Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Ruth Allen Sings English Music Hall Songs (Mostly)


Ruth Allen was born on January 20, 1929.

On October 26, 2021, I asked her to sing some songs for me. She’s 92.

Here’s what she sang:


Fred Earle, Frank Carter & Gilbert Wells


R.P. Weston and Fred J. Barnes

 FIVE EYES (1922)

Poem by Walter de la Mare published in 1913


Fred W. Leigh and Charles Collins


Harry Lauder


Fred W. Leigh and Henry E. Pether


Irving Berlin


Maurice Abrahams, Grant Clarke and Edgar Leslie


Ruth Allen

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Hollywood 9 to 5 - Episode #8 Post-Production Coordinator


Above is the video with what I ended up saying. Here's the script I wrote with what I thought I was going to say:

Post Coordinator

Job Description: A Post Coordinator is basically an assistant to the Post Supervisor on a feature film or TV show. As such, the duties of a post coordinator might change depending on which post supervisor they work for. I’m going to go over the various things I did as a post coordinator, but this might not be representative of all post coordinator jobs.

First, let me explain that there are three broad phases of production - pre-production, production and post production. Post production can actually start during pre-production, before production, lining up schedules and booking people so that as soon as the first second of film is shot, it has somewhere to go to keep the workflow moving.

When a feature came in, the first thing a post supervisor does is set up a schedule for the post production process. As a post coordinator, my job was to actually create the calendar as the post supervisor threw dates and times into the air. We used Movie Magic Scheduler, but something like Outlook is just as good for this. For example: shooting starts on Oct. 1. We need the editing room ready to start that night, with an assistant editor coming in at 10 pm to start digitizing the dailies. The film has a 2-week shoot. Then we’ll give the editor another 4 weeks to get the “editor’s cut” finished. Then we’ll have a few weeks of notes and the director’s cut will be due another 3 weeks after that. Then we’ll have producer’s notes and the final cut will be due two weeks later. Sometimes these dates are also backdated from a release or festival, or include preliminary versions be completed and ready to go to festivals.

So while the post supervisor is saying these things, I’m looking at a calendar, noting which days are weekends, when we don’t want things delivered, if there are holidays in the middle of the schedule where we’ll need extra time. I’m making suggestions and adjustments to the calendar to accommodate these dates.

Then the post team will need to help set up vendors for various parts of the post production process. Some of these things the post supervisor handles directly, like negotiating rates on mixing studios, including time for ADR. The post supervisor probably has people they like to use and often will get deals on low-budget films with the understanding that when a bigger project comes up, they’ll take the work to the same place in exchange for the favorable rates. But some things, like getting bids from different companies for things like dailies processing, main and end title creation, or reaching out to composers for sample reels or talking to sound effects companies for rates and catalogues, the post coordinator will handle. Ultimately, the PC doesn’t make or agree to any deals, but they will ask for lots of bids.

Once the bids come in and the PS has negotiated them, the post coordinator might be asked to send out deal memos and purchase orders for these services.

Once editing is in progress, the PC will interact with the assistant editors and editors, getting copies of cuts as they progress, like the first rough assembly and then updates once they are substantial. The PC will get copies from the editing room and then make sure that all of the important people (director, producers, PS and others) get copies of those edits of the film.

The PC might also be asked to go to different sessions near the completion of the film, like color correction sessions or screenings of silent versions of the film, looking for any errors in the edit - like black frames that shouldn’t be there or flash frames, where an editor accidentally leaves one frame of a shot when they thought they deleted the whole shot. In the days of negatives, you would go to screenings after the negative was cut to make sure that the assembly of the picture looks right. Sometimes the film gets flipped during the negative cutting or something from a wrong scene gets put in. Hopefully there is nothing to catch in these screenings, but the boring job of watching a movie several times will fall to a PC.

Like the name says, there is a lot of coordinating involved with post coordinating. You spend your day making phone calls and sending emails, checking on the progress of various people who are working on a film and updating the PS to let them know if everything is on schedule or if there are problems bubbling up somewhere.

I was also a post coordinator on trailers, so a lot of the same things were done on a much smaller scale. I would book narrators, dealing with agents, and prepare narration scripts for them, attend the narration sessions and make sure that everyone had the materials they needed when they walked into the room so there was no delay in them getting right to work.

