Thursday, 17 November 2016

Moonman TV Series - ABC TV Australia

The ABC has decided not to pick up Moonman as a series. Everyone involved is disappointed, of course - but we are looking for another home. 

I would love to let the world see what we had planned - the marriage, the birth, the twitterstorm fuelled by Lawrence's unique ability to incite outrage.

As to the show or shows the ABC went with - that's for the ABC to announce - but I have seen the iView figures and can confirm the decision went with the most viewers, the most word of mouth - so no complaints from me there. 

International Student has been announced - so good luck to them going into a series - and same goes for any others that get the nod from the ABC's Comedy Showroom. It was a great initiative and my thanks to Rick Kalowski and all at ABC, Screen Australia and FilmVic for making it possible.

The most important people to thank are still in on the journey and, like me, have their fingers crossed this is not the end of almost four years work - That includes everyone at Renegade Films, most notably Joe Connor our EP and Jen Livingston our Producer. Clayton Jacobson our Director. The entire cast of Moonman, with a special mention to Ian Smith who revelled in being the bad boy - and the multi-talented Lawrence Mooney.

Lawrence and I began this whole thing way back in July of 2013 and it would be a shame to see it end so abruptly.

You can also still see the show - but, of course, there's a fee. Find it here.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Donald Trump and the Angry Voter

Recently a rich man with a microphone declared Millenials could afford to buy a house if they stopped eating at cafes. Given a trip to a cafe is around twenty dollars and the cheapest house is about three hundred thousand, there was a wave of incredulous anger from Millenials.

The middle-aged, privileged white guy was from a group of like-minded souls who also loudly claim there's no issue with racism, no religious or sexual intolerance and certainly no sexism in our communities. When an indigenous appointment was made to champion issues of indigenous people, the same group pointed out being born in this country made them indigenous, so they saw the appointment as an attack against them.

That's how those in the best seats see most issues involving others asking for a fair share - as an attack against them.

It's that extraordinary lack of awareness from those in power that is incubating so much anger amongst so many people.

Brexit came and went and the media concentrated on the few who never bothered to find out what Brexit actually was. The sound bites were of people admitting, had they taken the time to find out what leaving the EU entailed, they would never have voted to Brexit. No one spent much time concentrating on how many voted out of anger; a protest by the powerless against those in power; of people feeling locked out of a system that is slowly stripping away their enjoyment of life; a system that excludes more and more with every generation; Voters who wanted change to anything else.

The past twenty-five years have produced unparalleled global economic growth. Globally we are richer than we have ever been before and yet, as individuals, more of us are being relegated to jobs where the staples of life need to be budgeted and personal sacrifices are made on a daily basis.

Governments have lost the ability to represent the people because of a convoluted and complicated process making it impossible to get anything done that doesn't benefit, in some way, those with enough power to influence the vote.

This leaves your average person with no representation.

There would be no need for government if you could rely on everyone to do the right thing and ensure safeguards were respected and the weak were never exploited. We all know that's not human nature - some people need to have common sense decisions legislated in order to do the right thing in the race for that extra dollar.

If that's not the government's job, then why have a government? And that's why people are so mad. More and more it seems the entire regulatory system has lost sight of the individual and sided with those racing to earn that extra dollar.

People are angry. They see their own circumstances getting worse, their real wage decreasing, their job opportunities shrinking, their children's futures being traded away. Leaving the European Union was a vote to change the system; a vote by many to vent their frustrations and express their festering anger.

Now it's America's turn. Donald trump is the protest vote; Hillary represents the entrenched system. If Trump wins he will be a single term president because the protest is in the vote, not in the presidency.

The problem is the system is too entrenched to wind back. Like global warming, it's too late to undo the damage. It's the lobbyists and party politics that forbids either side from supporting a good idea. There are favoured industries and the provision of resources and safeguards are delivered unequally across various industries and demographics for any number of vested interests.

We should have protested when the legal decision was handed down declaring companies were people - that was the point of no return. If companies are people, they are the very worst amongst us. They are certainly not the people we want governing us and yet, that is where we've landed.

Our government bends to accommodate big business and we, in turn, are being governed the way a business governs itself. Big business is responsible for a complicated system of tricky political shuffling, that spins itself as righteous while delivering nothing that helps the average, conscientious, hard working, individual and everything that helps a large corporation flourish. That's why so many are angry and frustrated and ready to cast their vote to the wind - it's another vote for anything else.

The motives driving a large company, the arbitrary indicators they use to make decisions, the monetary bonus system encouraging immoral behaviour, and the corporate structure that keeps those decisions at arm's length from those the decisions impact upon, explain why so many are left feeling helpless, shut out and simmering for change.

A company strives to be successful - to make a profit and to increase that profit year on year. It expands and invests and grows. If all goes well it becomes a large corporation or even a multi-national. It buys up smaller companies to become even larger. Where you once had thousands of small companies across a nation providing a similar service or product and striving to satisfy their individual customer's needs to grow their customer base, you now have a single company. A single big company that really doesn't care about any individual customer.

