Sunday, November 11, 2018

A Single Man

I am procrastinating a bit...but that's ok. I actually got a lot done today. However now is the time when for several months my head should be thinking about the characters I am working on.  When you write, whatever you're writing should be the first and last thing you think about each day. That process is now beginning for me again.

Backtrack a few weeks, when I was working on another script, I decided to read Tom Ford's scripts and watch his films. I just LOVE that a fashion designer is such a talented filmmaker. Granted, his films are adapted from books, but still. He emerged "fully-formed" as a filmmaker, as they say.

Screenshots from the A Single Man script below, written by Tom Ford and David Scearce, based on the novel by Christoper Isherwood, 2009. There's something about these pages, this script, and this film. (35mm anamorphic - wahey!) I did also read the book, but actually didn't enjoy it as much.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

On gambling

Last night I watched an Indian film with my parents called Simran. It's basically about a woman who becomes addicted to gambling - and must pay the price for it (there's actually a lot of humour).

In more truthful moments of when people ask me about what I do, I tell them that filmmaking is a constant hustle. That it is a gamble. That everything I am doing and am hoping to do, as a writer-director, is a gamble. I have no idea if any of my films will gain an audience. All of the work, all of the hours, indeed all of the years - it's been so many years now, many of which were spent in the urban wilderness - all of it can amount to absolutely nothing. I always say, to myself and to others, that I just hope it - "it" being the amount of work, suffering, and sacrifices - is all worth it someday.

That indeed, does sound like a gamble. Essentially, I've been gambling since I was 16, since I decided to be a filmmaker rather than a DJ. Filmmaking, or to be more honest, the attempt to be a filmmaker, can be highly addicting, just like gambling. I've been gambling with my life for half of my life now, and everyday I have to tell myself to keep going, to keep trying, that hopefully one day it will all be worth day. Right?

A relative in India passed away a few hours ago. Yet another sibling of a parent of mine. She had a very pretty and unique name. Sadly the last time I saw her was unsurprisingly 10 years ago, as that is what happens when your family is a diaspora, when everyone lives in different countries, in different states: #migrantlife. It's sad, and frustrating, the distances, both literal and metaphorical, between us all.

If I were to have somehow seen her more recently, and even if she weren't afflicted by Alzheimer's, were she to ask me what I do with my life, what I have done, I wouldn't know what to tell her. Filmmaking? Gambling. Gambling as filmmaking-the-attempt-at-filmmaking. That's what the honest answer would have been.

It's hard to get a film made yet I've longed believed that it's even harder to get a film seen. I want my work to be SEEN. Were my work to be SEEN, that would make me feel that all of the sacrifices have been worth it. That it's been worth it for me to have disrupted for myself this generational structure that spans back thousands of years that consists of being married with kids; that I have something to show for this sheer disruption and lack of familiar and familial structure in the timeline of my own personal life.

I specifically chose to not follow the path of everyone else who shares any part of my blood; I gambled. I realize now that if I had really wanted to, yeah I could've been married for years by now and had a kid or two, just like everyone else. But long ago, I decided to toss that structure aside. Because I'd rather be a writer-director instead (first).

Oh I so hope that it will all have been worth it. Thus I will keep working, as I am addicted, I'm addicted to this gambling, to the most difficult medium that exists.

Monday, August 27, 2018


Excerpts from Hunger by Roxane Gay

Page 17
            "It would be easy to pretend I am just fine with my body as it is. I wish I did not see my body as something I should apologize or provide explanation. I'm a feminist and I believe in doing away with the rigid beauty standards that force women to conform to unrealistic ideals. I believe we should have broader definitions of beauty that include diverse body types. I believe it is so important for women to feel comfortable in their bodies, without wanting to change every single thing about their bodies to find that comfort. I (want to) believe my worth as a human being does not reside in my size or appearance. I know, having grown up in a culture that is generally toxic to women and constantly trying to discipline women's bodies, that it is important to resist unreasonable standards for how my body or any body should look."

Page 29
            "My mom still takes pictures of everything and has more than twenty thousand pictures on her Flickr stream, pictures of her life and our lives and the people and places in our lives. At my doctoral defense, there she was, staring at me so proudly, every few minutes picking up her camera to snap a new picture, to capture every possible second of my moment. At a reading for my novel in New York City, there she was again with her camera, taking pictures, documenting another memorable moment." 

