October, 2001

Just Two More Stops

October 31st, 2001 October 31st, 2001
Posted in Film making
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I saw this poster on the London Underground today with a picture of a worried looking woman sitting next to someone wearing a giant rabbit costume. I’ve no idea what it was selling (so it failed on advertising grounds) but the caption over their heads read, ‘Just two more stops!’ Implying that the woman could escape from the bunny in two stations.

This week feels very much like that. Just two more stops, and we’ll be there. Just let me get through the week, get to the end of the film making. Why does the bunny keep following me? What do you mean there’s no bunny there? Oooo-kay.

Here’s another thing. I’ve never understood people who want to have a party with music so loud you have to scream into the ear of the person standing next to you in order to be heard. No, it’s not that I’m getting old. I’ve always thought like this. It’s partly why I enjoy dancing. Because there’s no way you can have any kind of conversation with people in that environment and so what else can you do?

Saturday, I was at a party just like this. The music was excellent but I wanted to talk to people and there was no dance floor so I left thinking, ‘What was all that about?’ It was actually a 30th birthday party for one of the people who helped make my films and it was at this really trendy bar in a very seedy part of London. There were no less than three big burly tuxedo-clad characters guarding the door and no less than half a dozen scrawny characters sleeping rough on the streets nearby.

None of it made any sense.

Fortunately, the film making thing is proceeding, although in a way that’s probably just chaotic to look at as a heaving mass of well-dressed drunk people shouting at each other in a bassbeat driven crowded plexiglass bar outside which a parade of badly dressed drunk people drifts by.

Last week I had a meeting with the guys at Whatever Pictures and they’re sending out copies of the Last Train video to festivals. It was a pretty productive meeting actually. They’ve sent it off to something called The British Council who help out with getting British made films into festivals around the world, apparently, and also can contribute a little hard cash.

I’ve pulled together my own diary of festivals from that website, together with some suggestions from my buddy Mark out in LA and elsewhere, to get a list of deadlines and have started sending out a few videos myself this week. Meanwhile, I await news of Fate & Fortune. Still no sign of the elusive EDL…

A slightly worrying thing was when I phoned the neg cutters to check the negative is still safe and sound on their shelf, where it’s been for the past few months. “Oh, yes. I expect it’s fine,” said the cheery voice on the end of the line. Expect? Expect? I wanted to hear, “Yes, it’s right here. Don’t worry about it.” Good grief, Charlie Brown! I guess I should be reassured by the fact that they at least remembered my name. Or maybe they were bluffing? Maybe the giant bunny has it? Err…

And so it goes on, around and around.

Just a few more stops.

one by one the penguins steal my sanity

October 25th, 2001 October 25th, 2001
Posted in It's life, Jim...
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I bought a pumpkin yesterday. Nothing huge. Just an ittle biddy pumpkin so I can carve a grin into it and light a candle and have that Hallowe’en experience.

While I’m driving home I have to avoid two guys who think it’s better to walk in the street than on the pavement/sidewalk. Why do people do this, I think to myself? Where’s the excitement? Lucky for them I’ve just had my brakes fixed and can slow down or they’d be street pizza.

Oh, yes. The brakes. I bit the bullet after using my car as little as possible for a month and had them done. I’ve got to say, it’s quite pleasant to slow down without a squeaking grating noise. It’s also a bonus to pull away from the drive without a back wheel sticking to a wornout brake, not turning and in the process pulling a chunk of gravel along. Very pleasant indeed.

So I think about the guys in the street. And I think, what’s wrong with this bloody country where people think they can walk in the street? And then I think, hang on, at least we don’t have shell-shocked army vets on every street corner begging. Although we do have beggars. Whatever. I conclude it’s not the country.

My mind wanders and I think about communication and how we live our lives trying to get our messages across and struggling to understand what’s said to us and to make sense of it all. I installed some cheap video editing software on my PC the other day. The idea was to upload some title sequences and other material I’ve made in the past from my video recorder on to the web. It hasn’t quite worked. The software is full of bugs.

Next thing, I got this free webcam so I installed that as well. Now the webcam and the video editing stuff don’t talk to each other properly at all. The result is that instead of showing a jerky poorly lit picture of my unshaven face working at my computer, I actually transmit jerky live TV via my video recorder through the webcam. I have no idea why or how.

I think about uninstalling the whole lot and know that it will take hours. I think through the linear steps of linear logic I’ll have to go through to achieve this and wonder if anyone else would bother. Do men think differently from women about these things? Is that comparison valid? Aren’t we just simply all unique individuals?

While I’m thinking of all that, I think about what it is that builds our characters and give us a sense of self. I’ve been having a conversation with a close friend about this and my mind is wandering, thinking about role models and suchlike. The guys walking in the street remind me of something.

Life is about risk. Risk is what gives us our inner strength, builds our characters and gives us a feel for what we are capable of. I remember I used to walk down the white lines in the centre of the road when I was a kid doing a paper round in the early winter mornings. I’d try to see how far I could get before a car came then move at the last minute.

Has this made me a better person? Who knows. I know that there are other risks I’ve taken which definitely have been for the best. Risks which have given me deep inner strength and taught me that there are all kinds of situations I can not only survive but learn and grow from. I can’t blame those guys for wanting to walk down the street and take that risk. In a limited way, they’re doing what is necessary to assert and strengthen themselves.

In a society where so much is legislated, frowned upon and tutted at, it’s good to be able walk in the traffic sometimes. By walking in the traffic, of course I mean that as a metaphor for challenging our own inner demons. I carve my pumpkin and challenge the ghosts, goblins and ghouls to get me.

