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Anthony Minghella quotes

Here are some of my favourite Anthony Minghella quotes for writers and filmmakers:

1. “I’ve been writing for over twenty years, all my adult life, and so I suppose that I’ve made peace with myself and my hopeless, undisciplined technique. I’ve stopped unravelling everytime I’m unable to write. I wait. The drawer opens. Waiting is part of writing. When I write the word ‘waiting’ by hand it even looks like ‘writing.’”

2. “You know, you lose a lot of social skills if you’re a writer. You spend too long alone. And it’s forced me to address that.”

3. “The imaginative leap for me of writing for women is no more difficult than the one of writing for men. I’ve always wanted to have women well represented in the work that I’ve done because I’ve always been around them and around the way they look at the world.”

4. “Nobody wants to make any film, ever. I mean, you can assume that every head of every studio would be perfectly happy never to make another film, because making films is dangerous, costs too much money, none of them make sense, there’s absolutely no guarantee that they’re going to work – the best thing is not to make any; you can’t get fired for not making a film – you’re going to get fired for making the wrong film. And so you realise that the first words anybody in the movies wants to say is no, and the job of the director or producer or writer is finding the area of least resistance to get the film made. There’s never been any movie I’ve made that anybody’s wanted to make, ever.”

5. “I feel like such an amateur film-maker, but not an amateur writer. I will always feel like a writer who directs and not the other way round. An American studio don’t understand why I feel the need to write my own work because they don’t respect that the screenplay is everything. The screenplay is the musical notes, and then you play the notes to make the film”.

Anthony Minghella

6. “The writer has to be indifferent to the realities of filming. The well-behaved film writer, the writer who’s writing for his or her director, is of no use. There has to be a kind of antic level to writing, which the director then has to formalise in some way…I try to never censor myself when I’m writing”.

7. “The madman should be writing and the sane person should be trying to work out how to do it. You can’t be sane and insane simultaneously. I think that I’m a very rebellious writer of screenplays and a quite conservative director of them”.

8. “The film community has all these redefinitions of terms, often amusing: net profit means no profit, residuals means no profit, producer equals liar, lawyer equals frustrated agent, agent equals frustrated director, director equals frustrated actor.”

Anthony Minghella, 1954 – 2008

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Taken from Chuck Wendig’s excellent site, Terrible Minds. These are just the headings. For the full scope, head to Chuck’s website which is a gem.

1. Real People With People Problems

2. Meaning, They’re Not Just Fuel For The Plot Engine

3. Like I Just Said, Opposition Is Key

4. I Like Kittens, You Punch Kittens, Now We Fight!

5. Like Krishna, Except A Total Jerkoff

6. Antagonists Think They’re The Protagonists

7. Evil For The Sake Of Evil Is Yawntastic, Snoretacular

8. The Motivations Of Awful People

9. Black Hats, White Hats, Can’t We All Just Get Along?

10. Nemeses And Arch-Enemies

11. Vivisect Your Favorite Antagonists In Pop Culture

12. Now Look To Your Own Life

13. Write From Within The Enemy Camp

14. Holding Hands With Monsters

15. Over-Powered Is Under-Interesting

16. (But We Won’t Buy “Under-Powered,” Either)

17. Still Abide By The Rules And Laws Of The Storyworld

18. Chatty Cathy Clip Your Strings

19. Freak Me Out By Forcing Me To Emotionally Connect

20. Antagapalooza

21. Arctagonist

21. Ideas And Institutions And Other Non-Charactery Antagonists

23. The “Kick The Cat” Moment

24. Let The Antagonist Win

25. Love To Hate, Hate To Love

 


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How to persevere

What follows is an essay written by Ang Lee who has never given up on his dream…

In 1978, as I applied to study film at the University of Illinois, my father vehemently objected. He quoted me a statistic: ‘Every year, 50,000 performers compete for 200 available roles on Broadway.’

Against his advice, I boarded a flight to the U.S. This strained our relationship. In the two decades following, we exchanged less than a hundred phrases in conversation.

Some years later, when I graduated film school, I came to comprehend my father’s concern. It was nearly unheard of for a Chinese newcomer to make it in the American film industry. Beginning in 1983, I struggled through six years of agonizing, hopeless uncertainty.

Much of the time, I was helping film crews with their equipment or working as editor’s assistant, among other miscellaneous duties. My most painful experience involved shopping a screenplay at more than thirty different production companies, and being met with harsh rejection each time.

That year, I turned 30. There’s an old Chinese saying: ‘At 30, one stands firm.’ Yet, I couldn’t even support myself. What could I do? Keep waiting, or give up my movie-making dream? My wife gave me invaluable support.

