Sunday, March 16, 2008
Nesta Wyn Ellis: 'Normality is tedious, boring, imprisoning ...'
"Gordon Brown was Marcus Brutus and Tony Blair was Caesar's alleged nephew (possibly one of his illegitimate sons) Octavian, the self-renamed Emperor Augustus, the victor at Actium ... " - Nesta Wyn Ellis
Nesta Wyn Ellis should need no introduction in Arcatiland. She is the former political correspondent of Harpers & Queen, a former high profile journalist who contributed to most major newspapers and magazines, whose career reached a high point with her John Major biography in the '90s, dominating the front pages of The Sun and Sunday Times, before her migration to Paris a few years ago. A novelist, a singer and an astrologer, she agreed to talk to Madame Arcati about her life today, her views from a spiritual perspective on the political world, and her move into TV and movie production ...
The English talk about the weather - what's the Parisian conversational gambit ...?
Mostly about food. As you walk down the street or hang out in your changing room at the swimming pool, the conversations are mostly about what they have been eating lately. Fooooood matters to the French. You could almost say they live for pleasure alone, but I never ever in my life overheard so many people of all ages talking about food and meals they have just eaten. Or what they are about to eat - Qu'est qu'on va manger ce soir? Ouf!!!
Biographer, singer, writer, actress ... now you are moving into TV and movie production. Tell us more about this. What drew you?
I found that I was being asked to do pre-production work, location finding, concert production etc, by TV companies who wanted to film stories about me in Paris, romance, glamour etc, and I guess there are those who still do want to look for that story - why did Nesta move to Paris, what is her life like there? Romance....always this association with love and romance. And well, yes, I was mad enough to come here on the command of my heart.
And, since coming here I have been writing stories full of romance, sex, love...and finding one more love of my life; is there ever an ending to this quest and the joy of this discovery. One love brought me here, another found me.
But the story that was in my head and the song which was in my heart when I came have matured into a film and a novel and I am now in the development stage of the film with a producer, looking for a director and the finance is there for a big budget with a name director and a box office star.
I'm on the hunt for the director who should be one with a sensual eye. This might mean French. And the locations and the actors are French. But the female star will have to be British or American, a singer who comes to France, following her love, and
encounters dire consequences - what complications! Of course there is a lot of beautiful romantic music with this story, the first song/theme of which I composed twelve years ago while the first strands of the story were forming in my head. This film will be the leader of a trend to more emotive, erotic, photographically artistic and psychologically powerful films for really grown up audiences. The film industry has lost this with the exception of great stories like the recent Atonement and going back a bit, The English Patient. But the photography got left behind decades ago with great cinematographers like Cocteau,
photograhers like Cartier-Bresson. I want to revive that brilliant sense of visual beauty, images poised in time which speak to the audience in depths.
My work has usually been in the psychological realm and I want my film images to evoke psychological depths with stillness and presence, in a way that present day film makers try but fail to do with too much shock, speed and violence.
With Paris Production Service, I came to the conclusion that the companies who were filming stories about me and who were also asking me to find locations and plan shoots for them were, in fact, in the market for the kind of services which my new enterprise can offer.
The turning point was last August when a company contacted me about a shoot they wanted to do of a Hen Party for a Big Wedding story. The show ran for six days, of which Paris was mostly one part. But, thanks to my knowledge of theatres and other locations for shows, at which I have produced events for my own concerts, I was able to find them a superb location, dancers doing the Can Can, music, costumes, a floor to dance on; get them hotels, negotiate prices, advise them about all the local logistics and, et Voila! it went like a breeze.
I even sang during one sequence - La Vie en Rose - of course!
But this is all great pre-production services, and some production as well including party catering, extras, on the night.
Anyway, the company was absolutely thrilled because of everything that went with, and I thought, well, why not make this service more generally available? So that's what I am doing. I teamed up with Tara Byrne who has a lot of experience in event management and is really involved with the entertainment business as well and now we are ready to roll. I'm pushing out the infos and we have this pretty good website with great video clips--if you can play 'em--and the kind of pix and gorgeous sense of Paris present and past. MMMM. what a city...
Are you working on movie and TV projects already?
Yes, I am.I have two movie scripts and several more stories in the pipeline. Meanwhile I'm thinking up stories that TV companies can do in Paris; documentaries, actuality stuff with a good tag for the UK market. You have to live here, have been immersed in the history, the emotions the values of the French to be able to find the way to a good story and a good show that will also interest the UK market - and I have to say also the US and maybe Scandinavia, Holland, Australia. I'm here now and with Tara Byrne, who helped produce one of my recent concerts, who is a wonderful professional and colleague, we can do things very fast and very well. People have been very impressed with the way I have found them locations, players, produced a concert for them, all at the drop of a hat. They have said "We could never have done this in the time without your experience and knowledge of Paris."
