A Beautiful Destination For What It’s Worth

The phone rings. It is the sound editor. You guessed, didn’t you? We engage in the little ritual dance before getting to the point. I say, “Hi how are you?” He says, “Fine, how are you?” I say, “I’m good. How is everything going?” He says, “Well, it’s going really well. We’ve done quite a lot over the past couple of nights. Unfortunately we can’t finish it tonight because Michelle has got another job that starts at five and finishes at nine and we can’t really ask her to start again at nine o’clock.” I think, ‘I could. I’ve done worse things.’ I say, “No, of course not.”

So my friendly neighbourhood sound editor says we can probably finish tomorrow. I say I’m working tomorrow evening and there’s no way I could get in. He says Saturday then and that sounds good. My God, does that mean this thing will actually be done before the weekend is over? You know, this Sunday? Should I break out the bunting, assuming it hasn’t decayed to dust with the age of centuries? If you’ve got to know (and I think you have) I am actually so far past excitement that it has merged with the vanishing point on the horizon behind me.

Yesterday I spoke to that nice Ted at the labs and said I was thinking of only going as far as a super16 print with Last Train and then getting that transferred to video. That will save me �2,500 of the Monopoly money I’m thinking of paying the overall bill with. This is fine and I can get a 35mm print done later once it’s entered in a few festivals. Fate & Fortune must be the priority, however, as I’ve said before.

No problem with getting the super16 print. Now if I just had that EDL from Simon, the neg cut could be checked and we’re in business. I’ll need titles and credits on super16 too, though, so I call the graphics people. “How do I go about signing off on the graphics?” I ask. “You’ll need to sign our special release form,” they say. “We’ll fax it to you.” Naturally they don’t. I will have to call them again later.

The only thing missing now for Last Train is the sound. That’s already been mixed down to Dolby Surround so I call the company that did it. “The number you dialled has been changed to (blah blah blah blah blah).” I redial. It’s one of those funky new switchboards that informs me the switchboard is very busy but I can press one and enter the first four letters of the person I wish to speak to. I try this. Three times. I then get bored of the game and hang up.

Later I try the sound people again and get the same machine again. And again. And again. I watch TV, I surf, I shop, I cook. I clean my fingernails so often that they appear to be growing before my eyes. Today I try once more and I get through …to the receptionist. “Oh, the person you want’s in the middle of mixing at the moment. Can he call you back?” Sure! Why not? Nothing would make me happier. In fact I think I’ve found a bit more grit threatening to upset the tranquil beauty of my thumbnail so it’s not like I haven’t got other things to do.

I leave two phone numbers knowing I may as well be shouting a pizza order to a guy on a bike ten blocks away who is cycling away from me during a hurricane.

Now that’s all well and good and, hey, Last Train may actually get finished in the next couple of weeks. Or let’s say three to be on the safe side, shall we. I’ll have pristine nails to attend the first screening and my adoring cast and crew will thank me from the heart of their bottoms. Nevertheless, Fate & Fortune is still more important.

I spoke to Simon The Editor on Tuesday this week and explained about the EDL situations. Now Simon has a problem. Because Simon isn’t using a UK TV standard 25 frames per second 625 line PAL edit suite. Oh no. He is currently using a USA TV standard 30 frames per second 525 line NTSC edit suite. This of course bears no relation to anyone else’s regular professional or domestic kit in the country and it certainly can’t output tapes we can view here.

I am reminded of my friend Tim telling me an anecdote about someone whose girlfriend had cheated on him and caught a disease. The cuckolded lover adopted a strong West Country pirate voice and shouted the following: “Tharr be no morrr fay-vorrs from now arrn! It be straight A’s for you, me proud beyoo-tee!” Which doesn’t mean she’s going to get a good report card. No. It means he’s not going near her original temple of love.

Yes, my chums. We appear also to be bent over in the ‘straight A’s’ position. Because what your hero (me) has done is to re-edit the film, not on Simon’s edit suite, but on two tape machines to remove six of the eight title cards which were going to cost �100 apiece plus tax. All well and good but the problem with that is that there’s no EDL because it was done on primitive editing kit. Like stone age.

The solution is to sit down with the tape and write down the electronic time code marking where each edit is on that the tape and send that to Simon so he can adjust the EDL accordingly. I also need to dub off an extra tape for him and one for the neg cutters. And where is the only copy of the edited tape that I have so lovingly reworked? Why, it is with the sound editor. You love this game, don’t you. Really.