Diary 2003 - Page 3

6th September 2003

A week getting very frustrated with technology, or is that frustrated by technology. However I did manage to get 90 shots edited together for our sequences, and they look damn good. With only one animator we are limited to how much we can do, but tis certainly lively. And everyone who sees it gets carried along and wants to knwo what happens next. So do I actually. But the technology has caused me several stroppy moments, where things disappear or can’t be sent or whatever.

At the end of the week to help the now 400 or so people at weta get through the next few hard weeks a Haka was organsied in the motion capture studio, and pretty amazing it was too. As a piece of body language it was extraordinary. Of course it had to be me that was chosen to receive the leaf that kicks the whole thing off.

Had a great meal with Patricia and all the Wellington grand dames - a long italian lunch and this was delicious. I showed the Gilbert and Sullivan film which caused much merriment from the opera loving crowd. Patricia’s flat is in the centre of town and is best described as techno-chic! Wonderful but I think I’ll always want to live by the water here. Hey, here I am talking about being here in t he future...our contracts run out next friday. Watch this space.

And a social night with the english crew on wednesday to the movies...all in all a busy week whilst still trying to keep up with B in Ibiza and Amanda’s many walks round County Cork.

A conference call with PJ early on saturday got cancelled but it did mean i was passing a beach as the sun rose. So I sat and watch all the mist clear over the mirror like sea. And then out of nowhere a lady appeared with a cup of coffee and we sat and talked about all manner of things, especially the beauty of New Zealand. And sat there watching the sun rise, I had to agree.And yes its really just people we miss.....and the sunday papers, but thanks Amanda for sending the best bits.

More earthquakes but in the south island...big ones.

September 12th 2003

Amandas birthday and I’m so sad not to be there ..certainly feel a long long way away.

I’ve been reading a book about the Wahine Disaster...this was the largest maritime disaster in New Zealand and it happened right in the stretch off water in front of my house. I thought I’d better know a bit more about it. A fascinating book with amazing photographs. This was back in April 1968 and the huge passenger and car ferry overturned and smashed against rocks in bad weather. The channel here looks so narrow but there was a huge loss of life. Some of the photos show the passengers looking so relaxed even though the boat is titling. It does not seem as though the inevitable was possible so near land. One photo has two old ladies carried ashore but still clutching their handbags.

There is a rather elegant understated memorial in seatoun that I pass everyday - just a mound of grass, some funnels and an anchor. Unfortunately it looks straight out of Teletubbies. they could not have foreseen that, but.....

Ten of us last sunday had a breathtaking horse ride in a spectacular valley. I was glad to get beyond Wellington for a change, but oh what countryside, and the joy of cantering through shallow rivers was wonderful. surprisingly I was not at all sore on Monday...maybe all this swimming is doing something. Must do more of this but next sunday I shall miss the white water rafting as I’m heading to Nelson.

Work has been fine and we had a productive video conference call to London on wednesday. One was scheduled for early saturday, but as I got to work it was cancelled. Still I went and sat in worser Bay and watched the sun rise, and was joined by a lady bringing me out a cup of tea...we then chatted about evrything, watching the world go by.

Anyway the conference call was useful and we have a good idea where we are going now. I’m getting a dab hand on final Cut Pro - the editing is fine as i’ve been doing that for 25 years. Its what to do with it after that that confuses me, how to get to other people. Anyway the sequences are looking exciting even if outdated already. Nearly every hour someone from Lord of the Rings comes to ask about the big monkey and whether they can work on it. Not sure that’s up to me, and as it happens my first contract expires in three hours, but since I have meeting next week it looks like I’m still here.

Ghastly weather all week and my washing has been hanging out since monday in the vain hope of getting dry. Came back on thursday to discover various items hanging on the aloe vera.

Yep the UK seems a long silent way away at the moment. I’ve only been able to keep in touch with Amanda,(and thank heaven for her parcels of goodies) but the rest is silence. However I’ve been logging onto the Guardian web page so I’m a bit more up to date with what’s going on - ok, I confess I’m only reading the reviews. So many shows I want to catch up with, but hey there’s enough going on here to keep me busy. I wonder who the first visitor out here will be?

So that’s three motnhs gone pretty quickly.

Keep hearing all the news about Corpse Bride....certainly sounds exciting and nearly all the people I know in the business are working on it. Would like to be invovled,as I’m itching to do some animation again, but hey there’s something else looming very large.

September 12th

well just as everyone was flagging a bit on friday afternoon, the lovely Sarah comes leaping round with the biggest ice-cream sundaes....groaning under the weight of flakes and fruit and malteasers. Weta is now buzzing with hyperactive computers guys overdosing on sugar...me included. A nice thought. And the sun is shinging now,and its coming up to beer’o’clock....another weta tradition. A good way to end the week.

