March 13th 2017

Animated day to day happenings

March 13th 2017

Postby Barry » Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:33 am

oh heck, where have the weeks gone....well actually they've gone through intense filming, rehearsals and performances of the Secret garden and with several talks, and a trip to Barcelona.....all of which have been great fun, but have left me little time. I must return and waffle on about the design of secret garden and the production itself.
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ReMarch 21st 2017

Postby Barry » Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:39 pm

and yes I promise, I will sit down for a whole afternoon and catch up, but now I'm recovering from a giddy and frantic and joyous four days in Venice at the Ca'Foscari short film festival. Being picked up by shiny wooden motor launch and then that trip across the lagoon to Venice was pretty special, but the whole trip was unique. The hotel and the company of the other judges were pretty special. this may not have been the biggest festival but it was certainly international, with film makers and films from all over the world. I lost track of the languages spoken, just as I lost track of myself down all the side streets. No, that's not quite true as I know my way around Venice these days, using various mask shops are landmarks - and I certainly indulged in buying masks, from the family that did the masks for Kubrick's final film and many more. Lots of pizza and pasta, and much sitting on the water buses just going with the flow. To sit in venice talking to fellow film makers, mainly live action film makers, was such a privilege. A long way from Twirlies, but my head is so full of sights and sounds, and actually not the smells, of Venice - that light, those church bells, the crumbling brickwork, the smart waiters in San Marco, the pigeons, the food, the elegant people - ah, a great few days.
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April 9th 2017

Postby Barry » Sun Apr 09, 2017 1:07 pm

Counting down the days till the end of production on twirlywoos. I shall miss this gloriously silly family and the fun they have given us, and the challenges. Some ten new episodes have just gone out, and they go so quickly, when each episode for us is a good few weeks one way or the other. But over the three years we have become less daunted by some of the technical challenges and just get on with it. Life without green screen would be very different, and the scenes where the characters appear to be running in the grass or on a beach are utterly convincing. A lovely series, with quite a following. But life after Twirlies is looking a bit bleak at the moment. For the first time in ages, I don't have a project of any sort to occupy my aging brain. I hate that and feel a slump coming on.

I did have a refreshing holiday with my sister and family down in Cornwall - the small plane trip reinforced that it felt like being abroard. Visiting the amazing Minack theatre was one thing, but the epic history and majesty and outrageous location of saint Michael's mount was breathtaking. We watched two films together - A Monster Calls, and the wonderful Hidden Figures, but I must do some research about the true story there.
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April 22nd 2017

Postby Barry » Sat Apr 22, 2017 2:59 pm

Ha, after all these years I still haven't gotten my head around organising these entries. A project for the summer perhaps, and as it happens I am going to have plenty of time. When the series finishes in just under two weeks, for the first time in ages, I am facing unemployment with absolutely no hint of a project or work. This is a bit bleak really as I have recovered from the nearly a year out of work before this series of Twirlies, and now all that's going to go out of the window. It, this career, was ever thus I guess. It's bizarre as in the studio at the moment we are working like crazy, with full crew. We still have a lot to shoot but with everyone's help we will get it done. It's taking a lot of precision organising, having the next shot ready to go straight away. Immensely satisfying when all this works. A rest will be welcome but I can't see unemployment as a rest. I have a million ideas, and numerous books are being read and things written but there's no interest or doors to be opened.

I did go to a very interesting evening of animation at the sale Waterside, called animation Unlimited, that really did show the diverse nature of this craft. I do get a bit restless with some shorts though that are just moving images or an incident. I'm so hung up on story telling and reversals and arcs and everything being there for a purpose.

I treated myself to a glorious afternoon in London watching 42 nd Street then got depressed at the sheer scale of the production and all the skill involved on stage and off. At the same time I have been ridiculously excited about Bette Midler opening as Hello Dolly on Broadway. it sounds a glorious evening and she seems to be having a ball, somewhat breaking the fourth wall that never really exists, but it's the show I have a problem with. Shallow and annoying and about so little, but I would of course sell anyone's grandmother to get to see it. And her.

I'm reviewing half a dozen animation applications - that's a bit frustrating, dishing out the possibility of work to others.
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May 1st 2017

Postby Barry » Mon May 01, 2017 11:18 am

May 1st 2017
Heck my head is a spaghetti of animated films just now. I went to Dublin to be on a panel awarding some grants to some short animated films. Some great ideas and all though through -I enjoyed this but part of me was very frustrated as their generosity is certainly something long gone in England. I just do not know where to turn to get a project off the ground. And back home I have spent every second of my free time trying to get through 118 short and alarmingly not very short films for a festival I am going to next week. I have to say this is a rather excessive amount, but i'm trying to give each one absolute concentration. There's a lot of technology involved in these, and not much stop motion. There's little dialogue but a lot of grunts and groans, and there are a lot of butterfly effect films, and plenty, as ever, scratchy films. Some seriously messed up imagery, but I have enjoyed watching them all. I still think that there is an attitude that because a film is animated it can get away with anything, and break all the rules of structure and such. This is fine, but you still have to acknowledge that there is an audience watching and you need to keep them.
And so we enter the last week of the tv series. It's been fun but I am exhausting, and will be sad to see those characters go. I feel rampant depression just days away. If only there was another project lined up that I could contribute to, and be paid for. It's certainly going to be a summer of discontent.
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May 8th 2017

Postby Barry » Mon May 08, 2017 1:55 pm

Am just sat in a hotel in Bologna waiting for a car back to the airport, trying to make sense of the last week. So we wrapped on twirlywoos - 100 episodes in the equivalent of three years, and it has been a joy. I'm going to be lost not getting up for work, not fretting the night before about the shots, and not running round the studio trying to schedule and reschedule, and not having creative problems to solve. What next, I'm not sure. nothing at the moment, but as soon as I left the studios, I was on the way to Bologna for the Future Film Festival. And this has been pretty amazing, and I have to say that they have worked me hard. A long workshop about storytelling, a possibly awkward workshop with children (raffia, and coloured card and plasticine had been purchased but I veered away from that.), and a big workshop about puppets, and then I was on the jury trying to award a main prize out of the 110 films we had watched. This eventually went to a French film called Garden Party, which blended two very different stories together beautifully. A tremendous film. And then I had a late night retrospective, and oh lordie, the response to that was incredible. Genuine film critics for national papers and magazines were gushing with their praise for the films, and Rigoletto, which I always feel uncomfortable about screening in Italy, were down a real storm, loving the visual concept of it. Oddly that is what I would change most. And on top of all this was the European premiere of Alien covenant, which was bloody and noisy, and just juggled familiar tropes into a different order, and threw in more blood and much mythology. And all the meals here, and the chat, and the autographs and the people. A sensory overload, that being back in Manchester this week, and out of work, will seem very unreal, especially as I took no photographs ergo did it ever happen.
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May 24th

Postby Barry » Wed May 24, 2017 6:59 pm

May 24th 2017
Where is this time going? So Twirlies is all wrapped and there is tumbleweed blowing through the studios, and it's an odd feeling to have nothing lined up. oh I could pretend things are lurking, but actually there's nothing. I have however been ridiculously busy, catching up, trying to sort things out, writing a huge article for the Puppetry Journal, having a few lunches with friends, swimming a lot, reading a book I'd kill to film, and yes, I headed over to Athens. I think it was Athens as all I saw was one main street, not even a glimpse of the Parthenon. I was at an event between Be There Corfu and an audiovisual festival......please save me from performance art and such. well intentioned but hard to watch. I can't pretend I had much of an audience, but there was much enthusiasm and talk of me being a true port and all manner of interpretations of Plume. The flight out was great, the flight home was not.
And i'm just unpacking and am off again. I confess to being somewhat shattered at the moment and have seen my share of animated films for a while. I love these events, and the people I meet, but I do feel awkward about having to have such strong opinions about other people's work.
I got home and then Manchester was shocked to its' core by a suicide bomb at a concert for teen girls . I can't write about it.
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JUNE 3rd 2017

