Archive for September, 2010

September 26th 2010; week 94 of post-production

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Filmwise: at the start of the week, I posted our sound designer updated image files for reels one and three. The files needed to be re-jigged to be at 24 frames per second, at audio, image and burnt in time code levels. Reel four is still with me a work in progress; I hope to be able to send it through on Monday morning.

We are three weeks away from Foley. We have three days booked for the process.

“Pay it forward”
With only a couple of months remaining on the expiry date of my passport, this week seemed as good a time as any to get a new document, in case an unexpected trip presents itself – “sorry, can’t go to Hawaii!”
Rushing, as per usual when I have any errands before starting work, I found myself fumbling through my pockets outside an automated barrier at Victoria Station; needed to find the print out of the online map of the Passport Office. On being nonplussed as to which direction I should take from the Victoria Street exit to to get to Eccleston Square, I threw caution to the wind and turned left.

Having gambled once, I thought taking the next left at the traffic lights might be pushing my luck – we all can’t behave like bankers : -)
Trying to find a starting point in the street signs, I tentatively approached a gentleman wearing an apron and having a cigarette outside his shoe repair shop, as I imagine businesses in the area to be wary of yet another visitor asking for directions. Before I completed the question, he motioned in the general direction of the Passport Office. “Thank you!”

Alas, a new junction presented itself. “God, I wish I had printed out a bigger chunk of the area map.”
At the traffic lights, noticed an approachable looking female London taxi driver. The fact that she was already carrying a passenger put me slightly at ease from the potential response – ‘I didn’t spend two years braving the English weather on a second hand moped, learning the streets of London, so that I would give non-passengers directions for free!’
‘It’s straight after the station on the left.’
‘Thank you!’

Arriving at the right turning and getting a glimpse of the Passport Office sign in the distance, my footsteps took a more jolly and relaxed rhythm.
“I have five minutes before my appointment. Should be enough to get to the building, go through security and…
“Oh, here is a couple that are dead ringers for my state a few minutes ago outside Victoria Station.
‘Hello, are you OK?’
‘Not really, we’re trying to find Belgrave Road!’
‘I saw a Lower Belgrave Road on the way here, but…’
‘It doesn’t seem to be where the map says it is.’
‘I am sorry I can’t be of any help.’
‘Thank you for stopping.’
“I better rush; three minutes left.
“Aah, the entrance. I am here, and two minutes to spare!.
“What’s this that’s written on top of this building across the street from the passport office? ‘No. 6 Belgrave Road’
“Two minutes to go.
“I am sure I can do this in 30 seconds!”
‘Hello!’
‘Hi!’
‘I found it. Belgrave Road seems to straddle Eccleston Square. It’s only a hundred yards away.’
‘Thank you, that’s really kind.’
“Right, let’s make a run for it; 30 seconds left!”

Somehow, I managed to make it to the building, pass through strict security checks, to the reception and upstairs to my appointment on time.

Wish if I’d had a closer shave though. The photo in the passport makes me look like I’d given up half way through shaving my chin : -)

Peace and love,
Ja’far

September 19th 2010; week 93 of post-production

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Filmwise: our sound designer has commenced work on reel three (out of five). My role in the process continues to be that of assistant, preparing the reels, connecting the image to original location sound files, and creating separate packages for the more complex scenes to give the designer more options.

Despite the long hours involved in achieving the above, and the unusually exhausted state in which I find myself at the office, increasingly I find my daily life touched with a serene smile from within – motion has replaced the long months of stillness on the project. Long may it continue.

A blessing
The Pope’s visit to these shores has occasioned happiness and joy in many quarters, not least in that part of the media monitoring industry that doesn’t have any clients interested in the visit of the Pontiff.

Thanks to the wall-to-wall TV and radio coverage of the Papal tour, I have been able to leave work relatively early, having completed all the assigned work, plus the optional extra programme. Very pleased.

Places and memories
Is it me, or do certain places evoke a particular memory whenever you go past, or whenever you imagine the space, it seems to come twinned to an occurrence.

