August 26th 2011
Well this has been a truly epic week and a half. No sooner than I was back from the 02 event than I was off again to moscow. What a month. What a journey really - the whole journey of Tchaikovsky began when I was five, and listening to my sister's blue EP of four scenes from Swan Lake, narrated by Margot Fonteyn. I was hooked, and loved the music at once, and I still do. And that finishes for the moment as I sit clutching a DVD of the film. Well almost finished, as we are just doing some tweaking of colours having had time to reflect on it all. I'm not sure what will happen to the film as it has not got a distributor just yet, but there is good reaction so far.
It has turned out to be a more intense film than I thought or hoped. The other seven films in the series are much brighter, more spectacular; their CG cutouts allowign for infinite changes in scenery and numerous characters. but perhaps my solitary figure alone in one set is its strength. I feel we have again taken a puppet where a puppet has not really been before, and thanks to some melancholy narration, the film has become a real reflection of life and death. It almost parallels Hamlet. The narration has come about not quite by accident but almost. I was not keen to have a documentary narration full of dates and facts, and only agreed to a narration if it could come directly from tchaikovsky's letters, and Irina has chosen some superb extracts, and then I read them. Normally I would laugh hearing my voice trying to be serious, but in this instance, this cracked, deep unpredictable voice is just right. There's one section so full of restrained dignified pain that it is pretty distressing. I can't really control my voice and I could hear it changing during the six hours that we worked on the dialogue. Going back to match earlier takes did not work as I sound so different but actually that's no problem. There's a great texture to my voice that seems appropriate for this puppet. I also did the voice for the film of Bach.
It was good adding the sound effects to the film and the puppet suddenly lives even more. As always we can be in danger of being too literal with the sound but there are some good abstract sounds, and the way Ivan treated the swan Lake music has made it very internal. Yes the whole film is an intense internal monologue.
Working in Moscow is very different. Personally I like to be very precise and know what time everything is happening, and just get there, do it, and go away again. But his was pleasantly very socialable and rather dictated by mobile phones. Doesn't matter as it all got done. I also managed to do a big show in a gallery that I was in last November, and two big TV spots, where we took the puppet of Tchaikovsky back to the Conservatory. i only had a few hours to be a tourist, and of course I ended up in Red Square marvelling in bewilderment at St Basils. I went inside and was even more confused. I had expected some sort of open area for the congregation but it was full of ornately decorated passageways leading to numerous chambers. There did not seem to be much room for any congregation at all...maybe this was all about show and not participation. I wanted to take a boat down the river, which would have seen the Kremlin walls on one side, and a monstrously huge roller coaster on the other. I wanted too, to get to a banya, but did not manage. I certainly saw the suburbs of Moscow and passed those monumental statues designed to intimidate.
I can't say I picked up any language, nor made sense of any of the words. I got to recognise much of the writing, but speaking it was beyond me.
Eight days in Moscow, especially after the month I have just had, saw me get a bit tetchy and anxious towards the end and I was ready to get home. I was nervous about the journey, well exhausted from lugging the suitcase through another airport, but I got home ok. Too many bills and hassling mails awaited me. Never form a company to recieve money from another country as royalties for a DVD...this company has been an absolute bane and has cost me no small fortune. I certainly have not earnt a penny from my DVDs as a result. Comapny returns, corporation tax, company accounts - it just does not end.
I'd promised an anmation enthusiast, tom, that he could have a go with the Tchaikovsky puppet when he was done, and so he did as soon as I got back. It was an odd feeling to watch someone else handling him, and of course I got possessive, but tom did some good work. Even better work would come with practice, but I could see the cogs in his head grinding as he began to realise that it was not just a question of moving it.
Apart from catching up with so much, I have this week been trying to get a car. As always, it's not been that straightforward, and I am caught between buying a new no frills car that comes with the warranty and all that, or getting an older car that has a few more gadgets and style about it, but may need more looking after and maintenance. I fear in this instance, and much against character, I will go for practicality over style.
And what terrible weather. Bank holiday, and I feel I might just sleep all the way through it. What a stressful few months this has been, but I have got a darn good film out of it. I will have to let Tchaikovsky go, as joyous company as he may be, he's also been very heavy. Maybe something bright and silly could be next. With that in mind I did audition for a live action puppet series that could be shot in Manchester. Not exactly out of my comfort zone, but a different way of thinking. I'd love to do it.
But first, sleep. And no suitcases.