Thursday, 31 March 2011

Oldboy article: interesting?

As anyone interested in films can quickly gather from this page, I quite like the Vengence trilogy. I've been a fan from the premiere of the first film, which naturally means that with a certain degree of irony, it had absolutely nothing to do with the organ donation aspect of the storyline.

I'm a big fan of the trilogy, probably because they are each incredible in their own way. With a triptych style group of films, I usually find myself only liking one or two. Almost always I will find one of them doesnt touch me in anyway. But Vengence is different. The first movie instantly became an enduring favourite for it's contemplatative attitude to violence even as it engrosses you in it. Lady Vengence is evocative in about a thousand ways and increasingly satisfying the more you watch.

But Oldboy is... mental? Yes, Mental. In a good way of course. However it was my least favourite of the three for one simple reason - I didn't really love the ending. Or at least, I felt instinctively that the relationship aspect of the ending, I wouldn't have gone with. It didn't stop me loving it generally, just made me notice the absence of that purist sense of satisfaction you get at the end of a perfect film.

But that was before I read this: South Korean Cinema Violence article

Now I'm wondering. That's the sort of cultural allegorical stuff I'd usually jump all over as an example of superior interpretative writing, but clearly my poor retention of historical facts made me miss this bit of correlation. Should I rewatch? Hmmm

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A Rare Feminist Post; Porn, Perception, Framing. Part 1.

I started writing this post when I should have been writing several other things much more important (Such as a reply to you Chris about that email, which is on it's way - in summary, totally great idea!) but instead got lost writing a long diatribe about all the thoughts that a Guardian article gave me. But then it turned out I'd been writing all night, ruining my only just fixed sleep pattern might I add, and I hadn't even gotten about half way through what I wanted to say even though I'd hit the 4000 word mark. All stream of consciousness as well.

So I thought I'd better break it down and introduce it as a new blog theme to be regularly added to every week or so. I guess I should leave this until next week because calling it Masturbation Monday would probably make the most sense, but since it's not a Monday, let's just call it my Rolling Porn post.

Yes, porn: I will be writing about porn. Sometimes just about porn there out in the world, sometimes about how Ant has been involved in making porn, and how I almost got involved but never crossed that line cos it was never quite right, sometimes about the philosophical perspectives people argue over, sometimes just plain old criticism, and stuff like that. I am welcome to any and all arguments of any kind, and anyone's own experiences.

First let's start small; let's us begin:


*Disclaimer: these porn posts will be my perspective, some of them will rank as my least objective posts of all time. It's about my own experience, opinion and philosophy. It's not an angry rant, but it's detailed: I strongly advise not to read if the reader has NO interest in porn, and to pause if they strongly feel they don't have any curiousity about what I know of it, and what I think about the people and things I've gotten to know about*

So I was taking a rare look at The Guardian, which used to be the only source of accurate news I trusted, but which for years has been, well... a load of blah? The Guardian has gone to the dogs and I haven't read it in a while. The past couple of days I've been checking in though, spurred on by my utter horror at the 'interactive' type page they set up for any old fucking idiot to write in what they thought the strategy should be for fixing the crazy rod problem in Japan, whether you've any professional knowledge of structural damage, science, containment or, hell, whether you've ever even seen a specialised energy building in real life or not. I expect that sort of thing on crappy morning discussion shows, desperate to fill a lot of their time on air with anything unscripted, even the public talking a load of old bollocks. Not on the Guardian. Since that imbued me with a sense of personal horror much like watching a car crash, I find myself going back. 

And today I saw this: Porn Made By Women For Women.

Now as of writing up to this paragraph, I have not read more than the first five paragraphs of the article. I will read the rest, but even from the beginning I feel confident in assuming that to some extent I will have little faith in the rest. Why would I have little confidence in a huge article based on the first couple of paragraphs? [Edit: have now read all of article, and tis fine about the other people most of whom have a bit of knowledge of and they seem ok, but the following comments about Span I still stick by]

Because I personally know the framing of a statement in those paragraphs is inaccurate. About the stuff in it that I don't have firsthand experience with, I already have a reason to not be sure the rest is accurate and well researched when the statement in the beginning doesn't seem to have been.

What I refer to is the absolutist statement about Anna Span: 'But what she has been doing is not mainstream pornography, but independent porn made for women'. The article then goes on for the next paragraph to say that others have argued against this, and then the writer notes the best way to find out how she is different is probably best done by watching her films.

Watch her films ay? That's how to see how her work is different? Has the writer watched them?!

Now let's get something straight at this point: I haven't seen any of Anna Span's work produced in the last few years. But I don't think that should weaken my point since the comments about Anna Span don't state that there's been a change in direction for her, the statements are quite clearly referring to her career, not a progressive change therein. This is the sort of framing of someone, the lazy sentence designed to have confident punch in as few words as possible, that the statement makes a clear point, even if that point would have more veracity if you took into account the different perspectives. Saying that you'll find out how she is different if you watch her films is a suggestion that if you watch them and don't see how they are different from mainstream, you're the one missing something in your perception, not the films in their content. If a random reader of this article then went off and got some of her older films, said reader could be forgiven for thinking it's themselves that need to think about what's wrong with their own brains because it doesn't seem all that alternative at all. Framing like that just to simplify the context of the article really irritates me in itself.

So to my perspective: Anna Span is not a feminist pornographer. I'm 90% confident that if I watched her newer work I'd still think that, but I'm willing to consider her work has contextually improved since I last saw it. I'm 100% sure that she wasn't years ago though. 

Any statement that suggests she was always making porn for women, and in that sense 'alternative' porn is blatantly badly researched. Or the writer of the article finds the type of mainstream work Span has produced in her career generally to be to her tastes and she feels like advocating for it which is even worse – as a journalist she should set aside whether she finds the depictions erotic and do a bit of research into whether other woman feel represented and catered to by Span more than any other mainstream film. She apparently hasn't checked this, instead choosing to just reference an argument between Gail Dines and Span. In which, funnily enough both of them sound wrong by the very nature of them taking extreme views with no acknowledgement of the middle ground they refuse to talk about. Dines, with her comments about not being able to change something like this predatory capitalist system come off more as fatalistic than considered. For one thing, such statements seem to willfully ignore the history of capitalism, in the sense that in the history of capitalism often a market is invisible until someone starts to tap into it, proving to other naysaying companies that refused to tap the market, that they will lose marketshare if they do not move into this ripe area of supply and demand, an area that often balloons as the possibilities start to seem limitless once you analyse the new buying group. At one point women were not marketed to regarding general lifestyle products, but to a degree it was companies through trying to mine different areas from each other that proved to each other that targeting the specifics of what women want would bring out more obvious ideas of what they want. The same with children, changing attitudes towards making different types of products wouldn't exist it there hadn't come a time when marketing to them became a visible idea, before it had become obvious that children and their relationships with their parents and their parents' relationship with representing their lifestyle and social group to the world around them. Dine's suggestion that trying to change an industry from the inside out by proving mainstream brands need to mine something that they didn't want to admit existed, flies in the face of the whole history of marketing consumer products. Would she say the same of eco friendly and fairtrade homewares and clothing retailers marketing themselves as an alternative to the shops that only think about sustainability as a sideline or who don't at all? Taking away another market by giving people exactly what they want instead of making them compromise by buying something from a big chain that only slightly fits their wants and needs is a notorious way of changing the minds of the larger industry by proving the compromising customers will make a financial difference to their profits if they have somewhere else to leave them for.

