An imperfect offering

MSF - Médicines Sans Frontieres. Turned a corner, there they were.

What's my purpose? Dan Gould laid it before me, cryptically, portentously, to be unfurled in the future.

You're questioning, questioning, questioning. Which projects, which treatments? What resonates? What is your destiny?

Well, to answer the latter, your destiny is shaped by any given moment's thoughts, words and actions manifest, habits in turn, leading to character in to said destiny.

So be mindful of your thoughts, or make them grand, and your greatest vision of oneself.

What project is going to flow out of An Imperfect Offering?

It needn't be unearthed on this trip. Perhaps the omens yesterday cast glorious rays on to your broader path. Now firstly, before going further, let's call in to recollection the sentiments of the previous post. Who you are is a creation of Now, not what you will be one day. Keep remembering that, for that is a sound sentiment and foundation of ZEN after all.

Then what are you, in this very moment, and what were you in the moment of revelation before the MSF-emblazoned beauties?

You're a filmmaker with a deep well of empathy, a passion for sustainable development.

Quit worrying about 'your destiny', and create it via your thoughts, words, actions and habits. Be deliberate in EVERY SINGLE MOMENT. That's the gift you've been given, and the gift you have to give.

You have a mission, which is to relieve the world of its suffering. You must do that via your films. You have a remit to do so, ordained by God. It's true. In your conversations with God, could it be any clearer? Are you ignoring any omens?

Can we review which omens you may be overlooking?

Trying to make money from filmmaking. As surely money is temporal and you can't take it with you. The Lord provides.

Seeing the world is great, but carbon dioxide-emitting travel hurts Nature.

The space in which you occupy sustainable development and its corresponding Goals is one of learning. The manner in which you apply your knowledge will rear itself via the manner in which you lead your life as well as, hopefully, through some form via your stories, albeit shrouded in a more abstract guise.

To summarise, to keep your two passions separate? Nej. To maintain an ongoing tension between the two to forever be navigated, making an artform of the dance to reconcile.

Will you be a hero? That's contingent on the thoughts, views, whims or otherwise of others. 'Others' are neither important to monitoring your progress, nor can their attitudes be controlled. It's a vain objective, because they can merely be influenced. Your own task is within the skin and soul of yourself, inclusive of any opportunities that present to extend that soul to those whom you connect.

This forever will be a spiritual dance. It can only be. You must follow your bliss, as much as that's possible, to further oneself. I'm more than content to invest all my hopes and dreams in to following my bliss, and hoping for the best in the outcome.

It is FOLLY to project oneself in to the future as 'movie star'. It's an honourable enough vocation and aspiration, certainly, but...it's so future-oriented as to completely mitigate the current situation before you. It's actually made you mentally ill. I understand you needed to model yourself upon a vision of what you wanted to be, but that's concrete now. It's deep within your bones. You can let it go, and it'll probably still be there.

Movie stardom is a commodity cultivated by the studios and celebrity gossip magazines peddling ragged paper and cheap ink.

Just live the life you want to live in EVERY SINGLE GIVEN MOMENT. What else could be more important? Yeah, sure, be ambitious, but not at the expense of the moment/s before you. As what comes of that? One thing. Years upon years of 'not being here'. Not investing your energy and focus where it ought to be, and leaving you with a bullshit foundation frankly.

Forget the fuckin' movies you'll make in five or ten years time. It's fun to think about, but there's little good trying to improve oneself and marginalising a growth mindset by being off with the fairies. You are 30-fucking-years-old. Ridiculous. Quit this shit!!

What you've been doing the past 30 years is what you'll likely be doin' the next 30. You're not gettin' any better, so drop it. The talents or knowledge or skills you do possess - they're set in stone! Of course in reality they'll develop, but you must understand, you're essentially fully-formed.

Life will remain a glorious mystery, and thank goodness for that. But, Christ's sake, you're done. You're fully-cooked.

Are you at this point a great actor? Nein. Very knowledgable and passionate about sustainable development? Yes, definitely. A good screenwriter? Not especially. But are you a good producer, in the sense you get it over the line? Yeah, definitely. A definite leaning toward comedy? Yuh-huh. Do people seem OK with you being on-screen? Yes, and I want to be there anyhoo.

