Monday, 26 July 2010

From the Coalition, with Love

Fish Tank one of many British Films funded by the Film Council

Does anybody else get the distinct impression that Britain is slowly shutting down?  After ploughing through a fairly traumatic recession along with many other countries across the World, 2010 was beginning to look up for the Nation, until the election that is.  This isn't a jibe as to who our Government is and who I think it should be, as I don't believe in forcing my political opinions on anybody.  To be honest I'm not sure I'd even have an answer anyhow but I do feel that it is important to address the issues at hand, the latest being the announcement of the abolishment of the UK Film Council today.

For weeks now we have been privy to the cuts being made across the country, some of which I agree with, others not so much.  Realistically, we all know that I'm not about to star in some major motion picture nor am I trying to fund an independent film but as an actress this news has hit me hard.  I am not by any means suggesting that in comparison to cuts amongst police, health workers and school budgets that this is anymore news worthy but I do feel that saying goodbye to the 75 employees and the minimum of £15 million pounds they invest each year into the British Film Industry is more than just a little shortsighted. 

The UK Film Council, primarily is responsible for helping to fund training for those that want to break into the industry and promoting our films abroad as well as us as a film making location.  By doing so it is generating revenue into our economy, something that I think we can all agree, is beyond important right now.  We have a Nation of talented, enigmatic and mostly out of work industry professionals that cover everything from artiste to production and already we are not utilising them, so just imagine the effect of this latest news.

Is the industry over capacitated?  Yes.  Are there people that shouldn't be following their dreams because they don't have one ounce of talent?  Yes.  Are there people more talented than me?  Of course.  But how am I, my friends or the rest of the UK arts industry meant to get ahead when yet another road block is being placed in an already challenging career path?  Jobs are already sparse due to lack of tv dramas and over emphasis on what can only be described as an unhealthy obsession with watching wannabes or has beens being bored 24/7 or eating slugs.  They can be entertaining but should they be so entertaining that our tv is saturated with it and at the expense of creating something new and giving actors and crew a chance to work?  Therefore our recent interest in building our film industry is crucial to many.

This isn't a race against America and Hollywood but if it were we would be performing worse than we did in the World Cup.  We spend a great deal of time watching and anticipating the latest Hollywod blockbusters, which a lot of the time are cliched, unimaginative and regurgitate the same actors.  Recently we have been  builidng a platform for ourselves by saying to the World "we have something to offer to film! We are a force to be reckoned with!"  in order to boost the industry in this country and showcase the talent we can provide and it's paying off, literally.  Although I know this won't just stop, I am at a loss as to how it can continue and develop without a body of people focusing on doing just that.  The Government have explained that there will still be film funding but through other means.  It all sounds pretty vague to me and no doubt a sign that yet another strained employee will be forced to take on more tasks in less time with less funds, therefore highlighting my initial worry that the energy and focus just will not be there, eventually leading to less productions, less opportunites, less UK locations being sought after and of course less revenue for our economy.  This will have a knock on effect for the obvious and the not so obvious.  After all we can't forget the hundreds of people that a film set employs, from actor to caterer, therefore inevitably shutting down more than just an integral part of our arts industry but some of our small independant companies too.

Just wake me up when Britain's open for business again.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

To Whitehall Gardens and Beyond: Toy Story 3 Premiere London

Sunday turned out to be a glorious day, much to everyones relief that attended the Toy Story 3 Premiere in Leicester Square, followed up by the after party in Whitehall Gardens on the Victoria Embankment.  My life sounds pretty charmed of late, being on tv, attending preview screenings of Inception, open air concerts and now film premieres but I assure you the red carpet was not laid out for myself and there was no galivanting around the party, drink in hand, schmoozing with the stars.  Instead I was working.  This was the fourth Toy Story 3 private preview screening I had been asked to face paint at and the second I had actually attended.  The hype for this film in the UK has been massive and Sunday afternoon that anticipation and excitement had been bottled in the form of a Toy Story themed extravaganza.

As usual with these kinds of events, upon arrival, just an hour before the guests were due to appear, the gardens were full of white gazebo's dotted about the place and not much else.  Staff were busying away placing signs directing guests to "decorate your own cupcake", "funky hair" and of course us, whom were entitled "Mr Pricklepants Face Painting".  It always amazes me how little seems done and yet how much comes together within that last hour, with the final product being an absolute dream of entertainers, scrumptious food and imaginative ideas.  Sunday was no different.  As I meandered about the place, once again the team that usually handles these events had outdone themselves.  Free Toy Story toys, cake decorating, nails, funky hair, face painting, DJ, balloon modellers and an illusionist dressed as Woody are to name but a few of the delights sampled by the guests.

