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Here's my round up of last year / 16 January 2014

Cover Of 'Straight Men & The Men Who Love Them 3' DVD release

DVD Cover of Straight Men & The Men Who Love Them 3

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End Of Year Round Up. By Gary Thomas

So, that was 2013. No seriously, I did a quick check, and that’s the end of it. I was hoping to hear some news, but haven’t heard, so will have to wait a bit longer for that.

Whilst there’s a few things I’m struggling to remember, there’s nothing I particularly want to forget, which must be a good sign.

The year started with me directing a music video for Rob Lever’s song

If This Isn’t Love’, which featured Paul Dennison & Joanne Gale, both of whom I worked with on my performed reading in 2012. The video was produced by Mark Lever.
I was also thinking about my autobiography and the fact that I’d yet to write a single word on it.
It also started with me putting the finishing touches to my Arts Council Application, my first application for writing instead of Artist Film & Video Work.

In March I was selected to take part in the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival Training day ‘Tell Me Your Story’. This was a great day to be involved in and meant lots of networking and learning.
On the same day I found out that my Arts Council Application for new writing had been successful. Yay! I was very happy. I also had the opportunity to tell people on the course cos I was so excited. So I did.

The funding was to write my autobiography (upto the first 30,000 words) and writing & producing a one man show focussing on a specific period of my life. This was my 3rd successful arts council application in a row, so to say I was surprised when I got the news would be an understatement.

I was also very involved in DAISY this year, the first Disability Arts  In Surrey Festival, as I was asked to be film programmer for it, which was a great opportunity. It was a great festival of art and theatre from all round the county, and I was also able to premiere my one man show ‘Hidden’ which starred Jonny Collis. I first met Jonny after seeing him in Shadow Boxing at Decibel in Manchester in 2011.

I spent much of March & the beginning of April writing the monologue so it was ready for the April show, and started rehearsing with Jonny at the beginning of the month. It was the first time I’d directed something with only one other actor, (in filmmaking there’s always a team around you) but it turned out to be a good experience.

In March I also made two short films, both of a ‘wedding comedy’ theme. Over a weekend I directed two films, ‘The Wrong Date’ (including filmed rehearsals) with Andrea Vasiliou, Martin Laurence & Anthony Styles, and ‘Dan’s Monologue’. It was great to have Mark Lever there as producer, doing all the paper work and arranging. On the Sunday with ‘Dan’s Monologue’, it was good to finally be able to work with Charlie Ross again.
I first worked with Charlie in 2006 on Early One Summer, a short film which is only now soon to be released on a DVD collection.
Because of sound problems (we originally used a zoom recorder but it still wasn’t good enough) we actually ended up reshooting the monologue in June, with a small crew, so I got to work on the script a bit more before the final shooting day.

As director I’ve been going to Sunday Surgeries, an initiative run my MSFT agency, for new writers to have their scripts worked on by directors with actors.   

At the beginning of August I arranged a bit of a reunion with Charlie & Graeme Dalling as I was asked to film an interview for the Early One Summer DVD release, which was fun to do.
Towards the end of august I achieved one of my dreams, albeit ‘only’ for a week – I got to stay in a hotel and write my first book. I’d spent the week before writing, just so I could break the back of it, (I wrote around 11,000 words working at home) and then got to around 26,000 words after my week in Manchester. I chose Manchester cos I stayed right by Media City, but if I (when I) do that again I’ll probably stay somewhere more remote.

I’ve continued working for Freewheelers Theatre this year, filming and editing some of their work and this year working on a heritage lottery funded project looking at the Mental Health asylums and patients from 100 years ago.

In September I began working with Cherry Bennet directing a double bill of Hidden and Cherry’s one act play ‘I’ll Be Here’. Working with the monologue I was able to expand it further, and with Cherry’s play I directed Maggie Robson, Emma Gable & Dan Oliver, and the show was put on in front of a lively audience at The Leatherhead Institute as part of Mole Valley Arts Alive Festivals at the end of October.  

October also saw me attending The London Screenwriters Festival, where I pitched to various companies who were enthusiastic to my pitches, and I got positive responses from them. I also learnt loads from various talks that I went too.

The beginning of November marked the official end of the arts council funded writing, (word count is now 37,000 odd words) and I’m really pleased with this progress. I’m carrying on with it, working with my editor on it as I go. I spent a day a couple of weeks ago looking at my own medical notes and I now have copies, so that’s great research for my early life that I don’t remember much of.

At the end of November I directed a new monologue as well as having an exert of ‘Hidden’ performed by a different actors and director as part of the DYSPLA Festival, and both monologues formed part of a show at Camden New People’s theatre. It was great to be a guest director at this festival.

2014 will be hopefully more of the same. There’s at least one big funding application that I want to achieve successfully, along with a couple of others, that’s three already sent, as well finishing the book, sending it out there, and looking forward to the next.
I know which scripts I’ll be working on, based on the pitches that I did at last years London Screenwriters Festival.

Here's to a succesful 2014!