#100gratefulDays #002 I’m grateful there’s more than one type of person in the world

 

DSC_0181I’m so glad there’s more than one type of person in the world. I mean, how boring would it be if we were all perfect gym bunnies (shout out to Ken)? You know, in Japan, where people look quite similar to each other, imperfections are celebrated. Case in point, many Japanese find a mouth full of unstraightened teeth cute. Same goes for bow-legged girls. I imagine that if we were all bronzed gods and goddesses, that the same would apply.

So, I’ve learned to celebrate the things that make me “ugly”.

The first person I dated in Japan once said that the thing they liked best about me was my “high” nose (no I’m not on drugs – it means that I’ve got a big one… nose that is), and my big eyes (which to me were like bulging bug eyes that were too big, and too close together). And recently, a person that I’ve been spending some quality time with said that the thing they liked about me was that I was a bit overweight!

Amazing isn’t it? The things we hate about ourselves are sometimes the very things that make us attractive to others! If we were to poke and pull and cut off everything we didn’t like about ourselves (like all those people at Cannes), we’d just be these generic creatures that all blend into together.

I’m grateful that Japan has taught me to appreciate that there is diversity of opinion in the world, and that there really is no “right” answer when it comes to what is attractive.

 


#100gratefulDays – I’m glad I achieved success when I did – Day 001

 

 

Hey there, I’m going to be posting everyday for the next 100 days. I’ve been down in the dumps lately, and I want to do something to refocus myself on harnessing positive energy.

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I’m glad I achieved success when I did.

At the age of 24 I came up with a killer idea for a TV cartoon, and pitched it to the networks in Australia and the US. It got a lot of attention, and was extremely validating, but ultimately was rejected. And at the time, I was devastated. I still want to make that show. With all my heart.

Flash-forward to 2014 (ten years later), and I have a short film in Cannes (out of competition), and in Sapporo (in competition). And I’ve made a music video for Robyn Loau, my favourite singer in the world. And I’m getting to work with some of the most insanely talented people I’ve ever met (Paul, Adam, Qyoko, Jun, Lou, Robyn, Ken, Adrian).

If this had all happened to me when I was 24, I would probably be in a ditch somewhere today. I don’t think I was ready, or strong enough for it.

Perhaps, I’m not strong enough for it now. But, I am ready. I know the game. And I know when it’s time to take time out from the game. And I know that it is all just a game. The wizard of OZ really is just a little old man. I’ve looked behind the curtains of this thing we call life, and I’ve seen the strings.

Coming at this success now, I am able to see what is important. I thought I wanted to impress the world, when all I really wanted was to impress my family and friends. I so badly wanted to impress and get the approval of my Grandmother, who was a dressmaker for a Russian Princess. While she loved the film, she said that she was already impressed with the fact that I had left Australia and moved to a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language. Which is something I did over 8 years ago.

I was striving for something I already had.


A late summer night’s musings

I’m writing this on a Saturday night. A Saturday night. Gonna make you feel alright.

Yeah, one day rolls into the next for me.The product of burning the candle at both ends. I know it’s date night for you. You’re probably out watching the fireworks. With your special someone.

But, I’m not.

I only have one job that really, truly, pays the bills. But I give both equal attention.

Tonight, I want to talk about the writing gig. Because a lot of the people who follow me seem to be fellow writers. So, I figure we can all get together and have a circle jerk and stare at our respective navels.

I’m in promotion mode. I’m sure you realise that. As, I don’t really blog here anymore. Not like I used to. I’m too busy out there in the world promoting a film I produced and wrote.

Promoting is a very interesting conundrum for writers. To misquote Alyssa Edwards, I’m sure that we all “got up in this gig, girl” because we would rather stay home than head out and talk to large crowds of people. It could be partly my age, but I really don’t like going anywhere where I don’t know more than two or three people. It could also be, to quoth my first grade report card, because I “don’t like the boisterous play of my peers”. Clocked at the aged of 6. They do say, show me the child of 7, and I’ll show you the man. Well, they certainly got me. I still like my own company. I still like music and drama. I do spend more time in my imaginary world than in the real one (it’s the reason I write stories). And I still like working in groups. Guess I was always meant for this filmmaking gig.

So, why do I daydream of giving it up? Running away to a organic vegetable farm in Byron Bay. Going on a ten day mediation retreat in the mountains (that I ran away from as an 18 year old). Doing Tai Chi again. Stop the world. I want to get off.

Take a holiday you say? Right now I’d settle for a day off.

Robin Williams death has hit me hard. As it did the whole world. I’m not special at all on that count. But, it has come at an interesting time.

Back when I was dreaming of becoming a performer, at the tender age of 16 going on 17, the top nightclub act in my town committed suicide. A man who had everything I wanted in the world. Now the same thing has happened again.

I don’t want to be an actor. Seems at the end, neither did Robin. He said the act of taking on another character sent him over the edge. It raised too many demons. But, I don’t want to sit here and speculate why my favourite childhood actor and comedian decided or was driven to end it all. But it does come at a funny (as in strange) time of my life.

In so many ways, this second foray into the entertainment world, is an exact copy of the first. I’m hitting so many of the same markers. If the trend continues, this means that I am on the cusp of huge success, that will lead to an embarrassing mistake, then a re-emergence from the ashes to the greatest success of all. But, then it also means that I’m not far from complete burnout and taking two years or more to recover. Finally to find a compromise that works for my mental health, but means that once my time is over, only a handful of people will remember that I was ever successful in the first place.

Hopefully, I’ll handle it better this time. At least I can see the warning signs. I know I have to hit while the iron is hot. But, I also know I’ve got to take care of myself. Can’t expect anyone to do that for me.

