Monday, December 31, 2018

That Was The 2018 That Was

It's been a strange year. I've only blogged a couple of times, mostly because I've not had anything to write about except one thing, the hugeness of making Good Omens. We wrapped the shooting part mostly in March, and so everything we've been doing since is "post-production".

This means we (and when I say "we" in this blog it's normally Douglas Mackinnon the director and me) edited the six episodes. Sometimes this was simple, but mostly it wasn't. Good Omens is complicated.  Episode 1 in its original shape was 75 minutes long and very confusing for people. Episode 1 now is about 52 minutes long and nobody watching it gets lost at all, even during the baby swap. Episode 5 wound up too short and episode 6 wound up too long, but that was okay, because we'd long ago realised that the only way to make something of this scale was a 6 hour long movie, so so we moved bits of Episode 6 earlier. Each episode was tightened and experimented with and worked on until it gleamed. (The editors we were working with were Will Oswald for the first three episodes and Emma Oxley for the second three)

And once it was edited and "locked", then the music could be written by David Arnold and recorded, then the team at MILK could begin to work on the Visual Effects, the big obvious ones like the M25 London orbital motorway turning into a flaming ring around London, or the huge floating head of Derek Jacobi filling Aziraphale's bookshop, and the less obvious ones, like the missing details of our Soho street.

And while this was happening the Sound Wizards at Bang! listened to the sound and told us what they could use and what they needed a back-up of, and where we would need the actors to dub their voices (a process called ADR). Not to mention the technical challenges of the different voices that will be coming out of Miranda Richardson's mouth (she plays Madame Tracy, the medium): Johnny Vegas and Michael Sheen also provide voices that we will hear Miranda utter...

We have over 200 speaking parts. That's a lot of ADR.

And then there's Gareth Spensely at Molinare, who is credited as colourist, and who is a Warlock who makes it look even more beautiful than Gavin Finney did when he shot it, and sometimes makes scenes shot in the morning become scenes that happen at dusk, and does other things equally as odd. And there's Beren Croll doing the "online", working his own visual magic, and placing the astonishing visuals and the peculiarly handmade graphics that Peter Anderson Studios have made for us where they need to be...

And in all that, the last nine months have flown by. Here's the trailer we did, if you haven't seen it, or just want to see it again.

We aren't done yet. There's about a month to go before it's all wrapped up. We were hoping to have been done earlier, which is why my wife and small son and retiring nanny are off on our "Hurrah! Neil has finished Good Omens!" holiday in the Caribbean and I am rather obviously not on that holiday. I am on my way back to back to the UK (dividing my time between London's Soho, where our various post production studios are, and Cardiff, where Bang! are) and am stopping off in the friends' house where I wrote much of American Gods and Anansi Boys, and short stories like A Study In Emerald.  So many memories.

Two days ago we went to Sarasota, to visit my Cousin Helen. She will be 101 years old in a few weeks. She is as smart as she ever was. (This is a link to a recent piece about her on Brainpickings, and a letter she wrote about a story that helped: )

Helen is nearly 101. Ash is 3 and a 1/4. Amanda and I are somewhere in the middle.

It will be the first night in a long time that I haven't kissed my wife at midnight on New Year's Eve. The first year we won't get to celebrate our wedding anniversary together. I will miss them so very much.

My goals for 2019 are to get Good Omens finished, to send it out into the world, and then to retire from full-time showrunning and, in my retirement, to start writing again. I miss it.

If you enjoy Radio, you should check out:

With Great Pleasure: I pick some prose, poems and songs I love. Peter Capaldi, John Finnemore and Nina Sosanya read them, Mitch Benn and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain sing.

The Wild Wood -- one of the many things recorded for With Great Pleasure that didn't make it onto the air. But, as read by Mr Capaldi, too good to lose.

Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology -- a dramatisation by starring Diana Rigg and Derek Jacobi, Natalie Dormer and Colin Morgan. Lucy Catherine did the adaptation, and Allegra McIlroy directed it and made it happen.

You can listen to all of these anywhere in the world for the next 3 weeks...

If you have come here for New Year's Wishes, I don't have a new one.  But here are the ones that already exist. This is from 2014:

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

...I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.

And for this year, my wish for each of us is small and very simple.

And it's this.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

And here, from 2012 the last wish I posted, terrified but trying to be brave, from backstage at a concert:

It's a New Year and with it comes a fresh opportunity to shape our world. 

So this is my wish, a wish for me as much as it is a wish for you: in the world to come, let us be brave – let us walk into the dark without fear, and step into the unknown with smiles on our faces, even if we're faking them. 

And whatever happens to us, whatever we make, whatever we learn, let us take joy in it. We can find joy in the world if it's joy we're looking for, we can take joy in the act of creation. 

So that is my wish for you, and for me. Bravery and joy.


I meant, and mean them all. I wasn't going to write a new one this year. But...

Be kind to yourself in the year ahead. 

Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It's too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.

Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.

Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them. 

Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.

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