Wednesday 27 May 2009

Watching as your baby drifts violently away. The Soul-Destroying Job of a Low-Budget Film Director.

"That's why I think you should turn, go back, and be a lawyer or something. But I can tell from your face that you won't." -
Lester Bangs, in 'Almost Famous'

It's a day before the shoot on your zero-budget short film, or the feature you've strung together for about four dollars and a pizza. You've managed to get this far despite ten or fifteen or thirty years of people saying 'but what do you really want to do with your life?' and 'film director, right. yeah. that's nice.' - and 'have you got your big break yet?'

Here you are, it's the night before the shoot. And you realise that directing a film with no money isn't really directing. It's managing and it's sprinting and it's negotiating and it's compromising and it's being in thirteen places in one day. You realise there are things you wanted to do that you can't afford. There are people you wanted involved who couldn't be there -- and the conditions of your shoot are ever changing and will continue to do so until you say 'That's a wrap'.

And when a non-industry office worker friend says to you "when are you going to get a real job?" you want to smack them in the face. In a 'real' office job, you might work hard - but you work hard for somebody who doesn't care about you. And you might technically, day-to-day, work harder than the film director, I agree.. but you have never felt the pain that comes with being a Director the night before the shoot, knowing that things you had planned and things you had dreamed of are not going to come to fruition in quite the way you had planned.

We don't direct for the glamour. Fuck, there is no glamour. We don't do it for the money, even though we do want to earn lots of it. We do it because we have to do it, we were born to do it. And when problems amount and lights break and daylight fades -- you are left feeling your baby drifting away from you. The film that was meant to show everybody your HEART and TALENT and CREATIVITY instead is just a battle to do something adequate- you are fighting to do something that will at least be able to not totally suck.

And you battle. You really battle. You fight with yourself constantly. You work out how to do things. You work out how to wrap at 4am and transfer the footage at 5am and return the equipment to the rental company at 8am when you haven't slept in forever. And meanwhile, an actor says to you 'why are their no tea bags left? do you not even have tea?' and some production helper apologises profusely for accidentally making a huge hole in the wall of the location you borrowed from someone who was scary enough to begin with -- and you bump into someone you know just moments after wrapping -- and they say "but what if you don't make it? what if you don't get discovered?".

You bite your tongue and you say "I don't know. I'm just trying to make a good film." But what you meant to say was "Go fuck yourself. I don't want to 'get discovered' I just want to keep making movies. I want to find a way to get what's in my heart and put it on the page and then put it on the screen. That's it. That's what I'm doing and that's what I'll always do. I could just go get a real job but then why would I want it so easy?."

The way your heart breaks the night before a shoot; the way you come close to a mental break-down when an actor loses faith in you and looks to the AD for what to do in a scene, the way you want to smash up your home when you realise your final edit is not fit for viewing-- these are experiences that are more painful to your spirit, to your soul -- than anything anyone in a 'real job' ever experiences.

And the dumb thing about us filmmakers is that despite driving ourselves to the brink of insanity - we'll come back around a few months from now and do it all again. Meanwhile we'll smile politely when somebody judges us, our work and ambitions. Because the sad truth is -- there is no way of anyone but yourself ever truly understanding the pure pain of creative underachievement.

Care to share?

Monday 25 May 2009

Take Out The Trash Day: Vue Cinema and the Mystery Movie.

Last month Vue Cinemas started a monthly 'Mystery Movie.' You buy your ticket to a film having no idea what it is. If within twenty minutes you think the film blows, you can get your money back.

Why are they doing this? Well, to make money obviously. The hope is that it'll bring in more movie-goers. I didn't like the rather pretentious thing that Mark De Quervain, the marketing director of Vue said. "It’s all about getting people to see films they normally wouldn’t see, to see films that wouldn’t be their normal choice of film. We want to broaden their film repertoire.”"

Oh gee, thanks Mark. Thank you for enlightening all of us; without you we'd all be going to repeat viewings of 'Hannah Montana: The Movie'.

