Monthly Archives: June 2001

Grasping The Lightning

How many times have you been struck by lightning? Not many? Not any? But how many times have you had the power of lightning coursing through your body? Different thing. I think when we’re doing certain things that are natural to us, it’s akin to having the power of a blinding white lightning bolt crackling through us. It might be things that we really want to do or things we’re particularly good at.

It’s like standing in the middle of a summer storm and knowing that you are, for a few moments at least, running the show.

Most of the time and for most of our lives what we do is like playing with static electricity. There’s a bit of a charge, maybe the odd small shock. Maybe we can stick a balloon to the ceiling or some other minor miracle once in a while. Sometimes when it’s dark we can see sparks around us when we take off an item of woollen clothing. That’s more or less it. Day to day life is buzzing static.

Grasping the lightning is different. Grasping the lightning means feeling it flowing through you and around you, ready to arc out and change the universe in an earth shattering blast. Grasping the lightning means there may well be a clap of thunder as you unleash your own charged up power. It’s that profound.

Respect for your abilities from those around you charges you up. The common desire to get something done provides the atmosphere where the electricity can flow. Shared love for each other and the whole project energises the whole team allowing something to happen. And the thunderclap might not be audable in a real sense, but its aftershocks and resonancies can be perceived just as well.

Directing, I always feel the times when it works best. When it really is a profound moment of supercharged teamwork. When I have a dedicated motivated team around me, everyone carrying their assigned role to the best of their abilities, there can come a point where my work is done and I am the energizing energized observer. We are ready to create something that up until that point was a series of thoughts and ideas.

Once I’ve set everything up to get the results I need, it’s up to the technical crew to carry out the mechanical process of recording the scene according to my directions and the actors to inject their own energy. At that point, sometimes, often for less than a minute although it can feel like forever, I grasp the lightning. Electricity flows through us. White light. Pure thought flowing into action, flowing into existence.

White light. Creating a new reality.

I saw an excellent documentary at the weekend about people who chase storms, either because they’re meteorologists gathering data or film makers getting footage or just plain barmy. There was material shot from the space shuttle of lightning storms over the African continent. It was really beautiful with these blooms of white electric light exploding silently, first one, then another then another. Sometimes they were close together, sometimes they were hundreds of miles apart. Despite the massive distances involved they were clearly part of the same system.

It struck me that this happens in the Earth’s atmosphere because of the ability of water particles to become charged. And thinking laterally, most of our body is made up of water. So I wonder if it’s likely that we’re going to experience storms like this too within and across our bodies, for no other reason than that we contain water and iron too (the central constituent of haemoglobin in our blood).

I was also reading something about magnetosphere powered spacecraft. The idea there is that a small craft is surrounded by a large magnetic field which is in turn pushed by the solar wind–the stream of ions and other charged particles racing out of the sun. Now, another piece of lateral thinking, and it’s reasonable to suppose that we each have some form of electro-magnetic field of our own if we have all these easily charged water particles and rapidly moving ferrous material (haemoglobin) in our bodies.

So I was thinking, one of my friends has been studying aura healing and even though it sounds a bit far-fetched, it does seem to have an effect. And it might actually be based on electromagnetic fields. And when one person’s aura (em field) moves through another it has an effect. And remembering that light itself is an electromagnetic effect, there’s no reason to suppose that the receptors in our eyes might not be able to adjust to pick up some of the aura em field if it’s in the right part of the spectrum (ie. one that could cause a change in eye receptor chemicals).

In other words, there might actually be some scientific basis of auras and how they work and this is outside of traditional studies of brain chemistry and transmission of nerve impulses and I was wondering if anyone in the world is studying this. I guess at some point I’ll look into it a bit deeper, but if anyone has any thoughts, please feel free to share.

I also suspect that astrology, if it really does have any effects, would work in the same way–through electromagnetic fields. The fields generated by astronomical bodies with an iron core fill up most of interplanetary space. So even though the planets themselves are very small, their effects can be huge. A follow on from this would be that we wouldn’t expect some bodies in our solar system such as Mars or the Moon to have much of an effect as their magnetospheres are extremely weak.

Okay, that’s enough thinking aloud for now. Like I say feel free to share any related thoughts, whether they’re on storms, auras, astrology or the solar system at large.