Anyway, back to the point of Anna Span and why I think she didn't come off much better. It might be skimming through your head that maybe I have no reason to think I'm in a position to think I have evidence on my side. And sure, I don't have a mountain of experience with her, I've never worked as a porn star in one of Span's films. But I know a damn sight more than a lot of people who would tell me how they know she and so many others are feminist pornographers without any personal knowledge of the industry beyond 'faving' some pornographer they like.

My main reason? A slightly biased one based on some films she made and a film she was planning on making.

I found out about a job she was advertising for, I had an interview with her, she gave me some discs of her work for me to see that she thought she could proudly give me as evidence that she was different (which in the interview is what I said I wanted to do, something more intelligent, different, fresh). I watched the films she gave me. And they were not any different from anything I knew to be marketed as normal, male focussed porn. 

I'll go into that in more detail in a second, but first let me explain the circumstance: This was the time when Ant and I were more intimate knowledgeable of the porn world than just getting that DVD sent to your house and closely watching your bank statements to check that the name of the company really does look as innocent as the website said it would. During that year Ant filmed and edited some stuff, some I thought was on the ok scale, some I had a strong reaction to enough to throw the computer out the window, as did the cat - she tended to sit on his keyboard judging him if a certain number of hours of editing past. My involvement was mostly writing a bunch of different synopsi and treatments for different purposes, given that more intelligent, narratively feminist porn was what I was interested in. A feministic filmmaking process is great on its own too (as in, where the filmmaking process was very feminist but the content didn't break ground), but ingraining it in the narrative was what I was interested in.

One of those treatments was for Anna Span. She put an ad out around the web that she was looking to produce a porn movie made up of several short porn segments each one made by a different new female pornographer. It was a project specifically for finding and giving a platform to women getting into the industry. I applied and got the interview with her, where we had a very nice chat. During our conversation we discussed how I was interested in doing, you know - something different, something more realistic than a lot of what is out there, something more intelligent. She suggested that's what she was all about, and gave me some examples. Such as how having a set where just the pornstars are there is unrealistic, how like, if a set is supposed to be an office, so many other filmmakers won't have any extras, any suggestion that the office is populated. I agreed even though it wasn't entirely what I was getting at. I admitted at one point that I hadn't had a chance to see a lot of her work, so she gave me some DVDs to the films she had specifically talked about in our chat, and she gave me details of the budget, my responsibilities as the filmmaker and producer of my segment etc. She was nice, I went on my way pondering whether we were actually interested in the same sort of thing.

I got home and watched the films, and regardless of how nice she was as a person I didn't like her work. Few examples: the film where there are 'realistic extras'? One is about an assistant to the boss who get's done on a pool table by the boss himself and some other guy who had really bad, flaky skin on his skins (and his part of the position they all were involved in made it hard to not notice this :p ). The realistic extras were just some random people sitting down in the seating around right in front of the snooker game they weren't having, even though we aren't talking about another close room but right next to them in a medium sized room, they act like they don't notice and have a bit of a chat, if I remember correctly..  Another film I thought was quite fabulous was about a woman taking this guy back to her place sometime in the day, she makes him baked beans on toast and then they fuck, pretty standard pron fare, then she tells him she wants him to come on her tits in a northern accent and he does, pretty much end scene.

Those are the ones that stuck in my head. Anyhoo, I didn't class anything I saw as reflecting what I thought we had been discussing.. At this point me n Ant had had enough experiences with people who say you'll get to do something with positive messages, good production values, a more enjoyable narrative and better sex, and then you realise they've set in motion a production that's just the same as all that other shit and your name is definitely on it and there's nothing you can do about it now. So I told Ant I actually really didn't want to write one of my good but normal ideas for the treatment, cos I had a strong feeling if she picked it to go into production and it was even slightly tweakable into a mainstream thing, I'd end up with my name on something that had nothing to do with what I was hoping for. 

So I opted to write the most satirical porn idea I'd had up to that point: My treatment was called 'The Censors', and it was referencing generally both the British and American certification boards, and specifically a few individual cases that hardcore report readers would spot a mile away but general viewers wouldn't even know existed. The point basically was the in joke amongst certain porn centric groups that anything genuinely erotic, porn that is fantastically tantalisingly good for both women and men, would be watched and thoroughly enjoyed by the censors themselves, but then their decision report would order that all the good stuff was too much for the public and had to be censored. [FWI, the British board are actually quite reasonable but at the time there was some contention over films that showed female pleasure which had been given no rating, but in general I was more poking fun at the American board, about which there was a lot more comedy rumours and fodder about the extent to which a certain amount of bias and hypocrisy seems to come into play when they rate highly explicit male focussed stuff vs less explicit female focused stuff]

The narrative itself was that a couple of guys are sat watching a porn movie they are assessing, really blandly analysing each scene, then they discuss how good something just was or is, call in some secretaries and they all start going at it. I wanted the guys to seem just like the porn archetype, bland, expressionless (actually I wanted even more robotic than more porn actors who try but fail to sound really stimulated; I wanted them to seem dead inside), giving basic orders and moving lacklustrely from one position to another. They all finish, the women leave, the men discuss how all of that has to be cut from the movie, and then we move to the women outside casually discussing how crap the guys were, about humouring them, fragile egos, job description etc.

And that was the misogynistic version! Of course if I was making this off my own back I'd go outright weird and it wouldn't be women humoring the men for any reason. At the time I was really into sneaking the message in the backdoor (no pun intended), and I actually loved the idea of filming stuff that was very similar to what is mainstream (like men instigating sex with supposedly passive sex vessel female staff) but mixing it up with some other messages that kind of ruined the usual meaning. And obviously I enjoyed the idea that if it got made it would have to be assessed by the very people I'd taken the piss out of. And the British Board probably would have laughed too. But I wrote it as if the sex scene in front of sex scene would be fairly mainstream looking, just like her DVDs.

In all honesty, I picked that to submit to Span because I consciously figured... well, there's no way anyone can enter into production with this and then somewhere down the line, probably on the first day of the shoot, act like they thought something completely mainstream was going to be the dumb story. And I guess I also thought, if she did like it and commission it maybe she really is different and was looking for stuff like this all along, or at least really wanted to support all different women's perspectives on porn, not just the mainstream stuff she claimed she was being alternative by making.

Of course she didn't want to make it, and she very gently gave me the news. I was fine with that precisely because I only wanted to make stuff where we really were making the films we originally discussed, not some horrifying bastardised version because it seems easier to go with the flow once the agreements have been made. Where Ant ended up, it was kind of like starting your career thinking the job you're entering into is going to be the next Blow Up, and instead you find you're working on an Uwe Boll movie.

