Categories
Broadcasting Film Online

Vlogging from the Glasgow Film Festival

For the next ten days I’ll be making my way back and forth to Glasgow to cover the 2011 Glasgow Film Festival as their official vlogger.

For anyone a bit unsure of that terminology, vlogger is short for “video blogger”, or “bloke with handy pocket camera roaming the corridors of the Glasgow Film Theatre and Cineworld in search of good video content” – vlogger is just a bit easier to say.

The brief here is to keep things short and sweet, with the more complex filming being handled by a veritable army of camerapeople between 17 and 27 February. This way the Festival can get something online quickly and with little fuss.

My first video is now online and features comics creator, Mark Millar, and GFF Co-director, Allan Hunter, in discussion about what people can expect from the event.

You can see the rest of my videos over on the Glasgow Film Festival YouTube channel.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBFEGJJWKTQ]

Categories
Broadcasting Online TV Writing

Bringing Charles Endell, Esquire back

Charles Endell

I wrote on this blog, about a month ago, about a project I’ve been working on with Scottish broadcaster STV to bring their television archive to a new audience on YouTube. The last fortnight has seen my first major piece of work come to fruition with the release of 1979’s Charles Endell, Esquire.

Now a footnote in TV history, there’s very little information out there about the creation of the programme or the reasons for its demise, something I wanted to remedy when I joined the team at STV. We knew that the series had only lasted six episodes, but it wasn’t clear whether all episodes were actually screened on UK television – a 1979 ITV union strike took Endell off the air after only two episodes had aired and rumours suggested they remaining four had never been transmitted.

In 1979, Endell was something of a prestige programme for STV, winning a Saturday night slot and a TV Times front cover, so we wanted to treat it with the respect it deserved. I began looking around for members of the cast and crew who might be willing to discuss it, using online discussion forums, Spotlight and personal contacts for information.

In the end I managed to track down series creator, Robert Banks Stewart, actors Tony Osoba and Rohan McCullough and director David Andrews. As Andrews lived locally to the STV studios, we invited him in to be filmed for an hour or so, and he kindly gave us enough material for three new videos, the first of which is now online:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcDTozIw-F0]

We also decided to create some other new videos to promote the series, with a one minute trailer added to YouTube in October, and a longer compilation, The Wit and Wisdom of Charles Endell, Esquire, joining it shortly after (if you think these are good, you should hear some of the stuff I had to leave out):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2bPJMlpAyY&feature=channel]

Using material gathered from the interviews and other sources, I’ve written a pretty comprehensive overview of the series for the STV website, which touches on the rise and fall of Endell, and, with help from fellow blogger Frank Collins, we’ve also added coverage from the TV Times from 1979.

In fact, Frank has been a huge help in the promotion of the series, not only supplying some details hidden away in old copies of the TV Times, but agreeing to write a comprehensive review of the series for his excellent site, Cathode Ray Tube. Knowing that it’s not enough to simply add six episodes of a series to YouTube and hope for the best, by approaching Frank I hoped he’d be able to add some perspective to the show, the only stipulation being that he didn’t feel pressurised into writing a positive review – he was free to say what he wanted.

Another blogger who accepted the challenge to write something new about an ageing series was Walter Dunlop (who also provided some archive clippings from The Times), owner of the superb Lady Don’t Fall Backwards, while writer and one-time podcaster, William Gallagher, kindly alluded to the release of the series on his now ex-podcast, UK DVD Review. We’ve also been engaging with TV fans on forums such as The Mausoleum Club and Roobarb’s Forum, where we’re getting some great suggestions for other series which could be released from the vaults.

Finally, we were also lucky to have some interest from a Scottish newspaper, The Sunday Mail, journalist Maggie Barry coming into the STV offices a few weeks ago to find out more about this obscure series, before writing about it in last Sunday’s paper.

As of today, we’ve had just over 4,500 views of Endell-related video content, 1,177 for the first episode alone, which went online one week ago today: not bad for a programme forgotten about by most.

It’s been a challenging and exciting few months: being involved in editing videos, interviewing cast and crew, writing the articles and promoting the series has been hugely rewarding. Speaking to Tony Osoba recently, he noted how sad he was in 1980 when he learned the programme wouldn’t be recommissioned: I hope we’ve done him and his colleagues justice with how we’ve treated his show 30 years on.

Watch more Charles Endell, Esquire on YouTube or visit the Charles Endell section of the STV website for more background to the series.

