Saturday 9 January 2010

How An Upcoming Writer Can Get To Meet Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.

This is one for the screenwriters, especially those who may be struggling with their projects right now - or wondering how on Earth you might ever make it in the industry. What I'd like for you to do is to read this article all the way through - and then go and do what is suggested, for real.

I want you to relax - maybe lay down on your bed. And allow yourself to drift into your imagination. And I want you to imagine the following scenario.

You have finished your feature film screenplay. You've sent it out to a few places, posted it on a few writers websites; and you're hopeful about it.

You get a phone call. The man on the other end asks for you by name. When you confirm it's you, he says, "My name's Steven Spielberg. A friend of mine passed on your screenplay to me and I really like it." After you disbelieve him and sit in shock for about five minutes, he follows up with, "I would like to meet you, I'm going to be in your town next week with a colleague of mine, and we'd like to discuss your project with you."

A week later - you are making your way to an office you've been summoned to. you feel apprehensive, in fact-- you feel ridiculous, who set you up to this? And then you arrive. You tell the pretty reception lady your name and say that you have a meeting, she tells you to take a seat.

Thirty seconds later; Steven Spielberg is in front of you. He has a big beaming smile and he shakes your hand. He walks you to an office - and he's rambling away excitedly about some trailer he just saw -- you're struggling to listen because you're so scared and excited. You enter a meeting room.

"This is my friend Tom, I wanted you to meet him too."

Tom Hanks throws out his hand to shake. "Hi I'm Tom Hanks," he says, as if he needs introducing. It's down to business.

Spielberg faces you excitedly. "Some of the people who work for me spend a bit of time on the internet, looking around for talent, for something fresh and exciting, and one of them came across your screenplay and sent it to me."

You sit there, frozen.

"I want to Produce this." he says. You think it needs repeating. "So, Tom here has been looking for another project to Direct, it's something he's been wanting to do for a while.."

Tom effortlessly glides into the conversation, like he's trying to charm Meg Ryan in Zabars. "I read the first page of your script, and I just knew there was something about it. This is definitely something I would like to develop."

Steven Spielberg looks at you with a serious face -- you try your best to look relaxed. "We can only pay you $100,000, I'm afraid. Things are changing in the industry right now and there's no guarantee we can bring this into production.. but uh, we can pay you $100,000 which is something - how does that sound?"

You mutter something about it being okay. Tom stands up and goes to shake your hand again. "This is exciting," he says, noticing your beaming smile. "So who you wanna cast? Megan Fox? Kristen Stewart?" -- you look towards him, wondering if he really wants an answer. "you know, my wife Rita would like the role - you think she could pass for 22?"

You leave the meeting - you have MADE IT. Through sheer luck, MENTAL CRAZINESS and plain absurdity, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks have not only read - but decided to buy and produce your screenplay.

Now - as you come out of this conversation in your imagination -- how do you feel? How does it feel to have sold a screenplay to two of the biggest names in the industry? How does it feel to know you've finally got everything you always wanted and deep down knew you were capable of?

You probably feel calmer, more at ease, and happier. Notice your body language now - you're sitting a lot more comfortably - you're even breathing better.

Is this new feeling something you could use when working on your screenplay? Is this feeling of ease, of being you, of having achieved, something you could take out into your life more? Does it feel more like who you really are?

Care to share?

Helping You with Your Creative Projects.

For the next week - I am going to open myself up to assisting you with your creative projects. If you need some advice on a script, or maybe you're angry with yourself because writers block keeps appearing, or maybe you're having trouble motivating your crew on set, or you're panicking because you can't find a location --- I will help you out. This week, it's about YOU.

From this Sunday until next Sunday - I am here to help you, for free, on your projects.

My particular skills are: Screenwriting, Directing, and helping inspire creativity through tools of psychotherapy and psychology that I have been privileged to learn by being involved with the work of some wonderful people - along with some theories and ideas that I have made up myself, that may only work for me, who knows.

But even if it's something more simple - like you need help casting a good actor, or you need help figuring out what camera to shoot on, or you need help deciding what wallpaper to get. Email me - I plan to be a soldier on your side for the next seven days.

This should be fun.


Care to share?

The One Where The Kid Produces A Feature Film.

It was the day before shooting and we were on our way to pick up the equipment. We would have got it earlier in the week but we were on an extremely tight budget so had to do things as cheaply as possible.

To pick up the equipment we needed a van, but we didn't have a van, so the Director, George, got a van. He borrowed it from his friend. He said to his friend "I need to borrow your van for a day to move something from my house." He probably should have told him the truth, which was "I'm borrowing your van to go and pick up some unlicensed weaponry and Nazi uniforms."

