Getting Back On The Horse…

I was, earlier in the year, writing a blog a day, posting every day – not here, I have a few blogs – but definitely posting consistently. A few things happened to derail my posting; laziness was one, I visited the cinema less frequently and I decided to make a film after an almost four-year hiatus.

So I made the film – The Good, The Bad And The Tennis – and then…nothing. I have been messing about with editing and Da Vinci Resolve colour correction software and looking into all sorts of myriad FCPX plugins – they really need audio enhancement!  – basically, I have been procrastinating.

Though I have begun writing a sequel to my last short, even though I am not a massive fan of sequels, not bad ones anyway, there are a few classic ones – Godfather part two, Rocky two, Terminator two.

I am feeling that I need to get back to blogging, writing random thoughts at least, so as to allow space for creative, plot and story breaking thoughts. That’s the hope anyway. I am determined to not let another extended period of navel-gazing halt my filmic output.

It is my desire to be a filmmaker, storyteller, and since it is entirely my decision if I pursue that particular goal, let the pursuit begin.


Finding The Funny

So I’ve embarked on the writing of the second episode of my fledgeling comedy sitcom. As I am presently at a loss as to how to move forward with getting the first episode made, I thought I would retreat to the safety of writing. I say safety, I mean purgatory. Why oh why did I decide to write a comedy? Especially an episodic one. Not only do all the normal rules apply – compelling characters, an engaging narrative, a theme, an actual story – but it has to be funny as well.
That’s kind of the point of comedy, the laughing bits, otherwise, you’re just writing a soap opera. As much as soaps have humour in them, they are not comedies. There is also the comedic tone. The first episode is quite gentle, with moments of ridiculous thrown in. That means even if I think up a hilarious, gross-out comedy gem, I can’t put it in. Wrong tone.
A lot of this blather is just so much hot air. With the sitcom’s premise and the characters I already have so much scope for comedic creation. The story is in place and there are even a few peripheral characters that could be utilised. Still, the mild panic of fashioning a wholly unfunny follow-up remains. Unfunny is the fear and the fear is real.
It might be karmic, all those times I’ve watched a comedy, disdainfully sneering at its feeble attempts at mirth making. Perhaps this is the spirits of all of those mirthless labours of love returning to haunt me. After all, who am I to think I know what is funny and what is not. Obviously, the issue is most subjects are funny or can be, depending on how they are approached. I just happen to be touching on depression, a subject and situation that many can relate to even they do not find it funny.
Depression is in itself not the ripest subject for chuckles. Though Woody Allen has pretty much built a career on mental neuroses and extracting the humour from the pain of it. Misery, after a fashion, can be very funny. As long as it is not your own misery. Even though many can derive humour from the misery or discomfort of others, it is not a route I am likely to take. I was always uncomfortable with watching characters embarrass themselves in fiction, especially if they did not deserve it.
Of course, a lot of the comedy will also come down to the actors. I know what I want to see, but it is different once the action leaves your head and living, breathing people have to enact it. No matter how vivid your imagination, tonally the voices that the characters speak in your head are still variations on your own. How they look will, of course, be very different to yourself, unless you have written some awful Norbit-esque monstrosity. So, the way it sounds in your head will be different from how it will play out in reality.
Then, by my own reasoning, I shouldn’t be writing the second episode, not until I’ve cast the first episode at the very least. As I have already started writing the second episode, however, I feel somewhat committed to completing it. Having spent weeks thinking of how to continue the story, changing it, coming up with parallel storylines for other characters and beginning to write, I will be proceeding with episode two, even as I try to get the first episode made.
It is all just an elaborate procrastination of course. As is the writing of this blog – whilst I’m writing this I’m not writing the second episode or recruiting for the first – but it is a way of building, building toward a sudden need to get it all done. That is how I work; faff, faff, faff, boom! I’m in the zone. It’s coming.

I’ll Get To It

Procrastination takes many forms. There is the obvious kind, doing any other unrelated task except the one you should be doing. Or the most common type, favoured by those who know deep down that their jobs are more title than actual, thus their days are filled with endless meetings and email checks. Then there is the worse kind of procrastination, where you fool yourself into believing you’re moving forward, convincing yourself that you are doing the necessary things to achieve your goals. It is similar to the importantly titled procrastinator with one major difference. You have control over your degree of procrastination.

What I am saying is, in the common workplace environment, procrastination, especially in a faux democratic structure, is a necessary evil in the politics of work life. The meeting gives everyone the illusion of having a voice. When it comes to a personal goal or endeavour, the only voice you have to heed is yours.
What about…and how about…then there’s….but I need – all excuses, more procrastination. Regardless of the task or goal, somebody has to instigate it. If it’s your goal, it should be you.
My own procrastination is over filmmaking and writing. I have made a few short films and I have written several more, but that was all some years ago. The same with a book I begun writing, eighteen thousand words in the various characters have remained in limbo for a couple of years, waiting for their next meaningful action. I have hidden my lackadaisical approach to project completion in my crafty procrastinating task, that mimic the true goal, in a roundabout way.
I write a blog a day, post on multiple social media platforms, take photographs and shoot short videos. Like I say, covering the main goal in a roundabout way. So what is the main goal? Writing for a living is the main goal, closely followed by making a film or television show of what I write. So I should get to doing it, right? It is the doing that gets it done. But the buts keep coming.
The litany of excuses not to write the next chapter of my book – I need to rewrite the previous chapters; is it any good? Where is the story going – are all just delaying tactics. Same with making the next short film – I want it to be better than the last one; can I ask people to work for food again? Is the script good enough to make? Maybe I should finish the storyboards before I recruit a crew – more huff and bluff. Reasons coupled with excuses, wrapped up in fear.
The thing is, if you are shooting arrows or throwing rocks at others with your keyboard strokes, happily pontificating on the merits of others works, should you not at least have the gumption to put your own efforts out? Even if it’s for no other reason than to prove that the criticisms you have levelled at others are not just all emotive theorising.
It is a true bugbear of mine; the critic who has never done anything, especially the faceless one. That is not to say every film critic should have made a film – they should have, even a rubbish never-to-be-seen-by-the-public one – but if one is a critic, be fair and back your arguments. Barbed comments, whilst sometimes witty, are just cruel, not constructive.
Returning to the central topic; procrastination. I enjoy blogging, it’s a way to empty one’s head and I can meander – hence the mini critic rant – but it is undoubtedly a method of acceptable procrastination for me. Many creative types embrace procrastination, having – much like this – written or made films in defence of seemingly aimless, unrelated activities to their craft. Procrastination is a necessary part of the creative process, they say. It gets the juices flowing, sparks the neurones, they plead, unconvincingly.
Procrastination is all well and good when you make a living writing. A deadline enforces an eventual end to faffing about; you have to get the work done. The rest of us, writing blogs, reading blogs, going on courses, doing network things, joining online groups, recording ideas and whatever else is used to delay the moment when we have to sit in front of the screen or blank piece of paper and begin, continue or complete that thing we’ve been avoiding as we wait for the ‘right’ moment, or that flash of inspiration, or for the ‘ it was as if it wrote itself’ happening, we need to realise – I need to realise – that it’s not coming.
Procrastinate by all means, but do so knowingly. Then stop and get to work.