Categories
Film Filming Online

Videos from Glasgow Film Festival 2011

Ten days. Eleven videos. One rather tired vlogger. That was the end result of my time at the 2011 Glasgow Film Festival, where I was hired to film interviews with as many actors, directors and producers as possible for the official YouTube site.

Commuting back and forth from Edinburgh, I filmed, edited and uploaded videos as fast as possible, sometimes within a 4-5 hour period (getting the train added time to my schedule). The downside was that I didn’t quite see as many films as I wanted to, but when you’re getting the chance to speak to some fascinating people it makes it all worthwhile.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and will be looking for more opportunities to shoot some quick and simple videos for clients in the coming months.

One surprise was the success of the Colin Morgan video, which currently sits at almost 4000 views. I was also given the opportunity to interview one of my favourite actors, Anthony LaPaglia: the video below was shot on my camera but a longer version was filmed by local students who will hopefully publish it online soon:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXXUb9JsfgY]

I’ve added all the videos into a Glasgow Film Festival 2011 playlist on my YouTube account and have embedded two of my favourites below.

Angela Allen was continuity girl on The African Queen and also worked on my favourite film, The Third Man:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmBxG3b2ANg]

For this video, I grabbed Mark Millar and Frank Quitely for a quick chat about breaking into comics:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRJT_P37LPs]

Categories
Film Uncategorized Writing

Celebrating two years of weekly film columns

The above title is slightly misleading as I actually celebrated two years worth of Edinburgh Evening News film columns in January, but it’s been a busy 2011 so far and I haven’t had a chance to mention it before now.

It was in June 2008 that I began writing for the Evening News, first covering the Edinburgh International Film Festival in a vaguely blog-like way on the website and also in the paper itself.

From then on I was contributing reviews of plays, stand-up shows, music gigs and even some of Bob Dylan’s art before my editor approached me to write a weekly film column, Reel Time, in January 2009. With the word count varying over the years it’s hard to be precise about the amount written, but somewhere in the region of 50,000 must be close.

With a readership of around 50,000 a day for the print version of the paper alone, never mind the website, that’s a lot of people to cater for and the topics have been as varied as I can make them.

If anyone was to look back through them I suspect there would be more space to silent cinema than 3D spectaculars, with classics and forgotten or overlooked movies also getting a lot of love.

I’ve enjoyed writing every one of them and it’s fantastic to be able to challenge yourself every week to create something new and (hopefully) interesting. I’d urge everyone to do the same, even if it’s just on their own blog or a diary.

There’s also the spin-off blog which allows me to get even more obscure.

I’m not sure if I have a favourite column but a few I’d like more people to read are my Bill Douglas celebration from July 2009 and some thoughts on film-going during the recession.

A full list can also be accessed on the Evening News site.

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
Film Online Writing

A Month of Multimedia

In order to keep the creative juices flowing during these cold days of January, the start of the month found me coming up with a challenge for myself in the shape of A Month of Multimedia, to be housed over on my new Posterous account.

The idea, inspired by a post on multimedia journalist Adam Westbrook’s excellent blog, was to try to create a new piece of multimedia content every day of the month, experimenting with audio, video, photos and whatever else I could find in my metaphorical online toolbox.

Adam’s advice is to stop thinking about doing things and to just start doing them. As a digital editor I’ve used a number of tools in my work, but usually when asked to do so by a client. This time I decided not to wait for a commission and got going on my own ideas, though real life and paid work got in the way of something new being published every day.

Starting on the first of the month with a short introductory audioboo, I next booted up the Flickr account to create a visual guide to the location of a small plaque dedicated to Sean Connery here in Edinburgh.

After trying out the video tools associated with Posterous, both the upload and email options, my next piece of content was larger, an audio slideshow looking at the success of Edinburgh Zoo’s Penguincam at the end of 2010. I interviewed the Zoo’s Marketing Assistant and taking some photos, I was able to combine the two in a slideshow which I then uploaded to Vimeo:

The day after the video was published I contacted Edinburgh Guardian blog, who had shown an interest in the Penguincam last year, and they invited me to publish it on their site, a move which resulted in a surge of traffic and a huge amount of interest on Twitter.

