Narcissistic, psychopathic killer android though he may have been, you can’t say that Roy Batty didn’t know how to die with style. Maybe I am starting to lose my grip on reality (seriously… I don’t think I’ve ever staggered quite this close to edge of insanity), but I do know where old Roy was coming from when he died, smiling, in the rain.
You see, I have “…seen things you people wouldn’t believe.” Such is the curse of an imagination which far outstrips your actual talent. As far as inspiration goes, I’m set. And even if I wasn’t… a single upward glance into a clear night sky fills my mind with ideas and my heart with longing, in a way that is difficult
to articulate without an entire stadium full of fireworks, erupting to the sound of Hans Zimmer’s Now We Are Free, behind a 200ft photo of Eva Mendes, drinking whisky in a bath-tub full of M&Ms.
Inspiration then, is not the problem. But what about motivation? Well, when your entire life revolves around writing, and making videos, in a house where half the occupants will neither look at your videos nor read a single word that you have ever written, and the other half are still small enough to consider cutting up their own steak an achievement, motivation is hard to come by. But there are ways to motivate yourself when you are flagging, as I truly am at this point.
Music is a good source of motivational fuel. My taste in music can seem rather strange at times, so let’s just stick with what you already know about me: I love movies. And movies are, for the most part, empty and lifeless without music. Even short informational movies can come alive with an infusion of appropriate music. I have used this piece of music this very week, when I was beginning to lose my patience, because it relaxes me instantly. I first discovered it, in a film called We Are Astronomers, at The National Space Centre in Leicester. The subject matter, setting, and beautiful music once again left me wondering why more people aren’t struck dumb by the immeasurable vastness and complexity
of the universe, and every time I hear it now I imagine myself drifting in deep space. You can get an idea of the context in which I heard this music by checking out the trailer for the film, here.
I have often heard composers belittled because they compose mainly for the movies. Why? Everyone has to eat! Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, John Williams… these are fantastic composers. Who has never hummed or whistled Vangelis’s score to Chariots of Fire? 1492 and Blade Runner are also
amazing examples of his work. Clint Mansell’s Moon score is one of my favourites, and if you aren’t affected by the heart-wrenching music of Michael Nyman, you’re missing a soul, if you want my opinion, and if you don’t… what did you come here for?
Music though, is only part of the picture; at least for me. The more observant readers will have noticed that my blog titles are often lines from movies. Maybe I should start doing some sort of contest where the first person who guesses correctly gets a prize! My pockets are not deep, so the prizes would have to be hugs and happy thoughts but… well… I’m wandering off topic again.
Right! I am not, as I’m sure you know, a believer in God. I am, however (and some might say this is even more fanciful) a believer in honour, loyalty, goodwill and all the other things that cynical folks will tell you only exist in the movies. It is hard to argue with the cynics from a position such as mine I admit. I mean, I like to think that one of the reasons I love the movies, is because I believe in those things, but perhaps I only believe in those things because I love the movies. At any rate I find movies to be a great source of motivational fuel.
Now, you have to be careful drawing your inspiration and/or motivation from films. It is a dark art, not to be trifled with. For lovers of Superhero movies; no matter how much you close your eyes and wish really, really hard, a train will not bend and come to a grinding halt if you step out in front of one to save a wayward bunny rabbit. You may succeed in breaking one of the headlights, as your shattered shin bones bounce of it at 120mph, but you will never live to see the coachbuilder’s invoice for the repair. Likewise; Krypton is an odourless, inert gas, which is quite useful in fluorescent lights. It is not the place you call when you need someone to leap a tall building in a single bound, because you left your car keys on the table in your 8th floor apartment. And, no matter how well-intentioned you are, bullets will not bounce off your eyeballs and tumble to the ground in slow-motion simply because you’re wearing your undies on the wrong side of your outfit. If you must learn about ballistics from the movie theatre, I suggest you stick to Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line or Band of Brothers… these are much safer reference films from which to learn the effect of bullet/eyeball interaction. However… taking a line out of movie (particularly if taken with precisely the correct quantity of salt) can be harmless and uplifting.
