OCTOBER 2011

OCTOBER 2011

Postby Barry » Sat Oct 01, 2011 8:10 pm

October 1st 2011

Sadly the only remarkable thing about this week has been the weather, and it certainly has been remarkable. Yes it's gloriously sunny, but it just seems different. Under normal circumstances, to have such heat, the sun would be higher in the sky and setting in a different place - and the days would not be so short, nor would there be so many leaves on the floor. It's very disconcerting but most pleasant, and being out of work I was able to take advantage of the sun.

I did a good show at the Garrick, with a collection of short films. A most enjoyable evening, and happily presented with a bit of flair and staging. We had a packed crowd which was good.

But little else.......
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Dr P's Tour de france

Postby Barry » Sun Oct 16, 2011 8:14 pm

Indeed, days 1-3 of a tour of france. 15th -17th October

Not a great week leading up to this, with more job rejections, and one more visit to Sister act which brightened up a wet monday.
But early, and I mean early, I left home and was in Paris by 9.00, a bit shell shocked actually. I was met by Juliette who whisked me to her office, and then put my on the TGV down to Bordeaux.The weather has really knocked nature for six. Should there be fields of rapeseed out at this time of year, and still all the leaves on the trees, and dazzling warm blue skies? Anyway I was met in Bordeaux three and a bit hours later by Pierre (who I last saw in Argentina) and Fabrice, and with great kindness I was taken to La Grande theatre, their opera house. A stunningly classical clean building dominating a public square (free of cars thanks to some very chic trams). Une dame charmant, Sofia, took us round the building, under it, on top of it, down all manner of corridors, on stage, under the stage where all the amazing stage machinery is (though sadly not used), in the wardrobe, in the breathtaking sponsors room - oh joy. I do love a nice theatre and this was exceptional and all rather intimate. I was then overcome with depression with my usual, why the hell can't I work in theatre mood.
On the tram along the river, passing a huge fairground in one part, and the old town in another (both of equal interest), and out to a suburb, first for a meal at a restaurant called Fellini's, though I fear the customers might have assumed Roma was the name of a pizza and 81/2 was the size of a pizza. We seemed to be int he middle of a very low key estate, and then there was this rther special cinema that only programmes animation or special effect movies. coming soon was Metropolis - I'd like to have seen this on the big screen. We had a small audience, as it really was pretty ut of the way, but heavens they were appreciative. There was some good publicity material around the foyer, but still just a small audience. This would be a familiar sight. But the questions afterwards, and the responses, and ooohs and aaahs as they held Tchaikovsky in their hands was very gratifying. I got chatting to a great CG animator, Mattheiu, who was charmingly awe struck. Back to the hotel at way after midnight. A long day and with me doign over three hours on stage. Shattered.

Day 2 and I was back on the TGV to Paris, and then out the other side to Rennes. Very different architecture and landscape but beautiful. A lot of travelling so I was glad to be met by Gael in Rennes. Straight to the hotel and then in the car off to another small suburb called Bruz, and another rather lovely theatre cum cinema. The staff of ladies laid out a cloth and we had a good meal in the foyer. Another small audience but again they were so enthusiastic. I know my name means nothing but everyone was blaming the weather and the rugby. back to the hotel and then was rather panic struck by the amount of emails needing answering in only 36 hours of being offline.

Day 3 and an early screening with a small audience, just reaching double figures, but crikey they were there with every frame. As I have been chatting I seem to be getting more and more honest, but then look at the films. We had lunch in a lovely square in the sunshine. Like minded company and good food.....a good way to spend a sunday morning. Gael walked me back to the hotel but we got distracted by an astonishing carousel in a square. All the artwork and carriages had been inspired by Jules verne, and every one was different, and the movement of the carriages totally unique. A lovely rocket with a child in actually rose way up and out of the canopy. A steamer on a painted sea let out vast amounts of steam. A pteradactyl had huge flapping wings, Best of all was an enormous squid with very floppy tentacles squirming every where. On the painted panels of the centre were animated painting and automata. Stunning detail, and the crowd just stood and gaped. The joy of seeing things come to life has been the them for the weekend.

