China Diary / Day 8 – Notes, notes, notes…


Another day, another VFX meeting; this time, with Pixomondo. With them, we’ve worked for years already, starting with Iron Sky The Coming Race, and my wish is that the work continues over Iron Sky: The Ark as well. Of course, VFX budget is in the hands of the producers, and while they will listen to my opinions, the decision will be made by others.

Nevertheless, it’s nice to catch up with Jan from Beijing’s Pixomondo. He’s a German, so English is the main language, which makes a huge difference for me when dealing with issues, not having to rely on translations for once. Everything is just much smoother, faster and gets to the bottom of the issues directly, and packet loss is much less.

Back at the office I heard there was still few changes coming in from Max, based on our last night’s conversations – so even though my suggested script changes were approved, there were notes.

There’s always notes. On script, on budget, on edit, on marketing… The whole business is based on notes. Sometimes, it’s tiring. But that’s the tradeoff: it’s worth taking in some notes, if in exchange you get the big stuff from your side pushed through.

See, everyone has always a different agenda on a film. Director of course wishes his or her’s vision to be clear. Writer wants the text to be followed in detail. Producer wants to make sure the audience gets it. In our case, producer is one of the writers as well, so there’s quite an intense pull into slightly different directions going on as we’re finishing off the script. But since yesterday’s successful pitching, I already know it’s going to end up being pretty good, so it’s easy to accept a few notes.

As long as you don’t get lost in them.

The  day went past with me doing research on things like Illuminati families, origin of life on Earth and few elements of Chinese mythology. We were supposed to meet an actress to audition for the leading role at 6pm, but Max wanted to see her first.

Three hours passed. We went peeking at his door to find out what’s going on. There he was, explaining the story in detail to the girl, who was staring eyes wide as he blasted away. It was quite a sight. We found a short pause in his presentation – which is rare – and slip in to introduce myself.

She’s an American-born Chinese – ABCs, they call them – who moved to China recently to become an actress on this side of the world. Asian actresses have very limited chances in American market, she said, and if nothing else, they get type casted very easily. Here, the selection of roles to play for her would be much wider. But being an American, she’s different from the Chinese actresses I had met. Many of them are very meek and subdued in their presence, but she had a touch of American arrogance and confidence in her, which works perfectly for the role.

No, we didn’t cast her (at least not yet), but she was the first candidate I felt pretty damn good about for this specific role.

I finished off the day with a hefty doze of script talk with Max, developing forward some deeper concepts of the film which probably don’t make their way to the screen but are needed to be understood to write everything properly – and finally made my way back home around 9pm.

Had I earned my rest? Maybe. Did I get it? No.

Annika writes a book about Iron Sky The Coming Race, and her deadline was just around the corner. There was one last interview left with me so just as I crashed on the bed I remembered I had promised to go through the whole production of Iron Sky The Coming Race from my perspective.

We did that, and it was good we did. It took me back to those days two years ago when we started to shoot the film in Belgium, through all the hardships, the fun times and the craziness of the production and offered a break from The Ark’s story, which sits on my brains like a fat man on a chair two sizes too small. Annika didn’t get to ask one question, I gave her a full Max-style monologue for one hour straight.

“Was it good?”

“Yeah, I think I got everything.”

“Good.”

I was done for. Few more games of Hearthstone and then passing out before midnight.

(Only to be woken by the most persistent jetlag I’ve had at 3:30 am…)

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