tricky but what I like about it, and because I also write -- writers get treated so poorly in feature films, and they get sort of kicked out the door, and uh-- the writing doesn't get the attention it deserves often. So when you have the writer on the set you can; if the scene's not working, or you come up against a problem--- like on 'Paul' we just had to constantly change our plans. Even though it was the biggest budget I'd ever worked with, we had a ton of limitations-- the CGI was very expensive, and that made our actual production budget challenging. We were shooting in New Mexico and it turned out to be the rainiest season they'd had in a decade and we were constantly having to stop and I'd have to throw shots away every day because we were being rained out. And we'd have to think, 'how do we get this?' -- It wasn't the kind of movie where they'd let us do an 'Apocolypse Now', a hundred days over schedule. [Laughs] -- no-no, you're not gonna get an extra day. So with having Simon and Nick there, we'd get to figure it out.


I have to talk to you about 'Adventureland'. It's one of my favourite movies -- and I watched again last night to remind myself of it again before talking to you-- and it's just, I don't know -- I think it's a rare kind of movie. First of all, what made you first sit down to write it, where did it come from? Did you do it for yourself or did you have a chance to make it?


I started a version of it when I was working on 'Undeclared' actually. I'd had a heartbreaking experience after I made my first super-low budget indie film 'The Daytrippers', I wrote a script called 'Life Of The Party' that got set up at Sony Pictures, and I thought I was going to get to be one of those really lucky filmmakers that gets to, y'know, go straight from indies to a personal movie at a studio.

It was a very personal movie, it was about intervention and it was a black comedy. The basic premise was, a group of friends find out their old buddy's a raving alcoholic, and living in the South of France. They all go their to save him, but they're all as fucked up as he is.

We had cast it, John Cusack and Steve Zahn were the leads and we had an ensemble around them, it had a greenlight. And then Sony decided, y'know, that the film's a little risky, a little dark. They just sort of changed their mind after a few years of pushing the boulder up the hill. While I was trying to figure out what to do, I decided to do some TV for a while because I was just dying to direct. I wasn't sure what to write next, and working on 'Undeclared' with all these young actors, writers---- and Seth Rogen was so young when we were doing that show. I started getting to thinking about writing something about young people and about that period in my life.

There was a version of it where they were high school age. And then 'Superbad' came up. Ironically it came up the week I was about to send out the script of 'Adventureland' to try and get it set up and see if anyone was interested in making it. So I just kind of put it on the back-burner and made 'Superbad'.

After 'Superbad' I changed the characters into college age, because I didn't want it to overlap too much.

Yeah.

Y'know, they were still extraordinarily immature, I mean I was still immature even after I came out of college. But I think I wanted to have this feeling that---- I hoped it would be interesting to some people to make a movie about young people, that wasn't just an out and out mainstream teen comedy thing. I mean, I loved making 'Superbad', I'm very proud of it, but I wanted to do something different. Something that I could treat more like an intimate drama.

Even though theoretically a movie about people working in an amusement park over the summer --and y'know, that's unfortunately kind of how they sold the movie, y'know, the rollicking 'Meatballs 2' comedy. And I wanted to do something that was somewhere between a teenage Woody Allen movie and an indie film, all that kind of stuff.


I think the marketing of that film is really interesting. Even when I recommend it to friends, and they ask 'what is it about?' -- whenever I describe it, it doesn't excite them. It's just one of those films I think that you have to sit down and watch to 'get' really.

Well it's hard to, y'know-- the truth is, I like things that are melancholy, I like things that are character based and episodic. I mean, I love comedies but I don't only want to make those. Especially, in a culture of giant tentpole movies it's hard to convince people to see it.

But what's been nice about 'Adventureland' is that it's had a life after its theatrical release, more-so than anything else I've ever made. I've had people tell me they saw it after the fact and were surprised by how much they liked it. Because I think people do hear that premise or see the trailer for it and think 'oh that's kids stuff', or --

--Well I remember it was just a film that I'd had on my rental list and I'd looked forward to seeing but, y'know, when it eventually came around and I got to see it I was blown away by it. I just think it's one of those films that has to find it's audience.


