Every good movie is an autobiography
Recently I saw Mike Mills’ autobiographical film Beginners. Mills (as played by Ewan McGregor) is a fumbling graphic designer, who frustratingly keeps missing the mark on designs for his clients - because he can’t stop himself from making heartfelt art instead.
His character is sad, grieving because he has recently cared for and lost both parents to illness. But there is also a sense of underlying depression and loneliness about the character. He meets a girl at a party and surprisingly she asks him “Why did you come to a party if you’re sad?”
In Beginners, Mills bravely shares his personal experience of depression with his viewers, a world of strangers. This made me think about Lars Von Triars’ Melancholia.Which is also autobiographical, in the sense that it’s deeply about Lars Von Triar’s personal struggle with manic depression over the last six years. These are two incredibly real and wonderful films, where each filmmaker has given everything.
Mike Mills’ blog while making Beginners (his take on autobiographies):
An Interlude on Platform 1
It’s 2:19pm on a Monday, the Queens birthday, 2011. I’m sitting on Platform 1 of Bowral train station, with my vision jumping now and then. The train to Sydney is running late and hopeful passengers are moving side to side with anticipation. An intergalactic freight train slices through the train station for what feels like an eternity. It casts stardust into our eyes and horizontally blasts a gothic boys hair backwards, as he slouches beside me.
We sit, we wait.
The last and final thundering carriage trails a veil of deafening silence. The gothic boy turns to me with strands of long black dyed hair stuck to the corners of his mouth. With a sneer he says “I’m glad that’s over.” His comment surprises me, I resolve that even goths are friendlier in the country. I feel like I should give something back, meet him half-way. But I just continue to scribble in my book. He moves from the seat and begins to playfully kick a bin, secured by concrete to the ground.
When I arrived at the train station earlier, I had an overwhelming feeling that something was about to happen. As I descended the stairs, it felt like I was entering an enormous theatrical stage. Right on cue, a busload of Japanese tourists now flood the platform. They appear oblivious to the other travelers and capture portraits of each other standing next to flowering trees.
A mentally disabled boy in an electric wheelchair is navigated by his mother to my left. He says hello to me, but at first I don’t hear him. He says it again, louder and determined, the word bouncing around the inside of his throat and cheeks like a pinball, eventually releasing a loud yet muffled “HELLLLO.” I look up, smile and say “Hey” softly back, then return to my notebook. His mother looks over my shoulder, scanning my illegible words as I write about her and her son.
I’m a curiosity to this country town, disheveled from a hedonistic night - reveling with fellow explorers in outer-space. My clothes and shoes are layered with last nights astral adventure; mud and candle wax. I continue to hide underneath my big red woolen beanie and imitation sunglasses, striving for invisibility.
Alone and together; we sit, we wait.
The Stationmasters Sigh Standing on the train platform at Macquarie University station after a long day at work, I wipe a layer of grime from my forehead as a buzz starts humming from the station speakers. The stationmaster makes a brief announcement saying my train back to the city is delayed by 5 minutes, but afterwards … he forgets to hang up the microphone. In-between the static crackling of the microphone, about 100 restless workers and students share this mans world for a brief moment. As he sits in his booth, unaware that he is projecting to the whole station, he gently clears his throat and then unknowingly releases a long heartfelt sigh. Somewhat melancholy. I want more. THIS is his moment to be heard. But maybe that one sigh was enough? It was the most beautifully honest thing I’ve heard all week. I smile behind my newspaper … And look to see if others share my joy.
The Stationmasters Sigh
Standing on the train platform at Macquarie University station after a long day at work, I wipe a layer of grime from my forehead as a buzz starts humming from the station speakers. The stationmaster makes a brief announcement saying my train back to the city is delayed by 5 minutes, but afterwards … he forgets to hang up the microphone. In-between the static crackling of the microphone, about 100 restless workers and students share this mans world for a brief moment. As he sits in his booth, unaware that he is projecting to the whole station, he gently clears his throat and then unknowingly releases a long heartfelt sigh. Somewhat melancholy. I want more. THIS is his moment to be heard. But maybe that one sigh was enough? It was the most beautifully honest thing I’ve heard all week. I smile behind my newspaper … And look to see if others share my joy.
So I got an iPhone …
I resisted from using the word ‘finally’ in the above. Because I realise that the iPhone is a fashion accessory more than it is a necessity.
Recently at SIA’s Enmore Theatre gig here in Sydney, she urged everyone to get off their phones by saying if they weren’t interested in watching the show they should leave. People who had paid approx $60 were lining the corridors of the Enmore Theatre - nowhere near the stage, sitting cross legged on the ground scrolling the pages of their iPhone’s/Androids. Looking severely bored or brainwashed, not sure which. I’m not a huge SIA fan, but if I’d paid to see a gig, I’d at least watch it.
Are iPhone’s a pacifier? Are they numbing us into a comfortable state where all answers are at our fingertips? I read an article recently that suggested that without a break from ‘screen-time,’ our thinking can be altered. We require a certain amount of time to process our thoughts which can’t happen if we never switch off.
Rather than solve or think a problem through using our head, we can much more conveniently get a faster and more reliable answer from Google. We don’t take the time to let our thinking process turn full circle. It’s as if the iPhone/hard-drive is replacing some small part of our brain. Scary.
How I paid the rent throughout my film degree …
This is seriously one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. I’ve seen so many amazing international and local live bands, and been paid to do it.
Being a bartender in a live music venue has its ups and downs; dealing with drunken patrons and missing out on weekend fun. But having these things in common, has only made us all that much tighter at The Metro. The good most definitely outweighs the bad. So many fun times.
This showreel features excerpts from:
Two new exciting projects are on their way:
‘Arthurville’ - A surreal documentary about a mysterious, living and breathing Newtown manor that literally consumes its tenants.
‘Hotcakes’ - A short fictional film based in 1984, where Sydney based cock-rock-glam band ‘Hotcakes’ are determined to ‘fake it til they make it.’ It’s ‘excess all areas’ as they pout their way to top.
Also, I am looking for production experience and/or work within the Sydney area, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
arradius asked: MS Sandersonnnnnnnnnnnnn!
Misssss Searesssssssssssssss!!! x
A wild new short film is in the works between myself, Tessa Ramsey and Liam O’Shea. We’ve recruited two local bands with glam-rock leanings and the result will be something like a WWF existential-musical. We’re excited.
Stay tuned for upcoming screening dates around Sydney.