Posts Tagged ‘London’

london … three years and counting

25, February 2012

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


-*-*-

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.

-*-*-

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.

-*-*-

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.

back from the comedy fest

12, April 2011

I’m back from the London Comedy Writers Festival with a head full of knowledge, pockets full of business cards and a smile on my face.

For me the festival was all about connecting with other writers and thanks to its friendly open atmosphere it was easy as. It was also helped by one of the most useful name tags/lanyards that I’ve seen at any festival thus far that made it easy to identify who you were talking to without looking like you were squinting at their middle shirt button or worse.

Griff Rhys Jones’ keynote speech delivered in spades with wry and inspiring tales of his time in the comedy biz and the other speakers that I saw were all engaging and generous with their time. The only criticism I would have is that sometimes the session moderators didn’t stick a hundred percent to brief and let sessions drift into cozy fire side chats, which while entertaining weren’t what I was expecting.

I have to say though, the festival organisers did their best to cram as much information, value and networking into the two day event. I’m incredibly happy that I went and felt like I made the most of the experience and I would happily recommend the festival to anyone thinking of going next year.

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! 😉

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.

-*-*-*-

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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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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london – 12 weeks & 5 days … times for something different

12, May 2009

It’s been over 12 weeks and still no job.

TJ and I have got my little studio flat right next to Euston Station (where we get gently rocked to sleep every night by the rumble of the tube), a new gym, some mates to hang out with (and get fed by when we need a pick-me-up) and even a couple of neighbourhood squirrels. All we need now is some jobs.

I’ve tried everything. I’ve applied for any job that I think I’m remotely qualified for. I’ve sent out emails cold to prospective employers.  I’ve registered with temp agencies far and wide. But at this point I’ve turned up nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s jobs to be had out there but there is also a heck of a lot of people out of work to compete with. For any particular job I apply for I can guarantee I’ll be up against anywhere between 50-150 people for the same position. So to say it’s competitive is an understatement.

Will things change?

I don’t know … strike that – things have got to change!

I can’t afford to go on like this for another two months. I’ve got to have something to show for this experience besides “giving it a go”.

It’s time to try something different.

* * * * * *

For the next couple of weeks I’m going to keep on forging ahead applying for jobs and following up leads but I’m also going to be focusing on the following three things –
(1)
networking: I’m going to seek out writer’s groups, industry events, courses; anything that will get me mingling with like-minded individuals. In the past the majority of my work has come from people I know, so it’s time to get to know some people in London.
(2) writing material that can get made: I’m going to focus on scripts that can be either realised as a piece of fringe theatre, a low budget web series or short film. By October I want to be able to say that I got something commissioned or produced here in the UK.

(3) finding collaborators and facilitators: I’m going to be looking for other writers/directors/producers/groups who I can collaborator with to get work made as well as dramaturgs/script doctors/mentors who can help me to develop my work. At this point I don’t feel like I can do this alone. I need help so it’s time to go out and find it.

At the end of these first two weeks I’m going to take stock of where I’m at and what I’ve achieved. If things are positive I’ll keep on forging ahead. This is as much for my own sanity and morale as it is about getting something done.

* * * * * *

Luckily I’ve already made some in-roads to achieving these goals.

Last week TJ, myself and our mate Lawrence, hired a DV instructor (big shout out Mike at DV Training) to give us a one-day training course on the Z1 DV camera, which is pretty much the industry standard for self-shooting producers/directors working in reality and factual television at the moment. We learnt more than I expected and I can now white balance, set audio levels, expose and focus with the best of them. We’re following it up this week by hiring a camera to mess around with for the day and to solidify what we learnt.

On Tuesday night I’m going along to a script reading held by the London Comedy Writers Group who regularly do readings of half-hour sitcoms, sketches etc submitted by its members. I’ve looked into several groups and these guys seem exactly like what I’ve been looking for – a tight group of pro’s and semi-pro’s who support each other in the development of their work.

The following week I’m going to check out a piece of fringe theatre, I Love You, Bro, at the Pleasance Threatre. It’s got rave reviews from it run at various festivals here and back in Australia and at 10 Pounds a ticket, I can’t really ask for more.

I’m also talking with my best mate and long time collaborator, Lawrence, about developing some stuff together. In the past when we’ve put our minds to it we’ve always managed to get something up but for the past eight/nine years we’ve been living in different parts of the world. So now that we’re finally together in the same city it’d be crazy not to take advantage of this opportunity to work together.

* * * * * *

I know this is another LONG entry but I’m planning on blogging more regularly from here on out and in shorter bit-size posts to debrief and keep everyone updated on my progress. Thanks for all your support and encouragement to date, it really does make a difference. I look forward to reporting back about hopefully some exciting times ahead.

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london – 3 weeks and 3 days

9, March 2009

3 weeks and 3 days. That’s how long I’ve been in London now. I thought I would take a moment to check in with my goals and let you know how I’m doing.

house hunting

As well as trawling the various ‘places to rent’ websites, TJ and I have been checking out areas we’d like to live. This has involved going out each week to look at different areas (Boroughs as they call them here) and having a wander around to get the feel of the place.

