Thursday, August 31, 2006

Out The Way

Work Buddy forwards an email from the Lead Participant who stresses that we need to keep the project moving forward. This, of course, is the project that we had in the bag and ready to go before she decided to redo her interview. Right.

She suggested coming up on Saturday to go through the various sections. Work Buddy replied that everything was underway and would be done by then. Thank you.

I made a start, and after about ten minutes stepped away from the computer, turned on Perfect Dark and slaughtered every damn thing in sight. It was either that or drill into my face with power tools.

This was the first time I had had the chance to sit down and watch the new footage. The answers were more concise this time, which was a good thing. The problem with the new material was that it mirrored, almost exactly, the other actors’ earlier responses.

It was akin to her sneaking a peek at an exam paper and getting the answers without actually understanding the working out that leads to the result. This became apparent when she turned to the camera and smugly explained that what she had just said could lead into one of the other actor’s replies.

Really? Not quite. Because by saying more or less the exact same thing, it made it a question of ‘either or’ when choosing clips. One section edited together ended up with the three of them all contributing to a single, extended, statement.

Worse, the Lead Participant appeared to have set her replies up to deliver an obvious ‘killer punchline’ at the end. Apart from turning the other actors into her stooges, it might have paid off if what she said was actually funny. By playing it straight we would have found the humour in the juxtaposition of statements. What we had instead was aiming for a roll on the drums followed by the crash of the high-hat.

I hadn’t been there for the previous actors interviews, but had provided a list of the subjects to cover. The Lead Participant had ignored them, conducted the ‘interviews’ herself and quickly turned them into conversations. Which left us with footage of the actors patiently listening to her talk about what they should have been talking about. When they did eventually reply to camera, nine times out of ten, she would interrupt with more comments about herself. Marvellous. Why listen to them when we can hear about you? Again.

By the time I gave up for the day and quit out, there was about six minutes of footage spliced together. And to get that I had to reinstate material from her earlier interview.

In the meantime, Our Friend In The Know got back to us mid-afternoon. Still feeling rough, he had just that moment dragged himself in to work. Suggesting we meet up at six o’clock, Work Buddy flatly refused, telling him it could wait until he was feeling better.

Upon hearing this, I was close to starting up another Perfect Dark simulant slaughter, especially when Work Buddy reported that he had turned down the offer of the three of us getting together tomorrow. Until, that is, he explained his line of reason.

Seeing that we weren’t trying to pressure him, Our Friend offered a day next week. Work Buddy plumped for Tuesday. Rather than meet outside, Our Friend In The Know booked a conference room for us to discuss the project. Ah, now I get it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Call Waiting

Wednesdays are my new Saturdays. A break from the computer affords me the opportunity to collect my thoughts and stock up on provisions while the supermarkets are less busy.

Instead of the aisles being jammed with swarms of locusts in human form there are usually only old biddies who can easily be bumped out of the way on the way to the checkout.

With tourist season on the wane, Central London is less congested. Soon the pavements should be free of gormless clumps of people, scratching their heads and looking every which way as they consult a street map and inevitably stumble off in the wrong direction.

At Oxford Street underground station a couple dragging their mewling brats were looking for Leicester Square. Which is probably what happens when everything you know about London’s street plan is learnt from a Monopoly board.

Lured into buying a DVD, I stop off to catch up with my Virgin girl, hearing about her holiday while a queue forms behind me.

On the way into town I spent the journey scribbling notes in the margins of the draft proposal, wondering if Our Friend In The Know is going to get back to us.

On the way back home I read the London paper. Sudoku and the cryptic crossword apart, I catch a praiseworthy review of The Black Dahlia, which opened the Venice Film Festival. Given it’s based on the Ellroy book, there’s no way I’m going to miss it.

Which means that there is a Brian De Palma film I actually want to go and see.

By early evening I find out that after emails and calls from Work Buddy, Our Friend In The Know suggests a possible meeting tomorrow, dependent on whether he can rouse himself from his sickbed.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Non-Believer of the Church of MySpace

Will Dixon over at uninflected images juxtaposed introduced me to MySpace. When I say that, what I mean is he posted an entry on his blog called So, What's the Deal with MySpace? Which made me inquisitive.