Knowledgable with film? Yes, I'd certainly say so, 100%. So your knowledge is by far the most well-cultivated. Definitely. I'm most talented at reading and writing. They're my definite clear talents. My empathy and ability to listen is #1 however. The most valuable.

Crafting a story or a screenplay? A bit less, methinks. But I must pursue anyway. Perhaps you just always need a partner-in-crime to tidy up after you.

You have a lot to offer. Looking at everything like this, you actually have cultivated a lot.

Acting's the jack in the pack. The Unknown. The performative. It lurks, it's your darkness. And you know why? Because you're a phenomenal dancer.

After your empathy, which is inate, one and the whole with you, your talent is your knowledge and reading/writing. You're in the head.

With enough preparation, an acting role can be yours too. 300 hours.

You couldn't be like Russell Brand. You simply haven't cultivated that on-stage persona well-enough. C'est la vie, 'twas not to be. Hey, hey, hey! Wait up! You have! What about all that on-screen time with GCTV? 50 hours of live telly, thank you very much!

That didn't distinguish you as a comedian though. Even on NR, you were empathic well before comedic. That's the position you occupy in this world. Would you rather be larrikin or empath?

Then cherish the empath within. Feed him, nourish him, adore him. I no longer care to be a 'comedian'. I'll forever have a passion for comedy, but that can most certainly be manifest through the channels of producing and acting.

I think your issue is you don't write all that great for the screen. You write for the page, which perhaps makes you more suitable for the small screen, but I do think you have the capability to pen for the silver screen also. Small is beautiful though. You need to stake a reason to write for cinema.

What is your place in this universe?

 

It's so uncertain to me. I exist, in each given moment, calling in to actuality the place I do occupy. Yet you insist on casting your mind forward to the future, to an unrealised reality.

Why? Why this inane insistence on cultivating a future self? To what does this mirage upon the horizon represent to you? How can it's worth possibly outlive that of the present? By its definition, the present is actual, whereas your future self, however great or humble, is abstract. Then why?

Carve out a presently realised form to be proud of. Stake a claim in every single moment. Command the discipline to uphold your own dignity, and the dignity of the life lovingly bestowed upon you, in taking ownership of your present self.

Look to the future self as folly, as that it is. An objective yes, but...surely you're getting on in years enough to continue casting the 'person you want to be' forward another 10 years perpetually. It's alluring, but perhaps because it gives your psyche the next decade off.

Follow your bliss to be certain, but...hell...perhaps incorporate some discipline to rein in your impulse to cast your net forward, in a perpetual purse seine dredging the expectations of a future self, instead committing to centring oneself, and staking a firm, honest claim to the very moment before you. To honour that moment with the integrity it deserves.

You want to carve out the future? Then build a building-block castle, laying each stone one-by-one, day-by-day in perpetuity, investing the entirety of your focus and energies to the locus of that moment as it passes before you.

Ten years of wanting to be someone in the future amounts to a person who's heavily-trained and has gained mastery in building the architecture of one's mind in the mould of casting said mind in to the future. The mindframe becomes structural, leaving to wither and atrophy that part of oneself that has cultivated an ideal self in every given moment over 10,000 hours, 10 years or whatever given span of time, insignificant as it is in the pale of the prescience of the present. 

All simple enough, but as I've claimed time and again, perhaps among an adult human's weightiest challenges is commanding the attention we have at our discretion to centre and focus. The ability and ongoing journey of mastery to focus is a true gift.

The Sandeman

 "The Sandeman!"

No, no, no. No.

"The Sandeman".

No exclamation mark necessary. It's not, like, like, some sort of...mmmm, Zorro. My goodness, what silliness.

No, The Sandeman...he must...he must be...of mystery. The Sandeman does not save the days, does not 'distress the damsel', if that is the phrase. The Sandeman is a man apart. The Sandeman operates first and foremostly for The Sandeman. Not just, first; also last.

The Sandeman conducts his busi-ness, whether that be as merchant of the Port wine, or graft...I...I have not yet established as yet what The Sandeman does...but...but The Sandeman does my bidding, or should I say, is my id, to quote the Austrian, the Sigu-mund Freud. It is my persona, if you like. I shall have several I believe, spendidly.

