Thursday, 23 October 2014

ACTION!



I am currently down in the deep South of the United States watching my first script be brought to life. As one can imagine, this is a huge moment for me, well, for any writer really. As they say, you always remember your first. 

This particular project has been a long time in the making. I wrote the script many years ago and our little female driven team had been looking for money for several years in hopes of getting it made. For those of you not well versed in the of the world of filmmaking, there are big studio films (that most of you run to see on a Friday night and curse yourselves for in the morning) and then there are the smaller, independently financed films [that fight to keep their integrity and often struggle to see the light of day!] This little script is definitely the latter.

The process of making a film is utterly eye opening, inspiring, and surreal (and of course time consuming, as I’m sure the crew will eagerly attest!) Not simply because it is my script that people are walking around talking about, deconstructing and furiously planning for, but to see the team effort that is required to make a film – any film – gives you new admiration for the process as a whole (OR total ire for those idiots that take ownership of a film like it took one person alone to get it to screen). From the location scouts, to the sound crew, to lighting, to art direction, to transportation, and so on – every detail is thought about, poured over, double checked and discussed in such depth it makes your head spin (And the producers’. Ain’t that right CH).

Take the job of location scout, a job I often imagined would be so fun because you get to travel around and check out all these cool locations; the job of course has so much more involved than one would think. First and foremost, finding the location to fit something that the writer has in their head (and us writers take a lot of liberties when it comes to reality and drive location scouts utterly nuts), seeing if this location is actually available which takes a sh*tload of cajoling and sweet talking, securing permits, or replacing the people you’re politely kicking out of their home/business/car etc., and figuring out how one can shoot there with a large team of people, a ton of equipment, and make it come in within budget. And that is the very short version.

The art department is another area that is fun to watch in motion, as they are responsible for transforming that bedroom, or old diner, or grocery store, or whatever set is in the particular film into what you need it to be. We drove around to umpteenth old style gas stations in the Mississippi (and there are many) to discuss what needed dressing, undressing, what colours matched the desired palette, what needed to be painted, repainted etc. you get the idea. And you can see the sheer the delight on their faces when they start thinking about the nitty gritty (or the non delight when the location turns out not to work for one reason or another); the old treasures they will unearth to decorate the set, down to the most minute of things most of you will probably not even notice. But they do, as do the junky film buffs like myself who delight themselves on finding those little purposeful gems in every scene. 

Overall, it’s the collaboration of things that is most inspiring to witness. A movie cannot be made without a script, but a script alone is not a movie made. Every single person working on the film brings something to it and most of these individuals go unnoticed and underappreciated; obviously at the end of the day, the actors and directors receive most of the acclaim, although that said, they also receive a fair share of abuse if the film isn’t well received. But it is very rare for any member of the public to walk out of the cinema and say ‘Wow, I loved the way that film was lit.’ Like anything in life, it takes a village to nurture something along, and I couldn’t be happier or more grateful of the team involved in this project.

So off I go to watch them play with make up for our lead actor and make sure it looks good on camera – a little detail that will have a big impact in the end. Details, details….And don’t think that I am not reveling in every single mundane detail of this process, soaking it in and savouring every last drop.







Friday, 17 October 2014

KEEP CALM BUT USE YOUR SODDING HEAD


I thought I’d give myself a day to process all this stuff that has been flying around in the media of late over the pandemic that is affecting us on a global level. Yes, I’m talking about the dreaded Ebola virus, and whether you’re putting your head in the sand on the topic or not, it is a very real and sobering event (for lack of a better word) in our world’s history. And as per usual it is in these times that we truly must grasp the importance of humans coming together and more importantly, humans using their intelligence and common sense when dealing with a disease of this magnitude.

