Tuesday, 4 January 2011

1.19am On A Wednesday

I got some 'notes' on the screenplay of my new movie which I'm shooting this year, and the guy didn't get it at all. He missed the subtlety and the humour. And three days before that I read the coverage for a screenplay I'm rewriting for someone in LA, and that reader didn't grasp that screenplay either. And today I was part of a reading and was excited by a young Asian actress and a young black actor. And Pete Postlethwaite is dead.

I would never say 'I was excited by a white actor,' and therein we see the problems that still face our industry, and our world; this stuff isn't equal. As much as I loved these two actors, am I going to cast them as my leads? Is anyone? And if they do will their characters be stereotypical? You still can't put a young Indian girl in a lead role without people thinking it's some kind of statement. And nobody will do it until someone does it so who is it to be? If you look at the demographics of America, or England, or any country you're in.. The ethnicity and gender of the movie characters are nowhere near that of its people. I'm not starting a big drive for equality, but don't you find it interesting?

And Pete Postlethwaite is dead. Actors worry about their looks and their relevance and their weight but then Pete Postlethwaite dies and you realise: all that matters is the acting. And those beautiful but vulnerable actresses we know who struggle with anorexia and those male actors we know who are barely comfortable with their own personalities... you want them to really look at Pete Postlethwaite, or Emily Watson, or Stockard Channing or Morgan Freeman-- because what matters is the acting. And some actress somewhere misses another meal and it's all because she thinks it'll make us cast her; and it's just heartbreaking.

We're in a world where nobody understands our scripts, our art. And it's a world where actors disappear further from themselves as they try to morph into something just to fit in. And Pete Postlethwaite dies and Gerry Rafferty dies and Heath Ledger dies and all we care about is their beautiful art. We want more of it. We crave it. We live for it. Somehow we keep forgetting it.

Care to share?

Monday, 3 January 2011

2011 WEBLOG AWARDS - Entertainment Category

Last year, Kid In The Front Row won the 'Best Entertainment Blog' in the 2010 Weblog 'Bloggie' Awards. I just want to let you all know that the voting has opened again for the 2011 Awards. Winning last year was a very meaningful thing for me. As a blogger -- it brought a new wave of readers and friends, which is exactly what I'm here for. 

If you have enjoyed this blog over the past year, and deem it worthy; I'd really love to have another shot at being one of the nominees in the 'Best Entertainment' category. Last year, I was up against nominees that were bigger sites run by numerous people, and a couple of them had a more corporate interface. Any victory for a small site like this, is a victory for independence, for doing things from the heart, and for focusing on creativity and inspiration and a passion for movies, rather than reviewing the latest superhero movie or for posting rumors about who Kristen Stewart is dating. My point is; those sites don't need support, this one does. The voice of the Kid In The Front Row who loves story, and romance, and inspiration--- those Kids have been diluted and disregarded by an industry and society that doesn't value them in the way they once did. 

Any vote or nomination or award for a site like this is important. It's important to me personally and it's important on a bigger scale because it means: people still care about the things we care about. And that is why I blog.

You can nominate me in the Best Entertainment Category by going to this website: http://2011.bloggi.es/ -- Thank you so much!

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Sunday, 2 January 2011

Stuckness - When A Writer Goes Blank

There's nothing worse for a writer than stuckness. Okay, maybe having no hands is worse. Apart from that, being stuck, or blank, is probably worse. Am I talking about writer's block? Maybe. But sometimes there's something else-- it's like a distinct blankness that descends over your day. You can't write your script, you can't write your emails, and you can't talk to people without being grumpy. 

The worst part is, everyone has advice! "You just need to write through it," or "well, you need to focus on your inner writer" or some other thing they read in a book about writing. But that takes away from the uniqueness of it. Just like nobody can tell Diablo Cody how to write Juno, nobody can tell her how to get over her stuckness, if she ever has it. In fact, it makes it worse. 

What is this stuckness I talk about? It's a thing you wake up with -- you're grumpy before you've had your cereal, and for no known reason the Gods have decided you will not be writing today. Here's something I've experienced: the ones who tell you "just write through it, that's what I do," are often the ones who don't write very good stuff. If you can write all the time, then something is wrong. The best writers always want to write and are always doing everything they can to write, but sometimes they come across the stuckness and have to deal with it by taking a walk, or a holiday, or by getting high and throwing their laptops out the window. They need to get out of the train they're on. That's what it's like --- a stuckness brought on by being in one place that is heading nowhere good.

