Mr. Unemployed – Weeks 7-9, ‘Dreams of Simon Pegg and Mammoths’

I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks again, for a number of reasons. Firstly, for the sake of you poor souls that read this, meaning that I wanted you to actually have something to read about. As opposed to my usual, self-indulgent drawl about what has gone wrong in the previous week. Secondly, I have been engrossed… consumed… frustrated to the ends of my wits by what I have been working on that I have not been capable of typing a single word on my laptop if it isn’t going to get me closer to the finish line.

I have just crossed said finish line. For the second time, I may add.

What have I been working on?

MY first video essay

LESSONS LEARNT:

  • I underestimate nearly every endeavour I undertake.
  • My laptop now talks to me. I have begun to interpret its heavy breathing as great internal pain and stress. 
  • There needs to be a ‘Making YouTube Video Essays for Dummies’ book.

SETBACKS (catch your breath before reading…):

  • Trying to create a relatively complex video whilst learning how to use editing software from scratch is a task suited only to the mentally ill. If you haven’t guessed yet, the plethora of buttons and editing jargon on one of the several pages on the software is, as an exhausted young man once said, a mind fuck.
  • Having no guide with how to actually source clips of the appropriate films and then get them into the editing software. Want me to bore you? Tough, because I want a little vent. 

SO, originally, I downloaded a software that converted YouTube videos into a useable format for editing. Okay, cool. The catch? You get five scenes of good quality, tops. With a watermark. The quality of the other clips in YouTube are so bad they’d make a blind man cringe.

But what about the rest of the clips you want to use? Screen-record your laptop whilst on a streaming service? Nope. Tried that. 

What about a website like putlocker? Better, but zero audio.

Okay, but if you buy it then you’re good to go, surely? Good one. 

But what if you buy it off iTunes AND download it? Encryption, baby.

Hmmm, I got it. BUY the blu-ray and download it onto your laptop. HA. I had this moment of euphoria, ‘how have I not thought of this before, hallelujah’. And then I crashed back to earth into a pile of dung, when I realised: ‘oh. My laptop doesn’t have a DVD player.’

But I had bought the blu-ray already. I’d already played my hand, I had to call the bet. So, I did. By investing £60 in Apple’s USB superdrive/DVD player malarkey.

And I got it and I was happy and oh my god, what the fuck it doesn’t fucking register blu-ray, fucking Apple are you kidding me!

So I had to wait another day for the SD DVD to arrive. 

And it did. So, I then use another new software called MakeMKV. After a few tutorials, I’m good to go. Vrooom, downloaded. 

It’s the goddamn commentary version.

Okay, round two: Tick the boxes, fear for my private data, disk go vroom.

Bang. No commentary.

ARGGGGGGHHHHH. Subtitles. Ugly big subtitles stretched across the screen.

Okay, anyway, 6 hours after getting the DVD. I managed to download it.

Pop, into my editing software it goes….. ‘Computer says no.’

MKV file no good, needs to be MP4.

More weird software and converting until I have Tesco Bags for Life under my eyes!

VLC player did the trick. First time. Wow. Into the editing software.

NO AUDIO. ZILCH. SILENCE. 

Finally, finally. It worked, through some fiddling and praying.

£85 and probably 85 hours later and I had got the film into the software.

And you’re right, I hope people in high places don’t find their way to this blog.

That night I dreamt about hunting mammoths with Simon Pegg and his fabricated girlfriend. The girlfriend died.

But I did it. I finished the video. I wept, I cracked open a beer, I said this year was looking up, finally. And thus, I posted it onto YouTube, and…

Fuck 2020.

Honestly, I thought it was in line with ‘Fair Use’. Apparently not. Here’s the original video anyway. Give it a watch, since nobody else is bloody able to. Plus, Copyright will probably take this down in minus 5 minutes so enjoy it when you can.

EDIT: I tried. You can’t. Apparently WordPress doesn’t even like my video.

