2019 a year in review

I didn’t have high hopes and huge demands for this year. At least not when it began. Just having a functioning website was a key goal, after the last website was stupidly wiped out and needed to be rebuilt and repopulated… and I lost nearly 4 years of [luckily poor] activity. But beyond that… just getting through the year was also enough – well that and constantly expecting some epic global meltdown / armageddon. But thanks to SBC IT for sorting me out with a new website. Nice one. But this is the first year when I feel that I have properly used the website for what it was intended and used it regularly. Go me. And I think that this was a positive year creatively.

Loss – the previous years were overshadowed by loss and bereavement. So did I lose anyone? – Felix (my feline companion of 15 years), and a few friends sadly. That and some relationships ended… but I also gained some new friends and a new cat. Not a replacement by any means, but a welcome addition and helping to fill an empty space in our hearts and a great character he is. So not the best of years, but better than the preceding two years.

My health – could be improved. I’m still suffering daily with Shingles pain. However, I largely maintained the diet, despite my usual battles with depression. I’ve been mostly free of back pain, training smart and even got corrective foot insoles specially 3D printed to exactly match my feet and correct them, reducing some foot pain… but the last two months of MR CLEAN [colour grading] stress saw me drinking more than I’d like… But I made a point to get light every morning to help regulate and improve my sleep and it has been better over all.

Travel – any interesting trips? – Barcelona twice, Tallinn, Hälsingland and Cornwall. Two for pleasure and the rest for filming / film related trips.

Filmmaking – editing MR CLEAN, doing the trailer and post production for the premiere was hard work. But a valuable learning experience. Then there was SVEN GUNNAR and LOVELY TO MEET YOU, two other films that we wrote and produced this year. I am also planning to film another short very soon as well as help a friend on a film in Rome. In the process of doing SVEN GUNNAR I learned how to use the BMPCC 4K and learned enough to shoot it for Darwin (first time doing Cinematography for anyone else). But I do need to learn Da Vinci Resolve and Colour grading as a goal, to get the best out of the footage myself without having to always rely on others. I also made 7 music videos – when shooting background visuals for MEIPR, a friend’s band, for their gig. 6 of them were made in a matter of weeks, back-to-back. I was impressed I got it all done! Despite the tough / insane tasks I set myself, I achieved everything that was within my power to do. Sadly only ZOMBIE MINTS didn’t get released. But it will be a side project. Also we did not get to do a Swedish premiere for the shorts. It’s bonkers. We have to crack this!

Writing – I wrote five short scripts this year and started work on rewriting an old feature script… enjoying the challenge of trying to work out what someone thinks they are trying to say in a rough form script and reinterpret it more to the goals of the narrative and polish it and fix it – more of a problem solving / jigsaw puzzle in some ways for three of them. But I also learned to take charge more, when collaborating, when the original narrative is not fit-for-purpose. Sadly I didn’t finish the feature script rewrite due to work and MR CLEAN getting in the way. It’s on the list for next year. But I still need to devote myself more to writing each day again.

Self-development – I completed quite a few training courses. And started some new ones. But MR CLEAN later stole a lot of my time there. I upped learning Swedish every day, to trying to learn Spanish also and devoting a minimum of an hour a day for it. but I have made good on reading every day and reading at least one script a week…. in fact, by my calculations, I’ve actually read 60 (admittedly 50 of them were TV scripts, so average 60 pages, rather than the usual 110-ish, but still…)… and I finished the entire John Connolly Charlie Parker book series, as well as the entire Stephen Hunter Bob Lee Swagger series. I also read my first entire book in Swedish, and in Spanish (although didn’t understand all of them) …as well as many more – how many books? Who knows, but it was a lot. But with the languages, I need to speak more and reading books aloud is really helping.

Workwise – I delivered my first course end-to-end entirely by myself, save for a few commissioned graphics… constantly wondering if under this economy I still have a job? Worst year financially for us over the last 5 years…actually demanding that my boss “just go and fire me already”, because I got so sick of wondering day to day about it. I still don’t know. But I’ve resolved myself to just focussing on me and letting what will happen with work just happen.

Temperament – Lost my temper a lot…. I still want to work on being calmer and appreciating my successes. I want to be kinder. Thank you to Bob, the dummy, for taking so many beatings and helping me stay calmer. But meditation will be a focus for 2020.

Visualisation – I built a ‘vision thang’ – a mood board to help me focus and it worked. I will construct a new one for next year, although mostly it will be the same – but new visuals will help me focus anew and help me to manifest something I actually want to happen.

