And once again I feel quite overwhelmed and touched by the support.
Since writing the first draft to this film around September 2015 at a mere 56 pages and handing out to a small group of select friends (Dave Houston, Ben Wild, Bang Mango Cools and Simon 7) who all gave such positive and encouraging feedback, to then beginning the process of writing new songs specifically for the story, then filling those songs out with Dave Tweedie and Alex Mcleod, to writing a second draft and then doing a first public reading, where I sat holding my breath until the laughter of the room enabled me to relax a little and still on from there to a third draft and yet another public reading with the interest in the script growing and growing – it’s been a ride.
The script begun as an idea to rewrite the Musical ‘Grease’ and set it in contemporary Byron Bay. You know boy meets girl, some kind of break up, some kind of make up – easy – “Mills and Boon with music” I thought.
Then I told Benjamin Wild about my idea and he said, “Does everyone die in the end?” to which I said “no” and he replied, “Then I ain’t gunna watch it.”
That got me thinking, about who I am and what my music stands for.
Both of my double albums have been a celebration of all that is life, not just the upbeat happy positive feel good days, but the scrapping the bottom of the barrel kind of days, “Lay me down and put me to sleep coz I can’t stop crying” – (Your magic trick – Letting Go album 2012)
Mum had only just passed away and I was still recovering from Pericarditis and was experiencing Health Anxiety as a result.
I was keeping food diaries, symptom diaries, toilet diaries, dream diaries – you name it, I was keeping note of it.
It was around that time I had a dream of my older deceased brother Paul. It woke me up and disturbed me a little. I didn’t write it down straight away. I went back to sleep and dreamt some more.
Around 4am I was awoken again by another dream, this one was about a magpie that landed on my forearm and wouldn’t get off. I tried shaking my arm – nothing. I yelled at the bird – still nothing. In the end I picked up a broome stick and hit the bird over the head with it. Still it didn’t budge. I struck again and again until finally I killed the bird. I was outraged. How dare that bird make me kill it? I felt terrible – It woke me up. This time I knew there was no real chance of getting back to sleep so I made my way downstairs and started writing in my diary. At first I started writing about my brother and I found myself writing about about all the difficulties I felt in being his younger brother.
Paul was so good looking and charismatic and seemed to do well at school without really trying. He was also a stand over guy who bullied me from an early age. I always felt inferior to him in every way.
Later in his teens he got mixed up in drugs and searching for meaning in self destruction. Unfortunately for him he never had the opportunity to grow out of this stage as he developed cancer of the testicle which spread through out his entire body and eventually buried hum.
His funeral was such a huge event. He was so loved. There were so many people there that we couldn’t fit everyone into the church.
Paul became very violent on drugs and did some pretty awful things. He really changed and lost all his sweetness, such was the sleep deprivation and the paranoia.
I had so many hard stories swimming around in my head that morning about Paul’s violent episodes.
I stopped for a moment to reflect.
I thought, ‘How come every time you write about your brother it becomes a story about something awful he did?’
Why not write a nice story?
I mean the guy had so many people who loved him or looked up to him as some kind of hero, he must’ve done some good things?
But I couldn’t think of anything nice he’d done.
Then it came to me. ‘The first day of school I was swooped by a magpie and couldn’t stop crying- Paul came and soothed me”
As I wrote the words “magpie” I looked down at my wrist and it was bent over the pen on the page just as it had been in the dream and it occurred to me, “The magpie wants you to write it all down”
(I wrote about this more eloquently in another blog I’m sure)
As so that’s what I did. I began diligently recalling the memories of those years witnessing my older brother’s decay into amphetamine use.
The film started to write itself. I threw out ‘Grease’ and started to reflect on the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story, which I had always loved.
I recalled Joseph Campbell talking about it and the story of “banishment” – I had performed Romeo’s banished speech whilst studying acting at NIDA, where I had been when my brother passed away.
Joseph Campbell was recalling a story about the fall of Lucifer.