Speaking of special effects there is a film company (i dont know the name) which doesn’t employ any digital special at all which makes me very happy. their latest film was a vampire and zombie film and uses all puppets and manual gear.

19th September 2003 - Wellington

Well last weekend was amazing, jetting in and out of Nelson for the Wearable arts show. I’m still telling everyone about it...it was such fun and so witty. Did not see much of Nelson sadly, but the view from the plane of Marlborough Sound looked wonderful. I must get back there.

Work has been a little confusing for us all this week. The long term plans are, shall we say, vague, and no-one knows what is going. So planning anythign is impossible. A lot fo people have been disappearing to a hotel for meetings with sony and being offered lognterm contracts and exciting enticements. I’m certianly here for another three months but after that who knows. I would like to know. Major decisions to be made.

Finally got to talk to big B, and hear of various adventures in Ibiza, but oh his house sounds chaotic. The plan was that he would move into my house - for various reasons that can’t happen. And poor Amanda and Peter are up to it in their house as well...evrybody is converting everything but it does not seem to be going too smoothly, and worse of all is that I can’t be there to help anyone. still not managed to speak to Jo - this is now nearly seven weeks. Her life as a soap star and early morning car pick-ups mean our times just do not co-incide. Now she’s jetting off to LA to see a play. I love it. She may be out her in January which would be wonderful - not sure where I’ll be living by that time or whether I’ll still be here.

The Wellington weather has been colourful this week, with thursday giving us gusts of up to 135kph which was literally blowing people off their feet and overturning aeroplanes. They shut the airport, and I noticed fewer boats at sea. I was scared, I have to admit, and left messages of various phones back in the uK...my hosue was shifting and the windows bucklign. And then on friday morning it was all still and blue skies and hot and sunny. How does that happen so quickly.

Little culture this week but i did watch all of the BBC’s Cambridge Spies on DVD and loved it really. I’m sure it was very glossy but I loved the scenes of the Royal family. It made we sih to see the two Alan Bennett plays on spying - oh how brilliant is A Question of Attribution and that scene with the Queen.Would love to see that again.

I got caught up in my head designing an opera and a play. how sad all this creativity is not going anywhere at the moment.

September 26th 2003 - Wellington

Not a wildly exciting week, but after a week of being out everynight, I’m so ready for a night in and the domestics. I tend to panic when I can’t catch up. Not sure what I’ve been doing really but a couple of trips to the theatre and a couple of evenings listening to friends hugely complicated love live’s have left me pretty exhausted.

I’ve started looking for new places to live....I shall miss this house with its amazing views, its privacy and all that space. But hopefully I can find somewhere exciting on the water.

Everyone at work is aware that it is all coming to an end pretty quickly, and that, in reality. they have nothing to go on to. Sad to this group of people disbanded.

Oh yes Sunday was exciting as I got involved with a seal that had got himself disorientated on the rocks by the airport. Teh RSPCA weren’t itnerested because of it being a wild animal, and another organistion were only interested when I said that it might wander onto the road and cause all manner of pile-ups. But I sat with it for an hour or so just looking at it and chatting away. sadly he seemed to have lost an eye. I had to go but he was gone later, so hopefully he found his way back to the water.

Spent some time chatting with Paul c over his ideas for short filsm, and again that got me so fired up about doing some more short films. I do believe several of the scripts I have would really work, but how the hell am I going to get them made. I had a good meeting with the New Zealand Opera company about directing for them....sadly the obvious opera, rigoletto, which I know so well and have some new interesting ideas for, is being done by them next year. If they had not already got the team workign away it would ahve fitted in nicely with time off from Kong - well if I am here.

Of chums, I finally got to speak to Jo, now in LA, having flown there and been upgraded to first class by the purser who recognised her from her series. As she sat there drinking champagne she did not have the heart to say her character is just being killed off. I think she’s upset about this but 18 months as a main character in a soap is not bad.

Amanda and Peter seem to making progress in their house, even though they’ve had to move out Not had much chat with big B but I think he is smiling this week.

30th September 2003

The trailer for lord of the Rings - The Return of the king is now in cinemas and the reaction is already staggering. Have a look at this website http://www.theonering.net - and people are champing at the bit. The trailer is indeed very impressive, and suddenly I feel the excitement of what is about to be unleashed. Its hard to equate it to the guys still beavering away down stairs, but this movie is going to be huge, an amazing achievement. Yep, I’m getting very excited about it now. Lord knows when I’ll get to see it or where.

