Diary 2004

This diary archive was originally posted in an earlier version of the Frame by Frame forum

January 3rd 2004

Well the last few days have been a bit of a blur. The few days in Abel Tasman Park and Autumn farm were so releaxing, that I sort of lost sense of anything really. Great company, and i enjoyed compering the show at the farm, and such amazing countryside. Sat with Hamish soakign up the sun, on a rock overlooking the clearest water I have ever seen, in the spectacular valley, and discussing the finer points of Von Kleist...well that was quite a satisfying combination of qualities. The journey back to Picton was breathtaking and I had to keep getting out of the car to look in awe. I called in at the Wearable Arts museum, and had a good look at the costumes from the show last year, and many more. A wild idea but oh what fun, and so much better than an ordinary fashion show.

The trip back on the lynx was somewhat bumpu and the boat creaked rather too noisily, but the sight of about 30 dolphins keeping up with us was tremendous.

Back to Wellington with little sign of having been away, and no post seems to have arrived from overseas. Nor do most of the packages I sent seem to have got to their destination. Damn. Since then I’ve flopped on the beach. If and when I’ll get back to the UK, and least I’ll have a tan to show for all this.

This has certainly not felt like christmas or UK, but a great week actually. I’m kind of buzzing! So that makes for a great start to a new year where so much, so much is unclear.

14th January 2004 Wellington

Hi there...well I’ve been missing from this site for a bit but am back. Actually, I’m not sure what I should write here, but for reasons I can’t really go into here, I’m heading back to the UK in three weeks. How long for I don’t know but sadly I’ve just given notice on my wonderful house. No more waking up and seeing the sea. So I’m busy making the most of the glorious summer here....sitting on the beach with eight dolphins playing in the surf just twelve feet away is something I won’t get back in Manchester. I’m catching up with the few friends left in the city, and trying to make sure I’ve down most of the main tourist sights before I go.

Just had a great weekend with a dancer friend, chatting about the possibilities of making a short dance film together. I’m not sure that will happen but what a stimulating weekend. I fear with animation I have had to try it ignore the pushing of boundaries, the challenging ideas, the experimentation, and play it safe, but chatting with my chum and looking at his amazing work which certainly did not play safe and broke every boundary there was to break, well, I’ve been unsettled. Suddenly I’ve seen that there’s a lot locked away inside that animation has not touched yet. Anyway a damn fine weekend, and damn fine company. It was odd walking round with such a public figure and having everyone point.

So New Zealand has turned out to be a very strange experience, very strange, but watch this space.

Sorry about being enigmatic.

20th January 2004

Well the weather has taken a spectacular turn for the worst, but a few days ago I did wake up in glorious sunshine and open my eyes to see the sea outside the house a bubble with some fifty dolphins. Now that is a sight I shall treasure. I rushed down to the water and jumped in, but did not get too close. boy did they seem to be having fun.

I also had a great day out with Paul and his friend George. We were roped in to help Paul shoot more of his film......back to the Kapiti coast, and I can now add stunt driving to my CV. A huge spaceship stuck out on a pole at the back of the car I was driving backwards, whilst George drove the camera car and Paul risked life and limb hanging out of the boot. Great fun, and hopefully the results will look good. Apart from the filming, it was amazing the interest it generated on the beach, and the chats we had. One elderley guy rather over enthusiastically applauded us for getting up and doing something. And a couple of mature ladies heard a bit of Manchester in my voice (oh shock!) and we started chatting about home.

I think I’m definitely ready to get home now....I’m definitely in limbo. But what a shock it will be getting back to cold Manchester. It will almost be impossible to carry on as if nothing has happened. There will be a lot I’ll miss here, and a good few people, but I need some order at the moment. I’m just drifting. I have no idea what or where the next job will be. It would be good if it still involved a big monkey.

