EU've Lost That Loving Feeling

UK... We need to talk. I've had a fling with Brexit.
EU... How could you do this? After forty years?
UK... You were too controlling.
EU... We had to make compromises!
UK... Look, I'm sorry. It was a moment of madness.
EU... I think we should separate.
UK... Come on. Don't be like that.
EU... Get out! Go! Go to sexy Brexit!
UK... No. Wait. Look, I want to come back. Really. Brexit is... She's young, a bit crazy... Look, I got swept up.
EU... Do you love her?
UK... Its not like that.
EU... Is it over?
(Silence)
UK... Its complicated....
EU... Complicated? Surely you're going to stop this madness and come back to how it was.
(Silence)
UK... I made some promises.
EU... You did what? Promises? What promises? 
UK... I think we can work something out. Let's stay friends.
EU... You've spent the last 40 years moaning about everything I do. Not once in 40 years did you ever tell me you loved me. Not once.
UK... I saved you from fascists in 1945.
EU... And I have lost count of the times I've said thank you. (Silence...) We have to separate. There is no other choice.
UK... You don't want to do this.
EU... Oh yes I do! I hate you! Do you hear? I hate you!
UK... You're angry. You're overreacting.
EU... Shut the door on your way out! And take your Beatles records...
UK... You don't want to do that. (Under breath) Your music is rubbish...
EU... What part of the phrase "I'm getting a divorce" don't you understand?



Jetsam and Flotsam

Better to have ebbed into someone's life and flowed out again
Than never to have ebbed and flowed at all.
We are the jetsam and flotsam
Carried by tides
Up onto the shoreline of other people's lives.
But if the seas ever murmur 'he never loved you'
And the oceans wash the tears from my eyes
Then Aphrodite will rise from the foam
And say this:
These. Are. Lies.

Muslims Are Not To Blame

After I posted on Facebook that the horrific murders in Paris had as much to do with Islam as the Klu Klux Klan did with Christianity, it sparked a debate. This was one of my responses. We are living in very dangerous times but I believe this is how we defeat the dark forces at work.

   
     Muslims are not to blame
. Resist the temptation to fan the flames of division by believing the idea that Islam is incompatible with 'Western Values'. It's what the murderers in Paris want and what so much of our idiotic media defaults to.
   

     All of the Muslims I know are 'moderate' and these aren’t just the ‘cool’ and ‘westernised’ and ‘secular’ Muslims that play FIFA and argue whether Rooney should be in midfield or not – the ‘Mo Farrah Muslim’. This also includes those ‘Muslim looking Muslims’ with beards in long male dresses and small white hats that pray – my old next door neighbour in Southfields. He was the kindest, most considerate man I have ever had the pleasure to live near. He was also a devout Muslim.
   

     Out of the many 1000s of Muslims I have worked with, met and known in my life I have yet to meet a single ‘Islamic Extremist’. In most of these cases, these are Muslims that keep Ramadan and pray to Allah and go to a Mosque. So many of the things that so many in the UK are starting to distrust.
   

     I don’t know how many Muslims any of my 'Islam is not compatible' friends on Facebook know and I am not sure how much they know about the religion and culture. I work with Muslims in my office and I mentored many Muslim teens as part of the Young Enterprise scheme. My father’s accountancy practice in Birmingham had many Muslim clients.   

     The events in Paris have nothing to do with Islam. But the perpetrators of these horrific murders want you to think that. And when you do, they have won. That was their goal. To make you think that at its core, these acts of barbarism were a result of something wrong in the Islamic religion. By not thinking that, you ultimately defeat the barbarism.
   

     But if you want to know where this barbarism comes from then you need to look at politics. The seeds of this barbarism lie with Western extremist policy.
   

     One often overlooked fact is that the overwhelming number of people killed as a result of ‘Islamic Fundamentalism’ are in fact Muslim – in Syria, Libya and Iraq. This fundamentalism which is destroying millions of lives was not fanned by Islam but by Western geo-politics. Also, note, the victims of conventional ‘Western Extremism’ (the bombs and wars with ‘boots on the ground’) are also Muslim.

