Saturday, 31 January 2009

The South Bank Show/Messiah (6)

Finished. Well, almost. We now have a 50 minute film about three choirs from Yorkshire and their connection with Handel's Messiah. What's left to do is the colourisation of each shot - grading - which is all about improving the picture quality and where required, convey a particular visual mood. Then the online, the technical bit that ensures the programme is suitable for broadcast, followed by the sound dub which, a bit like the grade, buffs up the audio quality (I'm sure dubbing mixers think they're more than just buffers-up of sound but it'll do me). From my point of view this last week of the edit is the least creative part of the process. That happens beforehand in the off-line over a four week period (it used to be 5 at the South Bank Show, how times change). This hasn't been easy, especially with the amount of footage we shot in the proceeding two months. Each day myself and the editor would sit down and trawl through the rushes, pulling sync (the bits of the interviews we most liked) and then arranging it into a time line (sync assembly), a sort of 'greatest hits' of all that has been filmed. Once you've done that, the narrative is 'decorated' with action sequences, performance, general-views, archive material, that sort of thing so each time you run your rough assembly, another layer is added until, almost like magic, the programme finds its own logic. It's a long old business and at times frustrating especially if the narrative you're looking for doesn't hang together.

Actually, this particular project wasn't difficult in that respect; we were spoilt with the number of excellent interviewees we filmed not all of whom we were able to feature in the end. No, the difficulty was piecing the different bits of performance to give the impression of one seamless take. Not easy when you're only working with one camera operator.

Anyway we got there. I was a bit reluctant to blog any of this as we went along because I wasn't sure how things were going to turn out. Our second week in the edit was particularly tough; I really thought I'd bitten off more than I could chew given the amount I'd shot and the limited time I had to shape it into a coherent whole. But, I do work with one of the most gifted and hard working editors in London so while I worked myself up into a silly panic, Mark quietly got on with it. God, I was lucky to have him...

I have to be honest and admit that I feel a bit flat now it's all over. You live with all these on screen characters that they feel like friends after a while. I hope they like it.

Now, photos...erm, sore point. I didn't take any..if anyone asks I send them a 'screen grab' which is frozen frame from the rushes but the quality is never as good as a photo. So the best I can offer at the moment are a couple of stills taken by a local photographer in the pub following the Keighley Vocal Union's Messiah performance in Freckleton on Dec 14.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Revolutionary Road

Kate Winslett and Leonardo Di Caprio (?) take the lead roles in this adaption of Richard Yates' book of the same name. Sam Mendes makes a good stab at it this tale of the thwarted dreams of an American couple whose 1950s suburban existence slowly eats them up. In the book this gradual descent into hopelessness unfolds at an agonising pace. Film doesn't have this the luxury and this presents problems, particularly with the Winslett character whose desperation and loopiness is too sudden and dramatic. But it was enjoyable if that’s the right word. Should have guessed it was a Sam Mendes film because of the ‘emotionally isolated American’ piano motif that runs throughout.