Sunday, 27 November 2011

Don't forget the day job

The movie Sleepless 'til Seattle is now officially in post production.

It has been a long time coming but various things had to be set in place before the work could begin. This included upgrading the existing edit suite to handle the large high-definition files and creating a back up system to ensure the project would never be lost. I learned that lesson the hard way!

There is roughly 140 hours of footage to watch, which may just take a while. I have to get this edited down to just 100 minutes! It's going to be fun revisiting the journey though. But this is only part of the post production stage.

There's a particular sound I want for the film in the way of music, and I have a wish list of tracks. Six weeks ago I started talking to the likes of Sony Entertainment Inc, Oh Boy records in Nashville, and so on, with a view to gaining the licences to use certain tracks in the film. At first the monies being quoted were reasonable, but the process quickly turned into a minefield. There are three licenses I need to use music in my film: a licence from the owners of the recording; a synchronisation licence to cut images to the music; and a publishers licence, the owners of the original composition. This last one can cost anything from $1 to millions. And it's not that clear cut.

Six weeks on and I've had enough. No amount of pitching the passion and importance of the film moved things on. It was becoming apparent that it was all about money. So a decision has been made: I'm going to commission music specially for the film.
It will be a fraction of the cost and I'll own all rights with no limit to it's use. I just have the small matter of raising the funds! I'll most likely create a Crowdfunding project for this, which I'll blog about later.

My next challenge is to commission animation. This will be in the form of showing the route with a fly-through over a 3-D landscape. It may be I have to use Google Earth for this but it's my hope to have something more bespoke.

Time will pass quickly, so I'll also have to fit in the research for festivals and the requirements for submitting. And there's a cost in that too!

Recently a TV company, out of Minneapolis, aired an 8 minute programme on Life To The Max. You can catch that here: Sleepless TV slot. Most of the footage used is mine, which is great in terms of ongoing publicity, another vitally important aspect.

I also have to cut a minimum 25 minute rough cut by mid January in order to submit a funding application to Sundance, and shortly after that there will be a short trailer online. To keep up to date with everything, or even register your interest in the movie, keep checking out the website at

Oh, and there's the small matter of the day job!

Maybe I should just forget about ever going to bed for the next 9 months?!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Stay calm and carry on

"The tree that does not bend with the wind will be broken by the wind" - Mandarin Chinese proverb.

If you take this ancient proverb literally it is not strictly true. Whilst crossing the US I witnessed several tress, some hundreds of years old, blown over by storms. Some had demolished houses.

Of course we are meant to apply this proverb to the way we react and deal with situations.

I found myself in a local DIY superstore today, ordering a new kitchen that I will fit for a friend of mine next week. A very helpful assistant was showing me around the many options of taps but as she did so my view was blocked by another customer. So I asked politely if I could move past in order to see better. This resulted in a filthy look, no answer and not allowing me past. I decided not to pursue it further and resorted to going up on my tip toes and leaning forward to see better. I then inadvertently brushed against the woman which resulted in some fairly rude comments directed at me, accusing me of pushing her around. Of course I defended myself but this fell on deaf ears. Then, as tempers were rising, I remembered how situations like this would be dealt with in America. So I interrupted her rants and with enthusiastic politeness said: "in the interests of all of us enjoying our day, I apologise for brushing against you. Have a nice day", and smiled. For once she was speechless. I left relaxed, happy in the knowledge, like the mighty tree, I had bent to the furious hurricane of abuse.

However, this does not always work. I have been waiting for a number of weeks for a delivery from Apple Inc of a new computer to upgrade my edit system in order to start work on the film of the US cycle. It arrived today, and I excitedly unpacked it. Unveiled from all it's packaging, I plugged it in and switched it on.


After an hour of help from the technical support team it transpired the computer was faulty. At first I was simply offered a replacement, but I felt this didn't go far enough, especially as I would now have to wait another two weeks. I made my point as strongly, but still with politeness, as I could, and used the magic phrase, that I find always seems to bring a positive result: "What can you do to help me?"

The end result was a free upgrade to the computer, plus a discount and a few other goodies, all of which added up to the equivalent of over 20% off. Of course Apple is an American company, and service and reputation are everything to these companies, so this didn't come as a huge surprise.

I felt a reasonable compromise had been achieved and both parties left happy and both would "have a nice day".

So sometimes it pays to blow like the wind, but maybe making like a breeze rather than a storm, and staying calm, yields a better result for all.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Hundy Mundy

On a beautiful autumn day, with clear crisp blue skies and the earthen coloured tapestry that this time of year weaves, I traveled 35 miles south of Edinburgh to just outside Kelso in the Scottish Borders. We were visiting a natural burial site called Hundy Mundy wood.

In this relatively small mature wood stands an 18th century folly attributed to the Scottish architect William Adam, and is in sight of Mellerstain House, home to the Earl of Haddington.

An unusual name. It comes from, so it is told, a Princess who lived in a tower that has long since gone, from which the stones were used in 1725 to form the folly now there. A young girl, whom I cannot recollect now how she was connected to the Princess, could not correctly pronounce her name, but could only manage Hundy Mundy. And so, many years later, the folly was given this name.

For the past 5 years it has been available for natural burials. This can be in the form of ashes or a biodegradable coffin. At the place of burial a tiny sandstone plaque, engraved with the deceased's details, is placed flat on the ground. Time, and the prevailing weather, eventually return the sandstone to the earth, leaving no mark that anyone was ever there.
That said there are now a number of stones that are harder wearing but which are still natural looking and feel they belong there. It was also pleasing to note the absence of benches. Instead old fallen trees had been carved into a seat shape for visitors to rest their weary souls.

Oscar Wilde once said: "Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence".

This is Hundy Mundy. The site is so peaceful. I couldn't hear a single sound save for the birds and the gentle rustle of leaves as a gentle breeze made it's way through the wood. The view across the rolling hills of the Scottish Borders in autumn, with wisps of mist hanging in the valleys, was breathtaking.

"To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace".