Archive for April, 2011

April 24th 2011; week 124 of post-production

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Filmwise: no one from the ADR studio has been clamouring to return my phone calls this week.

I am beginning to develop a plan Z – having been through so many strategies to try to get this baby to the big screen.

Here goes: I am going to put some kopeks together – a long-postponed trip close to my heart will have to be delayed for yet another year – so I can hire a sound studio to complete the ADR stage. Once this is done, I will consult with Paul over any options he may have other than my hiring a sound engineer with access to his own sound kit to generate a professional stereo mix for the film.

The ADR needs to be completed by the end of May.

Over the coming week I will contact a couple of studios I know with a view to planning for an ADR session in the last two weeks of May; this will allow me a few more weeks to prepare.

Escape from the ghetto…
As anyone who has been following this website would know, I am yet to edit the Cannes documentary, the footage for which I filmed back in 2007. Looking back at my blogs in March last year, I can see how relieved I was to have managed to edit all of two minutes of the documentary, so slow has the progress been on this other project of mine.

Well, I am pleased to announce that thanks to the extended weekend this week, I have been able to break out of the ghetto of false starts by completing a rough cut for the first third of the documentary.

I am not sure of the source of this drive that makes one wake up early on a bank holiday weekend, ignore the beautiful sun-drenched spring morning outside, and spend hours upon hours staring at a computer screen.

So far, it’s been a rejuvenating experience watching so many compatriots from the land of dreams and cinema talk through my simple filming kit about their love of the seventh art.

I hope to complete this documentary – edit, sound design, music and grade and all – by the end of the year.

We live in hope.

Peace and love,

Ja’far

April 17th 2011; week 123 of post-production

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Filmwise: I haven’t been able to get hold of anyone at the ADR studio.
With the Cannes film festival approaching fast, I fear things are gradually falling into the “it’s Cannes and nothing else” time of the year.
I have been liaising with a couple of the actors regarding ADR; as ever, they are most patient and kindly.

“You have a guilty look about you!”
As anyone who’s experienced employment in a multi-department company would know, quarterly business reviews are a regular feature of the annual calendar. More often than not, the staff are keen for the person delivering the presentation of loss and profit to speed up their delivery, so that they can get back to finishing the day’s workload.

My present employers are blessed with an MD who is quite to the point and appreciates what runs through the mind of the audience during these business presentations. Therefore, the MD presents the figures and data speedily, and without much fanfare; we like.

The latest quarter’s business briefing was held on Monday night.

I thought things were going quite well, particularly, since I rode to the rescue and kept the atmosphere in the conference room quite upbeat by telling all present about my new washing machine! Well, there was this uneasy silence while we were waiting for the last few attendees to join us  :- )

So far so good.

On Thursday, I was to take part in a training session at a different department. On my arrival to the designated meeting place, I was invited to join the other two trainees at what I assumed would be a conference or meeting room.

“All the conference rooms are booked, so we’ve had to hold the meeting at this office here.”

It was only when I settled into my seat that I realised that this was the office of the MD.

The first trainer completed showing us the new IT programme; the second introduced us to the method behind the process. The third was someone who actually did the job for which we were being trained.

Being a relatively small meeting table, we were having to manoeuvre around the table the training packs, the trainer’s laptop, our pens and paper, and a big jug of water.

While this last trainer was providing us with a very helpful and instructive induction to the actual procedures involved in doing the job, the trainer inadvertently pushed with her elbow a glass of water off the table.
The thing made a loud splintering crash right above the electric plugs point on the floor.

A colleague was called in to make sure there was no health and safety issue on hand.

Out of everyone else present in the room, the colleague looked at me suspiciously.

“It wasn’t me”, I felt like saying.

With the training almost at an end, the MD came in.

“I am afraid I need the office back.”

On seeing the glass pieces strewn on the floor of the office, the MD must have remembered me and my washing machine story from Monday.

“You have a guilty look about you; it must have been you”, the MD said jokingly.

Peace and love,

Ja’far

April 10th 2011; week 122 of post-production

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Filmwise: Having not received a response to my email from a fortnight ago, I telephoned the ADR studio first thing on Monday morning. The bookings manager explained that the month of March had been quite busy and that he would be able to get back to me the next day on whether we can get the ADR done at the studios.

On Friday, I called again. His assistant informed me that the bookings manager is off for the whole week and won’t be back until the end of next week. I am sure the booking manager has a good reason for not getting back to me.

The story of the audio post-production on this film has been one of delays heaped upon more delays; what should take a week to do takes months and months to achieve. What would be helpful is for the parties concerned to actually say, in as many words, that it will take them to complete this stage of the process three, four or even six months; what I have been getting is “next week!”, “the last week of this month”, “the first week of next month”… and six months go by.

Thankfully, we have one bright spot on the audio front in the shape of our sound designer JD. Thank you Paul for the introduction.

Being the eternal optimist, I would like to think the delay is helping me plan to make better use of the ADR stage to further fine-tune the story and characterisation.

“I am going to kill you!”
One of the drawbacks of living in a stamp-size “studio” is the lack of space for a washing machine. A neighbour of mine did manage to get herself a washing machine that is smaller in size than your average unit, but ended up paying a higher price for the smaller machine.

I have a suspicion that an expensive small washing machine is not among the possessions you’re allowed to have when you sign up to being an indie filmmaker:- )

Now, I don’t particularly mind the time I spend at my local launderette – one does get to meet some very interesting characters, and many a novel did I partly consume to  the rumble of tumbling wet clothes going in one direction and then another behind the small glass doors of giant washing machines.

What I do despise is the minor upheaval that “going to the launderette” causes in my space-shy dwellings. There just seems to be too much laundry to fit into the red plastic reusable bag, and so supermarket bags need to be enlisted to take the overflow.