Categories
Broadcasting Online Talk Writing

E-copywriting for all your audiences: AmbITion talk now online

On Thursday I headed to Glasgow to give the talk mentioned here a few weeks ago, Now you’re talking! – e-copywriting for all your audiences for the busy team behind the AmbITion network.

The presentation aimed to answer the question of whether content for websites should be written for different audiences, in different styles. To summarise, the answer has to be yes…and no.

Yes, we need to keep different audiences in mind when putting together a new website, and that content should be placed in sections which mean something to them. But at the same time we need to be wary about varying our tone of voice on different pages as this can be confusing.

I suggested that the main company site remains consistent but that different audiences can be reached across different platforms, with Twitter and Facebook two places that allow the tone of voice of the company to shine through.

The full talk is available on the AmbITion site now:

Ambition talk

Thanks again to Hannah and her team for inviting me to speak and the audience for listening so patiently for almost an hour.

Categories
Broadcasting Online TV

From Scotland to the world: bringing the STV archive to YouTube

STV Player

I thought it was time I blogged about a new project I’m working on with STV, the broadcaster which produces programming to over three and a half million viewers across Scotland each week.

It was in June that STV announced their deal with YouTube which would initally bring 2,500 hours of their programming to the site, and I covered the story for ReelScotland in August when David Tennant’s first TV appearance and a little-known Alfred Hitchcock documentary arrived on the channel. That’s alongside various brand new series which are still making a name for themselves with audiences.

After meeting with STV Head of Digital, Alistair Brown, to discuss the project in more detail, it became clear that the work which has been going on behind the scenes at the broadcaster for the last few months is not only going to be of interest to existing fans of archive TV, but to those who haven’t even heard of older dramas, documentaries and news items, either because they’re too young or because STV programmes weren’t transmitted in their region or country.

As Alistair noted in a recent interview with The Drum, the future broadcast schedule for many viewers will be heavily influenced by online. It seems likely that as we put together our own schedules, pulling in programmes from various sources which appeal to us, classic TV broadcasts will sit alongside the latest drama and entertainment on our computer/iPad/iPhone screens:

[viddler id=5c8c1a27&w=437&h=287]

My role in all this is to take a look at the bigger picture of what’s available in the STV archives and to see how the most can be made out of it online. As I try to do with much of my writing/reviewing, I want to put some context to these series, explaining how they came to be made and highlighting aspects which may otherwise go unnoticed.

We’ll be creating new content around old, involving production teams from the past wherever possible rather than simply lifting quotes from Wikipedia. In fact, in at least one case, we’ll be creating a Wikipedia page from scratch for a show which to my mind should have been one of Scotland’s longest running series but which tragically ended after just six episodes.

With this project STV wants to make Scottish programmes appeal to a wider audience, backing up the the channel’s motto of “From Scotland to the world” – in this new online era that’s perhaps more apt, and achievable, than ever.

I’ll write more about the project in the coming weeks, but in the meantime keep an eye on my Twitter feed and the STV YouTube channel for more announcements.

Categories
Broadcasting Film Writing

Busy behind-the-scenes

The last time I posted an update on this blog I was recovering from a hectic week of Festival fun and games here in Edinburgh, that time of the year when the population doubles and your bank balance halves.

Since then it’s been even busier, with a new piece of work looking like it’s going to take up a few months of my time. I’ll be able to write about it in more detail in the next week or two, but it’s an exciting one which utilises a number of my skills and interests.

Elsewhere, following my column in the Edinburgh Evening News which wondered why Sir Sean Connery’s 80th birthday was all but ignored, I discovered the existence of a short film made by Sean in 1982, one which now resides in the Scottish Screen Archive. My review of Sean Connery’s Edinburgh was in last week’s paper and is on the Evening News website.

I also ventured out-of-town to the rather wonderful Bo’ness Hippodrome cinema last weekend, to hear The Southwell Collective perform their music to 1928’s The Fall of the House of Usher. I’m a sucker for a silent movie with live music and this was one of the best – I took some time to interview the musicians after their performance:

Audioboo Southwell Collective

I’m finding my time on Twitter and other social networks slightly reduced at the moment as the days jobs take up my time, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Much as I love keeping up-to-date on the world around me in 140 characters or less, it can be overwhelming at times, particularly when you need to concentrate on the 9-to-5.

