The Encampment Diaries – Two Roads Diverging

10/07/2019

Two Roads Diverging

Another long hiatus, health problems keep destroying, be it mental or physical, which are intertwined… It has been a weird year, as I look to the next, and the start of another decade, I’m worried I’ll never achieve anything. And trying to make things happen always falls apart.

 

In the time since I last wrote, I have just returned from a week in another country, mostly spent with my writing partner painstakingly beating out scene after scene in a theoretical miniseries that I have much higher intentions of than he, aspirations, dreams, are things I hold close. I like to write, but I prefer knowing I can put something out there. Self-indulgence, yes, but it’s my sole egotistical vice.

 

With regards the film, I feel so fucking fucked right now. Talking to actors, the ones that do respond, makes me depressed. They don’t have time, and I get it, it’s barely paying and it’s such a blip on the radar for not-me people, but to me it is the world and seeing it crushed so frequently with so little care has put me through five different ringers, laid out side-by-side by some sort of lazy Rude Goldbird.

 

This has made me think that, like EVERY OTHER TERRIFYING PART OF THIS EFFORT, to make something happen I’m going to have to actively step in where none of my expertise lies, and hurt the project to see it completed. Better a flawed finished film than strands of ‘almost-was-but-never’.

 

My self-belief is low, my headspace is completely broken, my hopes for the future are pretty devoid, and all I can do is write, think and write, and provide jokes for others whilst I die inside. Things are going so well.

 

Maybe by the next post something would have happened. Positive something, let’s not shake another beehive.

Advertisements

The Encampment Diaries – Those Bad Days

02/06/2019

Those Bad Days

 

It’s been a while…

Oh lordy has it been a while.

 

The thing about making something by yourself is that you have to be proactive and ready to do things. The thing about me is my mind is in a constant battle to try and do things, when it also wants to hide away and do nothing because it is nothing, and my body is in a constant pain to boot, making everything so fucking hard to get out of bed, let alone try and make things.

Distractions bring small, fleeting relief, but the long game is still yet to be figured out. I’m a fucking mess, I hate it, and it sucks. Is this permanent? Probably. Should I figure out a successful way to keep fighting things? Of course. Will I? Blowed if I know.

 

Thankfully between times I have recorded a third of the protagonist’s voice lines, my lead actor has devoted some time to help out, thank goodness for that. And I briefly met my other lead actor, snippets of progress.

 

My mind has focussed on other projects, not only a release of a stupid-big Star Wars script made as a joke to a friend, but with real commitment, no bullshit, and a weekly podcast where I get to unleash the most Andrew things. Prepping for a writing holiday in the summer with a co-writer on a project has also been a bit of a pickle, but has got me back into working on another script. And then some back-and-forths with former writing teams on Facebook has stupidly started up a new endeavour. I’m never short of concepts, just the agony and the ecstacy is pretty brutal a balance.

 

It’s tough to make things that are intrinsically you when you hate everything you are, but who else are you making stories for at the end of the day? If you don’t come from an honest, earnest place, everything is hollow and devoid of reason, it’s something that exists, but doesn’t live, and a storyteller wants their work to live, to rise, to react and create into others something deep.

The Encampment Diaries – Laurels and Hardly Working

10/04/2019

Laurels and Hardly Working

 

I try and write these things weekly for the sake of giving me something to do, but I’ve had to break things up due to commitments and lack of commitments. This one I wanted to write last Saturday, during a weekend where I was home with nothing to do, nobody to hang out with, and an intention of clearing up my other threads so I could focus on making Encampment. Of course this didn’t happen, and mostly due to procrastination.

 

I’ve been working on something stupid and huge for most of the past year (He says in a blog about another stupid and huge unnecessity) and I wanted to get that done this past weekend, I was staring down at writing a third act full of action and knocking down all the set-up, it’s all written in outline of course, but to put it to visualisable script is something so insane I struggled to build up to it. So I’m writing this post later, and late at night, as I’ve managed to do 30 pages this day, taking the page count from 123 to 153, and I’m…. phew, I’m done, I’ve done it, and it’ll be on this site in a few weeks time.

