THE PEOPLE OF DARKNESS

The living are always under attack from the dead. As night follows day so do those of darkness target those of light and stalk them with words of hero worship when,  the truth is, the mere existence of those with a spark irritates them and they consciously or, in some cases, subconsciously,  work toward the extinguishment of that flame. Wilhelm Reich writes about this condition in detail in his book The Murder of Christ.

The people of darkness use many tools to bring down the envied. Negative rumours, stories that are unfounded in fact, and a whole range of politically acceptable words to discredit their target i.e., Narcissist (this applies to anyone who is successful in showbiz who uses social media to promote their latest ventures) because the fact that someone may actually be getting off their fat ass and doing something reminds the person of darkness how meaningless and unfocused their own life is; Nazi (it is acceptable in today’s politically correct world to call anyone with an opposing opinion this and get away with it. This is disgustingly outrageous and unfair to their target whose only crime may be to have an original thought, as well as, obviously, making light of what the real Nazis did). But let me not bring logic into this lest I be called names. Anti-Semitic is a good one too in some cases. I have even witnessed Jewish people being called anti-Semitic because they dared to have an opinion that didn’t sit comfortably with the party line. Such is the out of control world we live in where the militant wheel gets oiled first and the logical debate is not only not considered it is condemned. Here we have a perfect storm for the people of darkness to not only hide within, but thrive.

Bob Dylan has predicted for some time now that we have entered the end game. Anyone who has studied theology and the predictions of the old prophets would have to concur. In my opinion we are currently engaged in the final war between good and evil, darkness and light, and the shadow people are only going to get more and more hysterical as things don’t go their way. They are currently very confused as to why things aren’t going the way of the Polls. Could it be divine intervention?

It is difficult to untangle yourself from a person of darkness because they are cling ons – spiritual vampires sucking your energy. And the more you give them the more resentful they will become towards you. For even your kindness is an irritation. A reminder of what they are not. They will insult you by praising strangers and even abusing and opportunistic ex-partners above your efforts to help, give and support. This is to make you crazy and so confused you will cease to be able to function and end up zombie like staring out a window into the light that was once your source. Do not under any circumstances feed them. Let well enough alone. Danger and madness this way comes.

(C) Frank Howson 2017

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ACCEPTANCE SPEECH BY NEW MELBOURNE UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL DIRECTOR, FRANK HOWSON.

Becoming the Director of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival is something I had not lobbied for or ever desired.  But given Richard Wolstencroft’s recent sudden departure and his request to take over the helm, it is something I couldn’t refuse as the Festival is now bigger than any one person and for it to cease to exist would be, in my opinion, a tragedy for the industry.  It fills a very important role in shining a light on the next generation of Australian filmmakers and in its 18 years of existence it has discovered a number of people who have gone onto receive international success.

Years ago when I was a young creative person trying to break into the film business it was almost impossible. It seemed, at that time, to be a closed shop with the same ol’ same ol’ people getting the grants and making the movies. And of course, those who were benefitting from the system were certainly very reluctant to let new blood in. Many of those people never encouraged the next generation of talent and we have been paying for that for some time now. Who knows how many brilliant young creatives got frustrated by the red tape and closed doors, gave up and walked away. It made me all the more determined that if I broke through then the least I could do would be to help others achieve the same. And so I did.  Even though at the height of my success I was making 5 films a year (in some cases shooting a movie whilst I was in post-production of the last one and pre-production of the next), yet, I still made time to meet and give advice to any young filmmaker who phoned asking for help.  I am proud that my company gave several directors their first chance to direct a movie, along with giving breaks to young editors, music composers, actors, costume designers, etc., etc.

In fact I remember giving the young Richard Wolstencroft his first chance to direct a 35mm movie, which starred the very young Lachy Hulme. Although in my long and varied career I have won quite a few awards, I can say in all honesty that nothing gives me more joy than the knowledge that I helped several people into the industry who went onto achieve international recognition.

It saddens me that Richard has had to relinquish his directorship of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival so suddenly and in such circumstances. It was his creation and for 18 years his baby and I have some understanding of the pain involved in having to walk away from that. Hopefully with the passing of time people will choose to remember his contribution and achievements rather than some ill-conceived and ill-timed remarks that I know he is extremely and sincerely sorry for having made. In the words of the great director Billy Wilder, “A man is as good as the best thing he did, not the worst.”

