Archive for December, 2010

December 26th 2010; week 107 of post-production

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Filmwise: JD and I are trying to align our calendars so that I can head his way to have a full day’s viewing and listening session of the five reels of our film. Hopefully, we’ll be able to meet towards the middle of January.

I have spent the greater part of the week off work – I was on holiday until Thursday morning. On Friday evening, I left work at a record time to make it to a friend’s place of work in Queensway. We made some last minute grocery shopping in the area – rice, chicken, spices, Baklawa, dates, crisps and other pre-requisites for a couple of days in watching DVDs and videos.

So far this weekend, we have clocked five films, a couple of TV programmes, and endless hours of me talking and describing how I will go about making my next feature film. My friend is a very patient and good listener:-)

Earlier in the week, I had headed to the BFI to watch for the first time The Shop Around The Corner (Dir. Ernst Lubitsch, 1940). Being a huge fan of the work Nora Ephron has done in You’ve Got Mail (1998), which is based on the play on which The Shop Around the Corner movie is also based, I was keen to see how Mr Lubitsch had gone about adapting the work to the screen.

The film lived up to my expectations.

On my return home that night from the South Bank, I couldn’t help but continue my evening with black and white romantic classics. Roman Holiday was a real joy to watch again, especially for this yummy line:
“I’ve never been alone with a man before, even with my dress on; with the dress off, it’s most unusual!” – Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday (Dir. William Wyler, 1953)

Peace and love,

Ja’far

December 19th 2010; week 106 of post-production

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Filmwise: received from JD, our sound designer, the rough mixed reels. They include the edited dialogue tracks, atmos and spot effects. As per JD’s request, I have created a list of queries and notes about the audio, and will be discussing these with him upon our next meeting. Hopefully, we’ll be able to go through the reels together sometime in January.

I also put in the post an updated version of the last two reels for our composer Natalie.

I imagine things will begin to wind down over the coming week, before coming back to life in the new year.

Too many scripts..
As you may recall, I am supposed to be working on my next feature script; that would have been a far less trying an undertaking had I not had so many different projects that are vying for my attention. You see, in addition to the London-set romantic comedy, I happen to have three other stories that are at different stages of development.

The upshot of all this preamble is that rather than work on the romantic comedy, I have used the week off work I’ve just had to focus solely on a story that I’ve always had a soft spot for. Its star is a four to five-year-old girl living in her maternal grandparent’s home in the Baghdad of the 1970s. The 20-page-treatment seems to have written itself over the past few days, so long have I been keeping a little corner in my heart for this story.

Now that I have penned the treatment, I think it’s best to allow the alchemy of time to do its magic. I will return to the treatment in a few weeks’ time.

Working on this story during this past week couldn’t have been more opportune as I had the pleasure of the company of Dr Saadi al-Shathir, the gentleman who held a party at his home to celebrate my graduation in July, and sit Ahlam (plays the role of the cafe owner in our film) and her son Odeeb. Dr al-Shathir drove us through the melted snow to an Iraqi Kurdish eatery on the Edgware Road. The questions I asked over dinner about the architecture of the average middle class Baghdadi home in the 1970s must have made me sound like the five-year-old of the story – inquisitive, persistent and incapable of holding back the excitement of discovery.

This has also been a week of reconnecting with friends. On Saturday evening, Quentin, Robert et moi met up for the first time since my leaving the shop sales assistant position last spring. All three of us seem to be at a far happier place in life.

On Sunday evening, I practically jogged through Queensway to be on time for rehearsals of a short film written and directed by my good friend Kawa Rasul (plays the role of Tawfiq in our film).

The ensemble of three actors and two actresses was going through their scenes at a room above a pub with wallpaper and curtains that would be at home in 1950s London. The huge French windows allowed a view of Queensway and Westbourne Grove that I don’t think I’d ever experienced before. Must go back during the day with my manual SLR camera.

Peace and love,

Ja’far

December 12th 2010; week 105 of post-production

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Filmwise: I have been in a quietly euphoric mood all week: our sound designer JD delivered the happy news that he’s tackled dialogue, atmos and the spot effects for all five reels. He would like to spend a bit more time with the project to address a list of to dos before sending me the files. JD is also creating a list of all the lines in the dialogue that may need to be ADR’ed – re-recorded at a studio.