That's one thing I learned about being passive about it in the industry. It's not that everyone is going out of their way to be unimaginative, both narratively and cinematically. A lot of people start out discussing stuff that is no more difficult to make financially with a good perspective on men and women and sex than it does with the same old stereotypes. In a lot of cases the person or people actually making the thing (physically I mean, cameras, bodies, lube oh my) can find they are being told they have to shoot something completely normal with no colourful character or story edges because the idea of even one customer being turned off by, you know, artistic flourishes and enjoyable characters makes them bounce off the fucking walls. Even though it doesn't cost more, they picture that archetypal customer who doesn't buy because it's got stuff that might engage that side of the brain that you save for normal culture but you don't want anywhere near porn: that thoughful, engaged, quality checking side of your brain. 

I only wanted to start some kind of film if it was with people who I was sure were going to leave it alone, weirdness and all. Or like Anna Span, not even pretend they like it, not starting production with you sneakily thinking they can chip away at you to make it more basic. I appreciated Anna Span not even pretending she wanted to delve into that sort of odd, offputting stuff, but still that doesn't make her a feminist in my book.

Next Time: Why I think the porn industry is exactly the same as any other industry, so proper regulation of crime within it is the only real issue at hand...



Monday, 21 March 2011

Podcasts

I'm breaking my not posting this week rule to say:

I don't get podcasts.

I really don't; can someone explain it to me?

Maybe it's because what I most do on the internet is read stuff, so if I have one page running a podcast while I read other pages, I find I don't 'hear' the podcast cos I'm hearing the words I'm reading instead. Furthermore, I usually listen to Spotify while reading loads of tabs on web, and listening to music makes me reader faster and more focussed, so the idea of opting to listen to people talking when I won't listen to what they are saying if I do something else, and there's not much I do that lends itself to just listening to a bunch of people talking. I honestly would rather reading peoples' writings about something on a page while listening to music than listen to them chatting about something I'll probably stop paying attention to.

Is it because I don't really like the concept of radio, and something has to be really engaging for me to listen to it sans visual when it's just voices. Blue Jam totally rocked, but I view that as an exception.

This applies to me as well; before I did A-Levels I was on a BTEC Media, which I failed. I personally wasn't bothered I didn't finish, because I thought the course sucked - in the Production Module part, they make you do a project where you make up a production budget. Why I didn't like that? They literally wanted you to make it up... there was zero requirement for you to use any realistic references, if you wanted to educate yourselves in real world knowledge through the module (such as where you get information on the costs of hiring equipment or sets, costings related to health and safety issues or permits, limits relating to working hours or pay to cast and crew, how to relate this to shooting schedule, etc) you were actually discouraged from going into that sort of detail, instead told to just... you know, make up a bunch of numbers about equipment, paying people, locations, then a random number of days to do it, add it up and call it a budget. I wasn't particularly interested in wasting my time of what is fundamentally just a mathematic equation, so I didn't bother. But the bit that did bother was the radio module - I hate my voice, and I can handle that in general conversation, but my voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me so thinking of it on it's own, not bodily factor, freaks me out, and then we had to do a show that was really broadcast across South Wales. I wrote most of it, sorted out a load of the production stuff, picking music, preparing, all that shit, but I didn't get a grade just because I didn't speak on it!

Anyway, back to the podcast.

I really can't see why anyone would bother, and I never have. And it's not just because most of them are nothing more than some people talking to each other, often in a really boring, uninformed way; there are many little 'to camera' editorials I've watched, I've nothing against people choosing to add a really basic video to youtube just to say why they think *some* of the Indiana Jones movies are pure unadulterated genius, but there's something about people doing it as radio. Not exclusively, but ESPECIALLY if it's about films or filmmaking.

Is what I'm missing that most people who listen and promote podcasts are people who, unlike me, do a lot of stuff that requires looking or physicality but doesn't require listening to anything that would distract from the voices chirping in their ears? I mean, I wouldn't listen on the bus or train, because (same as above) my brain works better listening to music, I mostly want to stave off travel sickness and drown out stupid people talking around me or screaming at their kids. I guess if you were a environmental photographer who was so busy they needed to fill all their time with education and networking listening to a podcast while you wade through a forest looking for a squirrel would be a good idea, or you were preparing to rob a bank and for a week all you had to do was sit on a bench and log the times the staff came and went, but generally I can't think of many times I'd choose to listen to one.

Most people who love podcasts, or think their careers would radically change if they made and promoted podcasts, why do they love them, and how do they listen to them? I'd rather a video or text everytime? Explain to me!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

It Are Language Fucked All

I've been noticing lately that everything I write isn't grammatically correct. I mean, a lot more than the average.

When I was younger I was told that I might have mild dyslexia, but I didn't bother thinking much about it. Reason 1) is that they were wrong on the first piece of 'evidence' - they told me the lateness with which I learnt to write (11/12) was a sign that the lack of specialised teaching forms for the condition meant I was at a disadvantage compared to other kids so I learnt slower. This is wrong, I was illiterate until I was 12 because I was never in school during the first year you learn to write, then when I came back I was shoved in Special Needs as soon as they noticed I couldn't do any of the basics, and since the cirriculum in Special Needs contains about 10% of normal learning per year I never caught up in school. As you can imagine for years I continued to not learn to read or write. Truth be told my best friend ratted me out to my mother that I didn't know how to read at all, and over a summer she taught me at home with Roald Dahl books.

Yes that's what I said; my mother taught me everything I needed to know about reading and writing in one summer with the dark humour of Roald so that I was more than able to keep up with my fellow students when I went back to school, so my mother had closed a five year gap in about two months. What a statement about the Welsh Primary Educational System is that?  Because of her choice of teaching method I still don't really know the alphebet, but who gives a fuck about the alphebet anyway? I can promise you that all that learning the letters in order is wasted education. Learn on fun books and you will see all them letters eventually...

Anyway, the basis for telling me that I might have very very very mild dyslexia is I had a real problem seeing words and letters the right way, but only a few combinations, which is considered really mild. You're only classed as having dyslexia that needs specialist teaching methods if your lack of recognition of letters or words applies to all combinations, even if only occasionally. If your occasional visual problem only affects a small group of combinations, that's liveable, I was told. And I completely agreed. When I was a teenager and in the intervening years it's just been seeing Ss the right way, remember which way p goes, same for d vs b, and I have a weakness for never getting my O words right. Or or Of for example - often type or write them wrong, can't seem to help myself.

But this week - for some reason I've gone haywire! I can't stop writing my theres' type words wrong. Especially I keep writing their, regardless of which version I need. And tenses, have been having big problems with tenses - keep writing a present tense when the rest of the sentence is a future or past, it's a pain in the arse.

It's one thing when you write something, give a quick reread and on the perusal they jump at you, but this week I can't see them... Theres probably a bunch in this, but I aint seeing them if so...

So in keeping with this I think I'll take a break from the blog for about a week. Might have been spending too much time writing on the net. Might clean my house and go break into a bunch of closed down hospitals... x

Friday, 18 March 2011

Day Go All Wrong...

Been a funny day. I'm on another weird sleep pattern, caused by the first day I got the cold, about oooh... two weeks ago now. It was a really active time just as I got proper sick, feel asleep in the middle of the day and it's been like that again. Been mostly in the house ever since and sleeping during the day, researching and organising at night, but today I had a check-up so I figured I'd eat or drink my body weight in caffeine and try to stay awake. Didn't happen though :p  On the way back from the hospital I had one of my usual spiky energy periods where I listened to a bit of music (can't stop listening to Mystery Jets, which is genuinely strange - when I first listened to the album in question I hated it, accidentally listened to it last week and now I love it, no transitional period or anything) and started planning everything I could get done today. Of course within twenty minutes of coming in the door my cat start purring in my face and making dough on my arm and I fell asleep. So I'll be up again tonight I guess.

The hospital was amusing. Despite the fact that on a day to day basis I mostly feel a bit run down, bit tired, not loads of energy, it's odd to go there and have them tell me I have to have loads of stuff done to check that a load of stuff isn't going wrong. Today they told me I about the follow referrals:

1) Must see the head rheumatologist about me not being able to rotate my left shoulder, mostly meaning I can't lift the arm above my head, which though irritating is not that hard to compromise around day to day if you have to.
2) Must see a liver consultant specialist about why the toxicity that might have led to liver damage hasn't completely returned to normal after drug reaction. What else is not right affecting the liver? They ask me this but I don't know do I.
3) Have I had my bone density check? No - Did I get the letter and just miss the appointment or has it not been scheduled? No one's mentioned it one way or the other. Apparently that should have been done already. I assume because my pills lead to some bone density problems.
4) Have I seen a skin specialist yet? Also no, but at least I'm familiar with this one - the pills I'm on, given that they make your immune system mostly incapable of recognising what stuff is alien in the body and fighting it or pushing it out, it no longer recognises all those sun rays as bad. Apparently even though we're used to being told how easily the sun affects us, it's still related to the immune system and a lot more tries to damage the body that it averagely does. On immunosuppressants body stops trying to stop some of it messing you up, you become much more likely to get skin cancer.

That one I'm actually ok with. Back in ye olden days when they were introducing me to the transplant information I thought I was told that recipients are very likely to get BONE cancer. My heart honestly sank. The medical team didn't know about my extreme unhappiness for several weeks because I didn't tell em, I let them do all the usual transplant things; put me on the waiting list, start discussing possible donors, doing more tests, but deep inside that was the only time I felt a completely hopeless about the situation. In my head I was picturing a future of either regular dialysis for the rest of my life, or transplant but with regular discovery of bone cancer and the treatment that goes with it for the rest of my life, which didn't sound much better.

Bone cancer and skin cancer, not much in common. Bone cancer = happens invisibly in your body, effecting, ahem, every bone you have, one of the most painful things anyone can experience. Skin cancer = you wear big hats and go without bikini at the beach for the rest of your life, you wear sunblock on any exposed skin, and check your skin regularly, get used to what it looks like and report any change in pigmentation, or shape n size of moles. And, crucially, if you catch any changes, you go to the hospital, they take it out. Once I realised that's what they meant, I was happy as a clam in high water. I mean, I'm really pale so I don't do sunbathing anyway, and even if I did I'm not exactly Rhona Mitra, so it's not my scene. And I like hats.

And on that note (Rhona, not hats), the other consultation is to see a dietician (referral 5!) so I can discuss the best ways to lose weight, tone up, build muscle. You know, the whole scientific attitude to body building? I want to do that!

Yes, I am throwing myself wholeheartedly into becoming one of those people who knows about all that crap, the stuff to do with eating protein before a half hour after your exercise session has past, about slowly working your muscles for the first half hour of said session because in that time your muslces are loose enough to effectively work, about when you'll be burning muscles instead of fat, blah blah blah.

Pretty girly :D  I blame the massive photo file we found last week. I was looking through all my printed photos, about 3000 photos on one harddrive and then Ant managed to pull some stuff off a broken harddrive and we found another 4000. We were mostly looking for the Japan pictures (obviously, like everyone, it's on our minds) but I found some of me I haven't seen... in a long time. And I've always been either thin and scrawny, or swelled. For a couple of years as a teenager I was really strong and fit, but it soon went. Then during all this stuff, you get that wierd effect of your body weight having nothing to do with stereotypical eating stuff, and you realise when the issue becomes what you're eating and how much exercise you're doing that in comparison that should be so much easier to control. AndI think I'd quite like to try toned, and between the doctors telling staying trim is always good cos transplant patients have a higher chance of getting diabetes, my muscle mass is crap because of dialysis, I'm definitely twice the size I used to be and I felt better when I was on a no sugar diet, I think if I start obsessing at least I can argue it's all grave n important, not girly n insecure...

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Long posts are my enemy.

I just wrote a long post about reality vs pretense in the presentation of self in media industries. It was spurred on by me looking through other blogs about filmmaking and filmmakers, and I was noticing the number of people whose self promotion has tipped so very much into presentious arrogance. I started the blogpost because I hit on a blog that was, how can I say this... it was coining phrases that in and of themselves were not unique, and presenting them as if it was the height of new. I don't want to openly refer to the blog in question so I won't use some of the completely googlable terms (I know nothing about the individuals involved, I don't want to openly leave a trail that could hurt someone's feeling..), but I'll try to fake the sort of thing it was doing. They had picked a term, akin to 'Proactive Filmmaker' and they weren't talking about it in a measured way. It wasn't like 'hey I think I'm a 'proactive filmmaker' yeah, I just get out there and do it!'. I mean, the sort of wording it was, it would be like if someone did that for real. They were talking about this coinage like it was as genuis as the theory of gravity, like discovering the two words together will radically change their life. But really if you heard someone do that or read a blog like that, someone saying 'I'm the Proactive Filmmaker'! I think a lot of people would think the same thing I did:

"Dude, most anyone who just goes out and makes films regular, they are by their very nature's 'proactive' and a 'filmmaker', you can't copyright that shit."

And it didn't stop there; their blog is full of stuff about finding the strength to be a filmmaker, having faith in blah blah blah and about if they get a five figure amount to start there production company it will be the beginning of a revolution. And yes, that bit is true... this blogger was one of those people who talk about starting a style/production/format/ethos revolution. Like they're planning on building new cameras that actually connect 10 people together, zap all the thoughts and imagery in their heads out via cables, moosh it together and they projects a load of random shit at a wall and call whatever discernable narrative that might pop out a movie.

That sort of thing really gets me thinking about self promotion. It's been on my mind anyway since the time to make a shift in one direction or another is on the brink, but this blog really got me pondering. I think it's really pretentious, really going into the sphere of ignoring a sense of your proportionate place in the industry, comparing yourself and a realistic assessment of whether you are a big deal or not compared to everyone else who are also talented and productive. I personally think that the work should be the focus of promotion, not the hollow choice of words describing the word as important. But then again, I noticed the blog, and had enough of a reaction that I thought about and wanted to write something. It may not be much use to the filmmaker in question since I think it's pretentious but I noticed. It wasn't films by the blogger that got me enthralled, it was just the self promotion. Imagine how much attention, and maybe money and work, they are getting off people who bought into that crap, who didn't just want to bitch about it. They are visible.