In my opinion the mark of how far we have spiritually evolved in this life is measured by our capacity to humble ourselves by owning up and apologizing for our wrongs and, in other cases, to forgive. The latter takes an awful lot of evolving to reach.

Under my directorship at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, I will continue to spotlight new and exciting local talent, and select movies that take risks, that inspire and inform us, confront us, thrill us, and celebrate our humanity towards people of diversity.  I do not undertake this leadership for ego reasons, or financial gain, but see it as a service to the industry and the community that original voices are discovered and given the forum to be heard, and debated, as well as the opportunity to go on.

I look forward to steering a new look Melbourne Underground Film Festival to an exciting future for filmmakers and cinema goers alike, and I hope you will support my efforts by submitting your work and attending our screenings. Let’s defeat apathy and build a healthy and diverse film industry one brick at a time.

Submissions will be open in January for our 19th Festival.

Yours sincerely,

Frank Howson

DON’T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER

In this business of show
The best advice I can give is
Don't take no for an answer
Your work will be judged by idiots
And by genius
And guess what?
Sometimes they all get it wrong
And if all these experts know everything
Then how come they make so many flops?
Your greatest guide 
And you must protect it
Is your instinct
For those of us who believe in a higher power
I believe our instinct is God talking to us
But guess what?
Most times we second guess ourselves
And go against it
Or allow ourselves to be talked into doing
Something that doesn't feel right
And the end result is always disaster
And recriminations
If everyone followed sound advice
And stuck to the tried and true formula
We'd have had no DaVinci
Or Glenn Gould
Nikola Tesla
Or Picasso
Marlon Brando
Beatles
Elvis
Hitchcock
Bob Dylan
David Lynch
Breaking Bad
And so on and so on...
The Beatles were told that "Guitar bands are out of fashion"
Tesla was told that "his ideas wouldn't fly"
Yet he lit up the world
And in return it broke his heart
Elvis was threatened with jail if he continued to rock the boat
And Dylan was laughed at as a freak
I'm not saying that sticking to your inner voice
Wont be a difficult road
It will be
But when was anything worth having easy?
All the people I have mentioned had only one thing in common
Persistence
Fuelled by a total self belief
Don't get me wrong
I'm not saying don't listen to good advice
Do
For only a fool turns their back on a good idea
But trust your own instinct as to what is right for you
And what isn't
My mother once told someone that if you want Frank to do
Something for you just ask him and he will
But order him to do it
And he'll do the opposite just to piss you off
So I guess I was born with a rebel soul
And all I know is this
Every time I was told 
"You'll never make a film because you haven't made one before.
So go home and forget about it, sonny, and leave it to the experts"
It somehow made me stronger and more determined to prove them wrong
Every time I was told "Don't bother trying to get that big name star 
For your movie, because it won't happen"
It did
Or "You can't make a film about that because it's too personal and no one 
will get it other than you"
That was the one the people responded to
In an era that I believe is the darkest age for movies
When they are only making films about comic books
Don't give up
Where some see a wasteland 
Others sees a golden opportunity
Never before has an original idea been such a valuable commodity
Be bold and mighty forces join you
The future belongs to you
If you are brave enough
And strong enough
And stubborn enough to grasp it
And to those who are
We at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival
Salute you

(SPEECH DELIVERED AT THE 2017 MELBOURNE UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL)
(c) Frank Howson 2017






THE ARTIST’S MODEL

She appeared in the half light
Of the room
Suddenly the space feels smaller
Her tight dress hugging her body
Like the imagination of many men
Revealing enough of her ample cleavage
To start a riot
She is hesitant at first
Not yet seizing her control of the situation
Scanning the large studio
Taking in every detail like an experienced assassin
Her eyes finally settling on you
And exuding all the electricity
Of a holy prophet
She asks how long she will be needed
And you tell her all afternoon
Suppressing the urge to say "forever"
She smiles ever so slightly
As she reads your mind
She then says "How do you want me?"
Now you know she is playing you
And the game is afoot
You slowly walk to her
And stand behind her body
Unzipping her
into freedom
Letting her dress fall to the floor
There are no undergarments to bother with
And suddenly
Unexpectedly
She is revealed to you
Naked except for the high heels
Looking down you take in everything
Trying to etch it into your memory
Forevermore
The wonder of this moment
And the privilege
And although you are behind her
She feels the heat of your stare
And is energised
And empowered by it
Stealing the last of your strength
You are now in checkmate
She smiles to herself
The hunter and the hunted
The lines now blurred 
She has you
As you slowly circle her seeing everything she has
While she stands there proudly defiant
Like a Goddess
You want to hear her cry out
In payment
For her sins
But that will have to wait
You are no longer commanding the moves
As you stand before her
Humbled
Maybe broken
As those who stand in awe
In front of the world's great works of art
You look up and lock eyes with her
And this is the most intimate moment of all
And you flinch
Lowering your eyes to her perfect lips
You have never hungered for anything more
Than to kiss them
And her body knows it
Standing there a second longer
Would cause you to take her
With the force of a leopard
Devouring its prey
But you have no strength left in your body
You are done
As you turn to walk back to the blank canvas
Waiting on your easel 
You select your paintbrush
And already defeated
Attempt to capture
Her beauty
Before the light fades


