Monday, November 13, 2006
I googled our film, the ballad of vicki and jake, to see if anything was posted after our screening on Saturday in Copenhagen. Couldn't find anything in English regarding the CPH:DOX screening, but here's a few postings from Canadian sources.
The Canada.com website, in an article titled Really Real Lineup of Films, offers this quote about us:
First Camera shines a light on new directors, with fresh points of view. Ian Thomas Ash's "The Ballad of Vicki and Jake" looks at the documentary form itself.
Look Harder. See for Real. has this to say about us:
First Camera presented by Planète is all about discovery— emerging filmmakers, original viewpoints and narrative innovation. It’s an invitation into the unknown where tomorrow’s documentary greats are hard at work. Newcomer Ian Thomas Ash’s "The Ballad of Vicki and Jake" is a pointed investigation of the nature of documentary itself. It begins by capturing every detail in the life of a recovering heroin addict and her pre-teen son, and ends with the viewer wondering just who is manipulating whom.
In Highlights of the City’s Ninth Annual Doc Fest, the Montreal Mirror says:
Thorny questions about the relationship between the documentary filmmaker and their subject are raised by "The Ballad of Vicki and Jake". In this British entry by Ian Thomas Ash, the director sets out to capture the rehabilitation of a young junkie and single mom. The bond between filmmaker and junkie subject soon becomes tortured and their manipulations back and forth entangled.
An article from Hour called Getting Off on the One-off says:
Things get troubling in "The Ballad of Vicki and Jake", when the very green filmmaker, Ian Thomas Ash, spends a large chunk of the film convincing his subject - a cracked-out mom and her son trying to make good - to sign release forms that give him and his producer the rights to their story.
And perhaps the strangest piece linked to our film comes from our very own website's guestbook:
Drug Information for Prescription Drugs. Free information about buying meds online, alumogur, tramadol. Canada Drugs is your online Canada pharmacy for xanax. Order from an Online Pharmacy.
Will try to post while I am away. Wish us luck!
Sunday, November 12, 2006
It is so hard to believe all that has happened in the time since this photo was taken.
I have been busy with preparations for the festival in Montreal. I leave on Tuesday and can't wait!
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Our baby, the ballad of vicki and jake, is having its first showing without one of us holding its hand tonight when it has its Scandinavian Premier at the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival.
We're thinking of you, baby!
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
You know how good it feels to pop bubble wrap between your fingers? Well, thanks to my friend Bullfighter6.2 who pointed me in the direction of THIS website, now that feeling of release is only a click away.
Almost as good as the real stuff. Pop away, stressballs.
The voice that you hear when you push "fresh sheet" sounds just like Anthea, our assistant editor, when she hasn't had enough coffee. Scary.
'The Ballad of Vicki and Jake' is a film about the omissions, manipulations and compromises involved in making the film...improvised interviews and choleric conflict resolution dominate the film. A meta film about the negotiation of power relations and the human decency demanded in every form of documentary.
If you have a degree in Film Studies, maybe you could explain the above to the rest of us. (Perhaps you, Matt?). In the meantime, I'm just glad they're talking about us.
For the full synopsis from CPH:DOX, go here.
Monday, November 06, 2006
*Actually, I would like to thank my new friend, Bullfighter6.2, the vibrating blogger, for making me laugh with his tomfoolery and shenanigans.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Friday, November 03, 2006
My friend, Rob, who I met back when I was living in Bristol, has since moved to Japan and is making music up in the mountains of Toyama prefecture. OK, his journey has been a bit more complex than that, but let's talk FREE MUSIC!
He has just made his newest 10 tracks (a pop/techno album of music called 'Jigs for Jobots') available for free on his website. His music uses a lot of natural sounds that have been mixed together into a hip soundtrack that would be at home in any music lover's collection.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
The festival in Copenhagen runs from November 10-19, while the RIDM runs from November 9-19. I had been planning to go to Denmark for the first half of the festival and then travel to Montreal for the second half of that festival; so that I would be able to accomplish this, I requested screening preferences to both festivals. Unfortunately, the Copenhagen schedule wasn't announced until last week, and it is no longer possible for me or anyone from our team to attend either of the screenings in Denmark. I am disappointed I won't be there to accompany our baby to Scandinavia (a place I would love to visit as well), but we are very greatful and honoured to have the opportunity to be shown there.
We will be in competition in the New Vision category. Dates and times below:
Drop me a line if you or anyone you know are living in Copenhagen and are planning to attend the festival. I would love to hear first-hand how our film is received!
Monday, October 30, 2006
I have been unable to wear contacts since, and because of work and the weekend have been unable to go to the doctor. Now that the worst seems to be over, I finally have a chance to go to the eye hospital today to find out what is going on.
My guess? It is something to do with the hotspring at our inn. I bet somebody didn't wash every nook and cranny before getting into the public bath. The baths are just the right temperature to turn those healing waters into a bacterial soup that takes down dozens of elderly each year. Gee, when you look at it like that the onsens don't seem so inviting.
Just back from the eye hospital and it was most probably from the hotsprings. I'm all set now and even the wrinkle seems to be on its way out. Good riddance!