After nearly eight months I finally get to go round the museum here te Papa, and of course they are having a huge dinosaur exhibition. I was looking at them with new eyes, and yes they are huge, but even the biggest one would have problems getting a whole human in the mouth at one gulp. Looking at the labelling for these skeletons I can’t get my head round a million years, let alone 150 million years ago.

Anyway still another two weeks to go and a lot can happen in that time, but the hosue is almost packed up. I’m ready to leave that house...I love it, but its got complicated with me caught in the middle of some sort ofdispute between the neighbours. Not a good situation.

A great evening with Randy Dom and Lisa sitting on the water edge watching the sunset, and being bitten to smithereens by sand flies. Great company in an amazing setting. Ah New Zealand, you are making it hard for me to go. We watched A Mighty Wind together - too painful to laugh, but actually very funny.

Had lunch with Patricia who been such a great chum here, and she’s organising a farewell do for me the night before I leave. I hope it won’t be like poor KH’s farewell do where no-one turned up. That has haunted me. Hopefully that was a case of bad timing, on a night of many other events, rather than anything about his popularity.

January 26th 2004

ah well, that’s the house packed up. A group of tea chests headed of back to the UK this morning, full of a surprising amount of stuff accumulated over eight months. Likewise this week I have been rushed off my feet getting banks, and services organised...... one day I will work on a film for a bit longer than eight months. The disruption caused by these short trips is too much.

Anyway I’ve been helping Paul on his film again, and on the friday we headed to the quarry in Island Bay which has some spectacular rock patterns and steep slopes. Paul, dressed as the robot in a costume he could not see out of, threw himself off various cliffs and slopes with dangerous abandon...one close-up, with me behind the camera, ended up giving me a great black eye, to say nothing of the bruises Paul must have. We also had a good session shooting inches from the end of the airport runway.....through the viewfinder you’d have no idea we were in the middle of planes taking off. Paul’s only here for a couple more weeks and is determined to get the film shot. I think it could be a damn good short film....very punch.

The dolphins are now daily visitors and seem quite happy lurking at the waters edge. that is one sight I shall never get tired of. Funnily enough, in the house is a huge TV but I’ve not watched a single minute of TV (DVD’s a plenty though) as there is so much to watch out of the window. I’m enjoying plotting the daily activities of the Prime Minister by watching her plane come and go. I am beginning to be able to tell the time by when certain planes land...oh dear that’s sad.

I’ve been asked to write a lengthy piece about my career for a Taschen/Anima Mundi book. I’ve launched into this but crikey I’m hating it. Suddenly it all seems ages ago, and seems as if it happened to someone else. After all this in New Zealand, I’m not sure what I’m meant to be doing any more. I really do have to make one of my own films again very soon. It’s been six years since G&S, and i’m itching to get going again.So many ideas. It all seems a bit hollow to be talking about the films, when I know there’s going to be ahuge period of unemployment ahead....I lie, I have one days’s teaching at Sunderland university. But I really don’t know what will happen next. I’ve missed out on Valiant, the pigeon movie, and I’ve missed out on The Corpse Bride; everyone is getting so excited about that film. Shame not to be involved with that. Maybe this is all heading to something totally different.

Much as I’ll hate to say goodbye to New Zealand, I’m ready to go...this limboland is getting to me. And the weather is not great...the tan is fading all too fast.

26th January 2004

I’ve just heard that Hamilton Mattress is beign released on video in America...hopefully he’ll make a load of new chums there. And also in France he is heading out into the cinemas, having been revoiced with French actors. i’d love to hear this.

January 30th 2004

Hi. well its hard to say exactly how i was involved with Rings. I was here working away on the primate, but by the sheer nature of spending most of every day in the same room or building as all the animators I could not help but get involved. A lot of the animators would come and ask how a body would fall, or how the horses would tumble when trodden on by a mumakil. It was the big battle scene that was keeping most people busy, and a lot of gruesome deaths of humans and horses. I’d help a bit with the choreography of those, and also I’d throw in little bits of advice about rythm, weight, momentum and stuff.Oh yes I’d happily use CG in whatever film I do next. Interesting to see the Oscar nominations this week - the visual effects nominations went to film where the effects supported the film seamlessly, and not to films where the effects were often the only thing that was interesting in a film such as the Matrix. CG and effects still have to support and tell the story.

