Category Archives: writing

Questions about Magda

Making films is not just a simple case of writing a script, getting together a few camera angles and hey presto, you have made movies. It is always a lot more complex than that. As the preparations for the shoot of Great Brytania continues, I have been in communication with Marzenna Więcek (who plays the part of Magda) and have been answering her questions about the character. As the writer (and the director), it is me who has to create a mold so that Marzenna can fit into the character I want to portray on the screen. So below are some of the questions she asked, and my answers.

Next week, I will answer the final, most important Question about Magda:

What is Magda’s target? To Adapt?

To Survive, plain and simple.

What are Magda’s aims?

To get more drugs. She is hooked, and both the physical and more importantly, the psychological hold of the drug on Magda is, at the moment, unbreakable.

Is Gemma her first girlfriend? No. Magda is a lesbian, not bisexual. One of the reasons Magda left Poland was that she could not resolve the conflict between society and her sexuality. Running away to the ‘big city’ is a common phenomena amongst young gay/lesbian people seeking a more tolerant backdrop to their sexuality ten or twenty years ago.

Has Magda slept with guys before?

Yes. Magda experimented when she was younger, but was very uncomfortable sleeping with men. This is how she knows that she is fully lesbian rather than a lesbian identified bisexual.

Was she in love with some guy?

No.

Has she had before some sexual experiences with any woman? Or with Gemma?

Yes, she has been sexually active with women both in Poland and London. Magda has had more female sexual partners while in London.

Is the relationship with Gemma more psychical / platonic love?

Magda and Gemma love each other. But obviously, Magda is quite sick, and Gemma has given birth recently, so their sex drive has diminished recently.

Does Magda want physical intimacy? Did the drugs not kill her sex drive?

Magda is as sexual as the next human being. The drugs both enhance and depress her appetite for sex. Obviously, the drugs have a major effect on her mentality, and the obtaining and consumption of drugs is Magda’s priority. But like anyone else, Magda wants sex with her girlfriend, Gemma.

When was her mother dead?

When Magda was a teenager. I would say around 14 years old.

How did Magda’s mother die?

Cancer, easy answer, difficult for the character to deal with.

How did the father deal with her death?

Badly. The major reason he drinks is that he has never been able to reconcile his grief.

Is she accusing the father because of that?

There is definitely resentment and anger directed towards her father. Grief is a complicated emotion, and while she does not blame her father for her mother’s death, their is anger (misdirected at the father) for why she had to go rather than him. Also, remember that the father does not accept Magda’s sexuality, which further adds tension to their relationship.

Is she accusing the mother?

Of course there is also anger towards the mother at why she had to die and leave her behind. As I have mentioned previously, grief is a complicated emotion. I will talk to Marzenna about this when I come to Poland.

Was the mother happy with the father? Yes.

Did M. talk with the mother about her sexual orientation?

No, that was not done in 1990’s Poland.

How the mother reacted on this?

While the mother might have suspected about Magda’s sexuality, to be honest, she died before Magda reached any form of sexual maturity.

Did the mother betray the father? Do You have suspicions about it?

No, they stayed married faithfully, with their ups and downs.

How was the mother treated by the father?

Like a Polish housewife. Remember, the mother would have died around the time of the early 1990’s, and socially, Poland was a very different place from now. Less divorce, more conservative family values. People stayed married for longer.

How long did Magda take drugs?

Petty drugs (alcohol and cannabis) would have started from mid-1990’s, when Magda was in her late teens. Heavier drugs, she would have encountered in London.

Did M. love someone before Gemma?

Of course. If Magda is in her thirties, then Gemma is not her first love.

Did she face any love disappointment before she was betrayed?

Yes. Her girlfriend in Poland probably betrayed her for a man. Remember, she looks at that photograph at the bus terminal, and is one more reason to leave Poland. Magda feels that Polish girls (when she was there in the 1990’s/early noughties) will eventually bow to society norms and ‘become’ heterosexual.