My mini Buzz Lightyear

My biggest grievance from the event was that us face painters were placed in such a position that the most heavenly gazebo was dangled in front of us further mocking that we were allowed into this private party by default rather than belonging.  Huge bowls filled with strawberries, stands upon stands of soft sponge cakes dusted in icing sugar filled the tent in our direct eyeline.  Not to mention the wait staff who always insist on offering us their goodies, the most gorgeous looking chicken and chips this time and I hadn't eaten lunch!  Luckily I eventually got to try all of them at the end of the gig.....ssshhh!

The event was a hit and definitely one of their best and yet my celeb spottings was reduced to the back of Kate Garraway from GMTV, whom I've met before at the Princess and the Frog Premiere, where I was photographed for the Daily Mail painting Amanda Holdens little girl (shamelessly name dropping I realise), terrible picture of me but great publicity.  I was hoping for something similar this time but no luck unfortunately.  Considering the films publicity and the effort that went into Sunday I'm utterly shocked that all they managed to grapple together was a morning presenter, an ex Atomic Kitten and a Junior Apprentice winner.  That makes Gino "Fantastico" DiCampo probably the most famous person there, whom I didn't see either, much to my mothers dismay.

Me and Lego Buzz

I work at these parties quite a lot and spend most of my time guessing what people do, who got the tickets, where they live, in between face painting of course.  There's a buzz that embraces me when working at them.  It's almost as if I've been allowed into some secret society but I haven't been given permission to properly pledge yet.  I then spend the rest of my time and the journey home flitting from feeling blessed with my life for working at such a gig and then dissatisfied with my life because I'm not attending.  Finally I sit back and end my quandries with "One day Louisa.  One day."

If anybody knows how that one day could come very soon, aka effectively give me tickets to premieres on a regular basis, one would be most grateful.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Dear Will Young

Dear Will,

Last time I was in your presence we were at a private performance of yours in Temple Gardens, London.  You were cool, friendly and aspirational.  The way you spoke, sung and dressed was utter perfection.  You were every girls dream best friend.  There was even a moment where you requested to have your face painted and I was the chosen one. It never came about but I didn't hold it against you.  Instead I sung your praises about how brave and fun you were to even suggest it.  The fact that you were dating Matthew Williamson just made me love you even more.  I suppose this is beginning to read much like a "Dear John" letter, I think we both know where this is going.  You've changed.  There I've said it.  The Will that stood before me Thursday night at Rochester Castle was not the Will I grew to love from the Pop Idol years.  For starters you came on stage wearing this:
I know Military WAS all the rage but must everybody jump on it's band wagon and continue it, when really it should never have been brought to our attention to this extreme in the first place.  I'm sure a little Military edge could be kind of cool and I'm sure I've sported a little in my time but this full on Cheryl Cole outfit is just unnecessary.  We love Chezza but even we know that the "Fight for our Love" gear was a bigger mistake than her forgiving Ashley Cole the first time, don't try and buy into her hype.   I thought maybe I could let this go, see past your initial exterior.  After all you are a show man and this is a show stopper....I mean piece, but then you came out wearing this:

Red braces, black bowler hat.  I suppose we could at least argue that you were colour coordinating.  However, one or the other would have sufficed.  Together just made you look like you were performing in a cheap am dram performance of some horrifically bad Musical.  I don't want to hurt you but I can't lie to you anymore either. 

The last was the worst though.  Fair enough I get it, black outfit with a UV like outline, so you could do some funky dance and just the outline of you be seen by the audience but the top hat was overkill.   For a while I pictured the material to be black felt sewn together by a local Brownie group and the more you danced the more the arms became unseemed, slowly slipping off onto the floor.  I even imagined badly fitting felt trousers that when you sat revealed your long white socks in a Grandpa way rather than a really funky MJ way. 

Maybe I didn't get it, I mean I did spend an awful long time during that last set queueing for the toilets.  I don't know.  I feel harsh.  I wanted to like the outfits so much.  I'm glad they weren't boring but did they have to be so.....cheesy.

I'm sorry it had to end this way but I want you to know I will always think of you fondly.  This isn't goodbye, it's just so long for now.


ps- Did Matthew teach you nothing?

