Categories
Online Writing

ReelScotland one of The List’s Best Scottish Websites

ReelScotland comes 10th in top Scottish websites list
ReelScotland comes 10th in top Scottish websites list

I received some fantastic news tonight via the medium of Twitter: my film website, ReelScotland, has been placed at number 10 in The List magazine’s round-up of Scotland’s Best Websites.

According to the magazine, “ReelScotland gives the kind of dedicated independent view on Scotland’s film and TV industry that was surprisingly lacking when the site launched last year”.

The idea for the site stretches back to the end of the 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival, in the city’s Filmhouse bar, when various thoughts and theories about the state of film journalism in Scotland finally coalesced in my mind. Though there was a lot going on in the country in the area of film production and exhibition, it wasn’t easy to find information about it all in one place.

While I didn’t ever think I could cover everything, and I was already writing about film each week in the Edinburgh Evening News, I wanted to at least feature some of the lesser discussed areas, such as the work of new filmmakers, smaller festivals running in rural parts of the country and news about how Scotland’s talent is reaching out to the rest of the world. Most importantly, I didn’t want it to be parochial.

After a soft launch in March 2010, with some fine contributions from two other local film fans and writers, Ross Maclean and Richard Bodsworth, ReelScotland was born, with the intention of featuring some of the best film-related content in the country.

With plans for a redesign and some new features, plus an increase in the use of video and audio, it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next 12 months.

Right, that’s enough self-congratulating for one night, now I’ve got to go and have a closer look at the other 29 on the list…

Categories
Facebook Online Twitter Writing

Developing Screen Machine’s online presence

Screen Machine in a Highland scene
Screen Machine in a Highland scene

Along with my work for Park Circus which I mentioned last week, I’m also working on a major multi-website project for the national leader for Scotland’s arts, screen and creative industries, Creative Scotland. One strand of this sees me heavily involved in developing the online presence of Scotland’s only mobile cinema, Screen Machine.

Screen Machine is an 80-seat digital cinema which has been taking the latest films to remote and rural areas of Scotland since the 1990s. In my role of Web Producer, I’m tasked with managing the development of the main website and associated social media, including a fast growing Facebook page and a popular Twitter feed.

I’m also effectively looking after the press office for the cinema, with a series of press releases written and distributed to Scottish media over the last few weeks tying into the social media work.

The first major release centred on the arrival at the Screen Machine of a Grey African Parrot and its owner at a screening in Brodick on the Isle of Arran. I became aware of the story via a post on the Facebook page and followed it up with a press release, which was picked up by STV’s Entertainment website, in turn spawning a Twitter hashtag, #aparrotinacinema, which asked people to suggest bird-themed movie titles and which propagated the story around the web.

A hashtag frenzy on Twitter
A hashtag frenzy on Twitter

The last fortnight has seen the cinema pushed even further around the web thanks to a visit to Bettyhill, a village on the north coast of Scotland, which the cinema last visited almost a decade ago, just before a cinema opened in Thurso (which has now closed). News of the trip was picked up by BBC Online, The Northern Times and The John O’Groat Journal.

Screen Machine on BBC News Online
Screen Machine on BBC News Online

BBC Radio Scotland’s Movie Cafe also featured the story and I was interviewed by Inverness-based radio station, Moray Firth Radio, both of whom have loyal audiences around Scotland.

At a time when we’re constantly told how important online is for getting the message out to customers, it’s important to remember that old-fashioned print media still has a major place in the lives of readers, particularly in remote communities.

Getting this story into The Northern Times could mean that we’ve reached more people in Sutherland than a tweet or a Facebook update and, although I’ll be doing a lot of work to build our online presence, I’ll also be ensuring we keep Scotland’s print media and radio stations well informed of Screen Machine’s progress for the forseeable future.

Categories
Film Online Writing

Classic film blogging for Park Circus

Park Circus blog
Park Circus blog

I don’t think I’ve mentioned my work for classic movie distributor, Park Circus, here on the blog before, probably because I’ve been too busy actually working on the project to discuss it.

Based in Glasgow, Park Circus represent the back catalogue of film distributors such as Walt Disney and MGM, ensuring they’re seen in cinemas around the globe every day of the week. At present they have around 12,000 titles on their books, and at any time dozens of those are being shown from the UK to Australia via the USA, Sweden and dozens of other countries.

For the last few months my role has been to commission and coordinate the publication of numerous blog posts which discuss some of those 12,000 films, usually focusing on titles which are being re-released in the UK and around the world. In the last few months we’ve had The African Queen, Taxi Driver, The Last Picture Show and a number of classic DVDs.

Content has included Q&A’s with those restoring the films, a blog post from silent film pianist Neil Brand on a Douglas Fairbanks DVD, a feature on cult movies and a weekly round-up of some of the most interesting screenings taking place.

With far less new content to promote than those discussing 3D blockbusters, it’s a challenge to make these films relevant to modern audiences, but a resurgence of interest in classic cinema and the increase of digital projection making it easier to get these films out to cinemas helps. Add to the mix some promotion on Twitter and Facebook and you’ve got a fantastic project to work on.

Currently I’m working on a Film Noir Blogathon to tie into the July 22 re-release of 1946’s Gilda, starring Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth, and after launching it last week we had some fantastic coverage from other film blogs around the world, including Cinemart and FilmsNoir.net.

All this ties into my personal love of classic cinema, which I try to cover on my Edinburgh Evening News blog regularly and which I savoured on my recent trip to the TCM Classic Film Festival.

Categories
Film Interview

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2011 round-up

Col Needham at the Edinburgh International Film Festival
Col Needham at the Edinburgh International Film Festival

It may have finished a week ago, but the memory of this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) still lingers around these parts.

That mainly has something do to with the fact that my most recent Edinburgh Evening News column was published in Thursday’s paper but took another 24 hours to make it online, so my thoughts, for what their worth, seem to be some of the last to be published on the EIFF.

Although it’s been a tough few years for the Festival, I think they had been on the right track and that scrapping everything for 2011 was a very bad move. I think there’s a chance that 2012 could see things revert to normal, hopefully with some fresh new ideas from an experienced Artistic Director, but if the current regime stick with this year’s vision then I suspect any goodwill will vanish from distributors, critics and anyone buying tickets.

On a happier note, part of my EIFF interview with IMDB CEO, Col Needham, is now online. I don’t actually say anything in this five minute excerpt, but did manage to get a few questions in there over the 90 minute chat. Click on the image below to take you through to the video: