Monday 2 August 2010

The Kid In The Front Row Guide To Dating Actresses

Don't do it.

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Hiding Away With Old Friends

When you're on your own, too tired to concentrate, and you feel the urge to pull out an old favorite DVD - one that doesn't make you think but instead makes you feel completely comfortable, content and understood.. what film is it, and why?

Mine is 'Beautiful Girls.'

Tell me yours.

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Sunday 1 August 2010

Doing Coffee Instead Of Doing Movies

Occasionally in the film industry it is possible to do a movie but most of the time you just do a coffee. "I want to make a film," you say to the guy who you think can help you make a film. "Great," he responds, "Let's do coffee."

So you go to the place where they have the coffee, and he asks you about your idea.

"I want to make a film about two people who fall in love. There's a scene at the funfair, and one of the characters has a moustache," you explain.

The guy who you think can help you make a film then talks in what can only be described as a complete pile of cockshit. "Wow, yeah, that reminds me of a project I was developing a few years ago. I think it is definitely something we could do and it would have shades of Godard and the undercurrent of a Hitchcock film." You nod, confusedly, and tell him not to forget the funfair.
"Exactly," he adds, as he sips his
Grande Latte De La L'Fromage Bullshittio. "The funfair is almost like a character. A metaphor for the Facebook generation."
"And the main character will have a moustache, light brown," you add.

At this point; no movie is getting made, but another coffee is being ordered. The guy who you think can help you make a film then talks about the projects that he has in various stages of non-production, and then gets all excited like a little girl and says, "I've found the greatest make-up artist, she's an angel, you should meet her."

"I'll get her in for a movie," you say hopelessly.
"Definitely, get her in for a coffee," he adds, as he updates his twitter feed, "@filmbullshittio is in a #meeting 4 a project, productive!! lolzz."

The meeting ends. The guy who you think can help you make a film leaves the Starbucks and heads for an important meeting across the road at Caffè Nero.

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Friday 30 July 2010

Whose Screenplay Is It Anyway? How Screenwriters Go Insane

You're seven years old, and you think "I really love laughing, hahahahahaha." You're 11 years old and you really really like Mary-Jane, who lives down by the place near the big tree, and you think "I really really love her and I want to be in love forever yeah it's great." You're sixteen years old and you look up at the sky and you're just amazed by how clear the stars are and how big and beautiful the moon is and you think "Holy marbles! The world is incredible! It's a miracle! I can feel it. Wow. Wow. Wow." And then you laugh hysterically, hahahaha. Not because you're insane, but because you really love laughing.

And then you become a screenwriter. And you write your first script in seven minutes. How you did it, nobody knows. But you did. You wrote a 100 page script in seven minutes, and it's wonderful because it's got soul but it's awful because you've never written a script before.

And then your friend Patrick says "dude, it's way too romantic. Nobody likes that cheesy bullshit," so you take out a bit of the cheese because maybe it is a bit touchy feely. And then you meet a guy who wrote two episodes of that thing on that channel nobody ever watches, and he says, "the joke about the pencils isn't funny. Pencils aren't funny. Lemonade is funny." So you take out the joke about the pencils and replace it with a joke that isn't about pencils.

The thing that is great about your script though is that you captured that really incredible feeling you had that time you and that girl went to that bench by the field near where the hill overlooked the big tall building near your old school, when you were looking up at the big beautiful sky. But Mr Singh who works in the shop near the place where they used to sell like a million different types of envelope says to you "I think you're being a bit silly if you think the sky is magic, there's so much pollution, and films that are about the sky don't really sell unless you have a machine blow up and fall out of it."

You know you're right, deep down, you love going hahahahaha and you love that girl and going to the bench near the thing and you love how amazing the sky is. But then you meet a guy called Zack who worked as an extra on that pretty funny thing that used to be on after that famous show and he also directed one episode of a webisode called "LOL @ Life!" which had at least a viewer, so he knows his stuff and he wants to 'develop' new ideas with you but he says "don't write about the moon because it isn't marketable," and he reminds you that pencils don't put people's asses on seats and what you really need are big guns. You're not sure about the big guns but Zack has lots of weird shit in his hair and he has a nice wristwatch so you figure he must really know his stuff so you say "okay, so you don't want the moon?" and he says "no, fuck the moon, that's bullshit," and then you take out the moon and replace it with a scene where the chick with the big breasts blows up the village with her nipples.

