November, 2001

Quest For Fire… I Mean, Film

November 25th, 2001 November 25th, 2001
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In the never-ending quest for inspiration I got in touch with some old friends recently. Firstly, though, I called the editor who’s helping with the never-ending saga of Fate & Fortune. No, it’s still not done yet. No, they can’t get into an edit suite. They’re working 16 hour days on a feature and it’s a long round of interminable screenings and minor changes and so on and on (and on). I wait and wait (and wait). Try not to scream.

Andy, the guy who did music for me, came round to pick up his copy of Last Train the other day. He brought round an Indian curry, a quality one, and we sat and chatted. It was good. I’ve said before, when Andy says something I always feel I should listen because he’s so often right, particularly when it’s about film making. This time he said, “When’s the screening? You’ve got to have a screening!” He is right. I’ve been holding out for Whatever Pictures to organise it but the reality is, it’s down to me. Like everything else.

I’ve been watching quite a few other short films lately, as well as entering Last Train in festivals. From what I’ve seen, I can honestly say that what I’m making seems to be a cut above what most of the competition is doing. I don’t want to get big headed and I’m trying hard not to, because I have seen some superb work, especially from Whatever (my coproducers), but on the whole, I think I’m doing pretty well. I guess we’ll see when Last Train actually gets into a few festivals. And when Fate & Fortune is finished.

I spoke to another friend, Ronni, a director/editor who has just finished producing a short film for someone else. In the space of four months her film is finished. Mine has taken more than two years. I shake my fist at the universe. I loaned Ronni a copy of Last Train and she sent me an email saying really nice things about it. I mean really nice. I was blown away. I need to get these things done. I need to move on.

Keep… pushing… boulder… up… hill…

So between them, Andy and Ronni made me feel like, yes, it’s all possible. Drink a can of Dr Pepper and bounce around the room on the caffeine buzz. I call Jill, who helped me start up a cable TV station years ago and who went on to work in motion pictures starting as an assistant to the producer on a little feature called Trainspotting. You may have heard of it.

Having worked on the production side for quite a few years now, Jill’s been directing a couple of shorts of her own. I actually catch her on the phone which is remarkable in itself given the amount of time she’s working or out of the country. It’s easier to get an audience with the Pope. We talk about directing. Her first short is finished, she has an agent and is now directing on a TV series called HollyOaks for UK Channel4. “Hey, that’s fantastic!” I exclaim (because it is). I’m genuinely pleased for her. “How did you get an agent?” I ask (because I want to know). “I invited them to my screening.” Doh.

Doh doh doh.

Yes, Andy was right. He’s always right. I need a screening. I scratch my head and wonder where I’ll find a list of agents. Ping! A light bulb goes on over my head. I joined the Director’s Guild this year. Surely they must have a list of agents? I phone them. Yes, there’s a list in the directory of members, at the back. Thanks. Yes, the information was under my nose all the time. Frantic search ensues for said directory which eventually turns out to be in a box under my bed. Most people would keep porn under the bed. I keep film files. It’s come to this. Sad.

I watch some more short films made by other people and procrastinate some more. I phone the editor to see if by any slim chance Fate & Fortune can be finished. I find other people to blame rather than pushing really really hard for myself. I move in increments and yet, and yet… Jill’s career moves inspire me as does Andy’s passion for film making and other people’s reaction to what I’ve done so far. I work on some treatments for promos and kid’s television in the meantime. It’s getting there.

The quest continues.

November 26th:

I called the editor who’s helping with the never-ending saga of Fate & Fortune

And I called them again today. Got the answerphone, left a message. I also tried my cousin’s husband who’s an engineer at a facilities company where they have all this fantastic edit equipment. It’s a tenuous link but, hey, what’s there to loose? I actually get through to his mobile and catch him at a railway station. He says he’ll ask around and get back to me in a couple of days although he doesn’t actually know any of the editors there.

Meanwhile I send out copies of Last Train to Slamdunk and Los Angeles International Film Festival. Thanks to Markux for giving me the gen about those. I also spend more time procrastinating by deciding to use better quality stills which involves finding the CD rom with the originals on and pulling them up in Photoshop. These are ridiculously big jpegs so that plus surfing and using MS Word is too much for the computer to handle. It generates an out of memory error and keels over a couple of times before I can reduce everything to manageable proportions.

Fun has been booked for later in the week.

NZ In 100 Words

November 12th, 2001 November 12th, 2001
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Breathe. I bet you’ve forgotten how so close your eyes… feel… New Zealand. Summer. Quiet. Peaceful. Blue skies. Inhale. Taste the air, sweet and clear. Exhale. We’re going swimming with smiling dolphins in crystal seas off a shore of pure white sands. We’re going walking on simmering volcanoes. We’ll carve native jade then let natural hot spring waters soothe away our worries. Watersports and daredevil activities if you want. Art galleries and the finest Pacific cuisine if you’d rather. Step inside the timeless dreamtime of a Maori meeting house. Mountains. Beaches. Beautiful lakes. Stunning glaciers. Unspoilt rainforests. Inhale. Exhale. Relax.