I’ve already read articles about the site in the broadsheets. Shame I didn’t keep any of them but, it from what I read, I couldn’t really see the point. And if you’re thinking, How late is your awareness of MySpace? check out the date on the opening salvo of blogs. Both Blogger and MySpace weren’t on my radar because they didn’t need to be.

My first response upon glancing at a variety of MySpace pages was “My eyes! My beautiful eyes!” Apparently not one single page satisfies the criteria for valid HyperText Markup Language laid down by the World Wide Web Consortium, which isn’t that surprising.

Even worse than it causing accessibility problems, the site is set up to allow everyone to customise their profile page. Which means a muckety-muck of designs by people who have absolutely no fucking idea about design. At least the available blog templates were put together by actually designers.

The majority of MySpace pages look like they were cobbled together by manic kiddies who had raided the crayon box and gone amuck, creating playbills for participants appearing at the carnival night on The Island of Doctor Moreau. Others were frankly dull.

Once I finally found a site that didn’t have garish pink lettering on a turquoise background, or something equally as violent, I started to look around to see what the pages have.

There wasn’t much. So, the point is simply to big yourself up and make friends. Is that it? Okay. Not to promote myself as the anti-social type, but simply amassing ‘friends’ from out across the ether to exchange banal pleasantries with does seem all that great to me.

Frankly, I prefer real friends. Ones you can actually socialise with. Ones that will do you a solid when you’re in a bind, and vice versa.

I suppose people can say the same about blogs. But a good number of them are informative, witty and entertaining. As a writer who doesn’t always get the chance to write, especially when we have a filming assignment, writing the blog gives me the chance to flex the muscle. Even when I am writing, the blog gives me the opportunity to write something different and more personal.

Maybe blogs are the new “Dear Diary...” allowing you to see how far you’ve progressed over the weeks, months and years. Which makes MySpace the new penpals. The problem is, most people don’t have much to say. Instead it lets them jump up and down and wave their hands, trying their best to be noticed.

If that’s all there is, I don’t see any reason to be a Worshiper at the Church of MySpace.

Start Making Sense

Putting the new proposal together, after leaving it to stew for a day while I got on with preliminary work on the edit.

Which meant coming back and refining the virtual stream of consciousness that had flowed out; hacking out the different versions and alterations made as the story evolved, narrowing down the characters and events. After all the chopping and shaping, I got it into some semblance of order, breaking it down into clear sections.

In the meantime Work Buddy called Our Friend In The Know to see about our in. From Our Friend, it turns out the original writer on the project is part of the deal, much the same way an actor is attached to a project to get finance.

Our Friend In The Know suggested having a meeting outside of the office so he could talk a little more freely. That way we can find out if the sniff we got was bogus or not. Hopefully Thursday. Although Work Buddy felt things might not look too hopeful, at least it means we have another drama idea written up and ready to go.

Which adds to the list of things we can sell to the Godless sodomites!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Gross Out

Concentrating on juggling multiple projects, typically there are people that slip from regular contact. The past couple of days I had finally got back in touch with the Designated Author to see how things are progressing.

Bounced from June to October to April of next year, publication of the book has been delayed. No skin off my nose, other than a delay in collecting royalties.

The reason for the delay is down to the publisher. Or rather the fact that he is quite likely getting the butt-fucking of his life by a steady progression of hungry US attorneys.

The novel is nothing special. The publisher’s company obtains licenses of various films and television series. So the book is “based on a series.” Not exactly high art. But a good adventure yarn that delivered a cheque.

The trouble kicked off when the publisher mouthed off on a forum. Easy mistake, I suppose. Especially when you want to be a big man to all the little weevils who gossip on the internet and... well, that’s about it really. His big talk got back to the series creator, who used his circle of toady fans to broadcast his thoughts to. And it all kicked off from there.

Discussing it again, I mentioned to the Designated Author that since these little wieners have no life and nothing better to do, once they get hold of a sliver of information it gets twisted around and spread about faster than herpes in a hump pile.

At which point she thanked me for a new, cool and disgusting, expression to use. Glad to be of service.

Now, who else haven’t I been in contact with?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

What Kind of Day?

I had planned on a relaxing day. A leisurely, light-breakfast, putting my feet up and reading through The Sunday Times, and generally lounging about.

Didn’t happen. Instead...

At least that's how it felt.

My Big Mouth

All I had to do was keep my mouth shut really. A nod of interest was all it would take and we could move on. Really, it was that simple.

