Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Yellow Sky

The festivals are finally over, and because I'm exhausted I manage to sleep through until 3:45pm. When I do eventually wake, I'm utterly confused as my room is pitch black... but I know this time of day that it shouldn't be. Before I get up, I panic and think that maybe I've slept through until the late evening, or maybe even the next day's morning. The truth, however, I didn't expect!

I get up after a few minutes, and venture towards the window - pulling the curtains back, and expecting to find a night time scene. However, I don't! It's still daytime. But something is wrong - the sky is the most yellow that I've ever seen it, and the sun a deep, dark red. It all looks apocalyptic! It sums up how I'm feeling, post 26 days of festivals, perfectly.



Since we last spoke, I've run the Vue West End arm of London Film Festival. It was a relatively low-key 12 days, with only a few major events accompanying screenings - such as the world premieres of Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson's Ghost Stories, and Maxine Peake, Vic Reeves and John Bishop in Funny Cow. Still, great to be around the festival environment!




Now it's over, I'm sad because I realise that this could be it: I don't know whether I'll be asked/will agree to a return for festivals in 2018. More than likely this is it for London Film Festival. I feel like I've done everything I can do there, and that it's time to move on and let somebody have their turn. Raindance I'm not so sure about. It's a much more personal festival, and I really get along with everybody there. But it does take it's toll, and I'm not getting any younger! We'll see. I'll make my definite mind up on both matters around April next year.

If it does turn out that these were my last festivals, then that's it - my connection to cinema is broken, after 10 years. When I started out as a part time cinema usher in Bury, Manchester way back in 2007 who knew the path that cinema would take me down? Four fantastic and fun years there, before moving to Westfield - the busiest cinema in the UK! After that, Vue West End, where I sharpened up my event management skills, before moving into working film festivals like Frightfest, LFF and Raindance! If it really is the end of an era, well, I've had a blast at least.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Between Fesitvals

Raindance concluded its festival run on Sunday - but there's no rest for the wicked as the BFI's London Film Festival starts tomorrow. I have to admit, I'm incredibly tired. Raindance hasn't left me this exhausted before, but this year we were at a new venue that saw screens spread out across numerous floors!

Aside from the constant escalator runs, Raindance was really good fun! I met a lot of great people - not just filmmakers, but volunteers too - and I managed to see my friend Ramir's film play on the big screen. The fact that this was the 25th anniversary year festival added extra punch to proceedings - and it was nice to see lots of packed screens and events.

Various pictures I took:


PACKED HOUSE FOR THE OPENING NIGHT FILM

DRAGS ENTERTAIN AT THE OPENING NIGHT AFTER PARTY

AN ELLIOT GROVE SCREEN INTRODUCTION

JK SIMMONS ON THE RED CARPET!

 MIKE FROM GHOSTROADS WAS OUTSIDE THE CINEMA EVERY DAY

THE ANNUAL LIVE AMMUNITION! EVENT

 MY FRIEND RAMIR HAD A FILM IN THE FESTIVAL (MORE BELOW)

 MYSELF WITH FELLOW SCREEN MANAGERS KATIE & HELEN


IT'S BORIS FROM SNATCH!


 ME LOOKING VERY TIRED!



 PROJECTION FIX A SPEAKER!

ROGER ON PHOTOGRAPHY DUTY

 ME, TRYING TO MANAGE JOHN LYDON

CLOSING NIGHT'S CROWD

 THE OPERATIONAL TEAM BEHIND RAINDANCE 2017!

 OH, PLUS ME AND GUS FRING!

I also met JK Simmons - who was a really great guy, who talked to me about his love of Shakespeare and his longing to see Tom Hiddleston perform Hamlet on stage!

At this juncture I don't know if I'll be returning for the 2018 Raindance festival - but there's every chance I just might. We'll see what I'll say in a few months when (if!) I'm asked to come back.

But, like I said at the start, there's still LFF to go. It's nice being back at the Vue West End, working alongside old friends for these events. They have a vacancy at the moment, and I have to admit that I'm tempted to apply - but I'm undecided if a return to cinema is what I need in my career. We'll see!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Raindance Ready

It's that time of year once again - the Raindance Film Festival begins tonight. As ever I'm working it as a screen manager, continuing a tradition that dates back five years now.

