Tuesday, 16 December 2014

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH


Parenting is work. You’ve heard that time and time again. It’s one of the hardest jobs you will ever do (and well, why so many parents drink). And in the moment, especially in the throes of raising a young child who has yet to develop reason and a balanced emotional state (then again, this takes most people their entire lives), you may think that is the understatement of the year.

The thing is, most jobs that you do outside of the home, they are of course hard, challenging, high stress positions – unless you have gone the non-stressful chilled out occupational route of underwater basket weaving which is becoming more enviable in my mind. But you are usually dealing with people who have the ability to reason (usually), and who do not have tantrums over the specific shade of a jumper being not quite right (again, there are adult exceptions to this rule and I’ve worked for a few of them). Furthermore, with one’s boss in a normal work environment, you have no emotional attachment to them (unless they’re your husband/wife etc. and then good luck because that’s a tough path to navigate), you physically leave them after work is done, and you don’t have the psychological fear that you are scarring them straight into the therapist’s chair. Not to mention, you can usually have some sort of constructive dialogue when you reach an impasse that doesn’t result in a stand off that results in them taking off their clothes and climbing under a table and refusing to come out (if your boss is doing this, I suggest some strong medication and a visit to a psychicatrist).

At the moment the King is truly well entrenched in the willful stage of "NO, I simply don’t feel like it." It’s different than the two-year-old stage where they’ve just learned the word no because they don’t have the dialogue to back it up. But when they’re older, and they’ve learned how the world works a bit better (and have learned the art of being clever and defiant at the precise time you need them to be malleable) the word NO suddenly becomes a weapon that can be aimed straight at your adrenal system. Time to get dressed, 'NO, I don't want to'; We’re off to school, 'NO'; Eat your breakfast, 'No, I'm not hungry'; Let’s put our shoes on, 'NO, I don't like those shoes'…..okay then, let’s just get drunk and pretend that mommy has a clue as to what she’s doing and can get you out the front door without the neighbours thinking that mommy has lost her marbles. 

In addition to the King’s 'no' behavior of late is the mix of emotion and testosterone surging through his little boy body. Two very powerful beasts that wreak havoc on….well just about any situation that is can easily run amuck. Imagine having all this blazing fire inside of you with no ability to reason or understand intellectually where these emotions are coming from (um, that just may sum up decades of my life). I can imagine this is what it feels like to be a 4/5 year old child. Then you throw in a parent who is trying to throw rules and directives into the mix and well, you tell me how good you think it’s going to end. And I can assure you, all the reward charts and bribery in the world is sometimes not enough to quell the storm inside these little people with their own designs and desires on how the world should work. 

I suppose the one thing a boss and a five-year-old child actually do have in common is their ability to wield fear. I never thought it possible, in fact I used to scoff in the face of those that feared their children, but at the moment, I would not go as far to say that I necessarily fear the King, but I definitely fear the sh*tstorm that he can conjure up, especially in public places (my son? nooo that's not my son lying in the middle of aisle four screaming my name; I'm not sure what he's talking about). It’s like watching a storm move in, the little signs, the small triggers, the twitch of the lip as you internally holler, please god nooooo, as you do your best to do anything to avoid what’s to come. Then again, I used to have bosses I feared, but I knew if it got too terrible, I could ultimately tell them to stick it and find another job. But despite my threats to put my son on eBay, a parent cannot find another job (calm down, nor would we want to…but a child free vacation, now that would be nice from time to time). Parenting is for life and your main job requirement is not only to love them and keep them alive, but not screw them up in the process. 

Hmm, right about now, I’m thinking perhaps my husband and I deserve a raise.





Thursday, 4 December 2014

NATURE, NOT FOR THE FRAGILE


Any mother (or father for that matter) can tell you that once you have children, you suddenly become unable to watch (or read about) many shows/films that you used to watch before. Be it their subject content or their tone, you find yourself in mid program cringing in fear or weeping like a child as you feel your parental synapses on meltdown. You soon realize that you’ve suddenly become much more precious - and frighteningly empathetic -  since parenting took hold. 