What I suspect is going on is that this is a way for the distributors to dump their trash on us. The films that have tested badly or that they fear are likely to flop -- these 'mystery movie' figures will count towards their box-office take. Meaning that, at 6:30pm on a Tuesday they can fill the nations Vue cinemas; meaning full audiences see, I dunno - some struggling Ray Liotta/Ben Affleck movie or whatever.

The first Mystery Movie was the new 'Star Trek,' which is admittedly a pretty cool choice - but then the first film was always going to be. Anyways, I'm open-minded-- anything that gets people into the cinema is a good thing, I just fear that we're going to be used to hand over money for films we don't want to see. And whilst, yes, they do offer your money back after twenty minutes; it's unlikely many people will take that option.

Care to share?

Saturday 23 May 2009

My Favourite Screen Duets.

I'm English. I spell it 'favourites.' But a lot of my readers are American. And a lot of people I want to write for are American. So should I spell it 'favorites'..? Will American readers think me using a 'u' is weird? Will English people think I'm dumb or ruining the Queens language if I don't use the letter 'u'?. Or is it possible nobody cares and I've just wasted a valuable paragraph? Either way, I send this question out into the blogosphere. Perhaps I should just spell it in the way I prefer. What I mean is, spell it my favourite way. I mean favorite way. I mean. I don't know what I mean. Anyways, this isn't why I'm blogging.

I am blogging to share some of my fave (see what I did there) screen duets. I won't say movie duets, as they include a couple of TV duets too. These are moments that I have found pretty magic (apart from the Dawson's Creek one which I thought wasn't magic but was perhaps slightly better than normal.)

Chemistry is everything. For a perfect example of this take a look at Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant in 'Two Weeks Notice' - no chemistry at all. For another example, watch Paul Giamatti and Andre Braugher in 'Duets,' the chemistry is incredible; especially when they're singing. What they captured in this scene with their duet of 'Try A Little Tenderness' is incredible. It's one of my all time top moments in any film, ever. I love it when I find those moments in the middle of forgotten, unimportant road movies... incredible. And you know it's incredible because they didn't cut this into a 20 second montage -- this was a three and a half minute song in the middle of a movie.

Okay, I'll get Dawson's Creek out of the way. It's pretty underwhelming compared to the 'Duets' clip, but then it's pretty overwhelming compared with Ben Affleck films. So we'll just call it whelming. This is in my list purely for the memories. The memories of watching the Creek. Those were the days. Here's Dawson and Joey treating us to a woeful rendition of 'Daydream Believer.'

I apologise for that. Things get only mildly better when you see that I'm about to involve Ashlee Simpson. Yes, I hate her by default too; but then she gave a pretty good turn in 'Undiscovered' - which is where this song is from. I'm not sure whether I like this song because I like the song or whether it's because I attach it to the film, which I really like. I realise that this is another middle-of-the-road type movie; but I really like it. It's about being an artist and it's about struggling and in particular the struggle to get somewhere with your talents and passions. I love how these two sing together, and I love it in the context of the movie.

I knew for sure that 'Into The Wild' was one of my all time favourite (going with English spelling now) films when I saw the beautiful Kristen Stewart sat with a guitar singing one of the greatest songs of all time 'Angel From Montgomery.' I completely fell in love with Kristen, and with the movie -- If any of you know a hot girl who will sing that song to me (who also happens to be attracted to anonymous film bloggers) then please get in touch.

This video has been removed from the blog post, as it is no longer on YouTube. 

So, I've already admitted I'm a bit of a Creek fan so I'll tell you also that I loved Ally McBeal. But I mean, really loved it. For me, Ally McBeal was perfect television. It captured my ideals, my weirdness and my hopes perfectly. I want to live in a world where I can become Barry White. Or a world where, if I let down my girlfriend (Kristen Stewart, of course) I make make up for it by doing what Larry (Robert Downey Jr) did in this scene; by getting a special guest to sing with him. And whilst this is meant to be a list with no particular order; I will say that this is my favorite. Or favourite. Or something.

This video has been removed from the blog post, as it is no longer on YouTube. 

Care to share?