     The Iraq invasion was, remember, a response to 9-11, which was sold to us all as act of Islamic Fundamentalism - even through Iraq had nothing to do with it - even though, like the acts in Paris, had nothing to do with Islam.
   

     Instead of looking at our own policies which have brought about this terror, many people will look to blame a religion. In Iraq there was NO 'Islamic Fundamentalism' before the West invaded. Today, it is a hotbed of barbarsim and acts of violence that defy the imagination. But still, we look towards a religion instead of looking at the politics of what brought it about.
   

     To state now, at this dangerous time, that Islam as a religion 
is somehow responsible, that it is incompatible with “western values” is a form of the Western extremism that fans the Islamic extremism. It is dangerous and it plays into the extremists hands. It's what they want.   

     I stand with my Muslim friends – the same Muslim friends that keep Ramadan and go to a Mosque. I stand with my old next door neighbour in his dress, white hat and beard. I say to them all, relax. No need to fear anything from me. I am your friend and I DON'T blame your religion.
   

     I will say it again, this has nothing to do with Islam. The perpetrators want you to think that and if you do then they are succeeding.
   

     If you want to take back the power from these killers, to stop further recruitment to these groups and to build a stronger community then you have to take a stand and say it has nothing to do with being a Muslim. If you are feeling disempowered by events, then this is your call to action. This is how we can win.

Viva Morrissey!

     I’m no critic. I am a fan. However, it has been nearly a week since I attended the Morrissey concert at the O2 and I am still on a high.
     The last time I had this feeling was after my Greek wedding to Victoria. During which, we were crushed by 100s of people pinning cash on us during the traditional Cypriot ‘Money Dance’.
     This is the resonance of love and goodwill from relative strangers (you have to be Greek to understand why relative strangers come to your wedding) and I found it again in London – that energy. A crush of love and goodwill from relative strangers that stays with you long after the event.
     I feel proud to have been there and I want to go again. I have spent a week talking to everyone about it. And yesterday, I was enthusing to John Park, the former editor of the Fringe Report (an online archive of the arts fringe when it was at its best) just how important an occasion it was.
     John doesn’t know Morrissey. He’s in his 60s. I told John to just go look at the lyrics. Morrissey is our finest poet, I declared. Just look at the words. John’s response – typically – was that I should drop the current screenplay I am writing and make a film about Morrissey. He said, “I’ve never seen you come alive so quickly about anything”.
     My original intention was to hang around at the back as I genuinely hate large crowds. However, as the lights went down for the brilliant Anna Calvi – I found myself remembering Manchester in 2012. One of the good things given to me by Rat was an insight into ‘getting to the front’ of a Morrissey gig.


