Funding update

Gary finally completed his latest arts council application.

This his first application for new writing, ‘Performance from writing 1.’

Gary’s last two applications to the arts council to make The Dog & The Palace were successful with thanks to Christine Wilkinson and Producer Karen Gilchrist. Let’s hope 2013 is a good year for writing!

The Wrong Date – casting news

The Wrong Date

‘The Wrong Date’ is a new short film by writer / director Gary Thomas.

Steve (The Groom) – Martin Laurence

Sharon (The Bride) – Andrea Vasiliou

Andrea has appeared as ‘Young Catwoman’ in The Dark Knight Rises, as well as numerous short films.

Marin Laurence recently appeared in ‘Art House Massacre’, as well as producing.

The horror feature won 2 awards at The British Horror Festival, for best music and best film.

Here we go…

My brain is all mushy right now and I don’t think I could be any more tired unless I was actually giving birth.
I’m not, so that’s fine.
Anyway, I’m this way because rather than JUST doing loads of prep for the film shoot on Wednesday & Thursday I also went to a comedy writing festival on Saturday and a producers talk on Sunday in London. I stayed overnight in a hotel in Finchley (of all places!) and I got to practice pitch my feature film script to two of the biggest names in indie film producing. Whilst I shall be thinking about the enormity of what happened over the weekend with the pitching thing (and the amount of information gained) for a while to come, I learnt loads, and realised it’s a lot about being prepared for opportunities.
And so I now have to put that aside for a moment while I get my mushy head around making a film for the next two days with a 9 year old actor. In Winchester.

All of this, as I’ve written about previously (I think!) has happened pretty fast, and because I’m on twitter (@2weddings, now 600+ followers, I thank you) I was able to get in touch with a casting agent (Leoni Kibbey) who did a great job (in about two weeks) of getting eight 9-12 year olds into audition for my film. Leoni did all the work so I sat there behind the desk with the producer and thought about whether any of them sound like the voices in my head. Thankfully one of them did, and he was unexpectedly very funny, so we cast him.
So I shall be on the 6.35(pm thank god!)  train heading to Winchester with friend who’s coming along to help.
I had a meeting yesterday and we went through the outline, which has made me feel much more calmer about what I’m doing, but ultimately I won’t know how it’ll be till I get there on the day.
I shall have people asking me all sorts of questions and trying to answer them as quickly as possible so we can get things done. I shall then be working with the actors and getting a really good performance out of them. One of whom I’ve worked with before, and one is a friend, so it actually shouldn’t be that bad. But I’m still panicking, and I will do until I get there.
Once I’m there though, It’ll be a timely reminder of why I do what I do, and why I’m always looking for opportunities to do it. It’ll happen again when I see the footage, and it’ll happen again when I get the money to finish the film. Nothing like listening to two independent film producers to convince you that you can do anything.

Pulling it all together…

Go Team Gary!
I didn’t write that, a friend put it at the end of an email & it does seem rather apt at the moment. You see, things are moving way faster than I could have imagined, and that’s what needs to happen right now because time is indeed of the essence.
How did this happen? I hear you cry. Even if you didn’t I’ll tell you anyway.
I asked a friend I’ve known for a relatively short time (Christine Wilkinson) if she would write an application to ACE for R&D funding. She said yes, and suggested a couple of other people I should work with, so got in touch with Jon Potter from Company Paradiso & the other one, Karen Gilchrist, I already knew.
And they both know others. Especially Karen, who’s pulling a lot of things together. So as we were successful in getting the R&D funding, suddenly we’re filming on 13 & 14th April.
I know a casting director from twitter, I got in touch with her & now she’s finding lord knows how many child actors to audition this Thursday in London (this is the one task I thought impossible!).
I know an actress to play the mother who I worked with in my last short film, I asked her to read the treatment & now she’s on board. I visited FilmLondon on Friday to chat to a friend who I haven’t seen in ages, & that was really useful & they’re going to send me location ideas & a list of venues that we need to think about to show the film.
So, its all coming together. Not slowly this time, but in the time we need to do it. Hooray!

Embracing ‘Interference’.

In 1 episode of Friends, when talking about plans, the girls talk about things being 'unfloopy' and Phoebe says she doesn't 'even have a 'pl'

I’ve recently subscribed to Chris Brogan’s blog posts email, useful information and suggestions for what to write about. The recent email is all about confidence, and suggests writing a post on where I’m headed, so here it is.

Er…. Who knows?

Really, I mean I think about where I’m heading a lot, and as much as I like having plans, things conspire to interfere. Now, sometimes what happens when ‘things’ interfere with plans is WAY more interesting than the original plan. And that’s what interests me the most.

