Thursday 11 November 2010

Your Questions, My Answers!

The other day, I said a hello to all the new readers here by asking some questions as a way of getting to know you, and said that, if you had any questions for me, feel free to ask. And many of you did. So here are all your questions and hopefully some of my answers will be of interest! Thanks for the wonderful questions!

Sometimes I swear the melodrama will destroy me........
Two things, 1.your breaking in story, how you got to where you are, is it who you know, or talent that gets picked up these days? and 2. What inspires you? I need advice! Mine's dried up!!!

'Breaking in' is such a strange concept. I think believing in it immediately puts you on the outside; and you feel like you have to be extra special to smash through a wall to 'get in.' But in reality; there's just people making projects. And of course, it's hard to get involved in a big project when you're fifteen and living in Sweden or something. So you do what you can, maybe you make a little movie. And then it gets in a festival. And then you do a bigger film, and so on and so forth; and more and more doors open up... not because you have the magic password, but just because: you're doing the work. 

Industry secret: Most people can't be bothered to turn up in a freezing cold field at 3am to be on an unpaid film shoot. If you DO do it, people will like you. And their next project will pay 50 euros/dollars/pounds a day. And they'll still like you. And then on and on and so forth. It's about showing up, constantly working on your craft. Most (not all) actors and directors struggled MASSIVELY for a LONG time. That's what the journey is. Here's a quote from my interview with LAWRENCE SHER, who's now one of the best DOP's in the business; " The year that I made 'Kissing Jessica Stein' was one of the first years where I decided I would not do any more camera assisting even though that was basically how I was earning a living. What a miserable year, it was my only job all year and I think I made $7,000 on the whole movie. So, here I was, a 30 year old guy and I made $7,000 that year." 

Is it talent or who you know, you asked. Use whatever you've got. If you happen to know Spielberg, great! What a wonderful privilege! If you don't -- then use your talent. But make sure you use your talent; and you don't pander too much to someone else's idea of what your talent means, cause then you'll lose your focus. That's my experience at least. As for what inspires me; new experiences mainly. New places, new faces, new blog readers! :) Or just put a pretty girl in my life and get her to not reply to my messages and it'll give me enough angst to inspire three screenplay's...

Sorry if you've answered this in a post already... I haven't read through them all... but if you could've written any movie or acted in any movie... what would it be???

I'd love to have written 'The Apartment' - just because it's such a perfect screenplay. There are many technically perfect screenplay's, I guess, but The Apartment is some kind of magic -- it's just amazing how much joy I feel when reading it, and how beautifully it's put together. 

I'd like to have acted with Jimmy Stewart. Or Ginger Rogers. Actually-- no, most of all, I'd LOVE to have been in a scene with Mr. Chaplin. 

How different is what you are today from what you wanted to be/thought you would be as a child? Are you where you ultimately want to be or do you have a wish to climb higher?

I am where I want to be. I have bigger ambitions, of course; but I don't stress about them otherwise I'd be stressed all the time and feeling incomplete. As for the difference from when I was younger till now. I think my creative life, my writing and directing, is going the way I always hoped and expected--- but what's different is that, I find myself very interested in helping other people be creative. I don't mean by giving script notes or telling them what to do, because I have no idea--- but I like reminding people of how talented they are, and making them feel a bit better and more confident. Sometimes I can succeed in that! I'm not sure where it came from. 

Matt Zurcher
What's your favorite movie?

Cinema Paradiso. 

I really don't know anything about you yet! Are you a working screenwriter? Have you written anything I would know? I love your blog so far! :)

Sorry to tell you this, but I'm not Charlie Kaufman. But I am a screenwriter. You probably haven't seen my work, but who knows? I was once standing outside a building in the Lower East Side, in Manhattan; after a screenwriting thing, and this girl came up to me, as she'd heard my name mentioned-- and she knew all about my film work and really loved it. But that's rare. I'm like one of those Bruce Springsteen bootleg's that only about twenty-six people own. Most people don't know he recorded them, but those that have them really like them! :)

what i want to know about you? your least favorite movies. we may hate the same ones lol

The American Pie movies that came after the third one -- what were they thinking?!