Yeah.

The films I've always loved and been most passionate about, tend to be by writer-directors with a unique voice, like Chaplin, Woody Allen, Billy Wilder. With 'Adventureland', I get that sense of a unique voice, of knowing the filmmaker a bit. And I wonder, does that interest you? Ideally, would you be writing and directing more features of your own, or do you think that's harder to do now?


My wife and I get to socialise with Woody, we'll go out to dinner or lunch with them a couple of times a year (Greg's wife used to be Woody Allen's assistant). And I asked him the question, just to see what he would say. I said, "do you think if you were coming up today you'd have had the same career?" - and he said "absolutely not". He thinks he was very lucky, and he thinks it's not, well, the world has changed too much. I mean, he has an unprecedented deal--- from the beginning, basically entire creative control, it's in his contract-- he won't work unless he has this control. He has more creative control than anyone outside of maybe James Cameron.

I started out just wanting to be a writer-director, but the truth is I'm a slow writer and there's a lot of things I wanted to try and I was very stubborn and turned down some potential movies after my film fell apart at Sony Pictures. And then when Judd came through with 'Superbad' I really felt that I knew how to make that movie, and I had a possibly unique perspective on it. And the script was great-- and I thought, if we get the right kids for this movie we can make something good. So my approach now, when I get sent material -- is do I have something to bring to this, that the other guy wouldn't?


I don't want to have a production company, I don't want to produce other people's movies, y'know. I don't care that much about box office, except that box office success allows you to keep working and gives you more leverage. So I just look for things that I would be good at. Of course, there are the practical realities of trying to pay the bills and -- but so far, I haven't done anything that I didn't want to do. And I've certainly passed on movies that would have made me a lot richer.

Yeah definitely.

That's not to say that I'm so great or anything. I just know it would be a mistake for me to do something that I didn't really like, because I'd probably screw it up.

But what's been the challenge, I mean, I've been dying to get back to my own writing but it's hard because now I'm a Dad with three little kids. And it's hard to carve out any time--

Are you good with the discipline of writing? I know that you're writing something at the moment -- how are you with the writing process?


Um, I'm pretty good at, yeah-- the problem I have as a writer is that I am extremely hard on myself, so I lose faith constantly. So it's just a matter of-- the only way I can do it and feel good about it is just put in a lot of hours. I'm quite jealous of people who write very quickly and churn out things that they love immediately. But I think everyone has their own path.

Greg On the set of 'PAUL'

I don't know how true this is, but a friend of mine had a long chat with Joel Coen - of the Coen Brothers, last year. And he said they spend six months locked in a room, working every day, nine hours a day, and that's what it takes for them to get a screenplay they're happy with. That actually cheered me up. When you get hired to write a script in Hollywood they give you eight weeks to write it. And I can't write a script in eight weeks, not when I'm also taking my son to school and y'know--

With my writing I actually write extremely fast -- just simply because it keeps the self-criticism away. I try and get all the writing done before I allow myself the chance to be self-critical-- does that make sense?


Yeah I mean I've actually gone more in that direction where I write and write and write, and then go back and say 'okay, what's any good here?' That can be a little frustrating when you go back and read it and realise only 20% of it is any good.

Everyone's different, but I do believe in re-writing. I think what's hard when you work in the Hollywood system is that there's a lot of impatience, people don't have faith in the process, and so they want to see stuff before it's ready to be seen, so that's always a bit of a battle.

Going back to 'Adventureland', there are so many subtle moments in it and little lines -- and you almost don't notice them. And I find that so rare in Hollywood movies. And that's the thing I think I crave, as a viewer, more than anything. I like when I'm not force fed something. Whenever there's a film like 'Adventureland', I guess I'm just surprised that it managed to get made and happen, with all these subtle moments left in it.