Ah, my anima personified as persona. But a very masculine anima, I should say, if one can be so contradictory. But...keep it simple Fernando! All this psychoanalytic nonsense is too obscure for your audience. Yes, you may be be one of Lisboã's intelligentsia - albeit self-described - but your average pastel-at-the-counter plebeian....Oh Fernando!! Forgive oneself for such brutish utterances. You are less of a man for thinking such thoughts, impinging in your mind upon the dignity of the hard-working Portuguese man and woman. Well, perhaps hard-working is generous, but...

The Sandeman they will love though! Boys and girls too...or until they evacuate-emigrate when of age. Ah, but that is an opportunity to take The Sandeman international! Outside of the Lusophone, maybe to be translated to German or English. What a victory, to take Lisboã's antihero - The Sandeman - as a mythology comparative to those in better lands.

Pride comes before the fall

Pride comes before the fall. No?

Maybe the Hunchback of Notre Dame speaks at present. Why, do you suppose?

What would you like to take inspiration from?

And can we visit why Return of the Basque, The Laundry Thief and No Tuckie, No Shirtie must go by the wayside? Well, the answer to that is simple: you must kill your darlings. You must. It is the height of creativity to have the gumption to do so. It's also the most difficult. Do you have ideas superior to 11:11:11 in Jolimont and its ilk? Nej, nein, no.

Then where do you anticipate that leaves one? To focus on the project at hand, sì. But in a way, I still crave developing stories further.

What of the Amsterdam trilogy? Well, Amsterdam served its hand. The Basques barely spoke to thee. Samples of Rainbox Six, State of Fear and perhaps a couple more Clancy titles i.e. Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger are called for.

Something Gallic does mildly beckon, or perhaps it's the Fifth Republic itself? All of these story ideas may possibly be a guise for the Universe to conspire to bring items to my attention only to be discarded.

Ecology's on my mind. I'd love a nature encyclopedia of some description to usher me in to Toulouse. Perhaps I need to further consider what Toulouse represents - French industry perhaps? Perhaps include another Forsyth tale among your transit  samples.

In any case, although hard as disposing of a beloved (idea) can be difficult to part with, it's often the most necessary break to undertake. Surely they leave behind tropes and story dynamics of worth to transpose to future projects of greater viability. I could see that with No Tuckie for certain.

I'd say it's also worthwhile to revisit your potential slate, individually assessing viability, or rather which pieces of each respective puzzle are worth retaining for transposition to another project on the horizon. By all means however, honour and observe the omens in the meantime and ride the swell of God's graces gracefully.

Would the next project be one of emulation of another?

Can we quickly visit the dearly departed projects inspirations? The Shining by Kubrick, Only God Forgives by Winding Refn, Big Trouble in Little China by Carpenter; Jack Ryan films by Noyce, The Siege by Zwick (?), Day of the Jackal by Zinnemann and The Jackal by Caton-Jones.

In Gaul, what ought to be next, narrative nectar? Broad ideas, broad strokes of story dynamics? Emulation of The Great Movies? Yes, sì, oui. I think that works best, or rather, fills thou with greatest confidence in your wares on display.

But be gentle in your listening of the omens/Universe/God. Be sensitive. Listen.

The Whore of Sevilla? Or Return of the Basque? To begin with, it couldn't be titled Return of the Basque. That's just an opening sequence you're fond of. I have a sneaking suspicion something awaits thee in the Languedoc to whet your literary appetite.

The Berlin/Deutsche trilogy of Mallorca which bodes so goddamn well? De Gaulle? The Jackal? A Prophet? Le Samouraï?

Berlin trilogy. Amsterdam trilogy. Nordic trilogy. The Laundry Thief will have its day. As may Whore of Sevilla. Languedoc though - what the fuck might that represent?

Aryan of Grievances. Sì, in time.

A happenstance of possibility awaits within the opening page of Daniel Gould's gambit to your future prospects and potential. Patience, Padawan, though - patience.

Heart of Darkness/DRC/Zaïre/Rumble in the Jungle - later, Padawan. But the Force is strong in the thee, yes.

I'm just looking to the future. I just want a vague slate. If I leave this Continent with the broad strokes of a slate and a completed screenplay in pre-production, I'd be much contented.

Again, please continue to look to Café Americain. It's where the choicest stories reside and call home. I see a a Grisham-inspired mini-slate.

