Friday, June 26, 2009

Be careful what you wish for...

I feel a little isolated by my own pressure.

I have this constant feeling that I should be doing more. I've blogged about that before. Actually, you're probably bored to death with it. But it's still there - that I should be pushing in many directions. I'll push in a direction and be rewarded for that... but I'll find I don't want the reward because that reward is more work.

That's something I should be happy about. But I'm often left empty. Sometimes I think I try to do things simply to prove I can. Not because I actually want the end result.

Still, in a way, that feeling is coming from a good place. Right now, a show I was very closely involved with is taking off just a little more. And, some time from now, maybe in a year or so, that could turn out to be good for me. So I need to be ready for that.

And that means pressure.

On a totally unrelated note, check out this seemingly dull news story from the BBC. "Russia's energy giant Gazprom has signed a $2.5bn (£1.53bn) deal with Nigeria's state operated NNPC, to invest in a new joint venture. The new firm, to be called Nigaz, is set to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Nigeria."

I can't be the only one to see a problem there.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On shoes and other feet

I know what it's like to have some idiot tear through your project and give you a blow by blow account on why it's utter crap.

It's not fun.

The big problem with it is that it is so difficult to know what to take on board and what not to. People often say that you have to listen to criticism. I agree. But it's a mistake to take it on board without being absolutely damn sure you know what you are doing.

I have killed projects in the past by taking on suggestions simply because I felt I had to.

And yet the one success story I have is one where I was told time and time again that it wouldn't work. And I stuck my two fingers up to those people and went ahead and did it anyway. Turned out I was right and they were wrong.

But to arrogantly barge ahead without challenging your views, without really examining criticisms could be a recipe for failure.

So what happens when I have to be that pain in the ass guy to tear through a project? Well, honestly, I think I either like something or I don't. And if I really don't like something, I'm the wrong person to try to make it better because I'd be advising to turn it into something else and that's just not cool.

Rather than force a project I hate into something else, better I find a project I like and try to make it great.

That becomes much harder when a project has a great core concept but the execution is absolutely awful. How do you go to a creator with that?

I think perhaps a visual demonstration is required. I can hold their proposal in my hand, look into their eyes and smile, repeat in a soothing voice, "I love the idea, I love the idea," while setting fire to the proposal and watching it burn.

Somehow, knowing what it's like on the other side, I don't think that will quite do the trick.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Totally swamped at the moment so apologies for the lack of updates and the lack of quality.

I'm really juggling things right now. I've gone into my production system of not reading any emails on a Friday or weekend. Because invariably someone will send me a work mail that will piss me off no end and I won't be able to deal with it until Monday.

It would simmer all through the weekend and build and build until I storm into the studio on Monday morning a little like the Hulk. Only not so ripped. Like a flabby Hulk. And I'd be angry.

And they don't like me when I'm angry.

Sure enough, when I came in this morning, there's a mail from a complete gobshite sitting in my mailbox that came in last thing Friday afternoon. That would have killed my weekend.

But today, I'm not the Hulk. I don't need to smash anything. I can deal with it on a Monday morning.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A project begins

Things actually start off a little slow. For that first minute or so. But then the true volume of what needs to be done becomes apparent.

It's like an old-fashioned tale of heroes. Like Conan the Barbarian in that film, Conan the Barbarian.

You have people who will help. Assist. Contribute positively. The little magician guy, the thief and the sexy warrior lady.

And then you have some people who live to do everything they can to get in the way. To destroy a project. They are the villains of the piece. James Earl Jones and his henchmen.

And sometimes the odd seem insurmountable.

You may even lose a comrade in the journey.

But unless you take down James Earl Jones in his giant snake form, that project will be absolute cack when it makes it to air. If indeed it ever makes it to air.

A little overdramatic? Yeah. Yes, it is. But, as anyone at the higher end of a production will know, it's not far from the truth. We make the most gentle, silly shows about lovely things happening to lovely characters. And, in doing so, we're forced to become warriors.

I hope I'm the little magician guy. He's the one who lives to tell the tale.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A new hope

It begins again.

I'm back in the studio. Back to production. Back to animation. Each project brings a new start. So far, I think this one is going to be good.

It's not all good. I cut my finger somehow. Don't panic - it's okay. No, really. I'll be fine. Just a small cut.

It's kind of nice to be among people again.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Finger painting for the weekend

A little iPod finger painting pic for the weekend.