Dancing Without Choreography

October 24th, 2001 October 24th, 2001
Posted in Fire and Light
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The only thing that I know for certain is that today, right here and right now, I don’t know anything for certain. Life is flux, knowledge is fluid and relationships at any point are always a snapshot taken of a complex dance. I spin Matrix-like around the frozen people in all their many shades of gray and their bright beautiful spectrum natures. And I realize that I can draw all kinds of conclusions from the way they’re standing and their expressions and body language in that still frame. Yet in the real world as opposed to the movie world, I cannot know where they will go in a few frames time when movement begins again. Because everything changes and without the process there is no meaning.

I know people who can’t understand the attraction of dancing with a partner. Oh, they say, I have danced very happily on my own up to this point. I feel the music. I express my feelings. Yes and this is good. Yet it is more involving and very different to act and react with a partner to that music. How can I be led? I’m not a good follower, I have my own rhythm, my female friends say. Yet this looks like fear. Fear of letting go and embracing the unknown. Fear of moving away from… of letting go of… of perhaps losing the dance that is already known and knowable. I remember a dance instructor once telling me that the hardest thing of all was to get people to face their fear and take the step through the door into the class. Once they were there and inside, everything else was possible.

And it doesn’t really work that one person simply leads and the other simply follows. It is process and change and flowing with the music. Push me pull you, pull me push you. As one partner moves, the other has to be in the right place to be where they will arrive when they get there. In that sense, there is more anticipating than leading. The leading is to provide some form, some structure. But really it is all give and take. Energy and feeling. Fire and light. It is feeling and connection and flow in an endless now. Just as life flows with the music that we each create. Our symphony where any of us can pick up the harmony or the melody or the rhythm or sometimes remain silent and still. Life is its own music. A powerful song and a complex dance. And each of us has our own solo dances that will always be there, unique and brilliant.

It’s one way of looking at it. Shades of gray, bright spectrum people dancing gently then wildly then formally then letting the body go where the music takes it and sometimes making mistakes and laughing in the process. All valid. Look up and don’t forget to smile as you fall over your own feet.

Imagine that Matrix-like still frame with two people facing each other and how the camera angle determines how we feel about them. Looking down on them makes them look weak. Look from a low angle and they look powerful. Looking over one’s shoulder and including that shoulder, framing both people together, might indicate a relationship. The expression on the face of the person we see might indicate what the relationship is at that moment. Yet a choreographer will want to see how those people move together, how they flow through the continuum of life, how they react to the music they hear, to understand comprehend feel grok the relationship in a richer truer way.

We are heart and soul, mind and spirit, beings that cannot be simply broken down into uncomplicated elements for some kind of eureka insight. We are all psychologists, trying to understand ourselves and others on so many levels and it is a subtle layered thing. Just as a photon can be understood as both particle and wave, so we can be understood as complex and paradoxical notions. None of them is the whole truth. And again I realise that the only thing I know for certain is today’s uncertainties. I embrace them, the uncertainties in those I love, my own inability to know everything and the constant flowing dance song symphony of life.

What’s Inspiring

October 16th, 2001 October 16th, 2001
Posted in Fire and Light
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There’s this urge in me to write… to write something… something inspiring. Brain fog. The words get jumbled and the thoughts confused. Here are my jumbled thoughts of today. How do we go forwards? We can’t go backwards. Yet there’s so much over-reaction. What we really need is to step sideways and look from the outside.

Yet there is an over-abundance of rhetorical analysis and anything I have to say, anything I might have thought, will have been thought of and said already. Serendipity and plagiarism and inspiration from peers and sources. These are the tools of today’s creative outburst.

Is GWB the best leader to take the world to peace? The guy who wanted Star Wars and wanted to dismantle nuclear treaties and build nuclear power plants and shunned the Kyoto summit and being part of a unified world? Maybe he’s just on a fast learning curve is all. Maybe he’s the leader who’s needed right now to fight a fight.

One world, global unity, seems like the inevitable and right answer to all the questions meanwhile.

Doubts flicker, Tony Blair talks sense, refugees stand up and shout in the streets where they have freedom to do so and we are all somehow guilty for crimes we didn’t commit but crossed the road to avoid. Confucious: ‘The definition of cowardice is to see what is right and to not do it.’ Yet what of the risk to personal safety? No answers.

So, what’s inspiring? What moves us forward into the new dawn? It is to see the sun, our star, set red gold purple crimson down on another day. It is to look at our short short history and see how far we have come in such a short time. The last minute of the last hour of the first day of Earth’s history. This is but a second and we move on.

Step sideways, know that the over-reaction and anxiety and paralysing fear will continue for but a moment and then we will continue to breathe, place one foot in front of the other and end the paralysis. This will become the past. Another country. They do things differently there.

Update

October 6th, 2001 October 6th, 2001
Posted in Film making
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Last Train is now finished and I have a huge pile of VHS tapes, at least ten of which are in the USA TV format (NTSC)…

I’ve sent most of them off to members of the cast and crew, plus one copy has gone to Intensity TV at KQED in California and one copy to the BBC (in the UK–yes, that little island where I live). Everyone who’s watched so far has said good things so that’s nice.

Fate & Fortune I’m still waiting for the edit decision list (EDL) to be redone. Re-cap: that’s the computer output that tells the neg cutters where to cut. I had a phone call last week from the editor who’s helping me out to apologise for not getting it done yet but hopefully she’ll be able to sort it out in the next couple of weeks.

Lastly (well, not quite–there’s more in the pipeline–but lastly for now), I’ve made a website for publicity purposes.