Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Wah-Wah Diaries

Seem to be reading a book a day at the won't last. I need to get on with some other more important things!

Anyway, yesterday while filling in a bit of time at the library, I came across The Wah-Wah Diaries by Richard E Grant. Wah-Wah was a movie written and directed by Grant back in 2004, and the book is a record of the day-to-day trials and tribulations he experienced, less on the shooting of the movie itself than on the pre- and post-production, when his French producer either failed to communicate vital information, or get things done on time, or kept putting various spanners in the works for no good reason - except that she was the producer.

The book starts in 1999, when the idea for the movie was first mooted and the script drafted. From then on it's a constant swing between highs and lows as producers come and go, the script is revised and revised, actors are gained and lost, and the aforesaid producer gets it into her head that everything should be done with French technicians. This book should warn anyone off co-production between England and France forever, though to be fair, there are some very good French technicians involved, the editors in particular.

The actual shoot is a breeze by comparison with everything else that goes on, with near-perfect weather in Swaziland (where it is all filmed, often in places that Grant grew up in and knows like the back of his hand). The amazing thing is that while Grant has some extreme moments of stress and insomnia from all the hitches (and, of course, the French producer), the film gets made, and he survives without going insane. His determination and fortitude prove to be far beyond what he himself thinks he's capable of, especially since this is the first time he's ever directed a movie, and it's an extremely autobiographical one at that.

It's perhaps not the ideal book to read before embarking on getting a musical up and on stage, although the financial aspects of my show won't be nearly as daunting as those Grant faced, nor will we be working with people who don't speak our language - in any sense of the phrase. Nevertheless it shows the value of having a good solid team around you, for support in times of stress and when things all seem to be going down the tube....!

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