As my fame has increased and the number of hits on this site also increased, what used to be nothing more than a motley collection of videos and family photographs has turned into an even bigger motley collection of odds and ends. It mostly features my moans and gripes about life as a screenwriter, and in particularly a screenwriter who has decided he wants to direct at an age when most should be locked up in a top security nursing home and forced to sing Daisy Daisy while some sexual pervert force feeds them baby food.
My own predilection for sucking up tequila shots from beautiful starlets ample cleavage, somewhat qualifies me to be, if nothing else, a film director in Asia. Though my penchant for long sentences in a land linguistically challenged, at least on the anglo side of things, perhaps make me something of an oddity. It also indicates that in some corners of my mind I am horrendously fuddy duddy and pompous, though in other corners, no doubt beneath the neck, I'm rock n' roll.
Ostensibly then, this site is about films and literature and my attempts to hang out with women twenty, if not forty years my junior, while maintaining a thirty four year strong marriage. My wife, it seems, understands me far too much. Though most of all, despite the odd foray into advice that I should take myself but never do, it is about screenwriting and film making.
I was lecturing in this thirty odd years ago and invented a fair bit of what seems to have become standard wisdom. Most is rubbish and all too many in the industry spout about the heroes journey as if it was the only commercial storyline and still insist that "film" is superior to "video". Many used to think silent movies were superior to the talkies. Now, in the words of the many Hollywood Luminaries I have pitched projects to, "Who cares!"
All you really need to know about screenwriting is:
1) You can not do it without understanding the film making process and the nature of the industry.
2) It doesn't matter how many books you read about it, or how many scripts you write that get rave reviews, the industry is about what can be done at a given moment rather than what should be done, or what people would like to do.
3) Everyone else thinks they know how to improve your script, while in fact they do not. They know how to change it. If they are smart, they know how to change it so that you can get funding. Producers have a bad habit of destroying their projects because they are not writers. But writers can side step all this by understanding from the start what commands commercial budgets.
I am available for de-motivational talks if you so wish to engage my services. The only test of whether you are a writer is whether you ignore all the obstacles and do it anyway. In the end you get better, and probably bitter, and maybe good enough. But rest assured it probably wont be for long, and be even more assured that that cocky little executive/script editor/producer type judging you, will probably be out of a job in a year and if not, bankrupt within three. They will also get divorced, have drug addicts as children, and be arrested masturbating in a public place claiming that they have found God. Their plastic surgery will also go horribly wrong.
Now, as for being a film maker, first buy a camera! This will liberate you and stop you becoming the cliche' of the bitter screenwriter. It is highly recommended because the game now is a writer-director game and the old fashioned screenwriter straddling the literary arena is part of a declining industry sector. Everyone wants a show reel nowadays, not a script. Nobody reads any more. Everyone Twitters and Facebooks and wastes inordinate amounts of time, especially in the film making world. All you need do to be better than anyone else is to actually make something instead of merely talking about it.
But don't forget that the script counts for more than fancy camera work, though when you first start and want to make an impact in the festivals, spending money on fancy camera work can fool a lot of people. After that though, the commercial world will beat you up if you don't have the sort of script that commands the large budgets. If you have other kinds of scripts, make sure they are cheap to make and that you can define some kind of audience in order to get some return on the investment. You can go chasing grants, but they are all for specific types of film. Make sure you understand what type, and of course, get to know people running the institutions making the grants.
You might like to check in on my BLOG for a hefty dose of negativity, pessimism, and psychosis, and what I like to call reality, though it probably bears no resemblance. You can also sign up for my Twitterings. And if you are in Singapore, where I don't live, you can sign up for my occasional lectures at the Singapore Media Academy. There is nothing I like more than an excuse to go and hang out in Clarke Quay drinking margaritas, even better if they are slurped from the etc etc. My impressions of Singapore are far from the dull staid hang-em high image that Americans like to portray the place. Granted it's politics is a little one sided, but I always find dealing with officials in Singapore far less troublesome than dealing with officials anywhere else.
Another thing about me is that I've written TV series for UK TV and for Singapore TV, hence my fondness for the place for embracing me with an enthusiasm that Hong Kong never has though I still live here. But then Hong Kong has decided it has to prove itself Chinese and my presence is seen as some sort of colonial throwback, whereas Singapore has embraced its colonial past and made it all part of its identity. But of course the market for English language material in these here parts is minimal and so one tries to make headway in LA. I have had films in development hell in the US for years and years and... my frozen margarita is melting as I consider the uselessness of scripts that are not made and the alien nature of the USA. Hence my delving nowadays into producing and directing on the minuscule scale I can manage and the element of regret at not having taken my own advice. If only I had met myself thirty years ago!
In a prior life, before moving to Hong Kong in 1991, I helped found the London Screenwriters Workshop, and since coming to Hong Kong I founded the Hong Kong Writers' Circle. I was chairman of both august organisations and have only just stepped down from the Writers' Circle, considering myself far too damaged to continue leading the charge for the great unknowns of Hong Kong literature.
So if you are feeling particularly chipper, either from caffeine, cocaine, or casual sex, feel free to drop in and let me beat you with a wet fish. Who knows, you might learn something useful. And at least buy a book or shove a dollar in the hat. We all like free stuff, but there are those who charge a fortune for next to nothing whereas I charge next to nothing for a fortune, metaphorically.Yes, below on the right, that's me negotiating yet another script option.