Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Hilderbrandt brothers

When I worked in Italy I lived in a small town in Brianza, northern Italy and commuted everyday to Milan centre. It was at this time I took up reading and read loads. I considered all those books I wanted to read, some I didn't and some I felt I should. One of them I felt I should try, even though it looked fatter than the bible, was Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. A few friends had read it (this was before Jackson's trilogy) and highly recommended it, so I gave it a go. I couldn't put it down, and I never paid much attention to fantasy novels. Jackson dumped so many other stories in the books, the film really doesn't do it enough justice.

When I finished the books I searched for illustrative interpretations of Tolkein's imagination and found some wonderful paintings of memorable moments in the plot.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

'suffering in Paradise'

I worked three long days in a row this week. The first I went to Belgium and back in a day via Eurostar train, a long 18hr day. It was to interview the best banana expert in Europe. A Flemish professor who genetically modifies all sorts of bananas in various labs and green houses. He reckons the Cavendish type, the only distributed type that we all eat worldwide is at great risk of extinction, but he's going to save it! The gros michel was the only banana at the turn of the last century that everybody ate, and that became extinct midcentury. So they found the Cavendish to replace it.

The next day wasn't so long. Horsham, Surrey, I filmed some old musicians from the skiffle era, the music movement that preceded Blues and Rock'n'Roll. Having lunch at a round table the boys shared old stories of Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard et al. One of them was Bruce Welsh of the shadows who was once engaged to Olivia Newton John, apparently. One story was of a 'band' of fellas that went to a hotel after their gig, and were all offered a lady to sit with. One man said his offered partner (the other guys declined the offer because they knew it would be expensive!) was the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen, and said he loved her. They met often during his stay, but she said she would only charge for the first sitting since she felt the same way about him. Only at the end of the week when they were leaving did he realise his mistake when he saw his bill was ten times that of his colleagues!

Yesterday was a marathon run of interviews, amounting to a 15hr day. It was a very interesting day, all the interviewees were intellectuals commenting on food in one respect or another. I never knew that Ghengis Kahn's strength as an armada was that they had an incredible advantage that no other army had during the era. They survived because they depended on their horses for everything. On transport, on carrying the army, and on nutrition. They drank their milk, and they drank their blood. They would make a small cut at the jugular vein in the throat and drink from it immediately before it would coagulate. Then they would seal the cut quickly afterwards. This is how Kahn managed to conquer more than half of asia so rapidly.

It wouldn't be so tiring if my body still wasn't recovering from the first long day in Belguim. One of the contributors we interviewed yesterday said something that provoked me to write this entry in this blog. I think he's a university lecturer in Oxford, possibly in food history or sociology. Upon hearing that I had two young girls, and my comment that it isn't easy work especially when they're young he said, 'parenthood is like suffering in Paradise'.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Around the time I was studying my BTEC in Graphic Design, more than 12 years ago, I discovered a Japanese animated feature film called Akira. All of it was drawn on 70mm cells, it was absolutely astounding. The very first shot is a close up of a flashing neon shop sign in some back alley, and I thought it was real. It shortly turns into a motorbike chase that unless anyone can prove me wrong still remains unparalleled in the animation world regards to style, pace and illustrative skill. They race through the city leaving red light trails from the back of the bikes creating dynamic lines across the entire frame of most shots.
I'm not an avid follower of anime, and I have seen others that are very good, and I love the fact they've never fully embraced CGI, but I still haven't seen anything that comes close to Akira's skill.

When I found the complete works of comic magazines (where these images come from) the film was based on and discovered how the 2hr film was actually shortened from an even longer epic story, what most inspired me was the art, and I often tried to emulate it's style.

I often wonder now where would I be had I pursued my illustrative ambitions. I can't even find my best old works to be inspired from, I've lost them somewhere between moving houses, countries and 'lending' them to friends to look after. When I am confident at managing my time as a freelancer then I'll try to go back to it. Although after I've mastered my time I'll then have to master being a Dad. I guess I'll never get back to illustration then!

