Diary 2013

Diary 2013

Postby Barry » Sat Jan 12, 2013 8:08 pm

January 12th 2013

And so two weeks race by before I can get to write this, and yes work has kept me so busy. I do hav so many episodes in my head, and I realy do have to take a moment to sift through them all when anyone asks me anything. I was abit grumpy yesterday as my day consisted of half finishing six tasks. Having the christmas break has not done wonders for my concentration....very rarely do I have a break in a project for that very reason. It all disappears. Hopefully I am up to speed now, and am nearly ready for an epic week ahead. A lot of recording to be done.

Interesting to see three stop motion features up for best Animated flm, though only two for the BAFTAS. Pirates didn't make it into those. Ah, all these awards....I do cheer, but secret I'm thinking, well there goes another year. Probably that was that, twenty years ago. Neither Plume nor Tchaikovsky was submitted, and I can't help feeling that as the nominations are announce, people look at me with disappointment. Give me a chance guys, and I'll get an Oscar nominated film made, feature or short.

a little snowed under with student requests this week, but showing a young animator round the studios led me to be ather invigorated by his enthusiasm.
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Re: 2013

Postby Barry » Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:42 pm

January 26th 2013

Sorry, I've been, quite literally, snowed under with the series. We recorded ten new episodes over two days last week, which was a marathon. Fortunately we are all familiar with everything and it goes smoothly, but that does mean now that I am working over thirty episodes which is qute something for my little addled brain to cope with. We've also lost Andy to a snow incident, so that has meant a bit of juggling on the studio floor. But all is good.

I've been lucky to see two stunning live pieces of theatre, and from the front row, so my mind has been torn a bit, wishing that the material I am working with was up there in those esteemed heights. But for both shows, Wind in the Willows, and Twelfth Night, I was in the front row, oblivious to any other audience, and something happens. I go into another world, though part of the enjoyment is seeing the actors up close, seeing the eyes flicker, seing them responding to each other, seeing the very 'liveness' of it all. Both events have left me on a supreme high that is unrivalled in any other medium. I wish I could work on an animated film, that really lifted me to such heights as a piece of theatre does.Mary and Max did that in an emotional way, but you should have seen me at the end of twelfth Night last night. Cheering to the rafters.

As if having one set of doubts wasn't enough, I've had doubts about what I do at the local theatre. By trying to raise the standards, and being on a committee where part of our task is to be some sort of arbiter of a standard, I seem to continually rock the boat. It might be a case of 'if it ain't broke don't fix it', but really our theatre is living in a bit of a vacuum, a bubble untouched by current theatre tastes and trends, and the audience who are very happy with that is sadly shrinking. We need to be bringing in a younger audience, giving them exciting challenging fare. But then how adventurous can we be when our schedule is so tough and tight, and we have to make money to survive. All very complicated but there is no money involved in getting a certain standard of stagecraft - sometimes we get this so wrong. Simple things as storytellign and staging, but I am the villain for pointing these out. Ah well. I do have broad shoulders. But we do have it in our powers to get things right. Watching Twelfth Night last night, on an almost empty stage, they got the staging so right, that everyone in the audience was acknowledged, and every word had been thought about, and worried over. What did it mean, what is the puzzle, is it relevent, what does it say about the character, how can we illuminate it. In everything I do I try to make every word, every rhythm, every move, every colour, every cut, all say something about the theme and character. I could never be accused of putting in a play or a film. If one thing I do do, is my homework.

So after the sublime experience of Twelfth Night, I have crashed big time into a creative depression, well a lack of creativity really.
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Re: 2013

Postby Barry » Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:33 pm

February 3rd 2013

I was right - the experience of Twelfth Night sent me crashing into a slump, dissatisfied with everything I'm doing, but there we go. And all the Oscar and Annie and Bafta stuff around is not helping either, nor was watching Paranorman in the middle of this slump. But hey, I spent my saturday midnight trying to make an act in Toby work. And work t does. Now. We did have a moment of giddiness at work, with a pub quiz. Questions very heavily centrered on our field. Good fun, but I ca't go again. I take these things too seriously and get too impatient with people gettin distracted or throwing in decidedly unwitty random suggestions. My fault totally as I just do not understand pubs. If there is a pub gene, I was not born with it. Nor the dinnerparty one, and certainly the cocktail party never appeared. Someone else must have got it,along with my football gene.
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Re: 2013

