Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell 2008 - Hello 2009

And so here we are - I can now gaze back at 2008 in its totality and raise a glass to what has quietly turned out to be a refreshingly marvellous year.  It's not been an easy-peasy 12 months at Tenacious Towers, that's for sure, but then where would the fun and sense of achievement have been if it had all been too effortless?

I am glad to say I have made more friends and contacts this year than I have lost, and lost more kilos than I have gained, so that's got to be a good thing; I have created more and written more this year than I ever have, including of course my experimental short film, "three" and my NaNoWriMo effort, "Taking the Fast Lane", which looking back on the experience really is recommended for anyone with a dose of writer's block, creative collapse or even penetrating procrastination. Not that I was actually suffering from any of the aforementioned afflictions mind you - I just felt like a challenging change. Last but not least, I have of course, been selected as Writer/Director for Screen East's DigiBytes scheme and start my script development in the first week of January 2009. I am really excited about the whole project and can't wait to get into the swing of it all; I know it's going to be really hard work but I can't wait! I am living, breathing and sleeping my short, "Practice is Perfect" and I keep having comedy moment panicky dreams about it. Here are a few recent horrors:

1) Staring at the shooting script, forgetting everything I have ever learnt about filmmaking / writing / performance, 
2) Not being able to find the set (!), 
3) Walking onto set and just shrugging and grinning at everyone as they await my instruction, 
4) Realising the actors are in the wrong costumes waaaaay into the shoot, 
5) Having agreed the lighting design for the Digital shoot, finding out, as we wrapped, we had been shooting on 35mm and no-one had bothered to tell me...

Oh, I could go on, but I won't as I am [nervously] laughing too much about the difference in size of a Film camera to a Digital camera.

I have approximately a three month period of development and only then do the successful five (out of seven) projects get chosen to go into pre-production and onto shooting.  You'll not be catching my ass near any laurels having a rest until I know what's what, that's for sure - it's so not over 'til the fat lady sings.  Or Screen East/UKFC say yes. Whichever comes first.  

And on that note, my dearest near and far friends, family, colleagues and e-stalkers, I have work to be getting on with. 

I wish you an ebullient Hogmanay and bid you an effervescent 2009.  

Onwards as always.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

A complete whirlwind of a week, so far, I tell you.  I've already been assigned my script editor for DigiBytes and I've been all go in order to hit the ground running come early January 2009, so as far as I am concerned, it's truly time to sign off now for some serious festivities here at Tenacious Towers.  

I wish an extremely Merry Christmas / Happy Hanukkah to all fellow bloggers, general readers, friends, family, colleagues, accidental googlers, the person from Bolivia who checks this blog habitually, anonymous lurkers and cyber stalkers.  I hope you all have a happy, safe time & here's to a brilliant 2009 for all!

I leave you with a Christmas video: you don't have to be a geek to appreciate it, but if you are, you'll get even more of the gags.  Until we meet again on the other side of the mince pies. 

Monday, December 22, 2008

Oh, yes...DigiBytes 2009

The Screen East Lady...she say: YES!!!!

That's right, peeps, following my interview last week, I have just heard my short, "Practice is Perfect"  has been selected for development for Screen East's DigiBytes 2009 scheme.

As you can imagine I am totally stoked so I'm now off to open a large bottle of champagne, eat chocolate, read more film books and then stare at my Christmas tree - all with a very big grin on my face.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Take a Breath

Crikey, you never know the minute, do you?

You can always suppose if I haven't rifled around my bloggage for a few days/weeks that I am either a) extremely busy; ii) on holiday; 3) can't be bothered.  In this instance, a) applies, as I really don't believe anyone is ever going to stop for Christmas this year.  It's all just go, go, go here at Tenacious Towers.

So yesterday was D-Day - or rather - SE Day (Screen East).  The journey to Norwich was, as usual, full of twisted surprise, warped timekeeping and strange occurrences.  I'm not going to run through the day in it's entirety, but please understand I only just made my connecting train to Norwich after running for 15 minutes at full tilt across central London thanks to 'an incident' involving a corpse and a tube train in the Aldgate region.  I presume it was a corpse after the incident and it wasn't just someone chucking random cadavers onto the underground lines in the rush hour for a giggle? If they were, they'd better never do it when I am trying to get somewhere again, I tell you.

Anyway, just take it from me, the day got far more weird from then on. At one point I was even wished good luck for my interview by a Priest...I still have no idea how he knew I was going for an interview but I guess The Big Guy must have given him A Big Nod or something.  

The interview itself wasn't what I had really expected but it was good all the same.  I have no idea how I did to be honest: although I seemed to answer the questions they asked, I probably babbled and wavered a great deal once my creative brain jumped ahead of my speech capacity and capabilities.  I have found recently that I need to have a pen and paper to hand at all times, due to the fact the visuals in my brain race ahead of the words.  I find it easier to (roughly) draw what I envisage, and then once it's sketched out, I can process what I am trying to achieve/see and put it into words.  But of course you can't really do that in an interview - not even one of my millisecond sketches - so I hope I didn't babble too much.  I hate babble and babble hates me.   Apparently we should know this side of Christmas, so come Christmas Day, it'll either be a big, plump turkey for me or a weeny, chicken drumstick.  I am, of course, still hoping for the turkey - and all the trimmings.

