2012

2012

Postby Barry » Sun Jan 08, 2012 12:40 am

January 8th 2012

And a happy new year guys. It's going to be a busy one, and has been so far. With all the work on the series, I apologise to all the students and such that it is taking longer for me to look at your work and get back to you. I will try but I am snowed under with work and don't have much spare time at the moment (well doing a play every evening does not really help). But I will endeavour to watch and read everything that is sent to me, and i'm sorry if your mail gets lost under a flurry of other mails. I will try to keep up.

Yes it's been a busy start, and at the moment I have twelve episodes in my head, which is not a small amount. I'm geographically removed from the studio at present so am working in a bit of a vacuum, and keep forgetting what the sets look like and what the geography is. It will be fine when we are up and running. All very exciting though. Sadly I am having to turn down festivals and talks and things. Mind you I did a lot of all that last year so I don't think I'll be missed if I disappear from the scene for a while.

In a bookshop today I saw a new book on Animation where Screen Play was called a minor classic. I can't work out if that is a compliment or not.

Hope all is well with you.
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Re: 2012

Postby Barry » Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:23 pm

January 14th 2012

Well I can't complain that I am not being busy and creative and productive. The series has been busy for me, with me all over the place. Twelve episodes in my head is quite a lot, but it's keeping me on my toes, and my brain active, and we are getting somewhere. Lots of physical things to look at which is exciting.

The play is coming along too; it's a hard one as it has to race along at such speed, to be exciting for a start, but if we slowed down and gave the audience time to think they'd see the holes in the complicated plot. I think there will be some striking images, and hopeully the set, if we finish painting it, will look rather amazing. The cast are pulling it all together at last. We lost a major figure at the Garrick this week, and once again, the theatre rallies round.

And I am trying to find space to work on the next film, even though that might be a good few months away.

Was disapointed this week to see the Rob Marshall is going to direct Sondheim's Into the woods. If there was one project I secretly hoped to do on film, it was that. I did read a script about ten years, based on the musical, but crikey what a mess that was, totally missing the point of the musical. I found an innovative way to make it work on film, being true to fairy tales, and being true to Sondheim, but darn someone has got there before me - as has happened so many times before. Drat, and double drat.

I've just watched an appropriate tribute to Ken Russell who died a few months ago. Someone who I admired more than any, and probably I would say that The Boyfriend is my most favourite and sublime film, but it is seen as crass and vulgar. Extravagant, yes, distorting the original material, yes, but oh what a layered masterpiece. I hope people will come to see that now. We shared a birthday, and I would happy to think we shared more than that.
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Re: 2012

Postby Barry » Sat Jan 21, 2012 4:34 pm

January 21st 2012

I've decided, after many years of experience, that the artistic process is made up of, and has to be made up of, four C's (or the forces, perhaps) - control, chance, compromise, and chaos. Of these, compromise is the hardest to accept, but there are so many factors such as budgets, schedules, egos, time, well so many things involved in compromise. But I guess it is best to start with a lofty picture of something to aim for, and then achieve what is practically possible, even if it is only a fragment of that original idea. I can't think of anything on which I have not had to compromise - but that word itslef sounds like a failure. It isn't. It's just about making all the elements work. And actually, out of some compromises come some surprising creativity. I think my style, of very theatrical fluid spaces, has come out of not being able to afford to have more literal spaces. And now I don't ever want to deal with truly literal spaces or storytelling. And thankfully animation and theatre are neither of these.