So far places in Central London like Kings Cross, St Pancras, Old Street. In Central North East we like Angel, Lower Islington and around Central South East we’re into Bricklane, Shoreditch, Sppitalfields. These are all urban areas with lots of people, refurbished flats, busy streets and cool like funky shops and eateries.

kings-cross-euston-angel-old-street-st-pancras-shoreditch

We also like Central West like Ladbroke Grove, Paddington, Marylebone and Bayswater. These are all areas around Notting Hill but not as expensive but just as nice. Here the streets are quieter but in a good way and there are loads of lovely three or four storey terraces with beautiful facades and well manicured courtyards.

ladbroke-grove-paddington-bayswater-marylebone-baker-street

Apparently each modern London Borough boasts a mix of both upper and lower class housing designed to create equal access to public services like transport, health, education etc. It’s also meant to prevent areas from being ghettoized. I wouldn’t say it’s been entirely successful because there is still a huge class system in London, especially when it comes to housing.

Take Spittalfields Markets for example. Above it you find yourself wandering through row after row of beautiful quaint terrace houses on well worn cobble stone streets. Go below the markets and it’s like you’ve stepped into the apocalypse. Run down council blocks tower above you, stray animals roam amongst rubbish tumble-weeding through the street and the locals eye you hungrily, as if to say, “Outsiders. Quick prepare the nets, tonight we feed!”

So as you make your way to what you think is a great looking flat in a beautiful location, you turn a corner and find yourself right smack in the middle of a council estate where people hang their washing out the window alongside the pelts of tourists who strayed too far from the herd.

I am the worse house guest ever

TJ and I are staying with my best mate and his wife here in London and it’s been great. They have been nothing but accommodating and generous with their home. So how do I repay them? By marking their vanity basin, leaving a burn mark on their carpet and shattering their coffee plunger. That’s one accident a week. I’m amazed they haven’t kicked us out yet. They’re saints I tell you.

These are the same people I called ON THEIR HONEYMOON to ask if, when they got back to Sydney, I could come crash because I had just scored a job there. I told them it would only be for three months. I ended up being there five. They’re saints I tell you, saints.

friends

I’m slowly meeting a few people here and there but I don’t think I’ll really start forming real friendships here until I have a job and a place to live. I have managed though to meet up with another ex-pat through my best mate who turned out to be an old school buddy of mine. Small world. I’ve also met up with a few people recommended by friends back home (I have to stop saying that soon) which has been nice. And luckily there are quite a few friends and family who just happen to be making their way over to London for one reason or another this year, so seeing them again will be great. Thank you everyone for staying in touch, it’s made my experience here that much easier and less lonely.

jobs, opportunities and networking

Job hunting has been hard. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of jobs and some truly great jobs but also plenty of people applying for them. Australian have a good reputation in England as hard workers who get the job done. But there is also the concern that we don’t understand the industry or culture here, so I’m making a renewed effort to address this. In Australia about fifty percent of our content is made locally and the rest comes from overseas. So over the years I’ve watched more than my fair share of English television. I’ll be hammering this home in all my future application letters.

But for the Brits this is a bit of a foreign concept. Here, British content dominates free-to-air and cable television. There’s still all the usual US imports but an easy 80-90 percent of television programming in this country is made right here. That, plus the population, is part of the reason why there’s so much work here.

The financial crisis has hit England hard and there’s lots of talks of lay offs in the media sector. That of course means that there’s more people out there looking for work but I also think that as more and more full time positions get shed it will mean that more and more contract positions will be created to take their place. I’m use to living contract to contract without long-term security and as the job market ramps up I’m certain I’ll find a job soon. Or at least some temp work to see me through.

Part of the reason I came to London was to take advantage of opportunities that don’t exist back in Australia. Since being here I’ve applied for a new BBC radio sketch comedy show and about to prepare an application for a Channel Four scheme, both aimed at new emerging writers.

I just heard that I didn’t get the BBC gig, which is a shame because it would have meant that I could have gone to a comedy masterclass with David Mitchell, one of the guys from my fav British comedies, Peep Show. But I did get three decent coemdy sketch samples out of it.

I’ve never been great at networking, which is why it’s one of my goals for this year. I’ve had one great meeting so far though. I met up with a producer up at his lovely home in Hampstead (one of the leafy hills of London) to introduce myself and see if there was anyone he could recommend I chat to about work. I thought it would be a quick 20 minute meeting – in and out. He ended up spending nearly three hours with me and took me to lunch. I’ve since sent him some of my writing and projects to look over and now waiting to hear back from him. It sounds like he can put me in touch with some very cool people, including possible agents, and there’s a chance we might keep talking about some other opportunities in the future.

writing

I have a one hour comedy/drama TV pilot script I’m desperate to finish but haven’t had a chance to yet because life keeps getting in the way. I don’t want to finish it necessarily to try and sell it but instead have it as solid writing sample. Don’t get me wrong, if I can sell it, great but at this stage it’s more likely that someone will read it and see me as a good fit for an existing show. I have to say though it feels like the best things I’ve written to date so I’m eager in the next three weeks before my birthday to at least get the first draft hammered out and done.