But last night all the animators left here organised a surprise dinner for me, a farewell do. And I was hugely touched, especially by a speech Randy made....and coming from Randy, now up for his third enormously deserved Oscar, that is some compliment. I was a bit taken aback and made some less than eloquent replies. All this is making going home even harder. Its clear from what the animators were saying that I have made some sort of impression, which is very satisfying, and hopefully we will all get to work together again very soon. But it is hard to go home now. A lot of this group are being scattered all over the place and won’t be around when the big push comes. A great bunch of talented people.I shall miss them, and have been very pleased to have worked with them. We’ve learnt from each other.

And talking of Oscars, I was delighted to see that chum Adam Elliot is up for the short animation award. I hope he gets it. His films are not about technology but real interesting characters. great films.

And Paul and I wrapped the shooting on his short film. It has been huge fun, shooting in some very rocky locations round Wellington, snatching ten minutes of sunlight here and there. This is no budget film making at its best......run and point and shoot. Paul now has a lot of work to do to put it together but he is heading off as well. Its been a huge learning curve for Paul, and however the film turns out, he will have made his first film.

The rest of my week has been spent gawking and all the dolphins, packing, saying way too many goodbyes, getting excited about the various awards, and trying to top up the tan in a summer that is happening in fits and starts.

One more week left of an amazing experience that will seem so unreal the minute I step off the plane into the snow.

Wednesday 4th february 2004

Well that’s it....all packed and ready for off.

After a truly amazing, exciting, exhilerating, sometimes frustrating, unique eight months, it is good bye to;

The Circa; The Downstage; The Readings, The Rialto, Chocolate Fish, Eva Dixon’s, Breaker Bay, Checkmate, NZD, The Dominion post, Courtenay Place, Cuba Mall, Kilbirnie Aquatic Centre, Whitcoulls, Unity Books, Real Groovy, the dolphins, the wind, thepocohontas’ trees, the tuis, Lyall Bay,sweet as....’, aloe vera, Hannah’s apartments, St James, The Opera House, The Jimmie, Slow Boat Records, the sound of the waves, the cicadas, Manuka Street, Weka Street, Stone Street, not tipping, spontaneous conversations on the street, random acts of kindness, the salon of the order of the Blue Rose, Maori names with too many r’s, w’s and u’s that I can’t pronounce, no preservatives, the sun, having my head in several times zones, View Road, that scenery, AUL 330.........and a certain primate and his lady companion.

And goodbye to a great group of colourful people, in and out of work, who have made this time so remarkable, warm, and rewarding but most especially to Randy, Patricia, Dominic and Paul, all of whom will stand the test of geography.

Thanks New Zealand, and hopefully I’ll be back soon to realise the potential in work, in the country, in the people that has not begun to be realised by me.

February 8th 2004

Well I made it back to the UK, and was met by Amanda at the airport, who’d flown in from Cork. great to see here, and sort of great to be back. The house was left spotless by the big B. It all seems familiar but I just can’t remember how some things work.

But what a mad last few days in New Zealand. Last weekend I got chatting to Sandro, an artist I met in town. He’d been heavily involved with Rings, doubling as various elves and orcs and guards. We got chatting about all manner of art stuff, and sure enough he painted my portrait. This was a first, but what a great experience it was doing a nine hour sitting and chatting about absolutely everything - but oh the portrait is extraordinary, and does seem to have caught me. we did it on the day when I shaved my head and look, as I was told several times, like a Roman Emperor. But Sandro’s painting, one of a series of 25 portraits, is really very striking. I’m really very flattered to have sat for this. Have a look at his site http://www.sandro-kopp.com. He and his girlfriend Emma and her mum and sister had come roudn over the weekend to see the dolphins, and happily the dolphins performed to order, jumping out of the water and swimming round the bay.