My wife was my college classmate. She was a biology major, and after graduation, went to work for a small pharmaceutical research lab. Her income was terribly modest. At the time, we already had our elder son, Haan, to raise. To appease my own feelings of guilt, I took on all housework – cooking, cleaning, taking care of our son – in addition to reading, reviewing films and writing scripts. Every evening after preparing dinner, I would sit on the front steps with Haan, telling him stories as we waited for his mother – the heroic huntress – to come home with our sustenance (income).

This kind of life felt rather undignified for a man. At one point, my in-laws gave their daughter (my wife) a sum of money, intended as start-up capital for me to open a Chinese restaurant – hoping that a business would help support my family. But my wife refused the money. When I found out about this exchange, I stayed up several nights and finally decided: This dream of mine is not meant to be. I must face reality.

Afterward (and with a heavy heart), I enrolled in a computer course at a nearby community college. At a time when employment trumped all other considerations, it seemed that only a knowledge of computers could quickly make me employable. For the days that followed, I descended into malaise. My wife, noticing my unusual demeanor, discovered a schedule of classes tucked in my bag. She made no comment that night.

The next morning, right before she got in her car to head off to work, my wife turned back and – standing there on our front steps – said, ‘Ang, don’t forget your dream.’

And that dream of mine – drowned by demands of reality – came back to life. As my wife drove off, I took the class schedule out of my bag and slowly, deliberately tore it to pieces. And tossed it in the trash.

Ang Lee with Oscar for best birector for "Life of Pi."

Ang Lee with Oscar for best birector for “Life of Pi.”

Sometime after, I obtained funding for my screenplay, and began to shoot my own films. And after that, a few of my films started to win international awards. Recalling earlier times, my wife confessed, ‘I’ve always believed that you only need one gift. Your gift is making films. There are so many people studying computers already, they don’t need an Ang Lee to do that. If you want that golden statue, you have to commit to the dream.’

And today, I’ve finally won that golden statue. I think my own perseverance and my wife’s immeasurable sacrifice have finally met their reward. And I am now more assured than ever before: I must continue making films.

You see, I have this never-ending dream.

(Thanks to Irene Shih for the translation at whatshisaid.com)

http://www.myasianplanet.com/news/features-news/ang-lees-never-ending-dream/

***

Original text (in Chinese):

文 / 李安

1978年,當我準備報考美國伊利諾大學的戲劇電影系時,父親十分反感,他給我列了一個資料:在美國百老匯,每年只有兩百個角色,但卻有五萬人要一起爭奪這少得可憐的角色。當時我一意孤行,決意登上了去美國的班機,父親和我的關係從此惡化,近二十年間和我說的話不超過一百句!

但是,等我幾年後從電影學院畢業,我終於明白了父親的苦心所在。在美國電影界,一個沒有任何背景的華人要想混出名堂來,談何容易。從1983年起,我經過了六年的漫長而無望的等待,大多數時候都是幫劇組看看器材、做點剪輯助理、劇務之類的雜事。最痛苦的經歷是,曾經拿著一個劇本,兩個星期跑了三十多家公司,一次次面對別人的白眼和拒絕。

那時候,我已經將近三十歲了。古人說:三十而立。而我連自己的生活都還沒法自立,怎麼辦?繼續等待,還是就此放棄心中的電影夢?幸好。我的妻子給了我最及時的鼓勵。

妻子是我的大學同學,但她是學生物學的,畢⋯⋯業後在當地一家小研究室做藥物研究員,薪水少得可憐。那時候我們已經有了大兒子李涵,為了緩解內心的愧疚,我每天除了在家裡讀書、看電影、寫劇本外,還包攬了所有家務,負責買菜做飯帶孩子,將家裡收拾得乾乾淨淨。還記得那時候,每天傍晚做完晚飯後,我就和兒子坐在門口,一邊講故事給他聽,一邊等待”英勇的獵人媽媽帶著獵物(生活費)回家”。

這樣的生活對一個男人來說,是很傷自尊心的。有段時間,岳父母讓妻子給我一筆錢,讓我拿去開個中餐館,也好養家糊口,但好強的妻子拒絕了,把錢還給了老人家。我知道了這件事後,輾轉反側想了好幾個晚上,終於下定決心:也許這輩子電影夢都離我太遠了,還是面對現實吧。

後來,我去了社區大學,看了半天,最後心酸地報了一門電腦課。在那個生活壓倒一切的年代裡,似乎只有電腦可以在最短時間內讓我有一技之長了。那幾天我一直萎靡不振,妻子很快就發現了我的反常,細心的她發現了我包裡的課程表。那晚,她一宿沒和我說話。

第二天,去上班之前,她快上車了,突然,她站在臺階下轉過身來,一字一句地告訴我:”安,要記得你心裡的夢想!”