Yeah. I tend to write with a real eye towards some ambiguity and dryness, and there's no clear villains or heroes. There's protagonists but y'know the protagonist will often be as flawed as the antagonist. And not surprisingly when people read my scripts they seem confused--- they don't understand that there's an actual plan behind it.

My first film, 'The Daytrippers', some people, when they read the script they just shrugged and didn't get it. But some of those same people came back when they saw the movie and said they really liked it, they just didn't see it on the page. And I had the exact same reaction on 'Adventureland'.

I tried to raise the money for it in this window in between the time 'Superbad' was done, but people were hearing about it and heard good things. And I felt maybe this would help me get some money for this other thing. I got a lot of confused reactions, people would just say things like, "well we liked the secondary characters, but I don't really care about the main characters" -- or they would say "we'd consider making this but it needs to be a lot funnier, it needs to be contemporary, why is it set in the eighties?" I just decided, y'know, I'm going to make this my way or not make it at all.

That's what I find amazing, I think, is that it got made in that way, you can sense it when you watch it. When I watched it last night, what I noticed more than ever before--- I watched it almost from the perspective of Joel's character.. there's something quietly hilarious about him the whole way through. He seems to be in love with Kristen's character, or maybe he's jealous of them (of Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg's characters; Em and James). It was these little subtle relationship things that, yeah-- it's just great that you got to keep them in.

That was something that I talked about with Martin Starr, but never really made explicit in the writing. That's the kind of texture of life that I remember, as opposed to turning it into melodrama.


I get disappointed that a lot of movies-- frankly a lot of movies that I'm told are great movies and get nominated for Oscars, often fall into the world of good guys and bad guys, white hats and black hats. That's fine, that can be tremendous fun -- it's just not that interesting to me. I prefer a movie like 'Win Win'.

That's a great movie.


It had very very flawed characters and that was interesting.

Looking back at your first movie, 'The Daytrippers' - what are you most happy about?


It was a bit of an experiment, in form, in some way. The idea was to take this very simple premise -- a wife is looking for her husband -- and then have all these interruptions and digressions throughout, that relate to issues of familial love or romantic love. It's kind of like, theme and variation. Some worked better than others. The movie was shot in 14 days for $60,000, it's as low-budget as you get.

But I feel like, y'know, some of those ideas of people who are in denial being confronted with their reality in a very stark way comes through. I think it's a movie that gets better as it goes along.

When I was in film school we didn't have digital video, so we didn't even get to shoot that much. So, I was learning on the job. I feel like there are some ideas in it that really still work. Now to me it's a curiosity, because it's like New York City pre-internet, like y'know, people often didn't even have cellphones back then. It seems like a hundred years ago.

I haven't watched it in a long long time, but the rights are reverting back to me and the producers, including Steven Soderbergh, so we're going to try and make a decent transfer of it finally.

Do you have anything else you can add onto it -- like footage or behind the scenes?


I'll probably get the cast together and interview them all. We'll have a little reminiscence about it, they've all gone on to do really interesting things. Campbell Scott and I-- we've spent a million years working on it, but we wrote a script together that I may try to get made in the next year.

You mentioned the lack of digital technology when you began working in film. I think now, although there's great opportunities for directors because of equipment, the other problem is that, y'know, independent filmmaking is flooded with a gazillion writers, directors and actors. How do you see the next generation of filmmakers standing out?


A movie like 'Daytrippers' got a very specialised release, there were only a handful of prints made and it would show from city to city, but it finally got to an audience that was hungry for indie films. I mean, it was a small audience but the right audience.

Now, it's true, it's very hard. As someone who loves movies and has very little free time, I can't figure out which fucking mumblecore movie to see.

Exactly, yeah!

A lot of them sound interesting but some are gonna be great and some are not. Someone who's talented might have like four really good movies and one not so good movie, and I see the lesser one and it turns me off.

