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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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Whats in a name

One of the (many) reasons why I have not blogged extensively about the new feature film I am pre-producnig is this. The name. I cannot think of a good title for the film.

Now nothing is set in stone, and to be honest, a lot can change between now and the end of the final diting. But so far, the names have been a particular problem for me. I will boast about my writing skills. I can hone down a story pretty well and knock out a script in a relatively short space of time. These are my strengths.

However, I am lousy at names.

It starts with the characters. For som reason, I never give them a proper name. They just get assigned a tag, like ‘Old Man’, ‘Mother’, ‘Thin Lady’. So during the scrip, the number of the nameless can usually out number the named personnel. In one of my script, I have taken this to the extreme, with the major characters not having names, but the minor ones all being named, to avoid confusion. But think about it. In the real world, when you say hello to your wife, or to your friends, how often do you actually use their name. As in, ‘Hello Tom’ or suchlike?

But I am really bad with naming the script For some reason, my though process goes to pot when thinking of a title for films. To date, I have only liked one name, ‘Caution Wet Paint’, and even that makes no sense. So now, without further ado, I ask you to think of a name. The current titles are ‘Ritchie Fernando’, ‘South of The River’ and ‘Great Brytania’ (that last one is not a spelling mistake, but the Polish word for Britain). To give some idea of the film, it takes place in both Poland and London and focuses on the lives of two lovers who descend into London’s world of vice.

I am not always a happy writer…

So, titles. Please. Anyone?

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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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Yesterday’s Diary…women…

My blog post yesterday may seem bleak, but there was a reason for it. Women make me sick. And I mean the women depicted in fiction.

I love writers, I am a writer myself. But why oh why do the bulk of women depicted in films, plays and television are depicted in two ways. As over emotional beasts who cannot cope with rejection or as psychos who have killed someone.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good Femme Fatale and women who kick ass are wonderful characters for the screen. But take a look at fiction, particularly western generated fiction and you will see that women’s roles are, to be frank, dull.

I would love to claim that I know women, what they think and what they want. If that was the truth, then I would have been much more lucky in my life. But maybe as I have been surrounded by women, I am more aware of just how two-dimensional and boring they are when portrayed in fiction. One thing I do hope, as a writer and a film director, is that I can do a better job of portraying my female characters on screen…

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London Diary 48

Here is my monologue to the world about my life.

Being a woman it must naturally be about the fact that some man has been a lying cheating bastard, has scorned my love and ripped my soul from me. Or I am a psychopath and the voices in my head told me to kill he/she/it. Trust me, watch any film, see any play, read any book, and when the woman has her five minutes in the spotlight, it will be due to her emotional or mental health being compromised.

So here is my soliloquy. My monologue, my own self analysis to the audience of my so called life. A life that is pitiful. I could blame a man, I could blame the kid, or I could blame my mother. I could blame society or those around me. My poverty, my class or my ethnicity. I have a hundred and one reasons, factors and leads that point to why I am here, pathetic, pitiful, scrounging for a living, leading a life that has passed me by.

You see, when you talk to us, we don’t worry about why this man left or why I killed my kid. No, we worry about one thing. Cash. Where it is coming from, where it is going to and how much more I can economise. I am not going to spend my time thinking about dreamy stuff, because to be honest…I am struggling. Every minute of everyday is a struggle to keep afloat. I wish this whole world would tear itself apart, if only to give me a breathing space so I can get back on top…well, to get a grip. I was never on top to begin with…

So next time you are sitting in a darkened theatre, mesmerised by the immortal say things of that wonderfully styled actress on stage. Remember one thing…it is all an act…

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