Sunday, October 29, 2006
A lot of the clients of my friend's tailer are older men, so I really stressed that I wanted a young-looking modern cut. The tailer said that recently the trousers are being worn lower. But he also said that with my "kick boxing legs" that he should put a couple of darts in. Wearing the trousers low may look good with slim-cut trousers, but combined with the dart...
I don't look like I'm wearing a trendy tailer-made suit from Hong Kong. I look like I'm wearing a hand-me-down from a retired kickboxer from the Mainland. Dammit.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Festivals always ask for a synopsis when a film is programmed, and the readers of a catalogue could easily assume that whatever is printed has been written by the producer of the given film. However, more often than not the blurb included in the festival catalogue has been adapted, edited or completely created by the festival itself.
No matter how much I agree or disagree with it, I really enjoy finding out how a festival is describing and promoting us by reading what they have written themselves. For example, when we were in competition in the Visions du Reel, the catalogue description of our film included the following:
...it isn't only the social tragedy of the drugs and poverty that emerges... but also what we suspect is a romantic relationship (between Vicki and Ian), spoilt by clumsiness and a lack of understanding.
OK, not exactly how I would have described it, but I see their point. And what is RIDM saying about us?
Some will find The Ballad of Vicki and Jake poignant, and others, simply repulsive.… In this pointed investigation of the nature of documentary itself, The Ballad of Vicki and Jake is both troubling and troubled. How far can a filmmaker go? The answer is left up to the viewer.
"Simply repulsive"? I love it.
For the full synopsis, please visit the RIDM website, click on the list of films, then on "the ballad of vicki and jake".
Thanks to Claire at the RIDM, I have updated all the links to the RIDM on this blog and on my vlog to lead straight to our listing on the festival site.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
There are 8 guys named Ian Ash. Good thing I have that whole Thomas thing working for me.
There more like little waffle-taste, waffle-looking cookies.
They're nuns. Cut 'em some slack.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Saturday, October 21, 2006
When I lived in the countryside for three years there was more space and therefore more of the separating was left up to people to do curbside. In Tokyo, the streets often aren't wide enough to accommodate separate bins for each of the categories of garbage, so we're allowed to mix some types of rubbish which will be separated out at a processing facility.
"How many categories of garbage can there possible be?", you wonder. Well, where I used to live there were sixteen. Yup. Sixteen. 16. Let's see if I can name them.
1. Raw. (kitchen waste)
2. Aluminum. (soda cans, canned goods)
3. Steel. (some foods/ drinks are packed in steel)
4. PET. (plastic drink bottles)
5. Cardboard. (boxes)
6. Paper. (newspaper)
7. Dangerous. (batteries, light bulbs)
8. Clear glass. (drink bottles, etc)
9. Brown glass. (beer bottles, etc)
10. Other colored glass. (green bottles, etc.)
11. White Styrofoam. (food trays)
12. Other non-burnable. (misc. plastic, metal)
13. Over-sized. (appliances, furniture)
I can’t remember the rest right now (it was a lot to keep track of then as well). The pick up days of the different categories varied- some once or twice a week, some once a month and some only a couple of times per year. It seemed like I was always preparing some type of garbage for disposal and running it to the collection site. Yeah, each of these categories even has a certain way the items have to be cleaned and bundled.
The real kick in the face has to do with the timing of the disposal. One has to bring the items separated and prepared appropriately to the collection site (usually one or two per neighbourhood) by 8:00 in the morning on the day of the collection. “Oh, I’ll just drop it off on my evening walk so I don’t have to bother with it in the morning” , you suggest. Don’t even think about it. It must be dropped off on the morning of collection and by 8:00. In addition to appearing to want to make the process of taking out the trash as inconvenient as possible, the powers that be also have fears of animals getting into the rubbish during the night. (When was the last time a crow had a go at a washed and regulation twine bound white Styrofoam food tray?)
Night before garbage drop offs are a declaration of war.
People in this peaceful country have been KILLED by neighbours in disputes over garbage. I guess tentions run high when keeping track of the garbage is such a pain and then some ne'r-do-well comes along flaunting his rebellion by casually tossing his unbound, unwashed and unregulation cut milk cartons before the appointed time when you are some housewife who is going bald due to the stress of keeping in line with all of the trash rules.
Why am I going on about garbage anyway? Right. When I moved into my new place here in Tokyo in June, I had to buy a couple of essentials- refriderator, washer... what wasn't essential was the cutest three-bin stacked garbage can that cost $240 that I saw in a department store. Needless to say, I did without. Since I moved in I have had two garbage bags sitting in a cardboard box next to my fridge serving as a trash can. Classy.
Garbage disposal is much easier in Toyko. All you have to remember is three days (burnable, non-burnable and recyclable) and separate the trash accordingly. To help me with these three catagories was a lovely garbage can in a department store. But, alas, I have had to give up my dream of a life together with that lovely, sleek, designer receptical. I broke down last week and bought a cheap plastic number who called my name as I walked by in a discount store. I feel like I have cheated on my true love, but alas, she was in a class above me.
And anyway, I was having guests for dinner and the thought of them being welcomed by my cardboard box and trash bag contraption pushed me into action.
Happy tossing. I'm talking about throwing away the trash, Brits.
Friday, October 20, 2006
I would like to thank everyone (and expecially Gaelle!) at the Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal for giving me this assignment. It was really fun, and I have learned alot as well.
