Tuesday, June 8, 2010

An Artist's Insecurity

Initially, when I decided that I would do the Film Festival movie challenge, I thought that it would be easy and only take up a small amount of time. I wrote the script in a couple of hours, emailed it to the team and thought that everything will work out now that there was a script.

However, the team fell apart. Everybody became busy and no one really dedicated themselves to helping out even though they all were keen to do so. Eventually, a group was pulled together at the last moment - a group of 3 people: an actor, a musician and a writer.

Throughout the weekend, while shooting, I noticed that each one of us had our insecurities. I was insecure about the script, and still actually find it lame. The musician was insecure about his acting talent and the actor was insecure about her voice and the way she made coffee. Each of these insecurities were mildly visible, but they existed, despite the airs of confidence we all put on.

Artists are always insecure about their art. Maybe because all art contains a form of the artist, a piece of who they really are. Maybe because all artists are perfectionists who are never satisfied with their art and always trying to be better. Maybe because artists never know what they are up against or the quality of those that they are in competition with; they never know how to measure their art because art is something purely subjective.

It was amazing working with the two of them. We all perceived things differently. In a conversation of favourite movies, I noticed that each of us based our opinion of a movie on our desired careers. The musician spoke about the movie's soundtrack; the actor spoke about the acting talent and I spoke about the cinematography. In a discussion about 'Slumdog Millionaire', not one of us liked the movie because it was just a great movie but because of the elements within it that attracted our attention. The actor pointed out the brilliant performances of the two small boys who were easily liked by audiences because they were so cute and the musician went on about how MIA's song ruined the whole movie for him.

There's so much to think about when making a movie or creating any other form of art because there's so many ways in which art can be analysed. The very essence of art is within the eyes of the audience; and being unable to control the response to your artwork makes one insecure.The only time an artist is never insecure is when they have nothing to lose...

At the moment, I am wrecking my brains trying to edit the 8 minute filmed script into a 5minute movie. I now realise that it is harder to create a short movie that has a limited time frame than a long movie with no time restraints. How to I get the story across? What can possibly be left out? The persistence of these questions merely highlight my own insecurity.

An Artist's Insecurity

Initially, when I decided that I would do the Film Festival movie challenge, I thought that it would be easy and only take up a small amount of time. I wrote the script in a couple of hours, emailed it to the team and thought that everything will work out now that there was a script.

However, the team fell apart. Everybody became busy and no one really dedicated themselves to helping out even though they all were keen to do so. Eventually, a group was pulled together at the last moment - a group of three people: an actor, a musician and a writer.

Throughout the weekend, while shooting, I noticed that each one of us had our insecurities. I was insecure about the script, and still actually find it lame. The musician was insecure about his acting talent and the actor was insecure about her voice and the way she made coffee. Each of these insecurities were mildly visible, but they existed, despite the airs of confidence we all put on.

Artists are always insecure about their art. Maybe because all art contains a form of the artist, a piece of who they really are. Maybe because all artists are perfectionists who are never satisfied with their art and always trying to be better. Maybe because artists never know what they are up against or the quality of those that they are in competition with; they never know how to measure their art because art is something purely subjective.

It was amazing working with the two of them. We all perceived things differently. In a conversation of favourite movies, I noticed that each of us based our opinion of a movie on our desired careers. The musician spoke about the movie's soundtrack; the actor spoke about the acting talent and I spoke about the cinematography. In a discussion about 'Slumdog Millionaire', not one of us liked the movie because it was just a great movie but because of the elements within it that attracted our attention. The actor pointed out the brilliant performances of the two small boys who were easily liked by audiences because they were so cute and the musician went on about how MIA's song ruined the whole movie for him.

There's so much to think about when making a movie or creating any other form of art because there's so many ways in which art can be analysed. The very essence of art is within the eyes of the audience; and being unable to control the response to your artwork makes one insecure.The only time an artist is never insecure is when they have nothing to lose...

At the moment, I am killing myself slowly trying to edit the 8 minute filmed script into a 5 minute movie. I now realise that it is harder to create a short movie that has a limited time frame than a long movie with no time restraints. How to I get the story across? What can possibly be left out? The persistence of these questions merely highlight my own insecurity.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Flopping like a fish out of water

FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAK!
That's how my stand up gig went tonight. The worst part is that half the crowd were friends of mine, or friends of friends of mine. And I still sucked. I went completely blank at one part; I swear if someone asked me my name at that moment I wouldn't have been able to answer it.

Though, I started the day wrong. I started the day shit nervous and without any clue about what I was gonna talk about. I was so stressed that all I wanted to do was sleep. Getting there, I was nervous about not remembering my set... which I had only written 3 hours prior to my arrival at the gig. Then the show started. and nobody was laughing. A mate kept telling me that it was a suicide mission and I just went insane with the nerves and did something an epileptic non-alcoholic should never do: I drank... not a lot, but then just one shot of tequila is enough to make your head spin if you not an avid drinker. On top of it there was a huge step to climb up to get onto the stage... and the stage had a huge pole in the middle for pole dancing... not stand up comedy... and all I could think about was how far I would fall if I tripped or did something stupid.