 

There’s always other projects hanging over my head, something I’ve been building with a friend over the last few years, three trips to Norway have turned it from one thing into another and finally into something tangible, so that’ll have to come up at some point. I have an epic piece of script that’s about ⅓ done at the moment, and the outlining is only 3/4ers done, so I’m chasing my own tail on that one, and so many other pieces wanting my brilliant mind to work on it.

 

And I can be that rare thing, immodest, as I had an email arrive during a low ebb this weekend.

 

Back in September, hanging out with friends, I got a buzz on my phone. I had reached the quarter finals of a script contest. Sure there’s a lot of finalists at that point, and it’s not exactly The Blacklist, but still, somebody dared to read my words, nodded along to it and said ‘this should be put forth for further scrutiny’. And that script was Encampment. This email was a kindly message reminding me this happened during a good time, and they even sent me some laurels to add should I want to. Nothing says official more than two arching images of leaves and some words.

Laurels1.jpg

That same day I received some early reads from a cast member, it was already strong, somebody got their role in the story, their place, their tone, their purpose, and played with it. I love watching performers sink into something I’ve given them and see a second pair of eyes, a second creativity shine amidst the piece. It makes it feel real, more real than writing something on a computer, to be locked away forever. I start recording the protagonist’s voice this week, I’m hoping my actor embraces their creativity, and I find my footing as a director. A laurelled writer turned director.

The Encampment Diaries – A Busy Time

02/04/2019

A Busy Time

 

Well, this is a delayed second-week diary for a few weird reasons.

Firstly, I managed to grab a few folks to add their voices to the project, small roles, sure, but it all adds up, and I’m glad some people are kindly offering to give 5-10 minutes of their life to me (Will they be willing to give 90 minutes when this thing is done? Probably not, we’ll get to that)

 

But Friday night offered a mini-heartbreak. One of my cast messaged me at about 6pm, they were having gender dysmorphia and wondered if taking a strong female role was right as they were leaning more towards masculinity at the moment. It was terrifying, selfishly this is a friend I know has talents, and wanted to grab those talents before they go off and conquer the world, but it made me introspective of my inclusivity in writing.

I’ve always found a leaning into female protagonists, sometimes a male protagonist works, but when there’s a story that could have any gender binary take the centre stage I’ve always adopted the female lead, it’s more in my mindset and how I write. I like creating people, and nice people, and in my formative years it was rarely full of men, boys, who had kindness or a good sense of humour or interesting things to say or think about. Teenage boys are, sadly, very one-track for the most part, and that’s never been something I’ve given two hoots of a shit about. Clearly making my own half-phrases is where I’m at.

 

But whilst I’ve felt writing for a specific binary, I got it in my head, why have I not adopted more of a non-binary stance for characters? I could forgive myself for teenage years, when things were on the fringes as the internet hadn’t opened up much to let us experience others in such constant personal proximity like social media has allowed, but now we’re wildly aware of how many people live their truth, why haven’t I added characters beyond the binary? Nothing so much as to tell stories that are from someone’s experiences, I’m not talking taking moments from real lives and creating fiction, but why can’t a police officer or a desk clerk be anything?

It can, obviously, it’s a change of pronouns and an acceptance that they’re whoever they are, but it only truly crossed my mind as a writer with this conversation.

 

Thankfully a long discussion online (I don’t do in-person, who am I, a normal person?) led to helping talk through the current step of gender dysmorphia, and so far looks like we’re still on track for making things happen.

 

But getting people together, getting work done, finding those inspirado moments that help harness the passion and the epic scale of this process are terrifying me. What happens if I make something and not a soul notices? If my tree falls in the woods? I’m used to making things without anyone giving a shit, that’s been my life. Trying to scream amidst a wealth of screaming, and being quieter because, well, other people probably earned the right to be louder, right?

I love writing, I love editing, but the part where I take on the mantle of overlord of Encampment is scaring me. Being a director has always made me scared, but to be that PLUS, every department is me, every choice, every reason for doing it, is me. And if I can’t do something, what the frak happens? If someone else can’t do it, I find another, but when the buck stops with me, well, I’m freaking out before the cart before the horse, and working out the worth of the effort I’m putting in. Not like I’ve anything else to do, anything productive. People make things all the time, few make a whole film on their own, but that’s because it’s in-fucking-sane. And that’s what I am. In-fucking-sane Andrew.