 Morrissey sparkled, roared, emoted and gave everything... 
     It’s never been me before. I’m no fan of gigs. I don’t know how to be at a gig. I don’t know the ritual. I suspect, I still don’t know the ritual – except when it comes to Morrissey. Morrissey concerts are now part of my muscle memory.
     At 43, I am delighted by this discovery. Whilst I am sad that I never found it earlier in my life, what I found in London on the 29th of November will stay for me for many years to come. Better late than never. And for those who’ve never found it – don’t hang around.
     When scouting round for other people’s reactions, I was struck by Rat’s tweet… “Well, that was fun. Roses launched and missed by the artiste. Moz did catch someone’s red rose. The big inflatable was waved through Trouble”
     He seemed disappointed and forlorn. Somehow, somewhere, his expectations had been violated. I am relieved I did not go there with a blue rose and high expectations. Is it heresy for me to say this? I found something bigger and much more interesting.
     The young woman who did get her red rose to Morrissey was standing next to me before her friends hoisted her up like a ceremonial boat. They cast her off and she quickly sailed the six or seven rows of people in front of us.
     The last thing I saw were her undignified legs sprawling in the air at an odd angle and an outstretched hand from the stage. Morrissey instinctively took the gift and restored a woman’s dignity. A perfect gentlemen. The timing was perfect. Not long after, Morrissey sung the lyric… “Yes… You’ve done it now” from Speedway, with an ironic tone.
     Watching Meat is Murder and seeing Morrissey with his hands on his head in pain, while rolling footage played of a meat industry worker taking delight in pulling off a baby piglet’s tail will haunt me for the rest of my life. I’ve seen that screaming face in my own children before a mad dash to A&E. This piglet was screaming for its mother. Barbaric and cruel beyond belief and an image I have retold many times in the office to looks of utter horror and despair.
     The opening image of Her Majesty flipping the bird before The Queen is Dead is another story I relay to everyone I talk to about the concert. In our age of manufactured, mass produced pop music, at 55 years of age, Morrissey is still one of the few, and possibly the only people, to express just how we feel about the Establishment and its hypocrisy on a rock concert stage. I don’t imagine young and old leap like salmon across security barriers to reach Sir Mick at a Stones concert.
     All the songs were flawless. Smiler With Knife reduced the young woman in front of me to a wreck at the words "Sex and love are not the same."
     I found the end of the concert too unbearable. It was a mixture of exhilaration and joy mixed with extreme sadness and loss. I didn’t want it to end. I could not talk to anyone. I had to be alone and I had to tweet the images I managed to capture – which I treasure - to some of my Morrissey Twitter friends. Their banter bring many smiles.
     I’ve shown everyone my photos… “Look how close I got?!” And then questions such as, “You went alone?” And they look at me as if I’m having a mid life crisis. “I felt alive…” I say.
     On my Facebook page, I posted one of the images with the notice… “Just spent the evening with England's finest poet at the O2. Morrissey sparkled, roared, emoted and gave everything.”
     What a night.

Kitchen Nightmares

In the pursuit of original content for this blog I have reached to the very bottom of the barrel.


I Am Studio - An Introduction

In the past couple of years I have given dozens of talks about how Papadopoulos & Sons was made and distributed – from film schools and festivals to agencies set up to assist film makers.

The feedback I get is inspiring. I keep being told I should write a book about how I wrote, directed, produced and distributed my debut movie.

So between posts of poetry and essays on this blog, here is my book I Am Studio – in parts, as and when the time and the ideas become available.

I am in the process of writing a new screenplay and it’s important for me to go back to my original impulses, what I have learned and what I am continuing to learn. I will be bouncing between the spiritual – influenced by people like Esther Hicks and her reasons for why we are here – to the practical, such as Sydney Lumet’s Making Movies.  Somewhere between the spiritual and the practical is my guide to living and telling stories through the medium of film.

The first question is why movies? Why am I a filmmaker? Why am I drawn to this medium over writing plays or books?

My theory on why audiences from different backgrounds and cultures can resonate with the same movie (which is a remarkable thing) involves my theory about what we might experience when we die – which is in itself a universal experience. 

So let’s start with death. It’s a good place to start and later on I will be writing about the importance of knowing the ending to a story before one attempts the beginning – not my idea but something that works and something I am continuing to explore as a second time film maker. It’s all about the ending – in movies as in life.

It’s been said that when we die our entire life flashes before our eyes and at a subconscious level I believe something is triggered in us when we watch a movie – concerning our life and where it is heading – and this idea of an afterlife review.

When we watch a movie, at some level, we’re watching a version of our life flashing before our eyes once we die. We enter a hypnotic, meditative, state when watching a movie, and we know (subconsciously) that this is a metaphor for what will happen when we die – when we witness a series of images from our life that had profound effects on knowing who we are.  

This is a difficult idea to grasp and I don’t expect many to agree with it but hang in.

The satisfaction felt by a movie is a subconscious acknowledgement of whether the main character – the hero – has undergone a significant change and some form of revelation as a result of the events that have taken place in his or her story.