My responsibilities have grown a little this year. I was involved in the programming of the shorts films, and will play host to the shorts Q&A sessions on Saturday 24th and 25th. I've not done that before, so it should be fun to spread my wings. I've prepared by watching screeners of all the shorts online. There's definitely some gems on show. In particular I loved an Italian film called Viola, Franca - a biopic of a 17 year old girl who is raped, and in the aftermath fights back against Italian traditions. It's a great piece of drama by writer/director Marta Savina.

It plays - along with the rest of the shorts - this weekend. Please come along and check them all out.

***

Am I ready for the next 12 days?

Ha! Funny thing is, despite years of doing this, I go through the same panic every year. I look ahead to the next 11 days, and simply can't comprehend how I'll manage to get through it. Of course, I will - and as ever, will look back on it afterwards amazed that I ever had any doubts. It'll create an over confidence for the next 11 months that I'm indestructible at these things... before once more, I break down again and realise my panic!

As ever, I'll post my thoughts from the festival whenever I can.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Rejection

Recently I sent a publisher scripts for 3 of my comic scripts. Their reply pinged into my inbox today.

And? Well... ouch!

Rejection, and it hurt.

The email read:

Nothing really grabs me, I'm afraid. Starship S.O.S. isn't really a story. It feels "fantasy-turned-reality" but the change isn't earned by Fatou. Boom & Bust seems overly complicated with no real sense of payoff. (Yes, I appreciate it's only the first chapter, but I can't see where the mashup of two different cultures/decades/storytelling-styles via a nuclear war will actually take me anywhere I want to go.) Pfft Queues! is cute but trivial.

You know the expression "he/she wears their heart on their sleeve"? Well, that's me and that's definitely this blog. It's always existed to chronicle everything - the good and the bad - because I feel it's important to be honest; to share a realistic view of what's going on, never sugar coating things by pretending things are better than they actually are.

That's why I thought I'd share with you this step on my journey. It's an important, inevitable step in my life (career?) as a writer. How do I react to it? I don't know yet. Maybe it will knock my confidence overall, maybe it won't. I suspect it will make me even more determined to make the next thing I write as good as it possibly can be.

But, for now, there we go.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Double Bill: mother! & Dunkirk

One day - two very different films!

mother!


I went into this blind, having only seen a few seconds of the trailer. I hadn't caught any of the pre-release marketing campaign either, so I didn't know how decisive this was proving to be. For me, I was just excited to see a new Darren Aronofsky film - having loved or at least admired many of his others.

However... pretty much from the first minute I felt a disconnect from what I was watching on screen. Jennifer Lawrence emerged, soon panting, and stressing about things out of her control (that SHOULD NOT have been out of her control, like really) and I realised this was going to be a struggle to get through. It also became quickly apparent that the story was a bit of a non-starter, going nowhere interesting and - worse - building up to a twist that was bleedin' obviously heading our way.

Then things get silly. Lawrence stresses even more (just ask them to leave your house!!) and things grow absurder. An hour in, and I just want the experience to end. I consider getting up and just walking out - but decide, no, I should at least see things through to the very end. Mostly to see if my guess of a twist was accurate. It was. Completely.

Where did it all go wrong? Well, Aronofsky has made a film that he thinks is clever... but really isn't. No wonder it's proved decisive - as half the audience understand it's complete garbage, and the other half pretend to understand a deeper meaning, and feel the need to celebrate the films utter pretentiousness. Well, I'm having none of it. It fails on every level.

Dunkirk


Now that's more like it!

Christopher Nolan's latest film doesn't feel like the epic some would have you believe, but is still completely thrilling. Nolan is a master of building, and building - continuing to crank up the suspense for as long as he can. He's helped by a fantastic Hans Zimmer score that really does keep you on the edge of your seat, counting down the seconds... the valuable seconds... that could make all the difference between life and death for the characters.

It's not without its faults. At times it can come across as a bit twee, and reliable Kenneth Branagh to gurn his way through his scenes. But I can forgive the film those small missteps when the overall picture is one of thrills, that draws genuine emotion out of its audience. I spent most of the film just thinking "God, I wish we never have a war like this again - it's horrible." It also got me thinking what would happen if we did, and then thinking up my own stories for a modern day world war.

Anything that can provoke that much thinking has succeeded in my eyes.