Friday, 16 July 2010

Inception: The Review

Entering the Odeon West End resembled Airport Security somewhat, as we prepared for the crew screening of Inception last Wednesday 7th July. Clear plastic sandwich bags were distributed to package away all phones and any electrical devices, including Ipods. There were bag checks and metal detector devices galore! Never had I seen such strict security measures at a screening, especially one with industry professionals that actually worked on the set. Nor did I understand it, until the Writer and Director, Chris Nolan, made his speech announcing Inception as “the most anticipated movie of 2010.” Boasting much? I had been blissfully unaware, upon my invitation, that this movie was such a big deal. Throughout his speech the prestige began to grow, upon discovery that the World Premiere wasn’t even until the following evening. Of course I had been privy to the fact that it should be a good view due to my friend’s insider knowledge from her work on set last summer in both Paris and Morocco. The trailer had even enticed my Mother who detests attending the cinema but nothing quite prepared me for the 2 hours and 28 minutes that were to follow.

As an audience member you are thrown into the story head first and are left with little time to piece the information together or pause for thought, so whatever you do, don’t see this after a hard days work or as I did, with a migraine. This is no cheap thrill. The storyline follows a gang, headed up by Leonardo DiCaprio, steal information from people’s dreams with their next big “job” being to do the exact opposite and plant an idea instead. This proves, as you may be able to imagine far more difficult and much more intricate as they strive to plant the concept in its simplest form. As you follow the cast on their dream, within a dream, within a dream scenario and all the problems they encounter along the way, you begin to want this to work as much as they do. The intricacy lends itself to more than just a detailed story board though with the special effects being crucial to both the architecture of the dreamer’s dreams and to delivering a superb visual experience for us, as the spectator.

On face value Inception is a heist movie. The film stretches much further than this genre though, with complex emotional relationships and the underlying story of DiCaprio’s struggle with his sub conscious. On the red carpet last week co star Joseph Gordon-Levitt exclaimed he felt you could enjoy the movie as just a heist film, or you could enjoy it on all the levels it has to offer. I disagree. I think it would be impossible to differentiate the action from the desperation and internal troubles of DiCaprio’s character and his unfinished business with his wife, played by Marion Cotillard. By doing so it would be, just a heist film, with a slightly interesting twist but not worthy of the anticipation and praise it so rightly deserves.

The film boasts a strong cast including Michael Caine but it is only DiCaprio and Cotillard that are given the opportunity to push themselves dramatically, delivering their characters with sensitivity and depth. This could be considered as one of Nolan’s only downfalls as it seems to leave the rest of the cast, all superb actors in their own right, as 2D throw away characters. Other than this it is difficult to criticise Nolan’s work although Toby Young gave it a go recently stating the piece as “self indulgent”. Perhaps the green eyed monster is rearing its ugly head here, as through migraine and all I left the cinema buzzing and with the overwhelming need to see it all over again. Okay Chris, boast away.

Inception is released Today in the USA and UK.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

As Seen On Screen

Tuesday night in the US marked the last EVER episode of MTV's  The Hills.  According to reports it was filled with nostalgic cliches  about "moving on" and ended with a cheeky wink at the audience when the final shot revealed backdrops pulling away and a full on tv set.  So it was scripted after all?  All of it?  Some of it?  I guess we'll never really know.  It didn't stop there though.  The drama continued off screen at the wrap party when an uninvited Spencer Pratt rocked up to the Roosevelt Hotel disguised as an old man in order to gate crash.  He failed.

Continuing with the theme, I too have had some of my own The Hills excitement this week.  Mine and my best friend Leanne's Bodyform Sponsorship Idents began to air on the show in the UK.  Back in December 2009, a week before Christmas I was preparing for my departure from Elle when the perfect casting appeared.  The client required a few pairs of friends that were comfortable in front of the camera to talk about thier friendship as well as having a strong understanding of The Hills and its cast.  I phoned Leanne immediately and fairly frantically and next thing I knew we were at the casting the following day.  From the get go we knew we were going to get it.  Not arrogance, just adrenaline and pure want I think.  We were right.  Just three days later I took some last minute holiday from Elle and we were arriving at a home in Stockwell, in which we indulged in a particularly yummy lunch and pretty much got paid to hang out and chat. 

Several girls Idents have been running for some six months now and I have begun to become concerned of late that ours were never going to make it on air.  Lo and behold though, Sunday lunchtime I received a call from Lea informing me that ours were finally on.  Since discovering this though we have also learnt that not only are we running continuously on MTV but we have also been used the most, currently with a running total of 10 Idents altogether. 

The only distressing fact being, that for some time now, since seeing this picture of myself, I like to think of myself as a Lauren Conrad type.

I instead look like this.

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