The ‘I’d Like to Thank’ project is up and running!

4 03 2011

I’d like to thank Tony Barnes for being the first in – Tony, just for that you get your name mentioned at the awards ceremony should we get that far!

Thanks also now go to Sally Norman, Geneva Rose, Clive Armstrong (whose idea this was), Lori Trenton, Anne Simpson, Malachi Desmond, Katie Conroy, Sharon Hawkins, Kevin Mackay and Ellie Lister.

This crazy idea might actually WORK.

So, if you’ve just joined us the ‘I’d Like to Thank’ project aims to be the first feature film project funded by entirely by small donations via the blogsphere. Everybody gets a thank-you to create the world’s biggest ‘I’d like to thank’ award acceptance speech (fit that into your schedule, Oscar!)

The film is called True North and is a drama set in Haida Gawii (Queen Charlotte Islands). Here are some photos of the location taken by myself when I was last up there.

I’m asking people to donate a minium of $2.00. That’s less than the price of a cup of coffee. You can of course donate more – lol Log onto your PayPal account and send your donation to whalewriter@gmail.com and voila! You’re now a movie producer. Everybody who donates will receive an ‘I’d like to thank’ thank-you PLUS a PDF of the final script – how’s that?

 





Introducing the ‘I’d Like to Thank’ project

3 03 2011

Finishing up my Pride & Paradox TV miniseries has left little time for blogging. However, having put P&P to bed at least for the time being, has left a distinct gap in my life. As nature abhors a vacuum this is rapidly filled with me commencing work on a movie project set in the Queen Charlotte Islands or Haida Gawii to refer to it by its correct name. I ended up there 12 years ago and the sheer raw, wild, unspoiled beauty of the place had an profound effect on me.  The islands like other parts of the Pacific Northwest, Canada and Alaska have to be the last remaining parts of what John Dunbar, the Kevin Costner character in Dances with Wolves, referred to as the frontier he wished to see before it was gone.

Rich with both native and contemporary lore, the islands provided me with not just a visual backdrop, but the kind of story inspiration that can often only be found on the most remote fringes of civilization. For years I turned over an idea for a movie on my head. This was my ‘baby’ – the script I wanted to direct someday.  I had such a clear idea in my head of not just the story but how I wanted the film to look there was no way I would trust another director’s vision.

Sitting down the previous weekendfor what I thought would be a ten minute session to jot down a few scene headings and some plot points, three hours and twenty full blown pages of screenplay later, the idea has jumped fully formed from my head onto the page.  An idea whose time had come and which seems to be growing daily, characters, dialogue, camera angles, locations all competeing with each other to see which one can make the first take, uncut. A casting call of vowels, consonants, nouns, verbs and adjectives all racing to the ‘Roll Credits’.

Which of course brings me to the next problem. Funding. Project funding – epscially if I am to direct, has always been contingent upon a production credit from another project – like P&P.  Which hasn’t happened yet and even when it does it could be two to three years before the series goes to air. Seems like a long time to wait.

I outline the problem to my friend Clive. Great script but how to push it forward with me in the director’s chair while waiting for another sale. ‘So, how much do you estimate the film will cost to make?’ he asks.  Seeing as it’s lo-budget, only requires the bare minimum of special effects  and I’m looking at character actors and would even waive my director’s fee and live off my per diems to get it made, I’ve estimated just under $2 million. Thanks tothe advent of  digital there’s no more expensive shooting on film therefore no processing costs which in the past you needed a distribution guarantee to fund. Nowadays more and more filmmakers are shooting without a distribution guarantee in place and are entering the final film in festivals and then getting their distribution and release prints.

‘If one million people gave you two dollars you  could go make it,’ Clive points out. ‘That’s less than the cost of a cup of coffee.’ I tell him I can do the math. ‘If they put in more its even less,’ he adds helpfully. ‘You might not need a million people putting in two bucks. If everybody put in five bucks all you’d need is 400,000.’

400,000? That’s ALL? I’m looking sceptical. ‘Don’t you think if it were THAT easy people would have done it?’

‘Why not? Everybody loves the movies. Anybody would like to sit there and say ‘I funded that’ even in a tiny part. What? You don’t think people would like you enough to give you two bucks, five bucks or even ten? It’s like The Producers – only it’s actually a great idea.’

Yeah, a great idea. A lot of people to thank at an acceptance speech however.

