Reflections On 2002

Just going through some of the piles (and piles) of old paperwork which mainly needs trashing. The filing cabinet is now full and the drawers (steel) are literally bulging. Distributing films from a one-bedroom apartment proves to have drawbacks in terms of the mess it creates. But then, the creative process is often messy.

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Eastern Screen wrote to me a week ago to say Strawberries won’t be getting a grant (boo) but they like the visual style (good) and would I like to go along for a meeting with their development people (excellent). Of course. Arranged for late January. Please to send them anything else I’m working on in the meantime.

I call Lionel (writer) to let him know about this and does he have anything he’d like me to pitch at them for possible funding? Yes, he says, he does. He and Simon have a feature script that’s nearly ready. I need a synopsis and sample scene, although there’s no guarantee Simon and Lionel would want to make it with me anyway. However, I figure it can’t hurt to see what Eastern Screen says.

We go on to discuss generally the three shorts Simon, Lionel and I have made so far–two of them Lionel’s co-written and The Car he did a lot of the design. We think we’re doing well and pat ourselves on the back.

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Reflection on 2002 #1: among other things, two very concrete goals I set out to achieve this year have been accomplished. Firstly, I finished Fate & Fortune on 35mm. Secondly, I got it shown in the States. Bonus: I shot another short on celluloid, The Car.

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Christmas, the Winter Solstice, is a time to pause. To look back. To project forward. To be One with the Now.

Maybe I’ll post some more reflections as I think of them. Maybe I’ll just keep them to myself, turning them over in my mind as I look at the lights of the Christmas tree. Lights sparkling on the baubles–each one a memory of years gone by. Reflections in the tinsel spreading the silent magic of the lights. And those rich green pine needles–a reminder of the earth where we live.

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Reflection on 2002 #2: somehow, no matter what happens, one can still learn all the words to I Was A Teenage Dirtbag well enough to be able to scream them from the back of a pub while the world’s worst cover band plays on Christmas Eve. Okay, the real reflection: rock music. That kind of rock music. That’s part of who I am.

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Reflection #3: 2002 was the year we coined a phrase for the nineties. It takes three years to coin a phrase for the previous decade. To sum it all up in one neat little “I understood it because I could label it” package. And this year, we got it. We summarized it down to three words. Wooh.

The Slacker Generation.

As usual, we understood very little.

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Reflection #4: Letting go of someone you love is the hardest thing in the world. When they love you too. It doesn’t mean you don’t care. That’s a big part of what makes it so hard. But sometimes, it’s just not meant to be. Life isn’t like books or movies or anything else anyone has tried to use to package it. Nor is love.

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Reflection #5: Hanging on to a way of life that doesn’t work for you but satisfies some basic human needs is the easiest thing in the world. Work means nothing. This is your life. But we still forget it. Most days.

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Reflection #6: Love can come again. Even when you don’t expect it. Even when you’ve just let it go. The universe is a good place. Even when it hurts you, it can love you at the same time. And you can never know where it’s taking you. Home is a feeling, not a place.

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Reflection #7: When you’re doing what you enjoy, it isn’t work.

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Reflection #8: Herbie Wise’s inspirational directing masterclass with the Directors’ Guild. This was kind of a turning point this year because it gave me an affirmation that I can direct. If I’m thrown in the deep end, I won’t sink. I’ll get very good results–and excellent results if I’m working with high calibre people.

On the day, we worked with a group of professional actors all of whom had major TV credits and some film work under their belts. Each of us went off to breakdown, rehearse and then perform a scene with two of them. They were excellent. The feedback I got was excellent. The day was great.

I found that what works for me is that directing is about confidence, nurturing a creative, collaborative atmosphere and letting things evolve while keeping a vision in mind. Directing, as far as I’m concerned, is nearly all in the pre-production. On set, it’s about keeping things moving while maintaining the freedom to change the plan.

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Reflection #9: my first taste of medical treatment in the USA–having my ears syringed. Seems to be similar to UK treatment except they charge more and I’m guessing that’s because they have to carry huge amounts of insurance against being sued. Being able to hear clearly was superb and totally underrated.

Routine checks showed my blood pressure is higher than normal, presumably due to my cake eating, beer drinking slothful existence. Also a lack of karate (oops) and almost complete lack of dancing in 2002 (double oops). Plus there was the whole thing with travelling to work, where it became considerably cheaper to drive than use the train.

Up until this year, I’ve regularly walked twenty to thirty minutes a day to the railway station. However, Thameslink (our rail operator) changed the terms of their discount tickets pushing the price up from 6 to 9 to get into London. Driving costs me less than 5 in diesel so it’s not a difficult choice.

[Sidenote to London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who I know is an avid reader of this board: Ken, you’ve got two hopes of easing the capital’s traffic congestion at these prices. And one of them’s Bob.]

I should have resolved to do something about all of the above in 2003, I suppose, particularly with the reminder of the final bill from the hospital ($209 for ear cleaning!?). However, there’s a stack of candy, cakes, wine and other Christmas goodies to be worked through before then. Still, at least I had my hair cut short.

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Reflection 10: Something on the radio this morning (January 3rd; I’ve kept adding to this particular blog entry) reminded me of this. Dr Richard Wiseman a doctor at the University of Hertfordshire has spent eight years studying the common characteristics of lucky people–ie. those whose luck is statistically greater than average.

And here’s the four defining things which lucky people do:

1. expect good fortune
2. create, notice and act on opportunities, no matter how small they initially appear
3. listen to gut feelings and act on hunches about people or situations
4. turn negatives into positives by seeing these as a chance to do something better.

That last one reminded me of Jack Wood dropping out from The Car at the last minute. I was so fortunate to get rid of his dead weight and take on a professional in his place. It not only made the whole shoot so much more enjoyable, it also improved the end result immeasurably. The attitude of ‘the show must go on’ actually made it happen.

In the words of Captain Picard, “Make it so!” And it so it is.

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