Archive for January, 2013

January 27th 2013

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Filmwise: The second draft of the little girl in Baghdad continues to evolve.

Ideas..

A filmmaker wrote somewhere that he was so aware of the transience of moments of inspiration that he forever kept a pen and notepad within reach, even when he went to bed.

Living as I am in my mind in the streets and alleys that feed into the banks of the Tigris River in Baghdad, new ideas seem to strike me in the most awkward of situations. I could be holding the railing by one hand and a book in the other, all too aware of the proximity of the armpit of the person standing nearby on the rush hour train. I could be crossing the road, avoiding the oblivious-to-pedestrians-Boris-Bike-riders. Or, I could be in transit between the realms of dozing off and deep sleep.

In this latter situation, I tend to forgo with the formality of putting the light on; I simply search for the pen and paper in the dark. The resulting scribbles haven’t always been that legible. In fact, there are times when I am tempted to show such a-written-while-half-asleep-and-in-the-dark note to friends and colleagues, in case they would have a better luck deciphering it.

Recently, I watched a French Canadian film where the lead character, a car salesman, resorted to his dictaphone to record his thoughts and to make notes on his sales technique.

Not sure if starting to talk into the voice app on my phone would be particularly welcomed by fellow rush hour passengers. Nor, I fear appearing to talk to oneself while crossing the road.

Having a recording machine next to one’s bed sounds like a recipe for some cringeworthy morning listening. Excellent, I am all set for tonight!

Peace and love,

Ja‘far

January 20th 2013

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Filmwise: This week has been the closest I have had in many moons to what would fit under the rubric “life of a filmmaker”.

With a view to hitting 2013 running, I had booked this past week off work in order to strive towards producing the second draft of the little girl in Baghdad story. I penned the first draft back at the beginning of the summer, and ever since I have been jotting down notes for the second draft.

With the help of these ideas I began work on Monday morning.

By the evening, I had edited and rewritten all of seven pages.

Tuesday, reached page 20.

Wednesday, was in the early 30s.

By Friday, I had ticked off all the notes and memos I had on the first draft.

Over the weekend, I have read through the work-in-progress second draft and have created a road plan for completing the draft.

Quite a productive week.

Focused as I am on my second feature, I was inspired this week by the rave reviews that Cherien Dabis has received for her second movie May in the Summer (Jordan-USA, 2013), which opened the Sundance Film Festival. Brilliant.

On the down side, I haven’t been able to watch Django Unchained (Dir. Quentin Tarantino, 2012); the evening showing was sold out at my local cinema this weekend.

Something to look forward to for next week.

Peace and love,

Ja‘far

January 13th 2013

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Filmwise: Have begun ploughing through the rewrite of the little girl in Baghdad script. Seven days off work remain. Hopefully, I will have a second draft ready soon.

Lost and found…

Recently, I read somewhere that around a billion people use the London Underground every year, and that they manage to lose over 200,000 items of property on the network. Going by my own absent-mindedness and the number of umbrellas I have left behind on the Tube over the years, I wonder what sort of stories and anecdotes are hidden in the Lost Property Office of the transport company.

On Thursday evening, en route home I was eyebrow-deep in my book when someone vacated the train seat before me. What may be called muscle memory or habit saw me fill the empty space without even stopping at the comma on the page. It was only as the train pulled away and I was positioning my feet away from those of the person standing directly above me that I sensed the presence of an object on the floor. It was a plastic bag. Committing what’s considered a big No No on the tube, I turned my head and looked at the passenger seated next to me. He was a young man in a simple dark suit and heavy overcoat.

“Sorry, is this your bag?”

“No!”

Rather than the scenarios of fantasy that would come to mind prior to the noughties – a bag full of ancient manuscripts or little gems – the first concern seemed to be that of safety. So, I took a peek  and… a pair of smart black ladies’ shoes made of what looked like a velvet texture.

As I returned to the book, I decided that I would take the bag to the Lost Property Office.

Three pages later, I was on the platform and the train was pulling away. As a young woman went past towering over fellow passengers with her high heels, I remembered that I’d left the bag behind.

I wonder what will become of those shoes. I sense a short story coming together.

Peace and love,

Ja‘far

January 6th 2013

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Filmwise: Have booked a week off work from next Friday to work on the little girl in Baghdad story. Looking forward to producing the second draft.

Third time..

As I keep saying to everyone, Londoners are possibly some of the more polite megacity dwellers. I learned this from my first week in Old Blighty – I think it was an instructive conversation with the handyman at my first address in the city.

And so, as the old Arabic saying goes, “s/he who rests with a people for forty days and not move on becomes one of them”, one feels as close to being of this human settlement as an immigrant might.

A case in point: walking to the local library, I was drawn to the sight of a map being turned now to this side and then to the other. The confused heads poring over it belonged to two young women. Their mother seemed to have given up the whole “it’s an adventure” part of finding the hotel and had decided to simply stand guard by their luggage as the young ones decided the best way forward.

-          “Hello, may I be of any assistance?”

A slight hesitation.

Then, the younger of the daughters: “Oui, yes, where is XYZ street?”

My ignorance seemed to exasperate their state of confusion.

-          “Is the street on a the map you have?”

In unison, “no!”.

Having found the name and telephone number of their hotel on their booking form, I called the place. The Spanish-sounding receptionist gave me the directions. It was only round the corner from where we stood.

 They thanked me profusely and headed to the hotel.

 Later that day, en route to meet a friend who was visiting London after a long absence, I was stopped by a gentleman – late 30s, dark hair, glasses, smartly dressed- with a large suitcase, a similarly well-attired woman and two primary-school-age children in tow.

-          “Sorry, where is xyz hotel, please?”

 As I spent time with the family trying to find the nearest main road to their hotel, I learned that they were Italian, possibly visiting London to watch a particular football match – not sure if the whole family was on the same page there.

In the evening, showing my visiting friend parts of Green Park, and taking pride in pointing out the button for horseback riders at the pedestrian traffic light on Hyde Park Corner, I noticed a group of young people huddled around a small map. They seemed to be in need of my not-so-unrivalled knowledge of the locale, I thought.

 -          “Hello, may I be of any assistance?”

A deafening silence poured Siberian cold water on my warm welcome.

Then, the leader in their midst, in a dismissive tone, “No, we’re OK!” 

Peace and love,

Ja‘far