Slight panic at getting all the packing and organising done before I left, and then the party - Patricia had very generously thrown this for me at her apartment, and what a wonderful evening it was too, and I was very moved by people being there, but the most moving moment was a surprise...I was led down stairs and then Chris H launched intoYou’ll never Walk alone’ with Patricia on the piano. It was beautiful and I was very very overcome and cried a bit. But a great party with a wonderful mix of most of the people who had been significant to me over the last eight months (sadly some others had long gone from New Zealand)- Patricia, Tanya, Dominic, Randy, Domini, Eliza, Stephen B and his chum Colin, Murray and Wendy, Howie, Sam and Toni, Graham A, Chris H,Mike W and chum, Paul, Shaggy, Robyn,and George. Tany had cooked a delicious salmon, and I foudn some fireworks. Patricia had made Barry’s bellini which had a suitable effect on everyone. A great evening with the right mixture of laughs and tears....and also so much talent in one room, Wellington’s great and glamourous! I left feeling very sad but so pleased to have know this crowd. Paul and I sat in the hottub a bit numb from everything, not knowing what will happen next. I’ve no idea what the possibilities are, but what a tremendous eight months it has been....I would like to be back to NZ and the monkey soon.

But in the meantime, I’m ready for whatever happens.

14th February 2004

pardon as I just throw away all the valentines’ day cards that have obscured the computer.....huh!

Quite a week. Still adjusting to the temperature, and the greyness of everything, and the hugely different attitude of shops and things. Very different.

I finally got myself mobile again, and I love Little Toadie. Exactly the same car I had back in LA, and of course the weather was perfect for a Mazda MX5 there, but the grey drizzle of cheshire....mmm? Anyway today I have been racing around having fun, really feeling the road, and the wind. Its very nippy thankfully but the traffic in the uk is just madness. Three journeys I have done this week that should have taken 35 minutes have taken nearly three hours. But oh I love this car, and yes I am in danger of turning in to Toad.

Tried to make a few phone calls about work in the UK, but other than the odd day of teaching, it all looks a bit bleak and inappropriate. however there has been a call from LA, about a film that also has big connections with New Zealand, involving a certain cupboard and its inhabitants. I have a phone interview next week, so watch this space.

But actually come saturday now and I am pretty exhausted. Good to be back in some respects, especially people, but it has made me appreciate New Zealand even more. We were very spoilt there - a glorious relaxed place where most things seem to work with very little stress.

Not having watched TV for eight months, the TV has come as something of a shock....before I left the stations were obsessed with reality shows and lifestyles shows...they are just not obsessed anymore; they stations are relaity shows, there’s very little else. You have to look hard to find original dramas.

So much still to catch up with.

February 20th 2004

A bit of an exhausting week, still catching up with so much.

I had what was hopefully a good conference call with a company in LA...I’d be very happy if this was to bear fruit in a few months, very happy.

Then I have spent two days at the Dun Laoghaire Institute of art, outside Dublin, being an external examiner for the animation course. I’m pleased that I’m becoming a bit of a regular there, and Thelma and her boys always look after me very well. I had tutorials with a lot of students, Richard, Padraig, Shane, Sarah, Stephen, Aidan,Dorinda,Peter,Joseph,Conor,Liam,Ciara, Alan, Gavin,Paul, and Faye - I was pretty exhausted after looking through their final year films, talking non stop, and trying to be constructive and suggest changes that won’t put them behind in their schedules. There was some pretty damn impressive work, and some potentially good ideas - storytelling is something most students struggle with, especially in resolving things. Also sound seems to be an after thought, and not a storytelling element. But I had great fun with them, and hopefully got them at least thinking about and questioning every frame they are doing.