So the Director, George, said to me "should we pick up the camera first or the weapons?" and using my authority as Producer I said "I don't know, what do you think?" so he said "I'm asking you," and I said "can we get a cup of tea first?" We began arguing because he didn't think it was necessary to get a cup of tea but I told him I was really thirsty and that maybe we could pick up a bacon sandwich too.

So George was driving the van and I was sat next to him thinking about bacon sandwiches. We decided, first of all, to play it safe and pick up the unlicensed World War 2 weapons. But don't worry readers, they were de-activated. So we picked up the guns and put them in the back of the unlicensed van. I was a bit worried but George insured me that the fact he didn't have insurance for the van wouldn't be a problem as all we were doing was picking up some guns and Nazi uniforms for a film.

We went to pick up the Nazi uniforms, which was fun, except that George was unsure about some of the sizes. "I don't think that one will fit Michael," he said. "Who's Michael?" I asked. "One of the lead actors," came the reply, which led to me promptly scribbling on the call sheet. "Find out who Michael is and send him a schedule." George was convinced it wouldn't fit so he told me to try it on as I was similar in build to Michael, well I probably still am.

(this is actor Tom Cruise. Not Me. What I am saying, to clear up any confusion - is that I am not Tom Cruise.)

"It looks good," said George.
"I look like a war criminal." I cried

At this point, George realised we needed to rush as we still had to pick up the camera kit and he had to be back home for lunch otherwise his girlfriend would go mad. "Hurry up and get in the car," he said. "But I just need to.." - he cut me off, "just get in the car and deal with it later," he said, which is exactly why I was still dressed in a Nazi uniform.

So we zoomed down the street towards the camera rental company-- and as we turned into a semi-busy road, a truck driver decided to pull into our lane--- he smashed into the side of George's friends Van, hitting the wing-mirror; which then flew through the drivers window, smacking him directly on the head, as shards of glass covered and cut both of us. George, being a wise driver, pulled us safely into the drive-way of a house. The truck driver disappeared and was never to be seen again.

So George and I got out of the uninsured van with illegal WW2 weapons, at which point a little old lady came out of the house and trundled towards the film director and the producer dressed as a Nazi.

As I wiped blood off of my head and George looked all the more dizzy, the woman said "We'll need a broom, we'll definitely need a broom. Clean away this glass. You're on my driveway. You're blocking my driveway."

"We just got hit by a truck," one of us mentioned.
"Oh right, but you're on my driveway" said the little old bag.
"I'm bleeding, I was just in a road accident." I offered.
"You need to move your vehicle," she responded.

We realised that our uninsured van was now pretty smashed up with the windows blown out, no wing-mirrors, and we were bleeding-- to say nothing of the rifles. The woman went to get her broom; and we realised we really needed to get the camera.

We'd never used this rental company before as they are one of the biggest in the industry; and with rental companies it's all about building relationships, so we wanted to wait for the right project - which we felt this was. So it's hard to explain us turning up to them looking like we'd just escaped from a bomb site.

"We'll help you carry this stuff to your car," said the helpful guy with a weird hairstyle. "NO!" we both yelled. We carried the thousands of pounds worth of camera kit and lighting gear and placed it through the non-existent window, in between a German submachine gun and a few authentic Lugers.

George and I headed back to his, doing our best to avoid any eye contact with people, or the many police cars we passed. "How about a bacon sandwich?" I asked George. He didn't answer.

The point of this story, in case you were wondering - is that you must never hire me as a Producer.

Care to share?

Friday 8 January 2010

2010 Weblog Awards - Please Vote For Me!

When I was seven, I came third in and egg and spoon race. How I did this, I don't know - considering I was only one of two entrants. My point is, aside from that, I've never really won anything or been nominated for anything - apart from the time my friends grouped together to buy me a plastic Academy Award.

Anyways, my friend Tina over at The Clean White Page nominated me in the 2010 Weblog awards in the 'Best Entertainment Weblog' category. After feeling humbled by the fact anyone would even think of me, I immediately went to ask Tina "Where is my prize? How much is it? Do I get to go on a cruise?" -- but I soon found out that this is just the beginning. I need to campaign to get nominated - it's based on how many votes a blog gets.