 

I haven’t had time to create characters, or backdrops, and this week is insanely busy. Maybe by May, he says pushing things back, I’ll have a test scene built.

Maybe.

But…

Maybe not………

The Encampment Diaries – First Week

23/03/2019

First Week

It’s been a week since settling into doing focused, complete work on this project, and because I’m me, my body has been fighting a flu that’s not left me for the last month, really. Sod’s law, try to do something, but my world is all about failing before you even begin. An omen? Probably. I left the house one night to catch a film that was better than most this year so far, so there’s a positive.

I look to find a balance between the ups and downs, it’s important in life to find equal, lest one shouldn’t keep going, right? In this sense – Being sick, unable to focus, body shaking = Very bad, but Good movie – Positive, Casting an actor – Very good, so it’s balanced.

 

I cast an actor this week. The last major one, actually. There’s spottings of smaller roles, a few pages at best, but the core is found and now the messy part comes, finding ways to get people in a room with me to record clearly, and direct in my way of being socially awkward, hard to talk to but specific in what I want, even if I like the performer trying other things out too.

 

This week also saw a viral-ish tweet, so that’s something. A quick photoshop launched 3 different sites to write articles. I mean, if any actual, hard-worked material could do that, we’d be crispy. As it stands, Tarantino jokes are the best we’ll get in this world of fast-moving emptiness that is the internet.

 

Here’s hoping week 2 might have me feeling better, and maybe drawing some character concepts. I’m feeling like I could make one scene as a test by April’s end. That’d be rad. But boy do I feel out of it right now. A bad start to a hopeful project.

The Encampment Diaries – The Final Day

13/03/2019

The Final Day

As I type this I’m sitting in an office that’s been my work for 4 months. Not long in the grand scheme of things, but for someone who works freelance it’s been as permanent as one can get. Even if it’s just 3 days a week.

The gig has given me some time away from other projects and helped me refocus my goals. And it’s why I’m writing this piece. It’s my final day at this office, and after this I intend to embark nearly completely on a project so vast and insane that most people try to get, say, a crew together. I have one person kindly drawing a few pieces of art. And one actor agreed to perform. It’s good. It’s all good.

 

I’m 28, and whilst that number’s not a big deal, the imposing nature of humanity’s stigma of the ‘30th birthday’ has got in my head, so I’ve figured I can feel a little better about things by simply making something happen. Alas in every walk I’ve taken, nobody comes together on my behest despite pleading, begging and being as nice as is humanly possible. So the idea of doing something gigantic and foolish mostly on my own is only scary insomuch as I am the be-all and end-all, there are no other reasons for something to be incorrect. I’ve done plenty of things that aren’t to what I’d want as standard quality, but I put the blame on others. Namely because others decided not to help out. Others suck.

 

So, what am I doing? Oh, boy, well, it’s dumb, and needs some context, because I’m narcissistic.

I’m a writer. I’ve written about films, I’ve written films, one side of this has been seen by people, the other doesn’t seem to get a ‘received’ email from close friends, let alone actual people. Back in the mid-noughties a video game came out called ‘The Movies’ which allowed you to make short films within the game’s world, a tycoon simulation of a movie studio where you choose actors, directors, writers, extras and…janitors. They had an online platform to directly post your creations, and let others watch, review, and in the forums, form a community. I had limited success in this because, at 15, I wasn’t great at getting people together or convincing people I had value to add, and my films didn’t help, they were a product of one person trying to make everything work. I’m hardly a jack of all trades.

I found a calling doing online radio, despite complete introversion, I slowly came out of my shell and found folks to spend time with, to have fun and to discuss the ways films work and play with form. This, along with college and university studies, helped evolve my abilities, however not with the introversion and the getting people together.

Between university and time of writing I’ve worked on 2 scripts that came to fruition. Through the guiding voice of others, with more outreach and confidence. But maybe less assurance on the material.

 

So before I hit that ‘landmark’ I want to build something based on a script I’ve written that is, quintessentially, my voice.