Gary And The Bin Redux

Yes, I know this is the ongoing soap opera you really want to know about. Well, I spotted Gary doing his garden last Sunday and then he went out, leaving his garbage can full of gardening crap on my patch of garden. So I went out to move it into his bin shed, but that was full of plants he’d chopped down. So I moved said bin over to the far side of his drive then–and you’re not going to believe this–I resolved to weed and dig over my garden. Yes.

Two and a half hours this took. Witchypoo came out and helped by talking to me a lot about everyone else in the street (boo)–“Oo, him over there has the police round all the time…”–and lending me her fork and trowel (hooray). I think she was secretly pleased to see me doing anything with the jungle that was taking root. It was so hot out there, the ground was baked solid so I had to take out several buckets of water to soak the earth before I could dig. But it is now done and it just doesn’t look like suitable for anyone else’s garbage can.

I went downstairs later that evening to join my new neighbour for a cup of tea and think Gary was frankly amazed at how much neater it all looked as well as the fact I’d done it. Ha. I’ve also put small bits of orange peel all over the place to keep the cats off. So I think my neighbour’s bin won’t be a problem any more.

Anything else? Well, have I achieved anything else this week? Yes. I went for a health check on Monday and my blood pressure is down on last year (now 140/90 from 150/94) presumably thanks to karate and cutting down caffeine. I can count the number of cups of tea and coffee I drink in a week on one hand now. So, full of this healthy resolve I did the almost unthinkable and joined the gym at the studios where I’m working.

I know, I know. This could be a recipe for more procrastinating–and there is the danger that it’s right next to the bar (!)–but it’s a monthly membership so if I do fail to go, then I can cancel with minimum loss of cash. Now I need someone to help me work out a CV circuit based on my current fitness level. I can use the equipment whenever I want but meanwhile it’s three weeks before I can get hold of a trainer there to help me develop a workout.

Life moves forwards!

Another Progress Report

Last Train
Neg cut is now complete and negative is ready to go on to the labs for printing early next week. I’m not thinking about organising exhibition venues just yet, however, considering the number of problems already encountered and the thought that there are still a whole load of things that could go wrong. Still, this is good. This is very very good.

Fate & Fortune
Sent off the revised edits to the editor but still no call yet. Dug out my three page list of audio dubbing requirements and phoned the sound mixer but got the answerphone. No, the sound wasn’t done last weekend (qu’elle surprise) but the rerecording mixer sounded as though she does want to get it done as soon as possible. I blame Columbia Tri-Star for all of this. Why can’t they use someone else’s facilities?

As for music, I daren’t phone the composer to sort out re-doing the trumpet parts that I thought were a bit weak just in case the sound studio does actually become available and we can suddenly go in and complete the thing. If that happened, it would mean I’d have to use audio effects over the music track in those places, which would be fine, I think, for the sake of getting it done.

Loan company has approved my mortgage request and final papers for remortgage came through for me to sign and these were posted back this morning.

You Can Almost See It

This week has been slow slow progress on the film finishing front and yet significant progress has been made. This morning I got a call from the neg cutters, to whit: “Hello. We have a slight problem in that you’ve used the same shot twice and we wondered if we could juggle it a little to make it work?” This is really no problem, as long as it doesn’t affect the duration of sequences and puts the soundtrack all out of sync, so I say, “Sure, go ahead (punk)–make my day.” Later I call them back to see how it’s going and they tell me they should have it done by early next week.

Pause. Let’s just look at that again and what it means. Last Train will be at the labs next week for printing. Cool!

Meanwhile I envisage a thousand and one horrors that could still happen at the lab. The sound might be all out of sync because I made a decision to shoot at 25 frames/second for cinema rather than 24fps for TV. The video tape that we transfered into the edit suite computer (Avid) runs at 24fps so one setting wrong on Avid and it’s all bleugh. The shots juggled by the neg cutters to make things work might put the whole sound track out too. The neg cut might have been done to the wrong EDL and the sound won’t match for that reason. I come up with these jolly thoughts and then immediately put them out of my mind.

