Dear Diary

My film making progress report by me (age: 30-something)

Today I went to the big city (London) and took seven cans of uncut negative to The Man for cutting, along with Beta SP tapes of how the edit should look. I didn’t quite realise how much this all weighed so my shoulders now ache but luckily the $5NZ canvas bag I carried it all in held out.

On the way, I made a few more comparisons between New York and London from this side. Such as: the Underground trains here are different on every line so carriages would never be interchangable for flexibility in the way the NYC Metro system is. I noticed this because my head was touching the light fittings on the Victoria Line but I had a couple of inches clearance on the Northern Line. I’m 6’1″ and my head never touched the ceilings on the Metro — enough headroom for an average basketball player there.

At the neg cutters, I met Andy, a friendly chap and dropped off the negative and tapes. Then I walked down to Covent Garden to see the graphics people. Halfway there I stopped to buy chocolate (!) and realised I didn’t have the VHS tapes with me, so I had to walk back up through Soho to Tru-Cut. Doh. Does everyone carry on like this?

Eventually, via another stop to buy a salmon sandwich (delicious!), I found the offices of the graphics people, Cineimage, themselves in a sandwich — a sandwich of office blocks, with Pineapple dance studios on one side and the London Film School on the other.

Meeting the designers was excellent. It saves so much time if you can talk to someone face to face and say what you want, what you’re trying to achieve, what you don’t really need and what you’ll consider. Martin set up the font and layout for the Last Train plates to match what we’d done on Avid (the computer-based film cutting system) and he introduced me to their font wizard, Matt, who helped me find a nice script typeface for Fate & Fortune.

Fate & Fortune is a bit tricky to sum up in one title but I think we actually did an excellent job. It’s a dark comedy with supernatural overtones, so I didn’t want something too serious but I didn’t want Carry On Camping or The Pink Panther either. When we got something close to what I wanted, I showed him how we’d done three overlapping disolves on Avid with an extra large ampersand (&).

As Matt tried different things on the Mac with the layout, I had the bright idea that the ampersand could reach across the word Fortune, extending a finger of doom, and maybe we could add little devil horns to it too. Now he’s going to add those details by hand and I think it’s going to be really cool because he has a really good idea where I’m coming from. Those fifteen minutes of creative thinking and putting ideas into action are the real fun and what makes the whole process worthwhile.

On the way out Martin asked one of those questions that always throws you. “And it’s all done at 25 isn’t it?” Without thinking I said, “Yes.” But it isn’t. We shot everything at 24 frames per second for international screenings but it’s speeded up to 25 for telecine transfer for editing. Doh. I remembered on the train and remembered to phone him up when I got in.

Also, while watching the Fate & Fortune tape at Cineimage, I noticed it was an older version with more title cards. Uh oh. I’d also left that copy with Andy at Tru-Cut, which was wrong. I’d have to remember to call him too. My mind went into overload and blanked this important detail until I was leaving and I kept thinking, “I’m sure there’s something I must make a note of…” like you do. Then, wonder of wonders, as I opened the door to leave, who should be there but Andy, coming to visit Martin on another project. Luckily I had the presence of mind to remember to tell him not to cut F&F based on what I’d given him. Phew.

Afterwards I went to pay off some bills and change my remaining 100 dollars back into sterling. However, I balked when the bank offered me an exchange rate of $1.51 to the pound which meant they’d only be worth about �66 instead of the �72 I paid for them ($1.38/�1). Seemed a bit of a jump — I’m sure the rate was something like $1.45/�1 to buy sterling in NYC — but maybe I’ll just have to bite the bullet and take �66 next week.

Bankers are bastards. Now I’ll have to figure out how much to borrow from them…