Archive for May, 2011

May 29th 2011; week 129 of post-production

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Filmwise: I have taken matters into my own hands and booked and paid for two sessions of ADR in Hammersmith.
For the first day, on Monday, Rida Hamdi had to leave his current place of residence in Wales at 5AM in order to make the 10AM session. Thank you.

On Thursday, it was the turn of Monica (News presenter), Daphne (the female lead) and Rami (plays the role of an Iraqi politician).

Alas, we didn’t get to make full use of the three hours I’d booked at the studio, as two of the actors couldn’t make it.

We need another session to complete the ADR – possibly this Thursday.

On Friday, I was back at the hotel where we filmed the bulk of the interior scenes. An employee of the hotel had agreed to play a short role in the film. I needed to re-record his lines for audio quality.

All in all, a very productive and happy week.

Peace and love,


May 22nd 2011; week 128 of post-production

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Filmwise: we are talking results this week, dear comrades :- )
On Tuesday morning, I had a meeting with the head of a production company in Soho; I had hurriedly arranged this appointment on the phone outside the train station in Nice last Friday.
Later that day, in between doing my work at the office, I booked a sound studio for five actors to complete the ADR stage. Over the following days, I received confirmations from everyone of their availability for the studio dates.

We will complete the ADR task this coming week, hopefully.

Civic duty..
Finishing work later than usual on Thursday night, and being all too aware of the ten remaining minutes before my bus, I was rushing through clearing my desk, putting my keyboard in the locker, putting my Cannes Film Festival – ahem – manbag on my shoulder, before making a sprint for the door.

Right outside the office entrance, there were plumes of smoke gushing out of a litter bin in the street. On closer inspection, it was obvious that this was a flames-and-all fire that would not go out until the shell of the bin is fully melted.

All too aware of the ten minutes’ gap before my bus giving way to nine minutes, I rushed to the bathroom, emptied the plastic litter bin and filled it with as much water as the shape of the sink would allow. Repeated the process twice.

By the time I was done, the fire was out, though some smoke was still rising from the now subdued fire.

Feeling quite pleased with my sense of civic duty, I asked the security manager the next morning about the fire. “Yes, the fire brigade put it out!”

Peace and love,


May 15th 2011

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Filmwise: Being intent on making some tangible movement on the audio front, I have been proactive in contacting a couple of studios and keeping the actors concerned for the ADR session updated.

Thanks to Paul, I have been introduced to a studio in Soho, though the contact has been in the form of my calling and leaving a message, and the studio director calling and leaving a message in return. We finally got to speak on Friday, as I got off the bus outside Nice station. As my UK number was being charged some astronomic rate for receiving a call in France, the conversation had to be cut short; we agreed to meet on Tuesday.

Cannes 2011

Unusually for me, I woke up on Friday morning with adequate time for getting ready for the flight to Nice. In the small hand luggage for the three night stay I deposited what must have seemed to the security people at City airport to be quite a worrying sight of electric and photographic equipment: a charger for the SLR, a charger for the DV camera, a charger for the mobile, my electric razor, in addition to the two cameras and some clean clothes.

After the conversation with the studio director, I headed to the only hotel I know in Nice – I’d first stayed there back in 2006 when instead of going to the festival, I spent the entire stay, apart from a day in which I visited Cannes, stooped over my laptop typing away yet another re-write of my thesis.

At the hotel, the manager needed a couple of seconds to recognize me – she blamed the daylight making me appear in silhouette.

As per our agreement, my stay would be at an apartment a few minutes’ drive from the hotel, as the place was fully booked. As Marie-Pierre was busy filling the registration form, her father walked over and handed her a mobile phone. “My father has been speaking with someone to help him setup a new TV set in your room.” She then whispered to me, “I don’t think he’s 100% sure about the whole procedure.”

While I was getting the directions for the apartment, her father offered to give me a lift with his friend, as they both were going there anyway to work on the TV set.

“I am being treated like a prince!”, I said with gratitude.

“But our car is no chariot fit royalty!”, quipped her father.

En route, I asked her father whether he’s originally from Nice or the region. “I was born in Algeria”, he said. It turns out he’s a part of what are known in France as Pied-Noir (the French who lived in Algeria and who moved back to France after Algeria became independent).

While I emptied the contents of my bag on the bed in my very spacious and clean room, Marie-Pierre’s father explained to me why they were having to install a new TV set. “Everything went ‘paff’”, he said of an issue with the electrics. I glanced with concern at all the electric charges I had by now taken out of my bag and laid neatly on the bed.

Before I said my farewells, I asked Marie-Pierre’s father and his friend what their names are. They both say, “Marcel!”

At Cannes, I spent the first day wandering around and reminiscing of my 2007 visit when my badgeless status had given me a celebrity of sorts street cred among the festival’s security team. The team guarding the festival are almost entirely new now.

On day two, I set up my stills camera opposite the red carpet. I wanted to take hundreds of stills that would form part of a time-lapse sequence. While I was going about my business of pressing the shutter button every few seconds, I got chatting with a few of the people who’d obviously been there early enough to reserve a place, complete with a step ladder and a deck chair or two. One of the group, Anna, offered me the empty camping chair next to her. I got to see the red carpet for Michael (Dir. Markus Schleinzer, 2011).