Self promotion is kind of like that Izzard joke about clothes n stuff. Any Izzard fan will know the 'looking hip, looking cool, looking groovy ... looking like a dickhead' sketch. It doesn't go like that obviously but the point is that looking cool and looking like a dickhead are polar opposites but on a barometer cycle they are right next to each other as well. Some people don't self promote at all, some self promote accurately, some frame how they present their work a little more impressively than their work and skills deserve but not to an embarrassing degree, some seem to frame their work so impressively that you wonder if it's a case of their don't know how little they don't know, and you want to pat them on the head for only seeing the tiny bits of skill and technique they currently know. And some self promote to such extremes you're in awe of them if they have the talent to back it up, and with the people who don't, you wonder if it's some piece of satirical genius living performance art.

Like the Izzard joke. Doing it really well and doing it really badly are both so noticeable they're pretty close to each other on the barometer despite being polar opposites in effectiveness. None the less they both get you attention. Ironically the doing it subtly, not embarrassingly and not impressively is somewhere in the middle, the part where you don't look awesome, you don't look stupid, but you also don't look noticeable.

The hard thing for self respecting people to get into about self promotion is that you might feel like a dickhead for saying stuff or doing stuff in the self promoting process you'd be embarrassed for your friends to notice, but if you don't are you completely invisible to anyone who might make a difference changing your career in a timely manner?

Either way, something promotional is on my mind which will be discussed soon. It's been on my mind for about a month or so, but I think it really is something to get out in the public sphere, an area of experimentation possibly. But more next week.

Anyway, this is a much shorter post than what I are wrote before this about different attitudes to self promotion, and how honesty, proportion, pretense and careful framing play into it, and then decided not to post. So that's an improvement - I'm self censoring. I'm sure some people will think that's an improvement :)

*I'd like to reiterate that 'Proactive Filmmaker' wasn't the term in question; me saying I don't want to lead readers back to the blog in question wasn't a double bluff or the like - if anyone does find someone talking about the words 'Practive Filmmaker' like they need a patent on some blog, that's an unlucky accident* In fact, the real term that was being used was even less interesting, original and useful than that!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Donate Life Organ and Tissue Donation Blog (sm)

Donate Life Organ and Tissue Donation Blog (sm)

This, other than being very interesting for research, just made me realise something I should have realised soooooooo long ago;

If I'm trying to get an audience to care a little bit about how my characters have to spend a substantial amount of time focussing on the ridiculous practicalities of dialysis, how they can't miss even a little bit of treatment because of the grave ramifications of lack of treatment, I can't just lead into that with how bad total kidney failure is - I have to include a character who just dies! Not really developed, just really body-shape changingly sick, and then just dies.

Of kidney failure I mean. Not of being set on fire, not shot, not run down by an angry mob, just the organs going kaput on their own. I know this sounds probably a tiny bit abstract, but other than abstract a little bit obvious. But really, it had not occurred to me that I couldn't just frame what the death would be like in conversations, charts, photos, I HAVE to show it to fully and efficiently make plausible the lengths to which the characters will go to keep focussing on it.

This is a clear cut example of someone being so close to what they're writing that they don't see the most important thing right in front of them. To me, how bad a kidney failure death would be is ingrained in my mind, because when I was put in hospital I was ten days from being dead, and I remember very clearly how bad I felt. It wasn't just easy for me to gauge incrementally how much worse I would be two days from then, five days, then the tenth day. The swift progress of feeling a bit ill to feeling like what I was (being, basically, poisoned by my own body) was incrementally obvious to me over the month before, so I had a pretty good sense that the last ten days must be pretty horrifying.

But an audience doesn't know any of that. No conversation could ever make you really picture what that's like. You have to show it. Obviously, showing it doesn't make anyone know what it's like either, but seeing something horrible is the closest thing we get to feeling like we know it's horrible, and being really glad we aren't feeling that. Seeing and hearing the infamous lil bit in 127 Hours is most definitely nothing like actually going through it but it's the best we got.

I better start finding out from the hospital quite what the worst death from kidney failure can be, and the combination of organ problems that come from it...

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Finger on the pulse.... What The Trend

I have never really been the sort of person who has their finger on the pulse, whatever the hell that really means. Pretty much I'm fine with it; I like what I like, and mostly I like things that have a timeless quality if they are not very strongly self referentially scewed. If something is affectionately taking the piss out of it's time or outright satirising it, I'm down with something that is so blantantly referencing the things of it's year or decade that will probably not be relevent a few years from it, but in general I like timeless. Maybe that comes from being a movie buff; one of the first things you take in when learning what makes a good film is whether an old movie is still relevent when you watch it at whatever time in the now that makes it classifiable as 'an old movie'. Ignoring the dress, the sets, the technology, the politics, the global status, the slang... is the story still totally relatable so that it's timeless?

But that doesn't stop me being a bit jealous of the people who can lead their normal lives, have jobs and big social lives, lots of hobbies and side projects and tastes, and yet somehow everyday they also know everything that's going on in the world, everything that's happening in technology, and everything that is considered popular by the whole planet on a given day. I went to Uni years ago to learn about Human Rights partly because I knew that the Political history of different countries and their interconnectedness would be covered, and I really wanted to understand the history of so much in global politics in an attempt to understand what is happening now. It didn't work :p

The best reason was no matter how much I read, watched, listened to, discussed, archived, organised, whatever, even spending most of my days learning about the politics of the past and reading the papers everyday I still didn't effortlessly take it all in, and it was practically a full time job. To also be great at knowing what's hot in a casual sense as well, what the geniuses and nimrods of the world alike are obsessing over in a day to day sense, I don't get how anyone can remember it all. And the people who use that to keep themselves at the forefront of their field with constant relevant knowledge, getting exposure to the globe for yourself and how your brand your image? Irritated by and still a little jealous.

Well today I finally saw one of those illusive (to me) ways that people simplify the task on the net. I started reading What the Trend. Now see, being slapdash about whats going on in the world, as the above pertains to, I do read the places and hear the stuff about the best websites for this or that utility that might or might not initially seem like the most useful thing in the world, but I usually end up dissatisfied. The website isn't a breakthrough, the blog doesn't have that much insider knowledge, the new technology being treated like one of the tablets the ten fucking commandments was chiselled into isn't actually that great, and already usurped by some other crappy bit of tech.

But What the Trend?

Maybe this only applies today precisely because I've hit that point where I do want to learn more about the real ways of gaining exposure (targeted and blanket) because Ant really deserves more attention for what he's done in the past and what we hope we'll be doing in the future, and we are hoping the next year might be the one for real exposure, exposure for something worthy of large attention, not just wistful fantasies about some day. Forearmed, Over-prepared, whatever, I believe in knowing the relevent areas like self promotion and PR, even if you plan on hiring someone to do it in the future :/  Ant really hates self promotion but at some point understanding it, even if he feels cheap and tacky (which he does) is going to be necessary, and even if I stayed in the background most of the time I want to understand it to be prepared for if that time came.

