Archive for March, 2012

March 25th 2012

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Filmwise:

Arabic Subtitles: check.

Entire film re-onlined: check.

Newly recreated special visual effects inserted: check.

New screening print with subtitles: to be confirmed.


The past couple of weeks had a sense of déjà vu of some of the more intense periods of work on the film in the run-up to Raindance.

Having re-onlined the whole film the week before last, this past week I took a further two days off work as holiday to be able to set aside four full days to create a  fully Arabic subtitled print. The screening at a film festival in the Middle East is a good possibility, at the moment.


On the first of the four days, I confidently predicted completing the first half of the 104 minutes of film. By the end of the day, I had achieved all of 12 minutes!

The second day, with my expectations tamed by experience, I felt a sense of achievement in having done all of 18 minutes’ worth of subtitles.

The third day: 30 minutes.

The fourth day: I began at 10AM and was done 20 hours later at 6AM the next morning!

Over the next week, I need to prepare all the relevant files, in case I do need to send a print to the festival.

A good week.

Peace and love,

Ja‘far

March 18th 2012

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Filmwise: I have re-onlined the entire film.

During the week, I booked two days off work as holiday; added to the weekend, I have had four solid days of work on Mesocafé.

The process could have been a great deal more painful and time-consuming, if it weren’t for the fact that only one of the five reels went off-line during the interchange of hard-drives and edit suites in the run-up to Raindance – a wholly understandable consequence of the huge pressure we were all under to prepare a print for the festival premiere.

The other element in the re-onlining process was the realignment of the shooting and screening speeds of the film – they both are now 25 frames per a second.

I have also inserted into the timeline the new green-screen clips that Daniel created for me more than a month ago. It all looks and feels great.

Over the coming week, I need to complete the re-mastering of the screening print.

Back to school..

One of the tasks I have on my to-do list for the film is to write and insert Arabic subtitles for the whole film. Hopefully, a screening in an Arabic film festival will happen this side of the summer.

The fact that a few historical and literary texts feature in our film meant that I needed to go back to the University of London library to be extra certain that the Arabic subtitles contain the original Arabic quotations. It wouldn’t do to translate into Arabic the English translation of Arabic – I think that’s the right order :- )

The library has been fully refurbished since my last visit, and the students seem a lot younger than my day :- )

Peace and love,

Ja‘far

March 11th 2012

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Filmwise: Once again, the only time resource I have for working on the film – the weekend – has had to be diverted away to a different undertaking. On this occasion, however, the diversion has been most welcome.

A tale of two cabbies..

With the working week out of the way, I strolled leisurely on the South Bank, looking for a place to take a well-earned pit stop from the daily rituals of office, home, office, home. As I was marvelling at the dramatic effect of a sky filled with moon-lit clouds, it suddenly occurred to me that a dear friend had left me a message earlier in the day.

“Hello, sit Sajidah”, I talked into my mobile.

This was the lady, as I have related in the past, that was responsible for the London-wide search for the purse that appears in our film.

“We’re holding a celebration of International Women’s Day, and we would like you to film it for us.”

Realising immediately that I don’t have the camera, sound and lighting kit to undertake such a task, I nevertheless asked about the location where the event was to be held.

“It will be at the events centre, in Hammersmith.”

“Is it at the theatre of the centre?”

“The conference room on the second floor.”

Having attended an event at the said location, the first thought I had was “we need lights!”

So, it was without further ado that I got in touch with my usual kit-hire friends to assemble the suitable gear for the adventure.

The move of the camera hire company to Hackney,  and my decision to include three Redhead lights in my wish list, all meant that  a cab was necessary to haul the equipment back to central London.

The gentleman driving the people carrier had the calm and wariness of someone who’d experienced large doses of life’s ups and downs.

“May I ask where you come from; like me, you have an accent!”

He came from Afghanistan. We compared our respective experiences as immigrants living in this great metropolis.

At the events centre in West London, I was met with my filmmaking comrade, and Meso family member, sayyid Kawa Rasul. Huffing and puffing, we managed to get the kit through to the second floor.

To my surprise, not only the audience was already beginning to assemble, but there were a couple of one-man camera news channels who had reserved the best spots for filming the podium.

Sayyid Kawa and I got to work unpacking the kit, with the first port of call being placing the three Redheads where they would not cause a health and safety concern, as well as providing the extra level of illumination.

