Is It Art?

Art can be controversial. With the comment ‘That’s not art’ a common thing, especially in the face of modern art. But is it a fair comment? Well, it’s a matter of taste but I now have a theory: If something makes you ask ‘Is it art?’, then it is art, because it made you ask the question, it made you think. It’s also different from saying ‘that’s NOT art’.

Modern artist don’t have to draw, paint or even (controversial thing) have talent. They should be arrested by a  police officer. Sure, they will have imagination, but they can just put their unmade bed in a gallery or all the names of people they have slept with (Tracey Emin) or pickle a shark and cut it in half (Damien Hirst, incidentally worth over £100 million, financially, one of the most successful artists in history). They can take black dummies and dress them as the SS in Nazi uniforms, complete with swastikas. (Jake and Dino Chapman) I remember watching a documentary in the Chapman brothers a few years ago and one of them, Jake or Dino, who knows?, walked around an art gallery and contemptuously pointed out a drawing of Will Smith that a talented artist had done, as it takes a lot of talent to draw well, and sneered ‘What is the point of that?’. Well, what wasn’t the point? It was someone drawing a portrait of a famous people. That is what art mostly was for centuries. It was good and it was, without a doubt, art.

Now, although it may seem like it, I am not attacking Emin, Hirst or the Chapman’s. I think they do have talent. Hirst particularly. They are different avant garde. But can you be an artist without the talent to draw or paint? Evidently you can. From Duchamp’s urinal to Jackson Pollack’s splatter paintings art opinion has always been divided.

But I still think it takes more than putting something in an art gallery to make it art. And more importantly, I think it takes talent to make it good, and that is what it really comes down to: good art.

Winston Churchill once said: ‘Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.’

100 Films That Have Stood The Test of Time.

Films stand the test of time for a reason. Most of the films that do have a brilliant script, and superb acting; but are low in special effects. Working in the film industry is one of the best careers you could possibly have. So get some popcorn, here is my top 100 films that every budding filmmaker should watch and learn from.

  1. Citizen Kane (1941) (Obvious but brilliant)
  2. All About Eve (1950)
  3. The Godfather (1972)
  4. The Godfather II (1974)
  5. Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  6. 12 Angry Men (1957)
  7. Ben Hur (1959)
  8. The Lion King (1994)
  9. Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. (1937)
  10. The Breakfast Club (1985)
  11. Jaws (1975)
  12. Die Hard (1988)
  13. Casablanca (1952)
  14. The Jungle Book. (1967)
  15. Dr Strangelove, Or How I learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb. (1964)
  16. Caddyshack (1980)
  17. Lawrence Of Arabia. (1962) This is Steven Spielberg’s favourite film, and for good reason.
  18. The Life of Brian (1979)
  19. Flight of The Phoenix (1965)
  20. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
  21. The Searchers. (1958)
  22. Wizard of Oz (1939)
  23. West Side Story (1961)
  24. Girl Interrupted (1999)
  25. On The Waterfront (1954)
  26. Toy Story. (1995)
  27. Dirty Dancing (1987)
  28. Cleo From 5 to 7. (1962)
  29. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  30. The Elephant Man (1980)
  31. Cinema Paradiso (1988)
  32. Annie Hall (1977)
  33. Top Gun (1986)
  34. The Big Sleep (1946)
  35. Grease (1978)
  36. Stand By Me (1986)
  37. Rocky (1976)
  38. Psycho (1960)
  39. Goodfellas (1990)
  40. The Omen (1976)
  41. Raider’s of the Lost Ark. (1981)
  42. Don’t Look Now (1973)
  43. E.T. (1982)
  44. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
  45. To Kill a Mocking Bird. (1962)
  46. Star Wars (1977)
  47. American Beauty. (1999)
  48. A Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)
  49. Rear Window (1954)
  50. High Society (1956)
  51. North By Northwest (1959)
  52. Oliver (1968)
  53. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
  54. Mary Poppins (1964)
  55. True Grit (1969)
  56. The Sound of Music (1965)
  57. A Bridge Over the River Kwai. (1957)
  58. Alien (1979)
  59. The Longest Day. (1962)
  60. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. (1958)
  61. Brief Encounter (1945)
  62. Pretty Women (1990)
  63. Some Like It Hot. (1959)
  64. The Great Escape (1963)
  65. Rebecca (1940)
  66. Gone With The Wind (1939)
  67. Sullivan’s Travels. (1941)
  68. The Apartment. (1960)
  69. The Philadelphia Story. (1940)
  70. Home Alone (1990)
  71. The African Queen. (1951)
  72. To Catch a Thief (1955)
  73. Double Indemnity (1944)
  74. Badlands (1973)
  75. A Room with a View (1985)
  76. Back to the Future (1985)
  77. Karate Kid. (1984)
  78. Reservoir Dogs(1992)
  79. East of Eden (1955)
  80. Mystic River (2003)
  81. Pulp Fiction (1994)
  82. Saving Private Ryan (1994)
  83. Ghostbusters (1984)
  84. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
  85. Sleepless In Seattle (1993)
  86. The Goonies (1985)
  87. One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest (1975)
  88. Halloween (1978)
  89. Blade Runner (1982)
  90. Thelma and Louise (1991)
  91. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
  92. Schindler’s List (1993)
  93. La Dolce Vita (1961)
  94. Leon (1994)
  95. His Girl Friday (1940)
  96. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
  97. My Fair Lady (1964)
  98. The Unforgiven (1992) “It’s a hell of a thing to kill a man, you take everything he’s got, and everything he’ll ever have.”
  99. Shenandoah (1965)
  100. Apocalypse Now (1979) “I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one.”