But it's true, there is a glut. Like you, I do love personal movies and writer-directors. I do believe in auteurs, people telling their own stories or stories that are important to them. I can feel the difference.

With this technology, there are going to be a lot of people who want to get into movies just because it's such a great job, an interesting job. And there'll be a lot of competent people. But to rise above and be the next Woody or something -- it's really hard.

I think it's tricky. When I was thinking of whether or not to do 'Superbad', I was thinking, "Will I then only be seen as a studio director?" Not that I was like crazy about film festivals and Oscars or anything like that. But when I do something that's different, will they not see it? Will they not take it seriously?


I was offered various things after 'Superbad' but I thought I have to do 'Adventureland' - for me, for my own sanity, but also to kind of say: I do this too.

I'm interested in getting your perspective, linked to what we've been talking about, on something I always blog about. For me, I guess I kind of preach this idea that it's about putting in the work, like the 10,000 hour theory. Like when you look at Woody Allen and the level of work he put in when he was younger. So y'know, it's not so much just about having talent or luck, it's about that journey you have to take.


Woody has a quote. It's something like, 80% of success is showing up. I think really what he's saying is just about doing it. People I know who are really successful are pretty much the hardest working people.

For me, like I said, my writing is slow. I just have to make the hours and do it. And say no to things I'd like to do.

Before you go -- is there anything else that you're working on that you can tell us about?


The only other thing that I'm officially working on is the adaptation of a book, that I'm writing for Brad Pitt and Natalie Portman to star in. And we'll see where it goes. I know that it's a long shot that Brad will actually ever do it.

Is this for you to direct?

It's potentially for me to direct and it's for his production company. There may be a version of it where it's Natalie and someone else. It's a book she optioned. It's been hard because of time, but it's been really interesting.

Does that add a pressure, if you think you're writing for Brad Pitt, is it better to write cluelessly and just get on with it?


It's a little bit of a psych-out, because he's so insanely famous. And I feel the pressure of wanting to write something that would interest him. But I'm not letting it color it too much because I think I'd just---

Go insane.


Yeah.

You can see my articles about 'ADVENTURELAND' HERE, HERE, and HERE. You may also be interested to read my interview with LAWRENCE SHER, who was Director of Photography on "PAUL", which Greg directed.

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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Top 5 Ways to Name Drop

1. Use first names only, so that you appear closely tied to the person whose name you're dropping.

EXAMPLE: "Meryl likes me to run lines with her when she's nervous".

2. Don't use names, just hint at projects.

EXAMPLE: "Your film reminds me of something a friend of mine made years ago. It turned out really well but he had lots of problems with a mechanical shark".

3. Make people feel excluded by pretending they're included.

EXAMPLE: "I forgot to bring my phone, could you call up Demi? .... Oh, you don't have her number? ... Maybe you deleted it by mistake."

4. Be dismissive, with absolute certainty.

EXAMPLE: "No, Kristen is not dating Robert, trust me, I know."

5. Mention names of kids. They can be made up.

EXAMPLE: "I think Hanksie would love to do a sequel to Cast Away but I don't think he'd want to be away from little Jay Jay and Millie for so long."

Care to share?

Superbad

Genius.
"Look, we all know Home Ec is a joke, no offence. It's just like everyone takes this class to get an A, it's bullshit --and I'm sorry, I'm not putting down your profession but it's just the way I feel. I don't wanna sit here all by myself cooking this shitty food -- no offence -- and I just think, I don't ever need to ever cook tiramisu.When am I gonna need to cook tiramisu? Am I gonna be a chef? No. There's three weeks left of school, give me a fucking break. Sorry for cursing."

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Proof That Taking Action Works

A few years back I ran an acting competition, which was won by Eric Geynes and Laura Evelyn. It was just a silly little competition, but they took part, as did numerous others.

But I remember how much interest the competition got initially. I got heaps of emails, filled with questions about the rules, ideas, etc. The momentum was good. But how many bothered to finish their videos? Not half as many who initially said they'd do it.

