Focus – lessons from Sundance

I’m lucky enough to have fairly easy access to London and as a consequence, some really great stuff. At the weekend I managed to spend time at the Sundance London film festival (which I also attended last year). This is a showcase of independent films, largely brought over from Utah, where the Sundance organisation, set up by Robert Redford is based. The great thing is that you get to meet and hear from people that love making films. Their common trait, forgive the pun, is their focus. There is an unmistakeable sense of “doing the thing they love”. Not simply for those in front of the camera, or whose name you may know, but a real sense of drive and desire to make something that says something of value.

David Arnold, is a successful British composer, who has already built a considerable body of work within the film world. You might know him best for his work on the more recent James Bond movies. Now I enjoy music and listen to a lot of it, but to my shame, I’m not terribly much of an expert when it comes to classical music, despite my father’s operatic background, and my years in the school choir – I’m certainly no composer. So I am in some awe of those that can create music, but I had never seen the process of scoring a film so wonderfully explained. David walked the audience (of which around 50% were composers) through his catalogue and his process. He then demonstrated the various techniques he uses to structure the music to the film and build it layer by layer, whilst all the time being mindful that changes may need to be made due to editing of the film itself. It was fascinating. There was a real sense of his humility in being able to appreciate the contributions of others, whilst also remaining focused on the task at hand – for which he has a clear passion.

Whilst I’m not making music, his explanations and processes resonated with me. When I’m constructing a proper financial plan based upon someone’s values, it is very much a layered approach, with the need for editing and re-working. I like to think that on occasion I really help people find their personal rhythm in their own lives and values, but I’m stretching things. I certainly love what I do and enjoy the creative aspect of my work, but it isn’t really a masterpiece, but I do hope that I’m helping others (my clients) to make a great work of their lives, by really thinking about how they want to live them out…. not your run of the mill financial stuff.

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

Focus – lessons from Sundance2017-01-06T14:39:48+00:00

King to Pawn and seedy money? The Look of Love

Celluloid Reflections: The Look of Love

The Look of Love is a new film that was shown at Sundance London last night. It goes on general release this weekend. The film explores the life of Paul Raymond who at one point was the richest man in England. I’m not really clear who the film is aimed at. Mr Raymond derived his fortune from strip clubs in Soho and pornography, the film is most certainly an “18” and many (perhaps most) will find the admittedly “probably necessary” nudity (given the context) rather excessive. Then again, part of the purpose of the film is to help reveal how our attitudes towards sex have altered over the last 40 years or so. However, it is not a film about sex, nor is it a sex film and whilst it has comedic moments and a plethora of current comedians  in the cast (including the lead Steve Coogan) it isn’t much of a comedy either. It is much more of a biopic of a man that “had it all” but actually had nothing, rather more of a tragedy.

The main plot of the story reveals fragile relationships, a deeply dysfunctional family and an inability to draw boundaries. We see a disturbing portrayal of his relationship with his daughter, which at best might be described as “unhelpful” and at worst, deeply irresponsible. There is a sense of self-importance “we’re not normal people” and a disconnection with the reality of real relationships. A long-lost son “managed”, another son bullied and a daughter indulged, who dies of a drug overdose (I’m not giving the plot away – opening scene). A habit that was used, as is often the case, to dull the pain of reality. If the film is even vaguely accurate, Mr Raymond was certainly someone that was very confused about love and relationship. Materially successful, but emotionally bankrupt, I assumed the title of the film ” The Look of Love” is deliberately ironic.

Whilst Paul Raymond’s life may have been somewhat extreme, it is a reminder (not a new one) that few people go to their deathbed, wishing that they had spent more time at the office. To be known is to be human. Money is little more than a tool, it is not real security and it certainly is no compensation for a lack of relationship. A good financial planner doesn’t just point out that you will die one day, but will help prompt you to reflect on what you value and want from life and then build a plan around your values. Being the richest man in Britain is little more than a game, in the end all the kings and pawns go back into the box.

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

King to Pawn and seedy money? The Look of Love2017-01-06T14:39:48+00:00
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