Sunday, 11 February 2018

Car Guy

My new AV, Car Guy: click on the photograph below to see it on Vimeo...

This one has been a challenge, technically and emotionally.

After the unexpected success of Matthew Loney's Miracle, which built up a little collection of trophies and medals from various national competitions during 2017, I was suffering from a bad case of impostor syndrome. I was very pleased with Matthew Loney, but I'd had so little experience of AV work when I made it that I felt its success was a bit of a lucky accident. It was frequently praised as being very different. And it was, because I didn't really know what was the usual thing for an AV.

February sees the start of the 2018 AV season, with the NIPA festival as the first event, and I felt that I needed to make something new - but also that whatever I made, it would never be as good as Matthew. This is a paralysing attitude. It's one I see often in my own students. I'm sympathetic to it, but when someone else is feeling this way, I'm great at proffering sensible advice and encouraging them to move on. It's much harder when I'm the one paralysed.

I still have the syndrome, but I made the AV too. I got started by deciding that I was right, it would never be as good as Matthew, and that was ok. Instead, I treated it as a chance to try some new things. There's a voiceover. It's half the length, but I still wanted to convey a cohesive story. And it's in colour.

This proved to be a good approach. The always supportive J helped me with the script. We spent several happy evenings over the Christmas holidays lounging on the sofa, arranging fragments of text on a plastic tray from WyseByse, arguing over individual words, high-fiving each other when we hit on a good phrase. 

Working out the technicalities of the voice tracks was a good learning experience too, once I'd constructed a pop shield from a coat hanger and a pair of tights, having forgotten to borrow a real one from work. We recorded several takes to get the voice right, though it was freakish how easily J was able to sound like an 80-year-old. I chopped the best track up into multiple segments, which made moving the voice around to work with the music track and slides much more flexible in my PicturesToExe AV software.

The music is my own. I wanted to keep it simple, with just piano and bass and very little else. The mood is influenced by cool jazz of the 1950s, when the cars and Car Guy would have been in their teens. The music starts with a little two-note motif, G - E, a setting of "car guy" - and this idea, backwards, forwards, decorated, filled in, and at different pitches, permeates the whole score.

The heart of the story is Car Guy himself, beautifully played by my friend's dad. And in a way, he represents the best of all our dads, with his homespun wisdom, his integrity, his mild humour and his understated but longstanding love for Isabella.

I hope it all comes together effectively for viewers - I'd love it to come across as touching, and for you to enjoy wandering through that southern scrapyard as much as both Car Guy and I have done.

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