Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I'm Not Like This (2)

We shot my final PhD film, I’m Not Like This, over four days last week, and it was generally unproblematic, leaving aside the problems customarily associated with shooting outdoors (e.g. families coming out of the houses to wonder that the hell we were doing, Roath Park rangers asking if we had permission). We were blessed with an excellent cast and a small but highly co-operative crew headed by producer/cameraman/production-manager Simeon. He showed me a rough cut yesterday, and I was cautiously impressed – it is redolent of a low-budget student video, but then that’s what it is, so I can’t really complain. The final version just might be an effective piece of work. I can’t say it shows me off as a director with any sense of visual style, but that’s not the point – it’s about Route One storytelling. With several thousand more £££, who knows what we might achieve?

Re filmmakers with some money to play with, I caught Spike Lee’s Inside Man at the weekend, having realised in horror that I’d never before seen one of his works on the big screen, despite having devoted a good portion of my Masters thesis to it. A very impressive Hollywood heist thriller, with the usual flashy Spike touches (although his trademark “person on a dolly” shot doesn’t quite come off this time, making it look as though Denzel Washington is hurtling down the street on an office swivel-chair). Some of the critics have suggested that the piece, not based on an original Lee script, is not a political one – however, a high(ish)-budget Hollywood movie with an African-American director, and juicy non-gangsta roles for two excellent Black actors (Denzel and Britains’s own Chiwetel Ejiofor, whom I saw in Blue/Orange in the West End several years ago) cannot be anything else. Plus, of course, it ultimately deals with one of the most fundamentally political themes of all, i.e. how rich people get to be rich in the first place.

Friday, March 17, 2006

I'm Not Like This (1)

Only a few days away, now, from shooting my first fully crewed film, entitled “I’m Not Like This”, with stout assistance from my student producer Simeon, who’s done all the hard work, leaving me to concentrate on my Art. Excellent cast, nice locations – it just might work. The biggest problem so far was one of the actors dropping out earlier this week, but we’ve managed to find a replacement who’s strong enough to put a whole new spin on the character, which is nice. If all works out, it will result in the first project formally produced by students at Glamorgan’s Screen Academy; if it doesn’t work out, this posting will cease to exist.

A payment came in from the ALCS this week – for Tracy Beaker and radio plays accidentally heard in Finland; only a couple of hundred, but it’s paid for my ticket to see Bob Dylan in the C.I.A. in June. I’m not a true devotee, only possessing a few compilations, but a legend is a legend is a legend, and I’ve never seen him in the flesh before, and he is, let’s face it, getting on a bit. Even mumbled, tuneless, tramp-esque versions of his classics will be a treat.

Watched last night’s arresting BBC2 drama-documentary about MI5/MI6’s near-coup during the reign of Harold Wilson (starring James Bolam who, bravely, made no attempt whatsoever at an impersonation). It’s startling to think how close we came to a Fascist dictatorship overseen by Lord Mountbatten and sundry militaristic in-breds. I think I prefer having a control-freak Prime Minister who has the security services at his beck and call and the fox-hunting classes on the run, to one who’s constantly looking over his shoulder. One wonders whether the stress contributed to Wilson’s Alzheimer’s.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Feeling / Artes Mundi

An excellent night at Cardiff Barfly on St David’s Day – headlined by imminent chart favourites The Feeling, who rocked very politely, and showed that they have several good tunes under their belts, aside from the two excellent singles released thus far. Full enough, but not packed out as one might have expected – maybe they’re insufficiently cool. One of them is married to Sophie Ellis-Bextor, but I didn’t spot her in the mosh-pit. The first support-band was The Steers – very passable, melodic jangly-guitar pop-rock. Second up were Lorraine – smooth electro-poppers from Norway; they went on stage with a big tape-machine, which is always a good sign, and the lead singer threw all sorts of distracting 1980s-style shapes, but the songs were very well-wrought and appealing.

I managed to pay two visits to the Artes Mundi Prize Exhibition in the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, in the past few days. Another highly impressive selection. At the entrance to the main exhibition-space on the ground floor is an enchanting light sculpture by Leandro Erlich, replicating a forest floor; Subodh Gupta’s installation presents icons of everyday Indianness (including, apparently, himself); Wu Chi-Tsung’s work plays with photography, and includes a constantly changing projection of a wire mesh – strangely hypnotic. Eija-Liisa Ahtila presents films in clever triptychs, exploring the internal landscapes of psychologically-troubled women. The first-floor galleries are the home for the remaining exhibits: Sue Williams’ highly disturbing paintings of sexual dysfunction, all the more sinister by being executed in a child-like style; Mauricio Dias and Walter Riedwig’s large-scale video installations, variously exploring the concept of migration, the wisdom of the aged, and the joys of throwing stuff at glass windows. The most arresting image for me was Thomas Demand’s computer-enhanced/re-created image of a woodland scene – or maybe it was simply the most conventionally beautiful.

We’ve been auditioning for my student short this week – looking good. A mixture of professionals and mature students appears to be the way forward. I’ve had to write a treatment – a process which took longer than penning the actual script, but I guess if we’re to replicate common industry practice within the academic context, these hoops have to be negotiated.