But the film never gets made because your script is really shit and the guy with the gunk in his hair is actually an undercover underachieving understudy in a play called "Chipmunks on Skates," so you stop listening to him and go about your day.. and you start to think again about working on a new screenplay.

You have this idea in your head but you don't have much clarity but you think maybe it's something to do with the moon and the magic of the night and a pretty girl with a smile but there's this voice in you that says "that's not marketable you fucking shitfuck!" and then you meet this guy in a suit who says "if you want funding, then you need to know that we need a script that can be branded towards a person who would wear clothes made out of iPhones and eat food made out of Facebook statuses, so you really need to write something current." You keep trying to write it but it's really fucking terrible and you keep asking yourself, "why can't I write?" and you keep trying to feed the magic into your writing somehow but it. just. isn't. there.

You keep looking and you keep trying and you keep hoping that you'll stop being such a bad writer. And some guy who's a big shot says "we really need a film where a guy in his twenties owns a gun and overcomes obstacles by saving the girl from the cheer-leading thing and then he falls backwards in slow-mo and a black man delivers a line about choices and then a woman gets her breasts out in close-up." You write it and it's exactly what they asked for but they don't make the movie-- and you don't know why and they don't know why and nobody knows why and instead someone makes a sequel to that thing with the Vampires.

This part of you starts jumping up and down and screaming at you --- and it's saying, "write a movie about a girl and a tree and the moon," but there are a thousand voices of everyone you ever met saying, "it's not marketable, it's not brandable, there's no breasts, what are you doing, don't you want to be marketable?"

You take a moment to look at your heroes, you look at the essence of what they did and how they achieved it -- and every sign points to people stepping out and saying "HEY, I AM ME, this is how I SEE THE WORLD!" - and you realize, you need to do that very thing.

And it's your choice and it's your choice and it's your choice. You look at your writing over the last few years and the only time you say hahahaha is when you realize the absurdity of the crazy pointless adventure you've been on. You run around, and you search your home and you realize there's just one thing you need and then it will all come together. You run downstairs, you look under the pad next to the table by the chair; and there it is, exactly what you need: a brand new pencil.

Hahahaha you say to yourself, as you write your new screenplay.

What do you want, Mary? You want the MOON? Just say the word...

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The Film That Waited Down The Road

The film was just three roads away. It sat on top of the TV in a girl's house, there in its DVD case. The film was in many other places too. It was on a DVD rack in France, on an old VHS tape in Japan and being downloaded by a pensioner in Tennessee. The movie existed. People all over the world had spent time with the characters and had gotten to know them well. But I had never met them.

I knew about them, I'd heard about the movie - but for some reason, had never seen it. What a sad fate - to have one of your favorite movies sitting on top of the TV, only a six minute walk from where you are, without ever taking the time to acquaint yourself.

I'd been to the girl's house many times. I'd lent her films, she'd given me books. All the while, the film I needed to see was sitting there, on top of the TV, not even getting played. Meanwhile, the character's came out in a cinema screening in Norway, and they got chopped up into chunks on YouTube; they lived on, but not for me, I didn't know them.

And then the girl glanced at the things sitting on top of her TV. She mentioned something about the film. I responded, "For some reason, I've never...," she knew where I was heading. She was shocked. So was I. I knew I should have taken the time to get to know the film and characters by now, but I hadn't.

"Take this," she said, as she thrust the DVD into my hands. I went home, and within two hours - my life was a little bit better. Even though I've never met them, there are people walking out of a screening in Norway who I have a bit more in common with, there are girls down the street who I am more similar to than I realise, there are people in Japan who don't speak the same language as me, but we've shared the same experience, gotten to know the same characters, and had our lives changed in small ways.

Isn't it amazing how there are all these characters out there just waiting for you, who may end up being important to your life? They're waiting on DVD shelves in New York, they're being defined in the editing suite in London, they're being penned by a teenager in Germany. They exist for you. I hope you find them.

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