2015

Animated day to day happenings

Re: 2015

Postby Barry » Sat May 23, 2015 9:53 am

MAY 23rd 2015

At Cannes last night was the premier of the CG/Stop Motion feature of A Little Prince, and apparently there was a cinema awash with tears and 15 minutes of applause at the end. How fantastic, and for a film that doesn't involve zombies. I can't wait to see it. I'm going to be interested to see how the two stories mesh, but the stop motion all based on paper does look exquisite and beautifully lit. It would have been great to have been involved and I'm trying to subdue any professional feelings of jealousy of not being involved. The book was not part of my childhood, but I warmed to it about ten years ago, or even more, when I was approached by a big film company to write a treatment for a stop motion feature. It is a sleight piece to extend to a feature, and obviously these new producers needed a secondary story. I kept it to the story in the book, but found a way to make all the different story elements work, and was relying on an intimacy between the characters to carry the film. Maybe it wasn't spectacular enough, but I got paid and go to love the book and sort of understand it. but I still would have loved to have worked on this new version - other things would have not happened if i had but I am still aching for a feature and for some that will get seen. I can't help feelign a little lost or left behing at the moment, and most definitely feel I am treading water. The approaching 60th brings all manner of dark and gloomy and rather realistic thoughts, and I don't want to fade away but would love to go out with a bang. I'm not done yet.
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Re: 2015

Postby Barry » Sat Jun 06, 2015 7:17 pm

june 6th 2015

And so I am officially out of work as of yesterday. My contract finished as the project I was working on was not quite ready to progress further. Who knows, it may. But I do know I am going to be terrible not working, and financially it will be hard as i had that huge period out of work earlier this year. A difficult time to be out of work as I turn 60 in a few weeks and already feel I have one foot on the scrapheap. I'm busy certainly, with lots of unpaid projects but it is is tough not being creative. So how did I mark being out of work - I went to see 42nd Street at the garrick for the third time in seven days.....if I couldn't be creative I was going to make sure I was watching someone who was. Of course it is a ridiculously feel good show, and I need a bit of that at the moment. I will have to catch the last show tomorrow to ward off the inevitable crash......it hit me today and I spent some of the afternoon under the duvet. I want to be bright and dazzling as there are several rather significant celebrations of my career coming up, but at the moment, I'm the dazzle has faded somewhat. I'll find it at the mere suggestion of work. Crikey, most people I know are thinking of retirement cottages and golf....I want to work.
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June 17th 2015

Postby Barry » Thu Jun 18, 2015 3:44 pm

June 17th 2015

So I am out of work now, but certainly not idle. An unrelenting mound of life laundry has been achieved, with MOT's on the car and me, my Will made, and all manner of stuff. Sort of satisfying, but darn, it's taken some organisation.
I'm trying not to spend any money as I really don't know when there's any coming in, but I could not resist taking my friend, who I introduced to ballet and whose life, it is fair to say, is now changed, to a live screening of La Boheme. He wasn't unmoved, but he was not a dribbling mass of tears of joy and ecstasy that he was after his first ballet. And boy do we have a treat this week - a david Bintley double bill of The King Dances and Carmina Burana. I've seldom been this excited. I was keen to see the ghost train at the royal Exchange but it really was hard work.
However, I did go to Turin, to do a screening and a long workshop. Lots of lovely familiar faces, and some had come from many hours away, and a beautiful theatre for the screening. I showed Next, Screen Play, Achilles, Plume, and Tchaikovsky, and the audience were mostly new to these films, and what a response. Every so often I have a real downer on the films, but this response was astonishing, even with the language. One lady cried as she hugged me. One person called me the love child of Stanley Kubrick and Peter Greenaway - yes I can cope with that. The adueince chatted away as if these films mattered. The workshop was good, and I tried to do as much as I could with rather limited puppets, trying to make sure everyone was included and had a go, and whilst this was useful and productive, what was more so was the two way conversation and exchange of ideas about art, animation and storytelling. My hard work was rewarded with great company, great food and the best ice cream in the world.
Being out of work is certainly time consuming and busy.
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Re: 2015

Postby Barry » Sun Jun 28, 2015 9:59 am

June 28th 2015

And whilst there's not a sniff of work to be had, things are racing at such speed.

After the great weekend in Turin, with a good talk and in depth workshop, much of recent days have been spent getting ready for the Edinburgh International film Festival, and what a few days that was. A huge honour to have my 60th birthday celebrated in their Masters of Animation strand. I took the train up with Steve B, and afgter being met at the station by Amanda and co over from Ireland, and being whisked to our aircraft hanger of an apartment, I was ushered over tot eh Caledonian Hotel for a radio interview, and a might fine room with a view of the castle - mind you, there are not many views that don't include the castle.

