Friday 17 September 2010

How Are You?

I feel I've been a bit out of touch recently, only turning up occasionally to dump out a few articles. Thinking back just a few months - I felt a lot more connected to the community of readers and bloggers here and on the Facebook page.

And I want to get that back.

So please; tell me what's going on with you. What projects are you working on? How is life? I'd prefer for this to be personal and heartfelt rather than a link-to-projects-a-thon; but other than that, I look forward to reading the comments and catching up with you all.

As for me, I am in early pre-production of a feature film I am writing and directing. It's a drama, with some comedy. I am also going through an intense stage of tea drinking, not sure what's brought that on. My mood has been slightly more grumpy and moody than usual; but often with moments of clarity and inspiration. I also made friends with two magnificent German people and two inspiring Belarusians all in the last week.

So, tell me about your life! The comments section can be our online coffee house catch up. (And if you're new here - please introduce yourself..)

Care to share?

Thursday 16 September 2010

It's Time For More Diversity In The Movies

I'm a white guy, and I tend to write movies about white people, who are about my age, who have names like Darren and Amy. And their problems are love and work and not loving work. And that's fine. But the problem is, often - all the other films are like this too.

It's not that I'm in to all this equality stuff in the sense that every film should have every ethnicity and gender and sexual orientation represented in equal measure (although that would be a fascinating experience!) but I am just aware that life is such a rich and complex experience and we all delve into the depths of our differences and culture every single day. Even if you live in an area lacking in diversity, that's still an experience relating to diversity. So there is so much to delve into!

But it's also time to move beyond mere diversity issues and stereotypes. As much as I love a good movie about black and white people hating each other before learning life lessons, and as much as I enjoy that every gay character in the movies has a high pitched voice and funny walk - I really think it's time to move beyond that. And before anyone says "but we have moved beyond that, I have five examples," that's exactly my point! You have five examples. But if I asked for examples of white rich Americans falling in love in New York, your examples would be unlimited. It's time to burst through whatever invisible strange barrier it is that keeps us writing the same shit over and over.

How about a disabled character whose story is about a challenge in life other than his or her disability? How about a character who is gay but that isn't part of their story, just like being straight isn't always the key part of a story? How about more films with women; films where being beautiful isn't a pre-requisite, films where women get cast in roles that aren't sexy or 'playing the guy's role' but are instead, like life - just struggles and events and ideas and emotions and action.

I dream of a world where we aren't able to 'give examples' of diversity in movies or able to make a list of films where disabled people aren't stereotyped, because instead I'd like it to be the norm. I am as guilty of this as anyone. But I am starting to see the bigger picture, and feel inspired by how different we are; we're all different colors, we have different ideas, we're fucked up in different ways, we're the same in many ways, some of our bodies work and some of them don't, some of us are good and some of us are oppressors and some of us haven't got a clue what's going on -- but how exciting! Surely exploring these differences is going to be more rewarding and fascinating and exciting and original than another Ryan Reynolds rom-com or a medium-budget drama with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner.

When you approach writing your next project, or begin casting your next movie -- have a think, what could you do differently? Might it be more interesting? Might it be more truthful? Just a thought!

Care to share?

Tuesday 7 September 2010

What Happens When You're Not Quite Talented Enough?

What happens to you if you're not quite talented enough to do what you want to do? Sure, you read books about Tom Hanks, and Frank Capra and Katharine Hepburn -- and you feel inspired. But what happens when you realise you're not like them? What happens if you've spent your whole life believing you're destined to create magic but, even after your best shot, you create something barely passable?

Sure, I know, the success books say keep trying, and you feel inspired by the book about how David Beckham kept staying late in training to hone his talent. But what if your talent only stems so far? What happens to you then? Sure, you could work hard and make a living in some way -- but what happens to your soul when you realize you don't have the talent you always based your life on?

I know I know, you keep trying, you practice, you persevere. Just like Steve Martin did and Angelina Jolie did and whoever else did. But they had the talent. What happens when your talent is two notches below the amount that you need to TRULY inspire people? Do you realize yourself, or do look for clues in the people around you?

Yep, people told Chaplin he didn't know what he was doing, and people told Sylvester Stallone he didn't have any talent. But what if you really don't know what you're doing and really don't have any talent? We've all seen an upcoming actor or a short film at a festival and thought "Jesus, what the hell was that?" -- but what if that is you? And what if it is you every single time? And what if you really aren't the talent you dreamed you were?

Was the teacher who told me I can't write right? Was the girl who said you're in a world of your own the only one who saw reality? Was the friend who said when will you get a real job aware of something I wasn't?

You put yourself on a big pedestal and you dream that you're Al Pacino. And then eventually you reconsider and think, hey; maybe I'm Matt Le Blanc. But then time goes by and it's not that the world doesn't take to you, but that you give it your all and it means nothing, it does nothing, it is nothing. And you're Joe Mabbutt, or Jenny Hendon or Matt Shipp. You've never heard of them, because they never made it. Not through lack of trying but because they just didn't. quite. have. it.