We are really looking forward to the RIDM where our fim the ballad of vicki and jake will have it's North American premier.
From now on you will be able to find my video blog entries on my new vlog. I'll post alerts here on my blog when I add a new video. Thanks for watching!
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
My friend's tailor from Hong Kong was going to be in town on business. If we went to his hotel, he could measure me, make the suit when he got home and then ship it to me in time for my trip. How would I like a new suits?
Lesson #1. In Japanese, every single word that doesn't end in the consonant "n", ends in a vowel. Every other word in the entire language ends in a vowel. This may clear up something you've wondered about for a long time... how come when the Japanese speak English they pronounce words like:
and the above example:
This is all fine and not a problem once you get used to it. The problem comes when you start bringing the japanified words back into English without realizing it. "I bought a new suits". My brother-in-law thinks I sound like a non-native English speaker in my e-mails from time to time. He so funny.
Back to my new suits. We went to said hotel to get measured for my first my suits.
Lesson #2. The Japanese import tonnes of English words into their language. This should make speaking Japanese easy, right? No such luck. Before they put the words to use, they change the meaning so completely you can hardly recognize what the word was to begin with. Take the English word "my", as in the above example, my suits. "My" doesn't mean "my own" in Japanese. It means "one's own". It may sound subtle, but take a look at these examples:
Will you take my car? means: Will you take your own car? (ie, or will you take the company car?)
Do you have my room? means: Do you have your own room? (ie, or do you share a room with your sibling?)
Hey! That's not my drink! means: That's not just for you! (ie, it's for everyone to share.)
This then gives the grammatically-challenged my suits a meaning equivalent to the English phrase "order-made suit". When you've lived here long enough, it all starts to make sense and even begins to seem so much more simple and economical when speaking.
We're in the hotel room, and I am being measured for my first my suits by a lovely bloke from Hong Kong. He measures my neck, waist, chest and so on. Those who know me know that while I am fairly tall, I have a fairly small build and don't weigh all that much. According to the American height/ weight ratio I am underweight. Yet compared to the average Japanese guy, I have slight love handles and a way bigger butt and legs.
I bring this up because a lot of the trousers in Japan are "stove pipe" cut, which is quite fashionable if you have chopsticks for legs. I would have to buy XL just so my legs could fit into the most fashionably cut trousers, but then two of me could fit into the waist.
The tailor has finished taking my measurements. He's measured just about everything on my body, except one important part. No, not that. He hasn't measured the circumference of my legs. I know he has been lulled into a false sense of security by my small waist and the deceptively well-cut trousers I am wearing. I suggest he measure my legs, but he insists there is no need. I insist that, in fact, there is. He sighs and begins the big measure.
"Oh! You are kick boxer?!"
But no, sorry, I am not a kick boxer, and that is not muscle, but what amounts to fat.
"I put dart in pants or your leg no fit!"
Lesson #3. Beware of having your thighs measured by a Chinese guy in a Tokyo hotel room. It could very well ruin your day.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
“vicki and jake is a 101 how NOT to make a documentary. Ian and Ken threw themselves into this with the enthusiasm of people who had never made a feature documentary before. It shouldn’t have worked. Except it has.”
I feel like I am back in school! I guess Matt Crowder, who wrote a criticism of our film which you can find on our website and from which this quote is from, was commenting on how the way we were filming should have made the film fail but didn’t. I really don’t know that much about film theory or technique, so even while it may look like I am a “rule-breaker”, I was just doing whatever felt natural at the time. I actually wouldn’t recommend making a film this way to anybody. We “borrowed” equipment that wasn’t ours because we didn’t have any money to rent it; I got really personally involved with our subjects which prevented me from being an “impartial observer”; we screwed up loads and then left those bits in on purpose. I can’t believe that we survived without anybody getting killed, hurt, robbed or arrested as a result of what we were doing. And we have a film to show for it! Does the film work? I certainly hope so, but I think the audience has to decide this. The version that we are showing has been cut-down and will be the first time that a big audience will see it. I am really looking forward to hearing what the RIDM audience has to say in Montreal which is also our North American premier.
Monday, October 16, 2006
1. I have never made any money making films; I make them because I love to.
2. I learned more about filmmaking by making the ballad of vicki and jake than I did in my post-graduate film course.
3. I have done several documentary projects, but they are always in a foreign country (UK, Japan). There is something about my “foreignness” that makes it all somehow work.
3 good reasons to make another documentary like this in the future.
1. Our way of filmmaking is pretty close to being as honest as it can be; showing both our subject’s mistakes and ours.
2. By not trying to cover up the way the film was made or make it “professional” and “slick”, we actually learned a lot more about filmmaking because we were open to criticism.
3. This is the only way I know how to make a film.
3 projects you would like to realize soon.
1. I want to do a travel documentary of Japan showing some of the strange and wonderful things about the country that has been my home for five years.
2. A documentary about the strange culture of Japanese singers of chanson, French songs, that are still wildly popular here.
3. A funny documentary about the perceived differences and stereotypes of white men vs. Japanese men.
3 lists you would like to write in your blog soon.
