Sunday, 30 September 2007

Stop Press

Tonight, 'Two Glasses' is being screened along with a group of shorts in Brighton tonight. Come along if you can make it and sorry about the short notice.

It's screening as part of the Showreel Shorts film club down by the sea front at the Ali Cats bar.

Showreel Sessions

September, 30 2007 - 7:00P

Ali Cats
underneath Varsity on the seafront
Brighton , LO BN1 1JU
Cost: Free

Here is a map of how to get there.

I am really excited about this, as this is their launch night. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Milk!




Milk glorious milk!
Just how do they do it?

Juice straight from a cow!
There's nothing else to it!

This beauty is pasteurised.
Or sometimes is filtered.
Then it is all bottled
And always monitored.

Milk, Glorious Milk!
How much do we like it?
Try reading my lips.
It's straight from the teat!

Just wait 'til you hear the news?
It's written large on the pack!
4% fat, 4% fat, 4%fat, 4%fat, 4%fat,

Four - Per - Cent - Fat!

---

(And healthier than oven chips)

Friday, 28 September 2007

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Am I okay?

Thanks for asking.

Yes, I have been a bit emotional this week. But there is a good reason for that. I have just finished writing a script. I dived into this one in the middle of August, completed the first draft just before the CWFF. I had my comedic moment at the festival before returning back to the script and rewriting the whole thing in a week. Caution Wet Paint is the exception to the rule. Most of my stuff focuses on the fragility of life, the links between love and death (I love putting the two together) and I set these stories using the more 'funky' parts of London, way off the tourist trail (for a reason).

I put a lot of myself into these scripts. In terms of characters and experiences as well as locations. I can feel the people in these stories, I can talk to them.

Am I unbalanced?

Good question. It has to be said that finishing these stories, putting a conclusion onto the lives of these characters can numb you. Especially when you have to leave them for a while to concentrate on something else. No matter how bad they are, you know them so well. Not just what they say, but what they look like, the smell they have, their favourite foods, their little quirks, the little mannerisms that makes them leap off the page. It's not easy to say goodbye.

This particular story were of some guys who weren't too nice (they were from South London) but who were just ordinary people you would see everyday. Although they were unpleasant in their actions, they had the same hopes and fears like you and me. People aren't born bad, there is no such thing as an arch villain. I believe that we have it in us to become the very best or the very worst of humanity. It may be comforting to think that people are evil, it makes us feel safe. It's the choices we make. Ultimately, we have that capacity to choose. That's probably more scary, to take responsibility rather than blame others. And that's one of the themes I wanted to get out in this story.

Hopefully you all begin to see why this has been an emotional week for me.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

It had to be said...

What a pile of-

What a difference a year makes...

Last year I had finished my first baby, my precious one and I showed it to the world. I thought, wow, everyone must be ready for the funk that is An East End Tale. And I was ready to conquer, with the brilliance of my film making having taken the ultimate step of making a feature length.

Mmm, the days, weeks and months passed. Rejection after rejection. People politely saying that they were washing their hair or painting their nails. Anything but watch my funky movie. But these guys had actually gone to the cinema to watch dodgy threequels, remakes of novels or rebooting of franchises. And they couldn't come and see my little film in the comfort of theirs or my own living room?

The months became longer and winter set in. And what happened next? Chikungunya. No, this isn't some funky curry dish served up spicy with a garnish of parsley but something that is pure pain and if you're dumb enough to travel in the Monsoon you will probably get it.

So last year was not a good year. Exhausted by disease and a lack of interest. Peeved with the lack of cash to get new equipment and the fact that I seemed to be spending far too much time on my computer had bugged me to hell and back. Last year was the closest I came to throwing in the towel. Even my camera had given up on me.

But there was one thing I had shot last year, almost as an afterthought. Over a couple of days, with a camera conking out and in the rain. And before all the diseases etc set in. I really wanted to pack it all in, but this piece of footage was just there on my hard drive, waiting to be edited.

And somewhere inside of me, I needed a laugh.

---

There's still a long way to go but what a difference http://www.cwff.org.uk/events.html year makes...

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

What a difference a month can make...

Last month, I looked up. I could see nothing. Just emptiness all around me. I pulled my collar up, to protect me from the cold. My hand touched my face, and rough stubble was all that I felt. I kept on crawling, scrabbling amongst the rocks, trying to find a way out. Then I slipped and fell into the water. Struggling to stay above the surface, the accumulation of baggage from the previous years kept pulling me down. No matter how much I tried and kicked and shoved, I couldn't get out of the water.

