Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Light in the Dark

I watched 'The Artist' tonight. I thought it was a lovely film, beautifully crafted and performed. And I loved the fact that I was watching a black and white silent picture in 4:3 format made in 2011! A very sweet Hollywood love story, both within the film and to Hollywood, a Hollywood that is long gone (except for the occasional gem like this).

It evoked a feeling in me, one that I haven't felt in years, from before I ever made a film. The last time I had that feeling was on a VIP tour of the Warner Bros. studio back-lot in 2001, I think. Seeing the sets and backdrops to many of my favourite films, and knowing so many more were filmed there, and so many legends of the screen walked and worked among those buildings.

I guess it was a feeling of nostalgia, a reminder of when and why I fell in love with movies. The same feeling I had when I was a kid and dreamed of one day being a part of that. And I do mean Hollywood, a part of the linage that brought Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, John Ford, Clint Eastwood, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, The Searchers, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Harvey. A naive sense of a dream I had to make a certain kind of movie.

I think 'The Artist' reminded me that films like that can still be made. That there's still a tradition there and although everything around us is changing at blinding speed, there is still room to tell a story, a good story and to take your time with it. I feel like I've been rushing too much. Scrambling to make something, anything, and not taking the time to think, breathe, write, draw and remember why I fell in love with films, and know it's alright to do that.

I think what I should do, what I'm going to do, is stop rushing and panicking and jumping on everything that comes along just to get something done. I'm going to finish 'Derelict' and then take some time to figure out what the next step is, and make sure it's the right one for me, for the me who fell in love with movies all those years ago. I need to remember, and keep hold of that memory. That's my light in the dark.

Friday, May 18, 2012

An Open Door.

'Raise My Hands' has been selected by the Maui Film Festival (I hope they fly filmmakers in!) which is very nice! Certainly seems to be going well. Mores festivals to come. Elliot (producer) has been great with this film, he's pushed and pushed and pushed and never given up on it. I had all but, until we got into our first festival. You really do have to get behind your films, I've said it time and time again, if you don't shout about them, no one will.

My problem is that I'm onto the next one, when I finish a film, I mean finish shooting, I'm usually writing something else right away and before the edit is finished I'm thinking about being on set again (how easily we forget the pain!) Right now, while finishing Derelict, I'm thinking about what's next. Circumstance are against me at the moment to be shooting anytime soon. But hopefully not for too much longer.

I may have used this analogy before, but it still stands - I find when I'm working on a project it's as if I'm locked in a dark room on my own, hunched over a table and concentrating so hard I forget about the outside world for a time. Then I'm finished, I look up, stretch, realise how dark it is and I open the door. When I do a gust of wind blows in and kicks up all my ideas, and the all float around me. I grab at them, but I can't hold onto one for long, I have to wait for them to land and for that one idea to land on my desk, the one that's going to make close the door, turn off all lights, all but for my desk lamp, and sit down again. At the moment the door is wide open and the papers are blowing everywhere. I have one project I have to wait until August to see if comes together, if it does, that's the next one. Meantime, while doubt lingers, I two ideas I'd love to get going. But again, circumstance, everything' a bit up in the air at the moment. Sorry, I'm being vague here! Annoying!

I'm still trying to finish Derelict obviously, we're close. We have a new sound designer on board, Christopher O'Grady, delighted to have him join the team. I'll be bring the footage up the The Element next week to finally start there. So we're almost there. It's exciting. We also have an editor on the trailer, Mark Rodway, so I'm very much looking forward to seeing that and releasing it! Finally giving people a taste of what I've been waffling about for the last two years!

I need to get creative about getting the film out there. I've entered it into a few festivals already, but a lot of the festivals I want to enter are expensive, between $50 and $100, and it adds up pretty quickly - and deadlines are fast approaching. I applied to the Irish Film Board for help, but they refused. I hit kickstarter at the start of the project, so I'd feel bad doing it again! It might be an option, but I'm not sure yet. So, yeah, I need to get creative... or maybe I just need to get a job, to supplement my film habit!

But it'll come together. I'm sure of it. What I'm looking forward to now is finishing and showing people, in particular the Cast and Crew who've been waiting so patiently. Then we'll see what the rest of the world thinks!

Right, I'm signing off. Feeling a little ill tonight. Perhaps why this post is a bit messy! More soon.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Row Row.

Depression is not something I deal with daily, though it occasionally creeps up on me. I know people who do suffer daily, and I see the battle it is. I feel lucky I don't have to go through it anymore. These people are the bravest people I know. Having suffered from it in the past, I know how hard it is to get up each day, plaster on a smile for the world outside and conjure up enough energy to lie your way through the day. Those people are my heros.

I went through a prolonged bought of depression about 10 years ago, over a period of two and a half years. During that time I cried a lot, drank a lot and considered suicide at least once a week. What got me through? I wish I could say family, but I kept it a secret from them. Friends, those who knew. But it was writing and film that kept me going. Some times as a distraction, but always as a goal, a light at the end of the tunnel.