Since being here I have managed to get other writing done. My three comedy sketches as I mentioned, a couple of ten page extracts from two different projects that I’m using as short samples and a two page scene that I worked on with my actor mate, which he is shooting as a showreel piece.

Getting something done has been rewarding because you never feel like anything is finished when you write, so for that I am thankful. It’s also renewed my confidence that I do infact know what I’m doing and have a real chance to make a living out of this writing caper.

There’s more house and job hunting on the horizon but with my three strikes of mishaps out of the way I’m expecting nothing but good things from here on in.

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friday papers

21, February 2009

In the next week of two I’ll be posting some updates about leaving Melbourne and my experiences so far here in London but in the meantime I thought I would give you a bit of fun on a Friday and let you know what I’ve learnt from the papers today.

Here’s the papers I bought:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

And here’s what I learnt:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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the flight and the familiar but new

19, February 2009

I’m not good at long haul flights. I usually reach a point 10 hours in where I start to question how on earth we’re staying in the air. It just doesn’t make sense that what is essentially a giant piece of iron ore can fly. Or that the most combustible part, the fuel, has to be kept in the only thing that is supposed to be keeping us aloft, the wings.

Qantas Longreach

As you can guess, I don’t trust planes.

Qantas

Or ferris wheels.

The London Eye

Or viewing decks on buildings that are so tall that they sway in the wind.

Empire State Building

* * * * * *

An interesting thing happened though on the first leg of my flight from Melbourne to Hong Kong that made me forget all about this. I found myself surrounded by strangely familiar characters.

Next to me was a crotchety old Russian woman who insisted on clutching her handbag in her lap the entire flight. It took several visits from the cabin crew and saint-like persistence from her granddaughter to convince her to stow it for take off. But when ever they weren’t looking she would snatch it back into her lap.

She bitched and moaned about the air-conditioning, the food, the service, the fact she couldn’t stretch her leg out into the aisle when the food trolley was coming past. She didn’t speak any English but it was easy to tell what was going on by her granddaughter’s constant appeasement and frustration.

Behind me was a kid who kicked my seat most of the flight. His parents had no control over him. And just when the kid stopped and it looked like all was quiet he proceeded to throw a tantrum. Not just a “I don’t wanna” spat but a full coughing, wheezing tantrum … just as everyone was ready to sleep. And again the parents were no help. Thank God they finally got the kid up and walked him around because I think they were close to be lynched.

To top it all off, in front of me I had an old Jewish guy who reclined his seat into my head every chance he got.

In the end I just had to laugh. What a gift – some of the great cliches of air travel right there for me to experience first hand.

Don’t get me wrong, as soon as I re-boarded for the second leg I switched seats and was able to lie down across three seats and get some sleep. There was no way I was going to ride out the rest of my journey surrounded by that nightmare trio.

* * * * * *

As we approached England I did something I never do – I looked out the window.

A first ...

And caught my first glimpse of my new home.

First glimpse of England

I never realised just how many rivers and canals snake through England.

Second glimpse of EnglandThird glimpse of England

Or just how many soccer (football) fields and stadiums populate the landscape.

Soccer Stadium

It made sense later but at the time it just didn’t occur to me.

And that’s when it struck me. My entire flight was so familiar yet completely new. Experiences that I had for so long read about, watched or dreamt where now my own.

* * * * * *

Moving forward I’m looking forward to embracing what is to come, be it good, bad or indifferent. I may not like it all but it will be mine and that alone makes it worth something.

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snowing in london

3, February 2009

It’s snowing in London and 40+ degrees in Melbourne – guess where I want to be …

Apparently it’s the coldest winter for thirty years and the heaviest London snow fall since 2003. There has already been 5 to 6 inches of snow fall and more is predicted for the coming week.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Snow brings London to a Halt“, posted with vodpod

My mates there have been trapped at home because all the public transport has ground to a halt. People haven’t been able to get to work or in and out of airports.

London Airport snowed in 1London airport snowed in 2The heaviest snowfall to hit England since 1991 has caused severe disruption to flights today, leading to 650 cancellations at Heathrow. There are no services on the Heathrow Express and a limited service on the Gatwick Express. The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for much of Great Britain. Up to 10cm of snow has fallen in Greater London.

via Heavy snow halts flights from London.

But it’s nice to see that not everyone is all doom and gloom:

London SnowIsn’t the snow glorious? Do not misunderstand me. Broken hips, missed flights, lost income are no joke. Yet the children have it right: the snow is beautiful and fun, and the disruption it causes is quite proper. Snow is meant to be anarchic.

It is like the Blitz, without the death and destruction. Those who walked a long way to get to work yesterday found strangers talking to them. Travellers swapped stories. There was a helping hand for the elderly. Then there was a new element since the snows of 1991: the mobile phone camera. Most people soon had instant images of the children’s delight and the snowy black trees.

via Snow brings out the best of British – Telegraph.

To me it’s still a novelty and I would love to be there right now to experience it firsthand – to throw snowballs, make a snow man, write my name … what could be better?

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