Then I looked up, and saw something. At first I couldn't see clearly, my eyesight's already blurred. But slowly, there was something in the distance. As I squinted I could see a faint dot of light up ahead. Much to my surprise, the water had carried me here, despite the fact I was kicking against it.

Suddenly I saw a rock and grabbed onto it. I looked around, and now with the panic fading away, I could begin to see around me with a little more clarity. The water was swirling away in one direction the light was in another. Do I trust the flow that has brought me this far, or do I hold fast onto that rock and haul myself out to try and make it for that speck of light up ahead?

Monday, 24 September 2007

What a difference a week makes...

Last week, I was basking in her warm glow. Her attention made me feel, well, special. Everything was going smoothly. Suddenly I felt that it was all okay. I was feeling more open about myself, more alive. There was a hope, a glimmer, something that put a smile on my face. Her brightness and sudden reappearance into my life during this cold, lonely year invigorated me, and finally I found that spark, that made life, beautiful.

---

This morning, Autumn has well and truly kicked in.

No more sunshine for nine months, ugh.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Learning about the Motherland

About a couple of months ago I embarked on a great project to devour a book on Africa - a huge textbook that covered the continent from the 1960's onwards. Being African myself, I do take an interest in the continent, but of course I haven't got much of a clue about it. Last year I rectified that with a book giving an abridged biography of the continent. But there is only so much that one book can tell you so this year I poured a bit more of myself into the subject and got through a bit of modern history.



Well, have I learnt anything? Well, I can tell you the difference between Zambia and Zimbabwe, I know what the Caprivi Strip is and I can tell the difference between Chad and C.A.R. (both are a sick joke of decolonisation) and of course why they exist. I know I could look it all up on wikipedia but usually a search on the internet ends up as a search into more obscure aspects of Trek Cannon.

Has it enriched me, most definitely. And not just because of facts and figures but also some of the great injustices over the last forty years. A mixture of incompetence from African leaders, greed on both sides and most importantly control from the West has screwed over the continent. There are a few gems (believe it or not) in Africa that has managed to overcome all of this. Botswana and Mauritius spring to mind. But unfortunately the world has left it as a basket case. Meddling in the situation seems to make it worse. What is the solution? Good question, but one thing that would make the continent more powerful as a whole would be economic co-operation between the states, as they would be able to trade as a block, much like the EU. However, with all the petty bickering, we have no hope against the influence of outside parties.

And so onto the next book, and that's a good thought as I do need something new to dive into...

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Wake up in the morning and-

-aaaah! Fuck, fuck, fuck! Fucking chair, what the fuck is that doing there! Ah, pain, agony, pain, agony! Fucking chair, who put that piece of shit there!

I am in sooo much fucking pain. Fuck, fuck, fuck, my fucking foot - fucking agony, ouch. My shitty little toe has hit the fucking chair, Arrrrgh! Fucking chair, fucking toe! Smack chair, fucker, I'll brake the fucking thing!

Bollocks, the fucker's now bleeding. That's it, flip flops and sandals for the next week like some sissy. Bollocks I have no flip flops or sandals. I can't wear boots and defnitely no trainers, so how the fuck am I going to go outside? Shit, fuck, shit, fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck! Put the fucker under water. Ow, that pain hasn't gone.

Punch wall, punch wall. Harder, harder, no, pain is still there. Ow, now my knuckles fucking hurt! Fuck, fuck, fuck! WHy does this pain have to exist.

Shitty little toes, shitty fucking chairs and shitty fucking life!

Ow, ow, ow!

Friday, 21 September 2007

risks, possibilities and acceptance

It’s the transition points in life that can be the most frightening. The fact that we have the ability to choose how to lead your life. Most people don’t realise it, but as human beings and living in a country such as the UK, we have a remarkable amount of freedom. From whether I want to drink Coke or Pepsi with my lunch to whether I should take a risk or lay safely below looking up at the stars, it is something that lies entirely in my hands.

Risk.

A month ago I was in a completely different life. I was working my McJob. Regular shift patters, driving a double decker through the streets of South London, checking out the beanies and in my spare time editing the footage shot months previously. I was also writing like a madman and I had a new script written up in under three weeks. What joy.

Then one night, an estate agent, thinking he was smart, undertook me on a slip road. Thankfully no one was injured, but his car no longer exists. I just thought to myself, ‘fuck it’. So the following week I handed in my notice. No more to drive a double decker bus.

A day after handing in my notice, I got wind of the Canary Wharf Film Festival. The big wow was that this was my first film festival - ever! After all those years of applying, getting the door slammed in my face, being insulted left, right and centre, suddenly someone said, ‘Yo Baby, let’s do lunch’.

Now that it's all over, life lies ahead of me. Yes, I am sustaining myself with an experiment. Hopefully it works, or I will truly be broke. And I like the taste of money, since a kid this is what has driven me.

But there is also something more scary than risk facing me.

Possibilities.

The possibility that I could actually earn a living by this. For so long I have been trying to get paid by filming that I actually look at it as a nice hobby, an excuse to tell everyone that this is the reason why I am doing ‘this or that’. A comfort zone, for want of a better word.

But for the first time in a long time, I actually can see a light at the end of the tunnel. For the first time, there seems to be a possibility that it might actually work out. I actually have no idea how this will work, but for the first time in a long time, everything slots into place. Suddenly, I actually believe that someone might say ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’ to me.

And that’s the scary thing. The possibility that I might actually get some success. The possibility that there might be an end to all this stupidity and part time business and actually a real and distinct possibility that there are people interested in what I write and direct.

(Note, I am not stating it will happen tomorrow, but hopefully sooner rather than later).

So what’s stopping me?

Up to this time, I have been learning what I have to do. While the writing I’ve done since a child, the filming is something more recent. Around three and a bit years ago and everything from picking up the camera and switching it on to talking in front of people, I have had to do it myself. And it has been frightening all the way, but I just did it.

I shut everything and everyone out in order to pursue this mad dream. And now that I maybe coming to an end, why does it feel so much more scary now than at any other time? The possibilities are endless. All those rules that I thought in my head are now being tossed aside. I look around me and see fire below. A faint glow in the distance seems to entrance me. But what if I slip and fall off that narrowest of bridges?

But there is no turning back.

Risk, Possibilities and Acceptance.

Can I accept this all? Will I come out for the final push? Or will I sneak back into that hole and cover myself with dirt. After years without the sunlight, the brightness pains me somewhat. And most of all, do I want to share it? I am not the kind of person who allows someone to come close to me. Letting go of that barrier is going to be difficult. It’s been a good excuse all these years to push aside possibilities, claiming that ‘responsibility’ and ‘money’ as well as my ‘dream’ was more important to me. However, those excuses no longer hold up. Even the excuse of ‘tradition’ is slipping away fast.

More than ever before, I have the responsibility to dictate where my life can go. And more than ever before, I have only got myself to blame if things go wrong. But even scarier than things going wrong; what if everything turns out to be just fine?

Have I accepted success?

Inspired by Saaath London

I love South London. After being born in one of its not so funky suburbs, there really wasn't much choice. Either stick with it or head up north to the wilderness known as North London. In fact, I was there again today and I could not help but admire how functional everything is over that way. Also, the sheer proliferation of tube stations is a delight to anyone with a fetish for all things Harry.

But I really don't know that side of the city very well. That and West London, another part of town which completely stumps me. The East End, after living there for half a decade, has really shaped my writings and my 'lifestyle choice'. But it is South London, with its dour mood and oh so grey skyline that has really inspired me to write more than anything else. And, not surprisingly, most of the 'shots' that I collect are from South of the River.



It is the writing that drives me to do all the rest. And I am editing one delicious tale of woe and funk from the heart of South London. Let us see where it takes me...

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Crossings of the River Thames 5 - The Hammerton Ferry at Ham

Well, it's that time of the month again, when I dust down the bicycle and head off along The River in search of all the different ways in which I can cross it. On my journey through London I have crossed the river at Hampton, Hampton Court, Kingston and Teddington.

However, imagine my surprise while cycling along the river when I suddenly came upon another crossing, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.



Nowhere, a good place to describe this part of the Thames. It is a beautiful part of the river. On the 'North Bank' you have the estates of Marble Hill and Orleans House. On the 'South Bank' stands Ham House. But as for places where people actually live, they are a bit more set back from the riverside. There are no 'luxury flats' around here, but acres of parkland bordering the Thames.

Which is actually quite handy as the low embankments on the river means that the area does flood around this time of the year due to the high tides. Cycling around last week was a wet and wonderful experience!



The ferry itself is fairly irregular, but is entertainment in itself. Alongside Hampton it stands as one of the more expensive ways to cross the Thames, but it is infinitely more handy if you're a tourist wanting take in all three sites in the vicinity.

This is what I would call a very cultural part of the river. History, art as well as open parkland. No traffic and stunning views of Richmond Hill and beyond, this little pocket of South West London is a gem that will be revisited one day. But the call of the journey pulls me on and there is another crossing further downstream. London is beginning to feel more 'urban', there's more 'street' in the air and as always, the bike takes the strain as I continue my journey.