Postby Barry » Sat Jun 03, 2017 9:23 am

June 3rd 2017

And so I went to Venice, again, to do two days of workshops with a dozen lovely students. I have to admit I'm quite at home in Venice now, which is not the same as being blasé. I now know where I'm going without getting lost. But I still turn a corner and a new wonder takes my breath away. What a lovely place to be at University. I hope I managed to kick start a few ideas about animation with the students.
Back home and a few days of doing stills for the tv series, more or less, in an empty studio which is very odd. This time last year, Manchester was truly heaving with stop motion. Not so now and most of the animators are gradually dispersing, or turning to other jobs. This is sad as we had such a strong community here. what a shame I couldn't have brought a feature film in straight after the series. I'm sure we will be back at some point, but such a shame to lose the momentum.
Manchester has been under the dark cloud of the explosion last week, but a good friend, with whom I was in Romeo and Juliet, did a musical tribute with his young choir, and this was splashed all over the news and is now sharing the stage with Ariana Grande tomorrow, at the big concert. I suspect his life has just changed overnight - in a good way, but it's so sad that the concert is for such a tragic cause. Manchester has made this happen amazingly quickly, but as always, along with the good, there are people trying to make money out of the concert with various scams, which is frankly despicable. And talking of Trump.....
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June 24th 2017

Postby Barry » Sat Jun 24, 2017 10:02 am

Midsummer Night, and after a quick and rather impressive burst of sunshine this week, where the country fell to pieces, the summer seems to have gone once more. Dull and grey now.

The Twirlies and I have said goodbye now, after 100 episodes. I'll miss those crazy, easily excited characters. I miss working basically, but I have been busy writing an article, an article that once again had anything not to do with animation edited out. It's always my view that animation is not in its' own bubble but is influenced by music, theatre, film, opera, ballet and such, but editors panic when I suddenly bring Wagner into things, or talk about theatre, or Hamlet. I have been approached to do another book and i'm trying to push for one with a wider range of subjects. We'll see.
But other than that there is little actual work lurking, but I've certainly been up to adventures. the whole family got together for a splendid boat trip down the Thames, is steam driven luxury. A lovely day, overshadowed by the tragic events of Grenfell Tower. I've been doing as much homework as I can for my next stage production, which is ladies in Lavender. We are a couple of months away from rehearsing, but oh yes, I will be ready. I also had a good evening with the students of Edge Hill and their end of course show. Beautifully stage managed and a few good films but some were rather flat and needed a bit more finesse - everyone is terrified of doing a walk and go to great lengths to avoid that.
One more big travel next week, to Slovakia, and then I'm done, and need to stand still for a while and catch up.
I've done a bit of culture but the highlight was being backstage with my chum David Bintley and the Birmingham Royal Ballet, and with my heart in my mouth, trying to look cool whilst I handled the Penguin Café costumes. You can keep the Turin Shroud, I have touched these costumes, touched Tchaikovsky's piano, and seen Tippi Hedren's green Bird's suit. A happy gent.
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July 7th 2017

Postby Barry » Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:30 pm

July 7th 2017

No surprise that this has been an epic couple of weeks, but no real job. I did however have the enormous pleasure of venturing to pastures new, to Fest Anca, in remotest Slovakia. I flew to Vienna, and certainly wanted a quick look round but we did see the Danube from a hill top, and lots of amazing castles and endless fields of sunflowers as we drove to Zilinia for the festival. On my first day I did a twelve hour workshop and was still going strong. This venue was in a rather quaint semi retired railway station in the middle of a roundabout. A great group of enthusiasts and professionals and we went to some deep and profound places in the workshop, and no one seemed to be flagging. I also had a screening of six of the films.....I confess to being nervous as five minutes before the start there were but five people there. One minute after and the place was packed, with some sitting on the floor. We also had two dogs and a baby, none of whom seemed restless. And the films still work their not inconsiderable magic, in spite of being trumped by time and technology. That they still work makes the indifference of investors and such, hard to cope with. Screen Play, particularly, gets huge applause, and Rigoletto, well the audiences can not believe that was animated by one animator. Strangely, at breakfast, I had met the conductor of the Slovakian Chamber Orchestra, who was Welsh, and to cut a long story short, had played the violin in the WNO orchestra for our Rigoletto. Small world. after all.
I did a lot of chatting at the festival, but managed to see my chum Paul Bush's retrospective and workshop and also my new chum Robert Morgan's retrospective and workshop - both of which were tremendous and insightful. Robert's films are not to be seen en masse on a full stomach. Such gloriously gruesome textures and disturbing imagery. Also my great pal Ainslie Hendersen was there too. Lots of pals old and new. A great, low key festival with performance art (yep fake breast and penises were out in force), delicious food stalls and much sitting and swapping stories with lovely, interesting people.
A bit of a convoy back to Vienna, and one car stopped at a castle and witnessed a rehearsal of Hamlet going on. Darn, I missed that.
Otherwise, there's been lots of writing and catching up, and a low key birthday. Interesting week, next week with me getting a Fellowship. A job would be fun too.
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July 15th 2017

