I’m on the plane heading back to the US, 12 hours into an 18 hour journey from Inverness to Los Angeles. It’s been a lot of driving over the two weeks, and I’ll be happy to get back and finally actually look at the many, many hours of footage we shot during our travels. Here’s a quick summary of where we went after the days chronicled in my first update.
On August 20th, Neil had an event at Ely Cathedral, a thousand year old building with some epic architecture. It was my favorite venue of the tour, and there was an enthusiastic crowd there. The event was five hours or so, but flew by very quickly for everyone involved. From a filming perspective, the venue was an embarrassment of riches, and we used a wide array of lenses and artistic framing to capture the proceedings.
From there it was off to Oxford for an event with Neil and Phillip Pullman. Due to guild regulations, we could not film the event, but we shot the signing after, and got some nice words from Phillip for Neil.
The next day was nuts. We went to a signing at 10 AM in Birmingham, which ran for 3 hours. jumped in the car and drove for six hours from Birmingham to Edinburgh, walked out of the car and right into filming a Neil talk with author Charles Fernyhough at the Edinburgh Book Festival. Jordan and I spent the next six days in Edinburgh, shooting a variety of events with Neil there.
On our downtime, I also caught an event with previous Respect Films doc subject, and one of my favorite creative people, Grant Morrison. The high point of the trip was the next day when we got a joint interview with Grant and Neil, chatting about breaking into comics together 25 years ago, and their ambition to change the world, ambitions that were in many ways realized. They’re both such amazing creative people, it was surreal to be able to see them talking to each other.
Other highlights at Edinburgh included Neil’s speaking event at the Fringe Festival Ad Lib event. Two comedians heckled him mercilessly, but still reveled in the fairytale qualities of Neil’s real life. The book festival was a great experience on the whole, very well organized, with exciting, packed events, and a lot of fun people to talk to. I’d highly recommend it for anyone in the area.
By this point in the time, I was feeling pretty drained. All the days of travel and life on the road build up. Jordan and I ate more premade sandwiches than any human being should, including some strange UK prawn related things.
But, we brought out a last burst of energy for the final events in Dundee and Inverness on the 28th. The Dundee signing was great because it featured a rare bird’s eye vantage point from which to shoot Neil’s interactions. We got a few cool time lapses, then headed up to Inverness for the final event of the tour.
There, Neil signed the last of the roughly 150,000 items he had signed over the course of three months, and then walked off into the night. It was no big celebration, no wild antics, just the relief that he could return to being a writer rather than a signer. I can’t imagine how draining it would have been to be going nonstop travel since June 13th, but Neil brought great energy to every fan interaction right to the end.
And now I have many, many hours of footage to scan through and start shaping this raw material into a film.