What do I want to know about you? I want you to answer those exact questions!

I knew someone would make me do this! ha

What is your favorite movie?

Cinema Paradiso. 

What is the movie that you secretly watch five times a year even though it's way too cheesy/terrible?

'You've Got Mail.' Or 'One Fine Day.'

What inspires you?

New York.

What do I want to know about you? Your blog is so inspirational day in and day out. Just keep up the good work Kid!

Wow - Thank You!!

What do I want to Know? Do you believe that the story or the actors make the movie? Just curious, heh

I think the story is the most important thing. Otherwise what's the point? There's a reason we don't go back very often to watch Tom Hanks in 'Joe Versus The Volcano.' 

T. Knowley
What would I like to know about you, What was the first movie you remember seeing in the theater as a kid and did you like it?

I don't have a good answer for this! Most writers and directors, when interviewed, have these amazing stories about being three months old and jumping out of their Mother's arms, stealing a car; and hiding out in a cinema watching French New Wave films. I don't have that, at all. I don't remember anything. I have no idea! And it bothers me!

What movies/shows do you hate?

Scrubs. I don't get it. 

I am working on that whole passionate part. I am just so lost right now trying to find my way... The one question I have for you is How did you become so passionate about movies?

I used to find it really exciting to sit in my room, in my early teens, and just watch movies non-stop. I just loved it all - I loved the stories, I loved seeing great acting, I loved laughing, I loved the shape of the frame, it just felt right to me. The rest of the world was all Math's book and girls who wouldn't talk to me and boys who were into smoking and I just didn't get it. But I got movies. They were important to me. 

Draven Ames
Your dreams and aspirations. Do you like horror?
 I like the layout of your blog and congratulations on being put in the spotlight! Wow! Surreal?

I would pretty much never choose to watch a horror. I do like them though! I just don't like bad ones. And I think most of them are bad. But it's not my thing. My dreams and aspirations; in regard to film; are to be like Woody Allen -- to be able to have a modest budget, year after year, and to be able to write and direct the projects I want to do. 

And yeah; it's surreal! my blog hits was in the hundreds each day, and suddenly it's in the thousands (I realise this boost is temporary) -- but I felt suddenly silenced! Like, eeeeeeeeeek - what the hell do I talk about? I'm sure all these masses of people won't want to read my weird stories about tea drinking

Roy Hutabarat
perspective, i guess.. since u surely won't give me some money.. hahaha, kidding.. perspective is what i'm looking for by blogging.. it helps me see thing in a better eyes..

My perspective is that we really suffocate when we think about money! Especially when it comes to creativity. 

I want to know if your as sick as me of all the latest hollywood garbage..i also dont really care how much the latest superhero film took ;]

I used to feel like that. But now, my perspective is a bit different. I don't really pay attention to a lot of the big releases. I mean, I'll take a look at a trailer and if I'm interested, I'll go. But, if there's a trailer for SAW 19, and it looks terrible; what does it have to do with me? Nothing. People will go and see SAW 26, just like they'll rot their teeth with Pepsi. We're human, we like dumb shit. But rather than lose sleep over it, the truth is that if you write an INCREDIBLE screenplay, or if you make a GENIUS low-budget movie; you'll be fine, people will respond to it. Look at 'Once,' look at 'In Search Of A Midnight Kiss' - they're not miracles, they're just pieces of art that people decided to make. 

Tim Riley
Question for Kid: What was your original plan when you started this blog?

Stimulate Photography
What made you start this blog?

I don't know if you can relate to this, but I find that; for anyone who's creative-- everyone always has an opinion, and it's often quite personal. If I see a plumber do a job; I don't really know whether it's particularly good or not. But if a Plumber sees a film I've made; he'll happily tell me I'm a useless sack of shit. Back when I started the blog-- I was tired of putting myself on the line; and I wanted a place where I could go back to the essence of being a little kid who was excited by the movies. And I wanted to write from that perspective, without my best friend telling me "your dialogue is a bit stiff" y'know? So that was my initial reason, I think. 