Postby Barry » Sat Jul 15, 2017 10:47 am

St swithin's day and indeed it is pouring down.
So a week without any work of the the paid kind, but heck, I have talked about - a lot. I had a chancellor's dinner at staffs Uni where I was given a Doctorate six years ago, and this was a splendid affair, with a lot of rather amazing uniforms this time round. Very interesting company on my table, and a few ladies rather giddily wanting to be in the movies - if only it were that easy. I feel a little guilty as I used to do so much for that University but since I was given the Doctorate I've done nothing. Still, they only have to ask. And then on Wednesday I had a huge day at UCLAN were I was given an Honorary Fellowship. this was a much bigger affair than I had anticipated with trumpets, a mighty organ, much parading around following a lady with a mace, and my speech in front of what looked like 3000 folk. And it went down very well. I was probably a bit earnest and could maybe have been a bit more theatrical...still it was pertinent. It's odd, I was as calm as anything sat there waiting for my turn in front of that huge audience. No nerves at all, but give me a car journey with a chum and I panic. But thank you UCLAN for a beautifully staged managed event, the chance to swish around in a gown, and for a huge honour. It would be lovely if I could go and direct a play there.
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July 24th 2017

Postby Barry » Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:40 pm

July 24th 2017

A week with absolutely no work, and not a single penny earnt, but I have certainly kept myself busy on projects in development, and have been surrounded at times but some impressive people in the arts.
But no work is worrying and is a big weight to lug around, and it does slow you down.
still i'm keeping myself busy.
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july 30th 2017

Postby Barry » Sun Jul 30, 2017 1:06 pm

No not a penny earnt this week, nor any of the due payments imminent. Very bleak, but I have not been idle, and am working hard on various things, but all without pay. Ay, there's the rub.
I seem to be being kept awake by what it all is about, and I seem to be very lucid at the moment, of how arty things work. Very lucid, but this is frustrating. I need to put this into practice, not having internal debates with myself.
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August 7th 2017

Postby Barry » Mon Aug 07, 2017 2:30 pm

The last few days have been heavily shadowed by the loss of my much beloved Monteverdi. I'm confused, and it doesn't take much at the moment, exactly when I got him, but it was when I was given a contract for a series....and I can't remember whether it was the start of Toby or the start of Twirlywoos, but it was definitely the start of a series where I could confidently say I knew where I would be for two years. And he also had an animated start as he was being fostered by a couple who recognised me to be an animator. I think they were prop makers. Anyway, I am heartbroken by his going, and that his going was so unexpected and so sudden. He was not a cat to lurk in the background but was an active part of my daily routine as I was his. This is hard as my body is walking round the house in a certain way still, avoiding treading on him. I can't really speak about him just now, but he was a grand cat, and my good companion. If I get another job in Manchester I will get another cat, but so many doubts about that simple question.
Farewell my beautiful Monteverdi.
So no job, and no cat.......not good.
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August 27th 2017

Postby Barry » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:38 am

A tough few weeks . I've not taken the loss of Monty at all well, and keep walking round the house miming the action of stroking him in all his favourites places.
And getting rejected for various jobs has not helped either, especially as they were jobs I could have contributed to enormously.
I am rehearsing Ladies in Lavender in the evening, putting so much effort into it. Now if only that were a real job.
There's an air that the parade has passed by, but I'm certainly not ready for that to happen.
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