October 4th 2003

just wrote a lengthy epistle for here and then cyber space somewhere. ah well. a brief synopsis is that work is moving up a notch. I was given two extra animators, but that was down to one extra by the end of the week. Still its good to have another person and another scene on the way.

Rings is looking sensational as they come to the last few weeks.

The weather here has been shite all week, with earthquakes and non stop rain. I was out on a horse on sunday, feeling very comfortable, but also as wet as one can be without being underwater. Mist below and clouds above, and a very eeire silence. Joyous, and I did rather feel I’d stepped out of a bronte novel.

Hmm...I’m rather dubious about the motives of some people outside of Weta talking to me non-stop about Kong....alarm bells ringing and cries of being used.. Well no more.

Had a good meal round at Paul C’s with several animators - I became the games master again.

Still lookign for a new house, and i keep seeing some sensational ones with amazing views...but how long am I going to be here. According to a tarot, I’ll be here for the whole film, then one short film back in the UK and then that’s it with animation, but then more theatre stuff.

Not sure when I’ll get back to the UK at all....anything happening back in the UK I should know about. It’s been particularly hard to phone home this week, with various people out of their usual homes.

And what are these rumours about Orson Welles nearly directing a movie of Batman back in the 40’s, with Marlene Dietrich as Catwoman!

October 10th 2003

no culture this week...well the Sydney Dacne Company would be a tough act to follow, but I’ve been swimming fit to burst and I have to say after all these months here the clothes are now definitely baggy. No bad thing. I have to leave my house in two weeks and have finally found a new one to rent - and oh what a house. The view of not only Lyall Bay and the surfers, but the whole of Evans Bay, Eastbourne, the ocean and the airport. A lovely private garden, with a hot tub out on the varendah, and most decadent of all, a fridge in the bathroom, because you never know when you’ll need a cold bottle of champagne. Can’t afford it but I can’t wait to move in, but I’ll have to go into a motel for a week which will be far from glam!

Work wise, well my crew has gone up to three, and some great exciting stuff is being done. It s coming together. A big highlight was finally bringing Bruce Roberts, the gorilla expert, in to talk to the various people. And information flowed, and ideas flowed, and we all got wildly excited...how to apply this is another matter. But very useful,and everyone was buzzing. i’m hoping we can do practical stuff and leap about trying to internalise it all.

Of that other project, well the end clearly is in sight and everyone is getting delirious as shot after shot after is approved, and the list shrinks. But they are also looking confused as to what happens next, when their lives are given back to them. This film is going to be simply astonishing.

I was at a barbecue on sunday, overlooking yet another gobsmacking view of New Zealand. As I looked around it was quite hard to think this group who have been together for so long are all going to be split up to every corner of the globe, and all of them probably changed forever by this experience.

Big B’s birthday over the weekend (37 of course, and anyone who tells you different is lying!) - hard not to be there to do something joyous. And Amanda and Pete try to move forward with their house renovations with invisible builders - hard not to be there to help or whatever.

And Arnold S has become governer of California....the world has gone mad.

And the world has also lost Denis Quilley - a great actor, and I shall remember his Sweeney Todd, countless Shakespeares, Humble Boy last year and the brilliant sublime Captain Terri Dennis in Privates on Parade....especially his look of total shock and naughty excitement as someone addressed hisVera Lynn’ creation talking of soldiers as British Spunk. Sorry - you had to see it...well do. Its on DVD...watch the credits, and watch him tremble.

October 17th 2003

Well the good weather has arrived in force. stunningly beautiful and wellington looks the most beautiful place on earth. I can’t wait to move in to my new house. All that is sorted out, but I have two weeks to wait. There are queues of people already waiting for the hot tub and champagne. I was thinking how I always seem to land up with a house with a view...it must be inherently essential for me. The house on Mars Attacks had a view all over LA and you could see the ocean (and then there was that swimming pool), and the house on Hamilton had the view right across the fields and the river Severn, and my own house back home has a view over Manchester and the Pennines. and now I have a view over a huge chunk of the coast and even south Island. There’s a pattern - or is it that I don’t like living in cities and am very unsocial.

Work has been hugely busy with three (Andy, Paul, and Jason) animators all week - we probably got out some twenty shots,and the sequences are building up to be very exciting,and vicious and good to watch. A shape is forming. Outside on the other film, things are still pretty manic. Everyone is rushing round having their posters signed. Suddenly this is the end for some people. A huge chunk of their lives spent together and now everyone is dispersing. Still there will always be, if not Paris, at least the bond of Middle Earth. And the footage just gets and more amazing, and the premiere gets closer and closer.It will be sad to see so many people go when we’ve all got to know each other.

The weather has made me a little social, and lunch down with John down at Chocolate Fish (you have to be here to understand that name) is a good way to spend lunch. What a view that place has, and the sound of the waves lapping at your feet over lunch is damn good. I even had a late night of champagne and a full moon. It was big B’s (37th of course) birthday and after months of looking forward to organising stuff and trying to be part of it, it went by in a rather hurried phone call. A bit of a downer there. It is tough trying to keep involved with everything back home, and tough keeping back home invovled with me.Hearing that the house had a bit of a leak sent me into all manner of panics. Hopefully all that is sorted out.

If you can hear the sound of laughter it is Patricia, who has been laughing all week at the Cd of Hinge and Brackett I gave her. Her laughter is now even louder as she had no idea they were men and had been fooled and missed much of the point.

Paul C came back from two weeks in London, buzzing with energy and determination to get his short films made. And that’s infectious as I’m desperte too to get some of my old scripts made.If I could just make Toucan tango, Feather and Zarafa....and a few otehrs.

all the various crew jackets and stuff has been arriving and wellington will be overrun with all manner of strange images.

So yes everyone is exhausted but there is a huge sense of excitement and achievement going around. Everyone here is aware that they have been part of something so huge and so remarkable.....and probably the biggest film in history.

All this, and ten visits to the gym and pool this week and i’m buzzing a bit.

October 24th 2003

An exhausting week. I’ve had four and sometimes five animators working alongside me this week, all workign at different speeds, but we’ve turned out some amazing footage. Suddenly it is a thrilling, rather nasty sequence where the tables are turned every shot. Hard workign co-ordinating this, and I’ve had somethign of a losing battle with technology.There was I thinking that I’d learned an amazing amount whilst I have been here, but I did get defeated a bit by technology late on grumpy friday.

Of the other film, well Middle Earth is now a car park. I was witness to the sad sight of a truck load of rubber dead horses being carted away. Too realistic. This was followed by rails and rails of cloaks, and boxes of armour.And now every day people are heading off, and getting upset, leaving some very close pals.This place will be very quiet in a few weeks. Though I met someone deeply involved with getting everyone here for the premiere...oh yes his work is cut out. It is going to be a huge event.

Nearly a whole week of sensational weather, and thankfully last weekend was just a joy. i spent most of it down on the beach - including chatting to Dominic who’s involved in films away from hobbits and orcs. Must be hard to be in that huge shadow. But oh what a glorious beach is Breaker Bay. I did not want to leave. The weather broke by the end of the week, and now the lot looks a very sad place. Very little indication of anything that was there before.We had the Weta digital crew photo this week...hundreds of us all crammed together in one photo, many wondering who all those people are. Sadly a lot of them have already gone. A rare moment to have everyone together,

Appropriately I also left my house...I shall miss that place, and its sensational views and the nearness to the beach, but the new place will be fantastic. I’ve got to be homeless for a few nights, but next weeks i’m feeling the need for much champagne and much time in the hot tub.Am very stressed at the moment.I got upset by home this week, thinking of Michaels birthday, and not being able to get hold of most people.

A good fast week but I’ve felt a bit down and exhausted by the end.

October 27th 2003

I keep writing this diary at the end of the week and forgetting what happened at the start. I forgot to write of a great barbecue Randy held at his hosue for all the animators last sunday. Glorious weather with a sunset you could not make up. His house overlooks island bay, and well, it does not get better than that. It was amazing to look round the room to see so much talent. But a good time was had by all, and all manner of scandal discreetly revealed under the influence of alcohol...well I never knew that bit of gossip! And yesterday Paul Griffin had a barbie at his breathtaking house with an equally breathtaking view...though already the numbers are down with people gone.

And today at work there are several empty desks. very sad. I feelI’m in some digital Agatha Christie novel.

October 31st 2003

Welcome to the Marie Celeste - almost. Suddenly evrywhere is very quiet, and the studio has a real end of term feel to it. Everything that was erected has gone, lots of animation desks are empty, not many people left to play football out on the lot. But still the film races on to its deadline, but from here it looks an empty place. Everywhere else the excitement is mounting, and wellington is defintiely getting a huge clean up ready for the 1st December.

With the monkey, aniamtors came and went but we’ve had soem exciting stuff done.

