Category: Articles

Kids See Ghostwriters: Kanye West and Violent Crimes

Political tirades, controversial tweets, and questionable interviews. Three things that are now synonymous with a Kanye West album release. The build up to Yahndi, Kanye’s sixth project of 2018, has featured all of these and more. From a pro-Trump speech on SNL that had to be cut from the air to deleting all of his social media accounts, again, he certainly is a master of drumming up a media circus to ensure the commercial success of his albums. One tweet however seems to have slipped by unnoticed that needs to be addressed.

On September 30th Kanye tweeted: “Pardison Fontaine wrote the Violent Crimes verses. I changed 2 lines. He wrote the entire song though. Cyhi Cons Pardi. The ghost in the industry”. What he’s saying here is that the song Violent Crimes on his solo album Ye was ghostwritten. Not just the hook, or the chorus, but the song in its entirety.

Ghostwriting is no longer as uncommon or as taboo as it once was with high profile rappers such as Snoop Dogg and Nas admitting to using them. What sets the common usage apart from what Kanye is saying though is the type of song.

Will Smith’s Grammy Award winning song ‘Gettin’ Jiggy wit It’ is a prime example of the commonly acceptable usage of a ghostwriter, in this case allegedly Nas. With lyrics about fast cars, pretty girls, and bottomless pockets, it’s a classic late 90’s rap song. One that could have been performed, although perhaps not as well, by any other rapper.

Violent Crimes is different. The lyrics are profoundly personal. A journey of self-exploration about being a father, and the world he sees his daughter growing up into. For example this line near the start of his verse, “’cause now I see women as somethin’ to nurture. Not somethin’ to conquer”, shows that Kanye is coming to terms with how he used to see women, how his mindset has changed since having a daughter.

The fact that this song wasn’t written by Kanye is shocking. It means that Fontaine not only wrote about Kanye’s inner feelings, but also from his perspective, as if he was Kanye. Several questions spring up from this. Does Kanye feel the things he rapped about? If this is where ghostwriting is now where could it go? A whole album? A whole discography?

Back on solid ground one of two situations most likely happened surrounding this song, with one being far more unsettling than the other. Either Kanye accepts that he, as primarily a producer, lacks the ability to weave a lyrical narrative as personal as he wanted and so brought in Fontaine. They explored the direction Kanye wanted to take the song, the things he wanted to say, and the overall message, then Fontaine went and wrote the verse to that specification.

In this situation the heart and soul of the song is Kanye’s, he just sought aid in making the song as emotionally charged as it was. Now the alternative is that Kanye didn’t have this long conversation with Fontaine, only giving the topics of fatherhood and women, that he doesn’t truly believes the lyrics, and that he betrayed the trust of fans who believed they were getting to hear the real Kanye.

The resulting question is which situation is the right one? Regardless this is a surprising revelation especially given the nature of the song and it will surely cause people to pay a bit more attention with his future projects. Without an answer though it seems that this will just have to be another test of faith for Kanye West fans. After the announced delay of Yandhi while West goes to Africa to finish the album, there won’t be a long wait for more controversy.

The Big Lebowski at 20: The tale of a rug

The Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski turns 20 this month, but the cult classic wasn’t always as popular as it is now, garnering mixed reviews in 1998. A film that begins with a mistaken identity quickly becomes a complex, interwoven web of storylines that the protagonist Jeffery Lebowski, or The Dude as he prefers to be known, wants no part of yet finds impossible to escape. The reason for that is simple, his rug. First soiled then stolen, it not only tied the room together, but it also tied the narrative together.

And yet, what is going on in the front of the scene is often irrelevant. The kidnapping plot which we, the audience, feel should take centre stage is never fulfilled because of The Dude’s lack of ambition or motivation to pursue it. He would much rather go bowling with his friends Walter or Donnie and so the plot must come to him, but after each advancement of the story, each bit of new information that comes to light, The Dude continues his life as if nothing happened.

This is because he simply doesn’t care. He lives in a simple house, with no job, no goals and most importantly to him, no stress. However when his rug is stolen from him he is thrust into a complicated story that doesn’t really need him at all. Once he goes to find the real Jeffery Lebowski and takes one of his rugs in return, that should be the end of The Dude’s involvement in the film. His journey is complete and the ending is satisfactory, but nothing is ever that easy.