Back from Work Buddy’s with the super, super-duper computer, I was fixing coffee while he set up the second monitor and plugged in the router. Once it was done, we talked about the work coming up. And at that point Work Buddy mentioned something that had been mentioned in passing to him; how a property acquired by one of the UK television channels, and still in the writing stage, wasn’t doing to plan.

And right then, instead of nodding in interest and continuing the conversation the way it was going, I wondered aloud how we would have outlined the drama. What current difficulties there were in the concept stage and what we would do differently, given the chance.

It was well over an hour by the time we were done. And that was just putting together a credible back story and then figuring out which direction the story would go, going over it, back and forth, adding new layers.

Since I already have the business card of the guy who can give us the name of the people we need to talk to, we figured, why not do it. Tuesday we make the call.

Up until then, instead of editing the interviews or continuing with the other existing work, we have to put the information we came up with down on paper and sort out the proposal, outline and treatment. So, not much to do then.

Oh, and come Tuesday, I’m going to take out a restraining order on my goddam mouth.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Say What?

Up at Work Buddy’s. Getting more woof in the computer. Actually, we’re swapping the G4s around so I can head home with dual processors and a third hard drive. Which will make it easier to edit from home.

Saving existing work to the external drives, reformatting software, and downloading upgrades leaves us sitting idle for a while. Which means one thing: Time to goof around!

A couple of weeks back, we needed some information on a foreign location. The only half-decent stuff we could find was, shockingly, on a foreign web page. Which wasn’t good. Especially since there was no ‘translate this page’ option.

It soon became increasingly apparent that neither of us had obviously been paying that much attention, back in the days at our respective schools. So to get around our varying degrees on ineptitude, we tried one of the free online language translators, hoping it would succeed where we had failed.

As for the results?

Well, when I got back to London a week or so ago, one of the first things I saw that evening was a stick-thin girl in a short black skirt and pastel yellow and pink striped leggings tottering down the street clutching an aerosol with the spray cap pulled off. Nice, huh?

Well, at that moment, she would probably have made more sense than what we got back from the translator. We had asked for the copy to be translated into English and to be fair there were now English words up on the screens, even if the order they had been arranged in left a lot to be desired.

So during our goof time today, we pulled up the translator web page and generally twatted around, translating text from the blog here into a foreign language and then from that foreign language back to English again. Why? Well, in goof time there is no ‘why’.

In Something For The Weekend – Part Two I wrote:

'We’ve already checked the finished ones, and typically the interlace flicker filter took a bite out of our arse over a few of the graphic sequences. I blame it on working long hours.'

That went out and came back as

'We inspected them who already end, and the filter which agglutination shakes typically some had the bite from our anus normality of chart order and it went. I criticize it at long time day.'

One day, when we break down the barriers, everyone will talk this way. We will be blessed!

Thursday, August 24, 2006


So this is what happened...

Slither director James Gunn wrote a list of his 25 favourite TV characters ever. Joss Whedon came back with his rival list. And then Entertainment Weekly threw it open on their Popwatch blog...

Thinking about it, I find it difficult not to list the entire casts from ensemble shows. Only because a great character rarely works in isolation. I tried to pick characters from different shows, which didn’t work out.

And then when the list was done I realised that a lot of them are pretty weasely, which made me wonder what that said about me. Ah, what the hell.

So, if you're sitting comfortably, I'll begin...

My favourite TV characters

01. Al Swearengen - Deadwood
02. Andy Sipowicz - NYPD Blue
03. Jimmy McNulty – The Wire
04. Josh Lyman – The West Wing
05. Eliot Weston - thirtysomething
06. George Costanza - Seinfeld
07. Gaius Baltar – Battlestar Galactica
08. Londo Mollari – Babylon 5
09. Frank Pembleton – Homicide: Life on the Street
10. Artie – The Larry Sanders Show
11. Paulie 'Walnuts' Gualtieri – The Sopranos
12. John Locke - Lost
13. Jayne Cobb - Firefly
14. Lt. Mike Torello – Crime Story
15. Mick Belker – Hill Street Blues
16. Ludwig Kessler – Secret Army
17. Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach – The Shield
18. Larry David – Curb Your Enthusiasm
19. Calamity Jane - Deadwood
20. John Kelly – NYPD Blue
21. CJ Cregg – The West Wing
22. Melissa Steadman - thirtysomething
23. Tim Bayliss – Homicide: Life on the Street
24. Hank Kingsley – The Larry Sanders Show
25. Laura Roslin – Battlestar Galactica

And if we could have mini-series/serials, which Gunn categorically forbids, there would also be

Darius Jedburgh – Edge of Darkness (honorable mention)

And Ronnie Craven. And Harcourt and Pembleton.