But Laura and Eric did. And they won. Their video stood out. It showed talent. It showed an understanding of comedy. It kept viewers entertained.

CUT TO:

A few years later. There's another competition going over at YOBI.TV. Laura entered the video she shot for the competition here, and she was the runner-up! The prize for being runner up? A role in a web-series and payment of $2,500.

So now she's headed over to Detroit to be a part of something special.

Why did this happen?

Because Laura has talent? Without question.

Because she bothered to get up and do something? Definitely.

Don't sit at home with your talents. DO SOMETHING. Introduce yourself to the world. Congrats to Laura for doing so well in the competition. I'm excited for her, but hardly surprised. She's going to do very well!


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Monday, 12 March 2012

Five Questions For You All

1. Favourite movie?

2. Most watched box set?

3. Favourite rom-com moment?

4. First image that pops into your head when I say 'Dustin Hoffman'?

5. Favourite cinema in all of the world?

Care to share?

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Get The Work Done Before You Arrive

"It takes twenty years to become an overnight success" -Eddie Cantor

The X Factor paradigm got it wrong. They made it about being 'discovered' and instantly succeeding. Sometimes it works, but then you have nothing to fall back on. You get defined by what you are once everyone knows your name. The chance to learn your craft and become an expert comes when you're in the wilderness, when no-one cares about you.

Being discovered isn't what you need. What you need is to become an expert, and you're better off on the outside. Look at sports, we stand in awe of the 19 year old geniuses, but then you find out they started playing football/basketball when they were 4, and it's the only thing they've ever cared about. In sport, you can't skip the hard work if you want to make it and sustain it.

It's a journey. Look at your writing or acting or directing from five years ago. We improve. But remember five years ago when you were desperate to be discovered... Did you deserve it? No way!

Stop worrying about 'making it'. Instead focus on becoming so good that you're unstoppable. Talent is great and you're privileged to have it, but it doesn't mean anything.

Some people stand out. Let's take actors; there are thousands doing the rounds, auditioning and fighting to make it. Very occasionally you meet one who just HAS IT. That's a natural thing, a fluke, luck, who knows. They have that thing that people thought was "special" when they were young, and they believed it and followed their dreams.

That's the easy part. The hard part comes next: putting the work in. Someone with the spark, who couples it with dedication, is irresistible. And I mean dedication to their development, not to 'success'.Talent comes naturally, but expertise is for the select few who have the dedication to achieve it.

When you get 'discovered', whatever that means, make sure you're prepared. When a director is rude to you, or a producer demands you nail the script in one draft, you need the tools to handle it. They come from experience, from learning, from challenging yourself. Even the task of going to an audition can take years to master. But after you've been doing it for ten years you learn how to play the game and you learn how to be yourself.

I am seeing this time and again with my peers. We're reaching a period of accomplishment, based on experience, on putting the years in. Those failed projects, those nightmare meetings, those awful scripts, they MEANT SOMETHING!

The thing you think is your big break probably isn't, but it is part of the journey. Don't look to The X Factor for how the world works, the winners may get famous and make some money but they're ultimately meaningless. You just wish those shows had been about nurturing talent rather than making money.

With success, comes rules and deadlines and personalities that are difficult to navigate. The period prior to success is your playground, a chance to discover who you are and where you want to go. Follow your fascinations, work hard, and become an expert in your niche. You'll be unstoppable. Knowledge is power. Yes, this is an art form, but you can shorten the odds on creating great work by doing the unexpected: you can dedicate yourself to nurturing your own talent.

Care to share?

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Text Message

Here's a text message I received from a director friend today, HA!

Just saw this amazingly hot girl on the train and was going to use the excuse that I'm a director and could I get her number to be in one of my films. Then she started speaking to her friend saying that she really wanted to act and would love a showreel and to be in some short films. Perfect!!.. but didn't want to say anything as it may seem a bit dodgy on the tube. Then she got off at the same stop as me. At this point I was thinking everything happens for a reason but still I didn't say anything. Then she dropped a letter from her coat pocket, surely this must be fate. I picked it up for her, she thanked me and at that moment I hear someone shouting her name, it was only her fucking boyfriend! Oh well!