But as I sit in the hotel, still with three days to go, I have slumped enormously. I shouldn't but I have. Seeing the films all together, and so many times is hard. They are fine films, and it's not that the themes are heavy and draining, it's just that seeing them on the big screen does expose the lack of finesse that budget and time and schedules would fix. Once again I probably realise that my ambition is maybe great than my ability, or is unachievable with these budgetary constraints. On the plus side, what my teams have achieved with such budgetary restraints is amazing, but I would just like the ability to shoot something again that was slightly out of focus, or wher I didn't get the character in the lighting, or i bumped the camera, or an arm movement was not as graceful as I had hoped, or having shot a scene that maybe worked but actually inspired me to a better piece of business, or to explore a design issue further with more variants - it simply can't happen at this speed, a speed dictated by budgets. But crikey what films. taken all together does make for a dramatic evening, and I wonder if I have just made variations of the same film - though I'm not sure that's a complaint. There is a lot of torment, there is a lot of artifice, there is a lot of music, there is a lot of flesh, and above all there are a lot of wings....every darn film has wings, and this has provoked some pretty deep chat this weekend, dear doctor. I saw Plume for the first time on film, and it does make a difference, especially in letterbox. It's a mighty film and pleasingly uncomfortable to watch. I would still change things, and there is a piece of business that I wish I had included, but it is one hell of a journey. All the films, but especially this feel as if they are shot in real time, which i have to be smug, is a hard thing to achieve in animation. Some of the fast action, being so exposed with a white figure against black, does strobe a bit, and a double frame has crept in which annoys me, and some of the focus ( my fault entirely through not being precise enoguh with the movement) is a little suspect, but it's one dark ride. It really does take the audience down and then releases them. Tchaikovsky is a mellow melancholy moment of moving calm after this - though three audiences all raving about how expressive tchaikovsky was, but one lady said she thought there was no feeling at all in him. Ah well. All the films do work as a programme, so it will feel a bit aneamic next sunday when tchaikovsky is shown alone at the London film festival.

But oh the themes. Yes each film starts with a birth of some sort, either a breath or an illumination. Yes I give breath to the puppet - it's what we do as puppeteers, but I'm not sure there is a puppeteer who so regularly violates the bodies of his puppets, and often takes that life away. For whatever themes there are about struggingly artists and the creative process, these films are about giving puppets bodily functions. There's pain, grief, tears, blood, spitting, torture, fatigue, breakdowns, sex, dribbling, and everything else short of farting. That the puppets can carry this off is somethign to be proud of, but I think I am down tonight because seeing them all together, maybe I should cut according to my cloth. Maybe I have to lower my expectations as perhaps I feel I am not achieving the complexity or richness I am after. I can't, but then maybe I shouldn't not keep trying to raise the bar. Admittadly, they may be short films but they are not small films, and do seem to move people. Screen Play has a huge following even now, almost twenty years on. And good old Shakey is still loved, and Rigoletto astonishes, and Achilles shocks and strikes a chord. I haven't been showing Gilbert and Sullivan, mainly for time as i have been talking a lot, but also because it is just so english, not that that is a bad thing.

But oh the torment. On screen and off.
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Tour days 4-6

Postby Barry » Thu Oct 20, 2011 4:27 pm

October 17th - 19th 2011

Well I have made it home, with the last few days being a real blur of people and places. It was a pretty productive trip but I am exhausted.

Day 4
This day was mainly about a trip to the JPL studios on the outside of Rennes. Driving up was like driving into a contempory gangster movie. We arrived at a bleak, very bleak industrial location with seemingly abandoned wharehouses. A couple of cars hinted at life, but inside one of these wharehouses was a wonderful and creative animation studio, and a great bunch of artists. Very exciting, and their work made me reevaluate my own rather literal work - mind you, give me the money and times I will make films in all manner of styles and techniques. But we had a good chat and who knows what may grow from a seed that was planted today.
After this good afternoon Gael drove me up to Dinard. It wasn't quite as close as I thought, but it was good driving through the countryside, passing such places as Mon St Micheal and Bayeaux. I wanted to go an investigate but we raced on to get to the beach whilst the sun was still up - and we made it just in time to see the colourful sun sink slowly beyond the watery horizon. my family came to Dinard when I was young and I was hoping to remember it - sadly I didn't. There is a film festival here, with an award in honour of Hitchcock. A statue of him with birds perched on his shoulder lurks on the plage. I was thrilled to see this. We met up with Vincent and demolished way too many crepes and galettes.....we still good have eaten more.
Back to Rennes after this, glowing from a pleasant evening in an out of season resort.
Day 5
An early start and off to a school in Bruz outside of Rennes. A room full of pupils, and enthusiastic students who were studying film. I thought to show and deconstruct Plume, but in a room that was not really very dark, Plume did not look at its best. At some points we were looking at a blank screen. However I chatted away and there seemed to be lots of smiles. And so that was Rennes. I left Gael and Julien drove me off - where to this time? Oh yes, it was Caen, but I didn't really get to look round this very beautiful city. Actually was it today that we went past Bayeaux and Mont St Micheal? I think it might have been.
We had a meal at the Cafe des Images with various staff led by Jean Christophe. It was a rather amazing venue - a mad design, and a rather uncomfortable acoustic where the slightest sound resonated in my rib cage and sounds came from unexpected places. Designed by an over enthusiastic architect rather than a cinema designer. Still the films went down well, and we also had a screening a films from the last year and my favourite film, Overtime. i fear I was flagging a bit by this time.....well it was past midnight. Thakfully the very old hotel offered a splendid huge bed.
Day 6
Back on the train to Paris with Juliette with much talk about AFCA who have organised this trip and do so much to promote animation and animators. Lunch in a truly Parisienne restaurant (mad, fast and chic), and then a taxi to the airport and finally home, tired but satisfied. Too many mails and letters got me a bit agitated, and I can't believe how much I have crammed into the last week, or how much talkign I have done. A day of silence tomorrow I hope, and a chance to catch up at my own speed.
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Re: OCTOBER 2011

Postby Barry » Sun Oct 30, 2011 10:04 pm

October 29th 2011

Exhaustion has got the better of me tonight so this week's entry will be brief, but what a week. I unpacked from France and then threw clean clothes back into the case and was off again - down to London initially. The trip was made easier by a new sat nav, though I seem to have got my way round London quite easily for many years without one. However it did make the rest of the week easier. Anyway I was in London, at the BFI for the animation programme that included Tchaikovsky. I was surrounded by good friends - a conductor, a composer, an actor and an armani model - good company indeed. My chum David asked if I was nervous - actually I never thought about that. It was the last film of a rathe rmixed programme, though two films (Slow Eric and Luminaris) really lit up the screen. Tchaikovsky went down very well. I think my short introduction was a bit limp, but the film seemed to have been enjoyed. My group was ushered into a private library/VIP room, surely by accident, and i did not get to chat to the other animators. My great to catch up with my glamorous friends, all with very tangible talents. I'm still nto sure what mine is - that was a thought that occupied my lonely journey down to Basingstoke and the Travelodge where I stayed the night.
Next day and I completed the journey to Bournemouth and enjoyed walking along the very wild windy beach. I did a three day workshop at the arts University, with a great bunch of students. Still using the cut-out characters, w egot some good results. Of course I would love puppets, but I think in these instances this would over complicate things. Some great work, and I did a screening of the two films that were enormously well recieved. A packed audience and some very moving comments from a few students who were having doubts about their course. Apparently these films have excited them again.
Thursday I raced up from Bournemouth to stay overnight in dark wet Wolverhampton (a word that the sat nav lady can't quite say), ready for a panel discussion at Flip on Friday. We were talking about how to do a good showreel, but I'm not sure we were as lively as we could have been. At some parts if the conversation had been quieter or more slower we would have been going backwards. Everything can benefit from a bit of presentation, and I tried to chivvy things along a bit - no doubt that will be interpreted as ego. Not at all.
Back home late on friday, shattered, and just a few days at home before it happens all again. But too many bills and real life chores brought me down to earth with a horrible bump.
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