You're So Sly But So Am I

The problem having a business and personal email address is I tend to favour one over the other.

Okay, I admit it: I forgot to check my business email address.

Way back when, after Short Film Writer had plied us with his first draft, we suggested that he write an outline, laying out the basic plot, along with some character profiles to help everyone get their head around who these people were supposed to be. Both would help with the extensive rewrite that it needed.

We waited. We even waited some more. Finally the second draft arrived (which left us underwhelmed). And where was the supplementary material? Obviously still out in the ether somewhere.

Today I found them in my Entourage inbox. Two weeks old.

Actually, it wasn’t that much of a surprise. Work Buddy had been sent the documents and printed them up while I had been here. Given how busy we were at the time, I had quickly glanced at the first couple of lines, winced with the kind of expression on my face you get when being sprayed with lukewarm slurry, and gone right back to work.

Saving them this morning, I got to read... oh, at least the first paragraph to each one. That was enough to figure out they had been written after the fact. Amongst all the extraneous information, it was obvious that each description had come from the actions badly described script.

If I hadn’t been paying enough attention, SFW might have got away with it. But then if he wanted to make out the descriptions came first, he really shouldn’t have started the attachment’s email with:

“Ended up writing a few lengthy emails instead last night so only got round to typing this up today.

“The minor ones are much shorter and you can probably guess what most of them are about anyway.”

That’s not how you do it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

What Did I Miss?

The DVDs had been delivered for the Lead Participant well over a week ago. Work Buddy calls to generally shoot the breeze/talk about some potential leads, so I ask what the reaction was for LP and the Supporting Players.

Supporting Players: Fine.
Lead Participant: Well, what do you know...

She had been back up to reshoot her interview segments.

In the main feature, there had been times when the soundtrack was nipped and tucked because Lead Participant would start talking, get to an “um” and then leave a gap of sometimes up to four or five seconds before resuming. Which meant cutaway shots have to be flung in to cover the joins.

The rough assembly of the interviews was full of it. Having not had time to get to it, we had blocked sections together by subject matter and made everyone aware that it needed to be fine tuned (and digitally graded). Having not watched the footage for a while it seems it went an um too far.

If that was the excuse to redo it, then fine. But there is always the nagging doubt that, knowing the other people’s responses, a redo gives an unfair advantage. Worse, the forewarning can make the person reshooting their contributions sound smug or too clever-clever.

And then there were the credits. Lead Participant had a Producer’s credit. (Which truth be told, hadn’t exactly been earned). There was also a Co-Writing credit (because she had contributed to alterations in the material written for the voice-over. Now, there was a Co-Directing credit piggy-backed on at her insistence as well.


It may not be popular, but I’m of the opinion: you get a credit if you earn it. I told Work Buddy to drop my additional cameraman credit on this one because even though I had shot for a morning, only one or two shots made the final cut. As a whole, what I shot was only a small percentage anyway. And my name was already down for Writing and Editing. Two was enough.

If the Lead Participant understood what the Producing credit actually meant and what the job entailed, she wouldn’t need the other two. But what can you do?

“Vanity is the quicksand of reason.”
-- George Sands

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Back in the World

...At least for a day or so. It would have been too easy to title this post That Was The Week That Was. But it seemed too obvious.

Back to work. Computer on. Focussed. So focussed that it took a while to realise the phone line was dead. Which was a pisser because the new modem arrived in the post. After about an hour, it didn’t matter. Any other time and I’d be rushing about trying to find out what the problem was and how quickly it could be fixed. This time it meant peace and quiet. No bothersome sales calls to dodge.

Computer on. Focussed. Writing. Maybe not as much as I had to churn out each day to get the novel finished. But then these are projects I’m more personally invested in, so I wanted to put more thought into them.

