Wednesday 27 April 2011

What a scent !

I loved that classic movie "Scent of a woman". The dialog was so compelling, and filled with wisdom. That closing scene where Al Pacino's character makes that inspired speech - this is what it is all about.

Here is a précised extract - yes, some very wise words on leadership:

Here's Charlie facin' the fire, and there's George... hidin' in big daddy's pocket. And what are you doin'? You're gonna reward George... and destroy Charlie.

What a sham. What kind of a show are you guys puttin' on here today?

I mean, the only class in this act is sittin' next to me.

You think you're merely sendin' this splendid foot soldier... back home to Oregon with his tail between his legs, but I say you are... executin' his soul!

And why? Because he's not a Baird man.

Baird men. You hurt this boy, you're gonna be Baird bums, the lot of you.

As I came in here, I heard those words: "cradle of leadership."

Makers of men, creators of leaders. Be careful what kind of leaders you're producin' here.

I don't know if Charlie's silence here today... is right or wrong; I'm not a judge or jury.

But I can tell you this: he won't sell anybody out... to buy his future !

And that, my friends, is called integrity. That's called courage.

Now that's the stuff leaders should be made of.

Now I have come to the crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was.

Without exception, I knew, but I never took it.

You know why?

It was too damn hard.

Now here's Charlie. He's come to the crossroads. He has chosen a path.

It's the right path.

It's a path made of principle... that leads to character.

Let him continue on his journey.

You hold this boy's future in your hands, Committee.

It's a valuable future, believe me.

Don't destroy it. Protect it. Embrace it.

It's gonna make you proud one day, I promise you.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Friday 22 April 2011

You can't quit !

A leader has to keep their cool at all times - they can't just throw their hands in the air and go "That’s it - I am done."

I often wish I could just leave things and walk away, but in life, we should finish what we start (even if the ending is not fun and exciting) and as leaders, the buck stops here. The real challenges in life are all people related. The non-people stuff we can sleep off, but the human related issues are the ones that keep us up at night. They are the real fundamental challenges and they can delight or drain us. I try never to lose my cool, but I am not perfect, and once in a blue moon I do just say what is on my mind. For the rest of it, I try to not sweat the small stuff - I know that some people just don’t know any better, and also, I have learnt that one has to be bigger than the rest, if one wants to lead people. It is not easy, and leadership is often not a popularity contest. Ask any parent - they will tell you the same thing.

To make magic in the world, real magic, requires sacrifice and commitment, on a level that can lead one to an early grave. As the saying goes "no pain, no gain" ... yes, no pain, no magic. To conjure up brilliant colour, and to inspire others, requires strength and drive. It means you can't quit. Even if you want to.

One has to be bigger than the rest if you want to do big things in the world. I don't feel I have done anything big in the world, but I am on a path where magic lies on the road less traveled, and I have wanted to quit so many times, because it is so hard, so painful, often so lonely, but, I somehow keep finding the strength to continue. I often have to take a pause, but I have yet to quit.

Yes, I would love to be able to go "I am going travelling - sorry" but I can't. I lost that right a long time ago. Like a parent - it is just not an option. Parents can't quit, well, the good ones. I am almost 44 years old and my parents still work for me ... and that is how it is.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 16 April 2011

The tissue test

The big edit is underway. I will see the first cut of the film towards the end of next month. And then, around the last part of June we will do the "Kleenex test" - we will show Material to a focus group and if they all grab a tissue at the end then we will know we are in business.

This week I watched a beautiful movie called Mao's Last Dancer. A small budget film with a lot of heart, and I was amazed at how many story beats have been echoed in Material. I think it is a good omen, and I believe we are on the right road to the pyramids.

Making a winning film is a monster challenge - the film needs to be great, not just good. So wish us great luck, not just good luck. Yes, we need all the luck in the world.

As for the Kleenex test - this is the ultimate measure. If the box is emtpy after the test screening then we will indeed have a winner, and if not, then I am going to need those tissues for myself.

The Material film is going to make you laugh, and we are confident that it will be highly entertaining and compelling, but it needs to deliver its emotional payload - ie, we need to make you laugh and cry. If you only laugh it is not good enough.

You see, either way, someone is going to cry - let's hope it is all of us!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Monday 11 April 2011

And that's a wrap !

It is hard to believe that the Material shoot is now in the can, er, on the hard drive. The whole thing was one big blur!

Also, the "2nd unit" team (sounds fancy hey) went and shot a bunch of cityscapes and pedestrians and traffic, and other cool stuff.

This week gear is being returned and papers signed and filed. The big 3 month edit is now underway.

Please God we will be able to show that true alchemy exists.

Craig Freimond, who directed the action, was a professional like none other. He was graceful and confident and calm. It was certainly the best experience I have had so far with any artistic adventure. And Riaad Moosa is another gift from above - a bigger mench you will not find. Bra Vince is in CT on holiday and soon will be back in London - what a champion!

The omens are certainly all good. Soon we will know ... very very soon.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 9 April 2011

Tomorrow we wrap ...

I can't believe how fast the Material movie shoot has gone by! It has been such an incredible journey, and tomorrow, the last day of production is going to be an emotional day.

We have a 3 month edit ahead of us, and then, God willing, the film will be put out there for all to enjoy. I am confident that something good is coming, but I am praying that it is more than good. In the arts world good is not good enough - it needs to be great!

If the energy and vibe amongst the cast and crew is anything to go by then we are on the right track. Craig, Riaad, Vincent, Robbie, Allison, and the rest of the team have demonstrated incredible patience and humility - it has been a blessed journey and a real privilege to have been a part of this adventure.

Riaad is an international sensation just waiting to happen and Vincent is a gentleman like none other. And as for Craig, our partner and film making leader, what an incredible talent and brilliant human being - he kept his cool and was graceful, even when the pressure was peaking. He knew exactly what he was doing and he was 10 steps ahead all the time.

The key measure of success is sustenance. I am confident that a real team is forming here, that will be ready for another adventure should Material hit the mark. Please God it does!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Monday 4 April 2011

One Material week left ...

It is Monday morning and we have this, the 4th week, left on the Material movie shoot.

It has been the most intense journey, but there is a magical feeling about what is unfolding.

We wrapped Bra Vince on Thursday and on Saturday I said goodbye to him - what an extraordinary soul - we were blessed with Vincent's spirit, talent and friendship. May we make him proud with the end result!

The big stress last week was the Zoo Lake day on Friday - there must have been lots of people who heard our anxiety because the sun dance worked - we had great weather! We didn't finish the day, and we do have to go back to Zoo Lake - but, we got the big stuff done and it is looking good! We just need about an hour or two back at the lake - trying to fit that into the last week of the schedule is going to be a challenge, but we will find a way - we have to!

I better get going - we are starting a bit later today because we are shooting into the darkness - I love night scenes!

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Posted by Ronnie Apteker