Again, superhero movies are best avoided for this kind of thing (who needs reminding for the 15th time what kind of responsibility comes with great power?) and watching The Social Network; imagining you can be the world’s next multi-billionaire simply by being obnoxious, and brilliant with computers is probably a little too optimistic. I mean if those were the only requirements, I’d be halfway there already, but I’m too old to learn computer code.
Then again… Tyler Durden’s “We’ve all been raised on television, to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars… but we won’t”, though certainly a much more realistic message, is hardly what you need to hear when you’re attempting what I’m attempting.
Somewhere in the middle is where I usually land. And I have a movie for every mood, just like most people have music for every mood.
Lester Burnham is the guy I turn to when I feel lost and sedated, and I need reminding that: “It’s never too late to get it back!”
When I have the inevitable sense that I am going to fail in spectacular fashion, Drew Baylor never lets me forget that: “No true fiasco ever began as a quest for mere adequacy.” (to return to music, this film has one of the best soundtracks of the last 20 years)
Gattaca is one of my favourite films of all time. It’s a stylish movie with two of my favourite actors: Jude Law, and the consistently underrated Ethan Hawke. It’s another spectacular example of the marvellous music of Michael Nyman, and is a movie very close to my heart for many other reasons which I won’t go into detail about here.
Anton: How are you doing this, Vincent? How have you done any of this? We have to go back!
Vincent: It’s too late for that; we’re closer to the other side!
Anton: What other side? You wanna drown us both?
Vincent: You wanna know how I did it? This is how I did it, Anton; I never saved anything for the swim back!
But movies are merely “snack-bite” motivation. They are like a sugar rush that will keep you going through the afternoon, but pretty soon you will crash hard and wonder if that toffee-apple after lunch was really such a great idea after all.
I have always been lucky, in that my family have always encouraged creativity; particularly when it comes to writing. I can’t say the same of my online video aspirations, but I also can’t say I blame people for that opinion. Personally, I find being told I can’t do something to be the perfect motivation, and it’s the kind of thing that reminds you why you do this in the first place, but it is a slow burn; like the candle that sits in the corner of the room and permits sufficient light by which to read, or warm your hands over when the world seems dark and cold, but when you’re trying to set the world on fire, that candle just isn’t gonna do it. Building an online video channel which stands out against the other 500 million, or writing a novel which somehow rises to the top of the slush pile, are the kind of really heavy things that require an awfully powerful motivational fuel if they are to break orbit. And, although Gattaca is a fantastic film for anyone who has ever been told that they can’t do something, from time to time we all like to be reminded what we can do; what we are good at. Where do we turn for that?
Friends, as you get older, are the only people you can depend on to give you motivational rocket fuel. The obvious reason is because we often select our friends, whether we realise it or not, based on their likes and dislikes. We warm to like-minded people. I keep reminding myself that the tedious task I am currently in the middle of will soon be complete, and in a couple of weeks I can bask in the warm motivational light of the Sleepless Knight crew members I have missed these last months. Richard, James, Tom, Ben, Kitty and Arnie will all be eager to start filming once again. Actually, I might be over-stating their eagerness a little… In fact, with the exception of James, they will probably all say something like “Sure… I suppose I’m not doing anything for the next few hours.” Richard is so in tune with my brain that he can often finish my sentences, but, despite being more fun to be around than a drunken, Xbox playing sniper, with a license to kill clowns, and a booze filled bachelor pad that overlooks a circus, he is not the man you look to for enthusiasm. I don’t doubt his eagerness, but he is far too laid back to let it show. Still, just being in the presence of people who share even a fraction of
my enthusiasm for this project will be a very welcome relief from the stale, creatively stifled air of my office, and I’m very grateful for their help.
So what is the moral this week?
I don’t know! Do you really come to me for lessons on life? Because I think any of the people I just
mentioned would tell you that’s a mistake. I don’t have a picture that means anything either, and many of you may disagree with the things I say, so I’m going to play it safe and create an image that I think will touch the hearts of the majority.