As most things transmitted in the media there is truth, there is misconception, there is some hysteria and there is plenty of denial. Not to mention, as this disease is under a global microscope it is very enlightening (and alarming) to see how humans can greatly mismanage a situation. For the continent of Africa, Ebola is certainly not a new topic of discussion. Many West African countries have dealt – successfully – with outbreaks in the past. And to their credit, they have fought it without much aid from the international community. In fact, when this most recent outbreak finally hit the mainstream media (it took awhile as we all know, plights that often hit areas that do not concern the West, do not get much coverage), there was a slight condescension towards Africa’s ability to deal with the problem. From where I stand, yes many lives have tragically been lost, but the fact that they have been able to contain it to three West African countries for the most part with very little resources, speaks volumes, when America has allowed it to spread within a mere fortnight and made some egregious mistakes in their handling of things.

On that topic, here is where I begin to not only get concerned, but downright angry. Ebola is an issue that is not going away any time soon. It is a disease that reminds us human beings of our limitations and our lack of ability to control absolutely everything. There is much we know about it, and even more we don’t know, and for people to be cavalier about the issue or how it is dealt with, need a swift kick up the backside. For all those that have stepped forward to help those afflicted, willingly or simply because it is in their job description to do so, I commend you in more ways that I have words for; But if you are on the front lines, I implore you, BE RESPONSIBLE. Don’t treat the quarantines as a joke, step forward if you feel like the protocols are in place are failing (as the nurses’ union in Texas has done) and for god sakes, don’t get on a sodding airplane if you are monitoring your symptoms!!! This is not the flu or AIDS (where abstinence can be undertaken). This is a highly contagious disease with a 60% death rate and to put others at risk is not only irresponsible but it’s downright negligent.

Now, I’m not trying to be an alarmist or scare the sh*t out of you - as I realise I may have done -  but what I implore us all to do is to use our heads, educate yourself and make wise choices, not one’s based in hysteria (okay a little hysteria is expected; on my flight tomorrow I will definitely be wearing a mask, but I'm telling myself that is more common sense than hysteria). Moreover, we must realize that there are certain issues that demand calm, precision and intelligence, and this is indeed one of them. We are a global community in a fast paced age of travel, information and heavily populated communities and that is something each and every one of us should keep in mind in times like these.

Furthermore, I hope and pray that with time and money, Ebola joins the list of other diseases that past generations used to fear (used to being the operative phrase) - the chickenpox, measles, TB - diseases of their day that struck panic in the masses, and yet now we are downright blasé about them (in fact, many don't even vaccinate against them). Perhaps this day is a long time off, but it's nice to have a little hope in the face of such a thing.



Wednesday, 8 October 2014

SORRY


There are times in parenting where you sit back at the end of the day and think to yourself, ‘Wow, did I handle that one badly.’ Side note: anyone that doesn’t have these moments is in extreme denial, as we know as a human race we are far from perfect. When raising a four year old, these moments come often, as there are many times that through frustration and an accumulation of not having slept properly for years, you find yourself making choices from an emotional – and often reactionary place -  and not necessarily an intellectual one. When this happens, I of course scold myself, as I pride myself on being able to look at things from all angles and love the intellectual deductive process. But, as any parent will tell you, emotions are very difficult to remove from a situation, so whereas you could’ve shut the tantrum down with an ‘I hear your frustration sweetie,’ you dig your heels in and fight your corner, like a stubborn mule.

But contrary to past generations that were more prone to the think that the parents, i.e. the authority figures, knew all, our generation is a bit more open to the fact that we have no clue what we’re doing most of the time. Moreover, there is not a day that goes by that I am not aware that as a parent, I am apt to make many mistakes and I’m perfectly willing to apologize for them. In terms of the King, I’m certainly all about holding a strong line (the kid has a will to rival his appetite) and set clear boundaries for what is acceptable to us, but in saying that, my husband and I are the first to accept when we royally screw up and tell the King just that. These moments can often be amusing as he’ll look at us, slightly puzzled that an adult is apologizing to him. Then a look washes over his face that is tinged with contentment as if to say, ‘well, yes, I felt wronged damn it, and you people can’t always be right.’ (Keep in mind he is four and he pretty much always feels as if he’s in the right).

