Monday, 12 July 2010

Chancery Hand

We started the edit today. Well at least, we dipped our toes into the murky waters of the edit! There was a great deal of setting up to be done at BBC Leeds to try and get the systems to recognise high definition film. There was a lot of head scratching and much disappearing behind desks to unplug plugs and re-wire wires. Eventually a sort of temporary solution was found and at about 3pm we finally began the process of matching pictures to sound.

It’s a more complicated process than you’d imagine. High definition means that everything gets picked up; the merest flick of the eyes is magnified – and a wonderful shot can be spoilt by someone in the background doing something slightly eccentric. A brilliant set-up in the market in Leeds, for example, was completely wrecked by a little girl with the biggest head I’ve ever seen, staring like a simpleton at the camera! And in another shot an enormously fat woman actually tried to hide behind the thin violinist because she didn’t want to be caught on film! On top of this there are so many technical things that can go wrong. We suffered a fair amount from the sun coming in and out, sometimes so regularly you’d have thought God was having a disco and this has a terrible effect on the exposure of the film. When you’re working with jibs and steady-cam, focussing can also be a problem. And then there are the musicians, who are a troublesome lot at the best of times! There’s nothing like a singer marking their part, singing down an octave, or miming, to makes things look a bit unnatural.

Nevertheless, despite all of this, I maintain we’ve shot an extraordinary film, far surpassing anything I’ve made before and I can’t wait to start finessing the glorious shots.

I’ve started a regime of health and fitness. Our shoot might as well have been sponsored by Coca-Cola and Haribo. I’ve eaten nothing but rubbish and I feel all bloated and weird. Unfortunately I keep popping up in shot and I've never seen myself looking so fat and middle-aged. I sort of waddle now when I walk and keep catching sight of the little bald patch on the back of my head. Add to this the fact that the sun has sent my hair a few shades lighter and dried it into a wispy, thin mess and you have one very embarrassed director! Ageing is such an unkind process. I don’t behave like a 35 year old. Why should I look like one? And when did everyone around me suddenly get younger than me?

Anyway, I’ve been for a jog tonight, so I feel a great deal more energetic and I had a lovely salad for tea. Sadly, I’m still craving sugar, which is worrying. Perhaps I’ll pop down to the Co-op below and buy myself some fruit... or allow myself a little packet of sweeties. A couple of sweeties can’t do any harm, surely?

July 12th 1660 and Pepys was frantically running around Westminster and up and down the Strand trying to get his official papers signed, sealed and delivered. It was a hugely complicated process. The document needed to be written on the right sort of paper, in a very specific font called Chancery Hand. In fact, from the mid 15th Century, right up to early Victorian times, all official royal documents were required to be written in that hand. And perhaps unsurprisingly, Chancery Lane was the street in which the clerks trained in this style of handwriting were based. Pepys had heard that his predecessor was in town, still kicking up a fuss, so ran frantically down the lane trying to find a clerk who could help him, but none were about. Eventually at 11pm, he found someone, and the papers were drawn up, but Pepys went to bed, still panicking.

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