Daily Bread

BDDA2F02-E437-47F0-860E-749FF0D33D82.jpgI love making bread. I’m a sucker for the fug of a fresh-baked loaf, especially when I’m together enough to get the breadmaker going overnight, to be woken by the warm, yeasy scent drifting up the stairs. Regardless of what the day has in store, that has to be a good start. Experimentation has led me to create my own loaf, a white/wholemeal mix that, while not especially innovative, is entirely delicious and exceedingly versatile.

There are those, of course, who claim that I’m not really making bread at all. By using a breadmaker I’m simply replicating at home scale the worst excesses of commercial bread production. If I truly cared about the holy loaf, I’d be getting my hands mucky in a bowl.

And I do, on occasion. And it is incredibly rewarding. I get a real sense of pride from sliding a cracly-warm dome of deliciousness out of the oven, just holding off from tearing into it with my bare hands until it’s cooled enough to eat safely. I haven’t bought bread from a bakers or supermarket in years, and I’m thinking locally in terms of ingredients as well. My favourite flour is ground at the watermill at Mapledurham, five miles down the road, which is the last working waterdriven corn and grist mill on the planet.

And I’m trying to branch out a little too, as summer creeps closer and I feel the urge for flatbreads and pizzas outside. One of my dreams for the refurbished back end of the garden is a wee wood-fired oven I can use to indulge my artesian fantasies. Pizza All Hallows will be a wonderful thing. I can already taste it.

A fascinating article in The Atlantic has just popped up online, regarding the intellectual property of recipes, and what happens after bakers break up. It’s got some interesting things to say about the often complicated machinations and relationships that go on behind the creation of something as simple as the daily loaf.

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I promise success will not change me…

A sunny Friday afternoon in Cambridge. Thinking Girl’s Crumpet Clive and I are in town for the Super 8 festival, where for reasons that remain pleasingly unclear, Code Grey is in competition.

Always up for a party if nothing else, we’ve met up with Doco Domsy and set ourselves up with booze and grub. It’s the perfect afternoon for slightly beery chat about films and film-making, and the three of us indulge fully. At the back of my mind, the thought that there is a Q&A at the end of our screening that I maybe should not be head-dribblingly drunk for raises a tentative hand before getting shouted down. I’m far more eloquent after three pints or so. I’m a goddamn raconteur after five.

We wander through Cambridge, Dom taking photos for an imaginary press kit. I feel a little bit like a rock star, and a lot like a drunken twat. I can’t really give the camera love, but I do a mean growl. Which’ll do, apparently.

One last beer by the Cam, and I start to get the giggles. And I don’t feel drunk at all. Just nervous. But ready. This isn’t like a Straight 8 screening. I know exactly what’s being presented. There’s no fall back now. This is a film that’s had some hard work and a lot of heart and soul poured into it. It’s grown up now, and it’s ready to strut like a player.

I poke my head into the screening room a half-hour beforehand to announce my presence (resisting the urge to bellow “L’auteur est arrive” – alright, it was six pints by now) to be greeted by Simon, one of the organisers, who was so pleased to see me that he did a little dance. More people should do that. I might have to insist on it.

The room fills, and we settle in for the programme. Fifteen films, a strong European presence, and a fearsome sense of the quirky and surreal. Code Grey feels positively mainstream amongst the art pieces, documentaries and animation on display. We’re just a dumb little shuck and jive show with a neat little idea at it’s heart. We’re on last, and don’t quite get the reaction I was hoping for. Chuckles rather than belly laughs. That’s the problem if you make a comedy. There’s no such thing as an appreciative silence.

After the films, the Q&As. It’s a room full of directors, and they’re all erudite, amusing and interesting. I, on the other hand, have had six pints and am a twitchy mess. I gabble through my questions, pointing out Clive and trying to namecheck everyone, trying to crack a few funnies, and doing the one thing I really didn’t want to which was to out myself as a colourist. I don’t like to talk about the day job when I’m being a film-maker. Especially as I knew at least one person afterwards would make the joke about a colourist making a black and white film.

This did indeed happen, and the smile I gave was indeed as thin as you’re imagining.

Two minutes or an hour and a half later, depending on where you were standing, I sat back down. I was shaking faintly. But I was assured by Clive and Dom that I had indeed been charming, witty and erudite, and that people had laughed at my jokes. However, in a headrush of unprovoked egotism I’d given myself full credit for the idea behind Code Grey, which was all Clive’s.

I took shit for that for the rest of the night, and deservedly so.

Unfortunately, there seemed little opportunity to meet with the other directors after the screening, as the other bar at the University Student Union was hosting a members-only darts night, and seemed unwilling to let us stick around. Shame, as I’d genuinely wanted to congratulate the guys that made it down to Cambridge on a job well done. I’ll try and dig out some links to my faves over the next few days.

After the screening, there was little to do but eat and drink more, and chat about films and film-making until the early hours, which we did at the very excellent Cambridge Chop House, and our digs for the night, The Portland Arms. These places are both most worthy of your patronage.

We left Cambridge the following morning, Clive to his acting classes, me to the Reading Beer Festival, which was another afternoon of beer, food, and yakking. Really, I’m going to need a diet and a vow of silence after this weekend. Twitter has documented my feelings on that one, so check the status bar off to the right.