Question for you: What was your favorite interview you've done?

Eeek - how can you make me choose? There's two really exciting ones coming up that I'll be posting very soon.....

But, let's see. Of the ones I've done. The four that are on the left side bar of this blog are probably my favorites. Scott Rosenberg is a real screenwriting hero for me. I think 'Beautiful Girls' is a perfect movie. And what I like about Scott is how he can talk about writing for Jerry Bruckheimer without any ego, or bullshit, he just explains things and you realise that Scott isn't a God, he's just a man. An extremely talented one. He's awesome. I hope you guys have seen his TV show October Road. It only lasted for two seasons but it's really wonderful.

Josh Malina and Giuseppe Sulfaro were great-- I love their work. Lawrence Sher is also brilliant. He also took the time to speak to me at length about my project, and he was full of advice and ideas.

--- Thank you all for the questions, I hope the answers are interesting! And feel free to join the Facebook Fan Page!

Kid In The Front Row

Promote your Page too

Care to share?

The Richness Of Our History: My Personal Experience Of Remembrance Day 2010

I often despair about how my generation is so willing to disregard the past. Yesterday, thousands upon thousands of young students took to the streets of London in protest at the Government rising tuition fees. The protests weren't peaceful; they were violent. During a week when a large percentage of the population are wearing red poppies, I found it quite upsetting that with our freedom, we turn to violence. Whilst some would say "it would only a very small minority" there was a much larger, silent minority, that were cheering them on and supporting them.

For me there is a big link - between what was happening yesterday, and what was happening today as me and my friend Raz made our way to a local remembrance service at a site that's historical significance has mostly been lost to the younger generations. I was saddened to see that me and my friend were the youngest people by about 40 years. Where were the other people of my generation? Where was everyone in between? My friend, Raz, was in agreement. And we felt quite sad about it. But then something changed in me-- which I'll mention in a bit but first let me talk about Derek and Bryan.

Derek came up to us before the service and, I guess, mistaking us for nine year old's asked "are you from the school?" We explained that we weren't -- and we got chatting. He began sharing many stories with us from when he was a young kid during the war. Like so many, his home was bombed. Like so many, he was so nearly killed. Like so many, he was injured in a way that has affected him his whole life. Like so many, he was evacuated as a child and taken away from his family, with no way to contact them. His stories were so amazing; at times inspiring, at times upsetting, but more often than not just extremely EXCITING! He was a young boy during wartime. And he had some great times. But he also had some very bad times -- and his emotions ranged from ecstatic and excited to deeply moved and emotional. Here was a man, in his late seventies, remembering vividly being a tiny kid in London.

I said previously that something changed in me. It was perspective. It came during the remembrance service as many incredible people stood up and shared a part of a story, a part of history, a part of themselves with the gathered crowd. I realized that, in terms of my generation and remembrance, the important people aren't the millions who don't show up. The important ones are people like me and Raz. That's what it is now. That's how history lives on, through two people or four people or one person or one school project that does something to help it live on. That's more powerful than a mass crowd. 30,000 students descended on London yesterday and smashed some buildings up -- the issue was lost, we were left with destruction. But two friends surrounded by warm and inspiring war veterans is something more powerful. My friend, Raz; is a very open, sensitive, and passionate Muslim man -- who came along on this cold, wet morning; to stand side by side with lots of old white people. Because he knew that color wasn't the issue. It's bigger than that. And there's me, a writer and a film director. If I go to a remembrance service but the 300 Facebook friends I invited didn't--- it doesn't matter. It's not about them. It's about me. It's about people like me. It's about showing up.

Who cares? It's in the past!? Have you ever heard that one? History is not in the past -- it relives itself every day. We can see history all around us. Today, as I connected with Derek and Bryan; they talked and they laughed and they cried, and so did we. They told me stories about the places I grew up --- places I know as parks and fields and shops but they know as airfields and command offices and places they'd find interesting bits of shrapnel.