Admittedly, I was okay for awhile…or perhaps I was just too tired to find the correct remote control, and then of course the brain took hold, emotions ran amuck and I found myself weeping at commercials appealing to end world’s hunger, especially those commercials with children looking bereft and hungry (not that I didn’t weep before, but suddenly it became a necessity to end world hunger NOW since the birth of the King). Not to mention, when I watched certain TV shows I could hear myself uttering phrases that sounded like something my mother would say – ‘Do they need all this excessive violence? Why must they show that, it’s only 8 o clock for god sakes.’ 

The other night, when I was uttering my usual phrase to my husband of, 'let’s just not watch anything too dark,' we opted for a sweet little nature show that had aired on the BBC.  I, feeling rather precious at the time, figured a harmless nature show about animals parenting their young could be right up my alley. I mean, honestly, what could be so bad? UM, well, seemingly I forgot that what occurs in nature is bloody ruthless and it makes a pack of wild four year olds look like choirboys. For starters, as I clearly forgot, merely keeping your baby alive out in the wild is a feat for any animal. Everyone is prey to someone bigger, scarier and hungrier and that makes for problematic parenting. Forget about trying to find appropriate childcare, just making sure your kid doesn't become lunch becomes the main occupation for many animals. Be it the buffalo who has to protect their young from unrelenting wolves, who as you can imagine are much more dexterous and quick than a lumbering buffalo, to the spider monkeys (I think it was a spider monkey, at a certain size all monkeys start to look the same to me) who have to fend off other freaking monkeys from killing their young, it’s a cutthroat world out in nature land. Fine, fear another species, but an attack from  your own kind? That's just rude. 

Then there were the animals that flat out abandoned their young even before their birth, as clearly in their species childrearing is not part of the package (yes, humans have sadly mirrored this all too often). The sea turtle for example who battled unbelievable odds just to get on the damn beach (through rocks, storms and other things trying to kill it) to lay her eggs, only to amble off and disappear back into the ocean never to be seen again. This of course caused me to scream at the TV, while my husband tried to calm me down with herbal tea, ‘What the hell?? She’s just going to leave her kids like that after all that effort?! Who the hell is going to raise them now?’ He didn’t have the heart to break it to me that most baby turtles don’t make it to the ocean’s edge after busting out of their eggshell. Then there was a bird that innocently sat on her eggs waiting eagerly to become a mother. Little did she know that a rival bird had put her own egg in the mother’s nest so that she didn’t have to raise it. And not only was this bird much uglier at birth (I know, love is unconditional…and clearly very very blind), but once out of the shell, it had the audacity to push the mother's biological eggs out of the nest when Mamma bird was out foraging for food. And let me tell you, this poor unsuspecting Mamma bird had to hightail it out of the nest every two minutes to find food. This monstrous little ball of feathers made the King look like a food amateur. Ah yes, a mother's work is tireless.

Needless to say, after my nerves were frayed and I realized nature (and human kind) is not for the precious or the overly sensitive, I reached for my book with not a death scene or child abandonment issue  in sight (and suddenly realised why my older sister has taken to watching the CW Channel). Come to think of it, I’ll be watching Korean cartoons (don’t ask) with the King in no time.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

IT'S A WRAP


We’ve just wrapped on our film Battlecreek. I say our, because it is truly that, our film; a group effort that began with a script that I poured my heart into it years ago, and then was turned over to a team of people – lead by a triumvirate of the most kick ass women (ahem) - who infused it with an incredible amount of talent, skill and passion.

And thanks to my decisions as a writer, sorry all (!), this shoot was not for the faint of heart. The script took place predominantly at night, which meant night shoots almost the entire month we shot that ended most days at 5 in the morning. The crew would then have to break everything down and return to set the following day, mere hours later, to start the process all over again. Needless to say, by the shoots end, people were sick (and I’m sure sick of each other) tired, and eagerly begging for a good night’s sleep.

