Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Irfan 'Post' 3

And in this latest screen shot, I have skipped right to the end of the film with the climatic ending between the two characters of Irfan (played by Sippy) and Vasile (played by Cristian). This was not only one hell of a scene to shoot but is proving to be a very tricky scene to edit.

But basically I am on schedule to have all of the necessary bits and pieces ready for the dubbing of Cristian tomorrow and the first bits of dialogue from the film can be secured.

Yeah, a busy week. And on another note, being the last day in June, we are now halfway through 2010!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

London Diary (24)

She giggled.

So I bit her shoulder.

I knew what was going to come next.

'Ouch, that hurts!'
'You weren't complaining earlier!'
'I, was distracted.'

She giggled again, and I smiled too.

It was a hot night, but a draft came in through the window. Below us lay an alleyway that backed onto the kitchen of a Chinese Take Away. The scent of Chow Mein and Curry Sauce wafted up into the air. I suddenly felt peckish.

'You hungry?'
'Mmm, not really.'
'Well, unlike you, I've been busy.'
'Doing what?'
'Oh, I don't know, keeping a woman happy.'

She chuckled.

'Don't try to achieve the impossible in one night.'

She was smart. And beautiful. Unusual too, but in a good way.

You see, the funny thing is that the dynamic changes in that she is a lot older than me. None of this prattling about with text messages and elusive hidden meanings behind every spoken word. The relationship becomes a lot more raw, blunt. And sexual. There is an obvious kinetic energy that sprung up when we first met. Instantaneous. Passionate. And bossy. Yeah, the power play was most definitely one sided. No point trying to be the the man. She was in charge and I just had to accept it. And it was refreshing. To be told what was good and what was bad in plain, uncompromising, terms.

I gently tapered my finger along the small of her back. She did not resist. No matter what or where she is from, every woman is still a girl underneath the years of experience that wears her down. Marriage, motherhood, pain, suffering, jealousy and worry all leave their mark.

Most of the time, it is us, the men, that have caused their woes. And still, underneath all that resilience, all that coping mechanism, there is something fragile about any woman. Sometimes it is plain for all the world to see, sometimes it is hidden behind the lines of grief that life has struck upon them. But every woman possesses an energy that no man can attain. They are born with this. It is subtle and yet brilliant in its manifestation.

I looked at her now as she gazed up at the ceiling. And for a brief moment I saw it in her eyes. Distracted from her cares. There was no husband, no children, no mortgage, to think about. She looked up at the light bulb. 12W of fluorescent energy lit up the spaces, but kept the corners of the room dark. And there was something in her eyes that went beyond the thoughts of this life, her life or even this moment. Something timeless, beyond my reach or understanding. We men try to attain infinity, but really it is women who perceive the timeless quality of existence. While we struggle for tomorrow, they live for today, allowing the our half of humanity to reach our destination.

She suddenly turned her head towards me. And smiled. She was back to reality. To where we were. Lying together, enjoying a brief moment. An interlude from life. While the rest of the city shuffled along its business in the streets below us...

Monday, 28 June 2010

Crossings of the River Thames 31: The Greenwich Foot Tunnel

(To be written as a homage to Sammuel Peeps, Robert Louis Stevenson and Victorian Explorers who lorded it over 'the natives'.)


It was with much trepidation that I walked off the light railway at the bottom of the Isle of Dogs and begun what was to be a most splendid journey into the heart of the subterranean! Vast crowds had gathered opposite what will soon be crowned Her Majesty's third Royal Borough in the capital of this Kingdom that is inhabited by the most gracious people known to humanity itself, in order to enjoy what was a most invigorating day with regards to both climate and peace within the air!

And yes, that was my destination. Across the fair waters of ye olde Thames-ee, lay the splendor of Greenwich herself. The most remarkable of suburbs that lie to the south of this wonderful waterway that splits this most marvelous city into two distinct parts like a knife to the orchard's fruit. Viz!

