What it feels like to be me

Every morning eyes open and I appear, slowly awakening from the blackness and somehow there is continuity. The story of me, being told and lived, simultaneously.

Every cell is different from seven years ago so how can I be the same, or even know I am? How can past worries be consigned to memory when the ones here now seem so real?

 How do l I own some actions: the prizes and the pratfalls, but not others: the walking or the sitting? Am I only the ‘decided’ or also the ‘involuntary’? Is there a distinction?

 Do I own my thoughts or are they pounding on my head like raindrops? Do I own my feelings or are they wafting through my consciousness like smells?

 Am I the stillness or the movement, or am I both? Am I the face in the mirror or the openness inside? Where’s the dividing line, the edge of my body, or the edge of my view? 

 Am I everything or nothing? What if me is just the story? The story used to function. What if there’s only this: happening, and then: that, and then: something else.

 Sometimes I see motes of light, floating in the corner of my view.  They remind me that strange things happen that anything is possible.

George Melies 1929

George Melies at his toy stall in Montparnasse Station
George Melies at his toy stall in Montparnasse Station

Everyday at seven,

I open up my wooden shack.

To sell my wooden toys and games

to the loud lousy children of Montparnasse.

Why all of life seems wooden to me now,

A broken old man, on a broken old stool,

with barely two brass pennys to rub together.

And yet it wasnʼt always so.

Once, I was the master of this universe,

The greatest magician in all of Paris,

with a hundred men at my command

And robots too, clockwork automotons,

that danced like oiled marionettes,

in the foyer of my gold leafed theater.

Then there was the magic box,

the clicking-clacking lantern,

Eating silver strips of celuloid

And beaming out smokey moonlight.

Chopping up time into frames, train windows.

My ghost on a light and silver screen.

I danced in black and white.

And did amazing things,

turned marble statues into women

and women into skeletons,

and I juggled with my severed head,

and crashed into the moon’s right eye.

I tunnelled throught the earth hot core

and fought and beat the devil.

Or so it seemed,

for all of that is long gone now,

Just faded and forgotten,

like the brittle nitrate film,

on which it sits,

and here I sit,

waiting for my wife to come,

and bring some bread and cheese for lunch.

 

Freedom

Peter

Is this him now?

No right-hand rules,

We could all be present

Sit ourselves in silence,

While living in the light

Sautéed on dance

Talk of lists and beginnings.

Write a major hypnotic fright symphony.

Or buy and drink canastas of rum.

 

Freedom,

Is it a declaration of independence

Or the manner you carry your hair?

Is it free will or predetermination?

Or is it that we have an agreement,

To sit and write poetry.

When we could be learning French?

 

(The poem was written in English put through google translator into French and then put back into English again.)

Driving

Hanni you are being hugged,

huddling happily on the back seat.

On the soft, leather, squeaky springed,

rolling, beeping, clanking, street

and your laughing at the games of hide and seek

and your head leans back, resting on his cheek,

and your soft blonde hair, is lying there, a touch static.

His eyes are closed, his mouth it smiles, he’s lost in traffic.

 

And your friends are leaning into you,

squashed in like glued sardines,

under coats, cosey-like, a bunch of laughing teens.

And your driving, somewhere, anywhere,

where the light is liquid black

and white and silver-hazey-brown,

the kind that’s owned by movie stars.

like Summer days burnt down.

 

And the window is a halo,

That is filled with empty space.

and the infinite flat paper,

illuminates your face,

and the road is driving onwards,

and you don’t care where it ends,

cause your frozen in the moment

and your laughing with your friends.

London Screenwriters Festival – summing up!

I have just spent a three day weekend at the London Screenwriters Festival.

Overall it was a very enjoyable and I met quite a few writers – all of whom were very friendly –  most also starting out, and in the same boat as me. As well as attending numerous workshops, panel discussions and interviews – that you can read about in the other posts…

The first time organizers did fantastically well to put on such a festival and I would definitely consider going again.

Kate Leys – Working on a script

Notes from Kate Leys workshop about working on a script:

Have perspective – investigate the story and ask the difficult questions.

Be clear and honest – Look for the things that don’t work.

Read a lot of screenplays – it’s totally different from watching the film.

Causality – everything that happens builds from all that came before.

Unity – everything is unified by the central theme.

Theme – helps build the story.

Use structure – to focus on your theme and story.

Who’s story is it?

What do they want?

Why can’t they just get it?

What do they need to learn / understand / get over?

Go in close, be specific. If you can still ask why? you haven’t gone in close enough.

What happens is less important than why it happens.

It’s the pull between want and need that creates drama. – You can’t always get what you want but you get what you need!

Dramatize the problem, don’t telegraph it.

What does the character have at the end of the story that he doesn’t have at the beginning?

 

 

The single most useful thing you can do is tell your story to yourself out loud. Record it and listen back to it. This will help you see the problems.

Tell the story to other people and get them to tell it back to you – see if they’ve picked it up, is it clear, or are they forgetting bits, getting confused, changing things -for the better?