Postby Barry » Sat Feb 09, 2013 4:44 pm

February 9th 2013

With the dubb down yesterday on three Toby episodes, that clears a little space in my befuddled brain - oh no it doesn't, there are more cramming themselves in. I enjoy the dubbs - we have a good time, and I can usually hear the sound effects as I am preaparing the films, but occasionally the Flix guys very pleasantly surprise me. I'm so pleased that on this series, we can put in all the grunts and groans that bring a puppet to life. I watched Paranorman this week, and this raised all manner of thoughts. Those puppets are amazing, but I'm not sure wha I think about the hyperactive faces. My first instinct is that I could never work with them on the schedules i am used to. The second thought was that simple faces are no hinderence to subtle performances.....they are just different performances. Sometimes our very simplistic Toby puppets show such nuances that it surprises us. Probably, because my experience of schedules, I have got content with placid faces, or maybe it's because I think like a dancer, where body language is the most important means of communication, and not dialogue. My own films have very little spoken dialogue. But crikey the Paranorman animation is impressively athletic. Yes I'd certainly love to have the chance to finesse my animation.

The end of Toby is not that far away, so we are hoping for a second series. We have all got very used to the nice routine of work and a decent wage. Lookign back on the two years before Toby, it was amazing I was not wafer thin, as they were tough indeed.

There was a funding scheme that closed this week......darn, I couldn't find the time to sit down and submit anything, but there is so much going on in my head for new ideas. I'm bursting with them. I hope the autumn does not come and I am sat counting the pennies again, and it came to that eighteen months ago. Twenty years ago with Screen Play, and Rigoletto and other commercials, we were spoilt for choice.
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February 16th 2013

Postby Barry » Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:02 pm

Quite a fraught week, but somehow the activities in the skies on friday put a few things in perspective. Seeing the footage of the meteor racing through the skies over Russia was heart stopping. Of course it was a cliche to say it as lie a disaster movie, but it was. For once Hollywood seems to hae got it right.The footage could have co straight from Deep Impact. Who would have thought a falling meteorite rally would igh up the sky and leave such a trail. And the expected asteroid did ideed pass the Earth but as I stood on the roof, with the clearest of nights, I saw nothing of it. What I did see though, was the International Space station, calmly passing overhead, and lit like a beacon. IT sort of humbles me every time I see it. I want to shout from m roof to all the people aroudn to look up, but I actually rather enjoy my private views of it. I shall be up there again tonight.

Yes work has been tough. We are still a bit unbalanced with Andy off with a damaged ankle. As always in a series, there comes a time when re-use has to be incorporated into episodes, and I have been trying as much as the very specific scripts allow, but the pressure is on. A very hard thing to do, when characters are always carrying props and such.

I had been rattled by what could have been a career destroying spam scam, but with that in my head I drove to Wolverhampton to do a talk. A packed theatre,but I have to admit that they were ather quiet and unresponsive until we finished and they gathered round chatting ten to the dozen. When I came back I hard that my second book has been doing well and they want to go to a second, revised edition. That's exciting, and will keep me busy for a few months.

I missed the chance to submit some projects to a funding scheme that the BFI are running. All of us are a lttle aware that unemployment could be within sight, unless......

And I had a fraught meeting at the theatre. A few colourful temperaments got a bit volatile which didn't really help.
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Re: 2013

Postby Barry » Sun Feb 24, 2013 1:45 pm

sunday 24th February 2013

The first of the second set of 13 episodes of Toby were transmitted this morning. Exhaustion prevented me from getting up and adding to its' viewing figures, but hopefully a good few people watched it . And a good episode it was too. I've been thinking a lot about the circus this week - my nephew Joe has been involved with The Invisible Circus who are doing a site specific show in blackpool, and it looks stunning, and wonderfully bizarre and imaginative. I'd love to bring all that sheer visual bravado to our series, but we are aiming at somewhat younger - still a bit of razzle dazzle this early will catch them for life. I'm trying to but the scripts are not really geared towards all that. Still we do have some pretty amazing moments. There's a hopefully effective nod to the Marx Brothers this week with a mad mirror gag. I would like to be on studio floor for each shot as invariably things get lost in translation but I'm hopign it will be good.

