The work has not stopped! Hence me rushing to the keyboard this morning, just in time to wrap up my thoughts of 2017 before wiping the annual slate clean for new things to come.
2017 has been a tremendously productive year. That also means stressful, but in this case, productivity almost justifies the hardships; and most importantly I began with a lack of confidence in my skills (which I have acquired along the way, hands on, with no formal training) to producing a 6-part comedy TV series for Amazon!!! CLICK HERE if you’re in the UK, CLICK HERE if you’re in the USA for the actual series episodes!
A once noble scholar had reached his breaking point with earthly matters and so he reached out to the Devil himself and forced a deal; this would become known to many as the tale of ‘Faust’s infernal acquisition of infinite knowledge’. Of course, this story only works to glorify Faust – the truth is that upon receiving the Infernal Acquisition, the man outsmarted the Devil, enrolled a squad of Hell’s most oppressing Imps and began to purge all topics and trends that pestered him, with the intention of erasing such thoughts from humanity itself. Project: Faust’s Infernal Acquisition (FIA) shares the events of three unlucky supernatural chaps that got dragged into all this nonsense; #RebelZen, a minor demon rogue from the fourth gate of the forth plateau, near the fourth cave on the shores of the sea of suffering in Hell; #UnicornSlayer, a friendly neighbourhood Barbarian of unknown origin who lives only to slay all Unicorns; and of course, #UrbanOracle, a techno-mage from the near, distant or far future version of some place.
I’m no good at improv. I’m a planner, an organiser, and this TV show, ‘Project FIA’ was designed to be IMPROVISED. That meant no script, no pre-planning more than a week in advance (often only hours before filming), and having very few takes. It redefines the word stressful. Try calling up a company and asking to rent an inflatable bouncy castle THAT AFTERNOON (delivery and all) and try to find someone who’ll say yes. And if all the companies say no, what do you do? Does the narrative change? What are the alternatives? Time is ticking! This is where production gets interesting (you can check out the behind-the-scenes filming adventures on the podcast HERE; filming starts at episode 4) – and you REALLY have to think out of the box. Oh, also, all but one of the performers are NOT actors! (I have a small part, but due to the workload, I decided to sit this one out and stay behind the camera)
It’s been a long journey that feels so short – and the most intense part of it was actually not the production but the post production. I’ve gained confidence not only as an animator, but also a sound editor (which was a surprise to me). I got the writing bug a couple weeks ago and wrote this on the topic of Nocturnal Mornings, basically detailing about a month of life when we were editing:
Sleeping in Shifts
I live with a night person.
I’m not strictly a ‘day person’–early mornings are not my thing–but I’m drawn to the sun; like sunflowers, I instinctively find it. I get cold easily; shadows are not my friend. When you’ve travelled around, you notice that the sunshine in different countries shines sun in different tones, colours, densities. In England, it’s a back seat observer, gazing through clouds onto rolling greens. In southern Africa, it’s a fierce beast, omnipresent, close enough to smell; the dust is heavy with it. And at home, in South East Asia, like a parent it’s temperamental – mostly overbearing. The heat waves seek you through the concrete jungle, insulated by layers upon layers of high rises, through street stalls, in large malls; we are conditioned by air conditioning. But when the wind blows, it blows away the sun, too. The fight against nature, our nature, as well as Nature, is a constant battle of respect and compromise.
I wake to a clicking mouse, a clacking keyboard. In this house, there’s only two of us. We work shifts; these days we exist in different time zones within the same spatial bubble. As I rise, called by day, he shows me the progress he’s made in the 6, 7 hours of my beauty sleep.
We are filmmakers, and currently, we are in the limbo of post-production perfection. As he finishes the rough cut of that video, he leaves me with the next job of sound editing. It’s 10am and as he crawls off into the depths of blankets, I take on the baton. Even without breakfast, my mind is already working; thus is the life of someone who works at home. Or lives at work. 18-hour days are the norm here; at least until the job’s done.
It’s just me and the screen. Though the rays of sun shine through the curtains, the clouds, he slumbers deep in the quiet of the living day.
Through the day, I find myself losing time, losing light, and as my teacup reaches its nth cup of chai, it’s time for food. It’s difficult to sync, to think, what to prepare: Dinner for me, breakfast for him? Speaking of the devil, he rises with the moon. He seems to sense when the night has arrived; like a vampire he is roused by the chill of the eve. We have a little time in this gap – his dawn, my twilight. Our timelines cross briefly, like a lunar eclipse.
I’m almost done with the sound edit and he’ll be fixing the colour next. The vivid shades fade from the sky whilst he’ll intensify hues and saturation on the wheels, the colour wheels. He says he prefers the night; the night is when the truth comes out and pretence has gone to bed. All is bared: the reality and the ugliness of it; the junk backstage that isn’t cleared for the performance just yet. The restocking of shelves, the cleaning of streets. The homeless guy who’s gone home. There’s nowhere to hide when all you have are shadows. And yet, it’s only when you include that perception can you fully appreciate the alternative, he says. There is truth in perspective; with comparison one sees things relatively, with contrast one can see irony. We juxtapose images on the screen for such effect. Our work in fiction is not so different from the truth.
Soon, it’ll be just him and the screen.
Our shared window out to reality, in shifts; at least, for now.
If you’re complaining about 12 hour shifts, go complain somewhere else! 🙂
Alongside the TV show, as if that wasn’t enough work already, are two side projects – the podcast ‘Project FIA goes PC‘ I mentioned earlier (yes, PC has a double meaning), and to introduce the topics in each TV episode we’ve also created a YouTube supplement ‘Project FIA gets Tube’d‘ where there are no spoilers, just honest discussion (basically a pre-podcast special, as the conversation continues into that week’s podcast episode).
So, 3 projects on 3 different platforms… Definitely not what I had imagined 2017 would offer! Right now I’m uploading the latest New Year podcast episode (though the show’s done for now, we decided to continue for our international listeners from all over the world): Ep 26: Happy ‘world rotation day’ 2018 is here! Flashbacks to Millennium bugs & Roman Lizard Pizza. Yes, all podcast episodes have a rather wacky name, but it will all make sense if you listen to it!! I think my favourite TITLE has to be Episode 16: Mega Sonic Bomber Man and his thesis of working with an idiot, although Episode 5: The French part of France, with shopping trolleys and rabbit skulls is a close second!
Moving away from all things FIA, I am also very proud to say that my first poem was officially published in a poetry collection… but I’d rather not tell you where, you’ll find it if you’re determined! Poetry has always been one of my favourite forms of expression, and although not many people have had the chance to read my work… I continue to write. As Ani DiFranco sings in Here For Now,
“You know you need your instrument
But does your instrument need to be miked?”
If you’re a true artist, then whether you’re heard or not won’t stop you from creating. Here’s to all the artists out there still finding their way, still trying to understand and explore life through their vision – only you can do what you can do. So just do it – your validation for yourself is most important, even before anyone else appreciates you. Even if your microphone is not miked up, sing your heart out. Grow, feel and be brave. And have a wonderfully expressive, productive and heart warming 2018! ❤️