(c) Frank Howson 2017






 


HOME

The street was the same as I remembered it. And the birds swooped as if to herald my return. So it was true, I hadn’t dreamed it. For a moment I stood and took in the beautiful cacophony of noise that I’d never fully appreciated before in all its ugly glory. The sun came out to shine on cue and its warmth informed me that I had now entered a safety zone for lost boys.

How can you know a place so well and yet feel that you are seeing it for the first time? If this is a dream and I awaken now I will be angry all day. Maybe all days.

I continue moving on further into it until I reach the gate no one ever closes, and the narrow cement path  leading to the apartment block steps I once knew so well I could climb them in the dark, and under the influence of too much life. This time there seems to be a lesson learnt in each step and greater effort needed to conceal the weariness of the outsider.

Halfway up I enter the glow from the first storey window that conspires to shine God-like behind the statue of Buddha as if even the universe is welcoming my return.

More steps and more weary remembrances of lessons learned and I am at the front door, knocking in a drum pattern of whimsy and familiarity.

After an eternity of seconds the door is opened and I see your smiling face as I remembered it from a long ago carefree time. Bright, loving and kind. I can now die in my footsteps and not be lost to wander and wonder.

I enter and am surrounded by the comfort of the greatest books and music ever written. Each word and note a friend of mine. And I sit at the empty table. Alone no more. Everything and nothing has changed as I take my place amongst it.

You ask me how I am. But there are no words to convey the miracle of ordained destiny.

For in that sheltered moment, I am home.

 

(C) Frank Howson 2017

MY FAVOURITE BOOKS LIST

A friend asked me to pick my 10 fave books of all time. The 10 best of anyting is a hard ask but here’s goes. I have chosen those 50 books that moved me the most and had the biggest influence.

1) THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

2) GREAT EXPECTATIONS by Charles Dickens.

3) THE DISENCHANTED by Budd Schulberg.

4) THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde.

5) NODDY IN TOYLAND by Enid Blyton

6) A LIFE by Elia Kazan.

7) CRAZY SUNDAYS – F. SCOTT FITZGERALD IN HOLLYWOOD by Aaron Latham

8) CHRONICLES by Bob Dylan.

9) THIS IS ORSON WELLES by Orson Welles & Peter Bogdanovich.

10) A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway.

11) THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

12) IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote

13) A TALE OF TWO CITIES by Charles Dickens

14) HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain

15) WHAT’S EXACTLY THE MATTER WITH ME by P.F. Sloan

16) DEATH OF A SALESMAN by Arthur Miller

17) TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee

18) TENDER IS THE NIGHT by F. Scott Fitzgerald

19) POWER WITHOUT GLORY by Frank Hardy

20) PETER PAN by James M. Barrie

21) DIARY OF AN UNKNOWN by Jean Cocteau

22) ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE by William Goldman

23) THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD by Ron Hansen

24) SCOTT & ERNEST by Matthew Bruccoli

25) THE POWER OF MYTH by Joseph Campbell & Bill Moyers.

26) ERROL FLYNN – A MEMOIR by Earl Conrad

27) ON THE STREET WHERE I LIVE by Alan Jay Lerner

28) DON’T LET ME BE MISUNDERSTOOD by Eric Burdon with J. Marshall Craig

29) OLIVIER ON ACTING by Laurence Olivier

30) THE MUSIC GOES ROUND MY HEAD by David Johnston

31) FREE ASSOCIATION by Steven Berkoff

32) THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE by Robert Evans

33) MARILYN by Norman Mailer

34) HITCHCOCK BY TRUFFAUT

35) A MOVEABLE FEAST by Ernest Hemingway

36) JOURNAL OF A NOVEL by John Steinbeck

37) PICTURE by Lillian Ross

38) HOME BEFORE DARK by Ruth Park

39) TINSEL by William Goldman

40) PORTRAITS by Helmut Newton

41) THE NAKED CIVIL SERVANT by Quentin Crisp

42) THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES by Joseph Campbell

43) TEN GREAT PLAYS by William Shakespeare

44) FINISHING THE HAT by Stephen Sondheim

45) W. C. FIELDS – HIS FOLLIES AND FORTUNES by Robert L. Taylor

48) THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN Volume 1 by Mark Twain