Then there is the short walk to the launderette, which, thanks to the weight of the the red plastic bag and co, becomes quite a tiring long journey.

So, at the end of the week before last, I thought perhaps I should look into getting my hands on a second hand small washing machine that would not be a break with the above stated indie filmmaker contract.

The first item that came up on the search engine was small, reasonably priced and brand new. Admittedly, it wasn’t a make that was carried by any of the high street chains that I know, nor indeed any of the main white goods vendors on the net. This machine was offered for sale at a site known for books and DVDs.

On returning home on Tuesday, I found a note from my landlady: “I have a packet for you!”
My washing machine had been delivered by a courier service.

Being a creature of habit – you know, the just-so-coffee and the just-so-toast and the just-so for the just-so breakfast before rushing to work at, ahem, mid afternoon – I kept postponing the collection of the said packet until Friday afternoon when, en route from the main entrance of the building to the street, I heard my landlady call after me: “Ja’far, I am going to kill you!”

Noticing the suspicious looks from a neighbour who’d been chatting with her, I hastily responded, “I’ve already paid this month’s rent!”

“This packet has been sitting on one of my dinner table chairs all week!”

While apologising for the inconvenience, questions began to ricochet around my head about the exact nature of this washing machine that can fit on a dinner table chair! “I am sure those chairs aren’t Luis XIV size thrones”.

Endeavouring to hide my disappointment with this machine that my landlady could lift with total ease, I dropped the box in my “studio” and headed to work.

My colleagues at work were not impressed. Began to wonder if it was too late to return the “packet” to the book and DVD vendor.

Even before my just-so coffee, I took a pair of scissors to “the packet” early on Saturday morning.

This is indeed a very tiny fare. It comprises of two small plastic buckets that are encased in a bigger plastic bucket, with a couple of small juice-mixer motors at the bottom.

Having taken this thing out of the box, it was too late to turn back now, and I needed a clean shirt for that evening.

Put simply, the idea is to pour some warm water into the bucket on the left, add some detergent, and one or two small items of clothes, and then set the dial to the duration of the wash. Once the wash is done, one is to place the drainage hose in the sink where the water would be discharged. One would add more water for the rinse stage. This would be followed with moving the wet clothes to the adjacent bucket which serves as a spinner to squeeze the water from the wash.

With the thing being dependent on gravity in discharging the dirty water, it needs to be placed at a height level slightly above the sink in order for the drain “function” to work. The small kitchen counter next to the sink became the new base for the thing.

So far so good, except my sink was blocked – despite my best efforts to dispose of it correctly, the just-so coffee from my espresso-maker keeps causing these blockages. I had forgotten to buy the environmentally unfriendly chemicals liquid that I use when no amount of plunger exercise would do the magic.

Therefore, in addition to using a small plastic container to fill the thing with clean water, I now was faced with the prospect of carrying buckets of dirty washing water to the shared bathroom downstairs.

However, as the thing began to make a poor imitation of the sound of a washing machine, with some shaking movement to the left, right, and back and forth, causing the sink to vibrate and to make some gurgling noises and, to my delight, the blockage was cleared.

No more environmentally unfriendly chemicals for me.

I just hope this fragile machine thing follows the audio front in delaying its almost certain ultimate demise – “first week of the month after next… no, the last week of the month that follows the change of the clocks” – please :- )

Peace and love,

Ja’far

April 3rd 2011; week 121 of post-production

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Filmwise: the week’s most salient feature has been the wait for the studio to get back to me over possible ADR dates for this month. I am also waiting to hear back from a couple of the actors regarding the re-recording of parts of their dialogue. I am waiting to meet Natalie, our composer, after her return from abroad.

It is all part of the conditioning and stamina that I am finding to be essential for making feature films.

“Did you buy a bike?”
After months of procrastinating, the week before last I registered for the Mayor’s bike-hire scheme.

So, at the start of this week, I felt quite buoyed by the idea of getting fit in time for the summer without enduring the demoralising experience of watching lean and sculpted figures blocking my way to the water cooler at my local gym.

So buoyed, indeed, that I excavated my old cycling gloves – circa 2004 – from what passes for a closet at my place.
Gloves on, trousers tucked into my socks – why did I have my pink stripe socks on?, and rucksack firmly hoisted over my shoulders, I charged forth from my desk at work towards the door, at the end of my shift. A couple of colleague, en route to smokers’ alley, said hello.

“Yes, I am back to my cycling days!”
“Did you buy a bike?”
“Bike hire is the way to go now; no more carrying of the two-wheel contraption up a couple of flights of stairs, hoping my shins, not to mention the walls of building, won’t be any worse off for wear!”
“Where are you getting the hire-bike from?”
“Just round the corner, there is a bank of 20 or more!”
“The last time I was out, there was only one left!”

So, with old cycling gloves on, trousers tucked into my pink stripe socks and rucksack hoisted on my shoulders – my empty lunchbox and fork were banging against one another in my bag, I noisily moved towards the 20 or more bank of bikes.

As my colleague had warned me, there was only the one bike there.

“Wonder what the red light means?”
The bike stand was obviously out of order and the bike was not going to be released, my attire notwithstanding.

In my above state I found myself unsuccessfully searching for a bike to hire in the empty streets surrounding Liverpool Street station.

Looking this way and that, with no one in view, I quickly pulled the trousers out of the pink stripe socks, placed the circa-2004 gloves into my jacket pockets, and took down my rucksack before boarding the first night bus to go past.

The moral of the story – don’t wear pink stripe socks and keep your fork away from the empty lunch box in your rucksack.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Peace and love,

Ja’far ‘Abd al-Hamid