new york

These set of colours mean a lot to Londoners:

London's tube line colours

It’s a piece from Art on the Underground. They’ve been commissioning temporary artworks for London’s tube system since 2000. Their main space is a disused platform at Gloucester Road underground station:

Brian Griffiths 'Life Is A Laugh' - until May 2008

They’ve got a new plan: to commission permanent installations throughout the system. About time too. The New York Subway has been doing this for years. I enjoyed the following two:

Link to a site on NYC Subway art
Bronze figures playing on the platforms More pictures from the same installation.

Link to a site on NYC Subway art
Walls slid to reveal mosaics
More pictures from the same installation.


After a few years of making videos for conferences it’s good to go back and do something new (to me). To promote teamworking and to illustrate the concept of collaboration, teams at this conference were given two hours to come up with and shoot a one minute film. They then were given 30 minutes with one of us editors.

Sometimes it took 40 minutes, but I helped make three interesting films.

When you’ve got such a short amount of time, you need to concentrate on the basics. I didn’t name clips or reels or bins. It was capture “Untitled” and “Untitled1”, detect DV starts and stops, pick takes, set ins and outs and put shots into order. Then there was just enough time to add captions and graphics, a soundtrack and… next team please.

When you’re under that sort of time pressure, you have to go with your gut went choosing the shots and how long to let them run. You won’t have time to go back and sort them out. You have to trust that if the same editor sets the ins and outs, then the feel will be consistent through the film.

The lesson – if you can get good results in three hours, get making films. Don’t forget The Big Things. They seem to make a new film at least every day…

Alan Heim, editor:

The editor, the assistant, and the apprentice have been together for, say, there months. You’ve been sitting there looking at this material and occasionally muttering under your breath, being unhappy about it in some way, and suddenly, here’s the perpetrator. You’ve got certain loyalty and the director is now an outsider. You get to the point where the editor has to make the director feel comfortable in the cutting room.

Also from Selected Takes:

There are ways of getting your view across without challenging the original concept for the film. The whole process is a compromise and you have to be willing and able to get other people to compromise. That often leads to some tensions, and you’ll lose a lot of the fights. … I can work on a film and be tremendously intense about it, but after is said and done, it’s the director’s movie. At some point you have to be willing to give up and let the director do what he wants to do, even if you feel it’s not right.

He edited Network, All That Jazz and American History X. If you’re in New York on Thursday 27th September, you can ask him your own questions as part of the Manhattan Edit Workshop’s series of seminars with distinguished feature film editors. The event is free, it starts at 7:30pm sharp at the Helen Mills Theatre, 139 W 26th Street. RSVP to The Manhattan Edit Workshop.

Two things to do tomorrow. Visit the screenwriter’s group to support and be supported by other writers. Visit the Manhattan Monologue Slam for a very good value evening out. You’ll see stars of the future put their all into making the most of three minutes on stage.

For more on the Slam, see last month’s post.

For those of you in London, you also have a choice. Between a screenwriters group and a film networking party. Soho Screenwriters meets every Monday in Soho. The evening has three parts. The first part is a lecture on some aspect of screenwriting. Here’s the blurb on tomorrow’s:

A film consists of two stories, one the objective story (plot) the backdrop against which the second hero’s story (the “subjective” story) takes place. The central protagonist at the end of a story will not have the same characterisation that they started with; they must go through a psychological transformation (arc) to achieve their objective goal. This week’s seminar traces the Inner Journey, as are hero deals with the object and subjective obstacles in their way, from the Ghost to the assertion of the Theme.

The second part is made up of pitches and script readings. You can bring your work along, and the group will assess it. The third part is in the pub where the talk goes on until late. The session starts at 7.30 and only costs £4. Very good value. Find out more.

From a weekly event to an annual one (like toothbrush-holesmanship): I’ll be going to the The Talent Circle Super Shorts party. Looks like I’ll have to get some more cards and work up a variety of CVs for the occasion.