My dream is to live in New York City and be a movie star.

 My dream is to live in New York City and be a movie star.

My dream is to invest all profits from my films towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

My dream is for myself or my brother Joseph Billings to be cast as Batman/Bruce Wayne, as well as write and produce two Batman films.

It is written...

 

Where you at, Jacksonville? Rochester, Louisville?

Will you live in New York City...and, more importantly, how important is it?

Um, I'd say it is important. The European citizenship bodes very well. That was such a crucial insight/decision, albeit sans surrounded with much fanfare. If nothing else, that's the most positive outcome of this trip.

So NYC? Well, so much of it either is contingent upon a remotely self-sustaining income or perhaps just a work/savings binge à la that leading in to this trip. Either/or, but the latter feels less sustainable...or does it?

This business plan requires some pride of place in priorities soon enough however. Béziers. Mañana mañana.

Correction: I don't want to live in New York City. Just for perhaps a month or dos at a time. That'd be ample enough for now. I actually anticipate it'd be a little wearing to make it one's abode for an extended portion of time. The couple months in Europe and month or so in New York speaks well. Or 50/50. As for next year, a more rounded trip across the United States from sea to shining sea speaks more fondly.

So the Maltese passport ought to tie up one side of the Atlantic and ensure a sustainable model of visiting there. New York however? Well, I'm nearly happy to put aside the $5,000 (or far less if flying from the other side of the pond) to make a go of it once a year during September. That's the incentive of living off filmmaking, innit? Calling New York your abode?

You made a promise to yourself under the moonlight on your final night in the Big Apple. That the next occasion you dappled under that same moon, you'd be able to lay claim to being an actor, screenwriter and producer. That the dollar dollar bill y'all would reflect that.

Now let's clarify something: you ain't need no Banjo, no regent Elizabeth Dos, no Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton, Honest Abe, Benjamin or cynical exercise in Europeanising the deutschmark to further the franc to justify your love.

You can transcend the means of exchange. You can transcend the fiat currency of any one nation-state, the central bank which underpins it crumbling in your disregard of its sovereign reign.

So...how then to measure 'Movistar'? Because, c'mon, surely you must be able to define said object of your desire with clarity and purpose. So What Do U Mean?

If only 1 question need be answered come 2016, what ought it be? Surely, it must be, "define your expectations".

Movie star = fame. What is 'many people'? Quantify that shit muthafucka. Grow that shit. Increase your audience. Set a goal, an objective and strategise toward it. Your Strat Plan is your audience #'s. Actualise your #.

But, come on: does your heart and soul speak in numbers? Mmmm, most certainly not. Then what is its currency, if you'll allow the liberty of the cheeky analogy?

Is it setting your cinematic creations free, welcoming what may? Mmmm, I...I need something more concrete than that, I sense.

Will you recognise it once it's in your grasp? What will it look like? What will it smell like? What would the path toward it appear as if, on a day-to-day basis? Well, it'd look exactingly as your life appears as it has for the past 10 years. That's its appearance cast in relief.

Will you be a movie star in a year's time? Nein. But your films may well be on the way to attracting an audience of 1,000 for that calendar year.

But is that what you want? Do you actually care about those 1,000 individuals? What of your fucking original community, who've been with you from day dot? What value do they hold in the hierarchy of this aspiration toward movie stardom? Surely the currency they hold trumps that of any more comers thereafter? What is the charade you're at? Who gives a toss about the masses? Have not the crème de la crème or its vegan counterpart gathered as the congregation of your proverbial cathedral in the form of a movie palace, chipping in to the offertory to allow your conceit of basking as Boabdil for one night? Is this not enough? If not, then what is?

What model does this represent? Who must you be well-known to as a leading man on the silver screen? How many people must know outside your immediate coterie of your cinematic pursuits?

Are you a community filmmaker or a commercial filmmaker? Is the answer not clear to you? Has the past 10 years taught you nothing? Nothing, Dominc? Nothing at all? Is a decade of service, much of it as a volunteer (aka gratis), instructive of who you are, and the values which you espouse and embody? Look further, at your employment record even: what pattern can you recognise? Yes, yes! That your priorities lie with non-for-profit organisations. Not the rapacious pursuit of wealth.

