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Showing posts from 2006

What's Wrong With The Oz Film Industry?

Possibly nothing. Maybe there are too many w**kers complaining that there's something wrong with the Australian film industry. Often you'll discover these people write columns in the trouble-free, profitable, circulation-on-the-rise world of newspapers. Attacking the ABC or the AFI, AFC or FFC is so much simpler than admitting you're on a sinking ship that is also on fire.

No comparison? Maybe. What seems to irk the newspaper experts is that public broadcasters and the state and national funding bodies are not as market-driven as newspapers have to be, by their nature. These public institutions often get it wrong. Newspapers often get it wrong. But no public money is expended when that happens.

So I guess the answer is to make The Oz Film Industry solely market-driven. Then all the films would be good like KENNY and not artsy, depressing, out of touch and terrible.

We should be as successful as Bollywood and Hollywood, obviously. Or at least other nations whose populations a…

Free Screenwriting Software &Bertolt

I just uploaded Bertolt. More people will seeing it via YouTube than will ever see it in cinemas. It's been up there for 5 hours and so far 5 people have seen it. I'm posting it here because I'd like your comments and feedback. Good and bad. So, please - don't be shy.

Some great Open Source software has just been released for screenwriters, poets and novelists. It's called CELTX and seems to have mroe functionality than the much more expensive, Final Draft. Despite the focus on "creative contribution" (writers can upload a piece of writing, insert images, work with other writers and get feedback) it has a Hollywood standard, easy-to-use fully functioning FREE screenplay formatting software. I've been pulling my hair out with Word for the last two weeks. Download it writers!

Yellow Lipstick, Yellow Hair

In an effort to win a bit of our old presence on the web, a new podcast has been added, so be sure to check it out.

I've started writing something very strange. Yellow Lipstick, Yellow Hair is the title of a new screenplay I'm writing - by myself. Phil is to script edit it when I have a rough draft. Carmelo (the producer of Beware the Stingray) is keen to do a no-budget feature and has offered his HD equipment so I will be shooting the movie before the end of March and editing throughout the year (between websites).

In a futuristic world where more than 10 minutes of sunlight spells certain death, 3 strangers; an animist, a naturist and a paranoid neurotic spend their 4 week government-allocated holiday mooching around indoors.

There's a little bit more to mooching around, but in the present draft - it's mooching around. I'll be podcasting a script session soon. So stay tuned.

Great Ideas Are Ten A Penny

Not to sound jaded, but I can but agree with Edwin. A good idea is nothing until it is turned into some kind of document. Only at outline, treatment or script stage, have you created something that other people (with money) can look at.

Before that point, it is all locked in your mind where it's shiny and brilliant. The lighting, editing, performances, locations, dialogue and music are perfect. Note that only one of these elements - dialogue - will actually be in your script.

If you see the film unfolding in your mind, with all the above elements working together in perfect unison, you may in fact, be a potential director rather than a writer.

I remember saying in a room full of screenwriters, that it is the writer's job to create a blueprint for the film. This idea was not exactly greeted with applause or joy. I believe if you want to control all the elements, then you'd better get hyphenated and add "-director" to your title.

Because no matter how excellent your i…

I've got a really good idea for a film (part 2)

I run a filmmaker's website and most of the queries I get about screenwriting (or even filmmaking) amount to roughly the same thing . . . "I have a really good idea for a screenplay". It's not what I want to hear because I know myself, in the early days, I said exactly the same thing - and often. I now know that basically - it's meaningless warm air.

I dread the day someone tells me their idea and it's a good one and I go away and write it down - legally claiming all copyright to an idea they may have had in their family for generations. That's right. Your idea is only legally an idea if it is written. Of course, I wouldn't take someone's idea like that - not without telling them. But legally, I would be well within my rights. After all, I have reams and reams of evidence to say that I write screenplays. And for every screenwriter, life is research. Conversations are the best research.

The "I have a really great idea for a film" statement …

Finding Time to Write Your Screenplay

I looked at my diary. I've recently started recording my time spent doing stuff (and not doing stuff) and I've always been under the impression that my day job (as a web designer/tutor) has always been at loggerheads with my passion (filmmaking). I don't think I'm the first creative person to have anxiety over this.

However, according to time, it seemed that the opposite was the case.

Out of 5 work days last week, I spent;
2.5 days working on my screenplay with Phil1 day collating the information necessary for a SPAAmart application
1 full day doing websites and
0.5 days tutoring (or as I like see it - sharing knowledge acquired from above)
I was an almost perfect balance.

