Wednesday, July 28, 2004

That was the week that was

Right, I'm getting all the namedropping out in the first couple of paragraphs so those who find it unattractive can skip right past to the next bit. I've had a really interesting week (although I make no promises that it will make interesting reading, but I'll try!). I'm back at home in brum, having done an interview with Charlie Brooks this morning at her flat. She's very nice, and her take on her experience of working on Take 3 Girls (the movie I'm making a making of documentary for) was interesting - she had some interesting points to make about the difference between being in an incredibly organised and slick tv show like Eastenders, and an Anglo-Indian co-produced movie. Guess which one involves the more waiting around? However she said that that had meant that some fantastic bonding had taken place between the cast. She seemed to have really enjoyed doing the movie, which is cool.

The next bit of namedropping is brief - last Thursday I went to see Karen David at acoustix at the Bedford in Balham. Sat at our table and also there to see Karen was Rollo from Faithless. Fantastic. He didn't seem to mind me going up to him and gushing about Mass Destruction. In fairness, it was very hearltfelt gushing, as I do think it's a fantastic tune.

Apart from my brief brush with dance superstardom, the night at the Bedford was fantastic. Many of the cast and crew of take 3 girls were there, and it was very nice to see them again. The format of the night was 4 or 5 fantastic acts doing 2 songs each in both the first and second halves. So you'd see 2 songs by each artist, then get an interval, then get 2 more of each afterwards. There was an incredibly eclectic mix, and the highlights for me were Karen and an INCREDIBLE jazz band called Del Rosario. I'm sorry this isn't proper journalism and I can't name any of the band, but there was a guy who was the lead singer and lead guitarist, who had an incredible voice and some mad jazz skillz on the ol' fretboard. There were two female singers who sang beautifully, an awesome drummer, fab bassist and wicked keyboard player. Check them the whole heck out if you ever get a chance. Their songs were fantastic too - one of the things I really liked about them was how grown up the themes of the songs were, and indeed the way in which those themes were explored... The other act that went down very well, and which I found interesting, but not my cup of tea was Lily Fraser. I'm sure she's fed up with being compared to Kate Bush, but her voice and the angsty and personal themes of the songs probably make it inevitable. She was backed by a drummer, harpist, cellist and double bassist, and had an incredibly tight and interesting sound, but it was just a little too angsty for my tastes.

Acoustix at the Bedford is every Thursday night and is free, and also (and I think this is awesome) - it's webcast via that site. How wicked is that? I'm gonna be checking it out from time to time I think. The MC made a big point of saying that it was free to get in, but they ask you to pay more expensive than money - attention. He ensured silence for each act and asked people to go out to the bar if they wanted to chat - this did mean there was a lot of attention for the artists, even if it lent the mc a slightly fascist air...However it made for an excellent musical experience all round.

So yeah, that was great. But the best things that have happened to me have been that I've come up with a strategy to try and pitch my movie (more on that later) and I'm gonna be paid to edit my documentary, and then to make a documentary about the next film (Mirror, mirror) which I'm also gonna get paid for. So I'm a film maker. It hasn't quite sunk in yet, but it's the best thing that's ever happened to me in terms of work and career and stuff. I've done stuff I'm incredibly proud of before (particularly two videos I was involved in making called Positive Affirmations and Key Principles for Growth) but I've never been able to do it for a living.

This evening I went with Phill to see Rich (aka Ideosphere) as Phill was interviewing him for a forthcoming article on the Black Country page on the BBC website as part of the preperation for a different kettle of fish at the sunflower lounge (come one, come all, it's free and will be awesome!) 

In the past week I've also read a script, been to a casting session, been to an editing suite and then to a film processing lab to try and help sort out a bit of confusion, solidified some professional relationships which I think will develop in the future, clarified my short term future, seen my oldest friend after ages and ages, been a secretary for my dad and generally learned a great deal. It's looking good, but I'm glad to be home so I can do some work on solidifying the spiritual, mental and physical platform I'll need to do all these things...

love and peace and all good things to all...

p.s. Check out this article on BBC Birmingham, with words by Phill and photos by Katy!  

Monday, July 26, 2004

Proper post soon

I promise...

In the meantime, have this funny stuff from Iamdecal (it'll make no sense at all to people who aren't familiar with Kevin Smith...

lots of love to all
from your friend paul

(that's a little poem there...)

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I'm going to bed (Rechargeable)

But before I do, I'djust like to observe that in my life I have the following things that need to be recharged:
1 mobile phone
1 landline cordless phone
1 pair of cordless headphones
4 batteries for video cameras (3 for the xl1 and one for the "other" camera, which is smaller, and I've never memorised the model number)
1 Soul (recharged through the power of meditation)
1 Body (recharged through sleep)
That's quite a lot of things to be recharged. Can you guess what I think the most important one is?
Saw Shrek 2 today. Marvelous. Of all the many popular culture references that littered it, my favourite was undoubtedly the Streetfighter 2 moment with the Chun Li overhead spinning kicks and dragon punch combo.
Thanks to Dave I found the sweetest thing I've ever seen on the web. Go to homestarrunner , then click on the "Decemberween in July" link which will appear shortly on the go and see what's new button. Then click on the little green flashing light above the menu.
I'm pleased to see that the Streets have been nominated for the mercury. I am completely nuts about the second album - it's a modern urban hip hop opera....

Monday, July 19, 2004

Weekend diary entry post type thing...

So, this weekend I've done many nice restful things, which is a relief. I am preparing to go back to London for more workey type stuff on Thursday, so I've been takin' it easy.
Friday - saw the wonderful Kathryn Williams live at the MAC. An incredible set outdoors in the arena, ending with a version Neil Young's Birds as a flock of birds flew in perfect formation into the sunset...pure musical loveliness
Saturday - slept and watched the School of Rock. And Jersey Girl (which I absolutely loved, even though it's Kevin Smith being all grown up and heartwarming. He's still Kevin Smith.)
Sunday - Phill and Fincho came round for tea - I made lasagne and roasted vegetables with a goats cheese salad. And we had Appletiser...Then watched "A Mighty Wind" which is fantastic.
Spent much of the time when I wasn't doing those things listening to various radio programmes, including catching up on a weeks worth of Mark Radcliffe
I'd just like to say that I don't think Blair is gonna go before the next election. I could be wrong. But I don't think so.  New Labour has turned into everything I ever feared it was. I may have mentioned this before, but when they got in, I had hoped that they were going to the centre of politics in order to become electable, but with the aim of genuinely reforming and having (for example) an "ethical foreign policy." But the arguments about "choice" in the public services and foreign policy which is guided by the most right wing American government in memory have shattered all those hopes.
Hope, of course, lives on in the heart, but I'm not putting any of mine into politics or politicians.

Love and blessings to all who happen this way.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

2 very different interviews

I've been back to London to do a couple more interviews for the documentary. The first was with Uday Tiwari, who is the Director of Photography on the picture, and is a really amazingly sweet and interesting guy. He spoke very in a very heartfelt manner, effusively and kindly, about all the people involved with the picture and how much he enjoyed working with them. He went on to speak about how important the camera was to him. In Indian cinema there's a custom of performing a puja on the first day of the shoot, so that God's blessings can be with the project, and (to paraphrase Uday) God can be remembered at times of difficulty, as films all have ups and downs. Uday also has the custom of praying to the camera, which was described to me by another member of the camera crew as being "Like a baby, like a God" to those who work with it. Uday described his profound emotional and spiritual connection with the camera, which he called his bread and butter. He was thankful to it because it allowed him to work, allowed him to have a family, and he felt good, and could think clearly when he was in contact with it.
It got me to thinking, but I haven't drawn any conclusions. Suffice to say, once again, the Indian tradition of gratitude and religiosity in all things once again touched my heart...
My next interview was with the legend that is Kabir Bedi. As I've lately been getting a lot of traffic from various Kabir fan pages and forums (thanks Andrea!) I thought I'd share some of my experiences of him (those who don't know who he is check out his site!). He described some of his previous career, explaining that although he had worked here in England, and was biologically half English, this was perhaps the country that knew his work the least, with the exception of the communities who watch a lot of Hindi films. He talked of his pleasure at working on Take 3 Girls, a film which he'd obviously enjoyed working on. He's a very conscientious  actor, and thinks very seriously about the work he does, and clearly considers the whole film, as well as his own part. Those of you who've read some of my previous posts on the craziness that went into getting this film in the can will appreciate the wisdom in the warning Kabir offered  Baz Taylor  (the director) before shooting began - "You'll meet the worst planners in the world, and the best improvisers in the world." He also compared the Bollywood and British film industry saying (slight paraphrasing going on here...) "In Bollywood they spend two weeks preparing and two years shooting, here they spend two years preparing and 2 months shooting..." Very notable observation...
Saw Fahrenheit 9/11 tonight - very very very interesting piece of work - I'd definitely recommend seeing it, even though it's Moore, so the point is made with a sledgehammer. But maybe it has to be that way, because of what he's fighting against.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Bollywood or Busted

