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A French connection for new project

It’s a new year so it’s time for a new project in a new country. Following my work in 2012 on Cinematic Scotland, a project which looks at various connections between the country and film, this week sees me take a slight diversion as I head to the French Riviera, better known locally as the  Côte d’Azur.

The Promenade des Anglais in Nice
The Promenade des Anglais in Nice

In collaboration with European super-blogger Kash Bhattacharya, the Budget Traveller and one of the masterminds behind Edinburgh’s recent hugely successful Blogmanay project, I’ll be the guest of the CRT Côte d’Azur, the tourism agency for the Riviera.

I’ll be touring the area to discover some of the locations of movies such as To Catch a Thief, Ronin and The Transporter, plus TV series including The Persuaders! (a guilty pleasure of mine). I’ll take photos and shoot some video while meeting people who live and work in the area, all of which will be collected on a new blog, to be officially launched in a few weeks time.

A short version of the itinerary is currently looking something like this:

  • Nice – To Catch a Thief (1955), The Persuaders! (1971), Condorman (1981), Ronin (1998), Swordfish (2001) and The Transporter (2004). Visit the homes of director Romain Gary, Gabrielle Chanel and more…
  • Villefranche-sur-Mer – The Adventures of Captain Fabian (1950), An Affair to Remember (1957), Never Say Never Again (1983), The Jewel of the Nile (1985), Ronin (1998) and Killers (2010). A visit to the Chapel St Pierre, decorated by filmmaker Jean Cocteau
  • Grasse – GoldenEye (1995)
  • Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
  • Saint-Paul de Vence  – Moment to Moment (1966), OSS 117 – Mission to Tokyo (1966) and Big Kiss (2004)
  • Antibes – Let’s Not Get Angry (1966), Never Say Never Again (1983), The Big Blue (1988), Lolita (1998)
  • Cannes – French Kiss (1995),  Ronin (1998)

So feel free to tweet me any suggestions for the trip and I’ll see if I can visit them.

I’ll be using the #cinemazur hashtag to pull it all together and try to get some suggestions from film fans and travellers about some of the best things to see and do in the French Riviera.

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Film Interview Online

Bravely visiting the Highlands with Screen Machine

It’s been a while since I got to spend some time at my favourite cinema, the Screen Machine, the UK’s only mobile cinema, but it happened last week when I headed up to Eilean Donan Castle for a special screening of Disney-Pixar’s Brave.

Creative Scotland and VisitScotland wanted to take Brave to the village of Dornie following the LA, Edinburgh and Inverness premieres, offering local schoolchildren the opportunity to see the film a week before its Scottish release.

I took my video camera and iPhone along to film the event and to spread the word on social media channels, resulting in the following short film and around 100 photos over on the Facebook page (and soon the Flickr account).

[vimeo 46742612 w=500 h=281]

Brave Premiere at Eilean Donan Castle from Screen Machine on Vimeo.

I also published some interviews from the recent Brave press junket on ReelScotland, with Robbie Coltrane and Kevin McKidd featured in one and Kelly Macdonald in the other. There’s some audio from the latter interview in there as well, in which she corrects my abysmal attempt at saying ‘jings, crivvens, help ma boab’…thanks Kelly…

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Cinematic Scotland launched

Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle

I’ve been busier than usual this month with the launch of a new film website, Cinematic Scotland, one that also includes elements of travel journalism.

The idea for the site has been around since late 2011 and finds me collaborating with ScottishCinemas.org’s Gordon Barr and BudgetTraveller.org’s Kash Bhattacharya as we cover film locations and cinema history in Scotland.

Our first two projects launched within a few days of each other. Firstly, we collaborated with the National Library of Scotland on a new map to accompany their Going to the Pictures exhibition. The free map allows visitors to take a trip around the centre of Edinburgh, spotting filming locations and cinemas, past and present, as they go. The map was also reprinted in the Edinburgh Evening News and can be downloaded as a PDF.

The second project tied into the latest Disney-Pixar film, Brave, which is set in the Scottish Highlands. Although the film is animated, the filmmakers did travel to various part of the country in 2006 and 2007 on research trips and I attempted to follow in their footsteps along with Edinburgh tour operator, Rabbie’s.

I headed to Inverness, Ullapool and the Isles of Lewis, Harris and Skye and the result was a series of blog posts, photos on Flickr and YouTube videos that described the tour, with a number of tweets allowing people to follow my progress. I also wrote about the trip on BudgetTraveller.org.

It’s not my first attempt at travel journalism, following some recent work for Guardian Travel, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to do more of the same soon.

It’s still early days for the site but we are working on more projects which we hope will bring Scotland’s cinematic connections to life.

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Film Newspaper Online Writing

The Raid in the Edinburgh Evening News

Last week I went along to a screening of The Raid, the new Indonesian-set action film from Welsh director Gareth Evans.

