Book: Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

When I was in Vancouver my friend and I were seeing a movie a day. Not on purpose just because her and I really like films. We came across this small theater in the middle of the city. There weren’t any big movie names playing just abstract posters with strange titles. We looked at them and picked one called, “Finding Flynn.”

Watching the movie surprised me that I had never heard of this film or the book it was based on. The story was compelling and truthful. The first few minutes of the movie I wasn’t sure where it was taking us but by the end of it, the characters became real people to me. It was the movie that answered questions I always wondered about, “What was it like to be homeless? how did they get there? where was their family?”

The movie was beautiful. At the end of it my friend and I sat there thinking about the characters we just encountered.  My friend Ada said she saw his book in her bookstore, she noticed it because of its odd title, “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.”
On our way home we stop by her store and I bought the book. They transformed the book perfectly to the screen but I wanted to hear more about the story.

It has been since high school since I read a book like this. In fact I wish high schools would add this to the list of books to read, next to The Catcher in the Rye.

There is so much to say, where to start. I wish we were all in a cafe talking about it. There are so remember able passages in this book. It wasn’t until mid way did I think to mark them so I can share them with you here.

The book itself is a memoir, written by Nick Flynn. His father Jonathan Flynn is a hard headed man who says he is the next American great writer, through out his whole life he claims he is writing a book but instead lives a selfish life, and ends up homeless. His son encounters his father randomly, mostly though letters his dad sends him but one day Jonathan Flynn ends up at the homeless shelter that Nick Flynn is working at in Boston.

“Men come through the door with lips and canes, with walkers, crutches, in wheelchairs, and crawling. Some are carried in, draped between two friends, feet dragging behind One has a glass tee he keeps losing. One has F you tattooed on the inside of his lower lips. A few have tears tattooed on their checks, which means they’ve killed someone. Some have scars from the corners of their mouths to their ears which means they squealed. Many fingers are gone, or half gone, to heavy machinery or knife fights….”
Nick Flynn would sum deep thoughts beautifully.

“… I see no end to being lost. You can spend your entire life simply falling in that direction. It isn’t a station you reach but just the general state of going down. Once you make it back, if you make it back, you will stand before your long-lost friends in some essential way they will no longer know you.”
“The shelter was meant to be a waystation, a halfway house, but halfway to where wasn’t specified. The cot and the roof and the plate of food were only meant to tide one over. It was never meant to be a life raft. Even a life raft is only supposed to get you from the sinking ship back to land, you were never intended to live in the life raft, to drift years on end, in sight of land but never close enough.”

“We all need to create the story that will make sense of our lives, to make sense of the daily tasks. Yet each nigh the doubts returned, howling through him. Without doubt there can be no faith.”

“I now find myself writing a book about an absent father who writes letters to a son about the novel he is writing. A novel the son doesn’t believe exists. The Great Unseen American Novel.”

“For the only book written about my father (the greatest writer America has yet produced), the only book ever written about or by him, as far as I can tell, is this book in your hands. The book somehow fell to me, the son, to write. My father’s uncredited, non compliant ghostwriter. Not enough to be stuck with his body, to be stuck with his name, but to become his secretary, his handmaid, caught up in a folly, a doomed project, to write about a book that doesn’t, that didn’t ever, that may not even, exist.”

You may wonder about the book cover or about the title, but the neat thing is by the end of the book you’ll get it. And you wont forget it.

This book has left a print on me.

Nick Flynn.org

Seven questions with an Independent Film Maker

Nick Khoo was born in New Zealand and raised in Australia. I met him when I was an editor in Sydney. Even though he was my mentor, Nick became one of my best friends.

Nick is a very talent motion graphic artist and video editor. His first film, The Shot Down recently premiered in a theater in Australia. He wrote, directed, edited, created animation bits and color graded the film.

Nick didn’t wait for permission to create a film. He took a life goal upon himself and worked hard.

He gathered his friends together, picked up a camera and told a story.

