Monday, 23 July 2012

The Lives of Others

Want to hear about more hassles? No?

Thought not.


How about the rehearsal for a crucial and complex scene for which I could not possibly procure all the cast involved so I had to make a choice between two dates and as soon as I did and told everyone, two of the people who could make that date suddenly couldn’t? How about…

But no.

I have been reminded lately how remarkably precious life is, not least by the extraordinary blog entry of Jessica Ghawi (writing as Jessica Redfield), killed at the Dark Knight Rises shooting in Aurora. I urge you to read it; if it doesn’t make you acutely aware of the life in you right this moment and how fragile it is, then I can only assume that you are some kind of alien. Or that I am.

It is too easy to forget how lucky we are, simply being comparatively free and not lacking for warmth or nourishment. And those of us who have the opportunity to breathe life into a new creation - whether paid for it or not – are thrice blest. I must remember to be grateful.

Although… I do wonder how many filmmakers are pondering their vocation at the moment, and suddenly feeling doubts about it. Not because entertainment may deprave or corrupt or send signals to a sick mind, but simply because something like the Aurora shooting, and in particular the intensely personal angle on it provided by Jessica Ghawi's writing would surely make anyone wonder about what they’re doing with their life.

Martin Amis said that the writing of fiction seemed redundant – trivial - after 9-11. He recovered his perspective, but now, with this, with this indelible link between a film and an atrocity, the contrast between the absolute preciousness of life and the utter triviality of a blockbuster film could not be starker. In a world where such things can happen, what are we doing – what am I doing – to make them less likely?

Regret calamities, Emerson wrote, if thereby you can help the sufferer. If not, attend your own work and already the evil begins to be repaired. I can spend time asking unanswerable questions or I can get on.

Perhaps the best a film (or a book, or a play) can hope to achieve is to open the heart of one or more members of its audience (or, indeed, one or more of its makers). If, by presenting fictional people, a story can facilitate understanding of some aspect of real behaviour or make a previously misunderstood or unappreciated state of mind more real and more graspable to someone, then perhaps it is not quite a waste of time. If it can make other people more real to us, then in some ways it is not fiction at all, but something truer than reality. That would seem to be reason enough for it to exist.

I make no such grand claims for my own film. I merely hope it looks at life and human beings compassionately, without judgement. There are no villains in this film. There are only misunderstandings and fears. And I hope that every character in the story ends with greater understanding and little less fear. That seems a passage worth charting.

Sorry - this was not what I intended to write. Have a little production diary to wash away the seriousness. Some of Chris Andrew’s pictures of our party shoot:


  1. There are many, many ways of wasting our time on this planet, but I suspect that - however poor we may think them - our efforts at creating fictions are among the less wasteful.

  2. Thanks Tim. Just what I needed to read right now. I like Jim Henson's quote: My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.

  3. Such a thoughtful post, I try to be this grateful as often as possible.