Too many evenings out this week has left me a bit breathless, and last night I was on stage myself, of sorts. The garrick had 'A Story, a pie and a pint' evening. Six short stories read by six of us, in a packed bar. A very warm friendly atmosphere and all the stories by Duncan Battman were very interesting, most with a sting in the tale/tail. Mine was particularly turned on its' head at the end, and hopefully I gave it enough drama and emotion. A bit of theatricality helped. I tried to learn parts of it, so I could directly address the audience. That worked nicely when I read it at home, and actually making contact with the audience was effective, but it usually meant it took me a nano second to find my place on the page again. Still Dr P improvised his was out of all that. Very satisfying.

Nice to do something so hassle free at the Garrick, as our meetings with the Casting and Play committee are just gettng more and more fraught and difficult, but I guess that is the nature of a committee. None of us are enjoying it at the moment. We're not really being able to contribute and that's what we are there for.

So the Oscars tonight. A much bigger deal is made of them than when we were there twenty years ago. Our involvement was casual indeed, and I don't have any official visual record of us being there. Don't remembe any interviews or such. Maybe the status of animation has changed as well. Oh I'd like to get there one more time. Well it helps if the films are entered, and neither Plume nor Tchaikovsky were entered sadly.
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Re: 2013

Postby Barry » Sat Mar 02, 2013 9:03 pm

March 2nd 2013

And so the Oscars came and went, and stop motion was left unrewarded sadly. None of the three featues, Pirates, Frankenweenie or Paranorman cam away with a prize, nor did the short Head over Heels. Very sad but a good time was clearly had by all. A side effect of the Oscars is hat the visual effects feels a bit undervalued, not to say out of work, after certain comments, and all the visual effects artists/technicians on facebook have their placed a blank screen on their Facebook pages, as that, if no-one gets paid, is all that will be left. And true to form,there have been some very witty variations on the green screens.

A lot of visitors at work this week, especially with several people wanting to do tributes to Cosgrove Hll. I spent several hours with one lady and got unexpectedly emotional at the end. That came out of nowhere. I'll kee you informed about this programme.

And I seem to be spending my evenng writing articles for other people. One was quite a generic one of just 500words. I found that almost impossible, to talk about something quite substantional in so few words. I hope I just did not come out with a load of glib platitudes. It took a long time to get the tone suitably positive and yet still a little critical. Oh how did you know I was talking about students!


Toby -well crikey! After dubbing three quite jolly episodes, we have now delivered half of the first series. Still so much to do, and the end of this series is in sight. I'm not starting to panic just yet, but, well soon.

And a grumpy evening on the casting committee at the Garrick was briefly redeemed by a great production of The Children's Hour - though such productions will be the first to go. But actually, I am still grumpy.

72 hours of the lurgy did not help either. Felt rotten, but could neither show it nor let it get in the way. Two nights running I had the shakes. Monteverdi looked at me with some confusion. A gallon of ovaltine, a sort of early night, nearly gave me a good nights sleep. My head is just screaming. so many stories so many ideas, so many lists......
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Re: 2013

Postby Barry » Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:30 pm

March 17th 2013

Two weeks since i last dropped into the blog, and I've hardly had time to catch my breath. The second group of 13 episodes of Toby are going out now, and we are shooting episodes 37-40 and I'm working on the camera scripts for number 49 - you'd think there'd be more available space in my head, but there isn't. Some great footage is being shot, but oh we have to keep an eye on continuity when we are shooting over so many episodes. we've had several visitors, and there's been a sudden interest on the history of Cosgrove Hall.....most of our crew worked there at some point. It's great having visitors but I don't get my work done.

I'm thinking about the new edition of the book but haven't started writing it yet. Several other projects are taking my spare time. I've just done a huge article for a prominent magazine and may get on the cover which will be interesting. I was quite honest in the article....you have to be.

Trips down to bristol to see Midsummer Night's dream, and a trip to st Albans for the film festival have taken a small toll but they were fun.

