Saturday, July 28, 2007


Friday - Early:
Well, it's been an amazing ride this week...(Particularly in direct contrast to the misery of last week...when I was sick). I am still croaky (even more after a very late night in the bar enjoying PUNK KAROAOKE!) Sadly the cough remains - but not enough to dampen my experience of BRITDOC.

Because I am a total novice, and have no other frame of reference, I suspect my experience here at BRITDOC is quite a unique. Virgin that I am... :)


Yesterday was a stressful day in the SHELDONIAN THEATRE watching the other twelve pitchers. The more I saw, the more worried I became. Having been with half of these people on pitch training - I was rooting for my other pitchers and newfound friends. Thankfully, we were not in direct competition with each other - as all our projects were so different.

Jess, BritDoc's founder gave a lovely introduction about my project - and asked everyone give me a "special round of the applause" as I am a "first time film maker" and of course pitcher. So they did - which got the heart racing even more...

Thankfully having Stefan by my side - introducing his involvement to the project and giving his support - it gave me a moment to catch my breath. Grabbing the mic, I stood (most others sat for theirs) and immediately did my best to go into Stand Up Comic mode and fumbled my way through the whole thing. I am pretty sure I forgot entire paragraphs of the pitch, but it didn't seem to matter all that much.

The trailer got people laughing (thankfully at all the right places), I finished my pitch and it opened to the rather massive panel for nine minute's comments. The feedback was amazing and the support of the project too. I found it overwhelming trying to take it all in, I really did. They were saying things like "this shouldn't be a film, you should aim for a series" and "get an agent" and "this is a franchise" - a few other notable comments were "this is your retirement fund" (which countless people re-iterated to me for the next day-and-a-half) and "you should be on Oprah". I felt like saying, "yeah hon, from your mouths to God's ears" but we weren't allow to speak. The whole thing was just hilarious and validating. I was so relieved when it was all over, but then got a tiny glimpse of what it's like to be a rock star. People were coming up to me all day long with business cards, show reels, full films, advice, and compliments (and as I said, warnings)...

So, I was wandering around afterwards and stopping to chat to people about the experience - when I kept spontaneously crying. Well, I guess if I can stand up in front of a few hundred folk and bang-on about how I got dumped three times - a few tears isn't all that bad...I think it was just the adrenalin subsiding and my system just became unsteady. It was really an emotional and amazing day.

Just before six o'clock I was having a chat to a chap called Tim from MERCURY MEDIA (& when I realised I was fifteen minutes from where I should have been in order to see the film I wanted to see namely, Teddy and Paul's (pic: right) WE ARE TOGETHER. Stefan first introduced me to the project some months ago and I was definitely interested in seeing this inspirational and wonderful film. So with one panicked text to say I was in the wrong place and I was on my way - I brisk-walked back to the O'Reilly Theatre and only missed two minutes of the movie which was thankfully starting late. I took my seat in the second row and got enveloped into this captivating film about a choir in South Africa who to go to NYC - and the film's lead, twelve-year old Slindile - who had "star quality" written all over her.

From the film's website "With unforgettable kids, soaring music and a plot full of surprises, WE ARE TOGETHER arrives as a stirring and uplifting theatrical documentary." - which is all utterly true.

Or as I said to the film's producers Teddy and Paul afterwards - "it was beautifully shot, and it made me laugh and cry - what more can we want from our movie going experience?" They have given me such hope as "first timers" too - that I could do something similar. I hope they get an Oscar nod next year as they totally deserve it. Look forward to seeing the boys at Edinburgh next month...Who knows, maybe we'll even work together...


LATER ON FRIDAY: I am on the bus to London. I do have to admit I seldom take buses, as I really really don't like them, but this bus, to be fair, has wi/fi and a power socket at the seat so I am quite pleased. Just as I was getting on the bus I got a call from a chap named Chris Atkins... who wants to meet me in London as soon as I arrive down there. Just switched on KFOG - a San Francisco radio station - which is a little surreal when I am stuck in Oxford traffic. I swear it's a one hour trip to London and it's gonna take an hour just to get out of Oxford - which is a bit insane. And no, I didn't see any sign of flooding here at all. The sun is shining and the bus is a little stifling but at least it has wi/fi and a power socket so won't complain.