If you knew, for sure, that you weren't the talent you dreamed of - what would you do?

Care to share?

Saturday 4 September 2010

A Film Blog By A Film Blogger - For Blogging's Sake

So I've started out for God knows where
I guess I'll know when I get there
-Tom Petty

I haven't had much to blog about recently. Or at least, I haven't felt like blogging. This thing has been going constantly for about a year and a half now; and that's been a lot of posts.. so recently, I've been doing other things. I'd rather blog when I have something to say rather than just shit something out regardless, like they do with the Hollywood movies. It's 2.31am on a Sunday morning; and, for today, I thought I'd write a blog for blogging's sake; and see what comes out.

Recent movies:

The Expendables - I loved it! The scene with Willis, Stallone and Swarchenegger was cinema gold! I'm sure this film wasn't particularly great in reality -- and it's not the type of film I usually watch, but it was great to see all these old time action stars on the screen together.

Scott Pilgrim - It was alright. Pretty much just a big geekfest though, for people in their twenties to feel understood. It was very cool and clever cinematically; but I was pretty bored throughout most of it. I know I'm in a minority with this opinion; everyone seems to love it. I liked Michael Cera in it though, he's so good at what he does.

Grown Ups - I enjoyed it! Had lots of warm hearted fun; as all Sandler produced films do. They have a big heart, which is very rare in modern cinema.

Last week I was due to direct a music video. It was all exteriors, and the main theme of the video was summer. It pissed down with heavy rain on both days. We didn't film a shot. This is England. The day before that I was a camera operator on a corporate gig. It was a sports thing, outdoors. We scheduled to shoot for eight hours. We shot for thirty minutes, then it rained.

I signed a deal with a producer this week for a feature film I'm writing and directing. The fun starts now.

Things to ponder:

'THE SUN' newspaper has, for two days, run front page headlines about a footballer and pop-singer who are divorcing. There's a lot going on in the world -- why do we all care about this nonsense?

It's September. Everyone is off to University. Another group of eighteen year olds pressured into going into higher education because 'otherwise you won't get great jobs.' Should we celebrate the fact that they'll average £30,000 of debt by the time they're finished, or that nearly 30% of graduates under twenty-four are currently unemployed? The world is so large, paths so vast-- yet every teenager has it pounded into them that they need to enter into a system that will keep them indebted for most of their adult lives, and will do little to help or improve their career chances. The Government has said recently it wants 75% of young people to be educated to degree level. What for? Why? For what jobs, specifically? For what opportunities? That of course, can't be answered. Right now, unemployment is soaring, businesses are closing - and everything is changing. So what are we educating young people for? Let that be pondered as a bunch of teenagers begin their two lectures a week; for three years; before being £40,000 in debt for a degree they're not interested in.

While we're waiting for a cab I'll give you your lesson for today. Don't listen to what your teachers tell ya, you know. Don't pay attention. Just, just see what they look like and that's how you'll know what life is really gonna be like.
-Woody Allen, in 'Crimes & Misdemeanors'

Facebook - Why the hell are we there? What are we doing? Sure, I can talk to my friend Betsy in America and I can add people from Norway and tell them about my blog. But really; what are we all doing there? Why are we telling people "Bryan Frimp is totally annoyed today!" We go about our days and, every three minutes; log in to tell a bunch of people we hardly know, something that is entirely forgettable almost immediately. What are we doing? Do we even enjoy concerts anymore, or do we just enjoy making statuses about the fact we're attending them?

We're an entire generation of people saying 'maybe' to events, and Facebook chatting to our loved ones who are two doors away, and we are constantly refreshing, alt-tabbing, logging out and in, poking, and clicking. But why, what for? Why are you logging into Facebook; what important message are you expecting? How many great screenplays didn't get written because the writer spent too much time logging in and out of Facebook? What are we doing??? Why are we doing it? What is it doing for our lives?

It's 3.22am.

Care to share?

Wednesday 1 September 2010

The Idea That Floats Out There Somewhere

That little seed of an idea floats its way over to you-- you get a feeling, you get a character, you get a journey, you get a problem. Do you grab at it now? Do you throw it down on paper? Or do you let it grow? If you let it grow will you forget something? If you write it down will you stop the process unfolding naturally in you?

You get this strange sense that this feeling you have, that is shaped by an idea in your head and a beat in your heart; you feel this could be the script you're meant to write. But these ideas disappear so fast-- it's hard to know, are they really there? Do you really know what they mean? Do you know how to write them?

This idea in your head is perfect. It's only about seven seconds long. It's not even a film, or a script; it's not even really an idea - it's just an impulse.. but it's beautifully formed. And the minute you trap it, hold it, or grab it; something gets lost. So what to do with this wonderful idea?

I guess that's the eternal question. How, as writers, do we give them ideas space, and at the same time put them where they belong on the page? It's a lifelong challenge, and we rarely get it right.

Care to share?