MAY 2009

MAY 2009

Postby Barry » Tue May 05, 2009 6:01 pm

May 5th 2009

Just packing to head off to meknes for a festival. I have to admit I have no idea what to expect, and at the moment my head is totally elsewhere, mainly in the book. This book has been so much work and so time consuming, and hpefully it is different enough from the first book. Certainly the photos are very different, but inevitably there are films and people that will reappear. I've just seen the cover and it does look splendid.

I'm on a rant now as a friend told me of a job advertised on an internet job site, so I joined and paid my fee, which I can ill afford to do, but then I need an access code, which i phoned for, and they haven't been able to sort it out for me, and that was five days ago. The job would have long since gone. So there's a novelty, an agency finding you jobs, but not letting you apply for them, even though you have paid. another well established company advertised some jobs officially back in february. I applied. After eight weeks still no notification of anything. I contact the head of the company who was horrified this had happend and promised to look into it - that was two weeks ago. Another person applied for an internship with the same company and is still waiting for something, anything. A large company with a film out who ignored my requests to work with them have also ignored many months of me trying to get stills from the film for the book. This malaise is simply unforgiveable. You go back and check the email address was right, and you don't want to hassle, but surely a quick thank you/the films been delayed/f*** off is not too much to ask. A little courtesy and respect please.

So at the moment, it's tough, and too peculiar to be heading off to Morocco. I would have liked to have gone to have seen Coraline over the weekend but to be fair to the film and those who worked on it, I probably can't see it for a few weeks. When i'm calmer I shall enjoy it so much better. It does look staggering.

But everyone is having a tough time, and it certainly going to get worse.
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Re: MAY 2009

Postby Barry » Tue May 05, 2009 6:05 pm

and if you get the photo of Sullivan singing posted above, have a look at it very carefully for something quite spooky that i had not noticed before..............
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Re: MAY 2009

Postby Barry » Wed May 13, 2009 9:46 pm

Well here’s as honest as it gets.

I am in a Riad in Meknes, and my jaw has hit the floor, as it is a staggeringly beautiful and higgledy piggledy building, with mosaic heaped on mosaic and stunning colour schemes –everything one thinks about Moroccon style is here in spades. All this and tortoises and chameleon. Above the Riad, swallows and house martins the size of eagles animate the sky, competing with huge and elegant storks, who seem to be able to build their nests on anything, even satellite dishes – and that’s one thing Meknes has in abundance. Above the centuries old buildings, it looks like a field of white sunflowers all turned towards the sun..

The only odd note is that I am the only one staying here from the festival- everyone else is in a big corporate but still amazing hotel. I am very lucky indeed. Every where I look is the design I had wanted for Aladdin had things been so very different – every arch and tile pattern is what I was after, but didn’t quite deliver. Mind a 50foor wide stage is just the wrong proportion for the classic distinct Moroccan arches.

I’m not quite sure why I am separate from the others, and I’d be kidding myself about any VIP nonsense as there are bigger fish here – oh yes. And being in the week that I can add Coraline to the list of films that I didn’t get to work on, and boy that list is getting painfully long, I see myself as very much an under achiever……inspite of being in this amazing city as uncomfortably the ‘star’ guest of a festival about British Animation. I am not ungrateful at all, but my list of achievements is so much slighter than those who have really pushed the boundaries of animation in recent features. They are the ones who should be being celebrated. Eight hours of the Rupert Bear series is an achievement of sorts but is quite negligible next to forwarding the art as these features have, and sad to say, I would still kill to have a legitimate credit on a feature. Even more frustrating is is I do know just how much I could have contributed to those features given the chance. Anyway I am here at the festival and it is splendid, and I am overwhelmed, as I tend to be a lot these days, by people’s kindness and generosity. To be sat in a beautiful garden in Morocco chatting to the glamorous Directorice of the French Institute and entertaining the British Ambassador is no small honour. So thank you to so many. I just don’t want them to be disappointed when they realise I’m probably not quite what they think I am.
.
Getting here was another matter. A long process made longer by someone losing their luggage and a group of us animators sat on the airport tarmac under some palm trees and a sign evocatively saying Casablanca, and waiting for a couple of hours. We didn’t know we had a four hour journey ahead of us through the night. I was questioning too many things at that moment and none of us were best pleased at being show a reservoir at 3.00 in the morning, however splendid a reservoir it might well have been.

Still the Riad made up for it, and breakfast was delicious and the said chameleon was good curious company. I wonder if it moves in anything other than slow motion.