Today was important, because we were able to say we're here. We're listening. We care. Our generation doesn't do that enough. We sit on Facebook, we write on our blogs and we send our text messages; but we don't have a great deal of awareness about what people have gone through in order for us to have those privileges. Derek was telling us stories today about people like the RAF BOMBER COMMAND, who had 55,000 aircrew KILLED during World War 2. Nothing has been done to commemorate these people. And to commemorate is important. That piece of cement in the ground, it needs to be there so we can say WE CARE. WE KNOW WHAT YOU DID. WE LOVE ALL OF YOU. What could be more important? The most I've volunteered to do recently was look after my friend's daughter for a night so she could have a night out. These fighters volunteered their lives, FOR US. FOR YOU, FOR ME, for everyone who's ever felt a moment of freedom in their lives. From the RAF Bomber Squad website "They died in blazing, crashing aircraft whilst fighting against the enemies of our free world. It is nothing short of a national disgrace that Britain has so far failed to properly recognise this brave and talented group of individuals." That's just one example of people who aren't recognized as much as they should be. There are many more. I'm sure you'll have examples, and people that are meaningful to you. 

Today was a good day. I felt a shift in the world, in my world. It's not about the apathy of those who don't take time to remember, or of the school who are ACROSS THE ROAD from the memorial who didn't respond to their Remembrance Service invite. It's about those men and women who were there. It's about those who fought, those who looked after our children, those who worked in factories contributing to the effort. It's about those who died and those who survived. And it's about me and you, in whatever way we can, REMEMBERING. And SHARING. And engaging people who have the capacity to be engaged on this topic; the topic being to remember. History is present all around us. There is a lot of pain, for a lot of people, and by taking the time to hear their pain you are giving them so much, and you are being given so much. There is also a richness and beauty to their memories; the joy, the victories and the camaraderie that they felt and still do. 

I'm glad you're all here.

Care to share?

Wednesday 10 November 2010

New Visitors..

This blog was chosen as a 'Blog Of Note' by the Blogger team a few days ago, and since then, there's been an incredible amount of new visitors, which is amazing to see! I'd really love to know more about you all!

What is your favorite movie? 

What is the movie that you secretly watch five times a year even though it's way too cheesy/terrible?

What inspires you? 

What do you want to know about me? 

Welcome to Kid In The Front Row - I hope you all stick around!

Care to share?

Taken By TAKEN

Have you seen TAKEN? It's amazing! There's people smashing through windows, people getting shot square in the head, people being tortured----- all the things I DISLIKE in movies (and in life too, of course). But in this film? AMAZING! Everything that happens is justified.

The film is 89 minutes long. I wish all films were 89 minutes long. The great thing about TAKEN is that enough happens to make it a four hour film, but it isn't, it's just 89 minutes. Everything is short and to the point-- it rips through each scene like a rollercoaster on a mission. In fact, the way the film is packed together is as if it was edited by the character himself, BRYAN (played by LIAM NEESON). Unfortunately, Bryan can't edit films-- but he can kick everybody's ass and will always be ten seconds ahead of you if you plan on shooting him in the head. Bryan is retired; but in his previous work he was; well, I'm not sure-- the film may have explained but to be honest I'm not very good at remembering details. But he worked for the government as a spy, or something similar where you get to do important things and kill people in the national interest. 

Anyhow -- the film absolutely flies! It begins with opening credits and then, I swear, it's immediately fifty minutes into the film. It just flies by! So what makes this film so watchable? There's no bullshit, that's what it is. No over-complication. There's two things you need to know. 1) Bryan is trained in killing and is the best there is, and 2) His daughter has been kidnapped. 

By sheer coincidence, he happens to be on the phone when his daughter gets kidnapped. I know that sounds ridiculous but, when you're watching the film, you'll go with it. Trust me. Bryan is such an expert in these situations that he's able to stay calm and, in the midst of his daughter's kidnapping (while she's in France) he's able to set up an audio recording, instruct his daughter on specific things to do, and he probably updated his Facebook status too.