‘Here’s what you do. You create the world’s biggest ‘I’d like to thank’ list on-line. Everybody who contributes gets a credit and they can link to you. You can create them a special logo or something to say they were part of it which they can post. Use it as a social media experiment – see how many people even people who don’t know you will do it for the hell of it. You may be surprised and what’s the worst that can happen? You might not get full production funding but you could end up with development money and a hell of a lot of people who are invested in seeing the film get made – which you could then use as leverage to get the rest of the finance.’

Hmmm. Have to admit the idea has merit.  So, here is is. I am going to create the world’s biggest ‘I’d Like to Thank’ list. Target, one million people or however many it takes to raise two million dollars. In return you will be thanked on the blog, you can link to me and I’ll send you a personal thank-you email and a logo. I will also keep you informed of how the fundraising and then, if I hit my target, how the actual film progresses. It would be a world first.

The title of the film is True North.

Wanna help me make a movie? Okay. Send your donations via PayPal to whalewriter@gmail.com

Let’s see how quickly if at all, I can report here that I have donations. Who wants to be the first? Am I worth $2.00?





Uptight and Personal Diary Entry 22 January 2011 – Hive Edition

22 01 2011

Up until now I had associated hives with The Borg and that whole hive mind thing. And of course, Borg implants do cause skin irritation. This may explain why my chest this morning once again looks like a Big Day Out for dermatologists.  If only it was as simple as dealing with The Borg as of course I do know someone with a lot of experience of kicking their implanted backsides.

Talking of implants for the backside – has anybody else seen these fake buttock pants? I am talking about pants that contain – wait for it – false buttocks for the decidedly backsidedly challenged. Most of us of course spend the majority of our lives trying to REDUCE the size of our backsides – especially those of us who are female and born under the sign of Sagittarius. However, it appears there are women out there who are born without an arse and if this is the case then there are now these anti-spanx pants which make your bum look like you just borrowed it from J-Lo. Or if you want your own pants like Bridget Jones (another women who is desperately trying to REDUCE the size of her backside), you can buy these ‘bum bubbles’ – silicone pads that give you lumps. Why those of us with big cabooses can’t just be arse donors I don’t know. What is wrong with these medical researchers? They spend all their time and money trying to cure cancer and AIDS when they should be pioneering the arse transplant. Where are their priorities? I arse you.

Hives mean I can’t go be demo girl as I am scratching and look like I’ve escaped from a leper colony.

As well as hives, general levels of stress mean I am having trouble eating and as a result, my buttocks are indeed engaged in a reduction process although I have to say it would take months of this to result in my having to resort to the bum bubble panties. Will have to content myself with a liquid diet instead. Something beginning with ‘G’ . . .

Lottery win this morning was not enough to mitigate the hive situation owing to it being £7.10 instead of the £700,000 or indeed £7,000,000 one had hoped for.  Seven figures buys one if not exactly peace of mind, then certainly one’s own personal dematologist on 24 hour call.

When one leaves a work, college or neighbourhood situation where one has made friends it’s always the time when one discovers whether or not the friendship was based on proximity of if it is underpinned by something stronger and more lasting. I think we’ve all been in the situation where this has happened. You move or your good friend next door moves and over the months the friendship fades away. Same with leaving college or changing jobs. Often we discover there’s no longer the rapport with a group of people or  individuals when our common ground no longer exists. Sometimes we are the ones who keep up the contact only to have the other party cease to respond. Sometimes its the other way around and sometimes, more suprisingly, we keep in contact and develop friendships with people with whom we were not particularly close.

Then of course, there are the social connections which are really no more than an extended entourage and based on nothing more than one party being in a position of power or influence. The basis of which is quickly revealed should the person be toppled from their position. I was at a party at a friend’s house in Sydney during the late 90’s and got talking to a guy Rob who used to be a producer at Channel 10. He had a six figure salary, a great deal of influence and as one can imagine, a dance card that was always full of lunches, dinner engagements, freebies and people who wanted to be his ‘friend’.  He discovered just how many people were atually his friends when Channel 10 retrenched him. He didn’t think it would take him long to find another role seeing as he had so many contacts, but as the weeks and the months passed more and more people whom he had thought of as friends no longer returned his calls or replied to his emails. During his two year protracted period of unemployment, he discovered just how many of his former co-workers and contacts were actually friends, and just who had been hanging around just because of his job title. Needless to say the former amounted to those he could count on the fingers of one hand.

