Saturday, 29 March 2014


I've never been to a Protest before and in a lot of ways I still feel as though I haven't.

I've always wanted to. I've always wanted to take part in a protest march. Join with my fellow man against the might of the government. Get out there and do something in an effort to change the world for the better. Protest against Britain - joining the US in - going to war - against countries with oil - to demonstrate against the increase in student fees or the dismantling of the NHS.

I therefore find myself wondering "why I haven't done so before now?"

I think there are a few of reasons.

Firstly, I need to find a cause that I truly believe in. And as self centred as it sounds, something that affects me directly. Because although I strongly believe that fire fighters and nurses deserve to get paid a great deal more than they currently do, I don't believe so strongly that I would go out and march through London in demonstration. And although I think that University fees have gone insane and need to be more affordable again. I completed my MA before the hike in prices and so although I feel for the current generation, it's not something I feel particularly strongly about.

Secondly is location. You don't get too many demonstrations in small town North Wales. But that's not really been an excuse for a good while now as I've lived in London for what will be 5 years this summer.

Time of day is another important thing. Why are protest marches so often at 9am on a Saturday? By the time I get up they're normally all over and as Saturday tends to be my only lie in of the week, I can be a little reluctant to give it up.

And finally, I just don't tend to happen to hear about them until they have happened and are in the news. Serious question: where do you hear about planned demonstrations? Is there a facebook group? There should be! I suppose once you've found a cause and start to investigate it a little - start being proactive - you find out about these things?

Oh and finally, finally, I'm just a bit lazy!

So if I was going to go to my first protest, the first thing I needed to do was find a cause.
What do I strongly believe in? Equal rights? The right to a (decent) education for all? Mental health? Wildlife?

& then I needed to find a protest that was going to be easy to get to from my home/work and at a reasonable hour (which 9am certainly isn't to me). That shouldn't be too hard to find. Right?

And it turns out it wasn't!
On Thursday night, while I was checking through facebook, I saw a post about a protest being held outside Pentonville Prison on Friday afternoon.

"The Ballad of Not Reading in Gaol" as it has now been dubbed. A protest against Justice Secretary Chris Grayling's plan to ban books from being sent to prisoners from their family friends. Now, how do I feel about that? I think the ban is a bit silly to be honest. I don't think there is any real reason to do it but at the same time it is only a ban on books from being send into prisons. It's not like they're banning books! Prisoners can still read books from the prison library. However, I am a firm believer that prison should be about rehabilitation and attempting to break the cycle of reoffending (nearly half of all prisons will commit another offence). And so I strongly believe that inmates need access to books, which is being negatively affected by this (unnecessary) ban.

So maybe this is the protest for me? A lot of writer appear to be jumping on the bandwagon getting involved (I'm sure they actually all feel passionately about this) and as part of the protest there was to be a poetry reading from several famous names including current Poet Laurette Carol Ann Duffy (it's great to see that she is attempting to use her position in such a positive way). So this protest is starting to look more and more promising. Is there an open mic? Maybe they'll let me do my new poem on censorship? haha always the egotist!

The only problem now was that it was extremely short notice. However, Pentonville Prison is just a short bus ride from the gym I work at and I was finishing work at 2pm. So the time and place were perfect. That was it. I was going to my first protest.

So after work I got the 274 from Angel and jumped off outside Pentonville Prison.

And walked a few yards back down the road towards a small gathering on the corner of the street opposite the prison.

And to tell the truth I was a little disappointed. There were about 50 people including readers, press and "the masses" who didn't seem to be particularly engaged and not at all proactive. I'm not saying I wanted a riot to break out - although I might be thinking it - but I wanted something to happen!

There were some placards though. Two!!

(Although neither was hand painted and so don't really count in my book).

But that was about it and stuck at the back of the crowd - no bigger than the bar at your local on a Saturday night - I couldn't really see or hear anything so I thought "what's the point", took a few photographs and went to get something to eat. I didn't stay long at all. Maybe 5-10mins max.

I mean. There wasn't even a megaphone in sight! How can you hold a protest without a megaphone??? Seriously! Surely that is rule number one? Note to self  - in case I decide to do so one day - and anyone else thinking about organising a protest: when leaving the house, be sure to think to yourself "have I remembered to bring the megaphone?"!!! It's IMPORTANT!!!

But I think that's the thing. I didn't want a protest. I don't want a protest. I want a RIOT! I want A RIOT OF MY OWN! I want to throw an egg at a politician and a brick at the police. Although maybe that should be throw a brick at a politician and an egg at the police. There's no need for the police to get injured in all of this. Although please know reading this that I never would throw a brick at someone (even if I sometimes feel like it - especially when thinking about George Osborn and Michael Gove). But I'm way too scared. a) of prison & b) that I might hurt someone.

But I want to experience a riot before I die! It's just something I want to do. My general rule is that I don't believe in violence. But it's so hard to change the world through peaceful protest (not impossible but very difficult). But don't kill anyone and definitely NO BOMBS!

