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Shove This In Your Name Brand

Today I hit a car. I knew I was going to do it, to hit another vehicle, from a day-dreamingyetstrangelysimmeringwithanger moment as I was driving towards the lights on Maple and Dexter. Just a feeling. I didn’t hit anyone at precisely that moment, though. In fact, it was nearly eight hours later that I hit the actual physical car.

Today’s been like that. I’d been out filming a lecture by a Jewish lesbian from Cuba—one of Ann Arbor’s defining moments, perhaps—and had hauled my sorry ass (or dejected pack mule, if you prefer) back to the parking structure. There, some cunt had parked their pointless four wheel drive so close to me that I was compelled to thwack my door against his/hers a few times. Then I reversed out and started to turn and, yeah, I scraped my fender along his/hers/its.

Of course, I stopped and checked for damage. My car wasn’t, so that was okay. Now I can concentrate on matters of great moment and import. Matters like why there are so many two-faced back-stabbing bags of shit in the world and why I can’t get a gold medal on Project Gotham Racing 3. These are tough questions and I don’t really have any answers right now. Okay, I have one.

Sock puppets. Sock puppets are the answer. Yes. I’m thinking of naming my first sock puppet Mardi Grease Burger and I’m going to make it wear a hair shirt and have a special tube that makes it drool from the side of its mouth. But even before that Hendersonesque moment, I need to figure why Apple’s Compressor 2 software is a piece of soul-sucking crap and then practise PGR3 some more.

Once that’s achieved I can ask for a second opinion. Which reminds me of a joke. A man goes to the doctor.  He says, “Doctor, I’ve got this terrible pain. I think it might be caused by the stress of sitting too close to a television screen.” The doctor says, “No, it’s not that. I used to be in charge of terminal dullness and I can categorically say it’s because you’re terminally dull.” The man says, “Hey, that’s outrageous! I demand a second opinion!” The doctor says, “Alright. You’re ugly as well.”

I thenkyew.

And So This Is…

We went to the travelling exhibit by Yoko Ono (performance art’s most apt surname) in Ann Arbor the other day. Lots of Lennon whimsical sketches up for sale at ridiculous prices. I call it the “Napkin Doodle Paradigm”. A not-so-ingenious method for parting people from their money based on an artist’s ability in one field translating to perceived value across the board. The sketches were fun, though, but I gagged at the reproduced copies of Beatles lyrics with only one writer’s, John’s, signature copied and Photoshopped on.

On a completely unrelated note, last night we had pizza. On the box, Pizza Hut are doing a series of graphic burbles (much like these except PH has mass production). The latest one has questions for kids to ask parents and questions for parents to ask kids. One question (hastily looks in fridge) was “If you could have only one possession what would it be?” Sam’s answer was “Color blanky!” Mine, New Zealand. Another question was, “What character from a book would you like to be?” Jack would like to be Harry Potter. Sam? Garfield. Perfect.

This morning they were up and fighting over the remote control. Somehow it developed into a discussion on whether Santa Claus really exists. Jack’s convinced it’s us but Sam doesn’t think we’d have time to go out on Christmas Eve, get presents, wrap them up and put them under the tree. Ahh, the magic of youth. Strange that Harry Potter boy wouldn’t believe in magic, though.

All of which, well the last bit, got me thinking about the fact that some day the magic of Christmas has to go and reality must settle in. And I was thinking about Mike’s house where they draw names out of a hat then all buy one gift for each other, like a secret Santa thing. Then they open them on Christmas Eve. I know other people do that too.

Now, I know it’s not magical, and I like the magic and would like to keep it alive for a while, but in the end I think having a family of Secret Santas is the way forward. Everyone shows they care for each other and as a bonus with the Christmas Eve thing, you don’t get woken up too early on Christmas Day. Maybe that last bit doesn’t matter. I guess what’s important is how you make the transition from, “okay so the presents from Santa thing was a fairy tale” to “Christmas is really about showing how much we care for each other”. There’s a film somewhere isn’t there?

Seeing, Touching, Tasting

Several months later…
…The actress who was at the directing workshop I did with Herbie Wise writes back to me. She’s been working solidly and has finally read her emails and found the script for Strawberries and she liked it. Did I make it? I write back: no, I made The Car. Strawberries still sits there, a personal project. I’ve something to say, personally, with it. Things to explore. I think it needs more humour, more comedy, more levity and joy to function the way I want it to function. It sits. It waits.


Several months later…
…After my friend Jelena said I must decorate my kitchen and after my helpful buddies, Lucy and Pete, picked at the wall tiles which then fell off and after I stuck them back on with white camera tape. I bit the bullet and sucked on some lead which addled my brain. No, not really. Really I pulled off the old tiles and bought small white mosaic blocks. I replaced all the worktops (sic) and I painted the walls, pale grey. I’m repainting the gloss white woodwork, retiling the floor and putting up a splashback around all the work surfaces.

Now… the cooker which is old and falling apart looks out of place. It’s shades of brown and must be a health hazard. I need a cooker hood with an extractor so the room doesn’t get gunked with a thin layer of oil when I fry. These are good excuses to buy a new cooker and a hood, aren’t they? I think so.