But anyway, I’ve finished it for a second time. I just thought ‘I’m rewriting an essay, making it better, that is all.’ Admittedly, by the end, I rushed some elements of it. I just want to do something else and have it behind me.

In all likelihood, the new version will probably also get hounded on by the copyright fairies but, I haven’t given up yet. Not quite.

So please, after all my stress, watch the video on YouTube for me:

Turn it on, like it, mute it, open a new web tab for all I care. A watch and a like would go a long way.

So! Now you have skipped the previous section and hover the mouse over the ‘close tab’ section, allow me to continue normally.

What else happened?

I finally heard of the Austin Film Festival. I didn’t get through to the quarter finals. Honestly, if I had, I would have questioned their credibility as I got so excited that I had written ‘THE END’ for the first time, I shot it straight to them. I know it needs work and had waited for their feedback, which I can’t get until December, because… COVID? God knows, tbh. My goal is finish a decent draft of my short (and no, I haven’t worked on it recently) and then finish my rewrite of ‘The Gateway’ script before they give that back to me. Then, finally I can rewrite that.

I am also going to write up my next idea in the not too distant future, so allow me to tell you about it – 

MOVIE IDEA OF THE WEEK

For a while now, I’ve thought about writing a thriller set in this creepy old gaff.

This little shack is barely 100 yards from my front door. Its use? The sign next to the door says ‘Place of Worship’ if you can make out the tiny text. The building is invisible on Google or Apple maps and its gates are always closed.

The weirdest part? It’s used, alright.

My dad is a guitarist and thus has done gigs throughout his life, all across the country. Meaning that he gets home at silly o’clock in the morning and therefore, is awake until silly o’clock in the morning.

So when he was having a smoke at the early hours of the morning one night, he sees a man heading towards the gate. Clunk, he unlocks it. The key holder.

All of a sudden, my dad realises: our road is chock-a-block with cars. 

This key holder, opens the gates wide and suddenly, sends out a signal. A whistle and hand movement. 

Immediately, car doors click open and slam shut. A hoard of undescriptive people rush into the gates in a huddled procession. No talking, no noise, like ants retreating to their burrows.

Seconds later, they have all slipped into the building. The gate is locked, the door is shut. Silence. Not to be seen again.

The sun rises and the cars are gone.

Now, I know the likelihood is that this is in fact a place of worship and I don’t mean to offend anyone, but A) this sent an uncomfortable shiver down my spine and B) got my brain thinking.

How did so many people fit in that tiny building? Does it go underground? Underground tunnels (think of Us). Cult practices? What is the purpose of what they do?

Some of these questioned were answered in a dream that I had. After I had woken up from being partly responsible for the death of Simon Pegg’s imaginary girlfriend, my mind appeared to be in a heightened state of anxiety. So the next time I fell asleep, it was even more twisted.

I was in a little village. Contained, as if nothing existed outside of it. Quaint and cute, how the typical American imagination would reconstruct an English town. I’m trying to get to grip with my surroundings when I’m shrouded in darkness again. Kidnapped.

The bag is taken off my head inside an office, belonging to a headteacher/law firm manager. You get the drill, old oak furniture, glazed windows, still smells of the cleaner.

These people stand before me, staring, silent and then all of a sudden, their eyes and mouth glow a harsh blue light. (The video I was making at the time also has clips of The World’s End, hence this.) Again, I’m knocked out. ‘Brainwashed.’ They take me to rooms with loads of young people to sign housing documents, selling my wallet and soul away to them. 

After that, they pitched me up in some communal housing arrangement and put us all under house arrest. I escaped. Got caught again. I woke up.

So, all this in mind:

‘When a unfulfilled night-worker moves house, he discovers a secret society that only meets at nights but his discoveries don’t just put him at risk, they endanger his entire neighbourhood.’

The logline needs work, okay.