And I know my Paris, on my bike or off it ... I'm aware of the history and the best time of day for the best light to film a certain location. I know how to sweet talk the bureaucrats/administrators into granting permissions. And it helps if your French is good, and you look good and you are dressed well and you smile. They're all into presentation here.
And what the TV people need is instant service. So, when you need the action, I drop everything else and get on the case. That's me, I'm a professional, a perfectionist and a workaholic.
And you're working on a movie? Is that right?
Yes, I have my own feature film, Children of Violence, a very unusual story, for which I have written the screenplay and the novel and the songs and musical themes. I am going to co-produce this film with a very dynamic woman producer of European origin who has a track record of production in the music business and the film business in the US. At the moment we are looking for the right director who should be a "name" but in my mind should also have an "eye" for the beautiful photograph.
This film will be shot in Paris, in mainly winter light and there are strategic moments and locations where there is something so evocative and transmuting about the time and the light here in the winter. I play with time in this story and I play with light as an expression of time, in the present full of shadows. You cannot forget those shadows here. You live with them all the time: the French, La France, recent history, humiliation, tragedy, pain which has been handed down the generations. You have to live it to understand it. Maybe you have to have been a part of it in a past time. There are summer sequences equally potent in their use of light, but they are in the past, which in the mind of the heroine is more present than the present. Heat, desperation, sexual passion and emotional confrontation, and a compelling denouement, in a time just before war erupts.
This film needs an A-list director. If I was further down the road of experience I would want to do it myself because when I write a scene I see the light, I see the focus on the players faces, the shadows. I think in pictures. What are words when you can use light and camera angles to tell your story?
Nesta, tell us about your love life (well I had to ask). Or just your sex life ...
What can I tell you? I am driven to love and be loved. I cannot, could not survive without love; and sex, for me is the expression of that love. There is no sensuality without the power of feeling for the other person.
Otherwise you have to play fantasies in your head. And, maybe you play fantasies anyway, and maybe love makes you vulnerable to another person and their decisions. I say, love anyway. We are on a level beyond normality in the life of feelings. "Human kind cannot bear too much reality," TS Elliott. Normality is tedious, boring, monochrome, imprisoning. Love is another dimension which changes everything around us. "La Vie en Rose."
Would you ever live in the UK again?
I hanker for London and maybe one day....a little pied a terre...?
I know you're an astrologer as well - what's your feeling on the US presidential race and Gordon Brown - you once said that you and John Major may have had a karmic connection ... any past life feeling about Gord?
Yes, Major was my son twice and a pretty bad son at that, both times. I know exactly who the historical personages were and I know that JM also knew about the first one because he referred to that life more than once and said more or less that he knew he had been that personage.
Gordon Brown was Marcus Brutus and Tony Blair was Ceasar's alleged nephew (possibly one of his illegitimate sons) Octavian, the self-renamed Emperor Augustus, the victor at Actium, and the author of the Crucifixion.
Brutus fell on his sword. Gordon still has that tendency. There are a lot of old Romans of that period haunting the halls of power in London. And I'm not the only one who has recognised them in their latter day time.
Gordon is currently suffering from the transits of the nodes and the eclipses which have taken place since his accession to the premiership, if one may describe it as such.
Of course, he drew the short straw because, as the wily Augustus well knew - he probably has his own team of astrological strategists - the UK was about to enter a period when its Pluto (power of the mass unconscious) which happens to be conjunct Gordon's Sun in Pisces was being occulted by successive lunar and solar eclipses. Things should improve over the next six months if the banks can control their debt creation fantasies. But I have to say that when Pluto re-enters Capricorn for 15 years in 2009 after a brief return to Saggitarius from May to November, the whole financial services sector, world wide will be obliged to restructure.
We are all awaiting the change of horoscope for the US which will occur as soon as a new President is elected. No matter which candidate, that change will be helpful because the Pluto Saturn angles to the US independence chart have been dire during the past four years. And these will disappear when a new election has been completed.
As for who the new incumbent will be, I think it will probably be a Republican. The Democratic candidate will be Obama and I haven't studied his horoscope yet, but McCain looks like the probably President, at least for the next four years from November. But I can't commit because I have not yet done his chart or done my final analysis of the other candidates' charts.
If you could kick someone and get away with it who would that person be?
I'll have to think about that rather deeply. I'm fundamentally non-violent. But there must be a deserving case in high places.
Give us a glimpse of your average day on Paris ...do you belong to a gym, for example?
I take a lot of exercise; swimming, walking, bicycling and yoga. It leaves some time for work in between. But it's no wonder I can't get to bed before 3am.
Nesta, I do wish you all the best with your new company. Any message to prospective clients?
Well, as I said earlier, I'm a complete professional, a perfectionist and a workaholic, and I always overdo my very best on any job. Also, I really know my Paris
and how to make things work here. One of the companies who worked with me on a three day shoot to make a 30 minute documentary, said "We could never have done this in the time without your experience of filming and your knowledge of Paris."
I'm thorough. And I like the work very much.
For more about Nesta's new TV and movie production company, click here.