Rather than dwell on these insurmountable problems, or the fact the Director of Photography wants a ‘pristine print’ which just isn’t going to happen because I want a ‘dark gritty look’, I focus on the day to day. One thing at a time. First things first. Which is another way of saying I find new ways to procrastinate. Nevertheless, I filled out the mortgage forms and sent them promptly back to the building society which means a large wedge of moolah is on its way to pay for my filmic exploits (as well as my loan and credit card).

Fingers crossed that gets finalised soon despite the building society nonsense I had on the phone yesterday. “Oh, you can’t pay by standing order straightaway because of the way we do the payments. It has to be by direct debit.” Blah blah. Life is too short to deal with people unable to think outside their company rule books, so I smile politely and say okay, that’s fine.

The important thing is to stay focused on that one beautiful piece of information. Shall we look at it again? I think we should. Last Train will be at the labs next week for printing.

But what of my other film, Fate & Fortune–my real favourite with its weird incomprehensible story and high production values? I sigh. Okay, it goes like this. Following my phone call to Simon the editor a few weeks back, I know I have to sit down with a tape to write out all the timecodes for the shots I’ve changed where I edited out lots of title cards.

Problem: I had no tape to do this because it’s with the sound people. Solution: when I was tidying up the flat two weeks ago to get it re-valued for the remortgaging plan, I came across a stack of VHS tapes I’d done before giving those sound people a tape. I pat myself on the back at my own cleverness. So I can do the shot list for Simon.

This means sitting down with the video recorder for about an hour and writing down the timecode (a digital reference point) for the start and end of each shot. Naturally I put this off for as long as possible and find excuses like, “Oh, woe is me, if only the sound people would pull their fingers out, it would all be done” and “Why can I not pay my mortgage by standing order?” Amazingly though, I actually did it on Monday and typed it up yesterday.

Then I phoned Simon to check he’s at the same address before I send it off. Yes, it’s really been that long. “Good job you caught me,” he says, “I’m off in a couple of weeks to work in LA for five months.” So now there is a deadline and it’s a biggie and I post the tape and printout and hope he gets a new EDL (one which works) to me before he leaves. Otherwise… well, we don’t think about otherwise.

Lastly, I go through the ritual of phoning the Rerecording Mixer. This rite has become almost like a Catholic Mass in its adherence to the laid down form. We go through the usual motions of “We should be able to do it Saturday” and “Yes it will be a 5.1 mix although it won’t be Dolby but we can get it Dolby encoded down the road” and “I’ll call you later in the week.” Hallelulah. Amen. Then later in the week I call her and get the, “The suites are both booked for Saturday now and we can’t get in. We’re up against Columbia Tri-Star and Sky and they pay top dollar, no discount, d’you know what I mean?” Sadly, yes. All too well.

Maybe we’ll get it done Sunday. Maybe I will discover I have telepathic powers and can predict the result of this weeks lottery. Maybe I’ll even do that and buy a ticket. Maybe I will find something aesthetically pleasing about the stupid tinny sound polluting irritants that are the ring tones of mobile phones too. I’ll get back to you…

Guess what? I phoned the sound person and we had one of those, “Sorry, mate, the studios are all booked…” conversations.


What’s All The Noise?

Hey, I have a new neighbour. Just went down and introduced myself. Gary is there, with his kids and the landlord has stripped the flat completely bare before he’s moved in so I can hear them echoing around. The first thing I notice is that Gary has a shaved head in complete contrast to yours truly but that’s cool. He’s a big bloke, tubby, shorter than me, with more tattoos than bare flesh on his big arms. He grins and tells me he fits doors for a living.

He wants to install loads of home security devices, like a new door with a spyhole and one of those 500Watt floodlights that comes on when you approach. I think I’ve managed to put him off that last one because it acts like a flag telling the whole street when you’re in or out. He showed me the huge padlock he’s got for his shed and I said it will make it look as if he’s got something to steal. Why does anyone need a ton of security here? I dunno.

So, yes, he is divorced after I think it was 18 years he just told me. And we’ll meet up for a few beers soon. I said I’m a lightweight when it comes to drinking. He said he isn’t a big drinker either, “only eight or nine pints”. Good grief. Well, at least there isn’t far to stumble home! Oh, and yes, I did explain about the bin thing, but not in a blatant “empty your freaking bin and get it off my garden!” way. As I say, he’s a big bloke with big arms who worries about security.

