October, 2002

Two Days To Go

October 2nd, 2002 October 2nd, 2002
Posted in Film making
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Tomorrow is when I need to pick up camera gear. Today is when I start the day without any. This will require a magic wand and a phone.

Step one: phone the hire company so they can apologise some more. “We’re very sorry but everyone seems to have gone mental,” they say, more or less. “Nobody when filming in September because there were so many memorials for September 11th, so now they’re all catching up.” “Thanks anyway,” I say, “At least you tried. Thanks…” “For nothing,” they interject. So not a completely wasted phone call.

Of course, I have a fall back position. Four Corners film workshop. My double booking. Bwahahaha. I call them at their specified opening hour, 10am. Answerphone. I call them at 10.15. Answerphone again. 10.30, 11 o’clock, 11.30. Answerphone, answerphone and answerphone. I leave a message for them to ignore (standard practice). Meanwhile, I go through my contacts book and try other leads. “Hi, how are you doing?” and similar faux bonhomie follows.

At 11.10, I happen to phone Screen East, the regional development body for film in this part of England. I explain my problem succinctly. “I’m filming this weekend and I don’t have a camera.” I say this without a hint of irony, as if it’s something I actually do all the time. “Can you help?” “Give me your details and I’ll get back to you in ten minutes,” says the voice. I do it but don’t hold out much hope. Maybe Four Corners will call back.

11.20am: Screen East calls back and I speak to my Fairy Godmother. “Yes, we can help you. We have a camera kit based in London. We can let you have it for 300 for the weekend provided you have insurance.” Well bibbidy bobbidy boo, whaddaya know? The slipper fits! Give me a pumpkin and four white mice and I shall go to the ball.

There now follows a frantic scene of calling up the people who actually have the camera to find out what they’ve got (an Aaton XTR) and what it can do (speeds up 54fps and no speed changes in shot). I rethink my opening shots, which is okay because I’ve done my research by watching MI2 remember, which means I know that slo-mo with judicious dolly work is this week’s trick to try.

There’s my pumpkin. An extra 40 to get it set up to shoot standard 16mm and probably some more chances to pay out down the line. Now to get some white mice from the insurance company. Unbelievably straightforward, thanks to the modern miracle of the fax machine built into the PC (although it crashes a couple of times, naturally). I even manage to get the printer working again by cunningly replacing the black ink cartridge (I am a systems specialist, ho yes).

Now, what was the story about again?

Do I Live Here?

October 2nd, 2002 October 2nd, 2002
Posted in It's life, Jim...
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I came home from the States a couple of weeks back. Train from the airport then bus brought me back to my street. Funny thing, as in funny peculiar, was as I walked into my road I felt this huge sense of alienness. A feeling that I don’t really belong in this environment. This isn’t my home; it’s a place where I experiment with living.

Maybe I’m not at home with the me at the moment. Maybe it’s a side-effect of travelling. I sit in my apartment and play my music and all I want to do is empty it of all the furniture. Start again. Sell it on e-bay. This is not my beautiful house, even though there are patches where it is. I feel ungrounded here. The world isn’t solid under my feet in this place.

Lately, I’m not house proud at all. The tiles have fallen off the wall by the sink in the kitchen and I’ve taped them on a few times but now the tape is too waterlogged to hold them up and they’re down again. The coffee table in the living room is covered in film stuff. The dining room table I bought for dinner parties has only seen one and is now a desk.

Meanwhile, my horrible office desk is in parts outside in the shed. My horrible office chair–which is supposed to support your back and improve your posture but doesn’t really–is in parts in the loft. I have a surfeit of stuff. But it’s not all me. Next week should be a good time to purge.

F minus 3

October 1st, 2002 October 1st, 2002
Posted in Film making
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On this day…

2.23pm: The art director calls to say he can’t meet up this week because there’s a rail strike later and he has no car. This is the same person who wasn’t going to work this week and yet, oh look! He’s working. But he has made lots of props and stuff, so you have to forgive and forget.

The assistant director emails to say he can’t organise catering and “has no money” for sandwich materials. You write back saying that it’s his problem to solve and he must solve it. Jees, an AD who falls at the first feeble hurdle? What is this? But he has organised a van full of lighting, grip equipment and sound gear so is it right to raise an eyebrow?

The lab don’t actually have any neg reports left until you hassle them. A lot. And then some appear. And then you ask if they’ve put any T-cores (film spools) in the box with the cans they’re supplying and, oops, they forgot that too, and you think, “What if I’d never made a film before? These people would all stuff me completely!”

You phone up the insurance company and say the deal might be at the last minute for equipment cover and they say, no problemo. You phone up the hire company who were going to supply a camera for free and they say, we don’t know yet, email us the details and we’ll call you back later. And they don’t.

You finish the call sheets and…

Your printer dies.

Really.

So you email them to your self at work and print everything out there and you use the photocopier at the studios where you’re working and it keeps spitting out the sticky labels you put in for addresses. It’s like those labels are giving it indigestion and it’s barfing your labels.

Eventually you get these envelopes filled and get to the Post Office about twenty minutes before closing time. The Post Office has queue coming out of the door and it’s not even pension day. Eventually you make it to the counter but the guy behind the counter gives you stamps for your 15 envelopes in small denominations to slow you up.

At last you get these things sent.

Nearly there.

====

A bit later…

4.33pm: You ring around, including the person who emailed to ask if you need help with catering. “Yes,” you say, “Yes, I need help with catering.” “Well, I can help serve it up,” he says. You flip a coin. Heads you laugh, tails you cry. It disappears down a gap in the furniture and rolls under a monitor stack.

Light bulb over head goes on. Call the wannabe producer who made all those phone calls to you last week. Yes, they’re still interested. Yes, they can organise your catering. In fact, they are incredibly businesslike and efficient and the problem is solved in about ten minutes.

And part of that is also thanks to Fiona, your other art director, who has spent so little budget that you can afford to throw some money (40-50) at providing sandwiches. And also thanks to the writer/AD, Simon, who has managed to get a large water boiler (tea urn) and a generator.

And now an email has appeared from Simon saying his girlfriend, Sue, will happily make up sandwiches for everyone too.

Free your miiiiiiiinnndd.

====

And even later still…

8.10pm: You get home after a looooong evening of sheite and find a message on your answermachine telling you, very sorry but no, hire place doesn’t have a camera this weekend and please call them so they can apologise some more but suddenly the world has gone mental and everyone wants to go out and shoot 16mm at the beginning of October.

Now I feel less guilty about booking camera kit at two separate places. Tomorrow I’ll try the other one. Now it’s time to play loud music and drink wine, which will help my blood pressure you think? No, it probably won’t. Ah, feck. And it’s 1am so playing loud music is out. Or is it?