Category Archives: emotional

Why I failed. 10 points…

I’ve given up on my screenplay. I hate giving up on anything. During my final screenwriting course session I reflected on why I failed.

1. I can always use the old excuse of life getting in the way. It has been especially busy for the last few weeks at work and participating in the Poetry By Heart competition, but you can always do things if you want to. However, teaching, more than any other job I’ve done, seems to drain you mentally and so I have time, just no brain space.

2. I didn’t love the story I chose. I wasn’t sold on it entirely and couldn’t figure out some of the characters.

3. I have been working on receiving criticism for the last few years. I used to be really bad at it, , but I know it’s a really important thing to get better at. However, I found the way the tutors gave me notes, was contradictory and unhelpful. I have realised that I need a lot of reassurance in my life.

4. I’m really not a writer. At all. I did finish The Hall last year when some friends and I did a writing competition, but it nearly killed me.

However, I have realised a lot of positives from the whole experience:

5. From doing the course, we have found out about a film production course at The Phoenix in May and June, which we may do and I think will be more my thing. I’ve also realised what a great place it is for getting involved, which will be really great when Joey lives here.

6. I have read some really nice books from the reading list. William Goldman and Stephen King have been great inspiration.

7. I’ve found a career I definitely don’t want to do.

8. I have realised that I was teaching screenwriting in a fairly conventional way. Although, maybe with more resources and variety. Two hours in a room with just one voice is tricky…

9. I’ve learnt all about formatting, which is very useful and really enjoyable.

10. It has been really nice doing something creative with Mark and seeing how much he enjoyed the process. I also really like his idea and hope he keeps working on ‘The Gloaming’.

I’ve also realised that I set myself big challenges and maybe I shouldn’t kill myself when I fail. It’s good enough just to try things.

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What a sweetie!

Thank you Dirk Malcolm and the Dirk Malcolm Alternative Blog (http://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/13428146/) for your very kind comments. I hope everyone votes on the next challenge and keeps up with Dirk’s progress.

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Why my dad is ace (again)

We did a Secret Santa at home and I got dad.

He made me a Steadicam, or more accurately a HarryCAM.

Amazing.

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I haven’t been completely useless though… My adventures on a screenwriting course.

Despite my lack of Top 100 film watching and assigned creativity, it’s not been all bad.  Nearly two weeks ago, Mark and I started a screenwriting course at The Phoenix (we seem to be going there a lot lately…).

It’s an eight week programme and by the end we should have written a screenplay and investigated structure, dialogue, character building and industry techniques.  We have also been given a reading list and we’ve got two William Goldman and one Stephen King books on writing to read.

The first homework was to write your favourite movie’s plot in four lines and then your idea in four lines.  This week’s assignment is to flesh that initial four lines out in to half a page and decide on a character that made an impact on you as a child.

My idea is based on the Simon Armitage poem The Manhunt (http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/simon-armitage-on-his-poem-the-manhunt/13455.html) although I may change the war by moving it to Afghanistan and also add the element of the wife having strayed before he came back wounded and the amplified guilt she would feel.  I like the idea of writing about war from a female perspective although I think I will have to do a lot of research first!

It's a start...

It’s a start…

I’m a bad person…

I can offer lots of excuses – I have had a really demanding job responsible for 17 people, I’ve bought my first house, moved in and helped with some decorating, my boyfriend has been made redundant…  However, basically I’m a terrible person and an awful blogger.

Anyway, Mark took me for a special Valentine’s Social Cinema screening at the Phoenix last night.  They were playing my favourite film of all time (if such a thing is possible), The Apartment, with a quiz, special food and a fun atmosphere.  After coming second in the quiz (free Phoenix tickets and a meal!), Mark reminded me that I hadn’t blogged for a while and as it is half-term and I only have a little bit of work to do, I’m going to get on it and start focusing on my love for film.Image

PS – The Phoenix is amazing, Leicester is very lucky to have it and I must make sure I use it more often.

8. Joint 93rd – ‘A One And A Two’ 2000

A One and a Two is a Taiwanese film released in 2000 . It was produced and written by Edward Yang. I have never seen a Taiwanese film before and so this top 100 list is already helping me see a lot of films from amazing places.  It shows one of the most impressive powers of film in that I am able to see different cultures and lives and it inevitably makes me realise that I should travel much more!

A One and A Two

I had researched this film a little before I started.  It is the youngest film I have watched so far and when it was released it received plaudits from Cannes and Cahiers du Cinema among many others.  However, when I first started watching it, as I came in from work on Friday, it seemed initially quite cheap, maybe shot on video and the domestic setting made it look like a fairly low-budget TV soap.
However, as you got involved in the nearly three hours of story-telling, it was heart-breakingly moving and had unforgettable performances.  It is told through three characters from the same family: NJ, the father, Ting Ting the thirteen year old daughter and Yang Yang the eight year old son. They are all so engaging and rounded.  Yang Yang’s expressions are so infectious and his interactions and questions with the the adults are adorable.  His little unexplained adventures lend a softer, humourous side to the film that is necessary and I always love a child with a camera, especially as he is taking photos for a very benevolent reason.  Ting Ting’s story of first love is so movingly acted and when NJ is finally able to express his feelings that have clearly been eating at him for thirty years, the quiet heartbreak  made me cry – stoic men always get me.
Throughout there is a brilliant use of parallelisms between all the stories.  These are shown in graphic matches, but also through the brave use of reflections and windows that gave a shiny, but untrustworthy quality to the film.
This is the first film on my list that I have watched since I got my new job.  I am now going to be Head of English at another school, so will no longer be watching these for my teaching self-esteem, but to enjoy them as a hobby, as they always had before.  I think with this new even more demanding job, I am definitely going to need the distraction!  This is also the last 93rd film – I can start watching the 90th films now!
Creative:
Something with reflections and lights – a photo.
Using family – I am going to visit my family at the weekend, so I could easily use them and maybe combine the reflection.  Possibly a film or still image.