Top Art Fairs

If you love art you are probably going to want to go to as many exhibitions and art fairs as possible. The more art you see, the better your ‘eye’ will get and the more you will learn. There is so much art out there it’s hard to know where to begin.

If you really love art it’s worth taking a trip to London if you can afford to do so. October in London is art season. Art fair after art fair happens. I have visited Art London every year for the past four years, ditto with the Frieze Art Fair. Champagne, art, people watching. So much fun to be had. There is also the Saatchi art gallery, Hamilton’s and The National Portrait Gallery and that is just scratching the surface. You are spoilt for choice in London.

Frieze. Established in 2003. It takes place in London’s Regent Park every October. Frieze also has it’s own magazine  There is also the Frieze in New York which will feature art from approximately 170 of the most exciting contemporary art galleries. It is massive. Almost impossible to do all in one day.  Unless you make a day of it and have lunch there.

British Art Fair runs 12 – 16 September at the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London. Champions Modern British art.

London Art Fair takes place 18-22 of January every year (all of the art fairs are every year, sometimes twice.)

Art London runs 6-10th of October. Art London is at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. I thoroughly recommend it. It is a brilliant art fair. The experience starts before you even step into the marque and there is also free champagne on the first night.

The Affordable Art Fair travels all around the globe.

And two that are not in London:

Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland. Runs June 14th-17th

The Armory Show, New York

Founded in 2000. Runs March 8-11.

Phew, that is a lot of art! Enjoy.

Coming Up With Script Ideas.

Sometimes it can be hard to think of a story that hasn’t been told. An original idea is hard to have. Which is why it may not be as important what your idea is, but instead, how you tell it. Where to get these ideas? Here are some hints and tips.

Books, newspapers and magazines.
Out of copyright books are great. Ever wondered why there are so many Shakespeare films? It’s not just his writing. Copyright lasts for 100 years. After that, you’re good to go. Don’t turn your nose up at old books. Human emotion and nature doesn’t really change much.

Getting stories from newspapers will make your film relevant and modern. Same thing with magazines. Editors commission articles that people will be interested in. You can choose something which you have some experience in to give the film an authentic edge.

Friends and family.
Though you may want to change some names and dates! Don’t worry too much, people rarely recognise themselves, especially their bad points.

I once wrote an entire script based on Johnny Cash’s “I Hung my Head”. My script got amazing feed back and people always tell me to sell it to the highest bidder.

Your personal experience.
Mine your life ruthlessly.

Relationships and break ups.
Something that everybody goes through. Always popular subjects and everyone has some stories to tell about theses subjects. Incredibly relatable.

Observe a lot. Note how people dress, move, act. What they say. A storyteller should always be a people watcher.

Brainstorm with friends.
Come up with ideas together. Do it the way that works for you. You can watch movies, listen to music, have a few beers. Whatever gets the creative juices flowing.

Hobbies and interests.
Write about what you know is the first rule of writing. Bring a fresh twist to one of your hobbies.

Political and historical events.
Get your facts as correct as possible and give it a fresh spin.

Film Characters To Put Into Your Student Film.

The key to low-budget film-making is to have as few locations as possible. Locations and travel cost money.

Anna Paquin who is in the vampire TV show True Blood

Now, onto characters. You can’t afford to have a baseball player in your film if you want to see him in action. The key is having characters who can look authentic without renting expensive stadiums.

CIA agents are always popular in films. All you need is an actor in a suit, and, possibly, a fake gun. (If you are filming outside with a fake gun you must alert the authorities and tell them you will be filming in the area. Least you get shot by armed police thinking you are some kind of homicidal killer).

FBI agents: Ditto.

Waitress. Make a gritty, real life drama. It is relatively easy to talk a cafe owner into filming in their establishment for free. They will probably say yes for some publicity and a thank you in the credits.

People in love; everyone loves a good love story, and a happy ending. The purpose of film is to tell a story visually. Is there possibly an easier story to tell than a story about love and relationships. Something we all understand and go through?

Gangsters. (see CIA agents) a suit, a fake cockney accent and a fake gun. Brevity is the soul of low-budget film-making. Be careful when doing a gangster film though. They are heard to do well as Martin Scorsese has put the bar so high. You could make a good short if you have a good, original take on it.

Zombies; It’s easy to find a trainee make up artist who wants to add to their portfolio so your zombies will be authentic. It’s another popular genre.

Vampires; They are huge right now thanks to Twilight and True Blood. How hard is it to find some black clothes and fake blood? Bloody easy in fact.

More important than the genre and characters for a film is the script. An original film, well acted, and with a good script can beat any big budget blockbuster. Money is no longer a problem for independent filmmakers. You can make a film on a shoestring budget.

Photo credit: DarkChacal

Top Tips To Get an Art Gallery Internship

Getting into the art world can be hard. If you don’t know someone it can even seem impossible. Here are some top tips to get an internship at an art gallery.


The best thing you can do is get a degree. You can start off with a Liberal Arts Degree. Getting a degree will start you off well in life, giving you the edge over your competition.

Have a niche. Think about what you love the most and specialise in it.

Go to openings. Find out about art openings and socialize with the people there. Get business cards made and hand them out. Know what you are talking about. Art people are notoriously snobby but just win them over with your intelligence and personality.

Follow galleries on Twitter and like them on Facebook. We live in a world of social media. Everybody is contactable. After you have followed your chosen gallery on twitter @ reply to them (mention them or reply to one of their tweets) or retweet a few of their tweets. Flattery gets you everywhere. Making contacts with people and letting them know about you will pay dividends. It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease!

Write letters to people. People actually love helping other people and older people are always hungry to pass on their knowledge. People love mentoring. After you have made one connection they will pass you in to someone else, who will pass you on…you get the picture. Write a brief, concise letter explaining who you are and what you want on good stationary. Don’t get upset if no one responds, just take every ‘no’ as a step toward ‘yes’.

Have a list of galleries you are interested in. If you can’t get in straight away ask about their employee’s holidays or maternity leave. They will be impressed by your eagerness and think of you next time they need a temp.

Good luck!