These musings have been prompted by my production of Sherlock Holmes. I had such lofty ideas, but the realistic practicality of it all is that we are an amateur company and the way the theatre is run necessitates very limited time on stage with the combined elements of cast and crew. That a production happens at all is amazing, and is totally due to such dedication from some people, and many unreasonable hours from others. Our audience have little awareness of the fact that most of the people they are watching have day jobs and complicated lives, and this is in effect, a hobby. It's not a hobby for me though, and I should remember, as I push people out of their comfort zone (cripes, I hate that expression) that they are doing it for pleasure. But the collective we have produced a rather extraordinary set that belies our amateur status. I would be surprised if any other such company could come up with an image like this. It has had an overwhelming amount of Barrification. I'm not sure the audience will notice that most of the several hundred books scattered across the set all have something to say about Sherlock Holmes - well certainly the ones in view of the audience do. The metaphor of the creative process is certainly there for all to see, with the Conan Doyle characters, quite literally, exploding out of the pages of the books. And what is amazing is that it looks exactly like my set model. In our tech last night I did have to make some adjustments - a few things did not work, or we did not have the time to spend to make them work. If we can get the slickness, with all the elements of stage, lighting, sound, costume, and cast coming together at the same time, we will certainly have a show unlike anything seen at the Garrick for a while, and happily a show that bears no relation to how it was done at the Library or in London or on TV. I could wish for a stronger plot, but I think the audience, if they come along with our theatricality, will have a satisfying evening. A very visceral evening with all the senses tickled. I hope. Let's see how the two runs go tomorrow. But full marks, to the cast and crew, who have worked so hard and have coped with me wanting so much.

And the series, well that has occupied every other inch of my poor overflowign brain. The twelve episodes I have in my head is about to be increased. But it's getting so exciting, as sets, puppets, props and costumes appear. I'm frustrated by not having an office yet, but any day now. I can't wait to get filming.

A confession now - both Tchaikovsky and Plume had managed to get on to the BAFTA shortlist, but did not make the final nominations. The confession is that I am disappointed, and fear that may have been my last bite at that cherry, let alone a bigger cherry. I think that world, the world of the big players, is eluding me, and retreating very quickly. I am thrilled to be doing a series (heck I just love working) but it would have been nice to have disappeared into the world of television production with a little gold face behind me. Ah well....
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FEBRUARY 2012

Postby Barry » Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:15 pm

FEBRUARY 3rd 2012

Crikey where did those two weeks go....well doing Sherlock took up all my evenings and though that has now passed, I still don't seem to have any noticeable free time. I'm glad to see Sherlock go, but am pleased with what we made out of a rather anaemic play. What it did do, though, was to make me ask myself exactly what is drama and what makes a good play. I came up with some interesting answers.

On work, well it has been pretty full on, and we are getting alarmingly close to turning over the cameras, and then it will be non stop from now on. I have rather neglected festivals and such, just out of necessity. I simply can't head off round the world doing talks and festivals at the moment, as I really must concentrate on the series, and make every frame darn good.

There have been a few screenings around the country of Tchaikovsky this week, as part of the British Animation Awards Public Choice, but I have not able to get to any one of them.....I hope someone has.
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Re: 2012

Postby Barry » Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:26 pm

February 11th 2012

This week another young married couple won some forty million pounds on the Euromillions, and came up with things such as a washing machine and an Aston Martin as what they would buy straight away. I'm afraid if such a thing would happen here I would still work, though I guess the money would allow me to make a few more choices about what to work on, and kick start my own projects. But I would always work, as I so enjoy it. I'm very much enjoying the series at the moment, even if it is using a different side of me. I get such a buzz from being part of a team with a shared project. I can't wait to get filming.

I've not found much time for the other projects - just trying to catch up and stand still takes so much effort.
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Re: 2012

Postby Barry » Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:37 pm

February 18th 2012

And so we start filming on monday for a year and a half. Well, we almost start filming. We've done some glorious animation tests, and I am asking for something quite specific, and the animators are getting there. They have jsut come off a very fast paced busy show, and I am trying to slow them down and get absolutely clarity in poses, and we are almost there. some of the characters have just burst into life which is exciting. And this week we have watched the studio transform from a virtually empty space to having cycloramas erected, and painted, and now sets have moved in, ready to be dressed. Storyboards have gone up all over the walls, and suddenly we are a fully working studio = probably just under twenty of us on a daily basis. But here we go. It is exciting, and I love being part of such a crew. It is ironic that now i get tied up for a while, offers of talks all over the world are being proffered, but I want to focus on this. It is good to have such a good long stretch ahead, and to be at home.

With that in mind, I have just open my doors to Monteverdi (lately known as Monty), a gorgeous silver and black chunky tabby. At the moment he is ensconced in a cupboard exploring. I do hope he will settle. It would be great if he could become a studio cat as well. But it is five years, almost to the day, that I lost Inigo, and probably the longest without a permanent moggie. The beautiful Bob, our visitor from Tchaikovsky seems to have gone....we've not seen him for a good few weeks. I hope he is ok. An amazing cat.

As well as work, I am now on the play and casting committee at the Garrick and having to read several plays a week. Everyone I read, I can imagine how I would stage and how I would design it. A couple have resolutely refused to spark any interest. Actually, amongst all the praise for the Sherlock Holmes set was a letter that really was very disappointed in it, the writer not being able to buy into the theatricality and would have prefered simple black drapes and an empty stage. Sometime I would like to do a play like that, but I fear if I had done this with Sherlock would have died of exposure, any merits disipating all too quickly, leaving the audience gasping for something.

I'm still designing Aida, but struggling a bit as I am not directing it. Designing and director are so often the same thing for me.

But yes, for once, things are good. Can't grumble at all.
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Re: 2012

Postby Barry » Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:11 pm

February 25th 2012

With friends of mine at the Oscars tomorrow, other friends getting ready for the release of their feature films, and me tomorrow doing a voice over for a student film, and today being involved with an animation workshop -with animation at it's most raw and basic, I have sort of been asking big questions. Is it better to be a big fish in a small pond or a minnow in an ocean. i'm not sure. Oh is it best to sit in the middle pool of mediocrity.
I'm so enjoying the tv series, which started shooting this week, but there is still the lack of a feature film on my CV, and I think I'm too far away from that world now for it to happen, but oh crikey I would love it to happen. Not just for the fact that so many people see it (and so few people getting to see Tchaikovsky and Plume has been a little sad), nor for the prestige, but for the chance to work on bigger more complex narrative and character arcs. A bigger budget and schedule would also be good in the sense of being able to have some finesse. But this shadow of a missing feature looms over me like some shadow of failure. Quite a few features are going to be released in the next few months, and whilst lots of chums have been working on them, I, and this is an honest confession, I will find it hard to go and see them, knowing just how much I could have contributed to them.

Anyway, what a week with the tv series. this time last week, we had not shot anything for real, but here we are now with several minutes. There have been a few teethng problems, but crieky it is looking good, and everyone is buzzing a bit. There is a good team spirit, which is not always a given. There seems to be no dead wood on the series, which again is not always a given. Crikey some shows I have worked on have seen more dead wood than a pile of christmas trees on January 6th. This series is a jigsaw, with a lot of people involved. I physically can't know everything, or oversees everything, and I do feel responsible if anything goes a little wrong. I should have been in the postion to have foreseen that, but in reality it does not work like that. But it is all good and exciting.

Just that darn shaodw of Award ceremonies, and dear Tchaikovsky and Plume not even making the British Aniamtion awards. It's not about winning awards really, but it sometimes not winning awards hurts. Ah the complex world of rejection and unfufilled potential.

But I think I can honestly say I have earnt my money this week, and have made some sort of significant contribution, somewhere along the way. That's what it's about.
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MARCH 3rd 2012

Postby Barry » Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:01 pm

March 3rd 2012

Here's a case unprecented. Three epic stop motion features have trailers everywhere and will soon be in cinemas. It will certainly be interesting next year at the Oscars, with Pixar's Brave and many others around. But you can't move for trailers for Pirates, Paranorman and Frankenweenie. It's interesting that all three posters have all the same element; a stronger central character in the same compostion, a horizon line in the same proportion, two have green writing, and all have the writing in the same place, and have the tag line in the same place. You would think the same person has designed all three posters. Striking posters, but too many similarities. So, two films have a strong supernatural element of dead/undead themes, and the other is a new take on pirates. It would be nice, however successful these films will be, to find a new subject, and new genres, in the next few years. Oh, I happen just to have such ideas.
Anyway, how great that stop motion will be everywhere this summer as never before. What effect will this have I wonder. Yes, it's going to be hard for me, and already so many people have asked me if I worked on these films. Their sense of disappointment is palpable.......however we have had a good week on the series. Two weeks of filming so far, and sequences are being cut together and are working very nicely. It is so colourful and action packed. And I'm enjoying every second. What's not to enjoy. working with a good crew, on nice stories, and just four minutes from home (and I can pop home at lunchtime and walk Monty round the garden).......and doing something I love. Can't catch up with life outside this though....so many festivals are happening and it is hard to get organised.
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Re: 2012

Postby Barry » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:36 pm

Sunday March 11th

I'm not sure I have seen a weeks go by so quickly. The series I am managing with, and seem to be on top of things. And, three weeks in, it is looking magnificent and seems to be very lively. We have a few complete sequences but I am itching to cut a complete episode and add visual and sound effects. But it's looking good.

It's the rest of life that I can't catch up with. Much of my time this week has been in organising my rather old film prints to go round to various festivals. I've had a lot of students getting in touch this week......oh that I could help them all. I did hear from a young teenager who had seen Tchaikovsky at a festival and was very impressed and moved. Thank you. That means everything.

Still trying to get my head round Aida, and all the other projects lurking. These weern't helped by me sneaking off to two very different cultural events and both hugely exciting. One was a rough and ready circus, but oh I enjoyed it. The other was the cinema screening of the Royal Opera House's Madama Butterfly, and that swept me along and reduced me to tears twice. Loved the stark, though a little inconcsistent staging.

And Monteverdi and I are in a good rhythm, even is six in the morning is way too early for boisterous fun and games. He seems to enjoy the radio or tv being left on. The tv of course, sees him sat happily in front of it, swatting anything, as he swats the cursor on the computer.
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Re: 2012

Postby Barry » Sat Mar 17, 2012 10:47 pm

MARCH 17th 2012

I've certainly worked my butt off, but various external shadows have been lurking over me, letting my inner Salieri rise to the surface, and I ended the undeniably productive week feeling rather low, tetchy, frustrated, and dispirited. My fault entirely, but I did feel deflated. However the series is looking great, and who would have thought that I would get excited cutting footage to the music of a somewhat well known boy band. Sssh - don't tell anyone. However I simply can't complain that life is dull or that I am not enjoying myself.
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MARCH 30th 2012

Postby Barry » Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:44 pm

MARCH 30th 2012

Oh cripes, where did that two weeks go. Well it's certainly been action packed. The series is going well, and today I think I cut the first episode, which was hugely exciting. It's great seeing it all coming together. Everyone is working hard, and the stunning sunshine has made everyone pretty upbeat. We even had a barbecue at lunch yesterday. we've had lots of excited visitors recently - the tour now starting........ We had a tv film crew all one afternoon, and Adam E over from Australia. We don't have the production values of a feature film, especially the one released this week, but it's a good reminder when visitors get excited by what they see. We are up and running and enjoying it. Of course more time and such would be great but, all's well.

We cut a trailer last week, and for some of it we needed to go over to the BBC at new Media City and was a bit overwhelmed by it. It is a city indeed, and I suddenly felt a total foriegner there. Not sure how I would function at such a big organisation but it would be nice to be asked one day. But what huge buildings have sprung up out of nowhere, and so quickly. A day later the Queen was literally walking in our footsteps.

Stuff outside of work has been a bit crazy, in all senses of the word. A festival I'm heading to shortly asked if I was alright to travel as they had heard I was pregnant. Wrong in so many ways. And then they thought I was the partner of a rather well known name. Oh dear it got more and more complicated. I think I'll turn up with a cushion should up my jumper.

And also this week I went rather unexpected went to Manderley, well sort of. I got a call from the Garrick to stand in suddenly at their dress rehearsal for Rebecca. One of the actors was ill, and so I went on, and the adrenaline rushed a bit. I got the call to stand by on monday, the first night, but I didn't need to go on. Shame, the audience were denied another butler oozing with subtext. And I got frustrated at a production meeting for Aida - nothing is ever straight forward, and so often little molehills become impossible mountains.