Once I review the reels, JD and I are to arrange a mutually convenient date for me to head to his neck of the woods.

My good friend, and our executive producer, Paul, will then start the process of kindly arranging for the ADR studio and, later, for the sound mix.

There is still some way to go, but we are past the half-way mark in this post-production odyssey.

Some plaster and a rodent, please!

Remember the shoes I bought last week? Well, I am pleased to say, they still look great. Alas, this discounted purchase, it seems, has it in for my ankles. I have been forced to use a couple of sturdy plasters on daily basis before leaving home.

Wonder whether my old shoes are still in the recycling bin at the shoe shop of last week?

Talking of the old and the new, may I put out a plea here for the powers that be to bring back Jonathan Ross to BBC One’s Film 2010 (all is forgiven). Someone like Francine Stock of Radio Four, or any of the critics that grace the pages of film periodicals of this country, would also do a wonderful job. You see, the pair presently fronting the programme are more suited to red carpet 30 second bite size reviews than what we’d been taught to expect from Barry Norman and, surprisingly, from Mr Ross.

Not sure if I should follow the above with news of my visit to the pictures to see The Tourist (Dir. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2010), but bear with me: -)

Being a fan of Angelina Jolie – yes, for the obvious reasons, but also for the honest and real work she’s been doing working with refugees around the world as a UN Ambassador – I was keen to see her latest outing. Honest!

The rest of the truth is, I am a romantic to the mushy core, and feel most at home watching a romantic comedy.

Unfortunately, this was one outing that Ms Jolie should have politely declined. I am particularly disappointed for the choice the director of The Lives of Others (Germany, 2006) has had to make for his big Hollywood debut.

Despite all the action, shoot outs and the breathtaking setting of Venice, I found myself scanning the floor of the auditorium, hoping to see the cineaste mouse of a few weeks ago. I thought it may have travelled half way across town from its base in the West End, in order to warn off its fraternity of discerning rodents!

But all was not lost; I have been able to view Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere (USA, 2010).

Peace and love,

Ja’far

December 5th 2010; two years of post-production

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Filmwise: as per my request, the studio in Hammersmith sent the raw sound files for the preliminary ADR and voiceover sessions we recorded there back in May 2009. I spent a few hours of Wednesday night unzipping the files, making sure that they made sense, burning them into a DVD, writing a letter with the relevant information for our sound designer JD, and putting everything in an envelope ready for the post box.

Earlier in the week, I had visited Daniel, our production designer and special visual effects supervisor. There was a shot which needed some TLC. Chatting about film, life, literature and possibly all else, as Daniel later wrote to me, we could have talked for hours.

As we clock two whole years of post-production, I feel we are on the right track on this picture. There is plenty of light in the tunnel now, and blue skies and realised dreams await us at the end of the journey.

“It doesn’t look that bad!”
I have a funny relationship with shopping for clothes. It is the one item on my must dos that seems to be ubiquitous. When I do finally set out on a shopping trip – once a year, if that, it is often for an item of clothing to replace one which even the charity shop would not be interested in.

On Sunday afternoon, en route to meeting our production manager Arij in Notting Hill Gate, the click-clack sounds from the worn out soles of my shoes were threatening to drown out the traffic, the airplanes overhead and the footsteps of girls in six inch high heels. The situation called for desperate measures.

The first shoe shop I encountered happened to have something that appeared within the bounds of tolerance.
“Hello, may I take this pair, please!”
“Yes, let me get you the box!”
“No, that’s fine; I’ll wear them.”
“OK, how are you paying?”
“Here, thank you. Do you happen to have a bin for these old shoes, please?”
“Oh, we have a recycling bin right here!”
“I think it’s time these were retired; I’ve had them for five years!”
“Let me see; they don’t look that bad!”
Another colleague looks up.
“No, they look alright!”
“Yes, perhaps, we could put them back in the bin, please”

I hope they didn’t see the soles!

Peace and love,
Ja’far