So, I did eventually get home last night - extremely late as the corpse on the line had obviously been causing a multitude of issues all day and created a knock on effect.  By that I mean delays to travel, not more corpses on the line...well, at least not as far as I know.

Today, whilst refraining from propping my eyes open with matchsticks, I met up with that mad scallywag, Dan Turner, who informed me he was very hung over, thus making me feel a million times better about having had 'minus hours' sleep' this week so far.  T'was a pleasure to share lunch with him whilst our chat veered from film-making to cameras, alien impregnation through to lifts (elevators to the US Tenacious readership).  Pretty normal film fodder really.  LOL.

So, tomorrow beckons and I am off to see the big chap in the red and white get-up.  I am going to state my total innocence over anything naughty this year and beg he bring me a whisper of a commission and/or a funding agreement for Crimbo.  I don't even require it to be wrapped up - in an envelope or over the phone would be fine...


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cor Blimey, Mate - Time Flies and All That

Hello all

Just popping my head above the parapet for a nanosecond to check all is well in the Land.  

I have been terribly busy all week, what with one thing and another, and now it's very nearly the end of the week and I am already heading towards organising myself for next week which is also jam packed full of meetings here, there and everywhere!  Phew - and all this so close to Christmas too - it doesn't feel as though anybody is winding down for the festivities in a rush, that's for sure!  

I will also be going to see Santa next week as I need to squeeze in a trip to his grotto before Christmas - I have been a very good girl and I would like to tell him what I need this year.  Oh, ok, I thought The Kid would like to pull Santa's beard off, alright?

I may not get the chance to babble on too much for a few days,  so you could be pretty safe from Tenacious Tripe for maybe a week yet. I will return with a vengeance of course, and besides, I'll need to update you all on my Screen East interview.

I am reliably informed we have only 14 sleeps left until Christmas so  I trust you have all completed and wrapped your presents by now? Good. Thought so.  My tree's over, I said here...don't go leaving my presents under James Moran's tree by accident - he's got far too many baubles as well as commissions. ;)

Until next week - probably, but not definitely.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Tenacious Yuletide Greeting.

I received this on email today, so please accept this as The Tenacious Towers Yuletide card. This is as good as it gets.  Mwah. x

*I would love to be able to credit this but I can't make out who it's by. Sorry!*

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Full of Attitude, Man

Hello all you little menaces and minxes out there.

I have been battering my way through the copy of the paperwork I submitted for Screen East, and combing through everything so "I know me better than they do".  That may sound bizarre and may even seem as though I made up the content of my application (I didn't!), but there are always certain self-marketing tools and turns of phrase one should utilize for every application: forget what you've written (and how you've phrased it) and you may flounder even though it's the truth. Moral of this tale?  Know your work and know your words.  That goes for your screenplays / plays / television format outlines / novels / poems / lyrics...whatever you write.  Know the b*stard inside out and that way you'll always stay on top!

Earlier on I read Danny Stack's latest excellent post from his Professional Screenwriter Series - this one is entitled Attitude -  'Or Learning to Love Rejection'.  Rejection is a shit, quite frankly, and no matter what walk of life you are from, it is never an easy one to deal with.  A few friends of mine (who have perfectly normal jobs) cannot and would never be able to fathom why I do what I do, or indeed understand how I even get myself out of bed every morning when I've just had another long week of rejections.  Well - I just do.  As we all do. "Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again".  I perhaps have a more varied experience of rejection than most, having spent many years trudging the not-very-glimmering streets of London attending castings for film, theatre, TV, commercials and voiceovers, but none the less, I kept on keeping on.

As an actor you have to be pretty tough - actually - extremely tough. Rejection is a daily pitfall and the effect has to be water off a duck's back, but somewhere along the line, if things aren't flying, you do start to ask yourself where you may be going wrong - and the worst answer're probably not actually going wrong, you are just "not right". In very general terms, negative feedback from castings will be along the lines of 'just not the right look/feel'  and that is very frustrating to deal with because short of a "Face/Off" manoeuvre, you're fecked.  The truth is, the commerce behind the media business requires a swift return on its money without a doubt, and so taking a risky step into the unknown generally isn't an option and hence why we see the same faces again and again on both the small and large screen.  That and the fact they are sometimes the result of a packaging agency deal.

TV Commercial castings, for example, are like picking lottery numbers and they're all about 'look'. Generally requiring no warmth or even courtesy from those holding the casting, you are herded in and out like a dummy: in the door, state your name, agent, height, weight, vital stats, turn left profile, turn right profile, show hands back, show hands front, smile teeth showing, smile no teeth showing, no smile, dialogue (if any), pull a face (if required), goodbye. Next.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have been to quite a lot of castings where I have actually been spoken to like a human being too - in fact, I have even felt valued!  These were just as important as the other castings, as far as I am concerned, but were usually held by extremely influential and well known Directors, Casting Directors and/or Producers - in fact the higher up the food chain, the nicer they became.  These were more like meetings than fly by the seat of your pants castings but involved a vast amount of script to be learnt beforehand (usually at 9pm the night before), for me to appear relaxed, groomed, amiable, professional, knowledgeable, interested in the project, but not appear to know too much, under very little pressure, but still having that slight edge.  And this is before the screen test.  Not too many boxes to tick then, but all in a day's work.