Quite simply there are just not enough hours to squeeze everything in.
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Re: 2013

Postby Barry » Fri Mar 29, 2013 11:31 am

March 29th 2013
Never have we been in more need of a few days off. No dramas but we have all been a bit tetchy this week. The pressure, the faffing about with shifts, and the shadow of uncertainty about how long we will be working have all made us a little on edge. I've been working on this show for 16 months now, and what a privilege that has been - it's been a good while sicne i had so much work, and I'd like to keep on rolling. We dubbed three excellent episodes last week, that were funny and inventive, full of good animation. I'm working on a very different episode at the moment, that seems to have strayed in from another series. Finding this one hard, but then I remember how many notches we turned up those last three episodes. One of the episodes contains one of my favourite shots so far - not much happens it, but Ling rather bitchily demands where the audience is, and we cut to a totally empty circus ring, save for Jango twiddling a drum stick, and he does a single dry bash. Beautiful timed, and it made me laugh every time.
We have had many visitors, and are being inundated with requests for more trips round, and more work experience - it's hard to cater for all this as, though I love showing people round, it does take me or whoever away from what I am meant to be doing, and there's not much free time built into the schedule. Sorry guys if we can't keep doing the tours.
Festivals galore are taking some organisation, and I'm trying to get started on revising the second book. People are being very generous with photos, so I hope I can do them all justice. It has been an amazing four years for animation since the last book was published. The perameters of the craft seem to have been pushed both ways.
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Re: 2013

Postby Barry » Sat Apr 13, 2013 11:01 am

APRIL 11TH 2013

More dubbs, and more onlines. We are racing through the episodes at such speed. Some are very much better than others. I think we know now what this series is, and what works well with the characters....most of the episodes provide that, some don't, but there we go. Each episode has something to enjoy. Some have more than others. We are all still a little concerned about whether there is a second series or not, and we are all starting to look round for what is out there lurking, just in case. And from first accounts, there's not much. And there's Disney letting their great and good drawn artists go. Not good.

A busy couple of weeks - absolutely submerged in organising things for festivals, answering mails to students (one whose mail simply siad 'how do I animate?') and other such things, and then there is the book. I am trying to do an hour a night, whatever, and so far I'm managing that. I can't complain of not beign busy - but it could go all very quiet soon and there will be tumbleweeds rolling through our lives.

I had a trip to London to see Peter and Alice which excited me beyond belief, and raised pretty profund questions about why we do what we do. And then a trip to see Twelfth Night made me wish that before I shuffle off my mortal coil that I get to direct a Shakspeare play. I was thrilled that one of the cast I was chatting to knew Next so well. It was ironic that the play was directed by Peter Hall's son, Edward.

And then there was Thatcher. Two West end plays faced an awkward evening with Thatcher being a huge part of them. In Billy Elliot there is an already uncomfortable song about having nothing to celebrate so why not celebrate one more day nearer Thatcher's death. And a huge puppet appears and is taunted. I got excited at first reports of how they would cope with her death, and they did mention that the puppet would wear a black armband. I thought how wonderful that a puppet would solve the problem. A it happened, I'm not sure that actually was the case. But if I just mention the Maggie Thatcher Spitting Image - see you are smiling with fond remembrance of vegetables. Talking of which, at the fuenral of Richard Griffiths this week, Richard E Grant sent a wreath of root vegetables. That will surely have raised many a fond smile.
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Re: 2013

Postby Barry » Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:05 pm

Saturday 20th April, 2013

A tough week for the world, especially America.
Back home it has been full on with series stuff, theatre stuff, teaching stuff, museum stuff, festival stuff, writing stuff, and book stuff. I'm stuffed with stuff, and each night I have gone to bed with my head simply swirling in a mass of soundbites and scenes. A bit of swimming, The Full Monty on stage and watching the space station go over have provide moments of clarity, but they were few and far between And next week is going to be even more stuff, as I am over in Stuttgart at the animation festival with an agenda that would have accountants checking that that amount of overtime wasn't possible, if there was money involved. All good but oh crikey, full of scorpions is my mind. Grab it whilst it is here though.

Workwise we really do not know what is round the corner and that is a big worry to us all.
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Re: 2013

Postby Barry » Sat May 04, 2013 7:08 pm

May the fourth be.......blah blah blah....!

