Beat Girl and the Scene of Indie Cinema

Beat Girl poster

Last week I was invited to the private advanced screening of Beat Girl at W Hotel at Leicester Square just next to the M&M World (don’t know why I mentioned that, but I passed the hotel so many times before but never got in). After screening of the movie there was Q&A with the casts, writer, and producer — probably the first kind of press event that I went to. I’m no stranger to Indie cinemas though, as I love my indies as much as I love my blockbusters.

Beat Girl tells the story of Heather, a classical piano student in a mission to get to her dream school. Life is tough though. With the death of mother, Heather needs to move in with her estranged father and half-brother, both of whom aren’t emotionally supportive, and half-bro is especially not welcoming. After a shoplifting rescue of the brother, Heather meets Toby, the owner of a CD store who happens to be cute and a rather successful DJ. Short of money and hearing how much a good DJ could earn in one night (that’s £1000), she starts taking DJ lessons with him.

Here the two worlds start to clash. The late nights prove to be disruptive to morning classes. And classical piano student does DJ-ing? Outrageous! How dare she! How will Heather handle the tension and pressure between her day and night world? The question whether to follow what one loves against the expectation bestowed upon one is hanging throughout the movie.

 Beat Girl

Afterwards we had Q&A with Louise Dylan (Heather), Craig Daniel Adams (Toby), Melanie Martinez (writer), and Nuno Bernado (producer). First thing I noticed was that the girl and boy playing Heather and Toby are both so much more good looking in real life! — they almost looked completely different for some reason. Very odd. And Craig Daniel Adams talks in Scottish accent in real life which sounds so cute (what’s so irresistible about Scottish and Irish accent?), that is suppressed in the movie.

I threw question about the inception of the story, and it was soon obvious that the story is the brainchild of the producer Nuno Bernado based on his personal experience when he was young. Melanie Martinez the writer came over when the story was pretty much set, then she wrote it and probably fleshed it out more.

I always have great interest in the making of a movie — Indie or otherwise, probably more so for Indie. To be able to come up with a full length movie with small budget is such an achievement. Also working so close to the movie industry, I do have quite a few friends who try to and actually make small films. It is something quite close to my heart.

Beat Girl

There was some talk about comparison with Save the Last Dance (the movie which I absolutely loved back when I was in high school!), but Beat Girl is probably targeted for a younger audience. It is a gentle coming-of-age movie about following your heart.

Beat Girl also reminded me a bit of a Certain Indie Movie that also has music as its majority theme — Once. Once is Irish, made with even smaller budget (Once – €130K, Beat Girl – €500K), it has gone to win Oscar for Best Original Song and be critically and commercially successful. It’s just recently made into a musical that has taken Broadway and West End by storm.

Compared with the two older movies (both of which I loved very much), Beat Girl admittedly falls a bit short. For a music theme movie, I thought the soundtrack isn’t strong enough. And for an Indie movie, it is not edgy enough — it is all a bit too gentle and too safe.

Beat Girl

Another point of interest is the promotion of the movie. Beat Girl uses all kinds of social media channels, including Pinterest (Beat Girl Pinterest page) which they started even before the movie was out. I thought this one was particularly brilliant. You can use Pinterest to make some kind of story board, flesh out your story ideas, and gauge the audience, before going to make the real thing. There are also book written after the screenplay and game based on the movie. The last two I’m not so sure of. It seems like the energy could’ve been spread a bit too thin for something that wouldn’t work at all if not done properly. (I know, I am a reader and a gamer :)

We do need more Indie cinemas and people making more movies. All the gadgets available to everyone now are already better than the professional gadgets 10 years ago. Technically everybody can make movies and what with the Internet leveling the playing field. In the future we would be able to sell movie anywhere around the world via the Internet.

Lower barrier. More people. Wider market. Exciting time.

Beat Girl coming out in the UK on the 10th of May 2013 and 29th of May in the US.

Today I’m Guest Blogging

I was invited to guest blog at The Good Web Guide so this week I’m Blogger of the Week! Check out the front page — I am side by side diagonally with the CEO of Pottermore! And here’s the permalink if you read this post after this week.

Mee at Good Web Guide
Mee at Good Web Guide

I could write about anything, but the editor suggested a few topics related to blogging. And I thought well I could totally write about that! Some of my friends IRL would know that I sometimes try to shove off blogging tips to people who don’t have interest to blog… uuum.

I know lots of you at Bookie Mee are avid bloggers, so I’m really preaching to the choir (or fellow priests?). But if you’re one of those who’s been thinking to start a blog, check out my top tips for building a successful blog (or two). And those of you my swanky fellow bloggers, let me know if you have anything to add to those tips! :)

I could’ve written about How Blogging Changed My Life. But I’ll save that story for another day.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at Apollo Theatre

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time on Stage

Just recently, right after War Horse, I had been thinking whether I might get invited to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Sometimes the universe listens, and lo and behold! The invitation indeed came forth. The striking blue posters since have been popping up all around London, and I was really looking forward to seeing the play.

I read The Curious book sometime in 2008 during a read-a-thon (oh the days when read-a-thon was a manageable size), and I loved it straight away. It is one of those books that I bought multiple copies of, and gave to people. I wondered how people would translate such a unique book into stage play.

First thing that hit me was that the boy playing Christopher was older/bigger than what I imagined him to be when I read the book. He is 15 in the book. I guess boys are pretty grown by that age, so the casting was alright (Christopher played by Luke Treadaway – who also happened to play in War Horse stage). Somehow I imagined him closer to 11-12 years old back then.

In any way he is quite a tricky character to play, because as we know, Christopher is autistic. He has problem with interpreting people’s emotions, understanding behaviours, and generally acting “normal”. It is something that I can relate with, the whole confusion and pressure to be the “normal” — to be the same as everybody else.

The Curous Incident of the Dog in the Night-time on Stage

Christopher’s problem also highlights things that we usually take for granted, like interpreting the reaction of human face and body language. It reminds me how complex humans are, and how far away we are from having robots duplicating our ability to read all these millions of tiny, often subtle, signals we send to each other. Christopher excels in math and logic, but he has trouble understanding his fellow human beings.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time on Stage

The play begins with a dead neighbour’s dog killed by a giant fork, and Christopher is present at the scene of the crime. After convincing everybody that he does not kill the dog, Christopher goes off to try to find the answers to the who and why. Started somewhat lightheartedly, it gets sad pretty quickly, as we learn about the situation at home, featuring a stressed father, and a separated mother.

The stage is very clean and modern, with the shape of a square box. Lights, projectors, and moveable props are used, and there are storage spaces behind the walls and under the floor where they can take things from. It is another unique way of using the stage that I had not seen before.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time on Stage

The Curous Incident of the Dog in the Night-time on Stage

It was very interesting to see the book brought to live on stage. I encourage you to check out the trailer below also to get more sense of what to expect. Very worth watching if you happen to be in London! And if you do, don’t leave your seat immediately after the show ends, because in a short while Christopher would appear again and do his Math presentation, just like the appendix in the book :).

As another nice touch, notice the seats when you get into the theatre. If you remember, Christopher is fascinated by prime numbers (who doesn’t? I remember being fascinated by them too when I first learned about it!), so they number all the seats in the theatre and mark those ones that are on prime number positions!

(All images taken from The Curious On Stage website)

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