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My three words for 2013

Image of a hand writing on a piece of paper with a fountain pen

I’ve never ever done new years resolutions. I think it’s cos I heard all those jokes about all those people joining the gym in January and never going again. From the first time I heard about them I remember thinking it’s not a very good idea. I mean, if you really want to do something why wait? Why not do it now?

If I do have something in mind that I want to do, and I can do it whenever, i.e. it doesn’t take money or anything else to do, I’ll make sure I start it before the new year is up, so I don’t think it’s a ‘new year resolution’.

What I have found interesting, and what I do like doing, is 3 words for the year. I found this a while back from another film maker who linked to Chris Brogan’s website. He was the first person who explained what the 3 words were, and I really liked the idea of doing it, how you only have 3 words to choose, and how it can focus you through the rest of the year, as long as you remember what those words are. I’ll explain my 3 words for this year and tell you what they mean to me, but it’s definitely worth looking at Chris Brogan’s explanation of them too.

My 3 words for 2013 are in no particular order... (drumroll please!)
Writing
Writing will always be there no matter what, I’ve been writing since I was 14 and haven’t stopped yet. It’s almost a given that its going to be one of the words ever year. I was deciding whether this word should be writing or rewriting, but rewriting means I’ve done loads of work beforehand, and I haven’t. So, although it’s a given, and if its used to focus myself on what I want to do more of, then it definitely earns its place there.

Personal
Personal is an interesting word to me. I could have chosen ‘Honest’, but I didn’t think that covered everything. I could be honest but that doesn’t mean that anything I’m saying is personal to me, I’m just not lying.

Personal meaning:
1. [attributive] belonging to or affecting a particular person rather than anyone else;
2. done or made by a particular person; involving the actual presence or action of a particular individual;
3. of or concerning one’s private life, relationships, and emotions rather than one’s career or public life;
4. an inappropriate or offensive way: he had the cheek to make personal remarks

Explanations 1 and 3 (from the Oxford online dictionary) are really what I mean here. I could be honest but not state my personal views, where if one of my words for the year is personal, well, I need to try and be that.

What if I wrote a screenplay that contained my own personal views of religion? Of mental health? social workers? (I could go on…) Surely it would mean more to me, and possibly have greater depth to my writing than previous scripts.

But also in my Facebook posts, twitter feed – why shouldn’t I be personal, not censor myself, share more of me than I do now? And the key thing – not worry about it afterwards.

That’s a big challenge in my writing, and even more so this year as I’m writing my autobiography. Which brings me to:

Stages
Big projects can be broken down in stages. The way I believe I can write my autobiography now is that I’ve spent a while on the outline and planning, deciding which structure to use, and breaking it down accordingly. The same is true with scripts, each outline, each 10 or 30 pages, each draft can be it’s own ‘stage’ of the process.
But also, theatres have stages too. And I want to spend more time on them, whether it’s writing for the stage or working with actors on stage(s). Film studios have sound stages, rehearsal stages… well, you get the idea.
So those are my 3 words of the year. And in terms of number 1, writing, I’ll keep you informed of how I’m doing every time I’m stuck for a blog post subject. 

What would your 3 words be if you had to choose? Feel free to leave a comment below.

If you want to check how I’m doing, especially to see if I'm being 'personal', do join my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/garythomasfilms

Posted by Gary Thomas, 11 January 2013

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 21 January 2013

State of the Arts 2012 Conference Sessions (Blog 2)

Probably the most interesting session for me was the first session about the audience. It certainly presented a different way of thinking. The main speakers were Alastair Spalding from Sadlers Wells and Helen Marriage from Artichoke, who produced the Sultan’s Elephant outdoor spectacle as well as The ‘Spider’ in Liverpool in 2008.

Alastair was interesting in that he started by talking about the iPhone, saying that no one could really imagine 10 years ago that there would be a phone like that. 

Alastair focussed on William Forsythe, choreographer. He showed two clips of work taken 25 years apart. He spoke about taking radical steps, which is key, and challenging perceptions of contemporary performance. 