Did she hurt anyone?

I’m sure Magda is no angel, but Magda probably sees herself more as a victim, and that would be bound up in the grief of her mother’s death.

Is he afraid she can loose Gemma?

Yes and no. Magda is a bit older than Gemma, and part of her wants Gemma to have a better life without herself, the AIDS victim. But of course, if Gemma left Magda, she would be emotionally distraught. But remember, the problem with Magda (and Gemma) they love each other, but not themselves enough.

In which way the heroin made her emotionally wild?

Heroin in fact probably calms Magda down, makes her quite mellow. Crack Coccaine on the other hand will make her brave enough to laugh at Ritchie.

Does she have suicidal thoughts?

All the time.

Since when was Magda infected with HIV?

Okay, a bit of technicality here. The definition of AIDS is different from country to country. Here, in the UK, it is when the White Blood Cell count (the cells that attack bacteria and viruses) drops below a certain level. Now, while drugs can reverse this count upwards, in the UK, once you have been diagnosed with AIDS, you, cannot be undiagnosed and revert to HIV, even though your White Blood Cell count has risen to more ‘normal’ levels.

Magda got an infection, went to the local health clinic. A lot of outreach health workers are available in London to women working in the sex industry. They provide free (NHS) and of course, confidential help to all that visit them. Magda, while sick, would have got tested for HIV and was then found to be infected.

Now, to directly answer the question, Magda has probably had HIV for three to four years, but as she is bad with her medication (partly due to being a drug taker and so not having any concept of time, plus the fact that she really does not want to cure herself) means that Magda now has full blown AIDS. Remember, Magda’s cuts and sores are not healing.

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London Diary 53

God I miss you so much…

I dreamt about you last night. So many things I wanted to ask you, too many things. Why you had to leave so soon. Unfinished business here on this Earth, I can feel it. That’s why you keep coming back to me. In my wildest moments, I can still feel your protective caress on me, the guiding hand that was taken too soon.

Why did I call on God? Shouldn’t I be blaming Him?

I know it is nature. Each generation must succeed from the preceding one. But that does not make it any easier in my heart. Maybe it is why I keep looking for you, in any possible arena, especially in my dreams. For advice, for hope for love. Yes, that love is missing in my life. Now it is only a one way street from myself towards you. And what are you? Just a memory? For a few brief moments we interacted. You gave me life, nurtured me. You were my first teacher, protected me when the world was conspiring to destroy me. And then you left. Why, I still cannot understand.

But who else can I call on, if not God?

Maybe I am still a believer, deep down, no matter what I have seen and felt and done in this world. I have done many bad things. I pay for them, with my blood, with my own pain, everyday. How long I have left, who knows? Well, God knows, but any mortal person know nothing. Like why you came to me last night. Why do I dream about you, still, consistently, after all these years? What are you trying to tell me, beyond the grave? What we had is gone, can’t you accept that? Why do you keep haunting me?

God, why?

Maybe I cry to him, because, in some small way, I believe I am crying in your arms again. While you hold me, and tell me not to worry, that everything will be okay. Why I cannot share this gift of your, this calm through the storm, the serenity through the madness that is life. When my mind races, thinking of the impossible multitude of tasks that I must do to get through each waking day, why can’t I have the same, solid mindset that you had. Maybe, crying to you, via God helps me. Even though I feel that my cries are useless.

God, help me. Please?

I don’t believe. Really, when I call on God it is habit. I ask myself everyday if God ewas truly amongst us, why would he let us act like this. People think we are above animals, but we are below them. The animals live in harmony, but we always thrive when there is discord. I sound a bit like you. When you used to tell me about how the world works. Maybe your lessons rubbed off more than you imagined. Maybe, despite your absence, I still retain, through my thoughts, an essence of you. But certainly, my deeds, what I have done, what I am ding, and what I am about to do. Nothing is further removed from you, or God.