And if I became stuck or needed time to formulate the words, there was the exercise contraption across the room. I’d work out on that until I tore my spine out of my back, ripped my arms from their sockets, or figured out what to write next. Luckily I always figured out what to write next.

Everything was ticking along nicely until the mouse crapped out. The light flickered. The cursor stuttered. And that was it.

Which meant a whole evening of trying to remember keyboard commands. Okay, so open, save and quit were pretty easy. But Apple w to close a document? By the time I hadn’t even got close, the screen was full of all kinds of crap.

Back to pen and paper. And a morning in town to pick up a new mouse.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Write Stuff

Back to work after a couple of well deserved days rest (which is the story I'm sticking to).

The DVDs delivered, we caught up with various colleagues. A few leads were dangled in front of us as Work Buddy was pulled aside to discuss some projects that may come our way. When I talked to an actress about possible future work of my own she quickly scribbled down her telephone number.

Although we decided to be on our way soon after, it still took at least 40 minutes to say our goodbyes to everyone. Although, oddly enough, not to not one of the first people we saw, who described Work Buddy as "trouble" and me as "more trouble".

Now, here's the thing...

In the closing stages of the edit last week, I had glanced at the blog's About Me and laughed at my description 'Writer who got sidetracked...' With the current projects virtually done, I can finally get back to writing.

Now that the TV drama Work Buddy originated is getting some interest, the pilot needs a final pass, and the second episode has to be finished. In concert, the overall package needs the supplementary material finalised.

For the past eight or nine months, Work Buddy and I have been throwing story ideas around. In total there are just over a dozen projects that need finalised treatments. And a couple of scripts of my own that deserve another pass. And then there are the book proposals.

I guess that's enough to be getting on with. That'll get people pointing and saying, "Hey, there's one of them writers!"

All I have to do now is figure out which project to start on first.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Something For The Weekend - Part Two

Showered and shaved and waiting for the DVDs to write.

We’ve already checked the finished ones, and typically the interlace flicker filter took a bite out of our arse over a few of the graphic sequences. I blame it on working long hours.

The rest of the material looks excellent. Far better than it deserves to be, especially given the budget.

Once the last disc is spat out, we have a two hour drive to Birmingham to deliver the goods. While we wait for that to happen, Work Buddy thrashes away at the guitar.

Without any work, I feel at a loss for something to do. So I decide on what to watch when we get back...

Of course.

Friday, August 11, 2006

...And There's More

This is what happens when you speak too freaking soon! One final hurdle appears before we make it to the finish line. Typical.

I was that close to thinking we were done. And then there were the extras to consider. Elements from three separate interviews had to be strung together in a very rough assembly, and their sound levels balanced.

After that came the compression for the DVD. At least the main feature had already been done, earlier while we were eating. While that was running – is still running! – Work Buddy then had to prepare to author the DVD, which, given that it is only for client approval, thankfully only needed three active buttons for now: main feature, interviews and trailer. Additionals, including the Easter Eggs can be done another time.

It’s getting there.

Job Done... Almost

Mid afternoon and my job was pretty much done.

Actually Work Buddy took over for the last couple of hours, having already edited a rough version of the final sequence a while ago. After that the sound levels were balanced and the score added. A few additional tweaks and we were done. More or less.

Given that it is going for approval tomorrow, there’s no point on giving it the full service in case we get comments back. As long as it looks very presentable, that’s fine.

Which is good because as the finishing touches were put on, the madness began to take hold of us. It tends to happen when long term, on-going projects come to an end in daylight hours. With time at hand, it’s just the right time to unscrew the valve a little, let off a little steam, and go ga-ga.

Along with the copy I had written, the DVD’s back cover needed some additional material which allowed us both to vent a little by conjuring up language that was completely fucking inappropriate. And darn right rude. We put the blame on cabin fever and tried to top each other in terms of outright filth.

The finish line is in site...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The World Midweek

Is it really Wednesday already?

The editing continues. It’s coming along but not as fast as I would like.

It should have been relatively straightforward. The fly in the ointment comes from the Lead Participant’s decision, prior to the shoot, to adopt a different persona during part of the filming as a ‘joke’. Instead of it being extreme enough to be really funny side, it simply confused everyone.

Which is not good when the project was filmed with one camera on a short schedule. Because it meant two versions of the same event – one played straight, the other, if not over the top then close to the brim – couldn’t always be filmed. The knock on effect is that a good portion of the footage has turned out to be unusuable, with some sequences positively anemic.