When you see food in films, it always looks better than you can ever find in real life – unless you live in New York. The bagel shops and diners have been all that I’ve hoped for after seeing them in the movies.

That’s bagels

Donna Tsufura reviewing my editor’s demo reel in the local bagel shop. She’s come up with a clever addition that I’ll be working on over the next few days.

The Malibu Diner on 23rd Street

After Jean and I went to see Rescue Dawn, we had indulgent desserts at the Malbu Diner in Chelsea.

I collected my last New York City borough: the Bronx. Before we went there, we had a day on Museum Mile and Central Park.

A relaxing bus ride took us to the Upper East side. Suzanne went to the Jewish Museum, I went to the National Design Museum. We went into Central Park – hoping for a place to have lunch as well as to experience the views.

The Reservoir was very calm.

Sadly, the food selections we found weren’t so great. There were a few snacks at the tennis club, there was less at the nearby recreation centre. We bridged the gap with a banana each and made our way back to Central Park East and the Guggenhiem.

Looking up
Looking up from the ground floor

We wanted to be included as performance artists
Only performance art was missing – until we turned up

Throwing shapes
A piece that encouraged people to dance

As we left, I saw that New York’s outsourcing has gone a lot further than I imagined:
International sewer

Although we had a nice snack in the GuggCafé, we decided to follow a tip from Jenn: Little Italy in the Bronx. The trip started smoothly. The express subway train arrived quickly. We got up to 180th street easily. Although we seemed to miss two buses, another came two minutes later. Then there was a little wrinkle: we were told to go to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx to try some of the best Italian food in New York.

When we got off the bus, we found that Arthur Avenue was a back street in a poor area. We weren’t dressed correctly for this excursion. As I caught a bit too much sun yesterday, I was wearing trousers and a shirt for the first time in 40 days. Suzanne was covering up too. We felt more out of place than we wanted to be.

We walked four or five blocks south. We ran into a park. We asked advice in a local eatery. We had turned the wrong way a few blocks earlier. Luckily the correct northbound bus was there for us. A few blocks later, we were in Little Italy in the Bronx. Not long after that I sat down to a big plate of pasta:
Proper bacon!

Later we got a cab to the local overground line and soon found ourselves at Grand Central Terminal:
Where’s the station?

Suzanne: “Mum, I won’t go to the Bronx”

On the way out to Coney Island

Suzanne and I took the opportunity to go out to Coney Island. It seems as if developers are going to turn this old-style funfair resort into a slightly sanitised tourist destination.

They’ll keep some of the rides, add some hotels and expensive accommodation, and clean up some of the odder aspects. I’d be suprised if the new security arrangements will allow the following:
070716_0445_the_shoot.jpg 070716_0455_world_bob.jpg
As we were walking along the pier, we saw some people making some links for film about strange tales of Coney Island. If this were happening in a couple of years time, it could be that CCTV cameras would see the odd goings and send security to move these people along. ‘We can’t have odd people spoiling the holiday experience for our valued tourist customers.’

The host of the film was ‘The World Famous *Bob*’ – a burlesque performer. Suzanne and I were a little shy of taking pictures of the shoot, but Val Killmore, the director asked us if we could take pictures for them. They had forgotten to bring a camera.

A dramatic old building
Suzanne said that this building looked ‘dramatic’

The big wheel where the cars swing in loops as they go around.

The closest thing to an old-time funfair stall: on a disused patch of ground between to buildings on the broadwalk – an opportunity to shoot paint pellets at a live human target. We asked why we should want to shoot at the quiet young man who was sitting there. The barker replied: ‘If you were down there, he would shoot you!’

Later we walked on to Brighton Beach, which was more genteel by the sea, with a much busier Russian high-street. We went on to Alphabet City for a lovely meal with production copmany maven Jenn.

Suzanne: ‘Is it a rat garden?’

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