5th July 08

Haven’t been blogging for a while, and at the moment, this blog is turning into more of a private diary, as there’s not too much production work in process.

After a very depressing semester where teaching commitments meant that I couldn’t get anything done on Echo, things are starting to move again.  Basically, it’s been a big realisation to understand how much more money and time we need to make the thing do-able.  Mostly I’ve been blaming myself and panicking a bit, because I’ve wondered why I can’t design films within my means, like my colleagues and working professionals, and been taking responsibility for a) being naive about my ambitions, and b) thinking I’m a terrible film maker who has no practical ability, but this is not helpful thinking, and also not necessarily true.  Perhaps a more helpful performativity is to realise that a research project is always beyond one’s control, and that also my previous stuff like “Augustine” was also like this, and eventually, the ambition is partly what others buy into and this enables the project to be done and be original.   Anyway, Nimal still wants to work on it, and faith from collaborators is heartening.  Mike Bradsell is interested too, as is Ian Watson.  I’m having to realise that this is going to be years and years of work, rather than being able to complete it in a decent period.  In fact, I went into production very quickly, as I don’t like the unnecessarily long development phase in the UK film industry and think it stultifies the filmmaking, but now I’m finding that this long phase has now just become a post-production phase, whilst we find money, so we’ve got to suffer it anyway!  The advantage this way around though is that at least the footage has energy, but the difficulty is that the cast/crew might disappear or even grow grey hair if we need them back for reshoots.

Applying for an AHRC grant for £20,000.  Realise that post production will probably be in excess of that, even if not paying very commercial rates.  Whole of editing (including sound) maybe about 15,000.  This is much more than shooting costs, and doesn’t including much extra shooting, or much towards the gallery installation.  Don’t know at the moment, how much this bit will cost – it’s still an unknown and I have to find the right person to talk to.  Approaching Picture This, and also going to approach Shimon Attie to ask how he does it?

However, this week was a very helpful week.  Approached Mwnci productions and Richard Moss was incredibly helpful.  Took test footage of stuff to see whether keying would work on a) Tiresias, b) Hera and Zeus.  Was reassured that it definitely would, but again questions of money.  For the first time saw the hi-def on a big screen in his editing suite and was impressed.  He showed me some interesting transitions between male and female Tiresias, and I think some of it is OK.  What’s difficult is finding an unstable male/female mix.  Poor lighting on chromakey might be solved by working with more animated person (Jon Lee?) which would be cheaper than Mwnci but slower.  More important was a new realisation, that we still have camera movement in front of the blue screen with Zeus and Hera (and Tiresias actually) and that we didn’t shoot with that in mind, so that background can’t be matched.  Having no marker in the background (cross on bluescreen) means the sky can’t be moved.  However, we could film a still and go in on that – expense again!

Richard actually said that the project was about as complex as it could get – as complex as Shimon Attie’s, but nevertheless, he put me onto various people to help, and I think it does seem worth it. 

Finally he helped me to think through what to do next.  The plan now is for Nimal to concentrate on the single screen version, and myself and Simon Davies to work on a 5 screen pilot during the three weeks we’re working together in late August.  This must be something that can be shown around.  In addition, he stressed getting the piece edited, and concentrating on that.  I totally agree, and can imagine getting this done, especially if we do find a suitable editor.  I’m going to split it into three sections – first cut (all the material, the story etc.) where we can then get expert editing input, then fine cut where we absolutely nail the story, and design the extra shooting, and then post shooting cut.  This will allow for separate funding for each section.  In addition, there’s tracklaying, composition etc., and multiscreen design.

Talking to Maureen, I’ve realised that elements of the story need attention – in particular, the rejection of Echo by Narcissus, which preempts the endings, the chase sequence – just needs reediting, and the way the installation/interaction is written.  If we have all the money in the world and can move between “rooms” then this is a much better walk through, with Echo and Narcissus fading in one room, and the story starting in another, and ending in 3 more.  However, technically and expense-wise this is very complex, and if we have to use our original 5 screens, then we need to think again.

In particular the Bill Viola idea of Echo and Narcissus at opposite ends of the room fading in slow motion, possibly doesn’t work for a walk in audience.  Perhaps we could move this around and have it as continuous screen savers, and start with the song or something.   Beginnings always seem to need re-writing, just as in lots of essays/dissertations.

Tiresias and the pebbles also possibly needs rethinking, but this can be done when we’ve got more certainty on what we’re doing.

Anyway, enough for now

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