God, forgive me, for all my deeds.

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Film News for October 3rd

One words – Re-writes. Actually, that is a hyphenated word, but I stand by it.

Great Brytania is being shot in a weird and wonderful way. Due to funding pressures (it is all self-funded), the filming will be very stop-start. So in May I shot the first scenes, the external Polish scenes. Now in October, I will shoot the internal Polish Scenes. That will mean around 15% of the film is shot and in the can. Then, 2013 will become the year of hell, and the rest of the scenes, all in the UK will need to be shot. As and when funding, or in other words, spare cash, becomes available.

So recently, I have been rewriting the script again and again. To be honest, it is more of a correction, cleaning up the loose ends and making the script a bit tighter. Thankfully, the major re-write happened earlier this year, and it was fairly comprehensive. Now, my rewriting is really just tidying up around the edges.

And as the script is bilingual, it means that it needs time to get tanslated. Well, time to finish off the revisions…

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Synopsis for ‘South of The River’

Well, it is time for the big reveal. The synopsis or summary of the feature project that I have been working on. Enjoy!

A story encompassing Europe’s largest city, South of The River follows the lives of two Londoners, Gemma and her lover Magda, over the course of a few months as they struggle to survive against the obstacles that spawn before them.

Gemma is a single mother whose minimum wage job does not pay enough to cover the outgoings for her and her child. But when she finds out that her partner Magda now has full blown AIDS, she wants to raise as much money as possible. Hence she gets involved in the world of Magda – Drug Dealing, vice and danger. As a result, Gemma comes into contact with Magda’s pimp, Ritchie Fernando. A vicious, cross dressing thug, with a penchant for violence, who will stop at nothing in order to satisfy his sadistic lust for money.

Magda, despite her sickness, tries her best to stop Gemma from committing the same mistakes that she has done. But Magda’s worsening condition, plus her addiction to heroin means that she is powerless to stop Gemma from suffering the same fate that she has done. No matter how much she tries to help Gemma, Magda is unable to stop the wheels of fate from taking their toll on both of them.

South of The River is a story about the underclass of London. The poor, the sick, the dispossessed, the mentally ill. It shows how the city depends on this mass of disadvantaged for doing the dirty, dangerous and low paid work that most people will never have to do, but depend on for the functioning of their day to day lives. Minimum wage works in the retail industry, drug supply and the sex industry employ huge numbers of people (both legally and illegally) but also demonise them and stifle any opportunity for their personal growth. South of The River takes the lives of two ordinary Londoners and through extraordinary events tells their story and the typical hardships that many people in their position face. Harassment, exploitation, humiliation, danger and ultimately, death.

As anyone who writes knows, it is bloody hard to succinct your script down to one or two pages. To distill it until the essence of the film is there. I think even harder is the logline, but that is a different story. More of a slogan than anything else. The irony is this. THe shorter the piece of writing, the harder it gets. I love writing scripts, it absolutely thrills me. As a piece of creativity, nothing comes close. But a synopsis or a treatment just bugs the hell out of me.

However, this synopsis has been doing the rounds. Being sent to various organisations as well as the actors we have so far got on board. And a synopsis does work; as much as it is evil writing the synopsis, it is a necessary one.

And I keep organising like hell as well, but that is for next week’s blog…

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1001 Blog Posts!

Normally, the blogger would crow about doing his thousandth post. But of course, I am not your ordinary blogger, and instead of saying, hey look I have done 1,000 blpog posts on Wordpres, I instead decided to write a story, which is what I enjoy doing most…

Honestly, every time I reach a minor milestone such as these impossibly large numbers, I do often wonder what it is I have written. And I have done this before, on blogger and myspace. But, and this is unusual, this is the first time this blog is exclusively on one platform in ages. And so, as no better blogging platform exists, the 2,000th blog post may be coming sooner than I think. Then again, as I am only blogging three times a week at the moment, it may be an impossibly long time in the future…

So here are a random selection of five of my favourite blog posts (in no particular order) on this blog:

Europe’s Budget Airlines – I love air travel and geek in me loves all the logistics behind it. My rundown of the three budget airlines that I used last year was definitely amongst my geekiest moments on this blog.