1. Ways to get money to make your doc. I have to check them out to make they work first, though.
2. After I attend the RIDM, a list of the best things about it.
3. A list of my favourite lists.
... and have you ever had the idea of making a film in a list form?
I haven’t actually thought about that before, but that’s a really good idea! Maybe I should begin by making a list about why that’s a good idea…
Saturday, October 14, 2006
3 other good titles you could have imagined for your film.
1. My editor thinks the film should have been called the ballad of vicki and ian because the film really becomes focused on my relationship with Vicki.
2. When we thought that the film was going to be more focused on Jake’s birthday, the other producer and I talked about turning twelve as a possible title.
3. Along the same lines, had the film been just about Vicki getting the house, we could have called it something like making home.
3 good reasons to come at the RIDM and meet Vicki, Jake and Sid.
People should come to the RIDM for so many reasons!
1. They can see many unique documentaries from all over the world.
2. There will be lots of interesting people in the industry to meet and talk with.
3. And of course we hope that they will meet Vicki, Sid and Jake by watching our film.
3 words to describe your relationship with Vicki.
3 risks you have taken during the making of the film/ 3 difficulties that made making this film a “struggle”, a term you used in one of your flyers.
Some of the risks we made were very real and others were more subjective.
1. We were filming with expensive equipment in places that were dangerous and unfamiliar to us.
2. We were inexperienced and that made filming difficult, but that also forms much of the story.
3. The fact that we were dealing with people’s lives and that what we were doing could have a huge impact on them was also something that we struggled with a lot.
3 aims you wanted to reach by making this film.
I think my aims changed a lot during filming.
1. In the beginning I was focused a lot on getting more experience in filmmaking and using that to further my career.
2. I became very much focused on telling Vicki’s story in the midst of filming.
3. By the time we had seen the footage and had begun editing, I really wanted the story of what happened between Vicki and me to be told.
Friday, October 13, 2006
- November 17th (Friday), 17h40, Cinéma ONF
- November 19th (Sunday), 17h30, Cinémathèque québécoise, salle
Have I mentioned that this is our North American premier?!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
It should be easy for a filmmaker, right? Wrong!
Between Quicktime files, video compression and Firefox, I have had an adventure. The technical stuff makes filming look like a cakewalk.
Well, I've done it. I think. The topic for my first couple of posts, as assigned by the RIDM: How NOT to make a documentary. Enjoy!
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
I have been going to bed at ten in the evening(!) and still having trouble dragging myself out of bed at eight the next morning (!). This is after 10 hours of sleep! At first I thought that I wasn't getting "quality" sleep. But in all honestly, I think I really am sleeping fairly well. It is not a tossing and turning sleepless time in bed.
It takes forever to wake up (involving coffee, the morning paper and lots of stretching/ yawning), and then to top it all off, and here is the kicker, I am not very productive when I am awake and have been TAKING NAPS! Seriously, what is going on? Am I am having a "growth spurt"? Is it the changing weather? (Not in the global warming sense, just in the getting cooler, autumnal sense). Am I just plain lazy?
Whatever it is, it's getting pretty annoying.
10 things I should be doing instead of sleeping:
10. Clean my bathroom.
9. Study Japanese grammar.
8. Do some sit-ups/ push-ups.
7. Figure out how to block YouTube access on my computer so that when I am awake, I can't waste hours looking at it.
6. Wash the dishes in the sink.
4. Take out the recyclables.
3. Reply to an inbox full of old e-mails!
2. Round up some cash for my next film.
1. Keep my blog up to date!
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
I'll fill you in on my absence over time, but first things first.
The top ten reasons I have been letting my blog go :
1. I was trotting the globe.
2. I've been busy looking up recipes online for squid legs and mayonnaise.
3. I had event-specific amnesia which only affected my ability to remember to write in my blog.
4. I was washing my hair.
5. I've been leading a boring life and have had nothing to write. OR
6. My life has been so extravagantly exciting I couldn't possibly put it in print.
7. I've been busy preparing and eating above-mentioned squid legs and mayonnaise.
8. Blog? What blog?
9. I like to be fashionably late to the party.
10. Mmm. Squid legs and mayo.
Monday, June 26, 2006
I am loving living on my own again and all of the freedom, quietness and prepared meals that it brings. For my first post in over a week and in celebration of having a place of one's own, I think I will write a list. Today's theme: Things you can do when you've got your own place.
Things you can do when you've got your own place:
1. Get up at noon.
2. Go to bed at noon.
3. Take a bath any time of day or night.
4. Take as many bathes as you like.
5. Walk around in your pants.
6. Walk around without your pants.
7. Take your time flossing and not worry that somebody is waiting for the bathroom.
8. Leave the seat up.
9. Leave the seat down.
10. Pee in the shower. (Not that I do, it's just that you CAN, see.)
11. Come home late.
12. Not come home at all.
There are just an endless number of great things you can do when you are on your own. I can't recommend it enough. If you currently live with somebody else, I suggest that once a year you check yourself into a hotel for a week and do all of the above in differing orders (even the peeing in the shower, at least once) just so that you don't forget who you are as an individual. I met myself again this week for the first time in a long time. He's a bit of a strange guy, but really cool.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
NOMIMASU: I drink
NOMITAI: I want to drink
NONDEIMASU: I am drinking
MIKUSU DURINKU: mixed drink
NOMISUGI: I drink too much
NOMISUGITEIMASU: I am drinking too much
NOMISUGI KOTO GA SUKI: I like to drink too much
NOMISUGIMASHIYOU: Let's drink too much together
NOMITAKUNAI? Don't you want to drink?