Now, back to the point. As I said, maybe I'm only seeing things this way today because it's hit the point when I'm thinking, in a genuine practical sense, of how this works, and why it works for other people. What The Trend today apparently shows that what the globe has most been talking about via the web is:

1) The tragedy in Japan. Regardless of fluctuations this is the main thing in many different ways, and I'm sure it will be for quite a while.
2) What people did before they had twitter. I would hope this one would disappear quickly but I guess it has something tangible at the centre because it's staying high for hours, not just a quickfire meme then.
3) Different Celebrities and Sports Stars.
4) teasing Jaden Smith
5) trying to figure out who said it was ok to do or say something.

Apparently that is what the world is most interested in today and yesterday and maybe the day before. This is literally the first time I've ever read a website designed towards definitively telling you what is 'trending' around the world. What, I guess, billions of people are bothering to communicate about today and hope to find many others to communicate with about it too.

Obviously the only one I'm interested in is Japan. However all of that information is useful if you were setting your public image, your career, your presentational brand on being in the now.

If you were someone wanting to get as famous as possible through being at the centre of the now every minute that the now is happening I guess you would have a blog, maybe several blogs, and naturally profiles on every social networking site possible, IDs for every comments board available, your own websites just about life in all current event senses of the word, and you'd be free to use this sorta stuff every minute to be at the forefront of each and every discussion until your ID is so ubiquitous that anyone behind you in the public profile stakes will be enamoured with your presence and assume you must be real important to know everything happening all the time before it happens.

What about, hypothetically, being a filmmaker who wants to get exposure any way possible. Say, you don't have much of a defined style of passionate direction? Again lets assume this type of person has profiles set up everywhere, accounts on every video site, etc etc etc.

You could firstly do a bunch of diary videos for your youtube about the crisis in Japan, how you feel about it, how much you care, how everyone should try to help; spam it everywhere so that even if it's so unnecessary (being just an emotive opinion piece with no real impetus to do something to make a difference) that it drops off the relevancy scale in minutes, you've spammed it so widely that you'll pull in at least a large chunk of the people looking for updates that minute. You could try to do interviews with some relevent people, or at least blog vigorously catching every link available to relevent places so your blog looks relevent even if you're just directing people elsewhere. You could keep doing this so that your blogging becomes something to return to and you get a rolling return of hits. In the background you could organise a benefit for the relief needs if you can't think of a way to film anything really pertaining to Japan (such as, going there and helping) and as soon as it looks like you have a real event in your area you can blog about that, about how you cared so much and needed to do something so the benefit will have artists, poets, bands, theatre, dance and all the money goes to Japan, but definitely mention that you'll be making a documentary out of it too, which people can donate money to download after, all proceeds for the relief of course. Through this you could go from looking like just another piece of hay throwing in a comment about how much you care, and move into showcasing your moral imperative, your passion and commitment, your lifestyle focus, your community ties, your networking skills, organisational and management skills, your filmmaking ability, your philanthropic nature and your production company.

Or, if you think that those 'add this to your status update and make your friends cut and paste it too!' things are any good you can repost and retweet and blog the 'Pray for Japan' thing over and over so many thousand times that you are at least genuinely spending real time on it, even if you can't tell whether anything useful is really getting to Japan.

Or if you are trying to shape the opposite image, say, someone like I really am - a right arsy, offensive, unpalatable cunt - you can focus on being negative. You can make yourself a hate figure and post opinion videos and blogs about how funny the tragedy is, how everyone is making too much of a deal out of it. Or even better, pretend you have a high horse to get on, act passionately inflamed and make it a conspiracy, ranting about how the emphasis on caring about these tsunami incidents is in sharp contrasts to how much people care about what happens on their own shores blah blah blah.

Or you can wrap yourself around the hate figures and hate on them. One of the trends of today has been the tiresome propagation of Godzilla jokes; you could easily do a bunch of fictional comedy shorts, design some memes to oppose the japan hating memes out there, of the just desserts for all these Godzilla jokers out there.

Ignoring the sarcastic presentation of the options provided above (I actually care about natural disasters and I love Japan, so the hollow focus in so many parts of teh tinternet is fucking me off, not that that's everyone, but it's a lot) it does help me see how, over months or possibly even weeks, you could get yourself at the forefront of public figures dealing with blanket awareness in any industry without actually being the first one to learn something and share it with the world, feet on the ground style. As a filmmaker, you could produce cheap, issue focussed films on a practically constant basis, if you were web savvy, you could produce a variety for each issue depending on target audience (as in, a personal to camera opinion piece if that seems to get you the most attention on youtube, a more defined piece of filmmaking production with a story for vimeo and all other filmmaking focussed sites, a community based documentary piece about public perception of grassroots activity for more community and charity based websites, and whatever works on presenting yourself on blogs). If a filmmaker was to tackle every issue that popped each week doing videos in whatever focus and direction that seemed the most appropriate, two things could be acheived. One, your image - very on the pulse, in the centre, knows whats happening before everyone else, a community leader. And two, you would make youself visible to the globe by so constantly taking advantage of what is most being looked for via all searchable sites, the keywording and spamming bringing people to your site making it higher in rankings etc etc, until you would rate very high on all search engines blah blah blah...

Interesting. Like I said I always knew this stuff was out there but didn't ever see it myself. 'Course I'm not hypothesising in order to do this, it's just interesting seeing *one* of the ways certain types of web users get so popular. Any filmmaker who would make films about anything popular just to be a name known to everyone should be thrown to the dogs.  I might make trying to learn the genesis of certain trends a bit of a hobby though, just cos some of them seem so random I imagine I can't even picture the people who would spend their days on them. Like, trying to figure out who said it was ok to do or say something, who the hell started that? And was it intentionally supposed to become popular today, or are they so popular (whoever they are) that loads of other users would make it popular just to have a tenuous reason to reference them?

Blah.

Prison Break, Script and Throat infections. (if you haven't seen Prison Break and plan to, here be SPOILERS up to middle season 2)

So I have a cold. Big cold, and a sore throat quickly turned into an infection over the weekend. Since Tuesday I've stayed in the flat trying to shift it since infections are (Gasp! Hushed tone) so very serious. A cold can so easily turn into the flu, and the flu can so easily turn into pneumonia. Or so we're told. Anyway, during these incredibly boring days I've been watching a lot of Prison Break. I like to get the whole thing at the end of the run or sometime after and then get through it all in one go. I wasn't planning on prioritising PB since I couldn't really picture how you can string out a story about a prison break for 4 series without at least a lot of the twists and turns being pretty obvious in the universe of break-outs, recapture, break-outs again, chase, chase, chase, blah, blah, blah. But watching Drive Angry last week reminded me that that dude, The Accountant, is wicked, so it got bumped to the top.


