Sunday, December 02, 2007

Diary of a Would-be Filmmaker Part 2

PC-Bangs are glorious places when the smell of smoke isn’t getting to you and the noise from the million little clicks on keyboards aren’t pounding in to your hangover or even the constant pow-pow, bang-bang from what ever computer game is currently fashionable is quickly driving you insane. None the less, PC-Bangs are glorious places when you want to get out of your tiny apartment and there’s no place better to go.

So here is it I find myself on a dwindling Sunday afternoon, feeling sufficiently rested and a tad restless. I have that slightly chuffed feeling. I’m chuffed with myself because I finally finished the first draft of my short film. Now, in the book is when they tell you to step back from it, let it marinate then return to it in a few months and see what you really think. Stuff that, I can’t wait that long.

At the moment my script stands at 18 pages. You might not think that sounds like much, especially when you look at it and see the well spaced dialogue that chews up the pages. When you are sitting on the other side of it however, looking at the task ahead, it seems like Everest.

When I started I was going great guns. I worked through all the development stages and reined myself back from attacking the guts of the script before I had a better understanding of what I wanted to say. When I figured I was ready, I started working through it scene by scene and before I knew it there were twelve pages I was pretty happy with. That was when I hit a wall. There was one scene I was afraid of doing, one scene that seemed too hard to shape. The notebook remained closed and the fear of not finishing grew.

Days past and little progress was made. I’d pick up the pen and read through what I’d written, make a change here or there but still not have it in me to attempt the climatic scene. I’d almost resigned my idea to the large scrap heap of ideas littering other notebooks and cobwebbed corners.

On Monday of this week I changed tack. I told myself I didn’t need to do it all in one hit, I could hack away at it a little at a time. I started typing in into the computer, cleaning it up as I went, trimming scenes and dialogue until I got to that final scene. On Tuesday I wrote a few lines, on Wednesday I wrote a few more. On Thursday I scribbled out a few and trimmed the fat. On Friday I panicked and left it alone. On Saturday I worked on it during the course of the day, my excitement grew and the final line came closer. Then there it was, 18 pages of a short film. From a simple idea I worked it through until I had produced my first draft. On Sunday I gloated.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Diary of a Would-be Filmmaker Part 1

As I sit here eating Dok-pukki from a street-side vendor and doodling away in one of my many notebooks, I thought I'd share with you the journey I have recently undertaken. Not the one where I moved countries and came to live in South Korea and teach English but the one where I hope to find that long sort after dream, to become a filmmaker.

I had an idea and as ideas go this one seemed to to have more legs than others. They come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes it is so hard to tell which ones I should latch on to. The fact that I'm still currently a would-be filmmaker and not an actualized filmmaker should tell me pretty clearly I’ve been latching on to the wrong ideas or going about developing the idea in the wrong way.

So anyway, I had this idea and jumped ahead and wrote five or so pages of dialogue. I called it dialogue back then, (several days ago) back when I thought a screenplay centered around the stuff. Now I'm of a different mind. You see, for the past few years my creative endeavors have revolved around theatre where dialogue sings and is the stuff you hang everything on. Not so in film. After learning this fact from a handy dandy little book, you'd think film school might have gotten the idea across, I took a few steps back and started to flesh out my idea.

I wrote a step outline, I got in touch with my main characters, identifying the protagonist is not as easy as it sounds, nor is formulating an antagonist. In the past I've told myself that I don't need to comply to age old structure, that is as readable as dirt, you play in dirt you get dirty, but there is something to be said for using that structure to take an idea, a faint half notion of a glimmer of an image, and turn it into something more.

Right now I have a much clearer idea of what I want to say, of how I'm going to say it and who is going to do the talking for me. The character interviews have been conducted, the step outline has been followed by a scene outline and several pages of new dialogue have been written, not in order, but because I have a clear structure I can now work my way through the scenes as I see fit. First draft, here I come!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Strange Fruit Falls From the Orange Tree

On Tuesday the second of October I took a chance and headed down to Orange Tree to partake of a little comedy from a few of Korea’s transient residents. Orange Tree is doing wonders for us Expats with performances coming at you from all angles and in all guises.

This evening it was a recently formed Improv troupe called ‘Seoul City Improv.‘ that swamped the small, red stage with their numbers, when to begin the night each participant was introduced to an attentive crowd. That alone gave a warm impression of the enthusiasm of the team to not only entertain us but also to ensure their time spent was just as enjoyable.

The chance I took turned into an opportunity when after the slow start, the games and the wit became genuinely entertaining. I’m pretty familiar with the rules of Improv so switched off during A.J.’s explanations but as my companion commented, who is herself well versed in many aspects of theatre, he could have afforded to go into a little more detail or perhaps it was clarity that was called for.