And then in all my rushing around, I accidentally trod on Monetverdi's foot, and he stood at some distance and glared at me for a day, but a few romps round the garden and on the roof, and all is more than well again. No damage done tothe paw thankfully.

Have to say I'm frazzled.
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April 7th 2012

Postby Barry » Sat Apr 07, 2012 9:32 pm

It may only have been a four day week with Easter, but oh crikey it felt a long one. So many episodes in different stages of production. Hopefully I'm on top of them all. We finished the fine cut of the very first episode out of the studio, and then it was announced on the net that a second series was beign commissioned. Crikey, that's good news. It's all happening in Altrincham just now. The puppet series next door is having a lot of film crews around, and this week they had a famous glove puppet, and operator, interviewing the rod puppets, in a stop motion studio. Ah the joy of puppets.

Things outside of the circus have been a bit frantic, and stressful. My set for Aida is proving problematic, and it's frustrating as I can't really do much. I've usually done sets when I have not been working, and have been around in the day. And festivals, well, I'm a bit snowed under with them all.

Next got a nice mention in Animation World magazine this month, saying it was one of the essential films that any festival programmer had to see. I'm too modest and too flattered to repeat what the article said about me.
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Re: 2012

Postby Barry » Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:38 pm

Tuesday April 17th - I think.

A breathless week or so. Through my own fault I am stretched way too thin, but am coping. Too many interesting projects, and I lost the weekend which is my usual chance to catch up. I headed to the film Festival in Beauvais, which was having a retrospective of my films as part of a Great British theme. Very flattering to be representing animation. Live action was represented by Danny Boyle - his producer was there. It was all a bit of a whirl, with a lovely hotel in the Marias, a few hours watching the colourful world going by in front of the Pompidou, and then being driven to Beauvais. A great team lookign after me, and a fantastic cinema from by a wonderful Madame Gourmet. I met a big bunch of students who filmed an interview with me - I was pleased that they had done their homework and had come up with some quite deep questions. I hope I gave them good answers. The screening went well I think, with 35mm prints. I had not seen my old films on prints for ages. They are still in decent shape but definitely showing they age. Plume looked wonderful, but I showed Tchaikovsky on a DVD, and it didn't look that crisp. Hopefully we can get a print soon. So many nice people full of appreciative comments about the work. I was just enjoying myself, and I was back in Manchester. Plume also won an award at the festival from the young jury, and had also won an award in a Spanish festival. Very gratifying as these are the first awards my films have won in about ten years I think, though I personally have been given awards. Anyway it has been a full on few days. Aida has started rehearsals, Toby is taking most of my head space, and I'm trying to do other projects at home, as well as enjoying the magnificent Monteverdi.
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Re: 2012

Postby Barry » Sun Apr 22, 2012 12:42 pm

April 22nd 2012

A breathless week that started with the film festival in Beauvais, and finished with chatting to Barbara Windsor in Bradford. I love my job. I can't complain that things have not been colourful.

It was difficult to explain the festival when I got back to work, and it was straight into filming and storyboarding, and I had a long day of voice recordings. I do find these hard work, enjoyable, but hard work. There's a lot to do certainly, but I have to keep it going and make sure that every element of the plot makes sense, and the physicality in the booth will match the physicality in the studio in a couple of months time. We have a great cast though, and coped amazingly with the amount of singing we threw at them this time. And what never ceases to amaze meis, as they are voicing several characters each, they can switch from one to the other in a breath. I've been lucky with all the voice artists - never had a truly difficult one, though a legendery name on Pied Piper objected to being asked to do, what he considered, funny voices for the councillors. Different not funny. He didn't get the job ultimately. i'm enjoying, on this series, letting the actors have breaths and stutters and physicality. Some producers are keen that the voices have to be clean and precise, but in my eyes, well ears, that kills any performance, and kills any relationship between voice and puppet.

The series races along, and I don't like not being int he studio for one day as I miss something, so I'm a bit anxious about going away for a week next week. The animators are doign some great circus stunts, which are stunts of aniamtion in their own right.