I flew out recently for the last week of shooting (as I had to disappear for a bit in the middle of the shoot to make sure the King remembered who I was). Upon my return to set, I was able to watch some of my favourite scenes brought to life, the scenes that held the emotional meat of the script. It’s surreal enough to watch your words play out in front of you, but to see them brought to life in such a beautiful, nuanced and expressive way by such incredible actors, well, needless to say, it made me cry like a baby (and I saw a few crew crying as well, so I’m happy to say, it took down the strongest of men).

People asked me throughout the process if it was what I had imagined in my head for so long - the locations, the actors, the overall feeling. And my response was always an unequivocal yes, beyond what I imagined actually. It is a surreal thing to walk around in this created, dimensional world and realize that what is exists in front of you is even more profound than what was in your head. Not to mention, it confirmed what I’ve always known, that good acting is an art and it can elevate a script to an entirely new level (and of course, in a more general sense, conversely, bad acting can be equally as profound, just not in a good way!). By shoot’s end, it was so abundantly clear that our casting was pinpoint perfect and these actors had truly become the characters on the page.

Then there was the crew. The tireless (f*cking kick ass) crew of some of the most talented people I’ve ever met; for some, seasoned veterans that taught us all a thing or two, and others first timers like myself who were aching to prove their worth; each with their own dreams, talents and aspirations that they brought to set and poured into this project. Led of course by our female Queen of a director that I have known since I was a little girl and love to the bottom of my heart –Watching her have come into her own over the years (she and I have shared many memories and trajectories, shall we say) and share my vision to such a degree (by the end of the shoot she knew the script far better than I did) was a profound thing that I wouldn’t have wanted to share with anyone else.

I walk away from this experience of course wanting more. I’m inspired like I’ve never been, in awe of the filmmaking process that I have so loved for most of my life, and have learned so much from so many talented people. It’s also an incredible thing to watch passion become a palpable thing. Watching people night after night, hour after hour tirelessly work to make everything look and run seamlessly, well that’s an impressive thing. Even down to the (fantastic) woman feeding us on set and making sure we didn’t all keel over, well the team spirit was never in finer form…I’m not na├»ve of course, there were certainly moments where the team effort fell victim to the normal tensions and tumults (that’s a polite way of saying there were of course times people wanted to smack one another) that can exist on any project, but overall the focus always returned to the project.

So here’s what I hope, I hope that more independent projects are given a shot to exist and breathe and see the light of day. I hope that more woman helm projects and prove that we are a force to be reckoned, I hope that I have many more opportunities to tell a story that resonates with so many. And I hope that I – along with our team – have contributed a story into the filmmaking annals that will leave its mark and add a little bit of special to a world that often overlooks such things.


Thursday, 20 November 2014

CHECKING IN


This story is unbelievable, not only in one establishment’s feeble attempt at penalizing a couple’s freedom of speech, but for their sheer audacity at thinking they can get away with it. A couple recently stayed in a ‘filthy dirty rotten’ hotel, their words not mine (mine would’ve been much more scathing) and posted a negative review of the hotel on Trip Advisor. They were soon to discover that the hotel fined them for posting negative feedback about their experience (imagine the precedent that would be set if one was fined merely from expressing a negative opinion on the Internet, esp as 98% of the Internet is negative opinions!).

In short, the couple described their jaunt to a seaside English hotel in Blackpool as essentially vile and disappointing on all levels (um, for starters, maybe reexamine your need to go to Blackpool! Just sayin’). Apparently they chose the hotel for its ‘ample’ parking but when they arrived there, the lot was full and they were forced to park at another hotel. Not a good start to one’s hotel stay, that’s for sure.

The couple went on to say that they were revolted by the state of the room. Just to give this some context, the room cost £36 a night. My first question would be, WHAT ON EARTH do you think you’re going to get for that amount of money?? [They are lucky they weren’t asked to pitch a tent in the parking lot and boil their own water to shower].  The drawer fronts fell off the furniture when they tried to open the drawers, the wallpaper was peeling off, the room was dirty, the sheets and carpet riddled with stains, and the mattress was deemed a health and safety threat…to name a few of their concerns. I would have run screaming from the room wrapped in a giant Wet Wipe.

