Wir Sind Das Helden

I, I will be king

I joined the Directors Guild a while back, hoping to network, share some experiences, maybe find out things–things like how do you get an agent. Ah, yes. Despite the short films, I still have no agent. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent too much energy producing and not enough creativity directing. I don’t feel like I’m at my peak. Clearly, the prospective agents don’t either. We must push harder. That’s the royal ‘we’.

Anyway, I was also hoping to be part of a network sharing the same problems and learning some answers. Like “Is the DP always a sod who won’t do what you tell him?” and “How do you motivate your editor to finish your project without paying them?” Heh.

And you, you be queen

This evening I went along to what will be my fourth Directors Guild activity. Informal dinner at an Italian restaurant in the West End. I dressed in my usual informal black jeans, black T-shirt summer/winter collection combo. There were two others there when I arrived. They weren’t wearing the backstage luvvie combo, but there’s no doubt in my mind that they were luvvies. Oh, no. No doubt at all. The numbers swelled to, ooh, seven at the evening’s peak.

For nothing can drive them away

We started talking about the DV technology demonstrated at the meeting last week. Final Cut Pro. Shake. Avid. Hey, I have the first of these. I’m ahead. But it’s only a tool. Anyway, I didn’t quite feel like part of the ‘we’. More like an independent, eavesdropping. Chris, one of the first two there, talked a lot and with confidence which made me feel like I’m not achieving. He’s one of those people I want to compete against. He’s highly successful. Directs EastEnders, writes for The Bill. Hmmm.

Hmmm. Okay, so he’s working on soaps. But it’s a real job, directing and writing drama. I kept thinking he looked familiar. By the end of the evening, I’d figured it out… He was in Lovejoy (Eric Catchpole for those who’ve ever seen it). Ha! Sussed. I felt less competitive, although not a huge amount because Lovejoy was one of the best dramas on UK television when it was going. Except he was Eric. Haha! Okay, well, Eric was a good character. Oh, I don’t know.

We can beat them, just for one day

The conversation turned to stories of actors and celebrities misbehaving. Keith Moon challenging Oliver Reed to a drinking contest while one of the other directors was still an AD on features and had to sort out the chaos. The same Keith Moon decorating an actor’s room with takeout curries in a hotel and the crew leaving their lodgings at 3am somewhere else because the production hadn’t got the money to pay for accommodation. Various actors shagging various other actors and famous people who shall remain nameless. All very amusing. I just kept quiet and listened.

We can be heroes, just for one day

Afterwards, I felt a bit like I’d sat in on some kind of Richard measuring contest. (Think about it.) We hadn’t really talked about directing or film making so much as anecdotes about debauched episodes. Is this really why I joined the Directors Guild? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s just an introduction to networking, but where’s the passion for moving pictures? We did have a good chat about films for part of the evening, but it was more “Wasn’t that good?” rather than any analysis. We also talked a while about how most us spend more time online than watching television…

I don’t know. These guys are okay. I just would have really loved to have got some insights from them into the actual process of directing and how they analyse a scene or whatever. There was discussion about executive producers and managers all have word processors and therefore consider themselves writers. Which means they all edit the script. Which I think is crap and so does everyone else. But it doesn’t help. Nor does the discovery of the ‘magic toothbrush’–two for �1–which you chew to clean your teeth after a meal.

I have a feeling next week’s meeting at the New Producers’ Alliance will be more productive. Until then, I only have 50 pages left to study in the Final Cut Pro training manual until I’ve completed it and I should be meeting up with Peter, the sound editor/re-recording mixer next week to look at The Car. More water falls on the impenetrable rock…

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Actually, I think I know what’s hacking me off. It’s the idea that the highest thing I can aspire to at the BBC is directing TV soaps. And that’s so incredibly hard to get into, I might as well forget it. They manage to include the word drama in the department and somehow it becomes some kind of holy grail.

Well, to my mind, TV is the ultimate throw away medium. I have no desire to direct soaps, or most other kinds of television. It’s crap. It’s getting worse with hundreds of channels and very little content. Why do I want to do that? What’s it achieving? Unless it’s high quality and reaches, truly reaches, an audience–rather than diverting them from their lives for half an hour–what is the point?

It’s gotta be meaningful, or what’s the point? Except as a stepping stone. This is all arrogant bs of course. Do I really think I can change the world? I don’t even know how I’d want to change it. I just want to be heard over all the noise. And there sure is a lot of noise. But mostly I’m not even sure I have anything to say.

Ha!

Maybe it’s the quality of the audience is what matters. Like you, dear readers. Yes. Hmmmm. Interesting thought. Must think more on this…

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Other things I’ve been to at the Director’s Guild were Herbie Wise’s directing masterclass, which was a wonderful opportunity and gave me tons of confidence, and the AGM, which was okay but not much of a networking opportunity for me in particular. This week’s networking activity will be my first with the New Producers’ Alliance (NPA).

From what I hear, the NPA ranges from pretty poor to very good. Their workshop tomorrow night covers the responsibilities of the assistant director and various other film pre-production goodies. The important thing, as far as I’m concerned however, is that talking to producers is far more useful to me as a director than talking to other directors.

And at the end of the day, I’d rather be talking about the creative possibilities than the personalities involved.

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Actually, not everything on TV is crap. A programme I’m really into at the moment is Witchblade on the Sci-Fi channel. Lots of imaginative camerawork and some nice effects have gone into transforming Sara Pezzini from Top Cow’s comic books to the screen. Okay, so the witchblade doesn’t rip all her clothes off when it manifests like it does in the books (shame) but the acting is solid, the stories don’t try to resolve every episode and the overall story has a strong magical realism quality, which is something that really appeals to me and I tried getting into with Fate & Fortune.

If I could direct episodes (or even the whole series) of something like that, I’d be happy.

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