Shortly before Christmas, I decided to commission a poster for KISSPROOF. Here is the finished item:
Given the large part that Esme's sunglasses play the narrative, it was decided that this is what it should centre around. The frame of reference we used was the poster for Cameron Crowe's ALMOST FAMOUS.
It was designed by Greg Bunbury, more of whose work you can see here.
Back in 2011, I was invited by the Outreach Representative at Current TV to pitch an idea for a commercial for the then-new Samsung Galaxy Tab. However, what I didn't know was that about two dozen other directors had also been approached with the same offer.
But, the idea still stuck with me because a) if I do say so myself, it's a pretty good idea - and b) because I've always wanted to make a silent film. And so I did, the result being KISSPROOF, shot over a couple of days in various locations in and around north London.
The title actually came from an article I was reading about a Preston Sturges retrospective. Before getting into the discussions about his movies, it gave a brief overview of his early life and career. Before he went into theatre first, and then movies, it turns out Preston fancied himself something of an inventor, and in fact patented several inventions - one of which was something called "kiss-proof lipstick".
And, as Billy Wilder once said: "If you're going to steal, steal from the best".
As has been mentioned elsewhere on this site, before I started studying film, I was sent to go and see a guidance counselor. Towards the end of one of our later sessions, she sent me an e-mail to which she'd attached a PDF article, and said that I should read it that evening and then go back the next day and let her know what my thoughts were. The article was titled Existential Depression in Gifted Individuals.
The reader is quite welcome to visit their site and read the article in its entirety, but I've decided to reproduce here only the passages that I found the most striking and/or affecting. It's something I found to be a valuable source of guidance during an extremely pivotal moment in my life, and hopefully it may have the same value for others.
Why should such existential concerns occur disproportionately among gifted persons? Partially, it is because substantial thought and reflection must occur to even consider such notions, rather than simply focusing on superficial day-to-day aspects of life. Other more specific characteristics of gifted children are important predisposers as well.
Because gifted children are able to consider the possibilities of how things might be, they tend to be idealists. However, they are simultaneously able to see that the world is falling short of how it might be. Because they are intense, gifted children feel keenly the disappointment and frustration which occurs when ideals are not reached. Similarly, these youngsters tend to spot the inconsistencies, arbitrariness and absurdities in society and in the behaviors of those around them. Traditions are questioned or challenged. For example, why do we put such tight sex-role or age-role restrictions on people? Why do people engage in hypocritical behaviors in which they say one thing and then do another? Why do people say things they really do not mean at all? Why are so many people so unthinking and uncaring in their dealings with others? How much difference in the world can one person's life make?
When gifted children try to share these concerns with others, they are usually met with reactions ranging from puzzlement to hostility. They discover that others, particularly of their age, clearly do not share these concerns, but instead are focused on more concrete issues and on fitting in with others' expectations. Often even by first grade, these youngsters, particularly the more highly gifted ones, feel isolated from their peers and perhaps from their families as they find that others are not prepared to discuss such weighty concerns.
The reaction of gifted youngsters (again with intensity) to these frustrations is often one of anger. Anger that is powerless evolves quickly into depression.
Such concerns are not too surprising in thoughtful adults who are going through mid-life crises. However, it is a matter of great concern when these existential questions are foremost in the mind of a twelve or fifteen year old. Such existential depressions deserve careful attention, since they can be precursors to suicide.
The issues and choices involved in managing one's freedom are more intellectual. Gifted children who feel overwhelmed by the myriad choices of an unstructured world can find a great deal of comfort in studying and exploring alternate ways in which other people have structured their lives. Through reading about people who have chosen specific paths to greatness and fulfillment, these youngsters can begin to use bibliotherapy as a method of understanding that choices are merely forks in the road of life, each of which can lead them to their own sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. We all need to build our own personal philosophy of beliefs and values which will form meaningful frameworks for our lives.
Shortly before Xmas 2013, I received an e-mail from a gentleman named Josh Applewood. To be honest, I almost missed because it went straight into my junk folder - and I almost deleted before I saw, "Ceiling Unlimited" in the subject line.
It turns out my short film CEILING UNLIMITED had been invited to participate in the inaugural edition of the American Online Film Awards, the final ceremony of which is to be held in New York.
From what I understand, AOFA operates somewhat differently than other festivals. Given its primary focus on rewarding quality online content, the voting takes place on their website and is done by members of the public; word of this is naturally designed to reach the public via social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. The public then purchases a screening pass, which allows them to view everything in either the Spring Showcase or the Fall Showcase, and they then cast their vote - the results of which decide what is ultimately included in the final ceremony.
To visit the AOFA site, please click here.
Inevitably, when you mention that you like films (and also hint that you wouldn't mind making a few yourself), the person you open your big mouth to is going to ask which ones are your favourites.
I was once told by someone at a party that the best way to make a Top 10 list is to imagine that you're going away to a desert island, and you need to select ten films to take with you (assuming, of course, that said island has electricity and a nice projection room).
I don't think it needs pointing out how subjective this is. We all have our own ideas about what constitutes a great movie, and there's a very good chance that the reader's ideas will be quite different from mine.
Regarding the number of older movies on this list, I'll refer you to a really great thing that Peter Bogdanovich once said. He was teaching at the University of North Carolina, and was getting annoyed by his students constantly making reference to how old a movie was, the phrase "old black-and-white movies" in particular. After all, he reasoned, you never hear anyone talk about "this old Shakespeare play" or "that old Mozart symphony". And so he said: "If you haven't seen them, they're new".
Directed by Orson Welles
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Directed by Ridley Scott
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
PIERROT LE FOU
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci
Directed by Jacques Tati
Directed by Paul Verhoeven
TROUBLE IN PARADISE
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch