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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

a little update here and quick upload there

I need to slow down. I set myself targets that I struggle to keep. As I am now in my happy place, I feel that I am drowning in my own creative juices. As I have mused many a time I have been jotting down ideas, quips, sketches, funny words, funny thing’s people say or just things that stand out for as long as I can remember. One of the problems I had was that I never had the time to do anything with them. I thought that I had the time now. However, I have been sadly informed that this is at the cost of something much greater.
I did not realise just how much time I was putting into the work that I do. I write and perform comedy sketches as part of the… well you know all this, but what I have done is decide that I need to tell the whole world about it! It has gotten to the point whereby my wife knows more about me through people on my Facebook page than she does in sharing the same house with me!
That little update here and quick upload there soon add up. Minutes become hours become days become weekends become divorce material. However, not only that, there are days that I just cannot switch off. I lie in bed and come up with ideas, I wake up with ideas, I shower and brush my teeth with ideas, I have ideas whilst I am writing down ideas! Therefore, I reached a compromise. I would slow down for the sake of my marriage and for the sake of my health. What was the agreement? We would have a nice day out together as a family and I would not attend a filmmaking project with Writer’s Block NE.
Now of course I cannot switch off and realised that the BBC Britain in a Day was running on the same day. So what do I do? I put the two together and decide to make my most ambitious project on the day I am to switch off. Argh, it just cannot be done! So look out for 60/60 in 1. Coming soon, either that or divorce papers!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

waiting for direction

So what have I learned so far regarding my short filmmaking? Well, I am getting a bit more of a perfectionist (is there a level to perfection? When do we know we have reached perfection? Maybe that is something for another entry). I have now directed, starred, edited, filmed and put music and effects together. What I have realised is that my visionary perspective is not always shared with others. For example, I recently starred in a movie that I was also asked to edit. Now please do not see this as me having a go at the cast of this film I stared in. This entry is purely about what I have learned and as such, will take forward in my filmmaking career. I hope that you too, as a reader with a potential intent to make short films will learn something from this entry. The problem I had was many fold. I would be better saying the problems I had were…
            When you are not behind the camera, you are not in control of what the camera is seeing. More importantly, if your idea of how a film should look does not match that of the cameraperson then editing becomes quite tricky.
Step one, get organised. The director had an idea that was not wholly shared with the cast. I found myself waiting for direction that had to be prompted.
Step two, if your film is for a competition, this might not be the best time to have someone who has not much experience filming, filming it. During the editing process scenes were lost that had people in the background. Scenes were lost that had talking over them and I had to take the audio out of scenes in which you could hear the cameraperson chewing gum!
Step three, know your role. It was my understanding that I was to star in this film. When I got there I found out I was to provide the camera which luckily I had with me (never leave your camera at home, you do not know when opportunity will present itself). The downside was that it was not fully charged.
I was later was asked to edit the film. Knowing what I do know now is that if I am going to edit a film, do not star in it. You need to get what the director is looking for. You need to see what the cameraperson is seeing. You need to share your vision.
Well that is out of my system. I do apologise for making this entry a bit of a rant but I do hope you are able to apply my learning to your own circumstances. Remember, know your role. This can be applied to work, rest or play. It can be applied to life itself.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

the constipated mathematician

What do we do when we get time to write something but don’t know what to write? We write anything. Often there is something there but we are used to thoughts coming to the front of our mind. We have an idea, we find the time and we write it down. As we know ideas can come to you at anytime so I always have something to write or record on with my at all times. I can guarantee that the time I don’t I will have my best idea in the world ever. So why don’t these ideas come to me when I do have the time?
Think about the driver who hits all the red lights when s/he is in a hurry but will coast through every green light in the world when they are not. What happens is that those other days that you do actually hit red lights or miss the bus or get held up by little Jimmy ‘rattle on’ are days that you are not in a hurry so they become insignificant. You do not remember them because you do not need to remember them. Quite often, ideas need a bit of a coaxing out. Like the constipated mathematician who works it out with a pencil, we need to let our brain run free.
We sit with a blank document in front of us and around an hours worth of time. What do we do with it? This is where I would recommend a blog (yes believe it or not I do spend time on these entries!). I use my blog as a writing practice. I can voice things that would otherwise have people who sat next to me in the pub picking up their pint and walking off outside in the cold for the preferred beer garden.
For the wannabe writer we are always told two things. Read more and write more. So I have two choices in my free hour, I read or I write. However, what happens when I have nothing to read so decide to write something instead but cannot think of anything to write? I write anything. And I just did.

Monday, September 26, 2011

head full of shite

I just have far too much stuff in my head. I commonly refer to this as my “head full of shite”. One of the many, many drawbacks is that I cannot commit to complete…anything. I have written previously regarding my many fads however, I was recently able to experience a moment whereby knowing loads of smaller things was better than knowing one complete thing.
Lately I had a real live friend round my house for a catch up. We did the usual catchy up things like who have you seen? Who has died? Who is pregnant? Who has left? And so on. Following this, we did the catch up bit. This is the part that gets a bit more individual. So how have you been keeping? Are you still with Mr X? Do you still plan to dominate the world? And so on. The second cup of tea is offered at this point.
The conversation steers round to me and what have I been up to. This is usually the point whereby I have to summarise my fads. As it happens, there have been mainly three. The main two being performing comedy, making short films, keeping fit and learning to count. However, since the last time I met with my real live friend I went through the guitar based instruments fad. This culminated in the collecting of guitars (both acoustic and electric), a mandolin and a ukulele. First, a quick bit of real live friend history.
My real live friend was an underrated musical prodigy. I can say this, as I know for a fact that they will not read this. So how made up was I when, whilst I was strumming a few chords and playing the intros to a few tunes did they say “I wish I could do that, just sit there strumming and plucking away” (or words to that effect, like I said, they won’t be reading this so I have a bit of artists licence). Now the reason I liked this comment is that I have become “that guy who can sit there just plucking and strumming away”. This was something that motivated me to play the guitar and you know what? I have achieved something! I have some closure and it feels quite good. Now what I need to do is take the advice I received regarding my writing and finish writing something! Actually does this cou…

Monday, September 19, 2011

do much over the weekend?