And there you have it. I’m sure I shall see more of security conscious Gary. I hope I don’t wind up with a load of tattoos.

So, anyway, I’ve invited Gary over for beers when he’s around next. I doubt it will be intellectually stimulating, but who knows? At least he’s about the same age as me and he might have a huge DVD collection I can raid. I know he’s into big screen TV and satellite. Mind you, witchypoo isn’t so bad in small doses. No one is really, are they? Hmmm…

Okay, so I’m having a beer right now and mellowing about the lot of them. The bin/garbage can is still on my garden meanwhile. That’s my overgrown garden full of weeds. If it wasn’t for the roses growing around my door (ahhhh!) then the outside of my place would be a complete disgrace. I think my whole life really does need a woman’s touch.

He grins and tells me he fits doors for a living…

On reflection, he must have said he works on doors. I was trying to figure out why he was off to work at 8.30pm and comes home at 3am if he works in the building trade. And why does he wear a suit to work? Doh. He doesn’t fit doors. He’s a doorman.

The Bin

Am I an optimist or a pessimist? The glass is half full. The glass is half empty. Frankly, who cares? I am feeling curmudgeonly and the fact is that the next door neighbour’s bin is completely full and will the dustmen empty it? No, they won’t. No, nay, never. No nay never, no way.

You see, round our way, they won’t lift a dustbin up in the time honoured tradition of their predecessors. That might involve being strong and manly and physical, so they can’t do that. I appreciate they might hurt their backs, but did I force them to become binmen? I think not. And we haven’t got wheelie bins either that back up to the refuse truck and get lifted by the hydraulic mechanism because, well we just haven’t, okay.

What we have, my friends, is binbags. Black plastic refuse bags, if you will. Those are the only things our garbage disposal specialists will take away. If it’s not in a binbag, it ain’t going in the truck to be burnt or make landfill or whatever they do with it. If it’s not in a binbag, it’s going to sit outside your home festering. Forever. Mmmmm. Nice.

So, why hasn’t my neighbour put his/her rubbish out in binbags like any normal resident would? Well, she moved three weeks ago and her smart alice daughter simply filled the bin up to the top and left it out. Result: it is still there. However, those of you who read my intolerant outpourings yesterday will have picked up on the fact that I now have a new neighbour.


Yes, he’ll sort out this festering bin problem. Or at least simply ask the council to remove it. Of course he will. Won’t he? Err, no. What he has done is simply move the bin on to my garden! Holy freaking cheek! Like it’s MY problem to deal with!?

What in God’s Holy Name is wrong with people. Yeah, yeah, so he’s going through a divorce and we should all be sad for him. Well, boo hoo hoo. I’m not sad. In fact, it looks like I’ve discovered the reason why his marriage fell apart and it’s only taken me five minutes. He is clearly a lazy good for nothing who shunts his problems on to other people and expects them to sort them out for him.

Needless to say, I’ve moved the bin back on to his drive.

You know, I’ve barely started about the neighbours. As well as witchypoo and binman, there’s the trailer trash down the block who thought it would be a good idea to have a nice car fire to get some income from an insurance claim one night… outside their house. No, never mind the risk that the petrol tank might have exploded. And the rest of the street turned out to watch the twenty foot high flames. Guess who called the fire brigade when he detected the whiff of burning car in the air? Muggins, that’s who. Me.

Then there’s the exceedingly large coloured lady who keeps stopping yours truly to tell me about Jesus and ask me along to the Salvation Army. Yip. And the pensioner who may well have been a sex bomb in her younger years and who still apparently thinks she is with her little winks and hip waggles. Oh, dear. Oh dear oh dear. And the guy who looks like an old pervert in his little red car. He could have stepped out of a Carry On film.

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Neighbourhood Witch

Today as I was coming into my house, I saw my elderly neighbour standing silently in her doorway, arms folded watching me like a hawk eyeing up a baby rabbit so I said, “Hi!” and proceeded to open my door and escape before she could trap me in a yak yak yak situation about a load of cobblers.

