Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Been skipping days. Not me, I’ve lived every day, but the writing has skipped, so today you get a bunch in one fell swoop.

Sunday we picked up the pace a bit, from the Saturday off in any case. We went out in the morning to grab street viz: biogasbuss and ethanol public transportation shots and some general city and street material to fill in the blanks left empty after the spectacular boat shoot of a couple of days earlier. The lazy Sunday, empty street shots of Stockholm ought to be quite a contrast to the streets of Kibera and Nairobi, teeming with life.

We also managed to get some nice overhead shots of Stockholm and its harbour from the top of a fifties style platform overlooking the whole damn thing. It looks pretty dated now, as does a lot of the Slussen area (although charming in that fifties way), but Annika tells me it was the height of hip and modernity back in its day. It’s not hard to believe, but it still amazes me to see how quickly a structure can look aged and generate nostalgia.

The last shot I asked for was of the Stomatol sign, another leftover from the fifties. It’s an ad for an old, no-longer-existent toothpaste brand and an iconic image on the banks of Stockholm. It’s even animated in neon at night, flowing toothpaste out of the tube and onto a brush. Very cool. But also the source of ridicule directed at yours truly, as the entire rest of the crew, even my beloved wife, refused to see the glaringly obvious fact that the bristles on the sign’s toothbrush are actually teeth.

I thought it was a brilliant design idea. My crew thinks I’ve lost it. So any of you designers out there, come to my rescue. Tell them the truth.

Then it was off to Camilla and Anders’ home, a lovely row house in a suburb of Stockholm, nestled right in a picturesque bay full of private boats.  I’ve written about missing my girl for the ten days we’ve been up north; imagine the knife twisting in Camilla’s heart, as she leaves her family for the seventh 8-day stint this year. She leaves behind two young daughters, and of course Anders, her partner and the PeePoo bag’s architect.

I handled a bunch of scenes between Camilla and her girls, while Annika got Anders’ engine revving for his architectural interview the following day. He’s a strong personality, used to being in charge of a given situation and very conscious of what one says or does can do to people’s image of you. But Annika’s a magician, and by the end of the day he was totally comfortable.

We ended our day at the Pelikan, a beautiful old tavern that’s gotten super hip and pricey, but which serves the biggest honkin’ meatballs you’ll ever see. With monkeys frescoed on the ceiling and overpriced beer washing the meaty fare down our gullets, it had the feel of a last supper, except, y’know, happier.

* * *

Monday, and the pace gets slacker. Sort of.

Started the day at Swedish TV, and a meeting with a producer of our acquaintance. They’ve been hesitating getting on board because as far as they’re concerned, there’s nothing controversial about shit to a Swede. But then Annika and I jumped in, pitched together and worked a little magic. Annika’s got a beautiful touch that helps people get it in very short order, and today was no exception. Plus, with the fire under our asses of the whirlwind during the World Water Week, and having watched the story truly unfold rather than just writing about what we’d like to have happen, we just knocked it out of the park. Producer dude didn’t have a chance.

But that was then. Time to get back to work.

Our primary target today was Anders’ brain, and the process behind his work. His office is jammed with Maquettes, of older buildings, newer buildings he’s working on now, and, of course, the Peepoo bag. He’s all about light, space and round windows. He has a maquette for what he called the “cheese” building. Looks like a huge block of Swiss, with round windows that at scale would be 2 ½ meters tall. The circles are kind of a trademark of his, at least from the time the building was designed, and what I tripped on is the fact that the round windows are form BEFORE function. They look purely decorative because they’re so unconventional, but they work on the same principle as the arch, redistributing weight via their circular forms instead of bearing it all on a conventional straight foundation. Changing your windows might be ass-expensive, but it’s a great idea.

We covered a lot of architectural theory, but the bag we saved for the following day, when I would sadly be absent. Sadly but happily because I’ll be GOING TO GET MY GIRL!

We headed back to Camilla’s joint for one last shoot, and a meal prepared by the maestro himself. Dude knows how to make a rip-roarin’ pasta sauce, and he doesn’t skimp on the garlic. Fresh bread, good wine, one last load of laundry and it was time to hump back to the city, leaving our equipment for Camilla to drive in tomorrow and taking the subway back. En route to the station I spied an abandoned, sleek, silver coffee pot. We’ve got enough gear to carry, especially since we’ll be moving on to Nairobi in a couple of days, but Claes lives here. He needs a good coffee pot, so I awarded it to him, as a kind of trophy for being a great sound recordist and all around awesome guy. Enjoy the coffee dude. I miss you already.

* * *

And now here I am on a train, speeding down to Lund to pick up my girl, while back in Stockholm my crew gears up for one last shoot. It’s strange not to be there. I’ll miss Stockholm; beautiful city with a groovy vibe.

But I’m also looking forward to Nairobi and Kibera, and working with “Big” Willie, our next sound guy. For all you filmmakers out there, never underestimate the value of having a local sound recordist. It opens doors. And besides, Willie comes recommended, with a pretty good CV to boot.

Until then, I’ll be running Sirianna up to Stockholm, then we’ll all head up to the airport and our overnight hotel…


Not bad, eh. Besides, our flight is at 4am. No damn way we’re hauling our asses all the way out there at that ungodly hour when we could be right next door.

But that about does it for Sweden for now. I won’t miss the prices, but it’s been a great leg. I think I speak for the crew in saying it was quite a bit of fun, especially once we got out of the conference black hole. If there’s a blonder country out there, I don’t know it. Mahar, ye’d do well to haul your butt out here.

Next stop: Nairobi. Be seeing you.



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2 responses to “Tuesday, August 25, 2009

  1. There is obviously a lot to know about this. There are some good points here. 🙂

  2. Hey, I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog!…..I”ll be checking in on a regularly now….Keep up the good work! 🙂

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