Sunday 30 January 2011

Where Is My Brain?

I've had a busy weekend. Shooting lots of scenes for a project; which involved a lot of on set rewriting -- and in fact had me constructing a whole new piece this morning, hours before shooting it. And then before you know it you're on set and an actor's saying "What does my character mean when he says that?" and you try to dig into what you meant and who you were four hours ago when you wrote it. Because when you're directing, you need to know where you're going and what it all means. But sometimes things move so fast -- your brain has to jump loops just to stay on board. 

And yesterday was the 29th, and January passed so quickly. I remembered my blogathon, that I set up, with a due date on the 30th of everyone posting about their favorite childhood books. So I started reading mine on the morning journey to our location. But I only got 40 pages in to the perfect Roald Dahl book "Danny The Champion Of The World." But I loved what I read; and I realized so many things about why the book is important to me, but right now I couldn't tell you because my brain is so somewhere else. I've had a booming headache since about 3pm. I think there's a different type of headache you get when you're doing this kind of work. Your brain is stretched in different ways.

The Film Director's Brain Stretch. 

1. Be creative and think outside the box. 

2. Create a safe and productive environment for others. 

3. Know what you're feeling. 

4. Be disciplined with time. 

5. Know your characters inside out, and know what they mean and don't mean and might mean. 

6. Physically try to invent ways to stop daylight from fading. 

7. Be patient with actors when they're just not hitting it. 

8. Protect yourself from dying when your actors are frustrated because their director just isn't hitting it. 

9. Be sure of your instincts. Keep a track of them. Hold onto them, keep them center stage. 

10. Be the one to inspire everyone with energy way way way way after everyone has slumped. 

And many more things. 

The headache was a big one and I still have it now. Water didn't help. Food didn't help. Two paracetamol didn't help. That's the brain stretch-- it just makes your brain expand in crazy ways. That's what people don't get when they sit on the internet and pause mid-masturbation to rip your art to pieces. They're doing it from the luxury of sitting around in their underwear. The ones creating are working so hard they don't even get to change underwear. 

The shoot finished at 5pm and then my producer was coming round at 6pm because we were going out to hunt locations for our upcoming movie. But between those times I needed to upload and edit some clips for my friend who I helped out last week. But I couldn't find the cable to connect the camera. And then eventually I did, and I edited the thing; but I messed it up. And then the producer knocked and I still had the brain stretch headache which means I can function like normal, but I can't smile too easily or put my words together as well because my brain is in that creatively trained place where you're just barely functioning. So I'm in the producers car, somewhere in the middle of London; and we're looking at buildings and the producer and my friend-who-knows-everything-about-London who joined us for the trip said "what about shooting here?" my brain struggled because I had no idea what we were going to be shooting or why, because my brain was so fried. 

I'm here and it's 10.40pm on a Sunday and I still have a crazy headache. I feel bad because; I'm meant to write a heap about the Roald Dahl book -- but it just wasn't meant to be. But I wish I'd done it. My copy of the book says 'class 6' in it, in my handwriting. I was about 9 years old. This book is my life. I love it. Roald Dahl knew the magic. How did he do it? That feeling he gives you when you read him, there's nothing like it. 

And then January was pretty much gone and you look back and you wonder if your month meant anything and you wonder whether 2011 is going to be the year and you have this dumb headache and realize you really must sleep. But it's not even 11pm and I could stay up and watch a few FRIENDS episodes till maybe midnight, because I don't need to be up until 7am. What's better for the brain stretch? Joey being hilarious? Or sleeping? Probably sleeping -- but I don't sleep at 11pm, it's not possible for me. It's always like 3 or 4am. I try for midnight but it doesn't happen. There's just too much to think about at one in the morning. 

This is my 499th post on Kid In The Front Row. 

Care to share?

Wednesday 26 January 2011

When It Gets You

I love when something gets me. I discovered Patty Griffin a few days ago. I was on YouTube looking for something completely different-- and after clicking away and opening up tabs, it landed on one of her songs. I just knew straight away. Wow.

Here's the song I'm listening to right now.

It's new and fresh to me. But wow, she really resonates. That song has 7,000 views on YouTube. That's all it takes. You can upload a video that has only 9 views, but if it means something to you, it will mean something to someone else if and when they find it. We get so caught up in success and being discovered that we forget that it's really about this. It's about feeling something. And it's not a big thing -- it's not Johnny Depp running around on a ship or Megan Fox not wearing much in Transformers. What we're really about, is this stuff. That's why we love watching films and making films. People say they want to be 'discovered' as if they're hoping for the Spielberg phone call -- but really what people need is that one email from a girl in India who accidentally found your video when researching an assignment about rocks; and she just absolutely loves and adores the very thing you're doing. And it's not because of your camera angles, it's because of the essence of what you did. The most beautiful stuff is simple. Chaplin didn't win us over by blowing things up, he won us over by standing next to a girl and smiling.

And that's why I'm responding so strongly to Patty Griffin.

She's real. She sounds like the one who got away. Or the one you haven't met yet. Or the emotion you've yet to put into your writing. She's something you don't find a lot of when you're going about your bustling life in London or wherever it is you are. I have listened to this song, "Forgiveness" about twenty times in the last two days. I'm not at that stage of taking in the lyrics yet; I'm just taking in the feelings, and emotions and some-other-part-of-its-essence-that-i've-not-figured-out-yet. This song is gonna last a fair while for me.