“Hi,” she replied in a sarcastic voice, “you know you’ve got a new man living under you, don’t you?” Like I could care less, shut up you old bag, I thought. “Oh really,” I said. “Yes, he’s got two children, so you’ll like that won’t you? Kids running around all over the place?” she went on. You really have a sad freaking life don’t you, I thought.

“Oh,” I replied, “where on earth are the kids going to sleep in a one bedroom flat?” I had been sucked in and she warmed to her theme, having obviously gathered intelligence for many days just for such a string of revelations. “He’s divorced, yes,” she clucked. “He has the kids during the week.” God, you really are dreadful, I thought. Poor guy. Poor kids.

“Yes,” she gabbled on, ignoring me and talking for her own benefit now, “it will be like these two next door to me, always arguing. Don’t you hear them? They have the police round every week. And the ambulance. Don’t you see them? And him over the way, he’s trying to get his son to live with him. And he’s a drug addict you know?” Yakkity yakkity and how she did go on and on.

Eventually, I managed to escape this dreadful harridan. She was at the point of questioning me about where I work and what I’m doing and I just said, “Oh, I’m doing fine. Bye for now. See You.” And I went inside and closed my door.

So, all my neighbours are a nightmare. Actually, I think not. They are all very quiet and polite. Except for Witchypoo. So, was I too rude or was she? What is wrong with this windbag? Too much time on her hands, clearly. I’m sure the silly old bat keeps a diary of my comings and goings and how many times I flush the loo and when.

I know, I know. It’s free security with her watching the street all day. But would she ever phone the police or just make more notes for her daily gossip? Oops. I mean, I know, I know. She is old and on her own and wants human contact and I should be nice. I just wish she’d stop being so damned nosey and obnoxious about everyone. And it would be very nice if she’d come and weed my garden. Again.

Monday Morning

It’s funny how much you can get done in a morning, isn’t it? I mean, nothing much really gets done in afternoons. It’s like all your blood sugar melts away then and siesta is the perfect solution. Sometimes your whole life can change in an evening of course. Particularly if it’s an evening that starts with a bolt of lightning across a crowded bar and that evening becomes a weekend becomes a real life flesh and blood living breathing touching feeling other. But it still seems to be mornings where the basics get sorted.

So this morning I sit down with Excel and pull together the various movie budgets and other liabilities I have. I work out what I owe and what I need. Then I look through the mortgage literature I picked up last week and phone the one with the best rate. About an hour later I have taken the steps to remortgaging my property and using the equity to consolidate my existing debts. The result is that I will be able to afford to pay for 35mm prints of both my short films. And not only that, I will be nearly 300 a month better off. Ha! And not only that, hahahahaha!

Full of what can only be described as smugness, I take the car to the garage and top off the air once more in that slowly leaking tyre. No, still not had it fixed. Yes, it does bother me the longer I leave it. This week, I say to myself. After pay day, I say to myself. Stop talking to yourself, I want to add but I don’t.

Meanwhile, my favorite boots are nearly worn through and Camel aren’t making them any more so getting them fixed is a priority too. You can’t beat soft comfortable leather boots if you’re going to have a happy life. Happy feet equal happy life. Honest. Just look at how many people go to reflexologists. So I take the boots into town and find it will cost a mere 30 and they’re sorted. I go to the cheap shop and buy soap and toilet rolls (it’s a guy thing, we panic when we’re down to the last four) and then to the expensive store and use 10-worth of refund vouchers from the petrol station to buy delicious lunch.

By this point I’ve spent less than five pounds and achieved quite a lot. How smug am I now? I join the queue in the bank with the good intention of opening a type of savings account where I can bypass being taxed but the queue is a still life posing for a non-existent artist so I take the leaflets and go. This is naturally where the tight rein on spending slacks off. I need to buy my sister a birthday card. She’s hinted “fifty” and I’ve said “twenty” but neither of us said what we were talking about although of course we both knew. I settle for thirty plus the cost of the card.

Incidentally, two pounds for a piece of cardboard and the queue is halfway down the shop? You could toast bread on the heat from the overworked cash register! It makes you wonder why the sales assistants have a grey pallour rather than wonderful tans. Maybe if they changed the readouts from green LCD’s to sun lamps? Is this a licence to print money or what? And all the cards in there are soooo bland. They may as well be blank. Note to self: make more own cards after this.