Scotland’s leading marketing magazine, The Drum, also picked up the video and by the end of the day the story had been shared so often I was trending on Twitter in Edinburgh.

My next piece of content, an audio interview with Paul Wilson from Volunteer Centre Edinburgh on the rise of micro-volunteering which I’d already recorded, was also published on the Guardian site and generated more interest.

The success of the first couple of weeks of the project hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm but it has taken me in a slightly different direction than planned.

Rather than only creating a wealth of content for my own interest I’ve decided to spend more time on fewer projects, including committing to following up the volunteer story for the Guardian over the next few weeks. This should involve video content as well as audio, the former something I’m trying to perfect after early attempts for ReelScotland’s YouTube account.

I’ve also carried out two film-related interviews for ReelScotland, one of which is likely to be another addition to the audioboo account I launched in 2010, and I plan a larger video/audio/photo project for the end of the month, which is shaping up to be quite exciting.

It’s amazing what can happen when you take some initiative and don’t wait for that next email to come through about a new piece of paid work. While I’m still looking to create exciting new content for clients in 2011, I hope to continue my own pet projects in areas I think are worth exploring and with tools which are perhaps not part of my everyday work at present – at least this way I’ll be ready when I do get asked about them.

Categories
Film

Filming Inverness Film Festival 2010

Being of good Highland stock, and something of a film fan, I made my way north last week for the eighth annual Inverness Film Festival, my second year at the event.

It all takes place at the impressive Eden Court Theatre and Cinema, which I can recommend a visit to even if you’re not seeing a film – they do great club sandwiches in the bar.

While I was there I met up with the Festival’s director, Paul Taylor, to discuss what was coming up over the week, and decided to film it for ReelScotland. It was all a bit last minute and I only had my iPhone 4 to hand, which sadly doesn’t come with a stand/tripod.

As the cinema was screening 1957’s The Smallest Show on Earth on the Friday, a film about cinemas which was being shown in Eden Court’s projection room, I thought it only right to film Paul in there. It’s bit wobbly, but as far as I know there was no other news outlet filming at the event.

I’ll hopefully have a chance to use my other camera next time, which does have the option of a tripod, but I think the more casual syle works for ReelScotland. I’ll also be writing a column on the Festival for this week’s Edinburgh Evening News.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D944hoJDTEY&feature=related]

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.

Categories
Film Writing

An introduction

Writing is my passion.

Luckily, working for a small Edinburgh web design agency with various high-profile clients, I’m able to write (and edit, film, blog, tweet…you name it, I probably do it) every day, covering a range of subjects including health issues, education, tourism, charity work and the arts.

A few years ago, alongside my 9-5 work, I decided to start blogging, previewing and reviewing some of the most exciting arts and entertainment events taking place in my home city while also taking a look at television old and new.

Of course blogging has its pitfalls.

In the past, anyone who wrote, edited and published their own work, avoiding the traditional process of having an editor commission and comment on their work, was dubbed a “vanity publisher”.

This is also the danger of blogging. While I’m well aware that there are plenty of of us doing an excellent job outwith the strict confines of larger organisations, advertisers and editors, there’s still a perception among many people that bloggers aren’t “proper” writers or journalists.

Wary of only publishing my own work and following occasional articles for university newspaper Veritas and a regular film blog for local arts magazine The Skinny, 2008 saw the Edinburgh Evening News invite me to cover the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

This was followed by theatre, music and comedy reviewing during the rest of the year for the paper.

Now, with a weekly film column in the Evening News reaching around 50,000 readers a week alongside regular DVD, theatre and book reviewing for my old Veritas editor at the Pink Paper, my writing is reaching a wider audience and my ambitions are growing daily.

I’ve also record a monthly film slot on local radio station Leith FM and a new blog has spun-off from my Evening News column.

I plan to write irregular columns for this blog covering online communications and freelance writing.

I hope you enjoy the site and come back again to see what I’ve been up to.