Books and plays don’t always need a main character – and some films don’t – but the majority of universally popular films, that cross boundaries, have the one character – the hero. That’s you, that’s me, up there on the screen – fighting, loving, winning, losing – undergoing change, heading towards a revelation as a result of a series of events that take place in our life.

When we die, our review of our life, is witnessed like a movie. We literally watch our life as a movie. Not everything. Not the mundane parts. There is no need to see the 1000s of times we toasted two slices of bread (unless we were burning them on purpose to spite a relative) – but the juicy parts that mattered – the times we made a difference (good or bad) to others and ourselves, through acts of selflessness or selfishness. The times of anger and love, concluding with whether we reached a revelation about who we really are.

If a movie’s revelation about the true nature of the hero is vague or undecided – we feel let down as an audience. Similarly – when we review our life after we die and conclude that we failed to discover the true purpose of our lives – we, at soul level, feel disappointed and we probably come back again and have another go. Not a new idea at all. 

The movie is an edited version of events. The life we witness when we die is also going to be an edited version of events.

The movie is a dynamic art form for this reason because it’s a metaphor for the review of our life when we die. Of course, I cannot prove that such a review takes place when we die, which is why this can only ever be a theory. Such is life (and death). 

The idea that movies remind of us subconsciously of the review of our life (and the very many lives that we have previously lived and are about to live – or, taking the concept of time out of the equation – are living all at once in multiple dimensions) is the reason why I believe audiences of different cultures, nationalities, histories and cultural backgrounds find certain films with what we sometimes term ‘classic film structure’ universally satisfying. The fairy tale is an example.

At the core of that universality is the common knowledge of our life’s review after we die.
Plays, books and poems don’t have the structural ideas that movies do – which have been unearthed and analysed by the likes of Christopher Vogler, John Truby, Robert McKee and others. This is because we don’t live our lives like a play or a poem or a book. We live it like a movie.

John Truby talks about the ‘range of change’ in a hero. Christopher Vogler talks about a journey that leaves the hero significantly different by the time he or she ‘returns home’.

At a soul level, both ideas are important. We are Luke Skywalker, Michael Corleone or Rick in Casablanca. Star Wars, the Godfather and Casablanca are some of the most popular films ever made with an ability to cross cultural boundaries because of this idea of a range of change on a hero’s journey towards a revelation of what home is.

Our own lives are a range of change on a hero’s journey towards a revelation of what home is. The flickering images of a film are a deeply rooted metaphor for the flickering images that we will experience when our own life is reviewed. How did I do? Let’s take a look.

We may end up watching a 1000 films in a lifetime with a 1000 different protagonists. We crave it because, perhaps, at a soul level, we know we will be living a 1000 different lives with every storyline imaginable.

In some cases, this has a positive outcome and in the case of Michael Corleone in The Godfather it is negative. It doesn't matter. It’s what John Truby refers to as the range of change that is important. The greater the range of that change, the greater the drama and the more we are engaged as a movie goer. This is the story of our lives. Because no life is undertaken without this range of change – either towards a positive or negative outcome.

In The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler says, “A myth… is a metaphor for a mystery beyond human comprehension.” 

The dreamscape of movies fascinate me because the movie itself is a metaphor for something we will witness when we die – the movie of our lives. 

At soul level, we may resonate with this, without being consciously aware of it. On the surface, it’s just another blockbuster super hero action movie. Underneath, it’s the story of our lives being played and a metaphor for the review we will all undertake one day – starring ourselves. 

Gently... Falling...



Gently…

Falling…
                               
Into your arms.

We meet for tea and then we kiss.

Taken by surprise.

We kiss again and talk some more.

We talk about Scottish independence.

We talk about the war.

More tea, more kissing.

You firmly move my hand into place.

I stop, pull back, and look at your face.

Askance, we smile.

Not yet, not yet.

Maybe... never. 

Gently, falling, into your arms.

We meet for tea and then we kiss.