EH? NOMENAI? What? You can't drink?
SHIZUMU HODOU NOMU to drink until you drown
NOMU NOWA YAMETA I've quit drinking
JODAN! Just kidding!
Will be moving and settling in over the next few days, so I may not post unitl next week when my internet is connected. Unitl then!
My job was to go up on Saturday night, soak in the hotsprings (onsen), drink a ton of beer and watch Pay Per View. Oh no, that was the perk. My job started on Sunday were I donned a tuxedo and led the couples from the hotel to the bridge. Then I lead them across the bridge. Then I went home.
Yeah, it's a bit anticlimactic- like it is every year. The difference was that this year we had the good fortune to be doing this outdoor event in the middle of a downpour. With no umbrellas. Everyone got soaked. Think cold, shivering ringboys (one of whom dropped a ring into the mud) and wet, crying flower girls trying to scatter soggy flower petals that just stick to their tiny, numb fingers.
After the wedding, their was a reception in a tent in the flower garden where the bride's dresses got so muddy that after a few glasses of champagne they just didn't care anymore and started to run around in the sludge chasing little ring boys and flower girls.
I made the mistake of giving my card to the MC when she asked for it; she keeps texting me with messages that have little hearts in them. I guess love was in the air.
Friday, June 09, 2006
7:00 wake up, shower and put away my futon (so the spiders can't get to it)
8:00 have breakfast (the last melon bread... tomorrow it will be sweet bean-filled bread) and catch the subway
9:00 to the bank branch in Roppongi (the famed entertainment district) to figure out what is happening with a foreign check I had deposited. it turns out that foreign checks take one month to clear and for that service the bank takes a few percent cut off the top (but they gave me some free tissues... ) bureaucracy!!!
10:00 a few more stops on the subway to my immigration lawyer's office where I picked up passport with my new visa in it!
11:00 to the landlord's office with my realtor to sign the paperwork for my new "mansion"! Yes, I am moving.
I now hold the key! (to my new flat)
12:00 go to the new flat and get the grand tour (including how to properly dispose of rubbish within the City of Tokyo guidelines... read: "lecture")
13:00 met my partner for a quick celebration lunch at a restaurant near MY NEW MANSION!
15:00 after dropping by home for a quick change, went to work for a couple of hours
19:00 here I am, typing at the computer and thinking about curtains, fridges, etc and looking at the key to MY NEW MANSION!
It has been a long, eventful week.
And it will be an even longer weekend; for the 5th year in a row, I will be the "leader" at a wedding event that my friend's event company produces. The event: five couples get married on the longest suspension bridge in Japan. My job: put on a tux and sunglasses and lead the couples across the bridge, which sways in the wind above a canyon.
All in a day's work.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
6:30 woke up and had melon bread* for breakfast
8:00 left my house in Gokokuji area of Tokyo and took two subways to Shirokane Takanawa neighborhood.
8:30-10:30 explored the neighborhood around the mansion** I am thinking about renting (because I AM MOVING!!!). I found a dry cleaners, vegetable store, bean-filled cake shop and a homemade tofu stall. What else do you need?
10:30 met with the realtor to discuss the contract for the apartment
11:30 went to Ebisu neighborhood to be interviewed briefly about a story for a financial magazine on one of the companies I work for
12:30 met my immigration lawyer regarding my new visa (which has finally arrived after months of worry and stress)
13:30 met one of my private English students for two hours of English study. "What is your hobby, banana?"
15:45 we watched the Da Vinci Code as part of our English lesson (OK, we really just wanted to see it)
18:30 had a ten dollar "fruits jelly parfait" (my student's treat)
20:00 went to the Foreign Correspondent's Club for a drink. Met a friend there, went drinking at an "izakaya", a traditional Japanese bar, was taken by well-dressed said friend to a cigar bar(!) wearing jeans and split-toed shoes*** where we continued to drink...
??:?? lost time, missed my curfew****, and am a bit hung over now.
And that was my day.
* it's best not to know
** cruelly, the word "mansion" in Japanese means apartment
*** basically, Japanese sneakers
**** thus I AM MOVING
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Matt, over at Saving The World, seems to be in a similar situation this week. I wonder if "blogging funk" is like when girls live together and their "blue days" eventually begin to coincide; that there is some kind of blogging hormone. If there is, I am pretty sure I don't want to be regulating my hormones with Matt's.
I am writing today because I have I received encouraging e-mails from a new blog pal Rachel (thanks!) and from my sister, Amanda (I miss you!), who's birthday is coming up. Thanks, ladies.
I have needed it, because in addition to an infestation of spiders (!) in my house, I have received some lovely fan mail as well.
The newest comment on our website the ballad of vicki and jake says:
"God - what an unbearably awful film if the stills/synopsis are anything to go by. Presumably you are some middle class atrocity on the first year of a film studies BA, spending Daddys money and having a gawp at the low life. Trust me, after college you will end up in the press office of some grim council office depressed and masturbating over the arts pages of the Guardian."
