…which was actually Day One of Workshops dawned bright and early. By early I mean 3am and by bright I meant white light glaring into your room, shaking you by the shoulder, confusing you whatthehellisthefuckingtime early.
We all met at the lobby of the hotel to walk together to the workshop venue. This was the Old Boardroom and the Anteroom at the Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), the main building, on Lauriston place (Street?). The cold. Oh the cold. We all huddled into our warm clothes and wondered again what exactly the UK means by summer. But hey, they are some brave people walking around in bum-shorts and tank tops. Not us.
I still didn’t know what to expect, I mean what ‘workshop’ meant in this context. I had asked C.J on the plane ‘so what’ll we be doing at the workshop do you know?’ And he replied with a sharp ‘oh you are only just thinking about that?’ So I crawled back into my shell to await events unfold.
Emily…or was it Wendy now, addressed us. I think they both did; told us where to get water, coffee/tea, restroom (of prime importance to me since for some strange reason I pee a whole lot(no I do not have diabetes even though some doctor had me do blood sugar tests for about a year without telling me I wasn’t supposed to have eaten and I was on the verge of beginning diabetic pills (just as I was on the verge of having surgery for glaucoma when it was only my prescription for my glasses that was wrong and splitting my head in half)) and yes, I just did a bracket within a bracket.
So yes, we were told what to expect in line with workshops (fuck you C.J), first by Wendy and a few words by Lorianne, whose main interest is the marketability of our projects, I mean it’s great to make a deep, brilliant film but wouldn’t it be nice if people went out and paid money to watch it haha.
Then Rob Ritchie Screenwriter, former head of the screenwriting dept. at the UK’sNational Film and Television school, and a host of other things… (I should create a separate document for biographies so I can list all the achievements and projects of these wonderful people) who’s the course leader had a few words for us further on what we’d be doing (fuck you C.J), and it quickly became clear that Rob would look very serious right now and then say the funniest (and yes dirtiest) thing in the very next instant with a wicked gleam. I think this made us all relax. Well, he invited us to pitch our stories, using a strange method only he seemed to understand, some lottery draw type thing and in that way we knew who came first and second and so on. All I can tell you is, I am glad I didn’t come first. Because you see, I picked up a logline from my computer, wrote a synopsis to enter for the British council competition and promptly forgot about it. But last night, Rob had kinda told us we’d be pitching our work, so I hurriedly fished it out from where it was gathering mould in my computer, dusted it up, smiled Ah Pearl girl, not half bad but you don’t know what the fuck you want to do with this, and declared myself ready to pitch a non-story. Anyway, Rob encouraged us to be honest about what stage our project was in- almost finished or hey, I just thought of it last night. So the first guy went and then it was my turn. And I smiled a lot and said a lot of nonsense. Which is why I am here, can’t speak for the others, but to throw my nonsense out there and have it beaten into shape.
We took a tea break and wandered around a bit, taking pictures and admiring (naked?) statues. And I tried to apologize to Matthew (whom I’d confidently addressed as Michael a few hours before, no end to my goofing it would seem) about the slur on his country. Turns out he didn’t even notice I’d done the thing that had been eating me up. Sigh. I am probably oversensitive. Anyway, we kissed and made up. Sorta. How do you sorta kiss. When it’s an expression haha.
Then back to pitches. The way this works, we pitch our story, everyone asks questions, makes comments, helps to clarify or be clarified, make suggestions, contribute in any way they can to any aspects of the project. But we were just hearing each other’s projects for the first time so it wasn’t really in-depth yet. The beautiful thing about this is as you talk about your project, the better you know it, which I think is the main point of this workshop. Kind of like teaching someone something you barely know and learning from teaching them. The more you talk about your story, as you listen to yourself and perhaps cringe or glow depending on what you are hearing, as you answer the questions thrown at you, you see the strengths, the weaknesses and what needs doing. Oh and feel free to say I have no fucking idea how this plays out. Lots of ideas here, like instead of this, why doesn’t this happen, and no, I can’t quite see this, do you feel very strongly about this, what are you trying to say with your story etc etc etc Talk, talk, talk. Brilliant.
We broke for lunch and what a let-down. Oops, did I just say that? I mean, I wasn’t expecting eba and okra or rice or stew but damn BREAD IS NOT FOOD, not for us growing African children it isn’t whatever you stuff it with. My eyes widened as I took in the bread with prawns, bread with cheese, bread with lettuce, bread with hummus and more bread and my brain asked me is this it? Lunch Hunh? I made a mental note to try and get down early and eat breakfast. I’d skipped breakfast. I usually do but I didn’t think that would work out very well here if lunch was bread. Oh and the prawns were raw-ish. When asked ‘so do you eat prawns in Nigeria’ I said with gravity WE DO BUT WE COOK IT PROPERLY and it was then as everyone collapsed with laughter I realized how upset I was about the raw prawns I’d mistakenly bitten into (and yes swallowed and kept it down).
After Lunch, the writer of the closing film of the festival Scot Graham came to talk to us about his movie Iona, his work, his creative process and whatever else we wanted him to tell us. He started out shy-ish, not really meeting anyone’s eyes which is saying a lot in a round-table gathering but I think when he saw we didn’t bite and were truly admiring, he relaxed and it went well. I don’t remember specifics – was still thinking about that bread. And the prawns.
We closed for the day at 5pm and returned to the hotel to drop our stuff, and then we reconvened to go to dinner at Zucca, an Italian restaurant. Oh dinner was great and I forgave lunch anything. Lots of recognizable stuff, pastas, soups/sauces, mashed potato which I had and so on. And many drinks. From there, we proceeded to the reception that had been arranged for us to meet other British council delegates/guests at the metro bar of the Apex hotel. It was nice. I got to be regaled by the amusing Welshman Jon (Lorianne boyfriend?) who titillated me with a deep Scottish burr. And talk with Isabel Mendes of the British council in Edinburgh. She told us plenty about Cape Verde but for some reason imagined we would laugh at the small population of her country 500,000 (we did) and the fact that there were many more women than men. Emile I think it was solemnly promised to arrange an infusion of Nigerian men into her country and she thanked him gravely. *rolling*. I promised to visit her in September but quickly withdrew my promise when Kenneth informed me that it’s cheaper to travel to the UK by far than to Cape Verde. What an outrage. Well, Isabel was miffed and immediately decided I was not such a good friend after all. You see how we were all being silly? If you accuse us of having been somewhat drunk, we wouldn’t bend over backward denying it.
And off we went into the sunset, and indeed, the sun was just deciding to set at about 11pm.
See you tomorrow.