Don’t f**k with the Sisko – Regular readers know that I am a DS9 fanboy. And I make no apologies for the fact. Read it and weep, Picard/Kirk lovers. Evidence that the internet is the best place to host arguments about the really insignificant matters.

Crossings of the River Thames – The Woolwich Ferry – While I have crossed London’s river numerous times, I always love taking the Ferry. Because it is the closest London gets to being a true water city. We under utilise our river, and we see it more as a barrier rather than a lifeline, a rather sad fact. But getting on the ferry (literally) gives a breath of fresh ir, and although it may not be London’s most iconic or beautiful crossing, it certainly is fun…

(There is a mission inside of me to one day transfer all the River Thames posts from Blogger to WordPress. Give me time…)

Charlie’s Holiday – The Best of BUSHO – It had been such a long time since I had gone to a festival, that when BUSHO accepted me, I was over the moon. Little did I know what an impact it was to make on my life, but such is fate’s fickle finger…

London Diary (all of them) – As evidenced by yesterday’s blog post, my thousandth blog post on WordPress. I love writing. And London Diary is pure catharsis for me. As I have mentioned beforehand, the London Diary loosely follows the characters from three films I have written. One of them, currently called South of the River is in Pre-Production, with some of the scenes to be shot in May. Oh yes, it is coming up that fast.

Not only does London Diary give me that sense of well being, it also really helps me flesh out the characters. Useful as a director as well, so I can guide the actor’s to portray the characters the way I really want them to…

So enjoy the stroll around my blog, and thank you for dropping in and taking a look. Apologies for being rusty on getting back to all your blogs, but Friday is normally my blog reading day. Kisses all around!

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London Diary 50

The heat coming from the heater warmed my hands. The soft hum of the engine dulled my senses. And the rhythmic rocking of the car through the streets of London almost sent me to sleep.

I looked across at the driving seat at him. Once upon a time I loved this man. Or so I thought I did. But we had a child together, our son. No matter what our differences were, we still had a bond that transcended all our divisions.

He was a god man. Let me rephrase that, he is a good man. Despite what I put him through, he rescued me, tonight. Whether it was serendipity or just a happy coincidence, I do not know. But if it was no for him, life would have got very sticky.

I turn, and look back through the rear window. I know no one is following us, but I still got to make sure. I am in a lot of trouble. I could get him to help me, but, I do not want his help. I cannot do it, I have taken enough from him already. I have taken him from his family, his work, his pride. I do not want to take anymore from him, he has given enough to me.

It is wet outside. Winter. Cold, damp, the rain still fresh on the tarmac. We hit a couple of puddles as he negotiates through the traffic. The nice thing about being driven is the fact that I do not have to sit outside in the cold. My cash in my bag is safe, plus the cash I got off her.

Yeah, I left her. I do not know if she is still alive, but she deserved what she got. Junkie. But what choice did I have. Stick around, call an ambulance and wait to get thrown in a cell. I got too much stuff on me for that. here is no such thing as a happy ending. Anyway, she made a choice, I just supplied the goods. She was already past it long before she met me. I was just a cheaper supplier, that is that.

In the end , it is just business. No thoughts, no personality. Just the cash in my bag. And her pills. That was a lucky find, but maybe I can make a couple of extra pennies by flogging it. Or maybe they will dull the pain in my head.

I need to sleep. But I cannot. My mind is always racing. Everytime I close my eyes, it feels as if a movie is playing on my eyelids. Maybe I should stop taking this stuff, but it keeps me going. Alive, and I can pay off this debt. He probably suspects what I am doing, t is why he picked me up. Not serendipity, not fate. These things do not happen in London. He just knows me, what I am capable off. We were once intimate, we were once in love. But that love is long gone from me. I have someone else. More important in my life. And he has to get over that. No matter what his kindness is like.