Try doing it. Record your hours for a week (or minutes if you're a lawyer) and see what the passion Vs. day job ratio is.

Private Investment in Feature Films

Films in Australia are mostly financed by the government. You need a distributor and around 40% of your budget sourced from the private sector before you can make a $2m+ feature film here. In an effort to keep the riff-raff out, the FFC have added another requirement to their list - a very high quality, developed screenplay. To this end, they employ a team of readers (usually writers) to vet scripts which ultimately land on the desks of two assessors.

In other words - your screenplay had better be tight . . . and interesting.

But do you think the private sector know any of this? Do the Mums and Dads of Australia know that by investing in Australia's film industry, they can write off 100% of their tax bill under the Taxation Department's 10BA tax-incentive scheme? No. But lawyers do and it's probably why the film industry is suffused with them. That and intellectual property protection.

As you know, I had someone approach me recently with a whole lot of cash - like this lady h…

Feature Film Financing - finally?

Phil Jang Kane (screenwriter), Carmello Musca (Producer) and myself (director) have a 20 minute meet-n-greet market briefing with the Film Finance Corporation and a major Oz film distributor this afternoon. Based on our synopsis, they will advise us of sales opportunities in today's marketplace.

Should be interesting. We're going about things the traditional, Australian way. Which isn't a bad thing.

The Australian way of raising feature film finance isn't a bad one. We have limited funds and fewer good scripts than the US (where everybody in LA is working on a feature screenplay).
In Australia, screenplays are thoroughly scrutinised by industry professionals before they are even allowed to jump through a series of hoops. You also need private cash, a distributor and the FFC on board for budgets over about $2m. The system only allows scripts which have been thoroughly vetted to make it to the screen. And for writers, it adds to their growing pile of rejection letters along…

Writing to House Style

If you are getting paid to write - even if it's as little as $500 for a script - you are probably going to be working with a script producer or script editor - especially if it's a TV show with episodes. That's because - whoever is giving you the money - is being told to deliver a certain thing to the broadcaster and your script needs to bend like a reed, Grasshopper in an effort to make it consistent with other epoisodes.

This is writing to house style. More often than not, the script editor (and sometimes the TV producer) will rewrite your piece wholesale. It's not a bad thing - but a lot of people don't know this going in and new writers get burnt (read hurt).

House style means to a writer pretty much the same thing as result-oriented direction means to a director. At some point, you are going to be told what to write. You are not going to be left to your own devices a you are when writing your feature film screenplay.

If you're writing TV, you can bet someone …

Short Film Festivals

I just heard that A Stone Throw is a finalist in the Frankfurt Children's Film Festival (Germany). It seems that somewhere in Germany and India is an Edwin James Lynch fan-club. They've certainly bought films I've directed in the past. But there are just so many bloody filmmakers in the world today.

I'm beginning to understand that AST ain't a crowd-pleaser. How could it be when it was ever-so-loosely based on Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment (set in a school). I guess it's a bit dark. In fact, pretty much everything I write with Phil (or by myself for that matter) is a bit dark or creepy.

More good news (for us) is that Phil, Carmelo (producer) and I are having a casual meeting with Tait Brady (Feature Film Evaluation Manager, Film Finance Corporation) and Ashley Luke (Vice President, Development & Acquisitions, Fortissimo Films) to receive informal feedback on our feature film synopsis.

Marx & Venus update

I don't know who the successful appli…

The Three by Five Card Index System

Here's another approach to writing your screenplay. The screenwriter's friend. Introducing the infamous Three by Five Card Index System.

Wow! How can I get one?

In my case - I made it. What it amounts to is this: Three 90cm x 40cm sheets of chipboard hinged together so that the whole thing stands like a concertina on a table or floor.

Every 5cm or so down, I have drawing-pinned small cardboard hinges (triangles if you will) made from old file dividers. These become placeholders for your cards.

A couple of bunches of 3 inch by 5 inch index cards (available in packs of 100 at any newsagency) and there you have it. A sure fire way to make your screenplay bubble to the top of the pile . . . Not. But it's a tool and writers need their tools.

Cool. How does it work?