And here’s the thing with life. It’s a cycle. You’re unemployed and have had to sell your home one minute. Next minute – you’ve been hired by Walt Disney on a high six-figure salary. Not only that – you’re no longer flying commercial. You’ve got access to the Disney corporate jet which was exactly the position Rob was in when he told me this story. Needless to say, when word got out on the street all those people who hadn’t returned Rob’s calls for two years were fulsome in their congratulations. Except this time it was their calls that weren’t being returned.

Friendships that grow from proximity can continue to grow and often do when one or both parties move on.  However, often one has to be prepared for attrition and this may be more marked in a professional situation where somebody leaves due to retrenchment or through a disagreement with their employer. But before burning bridges think carefully. That person who appears consigned to the basement can be back in the penthouse again before you know it. But really, friendships should not be based on position or what the person can do for them. Perhaps we need to be more mindful of the distinction between friendship, business associate and acquaintence like we used to. It may save a lot of hurt feelings in the long run if we start to apply those somewhat old fashioned but necessary terms again.

I’ve been largely lucky in my life. I’m still friends with many people I went to college with despite in many cases fate scattering many of us across the globe. I’ve usually taken friendships with me from workplaces when I moved on and often ended up working with these people again down the track. However, at my last place of work someone I considered my best friend once told me we were only close because we worked together and when I left I found out they were right. It’s sad but one has to remember – nature abhors a vacuum. If there’s attrition, it’s because the space needs to be cleared to make room for something better. Or maybe this was just the friend equivalent of a ‘bum bubble’. Designed to pump up appearances and be disposed of when  no longer needed.

 

 





Uptight and Personal Diary Entry 21st January 2011

21 01 2011

Absolutely beautiful day and to reward myself for completion of TV pilot and treatments, decide to ignore all the indoor tasks and head with camera across the fields.  Notice that the leaves are coming out on the trees a full two months early (thank-you global warming), but am told by a gentleman washing his car on Simon’s estate that the mild weather is illusory as the water is freezing on his windscreen as he tries to wash it.

However, stress-free morning is replaced by stressed-out afternoon. First there are the usual form rejection letters in my inbox for jobs I have unsuccessfully applied for. After three years of not being able to find a halfway decent, moderately well-paid job, one can safely say I have developed an ‘attitude’ to the entire process.  Late last year this manifested itself as a somewhat Bolshi impulse to enquire as to what it is I am doing wrong exactly.  Hence, the moment I receive the rejection, I am now back at the HR department or recruiter asking exactly what was lacking in either my resume or my application that caused me to be rejected, the latest example of which I sent to Cambridge Assessment this very afternoon.

Dear Becky White,

Thank you for your email regarding my application for the Events Executive job.

As a result of spending three years in this country receiving rejection emails from HR departments and employers such as yourself,  I am now gathering information as to why I am spending the rest of what has been an extremely successful professional career to date wallpapering my lounge with them. It seems to me that it is very strange that in the space of 12,000 miles I have gone from hero to zero.

I’d like to know exactly what I did wrong with my application or where you believe my experience does not fit the role on offer perhaps to avoid further emails of this nature. Somehow I doubt this will occur, but one lives in hope of gathering the odd gem of insight which may prove useful. I would add that since embarking on this information gathering exercise, no real revelations have been forthcoming. I have however been told that I am over-qualified, too old, don’t live in the right area and in one instance, that I don’t have enough experience which clearly negates  the earlier argument that I was over-qualified.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Helen Kaye Watts

Needless to say, I do not receive many replies to this – probably due to the fact that unlike rejection emails, the recipients don’t possess a standard response email and actually, don’t really have an excuse to hand.  It’s all very confusing. But really, I don’t know why I bother. A life of crime pays better and if one gets caught then one gets ones accomodation, meals AND one’s council tax paid for as well as the possibility of selling one’s story as a TV movie of the week.

Of course, there are the jobs I DO get interviewed for and don’t get. I’ve started asking for feedback on those as well.  At least the ones that I was moderately interested in winning. Job interviews are like dating and it’s a two-way street. You as the candidate may well decide you don’t want to work for the company just like you may well decide you are facing yet another frog. The last time I actually got the feedback it involved a lot of ‘umm-ing’ from the person on the other end of the phone when I asked why I wasn’t offered the position. In my experience ‘umm-ing’ usually means the person is frantically chasing an excuse around their frontal lobes and it is proving elusive. Sometimes it evades capture all together. As in ‘Um, um, um er – well we know you had severe concussion at the interview but we felt you didn’t make enough eye contact with the team during your Powerpoint presentation.’ Why don’t you just tell the truth? The truth is:  ‘We just liked someone else better than you’. Exactly the same as dating. You can be witty, charming, attentive, insanely cute but another candidate comes along and for some reason – they just like them better than you.

Stress level ramps itself up again immediately afterwards as am now subject to delaying and dirty tricks campaign in case against former employer who is attempting to get key evidence removed from my case. Feel horrid and have to call doctor as now need drugs again when I have been drug free since leaving Melrose – proof that even their name produces a Pavlovian response that requires Zoloft.

Am complete failure at getting new job, prescription medicine junkie and so upset I throw up my lunch thus negating all the calming benefits of the walk earlier as well as a visit to the chip shop.

It’s the futility of it all that gets to me.

 

 

 

 





Uptight and Personal Diary Entry 27.12.10 – Bah Humbug Edition

27 12 2010

Still in bad mood following Christmas cookathon and inability to shower/brush hair/put make-up on fizzog due to being chained to hot stove. Very nasty experience. Destroy all Christmas photos which show me greasy and sweaty with bad hair dressed in yoga pants. Also most of the photos are wrongly exposed and taken by somebody who considers themselves a professional photographer and should hang their head in shame.

Bad mood somewhat ameliorated by Boxing Day walk when four deer run right across the track in front of me. Typically I don’t have the telephoto lens on my camera and there’s no time to swap so I just have to shoot. Shooters of another kind are around judgeing by the surround-sound of shotgun blasts which puncture the post-Christmas peace so I am hoping Bambi and his friends sticks to the woods until sundown (which is about 3.30 at this time of year!)

Have embarked upon post-Christmas diet which involves more walking and no alcohol. Due to the fact I get performance anxiety when writing and it being the festive season I have waded through vast quantities of booze, and dismayed at size of thighs in aforesaid deleted Xmas photos. Must not give into performance anxiety.

Ended up re-reading these postings due to a Melrose author finding the blog and being unhappy with my critique of their literary skills. Comment is free. Or as an ex of mine once said to me: ‘She who lives by the word will die by the word’. However, my entry about strange little worlds that only mean something to people that share them, and having to create a new one when the relationship ends hits home.

I am become discarded.  The destroyer of worlds.





Uptight & Personal Diary Entry 7th December – One Day My Prince Will Come

7 12 2010

People keep asking why I’m still single. Here’s an example. Last Friday I was out in B in Cambridge with my friend Andriani. It’s pretty packed. I go to the bar to get us some drinks and standing there is a guy whining to his friend about how he befriended a girl on Facebook, they seemed to have a ‘connection’ but then right before they were due to meet she dumps him. As he said this he reaches into his pocket and out falls – a can of Spam. I could not resist asking if he always carried a can of Spam around with him to which Spam Man replies: ‘What’s wrong with that?’ Wonder if he told his FB pal about it which might explain why he got defriended.

Upstairs where we’re sitting are a bunch of about 10 guys drinking Veuve Clicquot. However, this is no reason to get excited. One of them comes in carrying his folding bike. I’m all for keep one’s carbon footprint down but does one a) have to be an utter plonker and ride a folding bike and b) bring it into the bar with one? Another member of the party is morbidly obese. He’s wearing a sweatshirt with nothing underneath that is several sizes too small. There is a six inch gap of hairy, fat gut protruding between the sweatshirt and his pants. It’s like looking at Jabba the Hutt holding a champagne flute.

Wonder why I’m still single? Three reasons right there.

Oh, that and the fact that I’m picky. Forgot to mention that one.

Some day my prince will come, gut perched on the handlebars of his folding bike, can of Spam in hand. I should be so lucky.





Uptight & Personal Diary Entry Saturday 27th March The Winter Kings Rock Cambridge!

30 03 2010

Saturday 27th

Head into Cambridge to meet Imelda for lunch and then back to her place to make ready to see Austin in the evening.

Austin’s bank The Winter Kings are playing at the Cornerhouse Cambridge. For those of you not on Facebook – here is the link to some photos I took.