How God had created human kind and had commanded the angels to love and serve human kind as they loved and served him.
Apparently in Joseph Campbell’s telling of the tale, Lucifer saw it as a test. He thought God was testing his love and so he said, “God, I can never love and serve anything as much as I love and serve you.”
Half the angels of heaven sided with Lucifer seeing the logic in what he was saying.
But God was wrathful and punished Lucifer and the other angels for going against his command.
His punishment was that Lucifer and the angels would never again look upon the face of the one they loved – this banishment was birth of Hell.
Around the time I heard this in an interview between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell I was going through a heart break. I had fallen in love with a Danish girl who lived the other side of the world and the distance and the break up left me feeling something similar to banishment.
His words resonated such deep meaning and beauty within me. I thought about Lucifer in a whole new way – this idea of loving too much. ‘Can you love too much?’ I thought.
It seemed to ring true. You could love too much and it would most certainly lead to Hell.
It made some kind of poetic sense to me. This idea that all poetry contained the duende – the magic of the flamenco – this longing.
That from this longing was born great works of art and philosophy and music.
I accepted my longing and allowed it to influence me in every way.
It was a learning curve and like Dante and many poets before me I descended of my own free will to the depths of hell.
I looked around and saw I was in good company. Some of the sweetest and most generous souls imaginable were all around to soothe me with words of wisdom suffered for and earned. I saw it peoples eyes when I’d meet them. I saw it in the way they walked and in the way they spoke.
“Banishment and longing was everywhere!”
But I digress……
Romeo and Juliet yes, so I went back to my script and wrote it with all that longing in my heart and so was born ‘Hell is Light’.
I had recalled one of my conversations with my Danish love that the German word for bright and sometimes light was Hell. At the time this astonished me.
I had recalled that the Zulu word for War had been the neighbouring tribes word for love or something like that. Communication breakdowns had always astonished me.
The rest just came out. I remember Henry Miller saying once that the passages he’d slaved over the critics hated but the writing that had flowed out of him with absolute ease the critics had loved.
Hell is Light flowed out of me with absolute ease.
I fell in love gradually with each new character. Who were they? Where were they from? What did they want? It became a complete fascination.
The songs wrote themselves also.
Once I had the titles and knew which scene or character they belonged too they just seemed to write themselves.
It has most certainly been a cathartic experience for me and ever since going public with that first script I have seen the catharsis it has created in others also.
I’ve been blessed by the people who have come along to breath life and hope into this project.
Dave Houston who believed in this script from my very first mention of it and all of his constructive feedback along the way.
Harald Klette was next on the scene.
He read the script and was hooked – he pushed me along in those early stages to believe that anything was possible and that the story had to be told.
Daniel Sassi was next on the scene voluntarily taking on the role of casting with true passion and sensitivity.
The actors that he has brought to the project have all come with open hearts and an incredible professionalism.
Daniel has a way with people that is for sure.
It’s all heart really.
It’s all just one heart recognizing another and that is what gives me drive to keep going with this project – it’s the hearts involved and what they reflect back to me – it’s a heart felt script and it keeps calling hearts to it. It seems only natural that hearts will be drawn to the crowd funding campaign and then hearts will be drawn to the cinema on opening night.
There’s a long way long way to go and it’s bound to be an adventure so I’ll be sure to keep notes and updates. Stay tuned. Drop by and like the page at www.facebook.com/HellIsLight to stay updated on all things ‘Hell is Light’ and for all those out there full of longing or for those who feel like they have been banished for loving too much, whether that be loving life too much like my brother Paul did with his unquenchable thirst and insatiable hunger for every single thing he desired, or whether that be for clinging too tightly to ‘The Precious’ – know that your longing lives in this film and will be celebrated in all it’s dark beauty.
What did Bukowski say? “Find something you love and let it kill you”.
So many mini deaths in every life time.
So many ghosts we each have to let go of.
Happy Halloween one and all.