Here's the bike race, but it's been altered with some other foreign track over the top of it - appreciate it primarily for the vision, the soundtrack to the film is just as breath-taking.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


This evening after dinner I remembered that I'd forgotten to buy nappies, we'd only one left. Just before I ran out the house I spotted some saved coppers in a glass and remembered the 'coinstar' machine in Sainsbury's. It accepts all coins and gives you a receipt to exchange for cash when you're done. I finished at the checkout and queued up at the coinstar patiently (yes, there was a queue) frustrated because I wanted to shove 'em in and get back home quickly in case the girls were playing up. I put my coins in and the machine jammed immediately. Call store employee for assistance, it read. So I found somebody who said he had to get the keys to open the damn thing, and I waited another ten minutes. All for the sake of a cup full of coppers.
When the key man arrived, he said it was because the coins I was putting in were so old and grubby that it couldn't read the face of each coin, and upon not recognising them it jams. He told me to clean them and try again afterwards. I bought a bottle of Diet Coke to clean them, and had to queue for that aswell. By that point I'd been at the store for 30 minutes when I could have been in and out in under ten.

When I got home Rosario saw me pouring the coke into a pint glass of coppers, and as I told her my plight I realised the cost of the coke was probably the same as the glass of coins I was trying to clean. She laughed, and said that Diet Coke cleaning coins is a myth. I never was any good at business.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Hampstead Heath

Today we organised a get together for Rosario's birthday, a picnic at the park. Actually it was a child-friendly plan so we could spend it in the park that Juanita likes, plus it's surrounded by a large fence. It was nice to see old friends, especially Manuel. The refreshing thing was to let Juanita run around freely and never worry; she can't escape the park, and she can conquer every facet of the wooden train that all the kids climb over. In other words, no danger for her and no danger for us. Except for all the baby buggies she kept stealing from other children.
When we got back home I got a call from the Mexico guys, and they've gone and bought my flights for the next three jobs abroad for the FMX fighters. So that's it, confirmed. I'm going to Dublin, Madrid then Moscow. Brilliant. I'll have a few beers tonight.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


This photo pretty much sums up Rosario's regular activities outside the "drop-ins" she goes to in and around Camden; Regents Park. There behind them is a statue donated by Sir Cowasjee Jehangir Readymoney in 1869 from India as gratitude for the protection of the Parsees. Somebody must have nicked the name Readymoney because you can't read it there today.
Juanita always runs up and down it at least four times before Ro tells her 'this way' so that she follows her. I like this photo. Especially Juanita's tights. Film is so much nicer than digital, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

my showreel

For those of you that haven't seen my stuff, here's the showreel I'm throwing out there to promote me. It's already done me a few good favours.

My personal favourite is the scene from the cooking series about salt marsh lamb. I got the sound recordist to sit with the second camera in the back of the 4x4 to film Henry the sheperd whilst I went to the top of the bird watching tower to film from afar. If you look closely you can just about see the tower over Henry's shoulder as he's driving. The real star of that piece is Ben though.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


These days have been a little odd for me to get used to as a new freelancer. The oddest feeling is having so much time on my hands and overcoming having to feel guilty about it! I'm now spending a lot more time with my family, and it seems as if we were on holiday. It's lovely! I'm now getting to know Juanita a lot more, and I'm noticing a growing bond between us that I didn't have so much of before. When she hurts herself she comes running to me, when she knows she's got something in her mouth she shouldn't have she won't go to mamá, she says papá papá and spits it out in MY hand!

Today was Rosario's birthday, so we went to a new clothes store (along the peaceful little lane that is Oxford Street) where she bought en masse. Fighting through a crowd of moody female customers gunning for those frilly pink knickers was a bit taxing, primarily because you are trying to push a large buggy repetitively saying 'excuse me' when you should be excusing them. I prefer Ro to push it because when I do I'm ruthless, I run over people's feet and don't look back. Bit like my driving I suppose.

Later we went to the park and Juanis met her friend Oscar where they run after each other and scream running down the sand pit. It's all quite sweet. She's got such character, I'm so proud of her already. Ten years ago the father of a close friend of mine told me something very wise. He said in life you want to be better than everyone else in this rat race. Apart from your children. You want your children to be better than you.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Today was nice, we decided in typical Sanchez Martí fashion at 10am this morning to visit Whipsnade zoo. So we chucked everything together and drove up north near Luton. It was a nice day out, Juanita loved the animals and we even saw the elephants that had been taken away from London Zoo since one of them killed one of the workers! We were a little nervous when the family walked past us tail in trunk.
Juana saw her first real steam train too. We always make the sound of a train 'choo choo' but of course trains don't do that on Kings Cross concourse, so she was quite impressed by the iron machine and the smoke that bellowed from it's nose.