For those two and half years I wasn't the most pleasant of people, I could be grumpy, sometimes arrogant, certainly selfish and I was not the best version of myself. I lost some friends during that period. One or two I stay in touch with and still consider good friends. But I know those friendships bare some scar tissue as a result of some of my behavior. It wasn't all bad. But I was going in seven different directions and I know I left some heads spinning.

During that time I met Thomas Kennedy, who became my writing partner, my mentor, teacher, friend and confidant. I was able to talk to him. Laugh with him. And create with him. We worked on a lot of stuff over those couple of years, good stuff, and it gave me hope. Of course, I was pushy and arrogant and wanted everything NOW! I wanted THE WORLD, Thomas just wanted to make a short film. So we took the easier option... well, as anyone whose set out to make their first film will know, not that much easier! But we got there, we made the film and at the end of it I not only came away with a pretty decent film, but something I had not had in a long time, a feeling of self worth.

I was still a little bit arrogant, I thought the golden gates would open and producers and studios would be banging down our door to make TV shows and feature films... didn't happen! It was two years before I made another film and that was a no-budget doc I shot over a weekend! But the depression had gone. I was thinking clearly. I could see straight. I had a goal and a clear path in front of me.

That's not to say depression didn't creep up from time to time and stop me in my tracks, send my down some dark path into swamp and mire. I'd find my way out quick enough, but during these time I would always find myself browsing the shelves of a local DVD rental shop. During the two and a half years almost every night I would leave the apartment and head down to the local xtra-vision, which stayed open till mid-night, and browse for an hour or more.

You see, those plastic boxes with pictures of movie stars on them were so much more then that to me. They were a gate way, a door into something very pure and as clear as a fresh water lake on Fraser Island off the west coast of Australia - the dream of a nine year-old boy. Simple. Honest. Good. Hopeful. A dream I've kept with me, safe, out of harms way, in a secret place, for 26 years. It was, is, to make films. To be director, a writer, a filmmaker.

It's a simple dream. A clear one. It's remained the same for over quarter a century and most of my life. Never changed. At no point did I ever want to be anything else. Not that people didn't suggest I move on, try something new, when things weren't going my way. But I'm stubborn like that. I dug my heals in so long ago the ground has grown around my legs. But the further I go, the harder it gets. The closer I get, the further it seems.

I'm closer now then ever to realising that dream, and like any dream that you want to make real, you have to work bloody hard at it, harder than people know, could know, unless they've done something similar. Film for me is not a job, or a lifestyle choice, it's a vocation, akin to an aid worker, a priest, a missionary. For me, it's as close to religion as I'm ever going to get. It is my religion. It's something I am, not something I've chosen. So it's not something I can just stop, decided it's not working and find another career.

In saying that, it seems life, reality, circumstance is trying to do just that. I've sacrificed hugely. I've forced my wife to sacrifice hugely. And now I hold the future of our daughter in my hands. I'm in the same boat as half the country financially, so I'm not going to get on my soap box about that. Needless to say the boat is full of holes and sinking fast.

Ironically at the same time as the end appears to be approaching, I'm working on bigger projects and new opportunities are appearing. I'm just hoping the end of this stage of life aligns with the beginning of the life I want. Because if my ship comes in, I better be ready to jump from this leaky vessel. Of course, if it sinks first, then I'm done anyway.

Reality is weighing heavily now. I still don't make money as a filmmaker. And I need to start making money. I've found myself amid those shelves again. Looking for the door. Trying to hold onto that nine-year olds dream. It's as honest and good as it ever was, but it's not simple anymore and there is less hope for it. It's a long held promise that I don't want to break.

There will come a day, very soon, this year perhaps, when I will have to decide and maybe break that promise, let go the dream. Time will have run out. I just hope those boats align. I hope the next time I'm browsing those shelves it's to catch a proud glimpse of one of my own films. For that I keep going. For work and the love of writing I keep hoping. And I am hopefully still. The wolf is at the door, yes, but my house is made of stronger stuff than bricks -it made from dreams.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Let's Get Digital.

The Derelict Digital Poster.

In other big news; the edit is complete. It's a picture lock! Quite the milestone. There is still a lot of work to do. We have the sound mix to complete, which includes sound design and adding an extra layer of depth to the film. Then we go to The Element for the colour grade and finishing of the film for screening. So we're close, but yeah, work still to do. I would like to be finished end of June, beginning of July. Hopefully we can get there! It's shaping up that way though.

I'm looking forward to getting the film complete, obviously! It's two years in the making! I'm excited to start showing people. I haven't shown it to many people, only the producers and obviously the people working on the post production side of things. I almost did, I was tempting, but then I decided to save it. I've shown people my films too early in the past. It can be helpful, but I think it takes some of the shine off of it when you're showing 5 slightly different versions of something. I'd rather unveil the piece and let it be.

I know some people are going to like it, some not, some will be surprised, others disappointed, but that's the nature film, it's the nature of the edit. You work toward the overall, you lose some good men along the way, but in the end, your goal is the mission (war analogy there, hope it worked?!... and by men I mean scene... not actors... probably shouldn't have gone with the war analogy!) All I can do is make what I think is best, put it out there, and let it find it's own audience. Then it's on to the next one... hopefully!