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.