As I write this, on the 1st of April 2014, it has been two years since I fulfilled a childhood dream of mine by attending the amazing spectacle that was Wrestlemania XXVIII. As a life long WWE fan, this was a huge moment for me. I had attended wrestling events in the past whenever they found themselves crossing the pond to perform for us over here in sunny ol’ England, but to put up the cash, purchase tickets, fly across the fucking planet in order to watch the wonderfully wacky world of professional wrestling unfold in front of me, let alone the fact it was goddamn Wrestlemania…well, it was an undeniable geekgasm of an experience for me.
Two years have passed since then, and a lot of things have changed.
One relationship ended; another, stronger one, began. I decided to try and get healthy and have since dropped a huge amount of weight and taken up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a new element that has truly had nothing but a positive affect on me; ignoring the cuts, scars, spilled blood and current swollen middle finger, though I’d rather it be swollen and achey than broken, as the resounding cracking sound that emanated from it initially suggested. I remain in the same job, a surprise to many, I’m sure, myself included, though I have recently completely changed roles within it.
Importantly, however, my primary focus remains unchanged: I still strive to turn my dream of being a writer/director into a means of making a living; of having a career, no matter how many obstacles are thrown in the way, and no matter how insurmountable the difficulties of such an endeavour are. In truth, and without turning this into a whining tangent, it becomes disheartening to know what you want to achieve in life, but not have any sort of idea of how to make it a reality. Perhaps ignorance truly is bliss.
“Make waves”, “just make something”, “keep trying”, “it’s easy”; all examples of people attempting to understand and be supportive, without fully appreciating how convoluted a process filmmaking is. “It’s easy” is something I hear a lot, especially in reference to the relative, and I do say that loosely, affordability of DSLR technology. No, sir, you do not mean “it’s easy”, you mean “it’s easier [than it once was].”
With that in mind, in these two years since WMXVIII, I have managed to try and regain some focus, primarily through the motivation and support of my girlfriend. Without her, I would not have recommitted myself to creating my first, real, short movie: First Date.
First Date was an intense six day shoot in May 2013, bringing together a rag tag group of wonderful misfits who all wanted the same thing: to make a fun movie. (Please, feel free to watch the Behind The Scenes videos at the First Date YouTube page!) We adopted a DIY, punk rock, guerrilla filmmaking attitude and went at it with a budget that could be politely described as ‘meagre’. We had a great cast, a great crew and, I feel, a great, fun, final product, one that has been compared favourably to American Pie and the original, UK, version of The Inbetweeners. First Date, really, was my attempt to, not only showcase my writing/directing abilities, but also to highlight to film festivals that short films can be more than drab, dire and depressing: they could be fun, yet still maintain a solid message, foul mouth and all.
I describe First Date as a (b)Romantic Comedy, as the movie is just as much about friendship as it is about the romantic comedy aspect. Sure, the end result is predictable, but it’s the journey, the way we get you from A to B; the situations, chemistry and language that helps to elevate First Date. It’s currently in film festival contention; they have my money, and all I can do is wait, and hope that they deem a fun, light hearted, thirty minute, pop punk-infused short movie into their line up.
If not, next time I’ll just make a black and white film about two people fighting, or dealing with abuse or rape. I’ll just remind the actors to never go “full retard”.
Since First Date, and its incredibly drawn out and laborious post-production process, I have dedicated my time to finishing off my first feature script, Gamers, which I have done. In fact, it’s been done for a while, having completed the very first vomit draft on the 1st January 2014 and, although I’ve sent it out to numerous people for thoughts and notes, I’m still waiting on some of them. The story is solid, the script too: fun, relevant and damning of the retail industry and its customers. The issue? Not knowing what moves I need to make in order to get it made. I don’t know any producers, and I don’t have enough money to fund it solely myself, but it’s a great idea with a solid script. I believe, wholeheartedly, that it deserves to be made.
To distract myself from the mires of not knowing what to do with my first feature, I have turned my attention to working on a novel. With the best intentions I signed up to NaNoWriMo, six months later I’ve just crossed the forty thousand work mark. An achievement, for sure, but an absolute marathon of a project, not helped by my propensity to procrastinate, which I am a master of, incidentally!
A lot of things have happened in those two years, and with Wrestlemania XXX happening this coming Sunday, 6th April, it got me thinking. I can’t believe it’s been two years already since that day, since I went over to Florida, and had one of the absolute best two weeks of my life. Between Fan Axxess, the Hall of Fame Ceremony, ‘Mania itself and the following Raw, to be surrounded by my tribe so completely all added up into an unforgettable experience for me. So how do these two things relate? My attempts to make Gamers a reality, to hopefully get First Date into film festivals, and to keep creeping towards finishing my novel; what’s the connection, exactly?
Daniel Bryan, or as I knew him on the indy circuit as Bryan Danielson, is a guy that nobody within the huge corporate entity that comprises the WWE believed in; he was too small, his style was too technical, he didn’t have the right look, he wasn’t great on the mic; hell, he even got himself fired and, eventually, rehired. By all rights, the machine wanted to hold him down, to prove that the indy guys couldn’t make it, that they belonged in the bingo halls and high school gyms that most indy promotions perform out of. What did Daniel Bryan do? He said ‘No!’ by, ironically, saying ‘Yes!’. Chanting ‘Yes!’ became his mantra, originally intended as an aggravating heel tactic, but that shit was just way too fun, and the fans just believed in Daniel Bryan too much as a genuine talent to let it go. The Raw after WMXXVIII will attest to that, the birth of the Yes Movement happened that night, and I was there.
(The Rock May Feature, But Those ‘Yes’ Chants Aren’t For Him)
WMXXX sees Daniel Bryan attempt to overcome all the adversity that has been thrown in his way over the years, both personal and professional. WMXXX will see Daniel Bryan finally win the WWE World Heavyweight Title, that is unless the WWE want a riot on its hands. WMXXX is vindication for Daniel Bryan, for believing in his own abilities and, to cut deeper and add a layer of reality, it’s vindication for everyone that has ever believed in him or supported an underdog. Daniel Bryan is the underdog, the one held down by the man; overlooked, under appreciated and labelled nothing more than a solid B+ player, but he’s not. And this Sunday he’ll prove it.
Like Daniel Bryan, I want to prove the doubters wrong. Like Daniel Bryan, I want to prove I’m more than a B+ player, I want to push myself and make opportunities for myself and my projects, and like Daniel Bryan, when I do, I’ll be adopting the simple, but effective, mantra: ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’
Yupp, a lot has changed over two years.