That done, intelligently I hope, the first screening of the McClaren programme. Lots of wonderful and familiar faces, including Adam E over from Australia, and Ainslie who had travelled all the way from Edinburgh. A great, perhaps lengthy programme. As always there was something to excite and to offend everyone, but Steve's short looked magnificent on the big screen.

A delicious veggie birthday meal with the family, and a ticket for Imelda staunton in Gypsy and a book of my 60 years - both reducing me to tears really.

On the thursday Adam and I did an industry event chatting informally to students, then the screening with adam's new film, Ernie Biscuit. Gorgeously textured, rich, emotive, funny, complex and rather perfect. And then my big event with Iain - a decent house with friends from far and wide, and many new faces - new faces new to the films. And thet films looked fantastic actually on film prints. I can't watch them but they did look good. I wanted this to be special for such an event and I did talk honestly, maybe too honestly. We had so little time though to perhaps make a fully rounded picture. I probably spent too long talking about what I haven't done yet rather than what I have. Mention of me feeling second rate provoked some very warm reactions - that was not the reason for mentioning second rate. But my feeling of dissatisfaction is that there are people I want to work with, projects I feel I could have done....all about potential I guess. But what a heartwarming applause at the end. A few of the old anecdotes came out, a few new ones. A story about Hitchcock prompted a Finnish gent to come up to me and talk about a magic show he is doing based on h//itchcock's love of magic. Now that would have been good to see.

I felt a bit deflated but it was a good event. A giddy meal afterwards with friends and family at the sheraton, and then another day of screenings, and the awards do. Jane Seymour followed me on stage. Then a day of being a tourist and loving Edinburgh. We went to the rather melancholy Mary King Close, and our guide had the most peculiar sing song speech patterns, but after doing it 5000 times I guess I would be trying to bring variation into it all as well.

So edinburgh was a hugely enjoyable experience, and gave much food for thought. thank you Edinburgh.

Back to reality, and the birthday this week, and the inreasingly urgent need to kickstart the next job.
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JULY 5th 2015

Postby Barry » Sun Jul 05, 2015 2:37 pm

JULY 5th 2015

Well I'm a bit nervous if this last month is the shape of things to come - some wonderful adventures, Italy, Edinburgh, my birthday, but with not enough work to pay the bills at all.

And they were great adventures - Italy all too brief, and Edinburgh perfect and reflective, and then two days ago my 60th Birthday. I felt guilty for not asking everyone in my circle, but there were neither enough places on Go Ape nor on the boat, and I have to say organising just this small group was testing enough, but what a lovely day. About 17 of us split over two sessions went Go ape. A few life lessons were learnt hanging forty feet off the ground on a cargo net, that's for sure. Hanging there unable to crawl up higher you think, 'well no-one can help so bloody do it', and do it you do. Yes, I was no fan of the cargo nets, but the walking and balancing things were lovely, especially so high up in the trees. I'm not sure the height phased me at all, though so of the wide stretching and wobbling made me take it easy. It was the strength things that got me....there's a lot of me for my delicate fingers to haul up. But we were rewarded with a glorious final zip wire, that seemed to go for miles. Lovely. I collapsed in the dried bark, laughing with no breath, but a sense of having not given up and done something.

This was followed by a tense drive to Chester, for a perfect two hours on a small boat, down the magnificent River Dee. About 23 of were on board, and masks and bingo, and fish and chips and a quick burst of Sondheim all worked nicely in the setting sun. A lot of love around today, and some swearing up in the tree tops. A good mixture of film friends, theatre friends, and normal friends.....!

The sondheim song, of course, was 'Good times and bum times, I've seen them all, and, my dear, I'm still here.
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July 11th 2015

Postby Barry » Sat Jul 11, 2015 12:32 pm

Very sad to hear of the death of Roger Rees yesterday. A superb gentle actor, with a lush wounded voice. I saw him in so many things, and did become something of an awe struck fan after Nickleby. It was an unexpected pleasure to strike up a friendship for several years whilst working in Bristol where he was the artistic Director of the Old Vic, and then to my huge pleasure he provided the vice for my film 'Next' - at the time 1989, he said he had been in all but two of Shakespeare's plays. I wonder if he completed the set. We kept in touch over the years, and even talked of an animated film based on a series of paintings he did about a seal.He stayed in the turret on a couple of occasions. Too young to go.

I guess that is one of the unwelcome associations of becoming 60 - every day is an increasing catalogue of losing friends and colleagues. A lesson about living every day to the full certainly - what does Tchaikovsky say in my film? Something about 'who knows whether there will be music in Heaven, so let us live life on this earth whilst we can'. I hope when my decline and fall approaches that I can use it creatively.

Still another week without actual work......cripes!
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July 22nd 2015

Postby Barry » Wed Jul 22, 2015 9:51 am

There was a bit of a panic over the weekend - and a lesson learnt. I feared I had lost everything on my laptop - everything. windows 8 in their wisdom, decide not to have a dvd player as part of the package and so I tried to install one, and was quite literally swamped by ads, and in trying to get rid of them the computer was struggling and getting very confused. I set the computer to refresh, t try to clean everything, and it simply died and switched off. End of story. Ah, there goes the film script, and photos and everything. Yikes. Happily, a young techie down by the market stroked his chin and after a lot of techno babble we were wiped clean and reinstalled and up and running again. Much relief. a few things have disappeared in the process but nothing drastic. So yes, do back up everything.
No talk about work as there hasn't been any.
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AUGUST 2015

Postby Barry » Mon Aug 03, 2015 9:18 pm

August 3rd 2015

I have to confess I am quite glad to see the back of July. I had some great days - my 60th birthday events, Bette Midler, and Imelda Staunton in Gypsy, but oh there were too many funerals, and simply not enough work......and I am not friend to anyone when I am not working. I worry about feeling useless, and I worry about the bank balance, but hopefully things are about to get very different. Hopefully.
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Re: 2015

Postby Barry » Sat Aug 15, 2015 9:03 am

AUGUST 15th

A varied week certainly. I oversaw a voice recording of two chums being trains. I rewrote an episode for a tv series, for the fourth time. A lot of people involved here, with different ideas about the story, but hopefully we got there. This was an episode with a farce structure - farce takes such a lot of mathematical working out, but great fun once who have got the mechanics in place.

Then yesterday I did an afternoon of paper cut out animation, to an insanely complex piece of music. It had taken a day and a half to work out the bar sheets, listening and listening again to the rhythms and notes and structure. To make it substantial, we managed 22 seconds in an afternoon, but the old legs were feeling it by the end. But I have to say, the results were quite impressive, for what it was. Watch this space. Interestingly, I haven't physically used an animation stack since Tchaikovsky, four years ago. Crikey, they are now so over complicated. Like most things, there are too many options. It's good in the long run, but zll rather fiddly.
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August 23rd 2015

Postby Barry » Mon Aug 24, 2015 6:43 pm

Well that was an odd week. A lot of writing and rewriting; pontificating about animation in simple terms for a tv show; I cut two animatics as well, and then had two days animation on a good old favourite. A real joy to get these digits animating again. The software is even more complicated since I last properly animated four years ago on Tchaikovsky, and I did have to ask to have it all explained. And with nearly every frame I took there was a chorus of 'let it read', and happily it does read without even having to try these days. I'm not sure the stretching and bending and focussing comes quite as easy though. It was however, a real pleasure to bring the chaps to life, and to be on the studio floor again.

Crikey, it was almost like working again.
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SEPTEMBER 1st 2015

Postby Barry » Tue Sep 01, 2015 12:37 pm

A tough week but not without adventures. No real paid work, and any progress on the big project halted by a bad oyster. A long story.

I did however go down to the excellent Bristol Festival of Puppetry, and do a retrospective and an all day workshop. In the workshop I chatted with a little focus but I was probably all over the place, throwing out nuggets of information and tips.....I hope the enthusiastic students learnt something. I did see much of the festival as I was concentrating on what I had to do but I met all manner of animation history, which was most agreeable. It's so good that a festival like this can exist, treating puppets as if they matter, which of course they do, and finally mixing the different worlds of puppetry.

And I went to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which had two friends in. Happily, a much better production than last time round, and with a substantial bus again.
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September 13th 2015

Postby Barry » Sun Sep 13, 2015 1:38 pm

September 13th 2015

A spattering of work things, but the most fun was a day spent with the students of the London School of puppetry - not , as you might rightly think, in London, but in the gorgeous Yorkshire village of Grassington, and in a welcoming private home of the lovely Caroline. A home full of things, a cat, and an endless supply of delicious home made goodies. It was not hard to spend the day here talking about what a puppet is, and how I use them. I do like that recently I am crossing into the other worlds of puppetry, and may be, to some extent, out of my depth and talking nonsense, but at least I am talking and getting people thinking. As usual, I think there was a grain or two of truth among the chaff. But this was a fun day with lovely, responsive students - and what a great location, with rolling hills and a fast river, all blessed by one of our few days of sunshine. Venice and the Barbican are my next venues. I will be happy with half the welcome I had here.

Elsewhere, there was a wedding where I was doing one of the readings. Now thirty short lines may not seem much to learn, but it does get harder these days - and thanks to endless practice in the pool, the sauna, the car, and the roof garden, I was word perfect. A beautiful wedding in the ridiculously photogenic Manchester town hall.