This is Encampment.

 

For the next few months I’m going to slowly build visuals, along with my sister-in-law who has kindly given her time and great talents to paint some images, as I gather a cast to perform the voices of my characters. Hoping by the end of July I’ll have an audio play mostly ready.

And from that, I intend to build a slight-movement animated feature. Not still images, but not carefully created-with-inbetweens animated film. I’m not insane nor talented.

But I can move images. As an editor, and a writer, I’m using the two skills I have to create a film, even without the usual elements.

Why am I this insane? Because I believe in my work, even if nobody else will (Or they might if they opened the attachments I sent years ago).

And in the end, if I have a 90-minute CV to send to people, that’s not the worst thing, is it?

 

This is my final day, after this, everything changes, everything happens. Hopefully.

FOMO And The Act Of Self-Removal

Competition is naturally a big part of life. We perceive others simultaneously as friend and foe, as ally and threat, and no matter where you go and what you do, at some time or another this mindset will interfere with everything you have going for you. Per example, as I ‘worked’ (no pay, not really working) in film journalism it was always great to see friends rising up, getting cushy gigs, the bigger junkets, but of course it was also a hard hit when you didn’t get anything close to that, when you watch people younger, fresher, rising faster and higher. Eugh. One only need spend ten minutes on Facebook, seeing the lives other people present to the world to feel like you’re not doing well enough, that they scored all the winning goals and you’re still on the bench wondering when you’ll be subbed in (The world cup is coming, so naturally I’m finding ways to make this relevant). The term FOMO seems silly, it’s a catchy little acronym for something that also seems ludicrous, like some ‘millenial angst bullshit’, fear of missing out. It is very real, of course, but the cutesy attempt to name it kills the seriousness inside. Sure, you may get ‘a mild case of FOMO’ or ‘FOMO like a motherfucker’ when you see someone’s at a big event of an evening, and in most cases it’s simple envy, but things can build. I fear missing out on everything. Not on the latest film, not on a party, not on a trip abroad (Although, guys, seriously, let’s do something) but on the whole damn ride.

I write essays about myself from time to time, I’m a writer so it’s natural to just splurge a word count on the self, I think more about myself than anyone else ever will, so apologies if this hits boxes ticked before, there’s not a lot going on with me actively, which is what this is about. A few years back I had a real down period as a film journalist (unpaid) and took a back seat on it, seeking out something else that could become both love and profession. It was when I managed to get a job as an editor at a post house, and it felt like good things do happen. This came tumbling down as a series of mental health deteriartions, intense working conditions and narcissistic tendencies from other folk turned life into a nightmare where it was keep working and throw myself under a train within the next month, or quit immediately and try and reahbilitate myself into the world. I quit, saved the train for another day. And I quit. Everything.

In a bit of an experiment I exiled myself from everything except the cinema, social media and whenever people invited me to something. So, basically, I sat around in the dark for the majority of the last 18 months. It’s not a great feeling when you realise people don’t just get on without you, but seem to flourish, and I’m sure folk will say ‘that’s not true, we love you’ but, I mean, the results speak for themselves. It put my mind in a dark place, naturally, as what good have I given the world? Ultimately all I want to do is make people happy, make things, art, that makes people feel something beautiful and maybe smile. As it stands, I’m at a crossroads and utterly lost as to how, or who, or what, or even why I should keep aiming for that. I’m not a normal person, I’ve become wildly aware of that over the course of my life, as I watched friends at school become normal people. I had FOMO before they had a name for it. I watched folk at college and uni grow from teens to adults naturally, they had a sense of what they were going to do, and had friends, loves, a sense of themselves and the world around them that led to confidence, an air of an ability to make things happen, and independence. As I sat around, writing so many things about the worlds I envisioned around me, about people I’d want to follow, to watch go through trials and tribulations, and forgot to live my own life as I created others. And then I became an adult.

