Tuesday, 1 March 2011


Inspiration. Now there’s a word to conjure with.

It was the Oscars this week, and as usual there are a million different opinions out there, this should have won, that should have won. Etc... so forth, so on...

It’s no secret that the movies have informed a great deal of my writing, and sometimes, even the things I get up to on a daily basis.

Five Graves To Cairo put an idea into my head that is yet to be realised, but who knows where life is headed.

My mind is totally random, and always has been. So, I can see a film or watch a tv show and certain little incidents within the movie or the tv show have just totally spoken to me.

All of this led me to consider what I think might be the elements of a great movie.

The starting point of any great movie, regardless of length, has to be a great story. Do you have a real story to tell? Of course, then you need a great script. Having a story is all very well, if you can’t articulate that story in a way that captures the audience’s sympathy and imagination, you won’t coax anyone into going on the journey with you.

So a great script has to be part inspiration, and part seduction, with just enough intrigue to keep the audience guessing.

When I got the chance to see Henry Barrial’s new film, Pig, I knew I was in for something that would be very different from the standard join-the-dots, cookie-cutter stuff that the mainstream has been offering of late.

Pig is simply inspired. And inspiring. I have been utterly unable to get some of the images out of my head.

In part that is the writing. Henry Barrial can really write. The script is everything I hoped it would be. Intelligent, compelling, different. A puzzle. I love puzzles.

Of course, a compelling script then needs two further elements to bring the writing to the screen undiminished. A savvy director who can interpret the meaning, and actors who can get into the skin of the characters.

Probably the person best placed to direct a film is the person who wrote it in the first place. So it is with Pig. Henry creates an absolute gem of a film. (http://thepigpicture.com/Pig.html)

The main character is a man with no memory of his past, played with utter conviction by actor Rudolf Martin. I tend to have a more analytical approach to movies than most, and rarely find myself so engaged as to feel emotionally moved by a character’s situation. Between them, Barrial and Martin conjure up something that just speaks to me in ways I really hadn’t considered before. And that moved me.

I also started to think about character in a different way. You have character, and then you have the nature of the character inside. Then a friend mentioned something that her attorney had mentioned about her former husband... and my mind exploded in another direction entirely. Suddenly, a character who had been dull as ditchwater (and unsufferable besides) in one of my latest scratchings, turned into something completely different.

That’s the nature of inspiration.

Putting things together in your head until they fit. And they can be informed from anywhere.

I always have a notebook, usually a Moleskine, somewhere about my person. You do not know where your next inspiration may come from. In my case, most of it is humbly informed from the great writing of others.

It doesn’t need to be feature length either. Doug Rao’s short, War Hero, totally blew me away. (http://www.makeshortfilms.com/). Thankfully, Doug has decided to make this incredible piece of cinema available for download. Regardless of politics, this film speaks to the humanity in all of us.

You don’t have to look far outside of the mainstream to find film-makers who are making incredible cinema with very little in the way of budget. Using imagination and vision. They can’t cover holes in their plots and cardboard characters with tons of expensive CGI and explosions. They don’t need to. They’re already delivering inspiring, thought-provoking films to you.

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