Glorious weather and I can’t wait for the weekend. I have finally moved hosue. Spent a few days over at Paul C’s, revelling in B-Movie chat and working on his ideas, and then finally moved into View Road on Tuesday, and there can be no better description of the place. It does have stunning views. Paul came roudn and we tried to get the hot tub going - oh curses that it takes a couple of days to warm up. I shall enjoy this house. I had a brief moment of melancholy as this seemed a further step away from home, but there we go. champagne christened the hosue. Have not had much time to enjoy it yet. Have all the mechanical things working like the washing machine but I’ll be damned if I can get the video working. Just realised that I’ve been here five months and have not watched tv.....lots of DVD’s but no proper TV. Have not missed it, other than keeping in touch with the world. i saw the terifying film of the California fires, and the not unsurprising news of Duncan Smith stepping down from the Tories.

Last friday Sarah had a leaving do, one of many leaving dos this week, where we all went bowling. I was way too excited and the first game I got strike after strike, and then went rapidly down hill after that.

Well a weekend on the beach or hot tub is definitely on the cards...I’m exhausted actually.

7th November 2003

A week of huge lows and a few highs. Not quite sure why I cracked up a bit this week but I did, especially on Guy Fawkes Night. I was sitting with the best view of the fireworks over the harbour, but suddenly threw some sort of wobbly and jumped in a car and watched them from the otherside of the harbour...sat on a deserted beach. Great views though, and what amazing fireworks. How do they get them to have shapes and such precise globes and, well they were astonishing. even in my foul mood I sat there and giggled. I always seem to watch fireworks by myself, especially back home from the turret.

Work has suddenly shifted up several gears and I’m getting most of the animators that are left from Rings thrown at me. We are certainly getting out the footage...I hope it is liked. Various incidents have somewhat knocked me a bit this week. Been on shaky ground for most of the week. Other than giving myself a good talking to I’ve had to play agony aunt to several people who are also cracking up one way or the other. This is a strange industry and this is a particularly strange part of it.

The whole place is practically deserted,(and I’m amazed how thorough the clean out of the lot has been - nothing remains at all) but the shotlist countdown is now in double figures. This really is the end of a huge event. The studios now have no sign of anything Tolkienesque. Even the massive blue and green screens have gone. The landscape of Wellington has changed this week. A very sad atmosphere around the place. Things are hotting up for the premiere, with the huge Gollum now appearing over the airport, greeting confused visitors.

I’ve sat most of the parties out, as I’m loving my new house. I wake up and can’t believe the view. Quite a few visitors...I enjoyed having Ronn and Alayne to stay over the weekend. I shall so miss Ronn - a good allie here. The hot tub has been whirring away, used mostly by other people whilst I’ve been knocking up meals and drinks, but there we go. A magpie has befriended me, and sits quite happily just a couple of feet away in the garden. Very different looking to our European magpies.

And home really does seem so far away, and I’m terrified of forgetting some things.

November 14th 2003 Wellington

An extraordinary week with everyone’s emotions at fever pitch. Some are pleased to be going and picking up there lives again, others desperately want to stay. Lots of job turmoil...much celebration with people getting jobs in other studios around the world, and sadly others being rejected. Sadness of all are the English guys in our building; having been together at University, and then working together in Lodnon, and then working living and playing together here, there are finally being split up and disappearing to various continents. They are a bit gutted. And I shall miss them - I have been some sort of uncle character to them.

But there have been some great moments of kindness this week. Sophie did me a picture of the Badger in his hot tub overlooking Lyall bay, and I just love it...and it has become a T-shirt image for the English chaps. At a meal for the animators last night (so many of us crammed into a small space), everyone was aware that this was the last time most would see each other. They clubbed together to buy Randy a very spectacular pipe....to say he was touched would be an understatement. and there I was laughing at his display of emotion, then it was my turn. That took the wind out of my sails. Sophie had organised a present from her group, thanking me for entertaining, inspiring and educating’ them. Well now I was touched and emotional...the present, and I rather dreaded opening it after my various bawdy and provocative anecdotes over the months, was the most beautiful of cuddly Badgers, with their names on his name tag. This Badger appropriately had been flown over from England.Everyone was on fine form at this dinner...I was sat next to Kat who was being gloriously minxy! So much talent round one table, and now its all gone.This is such a strange business...no reality to it at all. And its strangeness is very hard to share with others outside.

Other kindnesses have been Ian Levy, from Bravo TV who I have got to know just through chatting about their TV aniamted Century, sending me half a dozen tapes of programmes of huge interest to me. And then this morning Jane Lawson from the Metrodome group, who had released Nickleby, sent me various dVD’s of their latest releases, including a Richard Rodgers celebration conducted by my chum David, the Mckellen Othello, and Henry Goodman as Shylock. Very kind. I’ve sent various exclusive T-shirts in return.

And work itself has jumped up several gears, though I still feel an outsider to the expected way of doing things. I’ve shown our cut to various groups and the reaction has been tremendous, though a stony silence in one quarter. But the reaction is very encouraging.