Some years ago, I decided I wanted to do a road trip. I'd get a large bike, go somewhere like Arizona and just ride wherever the wind took me. Total freedom.

I'd drink in biker bars, sleep in dirty motels and generally slum it.

I am not a man equipped for slumming it, believe me. But something just called to me. This was something I had to do. And I had to do it right then. No waiting. It had to be then.

Of course, that meant getting a license to ride a motorbike.

I got on a motorbike for the first time on a Monday. That Thursday, I failed my test.

That was the end of my road trip.

Now, years later, with a wife and children, having responsibilities that would make it less than convenient to die in a knife fight somewhere near the Mexican border, it's just another item on a long list of things I never did.

But maybe someday.

Maybe, years from now, when (if) I'm actually capable of growing enough facial hair to put together some sort of half-decent biker's beard, maybe I'll take that road trip.

Just ride off into the sunset.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Culture Of Notes

In the television industry, probably all across the entertainment business actually, there is a culture of notes.

What that amounts to is this - busy people who barely have time to look at a project, don't read scripts, don't understand the minds of the people the show is pitched to, don't know a damn thing about the project get to tell those who do know the project, do understand the minds of the audience, devote 100% of their time to the project what to do.

That's how it works.

It gets even more fun when there are multiple people doing this and you have notes that contradict other notes.

This is the way it is done. And because this is the way it is done, those in a position to give notes feel they have to in order to justify their salary and, more importantly, boost their egos and those getting the notes are told they must then fight to get to do things the right way rather than the arseways way suggested in a set of random notes. It turns every day into a confrontation.

And, for me, that's on children's shows. Shows for very young children. Shows that should be fun.
Reduced to a half-assed courtroom drama with clowns instead of lawyers.

People should not have to fight every day not to fuck up a show. This culture of notes is rotten. It amounts to people spending their days throwing spanners into rather delicate works. It's not fun. And it's counter-productive.

I actually wrote a rant a while back about a set of notes. I never posted it. But the main thing that sent me into a rage was that the person who wrote the notes made it abundantly clear that he hadn't actually watched one episode of the show. He didn't know it. He knew nothing about it and put that down in black and white on paper for all to see (e-paper, it was an e-mail).

And then offered his time for 'brainstorming'. Like we need a co-writer. One who hasn't done the bare minimum to find out about the show.

It took several weeks to come down from that rage.

On a project that, on every other level, is an absolute joy.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Surely it's not still 2009?

I'm a bit tired at the moment. That's barely worth mentioning. It's like saying I'm doing a spot of breathing right now.

I have a feeling that something just isn't quite right but I have no idea what it is. That happens to other people, right? There's just something there... bothering me.

Things change next week. I've been writing on a project and, next week, production starts. My life will likely get a little crazy for a while but I like that. I like being busy. What I don't like is having to deal with some of the external shite that goes with that. Dealing with people who haven't an arse notion what they are talking about and yet think they need to give you 'notes'.

I must do a post on the culture of notes some time. It's utterly ridiculous and often self-destructive, leading to people who are barely familiar with projects making calls about things over the people who know the project inside-out.

Yeah, I'll go into that some time...

Just one more thing -

Susan sent me this link about a three year-old child who it seemed died from side effects of drugs to treat her bipolar condition. A three year-old child. Bipolar. I have to wonder if some people are familiar with toddlers. On their best days, they can seem absolutely stark-raving lunatics. That does not mean they should be doped to death with psyche drugs. But the earlier pharmaceuticals companies get children hooked on psyche meds, the more money they make. This is why they were pushing for mandatory testing on children entering the school system.

And I can't help thinking, with the amount of times that pharma companies have been hauled up in the courts (and so that only counts the shit we know about), if a person had been found guilty of even one of these crimes, they would be put away. Shouldn't companies guilty of crimes be forced to cease trading rather than given a fine and sent on their merry way to continue their crimes?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Weekend iPod Pic Extravaganza!

That image was just one of a whole bunch of doodles I did this week with the Brushes App on my iPod Touch. I haven't yet spent a massive amount of time on one but, in a way, I think that's what I'm enjoying about it. It's sort of having a little sketchpad with me, but one with built-in crayons.

I did a few Astro Andys too and, as it's the weekend and I like to post my Andy at the weekend (yes, I know it's a rare occurrance), here are some of them.

This following one is rather dull. Sort of old and faded.

Here's another.