If it's lucky enough to be a new technology company with intellectual property that gave it an open market, or if it grows big enough to be declared "too big to fail" it may find itself with a relative monopoly - a duopoly or oligopoly. Either way, competition to keep it in check is sparse or relatively absent. We've been here before - Teddy Roosevelt used the Sherman Act to break up the huge corporate monopolies that he felt were acting on greed above all else in making their corporate decisions - and given their monopolies the only way to reign them in was to break those companies up - to reverse their growth.

Donald Trump is no Teddy Roosevelt. Donald Trump is his own billion dollar, multi-national corporation. No one seems to think a relative monopoly is a problem anymore - in fact, it's seen as the pinnacle of success in our current markets - these logo marked behemoths take on the rest of the world and are championed by governments with a sort of nationalistic pride.

If you break down the corporate mentality it's easy to see why those outside the corporate clubs are growing so disenchanted. Once a company reaches giant status and controls a large percentage of the market it becomes relatively bullet proof. It now has power, influence and, alongside its fellow giant corporations, the means to control the economy. The companies are left to make crucial life changing decisions that affect us all. Through political influence and economic power, they have become the government by proxy.

Corporate decisions that affect so many use one overriding measure - their share price. Their spin departments put other concerns front and centre, boasting of all the good they do - the oil companies fund projects to protect the environment, the fast food industry sponsors athletic events and clothing and high-tech companies fund education for young people in third world nations. Bless! But their core business undermines that work a thousand times over and is driven by that one number - their share price. No one is truly gullible enough to believe that's not their primary concern, regardless of what their very expensive corporate slogans, altruistic philanthropy and catchy tag lines might tell us.

Over time, in an effort to keep their share price rising, the company cuts. It cuts staff. It cuts expenses. It cuts everything it can cut - right down to the dollop of jam on your favourite biscuit - see it getting smaller? And the actual biscuit also gets smaller, maybe only by 25grams, but your biscuit of happiness is shrinking, also the layer of chocolate covering your biscuit of happiness is thinner - cut, cut, cut.

In difficult times the corporations shed jobs like leaves in autumn and in good times they hire back, but not the people they cut in those bad times. Those people are now adrift. Their years of dedication to the company count for nothing because a company is a person without morals or emotions so it has no loyalty. When it hires back it hires younger, newer graduates who work for less than those fired. Maybe they even start an intern program offering debt-ridden graduates the honour of working for free to gain experience. Either way, it's a net gain. Happy shareholders - bigger bonuses.

And when the company has cut everything it can possibly cut - they cut contingencies. Yes, you heard me, they cut the fail-safes - the time, the money, the people built into their system to make sure what they do is done, not just well, but safely - cut, cut, cut.

The company is a person with no moral compass remember - its compass comes directly from the health of the share price and the pumping heart of a healthy share price is an increasing profit. So they run their production line or provide their service on a razor's edge. They don't remove the fail-safes completely - things like maintenance still exist, but they only budget for just enough. Protocols get tightened, reduced or cut altogether so by day's end they have not one cent being spent above the absolute minimum needed, not one minute of anyone's time unutilized, not one extra bolt used to secure the machine.

And everything is calculated on the perfect execution and running of their production line, or provision of service. Of course, this also means if a butterfly flaps it's wings once more than predicted in their optimal modelling - everyone suffers. Well, maybe not everyone - those running the company still get paid and receive their bonuses - but you, the consumer, the end user, the client, you don't get what you thought you were getting. You certainly don't get what you paid for and you absolutely don't get what your taxes paid for.

Instead of leaving in place or even building in contingencies to their process, the company now runs workshops and training sessions with glossy posters that declare really warm and comforting platitudes towards staff, such as, "We're part of your team" or "We're all in this together", but really - that's not true. The company know full well they're now working on a razor's edge and that things will go wrong.

But the cost of those things going wrong, the things that cause the consumer time, money and aggravation, are cheaper to cover up and apologise for than the cost of ensuring they never happen in the first place.

The bottom line is it costs a company less to inconvenience people for a short time than to run with contingencies in place to prevent those shortfalls from ever occurring. It's a net gain to the company to have the consumer periodically inconvenienced. They'll swear they're sorry - but really they're not, because, in the long run, it's a win to their bottom line, a boost to their share price and an increase to the manager's bonus incentive scheme.

Of course, every now and again a catastrophic failure occurs and maybe a few people die. Maybe lots. Maybe none, just lots of injuries and people's livelihoods get taken away. The number crunchers will calculate how often such a disaster is likely to happen and calculate the net gain made by averaging all the years that disaster didn't happen. Can you say shareholder happiness - can you say bonus?

When one of these corporate catastrophes does occur the company reverts to a routine we're all very familiar with - the after the fact investigation and transparent report. When something collapses and takes people's lives the company will hold an investigation and declare it the most rigorous in recent history, their training and safety record will be held up as 'world class' and they'll publicise how they've gone above and beyond what they are 'legally' required to do to ensure such a thing never happens again. They may even hire a respected former judge or politician to head up the investigation and make it truly independent. That's how much they want everyone to know what happened was an unavoidable freak event, that, even though it wasn't their fault - they will fix and make certain it is never repeated.

The truth is the disaster happened because the company cut everything they could possibly cut including all but the bare minimum of contingencies - but... net gain, shareholder happiness, bonuses coming. You know the drill.

So who in the end are the winners and losers? The company wins, those managers who hold onto their jobs win, the shareholders, and a handful called in to investigate the disaster all come out ahead.

The losers are the people injured, killed or who lost their livelihood - they obviously lose. Then the workers blamed for the incident - they're screwed - even though the cuts made by the company forced them to cut corners in order to keep their jobs.

The customers of the company get screwed every time the lack of contingencies cause a problem. This turns out to be quite often because the projected optimal running was calculated as an average and averages make things seem orchestrated and manageable on paper, when in the real world products and services are used by consumers in bursts, with peaks and troughs to usage for any number of reasons.

The moment one of these reasons comes along - the whole system fails and people are inconvenienced and get frustrated, but as long as it's not too many - the company doesn't really mind. They have millions of customers - they're a duopoly remember, or at worst an extremely lucrative oligopoly; too big to fail also means too big to care. A large corporation's true response to a frustrated individual is - "Bite Me."
Of course, if you can attract a few thousand to join your outrage then the company will roll back the "bite me" remark. They'll issue an unreserved apology and find someone in the chain to blame, citing their recent HR training program that clearly listed "bite me" as an inappropriate response. Shareholders happy, managers happy, bonuses on track.

Have you ever tried to contact a company you're unhappy with? Chances are you can't find any details of how to contact them. YOU'RE AN INDIVIDUAL! Have you not been listening? They do not care about you individually. Get yourself 9,999 followers and then they may listen. You'll still have to solve the problem of how to contact them - but if you post your complaint on social media and get noticed by ten thousand others, the company will most likely contact you.

If you do try to go it alone and contact a large company to complain about your individual frustration - you sweet, optimistic child - chances are the best you'll do is to get the automated phone labyrinth that always starts with choices allowing new business to jump the queue.
"If you're calling about our new premium football channel, press one. for all other enquiries, press seven, for the levels of hell you're about to travel."

You press and progress and get some music and press again and finally get to speak to a call centre in a third world nation where real people are trained to care about individuals at two-thirds the price.

Call centres, bank tellers, retail and service attendants are now some of the lowest paid and highest stressed people in our modern economy. The system of cutting everything that can possibly be cut is responsible. These workers who are nowhere near a job they want to be in, nowhere near a job that leads to a career or attracts a bonus of any kind are the ones who have to deal with an increasingly angry public.

They are then asked to work overtime, "Could you work longer because it would really help us out?" And sure, once or twice is fine, but when that request gets made every single day to at least one employee - it's not to help them out, it's an orchestrated managerial tactic that exploits workers by trading their loyalty and goodwill for a management system that doesn't cater for any excess.

The company would rather run short whenever a wave of customers arrive than spend on one worker too many. Again, it's a way of saving, of cutting costs. Why have a superfluous worker standing around for six hours out of eight when you can just emotionally blackmail a worker already working to give you an extra two hours of their leisure time? That's a big tick for the supervisor, a gold star for managers and happy shareholders - once again we've arrived at bonus time.

Of course, there are two economies - the skilled and the unskilled. Have you ever considered that a law firm will not question an invoice from another lawyer for $250 per hour for a professional opinion, but they'll question and complain about every single invoice their cleaners lodge at $20 per hour?

That lawyer is worth $250 an hour, by the way, they worked very hard at university learning all the intricacies of the law and then passed the bar and have years and years of experience in order to become an expert in a specific field, so their opinion carries a high price. I'm not arguing they aren't worth the money. I'm questioning why the cleaner has to fight for their fee of $20 an hour to scrape the shit off those lawyer's toilet bowls, but the lawyer's fee is paid without any question.

And here's the real point of this whole rant - more and more millennials, having done the work, thrown themselves into debt getting qualified - are graduating to a choice of not having a job or cleaning our toilets - either metaphorically or literally.

Do you want to know why Brexit happened? Why Trump is now in striking distance of being the most powerful man in the world? It's because more and more people are cleaning up shit left by those with the greatest wealth and the most privilege. If Trump wins, it's not a vote for Trump, because as Obama points out, Trump is well and truly part of the entrenched system and very unlikely to help those on an hourly wage who have been left behind - the vote for him will be a vote in anger, a protest from a huge and growing number who have no other way to voice their anger but to vote badly.

Even more worryingly, if Trump doesn't win - the next Trump will. Maybe he'll be savvier and make less - 'grabbing pussy' remarks. Maybe time will erase Trump's memory enough for the next Trump to get to the door of the White House on a slightly re-written pathway of platitudes. Either way - keep allowing the cutting of benefits flowing to individuals in favour of further benefits to the already privileged and Trump will get they keys to the city very soon.

Maybe it won't be this time and maybe it won't even be this Trump, but it will be a Trump - a strongman on a platform of change at any cost - and that, by the way, is very close to the definition of revolution. If that happens the middle-aged privileged white demographic will really have something to complain about.