The film is the most concise film I've ever seen. It's so compact. But not in a boring way. It just doesn't waste any time. After five minutes, we know everything about the main characters -- a lesser writer and director would spend twenty five minutes following the family around trying to explain everything. Not here. Opening scenes = A Father. A Father struggling to be there for his daughter, and struggling to communicate with his ex-wife. The daughter deciding to travel. The Father trying to help his daughter to be a singer. 

That's all we need to know. And then she travels. And get's kidnapped. And the rest of the film is him trying to find his daughter, gain the respect of his ex-wife, and then maybe help her be a singer like she always dreamed. That's all we need to know! That's all Bryan would know, because he's that kind of guy. He runs around a lot and gets down to business and doesn't even stop to pee or eat a sandwich. He does this because he knows his character only has 89 minutes to exist before disappearing into film history. 

A great movie! Please watch it!

Care to share?

Monday 8 November 2010

Magic MOMENTS - When Films Really Resonate

I am going to write about a common thread that runs through all of my favorite films, and hopefully it will resonate with many of you. I think it's an important thing to consider as a writer, and director; because delving into this can be very helpful.

My favorite films are often my favorite films; not necessarily because of plot, or characters (specifically) - but the space that develops around them which allows for a moment to be captured. What do I mean by a moment? The thing that makes a moment a moment, is that it isn't definable. If it was; then it wouldn't be a moment. A moment normally comes when the characters seemingly step out of the constraints of a story and purposeful dialogue; and exist truly in a moment that resonates personally with the viewer. 

In 'Almost Famous,' as Stillwater are selling their souls to the big-shot manager, Penny Lane is in the auditorium, alone, post-concert, dancing slowly to the Cat Stevens song 'The Wind.' That is a moment. At least, it was for me.

As most of you will know I've been obsessed with the movie 'Adventureland' recently. It's a film that captures many moments. When James and Lisa P sit on the out of commission ride-carriages, getting high; it really captures something. It captures life! It captures the very essence of what it is to be young-and-figuring-the-world-out, just by having two people sitting and interacting. Likewise, when James and Em sit back and watch fireworks as 'Don't dream it's over' plays over the speaker system-- it is strangely touching, and warm; which evokes something in the viewer.

I think moments only happen when they have been experienced first hand by the writer or director. Not necessarily the exact situation, but that feeling, that emotion. Do you know what I mean? In life, it's possible, on rare occasions; to forget your problems, your financial woes and your messed up relationships and instead you exist purely in a moment that means something. The best screenwriters capture the essence of these 'moments' that they have experienced themselves.

But what am I talking about? Part of me wants to get very specific and stop sounding so wishy washy, and part of me says 'an article about moments can't be too specific' so I feel stuck.
In screenplays, like in life, the character's tend to go to work, then to a restaurant, then to bed, then to work, then to a friends house, then to a bar, etc.

Moments are normally created outside of these societal norms (but only very slightly). They happen at work after everyone is gone, when only two people are left in the building. Or they happen on the way home from a restaurant, when a group of friends bond over a broken-down-car experience. I would guess your most memorable moments in life are similar. I think that's an important point.

As we get older, life gets more rigid. Jobs, relationships and responsibilities provide structures that make it difficult to have unexpected experiences. When we see someone similar to us on screen sitting around a fireplace at 3am with new friends, or we see two people spontaneously having a poem written for them on the streets of Vienna, we realise - This is us, this is ME. This is a part of my life, or my identity, or my hopes - that I can't quite reach at the moment. It's a feeling you've been longing for, or a part of yourself you've been repressing or ignoring.

The header of my blog says, "I like it when I look up at the big screen and see a part of me staring back at me" and I think that's what I'm really talking about. Great movies have the capacity to show us more rounded, complete versions of ourselves. You might relate and identify with Jerry Maguire working really hard and you might relate to his struggle; but the part that resonates might be when he's swinging Ray back and forth with Dorothy, or when Marcy is telling Rod Tidwell "you're the shit!"

These are unexpected, truthful moments. They're what life is about. They are the things that people forget about after a movie, but paradoxically, somehow never forget at all. 

Care to share?