As you can see - each act has three mini-acts in it (fitting in with Australian script theorist Linda Heys' Second Act Story). Or rather - going one step further and suggesting that all three acts have a beginning, …

Second Act Blues

One gets to a point - in the second act - when one hits the blues. Phil and I fear it as we write. As we edge closer to the midpoint. The second act is doing a lot of stuff. It's more than 60 pages long. It's the new world and its midpoint . . . the belly of the beast. That's if you wanna quote the Syd Fields, Chris Voglers or the Bobby McKees of this world. We prefer not to at this stage.

So far we haven't hit it. Maybe it's coming - maybe not - but we are treading very carefully (p55) as we go . . . Everything seems to be in order. Katy is having some very interesting moments of self-discovery. She is certainly finding herself. That's clear. But where will she go next? We wonder (we actually know because this is a 4th draft not a rough draft - but we wonder anyway).

We've nearly finished our synopsis. 3 drafts of that so far. 5 and it will be ready to send. The AWG want synopses by Tuesday.

Later . . .

Short Films, Festivals and Feature Films

The more one plods along, the more one understands that the gap between feature filmmaking and short film production is one gaping big canyon.

A Stone Throw was finalist in an LA festival this month called Moondance. But that has little or no impact on the feature film we were writing last night.

If it had won an award, it would make no difference to what we are doing right now (there is only now, people).

I remember Australian filmmaker, Shirley Barret's Love Serenade(Two sisters will do anything to hook the right man) winning the Camera D'or at Cannes in 1996 . . .

"Notably, the stuntman used in the final sequences died while shooting the scene, and this scene was retained for the finished product: consequently Barrett, distraught, did not make another film for four years, and then it was the major disappointment WALK THE TALK" (leask81 review on IMDB)

What a thing to happen - and then to make Walk the Talk years after. It must have been heart-breaking. Going all that w…

In Development

As a newbie, one may ask, "How do I get into the film industry here in Australia?" What do I have to do?

Writing and organising a team of like-minded individuals towards the common goal of actually making a movie is being in the industry. All you do is write and put together submissions or proposals. Once you are writing - you are in the film industry. You don't need anybody else to tell you otherwise.

Over 95% of your time will be spent writing scripts, auditioning for a gig or meeting with actors, producers and financiers.

In the last two years, I have been lucky. I was actually on set, directing . . . for nearly two whole weeks! (A Stone Throw and Streetsmartz).

The rest of my time was spent:
Writing (I'm pleased to report . . . most wannabes talk about writing. Don't be a wannabe!).Earning a living (building websites).Teaching others how to write, direct and build websites (at Curtin University).Meeting with producers and greater mortals who may help get new proje…

Characters leaping out of the woodwork

I'm writing with Phil. He's just popped out. We're planning our next screenplay. A traditional horror about a man who sees the error of his ways - just in time.

The early draft of Beware the Stingray is so busy that we've managed to extricate three screenplays out of it. One of them - the short film, A Stone Throw - is doing the festival circuit as we speak.

And as we write, more characters keep leaping out - threatening to muddy the waters of our existing screenplay.

But we remain vigilant. As interesting as all our ideas are, only the story-oriented ideas should remain. Jot the others in a notepad, or do like we're doing and embark on a completely different screenplay.

Why are you reading this?

Stop it. Get on with your own screenplay.

In this materialistic, cancer-ridden nuclear paranoid society - it seems to be the only reasonable thing to do. So - if you've come to Geoffrey because you've got a really good idea. Write it! I'll tell you this for nothing .…

Burning the candle at both ends

This is a picture of us writing. Notice how there's only one of us at the computer? I'm on a beanbag. Phil does the writing, and for those of you who know me well, I talk. I'm actually taking random photos with my new CanonA430 (I highly recommend it) while Phil taps away.

Lately, we've been pleasantly surprised by our work. Twelve years on it looks like we have a worthy mani character (Katy) and a good, solid story.

This is how we got to the screenplay on this particular rewrite:
We used the Clare Dobbin Matrix to analyse the existing storyWe broke the story down into about 16 sequences, tracking our main character
We titled each sequence (for main character) and made micro-notes on 3 x 5 cardsWe discussed the hell out of each sequence from the main character's story POV
We attacked the screenplay scene by sceneIt's taken us about 3 weeks. That's 2 full days writing per week. It's nice to be able to say that. Feels like we've achieved something.

So far w…

I've got a really good idea for a film . . .

Phil commented on that last piece. I forget that people actually read these things. I assumed you were all lazy and illiterate ;)

Yes . . . as Phil says . . . we have taken time to write this screenplay. And it's depressing to think about it.