The “Vision thang” visualisation tool / mood board

Highlights:

  • The original premiere in May for DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE, and later for that film (post award) in December, as well as SVEN GUNNAR and MR CLEAN, complete with three TV appearances
  • DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE not only getting into 15 festivals, but also winning Best Narrative Short in Vegas
  • Getting a diploma for my work on DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE
  • Shooting SVEN GUNNAR and LOVELY TO MEET YOU and making some lovely new filmmaking friends
  • Releasing the trailer for MR CLEAN and finishing the film
  • Seeing the trailer for SVEN GUNNAR get 18K views
  • Spending two weeks with family and friends

Lowlights:

  • Felix dying
  • Losing friends
  • Not doing my secret project
  • Seeing the MR CLEAN trailer get less than 1K views
  • Not getting ZOMBIE MINTS done and released, as planned

So what about 2020:

  • Obviously I’d like things to be sorted out around Brexit, one way or another.
  • Impeaching Trump, and unfucking the planet would help. Ok. Pls thx.
  • I want to do a Swedish premiere for MR CLEAN
  • I want MR CLEAN to get into some festivals if possible
  • I’ll release ZOMBIE MINTS
  • I want to finally make COMFORT HIM and SEPULTURE
  • I want to finish the writing of and make a feature film.
  • I want to sort out publishing my old short stories and get back to working on one of the novels.
  • I want to continue working with, but also repaying the kindness of those who helped me make MR CLEAN and our other films. So Rome will be first on that score
  • I will read other books in Swedish and Spanish and improve speaking more of both languages
  • I will complete my secret project.

There’s more, but that’s the stuff that counts….

Q – What are your goals? How did your year go in review?

If any of you silent, lurking readers do come back here and have been following me over the last year, thank you for visiting and I hope that you have the best year that you can in 2020.

2018 a year in review

[Written in Dec 2018 and unable to post until now – I forgot that I’d drafted this when the Blog was down and was unable to post it]

It was a tough year, but it had a better finale than 2017.

Less people that I know and love died this year. For that I am grateful. Nevertheless, still we lost more friends. And with each passing day it feels like more of my past is being eroded. How long before it feels like it never happened?

(more…)

2015 – my creative resolutions and goals

As previously mentioned, in my last post, I was quite chuffed with the results of my efforts trying to keep up with my resolutions and goals for 2014; despite a challenging day job and the fact that I had to put some creative goals on hold in order to fulfil my non-creative life goals (such as relocating to a new country). it was far from easy. But with the help of some very understanding loved ones and friends, I was able to make them happen.

This year I am hoping will be no exception. I have distinct creative goals in mind and here they are.

CREATIVE GOALS FOR 2015:

 

I want to:

  1. Finish / rewrite my Nanowrimo 2014 novel (MUTAGENE) and self-publish it. This will be the primary goal and will dominate everything else this year.
  2. Write the entire first draft of a new feature script. It’s an aspiration, but I have some contenders that are jockeying for position inside my brain and fighting to get out.
  3. Rewrite one existing feature screenplay for circulation. I have 4 perfectly good feature film scripts sitting around doing nothing. Each of them needs a rewrite. And I think I need to learn more rewriting skills, so I should definitely set about doing this. Nothing of mine is ever ready after one draft. 
  4. Read more more screenplays – and study 1 a month. I think it would be good to rebuild my grasp of story structure, style and pacing and help me to see the flaws in my own writing.
  5. Circulate my short scripts for critical feedback and possible acceptance from a production company. Why have 12 of them sitting around doing nothing? it’s stupid. 6 of them are definitely worthy of production. They’ve just not found the right home to love them.
  6. Finish the edit of one of my, as yet unfinished, short films. I have two unfinished films. Neither is perfect and that drive for perfection is why they are dormant and unfinished. Even if they suck I will get them to a point where I can at least put them out there for ridicule. 😉
  7. Do more writing courses this year. I haven’t yet decide which area should dominate – screenwriting or prose – but I will have a better sense once I’ve dug into my Nanowrimo novel and looked at it’s imperfections.
  8. Read more books and articles on my craft. I went through a splurge of buying more books last year. Buying them doesn’t help you if you don’t read them!
So that is more than enough to be going on with, even though it is not a nice standard number like 10 things to focus on. But I’m not bothered by convention. And don’t be limited by my rules. If you only have 1 goal, that’s cool. If you have 0 goals, that’s worrying to me – but I’m not you. If you have 20, then good luck. That’s a lot to manage. 🙂

You’ll notice that there isn’t much new film production listed above. It doesn’t mean that I can’t change my mind later if something good enough comes along. Right? None of this is set in stone. But each of these will help me to further my craft and contribute to my happiness and wellbeing – even though I’m setting myself quite a challenge. And to me, filmmaking is one of those goals that’s impossible to manage if it is collaborative and dependent on others. It’s fine if I come up with a solo project to work on, e.g. an animation.

So why do we need goals?

Why wouldn’t you want to push yourself? If you’re reading this, then you have an aspiration to create something. There’s a flame of desire that is most certainly flickering within, even if you can’t see it. And what better way to fan the flame then to set yourself some small, measurable and achievable goals that will eventually help you to find the creative path you really wish that you  were on?

The best goals are SMART goals:

  • Specific – targeted toward a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantifiable or indicative of being able to measure progress.
  • Assignable – specify who will do it.
  • Realistic – you need to consider what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources / luck. So don’t hold yourself to ransom if they’re dependent on others. try to make them things that you can realistically achieve on your own.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved in this calendar year so that you can later measure if you hit them. And yes, the clock is ticking. But if you pick smart, small goals, you can always set a specific date – like “I will enter this screenwriting competition, by the deadline which is: DATE”.

Should I share my goals?

 You don’t have to share it. But if you do, you’ll be surprised by how many people who care about you may offer to help you or understand when you need to put your goals before their desire for instant gratification. And there’s always a benefit to be gained from putting yourself out there, to have people check up on you and make you stick to them.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do – if you choose to wing it, or if like me you’d like to set about defining your own goals!
If you share them here in the comments, I’d be happy to read them.

 

Obligatory end of year post [WARNING – may contain nuts!]

Feeling enthusiastic about the coming year? I am. Very much so.

I don’t mean to sound smug, but unlike the previous [bleak] most recent years 2014 was a productive year for me. I stuck to my goals and completed all but 2 of them; including relocating to Sweden to continue to pursue my happiness, giving up a perfectly good job, renting my house out and throwing myself into the unemployment pool, setting up my own company and then luckily finding a new job – with my first happy clients. All so that I could be where I felt I needed to be, do what I felt I needed to do with my life and ultimately, because my life felt like a trap. It felt stagnant and I felt like I was doing nothing with it; at least nothing that I wanted to be doing.

Some of the creative things I was proud of:

  • I made more films earlier in the year – not for public consumption. Merely for fun and to get back into making films. We even had a club going at work, where we each made a ‘Ten Second Film’ a week; purely to prove to each other that creativity was possible for anyone and there was a way to tell a story with a variety of methods and everyone came to the same story theme from a completely different perspective and often using very different techniques and tools. Want to know more about how this works?
  • I wrote a novel as part of Nanowrimo 2014. Yes it still needs to be rewritten, but it’s down – out of my head and on the page.
  • I joined two writing groups (one for writing and one for critique) – in order to overcome my shyness and seek out others, to help look at my work objectively and constructively and also to see if I could be of assistance to others. I made some new friends in a new country and I’m sure that it will be a great help in 2015.
  • I took a few online courses to help learn my craft. And I read every article that seemed relevant to what I was trying to achieve – in order to learn more.
  • I also sought out more books on my craft. And I downloaded any free screenplay that I could get my hands on – I suspect that 2015 will be very much about reading more of those scripts and learning form the best.
  • I wrote something almost every day – even if it was my journal or some short #VSS tales in Twitter; something I was never good at before.
  • I used meditation to help fight my way out of creative blocks / writing block.

I’m currently setting my goals for 2015 and I’m looking forward to using more of what this great online community / the interwebz has to offer – attend more courses, develop and refine my writing skills and seek more professional critical feedback and to also help others, where I can, to achieve some of their goals. This year was a rehearsal, to see if I could still muster the gumption to take this seriously and invest serious amounts of time and energy. I did it. But I can give more. Much more.

More on my goals in the new year. I tend to like to let them simmer for a bit to see which ones fight to the surface more.

But if I may be so bold, can I suggest that we all help each other to get a step further up the path to creative freedom and feel the buzz of a little more success!

Have a great 2015 all!! Don’t fight the good fight alone! Let me know if I can help in any way in 2015.

Oh and here’s the [random] Nuts.