Much as I enjoy an intelligent and well-scripted piece of cinematic art, I also have the occasional craving for a piece of slam-bang nonsense that gives Die Hard a run for its money.

Here’s my piece in this week’s Edinburgh Evening News on The Raid.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWlmhMSnVdM

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Film Interview Online Writing

Cannes preview of Highlands of Scotland Film Commission iPad brochure

I may not be heading to Cannes in person this year but some of my work will be premiering there as part of the Highlands of Scotland Film Commission’s impressive new iPad brochure.

I’ve been working with the team on various projects for the last few months and the brochure is one of the most exciting ones. I’ll have a few interviews in there, one of which is with the director of Disney Pixar’s Brave, carried out at the recent London press screening.

The Creative Scotland website has more on the brochure, which will be launched at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June as an app, along with a gallery of images:

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Film Interview Newspaper Online Writing

Brave coverage on ReelScotland

I was in London a few weeks ago to attend a screening of the first 30-minutes of Disney-Pixar’s upcoming animated movie, Brave, a film that Scottish tourism bosses hope will repeat the success of Braveheart in the mid-90s.

I wrote about the film’s European premiere in Edinburgh this June for the Evening News but had an opportunity to write a feature for my own site, ReelScotland, this week. I’ve also added a clip of my question to director Mark Andrews that has been repeated on many other sites, that of what other Scottish films the animators at Pixar watched while making the film.

Brave is out in the UK on 17 August.

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Filming Online

Screen Machine on Mull

Last month I made my way to the Isle of Mull with Scotland’s mobile cinema, the Screen Machine, to capture its arrival on video at the small ferry of Fishnish and hear what local residents had to say about its regular visits.

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Return to the TCM Classic Film Festival

It was just under year ago that I wrote about my visit to the TCM Classic Film Festival, something of a mecca for classic film fans around the globe.

Guest appearances from Kirk Douglas, Warren Beatty, Peter O’Toole and Eva Marie Saint were just the icing on the cake of a four day event which saw some of the finest films ever made screened in the heart of Hollywood on LA’s most historic screens.

I enjoyed the Festival so much that I’ve decided to head back again next week, this time covering it for the esteemed classic film magazine, Cinema Retro, who have commissioned me to see as many films as possible in the alloted time.

This year the decisions are as difficult as they were in 2011, with screenings of Rio Bravo and The Pink Panther (introduced by Angie Dickinson and Robert Wagner respectively) clashing, while Casablanca is shown at the same time as the 50th Anniversary screening of Dr No.

You can see a list of the full line-up on the TCM website and there’s more from my interview with TCM host, Robert Osborne, on my classic film blog, Holyrood or Bust.

I’ll be tweeting about my trip and recording my thoughts for Cinema Retro while trying to arrange a few interviews along the way.

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New ReelScotland video interviews

February found me putting together a handful of new video interviews for ReelScotland to promote a new film and a new Scottish play based on a film.

The 2012 Glasgow Film Festival finished tonight and one of the new films screened was Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy starring Scottish actor, Adam Sinclair. I was approached by the PR team behind the film in 2011 about interviewing Sinclair atop Edinburgh’s Oloroso restaurant which resulted in a video on Sinclair’s entry into acting and a second on Ecstasy:

The second pair of videos were created to promote new play An Appointment with the Wicker Man, based on the classic British horror film, The Wicker Man. I met with the play’s co-writer and star, Greg Hemphill, along with co-star Jimmy Chisholm during rehearsals, with both interviews now on YouTube:

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I want to tell you a Storify

I ended 2011 the same way I started 2012, with a story. To be more precise, in December I had something to say about a year in the life of Screen Machine, Scotland’s mobile cinema that I’ve blogged about a few times here, and I needed a good way to tell it.

The answer was Storify.

For those who haven’t heard of Storify, it’s a tool that allows users to curate social media posts from numerous accounts, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo. It’s free to set up and easy to use, so it seemed perfect for my needs.

With numerous stories in the press, video published, comments on Twitter and other mentions for Scotland’s most unusual cinema, I spent a few hours looking back through my work around the web and ended up with the aptly titled Screen Machine: 2011 year in review post.

The success of that post led me to pull together another one this month, detailing the online reaction to the repeat of a 1974 BBC Play for Today, The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil, on BBC ALBA.

While repeats of old TV shows don’t usually cause much of a stir, this one was quite rare, and I wrote about it on ReelScotland just ahead of the screening. When the number of page visits and tweets went through the roof, and I led a live Twitter commentary of the screening, I collected the most interesting responses into another Storify.

The result, Twitter reaction to The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil on BBC ALBA, has already notched up almost 250 views, while my embedding of the post on ReelScotland has itself had many hundreds of views.

I spend a lot of time on Twitter trying to sift through a mass of dross for the best information, and being able to present that to my own followers, or those of Screen Machine or ReelScotland, in a concise way is going to become more important. Hopefully I’ll have another opportunity to use Storify soon.