Monday 29 June 2009


A lot of people say "I can always watch any film" and "I have never walked out of a film." I am not one of these people. In fact, right now, I'm not watching any films at all.

It's really interesting looking at personal patterns - they tell you a lot about yourself. I have a pattern where I can sit for a couple of months and obsessively watch films, but then I tend to really struggle to write screenplays. But then, sometimes I am writing and writing and I don't even have time to watch movies. I feel like I watch a lot of movies, and then start to feel dissatisfied, often by their lacking quality -- and then my writing stems from that, I try and bring to the page what I feel has been missing from what I'm watching.

I'm not saying it's the only way I write, but it seems to be a pattern.

I hear a lot of filmmakers, writers, film-lovers, and random-pretentious-people saying how they can watch any film, and people wear this badge that they've never stopped a film before the end. I don't wear that badge, I've stampled the badge and thrown it in the bin. I give films about five minutes, if they haven't got me, I'm out, because two hours is a lot of time, I'm not going to waste it watching something I don't find interesting.

I've noticed also, that the writers and directors I admire tend to have similar patterns. Somebody who can watch any-film-any-time-because-they-love-films can also, often, write any-film-any-time-for-anyone-who-needs-a-script; and that's great, what a wonderful talent to have; but there are many who can only write and create when their patterns allow. What this means is, they can only create when they know what they're doing, when they know what they have to say. Basically, yeah; when there is no block.

The subconscious is a crazy place. It's a place where your memories are, it's where your ideas are. It's where you accidentally steal scenes from films you remember but don't remember you remember, and it's a place where you have the potential to write something amazing. And to truly access that wonderful place; you're going to be dealing with these patterns.

And I guess that's why it's often at the breaking point when you begin to write; that brief moment when you're transforming from viewer to writer, or from depressed and suicidal to inspired. It's those moments when you suddenly remember a moment from your teens and then you link it to this feeling you have now, and that manifests itself as a character on a page. That's real writing.

Care to share?

Saturday 27 June 2009

Why We Do What We Do - The Importance Of Leaving A Legacy.

Something really beautiful has come out of Michael Jackson's passing. As I walked down the street yesterday, every car that passed had his music booming out of it. There were black people, little chinese old people, teens; everyone was doing the same thing. On the train, heaps of people had headphones in and it was clear we were all doing the same thing. Some of us even did a very subtle acknowledgement of each other. It was like a telepathetic, subtle nod to each other. Maybe that didn't happen, maybe I just felt it.

Either way, despite people reading about what drugs may have killed him and being reminded of what he may or may not have done to children -- what stood out most, what we were all reminded of, was the indeliable mark he has left on the universe with his art. When you really think of the power of that, it's enormous.

What really hit me - was his message. It was one of peace, one of love. I have always loved 'Man In The Mirror' but always heard it on a simplistic level. The message to me was 'make a change and improve your life!' But that really isn't the message, the message is about improving everybody elses lives by getting past your own ignorance.

"I see the kids in the streets,
with not enough to eat,
who am I to be blind?
pretending not to see their needs"

This message is in a lot of his songs - 'Earth Song', 'History', 'Heal The World' - in fact, it's probably in nearly every song. Even going back to 'I'll Be There' by Jackson Five; a song about being there for each other, about togetherness. The themes he cares about - if we all cared about them a bit more, the world would be a better place.

And I began to realise exactly what his legacy was. This is a man who, without his existence, without his creativity and his passion; there would have been a lot less dancing in the world. A lot less good times. I began to recount LOTS of memories of my childhood where his music played a central role - and I'm sure you could do the same. Whilst we can often get distracted by his controversies, underneath all that is this beautiful, moving music - this guy really cared about us. He really cared about the world. He did a lot to improve it.

That's really important to me. It makes you realise the effects of your own work. I know a lot of writers who simply want to 'get hired' and get paid. They'll take a job anywhere, because they want to be working screenwriters. But I think people at least need to be aware of the effect of their work. When you write an action film with lots of violence and little meaning; this has a knock on effect on the audience, and on the world. You are responsible for what you write, for what you do.

"I'd like people to remember me as someone who was good at his job and seemed to mean what he said"
-James Stewart

There's another quote I've been trying to find, but I can't find it - or at least, who it was by. It was "It's never too early to have principles." That's so true. Some people talk about doing whatever they have to do to 'make it' and then they will write the more meaningful stuff. I find that hard to accept, it's time to build our legacies now.

One of my favourite singer/songwriters is a man who has never had a record deal. We struck up a friendship after I found his music online. Sometimes he posted beautiful video versions of his songs on YouTube and they average only a hundred views. But this music is his legacy, and it's amazing - and it means more to me than so much of what counts for popular music today.

As creative people we get to do exactly what Michael Jackson did. We get to let our imagination play. We get to create. When we write a script or direct a film or act in something; we are bringing into existence things that don't even exist yet. When you think of that, it's really amazing.

"Be the change you want to see in the world"

I only began to truly understand that quote recently. For me, relating to this industry, it's about not moaning about what films are out there, or how meaningless things are or how movie studios keep ruining films -- YOU CAN BE THAT CHANGE. You can be the exception to the rule. You can do things that are beautiful.

What is your message? What do you feel? Where is nature leading you? Be the change that you want to see in the world. What is your legacy?.

If you keep writing what people want to read; i.e. if you keep worrying about what the BBC want from a writer, or if you keep worrying about what is expected of a director; you will never reach your potential and you will never be happy.

Some of us do what we do for money, or for fame, or to look cool; but we can do something far more powerful; we can bring amazing material into the world that will have a positive effect on peoples lives. Let's do that, let's start today.

Even if you are caught up in the machine; maybe you write for the studios or you're writing a film about a serial killer, or you and your friends are making a short film with lots of blood -- but I'm sure, even in these films, you can find somewhere to put the humanity. Even if it's by writing a secondary character differently, or by putting more beautiful blue sky shots in your zombie film -- let's start thinking about who we are, and how we want to be remembered.

Care to share?

Thursday 25 June 2009

RIP - Michael Jackson.

It's strange, but he's been on my mind a lot recently, I don't really know why. Weirdly, one of my most listened to songs these past few weeks has been his song 'Will You Be There' from the 'Free Willy' soundtrack. I love that song. I loved it when the film came out, I was only young. I kind of forgot about it until recently; and then found it again-- and I find it really moving, really sad. And the song had been really hitting me recently. I guess it will even more now.

Michael; I don't know what you did or didn't do in your personal life. It's a grey area I think a lot of people are going to find hard to deal with when they think about you over the next few months. But I want to focus on your work -- because your work was incredible -- you are the biggest music star in the world today and you are loved by near enough everybody. My whole life is littered with memories and feelings that are linked to your music. Thank You. Rest In Peace.

"In our darkest hour
In my deepest despair
Will you still care?
Will you be there?

In my trials
And my tribulations
Through our doubts
And frustrations

In my violence
In my turbulence
Through my fear
And my confessions

In my anguish and my pain
Through my joy and my sorrow
In the promise of another tomorrow
I'll never let you part

For you're always in my heart. "

Care to share?

RIP - Farrah Fawcett.

She was never quite on my radar. It's weird how some actors, even actors you like; are just not people who's films and TV shows you seem to watch very often. That's very much how Farrah was for me. And it's a bit odd that now, as her career and life come to a close; I remember her most for a guest role she did in 'Ally McBeal.' - but then, she was great in it.

Of course, she was extremely beautiful too - and that is one of the main reasons she'll be remembered. There's not many people who'll do a nude shoot for Playboy, aged 48 - and fewer still who'll be able to have sold as many copies as hers did (it was the best-selling copy of Playboy in the 1990's).

I don't have a lot more to say - I don't want to rehash biographic details about her, no doubt you'll be reading those everywhere else -- I just wanted to use this space to pay my respects to an actress who I should know a lot more about.

Care to share?

'The Glory Of The Long Train Journey'

The great thing about sitting on a train for hours is that you get to make the soundtrack for it. Your mp3 player is packed full of your favourite records; you've got those dodgily recorded Dylan bootlegs, those rare Oasis demos that aren't rare anymore because no music is rare since the internet. Except that beautiful recording you've got of your friend Tina singing 'Tiny Dancer', it's the most beautiful song in the world and only you have it. And you ripped the YouTube video of that bald guy covering Eminem. You have everything you need. Between the towns passing by in your window and the tunes dancing into your ears - you have everything you need to convince you that life is wonderful.

You start off with 'Miami' by Counting Crows because it is exactly about one journey ending and one beginning. Then you listen to Springsteen who you're pretty sure got into making music just so that he could give you this moment right now as the night busts open and you feel these tracks. Could. Take. You. Anywhere.

We all like to make mix tapes and CDs for people but the problem is A) it's your ego wanting to prove it has great taste and b) the person you made the mix for never *quite* gets it.

But right now this playlist is just for you. You can dance to disco without moving an eyelid, you can sing along to Hanson without embarassing yourself.. Nobody is in this moment but you. And that amazing girl/boy is sitting opposite you but you don't even notice them because you're in the crowd at Woodstock singing Neil Young's words back at him.

By the end of the train ride you realize your problems are just problems - but none of them hurt you as much as Joni Mitchell breaking your heart, or Ryan Adams fixing it, or Aretha Franklin making you focus on your soul instead.

The journey ends. You've arrived, location: everywhere. You have arrived at life.

Care to share?