So, I was hoping you guys, my wonderful readers; would cast a vote my way. All you need to do is go to and cast three votes, for three different blogs - and just make sure that you vote for me, under 'Best Entertainment Blog'

I do this blog because I love movies and I love sharing my passion for them with all of you, I don't think I've ever asked for anything in return (except for sex, from all my female readers, but I've never gotten any so you can't hold it against me...) so on this one occasion, it'd be great if you could nominate me. I've always felt there should be a bigger readership here, a bigger community - and you can help make that dream a reality by taking a moment to vote for me, and maybe for my friend Tina at the Clean White Page too (in the best writing category)

So - it's and the Kid In The Front Row Blog, - in the 'Best Entertainment Weblog' category.

The deadline is on the 12th - so please do this immediately.. (and I'm talking to you guys who subsribe to this in your emails too - you can really help make a difference)

Thank you all - and sorry for selling out and begging for your help!

Care to share?

Thursday 7 January 2010

The Definitive Review Of Avatar 3D - Where The Blue Man Group Defend The Cheese.

Firstly, well done to James Cameron for doing 3D, I was absolutely delighted when the cinema handed me some Woody Allen shades. That's Woody Allen glasses but the ones he wears when it's sunny (he hates the sun so people rarely see Woody Allen shades, unless going to see Avatar in a multiplex). When you see the 3D it's obvious where the extra $200million went - making bits of tree branch hang outside the frame and having insects buzz around between the screen and your seat (somewhere around the 3rd row). The characters heads are also slightly more round looking.

The story is about a bunch of American army people who go to some weird land - but they're not going there for nice reasons, no, they're going there because they want some special stuff. A bit like the oil in Iraq but this film had nothing to do with Iraq, of course, so instead they were going for something other than oil, I dunno, Kryptonite or something... but for the sake of simplicity, we'll call it cheese. The Americans were invading the far-away-other-world-jungle-place in order to get the cheese which was important to them. In the land far away, lived some people who were blue people. Not blue in mood, but in colour. I forget the name of their people, so I'll call them the Blue Man Group.

So anyways, the American army people are keen to invade the Blue Man Group in order to get the oil/cheese that is very important to them. However, one American army man who is being a bit of a spy in the Blue world (a bit like Di Caprio in The Departed) happens to fall in love with a Blue Man Woman, and therefore, he wants to save the Blue Man Group and their land from the bad American people.

But the bad American people are after the cheese, they want it really bad. A bit like they wanted the oil for their cars. And in an attempt to make this point subtly, the characters use phrases like 'shock and awe,' and ramble on about 'terror.'

Anyways, it's all very lovely and fun how Cameron and his Hollywood people try to give everybody a lesson on morality.. but then, of course, the film becomes a bit retarded because it thinks it's preaching peace.. but their way of showing that is a bit dumb.

Basically, the Blue Man Group, realising their cheese and their 3D trees and the Blue Man Woman are all under threat, decide to defend themselves. They do this by getting all of their clan people together (both 2D and 3D) and then the American-Army-Blue-Man-Traitor gives them a little pep talk (like Al Pacino in that American football movie) about how they must defend their land. so all of the Blue Man Group get together with their bo-&-arrows, Blue Man Dinosaurs and 3D bits of tree and decide to attack the Americans. You see, in Hollywood, the idea of peace is when the baddies get a taste of their medicine when the goodies finally group together to teach them a lesson. It's fighting conflict-with-conflict. War mentality with war mentality.

So loads of things get blown up and then all the Earth people go back to Earth, knowing their planet is dying because back on Earth people don't recycle their bags and people keep bombing each other.

If we're going to make films preachy, and we're going to make them about war... and peace, then why not do it properly? Fighting conflict with conflict doesn't solve anything. If the Iraqi children and mothers start throwing sticks at Americans, that's no better than the Americans blowing up their schools - we need a more open dialogue between us all. We need to realise that in America, everybody wants somewhere safe for their children to play and somewhere where the parents can earn a living, and at the weekends they can take a drive to the countryside. In Iraq, Afghanistan and in the Blue Man Group World, they want...... somewhere safe for their children to play and somewhere where the parents can earn a living, and at the weekends they can take a drive to the countryside. And the only way that happens is when we withdraw from blame, when we withdraw from taking sides. Instead, we go deeper. We look inside the other person until we see ourselves. Until we realise every bomb is dropped out of fear, every gun is fired (weirdly) out of want for safety, hope.

A Ku Klux Klan member, An Islamic Fundamentalist, A Republican-- they don't do their crazy stuff for fun, or because they like inflicting pain, it's because they have fear and because they feel threatened. It's time to address those things in each of us. And then, finally, we might find ways to live more peacefully.

Care to share?