Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Short film (behind the scenes)

This time last week I fulfilled a dream of a lifetime - or at least one I have held since I was a teenager - when I directed my own (short) film Letters.

It was a truly amazing experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Well that's at least half true. 
There was so much going on! I was constantly learning and constantly stressing about time, location, weather and whether we had remembered everything and so the majority of the shoot was a huge blur. But thanks to the wonderful people involved it was a massively enjoyable experience and there was one moment that I will certainly never forget. I was hiding out of shot, sat on the floor of the living room behind the camera, watching the two brilliant actors act out one of the main scenes, when I took a moment to just sit back and enjoy it. At which moment I thought "they're my words". And that is exactly what it's all about for me! I love the act of writing - sitting in bed with my laptop on my knee creating - but in truth it is for these moments - watching your words come alive - that I am a writer.

The shoot went extremely well and I can't wait to get my hands on the final film - which needs to be with the funders Apex Arts by Monday 2nd June - I feel that we could have a great film on our hands and so I will be aiming high and sending it to as many Film Festivals as I can including the BFI London Film Festival and the Raindance Film Festival. 

And possibly even more importantly, I feel like I have learnt a hell of a lot! from working with the wonderful people I was blessed to work with on this film. & I'm looking forward to attempting to do it all again with my next script set in a laundrette. 

There are so many people I need to thank. Letters could never have been made without all of these people (as well as several more). So thank you for all of your hard work and creative input:

Edward Davis who did an amazing job bringing Malcolm to life. Here he is chilling out between takes:

The beautiful Gehane Strehler who was a brilliant casting director and a wonderful Sam. 

Sorry about the silhouette but all other pics of Gigi were either blurry or really unflattering due to heavy actors make-up. 

The fantastic guys from IMMIX Media: (L to R) James, Jack, Jamie, George and Ali.

& the lovely Sophia who was fantastic throughout - helping me with funding, location, auditions and generally holding my hand through the whole process. 

Here are a few more behind the scenes photographs taken by Sophia Mertins (with a couple by me):

Oh and I thought I'd finish with a photo of me looking like a director. 

Friday, 2 May 2014


I decided to have a go at NaPoWriMo.

NaPoWriMo stands for National Poetry Writing Month. Which is a poetry writing challenge where participating poets attempt to write a poem a day for the whole month of April.

And so at the end of the month you have 30 new poems! Which is amazing because in a given month I doubt that I ever normally write more than 5-10 poems. & of course it is unlikely that they are all - if any at all - going to be master pieces but one or two of them are bound to be half decent... right?

I've always thought that NaPoWriMo was a great idea. So it's a little strange that until now I had never given it a go. But that's ok because this is a year of firsts for me and so as a poet it's ideal that April 2014 would be my first attempt at NaPoWriMo.

So I gave it a go.

Only I came across a few little problems along the way. Right from the very beginning in fact! Because even though I have known about NaPoWriMo for awhile and know a lot of people who have done it over the past few years. I didn't actually realise that it was for the month of April! Not until I saw someone tweeting about it and by then it was already the 5th! But that was ok because I could just go from the 5th of April until the 4th of May instead. Which is still cool right?

But if only that was the end of the problems.
I found that while attempting NaPoWriMo there were three main challenges.

Even using the optional prompts - which I never really did - it can be hard to find the inspiration for a brand new poem each day. Also some days you have plenty of inspiration, get carried away and write 3, 4, 5 poems and then for the next few days you struggle even more than usual. It's much more difficult than I expected it to be. But then it's supposed to be a challenge.

Another major problem for me was working another my notoriously bad memory. On average I must waste an hour a day just travelling to and from the kitchen. I go there for something. Forget why I'm there. Get a glass of water. Take it back to the bedroom and then 5 minutes later I remember why I went there in the first place. It's also very rare that I leave the house without leaving at least one thing. Usually something extremely important like train tickets or passport!

Then there is the little issue of finding time. April 2014 will have to go down as one of the busiest times of my life. Between work, training to be a swimming teacher, making a film, planning an Edinburgh show, writing two blogs, training to swim the channel, climbing and all the other things I tried to cram into this insane month, it was sometimes quite hard to find the time to write a poem too. In fact the vast majority of the poems I did write, I wrote on the tube.

But enough of my excuses. Here is the confession. I didn't do it! At least I didn't complete the month. In total I'm sure I have written more than 30 poems but the challenge is to write a poem a day for thirty days. Instead - with a couple of days left - I have written poems on 25 days. Which isn't too bad and a massive improvement on an average month. However, it wasn't one a day for 30 days and so I have to accept that I have failed. Also looking through them I'm not sure I have one good poem between the lot of them haha 

So to summarise. Even though I didn't quite manage to complete it, I still think that NaPoWriMo is a great idea! It helps to increase the profile of poetry - which for me can only be a good thing - it inspires poets to be more prolific and hopefully inspires those who wouldn't normally write poetry to give it a try. So as far as I can see it's a win, win, win situation. Therefore, although it happens to be quite difficult for someone as busy and as forgetful for as I am, I simply need to try harder and be more committed. I also need to remember that there is always next year!

Happy Writing!

& here are a couple of the better poems:

Day 4
This was written the day after Peaches Geldof passed away and is for her sons.


That face
the one that is always there
the one that is full of hope, love and security
the one that feeds me and bathes me
the one that reassures me and settles me
the one that teaches me and nurses me
the one that will be there no more
that face.

Day 7

Dirt track almost narrower than
The old 4x4's wheelbase
Drop too high to see it's bottom
Overhang too low for roof rack
And up coming waterfall
Pouring fresh cool water
Down crumbling rock face
Splashing in through broken window
Even though I watch these scenes
play out on computer screen
the sickness feeling rises
From stomach into chest
And heart beats double time.

Day 13

Lyrics pursed on lips
rhythm waiting impatiently on hips.
You tap out a beat with
the toes of one foot
drum it out with
the fingers of one hand
“the next stop is
Kings Cross St Pancras”
the headphones come off
but the head continues to nod.

Day 20

He had
a grip like
a bears hug
a wolves bite
a lonely woman
holding you tight.
After which he tells me
“you have a firm handshake”.

Day 25

It's already the afternoon
but we lie still and silent on the bed
in the hope that time will stop.
The weekend fades fast
but we will it never to end.
We are not ready for goodbye.

As the warm September day
floods in through the thin pastel curtains,
the light dances on the pale naked skin
that I ache to know as well as my own.
We are strangers and unknown to me
it seems that this is how it will always be.