In the taxi from Leipzig Hauptbahnhof I met a German Commissioning Editor called Kai from Baden-Baden. Unusual name – I asked him where it was from. Up North. Northern Germany? No, further – Norway. He explained his mother used to play table-tennis against a young Norwegian man in her apartment block. He always won – even when he played left-handed. On one occasion he bet her – at stake the naming after him of her first child. She lost. And Kai was named Kai. Not very German …but very romantic.
So I’m sitting here in the shadow of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig listening (unusually for me) to Johann Sebastian Bach, chapel/choirmaster of St Thomas’s, on Spotify, absurdly selecting ‘tracks’ according to number of listens (Partita in B-flat major 2,764,917). And I’m writing this post 5 years and 1 day after I wrote my first Back to the Fatherland on first coming to the city where my dad was born, accompanied by my sons/his grandsons.
Here is that first post about how I found my grandparents’ house, which is just a few streets from here, the other side of the site of the burnt-down synagogue:
I came back in 2010 thanks to Documentary Campus/Doc Leipzig, the annual documentary film festival held largely at the MDR building just out of the city centre, just a short walk from the hospital where my dad was born. That’s why I’m back for the fifth time.
Here’s an account of my third (2013) visit during my sabbatical from Channel 4:
Last year I came with my older son who was making his first documentary (Scattergun – a life in four tattoos) as part of his A level in Applied Media. He was interested in listening in on the pitching sessions.
This year I’m solo again (like 2012 and 2013). I’ve been mentoring a documentary team making a film about renouncing vegetarianism. Last year I mentored a film about Super 8. This year I brought my own Kodak flipcam (off-spring of the Super 8) to make a little video of the trip.
I arrived in the autumnal late afternoon sun of Berlin Schoenefeld, got a taxi driven by a mad Turk to Sudkreuz (he miraculously got me there with 15 minutes to spare) and then the train to Leipzig Hauptbahnhof. I had dinner with a bunch of the Documentary Campus folk in an ex-vinegar (Essig) factory. So no bitterness there, just celebration of The Documentary among a group of old pals including Elizabeth MacIntyre of Discovery Networks International, who is just leaving Documentary Campus to head up Sheffield DocFest, and Lena Pasanen, formerly of YLE, Finland, who is taking over Elizabeth’s role. I walked back, surprised at how well I could navigate the city at night.
So here I am in the shadow of the Thomaskirche as its bells chime midnight. By now I’m listening to Jacques Loussier playing Bach – sacrilege perhaps but sometimes a man just needs jazz.
Here’s a brand-funded short form series I’ve been working on recently.
Article by Matthew Campelli courtesy of Broadcast.
Samsung sponsors All 4 supper club format
Atomized Entertainment is to produce an ad-funded pop-up restaurant format for Channel 4’s digital service.
My Pop-up Restaurant, funded by Samsung Home Appliances, follows six aspirational cooks as they start supper clubs.
The six-part series will launch as part of All 4’s Shorts service in November and was ordered by multiplatform commissioning editor Adam Gee.
Atomized chief executive Zad Rodgers said: “Supper clubs and pop-up restaurants are the latest expression of Britain’s entrepreneurial passion”.
Atomized has previously worked with British Gas on ad-funded online series Home Truths last summer.
The show forms part of a seven-figure, year-long deal C4 agreed with Samsung in March.
Full article is here
18th Oct 2015 with N – Ireland v Argentina, quarter final Rugby World Cup – England 2015
Step 2: balls out for more beer #RWC2015 #cardiff #Ireland
Hiberno-Argentine relations remain undamaged #RWC2015
So back to Trigger Mortis. The question was: Is the cover superior to the content of the new Bond book by Anthony Horowitz? I ended up reading it as a double bill with Fleming’s own rocket book Moonraker. So that’s this one, set in 1957 and published in 2015:
versus this one, set in 1955 (I think) and published in 1955:
Somehow Trigger Mortis fails to capture the essence of Bond – it lacks his hard brutality and the underlying S&M going on in Fleming’s books. The cover wins out in the end. Though even the cover loses out to echt Fleming. The flame cover of the Jonathan Cape 1st edition of April 1955 was conceived by the author. The Pan ones are charming version after version.
This is the edition I read, picked up at Black Gull Books, East Finchley. A nice phallic rocket and a slightly naughty underwear shot (resonant of the beach skinnydipping scene with Gala Brand under the virgin white cliffs of the Kent coast).
For anyone else who embarks on Trigger Mortis, and don’t get me wrong it’s an entertaining enough read, there are a couple of fine machines towards the climax which are worth following up. First of all the Triumph Thunderbird 650cc on which Bond and the heroine Jeopardy Lane chase the baddie into the centre of New York City.
The baddie meanwhile is hurtling along on the R-11 subway train, the so-called ‘Million Dollar Train’. As Horowitz explains, “they had caught the spirit and dynamism of the (post-war) age.”
Bond is a world of style and glittering surfaces, the right motorcycle and subway carriages as much as car, watch or booze.