I feel very strongly that as a life lesson, this is one of the most important a parent can teach a child, the ability to say one’s sorry and accept responsibility for one’s actions. If we as parents are constantly telling our children to apologize to others when they screw up, but can’t apologize to our own children when we do, how on earth are they going to learn this lesson? Moreover, I want the King to know that we are all flawed, and one’s actions can often dwarf the best of intentions.

Throughout my life, I have often found myself in positions where although due a heartfelt apology, I was never given one. Be it out of pride, ego or profound denial, the person (s) was simply not able to look at their own actions and accept that they negatively affected those around them – or they simply didn’t think they needed to apologize, ha! It’s an extremely frustrating and heartbreaking place to find oneself in, as it seems like such a simple mathematical equation. You screw up, you say your sorry. Life moves on. Only if life were so easy.

But, as any one knows, just because you think you are due an apology, certainly does not mean you are going to get one (note to self: tell the King, some days mama is going to lapse into this way of thinking). This is where all those fun shades of grey come in. Just because you may not think you owe someone an apology, you have to take those pesky little things called ‘their feelings’ into consideration. Ah yes, those tricky little things. And yes, here’s another little life note that goes far beyond parenting…if you find someone across from you trying to relay their feelings, whether you like it or not, hear them out. We don’t exist in a vacuum, and whether it’s your four year old venting his frustration that the cheese ran out, or your brother saying he’s sick of being called 24-7 to come and fix broken sh*t around your house, be open to what is being said. I’m not saying it’s easy, but gasp, shock and awe, you might just learn something.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

COUGAR


My husband is younger than I am. If we were tapping into the zeitgeist I suppose that makes me a cougar, as they have deemed it – cause god knows they need a term for everything these days (Who named Isis anyway, that's what I'd like to know? I mean, is there a think tank somewhere that comes up with super 'fearful' names for terrorist organisations that have not come on the radar yet? Yeah, yeah, Isis…that sounds so cold and scary, I love it!). So what does being a cougar mean exactly?  I’m a bloodthirsty wild animal that hunts down the small and defenseless? I have killer eyes, and run up to 80km? [As I'm only up to an 8 1/2 minute mile on a good day, that's clearly not the case]. I suppose it’s a bit better than the male equivalent: cradle robber, lechers…pervert? 

Maybe cougar doesn’t sound so bad actually.

To be honest, whilst I get the allure of others that say with an air of mystery, “Wow, you went younger good for you!” – like I won first prize at the local fair - I can’t help but think, 'seriously, is it that big of a deal?' It certainly has not been for centuries upon centuries when we’re speaking of men and their choices. Men seem to get to a certain age when the grim reaper is in smelling distance, and suddenly take leave of all their senses. “So, she’s 22, and has no idea who the president is, but she’s a really sweet girl and looks great in heels.” Most of their targets don’t even get the moniker of ‘woman.’ And it does not seem to matter if these chosen ones can add (I’m talking basic math here), relate, or contribute to a conversation in any way. She looks the part and that’s good enough.

On the contrary, I’m proud to say that I chose my partner with some sort of intellectual deduction in place (fine, he is also dead hot but chemistry is very important). We have a lot in common, he’s mature (for a man anyway), well adjusted, and we both decided that if we had similar life goals, who cares about age. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is such a thing as too young – [ahem, Madonna. Seriously. All that does is make you look like you have a hot Brazilian home nurse]. If your potential partner is still wanting to go to clubs with foam, drinks beer like it’s a race to the finish, and vomits more than three times a year (and not due to illness or food poisoning), you’ve got a problem. 

Then again, there are plenty of women out there that are simply trying a younger model on for size and taking it for a spin to see how it compares. And I say HELL yes to that; if it’s just a question of wanting a little youth contagion, then I’m all for it. As we all know, men do it ALL the time. And women are aging better, looking better, and might as well flaunt their sexual power with pride – [post 40’s have been hiding in demure baggy matron clothing and ‘no I shouldn't’ attitudes for far too long]. Plus, apparently according to the whole sexual peak argument, women in there 30’s should be trolling for younger men purely to match their abilities, so to speak. And of course men die younger (you do; look it up). So one day, even though I may be a sack of wrinkles in a wheelchair, I’ll be able to wheel up in style to my partner’s funeral without lifting a limb. 

