Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bring Back the Bees

You ever feel like the internet is just pure noise. Of late I feel like I'm doing a daily 13 rounds with a young fit welterweight, and coming out with my head spinning. The only thing learned - stay out of the damn ring! The Bermuda triangle of procrastination - Gmail - Facebook - Twitter - has swallowed me up. I've lost hours. Days. Weeks even. I could have been abducted for all I know. Maybe the internet is a way for aliens to abduct us, play some facebook and twitter table tennis for an hour and they could do anything to us...

The last couple of weeks I've definitely been feeling drained. Maybe it's the internet, maybe it's other things. I'm not at my creative peak to say the least. I feel stalled. I'm itching to get another film started, but for the moment life has other, bigger, plans - like immigration and babies! Which is all good stuff. But I can't just stop being a filmmaker. I can't help wanting to make films. I've always been that way. I remember when I was a kid, I used to skateboard. I couldn't sit still for skateboarding. If there was a skateboard in the house, I had to be out and on it. If I was out with a skateboard in hand... well, it would never be in hand, it would be underfoot. Film is the same. I need it under foot.

But I do feel the need to prepare. More now than ever. Before, I would rush in.  Though honestly, had I the chance now, that's probably what I'd be doing. So the forced sabbatical is probably for the best. You see the two script I want to make are old scripts of mine, written five and six years ago. I think, I hope, I've learned a lot over the years, so they really should be rewritten. I need to take the time now to do that. But this down time is driving my round the twist! There's no distraction is what the problem is. I'm faced with the daily reality of my situation, that is, that I'm an unemployed, stay-at-home Dad.

Don't get me wrong, I cherish every moment spent with my daughter, and I know when things pick up, I'll miss the hell out of her and being able to spend everyday with her. But I do need to be working. At least, I need to be providing more than I am. I would love if that provision came from film. Film is really all I know how to do. I guess all I want to do. It is, has always has been, something of an obsession. And perhaps an unhealthy one. It's left me completely broke and given me a good excuse to remain in Brokeville for many years.

Next Tuesday I have to go to an interview for, what is basically, forced community service. A new scheme by the government to get people back to work. You get to keep your dole, but only if you work in an unpaid community service position. In one way it's fair. It's working for your money.  I can see that, and for someone who has a job and is paying their taxes I can see why they might say; "Damn right! Make the freeloaders work!"  On the other hand, I can't help but feel like it's another freedom being chipped away. Feels like the government is saying; "We pay you, we own you, you do what we tell you to do, whether you like it or not."  I don't like it. For one thing, it's not going to benefit me now. I'm immigrating soon. For another, it's not tapping into my skills and expertise, it's just planting my in some random job somewhere. It's old band-aid for a broken leg solution.

If only they could use me as a filmmaker. Let me make films, as I have been. I've mentioned the idea here before of community filmmaking: Films in the community, by the community, for the community. You set up a filmmaker to make the films he wants to make, with a few restrictions: 1. It has to be in the town. 2. It has to relate to the town somehow. 3. It has to employ some if not all the cast and crew from the town.  Then it's funded, made and shown here. On top of that, the same filmmaker can work with local groups, youth groups, disabled groups, school groups etc. and make films with them and about them. A constructive, creative, work programme for all. There is also community documentaries; let the filmmaker make a 10 minute doc about the local butcher who's been in business for 40 years, or doc about a local boxing club, or charity organisation and so on.

To me that seems like a better use of my time and ability than ending up as a caretaker in a community centre. And it benefits the community, gets people moving, involved, creating. Then, at the end of it, there is something that represents the town and it's people. Something good and positive up on the screen for them to see and be proud of. Something that's actually made a difference instead of just filling a space.

This country drives me nuts.  And when I say 'this country' I mean the bureaucrats that run it, or should that ruin it. They wont listen to creative thought, to reason, to what's staring them in the face. They just need a tick in a box. And to them, that's all we are, a tick in a box. We're not human. We're not people with hopes or dreams or aspirations. We're a tick in a box. There's no concept that I've been working, unpaid, for ten years, honing a craft, making a name for myself, building something worthwhile - no, I'm on a dole, I need to be placed placed somewhere... Where?  That's right - in a box.  If I stay in this country that's where I'll be for the rest of my life, imprisoned in four walls that are sealed be red tape, with a view of a ghost estate out a window that's been taxed.