I took the Groom round the studio - it's always good to take some fresh to such things. Eyes were opened and jaws dropped.

And now the Proms have finished - what a joy they were. I had a tiny connection with one, doing a masterclass following up the Ten Pieces concert. I was entrusted with a short piece of the Mambo from West Side story. I'll post it shortly.
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Re: 2015

Postby Barry » Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:02 pm

September 25th 2015
Another disastrous week with no income. How steep can this descent be?
But it's not been quiet. A lot of stuff, interesting stuff, but not income generating stuff. I seem to have been surrounded by masterpieces of classical music all week. I am deep into rehearsals of Il trovatore, and I obviously don't have the musical language as these seasoned opera singers, but I am learning so much, and they seem to appreciate the direction I am giving about character and storytelling. A 400 page music score is quite a daunting task to absorb, but I'm getting there and loving it......for all its' rampant melodrama and frankly absurd coincidences and tenuous drama this is quite a masterpiece. As were Swan Lake from Birmingham Royal ballet and the Royal ballet Swan Lake - both of which I was lucky enough to watch without making my financial situation worse......friends. But interesting to see Romeo and the swans in the same week. Swan Lake is frankly absurd, again, and there is a lot of pointing and distraught mothers (that is their role in ballet) not approving of their sons choice of partners - well one was from a rival household and one was a swan. I guess you can't blame them. But oh, when you add an orchestra, design, and breathtaking dancing the folly of the conventions just get swept aside. Swan Lake is so stylised and plays outrageously with who wears tutus, who wears huge cloaks, and who wears tights, and so forth but bring on the two white acts, and all is forgiven. You simply accept the emotion and the beauty of the formations. Romeo however, is a very different beast. Very credible movement and emotions and not a tutu to be seen, and only the merest hint of finger pointing.....and a lot of violence and back breaking choreography. Superb stuff....but yes after these elations, and sitting with the director of one of the companies discussing the finer points of movement as if my opinion mattered, my own situation and the inherent frustration is making for sleepless nights.
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OCTOBER 2nd 2015

Postby Barry » Fri Oct 02, 2015 8:10 pm

OCTOBER 2nd 2015

Well let's get the bad news out of the way. Still no income, and with me still waiting for monies due, I am spiralling down and out. Tough. You know it's bad when there's no culture to report. It's a lesson to would be freelance animators that some producers/companies pay up the next day (thank you BBC particularly), and some can take a year....if at all.

But I've not been idle. I've not had the company of either Tchaikovsky nor Prokofiev this week, but the lurid drama of Verdi has been with me every day. To direct an opera on stage was certainly on the bucket list. I'm not sure I envisaged it being so raw and pared down, but it's a challenge, and I will have done it. And this score is simply amazing, and as usual, the most jolly and lightest music is often saved for the most uncomfortable moments.

I've been in contact with a lot of students this week - I'm sadly not in a position to help them practically, but I try. I did laugh at one student who said that he hadn't time to read my books, but could I answer 20 questions.

Also, I'm still being asked to festivals and to talk which is lovely, but please don't let me slither to the end of a career by being an old fogey who talks about things long gone, and whose films are way out of date. All these retrospectives are fun but looking back it seems to me a rather thin career. I'm not done yet and want to do so much more, and hopefully save the best for last. I'm particularly looking forward to a talk in Venice in three weeks, and this is challenging as I am expected to write it down so it can be translated and maybe printed. How can I ever keep to a given text.

I'm also very much looking forward to being involved with the Manchester Animation Festival. I'm pleased to be part of that. I just wish I could be in a more positive frame of mind.......as in working. By then, things should be ok.
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Re: 2015

Postby Barry » Sun Oct 11, 2015 2:46 pm

October 11th 2015.

Well, still no income, which is sleep deprivingly stressful. Well, beyond that actually.

Much of the week has been spent preparing a speech I am giving in venice in ten days. A real thrill to be asked, but the time available is short and has to allow for translation after each chunk. The subject of Animation and theatre is a juicy one for me, and normally I would rattle on for hours, but I have to be precise here, and my first take ran to 4500 words, and was suitably verbose and flowery, with anecdotes, but I have managed to get it down to a very tight 3500 words now, without actually losing any of the flavour, just cutting out way too many 'very's and so forth, and telling the anecdotes and observations a bit more concisely. I love this part of writing, as it never seems like harming the material but more about making it work. A good lesson. At the moment I have 100 stills to gallop through - I'm hoping a friend may operate those. I am giving a talk at Edge Hill University this week and may try it out on them.

I am worried about the physical quality of the films I am showing in venice. All I have now is copies of copies of copies of my films, and that shows.
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