And it ends with:
"I hope you get cancer."
Lovely. I have been threatened with death before and was even threatened with death while we were making the film. But it's always been something like "I will shoot you", never something like a disease. I can't tell if I am moving up or down on the scale of "the state of having death wished upon oneself". My guess is that I am one step higher.
I have asked our webmaster to remove the comment. But don't get me wrong, I don't want to hide the criticism we receive. In fact, I want to make a new section on the website specifically for giving our detractors a voice. If anyone wants to respond to, agree with, or otherwise make contact with the sender of the above comment, please do so by sending an e-mail to:
I'm not so adept at using the internet, but since not so many people access our website, I think I can discern that Foxy came across us by looking at this link on Matt's website. The entry is, strangely, about a guy who makes execution(!) equipment that although illegal to use in the UK, he enterprisingly ships abroad. Not sure how Foxy got over to our site from there, but am hoping that he (or she) just pushed on the link for "the ballad of vicki and jake"(which is located in a menu to the right of Matt's entries) and not that Foxy was drawing any kind of connection.
Since I am back on Matt anyway, it seems that he has hayfever. It also seems that this makes him better than those who don't. Let me just say that I made my "hayfever debut" this year and my doctor said that that was about right since I had turned 30 and was now, officially an OJISAN ("uncle" in Japanese) and no longer an ONIISAN ("older brother"). Gee thanks. Anyway, that puts Matt's rate of decay at a higher pace than mine, so he may be younger than me now, but...
I feel a bit better now.
The e-mail address on the comment was fake, so don't bother to respond to it. It figures that a person who would write that kind of personal attack wouldn't own up to it. Just plain weak.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Anyway, I was looking through random blogs last night, and found this one. It's called "my life in bad english" and is a video blog (I didn't even know there was such a thing!). Give it a look. There are only a few episodes, so I watched them all at once. My advice, take a half an hour and watch them all from the beginning.
OK, I haven't really said much, but at least I have written something today.
Monday, May 29, 2006
Her name is Petal, and she has started a blog called Dear Ms. Petal which is an advice column for Western girls who are dating Japanese men.
Ok, so you're not a Western girl dating a Japanese man? That's ok, neither am I. (A Western girl, that is.)
Trust me, it won't matter where you or your partner is from, Dear Ms. Petal is hilarious. She's only written a few entries so far, but she promised there's plenty more breaking of cultural taboos and table-turning on the "white guy with Asian girlfriend" phenomenon to come. Enjoy!
look whose blogging now
I just want to thank Matt for saving my world and Lisa R because she rules. Thanks, you two!
I would also like to send a shout out to Rachel because I love her puddings.
I know there is so much more to learn about blogging and html. Like, what in the heck does html stand for? I am guessing that it isn't an abbreviation for hotmail.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
"Hey, that's a great website. It LOOKS really professional."
Thanks, a**hole, it is professional.
"What a nice photo. It's LIKE a pro took it."
Because I AM a photographer.
"Nice cake. It's LIKE one you'd buy in a store."
No, it's way better than that.
I wonder if these kinds of statements aren't more a reflection on the speaker than on the person that they are talking about. Something like, "Clearly nobody that I know could do anything of any significance because I am sh*t. Therefore I am going to override any rational thoughts that tell me that what I am seeing is of any value".
People are really impressed by celebrity. Give someone the same damn cake and tell them that Martha Stuart made it, and they'd say, "Wow! Why can't you make something like this?"
Yes, I do have a chip on my shoulder today.
Friday, May 26, 2006
While I was with them, I appeared in recreation dramas, daytime call-in shows, specials, print ads and even was on stage in a touring opera. Every month I had some kind of issue with them about money, whether it wasn't getting paid the promised amount, having to do more than what was agreed upon for the amount of money or not getting paid at all.
For one job I did last year, they asked me to do a two-day photoshoot for a fee that was really low considering the big Japanese electronics company it was for. They said the photos were only going to be run in the in-store catalogues in the company's retail outlets in Europe and possible on the sides of buses, also only in Europe. "They aren't going to be used in Japan, that's why the job is so cheap", they said.
I went for a walk last night on my way home from having a few drinks at the Foreign Press Club. My walk took me through Ginza, an upscale shopping in district in Tokyo famous for the brands it attracts. My face is on the side of building.
MY FACE IS ON THE SIDE OF A F**CKING BUILDING!
Those bastards. The photo is from that "Europe only" shoot. I have already had calls, "Oh, you're so famous! You must be rich! Haha! You should buy us dinner."
Yeah, haha. "It should feel good to have my face on a building", I think.
The only time I ever got paid for a re-run of a drama I was in was when I happened to see it on TV and called my agency about it. "Oh, yeah. Uh, forgot about that."
You can see my face on a building from an airplane landing in Tokyo. Did they forget about that, too?!
If only I hadn't cancelled my contract with them...
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
GANBARU: do one's best
GANBARIMASU: I do my best
GANBAREMASU: I can do my best
GANBARERARERU: I am able to do my best
GANBATTEIMASU: I am doing my best
GANBARITAI: I want to do my best
GANBARITAKUWANAI: I do not want to do my best
GANBATTA: I did my best
GANBATTEITA: I was doing my best
GANBARANAKATTA: I did not do my best
GANBARITAKUWANAKATTA: I did not want to do my best
GANBARE: do your best
GANBARINASAI: you had better do your best
GANBARENAKUREBANARENAI: you must do your best
GANBATEKURE: do your best for me
GANBATEKURANAI TO TATAKU: If you do not do your best for me, I will beat you.
Good luck with your Japanese study, and remember: GANBARE!
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Today's list is "I know I've caught the blogging bug when..." Do keep in mind that the only blog I have actually read in depth is "saving the world", so I am basically just taking the piss out of Matt. And myself.
I know I've caught the blogging bug when:
1. I blog about blogging.
2. I worry that if I don't blog today or briefly explain why I can not blog today or explain why I did not blog today when I do blog tomorrow, that "my people" will be disappointed; or worse, they will give up on me.
3. I check the links to my blog on the blogs that people have linked to my blog to make sure the links to my blog work. (This one can double as a tongue-twister: "How many blogs can a blogging blogger link to a blog-linking blogger's linking blog?")
4. I wonder why I have more comments on some entries and none on others; what is it about a certain entry that gets people's attention? I want to write more of those.
5. I think it's possible that that guy who keeps leaving the "You have nice design site" and "Hello webmaster you site useful" comments really could be an anonymous non-native English speaker who likes my blog a lot.
6. I look at people with more than one blog and think, "I could do that".
7. If I think of two things to write about today I post only one and save the other for tomorrow in case I run dry.
8. I tell people about my "really hectic day" when all I basically had been doing was surfing the net and writing my blog. The hectic part only came when I realized what time it was and had to rush around to get some real work done.
9. I check if there will be internet before I make plans to go away.
10. I no longer think of my blog obsession as a sickness or something to be dealt with, but rather as a "charm point" (as the Japanese say), something quirky that adds to my character.
How many apply to you?
2-4 Take a vitamin c and step away from the computer.
5-7 Intervention is imperative. There must be a hotline to call.
8-10 There is no hope. Marry your ego with computer officating the ceremony.
Monday, May 22, 2006
I am...a "filmmaker". Just kidding.
I want...to become a "filmmaker". No, seriously.
I wish...people would call me a "filmmaker". Ok, I think this joke has just about worn off its humour.
I hate...being a "maker of films". Sorry, that was the last one.
I love...living in Japan.
I miss...bean-filled doughnuts and plum wine when I am traveling abroad.
I fear...a long, painful death but not actually the dying itself.
I hear...people talking about me when they think I don't speak Japanese. "He's so cool. He looks like Beckam!" Yeah, right.
I wonder...why people always need to someone to hate.
I regret...alot of things, even when I say I don't.
I am not...as self-absorbed as some people think. Really.
I dance...to make people laugh.
I sing...karaoke and love it.
I cry...not nearly as much as I want to.
I make with my hands...nothing that comes to mind which I can write here with good conscience.
I write...this blog in the hopes that people read it.
I confuse...the qualities that you look for in a mate with the qualities that you look for in a partner all the time.
I need...to feel like I am useful.
I should...become more responsible.
I start...things that I sometimes can't finish.
I finish...things that sometimes other people have started.
I tag...lisa rullsenberg because she left a nice, encouraging comment for me and her blog is the only other blog I have looked at aside from Matt's. Sorry, lisa, I don't know how to make a fancy hyperlink yet, so I'll just type your address here:
You may be a maker of films if:
1. Your friends introduce you to people by saying that you "make films".
2. You have looked up the spelling of the word "filmmaker" for your CV.
3. You talk about your "production company" that doesn't actually exist.
4. You use the pronoun "we" when actually you have written, directed and edited your film by yourself.*
5. You can be heard at parties declaring loudly "I am a filmmaker".*
*If both numbers 4 and 5 apply, there is strong possibility you are not only "a maker of films" but also an "auteur".
You are probably a filmmaker if:
1. You aren't sure if "filmmaker" is one word, two words or has a hyphen somewhere in it and aren't really bothered about it.
2. Your account with your post production facility has been sent to a collections agency.
3. You refer to "capturing" data in Final Cut as "digitizing".
4. You are so busy making films that you rarely have time to watch any.
5. You don't care whether people call you a "maker a films" or a "filmmaker". You just want to make films.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Our film, "the ballad of vicki and jake" did just these things. We have gone over budget, over schedule so many times that I have lost count, and I no longer remember what it was "supposed" to cost or how long it was "supposed" to take. In the end, the audience doesn't care about any of that anyway. All they care about is what they see on the screen.
Before we brought the film to compete in Nyon last month, I had been ready to move on. I had been submitting the film to festivals for a year and was having trouble getting people "to get" the film. I had started to move on to my next project, something the others who worked on the film had already begun to do. I went to Nyon knowing that we had a good film and that we could theorectically win an award, but part of me was also ready to come home unrecognized, having had a good experience but more certain that it was time to move on. Then we won the top prize in our category. The initial euphoria has worn off and now the work on the film has begun again.
There are mistakes in the film that I think need to be fixed, things that can be cleared up in order to make the film more accessible to a bigger audience. The film needs to be shortened. The film's recognition needs to be promoted. A distributor needs to be found. But these things take time and money. And commitment.
The remaining crew, those who are willing to reconfirm their commitment to the film, are looking to me to decide what the next step will be. Am I going to decide to put my limited resources into realizing the potential that I think this film has, or am I going to use that money for my next film? Making documentaries, we always talk about doing what's right, ethical. So I guess it feels kind of bad to have it all. like everything else in this world, come down to money.
Can I renew my commitment to this film and honour all that that entails? This time, I just don't know.
Friday, May 19, 2006
When our film, "the ballad" showed in competition recently at the Visions du Reel Festival in Switzerland, I excitedly called my editor, Lizzie, to tell her we were showing in a theatre that sold popcorn. Then we had a good laugh at my naivete; is our film, about addiction and homelessness, the kind thing you watch while eating popcorn? When Lizzie and her assistant, Anthea, flew out for the screening, I made sure we had everything we needed; I skipped the popcorn and made sure that everyone on our team had a drink in their hand during our film. And it just felt right.
The film I saw today was a documentary about a prostitute who served high ranking American officers stationed in Japan after World War II, called "Yokohama Mary". It was amazing, heart-breaking and beautiful. The riceballs stayed in my bag. But damn, I could have used a drink.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
It's funny because as a somebody who makes films, I am never at a loss for an idea of a film I want to make. What I don't have is money to make them. You know, I never hear, "You make films? Hey, I know where you can get some funding."
Post 4: short and sweet
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
The other day, my brother in law pointed out my declining English ability. I admit he was not the first one to point this out, either. This July I will have lived outside the US for six years. Granted, a year and a bit of that was in the UK (when I was filming "the ballad", but even that was in international housing). The rest of the time I have been in Japan.
In the beginning, the Japanese I was learning simply replaced the French that I had learned while at school. I wasn't fluent, but I could check my coat, order a beer and request a lapdance at eighteen*. I'll end this story here.
This system of Japanese in, French out failed when the French became exhausted, and then the Japanese began to battle it out with the English. Insert favourite distasteful war joke here.
This English bye-bye trend is hastened by several factors. Among them:
1. Entire days of not speaking English.
2. Becoming accustomed to the mistakes that non-native speakers of English make, so much so that the incorrect grammar begins to make sense and actually sound right.
3. Intentionally using bad grammar with non-native speakers of English because the point will get across easier and the correct grammar is too difficult for the listener. This, of course, has two added disadvantages: a) reinforcing the bad grammar in the listener and b) reinforcing the bad grammar in the alledgedly native speaker.
How do they do it, those people who speak six languages? I start to learn one and all hell breaks loose.
Three posts down.
*This age is significant as it is the legal drinking age in Quebec, compared to the 21 in upstate New York (on the Canadian border) where I lived.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
My lack of blog exposure means that I don't know the unwritten rules of blogging; those things which are seen as annoying, old-school or just plain rude. Based on my knowledge of one blog, I will list some of my observations so far.
THE SECRET CLUB BLOGGER
1. Being linked to someone's blog is a rite of passage to be celebrated and publicly announced.
2. Bestowing this link upon someone else is a knighting, a "you're one of us" affirmation.
THE LAZY BLOGGER
3. If you don't have time to write your own blog, you can just quote someone else's blog and then link to it. Then your quota for the day can be neatly filled.
4. If you are going away or have a concert to go to and don't have time to write your blog, you can just say that and then tempt your readers with the promise of a good story when you are back.
5. If you are going away for a long time, you just get other people to write your blog for you.
6. If you don't want to write a lot that day, fill up the space with LOTS of photos.
THE POLITICAL BLOGGER
6. You can read the paper and then just blog about what you have read. To make it better, you can go off on a tangent and rant and put in a bunch of strong opinions.
7. If you want people to respect your opinion, it's best to throw in a bunch of quotes from philosophers that you read as an undergraduate. This will confuse people and make them feel stupid, thereby ensuring they respect you for what you allegedly know.
THE CLONE BLOGGER
8. Make outrageous, particularly funny or insulting statements, anything to illicit comments. Once you get comments, respond to them in a way that makes the person who wrote them write more. This gets people who don't write blogs a little taste of the blog and makes them want more.
9. Suggest to said people that they may enjoy a blog of their own, but present it like it will be too difficult for them and they won't be able to handle it. This will make them want to rise to the challenge.
10. Give them advice about how to write a blog, things like "write everyday for two weeks and see how it goes" and "read other blogs you like to get a feel for how it is done".
I have already committed several violations of the above in just this one entry alone. And I've violated some new ones, too. I should write down the one about "blogging about blogging".
I've decided to take Matt's advice and blog everyday for two weeks, but I'm not going to read any other blogs yet.
Quota for second day: completed
Monday, May 15, 2006
We'll see how it goes. I feel rather exposed writing this and putting it out there for everyone to read. Is this how my subjects feel when I am making a film about them? All is fair in filmmaking, I suppose. It reminds me of something I said during filming once that was caught on tape. "How can we be out of line? We're making a film here."
Is filmmaking an excuse to let out all the stops, to run through people's lives with reckless abandon? I hope not. So what did I mean, then, in this moment of candid honesty?
To learn more about our film "the ballad of vicki and jake", please visit our website www.theballadofvickiandjake.com