Sunday, March 29, 2009

Confidence and Doubt

I want nothing more in life than to tell stories through film, and have them be recognized on an national, even international level. I feel confident I can do this. So what holds me back?

I think everyone possesses a little bit of self-sabotage. Most people are afraid to fully succeed. Especially those with the ability to actually do so. Is it because they fear failure? Or they fear the work? Or are they afraid of what will happen next... will succeeding be everything they hoped it would be? Will it finally make them content? What if the answer is no?

I doubt the answer is no. Something I battle with in my own life is being "content". I am never content, and I don't think I have ever experienced what that might feel like. Is that a blessing or a curse?

All I know is that I have BIG goals and dreams. A lot bigger than most people's. And I hope that never goes away.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Rare Book

I spent the evening reading a rare book at The Birmingham Library:

Rev. Joseph Camp. (1882) An Insight into an Insane Asylum., self-published "exposé" of conditions at Bryce.

The book is so old and rare, I wasn't allowed to check it out or make photo copies. You could only use a pencil when writing notes from it, and they almost made me wear gloves because it was so fragile. All of that hype got me really excited.

Here is a brief description about the book:

In May 1881, thinking he was on a pleasant trip to Tuscaloosa with his family, seventy-year-old Reverend Joseph Camp was admitted to the Alabama Insane Hospital by his wife and son-in-law. The shock of being admitted to the hospital only grew during Camp's next five months and twenty days as a patient there. Upon returning to his family in November, Camp published his book, entitled An Insight into an Insane Asylum, at his own expense. Camp's book notes the treatment he received as a mental patient of the Alabama Insane Hospital, including practices of nurses and physicians that often border on cruelty. To this day, Camp's book remains the only significant exposé of the Alabama Insane Hospital ever written.

I am only to page 68, so I will have to visit another day this week to read the rest. It is a really good find.

During my visit, I also discovered another really GREAT book: Letters from a Victorian Madwoman (another exposé on Bryce Hospital.) While skimming the Table of Contents, I was literally FLOORED to find that it was so eerily in tune with the rough script outline I had just written a few days ago. I am really excited to get my hands on this book...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Shocking and Different

It is a new and beautiful day outside. Days like this remind me of how good life can be. Should be. That our days should be spent doing things that we love. And being free. No boxes.

This week I made a rough outline of the screenplay that I want to write. I am going to spend today developing it more.

In this story, I want to discover a girl who was quite different for her time. Sometimes even shocking. I feel like this sometimes.

Listening to the Amelie soundtrack today.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Meteor

I found great inspiration tonight.
I discovered, "The Meteor", a newspaper produced in the mid-1800's by the patients of the "Alabama Insane Hospital", which is now know as Bryce State Mental Hospital in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Here is a quick summary of the publication:

The newspaper was named The Meteor because meteors come as a surprise, appear at irregular intervals, and have brilliant though short, temporary careers. The paper was also meant "to glow with a kindly and generous sentiment to all mankind." It appeared quarterly for five years and then became a "semi-occasionally" because the printer and editor, "disgusted with the succession of years that still found them at the Hospital, determined . . . to print a number only when inclined to do so." The editor also surmised that people would not expect a regular publication from a hospital patient.

When I was growing up in the small town of Morris, Alabama, all of the "bad" students were sent to Bryce Adolescent School. It obviously had some sort of connection to the mental institution, both located in the same town about an hour and a half away from where I lived. It always seemed like a bad place. More on this later.

Since I completed "Piece of Cake" a few year ago (fall '06), I have been searching for SOMETHING creative to latch on to. I have created sculptures, explored photography and even tried my hand at performance art. Just searching and searching for my next big "project" and inspiration. I did find that I am good at all of these things (and even more than what I listed), but nothing has quite filled the gap in my soul.

My biggest problem, and biggest blessing, is that I am quite scattered and excitable most of the time. It is easy for me to imagine the possibilities of almost any creative venture... and it is always tempting to at least try it out. This has fortunately taught me a lot about myself. It has also left a lot of unfinished projects in the dust after my interest is lost. Granted, I always got intellectually what I needed out of it and I am sure I will benefit from the experimentation on day.

Anyway, what I guess I am trying to say is that I think another film is in my future. I am not sure when, where or how, but I can feel it in my soul.

I currently have two really strong concepts that I am playing around with. The original one was to do a film on birth of Birmingham, Alabama. Since I have been a native of Birmingham most of my life, I feel a strong connection and passion to tell this story. I am mostly intrigued by it's discovery in the mid to late-1800's and the span of history into the early 1900's. I have many books on the subject. But for some reason I do not feel like it is quite time to make this film. There is so much to learn before I can take it on. A really cool aspect of this project is the fact that so much of the original architecture is still in place, making it easier to create a "period" piece. We will see what happens with this idea.

Going back to "The Meteor"... I feel a really strong connection with the idea of creating a script on this subject. Ghosts, spiritual phenomenon and mental illness are all things that I am very familiar with. Mental illness runs in my family (to varying degrees), and even I had a run-in with an intense case of clinical OCD from my early childhood to early 20's. I think it could be very likely that if I had lived during this time period, that I might have been a patient at this facility. Nowadays, it is just the matter of finding a doctor and being on the right medication.

I think I am going to explore this idea some more, and do some serious research on the people who were in the Alabama Insane Hospital during the turn of the century. I bet there are many characters to be discovered and to be inspired by. And I don't think it has to be a sad tale, but one of hope and discovery.