Archive for the 'London Calling' Category

london … three years and counting

25, February 2012

Well it’s official. I have now been in London for three years.


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Me and the girl spent our first year living in a studio flat near Euston Station where we were gently rocked to sleep and woken up every day by the rumble of the tube.

Our days were spent looking for work and watching our bank balances quickly deplete while every second report on the evening news was about the Global Financial Crisis.

Good times.

Year two and three have been much better since we moved to our lovely little flat in Kilburn and found our feet work wise.

We’ve settled into London now, have some London friends (which includes plenty of Aussie expats) and feel much more positive about the future.

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2012 also marks the year that I finally swapped this:

(Yes that is a Nokia 1100)

For this:

My long wait for an iPhone that wasn’t marred with bugs or design flaws has finally come to an end.

Up until recently this was my favourite game on my phone:

I haven’t found a new favourite game on my 4S yet.

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I’m happy to now be a part of the smart phone generation and to say that with each passing day London is feeling more and more like home, although I do have to pinch myself on both counts sometimes.

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quick update

26, March 2010

Sorry for the silence of late.

I’ve been busy going through the joys of moving house, nearly there, as well as working all odd hours at my day job.

But there has been some interesting developments on my web series ‘Tessa & Adam’, which I’ll report on later as well as new opportunities that have recently come my way.

When there’s more to report you’ll be the first to know! 😉

goals for 2010

13, January 2010

This year I’ve taken on some advice from Piers over at his blog, Between the Pavement and the Stars, and have focused my goals on things that are under my control and achievable.

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Professionally, I’m in a great position to get some work done this year. I have a job that pays the bills and also affords me enough time and head space to write. It’s time to live up to my own expectations and to have something to show for the year. This year is about completing several pieces of work, pitching, networking and not waiting for permission to get things done.

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Personally, this year is about enjoying what London has to offer, both big and small. It’s snowing outside as I write this and is a perfect example of what I mean. I’m a complete tourist I know but I’m loving it. I want more of these experiences so that by the end of the year I feel more like a local. 2010 is about seeing more, doing more and socialising … more!

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hope for the new year

5, January 2010

On New Years day I was greeted by this little fella on my window sill.

It didn’t snow over New Years as I had hoped but I think as far as kicking off a new year (not to mention a new decade) goes this more than made up for it.

Seeing this filled me with hope that I could indeed start to make London work for me this year.

Let me be clear, last year London felt like a real bitch – a slightly aging but still in-demand bitch of a diva … and she knows it. A bitch who can offer you the world but you better have some money and be somebody to be even worth her time. If not, forget about it!

Luckily 2010, what little of it I have experienced, doesn’t feel like that anymore. I am more hopeful and can happily say that the heaviness and stress of last year has all but lifted.

I feel like I’m actually a contributing part of society thanks to my job. I have a better understanding of how London works and how to have some quality of life here. And I feel like I have choice as well as the ability to take advantage of what this city has to offer.

Like I said, part of that is due to me getting a job but it was also thanks to embracing the festive season.

I didn’t get the white Christmas I had hoped for but we did get one great night of snow where I got to walk through the city to Trafalgar Square to see the carolers.

Call me a tourist but I also loved the Christmas lights down Oxford Street and around the city.

As well as feeding the squirrels!

I had a fabulous Christmas day with mates and plenty of hours in front of the telly lapping up England’s famous holiday specials.

I also spent my break mulling over my hopes for the coming year and what I want to achieve.

Very shortly I’ll be posting up my goals for 2010, so drop back to see what I plan to get up to and if you have goals of your own feel free to link to them or share them in the comments below.

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reflections on 2009

17, December 2009

Back in January I posted my goals for my first year in London. Not everything has gone to plan. It’s been a rough year to be honest. Money has been tight. Being a new face in a competitive industry during a recession has been tough. And just getting use to Jolly Old Londontown has been a struggle at times.

Would I have changed my decision to come to the UK? Not at all. Would I do things differently? Definitely! Can I do anything about that now? Not really. And upon reflection, do I really have that much to complain about though? No, not really.

I’m now working (part-time but at least not being exploited), living in a lovely little flat (by London standards) and looking forward to my first UK Christmas (with the promise of snow … maybe).