There are some things that have happened that I could never really have planned. I think you just need to be prepared for those moments.

A good example is my recent success with Arts Council. I applied for Research and development funding for The Queen and My Little Doggy, and was successful. (Yay!)

So over the next few weeks, along with everything else I want to do, there will be a period of very intense work on my split screen installation film, which will form the basis of a major piece of work that will be completed by very early next year.

Will anything happen to interfere with that work? Of course it will.
Already two people who I want to work with are unavailable, so that means working with others, but thats just given me time to remember the others. So I have lots of choices to make, and need to find people who I want to collaborate with based on who they are and what they can do.

So with that in mind, the next month or so will be really interesting, I’ll be doing things that I’ve never done before (again) and working with some new people too. All very exciting, really.

 

Am I ready to Move On?

This may sound silly, but I’ve ummed a lot over the past month about how personal my blog posts should be, as potentially EVERYONE I know could read them (I’m tempted to say here ‘they won’t’, but I’m not going too).

The past month is because my step dad died on 23rd January, and I’ve been wondering how and whether I should write about it. I’ve decided that I’m going to, as it all fits in with the whole notion of things being difficult, things going slowly, things not going right, which after all, if you’re disabled all that stuff happens anyway.

So when my step dad died I set myself a month before I got back into things fully again, and that month is nearly up. Trouble is, I still want to sleep more than normal, I still don’t really want to do that many things, I still don’t really want to be in ‘full swing’. And there in lies the thought:

When the hell have I EVER been in full swing?

One of the movies on my list still to watch (I have many on that list) is ‘Girl Interrupted’. (I’ve also had a really strong urge to watch Six Feet Under)

Girl Interrupted is about a girl in a mental asylum in the 1960s. As I say I haven’t seen it yet, its on my computer waiting for me to be in the ‘right mood’ to watch it. But I think the title sums up what its like when we all have issues come up that affect our lives.

This past year I’ve been struggling a lot with an issue that I haven’t had to deal with very much for over 10 years, and so things have been going really slow, and you could say I’ve been very ill. This has been a HUGE interruption in what I want to do with my life and unfortunately it hasn’t gone away as quickly or easily as I’d hoped.

I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of this is down to my own expectations, both in the ones that I have for myself (all these things that I want to do) and with what I can ‘realistically’ cope with. This one in particular has been a battle raging in my head ever since I can remember. So, if I didn’t have these expectations of myself, then I wouldn’t have to do so much, right?

Trouble is there are things that excite me, new opportunities, and things that I really want to do.

So I still have things on my list, like finishing the next draft of my feature script, arranging meetings, making a showreel for my new website, finishing courses, writing up a fundraising document… and another and another…

If you know me, you can drop me a gentle email towards the end of March asking me how I’m doing with any of this stuff. I’ll reply to it, though I’m not sure how quick I’ll be.

What we can learn from Everyone Else…

Gary Thomas on what we can learn from ‘everyone else’

13 February 2011

A red carpet leading up some stairs

Where could this lead you - Seriously?

I’ve been talking to a couple of people recently about ambitions. Okay, mainly my ambitions, but certainly ambitions.

You see, I want to aim quite high, so at a recent arts meeting in London (more to be revealed eventually!) I stated in a sort of unsure voice in a room full of disabled artists – “I want to be mainstream”.

And then, after a pause: “I want to be nominated for the Turner Prize.” Yep. That’s what I said. And now I’ve written it down. Shit me. Silly isn’t it?

Well, nope, not really. Definitely not silly. You see, I’m an artist and filmmaker, and albeit I didn’t go to Central St. Martins or where ever most artists go to study, I’ve had funding from the Arts Council, I’ve been commissioned, I’ve had a short film bought by a distributor in LA.

So why shouldn’t we look at our work and say ‘I want to win…’ whatever it is that will take your career to the next level?

But where on earth do I get these notions from?

One such influence is Chris Jones,  and his filmmaking course which I have just started taking this weekend.

Chris set out to make a short film and said, in a rather public way: “I want to win an Oscar.” He asked people for money, got the money, and made a film that reached the final round of voting in the Oscars, just before they chose the actual nominations. They missed out on an Oscar, but the got very very close, and made a good film because of it. Which got people’s attention. And although Chris is a ‘mainstream’ filmmaker (I’m assuming that) there’s a lot we can learn from everyone who put themselves out there.

They documented the process & they’ve now put it online with interviews, clips, and everything you need to look at your filmmaking journey.

I’m on section 3 of the course at the moment, and already there’s been some valuable insights into where I am, and what to do next. Some of which has reconfirmed what I already know, others have been first time insights. And when I get to the next stage of the course, there will be more. If the film-making journey is something you’d like to learn more about, I’d definitely recommend taking the course yourself.

