The London Symphony Journals. #7.
What a year it’s been… Time seems to have flown by in the months since I last wrote, moving at a much faster pace than LONDON SYMPHONY could keep up with. In the world of low-budget filmmaking, progress can appear slow, even though people are working tirelessly to bring things to fruition.
At the end of my last entry, I mentioned that the film’s composer James McWiliam was working on the orchestration of his piano score. Once James had completed this full demo, he then set about making tweaks and refining the music — a process he has only recently finished. While this was happening, I worked with our colourist, Philipp Morozov, to complete the film’s grade (as well as being a colourist, Philipp is also a cinematographer and photographer, and he contributed to the filming of LONDON SYMPHONY. You can find out more about him at www.philippmorozov.com).
For those that don’t know, a grade involves — as Wikipedia succinctly puts it — “altering and enhancing the colour of a motion picture”. In theory, the process was a little simpler for us, given that the film is in black and white, meaning that we could focus on adjusting brightness, contrast and the levels of the black and the white within each image. In all, I wanted a relatively ‘soft’ look for the film: in simple terms, I wanted the whites to be white and the blacks to be black, without the highlights being blown or the shadows being crushed. I think, given the choice, Philipp would have upped the contrast a little and crushed the blacks, but I was keen to retain (or reveal) as much detail as we could in the shadow areas, while still making sure that they didn’t become grey and murky.
Once the grade was finished, I switched my attention to organising our release. My team and I decided fairly early on that we would try and arrange the UK theatrical release ourselves. I began by contacting locations that feature in the film, as the fact that we had filmed in these locations meant that we already knew who to speak to, and that they were already engaged with our project. We then collated a list of independently programmed cinemas, art centres, community cinemas and film societies, before approaching them directly to see if they might be interested in programming the film.
At present, many venues are still in the process of considering our proposal (once again, we seem to be caught in a slow-moving process), but things are starting to come together, and we were recently able to announce that LONDON SYMPHONY will receive a boutique theatrical release in the UK on September 3rd, when it will commence on a tour around a number of interesting venues.
All of the venues have been carefully selected — some appear in the film, some have a connection to the history of cinema, and some reflect the community spirit of our project. Where the London leg of the tour is concerned, we hope to maintain the spirit of the film and hold screenings scattered throughout the city, and not just clustered within the centre of town.
To launch the tour, we will be holding a very special event at the Barbican Centre, where the film will be presented with live musical accompaniment courtesy of the OSP (the Orchestra of St Paul’s) and their conductor Ben Palmer (www.orchestraofstpauls.org). The screening will also be followed by a panel discussion featuring Ben, James, myself and London history specialist Mark Rowland, chairman of Footprints of London (footprintsoflondon.com). Tickets for this event are already on sale, and can be booked here: https://www.barbican.org.uk/film/event-detail.asp?ID=21462.
We will be announcing full details of our tour later this summer, but tickets are also already on sale for another screening, which will take place at the Cinema Museum in Kennington, on Sep 29th. The Cinema Museum features in LONDON SYMPHONY, and is based in the former workhouse where a young Charlie Chaplin lived when his mother faced destitution. It houses a unique collection of artefacts, memorabilia and equipment that preserves the history and grandeur of cinema from the 1890s to the present day — so the venue is a real treat within itself. The screening will be followed by a Q&A, and tickets are available here: http://www.cinemamuseum.org.uk/2017/screening-of-london-symphony/.
We are still approaching venues, especially outside London, so if you would like to help us organise a screening, or would like to recommend a venue to us, then please do get in touch with me (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
In addition to our UK release, I’m absolutely delighted to say that LONDON SYMPHONY will be having an international release — and even more thrilled to be able to say that this will be happening through Flicker Alley (www.flickeralley.com). I’ve long been an admirer and a collector of their discs, and I’m very honoured that LONDON SYMPHONY has been chosen to join their collection. Once more, full details will be announced later this summer.
So, as you can see, although making the film has been a long, slow process things are, finally, starting to come together — which is very encouraging as we head into the final stages of completing the film.
As ever, I’ll try and write another update for this journal soon, but for more regular updates you can still join the official London Symphony community here: http://www.londonsymphfilm.com/donate.htm.