So, how did I go with my goals with year? Let’s see …

personal

find a borough and a flat in the UK I can call home

I’m still living in Euston above the tube lines (that rocks me to sleep every night and wakes me every morning) but have to say I love being so close to Bloomsbury and Soho. we are going to move eventually, there is only so long that we can live in a studio but for now it suits us. We could end up in Brixton, which looks affordable with a vibrant young up-and-coming community feel to it or maybe somewhere South West, but that just seems so cliché seeing as that’s where most Aussies seem to end up congregating when they move to London.

maintain a blog for the entire year

Check.

make London friends

I have, slowly. I can count friends of friends, a few ex-work colleagues and some fellow expats that I knew from years ago among my new London friends. So I’m getting there and certainly not a noddy-no-friends but submissions are still open for 2010, anyone … anyone …

stay in contact with Australian friends and family every month

This has been very important to me and thanks to Skype, Facebook, Twitter and good old fashion email I’ve managed to stay connected to those nearest and dearest to me on the other side of the globe. But come 2010 I know I have to make more of an effort to form connections here as I continue to carve out a life for myself.

keep up exercise three times a week

Now I’m not bragging but living a minimal life this year has meant that I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for years, thanks to the gym (my one big indulgence for 2009), a brutal weekly yoga class and clean living with very little excess (who can afford it!).

take better photos

I hope I have. You tell me.

cook more (does not include heating, frying or zapping)

We are blessed with a decent gas oven/hot plate cooker and don’t have a microwave so there has been no other option but to cook. And you know what, I’ve really been enjoying it. I bake a mean breakfast loaf and have been doing some tasty slow cooked meals in a ceramic hot pot that TJ got as a parting gift from her last job. Next year I hope to experiment more with England’s weird and wonderful array of root vegetables.

travel

Being financially challenged has meant that I haven’t travelled as much as I would have liked this year. But I have been to Geneva in Switzerland, Lake Stresa and Milan in Italy as well as Bristol and Brighton in the UK. Next week I’m off to Dorset for the day (to visit my Great Uncle Bill), which should be a real treat. Next year we plan to do more day or weekend trips around the UK and more travel to Europe hopefully – with it so close it would be a sin not to.

professional

Ugh, these are the tough ones …

land an opportunity in the UK that I couldn’t get in Australia

I’m not sure I can say that I have yet. There are certainly more opportunities in television and scriptwriting here in London but have I “landed” any yet? Not really. I’ve applied for a range of schemes and jobs that I wouldn’t necessarily have access to back in Australia and have also joined two writers groups so let’s call it a work in progress. Check in with me by the end of 2010 and hopefully I’ll have more to report on this front.

secure a screenwriting agent in the UK

Yeah … not so much. While important to my ongoing career I realise now that the most important thing is just to focus on producing good work and the rest will follow. My writing has gone through a lot of growth this year, which has included a lot of awkward and just plain ugly growing pains. But I can honestly say that I have produced some work this year that I am very proud of.

complete three original works

This is a box I can definitely tick. I completed a couple of sketches (let’s call that one) plus two multi-episode web series. All of these fell into place in the second half of the year after I just let go and started writing what entertained and interested me. During the first half of the year I produced some work that I wasn’t so proud of, especially seeing as they were the examples I used for several writing schemes, such as the BBC Writers Academy and Channel 4’s Coming Up programme. I hit some real stumbling blocks, let the pressure get to me, double guessed myself and just wrote some God awful stuff to be honest. I’ve been able to move past this now and reflecting back on this work I can see where I went wrong and how to rescue some of it when I comes to rewriting it.

practice pitching

I’ve done more than practice, I’ve actually gone out and pitched this year. I’m quite happy with what I’ve put together and presented in the second half of this year. It’s now a matter of waiting until the new year to see if anyone bites.

network

Where possible I’ve tried to get out and about to meet people and do the whole “networking” thing. My biggest success to date has been joining two writers groups. The London Comedy Writers and Script Tank have given me structure, a community to feel a part of and most importantly the opportunity to share my work with other like-minded peers. It has been something I have always craved and can say without a doubt it has been one of my biggest achievement this year.

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Well, that’s it.

Thanks to everyone for following the blog this year. I look forward to regaling you all with more tales in 2010.

I hope you stay safe and have a happy festive season and wish you nothing but the best for 2010.

Come January 2010 I’ll publish my goals for the year and start the whole process again.

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first reading of comedy web series

8, October 2009

Last night I had the first draft of the first ep of my comedy web series read at the London Comedy Writers group.

Before I get into that though I have to let you know that as I am writing this I’m seated at the British Library (free wi-fi) jammed between two people talking incessantly on Skype, so if I suddenly drop in the odd bit of Spanish or corporate jargon don’t worry, I haven’t suddenly developed turrets it’s just one of the many occupational hazards of writing in public spaces.

Anyhoo, back to the sketch … well to start off with I’m happy to say I avoided the “up til 3am re-writing” hell that I’ve managed to fall into before. I came close but saw the writing on the wall and stepped away ASAP. Previously I endlessly re-wrote a piece to the point that it just screamed to be put out of its misery. This time a brisk walk, a bit of house cleaning and visit to the gym helped to clear the cobwebs and got me back on track – gracias a Dios.

