December 2007

December 2007

Postby Barry » Sun Dec 02, 2007 12:58 pm

December 2nd 2007

By any standards I've crammed a lot into this week, and have thought some major thoughts, and feel somewhat drained after it. This time a week ago I was just leaving Estonia, then managed a couple of days at Cossie, then down to woking for a fun talk, then more at Cossie and then finally down to Framlingham for a night as a guest for their production of Macbeth. Now that's a strange journey I never anticipated. Aged 13 I was dragged rather weepily into that college, but now aged 52 I was swapping naughty stories with the very ebullient Head mistress and laughing hysterically. A lot has occurred for that to happen. But with these three big events this week, ignoring the travelling involved, I have seen most of my output and had it appreciated, but now I'm asking whether it is too much to hope for some movement forward, some growth, some development, or do I just stay still and atrophy and pay the bill. If i don't take a risk I think I might get submerged. Definitely feeling undernourished at present. tricky times.
And then the book is now out though I've yet to see it in a shop. I'm not sure that I was expectign people queueing over night but hopefully a few people have been buying it on amazon.
It was great to go back to Framlingham actually, though every so often an image woke me up. But great to see a pretty extraordinary production of Macbeth, and to stay with the deputy head in their wonderful converted farmhouse. The college, sat high on the hill, is one amazing building, with a view that is quite remarkable. I had a tremenous evenign with everyone being very kind and welcoming. And with dogs, especially Tuppence and elvis, also being very welcoming.
The flu I could have done without.
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December 7th 2007

Postby Barry » Fri Dec 07, 2007 9:14 pm

after the exciting last few weeks, or months, it was inevitable I would slump as soon as there was sniff of a quiet week. And slump I have. two expressions come to mind; the one about Nature abhoring a vacuum, and Shakespeare's about the unravell'd sleeve of care. The sleeve is very loose and baggy at the moment, and being worn with way too much uncertainity. Not a good week, but I will need to focus on things.

I did show the animators Madame Tutli Putli and each and everyone of them was astonished. Crikey was a standard that has set.

The Importance of Being Earnest is approaching way too quickly, and not without incident. Shame not to have had cameras following us for this. I so want to make a documentary about this admirable theatre. But somethings would look contrived, even though they weren't.

The book is not quite in the shops, another reason perhaps I've slumped. Oh and Christmas.

However, since being bullied onto facebook, I have discovered the joy of Scrabulous. Just what I need, another addiction. Great fun though.
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December 12th 2007

Postby Barry » Wed Dec 12, 2007 11:10 pm

Back off to Turin tomorrow for a very detailed retrospective on saturday, showing films from the very early days up to most recently. It will be beautiful but cold in the shadow of the Alps. I'm flattered to be the guest of this festival as it's not an animation festival. I've just looked up the hotel on the net, and very beautiful indeed, with a lovely elegant pool with roman pillars....don't know why that made an impression but it did. And i'm being interviewed by Chiara Magri, who certainly knows her animation and is a joy to chat to, so hopefully we will get some deep conversation going. i'm worried about the flights as there is so little time to meet the connecting flights.
So a bit of being spoilt in a week where we have seen exactly just how hard the animation industry is at the moment. I've never looked at it as a 52 weeks a year job, but some see it like that - and sadly it is not. Like the run of a successful play, the morning after can be quite harsh and sudden, and the comfort of a long run taken away very quickly. A lot of animators are getting showreels together at the moment, and don't really feel like a party tomorrow.
Things are all most peculiar, with huge troughs and peaks, and i'm getting ready for Importance / Earnest, that has not been without incident. When I was in Turin in June, I read the play in the piazza in dazzling sunshine eating cherry ice cream. I guess I have done a fair bit since then, but I seem to have stood still really.
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december 14th probably

Postby Barry » Fri Dec 14, 2007 10:49 am

Well as is my habit, I made it to Turin, but without my luggage. How can this happen so often. A day later and there's still no sign of it, and no-one seems to know where it is. Darn as there is a lot of important stuff in the case, like the whole of Earnest and the lap top.
Flying over the Alps was pretty startling. Crystal clear light gave, even from up there, an impression of their size.
A glorious hotel, with an underground pool of a very theatrical egyptian theme, dripping with soft towels and robes, and fressh fruit. Even the staff are wearing egyptian themed clothes. Still all very luxurious.
I got taken to one screening at the festival, and defintiely had cause to reflect on a a bizarre life. Whilst most people were fretting about christmas, or having the staff christmas party, I was watching a silent version of Snow White from about 1910, with a live piano, and then whenever Snow White chose to dance, an elegant Korean lady stood up and tap danced in front of the audience. Likewise when the dwarves appeared, she now sported a floppy hat and tap danced again. A narrator made appropriate bird noises for the appearance of the bird, except his whistle sounded like someone blowing into a plastic toy.........the film itself was interesting with lots of dissolves for the special effects and sudden transformations. Snow White is still a mighty strange story though. This was followed by an Italian animators two takes on the Snow White story. One had cartoon characters auditioning for the part of Snow White, the Prince and the Witch, and most of them being hysterical unsuitable. Dinner afterwards with the organisers under the shadow of the hugely impressive Mole building. That still takes my breath away for its sheer audacity.
Funny times indeed.
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I'm hoping it's the 16th December

