JULY 2010

JULY 2010

Postby Barry » Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:43 pm

July 2nd 2010 - France

And what a huge this week this has been. The whole range of emotions and I have asked of myself some very deep questions. I have gone from the sheer blissful joy of seeing a character move by itself to the disappointment of it looking like a puppet being animated - and then back again. I have asked whether I can actually animate and then answered yes, maybe. I have to say it has been a very intense week and I can feel that my faculties are not what they were. I do find it harder, in this low light, to actually focus on a puppet's face two inches from mine, and perhaps I find it harder to remember everything - well maybe not harder, as that sounds as if I can't do it, but it does take more effort.
i think the film is going well, and there are some lovely moments interesting movement, but i have to make sure it's not just a lot of flapping and graceful arm movements. Is there story coming across yet? Is the motivation clear. I'm being very hard on myself at the moment. I think it will look good, but then on odd occasions I stand back, and mentally switch on all the harsh lights and utter ' what the f***!', and see it exposed as just a puppet sat on a piece of black velvet fannying around. But then someone walks in and squeal with pleasure at what we have done. It is harder to be objective, or maybe these days, in general not ths film, there are som many opinions that I have so much self doubt. Oh the joy of being an artist.
But an extraordinary review for my book, by a very high profile director, bolstered my confidence but then made me think that I can only talk about animation and then not do it. actually that is nonsense - I think I'm probably struggling with one of the most fundamental joys or frustrations of animation, and that is it imprecision. You don't get what is in your head, but that does not make it any lesser - just different. You have to go with it. This is frustrating with this film as there are expectations and various technical requirements and the music. Sometimes the fancy of the puppet gets a bit too much. I sound if I am on a downer - I am not. The film is looking good. It's just the usual emotions connected with a production that i just haven't had for a few years. Welcome to animation Barry.
I've also been tormented, and that is not too strong a word, about not being at Ray Harryhausen's celelbrations back in London. There is no indiference or arrogance there but the sheer fact of, and how hard to admit this, not being able to afford the fare. To have been in the company of all those guys would have been extraordinary, and to say very publocially thanks to Ray would have been such an honour. But the cruel mathematics of a bank balance and the vagaries of travelling from a remote town made it impossible. Darn.
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Re: JULY 2010

Postby Barry » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:38 pm

July 9th 2010 Turin.

The week began in France with my birthday and without doubt the most low key birthday ever. Miles away from friends and family, and with the crew of the film dispersed, save for a pleasant lunch with Justin in the town square. The isolation was compounded by a spectacular storm taking out the internet at Chateau renault.....very quiet. When eventually I got back on there was a flood of kind messages on facebook - thank you. Actually I did have two trips to the Lido and ended up chatting away, but a rather odd birthday, with the evening spent with my nose in the bar sheets.

Come mOnday and I embarked on an epic, rather unecessarily epic train journey to Torino. Standing at the deserted train station in Chateau Renault did echo the scene with the crop plane and Cary Grant in North by Northwest. A group of three lady tourists arrived and we chatted, and then were thrown on a bus with no explanation as to why the train had not appeared. But a pleasant journey through the open countryside. Tours led me to Paris and the chic chaos that I could sort of live without. a lengthy wait there and then the train down to Torino - sprawling Paris gave way to open countryside and field upon field of sunflowers - dazzling in their yellowness. A few hills appeared, and then the french houses started developing the distinct roofs, telling me I was now in Switzerland. Well the mountains and blues lakes were a bit of a give away. And then the mountains got bigger, even with glimpses of snow, though most of the rivers seemed pretty dry. I loved seeing odd buildings, probably monasteries or rich hideaways perched ridiculously on some mountain crag. And then Torino, twelve hours after leaving home.

I stepped out into a familiar hot city, but was lost. I've never arrived by train before and couldn't see the Mole. Eventually I got to the same hotel as last year, and the same room. I crashed asleep pretty easily after doing a bit of homework for the week ahead, and wondering exactly where my feathered friend was. He was certainly heading back to manchester, taking advantage of the hiatus to have a few adjustsments. Even so I couldn't help thinking of him.

And so to the school and the course. A great set of students, with the usual mix of leaders, shy but talented, class clown, awkward, and so on.....but all ready to work hard in this heat. I did the usual exercises but with some variations and structuring around this particular group. Only four cameras and sixteen students is always going to be tough, and yes there was a sense of disappointment that they didn't have fully articulated puppets, only the usual purves bits of paper, but by the end of the week those curled up pieces of paper were giving the illusion of some beautiful movement. I can hear myself pontificating wildly, dropping pearls of wisdom here there and everywhere, but now there's a new voice saying 'are you doing that on yoru film?' Hopefully as best I can with this schedule. I talked about the film and the story got me excited so I must not lose that. Again I showed a lot fo my favourite obsessions - particularly the horses and dancing penguins, and i hope i am not guilty of showing them and trying to find something relevent. They are so relevent. But it was a good week. In the evenings I did collapse a bit, enjoying copious quantities of amerana cherry ice cream and as much liquid as I could consume, though I did have a splendid evening with Chiara and Alfio and his family out in their garden, under the stars, talkign about all manner of stuff. Including ice cream.

