Thursday, 13 January 2011

First work of the new year

It's been a quiet time since before Christmas, with not much happening as everyone has been too busy and the snow had thwarted any opportunities we had to get together to discuss the next step in the "Surviving The Toilet Circuit" short film project we're doing, based on a script written by members of the Explorer's Collective.

Last week I met up with two of the project members in a pub in West Croydon called the Indian Elephant - a good opportunity to promote my good friend Amerish's fledgling pub, if you're ever in Croydon check it out and give one of the nicest and hardest working men I've ever known some of your business because damn, he deserves it. We had a good night and discussed the project a little, but mostly it was great to catch up with the guys.

We met up again two days ago with all the principles and did a read through, followed by some script editing and analysis and talked about how to "act" as none of us are actors. I've been reading some books on the subject and I'm halfway through Directing Actors by Judith Weston which is a deservedly seminal book on the topic, a real horizon expander which gave me a lot more confidence to talk to my non-actors and find ways to deliver the lines more truthfully. It's written mainly for working with professional actors but the book tells you so much about the craft of acting and how to overcome hurdles that I think it would be useful to anyone. Acting well is a lot more difficult than many people realise, including myself.

The readthrough and analysis, which was a couple of hours in Mark's basement music rehearsal space, was really constructive, and rather than degenerating into the usual beer and spliffs and giggles, we covered a lot of ground and are in the process of making some large changes to the script including a possible new character in the fictional band, which would solve our logistical problems of having four musicians playing what currently is a three piece band, but done so in a way that won't hurt or mutilate the script. Everyone is getting better and more professional already and I think we're beginning to focus. We've got a long road ahead though and so much still to organise.

Until recently I've not had a problem with the workload of producing, directing, shooting, recording, editing, organising, location-securing and lighting this movie all by myself but the last few nights have been a bit sleepless as the weight of the project begins to make itself felt. Every now and then during a tranquil train ride or a quiet moment at home an abyss of apprehension will open up and swallow me whole for a few seconds, but the key is staying optimistic. Not everyone gets a chance to indulge themselves and learn like this, and I am grateful for the opportunity. The key is to stay calm and in control, not something I have a great track record of, but this is where I need to rise to the ocassion. Preperation is my ally, and I've made some mistakes and learned a lot on my last few projects. As long as I can do this on my terms, then I should be able to stay in control.

It's a special, intoxicating and fun kind of terror.

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