Monday 15 November 2010

Heights Coffee, Brooklyn, On A Cold Day In November

In 2008 I met a make-up girl called Jenny. She was vegetarian, which almost all make-up artists are. It was 6am and I climbed into the back of a white van on Union Square where the Virgin Store was but isn't anymore. I originally got into another white van but they were for another shoot. In my inexperience of doing crew work in New York I didn't realize that absolutely everyone meets at 6am in Union Square and jumps into white vans to go to film shoots. In fact, if any of you want to work in film but don't know how to get a job I suggest going down to Union Square at 6am and getting in a white van (for legal and common sense reasons I must stress: I don't *actually* recommend doing that). So, I met Jenny, and she was pretty cool, and we kept in touch.

A year later I was back in New York and sitting on Jenny's rooftop somewhere between the Saturday night and the Sunday morning, with a bunch of her friends who were mostly friendly apart from one guy who kept looking at me and repeatedly asking "How do you guys like having healthcare over there?" without ever letting me answer. I didn't realize at the time but when I was sitting on her rooftop I really should have been sitting on a British Airways seat somewhere across the Atlantic. The next morning I was awoken by a phone call from home reminding me that I should have been in London by now. I wasn't on the plane, wasn't in London, and wasn't sure what to do - so I walked over to 7th Ave Station, Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, and met up with my friend Henrietta; who had only been my friend for about two weeks but she is one of those people who, when you meet her, you just know you're going to know her forever.

I told her that I missed my flight and that I wasn't sure what I was meant to do, so we went for a long walk through Brooklyn and we talked about films and we talked about life and we talked about films some more and eventually we stopped for breakfast, in some place that was near to Park Slope but somewhere further on up the road. We had a conversation that I am certain covered absolutely everything, and then we talked about movies some more and then she told me everything about who she is, where she's been and where she's going and I sat there in awe of how amazing she was and in denial of the fact that I wouldn't be coming back to New York any time soon.

We headed back to Park Slope and we figured I should head back to London. I walked her back to the station except she didn't go in the station because instead we went to Heights Coffee on the other side of the road. She got a coffee because she was thirsty and I got a tea because I'm English and we had another one of those talks that covered absolutely all of life and then I said that we should decide exactly what we're going to do with ourselves in the next year. We decided to write down one very specific career goal each; hers about acting, and mine about writing and directing.

She emailed me today for the first time in a while; and I don't think she realised that we're only a week away from being exactly a year since we spent a day figuring out the world and casting our plans out into the future. She told me about all the wonderful things she's doing and this incredible role she's currently playing; and it made me remember that morning, sitting in Heights Coffee; even though we'd have rather been in Gorilla Coffee but it was way too crowded in there that day. We made big dreamy plans on that cold November morning last year about these things we wanted to achieve in the next year. And you know what? We've achieved more than the goals we set. A year ago we were two dreamers. A year later we're doing the work we always knew we were meant to do. 

I think I'll email Henrietta back.

Care to share?

Sunday 14 November 2010

BAND OF BROTHERS on Remembrance Sunday

This is a wonderful moment from the final episode of BAND OF BROTHERS. The German Army have surrended at the end of World War 2; and their Officer requests a brief moment to address his men, which he does, with the American soldiers watching on. A beautiful scene; that really hits home the first time you see it.

Care to share?

What If Piracy Really Did Ruin The Industry?

What if, by downloading a movie, it meant that Tom Cruise only got paid $3million instead of $15million? What if we all downloaded pirated films and only bothered to go see films if they were actually good?

What would happen if doing this did completely and utterly ruin the industry? Studios would shut down, director's couldn't afford their big houses and hundreds of actors would decide to take up plumbing. Hollywood is gone and the $100million movie is over.

Everybody goes home - cinema's shut down. Goodnight, and goodbye.

BUT then what? There'd still be cameras. People would keep making films. But what films would they make?

Care to share?

