Tuesday 6 July 2010


The hilarious guy in New York. The girl with the voice in Pennsylvania. The gay guy in Sydney. The actress in Melbourne. The songwriter in Ohio. The friend down the road. The girl in New Zealand who should be in America. That girl I don't talk to anymore. The woman who lets me eat all her biscuits. Some random guy on YouTube. My family.

They believe in me.

It helps.

Doing this career, you need allies. Not everyone will believe in you or support what you're doing.

But they always will, so it's okay.

Care to share?

Upcoming Classics at the Prince Charles Cinema, London.

The other day I saw SOME LIKE IT HOT at the Prince Charles Cinema. They're showing it again next week. Not only that - but over the coming weeks they have JAWS, JURASSIC PARK, KISS ME DEADLY, CINEMA PARADISO, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, THE GODFATHER, and many others.

If you like good movies and you like seeing them in the cinema and you like being in London; then go book some tickets on their site - they are single handedly keeping me interested in cinema right now. Because Twilight and the rise of 3D certainly aren't.


Care to share?

Sunday 4 July 2010

Some Like It Hot - Seeing the Billy Wilder classic on the big screen.

'Some Like It Hot' is a real piece of magic. I've always loved it, as do most people. Hence why it's always at or near the top of 'Best Comedy Ever' lists.

Seeing it on the big screen for the first time was an incredible experience for me. It really showcases how masterful Billy Wilder was. There is something amazing about how you feel looked after during a Billy Wilder picture; like he really knew how to make you feel at home, make you feel loved. You can't help but just sink into his world.

I finally GOT Marylin Monroe tonight. Of course I've always found her very beautiful and pleasant to watch in films -- but now I realize, it's a particular kind of beauty that belongs in black and white on a giant screen, not at home on DVD. She radiates in a way very few ever have or will. I'm in love. I wonder if she was attracted to bloggers.

It's always great to see Billy Wilder films in the cinema because you lose so much when you sit at home watching it on your own. It's amazing to see different audience members laugh at different parts. There are so many levels to the humor; hence there are different types of laughs and types of people laughing. Somehow, Wilder takes care of them all. It's also great to see his amazing use of timing. A famous example is the scene in the bedroom with the maracas. After each funny line, there's a pause in dialogue whilst Lemmon shakes the maracas and dances, allowing the audience a chance to laugh and then recover, ready for the next line. The timing makes the jokes all the more powerful.

I felt at home tonight. Sitting in a cinema, hearing unforced, genuinely heart-warming laughter. And the laughs were big, giant laughs. Cinema was like this once, it still can be.

There is much more to say. But it's 2am, my iPhone battery is struggling and I must get some sleep. Nobody's perfect.

Care to share?

Saturday 3 July 2010

Advice, Instinct & Penguins - Reconnecting with who I am.

“When I get logical, and I don't trust my instincts - that's when I get in trouble.”
-Angelina Jolie

Advice is a dangerous thing. I say this, having spent most of the last year writing this blog, which; by and large, is a place where I give advice. That's kind of the reason I stopped. Advice can be great, and motivational - but also, it can be a huge problem. When you give advice, you are stating your belief systems, you are claiming to know how the world works.

When a successful writer says "you need to be disciplined," a less successful writer is likely to listen. That less successful writer might thrive on chaos and spontaneity. They'll spend the next five years battling that, because they look up to the successful writer. Likewise, a young film director might be about to make a feature film in his house with his friends which could be the next 'Paranormal Activity', but then he reads an article on the internet by a successful producer who says "you're wasting your time if you make a film for less than a million dollars, and nobody wants to see another horror film set in a house." So it doesn't get made.

I really liked Dawson's Creek. Loved it. Still watch it to this day. But there's a big part of me that says "dude, you're lame, stop watching that cheesy shit!" I get annoyed at myself for watching it. Why? The stigma of watching it is based on the notion that it's too cheesy, too soap operatic, too predictable, too touchy feely, not edgy enough. So then I spend months annoyed at myself for watching cheesy bullshit that nobody else relates to; and I keep trying to watch the things people recommend to me, and in the process, get further and further away from the show that resonated with me. Why do I do this? Because of values held by other people.

When I look at me as a writer, and a director; do I want to be influenced by the things that truly resonate with me or do I want to be influenced by the things I've learned to love because filmmaker's, critics and society think they are the right choices? When I look at my biggest influences; Charlie Chaplin, Billy Wilder, Bruce Springsteen and Woody Allen - I see people who were ruthless at following their own instincts and beliefs.