But this last Andy one, well, it's simple but it's the one where I felt I was beginning to get the hang of this finger painting malarky. Just a little.

So they're the Andy pics. At least, the ones I'm willing to post.

But I'll leave you with one very quick doodle I did while watching a movie. Points will be awarded for correctly guessing the movie.

Have a good weekend all!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Everyone needs a Dr.Phil

I love Dr.Phil.

I don't get to see his show very often but, when I do, I love it. Dr.Phil takes people with relationship difficulties, many of them being quite normal relationship difficulties rather than the loons you'll see on the Springers and Maurys, and he just sits them down and tells it like it is.

He just says what we all know.

Really obvious stuff. In that sense, you'd think he'd be redundant. But the people he gets on the show are usually completely blind to the obvious. And, when it comes to personal relationships, we all get that way some times. Why is that?

I'll see the most well-adjusted, rational people, people I would go to for advice, and yet when it comes to their own personal life, their families, they are entirely destructive. In their own personal relationships, normal people can be antagonistic, defensive and can do their upmost to make bad situations worse.

A common thread seems to be mothers.

What is it about mothers? They nurture and put in so much into bringing up a child. Having children myself, it's only now that I appreciate just how much work that is. And yet, when children reach a certain age, so many mothers seem to turn. They become just a little poisonous, seemingly totally unaware and without conscious malice, yet poisonous nonetheless. Is it that as a child gets to leaving home age, or beyond it, mothers resent the idea of losing their child and it twists them emotionally?

I don't know. But families, especially mothers, seem to love drama.

Family relationships are weird. To a large extent I see family as people you just happen to be related to. I take a very cold view on that. If someone is a pain in the ass, tries to guilt-trip you, tries to stir shit, my advice is always the same - cut them out of your life. Don't engage them. Just cut them out. Life is too short.

And yet I have very little by way of personal relationships, possibly as a result of that policy. So maybe I'm not the right person to ask.

But I'd trust Dr.Phil.

I think we could all do with someone like that. Someone outside your family unit to just see the obvious and beat it into our heads. I wish I lived with Dr.Phil.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

More does not equal better

I think it was Ken Levine, over at his blog, who said - if a film is over three hours long, it should not be eligible for 'best editing' in the Oscars.

I would agree.

Long films are often a chore. Not always. But often.

For example, I was bought those extended editions of the Lord Of The Rings films each Christmas three years running.

I still haven't watched them. It's not that I don't think I'll enjoy them. It's just that amount of time is a serious commitment and I can always think of several other shorter things I'd rather do. And I have to wonder, will they really be better movies than those already long movies I saw in the cinema? If anything, that Ent sequence needed to be a lot shorter.

More often than not, I find that cut scenes are cut with good reason. For example, the extended cut of Aliens added some good scenes on their own, but broke the flow of the movie in several places. Most importantly, they took the movie from being Ripley's story to something far less coherent. The DVD of Donnie Darko had the deleted scenes with commentary from the director in which he explained very well why those scenes didn't belong in his movie. The "Director's Cut" recut those scenes into the movie and, as it happens, it turns out he was right the first time.

I enjoyed Watchmen earlier this year.

And I'm looking forward to it on Blu-Ray. But it seems the Blu-Ray version is 3 hours and 10 minute. Now, at the theatrical two and a half hours, that film was on the edge. It kept me interested but was definitely on the edge. And, as a fan of the source material, there isn't one thing cut from the graphic novel that I missed in the movie. Do I need another half hour or forty minutes added to it?

No. I do not.

More does not equal better.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sun and iPods

I managed to get sunburn in about the same time it took me to draw this pic on my iPod Touch. Which wasn't long.

I may make the iPod my medium of choice. There are very few artistic methods you can employ as easily doing twosies. Certainly I have found that interpretive dance on the toilet is a bad idea.

Some of you may have heard that the latest cover for the New Yorker was done on an iPhone. Wasn't resolution an issue for print or is there a way of drastically improving resolution of the Brushes App? An interesting move in terms of iPhone art though. As you can see from my little doodle, I haven't quite got the hang of finger painting.

Though it does sort of bring my artistic life full circle.

Hot days here. Hot nights too. And I was thinking, wow, it's warm for this time of year. But, as it happens, this time of year is the summer. How did we get to the summer so quickly? How did that happen? Turn your back for a minute and, next thing you know, it's the bloody summer.

I watched that Britain's Got Talent final. Most of them were actually really good. Stavros Flatley were robbed.