Of course, the birthday schtick means I’ve undone quite a bit of the morning’s good Living Below Your Means stuff so I rent three DVD’s from the library and one from Blockbuster for good measure. On the way back I bump into the beautiful Shauna. Sigh. Tall, curvaceous yet slim, long blonde hair blue eyes angelic smile (and nice tits, yes, since you were wondering). I am irresistably drawn into her gravity well and we gaze adoringly at each other for minute after long minute. Passers-by melt into the background as we stand there with those delinquent half-smiles half-questions on our faces…

Reality break over. Okay, so we chat for a bit and laugh a bit and it’s good to see her and of course this doesn’t end in any kind of date situation (because I’ve asked before and she has a boyfriend who “wouldn’t really approve”) and I’m reminded that I haven’t been to salsa for ages and nor have I been to jive and, wow! There are some great looking women around. It’s good to be alive and I love them all!

Then it’s back home to watch the first of the movies and gorge myself silly on free food. And another few drops of irresistable force have fallen on to the immovable object, that hard rock of reality, drip drip drips wearing a hole relentlessly into the future where the tide will burst through and I’ll be ready to catch the surf.

Click Click II

Hot news from Ascalon Films

(1) I called the sound re-recording mixer yesterday and she said the studio is back to back with bookings at the moment, which means they even use it overnight.

(2) the re-recording mixer called me up today and said, “Oh, sorry, I was just checking to see who had called my mobile and calling them back.”

(3) One of the lead actors from Fate & Fortune called and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not calling to hassle you about the film. I just wondered if you had a contact number for the manor house location we used. Oh, and by the way, how is it going?” We laughed, we joked, I hung my head in shame and admitted it still wasn’t finished.

(4) Erm, that’s about it. Well, Paul, my old school friend called round and he’s working on a movie called Deep which is a ghost story set on a submarine and it’s directed by the guy who did Pitch Black. So I was interested in that and will try to go and have a poke around the set in the next couple of weeks.

Click Click, Is It Done Yet?

Yes, the famous quote from Stevie Wonder doing a Rubik’s Cube. I know, that’s not the best possible taste in humor, but it kind of feels like how these films are going. I phone up the various people and ask if each bit’s done and I get the usual answers, although sometimes I get a new answer and another block in the puzzle has slotted into place.

This week I’ve achieved getting my property revalued in preparation for getting a new mortgage to pay for all the production and post-production expenses so far incurred and committed. I now know there is more than enough equity and although it would have been nicer to pay for these things with profit from sharedealing, I can still allow myself the joy of dancing one of those Snoopy dances with a grin that goes well beyond the borders of Smugland. In fact, I am deep into the territory of the Smugwumps.

Today I phoned Martin at the graphics company. “Are the graphics shot yet?” I ask. “Yes, we finished them yesterday,” he replies. “We’ll deliver them to Tru-Cut this afternoon.” I call Tru-Cut to let them know. “Can you send us some kind of order, by the way, so we can generate an invoice?” they ask. “Yes, I’ll do it later,” I reply. Yesterday I did something similar for the labs.

So those things are in hand and Last Train chug-chugs forward a few more yards towards its cinematic conclusion although I fully expect some ridiculous unforeseen crisis to crop up at any minute. You know, like, “Oh, so-and-so’s daughter has had a baby and it’s got ginger hair! We can’t possibly do your film now!” Or, “Oh, we sold our business to the old man outside and he burned your negative to keep warm while sleeping on the streets!” Or, “Oh, sorry, my head just exploded.”

Nevertheless, I’m feeling lucky and, indeed, Simon the editor has sent me two spare EDL’s. So I phone the Michelle, the re-recording mixer on Fate & Fortune. “Hi, there. How are you?” I venture as my opening gambit. “Hi, there. Listen, it’s a really bad time right now. Can I call you back?” comes the reply, a classic Kasparov response studied from numerous books, no doubt. “No, worries,” I counter, “I’ll call you tomorrow.” Which is met with, “Okay, bye!” and my king-sized project is in check once again.

Still, what the hell. Tomorrow is another day, right? Right. I keep pushing my pawns towards the back row.