2015

Animated day to day happenings

October 18th 2015

Postby Barry » Sun Oct 18, 2015 2:57 pm

October 18th 2015

No, not a penny. We'll get that pathetic part of things out of the way.

But I did do a morning's talk at a University, and usually at this uni I talk in a lecture hall, and the students are ridiculously and obstinately quiet. However, in the environment of a small causal film studio, the students were chatty and friendly and interactive. Much better. I guess a lecture hall must be seen as intimidating.

And I went to an Irish Catholic funeral - the observations have been locked away for future reference. It was certainly an epic theatrical experience but I would have liked more about the deceased.

Comfort was need by the end of the week, and three theatrical events provided that in spades.....the screening of the Benedict Cumberbatch Hamlet, Michael Ball in Mack and Mabel and Romeo and Juliet with the Royal Ballet. Artistic nourishment is not running on low now.
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Re: 2015

Postby Barry » Sat Oct 24, 2015 1:57 pm

24th October 2015

And no, no income this week either, but what a truly 48 hours in the middle of the week. I'd been invited to speak at a conference at Venice University. That was one talk I was not going to let go. All a bit frantic and I could not stay for the whole conference due to having to get back for an Il Trovatore rehearsal that subsequently got cancelled....so a bit peeved there.
Anyway, I was met at marco Polo airport by Davide, and off we headed to Venice, not by water bus but by taxi, and I saw Venice from a new viewpoint. Quite an interesting journey actually, but oh the sunshine and blue sky. Davide and I, after I checked into the hotel, managed a quick supper with Roberta, another university tutor. Great watching the Venetian world go by. after supper Davide were guests at La fenice, and a production of Magic Flute. Not just a guest but we were seated in the 'royal' box with was an orgy of gold. There was much pointing and head turning as other audience members tried to work out who we were. a beautiful theatre with out doubt. the production was quite a dry affair, not really having the giddy joy that Flute can sometimes generate, but a very interesting production all based in a schoolroom with a constantly animating blackboard. Various other images came and went, and they found some interesting visuals in the school context to parallel the traditional opera. Beautiful orchestral playing, but what a thrill to be there.
And then the big day Thursday, with eight of us delivering papers in Ca'Foscari aula Baratto, a room right on the Grand Canal. The panoramic window was obscured with blinds but as the sun moved, the grand canal was slowly revealed through them - what a view, what a location. Eight papers - Boccaccio and Trnka in Venice; Blackface and minstrels in animation, Animation - narration or art?; Robots in Animation; Circus and animation; animation and the visual arts; scenery in animation, and my own - The Joy of artifice. Not everyone used illustration and some were in danger of being rather dry with the speakers hidden behind tables. I was last time and I decided it was showtime. No hiding behind the tables and 100 illustrations to get through in an hour, and much striding around. I think all the pearls of wisdom hit home. another raced meal, delicious by the way, and then I was on show screening my showreel, Achilles, Plume and Tchaikovsky in a gorgeous old church. I had fun with Elisabetta, the interpreter, and we gavea great show I think - well shouts of Bravo, standing ovations and many books signed and photos taken suggested that. The films, on the huge screen looked magnificent, and the equation of me being out of work is an odd one. I was bussing after all this, and my friend David, the dancer from my books, managed a late night coffee somewhere - Venice seems to shut shortly after ten, but I have to say that I don't remember Venice ever being this clean or the water so clear. Oh what joy to wander through these endless alley ways past cake shops and mask shops and lots of sea captains - they too were having a conference.
And then I was gone, my head buzzing. I saw Venice from the plane, and it looks so small. How did such a place evolve in the middle of all that marsh lands and dotted uninhabited islands. All that concentration of art and culture and then nothing. beautiful. I feel very privileged to have been there. I did come away with a mask or two of course, but reality hit me hard back home. Still no sign of the payment or prospects that I am expecting.
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October 31st 2015