Postby Barry » Sun Dec 16, 2007 11:16 pm

Well that is an exhausting four weeks over where I have worked my socks off talking about animation to a variety of places, all of them seemingly cold (there's now a pavlovian association with animation and sub zero temperatures), and seemingly the audiences have responded with great enthusiasm. Not just my work but animation in general, and it's still a thrill to see a newcomer getting excited by this bizarre medium, and seeing their faces taken it all in. Animation seems to date less quickly than many other arts. In Turin last night, someone was talking about Next, and how it still blows them away because it can't be defined. It's not theatre, it's not film, it is what it is, and as an academic, she finds that hard but exhilerating, and never gets tired of seeing it. It certainly was unlike anything around at the time, I know that, and still it works, apart form the ending that I cringe through every time. All the films last night had a tremendous response, but I don't think I've ever taken that for granted. It still surprises me. Another person last night said she was very moved by the way I talked inclusively to both the youngsters in the audiences, as well as some of the more mature members who were beign picky about what I'd left out of Rigoletto. Well I don't think that's a conscious thing, I just love talking about animation, and if I can string two words together and make it personal, so be it. Thirty years on, as it will be next april, and my enthusiasm for animation is still there. Elsewhere I have just written about a thesis on my films saying they are six pieces about disapointment, I've thought about it on the way home from Italy today, and I think I know what she means about disappointment, but that is not a word I would use, as that seems to imply some sort of defeat. The characters in my films are not defeated. They struggle to gain some sort of union or conclusion, but they don't give up. And I guess that's how I see myself in animation. I may be disappointed that my career has not produced the options or output I had hoped, but I've certainly not given up. I'm still fighting for some sort of resolution and conclusion. Still trying to make the best of things. This constant wish to push animation into new areas can be a lonely quest, when the reality is so very different, oh dear lordie it's different, but I'll still try. A bit of a rest now though from all this travelling and coping with different languages and airports and lsoing things. Time to gather my thoughts and plan next year.
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December 21st 2007

Postby Barry » Fri Dec 21, 2007 10:26 pm

The shortest day of the year, and the end, I guess, of a very significant period. As I write, I have no definite work for next year, though there are possibilities. I wasn't the only one to be clearing out the office today, and many more will follow in the next couple of months. There are going to be big changes afoot. It is quite worrying, but maybe it's a chance to brush away any complacency and re-evaluate things. Financially, being freelance and not involved with redundancies, it is going to be a tough struggle. I'm busy though with Earnest, and I may finally get to tidy up the house after the book, and i may get to write and develop projects in readiness for going to se various people. Exciting and worrying times. I do literally not know what will happen next, but I am open to anything that comes my way.
Earnest seems to be going well and is making us laugh already. We are missing lots of the cast through Christmas, but crikey I love this, especially for discovering how a play works, and Earnest works sublimely well.
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December 27th 2007

Postby Barry » Thu Dec 27, 2007 11:00 am

Crikey, months of mental and physical preparation and organisation and then Christmas is over before you know it, but i was over with Amanda and the boys in truly gorgeous Ireland, with long walks along almost deserted spectacular beaches, and much looking and pondering at the waves or mountains. Plates of steaming hot vegetables, and cherry-packed cakes, and conversations that fade awaya as a result of said cakes. The usual ritual of several dozen people jumping in to the rather terrifying cold looking sea. It takes a while to wind down, but then it's back to the airport, and the strangeness of the reality of this next year. Had a few few welcome texts from people who had the book for christmas (hmm, just what I always wanted?). One of my presents was the soundtrack to the Burton/Sondheim Sweeney Todd. I'm too excited about seeing this, but with too many conflicting emotions. It's going to be astonishing and beautiful and haunting, but it's Sweeney Todd, the show I've been telling people to see for 25 years, and the show I've tried to see as many productions of as possible. Of the triop of the trio, no quartet, no quintet, oh darn the great sondheims, Sunday in the Park, Into the Woods, Follies, Sweeney, A Little Night music, it's hard to say which is my favourite - possibly Sunday wins, but Sweeney never fails to trhill and chill me, and stir my imagination with how I might have done it. It's not impossible, actaully, that i might have planted some seed about this film......
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December 31st 2007

Postby Barry » Mon Dec 31, 2007 3:51 pm

Well last page for the year, and it certainly has been quite a year. We've seen the rapid decline of children's television and a lot of other usual outlets for animation, but then we've seen films like Madame Tutli Putli, Creature Discomforts and the Pearce Sisters still showing that short films still need to exist. I really don't know what next year will hold. There are a good few stop motion features lurking, with Coraline first up I think, and Fantastic Mr Fox going into production. I'm certainly ready to take on new creative challenges, with new artists and new techniques, but watching the Extras Christmas special over the last few days, Andy Millman was faced with the choice of doing stuff that he hated but that seemed successful, or trying to make a career in something a little more artistically fulfilling and challenging (and ok he was after the fame and fortune), but for which he was inadequately equipped. Through deliberating the choice he became deeply unpleasant with misplaced values. These values were eventually balanced but he lost his career. Oh!
Ambition seems to be a dangerous thing, but it's certainly not ambition or greed that drives me, but more a need to appropriately use my experience and what skills I have to tell interesting, innovative stories. That's not a deadly sin is it?
Certainly the numbers of this last year seems impressive, with the huge series of Rupert, the book, several retrospectives and a coule of plays, but but but........i guess it is all about growing, or is it just all about working.
Well let's see what happens, but actually I'm not going to sit back and see what happens, I'm going to kick start this year into making things happen.
Have a great new year all of you.
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