Window Of Opportunity

Because it’s there!

Okay, the real deal is why do I bother putting myself through the completely ridiculous trauma that is short film making? Let me tell you about getting my rushes transferred to a firewire drive for editing. [No, shut up!] Oh, please! [Okay then. But this had better be funny.] It isn’t.

Simon (editor) says he wants to edit using Final Cut Pro on his Apple Mac. He will therefore need the rushes on DV tape. Various confusion because there are different flavours of DV tape including miniDV and DVCAM. Some of these have timecode (which we need) and some don’t. I ask around. I find Perry.

Perry can transfer the rushes straight on to a portable firewire drive. I look into all this technology. It sounds cool. Way cool. I buy it. I order an Apple PowerBook with FCP and various other gubbins including a portable drive. I pick up the PowerBook from the States in January. The drive is delivered three hours after I leave.

So I’m back in the UK. With my PowerBook. Learning Final Cut Pro. It’s sweet. I call up Peter (the sound guy) who has sync’d up the picture and sound rushes (aka. raw footage) and they are ready to be transferred to the portable drive (which I don’t have). I pick up the sync’d up rushes and call Perry (the man with the plan).

While some of this is going on I set up a LAN from my divan over my WAN. It nearly melts my brain, although that doesn’t scan. Although that does. Ish.

Perry emails back. He’s very busy. Doing a project. Doesn’t know if he’ll have time. I call him up and speak to him because Simon is going to be free for a week before he gets stuck into the current feature he’s working on. There’s a window of opportunity and I want to seize it. Okay, says Perry. Come on down.

I drive down to Perry’s house in Farnham at 3pm on Saturday. Except I don’t drive to Perry’s house. I take the wrong exit off the M25 and wind up heading into London. Funny, I think. There’s no exit for Farnham. Thirty miles in I wise up to my mistake, turn around and go back the other way. My car is running on deisel fumes at this point so I have to stop and fill up the tank. It’s getting dark but I’m optimistic.

Eventually I get to Perry’s house at about 5.30 and his wife gives me a cup of tea (nice lady). We chat for a bit and Perry takes the tapes. He’ll let me know if I can pick them up on Monday.

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Monday comes. Perry emails. Nope. The sound lead fell out while the tapes were dubbing overnight so he’ll have to do them again. Tuesday. Simon now has access to Avid so he wants to edit on that. I’ll still get a DV copy on hard drive so I can play with FCP. Simon lets me know of a contact of his in Notting Hill where I can drop off the tapes. One David Stewart, no less, but not the Eurythmics one.

Tuesday. Tuesday there are no Central Line trains running in London because of a derailment last week. Also the firefighters are on a 48 hour national strike. I go down to Battersea to pick up the portable drive (which Perry is lending me) and to get the rushes tapes for Simon. After an hour and a quarter of messing around on the tubes, I finally arrive in Battersea where Perry is working. Success.

No, dear reader, not at all. Perry hasn’t brought the tapes, just the drive. So I take it and another two and a half hours later I’m back home phoning Simon. Tomorrow. Tomorrow Perry will take the tapes in with him. That evening I look at the sync’d rushes for the first time with sound. It is damned funny. This is going to be a lovely little film. I’m so pleased that I call Michael, the lead actor.

“Michael, this is damned funny stuff,” I tell him. “That’s great. Hope it’s ready soon.” We chat for a bit and it all looks like it could be within reach.

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Wednesday and you already know what’s coming. I have a day off. I call Perry at one o’clock and he tells me about his clutch blowing up in his automatic gearbox and no car and I sympathise and of course there are no tapes today. Call him tonight after 10pm but does Simon really need the tapes, he asks? Could he use the firewire drive? I don’t know. I phone Simon who thinks he can. This seems to be a result. I’ll leave it with the non-Eurythmic guy tomorrow.

Thursday. I’m on a course. Well, a workshop actually. ‘Dealing With Change’. Yes, we have those here. They’ve already given out copies of that literary classic ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ to help us. And help it did! I sold mine ‘as new – unwanted gift’ on Amazon this week and made 3. But now we have to go through with the dullness of a day’s pseudo psychology. And starting at 9am–the worst possible time to get into London because it’s rush hour. And there’s no Central Line. And the fireman’s strike means various tube stations are shut. Needless to say, all the car park tickets are gone for the day so I’m going to have to use public transport.

Thursday I get up at 6.30 so I can leave at 7am for this dullness and I make it to work at 8.50 having paid 17.20 for the privelege rather than the usual 9 because I’m travelling before nine o’clock and that’s peak time isn’t it so they can charge more. Standing all the way. Joy.

The course is everything I imagined and more but it’s irrelevant to the rushes tale. Except we got a free lunch which offset the travel costs a bit so that’s nice. Nothing I could sell this time but, oh happy day, we finished early at 4.15! The next 15 minutes were spent printing out a map showing me how to get to the non-Eurythmic DS’s workplace and at 4.45 I was on the tube, on my way.

Of course, now would be the perfect time for it to snow.

Five o’clock this afternoon I’m holding a soggy piece of paper which used to be a map and am lost and fed up trudging through slush in Notting Hill and fighting to keep my umbrella up. And then somehow I’ve walked to Bayswater, so I double back. Half the roads don’t seem to have street names up. Eventually, at about 5.40 I turn up at the place where David Stewart is supposed to work. “Is David Stewart here?” I ask the receptionist of this uber-trendoid converted warehouse media establishment. “I have to drop something off for him.”

Wait for it…

“Oh, David’s gone for the day. You can leave it here if you like, though. He’s on a shoot tomorrow so he won’t be in again until Monday.”

Nice.

“Erm, I think I might as well keep it with me in that case,” I say stoicly. “I’ll probably see the person it’s for before he does.” And off I head, into the snow again to Royal Oak Station to squeeze into an already jam-packed underground train heading for King’s Cross and home…

“King’s Cross Station is closed due to overcrowding,” announces the driver. “This train will not be stopping at King’s Cross.”

I stay on until Farringdon and join the commuter lemmings on the platform there. Five minutes later a train for St Albans grinds into the platform and once again we all squeeze ourselves into the already full carriages. Today has been so appalling in terms of getting the rushes sorted out that I promise myself that I won’t walk home in the snow. That would be bad. I deserve a taxi. Or at the very least, a bus ride.

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There are no taxis at St Albans City Station when I get there just before 7pm. Cars are barely moving and the snow is now a couple of inches deep. It’s strangely quiet as the soft white icing on the cake absorbs so much of the sound. A surreally silent traffic jam. At last a bus arrives for Hatfield, which isn’t where I’m going but at least it’s a bus. “This will be the last bus today,” announces the driver. “No more buses after this one!”

I set off walking across the roads through the silent slow-motion traffic and try to keep my footing on pavements turning to ice already. Police and rescue service sirens come from all around, echoing over the houses eerily, the only sound in this tranquil winter wonderland. Some twenty minutes later, I’m home. I breath a sigh of relief and reach of my keys… And the lock on my front door is frozen. Do I weep now? No, never say die. I breath heavily into the lock, melting the tiny blob of ice that’s somehow got in there. I’m in. I’m home. It’s twenty to eight.

Simon’s answerphone is switched on so I leave the message. Sausages and mash and a glass of wine are all that remain as this week’s window of opportunity slides by.

Why? Because…

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