Categories
Broadcasting Film Writing

A week of video, radio and a few heroes

It’s been a busy week-and-a-bit, my first working fully freelance, and one which found me filming new content for ReelScotland, interviewing a hero, writing about another and gaining yet another in the environs of the Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF).

Last Saturday I headed to Glasgow’s Collectormania event at the Braehead Arena, a chance to top up on geekiness (my levels are actually never too low) and see what’s happening in the world of movies, comics and TV. I also wanted to interview the producers of a new Scottish science fiction movie, Night is Day, which I’d been reading about.

While the harsh light of the arena wasn’t exactly flattering and lack of tripod meant it was a tad shaky, I think it’s turned out OK, and the full article is up on ReelScotland:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8leW8BZzYEQ]

On Sunday I finally managed to catch-up with the musical genius that is Neil Brand, one of the world’s foremost silent movie accompanists, who was in Edinburgh for the weekend having played at the Cameo cinema on Thursday evening, when I was out of town. I’d already published a short interview with Neil on ReelScotland, conducted by email, but this was a chance to meet him in the flesh.

Tuesday found me back in the offices of Civic, where I spend one day a week as a Digital Editor, this week mainly working on analysing clients’ websites and seeing what changes might be needed content or navigation-wise.

Wednesday was meant to be a flying visit to the EIBF, with an event at 2pm called Story Machines: Movies, part of a mini-festival hosted by writer, Charlie Fletcher. This brought together scriptwriter/novelists William Nicholson and Don Boyd in a fascinating discussion on the pitfalls of writing for cinema and the joys of writing your own books. Both do seem to love cinema, but the fact that over 50% of all work fails to make the cinema screen was disheartening to them. It was a lively, insightful and thought-provoking event, perhaps the best I’ve seen at the EIBF.

I ended up staying for another talk, Story Machines: Games, featuring three fascinating panelists in the shape of Steven Poole, Naomi Alderman and Trevor Byrne, which looked at the potential and successes/failures of the gaming world in embracing storytelling. I’m keen to get back into the world of gaming after a number of years away from it, and this was a decent primer.

The final part of the day was spent at Story Machines: The Last Chapter, which brought William Nicholson back to the stage alongside comics legend, Alan Moore.

Theories of psychology and religion were sent forth into the rapt audience by Moore, Nicholson occasionally interjecting as Charlie Fletcher sat between the pair. By the end of the panel I was filled with enthusiasm for the creative process, Moore’s insistence that anyone who has an idea or ambition should just get on with making it a reality hitting home with many of us.

After writing a post for ReelScotland celebrating the career of Sir Sean Connery on his birthday, (he was 80 that day), I sent off my column to the Edinburgh Evening News which asked why Edinburgh doesn’t see the need to mark the occasion when other cities go out of their way to erect statues to their favourite sons or daughters. I’ve also recorded an audioboo on the same subject:

Sean Connery boo

Finally (I warned you it was a busy week) I was invited back onto BBC Radio Scotland’s Movie Café on Thursday to discuss the return of Avatar to cinemas and the release of Edinburgh-set The Illusionist. It was a short-but-sweet chat and good fun, and you can hear the programme on iPlayer for the next few days:

BBC iPlayer

In amongst all that there were a few meetings, a bit of planning for the coming weeks, and a visit to the always worthwhile Edinburgh Coffee Morning. There are a few interesting projects brewing around the subject of content creation which I hope to be able to write about soon.

Categories
Broadcasting Film Writing

BBC Radio Scotland Movie Café

The-Illusionist

I was invited back onto BBC Radio Scotland’s weekly Movie Café programme this week (I was last on in January when I covered Bristol’s silent film festival, Slapstick 2010) to discuss the re-release of James Cameron’s Avatar and Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist.

While I was based in the Edinburgh studio, host Janice Forsyth and fellow critic Paul Gallagher were over in Glasgow, and we discussed our generally negative reactions to Avatar returning to cinemas, with around eight more minutes of footage weaved into the narrative, and our love of the more traditional, Scottish made, The Illusionist.

I’d strolled along to the BBC Studios through the Grassmarket and up Victoria Street, the latter playing a prominent part of the stunning film which makes the city appear almost fairytale-esque. I’d already covered The Illusionist premiere back in June for the Edinburgh Evening News, and ReelScotland, but it was nice to air those views on the radio with fellow enthusiasts.

The programme is available on iPlayer until Thursday 26 August.