Sometimes I feel like Marshall in Absolutely Fabulous. Marshall went to Hollywood 20 years ago to develop a screenplay with a studio. People in various episodes ask him how it's going. He usually has an actor attached, or a big producer, or an out-of-work director . . . No doubt Jennifer Saunders has met a few of these people. The industry is teaming with writers working on a screenplay. Until a screenplay becomes a film - it's only a blueprint - not considered an art form in itself. And yet it takes such a long time to write one.

When people ask me what I do - I answer web designer. It's my knee-jerk, "pat" response. It's also less problematic and gets me more $work than if I say, "filmmaker". But saying…

Let your screenplay brew

The other day I saw a locally made feature, The Actress. It was really quite good - for what it was. But my heart sinks when I see a well-directed film with huge writing holes. Holes which are easy to fix if you give your screenplay time to brew.

Directors are Stupider Than Writers

It is common knowledge that directors, in the main, are stupider than writers - often led into projects ego first. But even the stupidest director could probably do well with a short course in screenwriting. Because if you can't read a feature film in the first place, how can you direct one?

Sam Mendez and Alan Ball are a case in point. After the success of American Beauty, Alan went on to write the multi Emmy Award winning Six Feet Under. And Sam? Well . . . just have a listen to the audio commentary on Six Feet Under and you can hear what's driving Sam's engine. Interesting that the commentary is credited as Sam Mendez with Alan Ball.

Writing is one way to remain humble. You get lousy pay (if any…

What not to rehearse with actors

A picture I did (of an artist) in Tuesday morning's art class. The best stress relief ever! Drawing is like meditation. Not like Saturday. The kids I teach Saturday are in 2 groups.
The 9-12 year oldsThe 15+ y.o. teenagers The differences in behaviour between these two groups is vast. There is no professional approach to acting at all for the younger, immature kids. It's completely a game. The director is merely a part of that.

Things not to rehearse with 10 year olds

When I say not rehearse, what I mean is - just roll the camera and go for a take. Rehearsing is never taken as seriously as a camera shot. On tape, with a tiny crew (ie. me on Saturdays) and with kids as my subject, I shoot all "rehearsals". Young kids get bored and soon wander off to the toilet - or to Mum - or to get a drink.

Instead of rehearsing, just shoot whenever a child has to:
hold hands, touch or hug another (unfamiliar) childdo a fake fall or punchcrydo anything that is going to require concentrat…

Giant CRX 1 Flat-bar Road Bike - A Metaphor

I've been working my guts out doing websites all week (day and night) and now I have to mark 50+ online student usability exercises. Ugh!

I got a glimpse of my girlfriend this week. She lives really far away and - as I ride a CRX 1 Flat bar road bike - it takes me a good 2 hours to get there. Especially after riding from Como to teaching Saturday acting classes in Hammersley.

I got to her place late and then had to leave at 5am to get to Freo on time - where my parents were celebrating their 4oth wedding anniversary.

Hi Ma & Da. Congratulations!

Now for the meat of this post. Read carefully:

It's a nice ride. For every difficult hill, there's a downward slope. I top around 50kmh (peak at 60kmh) but try to cruise along at around 30kmh to conserve energy. You never know when you might need to sprint. I'm mostly on bike tracks - I don't like to ride on sand.

My bike has no shocks, so my energy isn't wasted. I get to feel the ground. Whatever power I have goes straig…

Marx & Venus SBS TV series

I just added a link to Taylor Media's website for Marx and Venus (I did the site). The SBS script deadline is March 31st, but, as I did her website and Sue Taylor is exec-producing the show (with Natalie Bell, Ian Booth and Francesca Strano line producing the 25 episodes) I felt it my duty to let everyone know that TM is looking for directors, DoPs and editors.

My CV is in. Phew! But I'm thinking of submitting a cover letter. Or hopefully, explaining my particular during interview - and without trying to sound like I'm gonna break house-style.

Writing with other people . . . Ooooh

I've written two episodes of M&V so far - one with local writer, Richard Hyde and one all by myself. I want to write one with Phil Jeng Kane, but I want it to be his idea. I'm second credit on Richard's and I want the same credit on Phil's. Three scripts sounds reasonable and not too greedy - especially if I'm working with other people.