Art schools – stone buildings – Scottish Neo-Classical architecture – whiskey sauce – neeps – getting swept along in a novel (when it suddenly kicks off) – curtains – photography – autumn – autumn colours – Friday evenings – teaching – learning – Spitfires – small breasts – French accent – reading the newspaper over breakfast – prunes – heritage – story structure – Curtis Mayfield
Being there for your children when they have a crisis – Mackintosh design and architecture – breakfast at Banners in Crouch End – working with young, fresh talent – Indian summer – wearing shorts – Robert Elms Show on GLR – the theme from You Only Live Twice – the cloudscape looking down from 34,000 feet – busting through the clouds at speed – shower gel made of Burren flowers from County Clare – video editing – a walk at sunset – sweet corn soup – dessert wine – Dora’s chicken soup with carrots and semolina – Edwardian interiors with ceramic tiling – fizzy water with a slice of lemon
Apparently I registered with WordPress 9 years ago today. How time flies. I’ve got to fly myself now (to Bournemouth to drop off Enfant Terrible No. 1, which is a far more important landmark) so this is a quickie to reflect on the statute of limitations on titles. I’ve written before on the importance of titles such as in Starless and Bible Black.
Any way, it looks like 56 years is the statute of limitation in the world of Anthony Horowitz / James Bond / The Fleming Estate. The title of the new, just published Bond book is Trigger Mortis. The book below was published in 1959 and it’s also a thriller.
By the looks of things, the covers are far superior to the contents. Whether that’s the case with the new Horowitz book, I’ll find out soon as I broached it last night. Its cover is well designed and cool but not much fun, promising something very different to Frank Kane and Johnny Liddell. The title’s crucial. and so is the cover/image. That applies equally to other media such as the one I’m currently focused on: Short Form Video.
Sunset Marquis hotel [Sunset & Alta Lomo]
Fun for its rock excess vibe/history and proximity to Sunset Strip, plus it’s something of an oasis despite being a stone’s throw from Sunset.
Made this old school diner my office. Great for breakfast and lashings of ice tea on a scorching day. The table-top jukebox adds to the pleasure.
Book Soup [8818 Sunset]
A proper independent book store which is a joy to browse. Also has a bit of vinyl tucked down the back.
Gjusta [320 Sunset Ave, Venice, CA]
A bakery in an old boat factory – lots of exposed brick and Californian healthiness. Not cheap but fun to eat out back – in particular yoghurt & honey and beigels. Met a starlette here.
Where Venice gets its name from and where Jim and The Doors got photographed. A tranquil backwater well worth a wander.
San Luis Obispo
Boo Boo Records [Monterey St]
An absolute top record store with lashings of vinyl, new and second-hand. Total delight.
Deetjen’s – Upper Creek House
The quintessential cabin in the woods – off the grid, back to nature, cosy fire in the hearth (as opposed to the horror movie sort).
I’m not usually too in to such things but this is a real model for how to present nature and sea-life. Wondrous and beautiful.
Old Capitol Books [559 Tyler St]
Fine second-hand book store with a big selection and plenty of gems.
Boogaloos [Valencia & 22nd]
Fun diner with staff who like comic books and stuff, in a striking Victorian building (old drugstore?).
Baby Blues BBQ [3149 Mission St]
The real McCoy. Honest to goodness American food – great sauces and staff.
Biking the Bridge [Fisherman’s Wharf to Sausalito]
Cross the Golden Gate Bridge on a two-wheeled steed. Joyful and thrilling, especially when you’re being wind-blasted as you cross the bridge. Blazing Saddles was a good bike supplier and the name is irresistible of course – get 20% off by booking online, even on the day.
City Lights [Columbus & Broadway]
Perhaps a cliche of San Francisco …but who cares – a genuine book-lovers’ bookstore with, of course, an illustrious history. Live life to a different Beat.
We left LA with two final movie things to delight us and cast a glittering light on the City of Angels. First, I found out that the apartment we were staying in – apart from being on the same street Jim (Morrison) used to live on – was adjacent to the location of the first movie in which Charlie Chaplin appeared as The Little Tramp. It is now a dog park but back in 1914 it was the site of the ‘Kid Auto Races at Venice’ where Mack Sennett produced a 6 minute short directed by Henry Lehrman. My second son has Charlie as a middle name in honour of Chaplin.
Last time we were in LA together (when he was 4) we were hosted by my Paramount friends at a house Chaplin had built for his mistress. This time (he is now 15) we enjoyed spotting various Chaplin traces around Venice (mostly murals) but it was only on our day of departure I found out in detail why they were there.
The other movie moment to adorn that day was when the same son spotted a face he recognised in the place we went en famille for breakfast, a bakery called Gjusta also in Venice, located in an old boat-building factory adjacent to Gold’s Gym of Arnie fame. It had been Arnold Schwarzenegger’s birthday the day before and by chance I spotted, when out running along the beach, that his image fills giant-size the wall behind Jim’s mural ‘Morning Shot’. So after a breakfast with a bit less raw meat than Arnie would be used to (Gjusta is pretty California nutty-crunchy), Enfant Terrible No. 2 spotted this hot girl he recognised from the big screen and I had the pleasure of seeing him pluck up the courage to speak to her, plan his approach and execute it cooly. She turned out to be Cody Horn from Magic Mike. Her father is chairman of Walt Disney Studios and was formerly president of Warner Bros. so I guess “How did you get into movies?” was not worth the asking. No, to be fair, she was very warm and charming and happy to be engaged in conversation, as well as plenty glamorous so she helped bring our LA stay to a perfect, fitting end.
We drove out of Gjusta with the LA Road Songs CD aforementioned Paramount pals made for us on our Route 101 trip 11 years ago playing loud and headed North to do the reverse trip…
Ventura Highway in the sunshine
Where the days are longer
The nights are stronger than moonshine
You’re gonna go I know
‘Cause the free wind is blowin’ through your hair
And the days surround your daylight there
Seasons crying no despair
Alligator lizards in the air, in the air