We're delighted to present to the market this compact 1 bedroom property. Sleeps 4. Ideal for two couples, or 4 single people looking for companionship. Cosy and self-contained. Newly refurbished kitchen/bathroom proudly boasts kettle and microwave. Ample freezer space in form of box on windowsill (winter only). Cosy yet well ventilated living room leads out onto the roof via (permanently) open window for spectacular views of the city. Currently unfurnished so a blank canvas. Huge potential. Easy access to the city in just under an hour via bus in next borough. Indifferent millionaire landlords live conveniently just downstairs - any problems just bang on the walls. Asking rent does not include; letting fees, admin fees, reference fees, top up fees, extortion fees, more fees, London fees, poor fees, check-in fees, check-out fees, pets disclaimer fees/additional pet deposit. Everything (including happiness) non-refundable. Our guarantee: if you're not happy, it's nothing to do with us. Early viewing highly recommended. This hole will get snapped up.
The London housing market is desperately adorned with beamingly optimistic euphemisms inspired, surely, by nothing less than the altruistic motive of shielding us from the bare cold brutal facts; to spare us the anguish and horror of the reality; a landscape of sub-par homes, competition and desperation. It wouldn’t do anyone any good, neither the estate agent nor prospective tenants pride, to announce “splendid shithole newly arrived on the market boasting roof and running water. Take it before someone else does” – though some properties in London don’t amount to much more.
To search for houses in London is to sign up to war. To fight tooth and nail, ignoring such trivial considerations as to whether you’re actually interested, just to have a chance of snapping somewhere up before someone else beats you to the punch. And the estate agents know it, it’s the nature of the market we find ourselves in. Just as job ads get away with not mentioning how much it actually pays, as if it’s of no importance, because they know people will take the job without even needing to know, so the estate agents can practically bully you into taking what’s available, as if you have no higher dream or aspiration.
“Gorgeous little property”, they’ll say. “So endearingly small and self-contained”. “So conveniently located just above this chicken shop. You like chicken don’t you? I love chicken.”
“Yeah, DO you? So you’d live here would you? It’s a box with a sink. And where’s the bathroom anyway, or am I supposed to wash, shit and cook in the same place?”
There’s almost no point even looking at properties online as they seem to ubiquitously employ the tactic that I recently heard named ‘the old bait and switch’. A property that was already taken off the market weeks ago is repeatedly re-advertised just to hook people in. They string you along, refusing to make clear whether the place is still on the market or not while they can garner as many details as they can and try to fob you off with an entirely different rat hole they’ve been unable to shift.
It boasts this. It boasts that. I can promise that after you’ve moved in you’re not going to be boasting to anyone.
“What’s wrong with it? Don’t you want somewhere to live?”
And the way estate agents talk as if they’re really gunning for you, providing a tailor made service just perfect for your needs. They’re going to learn all your details by heart, familiarise themselves with your wants and desires, intimately understand your innermost hopes and scour the market like Samaritans for your dream home.
“Can I take your name please, sir?”
“Yeah it’s Sam.”
“Not a problem, sir. Not a problem”.
I know it’s not a problem! It’s my name. As if I somehow need you and your company to provide validation of my existence.
And the photos for these properties are terrible, exhibiting the same arrogant belief that anyone will jump at the chance to rent a place no matter what it looks like. Sometimes the only photo attached to an ad is a wonky shot of a front door, as if simply the sight of a letter box might make your heart leap just at the prospect of a slither of fresh air creeping its way in. Sometimes you get 3 shots of the toilet from different angles and nothing else, or a shot of a kitchen sink stacked high with plates, or just a wall, with nothing remotely interesting on it, just a wall.
The photos of the inside of the property are taken on extreme wide angle lenses making the place look palatial, until you step in and realise that the TV would actually be about a foot in front of the sofa. You can imagine the estate agent pressed up as far as they can go into the corner, up on tip toes, trying to aggrandise the apartment for every spare centimetre it’s got.
The shots they use are so wide they verge on fish eye, which is ironic given the fact that the new tenants would be, to borrow the American idiom, living in a goldfish bowl. Particularly if you were sharing a ‘cosy self-contained one bedroom flat for 4 people.’
Still, it’s probably worth a look. We wouldn’t want to miss our chance. So long as we can find another couple to share the rent.
This article in the Independent recently highlights the point nicely: http://www.independent.co.uk/
It’s been a long and slow road, but its now a year since we filmed ‘Melbourne: A Guide to Living’, the sequel to ‘London: A Guide for the Naive‘, and hopefully only part two in a trilogy. The film is finished and will soon be submitted to different festivals.
Creative control is a beautiful thing. It’s been said that a film is written 3 times. Once by the writer, once by the director and finally by the editor. To be in control of each of those stages is fantastic and allows me to carry a project through from conception to completion in exactly the way I want it. It’s always still the case that the product you finish with is different to how you intended it, complete with added flourishes and unexpected shortcomings, but overall you’re left with an appreciation of the whole process and leave with lessons of how you’d do things next time. In a multi-collaborative project artists often complain that creative control was wrestled away from them and what’s left is a disheartening imitation of what they had first set out for.
However, it still has to be said that film is essentially a collaborative medium, and while maintaining such control of the whole process is great if you want things done exactly how you envisage them, it’s just too much work for one person to take on board and denies the possibility of something magical and entirely unimagined taking your film in a new direction.
Learning how to direct and produce films has been a great lesson and given expression to different aspects of my creativity, but one thing I’ve come to realise is that I’m essentially driven by the writing and ideas, and no sooner have I finished filming than my interest turns to getting on with the next script and pursuing the next idea. To get mired down in editing and promotion divides my attention and stunts the development of the craft I’m actually interested in focusing on.
I learnt not too long ago about the idea of the 80/20 or Pareto principle, a theory originally developed in relation to economics but soon taken on in many different fields and expanded into a general, if slightly rough, principle. The idea is that roughly speaking 80% of something’s effects, comes from just 20% of it’s causes. More can be read about it here on Wikipedia but it’s enough to say that for my purposes 80% of the time I spend, or it might be more fitting to say waste, in relation to a project comes from just 20% of the things I do for that project. Or to put it another way, editing and promoting a film takes 80% of my effort and time when it might take someone who actually knows how to do those things a fraction of that.
If you’re able to collaborate with the right people and combine your skills you’re able to increase your productivity exponentially. Just stick to the 80% of tasks you excel at and outsource the rest to someone else.
Besides, as Woody Allen says, if 80% of success is showing up, you just need to find someone else to do that other 20% and the job is done.
Melbourne: A Guide to Living will hopefully be going to a few festivals later in the year. If you’re interested in seeing a preview enter your email address in the bar at the top of the page.