I can do one of two things. I can follow my heart and follow my deeply held interests and passions (after-all, those were the things that got me interested in this line of work), or I can learn what is marketable and what isn't, I can write based on a 22 step procedure I was told about and I can listen to the research that says nobody will want to see my film about a bunch of penguins who take over the Vatican.

In case there's any mystery here, I am going for the first option. I have spent recent times completely and utterly reconnecting with all the things that excite and inspire me. Be they Dawson's Creek, Nora Ephron flicks or Tom Hanks movies from the eighties. What is important to me is to do what feels right, and feels important, to me. Cowering in the corner with my passion for Bruce Springsteen music and my love for films with Jack Lemmon standing around awkwardly and Jimmy Stewart winning a girl over isn't good enough. Those passions shouldn't be hidden or oppressed. Ever.

Advice, if it is useful to you, is great. But I think advice should make you feel warm and supported. If someone says "You will never be cast in a leading role" or "You're more of a sitcom writer than a feature film writer," you should only accept the advice if you believe it, if it speaks to the very essence of who you are and what you believe. And, of course; the same goes for everything I'm saying here. If believing in what I'm saying means you're going to feel conflicted or oppressed or polarized in any way, then my advice is not for you.

The only way I am ever going to be happy is to be creative on my terms. To write what I want to write, and then do everything in my power to make it happen. The more I celebrate my uniqueness, my passion, my influences, and my beliefs, the better I am going to do and the more likely audiences will respond to it. If they can re-boot Spiderman, I can reboot myself; and it's starting today.

What this means for this blog, I don't know. I have a big edge against me spouting off advice on how to write or direct or even how to make a good tea, because it's so subjective. I would hate to harm anyone's creativity or beliefs. So right now, I'm searching for some new paradigm, some new way of being useful and relevant. I am doing this whilst gearing up to direct a feature film later this year; so I am not sure how often I'll be blogging in the near future.

Did that make any sense?

Care to share?

Thursday 1 July 2010

RIP Elliott Kastner - You Will Be Missed.

Elliott Kastner was awesome. I got to meet him once; and it was only ten months ago. I had a meeting set up with a producer who had discovered my work, enjoyed it, and invited me to his office for a chat. That same day, he was meeting with Elliott. And luckily for me, he introduced us.

I was prepared to do my quiet-shy-anti-networking-thing of saying "Hi" awkwardly, before shuffling off - but Mark, the producer I was meeting with - went on to tell Elliott all about my work and what I'd been up to. "Well sit down," said Kastner enthusiastically. And then he dropped the question; "what are you working on?". He said it in a professional way; which was kind and welcoming but also, kind of fierce and challenging. I sat there, frozen. Fuck, I'm so crap at this stuff. I eventually rambled a bit about what I do. The voice in my head was reminding me of his incredible experience and filmography, making me feel more and more inferior by the second.

But the great thing about Kastner was how enthusiastic he was. He managed to veer from me, to Mark, to his ideas, to tales from his producing career; and did it in a way that was extremely natural - and extremely riveting. I briefly mentioned a film idea I'd been working on. He listened, he said "that's interesting," (it wasn't, I will ill-prepared), and then he said "You know, I've always wanted to do a film, where Tom Hanks and Johnny Depp meet at a Dental convention in Las Vegas. That would be interesting." He went on to share some humorous thoughts and ideas. I liked them all. "If you write something like that, I could do something with it," he said.

Before I had a chance to process the thought; he and Mark were bantering back and forth, and I was completely in awe of Kastner. Film Producers come in all shapes and sizes, but Elliott really looked and sounded like a film producer. He was approaching 80 at the time, but was still incredibly energetic and enthused.

I wish I could remember the exact content of the things we talked about, but I don't. I do remember him sharing a very funny and fascinating story about Peter Sellers. I would write out the story, but it wouldn't do it justice. It wouldn't have the Kastner touch. I don't know what the Kastner touch is, after all, I only met the man once. But seeing what people have been writing about him today, it seems that his touch was something that inspired a lot of people. He will be missed.

Elliott Kastner died on June 30th, aged 80, after a long fight with cancer. He produced "Where Eagles Dare," "Angel Heart," "The Big Sleep," and countless others. Stealing shamelessly from Wikipedia, here's some names he worked with: Paul Newman; Frank Sinatra; Elizabeth Taylor; Warren Beatty; Clint Eastwood; James Mason; Michael Caine; Peter Sellers; Robert Shaw; Pierce Brosnan; Jack Nicholson; Robert de Niro; Mickey Rourke and Jeff Bridges.

Elliott Kastner on Wikipedia
Elliott Kastner on IMDB

Care to share?