What a difference a week makes?!
Well, not much actually. Did I have that MONUMENTAL life changing weekend? ..No.
But! This weekend I did enjoy a free comedy show at the 99club (Storm in Leicester Square). I've never been to a comedy show before, and I bloody loved it! Definitely gonna go again, and next time, I might even pay for it! (..but lets not go acting all crazy just yet. Here's a hint kids, hit the link on the word 'free' in the above paragraph!!)
I know what you're thinking, 'What the hell kind of self-respecting Londoner goes to Leicester Square?!'
Hey, you won't get any arguments from me. Afterall, I aint 16, I aint a tourist and I aint a tart. But that's what you gotta love about this great city of ours.. sometimes it can surprise you..
Check it out; doormen in London are the scum of the Earth right? I think we can all agree on that. Well check this, me and my friend (yes, I do have one) were passing Ly-chester Square towards China Town and browsing the menu for a swanky new restaurant, Spice Market, when the doorman started chatting to us, invited us in and showed us around! What the hell? Were we still in London? Normally in London doormen leave you feeling like a lower form of life, looking down at your choice of fake designer clothes as if you stole them from Poundland during the riots! But this guy was a total gentleman and actually made us feel like.. people!!
Just goes to show folks, don't give up hope! Experience may have turned you into a bitter, cynical and dejected filmmaker, I mean person! But life can still be full of surprises! ..Not life changing ones, but pleasant ones all the same! I mean, I actually had a good time in Leicester Square AND met a decent doorman, ALL on the same night!! Will miracles never cease?!
Onwards and upwards right?! Last weekend may not have changed my life, but I did start on the path of at least WANTING to change my life.. and that's always the first step. Getting in the right frame of mind...
I definitely developed a renewed sense of impetus and inertia moving forward. How the hell did that happen? Well, those pesky people that keep distracting you from all the important things you're trying to do in life actually came in useful! I think they're called..Friends & family..?
If you haven't got any, get some!! They actually have uses beyond Birthdays & Christmas!
I know? I didn't believe it either, but then this past week, I actually shared some of my problems with them (I hate sharing! Especially my problems! ..I work so hard to get them, and then I have to share them? What a rip off!). A fresh perspective helped. A lot.
We arty-farty types spend so much time obsessing over our inner turmoil and trying to get it down on paper (or whatever your preferred medium is), we sometimes lose sight of the fact that there are already people out there that have the answers we're searching for. It's often better to learn from the wisdom of others, than unnecessarily struggling to find your own answers all the time..
What the hell man??!
I won't lie to you kids, Daddy's not been a very happy bunny lately. Now I don't wanna get all depressive on your ass, but y'know how sometime's it just seems like no matter how hard you try, you just can't catch a break.. well imagine ELEVEN straight years of this and you might have some idea of how I'm feeling!!
Check it out: I'm broke, my career is still dead in the water.. I'm a serial singleton.. All my siblings are married, as are most of my friends, I haven't been on holiday for YEARS!! (And I'm currently missing out on a partying trip to Dublin; though I'll hear about how great it was when everyone gets back!!).. AND, it's Friday night and I'm at home sat in front of a computer.. I know, 'Woe is Me' right??
But rather than dwell on my sadness and write sublime poetry that will no doubt be studied in schools up and down the country when I die.. I figured, screw it! This weekend I will CHANGE my life for the better!! Do something monumental.. really send my life on some dazzling new path!!
I've been wanting to learn Salsa dancing for ages, and have started and stopped a few times. The thing is, my local classes do one hour lessons followed by like a freestyle where it basically turns into a club.. which is great! A chance to practice right? Wrong! You'd think we could practice with our fellow beginners, but there are guys at these classes who 'pretend' to be beginners, just so they can later dazzle the beginner girls after the class and sweep them off their feet, leaving the rest of us amateurs looking like, well, amateurs.. Very few girls that are already good dancers will waste their time dancing with a beginner; it just aint worth having to coach a guy while he tramples your feet to death!!
Basically, if you can't salsa, you just watch.. which is pretty demoralising, 'cos dancing aint meant to be a spectator sport!! It's a bit of a catch 22, so after giving it a go for a week or two, I usually give up and have a better time on the bar/club scene.. back before all my friends grew old on me!!