The Shoot Down – Trailer

Here are seven questions with Nick Khoo:

1. Why was creating this film important to you?
It was becoming apparently that no one was going to just give you an opportunity to make a feature film, so I decided to make one for myself. I had read Robert Rodriguez’s “Rebel without a crew” and it just energised me so much that I thought that the only thing holding me back from making a film was me. And being from a church background you are constantly being challenged about making your limited resources work to your advantage. So looking at everything at my disposal I thought, well now I really don’t have an excuse.

2. What did you learn about being a Director?
Being a director is hard work. You are constantly planning. I read a little blog about how George Lucas on making the first Star Wars would get up at 6am, drive to the site,shoot all day, come back by 8pm, plan for the next day and be in bed by 1am. Then the whole process started again. Even with such a small team like ours, I found this timetable to be extremely true. The other thing I learned is you need to be a good people person otherwise I don’t think you can get the best performances out of your actors. And being from a post production background I definitely found it advantageous to know what things I could fix in post and what things we had to shoot again.

3. What did you learn being the film’s Editor?
Editing a film of this size requires you to see more of the bigger picture and not get bogged down in the smaller details. But I had worked on 30 minute documentaries before so I was very used to working on pacing for something at least that long. One of the things I learned while editing at church is make sure the you keep the pace. And with anything that is long form, you are constantly making sure that parts of the movie don’t lag or bring the whole story to a complete halt.

4. What type of difficulties did you come across and how did you over come them?
It was insane the amount of things that went wrong during the shoot. Even on the day before the premiere we had so many things go wrong that were out of my control! We had shot the movie during the middle of winter so everyone on the team, minus Sam, got the flu at some stage. We were all very medicated 🙂 We also had a harddrive crash which cost us a mint to get fixed, dealing with short days in Winter, dealing with long days in Summer, organising locations to shoot, feeding our crew, picking up gear, dropping off gear, shooting at a beach at night in the middle of winter.
All in all though, the best thing we had at our disposal was a good crew, and a good plan of action. Without those things, I reckon you’d be stuffed.

5. How did you finances the film?
Finances were generously donated by my folks, Sarah Vickery, Kurt Jaeger and self funded by myself (trust me, it was very cheap film)

6. What type of gear did you use?
We shot everything on a Panasonic HVX202 with a P+S Adapter and Carl Zeiss Lenses. We also had an audio mixer with a Sennheiser boom mic, a set of red heads, dimmer box, a wally dolly and tripod and a few reflectors.

7. What was it like watching your film in a theater?
Watching the film with people in a theatre was quite a rush I must say. It is always nice to watch your work up on a big screen in a dark theatre and hearing people respond to various parts of the film. All in all I am very happy with how people are responding to this film.

The Shoot Down is fun, honest and entertaining. Not sure if Nick is going to release it to the public, but when he does I’ll make sure to let you know.

Connect with Nick:

Website

Twitter

Vimeo

Youtube

Movie Scene: I am a Kid

I gave my self a week to film, edit and post a completed movie scene.  Tomorrow I’ll write about the making of, what I learned, and what this scene means.

One thing I will share with you: I have chosen my audience and who I want to delight. I enjoy movies that are honest and full of subtext themes.

Share your thoughts, comments and feel free to critique me. I am doing this to learn 🙂

watch on youtube

Project Movie Scene

I notice my photography gets better every time I do a shoot. Its mainly because I keep on shooting, even when no one hires me out, I still pick up my camera and shot. Why? Because I love it.

What I really love is to edit. I want to edit films one day and even make them. How and when? Who knows. To be honest, I want to make movies now.  I want to learn the art of storytelling, editing, directing and everything that goes in to capturing a scene. The best way to learn this is to do it. I am apart of a very lucky generation. I own a great camera, editing software and have a massive audiences called the internet. The only thing stopping me from making a movie is me.

I came up with the idea to film a scene that would be in a movie every month, more often if possible. I will gather a few actors, give them the storyline and have them act it out. By doing this I will learn how to communicate, how to shoot, and edit a scene. Here I will make mistakes and learn from them.

I filmed the first of Project Movie Scene this evening. I can’t tell you how much fun I had doing it. It seemed to re-fuel my passion for filming.

Its called, “I am a Kid.”