First, a story. A guy who works with my sister is going on a stag weekend soon (that's a bachelor party for you Yanks..). The best man recently collected 80 euro from him and the other guys going on the weekend away.
This is to cover the entertainment, or at least some of it. For that money (a grand in total - 80 quid x 12 guys), a dwarf from Glasgow will fly to Dublin, cover himself in blue paint, dress as a Smurf and make a sudden appearance during the first night of the trip. He sneaks up beside the groom and handcuffs himself to him. That's it. For the rest of the weekend, the groom has to do everything with a dwarf handcuffed to his wrist.
After laughing a lot (Yes, I'm immature), I had three questions. First of all, are dwarves really that hard up for work? I'd want at least five grand to endure that amount of hassle!
Second, can you imagine any group of women agreeing to pay 80 quid a head just to see their mate handcuffed to a dwarf (actually...)??
And thirdly, seeing as I laughed for five minutes straight after she told me this, why wasn't it the plot for Hangover 2? They didn't need to go to Bangkok - just handcuff the groom to a dwarf and the rest would've followed!
On a much more depressing note, I went to the Writers Guild AGM on Saturday in the Morgan Hotel. Two and a half hours later, everyone emerged feeling very blue and immediately went to the bar for drinks. Why?
The Guild's broke. It may even end altogether if the new Film Board head decides to cut their only remaining funding this year. There are only 300 scriptwriters in Ireland earning over 5k a year from writing. One of the only shows in town hiring writers are Fair City - and they're apparently horrible to work for.
Talking of the new Film Board head, James Hickey, he showed up at the start of the meeting to introduce himself. He seemed nice enough, but then again, he was kind of in the lion's den, surrounded by 60 writers. He was going to be conciliatory. He talked up new movies The Guard and The Runway and revealed that Setanta Sports will be screening a season of Irish movies as a showcase.
But overall, it was clear from his speech that there will be no big changes at the Board and the way they do things. It's business as usual, whether that's good or bad.
I got a bit annoyed during the meeting, not at him, but at some of the self-defeating talk going on. One female writer went on about how there are no Irish films "about women". Well, there are hardly any Irish films about anybody! I'm a woman and obviously I'd like to see more of our experiences on screen. But stop moaning about it and write something that gets made! Then you can write your big female opus. Also, 73% of Guild members haven't paid their yearly dues yet, or put their profile up on the IPSG site. Pull your fingers out, people!
Much more uplifting was Friday night at Filmbase, where on a very wet evening, three Oscar-nominated shorts (The Door, New Boy and Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty) got a screening. There was a Q&A after with the writer/directors (Juanita Wilson, Steph Green and Nicky Phelan respectively) which was brilliant.
They talked about scrabbling together funding - Juanita Wilson got turned down several times by the Film Board and eventually got told yes as long as she shot on digital (she shot on 35mm). Nicky Phelan talked about discovering writer/actress Kathleen O'Rourke performing Granny O'Grimm at a stand-up event. Steph Green optioned New Boy from writer Roddy Doyle for a euro (!) and talked about differences in opinion she had with him over the script. And of course, they all talked up the Oscar luncheon - what wouldn't I give to get there some day!
Seeing people who've made there gives you hope, makes you push on that bit further. And on that note, my big piece of recent good news - I've been chosen, along with writers Caroline Farrell and Lauren McKenzie, to have a script consultation during the Film Fleadh with Walk the Line writer Gill Dennis. Bring it on!