When I first got the call, I thought Chris was someone else. To be fair, I met about two dozen guys (and gals) after the pitch, many expressing an interest to talk to me about the project before I'd returned to Scotland, and secondly, as he rang, I was trying to buy my ticket for the bus.

Later, when he text me the directions - I'd realised it was someone different than I was thinking, so I did what all good people do and I "Googled" him, and found an article about him with this picture (right) and then I knew who I was meeting...

Chris, you see, was the first person to come up to me after the pitch and hand me his details - and newly finished film TAKING LIBERTIES, so reaching in my bag, I pulled it out and began watching. Because of the traffic and various stops, I managed to see most of it too.

Well, eventually I found Chris and Christina at Oxford Circus in London and off we went to chat at a bagel shop around the corner. On the way down the street, I said "So I watched your film...and I have to say it's not my cup of tea..." (Harsh, I know, but wait...) and then I said, "because I am a-political and utterly-clueless about all of this stuff...." (pause for effect) and then I said, "and I loved it. It was beautifully shot, the music was great in it, and the graphics were really cool and I really liked the characters". And I meant it, all of it. Anyone who knows me - knows I am nothing if not BLUNT (which doesn't always go down well as you can imagine). I am one to call a spade a "fucking shovel" - not everyone likes it, but it's who I am and not likely to change much now. Old habits and all that jazz....

We had a fantastic chat and I actually felt quite honored to be sitting there talking to such a talented guy. Chris has worked with Richard Jobson on a few films (I really want to see 16 Years of Alcohol) but this new film is his first foray into docs. Certainly seems to have good instincts and the midas touch as, like WE ARE TOGETHER, Chris's film should definitely be BAFTA-worthy (too British for the OSCAR, I'd reckon). TAKING LIBERTIES is already getting great reviews and has a good buzz about it. Well that's what Stefan says anyway...and I could see why - having watched it.

Speaking of Stefan, rather knackered (like me), he came along toward the end of the meeting and when it was over, got me to my train in a taxi. Bless him. I could not have managed the tube let alone carried that damn luggage up the steps to Platform 6 at Finsbury Park even if I had wanted to. By that point at seven pm on a Friday night the two of us were well and truly wrecked - but with a deep sense of satisfaction of a job well done. It was a very fruitful week and has given me heaps to think about.

For the first time in many years, Hannah (my lovely friend and legal advisor) & I were able to sit and chat for hours tonight (as her family is away for the night). I recounted the whole week and asked her legal advice about the future of Dumped Enterprises....LOL. Not the real name but let's just say the panel gave me much 'food for thought' of where I should be heading next.

Saturday - Morning

I slept until 10am and damn I needed it. I've got the events of the week spinning through my head as I listen to KFOG on the radio again (over the Net).

I have a suspicion I am going to California soon. Having just been there last month, I'd not expected to go before Thanksgiving, but something tells me that could change. We shall see. I do know the coming week needs to see me drawing up a game plan for the next two years (and beyond).

Top of that list is to get this little SYBD book, "Goodbye My Lover", sold and out before Christmas. But I also have the dilemma of - "is this project (I am down here for) a "series" or a "film"....or both?"

The rest of my week needs to be spent reading Harry Potter to figure out what these Deathly Hallows are. I am only to the part where Ron takes out the sword of Gryffindor and kills Hermoine with it and then takes his own life. I can't wait to see what Harry does without his two best friends.

What? Oh you haven't gotten to that part? Sorry.

Seriously though, I've made no progress since the plane ride south. Too busy socialising, networking and if I am being honest panicking. Now I can relax, decompress, go through the two dozen business cards and show reels and try to remember who's who....I've got a a number of emails to be writing that's for sure.

Thanks for all of you who have been supportive - both at BritDoc but in my own personal life too. You know who you are...

They say "life begins at 40" and if this week is anything to go by, then I think they might just be right. We'll see. As ever, watch this space...

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