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netribution > features > tom fogg's epitaph
Tom's journey to the rancid guts of the film industry nearly broke his will. This testament...or epitaph - call it what you will - shows an underlying bitterness of characer tempered by his love of people and vices.l
| by tom fogg|
| photos by nic wistreich |
| in london |

Since the realisation that the company's survival, no matter how necessary or romantic, wasn't paying for our residence in the Capital both Nic and I have finally appreciated the luxury of reflection. We are now slightly wiser to the warning signs of stress and financial privation and perhaps have some direction in life. Where many (perhaps more so for those in the twilight of their careers) would be experiencing the dank pit of failure, the most lucid sensation of maturity and thanks for the simpler things remains.
Netribution has been an introduction to the British film industry at a sprint. UK film is a creature capable of unparalleled creative genius weighed down by anachronisms characteristic of our nation. Nic & I grieve like understanding parents over the industry now when, in the beginning, we hailed it like some lank-haired, wild-eyed revolutionary.
It has been a lifetime of experience, a masters degree in sociology, a close-up on treachery and slack manners - the sum of which is priceless. When we ignore the creaking bank balance and frayed spiritual health that is only now being repaired, what remains is a complex and everlasting friendship and a goody bag of life enhancing qualities that young men shouldn't really be in possession of in peacetime.
We embarked on this lunacy with no experience, no parental consent and no degree - just an acute ache for success that only the young have the energy and innocence to jeopardise in their quest. On the other side we've understood that we are adults now (I'm almost sad to say it) and besides, success stories are so predictable.

The indie film scene in this country is fascinating, a joy to be a part of and always compelling. It's a big party with a liberal door policy. Anyone can come and play provided they be hard working, have money to burn on vices, nightlife and short films and, of course, they need hope. We've got plastered, broken bread and had wonderful, intimate relations with hundreds of kind and exciting people. Many are heroes and some are top-flight bastards but they are all interesting - that's the difference between this and 9-5. Thousands of these happy fools believed in a couple of bums like Nic and I and we'll never forget that, whatever we end up doing to put food on the table.

I've mentioned that our writers and filmmakers are capable of genius. We know because we've met and, we hope, helped some very talented people but what becomes of them in this industry? Sure, they get by and they'll keep making movies despite everything but what happens to them, you know, after? There is a hole in our bucket folks but the pump seems to be working fine. Netribution even hosted a debate on the problems and nothing definite remained to explain it. I could list some credible reasons and Nic could offer a lot more but frankly, life's too short and I've served my time…ah fuck it, here's my grubby tuppence on the matter.
There are too many people with the power to influence for the better but that are more concerned with holding onto their jobs. One of our most loyal supporters, David Castro (sorry mate!), seemed to sum it up but you'll have to excuse the inexact quote, "If movie after movie fails in Hollywood, those responsible are fired. That isn't the case here."
But this isn't the same all over, I still believe some have the balls to make the difference but are smothered by the dusty pillow of stability. Other, noisier heroes are hastily ousted like Commies under Senator Joe…discretely though, the British never could bare the hum of soiled breaches.
Enough! I'm no Zapata and what do I know anyway….but then I do like a flutter. I could name a dozen potential saviours of the British film industry over a shot of tequila and I'd put a round behind the bar if ANY were allowed to change things.

(I'm so looking forward to this bit)
When you provide an information service gratis, you effectively bend over and offer your pert cheeks to a vast, hitherto silent community of knuckleheads, dreamers and bored halfwits. Again, I can't tell you how satisfying this is, having now absolved myself of the responsibility of answering their dumb-arse questions (Don't get me wrong though, I'd do it for a price). We'd get an average of two priceless requests a day that would cause wonder, mirth, incredulity and, towards the end, anger. There were the forgettable ones like, "I have a fantastic idea/script for a short film, what do I do now? ps - great website!" and I'd give more examples if time allowed but they've wasted enough of mine already. It got so bad that I created a folder in Outlook called 'Classics' in the hope that I'd publish them one day. (No, I won't, they are mine.) We would even send them to friends in the industry that were going through similar pain, just to cheer them up. I know it's cruel but what can you do.
Nic summed it up after things had ceased to amuse. We were smoking a joint on the roof of our building (small office, big stress, the view puts things in perspective), we were questioning the merits of our creation. Perhaps I said, "We offer a valuable service that people really appreciate, we provide information in the belief that it will help the future members of the industry." Nic hesitated, before once again revealing a clarity of thought that will ensure his happiness in life, "But if they really wanted the information, they would have found it themselves. We may give hope but we unwittingly spoil them."
Quite Nic, quite.