I'm shouting at myself for being tired, but hang on, I've had two manic weeks on Toby, really manic, and extraordinary film festival in Stuttgart that had be not pausing for breath, and inbetween I have tried to write a book and keep up with students and festivals. I'm looking at the cleaning and at more writing - I'm afraid the less physical task of writing will win tonight. My poor brain is frazzled and I can certainly not complain that life is dull. Stuttgart was amazing, with lots of friends old and new, and lots of comments that it would be tempting to believe, lots of chat, lots of eating, so many screenings, so many workshops, and a bit of fretting about the state of my films next to the pristine digital projections, but on the whole an exhilarating week. Lots of promises made - it would be good if some of those paid off. Back home and straight into work, and crikey, I really can't squeeze any more into a day. But Barry, make the most of it as come October I could be terrifying quiet. Imagine the slump.
Oh of the films in Stuttgart, there was certainly a lot of sex and violence and very little work from the UK. Not sure what to make of that equation?
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Re: 2013

Postby Barry » Tue May 21, 2013 5:24 pm

May 21tst 2013

Oh the glamour - from a stunning wedding in Regency country manor house on Saturday to the joys of the Beaconsfield service station, after a long day teaching at the NFTS. The NFTS is not the best quipped or the most modern of buildings but they certainly keep producing great films. I'm working with a lovey group of eight, all of different standards and experience which is always tricky. But I have gone back to basics going onto an almost vertical learning curve. I'm here for four days, worrying about leaving Monteverdi and worrying about leaving Toby in the lurch. the series is leaving me breathless at the moment- so much gong on, and yesterday we had our last recording session - the last three episodes. And they are stock episodes - they are a necessary and accepted part of a series, but sometimes the work expended trying to pull them together is equal to the work that could of gone into filming them for real. I'm not convinced that even Friends made stock episodes work but we are applying some ingenuity and I think we'll be fine. At least we are not going down the 'I remember when' route.
So busy but still no plans for after September which is worrying us all.
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Re: 2013

Postby Barry » Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:13 pm

2nd june 2013

Still getting my head round the complicated logistics of re-use episodes, but slowly things are thinning out a bit. Just one more dialogue cut to do for example. This is going to be a bit sad. Much of the crew are looking for jobs, and we are hearing of work in Ireland and Germany. I heard of a project that really could have been what my whole career could have been building to, and a collaboration one could only dream of. And in this instance, and I know I am not always so, but here I really was the right man for the job - more than qualified to do it in my sleep. Sadly I have been gazumped there, again. I'm afraid I do have a history of being beaten to exciting stuff.....maybe because I don't have an agent, maybe because others are more pushy than me, maybe because I am not on the radar, maybe because I am on the radar but am not good enough. Anyway this particular project pains me beyond belief to have not had the chance to contribute and it is going to be very difficult and awkward watching it being made. Thinking positively, as I must otherwise it will destroy me, it leaves me open for any other projects, or to being out of work.
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Re: 2013

Postby Barry » Fri Jun 14, 2013 6:18 pm

June 14th 2013

Oh crikey, I'm breathless and looking forward to a quiet weekend. Wrong! I'm at a Halle Concert tomorrow, doing lots of book stuff, and off to London to be on a panel after a screening of Jason and the Argonauts. That will be great actually, but oh I would like a god lie in. It's been hell of a few days. On Monday I was down at the Anglian University in Cambridge, doing an afternoon session. A nice and almost chatty group - an informal session, but a long drive. I managed to call into Haddenham to Ma and Pa's grave briefly but was rather interrupted by a vey chatty gent also tending a grave. Tuesday was an epic day with four episodes of Toby being dubbed......four good episodes it has to be said, but big ones, very big ones, that took a lot of hard work. Then an evening meeting at the Garrick where I was told something that might well have been the last straw for my relationship with that theatre. I love that place, but oh crikey it is hard work and narrow minded. I could give so much to that building, but the set-up is not one that is based on encouraging any artistic challenges. Very disappointing. I'd still like to be part of that building but I have no idea how I can contribute. Wednesday I was back at the theatre, but the small studio, watching God of Carnage and it was darn good as was the company. Thursday was a long day at work and then watching Helen Mirren as the queen in the live screening of The Audience - it was simply glorious, and I can't wait to sit through it all again. A great play, beautifully structured and performed and staged. So exciting. but frustrating as I was trying to persuade colleagues to come along. Hmm...spontaneous indifference.
Exhausted,, and tired and emotional and fretting about what may come.........not a lot at the moment.
And a shame not to be in Annecy time by all is being had.
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