Everyone I know is stressing about what their next job will be, and if they'll ever write that script, and if they'll ever get to act in a commercial, or if they'll ever get to stop acting in commercials. But they forget, we all forget --- it's about something smaller. It's about that feeling we got when Tim Robbins burrowed through that hole in his cell; it's about that little smile your favorite actress did when she picked up her Oscar, it's about that little bit of piano three and a half minutes into your favorite song. That's it! That's why we're here. We want to get closer to it. We want to touch it, and if we're blessed enough, we want to create it for other people.

Your favorite songs and movies help remind you of that. But I think it's at it's strongest when you find something new. But it has to be something that absolutely and completely agrees with the very core of who you are as a human being. It doesn't happen often. But when it does: You know about it. Like you all knew when I blogged endlessly about 'Adventureland' when I discovered it. It just agreed with everything I agree with. It presented a world back to me that I believe in, long for, and love. The same with Patti Griffin these past few days.

Let's not spend too long bitching about the stuff we don't like -- because it has a knack of absolutely consuming us. Instead we need to be hungry and chase down every thing we could possibly love like completely ruthless animals ---- because that's where the magic is. When I was a kid, I'd stay up all night recording great songs from the radio onto cassettes. When I was a teenager, I'd rent every single video that was in the rental store. That kind of goes away as you get older. I mean, a lot of people tell everyone about their passion and knowledge but deep down, by and large, it kinda calms down and we go a bit mad at ourselves for not spending as many nights and days obsessing over the things we love. 

But those places are where the magic is. It's where the fuel is that reminds you why you do what you do, and it reminds you of how perfect a film can be, or how moving a song; and it hits you like a bolt.

Care to share?

An Apple iPhone Conspiracy

My iPhone is getting remarkably slower as the days pass. I'm convinced this is a ploy by apple -- to make me buy a new iPhone.

I was always the type who'd get given some old phone and hold onto it until it broke. But when I saw the iPhone, I liked it. It seemed useful for me as a filmmaker. And it is. I'm always using the notepad app and I use a few other little useful things. Plus the email function is very important.I have an iPhone 3G. You know the one I mean; the old one. Old used to mean a guy with a cane who spoke of war stories. Now old means the same thing as new except it's called something different.

My iPhone is nearly empty. I'm not into games and stuff. Nothing is on it. Yet it's slowing, rapidly. And the few apps I do use stop updating after a while unless you update the iPhone software. So I upload the software.

But then my phone dramatically slows. My instinct is 'this is ridiculous' but everyone elses instincts seem to be 'get the newer iPhone.' It seems insane to me. This is how things go now. We replace and update things by necessity, because that's how it is. They've added a hundred onto the price of a new Xbox just because you can plug a few extra things in it.

My phone is the same thing it was two years ago, except it hardly works. I haven't damaged it, it's just what they do-- get us addicted and then slow things down so we need the new one. I am getting a bit conspiratorial in my old age; but I feel ripped off. I feel we're all ripped off, all the time, and we just fall for it. We buy shiny new things that should last for fifty years but they last for a year and then we're happy to move on. A guy said to me the other day, "I'm on my 4th Xbox 360". How can that NOT be insane? 

Why should I have to buy a new phone? I mean; I have to ----- it currently takes me two minutes just to read a text message. Something needs to be done. I hope someone out there believes my conspiracy theories otherwise they may indeed lock me up!

Care to share?

Sunday 23 January 2011

Blogger Without A Cause

I'm approaching 500 blog posts. That's crazy. Where have I found the energy to write 500 blog articles in under two years? Is that creativity or just mindless productivity? I think I am driven by the feeling that my previous blog article wasn't good enough. I always want to do better. But then, that motivation silences me as often as it encourages me.

When I don't feel pressure, I write comedy. When I do feel pressure I write advice or motivational stuff. Next time you see me giving screenwriting tips or endorsing positive thinking, you'll realise they're mainly for my own benefit.

You're 'on' or 'off' when you write. Sometimes you're 'off' for three months but you still blog through it and hope no-one will notice. But when you're on it's easy; every post is a blast and everyone gives you awards. When it's tough, a single comment from a bitter or jealous or angry reader will floor you for a week. And it's just a blog!! But as a writer, no writing you do is 'just' anything, it's all important. That means a constant state of heightened awareness. Or vulnerability. You all hold the power to make or break a blogger's heart just by the type of comment you make.

When I write a screenplay, the judgement is held off for a couple of years until someone walks out of the cinema muttering about wasted time. But with the internet, it's instantaneous.

Approaching 500 posts, I can't pretend this is meaningless or all for fun. If it was about fun I'd just go ice skating. So what does it all mean? Why am I here writing all the time? Can a person be relevant or interesting when they write so much? Who is reading, and why?

I feel like readers stick around because once in every twenty five articles I write, I nail something that resonates with them. I guess that's worth it, because most of my life I'm looking for writing, films, people and music that resonates with me; and I know how impossible that is. It's all too easy to go two years without finding a song that means something to you. So I'm glad when anyone gets anything from this blog.

So, the 500th will be coming soon. Order the cake.

Care to share?

Friday 21 January 2011

Do you want to take part in the next KITFR Blogathon?

I am going to run another blogathon --- I email a bunch of different bloggers a theme/idea, and on a chosen date, we all post our articles. If you want to be involved, please email me; and be sure to let me know your blog url too! This is NOT film-related; so anyone who blogs can be involved!

Care to share?