I know that he will try to sweet-talk to me. And I will have to placate him. Rub his neck a little, maybe kiss his cheek as a thank you. But that is as far as it goes. To leave him hanging. After all, I may need his help again sometime.

The night continues along. People spilling out of the clubs. Waiting for a Night Bus, trying to get a cab. I suppose I am lucky, warm, dry, getting ferried to somewhere for free. In need to sleep, and the heat makes me drowsy. But even though I can trust him, I still do not want to let my guard down. I keep my eyes open and watch the city flow by from the passenger seat. Slowly into the night…

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London Diary 49

It’s simple. All I got to do is sell. Sell like crazy. It is a job, just like any other. Except I am my own boss, I got a ready source of clients and I got to watch my back for the fuzz.

No matter what she told herself, the reality was different. She was always looking from side to side. Shifting her eyes, always afraid. The confidence with which she tried to instill within her was nothing more than sticking tape. A brief respite for the deep wounds she had already cast upon herself.

Enter club. Head to the bar. Drink. Need drink. I hate the stuff, normally, but I need something to hold. And something sweet. And I need a booster. But not too sweet. In the end, I will be sick too soon. My body cannot stand this stuff.

She laid her cash on the bar. To get money, she had to spend money. That Ten Pound note was hard for her to part with, but she knew she had to blend into the crowd. And a drink always does that. She did not want to drag attention to herself. It took all her might to stop her bolting from the front door when the bouncer asked her how she was. For some reason he let her past the velvet rope into the bar. Why, she thought.

I can’t do it with a guy. I never liked them. God knows how I had my little boy? I just wanted a child. But I can’t approach them easily. But I see her, she’s cute. Alone, probably waiting for her friends. And she has nice shoes, that means something. I see my own footwear. Tatty. Thankfully it’s dark, but it’s the one thing I should have remembered. Well, I did, but the clothes cost me enough. I couldn’t afford the shoes as well. I know I don’t look the part, but we all got to start somewhere, right?

She approaches the bar. Hi she says. The girl smiles back at her. They get chatting. The usual. Weather, life, friends. I like your bag. Thanks, she replies, I picked it up in a market, vintage. That bag contains her life, the reason for her being in this bar. A cocktail of posoin to some, a vast wealth of joy for others. But she has to decide how she will exchange that powder for cold, hard, currency.

I’m a shit. I know that. But I need cash. Being nice doesn’t pay the bills. You get a kick in the teeth for minimum wage, but the world doesn’t work like that. I need more. Time is running out for us. And the one thing money doesn’t buy is time. ut it makes the time passing more sweet. And I need that cash, now. I need to help my ove, before she goes. Before she leaves us to face this wilderness alone. Life is a strange puzzle, but I can’t figure it out. My head hurts, but I still smile. I need to sell this stuff fast and get out of hear. The music gets to my ears, the beats are loud, the lyrics faint. The details pale out, I just need to keep my cool.

They head to the bathroom. She takes the money with glee. In all it was less than twenty minutes, but she already has a ton in her pocket. One hundred pounds, just like that. Her client starts snorting on the sink. She wishes she would hurry up, but she knows that part of the deal is for her to keep a look out. Snorting finished, she gently rubs the back of her new benefactor. But this friendship is only temporary. She knows she has to get out of this club quick. The bouncers will see that she is alone, and they are not stupid, they want their cut. But she didn’t come here to share her gains. Five minutes later she is out of the door, he cold air of the night, slapping her cheeks, sobering her up. She turns into n alley, shaking as she count the cash again. One hundred pounds, in just a few minutes, she thinks to herself, that’s normally three days work.

The night is still young. There is more work for her to do…

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