Postby Barry » Sat Oct 31, 2015 7:50 pm

still not a penny earnt, and not a penny of the many owed to me for jobs done months ago. Huh!
But still without work but still busy. I have seen a lot of culture this week, again through generosity of friends. I can't stop going, and especially in these very hard times, it does get me through. Seeing culture gives me reason to keep going, to keep fighting, to keep being inspired, but then it can have a counter effect, as too often it is hard not to think ' I can do that - heck, why am I not doing that?'.....and then deepest depression and doubts and questions about self worth float up damagingly. I saw a greek tragedy, and I do know a thing or two about such pieces and stories, and when asked, it is hard not to criticize, but there were so monumentally misjudged moments that did not fit easily in the production, really cringeworthy moments. Yes, it is hard to say that as I look at my own productions and think that that could have been done better, but then I am usually working under extraordinary conditions with either limited or no resources as with the opera at the moment. But this Greek tragedy was in a large pro theatre with amazing resources, but someone should have just told the director that certain things were indulgent, old hat tropes and have just ruined what you have set up. There was a lot of 'theatre' going on and the papers will probably love it and see it as bold theatricality. Likewise, I saw a hyper energetic musical last night - the cast were giving 200% and were thrilling, but oh lordie, the dull set and ill fitting costumes. And the night before, a local production of an Ibsen play was nearly scuttled by a performance of such inappropriate magnitude. it is hard to criticise, but equally hard to sit there and say 'oh that was lovely' - nobody learns or develops in that scenario. One does have to take into account the backstage dramas and limited rehearsal times, but professionals have no excuse for unimaginative and careless productions and attitudes. I have seen much of that. You know, sometimes limited resources can make you question everything and make everything that you do have work. It does not let you be indulgent. The first thing with any production on stage or film is to find the colour and range of your language, your conventions, and stick to them. When you have no limits then production usually go haywire. Yep, this Greek tragedy was guilty of some real drama school moments, lacking such discipline. And yes, I do believe I could have done better, and I wish I could have the chance. I could certainly have made it a more cohesive production.

But it is so easy to be a bitter armchair critic, except sometimes you do actually know what you are talking about. Just think everything through.......and remember, it is all about the audience, not you being clever. Crikey, have I just said that, me an out of what director.
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Re: nOVEMBER 2015

Postby Barry » Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:24 pm

NOVEMBER 13th 2015

Crikey, it has been two weeks, and life is rushing by and I can't catch up. I earned a bit of money that made a small dent in the overdraft, and what quick payers they were. It would help if all organisations were such prompt payers. Yes I'm still waiting.
I had cause to watch 60 short animated films in a few days - that was pretty crazy, and with each one something lingers, a taste lingers, and by the end my palette was all over the place. Some truly amazing films, but there are a lot of CG shorts with characters with thin weedy limbs, but with large heads and even larger eyes - and it's getting very boring and predictable. But a couple of films took me by surprise and made me hoot with laughter and one made me howl with tears. It's good that I can still get surprised.
I did another talk and some one to one sessions with students, and seemed to get them thinking. storytelling is not their strength. I still think a lot of people are just not prepared for the amount of homework that animation needs.
The opera, well, it's going to be visceral. crikey, when the singers get going, to use an operatic phrase, none shall sleep. I think we might just pull this off. I hope so as it has been so much work for me, and for all of us.
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NOVEMBER 21ST 2015

Postby Barry » Sun Nov 22, 2015 3:30 pm

21st November 2015

Well that was a full on week - three rehearsals for the opera, three days filming something small for Christmas, and three events at the Manchester International Film festival - I also squeezed in a few articles to be written, and at the end of last week I saw Kiss Me Kate, and Sweeney Todd with two different opera companies, and various friends in both.
The opera is nearly there - I have to pull it together in very limited time on Tuesday when I am in the theatre. The cast are getting better each rehearsal, keeping together, and being aware of the stage pictures. A certain amount of over enthusiasm led to a broken bottle and a pole snapping, but that won't happen on the show now, I hope. The run through yesterday in costume made perfect sense. some great colours and images, and even without understanding the Italian, something makes sense - the relationships are clear at least. We seem to be sold out, though not one chum is coming. Opera doesn't figure on most of their radars. Ah well, hopefully this time next week I will be relieved that I can tick one more thing off my bucket list. Of all the operas, this was not the one I would have chosen, as the plot is absurd, but I have grown to love it, and enjoy every note.

The Animation festival was fun, though I didn't have much time to socialise and I am still thawing out from the icy wind tunnel formed by all the new buildings. But what great projectors the Home cinemas have. everything looked splendid on the big screen. I did the awards do and hopefully that was entertaining along with a few pearls of wisdom. I'm happy to see a favourite film of mine, Edmond, won Best Graduation film.

