Wednesday 8 December 2010

The Essence Of The Past: Writing What's Important

Saying "Nobody likes good movies anymore" is spoken from the point of view of the powerless. If you are involved in making films and long for the days when they made good movies, then that position isn't good enough. You need to Gandhi up and "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

We've all had conversations where with sit around bemoaning the lack of good stories in modern movies; in fact, most of the film blogosphere is a response to that very thing. We blog about old movies because we miss them. They speak to us in a way modern, predictable studio pictures don't. We've all had these conversations countless times, both offline and online. We may be a minority but it's not as small as you think. If you write a good script, people will make it. If you make a good film, people will watch it. The problem is that we work too hard, too early in our careers, trying to write for studios and execs and the lowest common denominator. That's YOUR choice, it's not reality.

The reality is that there are enough people watching Jimmy Stewart films and spending their evenings with Ginger Rogers. Your audience is there: your job is to not be too shy to bring out the things you respond to. What's the point in being excited by John Wayne and brought to tears by Katharine Hepburn, only to waste all that energy writing a sci-fi film that hardly has any trace of you in it?

If you miss the innocence of Chaplin or the optimism of Jimmy Stewart; that means it resonates with you, that means it's truthful - and it means the world needs it. It's a part of YOU that gets hidden externally and internally. For example, with me: I long for the spirit of Chaplin to be in cinema today. It's hidden externally because: The world values crude humor, obvious jokes and rehashed routines. It's hidden internally because often I tell myself it's not relevant, it's in the past, etc.

But it's not in the past! The ideal of 'Chaplin' lives on in my life every day. The film world and the world at large seems somewhat dysfunctional for not having enough Chaplin-like energy, humor, amusement and sillyness in it. That's what I respond to and that's what I need to get into my work a lot more than I do.

What is it for you? What thing do you respond to that the world barely recognises? When is a time the world was more attuned to it? How is it missing in your work? How are you going to take the essence of what you love and apply it to your work?

Care to share?

Monday 6 December 2010


"Yet even in certain defeat, the courageous Trager secretly clung to the belief that life is not merely a series of meaningless accidents or coincidences. Uh-uh. But rather, its a tapestry of events that culminate in an exquisite, sublime plan."

Sure, there are people who say this film is terrible, or that it's bullshit. But have you seen how boring their partner's are? Have you seen how unimaginative their conversation is? 'SERENDIPITY' is about faith. It's about believing life means something. It's about not just feeling a connection with someone but taking the risk in acting on it. It's about believing that when you make a choice, or stumble upon something; that it's meaningful. It's about people. It's about your friends. It's about the people you meet in the street and the people you ignore in Starbucks. 

We're all connected, we're all a moment away from a missing love, or a needed friend, or an inspiring opportunity. 'SERENDIPITY' is here to remind us to give a shit. To believe in life. To know it's worth it.

But it takes work. They're not sitting around like people who just watched 'The Secret' and expecting a Ferrari. These characters looked and searched and suffered and gave up and tried and hoped and lived. And sure, maybe love isn't real and maybe there's no God and maybe we all die and sink in the mud but what fun is there in that? I'd rather believe in the synchronicity of New Yorkian Serendipity. The fact that two years ago I wrote little blogs, mumbling to myself; and now YOU are HERE and reading and talking and sharing; that's amazing! You were meant to be here, I was meant to know you! 

"Nowadays more and more people, especially those who live in large cities, suffer from terrible emptiness and boredom, as if they are waiting for something that never arrives. Movies and television, spectator sports, and political excitements may divert them for a while, but again and again, exhausted and disenchanted, they have to return to the wasteland of their own lives."
-Carl Jung

We've all experienced it. Probably a few years before we got so cynical and hardened. We bumped into someone in the middle of 5th Avenue, or Trafalgar Square, or an elevator in Tokyo. In the movie, they believed in it, and they kept pushing for it. In reality, we stutter and mumble and walk away; or we believe in that critical voice that says to ignore it or get back to work. But what if we didn't? Who knows. What if I'd stuck around talking to that pretty Counting Crows fan in HMV nine years ago? What if I'd not said "I've got to get back to work?" to that woman in that little coffee shop somewhere near Holborn Station back in 2007?

We live life as we choose. You think Serendipity is not believable? You think it's cheesy? Great. Let's sit at home and fill in our tax forms, let's settle for the partner's who moan at us for forgetting to bring the milk home, let's sit and watch the world and say to each other "things never used to be this bad" and "things are too difficult right now."

Or we can go to New York City, or any city -- and we can open our eyes and look and see all of the amazing human beings that stumble into view from all around us. Who are they? What could they mean to me? How could knowing them make life a little more interesting? 

"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed."
Carl Jung

"It all depends on how we look at things, and not on how they are themselves."
Carl Jung

Care to share?

A Shocking Discovery!!

Someone recently told me that 'some very important people in Hollywood read your blog.' I was flattered, but then I desperately felt the urge to find out who. So, I hired a private detective. After being convinced for months that nobody important in Hollywood is reading the Kid In The Front Row film blog; he came back with this picture, which I can now exclusively reveal.

Care to share?

Sunday 5 December 2010

Screenplay Competition WINNER


"28 Slides Later" by CAROLINE COXON
"Ahimsa" by C E STEWART
"Equal Wrongs" By PATRICK O'RILEY (2009's Winner)
"Health Concerns" By Z. Z. FRANKEL
"Triple Standards" By MICHELLE GOODE



On Friday night, the competition judge JOE LEONARD (Editor, "GLEE," Writer/Director, "HOW I GOT LOST") said to me "I'll read them over the weekend," but then two hours later he had been inspired to read them all and get back to me. That's the type of guy Joe is. We consulted a bit on the different screenplays -- and it's important to say, he liked them all. He said "All of the screenplays really were impressive given the limitations, and I had a great time reading them and a difficult time figuring out which one I liked best!"
So we spent a day looking at the scripts again, and figuring out which ones we liked the most. In the end, for Joe, it was "AHIMSA" by C E Stewart. He said ""Ahimsa" created the most colorful world given the chinese-finger trap restrictions of your contest. It is also a slightly insane script that still managed to convince me of its reality"

In the new year I will be looking at doing a Film Directing Competition, based on 'Ahimsa' -- more details soon. If you would like to see the winning screenplay, please email me and I will forward it onto you. 

Care to share?

Saturday 4 December 2010

A Week In The Front Row

I held auditions which didn't go too well, I finished the edit of a one hour documentary, I found my "MISERY" DVD three years after it escaped, I saw "DUE DATE," I finished Season 6 of "THE WEST WING," (not for the first time) and am now starting Season 7, I watched Ricky Gervais' stand up DVD "FAME" and thought it was decent but nothing special, I got a lovely email from an actress friend in New York who said she got a role because the director loved her work in one of my films, which was nice to hear, and I also got up at 7am on either Wednesday or Thursday (can't remember which) and watched "THE ODD COUPLE" and wished Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon were still alive, I met up with my friend Jen just outside of Victoria Station and we talked about the year just gone and the year to come, and she got a little bit closer to feeling good about acting again rather than feeling the pressure of the industry and her family and all those things that make us forget how much we love doing what we do, I got to see a cut of a film that I had written, which was directed by someone else, and had mixed feelings about the whole thing but found it a welcome break from shouldering the directorial responsibility. And right now I'm sitting in front of my DVDs with the evening ahead of me and a decision to make.

How was your film-related week?

Care to share?