There's Mr Accountant looking a little more scruffy. Mr Accountant turns up in the second series. Ok, he's called William Fichtner, and he turns up in the second series. Between the two seasons it's like an american actor buffet; so many of the great character guys you see pop up in everything are in there - Paul Adelstein, Rockmond Dunbar, Silas Weir Mitchell, Peter Stormare for god's sake! Over the past four days I've gotten into the late middle of series 2.

And herein, I feel like I've been punched in the crotch.

Earlier this week I was feeling good. About films plans we're fleshing out for no budget stuff in the coming months. About urban exploration. About my script. Sure I'm not feeling as good as I was when I first fleshed it out, before I started getting distracted by any old thing, but still on Monday I was back feeling optomistic, confident again. I was certain without question it'd end up being an action packed thrill ride and a thoughtful, provoking piece hopefully about certain social issues that people think are a drag but they might subconsciously think more on so that out of pure adrenaline entertainment might come more considered thoughts. And I was sure that it was a strong mix of moral and immoral behaviour, good and terrible acts embodied by the same characters, dark and light pushed together, a mix strong enough to transcend a simple analysis of 'this character is the protagonist, and this other character is the antagonist'. I knew in many ways it was a new mix of different things, and a homage to others.

And then I got to episode 18 series 2 of Prison Break, and now I literally have the word D'OH lodged in my head on a loop. Prison Break is all of that, and then some, just about totally different things...

It's not the same themes. There's no apocalypse, the big cover-up is most definitely political and nothing else, and it's about, well, a FUCKING PRISON BREAK! Lots of Prisoners. FBI agents. Running around America. Doctors, people in suits, don't drop the soap, coded messages, road and railway blockades. Submerging an iron in the water while someone is tied up and being drowned in it to get information out of em. The works, and I loved it.

It's awesome. I mean, the first series - so fantastically written, and the lead actors, awesome. And the second season too. Different, but awesome.

But then you start to notice the character development. The shades of moral grey pulled in as certain characters do good and bad things in equal measure, the turns at which you identify more or less with them, and then less or more and back again. And then, they bring in a storyline about a fucking CHILD WITH KIDNEY FAILURE and what one character will do in the name of making sure that child can continue getting treatment without evil people taking it away from her in the name of leverage. And it's involving, and engaging and then heartbreaking. I had an extra lump in my throat cos of it. NOTE: I haven't seen the end of the episode in question, so maybe I'll change my mind if it goes in a funny direction.

Anyhoo, the storyline itself is NOTHING like what I've laid out in my story. That wasn't the point. I just had that intense moment when you see someone else take exactly the same issues you've been writing, and they frame in an emotional context you know you would never think of, and it's awesome. And even though on one level you are happy cos you're watching something fantastic and that's always good. But there is that other bit of your head, the bit (for me at least) that was thinking I really know my subject matter and I think that in the universe of what's emotional about it, *this scene that I'm writing* has the most punch to it, that is the epitome of what is heartrenching about it. And then you see someone else do something about that subject matter that's totally different from what you were planning and it blows you away.

Kinda sucked, that did.

Disclaimer of course, is... Well, I guess I'll just have to think about whether I'm actually so impressed with Prison Break because I don't like some of the stuff I'm writing. I mean, they are totally different things, what I've preparing for months is nowhere near similar to Prison Break, yet my head refuses to let go of the subtle character development similarities and the fact they include a kidney failure character, and it's really good. So yeah, that's makes me think I'm not bummed cos people will actually think I copied Prison Break (and I didn't: all I knew before Monday was that my mother really fancies the lead actor and that the actor in question had an incredibly small part in Buffy years ago, and about Accountant guy from Drive Angry). In fact I'm glad I've only seen the series this week instead of the five years ago that I could have tried getting my hands on it. Truth is, when you get rid of your TV you stop knowing much about what is on television, and when everyone you see and work with know you don't have a TV and you mostly watch movies, they don't bother telling you stuff about it all. I have no idea how many people years ago might have been watching it but no one I knew told me. My ma only recently saw it last year as well, and she didn't tell me anything cos she doesn't like to spoilerise. This way I know that most of my ideas for the script have come from other environmental stuff, what's actually been happening with me, what films have highlighted the genre gap out there regarding approach etc. If I'd seen Prison Break when it first came out, then last year when I first started thinking about this script my brain would be telling me all my character ideas for duality was just cos of PB, and how well it mixes good and bad actions.

So maybe me being bummed is mostly cos Prison Break is so free, so able to meander with narrative and character concerns that it does a lot of stuff I'd probably not even allow my head to flesh out because I honestly did think it was necessary to stick to certain genre things unequivically. Ant will think that's funny cos he said from the very beginning that just because it's apocolyptic in the second half why can't we fuck with all the genre conventions anyway. I said if you'll be throwing a lot of stuff at the audience that is totally unfamiliar to most people in a really outlandish sort of story (affirmative on that) then you have to give them a factor they can identify with, and I thought it should be the generic conventions. Now I feel I might have been wrong...

Anyhoo. When I feel less sickly and I'm back feeling like anything is possible, I'm sure at some point a feeling or vigor at the idea of meeting the challenge of 'beating' Prison Break, at least attempting to, will take over and I'll be feeling excited about taking inspiration from this issue. And I'll convince myself that all the ways this fucking script is totally different from PB rationally creates such a huge gulf that they don't seem even slightly similar, not least being the formatting factor that developing and exploring huge arcs is obviously easier in over, what? about 50 hours of screentime than in a less than two hour movie so obviously my characters wil be less developed. But right now, when so much skin has come off my nose that I can't touch it without hitting that nerve that makes your eyes water, and I've got a hankering for chocolate icecream with grated muffin that no amount of icecream or muffin can sate, and I've just watched over twenty hours of one show in a few days, I just feel a bit rubbish and inept, and childish and silly.

Maybe I should stop watching more than a few hours of any show per day regardless of sickly boredom to avoid this sort of thing ever again?

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Super Happy Gaijin Hotel Fun Time! (Hels Edit: This is most definitely Adults Only!)

video

Haven't managed to get this on any other site, so here goes...

'Speed Japan' -
A two-week holiday in Tokyo and Osaka (staying in numerous Love Hotels) condensed into 74 seconds. Shot on a battered old Canon XM1 during 2004.

This video contains (pixellated) nudity, so is N.S.F.W.!

Filmed and edited by Anthony Carpendale, and also featuring Hels.

Music - "Yellow World" - Written by Kousuke Ami & Go Misawe, Performed by J Girls.
Features on the compilation album 'Karminsky Experience Inc. Presents Further Inflight Entertainment'

Arigato!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Crutches, gulls, gas masks...

Hello blog reader. How are you?

My name is Ant, I am Helen's other half.

This is my first post here, and I am currently making films and such after a lengthy hiatus.

I'll soon add some of my own blah to this celebration of blah, but in the meantime here are 3 little films we made in 48 hours, during a chilly weekend in February 2011...

Lick My Crutch -


Close Up -


The Man Who Shouts At Seagulls -


Thanks for watching. More soon...

Blog traffic...

So you may have noticed I don't really know much about blogging. Or maybe it's better to say I don't bother doing much with blogging. Maybe I'll do more since my blog is pretty boring but still, the lack of technical awareness of how to make the most of my blog would continue to be low on my list of priorities, generally speaking I just wanted to write stream of consciousness blah blah blah blah blah...