Much else has been going on with texts about Parma, the winged man, other projects, some great, and I mean truly great reviews and feedback for the book. I sold six here this week.I know I have had a good week and have hopefully inspired a few people and made them understand this odd craft, but now I have to go back to france and put all this into practice, concentrating like anything, and get this film right, as it could be darn good. if I grumble during the next few months i will remind myself of the guys going round Piazza Vittorio picking up the hideous mobile plastic urinals and emptying them. No thanks!

But oh it's hot!
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Re: JULY 2010

Postby Barry » Sat Jul 17, 2010 12:57 pm

July 17th 2010

A full week back in France and I think a minute shot on the film. We had a couple of enjoyable July 14th firework diversions, one in Chateau Renault and one in the stunning town of amboise, which certainly trades on the fact, and an impressive fact, that Leonardo died there, and finished the Mona lisa there. The whole crew, and Barry F from england who had called in, went out for a great meal under the shadow of the Chateau. A most enjoyable evening, but I'm just hesitant to do many of these as I simply can't get my homework down. I'm doing two jobs, of director and animator, but doing them at the same time, and each is pretty time consuming. However we have done some good footage this week with some pretty complicated shots. i think any stop motion animator will tell you how hard it is to get a figure up on his feet from lying down, let alone one with huge wings out behind. I did struggle with this one but it worked. As did, most surprisingly, a long sustained running shot where the character raced across the set and took flight - he looks so light on his feet.

We've had a few visitors and an unfair amount of technical problems, which has probably seen me a little tetchy, as just the effort involved of trying to keep it all in my head is enormous, and some distractions can lose all that. I enjoy having visitors as it is good to guage their initial reactions, but I'm not good at entertaining them at the moment.

The story of the film has now kicked in and seems to be working, with lots of quirky detail. All this balletic and flapping around will be nciely contrasted with what is about to happen. Of the dilemma between silicon and latex, I am still not convinced silicon is the answer. I seem to be fighting it a lot of the time, and it is heavy, and really doesn't like subtle movements. It has too much memory, and especially where there is a bulk of it. seriously consider the pros and cons.

I've not had much time to do anything else, and home and the people around seem a long way away, but the financial dilemmas very present.
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Re: JULY 2010

Postby Barry » Sat Jul 24, 2010 12:08 pm

July 24th 2010

Inspite of a love hate relationship with technology this week it has been quite a week, with some good footage shot. One shot where our chappie (now called Cliff...with his three shadows....makes sense really) was flying and his beautiful shapes have become abstracted. Absoltuely gorgeous, and technology has reduced him in frame giving him further to travel than we could on set, and it is an exquisite shot. On other occasions technology did indeed inform against us. When this was written this film was about film making int he raw with absolutely nothing but a puppet and a light. It's still that, but I was probably naive is assuming that even that rawness needed a lot fo support.

We are over three minutes now and the film is racing along. It's good to shoot in sequence as i can adjust and develop with it. And this week I have to make a decision whether to destroy the wings, and I guess I do have to, as the only reason i was hesitating is that they are so stunningly beautiful and it would be could to keep them for exhibition purposes or whatever, but that would rather make nonsense of the plot. So Cliff will be plucked this week!

This film really is turning into a film about my love story with wings - no, more than that it is an obsession. I've tried to shoot these wings from every angle and have them behave in different ways, but all through my life it has all been about wings. I should check my back to see if there are any vestigal bones or atrophied feathers lurking. My first ever performance of any sort was as a raven in the Noye story at kindergarten. But in everything, there are wings, especially people with wings. The only major piece that doesn't have it is Achilles, but then the characters are transformed into bulls and horses at one point. even Rupert had several episodes about the characters play acting as birds. I wonder what this is all about; flying certainly, transformation maybe. Escape. Who knows but it is my drivign image.

It's been a hard week on the film but made easy buy living next door to the studio, having good lunches out in the garden, and the support of a great team who are enjoying this production. We are all looking to this week when Cliff is joined by the shadows......and it won't be nice!
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Re: JULY 2010

Postby Barry » Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:56 pm

July 31st 2010

Just a quick entry before July gives way to August...oh actually it has already. As I sit here I am thinking again that I have missed an extraordinary evening in London.....I am still racked with so many emotions about missing the Ray Harryhausen evening (especially with the personal connection) but tonight I would have liked to have been at the Royal Albert Hall for Sondheim's 80th birthday tribute Prom. I have no direct connection to Sondheim (though he did write me a gloriously pleasant letter after seeing some fo my films) but my chum David was conducting, and what an event. But i missed it....thank goodness for iplayer, even in France.

But what a week on the film. I was nearly a bit of a diva when confronted with some opinions and criticisms, but sort of restrained myself a bit. But actually the sheer mental and physical demands of this week have taken their toll on me and I am shattered. I would not have it any other way actually, and i do need a schedule. I could not be one of these animators who spends years shooting. Maybe if I slowed down I wouldn't have the skill to finesse things. Who knows. But the man Cliff now has company with his shadows and it is lookign splendid. But oh crikey, it's not easy.

And seemingly a murder in the town........
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