As a certified Brave Boy, I soldier on with what I’ve got to make it come together. Work Buddy has produced some fantastic music cues and graphics. Jolly wizz!

A couple of posts back I stated that murdering people would be a bad thing to do because you were bound to get caught by the forensics and banged to rights.

Obvious that’s not the case at all. In America they may have CSI, but back home we have FSS. Supposedly, Forensic Science Service. More than likely, Fucking Stupid Spazs. Who managed to miss blood stains on the shoes, trousers and jumpers and Damiloa Taylor’s killers four years ago.

I might as well tank up the chainsaw right now and let her rip! Then stand at the scene of each crime, looking like I had bathed in blood, while scratching my arse with somebody’s severed hand. They would obviously still miss me.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Present and Correct

Not to sound like an ungrateful bastard, but I’ve almost always been underwhelmed by presents. Even from an early age Christmas and Birthdays usually required great acting coupled with a rictus grin when the “special day” arrived.

Growing up, all I ever wanted were book tokens so I could get the books that I wanted to read. After mentioning it on numerous occasions, I would usually end up unwrapping something so totally bizarre that I wondered if maybe the gift tags had been mixed up.

It was a blessed relief when somewhere around my late teens we, as a family, pretty much gave up buying presents for one another. Nowadays you’re lucky if a card comes through the post.

Outside of the family, things didn’t fare any better over the years.

The One That Got Away broke up with me the week before my birthday but insisted that she had bought me a great present.

The Blonde with the Butterfly Tattoo got me a mobile phone one Christmas. Which was nice. But given that ultimately the relationship proved to be more like a bizarre, illict affair than simply a couple in love, it was more for her benefit than mine; making sure the coast was clear for me to travel back to her place after work.

Come to think of it, she broke up with me a week or so before my birthday, and even then we argued about what she wanted to get me for a present. In the end I got nothing. Although we did carry on having sex for the next six months... Which is probably a story best left for another time. Or never.

Work Buddy usually has deliveries turning up on a daily basis. Either it’s new graphics cards for the computers, addition hard drives and data storage, or reference books from those nice people at Amazon.

The package that came today was a real doozy; the kind of thing that if you drop on your foot you’d know about it. As would anybody in the floors immediately below you.

After struggling to get the plastic wrap open, he turned in the chair and pushed the box into my lap and announced this one was for me.

It was a thank-you from him and his girlfriend for helping put the shed up.

Inside was:

And I was totally and utterly overwhelmed by it.

I was astonished and lost for words.

Words that would have been:

Fucking hell! This is fucking brilliant! Fuck! This is fantastic! Jesus-fucking- Christ! Thanks, fella! Fuckin' hell!

If we both weren’t sitting down at the desks, and if I didn’t have the book on my lap, I would have given him a big manly hug. Instead I could only inadequately shake his hand and say thank-you, thank-you, thank-you.

Surprise presents are ace presents. And this was the surprise present. This was the Holy Grail of surprise presents!

The Stanley Kubrick Archives. And Friendship.

And how was your day?

Monday, August 07, 2006

I Am Not Beef Jerky!

Waking up was easy today. Trying to remain conscious and get my motor functions up and running proved to be far more difficult.

I would say it was a typical Monday, although thinking back I can't remember what last Monday was like. Even with a mug of coffee gripped firmly in my hand, I was slumped against the doorframe and gripping on to the wall for dear life.

Eager for the caffine to kick in, I tried to reply to Work Buddy’s comments about footage on BBC News 24. Israel seemed to be starting their week off by blasting the shit out of Lebanon. Apparently if your ancestors went up a chimney you have free reign to do whatever the fuck you like. It must be in the small print.

A shower and a second mug of coffee brought me round. Then back to editing.

Late morning the Lead Participant arrived to film the very last sequence for the soon-to-be-finished second project. We sat her in the studio infront of some pieces of kit with blinky-lights on them, bounced light into her face, gave her the first prompt and let the camera roll. Within half an hour we were done and she was out the door.

The DVD for this one has to be finished on Friday for Saturday, which means we’re going to have to hustle through it, over the next four days, to stitch it all together. If this was the only project we were working on it wouldn’t be that bad. Even with time having to be diverted elsewhere, we should still sail through it. We were so relaxed about it, we even left the computers to watch some television in the evening.