‘Freeze’ was a difficult choice first up as it requires the actor’s brains to be well in gear as they jump into and reinterpret the scene being played. A few worked overtime to compensate of other’s more sluggish starts.

Asking for volunteers in these situations is always a difficult undertaking so acquaintances were called on by name which can result in the alienating of those who popped along, not to support a friend but to have a good night out. So to have the second scene of the night demand audience participation was perhaps demanding a bit much too early.

Prior to things getting underway, little slips of paper were passed about the milling crowd asking them to contribute a random snatch of dialogue. These appeared in the first installment of ‘Pocket Scene’ with pleasing results. The actors had to work to find ways to produce slips of paper from their pocket. It was here that I felt the possibility of things to come. And when it was followed by a scene constructed under the limitations of having the first word of each line beginning with consecutive letters of the alphabet, things seemed to be gaining both momentum and laughs.

The next two scenes however put the brakes on. ‘Superheroes’ turned more into a farce than something that produced genuine giggles. Earwax and toe jam seemed a little cheap and the cringe factor shot through the roof. In ‘Countdown’ when the same minute long scene had to be replayed in increasingly less time, an in-joke took centre stage. The laughter and applause of the troupe outdid that of the audience.

The first act ended on a high however with Matt coming to the fore and showing great skills in thinking on his feet and a calm clear projection that alluded to confidence. Qualities that are appealing in any stage performance and as a result the laughter rose and the applause before intermission was enthusiastic.

After a short break, a few more volunteers and another slow start, gusto was found by a repeat of ‘ABC’s’ set in the Seoul Subway. This was followed up by another ‘Pocket Scene’ where Thomas channeled a poor soul, sacked from Scientology. He was supported well in his exploration of a legitimate character and the entire evening began to find its feet.

There were moments of extremely witty and highly engaging performances and the show ended with the entire team getting on stage to participate in ‘World’s worst things to say…’. This was another of the games that required the audience to make offers of locations or situations. Matt had clearly shown himself as one of the gems of SCI but I found myself willing him to take advantage of the following he had garnered when in this final game he was attempting too much. Three times he stepped to the front and three times he stepped back waving away the line that had fallen flat, each time the audience laughed a little more. Not at the line but at his genuine-ness and willingness to try. All he had to do was step to the front once more and without saying a word, wave his hand and turn his back and he would have treated to a fervent response from an appreciative crowd.

This was Seoul City Improv’s fifth outing and I dare say at this early stage they are in a healthy position to bring cackles and guffaws to a grateful Seoul audience. They will be performing twice each month, the first Tuesday will be at Orange Tree in Haebangchon and the third Sunday will at The Electric Cat in Itaewon. Their next performance will be on the 21st of October at 8:30pm. At this stage performances are free. SCI can be contacted at

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Post 105 090507 Live Earth

check out the web site for Live Earth. A series of concerts around the globe to bring even more awareness to global warming. A look who's headlining in Sydney! A reformed Crowded House. Out-friggin-standing!!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Post 104: 070507 An Audition

On Saturday morning i made my way south of the River Han to the Express Bus Terminal Station and left via Exit 5 to walk along a busy street to find my eventual destination. The third story office off of MK Pictures. The reason for my trip, an audition for an up-coming picture.

My audition was scheduled for midday, the first of around twenty people they would be seeing. I arrived a little before 11.30am just as one of the crew was arriving to open up. The office itself is a high-ceilinged maze of smaller offices that had long since seen better days. Stacks of cannisters were piled against walls beside boxes of unknown contents. Wires ran this way and that along the floors, over stains and gound in dirt. There was little to adorn the walls save a poster in a back office proclaiming a past success. I was shown into a small space and left to learn the dialogue i had been given the day before.

I knew little about the production apart from it being a sports movie. After about 20 minutes i was ushered into a larger room where a young bloke who spoke english with a distinctive American accent greeted me.There was a single chair sitting in the center of the room and along the far wall ran a desk, behind which sat said speaker followed by the Korean who showed me in. He took up the camera and i was asked to proceed.

We began with me introducing myself, acting background as well as sports background. We then ran though a couple of short segments until it was discovered not all the dialogue was sent to the prospective actors to learn. I then moved onto a larger monologue taken from a Kurt Russell movie. I finished with monologue from The Tempest that has been sitting in my head for a couple of years. My hand was shaken, i was asked if i could be available for a weeks shooting at the beginning of July and bid farewell. Audition over. I now hungrily await their call.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Post 103: 020507 Dialogue Snippit

Violet: I do this to keep away from my husband.

Thomas: (Sniggering) I do this cause I'm just out of surgery.

Violet: Just kidding.

Jane: I've had 20 operations, I can relate.

Thomas: I can't relate.

Violet: Damn!

Jane: I've two bad accidents this season.

Thomas: I had a mole removed.