Thelma and her aptly named daughter Rose took me out for supper with the Dublin animators, and yesterday morning we walked along the beach before the tutorials - now that is a very civilised way to start the day. the last time I’d been on that beach I was working at Aardmore Studios animating some horrendous American commercials for Fashion Star Filies, and Girly Grabbits - the characters were as ghastly and hideously coloured as they sound. They were made all the more ghastly by the fact that as I sat in the canteen getting into girly grabbits character thinking (!), Daniel Day Lewis was sat at the same table totally in character as he filmed My Left Foot - it sort of made for a surreal sight in the canteen but put my work into perspective.

Before I left for the airport yesterday Thelma and Rose took me to tea in a hotel overlooking the water - suddenly we were transported to the 50’s, and sure enough a man in a splendid cardigan was twinkling away on the ivories, somewhat murdering every tune he played with innappropriate embellishments. What’s that sound - ah, Cole Porter spinning wildly six feet under. But never mind that, the tea and cakes were splendid - oh what a great tradition that is.And yes the crusts were cut off the cucumber sandwiches, Lady Bracknell.

A fun week, but I’m so far from ever making my own films again, but the ideas keep coming thick and fast. I seem to have had so much creative input into so many other people’s films, but I’m itching to get mine going. Not sure that is going to happen in the UK. I’m not sure what I am any more. It’s ages since I last physically animated, or even made a film. Can I call myself a film maker any more, let alone an animator?

Was shocked to see that Wellington has had horrendous weather this week with floods and gales causing huge amounts of damage, and at one point cutting off the city. Hope my house is still sitting perched on the cliff, and not actually slipped down to join the dolphins in the surf.

I’ve been enjoying driving round in Toadie, and just getting in makes me smile, regardless of the weather.

Was trying to get down to London to catch Randy and Dom, but jet lag on both our parts, and with them going off to spain to see RH, and me to Dublin, it sadly did not happen. I’ve had a few mails from ex-Rings chum who are now scattered all over the world in new jobs. They’ll be hard pushed to get that group of talent together again....but hopefully I’ll be able to keep in touch with most of them.

26th February 2004

Oh well that was a surprise - just as I was seeing my breakfast again due to some rather suspect garlic the night before, I got a call from Cosgrove Hall, asking if I could go in now to do some Postman Pat, as someone was sick. I declined to say that I was myself less than well but anyway an hour later I was in Greendale. Very odd being back there, and people did not really know how to broach the subject of what’s been going on since I left - there was a bit of awkwardness. But it was fun to be back shooting, and having real sets, lighting, puppets and cameras.....and a studio full of people beavering away. Nothing beats the joy of holding a puppet...the keyboard does not come close. I would like to do some more of my own animation again...I do so miss that.

It would be great to see cosgrove hall doing some fo the Christmas specials that made their name back in the 80’s. They used to be one of the big events on the Christmas TV schedules.

29th February/1st March 2004

A huge well done to Randy for his third Oscar for Lord of the Rings Visual Effects - how inadequate those words seem. And a huge well done for Adam Elliot for his first Oscar with his film Harvie Krumpet. Boy am I glad to see those awards going to the right people. Harvey Krumpet is an amazingly personal and brave film - hoorah that presonal films are still being made in animation, (in this case in Australia) with not a reindeer in sight. Take note producers.

Well done guys, well done.

7th March 2004

A difficult week with too much sadness.....feeling a bit numb at the end of it.

Some good things.....I was still buzzing over the weekend from Sunday in the Park with George, and I put the review I wrote here into a Sondheim site. This was read by the cast who I have since been chatting to like old friends. Hopefully I may get to go and do a chat for them. And then on this site there was Mic’s very enthusiastic couple of notes from Bangkok. It amazes me how the films make it over there.