That said, I’m still having trouble realising on the page what I imagine the series (and style of comedy) to be. Ideas are great, they are never more fully-formed or beautifully crafted than when they appear in your head but as soon as you put them down on the page they turn into inept brain farts. It takes instinct, craft and lots of hard work to re-write it into something more palatable. And when you do it often bears no resemblance to what you first imagined. So what do you do? Go with this new creation or try vainly to capture that elusive image in your head? That’s where I’m at. I wrote something that was decent and (in parts) brought the funny but it’s no where near where I want it to be … yet.

First problem – I’m being too kind to my characters. I’m trying to make them too well-rounded – too well adjusted. I guess I’m wanting to avoid cliche stereotypes (the up-tight repressed Brit and the liberated worldly European) but after hearing the script read I realised that without some sort of anomaly or twist the character cease to be comic. Comic characters are by nature extreme in some degree (Black Adder is super-humanly sarcastic and witty, David Brent is a humongous vain sad wanker), so for the re-write I think I need to embrace the stereotypes, at least for the time being, until I find the particular characteristics that make my characters really sing. I also realised (upon hearing other people’s scripts) that what may seem old, tired or “done” to me might not to others.

The other main problem about the first ep is that it skims over several gags but doesn’t really hook into one in particular. The episode opens with a strong visual situational gag so it needs an equally strong follow-up to see it through. I’m part of the way there but have still got a way to go. I am hoping through that once I heighten the characters it will come more from them rather than from me forcing the plot.

I did discover a couple of lines that really zinged, which was great, especially seeing as they were right at key turning points in the script, so that tells me that those beats are working. The main thing that isn’t is the ending. I find comic endings hard. Especially on short pieces because you don’t have the benefit of half an hour or two hours to build to something. In a sketch the ending has to be just as punchy as the first hook and then some. Everyone is waiting on that one final punchline to bring the piece home. A tall order. Some people can pluck these out of the sky – these are the people I hate! The dynamic blue-sky talented bastards that they are. Me, I have to work at it – Perro que no camina, no encuentra hueso.

Zing! …. ugh.

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things are looking up …

27, September 2009

Right, so it’s a bit of laundry list but bear with me …

TJ’s new job

TJ has scored a new job in a newly set up development unit at BBC Wordwide. That’s right, she is now officially working for the government. I expect it won’t be long before she’s doing a 38 hour week, counting down the days til her long service leave and working in an office with a “please don’t abuse our staff” sign on the door!

Seriously though, she’s very excited about the job and it means that for the next twelve months we have some security. She had a great time heading up development in the digital unit at Fremantlemedia but we always said that coming to London was about taking advantage of opportunities that we couldn’t get back in Australia and this is the perfect example of one such opportunity.

little luxuries

As a result of TJ’s good fortune we can finally lash out on some little luxuries – temporary blinds from BlindInABox (it’s been probably ten years since we’ve slept in complete dark and God we’ve missed it); a multi-region DVD player courtesy of eBay (the Love Films subscription comes next); plus a casserole dish and stainless wok for some slow cooked wintery meals. It may not sound earth shattering but trust me these little things will make a big difference in our life.

writing

I’ve recently found a second writer’s group called Script Tank and it’s exactly the kind of group I’ve been looking for. It compliments The London Comedy Writers group perfectly as it is more focused on theatre, feature film and TV drama and has a strong membership base of professional and semi-pro writers, such as myself.

On the writing front I’m still working up some short material as well as several TV pilot scripts. When these scripts are ready I’ll have them read and critiqued at both these groups to help in my redrafting and polishing process. Getting a decent reading is vital – it allows you to hear now a script really sounds and to figure out what’s working and what isn’t. At the moment I’m confident that I should be well on the way to hitting my goal of completing three new original pieces of work this year.

work

Coming off the back of working on Freak, I recently took on a small paid gig Production Managing a short film (Unrequited Love) for writer/director Jade Syed-Bokhari of White Fire Films. We shot out at Black Park (near Pinewood Studios) under a beautiful old oak tree with Max Irons (Jeremy Irons son) on what turned out to be a perfect day. Sounds impressive? Well let me assure you filmmaking isn’t all glamour, a big part of my day was spent at the end of a pole waving a branch to create picturesque shadows in shot.

It turned out to be a great experience as I got to apply my eight odd years of experience to the job and got to draw on some people and resources that I acquired from working on Freak, which meant that things ran smoothly and we got everything in the can in under ten hours.

networking

Over the past couple of months I’ve been to several film and TV networking nights – there’s always something desperate and dateless about these events. Two thirds of the people are guarantee to be actors and composers while the other third is likely to be people looking to meet someone who can give them a gig. So it’s a lot of people all looking from the same thing … from each other! Not the best recipe for success. Despite this, I have to say though that I did meet some interesting people who hopefully I can keep in touch with and work with at a later date.

moving forward

I’m now hoping to take on some more paid short film production managing/producing gigs to get some money in and also to keep building my network. The more gigs like this I do the more I will learn and the larger my network will grow – which can only be a good thing, both in terms of leading to some full-time paid work and also when I’m ready to start shooting some of my own material. That’s the plan anyway, Ill let you know how I go.