Story time: There was one movie where we were doing the Post and that included making a trailer for some event, like a film convention or festival. The director of the film wanted a narrator who sounded like Gary Owens from Laugh-In. As I’m telling this now, that might not be exactly right. Anyway, he wanted someone who could imitate a well-known voice. I called an agent who represented several voice over artists and told them that our only requirement was someone who sounded like Gary Owens. I was assured that the VO artist they were sending over could do it.

Cut to the audio booth with the VO artist in there and come to find out they could not do a Gary Owens voice. Terrible! My fault, even though the agent had clearly lied to me and had set their VO guy up for a failure. The VO artist offered up some of the other celebrities he could impersonate and the director reluctantly chose one, but it was a bad situation for all of us. So, I guess the moral of that story is that agents lie.

How do you get this work and what does it lead to:

I got the job by getting hired on at a small post production company where I was just thrown into it. I actually worked for a month or so for no pay, to get experience, and was then hired full-time.

Funny story about how I even got the unpaid job. A friend of mine was dating a guy who randomly talked to someone. That someone had a friend with a post-production company. The friend’s boyfriend got me a lunch meeting with the guy with the friend and the guy with the friend got me an interview with the guy with the company. Convoluted! But it worked out and I got the job.

I wanted to be an editor, but in exchange for getting to learn how to use an AVID and editing and assistant editing a few things, I had to work a full week and the work available was as a PC. I got low pay, but training and experience.

The best thing to do if you want to be a PC is to find a PS who is looking for one and hope they like you. If they work, you’ll work. So even though working on movies is a short-term job, the right PS will have several movies booked at once, essentially making for steady, full-time (+) work with them and for them.

If you are interested in being a PS or a producer, this is a good foot-in-the-door kind of job. Or if you like to work on films and want to stay in a lower pressure position, this is a good job for that. You don’t have the same pressure to keep the schedule moving as the PS, and as long as you don’t make any big mistakes you will have the opportunity to continue working for the PS as long as they have work. Eventually you can work your way up the ladder to be a PS on your own and the skills a PS has are an excellent transition to being a producer. Obviously, I didn’t not pursue this avenue, but I saw it there.

What kind of person is this good for:

This is good for someone who isn’t shy about talking to strangers and negotiating deals. So, someone pretty much the opposite of me. Outgoing and energetic people.

If you can get really passionate about movies that you don’t have a big creative say in, you’ll do well here. I just couldn’t get on board

The downsides:

Shortly after I got the job at the PP company, I was informed I had to come in over the weekend to do something. Everyone had to work that weekend (all 5 of us), but pizza would be provided. I thought it was a joke.

The biggest downside for me was the long hours - on salary. Although my record for working a 33 hour shift with only short breaks to eat was technically while editing a trailer for Cannes, it was at this PP company. The hours were terrible and the work made me miserable. My boss had the habit of having nothing for me to do for an hour or two before it was time to leave for the day and then just as I was about to turn off my computer, he’d come in and throw something on my desk that needed to be done that night. It was extremely frustrating, because it was usually because of him being disorganized that he didn’t get the work to me sooner and that I’d be stuck at the office until 8 or 9 at night.

It just wasn’t a good fit for me, but if you like to work hard, are organized and like dealing with people all day, this could be a good fit for you.

The pay:

Unfortunately, I was paid on salary, so I didn’t get paid for overtime, and there was a lot of overtime. At the time I started, I got $300/week. This was in 1997, so adjusted for inflation that’s still only about $500/week. Minimum wage was $5/hour, so at $300/week I was over that, at $7.50. But I was taken advantage of. If I had been paid minimum wage, I would have earned more than $300/week with the amount of overtime I was expected to do. When a man started in the same position just a year or so later, he started at $350/week - because he was a man. Someone else came in with more experience as a PC and insisted on getting paid $750/week, which is decent pay and would now be around $1250/week. She was given that rate, so clearly the company could afford it.

But that’s just what happened to me. I worked almost entirely in independent films, which had much lower budgets than studio movies where hopefully the pay is better.

Like with so many things, it comes down to who you work for. I always discourage people from taking salary jobs, because it has never worked out for me. It is a way for the company to screw you over. But if they pay enough and you don’t mind working long hours, go for it.

If you get a job at a post-production company, it will be a regular full-time job. Otherwise, you’ll be more like a freelancer but going from one long-term assignment to another.