Friday 12 November 2010

Chicken And Eggs

Do people watch movies because they're ill, or do they get ill so they can stay home and watch movies?

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Dealing With Criticism

Here's a question from a blogger member called filmmusic100, who writes this new blog

Although I have such a big heart for filmmaking, I cannot sugarcoat that its environment is harsh. I personally think that filmmakers should not be criticized for their film because little is known of how much work, effort, and time they put into it, and no one can really understand enough how much a filmmaker loves what he/she does. But I know that criticizing isn't gonna disappear and, in a way, it is needed. I want to know how, if you had been criticized for your work, you deal with it and how you react to other people judging your scripts? 

This is a great question. And before I write a bunch of answers - let me first say, I don't really know what I'm talking about. Sometimes I feel invincible, and sometimes criticism can wreck me. It's a strange thing. There have been times where people have slammed my work in a big way and I've handled it incredibly, and then other times I've had a conversation with my Brother where he says something like "Do you really think the line about the fish is worth having?" and I've gone a bit insane and convinced myself I should give up altogether; and what he said wasn't even criticism it was just a question about a fish. 

Another thing to remember is that even Shawshank Redemption has its critics. There are people out there that think it sucks. The difference is that when you're starting out, you don't have that buffer of success, accolades and dollars. You just have you, and people telling you you're terrible. But the critics are there every step of the way. But if you're getting criticism; you're doing something RIGHT. If nobody is criticising you, then you're probably not doing very good work. 

To be truly creative, is to do things that haven't be done before - or at least, to do them differently. So of course, when you're doing something that hasn't been seen before; people are initially uncomfortable with it and they like to criticise it. The problem is that, after you've heard criticism enough times, it becomes internalized in a really strong way. 

Think about it. You're a writer, or a director, or an actor. And from the age of four or whatever, you're made to do Maths. You're made to stand in line. But you wanna write a story or you want to do a little drawing. And pretty soon you're fourteen and people are saying "what do you want to do with your life?" and you can't say writer or artist or actor because people will laugh at you because it's not real work, or because it's too competitive, or whatever it is that your teachers/friends/society project onto it. 

Then you're eighteen -- and you're doing your drawings or making your short films or writing your stories; but you're shy about it, because society is telling you to learn more about Maths or go and do a degree with an 'ology' in it. Our society doesn't support creativity. Society thinks that if you're up at 4am writing down ideas, you've got a sleeping problem, they don't think that you've got a problem in act three or a problem getting the right shading on your drawing. 

So when everyone around you finds it hard to support you, you're going to find it hard to support yourself. Standing up and saying "I am a film director" is HARD. Everyone thinks you're insane, or dreaming. Worst of all, they see dreaming as bad!?!?! 

Every time I read a bad review it bothers me not because I think the critic is wrong but because secretly I think they're right. "How did the lady from the Bergen County Shopper's Guide get it right but not the guy from the New York Times." 

Meanwhile you want to write a movie about giraffes who land on Mars, or you want to be an actor even though you have a strange face, or you want to write a novel about flowers--- but you look around you and all the actors look like Megan Fox or Jude Law, and the people giving seminars say there's no market for Mars giraffes and your friends keep telling you only old people will read a book about flowers. 

The point is -- it's hard! We've been socialized this way and it is difficult. It's difficult for people to support what we do, because they don't understand, and because they wish they could do what you do, and because they can't comprehend how a book about flowers or a movie about giraffes that land on Mars will inspire people. THAT'S YOUR JOB. Your job is to show people the world through the eyes of you; you'll give them a different angle. That's what artists do. Make us see our lives in a different way, or help give us some release from our complicated jobs, relationships, and lives. 

People will criticise you and you'll criticise yourself. But then, so does everyone else. And you probably criticise people too in ways you don't even realise. Just remember; there will always be criticism. And people will always disagree with what you do, or have an opinion, right up until they point they love what you do. 

Care to share?