March 2009

March 2009

Postby Barry » Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:31 pm

Sunday 1st march
And I’m still giddy at seeing the huge arena casually sat next to me at breakfast. And so the the college where I am teaching, in a rather spectacular historic building. It was most evocative due to its emptiness. A great bunch of students, who are prone to what most students I teach are……..just throwing in a little hurried gag at the end of an exercise, but a gag that never works as they just think of it and do it, and sadly it makes a mess of the good controlled work they have just done. Patience and beating boredom is the answer. I did take them right back to basics but galloped forward at great speed. They were a lovely bunch already but bringing out a camping stove and making crepes for everyone endeared them even more to me.
Well I feature heavily in two newspapers today, and there is no getting away from the fact that I am fat! Shame. Mind you two crepes at lunch is probably an explanation. Good articles I think but I really do not raise the Mars Attacks issue at all, but it seems to be the first thing people are interested in. that makes me a little uncomfortable, so if anyone from Warner Brothers is reading, seriously, I am not building my part here, but I guess it is something the readers know about, well the film at least. I’m not sure what I’d rather be known for, but I would really like to play down the Martian connection as it is pretty flimsy.
A lovely private evening with Domenique and her family and friends, at her gloriously colourful house. A riot or warm colours, and delicious food…especially a spicy apple crumble. I am somewhat overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone here and the respect. Very touching indeed. I just wish I could make more films to justify all that. It’s been a good few days so far, but yes, I am tired.
I went into the Arena shop briefly as it was closing, and got way too excited by model gladiators and helmets.
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Re: March 2009

Postby Barry » Mon Mar 02, 2009 10:00 pm

March 2nd 2009

And I got the students doing some walking today, and for most of the day you could hear a pin drop, They were finding it very hard but satisfying. They've realised it is not easy and you do have to concnetrate and it is fiddly, but by the end of the day the results were great. what an improvement. There's a core of a half a dozen who really want to get out of this as much as possible. And for lunch today they rustled up a pan of delicious spaghetti. I hope they are enjoying themselves. I am. I do feel a bit torn between the school and the festival, and tonight I really wanted some time to myself, for you know what.......the arena. It was stunning, and I sat there in silence, just trying to take in what I was actually looking at and what had happened in this space. It took 30 seconds, I kid you not, before I had befriended the arena cat, a rather woebegone sad grey cat who dove into my coat and stayed there as I looked at everything. I can cope with the gladiatorial side of things, but the bullfighting is less easy, but that;s very hypocritical of me. There was a momentary twinge as I caught the excitement of what it must be like, but I got out of that. The costumes on display are stunning. I'm surprised they could move with all the decoration. I know certain bumps are essential in those costumes, but I would look terrible in them.
I do feel as if I am in Italy because of the arena, but then the bull fighting imagery everywhere suggests Spain, but the language is clearly french, and the abundance of palm trees just confuses everything. where am I?
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Re: March 2009

Postby Barry » Wed Mar 04, 2009 5:20 pm

Tuesday 2nd March 2009-03-03
Still haunted by being inside the arena, and by the cat, wondering what he gets to eat. A good hard session with the class today. Our movies were Schizwein, Friendly Fire and Lavatory Lovestory. We were walking the puppets, but without arms as arms really do complicate things, but the students were struggling with the idea of everything moving, well struggling with having to remember to move everything. In a walk everyone was forgetting to move either the body or one leg, or not noticing that the body has tilted back. Maybe this is where experience comes in, but I really do have to get them able to see how one frame relates to another. I was literally going through each frame with them, sometimes tracing the movement through space of an arm or a nose, and pointing out the erratic movement. But there are those who are really progressing and controlling their puppets. Again I have been demonstrating, and happily, inspite of having to churn it out with an audience, my animation has proved the point. I did ask that we have no lurkers today as at one moment we had half a dozen extra people watching and commenting….destroying any essential concentration. I felt a bit of a killjoy but we are there to work. Lunch today was lots of tasty rice and chocolate!
After the class I met up with Clare Kitson in the café high above the roman villa, and we caught up, swapping stories about our sometimes very surreal lives. Then later we went to see a video concert, which sort of filled me with dread, as I have been scarred by a live performer doing sound effects to a silent Snow White whilst his wife danced not very well in front of the screen, with a collection of silly hats. However this turned out to be a great evening. As Clare and I walked in I was touched by so many people calling out or pointing or waving. What a welcome. I can’t remember names at all but most of them seem to be called Isabella. And there was a three piece band, not exactly jazz, but tango and such, playing to the 1929 English epic Piccadilly. This must have been shocking at the time, with racial integration, murder, easy women, but what a great film. Certainly long but the inventive music helped. A very sophisticated film with a surprising amount of clever structure tricks and narratives twists, including flashbacks, and buses with the credits on. Lots of beautiful ideas. We had supper with the festival organisers afterwards and with the band…..Im still amazed that my small and aging body of work gets me into such situations. We walked home almost casually past the arena, and the statue of the tragic matador.
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Re: March 2009