Pages 228-229
            "I never seem to hold on to the most important elements of my mother’s recipes, so when I am in my own home trying to cook certain Haitian dishes, I call home and she patiently walks me through the recipe. The sauce, a simple but elusive dish, stymies me. My mother reminds me to put on my cooking gloves. I pretend that such a thing would ever find a place in my kitchen. She tells me to slice onions and red peppers, setting the vegetables aside after a stern reminder to wash everything. My kitchen fills with the warmth of home. The sauce always turns out well enough but not great. I cannot place what, precisely, is off, and my suspicion that my mother has withheld some vital piece of information grows. As I eat the foods of my childhood prepared by my own hand, I am filled with longing and a quiet anger that has risen from my family’s hard love and good intentions.
            There is one Haitian dish I have mastered—our macaroni and cheese, which is filling but not as heavy as the American version. When I attend a potluck, an activity I dread because I am extraordinarily picky and suspicious of communal foods, I bring this dish. People are always impressed. They feel more cosmopolitan, I think. They expect there to be a rich narrative behind the dish because we have cultural expectations about “ethnic food.” I don’t know how to explain that for me the dish is simply food that I love, but one I cannot connect to in the way they assume. Instead of being a statement on my family’s culture, this dish, and most other Haitian foods, are tied up in my love for my family and a quiet, unshakable anger."

Page 245
            "I often tell my students that fiction is about desire in one way or another. The older I get, the more I understand that life is generally about the pursuit of desires. We want and want and oh how we want. We hunger". 

Page 247
            "Or I am thinking about testimony I've heard from other women over the years - women sharing their truths, daring to use their voices to say, "This is what happened to me. This is how I have been wronged." I've been thinking about how so much testimony is demanded of women, and still, there are those who doubt our stories.
            There are those who think we are all lucky girls because we are still, they narrowly assume, alive.
            I am weary of all our sad stories - not hearing them, but that we have these stories to tell, that there are so many."  

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Ross From Friends

Ross From Friends is the funniest artist name I've heard in a long time. It's pretty genius, actually.

Here's a short bio from him:
"When a 90's sitcom character undertakes a new role as an electronic music producer".

I discovered him via listening to - what else? - KCRW, a few choice nights ago. This is the track I heard on the radio that immediately peaked my interest:

"Don't Wake Dad" is very unique. And good.

I found this excellent Fader mix that he put out a couple of weeks ago. It's been ages since I found a mix that is as superb. Mixes as grand and good as this one come few and far in between. Thank you Ross From Friends! I have a long flight in front of me and I will thoroughly enjoy re-listening to this, again and again.

IT IS SO DAMN GOOD. I'm not even done with my first listen yet, and here I am posting about it. Brava, Ross From Friends, nice one. Also he's from...LONDON!

 Here's the full interview with Fader.  

- cross-posted on The Ashraf Obsession

Monday, June 18, 2018

On children

The children in that audio recording who were separated from their parents at the border - sound just like the children in my family.

The cries of "Papa" especially sounded just so, so familiar, while the little girl reciting her aunt's phone number sounded just like my resourceful and brainy niece.

Perhaps at some point, a little boy or little girl, no matter where they're from, can sound exactly the same when they are crying out for their mother or father.

I was just with some of the kiddies in my own family. My brother and I took his kids to a local fun fair a couple of days ago. My nephew was always trailing behind us as he slurped on his snowcone and held onto his plush toy. But for a few brief moments, he got mixed up in a random group, and he looked around for us. I saw the immediate - immediate - looks of utter panic and fright and terror and horror on his face when he thought he had lost us, when he thought we were no longer there. He didn't see his father, his older sister, or me, his aunt - the family members of his that were with him at this event.

I kept calling out his name and waving to him, as I was just a few yards away. My heart completely sank and broke as soon as I saw his reaction to him thinking that we were gone. This was thankfully, extremely brief, perhaps five or six seconds, before he spotted me and ran straight to me, the closest family member. But his reaction in those few seconds made me think right away, of how terrified children understandably become when they believe that they are completely alone; when they do not recognize anyone around them.

I heard that audio recording, and my heart sank and broke again. I pictured those children in my head. What an absolutely disgusting and revolting country we live in.

Once again, if I ever come across anyone who claims that America is better than any other country in any way, well here's yet more proof to the contrary.