Terry Gilliam

Comedy writing – Monty Python

As a fully-paid up comedy writing fan, I’m delighted by a Youtube documentary “Life before the Flying Circus” – featuring the background to the Monty Python comedy team.

I’ve watched lots of comedy documentaries in my time, and will seek out ones on Monty Python – but this programme seems to have the edge over so many I have already seen.  It not only has the boys themselves, but also brief but insightful contributions from the bigwigs in comedy who encouraged them at the start.  You get a sense of the industry.  The sight of Frank Muir, with the inevitable bow-tie, was delightful.

What comes across is an unglossy version of the beginnings of being an ‘overnight success’.  When you hear that Eric and Michael would spend all week writing comedy sketches, to only get 2 minutes of their material on air and earn £14 – which they then had to split between them – you realise things have always been tough at the bottom.

So, comedy writers – watch this and rejoice – there is hope, there can be breaks – and here, what worked was being hardworking, focussed and taking the unglamorous jobs and just grafting away – ironically while saying that at least we don’t have boring desk jobs.

The picture from the documentary which I’ve chosen as the photo for the top of this blog post is grainy and not taken with an eye to the future.  But I love it – it’s the start of something special, and it’s “in the room”, as it happens.

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Beauty in train stations

One minute to view 10 beautiful train stations in the world, pieced together by Curbed website.

Good design.  Art and life.

 

One of the stations, Central Station, New York, was used for a very expressive scene in the film “Fisher King” where two awkward characters almost meet – and the magic of the way one character feels about the other is conveyed by a transformative scene in the station.

10 film-making tips: Terry Gilliam

He who animated the pictures on the Monty Python shows, who filmed “Brazil”, “Time Bandits”, “The Fisher King”, “the Adventures of Baron Munchausen”…. lo he speaketh.

Long story long, there is his autobiography, which he calls his “me-me-me-memoir” and published 4 months ago.  (Judging by which he is beginning to look like Orson Welles…)tgwbook2.jpg

 

Or long story shorter, here are his 10 tips based on what worked for him:

  1. Growing up is for losers
  2. Film School is for foolssearch.jpg
  3. Auteurism is out, fil-teurism is in
  4. Put your ideas in a drawer.  Take them out as needed.
  5. All you’ve really got in life is story
  6. Command the audience with your lens
  7. Nothing can defeat a director who is one with his actors
  8. Surround yourself with improvisers
  9. Directing is not for the faint-of-heart.  Or the sane.
  10. Be an enlightened despot

Ah – but what do all those mystical soundbites mean?

 

Full story an explanation is over at the article from which these 10 ideas were extracted, in Filmmaker:

http://filmmakermagazine.com/36400-the-terry-gilliam-school-of-film-10-lessons-for-directors-today/#.WJiMqiOLQy5