Of course, it wasn't all that bad. There was a really cute boy who tried to calm me down before I went on. LOL.

So tonight, in short, I flopped like a fish out of water. That image reminds me of Kill Bill 2 where Bill tells BB to tell Beatrix about how she killed her fish... That's how I felt... the crowd pulled me out of the water and stood on me. The worst part is that I was 1. high up and 2. the was a spotlight on this girl wearing red who sinply sat straight-faced with her arms folded throughout my entire gig; because she was wearing red, she just stood out...I couldn't look away...

I'm laughing about it now. I get so dramatic before stand up gigs... it's almost a ritual. I get up feeling unfunny, telling myself that I can't do it over and over. I force myself to sit down and work out things to talk about, continually walking away to do other things such as sleep or watch TV. I do everything I can to avoid it until I am so stressed out that I start pacing and smashing my head against the wall. I don't eat the entire day because my stomach is on twist mode and I just make myself dizzy and totally strung up. Apparently it's funny to watch... but it feels like death!

Oh well, I died on stage today. Gandhi had some quote about being reborn in the morning; that's kinda what stand up  comedians do... they die and then rise from the dead for their next performance. Today was my 12th gig, I've probably flopped about five times in total and after a while, you realise that that's the worst that can happen. You flop. You kick yourself. You hope never to make the same mistakes again.

However, if someone had to ask me why I do stand up comedy when it breaks me down into an absolute wreck, I wouldn't know how to answer it. The thing is, when you don't flop, and you make people bang their knees with laughter... That is the best feeling ever!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I will Change for You!

I hear that line so often in movies, in songs, in everyday life.

“tell me who you want me to be”

“I can be that person”

My ex told me that on the day I broke up with him. As I listed the reasons why I believed that the relationship was not working, he described how it could be fixed –

“give me time”

“I can do that”

“I can be that”

I think it is the saddest concept ever. In fact, as I watched Washington Square (1997), I felt like crying as Catherine fell to her knees in the rain and screamed, “I can change!” Or something like that. Not even Catherine’s miserable past can truly explain her cry to change into the person the man she loved wanted. It’s extreme and the outcome is never good.

People are fickle, they never know what they truly want, and basing your entire personality on the whims of someone else is exhausting. People are also temporary – they die, they fall in love with someone else, they leave... And when they go, you are left without a sense of self; the concept of ‘you’ is a figment of your own imagination.

However, we all change as life continues to teach us new things: working in retail made me change by making me distrust people’s intentions; studying law changed me by making me less emotive when listening to people’s problems and more practical; doing nothing for the last seven months changed me by making me less of an egotist... Maybe the words “I will change for you” are too honest for me to believe.

I like to believe that I am the same with everyone (of course I’m a tad more quiet and shy with strangers when compared to my self-assured rambling side that I share with my friends). I talk to my parents in the same way that I talk to my friends (minus the expletives) not as a sign of disrespect but rather as a sign of my own warped view of respect. As seen by the bracketed comments we can never be the same person with every single person that we meet; we are constantly changing for everyone in our lives, modifying ourselves slightly to conform to the event/ another’s expectations or to some established norm. We like to think we don’t by going against such establishments (for example, wearing shorts to a formal evening), but such rebellion is always limited by various societal codes that prescribe sanctions for those who stray.

“Change is inevitable”

If you don’t change, you don’t grow; but surely there is a boundary to how far you would go to be accepted by another person! When I was in London, my cousin and I went shopping. We didn’t have much cash being South African and paying in pounds, but we didn’t really care at the time. She bought a book; if I remember correctly, it was something by Oscar Wilde. She bought it because it was the favourite book of this guy she liked. She started singing the songs that he liked and watching the movies that he told her he wanted to watch. I was no different. I bought an ipod and used my iTunes card to download all the songs that the guy I liked had mentioned in random conversation. It wasn’t even close to my general taste in music, but I grew to like it and now still listen to it. I even bought this musical toy thing because it reminded me of him. It was all a waste; it was all an attempt to modify ourselves into something more in tune with the men we liked.

However, sometimes change is merely a compromise. Doing things that someone else in your life likes gives you things to talk about and to do together. When I broke up with my ex, I remember thinking over who I actually was and who my relationship had made me become. I felt lost, as if everything that I liked was linked to everything that he had liked. But then I realised that I still liked the things that I may have liked because I was with him... and that’s the defining line – I didn’t put up with things that I hated and made myself like them. In this way I remained true to myself. Unlike Catherine, who was ready to throw away all her principles, her family and her reputation just to make a man who had used her to fall in love her. She begged him to love her offering him everything that she was...

In two weeks time, I will be formally employed. Should I change the way I paint my nails by applying more conservative colours to my nails? Should I change the way I dress by buying a new work wardroom? Will it change the way I write? The way I think? The way I communicate?

I feel like growing old is killing my ‘muchness’ (Alice in Wonderland) so I’m trying to be more conscious of the ways I change to conform to certain environments. It’s an impossible task to be constantly aware of everything that influences you but it will help me never to end up bargaining who I am for something that is not mine... At least I hope so.