It's over. I'm home.

It's not really over at all for me - the filming of the movie may be over, but I still have 5 or 6 key interviews to do (including Charlie, for those Janine fans out there desperate for an update). I also need to shoot some of the editing. And of course I need to do some editing myself. 20+ hours of footage is awaiting my attention.

The morning after I wrote my last post, Mr Grover got slapped. It was the one and only moment of real tension caused by the cross-cultural crossing of lines. The very nice continuity person is a fourth generation anglo-indian, and culturally is much, much more anglo than indian. She's been staying in the crew hotel, and something caused Mr Grover to have a go at her in front of the whole crew about drinking in the bar, and some other, more personal insults. She gave him one warning, he didn't stop, and she slapped him. You go girlfriend etc etc. The Indian crew, however, had just seen a woman slap someone who, as well as being a man, was older than her and was more senior on the hierachy to her. This caused some discomfort, to put it mildly. As the First AD remarked to me "As far as the crew are concerned, it's nothing that couldn't be solved by throwing her on a pyre." She left the set that day, which was a real shame, but I did hear that she'd had a long chat with one of the producers about it, and had been really sorry that she'd slapped him, and had described him as being like a dad to her. Mr Grover is a very nice chap, but he went too far at that moment, and was never quite the same after being in receipt of a wallop.

The rest of the experience was a lot happier. There was a lot of talk at the end about how enjoyable an experience it had been for people - many cross cultural boundries were crossed in a good way too. On the last night shoot, when Kabir and Karen finished their last shots on a suburban cul de sac in radlett you could see how much they'd enjoyed it. And when, the day after, we finished getting the last shots of the project, the way the crew embraced Baz, the director, was a sight to behold. There was love in the room, man...

And then we went to the wrap party. Before I tell this story, I should point out that I am tee-total, have not taken drugs for several years and haven't been out all night at a party since the year 2000. So, how I came to be in Soho House at 3am with the last remnants of the cast and crew has a lot to do with the fact that I had a flat tire, couldn't find the number of my breakdown service, and am a bit of a big girl's blouse when it comes to things like that. Me and Dad had gone straight from the end of the shoot into town, and parked on Charlotte Street, which is where I discovered the flat. We got to the party and were the third group of people to arrive there. The first were an actress and a premiership footballer, and a screen legend called Saeed Jaffrey and his wife. I realised I was going to be in for an unusually starry evening. When Ori, one of the runners arrived, I mentioned the tire thing, he pointed out to me that all cars had a jack in the boot, and that he could change the tire for me with the greatest of ease. So I had to wait until the very end of the evening / beginning of the next day to get home. Which meant I went to the after-party-party at soho house, which is a media type club in the west end, where you can't take photos, and I ended up sitting next to June Sarpong for a bit...very odd, but all in all quite fun. I've written enough for now I think - more soon!


I've realised that the title of the post makes no sense, as I hadn't included a vital part of the story (I wrote the post over a couple of hours, whilst doing other things and forgot.) Have you heard the word "Busted" being used to describe something bad or something having gone wrong? As in "I saw Superman IV and it was busted." or "I liked the Phantom Menace, but Jar Jar was busted." Or "I've lost my keys - busted." ?
It has swept through the cast and crew (particularly the cast) like wildfire, thanks to Caroline Chikizie using it ALL THE LIVE LONG TIME. I've grown really fond of the expression, and want to see it catch on. So remember kids - when things go's busted. And when they go right? Well, I'm angling for un-busted. But maybe that's a bit busted...

