Life In One Day

Get up at the crack of dawn and head into London. Arrive at the Curzon at 10.30. No one there. Go to McDonald’s and eat a cheeseburger for no particularly good reason. Go to newsagent and get a banana milkshake. Head back to Curzon which is now open and meet N’kako, the girl who’s apparently looking after my screening, and the projectionist, who takes my print. Add orange juice to the unsavory morning cocktail in my stomach.

After about ten minutes, the projectionist returns to say he’s ready and we head into the theatre. The lights go down, the curtains part and the film appears. Without sound. We call the projectionist on the internal phone. Ten minutes later sound appears. Slightly buzzy sound. The film is rewound, I get him to rack it down a bit so people’s heads aren’t cropped off at the top of the frame and we watch it. It’s cool, except for the buzzy sound. Very cool, in fact, regardless to see your film in the cinema!

Projectionist returns and tells us they’ve a problem with one of their amps which is being fixed tomorrow. They hang on to the print and I head for home. On the way I read some more of the seminal Peter Biskind book, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and think more about what kind of film maker I want to be. An artist auteur? A collaborative enabler? A seriously commercial mainstream moviemaker? It’s all up for grabs.

Home: I want to pass out. I’ve had about five hours sleep. But sleep, like failure, isn’t an option. I package up two videos for the Short Film Bureau acquisitions department then drive to the post office. From there, I head into St Albans and shed unwanted clothes (half a dozen shirts) at the charity shop plus some books unread for more than a decade. They’ll also find an inflatable pink bat in there which I didn’t tell them about. I’ve no idea where it came from, just that it’s extra baggage on life’s journey and I don’t need it.

I take out 20 cash from the ATM and stop at the stationers. Five pounds immediately vanishes purchasing padded envelopes for film festival submissions. Then the library where I return this week’s DVDs–Blow, which was fairly good and has brilliant extra material; La Malena, a wonderful coming-of-age Italian film which made me shed a tear near the end; and Dude, Where’s My Car?, which was every bit as dreadful as all the reviews said. In fact, it was worse. Consoling, though, that films with acting and dialogue more pitiful than anything I could imagine do actually get made.

On the shelf Memento sits, daring me to rent it. Another three pounds vanishes, then 30 pence for a chocolate bar and 70 pence for parking and my twenty pounds is nearly halved. I drive back home and nap for a couple of hours before taking a bath and heading back into London.

The Screenwriters Workshop is hosting a seminar about development funding. Nearly a hundred people are packed into a sweaty little room with fifties windowframes high in the white walls, a few posters and a framed print of Marlon Brando as Don Corleoni on the wall. I surmise that the screenwriters here would prefer the art of Coppola to the even more rampant commercial success of Lucas. Would that one could synthesize both.

Looking around the room, all ages and walks of life are represented on the plastic chairs or hanging on the walls. Potential competitors. Potential collaborators. We’ve paid 5/7 each for this and they don’t actually have enough chairs. The chairman introduces a woman from the Film Council and everyone scribbles furious notes. There is money to be had, and lots of it. We all want it. Up to 10k for individuals to work on screenplays. Yes please. She mentions the currently underrepresented genres–thrillers, horror and sci-fi. I grin the grin of badness.

The chairman drones on about the ‘non-existent’ British film industry and has this big chip on his shoulder about the Hollywood studios. He clearly has no clue and obviously is a stranger to Biskind. The Film Council spokesman mentions something about how marvellous British television is and I roll my eyes. But I continue to take notes when the funding is mentioned. That’s all that matters.

Afterwards I wind up chatting to a guy called Darren in the bar. Darren is a writer who part owns a four bedroom house in London with his girlfriend and rents out the other rooms, which means he can write full-time without worrying too much. He’s currently working on a vampire story and has an agent touting his scripts around for him. I invite him to the Fate & Fortune screening. I’m embarrassed that I can’t actually afford to buy him a beer, even though they’re only 1.50 a bottle, but it turns out we’re both down to our last 2. We pay for ourselves. Such is the life of struggling artists.

I get home at around 1am and fall straight into bed, full of ideas but without the energy to make anything happen. I’m asleep before my head hits the pillow. Another day full of promise. It’s all good.

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