Things are changing in the world right now. The weather is changing. Global power is shifting. Financially we're no longer circling the toilet bowl, we're flushed, in the pipes and heading for the sewage works. Meantime animals are going extinct. We're burning and eating at a rate we can't hope to sustain and we're killing the bees while we're at it. Ignoring the fact that we're killing ourselves by doing all this. I say all that because it's part of the noise in my head. I'm wondering if there's hope. If there's a point to it all.

Is there hope? I don't know. I think about my dreams as a kid. How simple they were, and perhaps, back then, attainable on some level, had the world stayed the same. But now those dreams can't ever exist because that world doesn't exist. I still want to be a filmmaker. I still want to make movies that people go to see and enjoy and talk about. But now, what kind of movies? And how do I make them?

I read a little piece today about Steven Soderbergh quiting film. He seemed quite disallusioned at how the film industry has turned out. How it's all about the money and the big budgets and that there's no room anymore for the smaller filmmaker, the filmmaker who makes good films, that may not pull in millions at the box office. That makes me sad. I remember a few years ago when Soderbergh and Clooney had their production company, Section Eight, and I thought, That's it! That's what I want to do! But it didn't last. Things changed and now Soderbergh is bowing out. Bitter.  It worries me. Worries me that I'm wasting my time right now.

But I have to believe there's hope. I have to believe there's a chance that I can make films, the films I want to make. That I can tell my stories that find an audience and connect with that audience. I have to believe that Soderbergh is wrong in someway. That there's an avenue I can take. Maybe it's not the one I saw when I was 9 years old. But there's something there. Via the indie route, the crowdfunded route... something?

I have to believe that the bees will find their way back and that the human race isn't stupid enough to just eat itself to extinction. I know it's worth believing. I just hope it's not a fool hope.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Derelict in Drogheda

Derelict Q&A after the screening at the Droichead Arts Centre (photo by Maryann Kelly)
Happy New Year!!! I'm a bit late with that, apologies! A busy beginning to the year, the blog suffered as a result. It was a nice start to the year with a screening of Derelict in my home town of Drogheda. We almost packed he place. Great turn out and a warm reception. Lot's of positive comments afterwards, of course, I think  people are probably too polite to come up to me and say they thought it was crap! But that's OK if they did! I think people appreciated it in general.

Me (photo by Maryann Kelly)
I introduced the film as a special event for me, first, it's ten years since I first screened in there, with a short film that never really should have been shown publicly. A ghost story called The Girl in the Window! It was more of an experiment, no script, some storyboard, and just an attempt to test some scary scene and see if they worked. They did, people jumped, but the film was terrible and made no sense narratively! Oh well. Hopefully the films have improved since then!

Secondly, it's probably my last screening in the Droichead Arts Centre and the last film I'll make in Drogheda, at least for a while, as I'm immigrating later this year. I think I've talked about it here before, so I wont go on about it. Needless to say it was a full circle moment to screen my first feature film, ten years after my first screening there and as my last screening there. A happy/sad moment indeed.

Patrick O'Donnell, Steve Gunn & Gerry Shanahan (photo by Maryann Kelly)

After the screening we had a Q&A session, expertly hosted by Sinead Brassil. I know Sinead as a producer at our local radio station LMFM, and she's started working for FeckTV as well. She interviewed me earlier in the week, so I thought she'd be a perfect choice, and she was. John Lawlor (DOP) actors Steve Gunn (Davey-boy) Patrick O'Donnell (Tone) and Gerry Shanahan (Daniel) all took part. It was fun! Then off to the pub for a few pints afterwards. A good night all round.

There are also two Videos on Vimeo:

My thanks for the Droichead Arts Centre, always a pleasure to screen there! Great team. To Sinead Brassil for hosting. John, Steve, Patrick and Gerry for taking part in the Q&A. And everyone for coming out, I know there were other option on the night, but it means a lot that you chose our film! Thanks.