While attempting to set the camera, finding the recording media, setting the level on the tripod and making sure that the empty bags and cases for the gear stayed in one place, I was surprised to find the event was already getting underway.

I think I missed the first introductory speech. On the plus side, most of the other camera operators were happy with our lighting.

By the time we conducted the final interviews, it was past midnight.

Sayyid Kawa helped me load the kit to a bus that would take us half way to my place. We alighted, and he took the next bus to complete his journey.

I hopped into the first London cab that came into view.

“All this kit and there is still space for me to stretch my legs; I love London Taxis!”

The driver had been a cabby for over 40 years.

“In my day, there were no Tom Toms; if you didn’t know your way, you got the map out!”

We started reminiscing about London of the 1980s and how my first encounter with a London Cabby had revealed to me the honesty, thrift and understated pride of which I’ve become more aware over the years about a cross section of Londoners.

“Life was simple then; you had three channels, no mobile phones or internet; we just talked to each other.”

With the conversation still flowing, we stopped outside my front door.

The first thing the driver did was to stop the meter so as not to charge me for the remainder of the chat.

Peace and love,

Ja’far

March 4th 2012

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Filmwise: Have begun to re-online the entire film. Hopefully, I will be able to dedicate the whole of next weekend to the process.

An embarrassment of riches..

As a consequence of the thesis that at times felt like a millstone around my neck , followed by the post-production purgatory, evenings out with friends have been quite few and far between. Until this week!

I think I must have broken some sort of a pre-thesis and film record by attending two birthday parties within the same week.

The first was Daniel’s, and it offered a great opportunity to catch up with him and Kate, and with Paul Hills, Jonnie Hurn and a few family members of Paul’s new film The Power.

The second party was for Stew, a comrade from the night shift and a dear friend.

The evening allowed me the chance to chat with Stew, and three fellow night-shift veterans: Graham, JP and Stephanie.

Stephanie is preparing to go on tour with Rest Upon the Wind, the play about Khalil Gibran. Highly recommended.

En route home, I got talking with JP about his brilliant comic book “London Horror Comic”. I felt so inspired by JP’s one-man-show that has seen the launch of a comic book anthology back in 2006 and the publishing of four issues with high production values, and truly captivating content.

As we said our farewells on the train, JP kindly handed me a copy of the latest issue. Once I began reading, I couldn’t put the book down until I got to the very last page. Love the dark humour and the intentional economy with which dialogue is written. Kudos.

Link to the London Horror Comic website.

Tick tock..

“Hello, is it too late for a haircut?”, I asked the gentleman with scissors, black attire and bright yellow bleached hair at the hair salon on my local high street.

“There is a bit of a wait!”, he said pointing to the five seated people.

Having exchange a resigned look with the young couple taking the chairs at the top of the row of seats, I took out my book . “Thankfully, this happens to be a thoroughly enjoyable read!”

My immersion in the story was slightly thrown off by the negative energy I was sensing from the woman to my left. “Tock tock”, was the first phrase on the top of the page.

The angry, impatient exhaling of air by the said woman made me raise my eyes away from the page and glance to my left.

“Have you been waiting long?”, trying to dissipate the intense atmosphere, I ventured.

“Thirty minutes! I just hope they don’t close before my turn comes.”

Ice cubes rolled off her tongue and fell crashing on the wooden floor as she spoke in a cold Russian accent.

The two hair stylists found their attempt to cut, comb, snip and hair-dry their way through the queue interrupted by people dropping in to purchase a hair-care product.

Another audible, exasperated ejection of air: “They spend three minutes to serve each customer. They’ve had five customers. That’s 15 minutes’ extra wait for me!”

Henry Ford would’ve been proud to see his ethics have travelled so far as Russia.

When it was finally her turn, she spent the first few minutes on the chair trying to convince both hairdressers that the hair treatment she was getting would only need to be left on her hair for 35 minutes, as opposed to the 45 minutes that both stylists were insisting was the norm.

I went back to my book to recommence reading; “tock tock” now read “tick tock”.

Later in the week, I made a last minute dash from the edge of the City to the West End for my weekly fix at the pictures.

“There are three people ahead of me, and each seems to be taking two to three minutes to walk up to the booth and buy the ticket.. Oh, stop imitating the Russian protégé of Henry Ford!”

The second film I watched before heading home that night was Safe House (Dir. Daniel Espinosa, 2012).

The Denzel Washington character famously ends a speech with “tick tock..tick tock!”

Peace and love,

Ja’far