My partner of 8 years split with me. It’s been over six months now. We had a tempestuous on/off relationship. Still, it provided a stability I miss. I am without an anchor now. I have to be my own anchor. Jesus is my anchor, but the long distance nature of the relationship makes it difficult. A Sanskrit pseudo-prophet that I follow on youtube says that a relationship is only the story we tell ourselves in our heads. It doesn’t actually exist in the real world. Unless you are physically with the object of your affections, then it doesn’t exist. It’s a terribly early childhood development view of the world. I forget the age now, but there is a stage of our development where if a child cannot see an object, it believes that it is gone forever. These stories that we tell ourselves are an important developmental stage. A hard won proof that we are adult. Still it is an interesting way of looking at the relationship. This person is no longer in my life, therefore, they don’t exist anymore. Poof. Gone. Done. The thought of it helps, and at the same time doesn’t help. Thinking of the love of your life as dead to you can’t be healthy. But then, it could be a healthy phase to go through in order to get to the other side. Where I might find someone to share my life with.

I did hope to find someone before I became successful (am I successful?). I wanted to believe that this person loved me for me. Not because of who I was/am. Because all of that is fleeting. A rich person is only rich because everyone else in the world puts value into bits of paper with people’s faces printed on it. The moment we wake up from that dream, then we are all poor, or we are all rich. Or we might find out that money doesn’t matter.

But, it does matter. In this society as we live in it now. Talk to someone who doesn’t have enough.

Perhaps this is the point where I will finish this. It’s a little like those early films where they just shot anything without editing and just shot until the film ran out.

I’ve ran out of thoughts. For now. It’s time to sleep.

I look forward to tomorrow morning. I’m working on a music video project tomorrow. Looking for props.

Props to you.


Falling Down (1993) – a writer’s review

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Falling Down, the title coming from the nursery rhyme “London Bride is falling down”, is about a regular man (Michael Douglas) who’s has had enough. He’s in his car, stuck in traffic, in the heat, with no air conditioning. And all he wants is to go home. But, this traffic just won’t budge. So, he decides to abandon his car, and walk home. And thus this Homer’s Odyssesy begins.

Another man, a policeman just about to retire, literally his last day at work, also wants to go home. Kind of. He just wants to finish his last day at work. He’s determined to finish it, in spite of the people he works with, and in spite of his wife who just wants him to knock off early.

The first man also has a wife, albeit an ex-wife, and a daughter, whose birthday it is today. And this man just wants to attend his daughter’s birthday. It’s just that so many things get in his way. And when something gets in his way, he has a tendency to remove the problem.

And thus the stage is set for this update on “Taxi Driver”. A film about a good guy, who does some pretty bad things. Or a bad guy who thinks he’s the good guy. Or both.

It’s an angry film. A very angry film. And it’s also a good one. It was in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, and just lost out on the top prize to “Pulp Fiction”. Possibly because “Pulp Fiction” has a very fresh feeling about it. Whereas “Falling Down” feels as if it were made much earlier. Back in the second golden age of film, the 1970s. The only give away that this film was made in the early 90s is the soundtrack. That’s the one part when you watch it today that really sticks out at you like a sore thumb. It’s sounds like it was lifted right out of “Kindergarten Cop” at times. The racism also sticks out at you. At the same time, those scenes feel very real. And we need real people in cinema. Even if we don’t always like them. Because even though the character is a racist, the film isn’t. It doesn’t show casual racism as being a good thing (Australia – take note), and it puts its money where its mouth it. Among the police are people from all walks of life, and when the detective tries to pass off one Asian man for another, the film calls them on it.

The interesting thing about this film for me, is the people behind it. It is arguably the best work of the Writer, Lead Actor, and the Director himself. Joel Schumacher, the infamous director of “Batman and Robin”, pulls out a tight angry little film. Every scene is perfect. Coverage is fantastic. All actors perfectly cast. Including the surprise casting of Michael Douglas, who excels in this film like no other film he has ever done before or since. A powerhouse performance. The calm business like exterior, hiding, but not quite hiding, the bubbling rage beneath. And the writer, Ebbe Roe Smith, an actor himself  with over forty four acting credits on IMDB, only has three writing credits. A well received short film made for TV, next comes “Falling Down”, and after that, is “Car 54, where are you?” – a film with only a 2.4 rating on IMDB. So, you know what that means – even his family and friends didn’t like that one. A cop comedy staring Fran Drescher and Rosie O’Donnell is a pretty interesting follow-up to the 90s answer to “Taxi Driver”. And after that, nothing. I guess he just had nothing left to say after “Falling Down”.

“Falling Down” is an unforgettable film, from three men who have never quite managed to repeat its success.

And it’s my pick for Netflix this week.

See the trailer:


We are going to Cannes!

We are going to Cannes!

That’s right folks. ‘An American Piano’ will be a part of the “Short Film Corner” program.


A new interview with yours truly on “An American Piano”

A new interview with yours truly on “An American Piano”

I did this interview recently for a local arts magazine in my hometown. There I talk about growing up in a small town, and all the opportunities that I got there that I don’t have in a big town like Tokyo. I hope you enjoy it :)


“An American Piano” featured on Gaijinpot’s podcast

“An American Piano” featured on Gaijinpot’s podcast

Director Paul Leeming and I were interviewed recently for a English-language podcast in Japan. We talk about making the film, politics, history, and filmmaking in Japan.

Skip the first 14 minutes if you want to just listen to us. Also, I apologise in advance if you hear any heavy breathing… I was really sick with the flu at the time. But, I’m all better now!


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