From here on in the river itself still feels very rustic until you reach the outlying suburbs of Richmond. Then you hear the noise of traffic, something that really has not been obvious for the last few miles. More people milling around and the buildings creeping upto the banks. Although there is still much parkland bordering the river all the way through London, the water begins to lap against the urban sprawl and the last part of innocent London fades into the distance as we begin to take on the meatier parts of the Capital.



---

Getting there:

Southbank: Bus 371 then a walk from Ham Street.

Northbank: Buses 33, 490, H22, R68, R70, N22 and then a walk from Marble Hill.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

All quiet...

It's all so quiet...and now what happens? The noise and laughter of the previous night. The soiree of soirees. The new forged links, the firmly gripped handshakes, the loose brushes of fingers against one another. Eyes lit up with joy, eyes lit up with enthusiasm and eyes lit up with mystery. Drinks a plenty, tapas (I am not spelling hor'dourves), and lively conversation with clips of the best from the festival played on plasma screens at the side of the bar. A night to remember, especially as it was (as always) a sober one for me.

---

So what happens now? I've sent the e-mails to those that have given me their cards. I've done the whole facebook 'thing' (ugh). And I have phoned all that I have to phone. Everything has been completed, by the rules, I have done what I have had to do and now I sit and wait by my phone, waiting for it to ring...

---


Waiting my behind! It's back to work, the usual. And there is something very cool that I want to add to my tale of South London woe. Sometimes I blur the line between actual events and my imagination. And I'm not going into that whole philosophical question on 'am I living a dream'.

---

One thing that was nice was cycling late at night. It's far better than getting the bus and it makes a nice change from the car. But winter is setting in and it is a wee bit nippy now that the equinox is almost upon us.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Movies across the water...

East London is one fantastic place to get your films screened. But it wasn't the only big screen this weekend. I was also living it large Saaath of the river at the Deptford Film Festival. And not one but two films were shown. Both of very different genres and both completely different responses. It was amazing to see what the audience thought of both. One of the great things about getting your film screened in public is to see how their bounce off the film. It can be good and bad. Of course, if they don't like it then 'ouch'. If they do, then 'yey'. But either way, it is great to see their response and a learning curve. When you get back to the drawing board, you have a little more clarity.



But now what happens, now that the dust has settled? Good question. The euphoria of the last couple of days has dissipated and now it is back to the grindstone. The life of a McJobber is not one that is all that tempting, but it is something that has to be contemplated. And after all the e-mails shots to fellow film makers are sent off, what then? How quiet will the Western Front be?



I am a self taught film maker. It was flattering that a lot of people at the festivals thought I had been to film school. But the fact is that I have never passed through the doors of one. I have not studied film in anyway. I have not gone to a workshop, a summer camp on films or even a one day special event on how to 'use a camera'. Everything has been self-taught from dropping the camera in the most appropriate way to loosing half my edit because MACS DO CRASH. Or as they put it, 'unexpectedly quit'.

And that's the thing. I don't know what to do next. How do I build on the success enjoyed so far?

Well, it will be an interesting journey, and I am sure it is going to be filled with many potholes. But I'll get there...

Monday, 17 September 2007

Movies in the Open House...

As part of Open House, I skipped off round the East End of London. And as part of the Canary Wharf Film Festival, I skipped even more around by the banks of the river.

I have known about Trinity Buoy, the lighthouse at the confluence of the Lea and the Thames for a while. You can get a fuller history here or here. As a local, I really wanted to see a piece of hidden history. As a film maker I wanted to check out what I hope one day would be a fantastic film set. And as myself, I really wanted to see the lighthouse! The big kid was finally going to fulfil the fantasy.

And what a fantasy!



There is something quite magical about this location. And it isn't the number of artists in this one area or the views (spectacular as they are). It is the sheer fact that right in the midst of the urban jungle, there is a lighthouse, looking out over the river. It may not be Alexandria, but it is a wonder for me.

And also, they were screening films here as part of the CWFF. Wow, wow, wow. It's not the magic of seeing it on the big screen, but for pure FUNK, this had to be the place to watch the films. In the basement of one of the warehouses, against a back wall. It just felt so cool. And such a hidden gem!



Back outside the warehouse, I climbed my first steps of a lighthouse. A fantasy that I have wanted to complete since I was a boy was coming true. As part of the Open House, the organisers had set up a sound installation in the building. Personally, I liked it. The sound fitted in well with the nineteenth century engineering of the tower. I am no architect, but was that wrought iron, stone and brick? Whatever it was, the building was a joy to behold and wander round.