I'm still trying to get this title sequence for a festival together. Hopefully it will be simple and elegant, if I can only get round to doing my bit. Another festival that I was unable to go to last year have asked me again. Sadly I simply cannot manage it this year. I hate doing that.

I feel a little distant from Aida as I have not been to rehearsals, but it is about to move into the workshop, and with t'other Barry we have done all the technical things. I just need to make decisions as whether to have eyes, or wings on the walls.

But racing over to the national Media Museum on friday was, well, a race. Battling rush hour traffic, rain, and roadworks, and a deadline. But I made it in time for a small reception with Barbara Windsor, before her wonderful screen talk. We got chatting and I thanked her for a film that has simply and consistently given me more pleasure than any other film, and that is Ken Russell's The Boyfriend. She is magnificent in that, and related, on stage, the tale of the pearls in Nicer in Nice. I'm so pleased that film is finally on DVD, and the full version too. I was rather over enthusiastic with the Museum, almost demanding a Ken Russell season. The prints are hard to find but I'd love to see The boyfriend, The devils, Women in Love up on their magnificent Pictureville Screen. In her talk on stage Miss Windsor was saying that theatre was her first love, but probably won't do any more, unless a stunning part came up. It may not be a stunning part, but I did rather suggest that I would love to direct her as Lady Bracknell. She would be amazing, and a wonderfully different dame. Oh and her impersonation of Tim Burton was priceless. I came away from the evening knowing i had been in the company of someone very special, someone generous and who really lit up a room. In her talk, she ticked all the boxes, and made familiar stories as if they were being told for the first time. I love that my job, or my history, gets me into such adventures.

I've been too busy this weekend, but would have love to have gone to Liverpool to see three giant puppets strolling round the city. Or even better, it would have been good to have been involved, but crieky time is short at the moment.
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Re: 2012

Postby Barry » Sun May 20, 2012 3:35 pm

MAY 20TH 2012

Four weeks since I have written...that is not good enough, bu I guess fifteen hour days, and too many projects is some sort of excuse. As I sit here, with Monteverdi wanting to sit on the nee laptop, the two dress runs of Aida are happening down the road at the Garrick. I saw the first half of the afternoon run, and it is big and colourful, but still a strange piece. It does have some good songs but is surprisingly short on drama and tension. I prefer the Verdi I have not directed this so it is difficult to be objective - designing it was enough. There was a lot of jobsworth ad red tape, and actally much criticism, even today, from people who should actually be looking after their own areas. But considering we are amateur, and everyone does this for fun, and that two weeks ago there was a huge play on the stage, considering all that we have cme up with a sensational looking show. It's a flexible, fluid but maybe rather literal space, with some beautiful bold colours. but like everything I have done at the Garrick, and this is nearly my 20th show, I still can't break out of my symmetry or my basic pattern. The symmetry I can understand as the auditorium is just so wide, leaving a rather narrow triangleof sightlines. It is too wide with a very awkward proscenium arrangement that gives a lot of dead space. But the symmetry suits me as I would be so scared to have just one member of the adience not have a view of everything important. I want all the audience to more or less see the same thing. Lord knows professional shows do't care that much....the new Phantom in Manchester has had to resort to monitors at the back of the stalls and circle so that the audience can see essential parts of the show. I'm sorry I do not go to theatre to watch a tv monitor. All my set designs basically consist of a inner reaised area or stage, with an entrance at the back, that everyone can see, and then a wider shape that encloses the area - oh hang on, I have just described what worked so well for Shakespeare. This way everyone gets a good view.
But I could have done without some petty remarks that took the wind out of my sails. But as with my day job this month, I have o accept that if you are in a position of responsibility, you will usually get blamed or anthing that goes wrong. That's fine. Probably I should have seen a few things earlier and nipped them in the bud. I guess a director's role is to have all the answers.
I've also been busy with catching up after the Anifest, and doing the trailer for a festival in Seoul. I fear they might be expecting a lovely puppet doing lovely puppet stuff - I can't manage that on this schedule but it should be interesting all the same.
Yep a busy few weeks. Very.
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