Monday 8 November 2010

Screenwriting Comp Update Soon

Reading the scripts has taken a little bit longer than I anticipated. It's also more difficult than I thought reading script-after-script with the same characters and locations; so I need to spread the reading out over many days! More updates soon!

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Saturday 6 November 2010

Have We Lost Music? Have I?

I made a decision about an hour ago, that even though I'm really tired, I wanted to listen to a song before I slept. I'm not really sure what brought this on, but I felt the need for it.

I got into bed and I flicked through my iPhone for a song. I chose 'Mona Lisa's And Mad Hatters' by Elton John. I listened. Really listened. How often do I do this? Not often enough. It's something I always did, all through my life -- I'd be eight years old, with the headphones in the living room listening to my parent's Rod Stewart records, or I'd be fourteen and spend four hours a night rolling the dial back and forth and hitting record the moment I heard great music. Even in the Napster days, I'd spend near enough all of my time discovering and falling in love with music.

But somewhere that stopped happening. I sometimes think I'm really listening, but I'm not; I'm just using a song to make a train ride less boring, or listening to an old favorite to jolt me into a better mood.

What hit me just now, listening to the Elton John song, is that I was really appreciating how great it sounded and how much it was resonating with me. I was even appreciating the sound of it coming out of my iPhone-- it somehow sounded like old radio.

I still see my love for music as a big part of my identity, and so do people who know me. But I think I've been more inclined to lose it, in recent years. It almost feels like wasting time to truly get lost in the flow of music you love. There's a voice that says you should spend time doing work, or writing, or planning something, and it says it's okay to listen to music but only as a companion to what I'm really supposed to be doing. But when did I forget that listening to music IS what I'm supposed to be doing? Springsteen said "we learned more from a three minute record, baby, than we ever learned in school." It's not just school. You learn more from a three minute record than you do from most things.

A YouTube playlist for when I'm researching, or an iPod playlist for when I'm jogging-- these are great things but they're not, really, what it's all about. Can anyone relate to this? I'm so tired and am writing in such a zombie state that i feel like I may actually be dreaming. But I wanted to write about this feeling. It's not just a feeling, it's a part of me, and it's saying "stop writing, and listen to another song."

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Wednesday 3 November 2010

The Moment When COACH CARTER Reveals His Motivation

Well, let me tell you what I see. I see a system that's designed for you to fail. Now I know you all like stats so let me give you some. Richmond High only graduates fifty percent of its students. And of those that do graduate only six percent go to college; which tells me when I walk down these halls and I look in your classrooms, maybe only one student is going to go to college. Well damn, Coach Carter, If I ain't going to college, where am I going to go? Well that's a great question. And the answer for young, African American men in here is this: probably, to prison. In this county, thirty three percent of black males between eighteen and twenty four, get arrested. So look at the guy on your left, now look at the guy on your right. One of you is going to get arrested.

Growing up here in Richmond you're eighty percent more likely to go to prison, than college. Those are the numbers. Those are some stats for your ass. Now I want you to go home and look at your lives tonight, look at your parents lives, and ask yourself; do I want better? If the answer is yes, I'll see you here tomorrow. And I promise you, I will do everything within my power to get you to college, and to a better life.

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The Unknown Wilder

A few weeks ago I asked my friend, Kim Wilder-Lee, if she would write something for Kid In The Front Row. She said yes, and since then, I have been restlessly anticipating it. Kim's great uncle is one of my all-time film directing heroes, Billy Wilder. She is also related to another wonderful Wilder, who she will tell you all about. And if that's not all - she is also a fantastic writer in her own right. The best thing I can do now is shut up and hand the writing over to a Wilder. 

By Kim Wilder

Growing up with the name Wilder in Hollywood has had its fair share of plusses. Those old enough to remember my great uncle Billy have been awed and proud to know my connection to him and to call the relative of a seven-time Oscar winner, friend. People love to hear of Billy’s numerous and celebrated bons mots and marvel at his well known, rapier-like wit.

Upon learning my last name, many younger people have immediately assumed that I am related to Gene and wonder why I in no way resemble the comic genius with the crazy red hair and sparkling blue eyes. These same people are stunned to later learn that Gene Wilder was really born Gene Rosenberg and that Wilder is simply a stage name. But there is a forgotten Wilder very few people remember – also a filmmaker of note – who was in fact, my grandfather.

Willie Wilder was born in Sucha (now Poland) in 1904 and he and his family moved to Vienna in 1916. Billy Wilder’s older brother emigrated to the United States in the 1920s and became a very successful businessman in New York. He did not enter filmmaking until the 1940s and did so under the name of W. Lee Wilder (“Willie” was considered too close to “Billy,” who despite actually being born “Samuel,” had claimed the name since childhood). While certainly less famous than his sibling, Willie, along with many of his European-born filmmaker brethren, is currently the subject of a fantastic film noir book by UCLA media studies professor Vince Brook, entitled Driven to Darkness: Jewish Émigré Directors and the Rise of Film Noir. The reason that I am so proud of his inclusion in this beautifully written and deeply researched book is that up until now, Willie’s contributions to film have been largely ignored in the face of Billy’s astounding and celebrated accomplishments.

Billy is obviously known for directing such enduring classics as “Sunset Boulevard,” “The Apartment,” “Double Indemnity,” “Stalag 17,” “The Lost Weekend” and “Some Like it Hot,” and for his screenplays for “Ninotchka” and “Sabrina,” among many others. But Willie Wilder left a legacy of depth and breadth in the B-film world that is quite remarkable, given the fact that he was neither a writer nor a producer.

