Sunday, November 29, 2015


The world is full of drama, and dramatic stories remind us what it means to be human. They call to mind the horror and desperate hopes of creatures afraid of death, who are nevertheless willing to risk everything for what they love. Life is, after all, an unexpected battleground, where the enemy is constantly surprising us with what we weren't looking for. The horrors - the horrors of our own making and unmaking. Why do we fight? To stay alive - spiritually alive - and to help those that we care for to stay alive as well. What else is worth fighting for? Not jobs, not money, not reputation, but to keep the fire burning, the courage to make it through one more day.

"Think how many, by now, have escaped the world’s memory."
— Keith Waldrop
Every culture, every tribe, has its origin myths, its stories about how the universe came to be what it is, how it was formed and how Earth became earth with its creatures and all their transformative dramas. What is not commonly appreciated is that every individual also has his/her own origin mythology, a collection of secret/sacred stories that shelter in the unconscious. The impulse to understand one's origins, one's essence, the source of one's being, is no more prevalent than in the stories one tells and embraces. 

- Billy Marshall Stoneking

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

SELF-MEDICATED - a film by Ethan Minsker

Trailer: Self Medicated: a film about art from Ethan H. Minsker on Vimeo.


 The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.
— Hunter S. Thompson


There is a debilitating attitude, mostly unconscious, that operates in the psyches of many would-be screenwriters, that works to stifle or otherwise undermine the quality and vividness of the emotional energy and potential buried within the lives of the characters whose story is being told. Frequently dismissed as laziness, the undermining attitude is predicated on two, complementary sets of feelings concerning what is being written. On the one hand, there is “the careful fear”, which manifests as a conserving anxiety, the fundamental purpose of which is to protect the writer from unnecessary, personal exposure by maintaining and preserving a suitable emotional distance from the characters and the story’s subject. On the other hand, there is the writer’s blind and stubborn loyalty to a host of powerful albeit irrelevant assumptions, prejudices, and habits of thought (beliefs) concerning what one is doing, including one’s perceptions concerning the significance of what is being presented. Mostly, writers work within the boundaries created by these two inclinations, tirelessly striving to get the balance right. Alas, it is mostly a waste of time. One’s proclivity to “be safe” whilst maintaining a steadfast devotion to one’s belief in oneself, render the possibility of balance nearly impossible. The writer and the story would be much better served if they simply forgot about being safe and gave up every ambition for writing the greatest story never told.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


No character is fully realised until we are able to imaginatively grasp what is unrealised in them. This cannot – for either the writer or the audience - be negotiated solely in terms of the intellect; It is contextual and sub-textual, and is - most profoundly - grasped emotionally, as one enters into those “spaces” that film can neither show nor tell but only suggest. The incompleteness of the characters meets our incompleteness and together – in our relationship with them, something more complete emerges. Their contradictions call out to our contradictions; their imperfections resonate with our own. Together, creatively, we strive to realise a truth that is framed in a story and conveyed by actions funded by the emotional energies that are present. It the exchange we are called upon to enlarge whatever judgements we are inclined to make about who and what they are or might be, as well as who and what we might be.

Billy Marshall Stoneking


 As a screenwriter - if you are completely honest with yourself - you can’t help but admit that your greatest threat is the audience, where audience is not understood as a demographic category but as a character outside the script to whom the story is addressed.  A good part of the drama necessary for uncovering the story resides in the conflict between the storyteller and his/her audience. Audience plays the part of antagonist to the writer’s role as protagonist. The writer drives the action, which is forever complicated, frustrated and undermined by the audience’s needs and sensibilities. Audience wants you to prove it. Audience has a chip on its shoulder, and doesn’t give a damn. Audience has been there and done that in the guise of your mother, your father, your ex-, your worst enemy. Audience laughs at your stupidity and dares you to change its view of you and the story world that you would have it care about.  Audience is defiant. It has your number. The only way you can defeat it is by carrying a bigger stick - your only defence is an inspired offence, namely the story.

- Billy Marshall Stoneking

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I often speak of cinema as “the art of the invisible”, for it works best when it employs the 'grammar' in such a way as to allow the logic to imply emotions, thoughts and drives that are never literally stated or shown. In allowing the audience the space to act (i.e.: co-create the vision out of the subtext) the story produces that quality of meaning that we refer to as an experience.

- Billy Marshall Stoneking

Sunday, November 1, 2015


The foot of the wedge-tail eagle
presses against the sky, littered with
spears.  The night is so clear you can
hear the Seven Sisters scream
in the dark, chased by that Old Man,
by that greedy one who
would take them all for wives.
In Scorpio, two lovers unable to separate,
run for their lives,  pursued by Waputju –
the girl’s father – & by the guardian
of the circumcision ceremony.
The boomerang flying to kill them
explodes in a cloud of tears.
Old Tutama prods the fire with his stick
& waits for my reply.
“Whitefella way, different way,”
I tell him.  Stories of Black Holes,
Schrödinger’s cat, the Big Bang,
one hundred eighty-six
thousand miles per second…
“You see that star?” I say.
“It might’ve blown up before
you were born, but its light
is still coming towards us.”
Tutama reaches for a lump
of bush tobacco behind his ear,
rolls it quietly between dry palms.
Skin warm, stomach full,
not wanting to disturb the universe,
he accepts what I say
with the dignity of a man
who understands how a whitefella
will tell you almost anything.