Then why, oh why, do you find yourself in the silly game of entertaining the possibility that after an adulthood - no less the values inherent of one's childhood, if your Catholic schooling and upbringing are to suggest anything at all - that at the threshold of 30, you pivot to the pursuit of happiness via personal enrichment.

I'm getting far ahead of myself here and even being unfair, as with clarity I can ensure that my aims are that of a not-for-profit model. But my talents and track record do not demonstrate a model of fundraising. Being one cog in a fundraising organisation, certainly. Holding a fascination with the machinations of financial flows, check. But pushing sales and marketing oneself beyond the pale of one's immediate community? Nein, nein, nein.

So...if you allow, I'll rephrase: Would you settle for being a movie star within the circle of your community?

YES, YES, YES!!!

That is all I want. It is all. If one day, that community extended out to the World, so be it, Jedi.

But graciousness, gratitude and an actualisation of your gifts and dreams will cultivate outward from INVESTING IN OUR COMMUNITY.

That's my marketing plan, my business plan, my Strategic Plan. Point blank. Your guiding principle.

Throw out the rest: INVEST. You must INVEST.

What am I thinking about at the start of 2016?

What's my predominating thought? Besides the token appreciation and love for friends and family, my predominating thought is why did Russell Brand stop doing The Trews, go quiet on social media and head in to a self-imposed exile of contemplation, reflection and learning?

My Mum must've watched nearly every episode, so I posed the question to her whilst catching up for a mother/son date to see Suffragette, about the UK women's suffrage movement.

My birthday present to Mum last year was another mother/son date to see an autobiographical film tilted Brand: The Second Coming at MIFF. It was the best film I saw last year, second only to Brand's Emperor's New Clothes with Michael Winterbottom.

Mum and I share something that I could only describe as something akin to a psychic precognition/extra-sensory perception. I'm not at all fazed whatever scepticism that elicits. Confirmation bias is irrelevant to me when I know my inner workings with more conviction than anything else.

Mum posited after Brand: The Second Coming, with maternal affection toward Russell, that "I worry about him sometimes." I asked what she meant, and after holding a pregnant pause, offered that she worried that someone would kill him.

In 2015, my overriding reflection is that the state of planet Earth got too big for me. How does Batman maintain resilience in the face of holding the fate of Gothamites on his shoulders? Powerful deltoids and an industrialist empire at one's disposal seem humble by comparison to maintaining the psychological strength to understand the state of the world and take it upon oneself to remedy.

The world is so bad right now. I mean that as the farthest thing from a glass-half-empty perspective. I must be an optimist, otherwise I couldn't look at myself in the mirror (I try to avoid looking at myself in the mirror anyhow, but I've been known to pout on the way out the door, pointing as I go at my reflection).

 "Luke Skywalker has vanished." I wonder if there's a motif or trope I relish more than the self-imposed exile. My overriding life dream is to disappear for seven years, returning with the boon.

I saw Russell at Rod Laver Arena for his Trew World Order show after his self-imposed Internet exile last year in October, a few days after my 30th birthday. I just realised that day coincided with what might end being one of the most formative turning points of my adulthood, but which I'll keep Mum on for now.

I think he's reached a level of transcendence for which I'd be incredibly envious, were it not for the irony it would incur for a self-described narcissist in Brand, preaching our interconnected One-ness with the Whole, and the resignation of ego for all to recognise this fact of the Universe.

Whether reform slowly or revolution swiftly, change must be sustainable. Yet bursting out of my skin and bones is an urgency, a voice deep from the Source that says steadily, but insistently and with strength, "Now".

We carry about with our carry bags of designer goodies, exhaust the fossilised Life from millennia ago at the service of our social status, all the while ignoring that we live in a society, and share the planet and livelihoods with myriad species.

It's a path, a journey, a quest. It's gradual change of hearts and minds, but something just tells me it's Now. If not Now, then when?

What thought predominates in 2016?

Luke Skywalker has vanished...Russell Brand is learning.

It's go time. You've gotta go, you've gotta make it sustainable, even if you want to transcend. It's got to be spiritual; it's got to be cheeky; it has to have a shamanic, uninhibited dance about it; it has to be sexy. You've got to pull your pants down and moon the tram of the World and all its craziness.