According to Driven to Darkness author Brook, “….the work of Willy (sic) Wilder – or W. Lee Wilder, the filmmaking sobriquet that Willy took on to avoid confusion with the likes of Billy Wilder, William Wyler and ‘Wild Bill’ Wellman – is of inordinate interest. To my mind, several of Willy’s films are of considerable interest both aesthetically and thematically, not only from a Jewish émigré perspective but also in their own right.”

“As for Willy’s auteurist credentials, in terms of property selection and creative control these likely surpassed those of the high-flying Billy – at least throughout the early 1950s when Billy remained contractually bound to Paramount Studios.

Left-To-Right: Anthony Mann, Erich von Stroheim, Mary Beth Hughes, Dan Duryea and Willie Wilder on the set of "The Great Flamarion" (1945).

Despite being almost completely neglected by Hollywood biographers and writers about film noir, Willie (as he spelled it) made more noir films than any other director, with the exception of Fritz Lang, Robert Siodmak and Alfred Hitchcock – a total of eight. They include “The Glass Alibi” (1946), “The Pretender” (1947), “Once a Thief” (1950), “Three Steps North” (1951), “The Big Bluff” (1955) and “Bluebeard’s Ten Honeymoons” (1960). The count grows by one, if you consider the first film he produced (not directed), 1945’s “The Great Flamarion,” starring Erich von Stroheim, which Willie produced, financed himself and released through Republic Pictures.*

Sadly, my grandfather and his brother, Billy, were not close. In fact, despite my grandfather, who was already very well established in business on Long Island, NY, helping out his penniless brother when he first came to this country, Billy has always spoken very uncharitably about him. But to those who knew Billy, this was typical of the seven-time Oscar winner. Billy only cared about his famous Hollywood friends and being the center of their creative, artistic world. According to my great aunt, Audrey, Billy’s wife, “All great men are difficult,” and Billy was no exception. My grandfather, Willie, on the other hand, was a kind and considerate man who was a wonderful father to my dad, Myles, and a loving grandfather to me. Which is why I am so grateful to Vince Brook and his wonderful book that celebrates the works of both men – especially that of my grandfather, and lauds his work alongside that of other cinematic legends. Willie left an important film noir legacy and I am proud of his innovation, independence and creativity. He was an important film noir filmmaker and a terrific Grandpa. I hope you get a chance to seek out and view his work.

* Driven to Darkness: Jewish Émigré Directors and the Rise of Film Noir, by Vincent Brook. Rutgers University Press, 2009.

Kim Wilder is a third generation Hollywoodian. Her grandfather, Willie, was a film noir producer and director, her great uncle Billy is the noted Academy Award-winning writer, producer and director, and father Myles, was a respected, Emmy-nominated television writer and producer. A Journalism major at the University of Southern California, she heeded the call of her genes and spent the majority of her career in entertainment, focusing on public relations for several television studios where she handled such groundbreaking series as “The Simpsons,” “Entertainment Tonight,” and “The X-Files,” as well as publicity for celebrities including Johnny Mathis, Julie Andrews, Sidney Sheldon, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Queen Latifah and many more. An avid polo player, Wilder has written a screenplay that remains as yet unsold, and lives in Temecula, CA with her two children and two Weimaraners.


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Tuesday 2 November 2010

The Problems You Are Facing In Your Creative Work

A trait of a creative person is to feel stressed when you're not being creative, to feel like a fake when three months have gone by without being productive, or to feel worthless to have not been recognized by an audience or by someone giving you a large cheque.

Rather than feel worthless, and alone - remember that you're feeling exactly how you're meant to be feeling. This is an industry where you dive onto facebook to announce every little bit of career news and where you hide every time someone criticizes your choices because--- that is what it is, to be creative. We need recognition, we need the world to see our skills and ideas and talents otherwise we'd screen our movies in empty fields and send our audition tapes to be watched by wild animals, and we want to cry and go mental with rage when people criticize or disregard us, because it makes our identities feel fraudulent-- like 'how can I really be a director when everyone says my movie is awful?'

Whatever is stressing you out regarding your film work is not because you're not any good but because you ARE good, and because you have high standards, and because you're on a long journey of self-discovery and artistic-discovery. You're meant to feel like shit when no-one laughs at your comedy movie or when someone makes you feel like a waste of space actor when they ask 'have I seen you in anything?' and you know they haven't.

The down, depressing and agonizing feelings you feel are a sign that you ARE creative, that you ARE on the right track; so why do we always let these feelings make us feel like we're wasting our time?

This is a long journey we're on. All of the ways you're feeling anxious, insecure and lacking in talent; they are a symptom of creativity; they are as important a part of your identity as your writing, directing, acting, drawing, etc. You don't have to feel like shit everytime you feel like shit. Maybe, just maybe, it's possible to realize: you are meant to feel this bad and it's okay if you feel lost, confused, down, misunderstood. That's what it takes. To be creative, to achieve anything, is to create, provide and produce something new into society that doesn't exist yet. Until you 'make it,' the brilliant you exists only in your head. If you're going to be a top director or a unique actor, that means you're something that has not been seen or accepted yet. Until that happens -- people won't fully get you. So don't feel bad, it's part of the process of doing what you do.

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