I now present Nic's calm philosophy to all the chumps out there, and ask them this:
Just Stop It! Please! There's not enough to go around with talentless wannabes raiding the supply truck and by the way, you are not 'the next Tarantino', your filmis crap, it won't make money, people won't watch it, nobody in the know will back it - not even for intimate services rendered and NO, you cannot have their email address. You know who you are you time-wasting fuckers and hear this, if I had Eric Fellner's direct line, don't you think we'd have used it, long long ago, trying to promote our own ideas? But forgive me, and here, take Harvey Weinstein's email address and oh, here's the number for Tim Bevan's pa, with our love, I'm positive he'd shower us in diamonds for a chance to see your short film script about a comedy crime caper set in Luton. Have you really 'had interest' from Stephen Daldry to direct? WELL HAVE YOU?!

But here's hope; they are a minority. We've helped thousands who deserve it and we've been supported more than we'll ever be able to repay. That's what keeps the flame burning you see, the belief and the support.

My final gripe, for what it's worth, and I've been losing sleep over whether to play the stooly. It concerns the big boys, those who will not relinquish their worn out leather armchair in the stuffy chamber of power. Yes you sir, quaffing your Nuits Saint Georges Premier Cru, smug in the knowledge that your position of influence as an industry professional is a life peerage. Well your wine is corked my friend, and your empire died with Rhodesia. The organisation you pay to make you feel wise and respected is choking what you once held dear. Too many fat organisations, precious funds wasted on egos. And what about the countless, confidential stories of theft? Significant percentages of foreign productions being shot on British soil, craftily siphoned into the pockets of a few established professionals. Good work fellas and thanks, from the team.
I'm sorry, it's clear as day and it's upsetting (you should hear Nic when he gets going). But I'm allowed to be upset damnit! I saw the beast naked; from the healthy, pounding heart to the potent genitalia hidden from all but the chosen few.
I should mention for kicks that I'm aware that all this will be passed off as the bitter epitaph of a failure. Or worse, the naïve rant of a youngster lacking a clear view of the bigger picture. And I know my opinion isn't worth a damn because I won't come out for the twelfth round, but at least it's honest.

On a purely personal note, I couldn't have asked for a broader, more satisfying experience from my partnership with Nic. We've certainly seen the best and worst of one another and, having come out the other side, I can count him as a very close friend - something that was always impossible whilst working together. We've had one crossed word in two years. Unbelievable. That's half an hour of moody silence in…well I always was crap at multiplication. For a partnership that began with a combined age of 44 you'd expect some colourful and emotional behaviour. We've both come closer than is healthy to nervous breakdown (it's not pretty or romantic by the way) and we've played with addictions to the usual vices as well as fried food, Mirror groupesque news headlines and rubber bands.
Insanity was an oft nosy neighbour. I've seen Nic come to work (he even slept here from time to time) in week-old clothes, unwashed, with 4 day stubble, bad breath and having had little or no sleep from stress. He's seen me in the sexy cockpit of delusion: Shaved head, unkempt ginger beard and regularly driving home on an untaxed, uninsured motorbike, way too fast and after too many bourbons on the never never. Damn near killed me. Never again.
The spiritually healthy and the 9-5'ers would frown but what could we do? We had a dream to realise.

After such praise and damnation we should just thank you and wish you all the very best of luck. We both apologise for all the broken promises and unanswered calls and emails - it wasn't personal, we just couldn't keep up a lot of the time. You've given us a headstart on the journey to happiness via the sleepy hamlet of acceptance. Great laugh too, we should do it again sometime…Ha!


Ha ha! Hahaha!............

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