Having thanked Anna for her kindness, I headed into the Palais du Festival to grab a fresh cup of coffee courtesy of a sponsor of the festival. As the very polite and beautifully spoken young lady was preparing my espresso, a French film critic stood next to me at the café bar. “What film have you just seen?”, I asked. “Michael”, said Amandine. “I think Gilles Jacob (festival director) chooses one or two films in every festival that are ideal for helping you fall asleep during their screening.”

I am fascinated by the hectic and exciting life that a bona fide film critic leads at this temple of cineastes the world over.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon and early evening on the veranda of the Palais du Festival taking hundreds of photo stills of the harbour as the light changed and the rays of the sun gave way to street lights and the sparkle of onboard lighting glittering from the tens of yachts and boats sprinkled around the coast.

Met so many friends and colleagues during this very short stay, including my dear friend Koutaiba al-Janabi. I didn’t have the chance to meet up with Paul, Daniel or Kate.

Next time.

Peace and love,


May 8th 2011; week 126 of post-production

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Filmwise: I have a new spring in my step, thanks to a flurry of emails from Mesocafé family members declaring their availability for ADR within the date range that I have in mind. The dates are dictated by the amount of work I need to invest in creating the audio and video files, in addition to the scripts, for the ADR session. Out of the four actors that I need to ADR, three have promptly replied to my email. Provided the remaining actor is flexible with his dates, we should be able to get the ADR done in the last week of the month. Brilliant.

Finishing work a bit later than usual, and consequently having to wait an extra half an hour for the next night bus, I wasn’t in the most cheerful of moods when I arrived at Liverpool Street bus station way after midnight. For some unfathomable reason, I managed to miss the next bus, and was in steam-through-ears-mode when I walked a few extra minutes to get to a stop for a bus that I thought would help me avoid waiting for yet another 30 minutes. Lo and behold, said bus also thundered by; I’d missed it by a couple of minutes.

“Excuse me, does this go to Hyde Park”, I overheard a young German lady ask a passer-by. The “I am not sure” response she received added to the state of confusion of this couple of young women visiting London.

“Good evening, where are you trying to get to?”, I ventured, hoping I wouldn’t be pigeonholed as a… [I don’t want to find out...]

“Our hotel is near Hyde Park”, the second of the two said in a hopeful tone.

A few minutes later, I was walking with the two German visitors and their suitcases in tow back to the bus station. I managed to figure out that they’d booked a hotel in Paddington, with the marketing spiel declaring that it was only – “a few minutes’ walk from Hyde Park”.

“Where do you think we should spend the day?”, asked one, before her friend politely presented her case for a day at Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.

“Camden Town is a great place to spend a few hours during the day.”

“Maybe, we can go there at night, ya?”

“It’s a nice area, though it has a reputation for being a bit edgy!”

After a conference in German between the two, they announced: “so, it’s dangerous?”

I wished them a great stay and headed into the cold night at Trafalgar Square for my bus transfer.

Peace and love,


May 1st 2011; week 125 of post-production

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Filmwise: as per my prognosis of a couple of weeks ago, things have come to “it’s Cannes” hiatus; will have to wait until after the festival to rejoin the battle for ADR and mix.
Michele Khleife at PFF 30-4-2011
“I won’t tell!”
For several years now, I have been closely following the Barbican’s Palestine Film Festival, watching out for the work of old Palestinian masters, as well as up and coming directors whose films are increasingly becoming part of the international film festivals scene.

One of the first feature films to break out of Palestine, reaching an international audience, was Urs al-Jalil / Wedding in Galilee (Dir. Michel Khleifi, 1988). The opening gala of this year’s edition of the Palestine Film Festival featured Khleifi’s latest work Zindeeq (Libertine / Playboy / Non-Believer) (Dir. Michel Khleifi, 2008).

Being big on planning ahead for my film viewing feasts, I had booked the ticket for this Saturday’s screening of Zindeeq a month ago. Indeed, I had the ticket hanging on the wall nearest to my computer screen as a reminder of the day.

On Saturday, I managed to make it out of my place with sufficient time to cover the journey to the Barbican. It was only when I was on the street heading towards the tube station that I remembered the ticket.

I made it to the cinema on the lower second floor, just as a Barbican official was finishing introducing the film and alerting the audience to the Q&A session with the director after the screening.

Not having had adequate time to fit breakfast into the busy morning schedule of ironing a shirt and a freshly washed and dried pair of trousers (thanks to  what’s trying to pass itself off as a washing machine), and doing the laundry for next week, I couldn’t resist the sight of a muffin and a banana on offer at the cafe outside.

Having managed to devour the banana, eating the muffin would’ve meant missing out on the start of the film. As I sat down into the rather comfortable seat at cinema number 1, and just as the lights went down, I whispered to the total stranger next to me, “I hope you don’t mind, but I am going to eat my muffin!”

“I won’t tell anyone!”, she said with a smile.

Peace and love,