Jane: I take a lickin' but I keep on tickin'.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Post 102: 160407 Katya

Being gone from New Zealand for so long, the biggest regret comes in not seeing your family change, grow, evolve over time. It's the events in ones life that make a person who they are. My niece is growing up so quickly and changing every day. It's these important steps that i have missed that make being away the hardest.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Post 101: Fukuoka

Well i've gone and done it. After the shit ride i've had since November I have nipped over to Japan for another working Visa so i can put myself through another year of this place. What am i thinking? To top it of i just discovered that next Thursday there is a scheduled meeting with the director of an upcoming film for casting and not as i had originally thought, a simple callback. The shit part comes because the only time the director is available for the whole week is three hours on a Thursday night when i am at work with no hope of changing either schedule. Bugger.

But anyway, i managed to see a few temples and the inside of a bar called Happy Cock, not to mention the bottom of a few glasses. It was a nice trip and certainly illustrated the difference in the two cultures. Japanese have manners!!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Post 100: 120307 Early Morning Walk

It's about to turn one thirty and I’ve just returned from what was to be a brief night out at The Wolfhound in Iteawon. The Wolfhound is an Irish bar hidden on one of the back roads and down a slight hill. It's the place i find myself most regularly when out drinking. It has recently been converted from a single story pub to a double, with pool table, darts board and plenty of cheap beer. The menu is very western and their Cheese Delights are to die for.

Roisin and I went there this evening to join in on Trivia Night. We arrived to late however, the bottom level was full meaning if we wanted to play it would be standing. Not thinking that was a good idea we headed upstairs to find Stephen, an ex work mate and his parents enjoying the last night of his parents holiday in this welcoming country. We found ourselves a few seats and joined them.

Since Trivia was not to be, Roisin and I played darts while we waited for the football to start. Though when it did start we paid little attention. Roisin has taken quite a shine to the darts. After Stephen and his family had left we settled in to watch the Rugby, England were playing France. We were joined by Kevin, a Texan whom Roisin became acquainted with the previous weekend.

Darts were picked up again while frequent glances were made to the projected screen. Roisin found herself cheers for England for the first time in her life. If they won then Ireland still had a chance of winning the six nations championship. As I walked past Phillies, a bar closer to where I live I managed to see the score from their big screen. England had taken the lead at 16 – 15.

It was just after the resumption of the second half that I made my exit and walked my merry and decidedly sober way home. I found myself wanting to take up a camera and document and commentate the walk from pub to doorstep. Not an exciting event I know but hopefully an insightful one for the folks back home. I desired for them to know the small details of my life in Korea. Simple things that occur every day.

I don’t have a camera so that didn’t happen but the commentary grew in my head and as I passed each object of note or place I’ve entered the experience was related. Then it occurred to me that all these small journey’s could be recreated. Much like a small project I did while at Tech of the bus journey’s I made to Tauranga to meet Louise. These small moments of time fascinate me. Boring I know to most but insightful because it is in these moments where we all live.

Anyways, now I find myself sitting on the floor of my bedroom logging on to the net via a wireless connection of a neightbours to impart the thoughts of a late night walk home.

Oh it is here I should mention that this weekend saw me attend an interview for a job I later turned down via phone as Roisin and I walked in to Iteawon and an audition for a film to begin shooting in May. The audition went well and ended with the first AD saying he would definitely be seeing me again. Hopefully that will be the case.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Post 99: 140207 Links to Articles

Due to popular demand, namely one young kiwi lass. Here are links to the articles so you might actually be able to read them.

The Review in the Korean Herald

The Review in the Korean Times

The Original Article in the Korean Times

Give me your feed back, tell me what you reckon, please.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Post 98: 130207 A Play in Progress

Two weeks of the show are behind us and the final week is about to begin. Today we had our second review published, this time in the Korean Herald. The reviews are sound if not a tad on the positive side but still i am less than satisfied. We haven't had the houses i had hoped for. Perhaps you could blame the weather, it is winter after all, or perhaps the location but it's only 15 minutes from western central. I can't fault the actors nor the staging itself, the actors have performed amazingly despite the month break we had in rehearsals and the venue is large and comfortable. There is the usual hassles we come across when putting on a play here, that being a lack of attention to details on the locals side of proceedings. The wiring in the theatre has let us down a few times when suddenly the projector shuts off in the middle of a clip or the channel changes without a button being pressed but these are minor things and detract little from the end result. A great performance of a solid play performed in a good theatre in a city of 10 million people. But still we can't fill a house. What is the first reason that springs to mind? I'll let you ponder that.

Check out the reviews;

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Post 97: 300107 A Play on the Brink

A new play is about to erupt onto the stage at Hanyang University. The Play is called 'Hitchcock Blonde' and little ol' me is the director. Here's a few pics of the cast.