In a short while, I’m going to be blatantly asking people for money. I need to think about how I do this seriously, how can I do it with the right support from people etc, and how I can do it legally too. I want to make a major work set a couple of days after the 2012 London Olympics.

It’s not something I can do on a low budget, so will be needing all the support from people and companies that I can convince. Although it’s a ‘short split screen film’ it’ll be a major work… So who’s with me?

Keywords: 2012 olympics,business,digital art,disability art,disability professionals,film,funding,london,mental health,money,normality,paralympics,risk taking,visual art,visual arts

Frustration, Risk and Money

I am an intellectual. No, I’m not just saying that to show off or anything, I did an online quiz at www.oprah.com and it told me so. It also said my need for helping others was my lowest score, (no surprise there) and creativity was up there in the highest marks (12 points) but my thirst for knowledge was paramount (14 points).

I wonder if this is why I’m feeling frustrated at the moment, which I really am right now. I would like to use this frustration to take risks that would mean I can get on with the work that I so want to do, but this all requires money, and there’s the sticking point. So what to do? So many things revolve around money, but it takes other people to also make decisions (and I’m not talking about mental health or any systems here) so, should that be a reason why I can’t get on and do stuff?

I can’t progress with the choices I have until I have the money to do so. Although, that’s not strictly true, I can write stuff, I can write an application, I can rewrite my feature screenplay. I can do quite a bit of writing really, though anything else pretty much relies on me having funding.

A friend put a post on Facebook I noticed which said, without Capitalism there wouldn’t be any mental health problems. I thought this was kind of interesting, and actually hard for me to argue against.

Although, I’m sure if I lived somewhere without the 9-5 working hours and pressure on jobs etc. mental health ‘issues’ would still be around. Probably arising from boredom and frustration…

Which brings me back to where I am now. And out of that, I can only hope I’ll grow, and change. But its a slow process, unless anyone has a spare five grand they want to donate, in which case I’ll possibly be less frustrated…

Last post from LA – better late than never!

So this is my last post from LA, LAX to be exact, and I’ll say it again, I’m seriously worried about lack of free wifi in this town. There is an airport lounge with ‘free wifi’, costs $10 an hour to use, I thought about it, but then spent my last dollars in McDonald’s, which is where I’m typing this from. (It’s ok, someone else has their laptop out, and its an airport, so I’m sure I’m safe)

So the final day at the expo was a much more settled pace, I still got nervous, but then that didn’t bother me. It’s amazing to me when I went to the pitching boot camp that nobody else had got there pitch down to the ’25 words’. This is something that John Truby, Blake Snyder & Elliot Grove talk about. But what it came down to was that was all I had to remember, and when they asked me for more story (which they all did on Sunday) I was able to tell them, without getting worked up, without forgetting anything about the STORY. This is the one thing that’s come out of the weekend, how important the STORY is. Especially in comedy, one of things Truby talks about is how you write the story first, and the gags come out of that. Most writers start with the gags, which doesn’t always create a great story.

It was great to hear John Truby talk again, reminding me of how much he knows and why he’s one of the best in the business. I’m going to get a report from the guy who works with him once I’ve looked over my current draft – cos of the exchange rate it actually works out a similar price to those script doctors over hear, but hopefully I’ll get new insight, and lets face it, although a good story is a good story anywhere in the World, he is Hollywood. And that’s one thing that I’ve learnt while I’ve been here.

I thought I was soooo right about my first couple of choices of companies to pitch too, but then when they gave their responses, I was surprised, and then when the bigger companies were interested that took me by surprise. It was a happy surprise too, one that got me really excited, and got me to think seriously about the choices that I have. I’ve directed short films, sure, but I’m not a ‘name director’, so I could hold out to be a writer / director. That’s one thing I’m not too worried about now, unless of course someone wants to fully support me on this, but I can write another script, with a good story, to do that with. So now, having pitched to the guys here in LA AND had some positive feedback, my options are wide open. And that’s the best thing for me right now.

So, what am I going to do when I get back? Get a script report from LA. Finish current application to the Arts Council, look up the Unlimited arts funding, and look at my life plan again. This is something I’ve done this year, along with doing ‘energy mapping’ out of it has come the sloooow realisation that all I want to do is write.

I want to make films that interest me, sure, that’s why I go down the arts route. Originally it was a means to an end, but once I got stuff for my showreel (Early One Summer, which was signed to Hollywood Independents distributors last year) and worked in collaboration with a digital artist to create artist film & video, now I can decide where I want to go – The big wide World is mine…