Arrr!

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Aug 302010
 

Arrr...Pirates!

As I mentioned in my last post, I read what people are writing about Get Low. Lately, I’ve been looking at Twitter a lot to see what normal folks think. I’m increasingly less interested in critics and more interested in average, everyday moviegoers. There are lots of comments, mostly positive, which is nice. There are also lots of tweets linking to free downloads, and I’ve been thinking about that a bit lately. I understand that we live in an information age and everything is available for free and whatnot. To be honest, I downloaded a few songs from Napster back in the day. I stopped, though, because I realized that artists deserve to get paid for what they do. It’s their job. If they don’t get paid, they can’t do it.  This movie is the same way.

When people see this cast they probably think this is a big budget Hollywood movie and so when they download it they are sticking it to “the man.” This movie was not madeby the “the man.” In fact, if this movie does well it will stick it to “the man” more than any illegal downloading ever could. It will show Hollywood that character movies about issues of significance are more popular than the tasteless fare they’ve been putting out. If we make a lot of money, Hollywood will make fewer big budget brainless action flicks and make more movies that move your heart and move your soul. Anyone who wants to see more good movies should pay money to see Get Low. Think of it as voting with your wallet.

That’s one level. On another level, though, this is a spiritual issue. It comes from the belief that  I need more, and I can’t have it, so I’m just going to take it. Which is sad, really, because in this country we have more than anyone in the world has ever had. Tell someone from Ghana or Pakistan that you lack and they’ll laugh at you. Or they’ll punch you in the face. The fact is, God has given us enough. If you are reading this, you have a computer and an internet connection, therefore you have enough to survive and to have a good life. You can’t have everything, but nobody can. So why bother trying?  Getting more will not make you happy. Being happy with what you have will.

I’m happy with my movie and what I’ve gotten from it. It’s been more than I could have ever imagined. This is not a plea for people to pay so I can make money. It’s a plea for people to see that God has blessed them abundantly, and to respond by doing the right thing not just for me or for God, but for themselves. Living a life of scarcity is no fun. Being a pirate sucks. Rejoice in what you have, realize it is more than enough, and live a life of abundance. Be free.

Aug 202010
 

You tell 'em, Bill.

Get Low has been a ten year journey. From the moment I first had the idea until the time it was released to the public was approximately nine years, ten months and twenty days, give or take a few here and there. There have been many highs and quite a few lows during that time. Each person who came on board, both cast and crew, was a high, as was filming and of course the world premiere and various screenings. Getting paid was nice too. The years of being in development hell was a low, as were some of the normal struggles that go along with trying to write anything. So now it’s out there, for everyone to see. For a long time, I’ve wondered what it would be like to finally have it released. To finally be able to share it with the world (ok, so it doesn’t release overseas until December, but you know what I mean). For years I’ve wondered. Now I know. You know how some celebrities say that they never read reviews? Well, I’m not a celebrity, and I read all of them.

It’s mostly ecstasy, with a little bit of agony.

Mostly ecstasy because most folks seem to really like it. We’re at 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is fabulous. Search Twitter and the blogosphere and most people like it a lot. The people I know like it, or at least have they care about me enough to not say they didn’t, and if that’s you then thank you for your kindness. In general, though, the reviews have been mostly happy and fun.

But some of the negative reviews and negative comments stick with me. Right after the world premiere in Toronto the first review that came out was Hollywood Reporter. I’ll never forget waking up that morning and reading it and feeling a great sense of disappointment. They still gave it a “good tomato,” but it was not a glowing review by any means. In fact, they thought we were destined for HBO or A&E. Yuck. Since then there have been a few other negative reviews, some of which were just nuts. One critic, I found out later, pans everything. It’s just his thing. OK, fine. I can dismiss that. But I can’t dismiss it when someone put on Twitter the other day that they were alone in the theater until some old guy in a jumpsuit walked in. This could be the greatest movie in the world and if no one goes to see it, then it doesn’t do anybody any good. I’m going to remember that one too.

People are going to see Get Low. Some of them, for the first time tonight, are in Atlanta. Many are being moved and touched. I’ve received some nice emails from complete strangers. I read them all and will continue to read them all until I have to hire out staff to send out form replies like the one I got today from the British Consulate in response to my blasting them about their handling of the Iroquois Lacrosse Team’s passports. Those jerks. However, British cultural insensitivity toward Native Americans has nothing to do with the fact I am very glad that so many people are enjoying this film that took so long and so much hard work to make. As for the little bit of agony that goes along with that, well, I guess I expected it. After all, this isn’t Hollywood. This is life, even if some of  it took place there.

Ozzy Osbourne’s Autobiography

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Aug 022010
 

Apparently, Ozzy can write.

Spirituality? From Ozzy Osbourne? You bet, and it’s not black magic voodoo stuff. Which he claims he was never into (I believe him). Nor is it intentional, but it’s there. I realized it during a chance encounter on an airplane coming back from the LA premiere of Get Low.

As deplaning began, the woman across the aisle stood. Noticing that I was holding “I Am Ozzy,” Ozzy’s autobiography, she said “Isn’t he great?” It’s one of those comments that people just say without thinking. Having read most of it, though, I was keenly aware of the fact that he was not, in fact, great. Nor would he ever say that he was. According to his own book, Ozzy spent most of his life miserably drunk and high. Not happily drunk and high: miserably drunk and high. The stories of what he did when he was in that state are absolutely hysterical, but at the end of almost all of them he writes about how awful it was being so wasted all the time. So I didn’t want to simply agree with what she had said.

“He doesn’t seem to have been very happy,” I said.
“But he made a lot of money,” she said. As if that made it all OK.
“Made a lot of money, and lost a lot money, and then made it again,” I replied.
“Yeah,” she said. “He’s great.”

Somehow, the fact that Ozzy was miserable during all this time fails to have sunk in with her. He had money. He was famous. That seems to have been good enough for her. Now, I expect having lots of money is better than not having enough, though I really wouldn’t know about either firsthand. And a little bit of fame is nice, so I imagine a lot would be all right. But the fact is, Ozzy Osbourne was miserable most of his life. The money was irrelevant to his happiness. His fame was irrelevant to his happiness. He was so drunk and high that he hated most of it. Sure, the stories are funny, but they’re the kind of stories that are only funny when they’ve happened to someone else. When they happened to you, they’re pitiful, and he’s got a book full of them.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that people are not learning from Ozzy Osbourne’s mistake of turning to drugs and alcohol to solve his problems. In general, people suck at learning from the mistakes of others, and that’s especially true when those mistakes are hidden behind fame and piles of dough. But it’s right there, throughout his autobiography. If you can stop laughing long enough to see it.