But the best was for last. Simply the view across the Thames. To the East was the murky waters of the Lea coming towards an end. In front of you was the Dome (no Oxygen here) and to the West the Glories of Canary Wharf and the place where my my film was to be braodcast a couple of hours later. My visit was not long enough, but I will be back.





Sunday, 16 September 2007

A busy weekend

I haven't had a weekennd like this in a long time. London Open House, The Canary Wharf Film Festival and the Deptford Design Festival. A fantastic plethora of events, linked together by DLR. And expect detailed reports next week on all the juicy fun. The bonus being that Deptford also decided to screen Caution Wet Paint. And it was sunny to boot!

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner...

Friday, 14 September 2007

Filming in London

Now for something a little more sober. While all the craziness surrounds Caution Wet Paint, there lies something a little more refined in one of my favourite places in all of South London - Deptford.

This weekend marks a fiesta of events in London including Open House, the CWFF and the Deptford Film Festival amongst others. We are very lucky to be living in a city with so much in terms of arts, and events that celebrate the fabric of the city.

The Deptford Film Festival has been a complete surprise to the senses. I feel ecstatic that two festivals are happening on the same weekend and containing two very different films. One contains a quirky comedy and the other contains something a little more poignant. These films reflect two very different sides to my film making as well. One that is brash and chaotic, something that embraces the hard edges of this city while the other piece is something softer and altogether more gentle, something almost hidden deep in the urban fabric.

I am a London film maker and it is something that I proclaim quite proudly with association to my dichotomous relationship with the city. One of love and hate with equal passion. And while London is not one of the easiest places to live, it is a place which can inspire. There are eight million stories just waiting to be told.

Any readers of this blog, I would love to see you at either event this weekend. Just come up and say hi.

'Caution Wet Paint' - Canary Wharf Film Festival. Cineworld (Canary Wharf, London, E14) at 3pm on Saturday 15th. (West India Quay Station)

'Two Glasses' - Deptford FIlm Festival. Faircharm Studios (Creekside, London, SE8 3DX) at 4pm on Saturday 15th. (Deptford Bridge Station)

The Long Good Friday of Filming

It was a nerve wracking and fun filled day yesterday at the Canary Wharf Film Festival. First of all, seeing my film on the big screen. Woah! That was freaky. Try to understand that you edit on a little box, view on youtube and when you're testing out, on a tv. But nothing prepares you for a screen that is the size of a bus. The image s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s and it looks so funky. You also get to see the 'mistakes' that you made and think, 'Did anyone else notice that?'

---

Tonight comes a talk about filming in Docklands which I have been invited to to give a brief Q+A about the fun of filming in East London. This will prove to be an entertaining night. I get to talk about films for a little but and about shooting in what is my opinion, one of the greatest areas that this country has to offer - E14. This one postcode contains so many locations on which to feast the eyes.

Where else do you get abandoned docks, financial prowess, a lighthouse, beautiful parks, a tunnel, a foot tunnel, a canal, the Poplar Massif and of course the River Thames itself looping around on its way to the sea. It is a location and a half! A gift to a half-wit with a camera such as myself. And time and time again, I have used its location to shoot film after film, an area that inspires you with any idea no matter how serious or whacky it can be.

And so, while nervous about speaking tonight in front of a bunch of people, a lot of them more experienced than me, thankfully it is about a subject that I love.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Film Fiestas (6)

Yes, yes, yes! I am in a second film festival! And I found out late yesterday evening. Another film, the more sober minded 'Two Glasses' is to be screened as part of the Deptford Design Festival on Saturday. So after watching the Guys in the East End I will quickly hop off to South London to see the Ladies. It starts at 4pm and I will pass on the details as I get it but it will be somewhere in Deptford amongst the fun of the festival.

Wow, two film festivals in a day! That is something pretty cool. And it is fantastic for everyone involved that I have two different films showing as it allows more people to enjoy the publicity and it also gives the audience a bit more choice in the work I do as well. Plus I am just pretty excited to be in another festival - yes, yes, yes!

And, here is a set of stills from Two Glasses. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Film Fiestas (5)

I am sitting on the sofa, pondering and regretting the fact that I have eaten curry for breakfast. On my left is a small exercise book. I am too lazy to reach it, although it holds the location of a beautiful 'location' which I would one day like to use in a film...

My camera is repaired, finally! But I still have to repair a tap, get some business cards printed and finish a script (along with a synopsis).

But the curry on my tummy...

---

Preparations for the festival. What do I take, what do I wear, how do I present myself. Damn, I have to shave my head, another on the 'to-do' list. Where is that list anyways? Oh, I need to cycle as well, get some fitness levels going up. Maybe I can incorporate that into a trip to get business cards...