See, we women are simply being pragmatic; we’re always thinking.


Monday, 22 September 2014

AN AUTHENTIC LIFE


At the moment, I’m trying my hardest to live an authentic life. What per se is that you ask? For me, as answers will vary depending on the individual obviously, it is living a life that is truthful and 'real' (as the notion of reality is debatable in some circles, let's focus on the concept of authenticity, i.e. something that is veritable and genuine) on as many levels as I can manage. It’s not a small undertaking I assure you. This of course means that I am not only on the quest to have this in my own life, but am making darn sure I’m surrounded by individuals with the same intention (this is a very hard task, I assure you as many humans find this to be a daunting undertaking and are more comfortable with living a life that is shrouded in mistruths).

Now, before you applaud me, know this is an ever-evolving intention. Some days I suck at it, and others, well, I think I do all right.  Like many out there who are able to self reflect, I’ve lived enough of life to readily admit that I had many years with my head stuck deep in the sand – or a swirling black hole of chaos, self generated of course - and I fell victim to my own insecurities and b*llshit - for lack of a more eloquent way to put it. In simple terms, I’ve tasted inauthentic and it never digested very well. At this point in my life, I am who I am; change is slow journey that needs tending to every day, and the beauty of me (like all of us) is that I'm fabulously flawed. It's how you approach those flaws that makes all the difference.

As you know my views on human beings, I think we are all too predictably fond of complicating our lives. Instead of being true to ourselves and those around us we get sucked into the way of thinking that we need more, have to be more, and end up on the hamster wheel of trying to attain everything we seek, even if it’s detrimental and inauthentic to who we really are. It’s exhausting and utterly futile as half the time, when you finally get to where you think you were striving to get to, you either don’t know why the hell you bothered or you’ve already set your sights on somewhere else. The grass is never greener on the other side as we all know. Green is simply green.

The other thing is that most human beings are simply not satisfied or comfortable with who they are. We are a smoke and mirrors society that is fueled by ways to trick others into thinking our lives are the dog’s bollocks. Instead of simply walking around and telling it like it is: I have wrinkles and cellulite, my husband and I fight about very stupid things, my job is a bore, my kid annoys me sometimes, etc.; we do the opposite. We sugarcoat and deflect and exaggerate (and post/tweet and snapchat our little hearts out) in hopes that we can make ourselves feel better and project an image to the world that simply does not exist. You see, smoke and mirrors to make what it is, seem just a little more tantalising. 

So, back to the quest for authenticity: Here it is in a nutshell: be truthful as much as humanly possible (to yourself and to others). And yes, this will definitely ruffle feathers as most people do NOT want to hear the truth. In fact, prepare to hurt some people’s feelings (from experience, when I find my feelings get hurt, it’s usually cause for me to look deeper into something and own what’s going on in my own life). But at the end of the day, telling your best friend she looks great in her new PVC leggings and crop top when you really think she looks absurd is not doing either of you any favours. In terms of you, there is simply no point in lying to yourself. Your subconscious will always win out in the end (you hear that little voice, waaaaay back in your mind, no amount of alcohol is shutting that up, I can assure you).

Secondly, be who you are. This one is a doozy cause most people haven’t even bothered to ask who they are in the first place. Don’t be who you think people want you to be, or what looks good on the neighbor. Be who you are, even if it’s one BIG hot mess. Own your hot mess. I’m telling you, it’s liberating in ways you can’t imagine and will save you years of exhaustively trying to be something you’re not. 

And lastly, as much as you can, surround yourself with people after the same ‘authentic’ goal in life. I pride myself in having a group around me with a no b*llshit policy - or a limited one anyway. We call it as we see it (even if it hurts a bit at the time), and I rely on them to keep me in check whenever I need it. I don’t want to be lied to about this or that, and god knows, I don’t have the energy any more to do the same.

Trust me, it’s not an easy journey to go on, but it’s damn liberating and denial…well as they say, that’s just a river in Egypt. Or at least, it should be.