Dear Readers

Gosh, it’s exciting, isn’t it? You come here each day, never knowing if there’ll be something new to read. Maybe even just an extra comment (I like all the comments, by the way). To tell the truth, it’s just been extremely hectic here. Never a dull moment…

Last week, as you may recall, I got my work permit, which means I can now work. Almost immediately I found myself making a short documentary for the local theater about one of their main benefactors and fundraisers. I also ordered a lighting kit which should mean my producer buddy John and I are now geared up for shooting anything and everything, since he’s bought a camera.

Laura and I also shopped for domestic appliances. This may not sound very exciting, but when I tell you we bought a fridge freezer that’s bigger than my old flat, I bet you’ll take notice. Okay, so it’s not really that big. But it is pretty humungous and it has one of those ice maker things on the door that you just push the cup under. Eight hundred dollars well spent, I’m thinking.

The biggest news, of course, is that we’re moving. We did the house search, decision and offer thing all in the space of about four days. That was three weeks ago and we’re due to take possession next Thursday or Friday.

Houses in the States come in square feet rather than number of bedrooms and there’s various styles they kind of fall into, like Ranch, Colonial or Cape Cod. Ours is an 1800 square-foot Cape Cod which doesn’t include the basement, which is huge. There’s an attached double garage with an electric door and the master bedroom has an en suite bathroom with a spa tub. It’s awesome!

And talking of awesome, I should mention that it’s across the road from the Wolverine Party Store, which means there’s somewhere handy to buy beers and the occasional pint of milk or loaf of bread. It’s also literally around the corner–walking distance–from the fleapit cinema, which I think is pretty cool too.

Our new lot hasn’t had any landscaping done to it at all. The house was built in Pennsylvania, shipped to Michigan on trucks and stuck together here. Yesterday we met up with a contractor to have extra windows put in what will be our office plus an extra door into the garage. This morning we met the first of two landscape architects we’re talking to about putting up fencing, building a deck, adding paths and maybe some plants–as long as they’re ultra-low maintenance (remember Richard Stagg Close!).

Today has actually been insane. After the landscape meeting, I went off to shoot an extra interview for this twenty minute documentary thing. John came out and helped. We got the interview done but Russ, the theater manager, had another person booked to talk to us at 3pm. John went home and I showed Russ the edit so far. He seemed pretty blown away, which is fantastic, and loaned me his Jeep to drive home for lunch.

So, I’ve never driven a Jeep before but people here don’t seem to worry about just getting in cars and driving them, so I got in and drove it and tried not to worry. Made it home without hitting anything and did a bit more editing. A copy of the St Albans Observer turned up, courtesy of Pete, who was kind enough to put it in the post. The paper featured a feature all about yours truly. Most of it was complete bullshit and they’d called me Mr Mr Jefferies thanks to some pretty incompetent editing. I read two or three paragraphs and went back to editing.

Oh, and just to be clear, Pete is *not* responsible for content in the paper. I’m still grateful to him for getting me a copy. Not everyone who works on the St Albans Observer is a muppet. Just the person doing the editing. Unfortunately, the end product is all anyone sees and if it’s unreadable, then it’s unreadable. (Much like some of these blogs…)

Back to the theater and the interviewee turned up with two kids who were also going to appear. Except they had nothing to say and kept fidgetting. I went for close ups. Big close ups. Without the kids. Much better. All lit with daylight, like this morning, as my lights aren’t due until Friday. Or maybe even next Tuesday. Who knows.

Back home again, transferred the rushes and made a toasted banana sandwich which I may try to convince Laura is a traditional British staple. Except that she’ll read this and, of course, the jig will be up. Never mind.

The rushes. Ah, yes. The rushes. This morning’s rushes are great. This afternoon’s have, what’s the technical term? Bugger all sound. The sound lead must have fallen out. I couldn’t hear while I was recording since the headphone socket and sound plug are too close together for both to be connected at the same time. About thirty seconds into the interview, it’s all static. Bugger. Bugger bugger bugger.

I called Russ and left a mesage. Then we went out as I’d blagged free tickets (thanks to the same theater) for Rufus Wainwright tonight. Rufus is a skinny gay dude with slept on hair and a fantastic voice. His influences are operatic and French. Normally I wouldn’t mention the fact that he’s gay but he sings quite a few songs about trying to convert straight guys, so it’s pertinant if only slightly irrelevant.

Rufus drew in an audience that was an eclectic mix of young female college students hoping to convert him, gay couples of various ages hungry for a pretty icon and a collection of folks of all ages and orientations who just enjoy his work. The theater was packed out. I don’t know if they sold out, but it must have been pretty close. The man has, as I say, an amazing voice and a terrific range. The sound system didn’t really do him justice and, when he lifted his mouth to sing over the mic, it seemed like he didn’t need it at all.

Now, I’m not saying I’ll be rushing out buying his albums and all, but if you get a chance, you should go and hear him.

Back home now, another busy day ahead tomorrow. Laura has a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce for breakfast at 7am. We’re meeting another landscape architect at ten. There’s a shedload of editing to be done before Thursday night, including a lot of animation with stills photos and programs, which means I have to use After Effects. Which means I have to learn to use it. Fast. There may even be an interview to reshoot.

There. I bet just reading this has worn you out. If not and you’re still feeling bouncy and full of energy, please come round to help us cut the grass. We’ll be serving drinkies on the deck just as soon as we have one. Just as soon as the snow clears.

9 Responses to 'Dear Readers'

  1. Mark Says:

    Well, erm, ok… since you said you’d be serving drinks on the deck and all…what-the-devil! I think I cut grass ina past lifetime, so I may well have shovelled snow, too.

    Hope this isn’t construed as mis-use of bandwidth an’ all, just didn’t want you to think I’d completely gone bugger-all off the edge of the earth…

    Busy? Hell yes. but this page is about you, not me, so we’ll skip that and move on.

    Mostly hi an’ stuff, and glad — things sound delightful for the two of you. Thoughts are with you.

  2. Mer Says:

    Wolverine Party Store–that’s pretty near a nice park, isn’t it? Lovely!

    Congrats on the house and all. I don’t know what a Cape Cod is versus a Colonial except that there might be cove ceilings. Do you have cove ceilings? House buying is such a joke when you don’t know half the terms. My fave was a house that advertised having a deck, a porch and a patio. My husband didn’t think we needed that many places to sit outside, but I thought we should have bought it and added a verandah and a balcony. And perhaps a stoop.

  3. Ed Says:

    “That was three weeks ago and we’re due to take possession next Thursday or Friday.”

    Lordy that’s fast, when I bought my house it was 2 months from offer to closing day.

  4. mark edwards Says:

    While I apologise for the errors in editing that spoilt the feature on you in the St Albans Observer, I’m not happy with your lack of grace in responding to it.
    To dismiss the piece as “bullshit” (a good half of it was made up from quotes from you) on your weblog is rather rich from someone whose reputation as a filmmaker stands on three five-minute films of questionable quality.
    No doubt since you’ve left our parochial hamlet of St Albans for the big city lights of Ann Arbor (with its discrerning film critics of banjo-playing in-breds) you feel superior.
    Much of the article’s “bullshit” comes from you. Your assertion that Fate And Fortune is possessed of symbolic depth because you put up some cobwebs in a chip shop make you look more foolish than any number of Mr Mr’s could.
    Make a film that doesn’t look like a sixth form project then start dissing others.
    Mark Edwards

  5. Keith Says:

    Sorry, Mark. Bullshit was my initial and sincere gut reaction based on reading three paragraphs and the blurb on the front page. I haven’t actually had time to come here and write anything for over a week as I’ve been so busy. The rest of your feature (the one you sent) was actually reasonable and balanced, so my apologies for being over the top.

    However, Mark, your editor fucked up the start in the paper and, as a result, I never got past that when I wrote above. I enjoyed talking to you on the phone, you seem like a nice bloke and I wish you well but there it is.

    Just for the record, my reputation is not based solely on three short dramas but on five years creating a cable TV station–from scratch–and then operating it, followed by six years directing at the BBC. I actually did get some funding for Fate & Fortune from Eastern Arts, although Last Train and The Car didn’t receive any money.