I have become a slave to social media sites. There, I have said it. I fought becoming assimilated for a number of years, as I “just like didn’t want to conform man”. With a wee dabble here and there I soon realised that I could use this to my advantage.
Having joined the Writers Block NE performance group at the Arc in Stockton-on-Tees I very quickly got the short movie-making buzz. I met up with other hardened moviemakers, newbie’s like me, started to write scripts, and both stared in and directed a few short movies. That is fine but what is a movie that cannot be seen? There are movies made in the seventies with more viewings than I was getting (no not that type, I should have made clear my reference to the ‘home’ movie. Actually, that does not make it that much less of an innuendo feed. I will move on). So step forth the might of Facebook. Now I had a media to plug my movies. However, I hit upon a small snag. I soon found that whilst I might have a few friends, I would suggest that like me, their common interest is in letting others know what they have been up to rather than having a particular interest in what others have been up to. This format also requires the common interest of watching and making short movies or updating blogs. With a quick glance at my viewing figures on my channel monism2000, I find that I might have around 10 friends who share such an interest. Hmm, maybe it is time to find a new format!
Whilst I might not have the steady stream of followers I was expecting, I have another use for email. Emails have replaced the catch up pint I used to enjoy during the nineties. I would meet real live friends in real live venues and we would shoot the breeze. Instead, I now find myself staring a Monday morning with emails starting “do much over the weekend?”
Well I do hope you did do something over the weekend and I would like to take a moment to thank you for reading this and hopefully following my ramblings. Unbelievably, I have a number of friends who do not!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

you weren't there man!

Three men dressed in mock army clothing enter some woodland with a video camera. All sounds perfectly normal. Well, it does to me now as I have been filming again. Sunday saw two friends and me entering said woods to film scenes for three short films as part of the Writer’s Block North East Nam in 90 Seconds challenge. However, whilst we were there we came across something quite unusual. I posted a short video clip that we were able to capture on YouTube, which I named the Billingham Big Foot.
Although not as popular as they used to be, sightings do not seem to be as in vogue as they once were. There was a time the Billingham Big Foot would have made the local news but I would suggest that the spread of viral videos means that nothing can be mysterious anymore. CGI can create ghostly sightings that would have had us running behind the sofa or pulling up the chainsaw/axe/knife/gun proof duvet over our heads. What really scares us anymore? Some might say house prices, university fees, riots or Mickey Rourke’s face
For others it is still the dark. For me it was this small stinging, burning sensation in my arm. Using my manly instincts, I ignored it. The more I ignored it the hotter it got until I was forced to inspect my limb. It was then I realised that my arm looked as though I had smuggled a Kinder Egg under my skin. Whilst filming I received two bites in the same area and it was looking infected. I was living my personal horror of Vietnam. There was no chopper to get me out instead I slept on it (not literally of course as a bed is much more comfortable).
The next morning I woke to find it was still the same. Oh dear, how much more can I ignore this I thought. I returned home during my lunch break to see my mother who was babysitting our daughter (honest, I do not still live at home, not that there is anything wrong with that). She suggested I take some anti-histamine, which I dutifully did. You see, I am nearly 40 years old and still listen to mother. My colleagues spoke of visiting doctors and getting injections. I was happy with my anti-histamines and sleeping on it.
I woke up this morning and sure enough, it had calmed down. This just goes to prove that nothing fixes man better than his mother and a kip.

Monday, August 8, 2011

i love reading/Reading

I do at times find it somewhat demoralising when viewing a large amount of books. Now do not get me wrong I love books and reading, (that is reading as in viewing a book and digesting the words and sentences not the place Reading spelt with a capital ‘R’ as I just have. In addition, just for the record I have nothing against Reading, as my only experience of it was the Reading Festival in 1991, which was my first festival and something I very much enjoyed). When I see such a large arrangement of books anywhere, be it in a library to a charity shop, I realised that what I am actually looking at is competition. How on earth can I stand out in such a highly competitive market? What do they have that I do not have? Well for starters, they are published. However, why should I not be published? I have decided to adopt a new approach. I will now view these large collections of books as an incentive. They are out there because the author has taken the time to write them. They are out there because the author has taken the time to approach publishers and get them published. Stories in my head cannot stay in the safe confines of my brain if I want other people to see them. I need an angle. Something that either has not done before or has been done but I can put my stamp on it. The main thing I need is to write, write and write.
Writing a blog is not quite being published but I am getting words out there from my brain and into those of the reader. In addition, for this I am truly grateful. I have recently tried something that based on my research has not been done before and that is to release a Kindle book which can be found here so please do buy a copy. Hang on, of course that has been done before. Now here is the clever bit. Within this book, I have taken the book format and turned it into art. Therefore, what I need to watch right now is another one of my time feasting downfalls. Do not go slipping into a new fad!