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banksy vs bristol museum

11, August 2009

Welcome to the Museum

On Sunday Lawrence, Amanda, TJ and I headed across to Bristol to see the Banksy exhibition at the local Bristol Museum.

We got up at the crack of dawn (well, 6am) jumped in a hire car and headed west towards Bristol hoping to beat the crowds and get there around opening time.

It turns out so did a LOT of other people.

The Line

We arrived at 10:30am, half an hour after the exhibition opened and there was already a line up that went up and around the block.

In line for Banksy

3 hour wait
And so we waited.

Did our best to amuse ourselves … and waited.

And waited … to the point that even my poor little camera started to get tired.

Until … we finally got in.

When you first enter you are greeted by a very subversive Banksy installation that houses the information desk.Information Desk From there you are ushered into the main Banksy gallery exhibiting his artwork.
BanksyBanksy - Monkeys at Question TimeBanksybanksy - Riot Police in Field

And a courtyard where there are more sculptures and installations.Banksy Monkey InstallationBanksy - CCTV InstallationBanksy - Tweetie

From there you have to hunt around to find his other work that has been installed in amongst the established pieces in the museum/gallery.

A lot of his material is easy to find.

Banksy - PaintingBanksy - vs Dot Painting

Some of it is a bit harder to spot.

banksy - Cave Paintingsbanksy - EasyjetBanksy - Stuffed Animal

He has seemed to have taken great joy in messing with the conservative art establishment.

Banksy - PaintingBanksy - Statue - Lion vs Lion TamerAs well as imagery pervasive in our modern world.

Banksy - Donut Truck

And he LOVES to juxtapose symbols, images and concepts.banksy - Statue - David

Banksy - Statue - Venus

There is certainly a great deal of fun being had by Banksy with his exhibition and you can’t help but smile when you look at his work.

Banksy - Thomas the Tank

At times you do come across a piece that hits you.

Banksy - Ricshaw

He certainly challenges you to look at the world around you in a different way.

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All up, we drove for two and a half hours, cued for three and were only in the exhibition for about an hour.

Was it worth it? Yes. I’m glad we went and saw it. Did it change my life? No, but I didn’t expect it to. Did I appreciate it as much as I could have at the time? I don’t think so. The waiting really takes it out of you. It does sticks with you afterwards though.

My recommendation would be to go on a weekday when there might be a less of a wait and to take your time and make the most of it because it’s not a exhibition your going to line up for again in hurry.

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No matter what your opinion on Banksy is, he is certainly an artist who always catches your attention …

Banksy - Ronald #2

And makes you look twice.Banksy - Ronald #1

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gainfully employed … for five weeks!

5, July 2009

As per my last post, I’ve been working on a Fremantlemedia web drama called Freak and have been extended to the end of the shoot. We’ve just shot our third week and have two more weeks to go.

I’ve been enjoying it and making good contacts and my work has been noticed. The good thing is, because it’s a small team I’m getting to do a lot of different things like assisting the AD, Props and camera crew. It’s long hours but that comes with the territory.

I’ll update my blog with more details when I’m done and have some more time on my hands. Thanks again for all your support, it’s been great.

a change of plans

21, June 2009

Well, all my big plans (see my last post) for last week got shot to hell on Tuesday morning when I got a call from Fremantlemedia asking if I’d come and help out running and driving on a web drama they are producing called Freak. As a result I didn’t get to my writer’s group to hear my sketch read and critiqued, I didn’t get to my networking night and I didn’t go to the theatre but you know what, I did get paid this week, which more than makes up for it.

I’d rather be working than not and despite not being what I usually do it has been a good week. It’s a small crew and they needed an extra person to be able to drive a van out to set every morning with camera, costume and unit gear, be an on-set runner and then drive the van back to the office again at the end of the day. The days have been long and there is always prep and post stuff to do at the top and tail of every day but everyone is working long hours on this gig so I can’t really complain.

The crew have been lovely and were very happy to have an extra pair of hands on board. This past week we were shooting all location stuff around East London and thanks to the third AD’s Tom Tom (GPS) I managed to get to and from every location okay. I was a little nervous at first driving around London (as I haven’t before) but it’s been alright. Most drivers are sensible, there are plenty of lights everywhere so you are always stopping and starting and traffic doesn’t move very fast when you’re driving through the city.

I’m working on Monday and then have to wait and see if they need me for the rest of the shoot. It’s been a good experience (you always learn something on every gig you do) and great opportunity to make some more contacts, which is a big bonus. I’d be more than happy to work the rest of the four odd weeks they have left but will have to wait and see what they decide. Fingers crossed.

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