3. ‘Touki-Bouki’ creative

I thought I would try to write a poem to represent the creative side to Touki-Bouki.  I found the long, handheld shots on the abattoir scenes upsetting and tried to represent that with the refrain and the single long sentence.  As I have said in a previous blog post, I am not a fan of writing, but I think it is good to test yourself.

 

Touki-Bouki

The rope cuts in to his side as
He is laid on a brown, caked floor
And his wild eyes glint in
industrial lights as the men hold his head back
To reveal his sinuous grey neck
And hack with the unsharpened knife
To reveal the red muscular pipe
That moves and breathes
And gushes with a thick, viscous redness
As the rope cuts in to his side.

3. Joint 93rd – ‘Touki-Bouki’

I have never watched a film from Senegal.  Shamefully I have seen very few films from the whole continent of Africa, which this top one hundred list will hopefully change.  Touki-Bouki is the very reason I started this blog – to try something new and see films I had never heard of.  Brilliantly, I also watched  a restored version of it free on mubi.com.  I have been  a member of this site for a while and it is absolutely amazing.

Touki-Bouki

Touki-Bouki was made in 1973, directed by Djibril Diop Mambéty with a Government grant of $30,000.  It stars Aminata Fall as Aunt Oumy, Ousseynou Diop as Charlie, Magaye Niang as Mory and Mareme Niang as Anta.

The film starts with a rural scene and pipe music, immediately contrasted with a hideous abattoir scene where they slaughter cows by cutting open their windpipes and then city scenes.   Throughout the film there is a contrast between ancient ways and modern life and in the early scenes they kept using sound bridges of modern sounds (traffic, planes) over images of timeless farming or nature.

The style of the film is unusual.  It is really split between a naturalism and consciously filmic.  At some points there doesn’t seem to be any obvious sets or lighting.  The shots (very often long shots or close-ups) linger and frequently handheld.  There is often very little dialogue.  At these points it has a feeling of Cinéma vérité or even Dogme 95 about it.  However, at other points it has a frenetic energy with a pounding soundtrack and juxtaposing montage.  You can really feel the heat and dust of the market scenes and it feels like a French New Wave film, especially when we are following Mory and Anta around – it almost seems a parallel to À bout de souffle.

I loved the way the film never clarified what was dream and reality and instead consistently paralleled the suffering of humans and animals.  There was an hypnotic quality to the montages of cruelty and violence and a desperately heartbreaking ending.  It was made even more so by the stoic and under-played performances.

I found some of the film difficult to watch.  The killing of the animals, although clearly important to the film, was harrowing.  I also found the representation of women, African poverty and gay men difficult to deal with.   The stereotypes were obvious and worryingly negative – especially the portrayal of the gay, rich Charlie.

Creative ideas-
Poem – particularly of the abattoir juxtaposition scene – long sentences, a refrain
Word cloud – chaotic and confused
A juxtaposed portrait of age and modernity.

 

 

 

An emotional day.

My mum texted me on the 13th October to ask if I would like to go to the V&A ‘Hollywood Costume’ exhibition during my half-term week.  Of course I would.  I had heard it was coming and couldn’t wait to see it.  I used to want to be a costume designer (which explains my A Level choices – textiles, history and English – no film studies in those days) and the power and importance of costume in film, as well as the amazing glamour, has alway fascinated me.

We arranged to go on the 23rd as I was going to be down in London for an Amanda Palmer gig anyway (dream day!) and it was the day before my mum started her radiotherapy.  We decided that it would be good to take her mind off it.  We met outside the doors at midday, had a lovely French lunch, a quick trip to Skandium (even more of a dream day) and then went in to the exhibition at just before 3.

Waiting to go in…

I don’t think I had prepared myself properly for what I was going to see.  One of the first costumes was Vivien Leigh’s green curtain dress from ‘Gone With The Wind’ and it made me cry.  I think it was the combination of my mum being poorly (and my sister Joey),  and the fact that I was so happy to be there with her, she had introduced me to the film when I was twelve.  I watched it twice in a row the first time I saw it (that’s seven and a half hours) and then every day for the entire holiday.  I watched it while writing a list of every costume change that Vivien Leigh made (I’m sure I have the list somewhere…), I have the poster over my fireplace in my current flat, a jigsaw, books on the film and its stars…  I haven’t watched it for years now, but it is part of my childhood and so to be faced with a physical representation of that was too much for me.  I felt like an hysterical Catholic faced with the relic of a saint.  But it felt lovely and comforting and surreal.

Yes – that one!

The whole exhibition is amazing, I recommend everyone to go and see it.