Director’s Diary

Week 1: Ian Strachan’s Diary, July 17, 2011

In the merciless sun (“93 but feels like 100” said the forecast) we completed the final shots for the first weekend of shooting for Gippie’s Kingdom.  I’ve learned a lot. I mean a lot. First, I’ve learned that the Director of Photography and my partner in this whole enterprise, Travon Patton is a dedicated, self-sacrificing, disciplined, tireless worker who never complains and never loses his cool.

Second, I’ve learned that Ian Strachan is a nervous wreck.  He’s a miserable whiner who always sees the worst in situations and people and who cries like a baby when things don’t go his way (what an AH!).  I’m never working with him again! 

Third, I’ve learned that if you plan to abandon your wife for three days and leave her to mind your 6, 4 and 2 year old sons while you go making an historic tv series from 5am to 10pm each day, you might want to let her know beforehand and get her some gift certificates to her favourite stores, just so you can sleep safely. 

This weekend was hard.  I can’t lie. Harder than I expected.   But we did it.  We did it.  The good news is we move inside from here on in.  AC and comfie chairs.  No cars to dodge.  No cops to reassure.  No curious onlookers.  And most of all, no 93 degree sun cooking your flesh like a snapper in a frying pan.  But hey, let’s be thankful, it could have rained all weekend.  And then where’d we be? I’ll tell you where I’d be: depressed.

There are so many notable and inspiring moments from this weekend.  Travon’s will to get things right despite the harsh conditions is first and foremost.  Thomas Robinson and Tony McCartney’s enthusiasm and positive attitudes were contagious.  “The Evan Gang,” Jackson, Tenarge, Stevaughn, showed a whole lot of patience throughout their two days.  They did a lot of waiting around.  A lot.  But when we said “Action!” they brought the energy and attitude necessary for each scene.  Real positive attitudes and lots of laughs.  I can still see Tenarge leaping out the bus window like a leopard.  I am a huge fan of that crew (Steven and Tennessee too!).

Toni Francis was a life saver.  She bailed me out quite a bit and did it with grace and class.  A real rock.  Gotta thank Erin for steppin in and playing our reporter on zero notice as well.  (NB 12 needs you, mangra skin gal!)  And of course Veronica was on point.  She’s a great Everena!

Goze, Matthew and Sophie did what I expect of Goze, Matthew and Sophie. They came through and acted their boongie’s off.  Great job as usual.  I’m telling you, people, we are going to blow the Bahamas away with this show. There’s never been anything like it.

Kenard, good job.  Darion, well done.  Chiquita, even though they beat you down, you still my girl.  And Tonya, we appreciate the sacrifice you made.

But the award for the actor of the week has to go to Leano.  Dude broke his ankle Sunday night and was back on Monday to shoot his scenes.  I said he BROKE his ankle!  But he didn’t let the GK family down.  He played through the pain.  That kind of commitment and passion is rare.  I saw this guy wheeling himself around in the wheelchair and toting equipment for us in his lap!

The community of Bozine Town was gracious to us and I really appreciate that.  We didn’t tell anybody we were coming but they didn’t get all ornery with us.  Sometimes we made them wait in their cars.  We even had to borrow some electricity.  But it was all good. 

If I left anyone out, I do apologize.  I was happy with all the performances.  The footage looks great, you can just tell from the still shots we’ve posted.  Shooting starts again Thursday night.  A lot of you who worked this weekend will have next weekend off, so rest up.  My back hurts, I need some Aleve.

Week 2: Ian Strachan’s Diary, July 18, 2011

So, I have serious concerns about whether or not Travon Patton actually eats three meals a day.  This dude lives the life of a hermit up on that hill, working day and night.  It’s peaceful up there to be sure so I see why he likes that place.  You feel high up and far away from all the crap.  All the hate, all the frustration, all the despair and the stupidity.

So, Week 2 was supposed to be easier but it don’t feel dat way.  It was just a different kind of hard.  The actor of the week is definitely Fanchon Dawkins who shot something like 8 scenes in a row on Saturday. She would pleasantly just go to her car, pull out a new outfit, head to the bathroom and emerge as another version of Monique.  And she brought energy to her performances the entire evening. And I don’t think she had any of those scenes memorized beforehand. Awesome work.

In fact, everyone on Saturday was great.  I told yall my sister was crazy, right?? 

Although we are at about the midway point, we actually shot the climax of the series last week.  Feels kind of weird but it is what it is.  We shoot where we can when we can.  I believe that in two weekends we’ll be virtually done.  I’m sorry but looking ahead helps me survive the present.  I’m thinking Monday August 1st will be our last day of shooting.  If not, definitely Sunday August 7. We’ll see. 

I keep telling myself, “Don’t over-react to setbacks.  Don’t be needlessly emotional when adversity hits.  Look at the bright side. Maintain a positive attitude.  Adapt.  Make changes.  Shoot what you can when you can.  Take what you can get and get in where you fit in.” Bla bla bla.  Sometimes it works.  Other times I feel sorry for myself or ask myself “Why the hell am I doing this?”

Still, the talent and the dedication you guys display inspires me.  Makes me feel very grateful and very proud.  When I see the photos posted it feels real. We are REALLY making a tv show.  When I see Ken’s photos and graphics I’m like, “My Lord, we have a winner!  How can you not get excited when you see this design?”

