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Monday, July 25, 2011

the dreaded fear of rejection

Well that is the end of The Impossibly Big Sketch Show and what a fantastic time it was. I have made some great friends and finally found the trigger to pull these creative thoughts I have had firing round my head all these years out into the open. Over the last five days including today, I have performed three times in front of a paying audience, am about to have a film premiered at the Arc in Stockton-on-Tees alongside a film I am in!
A number of years ago I would hide behind anything rather than put my work out there. I had the dreaded fear of rejection. If my work is not out there then how can it be rejected? Elton John recently said (hang on, stick with me) no he didn’t say that bracketed bit, although he might have done, anyway moving on, he said that only when you complete a piece of work is it truly yours because one it has been released you no longer own it (or words to that effect!). This sums up my quandary. I like what I have written so want to share it with others, but what if they do not like it. How will that make me feel? Who cares? Me, I care. However, without the feedback I cannot develop and instead hide behind work that can be vastly improved. Therefore, one day I decided to go for it and sent of a story that was published. With these new release and self-confidence that I can make it as I writer, I submitted more short stories. Sure enough, they bombed. I got to the second round on one and ranked nowhere on the others. So what did I do? Retired back into my shell where I felt I belong.
Upon reflection, I can see that I did have legitimate reasons for not being able to give my work the time and attention it needs. With this in mind, I now plan and keep deadlines realistic. I consider the dedication and strike when the motivation is high. Even the greats had to start somewhere. This is my somewhere.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

alls well that is allowed to end well.

I had one of those restless nights that sees me waking up just not close enough to my alarm to warrant getting out of bed. I then find myself dozing and waking with a start to see I still have seven minutes to go and manage to nod off again. Then of course, the alarm sounds scaring the living daylights into me. I then get up feeling as if I have not slept at all.
This is the bit where the TV screen goes all wavy to indicate a past event. The past event is anytime I had been off school for a period and am trying to fight the sleep that will wake me into the next day. I used to get incredibly depressed around this time and on occasions would be brought to tears. I would make vain attempts to get that one more extra day off school convinced that I would feel better the next morning. However, I would be as transparent as a supermodels stomach and have to go to school. The thing is, I would return later that day and be back to my usual self. Spent the full day laughing with my friends, being easily distracted and switching off whenever anyone spoke to me consistently for about five minutes.
This back to school depression carried on into my working career. I can remember fighting sleep on the nights before I had to go back to work and would watch the World of Paramount until the early hours. Sure enough, just like school, I would drift back into the same normality I lived prior to the factory fortnight shutdown and come home as if I had never been off work at all.
So, what I have learned to do now is reflect not on how the next day will begin, but how it will end. Last nights panic was about, off all things, parking and having the right change to do so. As it happens, I got a lift. Alls well that is allowed to end well.

Monday, July 18, 2011

here is to more rainy weekends

One thing that can be said of the British weather is that it is somewhat consistent. Consistently raining. However, I used this to my advantage this weekend and decided to make a short film. Writers Block North East frequently set 90-second movie challenges and having entered the zombie genre, I decided to also enter the alien genre. I had an idea for a movie but decided that due to family commitments and rehearsal time that I would not make the deadline. That was until and rainy Sunday presented itself.
To keep my hand in writing I attempt to use any spare time to practice. I have been and continue to, collate ideas of any thing that presents itself. I make notes on anything to hand with the aim to write this up later. This means that I will never be out of ideas. In fact, I have more ideas than time to write them up! I therefore write up ideas I feel I can more easily develop. And so Closer Encounters was born.
Despite penning a script that required some outdoor shooting, I used the flexibility of the rewrite to set it in doors.
Now, the internet and cheaper technology mean that anyone with the most basic of hard and software can make movies. However, this does not always mean they will be good. The best way to find out if I can make movies or not is to make movies and put them out there for the world to see. So that is what I did.
I had to hand an old digital camera with a display that no longer displays, a copy of Windows Movie Maker and my imagination. Not forgetting the last minute assistance of my lovely wife.
The location, my kitchen, the actors, myself and one of my daughter’s teddy bears, all quiet on the set and action. I still find it embarrassing filming myself but this was something I soon over came. Approaching my wife with a teddy bear in one hand and a digital camera in the other did look strange but without doing so; this film would not have been made.
Overall a productive weekend. The film will be available for general viewing following the competition night so please do look out for it and comment where possible. And here is to more rainy weekends.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Let us all be 45 degrees

Last nights rehearsal evening has taught me this, if you are going to arrange a three-night show…don’t. I could only pity the organiser left alone to arrange a hodge podge of members turning up at different times, prioritising drinks and then randomly disappearing. I soon realised that this said more about me than my peers.
I am a very organised person and one of the many downsides to this is that I expect those around me to be equally organised. It is like fingernails down a blackboard to me when I see people sauntering around when those around them are losing their heads. I found a colleague to be a particular trigger of this anxious feeling in me and so we had an agreement. We likened ourselves to angles. I am bolt upright, perpendicular to my friend who is very much at ninety degrees. So the compromise was this, I would be less erect (yes, quite) and he less laid back. So forty-five degrees it is then. The added bonus of this is that we can make the forty-five degree angle with our hand to each other. This ensures I become less controlling whilst he becomes more active. Now for me this works. However, does this work because it is a workable idea or because I have managed to instil some level of organisation in another human being? In attempting to manage my control I have inadvertently became more controlling. So let us all be 45 degrees and slowly I can control the world, one degree at a time.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

the build up to the impossibly big sketch show

The days are drawing closer and closer. Soon I will be on the stage of the Arc in Stockton-on-Tees taking part in my first ever stage performance since school. The major difference is that at least in these sketches I am not dead, dying or carrying scenery. Something that followed me throughout my junior school acting career.
I played the character Carrots who died on the street of neglect. His legacy is that he was one of the children that inspired Dr Barnardos to set up their great work. Following this, I was already dead. For I played Tutankhamen. An easy part that required me to lie with a cardboard mask on my face. Not quite to the same value as the original.
And finally, my most inspiration role. Although it was not the actual role that inspired me but the fact that the play was developed based on something I brought to the class. I said to the teacher Miss Smith (her real name even though it does sound like a pseudonym) that over the weekend, with my babysitter, I had listened to Geoff Lynne's The War of the Worlds. I remember her being instantly inspired (in my recollections anyway) and suggested we recreate the start of the play. My main reminiscences of this were throwing my jumper towards a girl I fancied in some veiled attempt at contact and of course, dying. I died the death of the heat ray. A bright bedside light that lit when the top of the Martian’s vessel came off (eventually, as I recall the Martian taking at least two attempts to push if off).
I still take great pleasure in thinking back to that day when Miss Smith decided to direct a play based on something I told her. I must admit, I still get that sense of accomplishment when my ideas are approved to this day.
Whilst I cannot remember the nerves of my school plays, I can vividly recall the excitement of being on stage. Something I hope will be recreated one week and a few hours from this very moment. Cue that belly nervousness!