Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Our Dinner With Stephen

Jim and his family just Netflixed The Queen and enjoyed it. It was directed by Stephen Frears, the man in the photograph, and when Jim saw his credit he said, "I know that guy!" And since I have been writing about voice over talent, Jim encouraged me to write about our dinner with Stephen Frears.

Those of you who have been kind enough to click on the links at the right of this page might have visited the Rainbow Soup site. Rainbow Soup is a children's television program we created about art and world culture. As part of that show we created an animated character (and if I was more clever I could probably figure out a way to get his image on here too, but no one ever accused me of being clever-Jim help!) called Lil' Will. Will is based on Shakespeare and lives in The Globe Theater. He appears and throws his magic quill (cleverly called Quill) at a spinning globe. Where it lands is where the program goes next. Brilliant, right?

So with the help of a few of my former students we created 37 seconds of cel animation. This took 6 months or more, from character sketches, through pencil tests and finally painted cells. While that was in the works we started looking for a voice over man, and long story short, Stephen Frears agreed to do it.

An aside to all people who wish to do anything that seems impossible. Just have a good idea, work hard and ask for help. You will be surprised how willing to help people can be. In the case of Rainbow Soup Stephen, Studs Terkel, Peter Gabriel and the Art Institute of Chicago gave up their time to help us. My entire career is based on asking strangers for favors.

Cut to a few months later and there we are at De Lane Lea studios in London recording Stephen Frears. He knocks off the copy in about 5 takes- though he was bothered by the fact that it isn't in perfect iambic pentameter. He sat for an interview telling us about his career path and we shared a pint. At the end of the session we asked if he wanted to join us for dinner, he said sure and suggested a Chinese restaurant in the Notting Hill section of London.

Evidently it is his local joint because he was well known when he entered. We had a lovely time. He was between films at the time so he was advising students at a London-area film school. When the check came he excused himself saying his wife had a big day tomorrow and left. (Did Stephen Frears walk the check on us?)

No, it was our pleasure. If you haven't seen The Queen, see it as well as these other Stephen Frears directed films.
Dirty Pretty Things
Mrs. Henderson Presents
The Grifters
Dangerous Liasons
Prick Up Your Ears
My Beautiful Launderette

I want to see a BBC film he directed, written by Peter Morgan who wrote The Queen called The Deal. If anyone has seen it please let me know.


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