So onward I trod, to the vast dome that was to be my entrance to this, the latest crossing point of the River Thames-ee. The Greenwich Foot Tunnel, today a small link amongst the many that traverse the river, has a remarkable history. Built with skill and ingenuity, it was constructed nigh on 108 years previously, and replaced what was a stinking ferry service. Constructed to allow the masses to cross the river safely and with speed, it facilitated the growth of the docks by allowing workers from both sides of the Thames-ee to be able to pass freely to their intended destination of employment. A most gratifying use of labour and resources!

While walking through the tunnel, one may become disorientated with the cold air that will strike one's face while traversing its length. The depth, the weight of water above the construction plus the rather well known fact that only humans are keeping the air warm at this level below the surface. So unlike the other hot and undesirable underground journeys normally experienced by your intrepid reporter, this particular foray into the wilds of South East London Viz. felt refreshing from the blasting overhead ball of flame in the southern sky that lit up the day like a shining ball from Apollo himself!

Due to its importance and position within the city, this tunnel remains open, 24 hours a day. However, with the repairs to this now ancient structure now taking place, there are closures at various times of the day. With notification being provided by the local aldermen, a ferry is now in service at the less congested times of the night in order to facilitate the motion of souls at this crossing point of the Thames. Here is an example of how and why this particular structure will require attention and detail in order to preserve the remarkable construction that it now is.

(Bomb damage during the conflict of WWII which was handily repaired!)

Please note the pavement markings during your crossing of the river at this point. The tunnel itself is a most popular way of travel and so in order to facilitate ease amongst the citizenship, nobility and gentry of the Metropolis, the direction of travel should be taken whereby the lining of the tunnel should remain as close to your left hand shoulder as is humanly possible!

One must note that while lifts do exist, during this time, the tunnel may not be fully accessible to all due to the repairs that are being occasioned by the workmen and labourers on scene. Hence there are also spiral staircases in order to allow access to the tunnel for those who depend on two legs rather than wheels. Never fear however, as the lifts are also being restored as part of the repairs to this most fantastic of structures!


Getting there an away:

For travelers approaching the northern porthole, one must use Island Gardens (DLR) or Omnibuses 135, D3, D7 and N550.

For those approaching this porthole on the River's southern shores:

One can utilise the station at Cutty Sark, also on the Docklands Light Railway. Otherwise, the following omnibuses: 129, 177, 180, 188 (24 Hours), 199, 286, 386 and N1 are available to transport the common folk to the tunnel itself!

Sunday, 27 June 2010


When there is nothing else to blog about, then write about one thing. The weather!

Isn't it glorious! The sun, the heat, the fine blue skies. As predicted, after 2 weeks of sunshine, drought orders are in place throughout the country. In a week's time, we will find the roads melting and power cables failing while at the end of the month, when the storms finally hit the UK, we will be overwhelmed with the levels of water on the streets. Air con unit sales are through the roof and people are looking like lobsters, deluged by this sudden wave of heat.

Except...30C is not that hot. Sure, it is nice, very nice, but not very hot. It is still cold at night (trust me on this) and the fact that 30C for many other parts of the world is laughable.

Yes, it is obvious that we in the UK cannot cope with the heat. Except for me. You will not hear one ounce of complaint from me. Instead, I will be firing up the BBQ and enjoying the summer sun on two wheels!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Welcome to the city...

London is one hell of a big city. We Londoners may not realise it, especially if we are locked in a daily commute between two fixed points. And despite the rise of urban areas across the world, London is still a megacity in its own right. It is the largest city in the EU, and still in the top twenty cities worldwide by population.

But boy oh boy, did I get a feel for the size of the city yesterday. From morning until now I have been driving across the urban fabric of this place. Partly as a job, partly due to family occasions and partly due to shop. I must have covered well over 200 miles in the past twenty four hours, such is the amount I have managed to cover. Of course, it was not all plain sailing. Roadworks on the North Circular, Tower Bridge being raised and finally, the New Kent Road shut for four hours.

This last thing got on my nerves. Where was the traffic news? Sod the M25, how about the city itself. Where was TfL with their information? They got cash to blow, but nothing was forthcoming. No road closed signs, no diversion boards, no exemptions from the congestion charge. Nothing. Chaos and mayhem in South London. Typical.

