Saturday 7 January 2012

Friends In The Front Row

Anthony Abatte has been following my blog for about a year now (at a guess). He's that friend who just 'gets it', you know what I mean? Everyone has friends they write for -- and he has become one of them. We're just on the same wavelength somehow. As is often the case, he lets me know often that he likes my work, but how often do I say thanks, or say I like his stuff? Not nearly enough.

Tay and Val have sent me some of the nicest emails I've ever received -- they make you feel like you can not only inspire a few readers, but maybe inspire the world. And I guess, there's some truth in that -- for people to inspire the masses, you first need a few people who believe in you. And the weirdest thing is how --and I hope they don't mind me saying this-- I felt like, when they first contacted me, they saw me as someone to look up to in terms of creativity. But the funny thing is, I feel the same about them. They're out there, doing their fantastic projects -- and it's inspiring. Artists are on an even playing field; and it's great to know that I'm out there doing my thing and they're out there doing theirs. That support is what keeps people going.

Teri is kind and supportive in an unbelievable way. She comments here on the blog, she 'likes' my Facebook updates and she retweets my articles. And she forgives me after I've been grumpy or ranting about something. It always gets me, how people can be so kind and supportive -- what makes a person do that? I have no idea. Sometimes you just have to be happy that people exist. The thing about Teri is that she's so creative and alive and full of ideas; which is what makes her blog so interesting.

Semi is the coolest. She has a way of popping up with a comment or email that makes my day. And she blogs too. I don't know Semi that well; I just know that she's young and intelligent and can potentially achieve anything and everything. In fact, anything less than achieving EVERYTHING and I will be disappointed.

Happy Frog and I quietly gets on with her writing; occasionally popping up to tweet me, or comment here, or send me an email. It's exciting knowing Happy Frog and seeing her work blossom -- because I really feel the sense of a writer gaining momentum and confidence each time I read something new. That's another great thing about being part of this community of bloggers -- we get to witness something. The good writing, the bad writing, the indifferent middle ground. We see it all. That would be hell, except that everyone cares about each other which somehow makes it all WORTH IT.

Care to share?

Thursday 5 January 2012

The Film

I watched our movie with someone else.

I held off, for a while. That was always the plan.

But you're not here and I'm not there. And we're neither here nor there anymore.

You could be anywhere, with anyone, watching anything. And that's fine, totally fine.

But tonight, I'm here, with her, watching this.

Care to share?

Film Directing Competition - Closes January 14th 2012

Forget the excuses! Forget your fears! Forget the fact you're not sure if your idea is good enough! Get making a movie!

The rules are here.

It all has to play out in a single take, of no longer than two minutes. So can you and a couple of friends/actors spare two minutes to make a movie? Sure you can! Get working!

Care to share?

Tuesday 3 January 2012

The Future: Truly Independent Art

"Aided by the support of blogs and the relative ease of modern recording, bands are making great records, touring, and - most importantly - surviving... all without major label contracts."
-Adam Duritz

The future is here. You can distribute your film online. You can get an audience for your band on YouTube. You can record your stand up comedy set on your iPhone. 

Counting Crows left the labels behind and went totally independent. Who'd have predicted that ten years ago? Louis C.K. cut out the TV networks and sold his comedy show for $5 online. Ten years ago, who'd have imagined that a leading comic would ditch the networks and make the product CHEAPER?

There's no need to chase everyone, the world is too big, and we all get our information from different places now. Find your home. Find your fans. Make your friends. 

Counting Crows and Louis C.K. are leaders in their fields, and the big corporations helped them get there. But they've seen the future, and so should we. Don't chase the big contract. Chase your audience, one person at a time. 

Care to share?

Monday 2 January 2012

Habits of Creativity and Productivity

Productivity requires attention. It demands that you put your work as the main priority.

Creativity comes when you allow yourself to do the work. As writers we often don't write until we 'feel' something, but in actuality the best writing doesn't come out until we have been working away at it for a while.

Your best creative work comes from a mystical place. You look back at what you did and wonder where the hell it came from. Your work, mixed with your imagination, yields creative work beyond the capacity for which you can logically explain.

As artists, we're grumpy a lot because we so rarely reach that plateau, yet we crave it. This is cushioned by the distractions.

We get lost in Facebook updates, and chat messengers. Yet in a bid to stay productive we update the fan page and start crowdfunding for projects and we tweet about the meetings we're having.

And these things become habitual. When we have a poignant life moment, instead of having it, we tweet about it -- and as soon as you do that you cut off the moment.

They've proved that our brains are changing. That habit you have of checking Facebook and scrolling through tweets -- that's habitual. It's like brushing your teeth. What does this do to your productivity? As an actor, if you're tweeting in-between takes, or if you're a frustrated writer making coffee every seven minutes, something needs to change -- because these habits will come to define you, they're not going to change by themselves.

There have been studies. I haven't kept the sources, because I read and read and research and then disregard the links, but you can Google this stuff --- and the research says we're losing our capacity for introspection and deep thought. Rather than have a profound thought about our boredom, or loneliness, we play a game on our phones, or we text people jokes the moment we have a silent second. We ward these things off, go for instant answers rather than deeper truths.

But creativity requires breathing space.

Sure, some people will say 'Facebook helps my creativity', and that's great-- good for them. But if Shakespeare had all these notifications to check, he'd never have sustained his thoughts for long enough.

This is why we imagine thinkers and dreamers as being out in the fields and mountains. They need space, they need to be able to dream and fantasize without a phone beep saying 'enough now, check this message'.

You can be adequate this way. But the world calls for more than adequate, and to be that you need to value your creativity higher than the distractions. You need to put them to one side and focus on your work. You do this by listening to what happens inside of you.

It's about energy. And time. Every time you check your Facebook 'likes' or refresh your emails or flick through the TV channels, these seconds and minutes and hours add up. There are only twenty four hours in a day.

If you work a demanding job or have children or someone you care for, then time becomes even more precious. So if you're looking around Twitter or YouTube hoping for answers, you're wasting your time. Do your work. The work you know you want to be doing. If you feel your passion has gone, you'll find it again when you make it your priority. The distractions are distractions -- a sea of inventions that can be helpful but are too often a way of keeping us from opening our minds and using them to their full capacity.

Notice all your habits.
Decide whether they help or hinder your creative work.
Adjust them accordingly, immediately.

Care to share?