Good to see Leano walkin round like nuttin happen.  Good to see Gernico finally get into the action. Tough week ahead.  Need EVERYBODY in the church scene which will probably be about 3pm on Sunday.  Don’t know which church yet.

Week 3: Ian Strachan’s Diary, July 25, 2011

If there’s one thing I should have learned by now about the performing arts, it’s that something will always go wrong.  Always.  Not everything, mind you, but something.  It’s like the time I was in Barbados with the cast of “Diary of Souls” and we discovered on the day of the show (or was it the day before?) that there were no lights in the theatre space we were scheduled to use.  And no one had arranged for there to be rented lights.  I had to simply say to myself, “Yes, I recognize this.  This is how it goes. But eventually, right in the nick of time, in fact, lights will be found and all will go well.”  And it did.

This GK weekend was no exception.  Some things didn’t go as planned. And I don’t mean the rain either.  How can you be upset about that?  But although there were some unexpected and disappointing setbacks we made the most of what was available to us and made some memories.  Good memories.

I love the attitude and spirit of this cast.  They are genuinely excited about what we’re doing.  And thankfully, our low budget (or should I say no budget) didn’t bite us in the behind.  What do I mean? 

Well, we didn’t’ have the power or resources to stop traffic on East Street, so we had to endure lookers on, and horn-honkers on too.  One of my favourite moments: one lady shouted “Slap him!  Slap him! . . . Or Kiss him” to Sophie as she stood on the porch doing her Willamae routine. 

Another was when somebody and their child blocked traffic and refused to move, despite our gesturing.  The child in the car kept shouting “Uncle Goze!” And they didn’t move on until Goze turned, waved and said “Hey.”  Show business Bahamas style.

But despite the noise, shouts and car horns, the sound for the scenes is pretty good and the traffic noise is not distracting. Why?  My cheap $45 dollar boom mic is too weak to pick up all the crap that was going on. Sweeeet. (Well $90 when you add the duty).

The actors of the week: Arthur Maycock, who finally got a chance to perform after weeks of waiting.  Everett Jr. ain’t gat much to say this season but Arthur made it count. And props to my cousin Julian Reid, who preached his first sermon and looked like he’d done it all before.  And then there’s Phillipa Moss, who had us all going wow with her Bahama colored Laydeedra, replete with the belly button poking out.  Either you want it or ya don’t, chile.

So here we are. One week from wrapping up shooting.  Amazing.  What a ride it’s been.  I am very grateful to all the actors.  I do believe we are creating something very special with this. Something we’ll all be proud of for the rest of our lives.

Week 4: Ian Strachan’s Diary, August 2, 2011

Thanks thanks thanks to all of you who helped us during this month of shooting.  To the gifted actors, to the folks who let us use their homes, their businesses, etc., and to the people who worked behind the scenes, helping folks with lines, working the equipment, doing make-up: thanks.  It was a real team effort.  

And now we have ended a major phase of this project.  We have completed almost all the filming! We have a few small odds and ends still outstanding  but for the most part we’re done.  We won’t be meeting as a group to shoot scenes back to back to back anymore.  (Huge sigh of relief).

I’m really tired yall.  I know alot of you are sorry to see the shooting end but I have to say I’m glad it’s over.  The project has taken over my life and I’d like to have it back.  School starts soon and I need to get it together.  Besides, as I told Travon, we’re still only 50% of the way.  We need to edit, and market “Gippie’s Kingdom” next.  After that’s done, then maybe we can really have a party.

My actors of the week: Chigoze, whose monologue in the hospital room was first class (you could hear a pin drop); Shirley: whose Mama Tilda is bound to be a national favourite and the Zo Pound crew (Jackson, Stevaughn and Tanarge), who had such great chemistry and made it look not like acting but like living.

Special thanks to Toni Francis, Erin Knowles and Valicia Rolle, Ken the man and the whole FAM Studios crew.  Thanks to Matthew Wildgoose, who kept everybody laughing.

See you all this Wednesday at 6pm at the Studio for our video recording and photo session.  If you haven’t taken photos in character (Philly, Fanchon, Arthur, Valicia, Matthew) you’ll need to come in costume and then change into yourself.  Everybody else, just dress nicely and come and be interviewed.

Das it.

Week 5: Ian Strachan’s Diary, August 8, 2011

It was good to see you guys again.  I just want to say Thank You! You made a dream come true.   I am really humbled by this process. I ask you to be patient with us.  

The process of editing and scoring the show will be long and arduous.  We will share what we can with you when we can.  Most of all, I want to get our official website up and running.  Time to spread the word.  The new website will be the gateway during this next phase.  

Thanks for all the Season Two suggestions as well.  It was definitely a start.  (Everena is definitely NOT having sex with Jason in Kayron’s car, by the way).  Need to pick up the threads where this season’s stories end and see where they go, but I also need to add new characters, new stories, new adventures.

So, just so you know, these are our next steps: 1) edit and score series, 2) build website, 3) approach sponsors and television stations locally, 4) approach stations regionally and further afield, 5) have an official press conference 6) begin releasing trailers 7) cut the grass . . . ooops, wrong list 8] plan our premiere/big bashment/celebration 9) WRITE SEASON TWO . . .  WHO-HOOO!  

Anybody know where we can get a dread lock wig for Dr. Rahming?