Back from her job, Work Buddy’s girlfriend asked how my leg was. Bored with me, the insects seem to have buzzed off in search of another target. Which is good. You’re not beefy jerky, she told me. Which is also good.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

First Cut

The footage from yesterday fired in, I started selecting the shots. Thankfully all the montage clips had been sourced in advance, although the ones selected still needed to be trimmed and spotted, presenting the usual challenges/swearing.

For such a short sequence there was a fair amount of slicing and dicing to get the best from each take. By the time I was done for the day about two minutes work of footage was strung together, with about another minute’s worth outstanding.

Yesterday the Lead Participant, plus one, came back up to record the voice over for both this project and another one. Luckily it was a flying visit, which allowed us to get on at our own pace.

It’s nice to be nice (occasionally), but with looming deadlines, we just wanted to get the job done and show them the door so we could get back to work as soon as possible.

The opening sequence would have been finished, easily, but a hired-in DigiBeta had to be hooked up to my machine to import footage for the concurrent DVD authoring. By the time it had run all the material in, it was well into the evening. And on an unusually hot night after the recent mild spell, who would want to be in a small studio with three computers on and a Digi blasting out enough heat to cook a horse with.

Even in the heat, at least the leg wasn’t itching. Although the skin was still taut and the back of the calf now speckled with whiteheads, At least it hadn’t exploded out in a massive spray of hot puss. Which was a plus.

Sitting down to eat, I noticed my ankle bones had effectively disappeared because ankle and foot were now swollen. The one day I start turning into the Elephant Man and I was too busy to notice. Damn.

Have to see what the second half of the tablet brings tomorrow. It went down a treat.

Bite Me!

Maybe it was a ploy, worked out in advance, to keep me inside at the computer on a sunny Summer Saturday.

A night or so ago, in my sleep I must have kicked the duvet off my legs, and a super-strength mozzie raiding party had streaked in through the open window and settled down for a slap-up feast at my expense. They struck right around where I was bitten during construction of the shed, at the top of my calf, just to the side of my kneecap.

Since then it’s got nasty. The past couple of days I’ve been scratching the itch like fury. Now the skin is mottled yellow, red and pink. With what looks like some orange in there for good measure, it’s like a big, colour-blind bruise stretching down toward my ankle.

From yesterday it has been slathered with various ointments that don’t seem to be that effective. The lack of success could be what happens when you mix the creams. Maybe the Clotrimazole and Hydrocortisone don’t get on with Methyl hydroxybenzoate and phenylethyl alcohol.

Not only is the leg swollen, but now the skin is hard to the touch. And a little bit crispy. In fact it looks like a roast chicken that was in the oven too long and dried out. Which is a pisser.

Rather than walking, I’m clumping around, with the knee joint refusing to bend the leg the way it is supposed to. Which means I stay at the desk sorting through the footage from yesterday, sorting out the useable takes.

While it may seem like I’m making a big deal out of it, the leg has probably got this way from the moment it was infected because I’ve been trying to ignore it. Apart from the incessant bouts of scratching. Growing up on a farm meant you only went to the doc when internal organs were outside or limbs had been shredded/torn off. Anything less was trivial.

After we called it a night and powered the computers down, Work Buddy went rooting around in the medicine cabinet. As for the pill he returned with, I wouldn’t say that it was anywhere near as strong as a horse tranquiliser, except perhaps in size, but it had to be broken in two - taking half now and half tomorrow - so I didn’t exceed the maximum safe dosage.

Down the hatch!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Write to Reply

Our short film writer still hasn’t got back to us. Maybe it has taken him this long to recover from his birthday. Which isn’t an excuse that washes too well at this end.

In the first draft, the plot was hanging on for dear life to such an extent in places that we suggested to SFW he write an outline explaining the story’s intentions along with profiles of the characters. That way we could get a better idea of what he was hoping to achieve and pinpoint where it needed to be fixed.

Have either of them come our way? Have they fuck!

Without them it leaves us with a situation of not knowing what needs to stay and what needs to go. Even our pal seems at a loss, and he and SFW go back a long way.

For now we sit and wait. None of us holding our breath.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Nod Right Off!

I took a break from the computers late in the afternoon, sat down on the sofa with a coffee and the newspaper and promptly fell asleep for two hours. Which was embarrassing.

I could blame it on the continuous early starts for the last two or three weeks, including weekends. But I put it down to the recent bought of DVD authoring.

While that’s Work Buddy’s domain, and I’m happy to let him get on with it, this time the deadline was tight. Amongst the discs “special features” were biographies of the various participants interviewed, that needed to be typed up and input.

If it was the least bit interesting, that wouldn’t have been so bad. But the feature content was a documentary about the 1960s/70s New York music and art scene, with such unbelievable high levels of pretension that it made me want to rip out my eyes and boil my head in rancid mountain goat piss.

Everyone was (supposedly) an inspiration to their generation and ‘critically acclaimed’ and ‘world renowned’. Judging from the footage, they looked like a right bunch of noddies then and were certainly a right bunch of noddies now. Their idea of being radical and innovative seemed to consist of musical instrument abuse and on-stage dickery.

Instead of ‘Musician’ or ‘Artist’ I was sorely tempted to type in ‘Talentless Ass Clown’ when it came to career descriptions.

Amongst the barrel full of pretention, the pièce de résistance had to be the Production Notes. There the documentary producers, so obviously proud of their marvellous achievement, gave themselves two whole pages of self-important biography notes each, while the actual participants got one.

Given the bad filming, bad lighting, bad editing and just general badness of this feeble piece of work, they showed a certain foolish bravery in shouting about themselves. Even if they did it in such a way that made me want to boil them in goat piss.

When I finished typing I was finished.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Full Electronic Jacket

I know that technology has moved forward to such an extent that you can play Street Fighting Death Ninja Zombie IV and boot the head clean off players halfway across the world by linking up your PS-thing or X-Boxed.

Sure the graphics may be pin sharp and the environments appear with absolute clarity, but for me video games reached their peak with the N64 and the quartet of games: Super Mario Kart, Goldeneye, Banjo Kazooie and Perfect Dark. With those four you can race, cock around in cartoon land, and – more importantly – kill.

If you want to kill something, do it on an N64. That way you don’t have to strain your back rolling a body into a ditch before dousing it in petrol.

You don’t have to worry about wiping blood and brain matter out from under your eyelids, especially after watching a CSI and coming to the realisation that the only way the techies won’t catch you out is if you grow a whole new skin.

And it saves having to come up with an excuse when a friend comes round and accidentally comes across the souvenirs you’ve kept in the freezer.

Bizarrely, I honed my skills not at home but in the studio. Where racking up a high kill count could be wonderfully cathartic. Especially on the days when the animators were being such stiff pricks I wanted to stuff their mouths full of shotgun cartridges, tape their jaws shut, and then set their heads on fire.

While the grubby little pencil monkeys probably thought the same about me, they harboured the idea that were creating art, while I was concerned about keeping to the schedule, safe in the knowledge that we were turning out stupid commercials for products nobody could really give a weak squirt about. Which meant I won!

On days when things got a little tense, rather than paint the walls with blood and drop kick their broken remains off the roof, the next best thing was to blow their bloody heads off. On screen. And I could be a demon!

Maybe it was because they worked in 2D, but some of them had so little spatial awareness it was pathetic. Game after game, they just couldn’t figure out the layout of the selected environment. Which meant I could sneek up from behind and burn them. One helmetoid, who was a particularly nasty thug when he wanted to be, would get so annoyed that it was worth playing him just to see how quickly he would stomp off in disgust, sticking with the excuse that he had to get the train home to his wife.

Our producer would tolerate everyone blatting each other, as long as it was after hours. Which was perfect. Because the N64 soon proved to be a good thing.

Animators and deadlines. Few knew the meaning of the word. Or didn’t care. Almost everything came last minute. And anything last minute came later than that. The last few days of production – as the various scene elements and effects runs were checked and output, ready to be sent over to the facilities house – usually meant late nights sliding gracefuly into all nighters.

Which wasn’t a problem. A problem would be forgetting to tick the right box for pixel ratio or some other techno-bullshit. So from one o’clock, on the hour, I would nip out of the digital department and fire up Super Mario Kart.

The idea was to play the simplest course imaginable. If I won then I worked another hour. If my concentration had gone to hell and I drove all over the place, trounced by Bowser or Wario, it was time to shut down the machines and sprawl out on the sofa in reception.