Archive for March, 2013

March 31st 2013

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Filmwise: The long Easter weekend is proving to be a great facilitator for completing the second draft of the little girl in Baghdad screenplay.


To take a break from writing, I went to see Francois Ozon’s latest – In the House / Dans La Maison (France, 2012).

It seemed fortuitous that not only did I have the director in mind last week, but that the premise of his new film revolves around storytelling and the way the imagination can weave a whole tapestry of plots and stories from the simplest situations.

The performance of the central characters was superb. Loved the young Ernst Umhauer in the role of a secondary school student turning the “what-did-you-do-last-weekend” writing assignment to a series of story installments in which he acts as narrator and protagonist.

The main draw for me was Fabrice Luchini, in the role of the literature class teacher smitten with the youth and budding talent of one of his students.

The ease with which M. Luchini eloquently lives the language of Molière and Proust is a joy to behold.

Peace and love,


March 24th 2013

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Filmwise: Have begun revisiting the little in girl Baghdad script. I have set myself the first week in April as the deadline for completing the second draft. Have also reviewed the current cut of the Cannes documentary. The script will have to take priority for the moment.

A grid system…

One of my favourite scenes in Swimming Pool (Dir. Francois Ozon, France 2003) is when, armed with a pencil, the author Sarah Morton (played by the forever flowering Charlotte Rampling) takes a printout of a day’s work of writing to read through and edit. Rampling portrays her to be excited with a sense of collusion with the gods of creativity, as she inspects the day’s penned lines of story.

From my own modest experience, I find those occasions in which I read through a whole draft of one of my scripts so exciting and enjoyable that I have to ration these sessions. I avoid reading the whole draft immediately after putting it to paper. A breathing period of at least a month is most helpful, I think, to allow for some perspective and overview.

And so, four weeks since completing the work-in-progress second draft of the little girl in Baghdad screenplay, this Saturday I braved the Siberian chill and headed to one of my regular café haunts in West London.

With a cool lemonade for company, I found myself a little corner table.

My simple grid system, to help make notes on character, story and pace, helped me find some glaring oversights, as well as issues with character progression.

The assuring news is the work required to address these points is achievable over the Easter Bank Holiday.

Peace and love,


March 17th 2013

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Filmwise: The break from the little girl in Baghdad story continues. Need to get back to the Cannes documentary in the next month or so.

Hello Mum…

Like most office workers on these isles at meal time, I am of the wolf-down-a-sandwich-at-my-desk persuasion.

On Tuesday lunch time, I threw caution to the wind and walked past the local supermarket, and headed to a branch of a nationwide chain of bakeries.

All too aware of the dangers of the combination of an abundance of baked food and a rumble in the tummy, I thought “abide by the meal deal options.”

The sight of the lady behind the counter caused me to momentarily forget food. With her small frame and shoulders labouring under the weight of a life lived in full, she clearly was beyond retirement age.

Commenting on my choice of dessert – I couldn’t abide by my resolution, she said in her small voice, “I always have a Yum Yum with my coffee. On my days off, I miss my Yum Yums.”

“Does it get busy during the lunch hour?”

“Yes, but I have all the girls to help me.”

She handed me my sandwich, Yum Yum and coffee.

Counting the change, “they’re like my daughters.”

With a customer behind me taking her time making a choice at the sandwiches fridge, I felt nosey: “how long have you been working here?”

“Twelve years.”

She paused, as in an almost subconscious movement she wiped the counter.

“I am 69, and should have retired five years ago. But I love it here.”

At that moment, the customer behind me handed her a sandwich.

“Hello mum!”

I wondered at the greeting from a young woman to an older lady. Was she her daughter, or was this an echo of days long gone in my country of birth, where young people would use the Mother and Father term as a form of respect to their elders.

Peace and love,


March 10th 2013

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Filmwise: In order to allow it some time to breathe, this was another week away from the little girl in Baghdad script.

Business people…

For a couple of days this week, I had the pleasure of accompanying two journalists visiting London from my country of birth.

After a brief meeting on Tuesday, we had agreed a day-long trip to a small town in Warwickshire.

At 7:40 on Wednesday morning, I was at the lobby of the journalists’ hotel in central London. Deciding to do away with the first item in the itinerary, we walked the 15-minute distance to the railway station, rather than hail a cab.

En route, we went past a travel agent advertising the re-opened air route between Baghdad and London. My evident happiness with the news was moderated by my friend’s caution. “The Iraq Air fleet will take some time to reach a good standard.”

At the railway station, we got coffee and sandwiches.

Carriage after carriage, the train was full. Reluctantly, we took seats a few rows apart.

Not long into the journey, we stopped in Slough. The train was drained of passengers, and we were able to share a row of seats.

My friend was enchanted by all that he saw. Through his eyes, I recalled my first glimpses of these islands many moon ago.

At the little town, we were received by the sales manager of the firm we were visiting.

“This is an old English town. I thought of taking you through the old road, so you would see more of the surrounding countryside.”

As the car followed  a bend in the tree-lined country lane, our driver pointed to an estate camouflaged with sun drenched woods.

“This is the estate of the local Earl. Of course, the aristocracy no longer rule in this country. They may have a seat in the Lords.”

The car was still driving along the boundary of this vast estate.

“Now, they are business people who happen to live in really nice homes in the middle of large estates.”

Peace and love,


March 3rd 2013

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Filmwise: Spent the week preparing film clips and a press pack for a TV interview about Mesocafé.

A journey..

Last week, I walked to my local cinema and booked a ticket for Song for Marion (Dir. Paul Andrew Williams, 2012).

The luminaries of British cinema, past and present – Vanessa Redgrave, Terence Stamp and Gemma Arterton – were not the only draw. Watching the film was, at some level, like catching up with an old friend.

Back in 2006, I attended a screening at Curzon Soho of Mr Williams’ first feature, London to Brighton (UK 2006). I took part in the Q&A session, asking the director and his producer about their budgeting skills, and how they managed to stretch the reported £80,000 (eighty thousand) shooting budget to cover a UK-set feature production.

I enjoyed Song for Marion, and felt as if a member of my “class” of indie filmmakers had made it big.

On Saturday, I recalled this feeling of happiness for the director when the TV interviewer asked me about my next feature film. Her positive reaction to the premise of the story of the little girl in Baghdad was most reassuring.

Peace and love,