For Want Of A Sticky Label

November 6th, 2001 November 6th, 2001
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Latest film update: the editor who’s helping me out called today to let me know the EDL still hasn’t been done. There wasn’t enough storage capacity on the edit suite she’s been using to load up the media. Then the other phone started ringing and I went to grab it and fell over the other phone lead, disconnecting the first call.

The second call rang off without leaving a message. I called the editor back and she says she might be able to find someone to help but doesn’t know when. Result: Fate & Fortune remains in the limbo it’s been in for the past two years. Yep, two years. Ack. Ack ack ack ack ack.

Someone from Whatever Pictures calls. These are the people who are helping me with distributing Last Train to festivals and other screenings. They want a dialogue script for some of the festivals. I email it.

So far I have no idea where the film has been sent except for a few places I’ve sent it myself. That reminds me, I thought the costs were all done with once I’d had the print made and a telecine to video was complete. I forgot about sending everything around the world–stationery, labels, ink, padded envelopes, stamps… Anyway, as soon as it gets some screening dates, I’ll post the information on the website.

Finally, I set up the PC to print out more labels for the new batch of VHS’s I made last week. After 20 minutes of searching through CD-roms I finally find the disc with the label template on. Another 30 minutes later, I discover after much searching that there are no sticky labels left in the house and I need to visit the stationers.

And so it goes on. And on. And on. I sigh and move one foot in front of the other. Whither has gone the spring in my step? Whither has gone my youth? Don’t worry, I’m just kidding. It will all get done.

Cathartic Creative Urge

November 4th, 2001 November 4th, 2001
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I have this urge to write and write and yet the words seem stuck on the thought train going round and around in my head. Sometimes the words drift up and then they’re gone. Lost in the emotional vampire sucking dark gnawing at the edge of my stomach. Perhaps I should write about that. And then it goes, put aside, swallowed for a wallow. Maybe.

And and and. Why so many ands? Who knows. I watched Finding Forrester the other day and analyzed it to death. Poor wee film. I pat it’s head and want so to mend it’s broken story. Yet there were still some good lines about writing in that movie and so I plagiarize and paraphrase a couple here.

Like: “You should never start a sentence with a conjunction. It makes your thoughts seem to run on.” To which the response was something like, “That’s outmoded thinking and some of the best writers do it for emphasis. The danger is doing it too often, then it becomes self-consciously stylistic.” I think I made some of that up.

Then there’s a scene where William Forrester (Sean Connery) puts a blank sheet of paper in a typewriter and instructs Jamal (the hero): “Write!” Jamal protests, “I can’t just write. I have to think about it first.” Forrester: “No. Don’t think. Write. The secret of writing is to write. The first draft comes from the heart. The second draft comes from the head.” I may have made bits of that up too.

Selective memory. Curse. Blessing. All rise for the hymn. Do we really edit so much of our own experience in our heads? Is that why communicating our deepest feelings is so difficult, because it’s a constant creative process as far as our memory is concerned? I want my perfect memory in the sense that I know to hold on to what is important. Let the rest go. Ashes to ashes, funk to funky. Amen.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Oh, for the serenity!

I try to hang on to the grains of truth. My deepest feelings, my highest hopes. Yet the tide comes in with its relentless chop chop busy busy work work bang bang of career and family and doing this and that and other people’s hopes and dreams and everything and it all washes through the places our thoughts are stored, so precious, so fragile, and tries to suck them all back in the wash. Take me to the river, throw me in the water.

Courage, please, yes.

Yes, this a collection and amalgamation of other people’s expressions and lines and modes of expression. A pastiche. A mosaic. A [blank, damn. the word has gone. i hate that. something like tapestry. no no. can’t think of it now. don’t stop. don’t lose the flow].

To write like this feels liberating, so take it as a tribute to all that has gone before. It’s an inevitable result of the way each of us builds on our own experience to create the unique expression which is ultimately ours. An expression which will wash out into the sea of human existence to join with all the other uniquenesses out there.

Wisdom.

And the word was …collage!

Oh, I almost forgot what sparked that off. It was reading this in my horoscope for the month:

We human beings are very sensitive. Once we become too keenly aware of what’s wrong with something, we can no longer see what’s right about it. We lose the desire to repair and fill up with the yearning to replace. The factor under discussion now is most certainly not a candidate for the dump. Use soft words if you’re pointing out a defect. And if you’re being told of one, listen only with half an ear.

– Jonathan Cainer

Incidentally I think he still means listen. Just to hold on to my values and what’s valuable in life at the same time.