那一刻,我心裡像突然起了一陣風,那些快要淹沒在庸碌生活裡的夢想,像那個早上的陽光,一直射進心底。妻子上車走了,我拿出包裡的課程表,慢慢地撕成碎片,丟進了門口的垃圾桶。

後來,我的劇本得到基金會的贊助,我開始自己拿起了攝像機,再到後來,一些電影開始在國際上獲獎。這個時候,妻子重提舊事,她才告訴我:”我一直就相信,人只要有一項長處就足夠了,你的長處就是拍電影。學電腦的人那麼多,又不差你李安一個,你要想拿到奧斯卡的小金人,就一定要保證心裡有夢想。”

如今,我終於拿到了小金人。我覺得自己的忍耐、妻子的付出終於得到了回報,同時也讓我更加堅定,一定要在電影這條路上一直走下去。

因為,我心裡永遠有一個關於電影的夢。


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(My) Top 3 @TED_TALKS for Easter: JJ Abrams, Sheryl WuDunn, Tony Porter

So yesterday, I told you why I love Amanda Fucking Palmer. If you are one of the few people who aren’t aware of TED and their series of short but awesome talks, go check it out. Especially the older posts. Because no one knew what they were doing so they’re different.

(For those of you who’ve stumbled across this blog post by accident, I’m a writer, equalitist (equality for all, y’all!) and lover of all things film, TV and theatre.)

Yesterday I posted Amanda Fucking Palmer’s TED talk video. She is amazing. I know some of you who know she is, and respect her, even if you’re not a fan of her music. So I’ve decided to post a few more as I know that some of you lovely friends and subscribers like the more inspirational stuff 🙂

#1.”The Man Box”, a call to men. A fantastic insightful talk by Tony Porter from 2010. What a mighty good man, yes he is. (11 mins)

“My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman.”

The collective socialisation of men

#2. “With great power, comes great responsibility”, a global challenge. Sheryl WuDunn with some of the most amazing and inspirational stories you will ever hear on breaking a vicious cycle from 2010. (18mins)

“If you’re not fully utilizing half the talent in the country, you’re not going to get too close to the top ten” ~ Bill Gates.

If you fancy learning more about some of the most amazing women in the world, Sheryl’s book (that she co-wrote with Nicholas Kristof) is called Half the sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. ISBN: 978-0307387097

#3. “Mystery is more important than knowledge…” JJ Abrams is one of my favourite filmmakers so here’s his from 2007: (18mins)

“No community is best served when only the elite have control.”

What comes next? Well JJ, that’s up to us all isn’t it. So go! Get ’em! Start the weekend with a bang, xo


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Why I love Amanda Fucking Palmer, @amandapalmer (And why you might want to too)

Amanda Fucking Palmer (AFP) has been on my radar for a long time now. I’ve loved her music for a long time now.

(Before I was a writer, I was a writer. Of songs instead of scripts. Kate and I would sit in our bedrooms playing geetars, writing songs. When we growed up, we gigged in pubs and didn’t make much money but we had a cracking time singing, playing music and entertaining our friends. See? How much fun are we having here?)

But my adoration of AFP goes beyond her music and extends into the way she lives her life. She recently gave a TED talk which I recommend you watch. It’s 12 minutes, it’s on the art of asking but it’s much much more than than and well worth watching. Go on, give it a whirl now.

There, I hope you learnt something. And maybe it’ll change the way you look at a situation. It’s not about “getting a job”, it’s about asking.

Here’s her kickstarter page. I reckon you should watch that video too. Wow, just wow.

As Jack Lemmon said “send the elevator back down”. This isn’t just about AFP, it’s about all her artist friends and supporters, who adore her too. With an average donation of $47.93, she smacked the ass off her target. But it was her attitude that encouraged people to support her, not feel that they had to pay.

Amanda Palmer is a passionate and amazing woman. (Her husband ain’t half bad neither but this isn’t about him.) She is an inspiration and I just had to share this with you because it made me laugh, it made me smile and it gave just what I needed: a kick up the bum.

I will leave you with the Ukelele Anthem by Amanda Palmer:

You want more? Of course you do…

Here’s her website: http://amandapalmer.net

Here’s her blog on the TED talk.

Here’s the bandcamp page to the Dresden Dolls