I went over to see Amanda and Peter in Ireland....crikey their house is certainly being transformed. On the tuesday night we went set dancing and burnt off more calories that any amount of other exercise could have done. Great fun, and a much needed cathartic evening. I even sort of knew what I was doing.

Whilst I was getting excited watching a rerun of the Oscars, the phone rang offering another day on Postman Pat, which I could not do - that has sadly been the token reference to work this week.

Odd times indeed.

February 7th 2004

OK - I want to lay down a challenge. Can anyone show me that there is a way to get quality short films made any more, especially films that don’t necessarily have to be about reindeers or children’s pap.I’ve been contacting the various TV stations since I’ve been back and really there does not seem much of a future. Yes there are several feature films in production, but as for the interesting half hour TV special or the reasonable budget short film....well R.I.P.

I’d really hate to think that I won’t get a chance to be creative any more. This is so frustrating as my mind is racing with a million ideas. Every day a new image, a new character, a new story, and a new way to tell a story crams itself into my already crowded head. That there is no release or outlet is slowly getting me down. The worst that could happen is that I stop thinking about ideas, because there seems so little point, and that moment is not that far away.

Sure there is still the outlet to talk about films and animation, but I’ve done too much talking and want to get down and make films again. OK, I don’t have a producer, and being out of the country for long periods has not helped, but surely there is a way to get some films made again.

12th March 2004

Something of a tiring week...I headed of to a college of art and design in Sunderland. I went by train so I could switch off, but don’t you just love the trains in UK. Relax...huh, not a chance, as the train stopped - oh you don’t want to know. Though to be fair it did get us there in time, but we were all a little ineasy.

A great college set in grounds covered in vivid purple crocuses (crocii?). Melanie Hani looked after me, and suddenly I was doing an interview for the local paper and having a photo...the photographer was a character and struggling, trying to make an empty lightbox an interesting photo. Well straight into the talk, and whether it was the combination of cream cakes, being on edge from the journey, or some coffee, I don’t know, but I exploded onto the podium, throwing pearls of wisdom...but not before swine. Everytime I said something, there was this beautifully synchronised activity of pens scratching away. I was only meant to do an hour but I was still rattling away two and a half hours later when I had to get the train. I was certainly on good form today and seemed to make sense. But dammit I want to stop talking and get down to animating and making films again.

And get down I did, for one day at least. This was Enjie Benjie at Cossie Hall. Sets that needed sunglasses to work on, and i’m not quite sure what it was all about, but it was satisfying to be locked away behind the curtains and do a long monologue, and one where arm acting was encouraged...arm acting I can certainly do. I managed to get some nice rhythm in this and satisyfing shapes.

I was a little upset with various postings in the stopmotion site talking about the monkey movie, well not talking really, but guessing, from things in various magazines. Well, magazines aren’t always the most reliable source of what’s actually happened.

Yes I have done msases of talkign about various film projects in the distant future but nothing about actually earning over the next few months and that’s a serious worry. There are a few interesting things floating around, but still all family led. On the train up to Sunderland I reread Agatha Christie’s And Then there were none. I so want to do this on stage, and turn into a genuinely exciting and terrifying piece of theatre, instead of a play about frocks and period furniture as it usually is. Its so well constructed and so copied. Well yes I’ve even a script based on it, itching to get filmed. Oh damn. I have to get filming soon.

13th March 2004

An exhilerating day yesterday that went a long way to restoring a very battered ego....ok so I did not make a single penny but at least my brain was being creative. I spent the morning with Emil,discussing verious stage ideas we might put forward tot he Royal exhcange. One is of a very famous, oh so famous, film epic. So outragesous an idea but it might just work brilliantly. We have thought of a way of doing it, and everythign just started to fall in place...verye xciting, but of course they’d neer go for it. But how I love thinking of different ways to tell a story.