And of the big film, there has been a daily countdown of the shots remaining. This is it, and even though I’ve hardly been involved, its enormously exciting. Everywhere you look there are hugely visible signs of the the Rings coming. Yes, huge posters of the characters, but my favourite was a twenty foot letter stuck on the side of a supermarket address to Moutn Doom - and in side was the clearly visible outline of the ring. Very clever. And Wellignton is looking spick and span for the premier in 17 days.

An exhilarating week, but half of me is still concerned about how long I am here, and about things back home, and still trying to get my own stuff moving forward. How to do that is nigh impossible, especially from here - and truth to tell dropping the name of the oversized primate will not open any particularly relevant doors.

November 21st 2003

They come not as single spies but as whole battalions.

Yep, a few things have happened this week, mainly at home, that have totally rattled me, and left me feeling very helpless being so far away ....mainly Amanda having an accident back in Irelad. she fell through the ceiling of the house under conversion. Mainly cracked ribs and shock, but I five days on and I’ve still not been able to speak to here...this time difference is very awkward. Oh sometimes those telephone messages,usually late at night, just stop your heart. And you always know the news is going to be bad.

Exciting times, confusing times, exhilerating times to be here in Wellington. The King has as good as returned, and what a welcome he is going to get. He has been glimpsed and he is glorious, magnificent and awe inpsiring, and probably the most amazing thing I have seen.And there won’t be a dry anything in the house.

We have left the car park that used to be Middle Earth, and are now almsot back where we started, though not in the cinema foyer thank goodness. Productivity was probably a little low this week as it was unsettling packing everything up and unpacking, and where I had 11 animators last week I now have about four and a few floaters. There was a mass exodus, and a bit of a cull, last week, but the englsih boys seem to be having great fun...various texts have had them jumping out of planes, kayaking and generally leting there hair down...and what a great country to do it in. Michael Rose, a producer chum from aardman days, is out here , and I drove him round the bays, and he was like a kid oohing and aahing at the spectacle. Had a great meal together in Kai, where a neighbouring table of Maoris burst into glorious and emotional song. He was telling me all the gossip fromt he animation world back home...well yes the short film is certainly dead. very classical music projects seem to be happening slowly that I would kill to be involved. Its hard to try and develop anything over here to be ready for when I get home. One of the last times Michael and I met away from home was in Positano...anothe place of incredible beauty, with of course Pompeii just round the corner. Perhaps we should only meet at exotic places, and animation has certainly taken me to a few of those.

After the exhileration of Fly me to the Moon and the champagne and the company last friday, I’ve been a bit flat this week. Its still uncertain how long I’m going to be here. Maybe I might see home (though its a full house back home, and no room) sooner than I thought...maybe not.Whatever I’ll enjoy the summer here. Most days have had dazzling blue skies...and that wind.

It was Paul C’s birthday and he is busy getting his short film together. We did a bit of location shooting which was wonderfully surreal. And most people on their birthday would be out being drunk - Paul and I had a serious seminar about film grammar. It was ever thus.

Next week, I think there’ll be answers and some movement forward and a lot of positive thinking.And hopefully less dramas, and hopefully Amanda will be on the mend.

Whatever, its all a bit different from this time last year, when I started wokring in the bookshop, trying to cope with the till and awkward elderly customers determined to snatch a few pennies off the price..

hmmm? how did I become anonymous so quickly?

King Kong 25th November 2003

Well suddenly out of the blue there was a screening at Peter’s cinema, and it was packed. A lot of people had never seen this film, let alone seen it on film. I’m afraid I determined to sit by myself and avoid the chatter and comments about fur moving and so on, and just enjoy it as the amazing film it is. Peter stood up and waved a prop from the film....and eerie moment directly connecting us to it. And you know what, this film, with every scene now either an icon or a cliche, and this film with so much racism, sexism, and gratious violence, still works its not inconsiderable magic. The bizarre relationship still moves, the image still so evocative, and the use of sound still brilliant. It is still a huge achievement and a big big film. What must it have been like to see it for the first time 70 years ago. Even as I watched it tonight, my life flashed by me, remembering every occasion that I saw the film, every person I saw it with, and every thought I have had concerning it. Kong is one of those pieces of art that have always seemed to have been part of my life, like Wind in the Willows, Nicholas Nickelby, The Mikado, and Macbeth, The Greeks, and that I somehow become professionally connected with. But yes, it was like revisiting an old chum again, wondering how he had been since we last met. I’ve just remembered I have already aniamted Kong, about ten years or more ago, for a Royal Bank of Scotland...for some reason Kong was wearing a nappy and had a dummy. Maybe this is my chance to make amends for that travesty.

