February 2009

February 2009

Postby Barry » Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:23 pm

Well a distinct improvement, maybe because I am animating. This is the multiplane on Bob the Builder, and I'm enjoying it, and pleased to get so much out of so little. Even the dropping of a railway sleeper into position can be done with a bit of flair and wit. Yes I don't mind doing this at all, though my 53 year old back doesn't quite cope with the bending into odd positions as well as it used to. But i'm enjoying concentrating - well I was going to say I was enjoying concentrating on one thing, but you know me better than that. In every lunch time I have been doing other things, either coming home to write some of the book, or filling in job applications, or rushing down to the theatre to try and be part of Cauppuccino Girls. So it's been a long week, and the tax has been paid. I think my accountant worked wonders, but with the disaster of Aladdin, this has meant some extreme juggling of finances and overdrafts. I'm afraid I do regret getting involved with Aladdin now. I've met some great people, but to hear of the theatre going up in smoke last weekend, well I don't know what it was all about.
The big emotional event was saying goodbye to the Cosgrove Hall studios. I'm still trying to turn the anger felt about that into something less extreme and personal.
But it's certainly been a week for contact with some legendary names of animation. If I should name drop all the big names I've chatted to this week, it would be a long list. I still find it bizarre to have a mail drop in from such a person or whatever, but this week there's been a swarm of big names. I wonder what the collective noun is for leading animators. Among one of the mails was a request to write somethign for USToday or was it the new York Times. Darn I can't remember, but I did it anyway.
All this and the great slapstick event, and Peter Pan.
Not a bad week at all. Maybe i'm just feeling better that the tax has been paid and I'm still here for a few more weeks.
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Re: February 2009

Postby Barry » Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:48 pm

February 6th 2009

A week of emotional contradictions.
I'm pretty upbeat as I am enjoying working on Bob the Builder....well the experience of working for real, with a crew, and storyboard and all that, well it has put a spring in my step, and I've done some fun stuff, but then we heard today that Hot Animation is joing Cosgrove Hall, and shutting its doors in a few weeks. Perhaps someone can get a two-for-one demolition offer. This really is the straw that has broken so many camels' backs. That's it. Two major studios gone. Such a shame and a crime, and so depressing. It is ironic that this happens on the day that Coraline opens across the States and everyone will be jumping up and down at how exciting stop motion is, and will be rushing to colleges to learn it, and indeed i have been organising various bits of teaching this week, but for what. What are we teaching them for? There's a nasty feeling in my stomach as I get ready to do this teaching. My voice can not but sound very hollow. I'm excited to see Coraline, but again sick to my stomach as that is yet another film that I failed miserably to get work on. Likewise I had applied to two jobs much nearer home, at a ridiculous wage, and jobs that I could do in my sleep - well the notification dates came and went without so much as an acknowledgement, and you know what I think about that. It's simply discourteous.
I'm afraid I'm even finding the Garrick a struggle at the moment, possibly because I have too much on, but the egos, the stick in the mud attitudes, the struggle is all too exhausting....maybe I should stop, but then it is some sort of creative outlet.
I've pretty much had it this week, and am scared. I ended up late on friday haranging the automatic check out at Tescos, weeping with frustration at a machine telling me things I had no idea what it meant. The reality check of getting angry and tearful at a machine hit home, and I just got worse.
And a beautiful letter from Brian Cosgrove after last week's event set me off rather too easily.
And for all this i enjoyed working, but.......well make the most of it.
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Re: February 2009

Postby Peter » Sat Feb 07, 2009 4:01 pm

Some pics of Barry's set for Alladin are now online HERE. Sorry it has taken so long to get them done!
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Re: February 2009

Postby Barry » Sat Feb 14, 2009 11:22 am

February 14th 2009

A bloody awful week for the world with a succession of disasters ranging from terrifying fires to yet more plane crashes, and floods and people stranded in the snowstorms. Each news bulletin just gets more heart stopping.

So my week has been utterly trivial in comparison - it started with beign a turn for a group of magicians, and a very entertaining evening that was too. then i've managed to squeeze in a whole week of Bob the Builder (though in my enthusiastic attempt to clean the class of the multiplane i was workign on, I managed to erase a drawing that I was meant to be creating on screen....a single wipe of a cloth undid several hours work - friday the 13th), as well as some work on the book, and the play treatment, and getting organised for the festival, and most of all, got Cappuccino Girls up and running. Two shows later and it's gone, and the stage is clear ready for a whole Lotta Led. the Garrick is nothing if not versatile. Cappuccino Girls was great fun and the mainly female audience certainly got a huge buzz out of it, but an odd show for me as just being the designer, I missed out on a lot of the fun stuff, and didn't really feel part of it. A great show, energetically staged, and it did look though I'm not sure the review in the paper needed to use the word 'simplistic', as I can't help feel that is detrimental, though it wasn't meant that way. Certainly the set was simple (it had to be erected in a morning) but it was not simplistic. Hopefully the girls will have a longer life elsewhere. Maybe with some of us involved. With a bigger budget, well any budget, and longer to design and construct it, I know exactly what it should look like now.
So I don't think I've wasted this week.
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Re: February 2009

Postby Barry » Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:49 am

February 20th 2009

Well we lit another sky balloon and sent it soaring laden with signatures and messages to mark the passing of another stop motion icon. Bob the Builder, after a decade, has now ceased to be - well at least as we know him. Very sad, as the studio will shut its doors in a few weeks, and that, along with Cosgrove Hall changed changed the importance of Manchester as a centre for animation. Once Fifi and Roarey have gone that really will be it. I had some friends from Aladdin come and visit the set this week and we can get blase, as they were so excited and giddy at seeing how it was all made. There is nothing like seeing something so totally handmade and crafted. Is stop motion at this level really dead?
With the same thinking, I finally got myself a new digital television, and i'm certainly not used to it yet. Along with the endless shopping channels and reruns and extraordinary realities shows, there is the technology of the picture itself. yes it is so sharp with dazzling colours, and even old films look as if they have been made in a studion on high quality video. There's a real depth but also a terrible flatness, and an ugly precision to it. I really can't make my mind up about this. It's almost like the multiplane filming i have been doing this week. Film is soft and flattering but doesnot have the detail.....skin textures are very evident. This can be good in terms of costume and stuff but it is going to take me a while to like this. The clarity is unsettling.
Talk of several new projects a long way in the distance and not really much likelihood of them happening but good to get enthused about new ideas.
A bit overwhelmed with all the festivals and things this week. I simply can't keep track of everything. Like the new digital television, there's just too much information and I can't process it.
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Re: February 2009

Postby Peter » Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:13 pm

Pics of Cappucino Girls are now HERE
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Re: February 2009

Postby Barry » Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:28 pm

26th February 2009

Quite a week. I finished my stint with a certain builder, and with me finishing that is the end of the series, as we know it, and the end of the studios. A skip already sits in the car park full of miniature hills and mountains. very sad. All gone.
What hasn't all gone is the damage still being done by the Aladdin fiasco. The possibility of seeing some money from it had raised its head a few weeks ago, but that was dashed today. The repercussions of being involved with that show are serious and causign real problems. So much work, for nothing.
I admit that this week I have been totally overwhelmed with being involved in other people's projects and such, and I love it, but my brain is addled.
I'm now off to the festival at Nimes, where the celebrated guest last year was Pinter, and this year, well it seems to be me. I'm dreading this turning out to be another moment when they realise that actually I am not Nick Park or Peter Jackson. If I'm on the first plane back, you'll know what happened. Pinter and Purves - there's an association
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Re: February 2009

Postby Barry » Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:43 pm

NIMES
Friday 27th February 2009
Now I am seriously giddy. A pretty long journey down to the south of France – well the long bit was crossing Charles DeGaulle airport. But I arrive at Le Cheval Blanc hotel, which is gorgeous in itself, with me in an enormous loft apartment, but what is outside, it’s wall no more than a hundred yards away, but the roman arena, complete and devastating and jaw dropping. That was worth coming all this way. It does seem odd to have my face and name all over the posters. I love this but at the back of my mind is this niggling thought about if I can have such a complete retrospective and seem to be of some worth, why the hell do I not get even acknowledged when applying for jobs on films, or just even acknowledged with job applications. It just does not add up. Every time I come to these events I play it low key but then I get here and wish I’d brought someone, if only as some sort of validation. Of course who I should be bringing is the commissioning editor of channel Four or such.
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Re: February 2009

Postby Barry » Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:55 pm

Februar y28th 2009

Well waking up in a loft and the first thing I see is the dazzling roman arena is not a bad way to wake up. A good continental breakfast, and then I was on show, relentlessly for ten hours,
The first screening in a packed cinema was Wind in the Willows, the feature, and in french, which was novel for me. The voices were familiar but oh so different, rather good actually. The film still works, but only just. It does look very grubby - the greens don't shine, and the lighting is very dull actually. Not because I'm biased but the first chunk really does drag now. Toad livens it up. But as a whole the film is way too slow. Too many shots of characters just looking, and way too much pulling focus from soft leaves. We did make some very wrong decisions with back projections and such, and the people aren't too successful, and yes I'm afraid there is some awful animation, and that includes some of mine. But it is still impressive in scale and ambition....it's such a shame that Cosgrove hall couldn't return to this recently now we know what we are doing. There's a lot of lovely detail in the sets but you can't really see them. Put it this way, we have all learned since, and maybe we made this fill too early.
And then a screening of all my films, and again Rigoletto and Achilles got huge applause, so people were left open mouthed by Rigoletto, including my interpreter. Sadly Gilbert and Sullivan (and Achilles) were four seconds out of synch.....the sound had got delayed, and I can only think that happened when the festival added subtitles. But it rather made nonsense of the singing and choreography.
And third screening was to be of my favourite films but this ended in disaster really as their DVD player only managed to play one of the dozen or so DVD's I had wanted to screen. That was Jeremy Fisher. I gave the clips a huge build up and then nothing. All rather embarrassing.Then a hopefully productive DVD signing in a great bookshop, and everyone was being so kind and genereous about the films.
A lovely meal in the cinema cafe, sat trying to ignore huge posters of me.
back to the arena exhausted.
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