Anyway, as part of my life changing weekend I planned on making a spectacular return to the Salsa scene, determined to stick with it and finally be good enough to be able to go to a Salsa bar and dance to my heart's content! (J'adore dance!)
So I got all dressed up, put on my best face, psyched myself up and rushed to the town hall where the classes/club was being held (I rushed 'cos I'm ALWAYS running late!!). This was it.. who knows, I might even meet a really cool chick!
AND.. the class was cancelled!!
Ok, no Biggie (or Tupac). Next time I'll check online before I leave.. live and learn. Besides there was another class nearby that was also just about to start.. I waited for a bus.. it never came, so I jumped on a train.. which was also late (welcome to life in London folks! Expensive transport system but paradoxically also very poor!!). I'd missed half the class, but put on a brave face. "Smile at the world, and the world smiles back!" "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" "No Risk, No Reward" "You get what you give" and every other affirmation you could think of!!
So I finally made it to the class, jogging part of the way... AND.. it was cancelled too! Not enough girls apparently (or NO girls to be precise).
Welcome to my life folks! Here's hoping you survive the experience... Tomorrow I have my first EVER piano lesson!! ..I'm sure that will be a barrel of laughs too!
So the first order of the day was actually getting to the O2 by 1:30pm for the talk with Herr Roland Emmerich.. But I did it! Running for the 12:11 train from my house (what can I say, I'm not a morning person) and getting my daily 2 minutes worth of exercise in the process! (who says guys can't multi-task?)It's worth pointing out that I am NOT a fan of Roland Emmerich's films, and that's putting it mildly. But I give him all the respect in the world. Anyone that's managed to make a Hollywood movie in their life deserves all the credit in the world. Someone that's made 'Successful' blockbuster movies one after the other like 'Independence Day' 'The Day After Tomorrow' and '2012', well like 'em or loathe 'em, you gotta take your hat off to the guy (IMDB his ass if you want the full list of his accomplishments!). So I came with an open mind and hopes of learning the secret of what it takes to be a European filmmaker hitting the big time in HollywoodLand.I gotta say, I really warmed to Roland (we're on first name terms now). He was a very witty, frank and intelligent person! Not at all what you'd expect from someone that makes big dumb American movies! Roland was there to promote his new film, 'Anonymous' (click here for the official site) which has the idea that William Shakespeare never wrote the plays attributed to him as it's main premise. I had no idea that many established & respected figures in the history of art doubt that William Shakespeare wrote 'his' plays! People like Chaplin & Orson Welles to name but two. Artists know artists, and what we know about Shakespeare through historical fact doesn't paint him as a writer (I'm regurgitating Roland Emmerich's words here kids). William Shakespeare's parent's & children were illiterate; now if you were a successful wordsmith, would you allow your kids to not learn to read? ..Maybe, if you didn't want them reading your stuff.. But what convinced me was the fact that Shakespeare writes so flatteringly about so called 'Noble men'; y'know, the blue bloods of the world; and often disparagingly about 'common' people. It's worth noting that he himself was a commoner!! As a writer this struck a chord with me. The stories I write and want to tell are all about the down trodden in society. The nobility in the common man. I Fcuking hate Aristocratic Mother Truckers!! (pardon my French kids, but I can't abide the ostentatious manner in which these people gallivant about town, especially when most of them haven't done a decent day's work in generations! ..But I digress). Anyway! The film looks good! I definitely wanna watch it; whether I'll be able to convince anyone to watch it with me remains to be seen..! Afterwards he did a Q&A and spoke candidly about his thoughts on what people & critics make of his movies. Fact is, when your films rake in hundreds of millions of dollars, you're never gonna be overly concerned about the critics.Afterwards I had my picture taken with Herr Roland and handed him one of my 'The Man That Killed The World' postcards!! He took it and looked at it. His assistant interjected 'Shall I take that?' Totally ruining my chance of maybe being 'discovered' by a big name director. Roland looked at the postcard 'Ze Man dat Killed Der Vorld?' He put it in his blazer pocket. Result!He never got in touch, but just hearing him recite the title in his German accent was jokes enough!
So how did it go down?
Like a lead balloon.
One invariably has delusions of grandeur when imagining these things, but life teaches you to not get carried away, so you try to tone down your expectations. Still, I'd hoped for a better reaction than the bemused response I got from one of the judges in particular. The most positive reaction came from Empire reviewer Dan Jolin, who liked the idea of a misanthrope having to save humanity. Thanks man, I like that idea too!
Just goes to show, you can have the best idea in the world, but unless you can communicate it to others and convince them of it's potential, you may as well have the worst idea in the world!
But I remain positive. I need to definitely work on my pitching & public speaking skills! And I also need to be able to convince people of my vision.. I'm thinking words can't do my vision justice. I need to make a trailer at the very least. Let people see the tone of what I'm going for, instead of simply describing it to them. An artistic vision is often lost in translation when reduced to mere words...
Oh well, I learned a lot, and am thoroughly grateful for the whole experience.. I will get to where I'm going!!
Afterwards I handed out my much laboured over promotional postcards to the audience as they exited the auditorium.
Any of you out there?? ..Didn't think so. Sigh. Note to self: 'Promote heavily when you have something worth shouting about!'
Massive respect to the guy that did win though! Well done friend!!
The main reason I'd come to Empire's Big Screen event was so I could practice my pitching skills, and dare I say it, maybe even attract some financial interest! And now as the clock fast approached 4pm, it looked as though I wasn't even going to get my chance!!
When the last guy finished and the compeer said those precious words 'Who's next?' I raised my arm like some know-it-all primary school kid, and practically leapt out of my seat!!
This was it. My chance to justify a lifetime's worth of Sisyphus style living!!
By now, they were being strict about the two minute time limit, and my plan to go near the end seemed to have back fired, 'cos now not only did we have to get our pitch out in a verbal explosion, but we would also be denied the same in depth feedback as the guys that went before us.. Live & learn. Don't go last, go first!!
All the other guys free-styled their pitches, but I needed to keep mine tight, so took my page of writing with me, though to be fair, I barely looked at it.. though I should have, 'cos I missed some key details!
..Now those of you that know me, know that when it comes to talking, I got no problems. I can wax lyrical about the most inane of subjects until the cows come home.. But being up there pitching to the panel and the audience.. the nerves got to me man. It was like 'Dragon's Den'. The more I looked at the Panel and at how utterly unimpressed they were, the more the saliva in my mouth dried the f**k up!! My mouth began to make weird contortions as I struggled to remember how to talk!! ..I swear at one point it must've looked like I was about to burst into tears!! Haha. ..I wasn't by the way.
So I spent the tube ride to the O2 (North Greenwich) practising my pitch, and deleting sentences here & there in a bid to get the thing to two minutes. I must've looked like one of those ubiquitous crazy people that are always on the tube; lost in their own world and furiously muttering to themselves! Haha! But screw it, I needed to nail this pitch!
Most of the sessions at Big Screen overran, so waiting to be let into the cinema screen only added to the anticipation and nerves...
People that were pitching had to sit in the front row, and the compeer did a quick head count. I think there were 6 of us.. But I guess more arrived later.
I had a sudden master stroke. Pitch near the end, that way I'll be fresh in the minds of the judging panel and the audience, and thus make a longer lasting impression and increase my chances to win!!
I handed my slick promotional postcards out to the judges and my fellow contestants before proceedings began. I must've looked like one of those 'professional' twerps that always makes everyone else look like an amateur! Haha! ..Trust me, everyone else had the last laugh.
So the first guys pitching did their thing... I tried not to get lost in listening to their pitches, and instead tried to focus on my own pitch in my head.. But the longer I sat there, the more nervous I got.
With all due respect to my fellow 'pitchers', nothing I heard really blew me away.. AND, they were definitely not taking two minutes!! Infact each pitch was about ten minutes in total, with the judging panel discussing their ideas with them at length.. Time was running out, and there were still about 5 or 6 of us left to pitch!! (the numbers had obviously grown!) It was almost 4pm and that's when the thing was due to end!!
The concept for 'The Man That Killed The World' has been in my mind for YEARS!! But in that time I've reworked the story again and again and again, until I've been left with dozens of stories, all different, but all linked invariably by the same protagonist.. Every new iteration strays further and further away from the original concept.
So recently I've been wanting to get back to the original basic concept, which is this:
“In the not so distant future, Humanity is on it's last legs: everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong, from catastrophic climate change, to over population, war disease, famine, drought, etc.
Humanity's only hope for survival is to build a time machine and send someone back in time to guide mankind to a better future... They only get one shot, but they send back the wrong person! Instead of sending the archetypal hero, Jack Runner, they mistakenly send back a miserable misanthropic lab technician called Mitch Teasley. Mitch believes mankind made their bed and deserve to lie in it.
