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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The world is a cruel place for artists! LOL!

Okay, I've disappeared off the past week to do some writing.

I managed to finish a film treatment, which I'm absolutely excited about. Am now working on the screenplay, not an easy task, but am trying my best. Creativity is a precious little thing to hold on to.

Aside from that, I've also been looking through student films of aspiring filmmakers, and did translation jobs for a friend's film treatment. I was a little bemused to note their similarities in themes. They are about misunderstood artists forced to face the cruel capitalistic world, which exist in the form of friends who constantly make fun of the protagonists' dreams and passion.

The logic is sound. Write what you know, make it personal by drawing from personal experiences just so the end result can be emotionally honest. And of course, for most aspiring filmmakers and writers, feeling alone in their artistic pursuit is an everyday occurrence. It's this constant fight against conventional thinking, this angry desire to 'change' things, to do things that 'last forever', to be different and unique, these usually define the personality of an artist.

If you're not familiar with me by now, I shall make a courageous confession. I'm a very bitter person who clings on to perceived slights (some might even be imaginary). Being so neurotic and paranoid, and being rather sensitive, I often feel angry at things. And since I'm cursed with a rather good memory, I cling on to stuff that occurred during the last days of primary school, to acting disasters in secondary school, an unrequited love in early university days, (I even voiced out, in a Chinese newspaper interview last year, my personal displeasure of seeing old classmates entirely forgetting about the DVDs of my films that I made for them!)

I felt like the guy below.

Noah's Preaching Scorned by Harry Anderson

Hey man, if I'm content with life, I wouldn't even be doing what I'm doing now, right?

As my idol Tarkovsky had once said:

"“An artist never works under ideal conditions. If they existed, his work wouldn`t exist, for the artist doesn`t live in a vacuum. Some sort of pressure must exist. The artist exists because the world is not perfect. Art would be useless if the world were perfect, as man wouldn`t look for harmony but would simply live in it. Art is born out of an ill-designed world."

The journey to be a filmmaker is never smooth. I remember the countless snickering, the sneers, the thinly-veiled dismissals.

The experience was really like this!

Noah's Preaching Scorned by Harry Anderson

I then turn my anger into motivation for success. That I have to work extra hard to 'prove them wrong!' So that's one of the driving forces behind me doing what I'm doing (aside from passion, of course, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing if I don't enjoy it, jeez)

Of course, occasionally I would pause and think again, whether my poor artistic suffering is actually just a cliche, utterly unoriginal at its core. That the snickering, sneers and dismissals mentioned two paragraphs ago were actually from my own overimaginative mind, compounded by my own neurosis and paranoia...

Then I shrug, and I go: "Ah well, at least I'm motivated. I need the STREET HUNGER!"

So, I'm sure every single aspiring filmmaker, screenwriter and the like have gone through what I've gone through. They are wounded by ridicule, angry with the materialistic society, by friends and relatives whose 'rigid, capitalistic, money-chasing lifestye' are a painful juxtaposition to their own dreams.

Therefore I'm not entirely surprised, to see so many of them, when working on their screenplays, where they try to express their inner souls, create accurate reflections of their psyche. There are always depictions of disapproving parents and asshole friends who make fun of their dreams and passions. The depiction of these jesting friends are so villainous that I wonder why the protagonist is still hanging out with them, unless he's indeed a masochist who feels that being ridiculed by jeering friends is a priority to fulfill his cliched role as a 'suffering artist'.

Based on the stuff I've read and watched in the past week from fellow creators, I almost wonder whether Malaysia is a nation filled with art-hating cretins whose sole reason for existence is to maliciously make fun of artists.

Four years ago, after coming back from Perth. I tried writing my script for my debut short film. After doing so, I showed it to Ming Jin. At that time, Ming Jin was a film lecturer in MMU (Multimedia University).

He shook his head after reading the script and put it aside. "It's another tale of an underdog misunderstood artist. My students do those a lot."

"But it's different!" I declared. "It ended lyrically and poetically! And look at this scene, there are awesomely funny shots of people making fun of the poor musician protagonist through MSN! And digital text will appear on the screen, like ALL ABOUT LILY-CHOU CHOU."

... thankfully, I never made that film... it was close (actually, read that link, I even posted the entire bloody treatment. It made me feel suicidal). There was a scene like this, which I will copy and paste again to be openly ridiculed by you folks:

Photos of his six 'display friends' come alive suddenly (in his Friendster page) and speak. (sample badly-written dialogue below)

Jin's friend 1
Hah! Songwriting? Still trying to become the next Jay Chou? Get a stable job, man.

Jin's friend 2
(business-like, bespectacled)
Exactly! Look at me! I’m working at an accounting firm! Stable income! Recognized by all!

Jin's friend 3
(geeky, also bespectacled)
Hey! Remember Alan from our university? The guy got married! Oh, and I just bought a house at Bukit Kiara, you should come over and chit chat someday!

Jin's friend 4
Why am I still here? Delete me! I've told you that I'm not into you! I already have a new boyfriend!

I'm the new boyfriend. Sorry I didn't tell you earlier man. You were just SOOO into her.

It's painful to see or read about people ridiculing poor filmmakers (artists) in outrageously bad dialogue. It can be even more painful to see poor filmmakers make films about people ridiculing poor filmmakers in even more outrageously bad dialogue, where these capitalistic meanies are portrayed as stereotypes or caricatures!


Noah's Preaching Scorned by Harry Anderson

But I'm shocked to see that I almost made the same mistake too.