Several months later…
…Since I had the soles of my boots replaced and they started falling off again, I went into a real cowboy boot store in the Mid West and bought a pair of good boots. Not all fancy big cowboy boots, mind, but good soft leather with some tread on the soles. The owner had pictures of him on the wall hanging out with his rodeo buddies, guys who ride bulls. He told me my size by looking at my feet and then handed me my boots. “These are what you want.” They fit, they look good, they’re hardwearing. No bull. I didn’t tell him that they were actually cheaper than my old boots.

Now… I probably can’t afford a new cooker, let alone an extractor. So it would be best if I didn’t fry stuff for a while. But I can walk around a lot with no worries so that’s okay.


Next… There were a whole bunch of thoughts hanging almost within grasp that I wanted to pluck out of the air and write about. Thoughts about politics and grass roots involvement and how democracy would be a whole lot better if the people involved weren’t career politicians or affiliated to a party. Thoughts about how money plays too big a role in electioneering and how some kind of random selection process, like jury service, might make a better system.

And that leads me to or flows from thoughts about how representation needs to mean what it says and how politics ends up trying to get re-involved in the minutae of people’s lives–where it has no place–because the so-called representatives weren’t really involved with the public in the first place. Or something like that.

Tomorrow. Perhaps. Or maybe that was it, just there, and tomorrow would be a good day to discuss the typographical joy of the Victor logo on mousetraps, where the inside of the red V is made to look like a small rodent’s head. Not so much fun when you’re chucking out the carcasses though. Like painting a cute name on the side of a bomb.

The Day Before Filming

7.12am: Ashley is up for it. But he needs to leave at 2pm on Saturday because he’s got an evening’s work. He’s ‘between jobs’ at the moment (or ‘resting’ as they say in acting circles). The evening’s work? Cameraman for an cable channel which does on air auctions.

Fiona Farley at Acting Associates is golden. She comes back with another Michael to play the police sergeant and I’m meeting up with him this afternoon for an audition/chat. Next problem: where to meet. Whatever Pictures solves the problem by letting me use their office.

Rob Miles, freelance sound recordist, is golden too. He has loaned me his DAT recorder free of charge and supplied me with some tape stock at cost. I picked it up earlier and the batteries are now charging in the hall. Hopefully I won’t trip over them and fall down the stairs.

Jack, the original police sergeant, is an unprofessional dirtwad, no matter what he thinks. He hasn’t even phoned me back. He can cuff off and fester. And various stronger words.

Now: eating toast and drinking a huge amount of tea in a large NYC mug (featuring a yellow cab on the handle) which a cool friend sent me out of the blue last year on September 10th. I’ve given up giving up caffiene for this weekend. Large tea is good.

Next: get back to equipment company and organise time to pick up camera kit.

Later: try to have a meeting with art department.

This is a full-time job, really, isn’t it? It’s clear why they have all those heart-felt ‘thank yous’ when film makers accept their awards. “I’d like to thank everyone who has made this possible but there are so many people I’ve just phoned in one morning that I can no longer remember their names!”


3.21pm: Five and a half hours of driving around London. Oh, joy.

F minus 6

When will these F-countdown blogs end?

When I have a film in the can, of course. Meanwhile, today’s news: Jon the camera assistant definitely won’t be available. However, we still plan to borrow the equipment from the same facility company that trusts him and he trusts me to look after it. I’ll also have this big insurance deal going. Big for me, anyway.

What I don’t have at the moment is a light meter. I need to phone around and dig one up as Jon is a bit loathe to part with his when he’s working. Understandable really. No, really. Okay, it’s not. Gimme gimme–I neeeeeed it. Okay, yes, it is understandable and it’s time to make six million more phone calls until the meter on my line glows red hot and then melts.

Finally, I *do* have a police station interior location confirmed because I got through to the school caretaker (aka. site manager) and arranged a time to do a recce and a time for the crew to arrive next Saturday. I also arranged for the art director to call and visit to check the place out.

Yes, Lionel (the art director) finally got back in touch via email. He’s been completing every freelance writing assignment he had for the forthcoming two weeks to free himself up for next weekend. And his phone had started glowing red hot before burning his ear and exploding. Allegedly. Whatever. He’s on the case.

Now, equipment. Equipment equipment equipment. Strangely, repeating words for dramatic effect doesn’t help. The thing is, I won’t know for sure if I have a camera–a free camera–until Tuesday. Is it any wonder I can’t get to sleep at night? Actually, saying that, I slept thirteen hours on Thursday night. Tonight, though, four. Go figure.

I are a cinematographer

Not quite. But I do have a light meter–£49 from the secondhand camera shop in St Albans. A very nice Weston Master V, as used by good stills photographers.

The camera shop also had a 16mm camera in the window going for £250. I was sorely tempted. Checking revealed it will run at speeds from 6fps to 32fps including the standard 24fps of cinema motion pictures. However, it only takes standard 16mm stock (ie. double perforated). Kodak still appear to make this, although I’ve been buying from Fuji (substantially better discount, 40% versus 10%). It might also be possible to have the camera converted to super16 (single perf). It would also need checking to see if it’s light-tight…