On Reflection 2012…

For most of us, I would imagine, 2012 was a bit of a rollercoaster of mixed experiences. Mine certainly was. No personal tales to be told here, but suffice it to say that I took a large cup of pure joy, followed by a bitter smattering of deep sadness. Throw into the mix the odd crisis and a couple of heaped tablespoons of the old reliable stressful situations, and yes, I am guessing that many of you are nodding your heads in recognition of that familiar recipe right now.

And to the artist, it’s all copy, after all. Lived experience and inspiration for future work…

Whatever 2012 brought, [here comes the cheesy bit!] it is wise to remember that 2013 is as yet, an unspoiled page in the book of time, and as hopeful creatures, we shall creep, leap, stagger or dance into it with all the blind optimism that never fails to invoke some much-needed anticipation at this time of the year.

Not just from a writing perspective, but certainly intrinsic to it, reflection must be a component of the process of moving forward; knowledge gained to put into practice what you have learned, realising what you need to change, nailing down what you most desire, and naming what you hope to achieve in the coming twelve months.

The voyage of 2013 is about to begin, and though I cannot control many elements of it, it will not go uncharted…regarding all of the above, I think I have it sussed. I know what I want to change, I know what I most desire, and by jaysus, I know what I want to achieve.

And only Mother Faith and Father Time will tell the outcome.

Father Time illustrated by Edmund Dulac

Father Time illustrated by Edmund Dulac

I’ve done okay with the scribbling in 2012. Have placed well in some writing competitions, and was shortlisted for an Irish Film Board Gearrscannain Award. I got into the Second Round at the Austin Film Festival [Couldn’t manage the trip over, but I’ll get there in person this year, no stopping me!] and was shortlisted for best Arts and Culture Blog at the Blog Awards Ireland.

I continued to work towards the development of two feature scripts, LADY BETH, and THE CAPTIVES, and have seen two of my short scripts, ADAM,  almost locked, and IN RIBBONS, due to begin shooting in April, 2013, take leaps in terms of development. I look forward to working on these projects, collaborating with some talented, like-minded and exciting people attached.

And then, there is always the novels, three of them..but enough about them for now.

So, I will leave you all [In the 193 countries that 2012 WordPress Report has indicated my visitors come from!] with the sincerest good wishes and the best intentions for the new year, by imparting some seriously profound and learned advice…

BACK UP YOUR FILES, PEOPLE!

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Computer Hard Drives, much like the human brain, are labyrinthian networks of mystery, prone to short-circuit now and again, and for no identifiable reason, to malfunction with complete loss of memory, and to fold and shut down under the pressure of too much information and / or neglect. Treat both with tender, loving care…

Journey of a Storyteller 2: Learning from the professionals, the mentors and the ‘doers’…

Over the years, I’ve attended many filmmaker courses and masterclasses, always searching for the magic ingredients that will give me the template to forge ahead as a screenwriter and someday director. And yes, while I have gathered a wealth of invaluable knowledge and experiential anecdotes from listening to the creatives who have been there and done that…some have been a tad disappointing, unfocused, badly organised, or just not relevant to what it is I am seeking.

Each experience though, has taught me something, and what continually comes to the fore is this; that even the ‘doers’ in this business sometimes struggle, make mistakes, are let down or manage to turn something potentially beautiful into a balls-out mess! And, that while treading your path, you will always encounter your enablers, your mentors, the ones who are secure enough not to pull the ladder up behind them as they carve their own niche, there are also ten more who will shut that door on your unknown, unripened tenderfoot!

Making your way in this business is not easy and it can take a long, long time to see the benefits…nobody knows you while you struggle the lonely road towards developing your voice, coming up with the goods and making the grade…and nobody wants to know you until you do. Therefore, if, like me, you are going to launch yourself into the mire of this weird and wonderful world, it would be wise to seek and find those mentors, and to listen, really listen, to what they have learned…

Most recently,  I encountered two such mentors, both at the top of their game, when I attended a Writer/Director Masterclass with Irish Director, Aisling Walsh (Song for a Raggy Boy, The Daisy Chain, Wallander). The all-day workshop was hosted during the inaugural Fingal Film Festival and there was a double treat for participants when we also got to spend the afternoon with actor Martin McCann (Swansong, Story of Occi Byrne,  Killing Bono, Titanic: Blood and Steel). Martin is not just an amazingly talented actor, he is also a generous one, giving over an entire day to talk about his craft; to share the knowledge, and between the two of these amazing people, they managed to turn the day into an entertaining and insightful experience.

Here are the main points that I took away:

Build relationships: Writers can be shy, directors can be shy, actors can be shy…talk to people…make connections.

Make a short film. Nobody knows your story better than you do. Low budget, no budget, gather your team and just do it.

You don’t have to be technical: Work with the best crew and actors you can get; learn from them.

The energy will come from you: Be a good listener, see things others don’t see, be a decision maker, stay calm.

Three traits you need to have: Concentration. Communication. Stamina.

Learn about Actors. Find out about them, what it is that they do and how they do it. And listen to their instincts.

You can make your film three times: When you write it. When you make it. When you cut it.

Open the door and walk in! Are you going to just think about it? Or are you going to do it?

Right so! Armed now with bundles of notebooks, filled with theory, paradigms and checklists of how it all comes together, it is time…

Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power…

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe