Recent work related experiences have had the effect of denting my self-confidence somewhat, with the “imposter syndrome” that invariably follows on from that, making me question my competence in a particular area and that has forced me to take a long hard look at my career to date and where I might be headed, work-wise.
So rather than dwell on past mistakes that are to be fair, learning experiences, I thought it might be timely to look back on some past successes, or at least experiences that resulted in something that I view as plus-points in the context of everything else.
2007 now seems a long way off in the past but it was around then following a series of connected events that I found myself in a recording studio at The British Library interviewing the author Neil Gaiman for a podcast to run in parallel with an exhibition of medieval Indian paintings from the princely state of Mewar in India that depict scenes from the Indian myth of the “Ramayana” – a tale of swashbuckling high adventure that also happens to be a lynchpin of Hinduism.
My connection with the event resulted from helping to promote a feature-length animated film on the myth coming from a not so obvious source, Japan, as an Indo-Japanese co-production from a decade or so earlier and I had secured a digital print for exhibition at the event to run alongside other audio visual content such as a screening of Nina Paley’s 2004 highly original take on the myth, “Sita Sings The Blues” which was screened during the riotous opening night party complete with a Bhangra band and dancers, forming a kind of post-modern, pop-y backdrop.
I have to admit that at the time although I was certainly aware of Neil Gaiman’s work, most notably for “The Sandman” graphic novel that he co-authored with Dave McKean, beyond that I knew very little more since I had never *actually* read any of his novels and other works. This resulted in some hasty swotting-up the night before of some DVD’s of his work as a script writer in Hollywood, such as “Beowulf” and the then recently released “Stardust”.
By coincidence a studio I was working at, at the same time, had made connections with his long-time collaborator, the graphic artist and film director Dave McKean, with a view to perhaps representing him as a director, so perhaps the stars were aligned in such a way as to precipitate the podcast and meeting Gaiman – one can only guess.
Gaiman was charming and highly knowledgeable about the “Ramayana” and before the podcast over a coffee and introductions produced a rather dog-eared copy of a Penguin translation that he had treasured during his university days and had read numerous times before circumstances led to being commissioned to write a draft treatment for a proposed animated feature film adaptation for Dreamworks Animation, and this forms the basis and rationale for the podcast.
You can listen to it below on SoundCloud and while doing so, kindly note that this was my first-ever podcast interview, which is my excuse for the halting and uncertain delivery on my part, even though I had prepared a detailed list of notes. Neil was, as ever, very gracious in answering all my questions.