MOVIE REVIEW(S) OF THE WEEK(S)

The Devil All The Time (dir. by Antonio Campos)

I was excited for this film. The cast is fantastic, the concept of characters all existing in morally grey zones, discussions of religion and war. And… I was left disappointed.

For one, it’s the first time I wasn’t convinced by Battinson in a long while and I even liked that French accent in The King. Secondly, the interwoven narratives kept colliding in predictable ways. Imagine how a Tarantino film would play out but without any of Tarantino’s flair. And finally, the voiceover began to get into lazy territory.

The large cast of characters would be better suited to a mini-series in my opinion. Many required more fleshing out. Some smaller obstacles to overcome and show who they were without a voice-over outright telling us, before they go and deal with their biggest obstacles out of the blocks straight away. And that’s what it felt like, a lot. They had a story that could be ten hours and they crammed it into two hours plus, therefore everything was zero to one hundred. Especially considering, we don’t see Tom Holland’s protagonist for the first forty minutes. So that’s an hour-forty for ten odd hours of potential content.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked a fair bit about this film. The cinematography suited the tone, effective camera choices to portray how some characters felt trapped, others insignificant in ‘God’s plan’, others lonely, and the majority of the cast did a pretty good job.

And alas, I am not an all-knowing voice-over. So watch it and form your own opinion.

6/10

Saint Maud (dir. by Rose Glass)

Films such as this exhibit the direction that the horror genre has followed recently. A overwhelmingly fresh direction.

Gone are the days of copy and paste supernatural stories that hinge upon exhausted clichés, such as the jump scare. Don’t get me wrong, the jump scare shall (and should) always be a staple of the horror genre as it taps into that human anxiety of the unknown lingering nearby and the uneasy U-turns that smash into our lives in tiny temporal vacuums. 

What I find so pleasing, and what Essex-born director, Rose Glass excels at is crafting atmosphere. In Saint Maud, the atmosphere is both internal and external. The internal is conveyed through Morfyyd Clark’s unnerving performance, flinching between exalted and a finger hovering over a switch, and Glass’ silently telling direction that displays Maud’s disconnect and close-up fury. The external, shot predominantly in dreary sea-side Scarborough, captures the essence of the isolated house, the fury of mother nature on the horizon and the spectral protagonist lost amongst it all.

Whilst the scares don’t come thick and fast, they are perfectly orchestrated in quiet moments of intimate terror. As a result, it may perhaps be more apt to call this film a character study. Taxi Driver heads to Scarborough and battles with godly (or devilish) inspirations, as opposed to socio-political struggles.

8/10

A moment to consider our local cinemas

My local Cineworld has closed.

Saint Maud, a critically acclaimed film, scheduled for release in March, was in said cinema for a single day before its closure. If a cinema is open and nearby yourself, go. For those among you who rarely go, it could be that you enjoy it more than ever. You will have more space and it will provide an escape that you most likely need from reality.

Because of the restrictions in place (2+ seats between every party/individual), they are struggling to survive. And whilst there may not be films that appeal to you, since the big players in Hollywood care only for the financial success of their films, there are plenty of other films available. This week I also saw Akira for the first time, a film thirty years older and thirty times more impressive than most of what is available on your television. All the Rocky films have played recently, Back to the Future and more classics (although I don’t really like BTTF – don’t shoot me). Films you want to see are available and likely, cheaper than ever.

There has been a cinema in my local village that has been closed down since I was born. Until this year, it was unoccupied, empty, a relic of a building that was the centre of a community. Now, after 20+ years, it is being converted into a carpark. Don’t let that happen to your local cinema. Don’t let streaming services become your only option. Support the jobs of people at the cinema. There is nothing for you to lose than a few quid and some self-respect after eating two pick-n-mix and a slushie.

SCENE OF THE WEEK

As stated earlier, I haven’t worked on the short in a couple weeks. Meaning a) I don’t want you to read it yet and b) You have a video to watch above. No more reading, hurray for you.

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