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Competition Winners.

Congratulations to Alyson in South Carolina, USA - who'll be receiving 'Lost In Translation' on DVD, and Oliver in West Sussex in the UK who won 'Jaws' on DVD. They both correctly identified the quote I posted as being the words of Tom Hanks.

For everybody's viewing pleasure - here is Tom Hanks' acceptance speech for his AFI Lifetime Achievement award. His words sum up everything that is wonderful about the movies; and it really makes you realize how remarkable Tom and his career are.

Thanks to everyone else who entered the competition.

Care to share?

Sunday 17 May 2009

Film Blogs Round Up.

Hello All,

When I started this blog I also started a facebook group called 'Film Blogs'. I just wanted to get a community of film bloggers together. A place where the writers and readers could meet - and together we could talk about our own work and promote the work of other writers who we love. Until now I hadn't mentioned this group on the blog; but as my readership steadily grows I thought It'd be worth mentioning. If you want to join the facebook group; here it is:

On the group; every couple of weeks, I post a round up of the most interesting blogs I've read/found/been introduced too. I'm not sure whether I'll always post this on the Kid In The Front Row blog too, but for today, as I'm talking about it, I decided I will.

So below is the Film Blogs round up, with a couple of non-filmic blogs at the bottom which just happen to be by writers I enjoy. You guys will have to let me know whether you want the round-up to be a part of this site or whether I should just save it for Facebook!.

Hello Bloggers + Readers,

I've got some really exciting blogs to share today. But first of all, I want to talk a little bit about how we can support each other, and this is more for the bloggers than the readers -- I've noticed a bit of a trend where writers want their blogs promoted, but aren't really willing to give much back.

Most bloggers really want comments on their articles. Many of them even ask for them. But these bloggers rarely comment on other people's blogs. Why do you expect people to read and comment on your blogs if you're not doing the same for them?. I think that it's time we paid more attention to the wonderful writing everyone else is doing, rather than just focusing on our own and expecting everyone to respond to it. It's the old thing of 'you get what you give' - I GUARANTEE, if you spend more time reading other people's blogs and letting the people you like KNOW IT, you will receive that back. We're not in competition here; there's room for all of us. So, have a read of some other people's stuff - and give them an email or leave them a comment, they deserve it.


Well, we may be in our warm houses right now, but filmmaker Kirk is currently in the Antarctic, and he's blogging about it and cutting together short films of his adventures. Fascinating.

There are many things wrong with the British Film Industry; and Jonathan Williams is letting us know what they are at

Are you an Actor? Director? DOP? Well, you can showcase your showreel here: - a great idea I wish I'd thought of first. A place to share your creative works for the world to see.

Okay, it has an unfortunate name; but is a really great blog I was introduced to this week. The posts may not be coming thick and fast; but when they do they are extremely interesting; including the most recent post about working at the BBC, which is the funniest thing I have read in ages.

This summer, more than ever, is a real summer of big-budget blockbusters. So for me, I'm enjoying ignoring most of these and focusing on gems of the past. Rupert Alistair evidently feels the same as he passionately blogs on what seems like every day over at his 'Classic Movies Digest' -

There's a million struggling filmmakers out there blogging about their efforts. But luckily, sometimes they're interesting. Alex Barrett is one of those


The Blog Of The Month is Jane Kelly Kosek's is running a great blog that I think should be bookmarked by anybody who's interested in working in independent filmmaking. She covers things like how to get investors, explanation of film markets, and pretty much every other aspect of Indie filmmaking; and the reason it's so good is that she does it in a really down to earth, understandable way. Unmissable. Check it out!


And if you're fed up with film blogs; then check out some of my other favorite blogs:


Please keep inviting your friends to the group. This group is beginning to be a great community and I really enjoying reading your blogs and receiving your emails. The more we grow the better it is for everyone. Before long-- our Film Blogs community will be recognized in the film community and YOUR opinions will reach thousands of new readers. That's the dream - and the only way it is going to happen is if we collaborate, and reach out to each other and read each others blogs; and invite our friends along for the ride.


Care to share?