The festival is being organised through the French Institute, who have amazing grounds and an endless series of delicious meals – so much fruit and deserts, and the oranges truly as the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. Sprinkled here with a bit of icing sugar and cinnamon and served cold, well it doesn’t get better I’m afraid. Especially as they were just picked. I was a little more hesitant of sampling all the meats though. Various receptions and so much generosity. Good to catch up with familiar faces and old friends. Have struck up with two irish guys who made a feature about Brendan and the secret of the Kells and that was an amazing film – an almost hysterical audience of excitable kids. As soon as a few notes of music are heard then the whole auditorium was stamping and cheering. This would happen several times through Hamilton as well. The artwork for the Kells was ravishing, though I confess the late night and heat did take its toll. The other film I enjoyed enormously, and surprisingly, was The Tale of Desperaux – I think I was expecting something smug and wisecracking, and got something extremely tender, almost melancholy and utterly beautiful and charming, with great art direction and acting, and with camera work that let the characters tell the story and without inducing nausea. It also featured the most mournful pair of eyes I have ever seen in any film. Beautiful. I can’t say that about some of the CG films I saw – some were so realistic and weightless and over animated and over designed. Hideous.

The audience reception to my various screenings were fantastic, but I was less enthusiastic about the quality of the projection. I’ve seen the films murdered in several projections recently and fear I may have been over hasty with the various buttons when we restored them last year, but having watched another screening of other films, they too suffered burnt out faces, bleeding red and a saturation of yellow. I don’t know how this happens as some projections are fantastic and crystal clear. However, I squirmed all the way through the films, unable to look at anything, and have declared a moratorium on them. Definitely time to move on, and certainly a few contacts here look hopeful, even if that feature is still evading me. It was interesting and galling to see the director of Desperaux made the very natural progress from short film to feature that has eluded me.

We couldn’t of course show Achilles, but just wandering round any of the warren of lanes and squares, there were Achilles and Patroclus made flesh and just as tender and almost as explicit. An interesting contradiction. A rose by any other name……..

The heat is bearable but hot and bright and yes a hat was needed for more garden receptions, and any sense of style or anything went out of the window. I was screaming out for shorts, but decorum won there.

The colours keep exciting me here, either in the dazzling fabrics and cottons in small shops, or the colours and textures of the plasters of the ramshackle houses. The detail everywhere is exquisite and breathtaking. And the spices and bowls of fruits – everything just beautiful. I’m not really a spice person and the constant scent in the air is quite disturbing, but all part of being here. I did have a fit of the sneezes at one point, and yes most of us did get the runs at one point, all on the same day, so we’d all eaten something new in common.

An afternoon trip saw Tomm and Paul and I taken out to Volubilis but a famous Moroccan actor, Ahmed. And what an afternoon that was; anecdotes filling the air thicker than the spices, but oh the Roman site was breathtaking. Yes the Romans were here too, and built a staggering town in a prime location, but I ‘m still not quite sure why. But I’m not sure that Ahmed’s imaginings of every room with a mosaic being a brothel for Caesar quite bears scrutiny. He certainly painted some colourful imagery. And once more the storks were here, delicately balanced on top of the standing columns. A beautiful site and a beautiful sight. We called in on a mountain town on the way home, and this was the only time I felt a little uncomfortable as I was so obviously an intruder, an outsider. Still as we had yet more mint tea (or liquid spearmint chewing gum) we were waved at a lot – actually that is unfair to say I felt uncomfortable as not once was there any hassling or pressure or staring. That’s probably my own naivety.

The countryside is perhaps not what we expected either. Surprisingly lush and rolling hills. Palm and olive trees, and orange groves, and Cyprus trees, and lots of donkeys. I was constantly put in mind of GKChesterton’s donkey – they are very very sad creatures here, but I’m hoping they had their ‘one far fierce hour and sweet’. I believe there is a scheme to turn the fortunes round for the donkeys, to educate farmers that a healthy donkey is a productive donkey. My heart did go out to them, laden with burden from logs, through the odd granny, to even a fridge. But the odd granny was on her mobile of course.

One particular screening of Hamilton was in a very basic hall, with a hole knocked through the wall for the projector. Kids who couldn’t afford to come to regular screenings came here, and this is where everything became so real. They were out for a good time and they had it. All holding hands and screaming at everything, hugging Shannon and I, loving any music, and just being such fun and warm. Some were shy and some were wonderfully exuberant. This is what is about. Bad sound made a mockery of the French voices, but the characters still came across and the kids were having such fun. I’d loved to have turned this into something practical and longer lasting for them, letting them harness all that energy into something creative. Such enthusiasm we sometimes ignore at our peril. It doesn’t matter if we balk at something out of focus or less than perfect. The spirit is still there.

Somehow in our many exploits we also ended up with a charming Franciscan Brother who showed us his school room and his prayer room and his sleeping quarters, and sure enough as he did that the call to prayer was echoing round the town as it did many times a day.

I may have been falling to pieces inside, watching either a career petering out or perhaps spluttering into life, but whatever, the sheer fact of talking and sharing stuff, and it could have been animation or anything, has done some good I know. A workshop Shannon and I did had the students hungry f or more, and their enthusiasm left me feeling rather humble actually. Darn it, we can get blasé and forget what is important.

The journey home was just as long but at least in sunlight. The trip to Casablanca had much to look at, and at one point the driver got excited at an outdoor stage being built. He suddenly shouted Kylie, and Stevie Wonder, who are soon to be appearing in Rabat. We passed various military and royal establishments with the guards is such immaculate uniforms even in the heat.

Twenty minutes after take off, I looked casually out of the window and there was Tangiers and Gibraltar, the Mediterranean and the atlantic all in one space – it’s not often you see two continents and two oceans out of one window.
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Re: MAY 2009

Postby Barry » Sat May 16, 2009 11:28 am

may 16th 2009

From Morocco to Newport via pleading with the bank manager all within a few days is quite somethign. I'm still bearing the moquito scars of Morocco and some great memories. Also making the most of some productive and friendly contacts. The time with the bank manager less enjoyable, but the time with the newport students was great fun. Chris Hopewell and I did a double act about musical story telling which was rather good as we are so different in approach. In the afternoon we had some proactical time but not enough really to be totally constructive.
But a good week in all, and an even busier one next week, but financially just not busy enough.
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Re: MAY 2009

Postby Barry » Fri May 22, 2009 9:58 pm

May 22nd 2009

Another week of a lot of travelling and living out of a suitcase, but a sort of productive week. I've certainly done my fair share of workshops around the place; since Christmas it's been Lucca, Nimes, Paris, Salford, Manchester, Beaconsfield, Farnham, Newport, Newcastle, Edinburgh, and with Turin, Brighton and beaconsfield again to come. Do I get any brownie points. How many animators have I trained. Anyway the two days in National Film school were great fun, with some very enthusiastic students, and wonderful progress in just two days. Today I was up in Newcastle mentoring the student who is doing a short Channel Four Film. A great looking set though it has caused some practicality issues about access. I'm going to watch the filming of this with interest. My good day out was tempered by losing my wallet on a smelly cramped crowded train.

However I did read a book on the train that had me jumping up and down with excitment. It is screaming out to be filmed, to be staged, and i am surprised it's nt been made already. The images just flowed off the page. I won't mention it just yet as an actor friend and i are pursuing the rights.

Was amused to see a sum land in my bank account with a resounding thud. the first payment recieved for a while though there is much due. This one had taken seven months to go through the red tape and into my account. Seven months is just ridiculous. I had actually forgotten about it.

I'm reading various scripts, and oh wouldnit it be ncie to recieve a fiver for ever script I am asked to read and give advice on. However with Night at the Museum 2 opening in cinemas today I was amused to read the plot and how it echoed, even down to some extraordinary quirky plot twists, a film I was touting around the studios about five years ago. Heaven forfend that i might suggest anything by that, but one twist made me wonder. To be fair though, a place where things come to life away from the public is a standard fantasy narrative, but i had written a very detailed treatment on this theme. I guess that is my film dead in the water for good now. Mind you, most animation movies are either talking animals or alternate secret worlds. Maybe there's room for one more.

Truly exhausted after a lot of travelling this week.
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Re: MAY 2009

Postby Barry » Wed May 27, 2009 10:19 pm

May 27th 2009

Just back from another 400 mile round trip, and I drove from the National Film School in Beaconsfield to home in two hours thirty five minutes, which really just does not seem right. The toll road makes a difference, but I think the secret was a combination of two CD's - the Chieftains at their wildest, and Rossini, who is hardly slow. I screamed along singing to some stunning tunes!

And what a few days. Newcastle and Beaconsfield last week, and beaconsfield again this week, workign with the same students, and you know what, I had a great time, and i think they did. The work they were producing today was tremendous. I'd foolishly said I'd give a prize to be the best scene today and I did but that meant not giving a prize to seven others which is probably a bit mean. But some of the animation really worked, and even the more fidgety unfocussed stuff will get there. this is all about learning, and they are certainly doing that. They common faults were not giving quite enough frames to let the action read as clearly as it might, and still doing some very half hearted empty gestures. But they all worked so hard, and were flagging by mid afternoon. I enjoyed watching some inventive and beautiful pixcellation in the main studio. I like being a part of the film school - there is a buzz sometimes. Most rewarding. And stayign in the functional and very comfortable hotel was perfect. I'm not good having to make an effort off duty.

And there was a familial act of generosity that touched me, and has gone some way to saving my bacon a bit. As has a chance to be genuinely theatrically creative, and get paid for it this time. This project feels very very good. And i'm flattered.

So spirits are lifted today.
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