Wednesday, 29 November 2017

The answer is 'NO'

'DONALDdonald' was fun to make. A new kind of project for Erkki and me. And I wanted to do more with Trump - he has left a trail of trash talk to work with. In black and white, he looks smarmier than ever. Most people I know think this most un-presidential president has turned the US upside-down: black is white, lies are truth, fake is real. I had the the bright idea to keep the graphics and put more Trump words in his mouth. Maybe make him get smaller each t until he finally disappears.

I called Camilla Karsh, our story editor. When I told her my idea, the answer was, 'Hmm, uh, mmmm...' Translation: It stinks. I called Erkki and gave him my pitch. He didn't hem and haw. Right off the bat he said, 'No Maggy'. But I said, 'Trump has said so much stupid stuff we could go on and on.' He said, 'Not a good reason.' I'm lucky. It pays to have people on your team who are not afraid to say 'NO'.

Hercule Poirot
For instance, someone should have said 'NO' to Jim Jarmusch when he pitched PATTERSON, a death-by-boredom movie about a poet-bus driver named Patterson, who lives and works in Patterson, New Jersey. The movie is divided into days of the week and every day is the same. I left on Thursday. 'Parrerson' tanked at the box office. Taking in just a little over 2 million dollars worldwide. I would have said 'NO' to Kenneth Branagh when he decided to re-make Agatha Christie's 'MURDER on the ORIENT EXPRESS'. 

And I would have been dead wrong. It's a hit. But I suspect Agatha Christie's eternal popularity and that beautiful train has a lot to do with its success.When Erkki and I first started working together he told me to 'kill your little darlings'. The term is such an old saw that it sounds trite. But it's true. Still, I hate letting go of 'DONALADdonald'.

Re: Erkki's comments last week: Not fair.I can't exaggerate or embellish without Erki pointing it out. What fun is that?

Next week: SOCIAL MEDIALAND: an evil empire?

David Suchet is Hercule Poirot. No-one else should even think about acting the role. 


- Eki

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

DONALDdonald: Trump talks

DONALDdonald (2017)
When I showed Erkki the ballpoint pen a pal in St. Louis, Mo sent me, he said, “Let's shoot it.” The pen has a red, white and blue stem and a PRESIDENT TRUMP'S head. The head talked in his own voice when you pressed it down. It said all sorts of silly stuff that people eat up. Including me. Erkki tied a long string around Trump's neck and strung it up between two poles in the studio and shot it. Trump looked terrific on screen. - smarmy, with pouty lips. Erkki recorded his dialogue. We made up a ditzy, obsessed fan - BETTY BOOB. BB's dumb dialogue matches Trump's. I did the voice-over. Erkki directed. He kept saying higher, higher, softer, breathier, sexier. We did it over and over. And then let the whole thing rest to do another project.

Sharon Pettus, the pen pal sender and I decided to go to Washington D.C. to check out the scene in the capital. We stayed at the Willard Hotel, the turn-of-the-20th-century icon, where the word lobbyists got its start. President Teddy Roosevelt hung out there. So did a lot of people who wanted to promote their company, their country, their cause, or just wanted to be where the power was. They made the lobby their meeting place hoping for a chance to make a pitch to the President. The new 'place-to-see-and-be-seen is the Trump International Hotel. We went there for a farewell drink. Wine is 27 dollars a glass, but worth it. Just to see all the BEs and WANNABEs waiting for President Trump to show up. His only go-to place in the capital.

Back in Helsinki Erkki took in all the footage from Washington. I asked Sharon for her ideas. She suggested Trump's head be in black and white. And the American flag turned upside-down, as a symbol of the topsy-turvy Trump administration. Erkki and I liked it. But the surreal made the real look banal. We dumped the Washington footage. And started all over. One minute on screen took about ten hours in the studio. And Erkki did the animation and other corrections later. The first person who saw it said, “What the fuck.” God bless America.

Maggy has a flair for good stories, and she has never let reality get in the way when telling them. The way i remember the session, Maggy had everything figured out pretty well before she came to the studio. So sure, i said "let's shoot it", but only after she asked me to. So, i can't take much credit for the idea, other than simplifying it quite a bit in the editing session - Humpty Trumpty on the wall (making a great fall) got tossed out, along many other ideas, all in the name of being concise.