But that was before I took a look at that whole Stats page, with the sources n the keywords n the traffic. I get some traffic from a Russian furniture store. People find me through Scroogle. As far as keywords go, inception, talhotblond and catfish bring the most random traffic, along with Black Cocks Split Scenes...


Yes. You read that right.

Black.
Cock.
SPLIT
Scenes.

Now honestly, I know I'm not easy to shock, or dismay. I am easy to disgust since disgust is a level up from hatred and I dig on hating irritating things. But even I feel a little queasy thinking about the type of person who would search for those words in that order. Let's repeat that: Those words. In That Order.

And I don't get why it brought them here!! I know I wrote about split screen, maybe I actually wrote scenes instead of screen, but I guess the regular use of the word scenes led to that. And sure I guess I might have said black and cock in some context, probably in the sense of saying someone is a douche. But now I'm thinking about the sort of person who searches for black cock split scenes.

They must have been pretty disappointed when they got here.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Film things...

So I've decided to start writing again after this protracted hiatus, finally being inspired with new thoughts of how to improve the script instead of wallowing in a bottomless pit of self doubt and disgust and your basic no frills neurosis. Ironically it was the most mainsteam of all stuff that inspired me with new things to consider; I was watching the recent War of the Worlds and Ant had me reading a blog he likes explaining why things like Indiana Jones (the first one, we do not acknowledge the Crystal Blah film) and Die Hard are good scripts. I realised a few scenes I was writing are misplaced - for one thing the tone changes after a death far too quickly and I need to think of an appropriate scene to go between the death and the following U turn. Also it's becoming more and more apparent that I like my secondary characters much more than the actual main characters. I know why, and I know why I'm finding it hard to change the main characters, but I'm almost amused by how bland I'm keeping them. I'll figure out why I'm amused later.

On another note I've been reading up on Toronto Underground Cinema's current Defending the Indefensible films; I love this idea, I can't get over how great it would be to do this here. There are some films I'd love to show under the guise of defending it, skirting the line between genuine debate and good natured entertainment. Maybe it's because I love a good argument, I love a situation in which arguing one side with both facts, details, citations as well as good old fashioned bias, opinion and unfounded passion is allowed, encouraged. Maybe it's just because I love alot of crappy movies, or movies maintained to be crappy that I still really love :D

I really do. This is no secret since I was a teenager. I watch lots of movies over and over; I am one of those people who'll watch a film I like dozens of times, and there probably are a few I've seen over a hundred times. The only difference between one of my favourite good films and one of my favourite crappy films is I'll have seen a little less than the good favourite. And often I'll have seen the crappy film I enjoy more than a classic I just respect. I've seen She-Devil, like, 10 times. I've seen French Connection once.

One film that everyone reviles that I would happily stand in front of a room of people telling me I've got no taste or I'm fucking crazy is Showgirls. I guess a film like Showgirls is so niche it'd never be included on something like that, but if it would I'd fight that baby right to the end! I won't go in to why much here, but suffice to say that yes, I think it's misunderstood, but no, not to the extent that I actually watch the whole movie regularly because each scene is so tongue in cheek that it's actively funny each and every time. The concept more than the scenes themselves are funny - it's almost socratic the way the production works. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for all the pre-production meetings leading up to a greenlight vs. the company response afterwards. They wanted a movie like a porno, but with no real sex so it isn't actually a porn movie and can be released mainsteam and get all audiences. Well, that's what they got, a movie like a porno but with no real sex - bad acting, bad character arcs, bad dialogue, bad dancing, bad everything, but without the one thing porn is designed for. Love it.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Body Double trivia....

I love De Palma. I've always loved De Palma. I especially love Body Double. It hasn't always been my favourite, and I haven't seen everything De Palma's ever done, but I'm working my way through the ones I haven't so no doubt something will replace it, but right now I can't stop watching Body Double. I saw it as a teenager and loved it but thought after all this time, it would now be just camp instead of fun camp, but no. It totally rocks my world, it's funny n silly n camp, but deep down I love it for real, not in that shake your head and laugh way when something's just too daft for words. I really love this film. And as part of my obsession all over again I've been researching everything else, including the composer more, since I love the soundtrack as a whole sooooo much! Now as much as I hate to admit it I'm not one for researching musicians and composers even if I'd claim to love their work. I know nothing about the background of Hans Zimmer. I don't know anything about the personal life of Elmer Bernstein. I couldn't tell you one detail of why Carlos wanted to be a Wendy, or why Clint Mansell's old band was so crap when he's totally amazing. But I do know something about Pino Donaggio, something that tickles me beyond words - we was born on one of the Venetian islands. Specifically Burano! And obviously Pino composed the music to many of the other enjoyable De Palma films, if one likes De Palma in the first place. It makes me all the happier to know this, makes me think being a De Palma fan is not just a statement of cinematic sensibilities on it's own, but culturally meant to be. But then again, I always think that when in reference to Venice, I'm very superstitious, in a good way, about any link to Venice. I always think it's meant to be. I love lots of things and people linked to Italy, it's just my thing, but Venice is special. I think the part of me that's all religious/reincarnation skewed thinks I have a Venetian soul, that I'm meant to feel close to it, or something.

Finding that out about Pino makes me literally grin, grin my fucking face off - anyone who knows me well knows that if I ever had the chance, had the financial flexibility, self employment, freedom to travel whenever I want, I would happily move to Venice. Or at least spend at least a bunch of months every year living there, if I ever get any financial freedom that will definitely happen. There is no place on earth I'm happier than Venice. Of course I say that having not been in years because of the health blah, and in those years they've added that stupid bridge everyone apparently trips on, and then theres the billboards, which are an antithetical eyesore even if they are only draped instead of nailed to the walls in most places. And naturally the concern continues that in years to come there might not be a Venice to go to. But even if the Square and all the other tourist spots become the home of only fat American families, pigeons and unnecessary reminders that you can buy perfume and Cola drinks if you get bored of culture, history, chic nightspots, everyone actually born on the main island having run away to Mestre and the surrounding towns on the inland coast, hopefully Burano and the other tiny islands will stay the same and still be a refuge into the real culture of Venice.

The main Square, several years ago:


Burano, also years ago:









It's quiet and beautiful, it's tiny, idylic, simple, friendly, relaxed. And from what I know it's been left alone so far, since it's not a real tourist spot, in the traditional sense, and any stupid pigeon feeding tourists who accidentally turn up there often leave straight away because it's soooo small that what you see straight away is what you get, they tend to climb right back on the waterbus back to the Rialto. And now I know that it was Pino's home when he was young. Given that the island is so small the whole place should have a plaque. Maybe he still lives there - wouldn't that be awesome! I'll have to try to find out. Course, now there's this other part of my brain that automatically thinks since he's still working if we ever get the script finished we could ask him to soundtrack it, or at least the part in Venice if he was willing to consider it. But then again, given that I'm not working on it much is that likely to happen?
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