"What? What kind of filmmaker are y…

Fine Art and Filmmaking

I'm tandem teaching an art class at Curtin Uni. Well, teaching probably isn't the right word. Experiencing might be better. Each mini lesson I get to do what the students are doing. It's
called Multimedia design 175 - Theory and Practice. A loosening up class designed for people who think they can't draw.

Each week we do a different, really cool thing. Like the objects above. I drew these by feeling what was in a brown paper bag without actually seeing. Which was the point. I was quite surprised at how the drawings came out. In retrospect, it kind of confused me. We can see things without using our eyes.

Filmmaking - The infamous and oft-ignored Axis of Action

I was ranting the other day - as usual. There was an old movie on Channel 31 which was really bugging me. The camera kept flipping around the room. One moment we were high angle POV (point of view) the next low. It was jarring.

But I noticed that it was still irritating even if the camera was only a few inches below e…

Marx and Venus and Bicycle Philosophy

I ride a bicycle and this is what I see. When you ride a bicycle (as opposed to driving a car) the world changes. Your approach to life changes. My approach to filmmaking changes. The body becomes a metaphor, the road - life - each hill an obstacle.

You are using your own power. You are thousands of years of human technology. You are losing fat, strengthening your muscles, heart, lungs, entire physical wellbeing.Problems dissolve. You de-stress.

Coffee at Just Espresso, Como

Coffee on the other hand freaks me out! It makes me anxious and very often I return home and do everything but work.

I was having coffee with a friend (Rob) this morning and we were talking about our work lives. Comparatively, we are extremely lucky. We work when we want and do what we want. We're not answerable to anyone because we have clients - not bosses.

Most people my age are paying mortgages and raising children - in jobs they don't particularly love. I don't feel the urge to do that and I'm not …

Mumbai Podcast & AST Controversy

Finally put up the podcast interview I did with Phil Jeng Kane (from the FTI) a week or so ago on the 9th Mumbai International Film Festival. The sound is a bit thin because I had to remove a slight buzz.

Today I'm teaching 3 classes of students internet studies. I wanted to get these podcasts ready for them so they could see some of the technology working. I was surprised to find that a few friends of mine had no idea what a podcast is and fewer knew the meaning of BLOG!!!

Well, guys, this is about all there is to a BLOG. You're reading it. It's an online, public diary.

In response to Phil's comment . . .

Yes, I know filmmaking is a team sport. 100 people worked on A Stone Throw (AST). Without them, or yourself, there would be nothing. Obviously. The writer, producer and sound designer overpowered me with an idea and I went with it. It's possible that 50 people may have approached me after the film with, "What were they saying in that long shot?"

My last post…

Bedtime thoughts about a short film

Yawn. It's 6am. Maggies are warbling. Crows are cawing.

There was one thing that came back to me from several people. It's been bugging me all night. The same critique. And it has to do with thinking that the audience are dumb.

For those of you who know the film, I'm talking about the scene where Cassidy confesses his crime to his Mum. Several people at the premiere, including one twelve year old boy, asked me why we got to hear the dialogue between Cassidy and Tess as he confesses his crime. They felt it interrupted the story and hindered their connection with the film (my interpretation).

On the shoot day, Joshua Beechey was a bit nervous about Anna Brockway playing Tess - his mum. So I went with that. I got Joshua (Cassidy) to retell most of the story to her and finally confess based on what he remembered of the script. She would hug him and it would look awkward. It did. To actually hear this bit of dialogue was always going to be a bit iffy for me - but more importantly …

Australian Premiere A Stone Throw

The screening of A Stone Throw went well, I'm pleased to report. Really smoothly. We had 100 invitees and maybe the same number who came to see "Little Fish". Mum did the tickets and Dad opened the beer and wines - and helped me with the Coles platters.

Mostly, everyone liked the film.

The kids who were in it loved it (of course) and I was happy to see the odd tear being shed by one or two of the adult actors. How weird is that? They're obviously over the idea of seeing themselves onscreen. I don't think I'd have the objectivity if I was an actor - to actually enjoy the film I was in. Maybe only the best actors were crying - as self-consciousness and narcissism are the enemies of good performance (according to Stanislavski) . . .

To me, the film looked good. It still feels a bit like a series of cuts, sounds and images, but it went over well. I didn't notice many of the mistakes and all had a great time. Sort of.

Hosts never have much fun at parties.

Next stop…

"A Stone Throw" screens with "Little Fish"

OK. I've made about 100 phone calls. Nobody RSVPs these days, so I figured I'd save catering money by actually calling people. So far, about 120 people - cast, crew and associates - are coming to the premiere. We're having it at FTI's Fremantle Outdoor Film Festival.