 

Keep it short – microbudget – 80-85 pages. Studios – 90-100 max

London Screenwriters Festival – Day Three

First off –  went to see Chris Jones interview Eddie Hamilton – a film editor who worked with Matthew Vaughn on Kick Ass and various of his other movies as a producer. Also with Guy Ritchie. He was very interesting  on editing and on how he reads spec scripts for friends projects and gives feedback from an editors point of view.

Then there was – a comedy writing panel discussion with – Dean Craig, Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil chaired by Paul Bassett Davis. This again was a great informal discussion on writing comedy, process and how to get into it as a career. 

In the afternoon I went to Chris Jones talk – Winning your first Oscar – a bit of a hyperbolic title – but as Chris pointed out every year some unknown does win an Oscar for a short film/animation – so it is within the realms of possibility. The talk was about making and distributing Gone Fishing – his brilliant short – and how they planned a festival campaign with a view to maximizing their chance of an Oscar nomination. They end up sixth on the shortlist, just missing the nomination. But his  views on how to work the film festivals ‘system’ were interesting and pragmatic.

Then I went to a talk on crime writing. This was something I know nothing about and a random choice. I thought they might talk about crime structures in features, but it was mostly about developing concepts for long running crime TV shows and how to keep them interesting and varied. I found it a little dull as it’s not really my area of interest.

I didn’t stay for the very end of the festival, but overall it was a very enjoyable three days and I met quite a few writers – all of whom were very friendly –  most also starting out, and in the same boat as me. 

The first time organizers did fantastically well to put on such a festival and I would definitely consider going again.

London Screenwriters Festival – Day Two

Started with – in conversation with Barry Keith on the Long Good Friday. I arrived late and just caught the end of this. They showed some clips from the movie – I have seen it, but a long time ago – in my mind I had it mixed up with Mona Lisa. Barry Keith was very interesting and talked on writing about social issues for theatre in the seventies and eighties.

Then – Non Linear Story telling with Linda Aronson who had lots of great tips on structuring non linear and multi protagonist stories. She was trying to cram too much material into her time slot and it became a bit much for me in the end. I think she should have stuck to the basics more but having said that I left with a few stand out revelations about structuring these kinds of movies.

After that I took a break – I needed to stop brain overload. I went for lunch and chatted to a few people.

In the afternoon – there was a brilliant panel discussion on writing for young people, which was much more informal and chatty. Panelist – Danny Stacke, Gayle Reynard, Chris Hill, Andy Briggs. There was lots of advice from the panelists on breaking into shows for young people. Be it animation, childrens drama or teenage drama shows like Skins.

London Screenwriters Festival – Day one

I Started off seeing – Tim Bevan in conversation with Michael Gubbins. A very interesting potted history of Working Title going from My Beautiful Launderette to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – and there was me thinking they only produced Richard Curtis/Bridget Jones/ Rom-coms and Bean movies. Tim Bevan also talked about the Film Councils demise and how he thought this was a regretable decision (which he would as he ran it) but he’s yet to hear from Jeremy Hunt what the alternative is going to be.

Then I saw – in conversation with Gub Neal ( ex C4 – now an indie producer) and Ben Stephenson (drama commissioner for the BBC) . It was interesting to hear about how the commissioning process worked at the various TV channels and what they looked for. Both had good things to say about the state of TV drama.

Then I went to Kate Leys workshop on script editing and process. Which had some good tips on script development – I have written up in another post.

Then meet the BBC writers room – which was all about finding your voice, and also about BBC writers room submission process. By this time my brain was pretty fried.

The day ended with Chris Jones interviewing John August over skype. It was slightly surreal seeing this projection of a big talking head from LA , Chris said it was rather like the Wizard of Oz. John had interesting things to say about working practices and being a Hollywood writer. I am already an avid reader of his blog and think he gives good down to earth advice.

Finally ended with a drink in the bar and met a few more delegates. Everyone seems very friendly and open to chat. I have met quite a few people already. A good – if mind frying first day!

As I walked out one morning (after W H Auden)

As I walked out one morning,

 Walking cross Union Square,

The dogs lurked round the bushes

And the wind tousled my hair.

 

And down by the dead canalside

I heard the endless moan,

Of a distracted wandering woman,

Talking on a mobile phone.

 

‘Love, I’ve got to get it sorted,

Beaten into shape,

How, oh how, 

Will I ever escape?

 

I wrote him a list,

He put things in boxes,

He cleaned every surface,

I wound all the watches.

 

He watered the garden,

I read all his mail,

I baked him a cake

As large as a whale.

 

He swept off the doorstep,

Washed up the plates,

I hoovered the carpet,

He cleaned all the grates.

 

But somethings not right,

It’s the dot on the i,

It’s the clouds in the sink,

It’s the cracks in the sky.

 

 

It’s the dirty brown mark,

Where the teacup sat,

It’s the mold on the window,

The stain on the matt.

 

He speaks in a language,

I can’t understand,

He walks in the sea,

And I swim on the land.

 

He answers to no one,

He keeps his own time,

He lives with no logic 

He speaks with no rhyme.

 

And what is the point 

of moving today?

When our love’s in the process,

Of fading away?