Keeping audience actively informed is a challenge, but a must for his theatre. There were also some interesting thoughts about audience:

  • Audiences generally have no complaints about complexity.
  • They are still drawn to narrative – no matter how complex.
  • But they are also happy when there’s no narrative.
  • They also respond to intellectual versuosity – exploring the nature of performance.

As audience become increasingly multi-national they are drawn to work that reflects diversity. 

He did mention reviews – and how to respond to negative ones – put on more of the same work. He presented a ‘Forsythe Season’, and the audience became more informed, and the work became more validated. 

Helen spoke about her work – large scale outdoor pieces. As a producer she knows that lives can be better from seeing art, and it’s her job to imagine the impossible and make it happen. 

The greatest communication tools for Helen were secrecy, timing and surprise. This was interesting for me - and if you have the support of a venue like Sadlers Wells that will put on your work every year then great. But what of those artists struggling to find such a venue and / or producers? 

The session certainly raised questions for me. I’ve now made eight films. What do people expect from me next? Do my 800 + twitter followers really care about what I do next? 

How many of them would buy a DVD of my films if I released one? (800 x £15.99 = £12,792). That’s quite a lot. 

So again, it goes back to the audience. For me as a filmmaker, that’s simple and something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and as an artist, it actually hasn’t changed my thinking. I think essentially we simply want people to turn up and see the work.  

Though for my next steps, it may be more to do with my writing than anything I’m currently doing at the moment. But with the element of surprise in mind, that’s all I’m saying at the moment. 

Posted by Gary Thomas, 29 February 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 2 March 2012

My 2011

 

Happy New Year!

I thought I’d start this year by recapping last year. Why do I think last year was so good when I had a family bereavement in January & I was assaulted by 2 'youths' in August? I think, at least for the past year, I've been feeling pretty well, and simply didn't want to let things get in the way of what I was doing -  possibly because I had such a terrible 2010. The other reasons are work & funding. 

I've done more this year than I ever have, starting with The Freewheelers Theatre Company, who I've been working with since 2007. One of the things I've enjoyed with them this year is that my writing / story telling skills have been used with the Uscreen project. Working with ten students we came up with a zombie story that was fun to plan and make, with some of the Freewheelers being mentors. 

Perhaps the best validation of my work came from being selected for Upstream, which was held as part of the Brighton Festival. This was an amazing experience and I met a couple of people who I would love to collaborate with in the future. 

I was also involved in Driving Inspiration, a huge project which saw me teaching in schools across the south east. 

I met lots of inspiring people and taught 42 young people about filmmaking, making 12 films along the way.

Sync South East came to an end with the Pitch! event. I got to show rushes of my new film The Dog & The Palace, and made some good contacts.

In August I visited the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This was my 1st time at the Fringe & I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was also great to see the shows, both stand up & theatre. 

I was selected for The New Voices Programme in August too, which was all about writing, and with that in September I attended Decibel in Manchester for the 1st time.

This was another great experience & along with writing reviews of shows, I suddenly felt as though I'd just discovered a new art form called 'Theatre'.

As I'm no stranger to theatre (honest!) this was a bit of a surprise, but I think the shows I saw were so varied that it was a mini revelation to see what people could achieve through a diverse mix of art and storytelling.

September also had another highlight as I worked with Rachel Gadsden & Deaf Men Dancing for the first time, filming their workshops at Stoke Mandeville hospital. 

My 'personal projects' this year also grew in strength. In April I received Arts Council funding to develop my installation ‘The Dog & The Palace’. I've blogged about this throughout the year. 

And in November I received more funding from ACE to complete The installation. This will see me filming in somewhere that looks like a royal palace, and working directly with more people in the film industry this month & next.

I also did well in my writing, taking my wedding comedy feature script onto the next draft, which I now want to take to the next level.

I've also done well on two other scripts, an hour long spec TV script written with Mark Lever, and my 2nd feature screenplay. 

So this week I need to hit the ground running, working with others & teaching. Oh, and attending the Paralympics closing ceremony. It'll be a fun year.

 

 

Posted by Gary Thomas, 2 January 2012

Last modified by Gary Thomas, 2 January 2012