---

Ah! F**k! What am I thinking of! Tomorrow I got a festival and I don't have a clue about what is expected from me! Help! Oh my goodness, film types everywhere scrutinising you. You know the type, the weirdoes with the funky hair and glasses, the skinny types, the ones with the 'uptheirownbacksidevoices' who sneer at you when you offer your hand for a shake. The ones who have won awards, the ones who have got into Cannes, the ones...

---

Take a deep breath and go for it. One thing that has to be said, film making is not glamourous. If you're an actor it is. Turn up for an audition, make sure you look reasonable, party hard afterwards. For a director it is slightly different. Get the script, get the funding, organise the actors and crew, shoot, re-shoot, under pressure to finish on time, edit, find a distributor, countless rejections from festivals, agents and companies and this is all for one project which if you're lucky takes up only a year of your time.

---

I have been to many film festivals in my time, but Thursday marks the first one that I will be attending when I am also an attraction as well as a spectator. It's not the biggest festival on the planet, but I am still kind of nervous. And I am not sure how it will all turn out. But the adventure continues...

Monday, 10 September 2007

Film Fiesta (4)

Just a note to all that are turning up to the Canary Wharf Film Festival, do note that it is a free event.

Free?

Yep, free. First come, first served for tickets. The Cineworld opens at 11.30am-ish and tickets are available throughout the day.

Thursday will probably not be that busy, but Saturday will probably be buzzing.

I'm saying probably as I really don't know how any of this is going to turn out. Hence the nervous ramblings on this blog. Will anyone turn up or will it be my mother and myself staring at the big empty screen?

Then again, this is East london. Anything that is free will be snapped up, so turn up early to enjoy the milky fun.

But in case you're missing out, here's a taster of the fun of Caution Wet Paint!




Caution Wet Paint at the movies:

Thursday 13th at 3pm and Saturday 15th 3pm at the Cineworld (Canary Wharf) at West India Quay.

Film Fiestas (3)

The bulk of my filming has taken place in the East End. In particular I have utilised the E14 postcode (otherwise known as Poplar) more than any other part of London. On most weekends and also on many weekdays, you will see me running around this not so well known part of East London, usually with nothing more than a camera and a lot of shouting. I have had run-ins with the locals, the law, overzealous security guards, sealed-off locations and dogs.

But the biggest detriment to my filming experiences in Poplar is the weather.

(Maybe I should replace 'Poplar' with 'UK')

On Friday I am part of an event at the CWFF that talks about the trials and tribulations of shooting in East London. But out of all the hassles I have had to put up with, none is as bad as the rain.

It really mucks up your camera.

Film Fiestas (2)

El Director's first film festival it seems will not go off that smoothly. There are plans that were in motion long ago which means that the sudden and unexpected rearing of a film festival has put one huge spanner in the works.

At this moment in time I am lucky enough to have the free time in which to visit all the festival dates. And if things go smoothly I will hopefully be popping up in more areas of the festival than the screenings. It all depends on the 'smoothness' of it all.

I have been to a fair few festivals in the past, but this is the first one that I will hopefully be participating in a more than audience type way. But I have to make some preparation for this. Business cards are of the order, something that I never realised until I was invited to a soiree last year. Of course, being a writer/director, I am not really good in the company of loads of cocky actors, but it was a good learning curve. I also got to have press packs at the ready, an essential tool with which to communicate with the audience and loads of DVD's. It is important to be media friendly, and really, I am there to sell myself to the audience.

The audience. Yep, this is what worries me. Audiences are always a worry and that is because you make a film to entertain them. And the audience of a film festival are those that are in the know. A lot of them are like me, wannabe film makers. Some of these guys are really nice, but some can be plain awful - this business makes you bitter. There are also journalists, people who have already made it in some form or capacity and the festival organisers - even more nerve wracking as these are people in the know and you can't pull the wool over their eyes. There is very little that you can blag. To quote, don't bullshit a bullshitter.

And this is my first time in front of an audience. Not once but twice on both Thursday and Saturday. So it could be double the pleasure or double the pain. I don't know how to tackle this, but it will be an interesting time.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Film Fiestas (1)

The story of 'El Director' is one of fun and woe, but most importantly it is one of banging my nut against doors to try and get let in. And so this week marks the first time that any of my films have got into a film festival. This Thursday, marks the first time that I will see my creation on something bigger than a telly.

So, am I nervous?

Maybe that's a bit of a stupid question to ask. But I am wondering what it will be like in the cinema, my little film jumbled up with all the other shorts.