But while he is in the past, Mitch falls in love for the first time and begins to see mankind in a new light. He sees the value in human civilization.
In the end, Mitch is forced to choose between having the happy ending he always dreamed of and saving the girl he loves; or letting her die, and saving the world instead..”
That's actually a better pitch than the one I wrote at 4am on Friday night / Saturday morning!
Thankfully vistaprint were as good as their word, and my postcards arrived this morning!! I'm very pleased with them! They're glossy and new, I half don't wanna give them away!! ..But I will. Obviously. Typically, it's 2:41am, and I still have yet to prepare. Have to write my pitch for 'Smack my Pitch up', where audience members are invited to pitch their movie to the audience and a special panel of judges. Why do I always leave these things to the last minute? ..Wish me luck.
So it begins...
Follow my journey in bringing my film to the big screen, right here on the Planet Nish blog!! I'll update as I go, and fill you in on all the trials & tribulations.. I'll publish a book when it's all done, but you privileged few can read the story, as it happens, live, right here!! & Without the benefit of all those rose tinted memories too!!
What's the deally so far with the poster art?
Well, in preparation for Empire Big Screen this Saturday, I wanted to do some promotion.. get myself out there, and get the movie-going public interested in what I was doing...!
Now back when I was designing business cards (another story! ..I have like a box of 500, and no one to give them to!!) I considered 'vistaprint', but in the end went with 'goprint', just 'cos they were offering a better product at a cheaper price.. But since then, vistaprint have inundated me with offers of 'free' stationary. Being the penniless artist that I am, I couldn't resist.
So I designed me a postcard to hand out on Saturday.. rather pleased with it too. But the thing is, it took me too long!! The lettering was a major headache.. I designed some other style, but it looked utterly crap when placed over the artwork.. So anyway. It's Tuesday the 9th of August.. I've spent the past couple o' days glued to the TV & Facebook, watching a bunch of scumbags ruin my hometown, and I know I've gotta finish this postcard art & get it printed!!
The good news is, I got it finished. The bad news is, to get it delivered by Saturday cost me bucks!! ..Vistaprint roped me in with their 'free' offers, but then charge me to upload the art.. and then there's VAT & processing, etc. etc. I figured if I'm gonna pay major bucks for delivery, I may as well order more postcards than the free bundle of '50' they were offering.. So I ordered 250!! (still cost less than the cost of delivery!)
Like I said, times is tough, it cost me bucks, and I don't believe in looting!! But if you want some genuine free swagger, come find me on Saturday at Empire Big Screen, and I'll give you a shiny new postcard with artwork for my film, for the princely sum of.. FREE!!!
..Social deprivation my @ss!!
And if you're a collector, these bad boys will be the first ever printing of promotional art for my first ever film!! Hell, if you ask nicely I'll even sign it for ya!! ..Gotta be worth more than the price you paid for it.. someday!
So far in my life, my creative endeavours have mostly been solitary pursuits, none more so than writing. I guess there's no way around this, especially when someone has a singular vision, and besides, if you get lost in trying to be social, the work never gets done.
But man, it is tough. I'm the most sociable person I know; the kind of person that will pester the person sitting next to him on the nightbus, just 'cos chatting is better than riding home in silence. Strangers beware! If you ever find yourself in my vicinity, you will get talked to!!
I never used be like this. Once upon a time I was just like you, avoiding conversation and eye contact with the randoms just like any other good Londoner! But because my pursuits are so solitary, it's hard to suppress the instinct to be social. Humans are social creatures after all. Chatting to the randoms is just another consequence...
As time goes by, and everyone has less of it, I find myself spending more time in my own company..A side effect of my lifestyle 'choice'. Although as anyone that's pursued their passions knows, it aint much of a choice; just something you're born to do!
These past few days, Summer finally arrived in London. The throngs of people made the most of it, and the South Bank was rocking!! ..But this is me sat outside the National Theatre on a Huge Sofa made of turf on Sunday night. The juxtaposition between me & the rest of the world around me was severe, and I felt it too. Need to find more Creative types to join Planet Nish...
Writing & totally lost to the world.
Party time outside the Royal Festival Hall. Always a good spot to watch the sun go down & enjoy a drink or two..