49) IN HIS OWN WRITE by John Lennon

50) THE ENTERTAINER by John Osbourne

THE OLD MAN REMEMBERS.

I remember when dinosaurs roamed the earth. About a hundred years ago now. Great fucking clumsy arrogant things – they crashed through everything and left us small creatures to clean up the mess – Well, guess what? They’re gone and we’re still here – Makes you think, doesn’t it? Ah what do I know? …They say I’m the oldest man in the world – well, what does that get you? Huh? A telegram from Elizabeth Vagina the Third of the House of Dimwits or whatever her fucking title is. I’ve had a few titles in me life – The only one I’ve held onto is “Fucking Idiot” – I’m quite proud of that title and wherever I go, even into unknown places – all I had to do is start talking politics and sure enough within a few minutes someone will acknowledge who I am – I used to have a razor sharp memory – but now things blur together – I sometimes can’t decipher between what I’ve lived, read, or dreamed – Well, that’s what the doctors say – but what the fuck do they know, huh? – Let’s face it, if they knew how to live why would they be studying someone’s bowel? – You couldn’t pay me enough, y’know what I mean? – My mind wanders, forgive me – But at least I’ve felt something, y’know? I remember being a small boy – and I saw Les Darcy, the greatest boxer ever, step out of the darkness of a doorway. He was dressed in a beautiful suit, collar, tie, gold fob watch – I stood there transfixed – He was magnetic – He turned and looked down at me and smiled that smile – the smile that would finally kill him – and walked away – Not a word was spoken and I’ll remember it till I die – I hope to God that really happened and I didn’t just dream it – I’m pretty sure it did happen – Life has robbed me of just about everything now – I can’t walk can’t eat -can’t have sex – can’t remember what sex was like – all I had left were me memories – and now He’s taking those away from me – You’d think He’d kill me outright rather than this sneaky stealing of things in the night – How come Darcy, who had everything, died at twenty-one and I’m still here? – Does it makes sense to you? – It sure as hell doesn’t to me – But what do I know? – I’m the Fucking Idiot – But Life goes on – and for some of us – on and on – and on – I have a couple of kids – a daughter – and a son – Haven’t seen either of ‘em in years – Still, I heard they’re proud of me – I believe they tell everyone their father’s the fucking idiot – Sometimes I dream of them – and in my dreams they’re beautiful in every way – But then again, so am I – That’s how I know it’s only a dream – I do remember riding in the Kelly Gang – Did I tell you? – I lived to tell about it, didn’t I? – Told Ned that the ambush at Glenrowan was a big mistake – He told me to fuck off, so I did – It’s lonely having the last laugh – no one laughing along with it – kinda spooky – Joe Byrne was a nice guy – So was Ned but his habit of trying on ladies dresses was a little unnerving to us country boys – He loved dressing up – Finally, he made himself that suit of armour – great concept but like all things Irish, deeply flawed – He forgot to cover his legs – Now I know the Victoria Police are renowned for their stupidity but – give me a break – it only took ‘em a few hours to work out that they could aim at his legs and bring the arsehole down. And down they did – You know what I mean? – I was invited to the reading of Ned’s will – I didn’t know whether to be touched or insulted when he left me his dresses – Anyway, in shame I took off to America – I joined the Seventh Cavalry under the command of General George Armstrong Custer – Well, what a friggin’ lunatic he was, you know what I mean? – Looked the spitting image of Errol Flynn in a blonde wig – I distinctly remember saying to him in no uncertain terms – “Listen Dickhead, there’s six thousand fuckin’ Indians down there!” Well, he just gave me that stupid vacuous smile of his and said “Alright then, let’s be about it!” and rode off, spraying me in mud from the hooves of his equally stupid horse, Bigballs – Well, what the fuck does that mean? – “Alright then, let’s be about it”? – I fairly quickly determined it meant “Let’s get a hurry on and get killed in the most grisly fashion.” Fortunately I had one of Ned’s dresses in me saddle bag and I rode off, side-saddle, in the opposite direction – I got about forty miles before I ran into the James Gang and they gang-raped me – Not the worst experience I’ve had – Still, I did try tellin’ them I was a man – seeing they were obviously too fucking dumb to work it out for themselves – but alas, I fell on deaf ears – I remember one of the Younger brothers grinning a set of decaying teeth and saying “Let us be the judge