Friday, June 13, 2003

Rotting latex eyelids, and other sweet memories of Old London

So, the most interesting bits of today were getting air tickets to the UK to spend a week on the Mirror Mask set and get interviewed for the DVD and so on, for me and both daughters. My amazing assistant Lorraine hit the internet and magically produced tickets from Minneapolis to London on Icelandair business class for the cost of coach tickets on Northwest; and I reluctantly agreed that the days of using travel agents were probably over. In the old days I'd use travel agents, and they'd do cool things behind the scenes and find magic upgrades or amazing fares on little known airlines and find great deals and generally make life easier. Slowly they seemed to lose that power, a bit at a time, and seem generally more and more ineffectual. The last time I used my travel agent, on the trip to France in January, they screwed up every way they could possibly screw up, including FedExing the tickets to the wrong address, and wound up, once all the mis-issued tickets and tickets that had to be put down as lost (due to being sent to the wrong place etc.) costing me an awful lot of money on something I was never meant to be paying for in the first place. So it took me a while to be weaned off travel agents, but I've finally, if grudgingly, accepted that Lorraine, armed with the internet and the phone numbers of a few airlines, can probably do everything a travel agent could have done.

Hoping it might be possible for Maddy and me and Holly to stop off in Iceland for 24 hours on the way back to the US.

And I talked to Dave McKean today, who was every bit as exhausted as you'd expect, after two weeks of shooting, but is mostly happy. I have a very odd perspective on Mirror Mask, I think, being on the one hand thousands of miles away from it, but on the other, I'm still watching all the dailies every morning (dailies are the unedited raw shots, take by take). Dave's obviously seeing the gulf between what he sets out to do each day and what he actually does. I get to see the amazing amount of wonderful work he's doing -- that they're all doing -- and glow at how well it all fits together. Given what Dave and his crew have pulled off with the resources at his disposal, they've more or less done the impossible. From here on out they're in the studio, with builds and blue-screens, and I suspect his life will be a great deal easier. Probably by the time I get to the UK they'll all be sane again.

And I wrote Dave a couple of lines of dialogue, to cover for something that had to be shot differently to how it was written, and I felt like I was still part of it...

It doesn't seem like very long ago that I posted
this, as I got to Dave McKean's house in Kent, and then the two of us went off to the Henson Family House in London, which hadn't really been touched since Jim Henson died (it still had rotary phones), and we wrote, and Dave drew, and we wrote, and at one point we had a huge sheet of paper with a line on it and lots of tiny notations as to things that could happen, which Terry Gilliam peered at one afternoon and said "that looks like a movie" which was amazingly heartening. And there were the dusty Labyrinth puppets with the rotting latex faces (there is nothing more disturbing than a muppet when its latex eyelids rot and rend just as you're blinking them), and I wrote downstairs in the basement kitchen, where there was a fire and I could get warm, and Dave stayed upstairs, where it was chillier, but he had a piano and lots of light, and we'd sit over tables and scribble and glower at each other, because he wanted to get the structure just right before we began, and I just wanted to get these people talking and moving and find out what happened to them that way. And somehow, despite all that, we made it work.

That we'd ever get to turn this strange dream-story into a film seemed unlikely. But then, most things that happen seem unlikely, especially in retrospect....

And for those of you who've asked, it won't be finished until the spring of 2004. They'll be computer-generating a Dave McKean world, after all.


There's an article about graphic novels at Book Expo on the Publisher's Weekly website. It's a pretty decent overview of what's going on, I thought. Despite the v. dodgy photo of yrs truly.