Turns out if we’d stuck around for the final night, we would have been around to receive our award for best UK film. I had the email with that nugget of good news while starting this post. It’s a result far above and beyond what I could have expected, and proof that there is life after Straight 8. I’m sending massive hugs out to everyone involved in the making of Code Grey, and urge you if you’ve not watched the film yet to check it out.

It’s officially worth your while.

Network Updataria

It’s been a busy few weeks, so I thought I’d let yawl know how things are standing for me and my network of fellow travellers as we move into film-making season. 

This Friday sees me and thinking girl’s eye candy Clive Ashenden in Cambridge for the third Super 8 film festival. Code Grey is the final film of the Friday night competition screening. If anyone’s around, and fancies saying hello, we’d love to see you. Hopefully we’re doing a Q&A afterwards, which should be fun in a nerve-wracking kind of a way. 

Before that, I have a drive to return to Simon Aitken with the finished version of The Making of Blood + Roses on it. This has been a solid learning experience for me, and well worth the struggle. It’s pushed me a bit creatively, which is always good. That ol’ spiritual kick in the pants that’s conducive to opening up the mental sinuses.

If you’re going to mix your metaphors, you may as well do it thoroughly.  

This is another step towards the completion of Simon’s feature, which is now starting to pick up heat following good reports on MJ Simpson’s blog and Zone Horror. I’m seeing him tomorrow, where I can hopefully pick up some pre-Cannes goss. 

Also going to Cannes this year, Michael Booth and Paul ‘Cop’ Coppack of Pleased Sheep Films, who’ll be toting round a rough cut of their second feature Bar Stewards. Their first film Diary Of A Bad Lad is doing really well at the mo, and will be out on DVD soon. Well worth a look if you like a bit of pitch-black mockumentary action. Bar Stewards looks like it’s gonna be a good ‘un too – although a bit less dark in tone. 

Congrats and a Short Film Corner appearance also go to the makers of  Sertoli Sertoli Sertoli, featuring the talents of Lewis Shelborne and Kiki Kendrick – most of our crew on this year’s Straight 8, Time Out.

Speaking of the 8,  we’re in that quiet period before we find out who’s made the grade, who’s got screenings, and which of us will be among the lucky 12 that get shown in a tent at Cannes. Nick Scott, Fiona Brownlie, me and DocoDomsy and hundreds of others are quietly gnawing thier fingernails down to the elbow and wondering.  

Next week, I shall be writing again, and not thinking about Straight 8. That way, madness lies.

Ranting lemonade label from embittered screenwriter

Ranting lemonade label from embittered screenwriter:

I feel this guy’s pain. Spotted by a Boing Boing reader, who picked up a couple of bottles of lemonade from a stand in Malibu, only to find this on the label…

THANK YOU FOR INVESTING IN MY MOVIE!

My name is Matthew and I am one of the best screenwriters in Hollywood. Unfortunately, the television networks and movie studios don’t know that yet. As it stands, the decision of which films get produced are left in the hands of emotionally-immature, substance-abusing ex-lawyers who live in dread paranoia that everyone in the universe is out to get them. They spend the bulk of their time spying on their fellow executives, composing nasty counter-intelligence rumors and spreading them through their network of FA-BU-LOUS, yet cunning assistants.

Much of the actual work, like ‘reading’ is left to a gaggle of twenty-something interns who are all the product of George W. Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ policy. To these bimbos, nothing in the world existed before 1995, and the most reading they’ve done has been through text messages. They believe that good writing is something that fits into 160 characters, all performed with the thumbs. :)LOL!

Needless to say, I’m making my own damn movie and you just helped! All of the profits from this amazingly refreshing drink are going into my independent film. Why? Because I believe in the spirit of America – CONSUME AND DESTROY! POOR=BAD/RICH=GOOD! WAR IS PEACE! YOU-ESS-AY! YOU-ESS-AY! YEE-HAW!

Any-hoo, if you work in ‘THE INDUSTRY’ as a common below-the-line slob and would like to work on my film for less than you’re worth for no other reason but to satisfy my giant ego, send your resume to: malibu.monkey@verizon.net.

If you’re a producer with a distribution deal, somewhat sober, and capable of actually reading a screenplay by yourself, shoot an email to me as well. I’ll be happy to send a script to you along with your stupid submission release agreement boilerplate wank-rag.

If you are an actor, congratulations on making it this far. It’s a lot of words. Who’s a good boy? You! And you are very special. Plus, you serve specials at the restaurant. Special food served by special people to special people. Okay, I admit it. I’m just jealous because you are better looking than me and get all the hotties. Girls who go for me are all smart ‘n’ junk. Plus, they sag. And you’re in SAG. Isn’t that special?!

Agents, entertainment lawyers, managers and all other Pimps of The Antichrist can do us all a favor by simply killing yourselves. If you can, try to attempt a single moment of original, creative thought by finding an entertaining way to do it. Like performing seppuku with a champagne flute during the lunch rush at The Ivy. Or hang yourself from one of ‘O’s’ in the Hollywood sign with a noose made from your Kabbalah strings and rubber cancer-awareness bracelets. Either way, die bloodsucker! Die!

Cheers!

THANK YOU FOR INVESTING IN MY MOVIE!

(Via Boing Boing.)