28th November 2003

Crikey this week has gone in a blur and I can’t remember much. we’ve only done a three day week, as we had the wrap party on thursday. That was a huge affair and I did not recognise half the people as they were so smart.

But wellington has been one big party this week. It has been simply extraordinary. the papers are reporting the casts every move, what they are wearing, where they were shopping. I did not go to most of the functions, but I’d like to have gone to the concert of Howard Shore conducting suites from all three films. Mckellen also held a reception somewhere that would have been fun. That cast are certainly having a good time here. The next few weeks are going to be totally mad for them.Had a chat to Royd Tolkien who is pretty much going round the world with the film.

Just walking down the street I’m not surprised any more at seeing people dressed as hobbits, or shops with great and not so great displays with accompanying awful puns.

I finally had a long meeting with PJ...how he can be talking so sensibly about Kong in the middle of this mayhem is amazing.

Everyone’s emotions hae been running at fever pitch all week, and there’s been an odd feeling of being so involved but not involved at all.

And work on the hairy one has been difficult as suddenly I have very few aniamtors now, and most of them are busy working out their holiday or leaving plans.

Strange times indeed.

Ist December 2003

Well the premiere of Return of the The King was simply astonishing.Most of Weta were perched on a balcony just aboe the red carpet near the grandstands..in easy shouting distnace of the cast. Wellington was packed with over 100000 people, all getting rather sunburnt in glorious weather. The red carpet bit lasted about three hours and was hugely entertainig and friendly.There really does seem to be a huge genuine and casual bond between the cast and crew and the people of wellington. At the top of the parade where we were, various troups of elves, orcs, gondorians soldiers and the like kept us busy, as well as inane local reporters asking the most awful of questions.Eventually the cast came down and the noise was deafening...everyone just looked so happy, and they were all making time to sign as many autographs as possible. Liv Tyler was the real glamour, and she looked sensational, barefoot and chic. Ian Mck looked dapper and elegant and with just the right amount of ham. Viggo won everyone over with his casual grounded charm, and the fans went beserk for Orlando...though his dark hair confused most of the crowd. But most of the cast were there giving there all and loving it. Peter was suitably overcome and modest. Even Helen Clark, the PM, joined in with a rousing speech and a shawl of chainmail. A stunning afternoon, with various entertainments along the way, including a low flying Jumbo jet with the hobbits painted on, a man shot out of a cannon, and various fire effects and stuff. Did one reporter really ask Hugo Weaving if he had had Botox and a tuck. No wonder Weaving spluttered a surprised answer.McKellen managed to get a deliciously louche remark in about the men of Wellington...he couldn’t resist. But he did look so sauve with his white panama hat.Of our lot, Randy, Dom and Lisa looked as if they were born on a red carpet. And Eileen looked absolutely radiant, and I’m sure I saw her do a little jump. What must she feel like after all these years.

And all the guests did look a bit hot in the suits as they made their way into the Embassy. I left at this point, not up to the weta drunken binge, and a little grumpy as my guest had stood me up...so there was a spare ticket. Dammit. How many times could that have been used.

But so good to be indirectly involved with such a day. Kong will have a hard job to follow this.

Oh, and how could I forget the various Gollum sound-a-like competitiosn going on all the way down the line. Andy S did his speach as a confused Gollum and Smeagol, to huge applause.

December 8th 2003

How can we be so near to christmas, and the weather so glorious and the days so long. Writing christmas cards at home, watching the surfers, this just does not make sense.

After the highs, and the odd low, of the premiere its been a bit hard to get motivated this week. More animators have gone, and I really am working with a skeleton crew, but there is still so much to do. this is like an Agatha Christie play...each day there is one less of us. I had a bit of a wobbly mid week and a meeting full of techno speak that I really did not understand. I’m just itching to get onto some serious acting...but that’s probably some way off.

The premiere has had such an effect on Wellignton and everyone was in such high spirits. the city rather gloated when one screening in America for critics turned into a french farce with various reels upside down and in the wrong order...the screenings here have been faultless.

I had a very civilised afternoon on sunday with several rounds of croquet...the playing seemed to be very different to how I remember but I so enjoyed it and have found another hidden and totally useless skill. Perfect whether and a perfect location...certainly a very colonial feel and brought back various emotional evocative memories.

Lunch with the big D at Chocolate Fish, well it does not get better than that. Liv Tyler has probably ensured the success of Chocolate Fish for years to come with her talking about it at the premiere.It is the most joyous of places, and good company just makes it better.

