Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Glance Back.

End of year. Stock taking time. Looking back. Reflection. What have I learned this year? A lot.

The year began as the previous had ended, trying to get Derelict off the ground. It was a slog. But we got there and the film got shot. Easy as chips. No, not really. It was hard work. But I'm happy with it. Happy with the experience. Worked out in the end. Although it was a tough shoot. One that left me drained and questioning whether or not I actually wanted to continue directing. But I got back on the horse. Got over it. Found my passion remained intact. I learned a few things along the way. To take with me to the next one.

140 won an award. Raise My Hands got into a couple of festivals. Slán agus Beannacht sold to RTE and was broadcast on national television. Couple of disappointments. Couple of interesting prospects. Doors began to open that had always remained shut. Even if only slightly. A crack. A sliver of light. But light nonetheless. And once there is light there is hope and once there is hope we keep moving forward.

So onward.

One thing I did learn, not so much learn as - have been reminded of - I need to listen to my instincts more, I need to remember my own vision, especially in the darkest times when all around are questioning the direction I'm leading them, because it was that vision that brought us there, and it will be that vision that leads us out, some may doubt, but as long I don't I know we'll get there. I have to have faith in myself, because if I don't - how can anyone else?

Faith, belief and strength moving forward. Happy Christmas all. Enjoy the holidays. And a very prosperous New Year.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A Dose of Reality.

I was a guest speaker at my old college today, Ballyfermot College of Further Education (or Senior College as it was known back in the day). I was an animation student, graduated in 2000. So I was asked to come in and talk to the same class, as it is now. I was delighted, if not a little apprehensive, to do so - just because I get nervous before these things, also because I almost flunked out of that college and because I didn't pursue animation afterward. So I was trying to find an angle to approach the talk from. I decided honesty was the best policy.

I wanted to give them a very real look at what it's like to be an independent filmmaker working outside the system, outside the industry. So I did. I'm a bit worried I may have depressed them!

I tried to be constructive, offer hints and tips, advice and direction and tell them how to go about putting a film together, without backing. But amid the constructive were the harsh realities, the lack of income, the toll on personal life, family and finances and the sacrifices required to pursue a creative life, a life where you're a working artist. It's not an easy one. It's not glamorous in the least. It's bloody hard work. It's pressure. Stress. And when you find yourself clasping you chest with pain walking up a hill and find yourself strapped to a heart monitor later that same day... can be questionable!

(For the record I didn't have a heart attack, it was anxiety from lots of different things going on at that time!)

I talked about everything I could get to in two hours. I admit I did find myself rambling at times. Going off script and losing my notes. But going back over them on the way home I found I hit most of the points I had hoped too. Also managed to show my 3 shorts and the first cut scene from Derelict (so bit of an exclusive there for them! - No one else is allowed to see it, so don't ask.)

I think I'm better at answering questions then just straight talking. I'm good in Q&As. But when I have to stand in front of a room and just talk I tend to ramble and lose my place! Hopefully I wasn't too bad today. Gareth Lee, the course co-ordinator who invited me to talk, said to me afterwards that he felt it was a dose of reality for them and probably not a bad thing!

I agree with that in one sense, I think it's good to see the real side of things, but I also like to be inspired and to inspire. I always remember Glenn Keane's lectures when I attended the school, I would come out of the class flying, zooming, buzzed and fueled for weeks to come. I don't feel like I did that, in fact, I know I didn't, so I'm a little disappointed. When I listen to my favourite directors speak I'm always inspired, and even when they tell the harsh realities of there life, I'm still inspired... I guess though it's because they're in a better place, they've made it, they are where they want to be.

I'm not there yet, I'm still on the outside, still struggling. So hopefully that will change soon. Hopefully I'll be able to go back in a few years and inspire, rather then frighten!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Something with Swords.

Here's an interesting thing.

In 2001, when I made the decision to fully commit to pursuing a career in film and started writing a kidnap crime thriller, my two top films of that year, that I drew a lot of inspiration from, were Memento and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

I have two kinds of films I love to watch, well, I love all kinds of films, but I always come back to two - the contained dark and violent crime thriller and the epic adventure.

This year, 2011, ten years on, having finally made my first feature film, a dark and violent kidnap crime thriller, I find that my two top films of this year are Drive, a smaller contained violent crime thriller, and 13 Assassins, an epic adventure (also an asian swordplay movie as it happens!)

Just found that interesting. A couple of full circle moments.

So I guess now that I've made my small crime thriller I'll have to make an epic adventure next...  something with swords!