Then over to Bradford for the opening night of their film festival. I went to see that the puppets were still happy up in their exhibition. actually I was rather moved at seeing them again. D’Oyly Carte had fallen over, legs in the air, showing all he had not got under his night shirt. He’ll be up again tomorrow. but Shakey is still there looking good and proud, Gilda’s rotting and the Greek boys are still looking emotional but a bit rough round the edges.But great to see them. I did want to hold them funnily enough.

Anyway the gala film was Open range, and boy do the Bradford Film festival do us proud. They always make me feel so particularly welcome. the guest sof honour were Simon Beaufort, Ian Carmichael, and Anthony Minghella. a few speeches, a lot of great food, and the foyer was lookign very pretty and spectacular. There is no place like that museum - there is always a sense of excitement walking into that imposing foyer.

Had a good chat over the night to adam Pugh who runs the animation festival in November...we’ll try and organise something pretty special for this year. Anna Scrine and I watched the film together, enjoying it but sayingoh no the dog’s going to get it’ and sure enough he did!

Came over over the inevitably thick fogged Pennines exhausted but quite high from a lot fo film chat and great company and chat about artistic things...now if only it was possible to put some of that into practice.

18th March 2004

A frantic work with too much travelling and laying down too many seeds for work...not sure any of these will germinate. I’m certainly ready for a new job, no not ready, definitely needing an appropriate job. Oh dammit a job would be good.

Anyway, I headed to London and managed to cram in a meeting with a producer and an author about adapting a book for the screen. Even if this was to happen it would be many months before things might happen. an interesting book that I read laying out on Breaker Bay back in New Zealand. The adventures of the characters are forever coloured by the blinding sun of that beach. Whilst in London I managed to get to see Ronn and also Sophie from Weta days....great to see them. We have all been hugely changed and a bit spoilt by the New Zealand months...it was a lovely place. London...well my shoulders were up round my ears and I could not wait to get out. But if there was a job down there, i’d be happy enough. if there was a job, I’d be happy enough.

I’ve certainly be writing enough and getting in contact with a lot of ompanies, but I am amazed at how few letters get even aknowledged. Seems to be the way these days. I try to do my best to respond to most letters....sadly some slip through for various reasons.

I drove over the country to see Jo in her play in Richmond. What an amazing journey through Yorkshire. Time seems to have stopped in this part of england, and it is glorious. Great monumental valeys, and castles and stunnign rivers. Richmond is a lovely little market town with great architecture and great tea shops, but what is the point of a tea shop that shuts at 4.30! I had the hood down on the car and various shows playing.....a fun journey and what sports cars are for.

Saw Jo in the play, and what a fun night and fun play. The pub everyone was staying in defined the word digs. Jo’s room no bigger than a cupboard, with very temperamental plumbing - ah, you’re in room 3, was the explanation. Sat downstairs in the pub with the cast was a glorious session of theatrical anecdotes about various productions and actors. They are on a hard tour, with usualy one night in each venue. Not an easy life but i’m glad this still goes on....certainly Richmond was glad this still goes on. It was a great adventure and great to see Jo.

Got back a bit shattered after various journeys in the last few days....but sadly I’ve not earnt any money for a while, and there are no immediate prospects of a job. Damn.

24th March 2004

I’ve been doing a few days back at Cosgrove Hall, and whilst I’m not really sure what this programme is about, I have been surprised that I still love animating, especially holding something physical. This is suprficially quite simple stuff but today I had a good complicated 15 second shot with numerous characters, and as it was nearing 6.00 I was nowhere near finished and had to cut a few corners....and actually this was the making of the shot. A rather clear rhythm suddenly made the action very very funny - I even laughed myself! I love it when the timing works just perfectly. One of the hands of the characters broke and I subsequently had to adapt the action and this made it funnier as well. Quite pleased really, but of course this has got me itching to get my own stuff going again. Really have no idea when and if that will happen.

The article I mentioned in the Sunderland paper also called me an elder statesman of animation....I can live with that.