of that!” – I did and they never got back to me – It was a few days before I could resume riding side-saddle – but there I was – heading across the desert – a changed man – desperately traumatized – and crying into my perfumed hanky – I finally made it to Dodge City where I promptly bought some manly clothes and got drunk to prove I was…well …a man. In my present condition I was finding it easy to walk like John Wayne – I sang a popular song of the day, “Oh Mother, I’ve Just Had a Big Whopper and It Hurt Like Hell” and burst into tears – Fortunately someone in the bar recognized my royal lineage and called out “You must be a fucking idiot”, to which I replied, “Yes. Yes, I am. And I am honoured to be amongst you.” After that, their attitude toward me changed dramatically. Buffalo Bill walked up to the bar and said “You’re the kinda gal I’ve been lookin’ for” – To cut a long story short – I ended up having quite a successful career under the name of Annie Oakley – Let’s face it, I wasn’t the first person in show business to become a star by working in drag. Two years later I left Dodge City with some colourful memories, a love letter from Wyatt Earp, a different view of life and riddled with VD – This altered my thinking somewhat and I took off as a crew member of a sea vessel. The captain was a nice enough man – he had one leg and took an instant liking to me, much to the envy of the other sailors – Well, a few weeks into the voyage I realized we were sailing with a fucking madman. All he wanted to do was chase this fucking monstrously huge whale – I instinctively knew it wasn’t going to end well – He called the object of his obsession, “Moby”. One night, having put up with hours upon hours of listening to him ramble and rage about this fucking boring old prick of a whale, I lost my temper and called it “Moby Dickhead”. The Captain, Ahab, stopped and smiled. And, like everyone in showbiz, he had to embellish my idea by pissing on the tree. He shortened my idea to “Moby Dick.” In my honour, he said. Of     course, true to form, he told no one else about it and my contribution has been lost to history. Not, may I add, the first time I have been written out of a good story – Anyway, we chased that fucking whale until we couldn’t remember what our names were anymore – Then, as moi predicted, that fucking spiteful blob said, “Enough is enough” and turned on us – Smashing the ship to the shithouse and taking the demented Ahab to the bottom of the ocean – All the crew perished except me – I was picked up some days later by a Norwegian whaling vessel and explained my story to them – I said, through an interpreter, that “…we’d all been fucked by a huge Moby…Dick.” I presume something was lost in the translation because I soon found myself back in the ocean. This proved to be a very trying time in my life. Still, what can you do? Fortunately, an English speaking person by the name of Bligh picked me up in his lifeboat. I asked him why he was rowing across the ocean and he confided that he’d too recently experienced a traumatic situation of which he could not elaborate. And, although he liked to whip me twice a day, we got on quite well and it was nice to be back in civilized company. I told him he bore a striking resemblance to Charles Laughton. He had no idea who I was talking about and it earned me another thirty lashes. But, having lived the life I had, I was painfully aware that things could be worse, and contented myself to looking on the bright side of things. Bligh told me he’d never known another man to say thank you after a good lashing. I was a chirpy chap in those days. So appreciative of any crumb. We finally made it back to London and I got a job working for a detective by the name of Holmes. He lived on Baker Street with his “friend”, Doctor Johnny Watson. I soon found out that my new employer was a raving coke-head and would stay up all hours of the night ranting about fuck-all. Several times I stumbled upon their late-night shenanigans – the two of them dancing around – Holmes looking like he’d dipped his sizable nose in the flour jar – with eyes like red pissholes. Creepy bastards. Made me long for Captain Ahab. Still, it was all good experience. I was able to draw on all this in my later life as a successful writer of children’s stories. I wrote under the name of Enid Blyton. My first book, Nuddy in Boyland created great controversy so the publisher changed the name to Noddy in Toyland. Couldn’t help feeling something was lost, but still – it sold well. I felt that the discerning reader was still able to read between the lines and get something out of it. Unfortunately, my favourite character, Big Dick, never quite recovered from my publisher’s molestation.

 

 (c) Frank Howson 2014.