Postby Barry » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:25 pm

4th March 2009-03-04
No teaching today but still on show for most of the day, and still overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness and their want to do things for me. I just don’t know that I can justify this at all. At supper tonight, seeing nearly all my work in a few days, I got a bit down, as it doesn’t seem to amount to much really. I don’t feel at all successful (well even here I am pondering how to get through the next few weeks), and yes in their day, the films were half decent, but there’s simply not enough. Where are the features, the series, the pop videos? There should be so much more.
But anyway this morning we screened Hamilton Mattress, two episodes of Rupert Bear, a bit of Pingu, and some Bob the Builder, all in French – which was a new experience for me. The voices for Hamilton were great, especially Beryl, and they had jazzed up the final song with some glorious singing, which made if far better. The projection wasn’t great, making Hamilton and Rupert look like animated Film Noir, but they still work. Hamilton has a good energy and some satisfying moments, but I still think the plot is a little confused. Still the audience enjoyed it very much. Another lunch up in the sky café, though the rain ruined the view. Then Clare did here talk about Channel Four animation……I was most impressed with the speed and confidence of her French. Again technology made her struggle a bit…….eight people huddled over a lap top, but she showed some good films. Then there was our panel discussion….something I’m never comfortable with, as everything I say is way too personal and opinionated. Animation may be healthy but my bank account is telling that it is not. That’s all I can judge by.
And another delicious meal in another lovely restaurant, run by the very charming Cyril. This was definitely my sort of food. Actually earlier I had had some real French fries that justified their name. How Macdonalds and so can even begin to call their’s French fries I don’t know.
Domenique and her team of wonderful ladies and gents have made this a very special week for me. and it really is a very unique honour. A very good day, and everyone has been so kind and warm, that I was feeling a little bit tearful tonight. All this and the arena……crikey being back in Manchester is going to be odd.
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Re: March 2009

Postby Barry » Thu Mar 05, 2009 10:02 pm

Thursday 5th March
The last day of teaching and I certainly wasn’t going to relax or let any end of term stuff creep in. Something of a hard task master I’ll agree. We started to play with eyes today and I asked specifically for a simple round head……of course other things started to creep in, and the point of the exercise was missed. There was a little rattiness in my voice, but eventually we were getting some great results, and they enjoyed that. Concentration is definitely not their strength, and it all got a bit social with girlfriends and various groupies appearing. But they are a great bunch and some of them, especially those taking notes, will go far. A few I fear won’t have the patience. But they were so kind, and took me out for lunch, and the restaurant owner gave me mine. Most kind. And through Dominque I am a member of the arts library. I really do think it has been a good week, and everyone has learnt a lot. I have found it somewhat hard to be enthusiastic and optimistic about something that’s not really healthy. That could be my career or the world of animation, I’m not sure. Or maybe both. The films today were Harvie Krumpet and Rick and Steve.
I’m ready to go home, mainly because so much is piling up and I am getting very agitated about all that.
But thanks Nimes for an exceptional week.
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Re: March 2009

Postby Barry » Sat Mar 07, 2009 1:45 pm

Friday 6th March 2009
well no teaching and no films today, but Domenique did take me sight seeing, and very glad i was too. We went to the Garden of the Fountains, a bit like Versailles without the Palace. Absolutely beautiful, structured but assymetrical. I would think when all the flowers are out it is amazing. We climbed the famous Roman tower, and again the view was astonishing as was the wind, which made me a little nervous for the flight. So sad farewells, to all the festival ladies, Domenique and the two Isabelles, and the last triple kiss. They do it so well - for the english that's at least two kisses too many. We can't do it without it looking too theatrical.
I sort of slept through the through plane trips and as soon as I got home I headed off for a halfhearted swim, a quick visit to the Garrick to see some of the Man for All seasons rehearsal, and then a midnight trip round Tesco's where I had a bit of a wobbly in that I would not be served by a machine and wanted a person - and I got one.
But oh I collapsed into my own bed exhausted, but having enjoyed the week. At this moment in time I don't have the energy to think about the next trip in just ten days. My voice is truly worn out., but that's ok as I have to catch up with the book and the play.
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Re: March 2009

Postby Peter » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:22 pm

Pics from Nimes can be found on the page HERE
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Re: March 2009

Postby Barry » Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:15 pm

March 13th 2009

It's already a week since I came back from France, and that seem ages ago. I've had some good feedback but haven't been able to catch up with all the thank you letters and follow up notes. A couple more days to go and I'm off to Italy. This wasn't a long enough break and I am panicking about so many things. I've tried to do as much of the book as I can, but keep getting sidetracked tracking down photos. I've done a good few sessions on the play, and am happy with act One......there are some nice resonances in it. I did a fun morning session at Salford University, with a group of attentive but surprisingly quiet students. Surprisingly quiet, or was it that the French students were more enthusiastic and vocal. I've done a huge amount of work on Man For All Seasons, and ma very excited about the set. It is an epic set I'm afraid, and probably I've been too indulgent, but whilst it is deceptively simple it will be very very striking. The colours we have used and delicious, and as always something out of scale, such as our twelve foot tudor rose, just gets us all giddy. A tough week for the Garrick, hosting not just plays but funeral dos as well. A lot of other writing for me as well with students and magazines and so on. All in all I'm exhausted, but a long way to go yet.
But hoorah the daffodils are coming out.
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Re: March 2009

Postby Peter » Sat Mar 21, 2009 11:42 pm

Barry is at the animation festival in Lucca, Italy. Some photos are on FLICKr and some videos of workshops and interviews on YouTube
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Re: March 2009

Postby Barry » Sun Mar 22, 2009 9:31 am

march 22nd 2009, Lucca

and yes what a week. Leaving behind quite a lot of nonsense at home, I left the house at 4.00 on tuesday, and via the very civilised gatwick, found myself in Pisa by lunchtime, in glorious sunshine. A beautiful drive through fields and mountains to Lucca, its red brick glowing in the sunshine, a mass of tiles with tall angular towers reaching out of it. The week has been certainly busy. A bevvy a beautiful Italian ladies herding us, the jury, round the town from one event to another, with a succession of ever ncreasingly long meals. I do struggle with two five course meals a day....that's a lot! But what a beautiful city. It has no roads as such and no designated pavements, just gaps between the buildings. There aren't many cars, but lots of bicycles and a few horse and traps. But the architecture of the public buildings is replete with clean white marble, and these towers. Of course puccini is everywhere, though it wasn't until the last evening that I managed to hear some in a gorgeous deconsecrated church. A bass and piano were fine, but the soprano did rather have to crank her voice up. But the experience was good, even if a lady answering here mobile and chatting loudly on it got me going.
I was most pleased with the workshop, as it was a new approach for me and worked surprisingly well, and the audience loved it. I was being a bit of a showman, which could have buggered up the animation but it was decent enough.
The jury are a very agreable bunch and we've had good conversations about life and art and stuff. Some of the films are as usual mere exercises but some are very thought provoking, and the audiences very appreciated and vocal and certainly do not hesitate in asking questions.
I'm still finding it very hard to justify all this, as my films do look like antiques these days, with the image so simple and raw. For some that's a good thing. But again the constant question of why am I not making any films now....do I not have any ideas? Ouch. And oh yes, the double negative is very much part of my vocabulary so both this week and in France two weeks ago I have had to try to eradicate that, as it doesn't work so well in translation.
I've managed to find some time away from the festival to go to the theatre, the glorious momix, and the puccini concert, and just simply wander round the town. i think a bicycle trip is in order soon.
But it has been an amazing and generous week - a week I would have enjoyed more if there was a new project to talk about. I'm never happier than when I am being creative, and when I'm not I'm a grumpy old cuss.
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Re: March 2009

Postby Barry » Sat Mar 28, 2009 11:11 pm

March 28th 2009

I last wrote whilst in Italy, in the sunshine, in the great company of fellow animators and fans of animation, in a gorgeous city, in the sunshine. This week couldn't have been more different.
On sunday evening I co-hosted the awards evening which was fun, in a rather surreal sort of way, and then there was yet another splendid meal in an amazing restaraunt next to the hotel. As I left, many of the gang were playing football in the deserted piazza. A quick pack, and then I was home on monday. Literally forty minutes after touching down I was somehow down at the garrick helping put up the set for Man for All seasons, and enjoying everyone else enjoying the peculiarity of this set, and how it just works. This was several mornigns and evenings, and in between I was trying to catch up with dozens of mails about various student projects, and various festivals wanting photos and such. Then there was struggling to find money to put in the bank account - struggling and failing. the contrast between Italy and the generosity and warmth, and the stark reality of simply not being able to pay the bills and no real substantial job prospects is rather messing with my head and causing unwelcome thoughts. I did a talk at a local college, and again after showing some masterpieces, there was sponataneous indifference. Manchester students eh! Silence is not golden. I had applied for a job back in early February, and the closing date for applications was a month ago. Nothing of course - is a month time enough to write a follow up mail, or is that it - silence. The panic is not just rising but overwhelming.
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