You read about folk that made their big statement in the world when they are in their 40s or 50s, authors, painters, designers, and you have a nice moment feeling there’s no rush, art will happen, it’ll find an audience eventually (Herman Melville died in poverty but Moby Dick is forever considered a masterpiece and one of the bigger-selling books along with The Bible and my upcoming book Please Buy Me – I Will Update This Title Later), but then you think about how these people lived before, wrapped up in building their dream but also having a life, adventures, something more before they broke through to the entire world. That’s terrifying. How does one be a person when all they think about, day and night, is something internal, something they want to, nay need to, put out there? How does one create and be true to their inner self when doing ‘normal person’ things take over so much, and stop you from being the you required? Is that when you give up? Is that when you give it all up? Is that even possible? Like some sort of artistic rehabilitation, or worse, lobotomy, so you can finally ingratiate yourself into human society? I’m scanning for answers myself, these are questions I think almost all the time. I, personally, oftentimes wish I was born of normal stock, to grow into something more average person-ey. Being weird is a burden I’m not, as I stare into the late twenties of my life, able to handle still.

I’ll get into myself a bit more now. A few months ago I finally decided to ask my mother the true story of how she and my father met. For years they fed a convenient story of how he was an electrician that she called out to her flat to fix the fuse, and they fell… Thing is, from a child, my father, who was an electrical technician, was scarred by an electician who was electricuted in his house becuase he worked with the mains still on. So, why would he Batman it up and do the one thing he’s scared of? (Not because he’s brave, my father, bless him, is not an outgoing or self-confident person, he’s just a loud introvert) So my mother finally dishes the reality on me, and don’t tell anyone I told you this, because she used that story for cover for decades. They met through early electronic dating. This was the 80s, and these two people couldn’t find someone for them in the world as normal, so through the will of new technology and money they were paired together. Were it not for Benedict Cumberbatch’s Oscar-nominated role I wouldn’t be writing this essay. This threw my head through the ringer.
I struggled being normal when I thought my parents were normal folk that met through usual ways, meet-cutes, banter in a bar, a quirky date, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but now here we are, my parents couldn’t find weight, meaning, love in the world they occupied so had to pay to search for something. And for what? All my life I’ve seen two individuals who sleep seperately, live seperately and maybe have dinner and/or coffee together, they’ll watch sport together, and that’s it. It’s not a spark, it’s not a beautiful happily-ever-after, it’s not for the ages, it all feels like two people who decided that they could tolerate one-another JUST enough (And even then…) to proceed living a life together, starting a business together (Mother doing the admin side, father doing repair work) and for some reason creating life together.

It has fucked me up royally to think about these two, and what I must be as I come from them. Despite all the things I have done, all the places I have gone, all the people I have met, I still feel like some glitch in the universe, from two folk that were never meant to have met. And yet I have a brother. Two years older. Just hit 30. Married to the love of his life, they show passion, dedication, real love for one another, they have two angelic boys that bring smiles to the coldest hearts. Wh…how? Is it that he got everything, and I’m the ‘other bits’ of humanity? Did he just realise early on that escaping is the best way for it? Surely not, he bought a house around the corner from where we lived all our lives. So with ease I can look across the way and feel the FOMO of life. Of a family that loves, that cares, that feels more than obligation to be within a room with one another.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this stuff, as an introvert it’s a lot of where my mind would go to anyway, but I believe due to schedules and lacking want from folk around the small town of London I’ve spoken to 4 people in the past month. When you remove yourself from the conversation and see it go on without you, it becomes nigh-on impossible to jump back in. It becomes painful to realise your limited part in the world, your lacking use as anything but a supporting character folk pop in on once in a while to vent their problems to. Like a third-tier character in a movie, it’s like my sub-plot barely exists and certainly doesn’t move when the protagonists aren’t spending time with me. I seemingly freeze, don’t do a thing, when I’m not part of the story, I become nothing, dust, waiting for the spotlight to hit once more for another few seconds. It’s bizarre, and entirely my own doing. I wouldn’t know what to do with life if it handed itself to me anyway. It’s just not in my backstory.

I am missing out and I am deeply afraid. And I don’t know how to start. Or why I should. Or who I can trust enough to commit such reverence to, or what I should do, or when, which, the reporter questions. I just don’t want to remove myself more than I have done, it turns out when you George Bailey yourself it’s not as wonderful as his life looked.