This is so bizarre to think of Christmas just round the corner, so bizarre.

December 12th 2003

Well an odd week really, one that had End of Term written in very large letters all over it, though there is still one week to go. I am now down to two animators which is making things a little slow....and i’m waking up in the middle of the night with exciting ideas, but they’ll have to wait until I have enough crew.

The feedback from Return of the King has been extraordinary...there are not enough superlatives, and I think history or something has just been witnessed first hand.And I think I hear many many Oscar speeches, many. The local papers are still full of stuff about King, even though its quiet here this week. Put that word on the front or a picture of Gollum and sales go through the roof.

We’ve even started talking about the Making of..DVD for our film.This is quite bizarre as of this moment, I have two working days left on my contract...so who knows what will happen next week or where I’ll be. Who knows.

Little culture this week, though back home I was excited for my friend Tony Keech who is understudy to John Gordon Sinclair in the new Poliakoff play. He had to suddenly go on for the first time, at an hours notice. Every understudy’s exciting nightmare. I heard he did brilliantly.

And Brian headed off to the Exchange to catch Happiest Days of Your Life, which I would have loved to have seen...hope he enjoyed it. It’s a long time since he and I went to the theatre. Wonder when and where next.

Not much social stuff this week, as I have been tired, but another lunch at Chocolate fish with the big D in the sunshine was more than pleasurable.

I’m afraid I’ve been shedding skin this week as I clearly overdid it on the beach last sunday, but you did not really need to know that!

I’m definitely getting itchy feet about makimg my own short films again or directing a play. I must do something very soon. Its hard to get stuff going for whenever I return to the UK.So many scripts and ideas fermenting in my head,

19th December 2003

Well I’ll have to be a bit enigmatic here, but what a six months this has been. I’ve learnt so much, hopefully taught others a few things; I have strange words now in my vocabulary, and very slight extended raised vowels. I have a bit of a tan.I’ve got fitter than I’ve probably ever been. I’ve made some great friends, even if they are now dispersed all over the world. I’ve seen some amazing countryside, and some great culture. I got to witness the making of one of the truly great films, and have been a part of it in a very indirect way. I got to hang out with some legends.I got to be at the premiere of this film.I got to do some good work, but I perhaps did not get to show exactly what I was capable of.I got to work with and watch some the greatest artists and craftsmen there are - their skills are breathtaking. I got to sit on the beach and think.I’ll get to spend Christmas on a beach. And I got paid well.I got to say way too many goodbyes, and this week seems to have been one goodbye after another.And I got to watch history repeating itself. An amazing six months

December 28th 2003

Well I’m writing this at Autumn Farm in South Island, a glorious retreat full of organic stuff and sunshine and real back to basics. This Christmas week has been pretty extraordinary, and frankly has not felt like christmas. Most great weather and I did get to sit on Breaker Bay on christmas day, then headed off for a meal withPatricia....and shall we say, that was wonderfully grand, and fun, with a million little presents to be opened at regular intervals. And the food was spectacular.

I managed to see Dominic before christmas and we got excited chatting about the possibility of doing a short film. Suddenly all the elements and personnel are dropping conveniently into place and this was exciting. Of course there’s still the funding issue, but it was good to chat about artistic matters.

I’m loving being down on south island and have seen some amazing vistas and met up with some great people. A guy, Richard from LA, teamed up from the farm and headed off to various bays and beaches that defy photography, and as we lay there a seal and pup happily lolloped by. This is indeed a great country with wonderfully friendly people. At this time of year it sodes seem a logn way from home, and I have just not been able to phone home. It’s sad missing all the family over with Amanda.

What a year.

December 28th 2003

Well I’m writing this at Autumn Farm in South Island, a glorious retreat full of organic stuff and sunshine and real back to basics. This Christmas week has been pretty extraordinary, and frankly has not felt like christmas. Most great weather and I did get to sit on Breaker Bay on christmas day, then headed off for a meal withPatricia....and shall we say, that was wonderfully grand, and fun, with a million little presents to be opened at regular intervals. And the food was spectacular.

I managed to see Dominic before christmas and we got excited chatting about the possibility of doing a short film. Suddenly all the elements and personnel are dropping conveniently into place and this was exciting. Of course there’s still the funding issue, but it was good to chat about artistic matters.

I’m loving being down on south island and have seen some amazing vistas and met up with some great people. A guy, Richard from LA, teamed up from the farm and headed off to various bays and beaches that defy photography, and as we lay there a seal and pup happily lolloped by. This is indeed a great country with wonderfully friendly people. At this time of year it sodes seem a logn way from home, and I have just not been able to phone home. It’s sad missing all the family over with Amanda.