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=215506&id=622667523&l=d7d34a0406

Sunday 28th

Sleep like the dead and am only woken at 9.55 by my phone. It’s my friend Kathy from New York who is in London on business for the week and this being her only free day, we have arranged that she will come to Cambridge and I’ll show her around. Daylight saving has resulted in a stupor or maybe that’s due to the alcohol I consumed yesterday. Luckily Imelda is on hand with coffee and croissants and by the time she drives me to the station.

Manage a mini-tour of Cambridge for Kathy which takes in some of the colleges, the Time Eating Clock and a walk by the river before it’s time to head to The Eagle to meet Matt where we remain until it’s time for Kathy to catch her train back to London. I head back to Imelda’s for supper and then she and Don kindly drive me home as gesture that is much appreciated as it has freed me from the tyranny of the infrequent Sunday bus service. As usual any visit with Imelda results in me departing with far more than I arrived with – in this case a gorgeous teddy bear which I hugged to me all last night and a rather beautiful tapestry jacket. Very tired however and sleep like the dead again.

Monday 29th

Wake up wishing I were back at Imelda’s. Wonder if I should call the teddy Darwin in her honour.

Spend most of day in semi-comatose state due to inability to adjust to daylight saving. Only roused from this when Jill asks me to cast an eye over a manuscript submitted by the author of Conky the Kangaroo. For the uninitiated, Conky is a MAGIC kangaroo whose powers usually extend to killing most other animals that cross his path. This can involve drowning cats, skewering crocodiles through the eyeball and destroying the Rainbow Serpent – the mythical reptile which according to Aboriginal legend created Australia. However, Conky is not about to let a little thing like creation get in the way of his psychotic rampage. I suppose this should have prepared me for Conky Ken’s latest literary offering which this time is a thriller and appears to involve psychopathic brothers who bite off the nipples of their female victims for amusement. This at least has the effect of jolting me from my stupor and before anyone makes any comparisons with American Psycho – Brett Easton Ellis he’s not.

Dawn picks me up from work and we go over to her place to book our Eurostar tickets and the hotel. Paris here we come!

Tuesday 30th

Jill spends most of the morning in ‘Everything you are doing is bad, I want you to know that’ mode. First of all – I am bad for agreeing with my readers that they can charge £10 more for appraising long and difficult manuscripts. Readers I am told will only be paid a flat £50 no matter the length. I point out that we now have a turnaround time on appraisals of two weeks and that this will result in readers not wanting to take on the lengthier tomes which will increase our response time. I am told that this is a bridge to be crossed if and when we come to it. Now have to email readers, apologise and tell them Jill begrudges them the extra tenner.

Later have to go to Nick’s office to discuss the figures. When I took over from Austin I was told my target was £50K a month. This month I hit £53K, but rather predictably this is still not good enough. I am told off for not being aggressive enough when it comes to chasing sign-ups. Worse is yet to come. Leave Nick’s office and Jill nabs me before I can retreat upstairs. She has noted I didn’t get to work until 9.45 this morning. I apologise and tell her my bus was delayed. This is no excuse according to Jill. I must endeavour to be there by 8.45am every morning. I wait for the ‘Or . . .’ It hangs there but does not make an appearance.

Up until this point I was unaware of my ability to influence Stagecoach buses. Clearly this is my hidden superpower. I am – Bus Girl. I can delay them or summon them at will. I feel I should share this with my friend Louise who is a Stagecoach bus driver. Armed with this knowledge she can have a sleep in, stop the bus for a Cappuccino break or even forget where she’s parked the damn thing and its passengers and when she’s hauled up in front of the Stagecoach Powers-that-Be she can then tell them that the running or non-running of the bus has nothing to do with her. It’s all down to me. They will exchange knowing looks. ‘Damn. She’s smart! We might have known she would figure it out eventually. Yes – it’s true. It’s all down to Watts. Maybe someday her evil influence will be at an end but until then – stay home on full pay. Everything else is just futile.’

It’s funny despite all this how often I end up waiting for non-existent or late Stagecoach buses. And one wonders why I would be stranded at Ely station late at night when I can summon buses at will. Clearly I allowed myself to be distracted by something frivolous like influencing the tides which must account for the buses non-appearance.

Today Stagecoach buses. Tomorrow – the world.