There maybe some talking to do before or afterwards. That isn't the bit that I am scared of. In fact, it something I excel at. But it is the actual screening that makes me perspire just a little. To actually see the reaction of the audience. Will they like it, will they laugh or will they groan. Will they get it or remember it or will it be flushed down the toilet bowl of memories along with every other short they have seen.

And most importantly, will anyone turn up?

See you there!

Thursday, 6 September 2007

El Director hits the movies!

One of the 'Caution Wet Paint' episodes will be hitting the big screens next week. So if you're in the East End, come on over to Canary Wharf and to the Cineworld in West India Quay, where there will be a feast for your eyes.




Caution Wet Paint - At the movies!

Cineworld West India Quay, Canary Wharf, London E14.

(Nearest tube West India Quay)

Thursday 13th September at 3pm

and Saturday 15th September also at 3pm.

See you there.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

I want my camera!

It has been a week and still no sign of my precious camera that I paid 'enough' money to get repaired. The trials of El Director continue but how can I even be a director if my camera isn't with me. I am not able to go out and take photos and so I miss out on important anniversaries. I can't continue to poodle down the Thames. In fact, I feel alone and unloved in my little home just wanting to edge out but unable to due to my crutch being taken away from me.

I want my camera! Waaah!

Oh, and because of a lack of camera, I have been unable to continue with my East End Series. But hopefully, not for long...

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Thoughts on Dubai

I have travelled to a fair few countries on this tiny globe and yet why have I chosen Dubai? Well, it is very much a city which people are aware of. The glistening skyline, the hubbub of activity, the multitude of projects that exist. It is a city that seems to be racing to the future and a city that seems to be actively seeking a route of economic development that does not depend on oil wealth.

However the UAE as a whole, although diversifying seem to be defying gravity. No country in the world has gone from a producer of primary goods to a service economy without entering some sort of manufacturing phase. Even relatively small countries such as the Bahamas and Mauritius that are now entering the stage of a service economy had and still have some sort of secondary industry. In other words, Dubai is trying to skip the queue in order to join the developed world.

Will it work? Good question. It seems on target to. With the investments made by the Dubai government and the transformation of Dubai in something akin to a Las Vegas of the East, it seems that although untested, it will probably work.

I say probably.

There is something that leaves a bad taste in the mouth about the whole Dubai project. For starters, the lack of rights attached to their residents, particularly the guys from Africa and the Sub-Continent. These are the builders of Dubai, what the whole project rests on, but they are expendable in terms of their jobs, their treatment under law and even their lives. As there is no attempt to grant at least permanent residency to the workers of Dubai, there is no long term loyalty fostered amongst this important part of the community. And if there is no long term loyalty, how do you expect to build a future?

The only people that are encouraged to stay are the rich and beautiful. Or maybe I should term that the Blonde and the Beautiful knowing how much the natives of Dubai love the colour 'Blonde'. But, fashions change and one day the rich and famous will leave as somewhere else becomes more beautiful and spectacular. It has happened to Seychelles which has been superseded by the Maldives and is now languishing after a lazy government depended on the rich and famous for too long. And it will inevitably happen to Dubai. Anyone remember Bahrain?

And, there is also something very 'Mickey Mouse' about the whole project. Everything that is being built is there to dazzle. Ice Bars, Islands in the Sea, Ski Slopes, a brand new ridiculously sized airport, and my favourite, the World's Biggest Greenhouse - a sensible option in a country that experiences clear skies and 50C heat. Without the oil money there would be no scope for these projects in fact there is no other place on Earth that seems this stupid. A lot of people may think that the Japanese come up with odd inventions, but their are innovators and look how many people today own a PSP or Wii. Dubai is not innovating, it simply seems to be strapping ideas together in a desperate attempt that it will work.

I hope Dubai succeeds. Only because I do not want to see them starve. Once the oil runs out, they need something to keep the punters there otherwise there is no food - nothing grows in that country and even with their harsh citizenship laws, there wouldn't be enough food to feed their own people. But maybe Dubai has to start thinking from a different angle. It seems to be thinking from the top, down and this is due to the poor education and lack of freedoms granted to their population, including their transient population. Allowing the people the freedom and ability to expand themselves beyond the shopping mall would allow for innovation which ultimately breeds success and a viable economy. Governemts do not know how to think. And allowing all the residents of Dubai to become equal players in the state would give each an every person a vested interest in success rather than the mercenary mentality which prevails. And finally, making the Arabs actually work. This is something that has rarely been mentioned in any analysis on the Gulf States but the fact is that the majority of 'Local Arabs' are lazy and have now got used to the oil lifestyle bestowed upon them. It would take a brave politician to force them all into the free market world, but although painful it would probably save Dubai itself from the inevitable 'lights out' when the oil wells finally run dry.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Welcome to Dubai!