If you have any questions about what else I did as a post coordinator or what movies I’ve worked on, please feel free to ask them below. Don’t forget to subscribe so you can see all my videos, about all the different things.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Perfume Ranking - Fragonard's Garden


Here I rank the fragrances in Fragonard’s Garden line. And for those who don’t want to watch the video (although it helps me if you play through the whole video), here’s the list, in order:

1.     1.  Bigarade Jasmin

2.      2. Tilleul Cédrat

3.      3. Jasmin Perle de The

4.     4.  Grenade Pivoine

5.      5. Rose Lavande

5. (joint) Encens Fève Tonka

6. Héliotrope Gingembre

7. Rose Ambre

7. (joint) Santal Cardamome

I’m not sure if that’s how they should be numbered, with two ties in the ranking. It doesn’t match up with what I say in the video, either. Sorry.

Don’t forget to like this video and to subscribe to my channel. It may not seem like a very big thing to you, but it is the most important thing you can do to show support for people who create videos on YouTube.

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Friday, October 15, 2021

Hollywood 9 to 5 - Episode #7 Assistant Editor

 Here's the video:

Here's the script I wrote with what I thought I'd say:

Assistant Editor

Today I’m talking about editing video and film and not editing words, specifically being an Assistant Editor.

Job Description:

An assistant editor’s job might vary from project to project, but basically anything the editor doesn’t want to spend time doing, the assistant editor will have to do. Since I did this in the “olden days,” most of my knowledge has to do with working on film and not necessarily remaining all digital. The workflow on an all-digital show will likely be different.

On a movie, after the shoot day the “dailies,” the video or film transfer (version of the film on tape or digital format) of everything that was shot that day will be sent to the editing room. Depending on the schedule, this material could arrive late at night and it is usually expected that an assistant editor will be available to load everything into the computer and make sure that everything looks correct before the editor arrives at 9 am the next morning to start the first assembly of the film. Part of making sure that everything looks correct is making sure that the time code/footage numbers on the dailies are being correctly read by the editing computer.

The film editor will start working on the first assembly of the film the second day of the shoot, once the material from the first day is available in the editing room. During this first few weeks of production, while the movie is still being shot, the editor will work days and the assistant will work when the editor doesn’t - which means nights. There might be more than one assistant editor, depending on the needs of the production.

Once the shoot is over, the assistant editor should be able to transition to a better schedule of not just working nights. The duties of the assistant while the editor is working on the assembly could be significantly reduced. They might be asked to not come back until the editor has his first cut done or close to done, or they might be asked to hang around to just do whatever the editor tells them to do.

Some editors might ask the assistant to sort the digital film clips a certain way or to do some of the rough assembling of scenes so the editor can focus on making more nuanced choices.

Once the first cut is done, the assistant will be responsible for making sure that whoever needs to view the cut of the film is able to. This could mean setting up screenings in the editing room, making DVDs to send around to producers, or maybe nowadays setting up a secure on-line viewing experience.

The assistant might also be asked to provide materials to different actors who would like something for their reel. So an assistant might sit with the film and just pull out scenes that a specific actor appears in and then create a file or tape for that actor.

On projects which finish on film, there might be some special effects which will be created per the editor’s instructions and which the assistant will then need to replace in the cut of the movie on the editing system so that the effect film is referenced on the edit decision lists instead of the dailies numbers.

Once the final cut of a film is determined to be locked, the assistant editor really takes over and makes sure that all of the instructions for the negative cutter are correct. This could mean watching back a cut of the movie and verifying the in and out time of every shot on the edit decision list. It is tedious work and one mistake could end up costing a lot of time and money. Luckily, it is rare that the EDL will have a mistake, and if one does show up, it means something at the start was done incorrectly.

You might also be asked to sit in and make some changes to a cut if like the editor and director get into a fight. You’ll be a button pusher for the director while the director explores their ideas the editor refuses to entertain.

How do you get this work and what does it lead to:

I got this work by interning (working for no money) at a post-production company where I told them specifically I wanted to get into editing. I did a lot of different things at the company and they started paying me after about a month of working for free, but I was a little surprised to find out I was an assistant editor on a project. I was doing something for a particularly grumpy editor and asked to not work with him. That’s when I was told I didn’t have a choice but to work with him because I was actually his assistant editor on the project in question. I just had to deal with him.

