Quote: Derek Cianfrance on shooting on film

When you shoot on film, there’s an urgency that starts happening. On 35 mm 2 perf, you have about nine minutes and twenty seconds and then the mag [film magazine] runs out. And the actors pretty quickly start to recognize that time. The actors are like athletes.It’s like a quarter of football. They have nine minutes and twenty seconds to get some points on the board to make things happen. They can feel it. Versus on digital – you can shoot forever.

Derek Cianfrance – Director/ writer of Blue Valentine & The Place Beyond The Pines

Favourite Movie Dialogue – The Social Network

Gage: Mr. Zuckerberg, do I have your full attention?
Mark Zuckerberg: [stares out the window] No.
Gage: Do you think I deserve it?
Zuckerberg: [looks at Gage] What?
Gage: Do you think I deserve your full attention?
Zuckerberg: I had to swear an oath before we began this deposition, and I don’t want to perjure myself, so I have a legal obligation to say no.
Gage: Okay – no. You don’t think I deserve your attention.
Zuckerberg: I think if your clients want to sit on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have the right to give it a try – but there’s no requirement that I enjoy sitting here listening to people lie. You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing.
[pauses]
Zuckerberg: Did I adequately answer your condescending question?

From: The Social Network (2010), by Aaron Sorkin

Favourite Movie Dialogue – Fight Club

Scene 1:

Tyler: One minute. This is the beginning. We’re at ground zero. Maybe you should say a few words, to mark the occasion.
Jack: … i… ann….iinn.. ff….nnyin…
Jack (V.O.): With a gun barrel between your teeth, you only speak in vowels.
(Jack tongues the barrel to the side of his mouth.)
Jack: (still distorted) I can’t think of anything.

Several Scenes Later:

Tyler: One minute.
Jack (V.O.): I think this is about where we came in.
Tyler: This is the beginning. We’re at ground zero. Maybe you should say a few words, to mark the occasion.
Jack: … i… ann….iinn.. ff….nnyin…
Jack (V.O.): With a gun barrel between your teeth, you only speak in vowels.
(Jack tongues the barrel to the side of his mouth.)
Jack: (still distorted) I still can’t think of anything.
Tyler: Ah, flashback humour.

From Fight Club (1999), by Chuck Palahniuk and Jim Uhls

Links: Chuck Wendig on Sexism and Misogyny in Writing & Publishing

25 Things To Know About Sexism & Misogyny in Writing & Publishing

This, its initial triggers and fallout caused quite a stir in writing circles. Sometimes even for the right reasons, as Chuck speaks with truth and passion.

It was therefore followed up by:

Challenging Responses to Sexism & Misogyny

Wherein Chuck responds to his detractors. On the accusation that having solid female characters “doesn’t serve the story”, he responds:

I hate this excuse. I hate it like I hate the DMV, hemorrhoids, airline travel delays, and bad coffee. I hate it because it suggests that writers are not in control of their own stories, that they are merely conduits for some kind of divine unicorn breath, some heady Musefart that they can’t help but gassily breathe onto the page. I AM VESSEL. STORY IS LOA.

I hate it because it absolves you of ever having to change anything — whether that means changing a character’s race or sex or even just making edits to improve a story.

I hate it because it allows you to rely on lazy crutches, institutional biases, stereotypical culture patterns, and a whole lot of horrible shit-ass storytelling.

I hate it because it excuses you from making effort or taking responsibility.

Amen, Chuck.

See also: The Sexy Lamp Test.

The Anxiety of Steampunk

“Steampunk is the anxiety of empire.”

William Gibson, quoting China Mieville

steampunk legoI can’t lie, when I heard about the future existence of Steampunk Lego, my initial reaction was one of unfettered glee. I come from a background of the cyberpunk of Sterling and Gibson, the genre of the disaffected of the near future, a techno-dystopic, hard science fiction that spoke of society and the differences between the technological haves and have-nots. This then directly led to the creation of steampunk in their joint novel The Difference Engine. I loved the ‘what-if’ premise of a society that receives their technological Great Leap Forward early, and hypothesises what that looks like and what repercussions it has. I loved the aesthetics, the brass and the gears and the great engines of industry.

But over time I fell out of love with the genre, for reasons I couldn’t pin down. I began to look askance at the emerging of steampunk fashion while also enjoying the visual aesthetic and the craft involved in it. And yet I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong – at least not until I observed Jess Nevins and Warren Ellis partake in a hashtag game on Twitter, in which this contribution caused some controversy:


Seemingly innocuous, but it started me thinking; started making me realise what the issue was. There was no more ‘punk’ in steampunk. Hell, these days there was barely even any steam, but that’s an irrelevance. It had become affectation, it had become an aesthetic; it had become about middle-class white men, espousing a rose-tinted memory of Victorian ethics, who happened to be wearing top hats and welding goggles. In short, steampunk had stopped punching up and started punching down. We had allowed the genre of technological underclasses and the repressed to become, again in Jess Nevin’s words, “masturbatory techno-fetishism & glorification of imperialism“.

It set me to writing with a rage in my belly, a desire to tell a different story, a steampunk as I thought it should be, a steampunk that asked questions of the premise of the genre: Who was making all these wonderous devices, if not the poor of the workhouses? Where were the women? How was the steam-based technological boom affecting the have-nots? Where in this society were the immigrant communities that thronged the Brick Lane of Victorian London and what role did they play? Exactly how well did a steam automaton function when it was caked with the stinking night soil of an East London alley?

This project was to be called Broken Gears, a steampunk comic, a gaslit dystopia. Sadly it hasn’t yet come to pass; comics is a collaborative medium and can sometimes suffer delays because of that. But I haven’t given up on the project and I still hope it will find new life in whatever guise.

And until then, I’ll still have the dilemma, the anxiety of steampunk; I will cheer Charles Stross’s article on the matter, but also browse steampunk pocket watches on Etsy. I will start planning where to put my inevitable new Steampunk Lego, while also raging about the fact that its ‘protagonist’ is yet again a middle-class gent in a top hat. Presumably his goggles are an optional extra, available for sale separately. I will continue to admire the craft and skill that has gone into the attire of the Steampunk Aesthetes, and continually dream of what more could be done with the genre. If only it was just a little more about punk and a little less about affectation.