Thereafter posting this review, the couple realised that they were fined £100 pounds on their credit card for 'negative feedback' in addition to the room charge. Clearly enraged by this farce, the couple complained to the local trading standards office (who stated they had never seen anything like this, but were probably in some strange way impressed by this ‘novel’ concept to deter bad reviews) who spoke to the hotel about this questionable  ‘policy’ and they are now carrying out an investigation. The couple as you can imagine is raving mad, not only because they had to stay in this sh*thole, but because they are now fighting to have the charge removed from their credit card for telling the world it was a dump.

In a statement, Trip Advisor said it deplored the practice of fining its users. "While thankfully such instances are very rare, it is completely against the spirit and policies of our site for any business owner to attempt to bully or intimidate reviewers who have had a negative experience.” You think?? Can you imagine the volcanic eruption of cr*p consumers would have to deal with if every time they put a negative review somewhere, they were fined for it? 

My husband is a Trip Advisor addict. He doesn’t book a thing until he’s exhausted every website, read reviews, and scoured photos – I wouldn’t put it past him to fly to the hotel just to inspect it before our arrival. The man is meticulous and my OCD tendencies greatly appreciate his attention to detail. But, I’m also confident that if he saw a room was going to cost under 40 quid, even in Blackpool, he’d convince me a weekend at home with the King hollering in our faces about his latest Lego building project was a far better option. That said, if we ever do stay in a dump again, I'm bringing my cleaning supplies and someone is going to hear about it.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

THE HUNT BE DAMNED


[ONE FROM THE ARCHIVES TODAY. will try to post this week!]

I love this story. Or more to the point, I love the subtext of this story even more, or the subtext my writer’s brain lends to it. A French hunter recently had to have his hand amputated because his dog shot it off. Yes, you read that right. The trusty best friend, the pooch he has deemed ‘adorable,’ was apparently going in for a ‘cuddle’ right as the man was in mid hunt causing him to pull the trigger and blow his own hand off. OH, the irony is so thick on this one.

The huntsman in question has three Blue Gascony Basset Hounds, and was out hunting with three of them when the youngest – clearly the most tactile of the three – stayed behind while the other two ran ahead chasing a deer. This is when this infamous cuddle took place. Despite the serious injury, the man insists the dog is adorable and it was the man's own fault for not having the gun on safety – while hunting with the clear intent to kill animals. Yes, that makes sense.

Okay, so here is what I took from the story…this adorable dog was most likely not going in for a cuddle. This dog was most likely sick to death of freezing his balls off in the forest while he was made to watch his owner kill defenseless animals and decided to take action once and for all. The other two hounds acted as a diversion and took off to ‘chase deer.’ When in fact, I’m sure they were warning the deer that some serious sh*t was about to go down and they better run for cover. Then, the ‘adorable’ ring leader (it’s always the young cute ones in the bunch you have to be suspicious of) decided to take action and strategically ‘cuddle’ his master just as he was about to get a shot off. God I love Basset Hounds. I had one long ago and she used to insist on sleeping with me, bathing with me (I really had no choice, she’d just dive in the bathtub), sitting on my lap when I drove. She and I were constantly working on our boundary issues.

One also has to appreciate the irony (unless you’re an avid hunter and then, well, that’s another lengthy discussion) when a hunter gets any sort of limb or appendage blown off when he is intending to do just that to Bambi (all deer to me are Bambi. It’s just the way it is). Not to mention, he’s dragging other animals with him and making them complicit in his death march. This is also what I love about dogs, no matter where you are, or what you’re doing, they’re going to get all up in your face and show you some love. "Hunt? What hunt, I need attention and you’re going to give me some god damn it. Oh, and sorry about the hand."