We have a beer sponsor:
Advance Multimedia and Animation
in association with
Cave Pictures.

Micro-brewery beer. No preservatives.

I'd link to Cave, but they don't have a website just yet (I know because I'm doing it).

Should be fun.

Around 300 stubbies. 2 varieties. Red & white wine. 5 Coles platters and my mum and dad doing beer, wine and door entry.

I'm pretty nervous, but also looking forward to it. To the feedback. To the negative feedback in particular. I'm a bit over claps and kisses. We filmmakers need to accept criticism. If we're to move forward. I welcome it in constructive form. There's nothing more useless than, "That was a great film." But you gotta be polite…

Mumbai Madness continues . . .

Hello. I'm back in Perth.

The 9th Mumbai International Film Festival 2006 is very over, but it will return in 2008 (they hold it bi-annually) and Bombay still exists in my head. A Stone Throw didn't win anything, but will be premiered here in Fremantle, this Friday 24th at the FTI's Fremantle Outdoor Film Festival. 7.30pm screening followed by Little Fish and 6.30pm for crew drinks.

So why is this BLOG entry entitled, Mumbai Madness?

Mumbai (Bombay) Madness:

After getting off the plane, I developed an annoying cough. My girl told me I smelt like human faeces and refused to kiss me until I showered and bathed for at least 2 days.

When I finally got back to my (home office) desk, there was a pile of work waiting for me.
Hours and hours of tutoring Usability and Web I.T. at Curtin University
Making 2 x short films with tweenies and teenagers at The Filmbites Film SchoolSeveral websites to do (at least 3) and
A whole host of film-related projects that I'm not at liberty to talk a…

Mumbai International Film Festival 2006

Unfortunately, A Stone Throw didn't win anything . . . *sniff* :(

Most of the international films that won prizes at the Mumbai International Film Festival 2006 had India as the subject / backdrop - or they were made by ex-pat Indians living abroad - or they had an Indian actor - or they were films made by filmmakers who had served on previous years' MIFF judging panels.

I'm not being too cynical. That is just the way these things go. I'd be naive to think differently. In fact, I was surprised that our little 10 minute film, A Stone Throw had been included at all. It was one of only a few non-Indian inspired films.

Having said that, a ScreenWest-funded documentary about the rebel army in Aceh won the judges hearts.

The Black Road, directed by William Nessen and produced by Andrew Ogilvie, was absolutely brilliant and easily deserved to win. In fact, William risked his life making the film. He filmed alongside the Indonesian army as they attacked Aceh - and he also filmed …

Bollywood party, baby iceblock, Mumbai police!!!

I met the lady who coined the term, Bollywood. Janet Fine is a freelance journalist for magazines like Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. After living 20+ years in Mumbai, I think Aussies make some kind of sense to her.

She invited us all to a strange, glitzy party - hosted by a famous Italian chef.

No place in Mumbai is particularly impressive, so when I got out of the car and stepped into a muddy, dirty roadway, I was surprised. We were on the doorstep of the famous downtown Bollywood restaurant, Olive.

Photographers and videographers pumped flashes and lights at model-like actors. Watching the Bollywood films which play every night on TV here (there are literally thousands of them) shows just how skilled these people are. They're not using Stanislavski, Adler or Meisner - they are more like expert dancers with fantastic co-ordination and lip-synching skills. It's a different style of acting. They are more than simply models.

I recognised nobody and ordered a Tom Collins. Fello…

Not the only white guy in Mumbai

Hi readers . . . and hi Mum! ;)

I've been watching some pretty heart-wrenching documentaries here at the Mumbai Film Festival. Watching docos seems to be a fast track to learning about the world. Many documentaries have an Indian element, but a couple stood out. I tend to make friends with the people who make films I like, so I'm pleased to say that Rajdeep Randhawa is now a close and personal friend of mine.

Rajdeep made a 47 minute documentary called, "Ek Tha Lal Pari." Shot mostly cinema verite, it documents the problematic relationship between a eunuch and her lover. It's an on and off relationship, but the two are still very much in love and have lived together for 20 years! In India, eunuchs live in enclaves. They are ostricised by society, but also revered and considered to have many spiritual powers. So they earn money by performing special rituals at marriages, births, deaths etc. It is a special honour to be blessed by a eunuch. To cross one would result …