You need that insight that comes from a new experience, or a serendipitous event, or by being suddenly in danger. You need that insight. The best writing is usually writing about the girl you loved when you were fourteen, or the time you and your friends got stranded in Estonia when you were twenty three. The problem is; once we've written the hell out of them, we're left with five months of sitting at your desk and your only experiences are the different types of teabags you've been drinking. You ignore social opportunities, because you want to write, and you ignore film recommendations because you want to watch your Woody Allen collection again. You keep it too close to home, you follow your path a little too closely. Of course, your path is the path, but all paths take on new directions. I'm bored of talking about paths already. This is the stuckness!

The comfort with the stuckness comes from experience. You know that it's part of the creative process. So is the bad newbie writer telling you how to deal with it. You probably did that too back when you were a bad writer. The stuckness comes when you really want to write something amazing, or when you have a really big project to be focusing on. The stuckness is telling you this is important. you need to see things differently.

Care to share?

Saturday, 1 January 2011

2011: Our Odyssey - The Video

A few days ago I wrote an article called 2011: Our Odyssey, and then last night, as 2010 drew to a close, I thought it'd be a great idea to have it as a video, with someone saying it. After all, I'm a writer/director, my words are okay on the page, but they're better when someone with real talent can bring them to life.

So I emailed the wonderful Tracy Clifton and asked her to perform it to camera, which of course she agreed to do because she's the kind of actor who gets things done. So, here is '2011: Our Odyssey' the video version, and I hope you're as inspired by Tracy as I am.

Happy New Year!

Care to share?

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

2011: Our Odyssey

2011 is the year. It's the year we reach for the stars and storm forth into each day, dedicated to making everything happen. Yes, we say this every year, and yes, we lose steam after two weeks. But not this time. We have this thing now, we have this community; we are filmmakers, and writers, and bloggers, and actors and camera operators and a million other things and we are getting good at supporting each other with our creative pursuits. Now is the year that we turn it on full-time. We're gonna keep working and trying and creating till 3am and we'll stand in freezing fields at six in the morning figuring out how to get the boom mic to work when all the batteries are dead. This is the year for it. 

Sometimes we're gonna lose confidence and sometimes we're going to feel worthless and sometimes we're going to feel convinced that we're talentless. But things are different now. We've found people online and slowly but surely we find people in our communities who get it. They like talent and they like coloring things in and they like cameras and they like how words magically gel together and they like YOU and they like ME. We need to stand up for each other and stand up for our art and stand up for all the things we've achieved, are achieving, and will be achieving. We need to be confident and we need to be aware that when failures happen, they teach us more than our successes will and they make us come back stronger the next time. But from now on, next time is right now. And it's right now every time. It's not next year and it's not in five year's time. 

Now is the time to write those movies. Now is the time to get cast in a dream role. Now is the time to get your favorite movie star to be in your movie. Now is the time to take that class, to read that book, to email that producer who scares you a little, to blog like crazy about all your favorite movies. Now is the time. It's now. And we're all here for you and we need you to be there for us. Because we want to make movies that express who we are and what we're feeling. We want to do what we love, and meet people we love, and feel the love of audiences and friends and people who GET IT. GET US. You are those people, we are those people. We are here because we know a movie isn't just a movie. That feeling you get when Andy Dufresne crawls through a sewer of shit isn't just a movie. That feeling that rises in your heart when getting the train to a meeting while the theme to Forrest Gump plays in your headphones isn't just a movie. That feeling you get when a cinema audience laughs at your one-liner isn't just a movie. It's more than that. What we do, how we feel, and how we make others feel and how they make us feel -- that's the stuff that makes life worth living. That's what gets us up in the morning. And this year; we're focusing on that. 

Are you signing the pledge? You don't need to sign with a pen or hand me any money.. you just need to keep showing up, and keep supporting people, and keep sneaking food into cinemas, and keep loving what you love and keep standing up for it. Are you with me?

Care to share?