Archive for February, 2013

February 24th 2013

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Filmwise: The second draft continues to evolve – one weekend at a time.

Mould..

With a view to collating my film and TV work onto a single digital project that then can be saved and backed up, this week I carried out that which I have been meaning to do for many moons.

The work in question goes back to the summer of 1999, and to my plan to produce a car TV show that would break the mould of motor shows airing on Arabic TV stations at the time. Shedding the anorak and male dominated focus of such programmes, I had envisaged a weekly magazine show that would place the car within the social context of its use. So, a young lady would use a town car to go to work, drive from one meeting to another, and stop for Sushi and a spot of shopping. A more family-sized car would be presented by a mother dropping off the kids at school, before doing a few errands and meeting friends for coffee.

The finished work looked great, though the sound recording and lack of sound design had a detrimental effect on the overall quality of the project.

Ever since that summer, whenever I talk about this show, I joke that it was thanks to my relative ignorance in making the programme that I decided to shoot it on 16mm, as opposed to Beta SP or Digibeta. This, I would continue, allowed me the onset experience of living through the rituals of shooting on film and the discipline it imposed on the crew – there is a sense of urgency as film is spooling through the gate.

This Saturday, I came to realise how fortunate I am to have shot the TV pilot on film, as I arrived at a dubbing facility in Soho with a suitcase containing nine Beta SP tapes. Waiting for the post-production supervisor at reception, my mind was cast back to the winter of 1999-2000 when I worked with a production house in Soho to produce an initial offline edit of the pilot.

I was brought back from my reminiscences by the arrival of the post-production supervisor.

PPS: “Hello, please follow me through.”

We walked through a familiar open plan office, eerily vacant for the weekend, before descending some steps into a long carpeted corridor lined with a number of doors leading to edit suites.

The corridor opened onto a large room covered on three sides almost from the floor to the ceiling with all manner of analogue and digital media decks.

With a flourish, I revealed the content of my suitcase to the PPS and the operator.

While the operator was busy logging the job on the computer, the PPS seemed to be startled by the state of the first tape I produced from its casing.

As we both inspected the tapes, raising the opened top flap to the ceiling light, we both agreed that despite my efforts to damp-proof my small loft, mould had seeped into the inner casing of the tapes.

Noticing my not-too-distraught appearance, the PPS enquired whether I had another copy of the footage.

“Yes, we shot on film!”

Silently, all three of us seemed to celebrate yet another advantage of shooting that first project on film.

Peace and love,

Ja‘far

February 17th 2013

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Filmwise: More work on the second draft of the little girl in Baghdad screenplay.

Off screen…

Ever since attending my first after-shoot drinks, I have always found the business of “networking” a great source of character study – how one is viewed by others and vice versa.

And so, this weekend I put on my Friday best and headed to a West End establishment for some evening refreshments and the prospect of mingling with film industry professionals.

Being one of the few guests to have turned up unaccompanied, without the benefit of a wing-man/woman, I followed standard behaviour in such circumstance: found myself a quiet corner in the room to have a one-to-one with my fizzy drink.

A few minutes later, a bigger than life lady and a male companion joined me.

Being keen to avoid the “he-didn’t-even-make-an-effort” tag, I said hello.

He – Hello! How is it going?

Me – Fine. Thank you.

She – Hi!

She sounded American.

Me – Where in North America do you come from?

Her response was obstructed by what seemed like a physical difficulty to breathe. She looked down at her shoes, in an attempt to fully exhale her apparent nerves.

He – I am to blame for this. I begged my friend here to join me, so I wouldn’t be on my own.

She – Yes, I don’t like being here!

Me – Just think of it as a quick after work drink. You can stay until you finish your glass, and then…

She – I am not sure I can. The guys here are such douchebags!

Trying to hold back a giggle, I blurted out that this is probably one of the few times I’d ever heard the expression outside a TV or cinema screen.

This seemed to put her at ease, and she ordered a second drink.

Peace and love,

Ja‘far

February 10th 2013

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Filmwise: We have a poster for MESOCAFÉ.

Mesocafé_poster_2013-website

Over the past two weeks, I have been liaising with Robert Wilson, a professional photographer and graphic designer, and a great friend, about the final updates to the poster design.

We had agreed on making a poster long before the film’s world premiere at Raindance in October 2011. Indeed, Robert had sent me several poster designs before the screening date.

However, it was only in the past month that we were able to revisit the earlier poster-proofs for some adjustments.

Brilliant work.

A high resolution version of the poster will soon be downloadable from the “Film Stills” page of the website.

Peace and love,

Ja‘far

February 3rd 2013

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Filmwise: Two days off work this week have helped cap January as one of the more productive starts to the year since we shot Mesocafé.

Having spent nine whole days earlier in the month going through the notes I’d accumulated over the past six months on the first draft, this past week was predominantly dedicated to reading through the  work-in-progress second draft.

I am beginning to sense the world of the story emerging slowly from the construction site phase to allow the painters and decorators to ready the characters, homes, streets and the city for the big screen.

They know my name!

Ever since my experience with the exorbitant prices of the dry cleaners a few months ago, I have been wary of revisiting the same establishment for garments that are in need of some TLC.

With my local high street being one of the more vibrant in London, it didn’t take long for me to chance upon a second launderette.

Upon arriving at the premises, and taking in the dense line of plastic-sheet covered shirts and suits along with the unmistakable whiff of dry cleaning chemicals, I found myself in a queue of two, with a gentleman complaining of how expensive London is.

The man, in his sixties, smartly dressed, a balding head, reading glasses resting on his nose, was leaning against the counter, perhaps, to take some weight off his feet.

Man: “I am paying £70 per a night for a very basic hotel.”

The store manager – late 40s, average height, a heavy jumper and tired looking eyes – agreed with his customer. London is expensive.

Man: “And now, you want me to pay £13 for dry cleaning a pair of trousers! This is mad!”

Manager: “I am charging less than the usual price of £17, actually. It is an expensive area here and…”

At this point, I was beginning to wonder whether I should go back to the other launderette. Their prices were slightly less painful to bear!

The conversation between the two took a turn for “in my country, it’s like this”.

Man: “In Los Angeles, I use a branch of a big chain of dry cleaners. As soon as I go in, they know my name. Very quickly the bill is printed and while I pay, the clothes are placed on the counter for me!”

He had our attention.

Man: “They can do that thanks to a little chip they place in all the jackets and suits of their customers. Look, it’s somewhere in the lining of this coat I am wearing.”

The manager seemed to be making a mental note of this innovation.

Peace and love,

Ja‘far