The rug’s role in the film is a MacGuffin. A plot device in the form of object or goal that our protagonist pursues with little narrative explanation. You see them often in crime or spy films. James Bond is always after some object, that if in the wrong hands would spell disaster. More often than not the audience doesn’t care about the object itself, but for the action it catalyses. The Dude wouldn’t go find Jeffery Lebowski if his rug wasn’t stolen, just like Bond wouldn’t fence with Madonna in Die Another Day if it wasn’t for the Icarus Satellite. Well, maybe he might.

“It just seemed interesting to us to thrust that character into the most confusing situations possible. The person it would seem on the face of it least equipped to deal with it. That’s sort of the conceit of the movie.” Ethan Coen is saying here that it’s not the situations themselves which hold value to the audience but how The Dude reacts to them, how he copes with this influx of stress that tries to steer his life off course.

Joel Coen said in that same interview how the film was loosely based on the works of American writer Raymond Chandler. Episodic in nature, Chandler’s detective novels follow the protagonist as he interacts with lots of characters on his way to solving the case. The Big Lebowski’s main narrative is very similar to this, although it has a staccato rhythm from jumping between fast-paced investigation and the relaxed everyday life of The Dude.

Coming back to the rug, it’s importance to The Dude stems from what the rug itself represents, it’s stability and comfort in his life. Without that presence, he finds it difficult to relax, to be The Dude. While we see him go bowling with Walter and Donnie several times we never actually see him bowl. The closest he comes is in his imagination laying on the floor of his house listening to a tape of the Venice Beach League Bowling Playoffs from 1987, shortly before his second rug gets stolen.

“This is when we figured if things are becoming a little bit uncomplicated of unclear it doesn’t really matter. This is similar to Chandler in that the plot is secondary to the other things that are going on. If people are getting confused it’s not necessarily going to get in the way of them enjoying the movie.”

It is ironic that The Big Lebowski, a film whose protagonist works so actively to leave behind no legacy, has one of the biggest in cinema. From an annual festival to a religion, there is surprisingly large following of fanatical fans, those who simply wish to abide by the same carefree lifestyle as The Dude.

A Stray Sumerian Tablet

On 13th March 2018, Cambridge University Library published their findings on a Sumerian Tablet, their oldest written document. The clay tablet, dating back 4,200 years, was written by a scribe in ancient Iraq.

It consists of six lines of cuneiform script. One of the earliest systems of writing, cuneiform translates to mean “wedge shaped” and that embodies the manner of the markings carved into clay tablets at the time. The language of the inscription is Sumerian, the oldest written language and one that is unrelated to those in that area of the world at that time.

Originally the thumb-sized tablet was donated to the University in 1921 but disappeared until 2016, during research for the University Library’s 600th anniversary exhibition: Curious Objects. Senior Fellow at the McDonald Institute for Archeological Research Professor Nicholas Postgate had this to say about the tablet:

“In the early years of the 20th Century, we have a disaster. The antiquities market in the West was flooded with thousands of cuneiform tablets. They had been ripped out of their original context in the sites where the illicit robbers were working and distributed across the world.”

“The tablets of an individual archive can be found in museums from Moscow to London to Chicago. We may be able to reconstruct what’s going on in the individual tablets and by comparison with the others in the archive as a whole but we can never reconstruct the physical archeological context from which they came. There is a great loss of information there.”

“The content of the tablet is very simple. It simply mentions a large quantity, 22 jars, of lard or egg fat. It gives the name of the responsible official and it states that this fat was dispensed in the city of Zabala.”

Following the exhibition, Postgate further examined the piece and he has plans to publish an academic paper on both the tablet and its wider context this year.

The Library of the Future

In Nordmarka, Norway, 30km outside of Oslo, a thousand trees have been planted for a very special purpose: the library of the future. In 2115 they will be used to make paper for a collection of books.

The Framstidsbiblioteket, or Future Library, is a 100-year project launched by Scottish artist Katie Paterson. In every year from 2014 until 2114, a notable writer will give one piece of writing, destined to remain unread until after the project has concluded. The purpose is to give readers of the future a fresh anthology of works by some of the century’s greatest writers.

Starting the Future Library off in 2014 was Margeret Atwood, five-time nominee for the Man Booker Prize, who gave a work entitled ’Scribbler Moon’. She said of the project: “Future Library is bound to attract a lot of attention over the decades, as people follow the progress of the trees, note what takes up residence in and around them, and try to guess what the writers have put into their sealed boxes.”

The second contributor, for the year 2015, was David Mitchell who contributed a piece called ‘From Me Flows What You Call Time’. Mitchell said “Civilisation, according to one of those handy Chinese proverbs, is the basking in the shade of trees planted a hundred years ago, trees which the gardener knew would outlive him or her, but which he or she planted anyway for the pleasure of people not yet born. I accepted the Future Library’s invitation to participate because I would like to plant such a tree.”