If you know someone who is an editor, you can ask them if they’d be willing to let you assist them on a project. You should also get some editing software and work on building your skills on your own so if you see an ad which requires some basic understanding of editing software, you are able to apply knowing it isn’t a total bluff.

Some editors will also be encouraging of their assistants and let them edit segments on their projects, helping get them on their way to being an editor and not an assistant.

You should also consider working on some low or no-pay student films to get some experience.

What kind of person is this good for:

Night owls! If you don’t mind working long hours, alone, in the dark, then you’ll be prepared for the first part of the job of making sure the work is all loaded into the editing computer. You’ll need to organize the files also, so you’ll need to be organized. And when I was the assistant I also had to do a fair amount of tech support. If something malfunctions with the editing computer or software, the assistant gets to troubleshoot it and maybe spend hours on the phone with tech support instead of the editor doing it. Eventually I knew a lot about how to troubleshoot AVID problems and for the most part no longer needed to call tech support to solve the problems which would pop up.

You should also have an easygoing personality and not take it too personally when an editor is rude to you, because they will be rude to you. It’s easier to blame an assistant editor for a mistake than to accept responsibility.

The downsides:

You’re sort of down on the list of important people, so are likely to be treated poorly or overlooked, even if you have good ideas on what is or isn’t working in a particular scene.

The pay:

This can vary from literally nothing to really good. If you can get into the union and work on union jobs, you’ll be doing great. A quick internet search shows that the union salary for an assistant editor on a big studio movie is over $2000/week. And because it will be in the union, there will be protections that non-union projects won’t have as far as abusing your time.

If you can get yourself booked most of the year, you’ll earn a good living as an assistant editor. You’ll most likely be working project to project, so you might go for long stretches without work. But you could also get booked onto a project that lasts several years.

If you can get a job at a post-production company, like I did, it will be a regular full-time job. Otherwise, you’ll be a freelancer going from one long-term assignment to another.

If you have any questions about what else I did as an assistant editor or what movies I’ve worked on, please feel free to ask them below. Don’t forget to subscribe so you can see all my videos, about all the different things.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

October Book Report - The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal by Lilian Jackson Braun


Since I enjoy a good mystery, I decided to try out one of the “cat who” series books by Lilian Jackson Braun. I had no idea how to select a “good” book from the series, so I just picked one that had a good rating on Audible.

The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal was published in 1991, something I didn’t realize until just now. The first “cat who” book was published in 1966 and the one I read was the 12th in the series. There was a big gap between the first three novels and the next, from 1968 to 1986. For some reason, probably because I’ve spent so much time with Agatha Christie in the past two months, as I listened to this book I imagined it was set in a much more distant past than the 1990s. The setting of a small town helped with that illusion. I don’t recall there being any talk of computers or mobile phones. The internet wasn’t really a thing yet and mobile phones didn’t really become a regular thing until the late 1990s. As a result, it didn’t matter that I pictured the story being in “the past,” like anywhere between 1950 and 1970.

I don’t know what I expected of the titular cat, but I was a little disappointed in the cats and their involvement in the crime solving. I know cats can’t solve crime, but the little hype I had heard about these novels led me to believe the cats would be more integral.

Once again, I listened to this story and didn’t read it. It was read to me by George Guidall. I did not enjoy his narration. The lead character in the story, Qwill, is a man. The reading for the men in the story was fine. It was each time the narrator had to voice a woman that I would drop out of the story. He voiced all the women as snippy and short, and I can’t believe they would all have been written that way.

By this time in the continuing story of Qwill, he has two cats, not just one. The original cat Koko is still with him, but now has a companion Yum Yum. The story reminded me in many ways of Murder, She Wrote. It is set in a small town and the focus is just as much on the quirky cast of characters as it is on the murder which has taken place. Perhaps after reading several books I might be more invested in the characters, but with just one I didn’t find them all that likeable.

It isn’t even worth talking too much about the plot, which was fine but not compelling. I’m not saying to avoid the series, but this one wasn’t that great and certainly not the best introduction to the series. I don’t think all of the titles were available on Audible, which limited my options when picking which one to listen to. And some of the comments indicated that on the 2 for 1 offers on Audible the books were abridged versions, which I didn’t want.

Anyway, another one done and two more to go for my year of books!