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Taste. Taste is what’s important when you start out. What stories you like, why you like them, how they make you feel. You get a specific sensation from watching or reading or listening to something, and you want to chase that.
Translation of taste to the page is the test. That’s where the “talent” lies. But I disagree. Screw talent. It’s how willing you are to write all the bad shit down and get to the good stuff, and how willing you are to sit alone (and alone is often when you will do your best work in the writing room), and decide which bits of your taste will make somebody else get that same sensation when they watch/read/listen to your stuff.
Decide what you want to do. Look deeper.
Casting is weird
24 October ‘18
Casting is weird! I was having lunch with an actor friend of mine, and she told me that she was grappling with how to portray herself in a meeting with a casting director: was she to be herself, or what she thought she wanted the casting director to be? Upon the (sage) advise, “well be yourself”, she responded “I don’t know who myself is?”
We all play act. We’re all playing a character. The man sitting next to us at the Japanese restaurant was all tan, slicked-back hair, and bravado. You could smell his aftershave a mile away. He was on the phone when the waiter told him that his colleague had pre-booked a meal, but he waved her off with a flick of his hand. He was playing “Important Business Man Who Considers His Sense of Importance Above All Else”, and he was really nailing the part.
Her question made me think, how did casting develop the way it did?
EXT. FOREST CLEARING - NIGHT
A number of cavemen and women, all hairy, covered in skins from a number of (now) highly extinct animals, sit round a large fire. One is standing above the others, remonstrating.
Ooog oog og. Oooog. OOOOG!
He raises his arms in the air to demonstrate a bird flying down to attack their village, before thrusting a piece of burning wood from the fire into the air, to show how he combatted the terrible villain.
They all start clapping and cheering.
INT. WHITE ROOM - DAY
A man (40s, blue shirt, grey jeans, fashionable 5 o’clock shadow) sits behind a table. There is a younger man (20s, grey t-shirt, black trousers, fashionable beard) standing beside a camera. A woman enters the room.
(without looking up)
How are we doing Joanne?
Oh.. sorry, actually it’s Julia.
The man looks at her suspiciously, then continues.
Alright Julia, you’re going to be reading
for the part of Cavewoman Number 7.
Please state your name, agent, and give us
frontal and profile please.
Oh, I thought it was Cavewoman Number 1.
The younger man coughs. He’s impatient, he hasn’t had a fag break in 2 hours.
Well that’s your agent’s problem, not mine.
She looks at the camera, and affects a smile.
My name is Julia Smalling, and I’m represented by Tascha Robottom at TBA.
In slow motion, she turns to the side, to the front, and to her other side. We contrast this with the cheering cavepeople. They’re having a great time. Storytelling is amazing. We zoom in on the scene and see that one of the cavepeople is Julia, heavily made up, looking slightly out of sync with the others. We zoom in further and her costume says “Cavewoman Number 8”.
CUT TO BLACK
Of course, the answer is that all you can be is yourself, as playing somebody else gets exhausting, and leads you into parts that don’t fit you. But it’s hard to accept this in a world where we’re constantly being told to be somebody else, and crucially, fit in to the wider narrative of our society.
Thinking is Glorious
21 Sept ‘18
My eye mask drops slightly over my right eye. As a result of an internet article I read some months ago, I now know that morning light pollution into the eye is the leading cause of FUCK THIS EYE MASK IS OVER MY EYE AGAIN FUCKING PIECE OF CRAP.
It definitely beats the dental head brace I wore every night from the ages of 13 and 14 though.
The cool breeze of my fan in my room, decorated elegantly by four pieces of silver foil I picked up off the ground while leaving my favourite musical at Edinburgh this August, brushes against my beard, then, as I adjust myself, my cheek.
These are some thoughts.
Thoughts I had last night
Lying in bed, wrapped up tight.
They pass from lobe to cortex
penetrating like a strobe light
fast as a textual message.
See that was thinking.
I actually thought so hard I swallowed some saliva down the wrong pipe and started violently chocking in bed. Go me.
But thinking is cool. It’s glorious in fact. I mean, it’s made hard by some of Freud’s characters, the superego, id, and ego. Each of them mediating, controlling, and battling one another for a chance to influence our thoughts, and therefore (in theory), our actions. But the less about that the better.
Consciousness, which provides us with thought (or is it the other way around?), is rather glorious.
But only if you can take a step back and have a birds eye view of it. Otherwise it’s confusing and wholly jumbled.
I can go through 5 emotional states in 5 seconds, or I can think about one thing, or person, in any number of compromising ways, for an hour. That’s consciousness. We have it, most other beings don’t, driven as they are by their needs. We have needs (which we oh so often surpress), but mostly we are driven by death-knowledge, time-running-out-knowledge (linked to the first), and community-relationship-pressure. Needs kind of slot in between all of those states.
And when I’m in bed, it’s all mine. I can control it. Sometimes well, sometimes not. But it’s night and nothing is coming to disturb me but the morning.
And when I wake up and woooooosh comes the world, I’m the same, but I assume the world wants me different. Why should I be different?
08 Sept '18
"So much anguish and outrage could be prevented", author Michael Foley writes in his book Age of Absurdity, "if towns and cities floated over their streets everyday three giant balloons."
It's a nice thought, to reach every person living in every town and every city. It harks back to a time when people felt they lived in one place, instead of having in their social media bios "worldwide traveller", or "currently in London, soon... who knows?" By people, I mean, me. By social media accounts, I mean my tinder profile. But the less about my dating life the better.
He goes on: "...three balloons showing the messages: 'Failure is more common than success'; ‘Many will dislike you whatever you do’; and, on a balloon even larger than the other two, ‘The world does not oblige.’
It's worth pondering on, and I interpret it in an uncomfortable way: Suffering grants more than pleasure.
Don't get me wrong. Pleasure's amazing, but to be uncomfortable, to swing and not hit, and to take responsibility instead of blaming the outside world, is where we discover more, and can reduce the clutter in our lives.
Also worth pondering: How would we produce this many balloons? How many fossil fuels would be used to get them all in the air? Who would drive them? What would happen if one of them malfunctioned and destroyed a small Swiss village?
I'm just trying to ask the important questions.