Monday, July 05, 2004

The Continuing Saga of a Young Man's Adventures in Bollywood.

I've lost track of what day it is. I believe people when they tell me it's Monday, but have no real sense of it. Apart from my continuing attempts to keep my conciousness where I want it to be, the film, and indeed the next film in the pipeline have become my dominant concerns - matters of time and place have become distinctly secondary.

First the documentary - this is going well - interviews in the can (ok, ok, on the tape) with Soni Razdan (who's flown back to India to start directing her first movie), Caroline Chikizie (of As If and Footballers Wives fame), and Karen David, who as well being in the new Batman movie, appears to be big in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I've also done a few little pieces to camera with some of the crew, and an extensive interview with Roddy Matthews, the composer, about the process of writing the songs and incidental music for the film, which was fascinating for me - I'm thinking about campaigning for a little "how the music was done" featurette on the dvd. Tomorrow I'm interviewing Charlie Brooks, and the guys in the film as a group. The footage is being well received, and by the end of the process I will have shot more than 15 hours, so there should be plenty of stuff to turn into a "proper" documentary.

Ok - on to the film. Well, apart from the fact that behind the scenes, the organisation remains in complete chaos, we're almost bang on schedule and there's a really fantastic vibe on set. The actors have really brought the piece to light, and the director, Baz Taylor, has allowed them to improvise, and really play the comedy. As the script, written by Farrukh Dhondy was really strong in the first place, this is leading to some great stuff appearing on screen. The Indian and Western crews have started to develop a mutual respect. At the beginning of the shoot, there was a bit of a sense of "our way is best" from both sides, but that's eased a great deal, and now there is a tangible sense of coming together - I hope I can bring this out in the documentary, as I think that will really be what makes it strong.

One of the most memorable characters in the crew is the Unit Manager, Grover. He is know as either GroverJi, or Mr Grover, but his name appears on all the call sheets simply as "Grover." So it might say First AD: John Smith, Production Supervisor: Deepak Singh, Unit Manager: Grover. Like Cher, Madonna and Pele, he's transcended surname. He is the guy who's got the cash, and controls it with two main tactics - one is the left to right movement of the head which might mean, "sure, of course you can have this £10 for photocopying", but equally might mean "Do we really need to photocopy this? Can't we get someone to write it out?" (Hand written copies of script pages have been floating around today, written out by the continuity person, and dubbed Mumbai Photocopies...) His other method is simply not to be there when someone wants money, which he used a lot at the beginning of the shoot, leading to the early nickname of the disappearing man. He is also a really nice guy, and very funny. I particularly like him, as he's funny on camera, and sings at me quite often. Today he put an end to a fairly major incident when a very angry and drunk man came into the set and started threatening Phil the Grip (who has also transcended the surname, but his has been replaced with a job title). The drunk man was pacified by Mr Grover putting his finger up at him whilst walking away from him at a fairly high speed.

I spent much of today in "the office" which is what my dad, Baz the director, and Peter Joyce, the designer call whatever pub is nearest to the location. Much of it was spent in a rather volatile script meeting about one of the upcoming projects. On the strength of my contribution to the discussions, the director offered me the job as third ad on the picture. When I said I wasn't sure I wanted it, he said "how about 2nd?" It's nice to be offered jobs, even if they aren't quite the right ones. It's still something to think about.

Best wishes all, and see the folks at home soon,


Saturday, July 03, 2004

Back in Bollywood

Ok - it's late, I'm very tired, and this will be very brief.

Being a documentary film maker is awesome.

That was pretty brief, I'll expand just a little bit. Been back on set for two days now - was welcomed back with metaphorical open arms by the cast and crew, and have been mostly interviewing people. Sat with dad and watched a load of the footage I'd already shot - we were both pleasantly suprised I think.

I will write at some length about the behind the scenes craziness and triumphs when I get a bit more time, but for now, may I just send greetings of love and peace and good will to all the people I know, and any I don't for that matter.

Night all...