“The project is a vote of confidence that, despite the catastrophist shadows under which we live, the future will still be a brightish place willing and able to complete an artistic endeavour begun by long-dead people a century ago. Imagine if the Future Library had been conceived in 1914, and a hundred authors from all over the world had written a hundred volumes between 1915 and today, unseen until now – what a human highway through time to be a part of. Contributing and belonging to a narrative arc longer than your own lifespan is good for your soul.”

In 2016, Icelandic artist Sjón’s piece ‘As My Brow Brushes On The Tunics Of Angels or The Drop Tower, the Roller Coaster, the Whirling Cups and other Instruments of Worship from the Post-Industrial Age’. Patterson, who came up with the Future Library concept said of Sjón; “Sjón creates a world of metamorphosis: his poetic works weave together history and myth, folklore, ancient storytelling, the surreal and the magical, through the language of past and contemporary Icelandic.”

“His writing is dynamic and melodic, and like Future Library, interlaces the human and natural world through stretches of time. In addition to writing poems, novels, plays, librettos, lyrics, and children’s books, Sjón often collaborates with other artists and musicians, so I am very excited about the possibilities his contribution will bring to this hidden library growing through the trees.”

The most recent addition to the project is Turkish author Elif Shafak. Patterson spoke about Shafak saying “her work dissolves boundaries: cultural, geographic, political, ideological, religious and spiritual, and embraces a plurality of voices. Her storytelling is magical and profound, creating connectivity between people and places: a signal of hope at a particularly divided moment in time.”

The works will be kept in a purpose-built room in the New Deichmanske Public Library that will be opening in Bjørvika, Oslo. The room, designed by Patterson, will utilise wood from the forest and will try to emulate the tranquility. There will be a list of the name’s and titles of the works included in the project, however, none will be revealed until 2114.

You can watch a short video about the project, featuring Margaret Atwood, below:

Dolly Parton donates 100 millionth book to children

Country superstar Dolly Parton went to Washington on Tuesday 27th February to hand-deliver her 100 millionth book donation for children to the Library of Congress through her foundation, the Imagination Library.

“When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true. I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer. The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”

Launched in 1995, the core aim of the project is to give free books to children from birth until the age of five in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. As of writing this, there are 1,212,915 children registered who receive to no cost to their family an age-appropriate book every month. Audio and Braille books are both included too to ensure that no child gets left out.

“Before he passed away, my Daddy told me the Imagination Library was probably the most important thing I had ever done. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me because I created the Imagination Library as a tribute to my Daddy. He was the smartest man I have ever known but I know in my heart his inability to read probably kept him from fulfilling all of his dreams.

Inspiring kids to love to read became my mission. In the beginning, my hope was simply to inspire the children in my home county but here we are today with a worldwide program that gives a book a month to well over 1 million children. Of course, I have not done this alone. The real heroes of our story are the thousands of local organisations who have embraced my dream and made it their own. They raise millions of dollars each year and wake up every day with a passion to make sure their kids have every opportunity to succeed.

It’s been quite a journey but we have so much more left to do. I would love for your community to join our family so please take the time to explore our website. Let’s share this dream that all children should grow up in a home full of books. The first step is always the hardest, but you’ll never know unless you try.”

Hunter S. Thompson – In Memoriam

February 20th marks thirteen years since the death of unimitable journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson.

Thompson redefined journalism working with Rolling Stone magazine. His work would come to be described as Gonzo, written as a first-person narrative without objectivity. It disregards the traditions and rules of media for an approach with much more personality and humour.

His most acclaimed work, ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, began as a 250-word assignment for Sports Illustrated covering the Mint 400 motorcycle race. In preparation for the event, he took an astonishing amount of drugs with him including, but far from limited to, two bags of grass, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid and a salt shaker half full of cocaine.

The resulting piece was 2,500 words and was less about the race and more of, as he puts it, “a savage journey into the heart of the American dream”. Unsurprisingly it was rejected. He instead turned to Rolling Stone whose editor Jann Wenner loved it and so ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ was born. It ran in two parts in November 1971, later published as a book and adapted into a cult film.

During his career Thompson penned many more extraordinary works, such as his book ‘Hell’s Angels’, but as he grew older and his health declined he became increasingly depressed. On February 20th, 2005 he took his own life, leaving a note titled ‘Football Season Is Over’:

No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your (old) age. Relax — This won’t hurt

The following is a letter written by Thompson in April of 1958. Age 20 and in the United States Air Force, he was asked for life advice by his friend Hume Logan, this was his response. I hope you find the same beauty in it that I do.