As this year seems to be one where I am most definitely sticking in good old Blighty, it looks like I will have to probe the dark recesses of my TV infested memory banks in order to gauge the past times and the jolly times of my travels abroad.

Dubai, a place where the world meets? Although I transited the airport many times, I have also been to the city itself. Once in 2000. I remember arriving from Sri Lanka, sick, tired but relatively wealthy (ah, the mickey mouse rupee). Arriving at 11am, I was whisked through immigration and customs and onto the streets of Dubai. As I knew I couldn't afford a regular taxi into town, I went upto the highway and got a ride in a shared taxi. Joy, but something that you will probably not find nowadays in the Emirate.

Found a hotel and started eating. And it was nice. I love Sri Lanka, but it is good to be in a city where I don't have to worry about hygiene.

How 'theme park' was Dubai back then. Well, it was a theme park, but a tame one and even in the centre of town there were pockets of 'normality'. And it was a place where the world could meet, as I met plenty of guys in the local tea bar, smoking sheesha and playing chess. Guys from Yemen, Somalia, Eritrea, I had stumbled upon the 'Red Sea' district of Dubai, by the waterfront, poor but funky/. Almost bohemian. Today, it probably doesn't exist, swept away by the development of the city.

And yes, I had to say that there were different worlds in Dubai. There was a world for the rich and a world for the not-so-rich. My passport said I was loaded. My wallet and my skin tone said something different. Dubai is great if you're a certain type of person. But if you're someone else...

What do I think of Dubai. Well, I contrast it with the simple fun that I had seven years ago with the reports that I read today of stupid projects such as Ice Bars or of placing the world's biggest greenhouse in 50C heat. It seems that DUbai is hell bent on wanting to become a theme park and is happy to exclude the people that have built it up from the sand.

What will the future hold for Dubai. Well, the next few years are going to be great. 24/7 partying, a brand new city built to high standards and a city flush with easy cash. But when the oil runs out? Well, I hope they do well and they will probably fair better than Saudi. But is their plan foolproof?

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Cooking by Charlie

I ate far too much chilli this weekend.

Adult Toons!

Ah, the shady world of adult cartoons. We all know of the brilliance of family orientated fare such as 'The Simpsons' and Futurama. But there are plenty of other offerings that wing their way from over the Atlantic.

Probably the most famous is 'South Park'. Bigger and more uncut and still going strong. But there were also some classics, from when I was mainly a zitty teenager. Anyone remembers Beavis and Butthead? I really liked that, back in the days when MTV had loads of cool animations. Wow, am I getting old?

And then there was the short lived funny, The Critic, which I loved, especially the intro music. It most definitely didn't stink.

But my favourite 'adult' toons, not including Animie. Mmm. Well, there is King of the Hill, which I love. And then finally, the obscure and almost lost Daria. A spinoff, but one which I really liked.

Enjoy, before they remove it for copyright reasons...

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Kiddies Toons!

You know, there are some lame telly shows at the moment. I am not talking about Big Brother or Fame Academy (does that still exist) as that is always bad. I am talking about cartoons. Remember Tom and Jerry or the fantastic fun of Bugs Bunny. Wow.

But we're going a little bit beyond the era of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flinstones (barely watchable) or the Jetsons (yuck) or even http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scooby_doo (that was just plain awful).

No, our diet of American based fun really came from Nicktoons. Back in the day we had it all! Classic cartoons that could be rewatched in your teenage years and still be appreciated. And even now, if we're lucky enough to get to see a rerun, they are more than just watchable, they are relevant to modern life as we know it.

How many people remember the Rugrats. Wouldn't it have been fun to have adventures just like them when we were younger. Ahhh.

But for me, there were two classics from Nickelodeon. Firstly was Ren and Stimpy. That was just sick, in every sense of the word. Can you remember 'Log!' or the just plain stinky stories that were available every week. Joy!

And of course, the top dog, the one and only had to be Doug. Wow, the adventures of Doug Funnie and Skeeter. His comic book skills, his love for Pattie. This was a pure quality cartoon and I could watch that everyday, even today, if they would re-air it. And the amount of people that are influenced today.

The later Nicktoons were not so great, although I did like Rocko's Modern Life, it really all started to go downhill with Ahh, Real Monsters. That was a slippery slope which saw the Rugrats make far too many movies, and Doug being transferred to Disney - and yes, it was a butchery. Ren and Stimpy still retained their stinkiness and managed to go 'Adult' but it just was no longer the same.

Oh, the memories...