I've wanted to know what it's like to be in the middle of a riot for a couple of years now but have never even come close to finding out. The closest I've ever come was when I was in Athens in September 2012 and out on a nice afternoon stroll my eyes started to water. I had no idea why but it turns out that there was still some tear gas in the air from the demonstrations that had just taken place at Syntagma Square.

Somewhat ironically, although I spent the summer of 2011 between London and Athens and there was wide spread rioting throughout both. Unfortunately for me, I was in London while there were riots in Athens and in Athens when the London riots happened. I remember flying back to London a couple of days after the riots had started and myself and my then girlfriend looking out of the windows as we approached the airport to see if we could see any fires.

And the thing is, I didn't and don't want to get caught up in the violence and looting - although I could do with some new trainers - I just want to soak up the atmosphere, take some pictures and maybe go home afterwards feeling somewhat alive and write a poem about it.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Short film (an update)

The making of Scrabble is on the back burner!

A little while ago in a post called Short film I talked about my plan to make at least one short film this year. I talked about a film idea I had called Scrabble. I had applied for funding for the film but unfortunately I didn't get it.

However, from that application I was told about another funding possibility. It was called the Hitchcock Production Fund (which has been run by Apex Arts since 1996). I applied for this one too and last week something truly amazing happened. Something that made me smile like I haven't smiled in a long time. Something that made me throw my arms up in the air and wiggle them around in a strange, unrhythmic manner because I just didn't know what to do with myself. IT WAS JUST THAT GOOD!

You've maybe worked it out by now? I received an email telling me that my application for the Hitchcock Production Fund had been successful!!! There were 16 applications and only one award for £2000 - which I will be receiving (to make a film of no more than 10mins). I was so excited I wanted to tell everyone and blog about it right away. However, I was a little worried that it might fall through for some inexplicable reason. So I decided to wait until I had actually signed the contract and it was all there in black and white and was 100% definitely going to happen. However, even though that hasn't happen just yet, I couldn't wait any longer. I just got too impatient :)

This has to be about the most exciting thing that could happen to me at this moment in time. In only a couple of short months I will be able to call myself Anthony Hett - Writer/Director haha I'm so excited!!! Can you tell?

Now at the top of this blog I said that Scrabble is on the back burner and I say that with good reason. The brief for the Hitchcock Production Fund was to write a film based on "News from Nowhere". & although Scrabble kind of fits in with this - as it is about a woman suffering with Dementia - I had another idea I was "working" on called Letters (working title) which was the perfect fit!

The film is about the relationship between an old man and a young postman who brings the old man a weekly letter from his daughter. Each week the old man invites the young man in for tea and cake and so a close friendship begins. Well that's the back story anyway. The film is actually about what happens when the young postman finds out that the old man has unfortunately past away. I won't tell you anymore, as I don't want to give too much away before you get to enjoy watching it :)

But there it is! I WILL be making at least one short film this year - although I actually plan to make three. I have two and a half scripts written and so it's more about finding the funding, cast and crew etc but come this time next year I plan to have three short films made - which I will have entered into festivals and competitions etc - and I will be working towards getting the right backing for a full feature idea I have (again I have three ideas. I know which one I want to be my debut full length film but lets see what happens).

Keep those fingers crossed for me :)

Monday, 10 March 2014

Edinburgh Festival

Last week I formally accepted an offer from the PBH Free Fringe for a week long performance run at this years festival (18th-22nd August).

I've been to Edinburgh once before in 2008. Not to perform but on a film and television scheme called 'The Network'. I was there for about 4 days and had a fantastic time. I met lots of great people and managed to make some really good friends, including a couple of people that I'm very happy to have managed to stay friends with (although I don't see them often enough. If you're reading this you know who you are!)

Such a terrible picture! And look how young we all look!
I had a truly great time. As well as meeting lots of lovely people, I managed to pack a lot into a few short days.  There were lots of interesting and informative workshops, I managed to chat up practically every girl I came into contact with - so far from the norm for me and was even successful with the one girl I actually wanted to be - and even took in some shows - some good and some awful. I had such a really great time that I've wanted to go back every summer since but have so far not made it back up. But of course that is about to change.

I did considered taking 'one lump or two' my one man play up last year but for one reason or another I decided against it. A decision I'm still unsure was the right one.

But either way, this year will be the first  - and depending on how it goes. potentially only year - I take a show up to Edinburgh. The thought of taking up the offer was both exciting and terrifying. The terror mostly came from the fact that I don't have a show yet! I have an idea: talk about the Year31Project with the help of a projector, some photos, some video footage, music and a few jokes.

And also from the fact that I don't have any money because although the Free Fringe is a good way to do an Edinburgh show on a tight budget, I still need to find money for travel, accommodation, advertising etc. So it's still not exactly going to be cheap and although I hope to make some of the money back, it's likely that I'll lose the majority of the money I put in.

It's certainly not a money making venture that's for sure but then that's ok because I'm not doing it for the fame and fortune - that would of course be nice - but because it is something that will hopefully be fun, a memory to savour and because it's something I've never done before.

So although I am a little scared and I know closer to the time I'm going to be seriously stressed. Mostly I'm looking forward to it as a challenging and exciting opportunity for adventure.