And this next week is just as crazy.
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November 29th 2015

Postby Barry » Sun Nov 29, 2015 3:30 pm

November 29th 2015

Well this week has all been about Il Trovatore and nothing else, and the blind focus and the above and beyond work I have put in, as have others, all paid off. We had a sensational production that had a real ferocious intensity. Putting the show in on Tuesday made for a long day, and I wore many hats from Director to Therapist, but thanks to the help of the college we refigured the theatre space, had time to plot 40 lighting cues, then have a decent run. I was however shaking when I got home and was promptly sick. It would have helped had I eaten whilst all this energy was being expended.
The first night saw a few minor incidents, such as a member of the chorus forgetting to come on and so forth. The second performance was truly mighty, with all the staging tricks working nicely, and the story being told clearly -well as clearly as Verdi allows. Packed houses every night, though we had one complaint from someone after the first night, that we did not have a full orchestra and could they have their money back.....after having watched the whole show. What a cheek. What did they think they were getting at that price. The piano was excellent. It took us a while to find it's right place, but it sounded wonderful, and didn't get in the way of the staging. The piano was right for intimacy of the venue.
I loved running the show from the book, looking as if I followed every note. I tried to watch the show as best I could but just taking my head off the score for an instant and it was sometimes hard to get back into it. But what skills have been developed over this long period.
I'm allowing myself to feel a little pleased with myself, as the show worked so darn well.
Next......
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December 6th 2015

Postby Barry » Sun Dec 06, 2015 11:07 pm

DECEMBER 6th 2015

Something of an epic week. I had a morning talking over at the Leeds College of Art, and left home with plenty of time, but the highest motorway in England, the M62, is now also the slowest, and it took me three times as long as usual to get there. I was tense as I hate being late, and the one way system didn't help, nor did a bursting bladder. Oh the shame of going for a wee in a public car park. Sorry, Leeds, that was me. But a great talk to the students, with some good questions and chat.
then Friday, well that was the epic day. Down to London and over to Broadcasting House for an interview on Radio 4's Front Row.. We more or less went straight into it, and neither of us paused for breath. I hope I came across with some eloquence, but there was so much to talk about, and invariably there was not time.
I extravagantly took a taxi (yes I still haven't been paid for the big job that has occupied much of my time this last year) over to the hotel at the barbican and grabbed a quick swim to calm myself before a pretty taxing but enjoyable evening. I was the guest at the opening night of the London International Animation Festival, a festival I've never been to before, and I always assumed it was CG centric. B ut what a welcome. We showed the show reel, several adverts, Next, Screen Play, (and that commercial) Achilles, Plume and Tchaikovsky. I had two interviewers on stage, but I'm not sure I gave them much space as I talked and talked. The audience was fantastic, and made up of friends from all walks of my artistic life. I liked it as many of my chums are chums who I have seen everything they have done, but they've never had the chance to see what I do. So much talent in that room....we really could have put on a show right there. One friend even came all the way from new York. I got a buzz from hearing the audience react to every twist and turn of the films, but sank into a huge depression as yes they do work, but hell, it's been four years since Tchaikovsky. I had my hopes raised so much for a feature but I'm treading water there. Basically, I know I can do it, and that I am not doing it is frustrating beyond belief. So many lovely people, and I went out for a meal with a landscape gardener and bumped into a musicals composer. I went to bed full of emotion.....and a little pride. I have to do it all again next week, but without that ritzy, arty audience.
I got home, exhausted, and the first thing I heard on my CD was a disco version of the Anvil Chorus. ghastly.
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December 16th 2015

Postby Barry » Wed Dec 16, 2015 8:18 pm

December the 16th 2015
Nearly every animator I know is heading off to star wars at midnight. I'm not, but there we go.
Crikey ten day have happened unrecorded, and now only a hasty minute to catch up - tales must be told of the reactions to my big talk in London, which contrasted with the second one being cancelled through no-one booking. This was made up by the great talk at the university of East London, though the venue was truly surreal. But a darn good house and great questions.
And i'm back working, if not on the feature film, and that whole debacle is painful to even think about, but on a tv series. Just great to be working again.
Am still recovering from the opera but have already started work on the next play....we had auditions and so forth and rather than doing Christmas cards i'm making the set model.
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December 27th 2015

Postby Barry » Sun Dec 27, 2015 5:43 pm

Nearly two weeks have gone by and I have not had time to write this, but I am just sitting in foggy Cork airport preparing for a rather bumpy journey home......a lovely Christmas with the family, with much fresh air, poker, an so brief dip in the freezing sea, and the moving company of an inquisitive robin.
But the last two weeks were busy with the tv series, warming up for a frantic new year. Oh my that is going to be busy. I avoided as many parties as I usually do - I'm sorry, but I don't have the party gene. I had set a quiz for the Christmas do at the Garrick and got shouted at as it was too hard, but then others thanked me for making them think.
Not much culture, certainly not live culture, but we watched the very brown Black Mass, and then the very green In the heart of the Sea. Perhaps not exactly Christmas fare, but when I get home I will cuddle up to Monty and watch Gypsy. It's ironic that the most dramatic moment of all the theatre shows I have seen this year was the ten second silence from Imelda Staunton in the middle of Rose's Turn at the end of Gypsy.
I hope you have all had great Christmas's - let's hope for a fantastic year ahead......more later.
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