Journaling the Month: October 2017

So on top of quite a few auditions for TV roles, I've had a few productive meetings re Christmas work in Enniskillen. Having missed out on Christmas work last year, having grown used to working with Laughlines, it was good to get this sorted (Laughlines then got in touch about work that would directly clash after I had already committed, was really disappointed I had to turn them down.)
I also got word from the Arts Council of NI that I wouldn't be receiving funding for a film/camera acting course in London. I asked for clarification as to what I could do to improve my chances next time, and part of the response was that I should probably look at university training as an option. It was meant in good faith, but this bureaucracy can be maddening; I applied for £4000 for course fees, I am not in a position to afford a £14,000 university course.

I am terrible at filling out forms, as I've discussed on None of That: a Black Books Podcast, and all of these funding applications are loaded in favour of people who have this particular skillset, which makes it the preserve of better off socio-economic groups - perhaps defeating the purpose of an endowment for the arts in the first place? But my inadequate form-filling probably contributed to not highlighting how the course would advance my career, but come on, it's a four-week intensive screen acting course conducted in the world famous Pinewood Studios - did I really need to draw a diagram?

I was also told that I didn't meet the requisite career level to qualify for funding: I have been doing this for nine years, and opportunities to advance in this particular market are very rare: the Lyric Theatre doesn't seem to have an audition for at least two years - I have been constantly pestering them for word of the next one coming up, so if they have been conducting auditions, they have been keeping them very quiet. Given that the trend for the last four years throughout theatre has been to program musicals and all-female plays, what chance does an un-coordinated male with a limited vocal range have to progress? I know whinging into a gale isn't going to do much about it, but it really feels like I'm stuck on World 1-1 of Mario, with the Jump button broke.

Having said that, good friend, and frequent collaborator Colin Hassard got funding to publish a collection of his poetry. He has been one of NI's top performance poets of recent years, so to get his stuff published was the next obvious step, so I'm happy to hear this.

Entertainment Wise

  • Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049 - I watched both of these back-to-back for the first time. I had been looking to see the original for years, which may have contributed to it not grasping me as full throttle as I thought it would. It explored a lot of good ideas, but some of the artistic decisions (of the interiors at least) were odd I thought (a tightly-packed metropolis would have four-metre high Parisian interiors in their skyscrapers?). And THAT scene where Harrison Ford shuts the door is very problematic - I don't see how it was any less so back then. The sequel, while absolutely gorgeous visually, is tediously overlong, and also feels a bit like wish fulfilment for the 'nice guy' guys; one character is a cipher whose sole purpose is to unconditionally fulfil all the desires, emotional and physical, of the protagonist at his beck and call. If it was a comment on consumerist short-termism it didn't read very well. Some great actors had annoyingly short roles, particularly Lennie James and Dave Bautista, although his prologue scene was rewarding.
  • Thor: Ragnarok - I really enjoyed this, and wasn't expecting to. I've grown weary of Superhero movies (this is the 17th (!!) Marvel Cinematic Universe picture), and I hadn't seen the two Thor movies that preceded this, so I thought I'd be completely out of the loop throughout. Turns out that  director Taika Waititi is some sort of comic genius, and his turn as a hulking stone creature with a disarmingly soft voice and personality was easily the saving grace of what might otherwise have been just another dizzying array of VFX and bloodless fight scenes. I'm also glad I didn't watch the trailers or other promotional material, because I was genuinely surprised when Thor meets his "friend from work". 

  • I've been dropping these Top Album posts without comment, but I should give a remark or two on them. Fairport Convention are a 60s-70s English folk group, and Liege and Leif is probably their most celebrated album. My uncle played it for me in an overnight whiskey session, and it has really grown on me since. Marilyn Manson is often dismissed as a gimmick, but his theatricality and lyrical content is actually brilliant, and the band know how to write a tuneful rock sock. There's one good song on Interpol's Turn on the Bright Lights, yet it's considered on the best indie albums of the 00s. I'm clearly missing something. Of Montreal Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? on the other hand, is a brilliant 00s indie album. Metallica's 80s albums are remarkably short (this was still vinyl time, I suppose), but boy could they pack a punch. Oh, Stereophonics, how thee have fallen. Their first two albums, coming in at the tail end of the Britpop movement were great, and simple - three guys, guitar, drum, bass. Then they veered so wildly in the middle of the road for the rest of their career they should rename themselves Central Reservation. I'm usually about three years behind hip hop at any given moment, which is why I've been listening to Stormzy and Kendrick Lamar.