    You quote me as saying, “It’s a film full of symbolism, little touches such as the shop run by fate being full of cobwebs.” Then you use this partial quote taken out of context as the basis for a rant above.

    Okay. But really, isn’t that as bad as my reading three paragraphs and forming an opinion on the whole piece? And, as I say, my initial reading included that frontpage editor’s blurb which really rubbed me the wrong way. I didn’t move to the States to further my career, which is what it implied. I moved here to get married. My career was already going very nicely, thank you.

    In the unedited version of the feature which you were kind enough to send me, you refer to me as “Jefferies” throughout. This is a mode of address used for those accused of crime and I found it almost as irritating to read as the “Mr Mr Jefferies”. It’s clearly the reason why the editor felt the need to change the piece (albeit badly). As I said in my blog above–in the immediacy of a stream of consciousness–it was mainly the editing which pissed me off but if you have anything else to add, well be my guest.

    Now I could defend Fate & Fortune by saying it was good enough for several festivals and it was good enough for the British Society of Cinematographers to screen to members at Pinewood. Those are the top motion picture photographers in the British film industry. I could use that as justification in itself, but you appear to have some strong opinions and maybe, just maybe, I might learn something by listening to them.

    If these opinions of yours are sincerely held, why not write them now even if you left them out of the paper? You don’t have to massage my ego with insincere puffery. Stick it to me. I can take it (although I reserve the right to argue back). If you think I’ve made crap, say so and tell the world. Elucidate on why you think these things look like sixth form projects.

    I can tell you that there are a lot of truly dire short films out there–films that really do resemble the work of schoolkids. I know your time is limited what with writing up the latest brain farts of local council members and filling the space around the adverts, but I heartily recommend you get out to something like the London Film Festival or Filmstock in Luton and similar to see a few more.

    Right. Now I’ve got to go and practice my banjo or I’ll never fit in.

  6. Pete Says:

    In an ideal world youd hope that if your mate worked at a newspaper and an article was written about you it would be perfect? The irony of it is that it wasn’t and some things dont work out as you expect. It would never be perfect but the expectation is there by all of us. I am ashamed that the feature on your film making achievements contained so many silly sub editor errors its out of my and the authors control. Bummer. It happens. It happened to you! Sorry.
    Reading between the lines, the content and resultant publication/publicity is a result of some hard work and it wasnt bad at all certainly not bullshit. The errors would have been passed over by any self-respecting intelligent reader as typos. It was an interesting read. Make the most of it Keith. Im sure your experience in journalism at all levels will enable you to take this with a pinch of salt as a result of the underpaid, over worked and badly managed company within a local newspaper you used to work for.
    Next time, issue a press release and see what happens 0-; But dont rely on the fancy named public relations company based above a chip shop in Skegness or one based in a high rent shed in Mayfair. Cos youll be really disappointed.
    If a jobs worth doing you know the rest(: Apology accepted, friend.
    Good luck with the next one. I’ll watch it all the way through on my day off if you like!

  7. Mrs Mr Jefferies Says:

    So, honey, have you told the nice people that the humongous fridge is 5mm (!) *too* humongous? Oh, there will be some cabinet ripping out in our future…

  8. Keith Says:

    Actually, when I did get around to reading it, I thought the article was pretty good. I was even going to ask Mark if I could reproduce some or all of it either here or on the Ascalon Films website. I’ve just been way too busy to think about it.

    Apologies for all the hurt feelings. This blog is a narrative account of what I’m doing and how I feel about it. This isn’t a local paper or any kind of newspaper. It’s just my conscious thoughts chucked up on the web for [whatever].

    As Mrs Mr Fisher Jefferies Wife notes, we have woodwork to be doing in our near future. And that’s in addition to the minor plumbing amusement that goes along with having an American style fridge with ice maker thingie. It looks cool on TV, but when you’re down in the basement, balanced on a chair with wet socks and a power tool in your hand, it’s not so pretty.

  9. Lucy Says:

    Only just got round to reading this and, boy, I love a good hissy fit. Keep it up, boys!