April 22, 1958
57 Perry Street
New York City

Dear Hume,

You ask advice: ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do! For to give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal—to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.

I am not a fool, but I respect your sincerity in asking my advice. I ask you though, in listening to what I say, to remember that all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another. I do not see life through your eyes, nor you through mine. If I were to attempt to give you specific advice, it would be too much like the blind leading the blind.

“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles… ”
(Shakespeare)

And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect—between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming.

But why not float if you have no goal? That is another question. It is unquestionably better to enjoy the floating than to swim in uncertainty. So how does a man find a goal? Not a castle in the stars, but a real and tangible thing. How can a man be sure he’s not after the “big rock candy mountain,” the enticing sugar-candy goal that has little taste and no substance?

The answer—and, in a sense, the tragedy of life—is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you. Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.

So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?

The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals, anyway. It would take reams of paper to develop this subject to fulfillment. God only knows how many books have been written on “the meaning of man” and that sort of thing, and god only knows how many people have pondered the subject. (I use the term “god only knows” purely as an expression.) There’s very little sense in my trying to give it up to you in the proverbial nutshell, because I’m the first to admit my absolute lack of qualifications for reducing the meaning of life to one or two paragraphs.

I’m going to steer clear of the word “existentialism,” but you might keep it in mind as a key of sorts. You might also try something called Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre, and another little thing called Existentialism: From Dostoyevsky to Sartre. These are merely suggestions. If you’re genuinely satisfied with what you are and what you’re doing, then give those books a wide berth. (Let sleeping dogs lie.) But back to the answer. As I said, to put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.

But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or doctors—but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires—including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.

As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal) he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).

In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life—the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.

Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN—and here is the essence of all I’ve said—you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.

Naturally, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ve lived a relatively narrow life, a vertical rather than a horizontal existence. So it isn’t any too difficult to understand why you seem to feel the way you do. But a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.

So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life. But you say, “I don’t know where to look; I don’t know what to look for.”

And there’s the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don’t know—is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice.

If I don’t call this to a halt, I’m going to find myself writing a book. I hope it’s not as confusing as it looks at first glance. Keep in mind, of course, that this is MY WAY of looking at things. I happen to think that it’s pretty generally applicable, but you may not. Each of us has to create our own credo—this merely happens to be mine.

If any part of it doesn’t seem to make sense, by all means call it to my attention. I’m not trying to send you out “on the road” in search of Valhalla, but merely pointing out that it is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by life as you know it. There is more to it than that—no one HAS to do something he doesn’t want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that’s what you wind up doing, by all means convince yourself that you HAD to do it. You’ll have lots of company.

And that’s it for now. Until I hear from you again, I remain,

your friend …

Hunter

In Conversation with Neville Pierce

Having seen the marvelous short comedy “Ghosted” (review here) at this year’s Lift-Off film festival we approached director Neville Pierce. His career consists of many facets, from journalist to screenwriter to director, and shares with us some very interesting and honest insight into the world of film journalism.

It was during his time at Bournemouth University that Pierce first developed his interest in journalism, and more so in writing about film. Being naturally good at storytelling, “spoken or written”, it is this that drew him to the art of reporting. Whilst studying journalism more generally, Pierce religiously read the now extinct magazine Neon which led to him to pushing himself to try, based on the mere logic that “Someone has to write for movie magazines – so why not me?”.

Starting off as the logical next step as a part of his journalism degree, a week’s work experience turned into two months working at the North Devon Journal. He recalls that the journalists there “were mostly only recent graduates themselves, but at the time seemed much older and wiser (and sexier) than I could ever aspire to be”.

Having been editor of the fortnightly paper The Nerve for a year, it was a natural question to ask what were his best and worst experiences in that position. To this, Pierce’s answer was an event that was simultaneously both, as he remembers “being shouted at by a columnist for editing his work – but he subsequently apologised, accepted the edit and we remain close friends, 20 years later”. If he could give his student editor self some advice, it would be to “admit your mistakes – even if only to yourself. Everything is useful – even the failures. Everything can be shorter – from articles to meetings”.

A journalist before the explosion of internet in the 2000s, his experience of journalism was quite different to that of film critics or any journalists today, the main problem being that beforehand, “People paid to read things. So YOU got paid”. A result of the use of internet for film criticism was the development of aggregated review sites such as Rotten Tomatoes, which Pierce recognises as a useful tool “if you want a barometer of critical opinion, though inevitably reductive”. He also points out that percentages will never replace an actual film review, as he might watch something a critic has not liked, depending on their taste.

