Monday, 23 April 2012

Robert Mckee's Story Course

For the last 4 days I have been locked up in a big white box with 100 other writers listening to the famous and revered Robert McKee telling us how to write stories. It was intense and tiring. But it was amazing.

Robert McKee is 71 years old and he is one of the most interesting people I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. What I took from his lectures wasn't just how stories are put together, or how Hollywood works and the films I love are structured, but also a greater understanding of what makes people act the way they do. I learnt about human nature.

Robert McKee sees humans as things that must be continually in flux. Like people themselves, stories are all about change. They are about value changes - events that occur to change people's situations - for the negative and the positive. If a story doesn't contain a major change in a value (love, honesty, freedom) then it simply is no story.

And why do people need stories? Why do they need negative stories? Why do they want to cry? Why is Literature something we study and revere?

Well McKee has an answer for that too. Stories allow us to experience life in a vivid way. Think about your daly life. How much of it do you spend of it locked up inside your own head? How much of it do you spend experiencing extremes of emotion - love, hate, triumph? How many times in a week to you look at something beautiful and feel the real pleasure of being alive? When you go to the cinema all your attention is on the screen - you get to stop thinking about all the things you have to do and instead you get to really feel, really see.

Stories are a metaphor for life. Characters are a metaphor for you. The reason why you feel moved by a story is that you have empathised with the character. You see yourself in them - a part of yourself - be it the dark parts you repress or the best parts. So when a character suffers you suffer too - and you experience life. McKee suggested that those people who say "I don't want to see a sad film, I have too many problems in my own life" or those people who say "why do you want to read books that make you cry?" , are those people who are rejecting life - they are emotional cowards who reject flux and wish to live life on a flat emotional plain. As someone who constantly cries when reading books and cries in films - I like this idea. I feel courageous.

Apparently it was documented that Holocaust survivors sought out tragic films. They weren't trying to ignore the existence of their sadness. They were seeking to feel that they weren't alone. That what they experienced was human. Human nature, McKee tells us is half good, half bad. This is the reason why so many bad things happen in the world.

Robert Mckee tells us that it is the job of the writer to know human nature better than any  body. This is the only way to create beautifully 3 dimensional characters. And none knew human nature like Shakespeare. That is why Shakespeare is timeless.

As a English Literature student you are often faced with the question - what was the worth of your course? It's not practical like Maths, you can't use it to build a motorway or improve planes or defend victims or cook great dinners. It is all in the head. Well, Robert McKee gave me the best answer I have ever got. Stories, for all the reasons I've talked about above are needed by people. The reason why every civilisation has a form of storytelling is that stories help us to work out who we are, who others are, to deal with our emotions, to feel connected to the world and to live fully. And so I would say that my course, Literature, is actually one of the most necessary of all.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Brushes Paintings - Portraits

I once flattered myself with the thought that I was an artist. That was until I left art college and joined the world of advertising. Being an artist is a solitary pursuit. It didn't fit with having a boyfriend, or a demanding job, or friends I needed to keep up with. Nor did it fit with exhaustion and watching X Factor. But one of the wonderful things I have found about having an iPad is that drawing in the "in-between" times - on trains, on shoots when I'm not needed - has become a lot easier.

Here are a couple of sketches and paintings I have done on the app "Brushes" on the iPad.

These two are of Fiancé on a train reading.

This is a self portrait done by looking at the reflection of myself in a train window when it was dark outside. Look at my concentration!

 This is the gorgeous Drew or Drewby as we call him. He is my lovely cousin Ellie's son and he loves cars and trucks. I drew him from a picture on my iPhone.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Are the boys getting crazier?

This is not, the greatest blog post in the world! This is just a tribute!....

Because I just spent AGES writing the best blog post EVER and then I pressed a key and it disappeared. The whole thing! What key was it? WHO BLOODY KNOWS!

Anyway. The blog post said this...but it was better I promise.

Recently I have been clubbing a lot. In doing so I have been chatted up by some rather weird and wonderful characters. These boys include the crazy and the deluded. Some have only reached the level where they might think an orange was a house. Others would take the orange, have sex with it, then think they were God of the oranges and sing a song about it whilst running around Tesco in the nude. This is how these guys went about trying to pick me up on a night out.

Psycho Pilot
Pyscho Pilot approached my friend and I in an Indian restaurant where we were busy taking pictures of ourselves hugging a giant stuffed tiger (as anyone would when faced with such a thing). He politely invited us to join him and his friends at his table with the line "we have spare beer!"Who were we to refuse? Thinking back maybe he had spiked the beer first and then, by accident, drank the wrong one. We were chatting about his pilot training when he suddenly grabbed my hand and thrust it against his chest. "Er...ok, you're confident aren't you?" I said. "What!?! How dare you!" shouted Psycho Pilot! With that he jumped up, grabbed the nearest waitress and started spinning her around in the middle of the restaurant. His friend, who I will call Deluded dude, sat down next to me. "He's a really nice bloke. Honestly. So quiet, level headed...he's a real catch..." (at this point Psycho Pilot was getting shouted at by the restaurant staff but was oblivious because he was now bending the waitress over a table and snogging her)..."um...he's the nicest guy and I think he really likes you..." carried on Deluded Dude hopefully.

Mr Salmon
Mr Salmon is so named because he was pernicious about swimming against the tide. The tide of my withering disinterest. Mr Salmon introduced himself in a club. I told him I was with my friend and couldn't talk to him. So 10 minutes later he came up with a friend for her in tow. Great. The conversation went like this:
Salmon: So, what do you like doing?
Me: I just work a lot in all honesty.
Salmon: Do you like the theatre?
Me: I don't have the time for it.
Salmon: Seen any good movies recently.
Me: No I've been working too hard.
Salmon: Been on holiday?
Me: No. Not for ages.
Salmon.........What about sports?
Me: I don't like sport.
Salmon: Hey listen I really like you. Can I take you for dinner?
Sadly Mr Salmon it might surprise you but the answer is no. Desperate much?

Disco Dick
Disco Dick confided with me at the bar,
"I have a special skill".
"What's that then?"
"Timing", replied DD with a special smile.
"You know...TIMING!"...
"I don't know what you're talking about...are you good with clocks?"
"Ok DD, it's probably something sexual right since you keep raising your eyebrows".
"No it's not!"
"Ok what is it then?"
"'re right it's something sexual....It's like when you wait until the girl cums before you do. Drives the girls wild. They love it".
"Ok...anything else?"
"I'm an amazing dancer".
"Ok why don't you show me?"
"The sex thing?" says DD hopefully.
"No the dancing".
What followed was watching a DD roll around on the floor attempting to spin on his back interwoven with some thrusting and spinning in circles.

These are just three of the men I have met recently. Another man I know has threatened an ex girlfriends with suicide if she breaks up with him. I can't even talk about that one but seriously. Boys! What's going on? Pull your shit together! Channel your David Bowie, your Mick Jagger...fuck Frankie Cocozza from the X Factor if it helps! Just don't do this shit!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Edible book

Here it is ladies and gents: the first and only Cookbook you can actually read, cook and eat. Made out of 100% fresh pasta it can be opened, filled with ingredients and finally be cooked as a lasagne. The Cookbook was designed as a special project for a large publishing house by a German advertising, marketing and design company.