So why am I waffling on about all this, I hear you beg?  Ah, yes - attitude and rejection.  Well, for one, rejection is not only a fact of life, it is a daily fact of 'life in the mee-ja', but your attitude to that rejection is entirely different.  This is something you have to work on for your own sake and also for those around you.  Without a coping mechanism of sorts (everyone is different, so there isn't a magic 'one') you're going to burn up, down, out and more than likely take everyone who ever mattered, with you.

There have been quite a few times I have considered chucking the whole shebang in - acting, presenting, voicework, writing, directing and whatever else I squeeze into a mundane week - in fact I have jacked it all in before, in order to live in the 'real world'.  The result - I found myself in a far worse place than dealing with weeks of rejections.  Yeah, hell I had more money in my pocket, snazzy motor, top wardrobe, but you know what?  I wasn't ever truly happy.  I came to realise that being a do or die person, I couldn't be half of one and half the other. My true heart lay in the film/TV industry and I decided for once and for all I was going to hit the ground running with a plan of sorts - one that took me back to my roots and my original [childhood] ambition of working as a writer & director.  That was eight years ago now and although it hasn't been anything like an easy ride, and I've taken a few strange excursions along the way, it's been damn enjoyable - even the rejections have been different this time round!  And the only thing I ever changed was my attitude towards rejection.

My tip to you, dear reader?  Work on your own ability to deal with the crap stuff, because as sure as anything, you will be rejected at some point in the future - I'm sorry, but it's a fact.  If you have been very lucky (I hate that word!) and had a great run of the good stuff, then, fantastic!  If you have been seemingly unlucky (I also hate that word!) and had a run of the crap stuff - that's also fantastic, believe me!  Whichever 'luck bracket' you think you are currently in, you have lessons to learn and a future to live, so, just file all the 'current good/bad' away under 'E' for experience and wherever you find yourself in the days to come, you can refer back to it and learn - because learning shapes attitude.


Monday, December 01, 2008

Do These (Digital) Shorts Suit Me?

Well, hello, me ol' Oracle mate.  You were indeed right.  I should have listened to your premonitions and not allowed myself to wallow all weekend.

I just heard a couple of hours ago I have been shortlisted for Screen East's DigiBytes 2009. Yippeee-freakin-dooppee!!!!  I have a meeting with the Screen East/UKFC peeps in two weeks' time with regard to one of my submissions, "Practice is Perfect" and as you can imagine I am extremely excited.  This short screenplay is one very close to my heart, but I'm not going to blab on about all that just the meantime, here is the poster I submitted with my application which will give you a bit of its 'flavour'.

Now, what with my waffle all about Red in my previous post, I just could be one step closer to painting my very own picture with its digital essence.   Sweetie, dahlink, mwah, MWAH! x

Wallander's Red One

Last night I was very excited to sit down and watch "Wallander" on BBC1 - a three-part series written by Henning Mankell,  Richard Cottan and Richard McBrien - based on Henning Mankell's own novels about Swedish police inspector, Kurt Wallander. 

My main excitement was Kenneth Branagh, as I just *love* his performances, with a passion.  In my opinion the man can do no wrong, and when he and Emma Thompson parted ways, I was genuinely upset as she is also one of my big faves.  In my teenage mind they had been the perfect couple: quoting Shakespeare as the fridge light switched on and marking up their home-written and dual-directed screenplays like a couple of possessed banshees. 

But I am not here to write about the performances, the writing or even the adaptation.  No.  My other main reason for being so excited about "Wallander" was the Red One.  Yup, that's right.  The. Red. One. 

"Wallander" is the first British TV programme to use the aforementioned camera and as if that plus Kenneth Branagh wasn't enough, I also adore the work of cinematographer, Anthony Dod Mantle, so I was simply beside myself.  I have been eagerly waiting to see the beauty of the Red One broadcast on a TV screen for ages and there it finally was last night, in all it's glory.  

The effect, in my humble opinion, was breathtaking.  The clarity was so amazing it was like watching HD plus plus plus and although there are downsides to using it - mainly the cumbersome size and slight loss of whites to yellows - the clarity and depth of field far outweighs the colour pitfalls.  Besides, who has ever been able to chuck a full on Panaflex over their shoulder?

Potdoll used the Red for her most recent short and when I saw her early assemble I was blown away by the quality of this non-film camera - it really does rock, as does her film, of course!  To me, the Red One looks and feels like 35mm but it's a lot 'cleaner' - and by that I don't necessarily mean the loss of the grain - it's the liveliness...or's just nice, ok?

Anyway, I have to go now as I have Christmas presents to wrap and very sore neck to nurse.  Now there's a long story.