As for him and his incentive to review films, he sums it up as a combination of “ego, enjoyment and earning” which I think can be said for the majority of film critics, as his response to what he wished to achieve through creating artistic content: “Buying a house”. His process to reviewing films is a unique one (this was before he was directing them), advising to “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you just told them. I was told that at school, about public speaking, but it applies to that type of writing too I think. Sometimes you can be more playful, especially if you’re writing a long, lead review – you can give more career context or make a point about theme. I always try to judge a film on what it is trying to achieve, as well as whether it is personally to my taste”.

Even critics have favourite critics. Pierce gave me this response when posed the question: “David Thomson changed the way I looked at film writing, with Rosebud, his biography of Orson Welles. His Biographical Dictionary of Film is wonderful, too. I can’t remember who said if you write about film then you get to write about everything, but that would apply to him. Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian) maintains a remarkably high standard. Robbie Collin (The Telegraph) is eclectic and insightful. Guy Lodge (Variety) has a delightful turn of phrase”.

He continued: “I am in awe of the breadth and depth of Kim Newman’s knowledge. Others who are less critics – though they do write reviews – than general film journalists would be Damon Wise (Neon and Empire), who was a big influence who became a friend. Matt Mueller (Screen International) is a fine editor and a fine man. Ditto Dan Jolin, who gave me my first bit of paid work, back at Total Film. It’s a long list, really. I’m impressed by what Joe Utichi is doing with Deadline’s magazine Awardsline. Chris Hewitt and co are very good on the Empire podcast. Jamie Graham is a very fine interviewer and informed critic – I value his opinion highly. The best all-rounder, broadcast and print, is Mark Kermode, for my money. Entertaining, informed, fluent on paper or on screen or speaker – superb”.

Getting more and more influential in his work, Pierce went from a staff position editing Total Film to being a freelance journalist for Empire. The transition from one job to the other was a noticeable one. “I didn’t have to manage people, I just had to manage my time. I didn’t have as much influence on what went in the magazine, of course, but I did have more freedom”, which lead to an obvious change of pace for Pierce and a much better quality of life.

Less of a transition of sorts and more of a variation in that field of work, Pierce described his experience in both radio and print journalism as quite different ones. “Print generally allows more depth (though not always). It also allows you to edit yourself more effectively and hide your incoherence. Radio is merciless in that regard”.

Pierce managed to obtain exclusive access as a member of press to the film sets of Fincher’s Zodiac and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. “I had interviewed Fincher for a retrospective piece on Fight Club and we had got on, but when I emailed his assistant asking to visit the Zodiac set I expected to be told no – because he doesn’t generally allow journalists on set. So, really, I was incredibly surprised to be there. I also felt – and feel – he is one of the greats. So I was soaking up every bit of detail I could – for me, it’s like having the opportunity to go on set with Kubrick. I think the best set visit article – of the many I’ve written for Fincher films – was probably for Zodiac, because it was so fresh and exciting an experience for me”.

Now Pierce’s time is mostly taken up by screenwriting and directing, this did not happen over night and was a gradual shift in his career. The short version of why exactly he is in the filmmaking end of movies now is that he always “at least subconsciously, wanted to do it – and eventually the fear of failure was outweighed by the fear of not trying”.

In an industry where one’s work is constantly scrutinized, the fear of failure never dissipates. “Whether it’s articles or scripts or finished films, I don’t think you’re ever completely satisfied. You may look back years later and be able to say you think something was good – or, at least, close to what you had in your head”.

For my final question, I asked Pierce how he would describe the relationship between filmmaker and film critic. The answer was “carefully”. “I think Barry Norman probably said it best: ‘All critics are parasites – but parasites can be useful.’ So, yes, critics can’t exist without something to comment on. But great criticism can be beautiful – and definitely useful. Some critics are snide and ill-informed, of course, and that must be infuriating when you’ve worked hard to make a film (I’ve felt angry and frustrated upon reading ignorant reviews of the work of friends or filmmakers I admire), but a great many are dedicated, informed people who love cinema and work very hard for modest reward. I think I used to look down on film journalism, basically because I did it. Now I see its value much more. And it irritates the hell out of me when filmmakers are scornful of critics as a whole – especially filmmakers who are happy with critics when they love their work, then dismissive of them when they don’t. You have to take your lumps”.

You can find out more about his past, current and upcoming projects at nevpierce.com