For me, the main glass entrance to the Royal Albert Hall, the café which used to be on a street close to where I live, the supermarket which has long been taken-over by another chain…

I think I can safely assume that a new place was added during this week – only a few hours ago, in fact.

With my family being a representative random sample of people from my land of birth, the news of the graduation and the photos were delivered to the part that resides in Damascus – my mother, brother and little sister. Alas, my other brother who lives in the US, and the remainder of family who are in Beirut didn’t get wind of the news.

On Friday night, I got hold of the email of my little niece. She showed my graduation photos to the family in Beirut and to my dad.

launderette sept 2010While waiting for my weekly washing outside the launderette, I punched in the long number that is on the back of these international phone cards that never really deliver on the promised hundreds of minutes of talk time. Waited. My sister picked up the phone. Aware of the racing stopwatch on the phone card, she quickly ran to my father. “Baba, it’s Ja’far!”

I related to him how I felt a certain sense of closure the moment I received the news from the examiners back in December; how this small launderette is a new worthy addition to the list.

Peace and love,
Ja’far

September 12th 2010; week 92 of post-production

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Filmwise: have met our new Sound Designer over coffee and a piece of pie. He’s already laid the dialogue tracks for the first two reels. I handed him reel three. Two more to go. We are booked for Foley work for the latter half of October.

Finally, some actual, tangible, now, movement on the film’s sound.

My week has consisted mainly of working on the film, preparing the reels for the sound designer – the more work I do, the more he will be able to do his magic. I would then head to work at the office in the afternoon, and return home in the early hours.

At work, I was relieved to be informed of the renewal of my fixed-term contract until the end of the year. Hopefully, it will be renewed again for the new year.

Lost in translation
During the week, I haven’t been able to spend any real time on the translation job I’ve been asked to complete by tomorrow morning. I’ve had the two pieces of text for over ten days, but hadn’t had the opportunity to do more than 3000 words out of 17,000 before this Friday evening.

I was quite pleased to churn out 4000 words through an all nighter; I’ve never thought of myself as capable of long sessions of uninterrupted work. As we e-speak, I am working my way through the final pages. Need to send them through by early morning Monday.

Once they are out of the way (hopefully, I’ll get more such work, as it helps get post-production moving), I will go back to preparing the reels for the sound designer. I aim to have reel 4 ready for him by the end of the week.

62 and counting
Last week, I had dropped by at a friend’s home to do some maintenance work on her instructive and entertaining blog. For the past few months I have been meaning to add a visitor counter to her page so that she would see for herself how popular and how widespread her blog has become.

On the day of Eid Feast to celebrate the end of Ramadan, I heard a voice message at work from her: “Happy Eid; we have 62 visitors!” : -)

Peace and love,
Ja’far

September 5th 2010; week 91 of post-production

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

Filmwise: Thanks to the extra couple of days I was granted to work on the film, and after initial issues with the Time Code deciding to be out of step with the actual duration, I created files for the first two reels of the film and sent them off to our Sound Designer.

While the dialogue tracks are being laid, negations are afoot for Foley work on the film. We are pencilled-in for the latter half of October.

You can be honest with me; we’re friends!
Arriving home in the early hours of Friday morning, and while waiting for the toaster to heat some bread to have with Greek Yoghurt, with olive oil sprinkled with dried mint leaves, a lovely surprise greeted me in my in box. A member of the Mesocafé family had written enquiring about the film and about yours truly.

The genuinely supportive message, written with warmth and with big dollops of great humour, ended with a gentle note; “ If things are not going as planned with ‘Mesocafe’, please don’t be shy, just talk to me – we are friends!”

The message reflected this person’s observant nature and the long journey in the film industry that they have travelled. Gazing through my kitchen window across to the trees that have already begun to give way to autumnal colours, hearing in the distance the sounds of cars, trains and the chirping of birds in the back garden, I tried to take a few steps away from myself, from Ja’far the dreamer, to see if I could give my friend an honest answer.

While one most certainly didn’t imagine post-production to take as long as it has, I do believe that when audiences do get the opportunity to see the film, they will sense the love with which it’s been made.

For me, that would be a healthy first connection between the audience and our feature.

Peace and love,
Ja’far