Moving Day -9

Blue

Actually more like 7 days since the Nomad van arrives next Monday. Still feeling quite panicky, as you can imagine. Impossible to treat the task as if this was someone else’s house, someone else’s ‘stuff’.

One of the challenges of the basement (from Hell) has been wading through masses of old programme research, schedules, edit notes and scripts, especially the animal films – sharks, sea lions, white tailed eagles, and of course, chimpanzees. In making the Horizon film, Chimp Talk, I was processing many of the ideas that were the subject of my academic work – the relationship between thought (cognition) and language. Unlike my never-to materialise thesis, the TV medium forces a conclusion. The appeal of TV for me was all about the necessity to do, to make the decisions, to get the material ‘out there’. Left to myself, I could see that I would wade around in the knowledge swamp for ever.

I won’t go into the rabbit hole of Chimp Talk, but enough to say it looked at the various attempts to teach a form of language to chimpanzees, and what the results might mean. For me, an amazing opportunity to immerse myself in this research and to have the privilege of meeting these amazing animals and some of the people who literally dedicated their lives to working with them.

More about the chimp research

I am also fascinated by my very physical and ‘analogue’ approach to the films and the edit.

All the research notes mostly handwritten in ink or latterly bashed out on a variety of devices. But the edit notes – script and transcript folders with flags, often on 2 axes, tops of the pages as well as the open edge (is there a word for this?). Colour coded flags, colour coded pens, all helping me to navigate through hours of material, bringing it down to the TV hour or half hour. I can’t help wondering whether the methods of e woking don’t result in a different product? One of my schedules had a quote from Picasso, something about if you know the outcome, what’s the point in doing the work. My reluctance for pre-scripting had at least three executive producers tearing out there hair and shutting me out of the cutting room, only to let me back in when they realised it was the only way to get the programme on the air.

A heartfelt thanks here to Sally Anne Wilson and Charlie Foley who stuck with me throughout the film that became Beyond the Jaws (or Shark Psychologists if you saw the American version).

Today’s music – chosen for it’s vintage and the feeling of a life ahead. I think that it was actually Clouds that came out when I was 21 and living in Oregon, experiencing the first taste of the outdoors, and the research life. But this isn’t a memoir, now is it?

Next: the attic – going further back in time…

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