Anyway, it is time I hit the sack. Another busy day ahead of me...

Friday, 25 June 2010

To eat or not to eat? Midnight Snacking...

I've just arrived home.

On the bike

After ten miles.

I am famished.

But I am also off to bed.

As it is 3am.

Not the best time to nibble.

So what to do?

Dry roasted chilli chick peas?

A piece of bread?


Or maybe a cup of warm milk...

Thursday, 24 June 2010

To Game or not to Game...

Less than a month in, and I am still far too addicted to my Gameboy. It seems to be the one, monochrome solace of my life. The thrills of Tetris, the frustrations of Wario Land and of course, my eternal yearning for all things Zelda.

Now, to be honest, before I uncovered my Gameboy in the attic, I was not that bothered by the hole thing. But something has rumbled since switching that little grey box on. It is as if I have been reimmersed in that magical world of pixels and sprites. And more importantly, I really want to catch up on my Zelda quests...

So will I be joining the legions of fellow gamers in getting a Wii sometime this year?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Irfan 'Post' (2)

At the moment, everything else sane has been suspended. I am editing all of 'Vasile's' scenes (a character from the film) first as the actor who plays his part of off to his home country for the summer. As by then I will probably be finished editing the rest of the film, I do not want to be left without him. Why? Dubbing...ah yes, the bane of every director's life.

A lot of the sound, particularly for my internal scenes is actually pretty good. Most of the externals (like any film set) is a write-off.

See this link for the film Lord of War. Head to the 2 minute mark, when the two characters are on the beach. Yep, that was all dubbed. According to the director, the original sound was unusable because they were filming, well, next to a beach.

So the rest of this week will be a race to make sure I have Christian's voice on my computer, so I can add him into the post-mix...after all, why I may have not shot next to a beach, I was shooting next to the South Circular...

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

London Diary (23)

These things are never meant to last long. A few weeks at most and then she goes her way and I go mine. Never to meet again, lost in the mists of our own lives. Those brief moments together, we love and laugh, enjoy and share. We may even bicker a little, but we are together for those few weeks in bliss. And then it ends. She has her life to lead, and I have mine. No hard feelings, we both move on and it becomes lost in the memory of time, to look back on and smile fondly as a moment spent with each other.

Except it did not quite happen this time around. Something else slipped into the net.

I fell in love.

Love does not normally come into such a brief interlude. It is over before it even begins. But even now, I still cannot forget her eyes, those wonderful deep eyes of hers. Her smile, her laugh. God, we men are simple beasts, but that was really it. Not much, barely a mention of anything else. History, the past, ideals of the future, were never mentioned. She does not know my past, or my innermost thoughts and I do not know hers. I do not know what made her the person she is, or even if that was her real name. But logistics like that are not important in my mind and in my heart. Instead, it was the details, that I remember and miss more vividly. The touch of her finger tips on mine, the way she giggled, her attempt at making toast. All of these things, I look back on and simply smile. It is a smile tinged with sorrow. A yearning inside of me, a wish that we could have held each other for longer, been together that little bit more, maybe even tried to become more than just an encounter.

There's a picture of us on my phone. Taken at random, we were somewhere in in the city, mucking about. For some reason, it has not yet been deleted. All it takes is a few clicks of the screen. But I want to hold onto this pic. This one visible memory of the two of us. Smiling, happy, looking into each other's eyes. For a moment we connected. We revealed a little of our souls to each other. And then she left. She had to go back to her life. To her reality. And I went back to mine.

I have not been in love for a while. And, you know what. It feels kind of nice. Yeah, I am heart broken. I feel even a little foolish for feeling like a kid. But it is a good feeling, to feel again. And all it took was a brief encounter...

Monday, 21 June 2010

A quick photo from the set...

I was not the only 'photographer' on set:

That's Sippy (one of the actor's) and myself in 'rehearsal mode'.

Thank you Mary for the pics!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The Bicycle Diaries (June '10) - A new begining?