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Monday, 5 March 2012

Land Of Hope and Dreams

I want to sleep beneath peaceful skies 
In my lover's bed
With a wide open country in my eyes
And these romantic dreams in my head

In case you had any doubt, let me tell you: I love Bruce Springsteen. 

Every single thing I've been through, for better or worse, I can tell you the Bruce Springsteen song that carried me through it. He was there when I was on road trips, he was there when people I love passed away, he's here right now, he's here all the time. Without the sound of The Boss, my life means next to nothing. His music, his words, his voice; the meaning permeates through everything he does and in turn, informs everything I do. This might sound insane or obsessive but hey--- I talk the same way about Chaplin and Wilder, this is why I do what I do. This is why I've blogged manically for three years, it's why I write, direct, and breath. If you're not gonna love something to the very limit of how much it can be loved, then what's the friggin' point? That's why people who don't commit to relationships suck, because they're not willing to go on the full journey and see where they land. 


Springsteen's new album has just been released - and of course, I'm loving it. And yes, I'm biased. Bruce is like God if you're religious, or the love of your life if you can't get over her, he's everything and everywhere. It's good just to hear him again, to see him continuing the dialogue he's been having with his fans for over 40 years.


If you know anything about Bruce Springsteen you know exactly what that means. That's why we love Bruce, because he's a true artist. He didn't just release a bunch of songs and get famous. Instead, he stuck around for the long haul. He sang our lives, our sorrows, our dreams ("Born To Run," "The River"), and he guided us through September 11th ("The Rising",) and the Iraq War ("Devils & Dust"). He doesn't leave us alone. He didn't take the money from "Born In The USA" and become a celebrity, instead he kept focus and remained an ARTIST. 

There's a Springsteen song I have always LOVED called "Land of Hope and Dreams". It was debuted during the reunion tour in 1999. Later on he'd do heartbreaking solo acoustic versions during the "Devils and Dust" tour. But he never cut an album version. 

Until now. 

The new album version is a celebration. I don't know how to describe it. It's part gospel, part rock 'n roll, part something else I can't even describe. Like so much of Springsteen's work, it feels like an ongoing part of the journey. I quoted the song in a 2009 article I wrote called "It's Now Or Never". Little did I know that three years later, Clarence would be dead and there'd finally be an album version. 

Here's where your heart breaks. 

When you hear the saxophone. Clarence is on the record. 


He passed away, we thought it was over, but here he is. We hear him. And wow. It's unmistakable. The thing about Clarence Clemons on sax is that it's a distinct VOICE. You hear HIM. Who he was, who he IS, and what he means to us. The legacy he left behind lives on. Literally, LIVES ON. You listen to this track and when you hear the saxophone your spirit soars and your mind flies and you hear that same sound that has been carrying you excitedly and determinedly through life this whole entire time. 

That's what it is to be a Bruce Springsteen fan. That's why we crave it. That's why we pack out the stadiums. 

The great thing about "Land of Hopes and Dreams" is how it includes EVERYBODY. 

This train
Carries saints and sinners
This train
Carries losers and winners
This Train
Carries whores and gamblers
This Train
Carries lost souls
This Train
Dreams will not be thwarted
This Train
Faith will be rewarded
This Train
Hear the steel wheels singin'
This Train
Bells of freedom ringin'
This Train
Carries broken-hearted
This Train
Thieves and sweet souls departed
This Train
Carries fools and kings
This Train
All aboard

The new version has a beautiful refrain of "People Get Ready" at the end. A perfect ending. That's the sad thing about the artists, things end. The band as we knew it, is forever changed; Clarence is gone. But do things ever really end? Bruce Springsteen has kept the story going. 

Care to share?