And so I bit the bullet and yesterday went to the bike shop and conjured up £250 for a new bike:

First thoughts. Well, after 'hot-rodding' the bike to my specs, it is not as good as my old bike. But I have bought it with the future in mind. Unlike the last one, I went to an independent bike shop to buy this bike. That makes it more expensive as an initial investment (as small stores do not compete with the chains on price), but cheaper to repair as spare parts are not tied to the same chain store and so (hopefully) cheaper in the long run.

But more importantly, I have my eye on a Brompton in the next year...

Saturday, 19 June 2010

On Set - learning the curve

'Irfan' was the first time that I properly organised a crew to come on board. These were not people I had worked with previously and so this was going to be a brand new test on my directing abilities.

And to be blunt it was a huge challenge. Taking control not only of actors but of a DP, Gaffer, a Sound Engineer and an Assistant Director. But it gave a beautiful result. I have ever made a film that has looked so beautiful. Added to that the use of fantastic locations and it was one hell of a mad shoot

There are a lot of lessons I will take from this set. In the future, I will be using a full crew. The good things I will retain and the mistakes I will rectify. But this was a brilliant way to learn how to make films. Now, I must be able to balance my style of film making with the way the rest of the world does things!

Friday, 18 June 2010

The Audition Process - what I look for

One of the worst things to go through when you are an actor/actress is the audition process. I myself have held a set of auditions and really do feel for the people who tun up to these events. You are going to a strange place, not knowing exactly who put up the advert and worst thing of the lot, you are than paraded like a piece of meat. I admire the actors and actresses who put themselves up for show every time they attend an audition. I respect what they do as an art form and I appreciate the amount of time given every time I send out a casting notice. To you my dear actors and actresses, I salute you.

So, to anyone that is reading this blog, here are a few hints and tips to note for what this director looks for at an audition. These are not general rules, but my own personal tastes. However, there is some general good advice here that can be applied to many auditions that may be attended in the future. And do not be disheartened. It is very hard to receive rejection after rejection, but if you take a read through these notes, you might see why you succeed (or fail) at the casting process.


1)Turn up on time:

Filming firstly begins with great time keeping. On the set there are many people coming from various parts of the city. If you run late on the set, production is held up for you. There is nothing worse than being kept waiting for someone because of 'traffic' or the 'tube was late' – it's London, you know this always happens and so we expect you to be on time!

In essence, if you are late for the audition, then you are probably going to be late for the filming. Even though you will be let into the audition, you already have a great big mark against your name.

2)Turn up on time:

Let us say the audition is at 2pm. If you turn up at 1:59, while technically on time, you have not given yourself time. Time to grab a glass of water, time to go to the toilet or time to register yourself. While I will not put a mark against your name for being just in time, I will keep that in mind that you were rushed.

In other words, aim to arrive 15 mins before the appointed slot.

3)Be nice:

You are nervous, I understand that. So am I. So many people to choose from, and like you, I cannot distinguish the nutters from the sane. But be nice. I am surprised by the amount of people that bitch on set. It reflects a lot of unease on your part. There are other ways to be nervous, but rudeness is not a good way of showing it.

Yeah, you will be surprised how much I overhear. Be smart, and think before you speak.

4)Be cinematic:

Many actors and actresses act through their mouths. This is very important when dealing with a theatre audience. You have to show your abilities all the way to 'the gods'. For film, that is not necessary. In fact, flailing your arms and screaming does not work on a camera. You will be surprised that the camera will pick the quiet ones, not the loud ones.

(Here's a hint from American Beauty - fast forward to the 9 minute mark)

So you must have...


Energy is not shouting. It is a liveliness that comes through the eyes (you can see a pattern developing). There is a difference between saying 'I'm Happy!' and actually showing it. The audience is smart, and the camera is unforgiving. If you do not believe that you are happy, then it will not come across on film and so it won't come across in the final cut.

6)Enjoy it:

If you enjoy the auditions, then it will show on the camera. Quite simple actually. And with every audition you can learn something from it. If you are really nice, the director might give you some feedback, but (please) do not go psycho on him/her.

(So tips 4, 5 and 6 relate to one big hint - SHOW your acting abilities)

7)Bring Water:

A simple thing, but it always good. While I provide refreshments at my auditions, it is generally good to have bottle of water for yourself. Also make sure you are not hungry on set - eat your sandwich before you turn up, not as you walk through the door!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Bicycle Diaries (June '10) - An end?

This is what remains of my bicycle.

Now let me go back to the beginning.

I cycle. Pretty much everywhere. For the past couple of weeks, with filming and everything else, I have not been doing as much as I would have liked. But it is a cheap and practical way to get around the city in which I live.

Last night, I was cycling to work as normal. And then came the shred. My cycle has been knackered for weeks. The gear mechanism has been gone for a while, and so I have two settings for my legs to tackle the hills of South London. A hard uphill struggle and super fast downhill (but at least I have been spared the ignominy of granny gear). And so the gear mechanism wrapped itself around my crank. Pulled off the cogs, wires went everywhere and pedals no longer worked. Damn.

So, I was left with a white elephant. What to do. Well, one word. CANNIBALISE! Yanked off the spare wheels and got my lights and saddle off. And chucked the rest of the frame on the scrap metal heap at my workplace. Oh yes, there is a heap of scrap metal which includes old toasters, microwave ovens and now, the remnants of my 22 month old bicycle. It has done a good job for almost two years, but like all (good) things, it came to an end - in spectacular fashion!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Irfan 'Post' (1)

So filming is over and post production begins. To be honest, I could easily take a week off from filming and relax. But there is a lot of 'crap' to get done before the real editing begins. Some of it very simple like clearing up and some of it more tedious, but nonetheless simple.

Anyway, for the rest of today, this will be the image burning into the back of my retina.

This is the dull bit of editing. Sorting out files and folders. Be under no illusion, no matter how glorious film making may seem on the big screen, it is simply an illusion. It is supported by an undercroft of sticky tape and plaster board.

I also have to get a life back. And quick! I am going to finish my grand tour of London by August, come hell or high water, and that means cunningly trying to find some time to reach the Far East of the city! Talking about the Far East, my spirit is taking me overseas again...I think I might be heading off to the motherland for another peek at the so-called good life. Two weddings but fewer old folks to see means that this will be a trip (if I make it) tinged with sadness as well as joy.

So once this is done, I will sort out the files into scenes, bits and bobs, duplicate them onto an external hard drive as backup and clear Jay and Kay off my compie. Not that they are being obliterated just yet...


And looking back at the film set. It was an educational experience, and not in the way that most people would think. Yes, I learnt a lot on the technical side, and saw how both cast and crew work hard to make a film come together. But I also learnt a lot more. About people themselves. It was interesting to see how everyone interacted to make the film come together. And it was a pleasure to behold. But, now comes the real work. Post.

Oh, and every Wednesday, on this blog, you may actually see why this is the blog of El Director...

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Filming like a Madman

I am sure I have a sense of De ja Vous, but just to keep you updated, I have (again) been at the filming like a nutter.

To be revealed later in the week...

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

(Time Out)

First of all, this blog will be getting patchy over the next month. Filming is upon me, and so what I do on these pages will be getting a little thin. Needless to say by the middle of June, normal service (almost daily levels of blogging) will resume on this web page.

So to amuse yourselves while I dive under the radar for a bit, here are some links to this blog (and others) to keep yourself occupied over the next couple of weeks:

1) Caution Wet Paint: The Comic Strip - A whole host of fun and frolics from London's craziest double act!

2) Crossings of the River Thames - look back at the thirty crossings in London so far done and shockingly, only three left to go!

3) India and India 2 - I went twice last year and I am already planning this year's sojourn to this wonderful country!

4) London Diary - A series of short stories I began this year for three months. Surprisingly close to reality...

5) Zelda - I am a compie game freak, but this blog has been surprisingly low on one particular game Zelda. Surprising, as this game has and continues to be (sadly) a big part of my existence. And I am meant to be 30...