Film Newspaper Talk

Brian Cox column in Edinburgh Evening News

Brian Cox at the NLS
Brian Cox at the NLS

Last week I attended a talk by Scottish actor, Brian Cox, at the National Library of Scotland, covering it for my Thursday Edinburgh Evening News column. While the following article was published in the 10 November print edition of the paper it didn’t make it online, so I’ve published it here instead:

He may have appeared in a string of Hollywood hits, counting Matt Damon and Hugh Jackman as co-stars, but Dundee-born actor Brian Cox has a special place in his heart for one particular leading lady: Edinburgh.

Speaking at the National Library of Scotland on Tuesday evening, the Braveheart and Bourne Identity star was vocal in his love for the city.

“I look upon Edinburgh as my spiritual home,” he said. “This goes back to when I was two-years-old and my auntie Jean ran away to Edinburgh to marry a Protestant. She lived in Leith and Granton, and I remember years later walking over the Mound and the hairs standing up on the back of my neck.”

Cox spoke about his memories of attending the cinema in Dundee when he was a boy, deciding that acting was for him as Spencer Tracy and James Cagney filled the screen.

“Edinburgh is where everything came together for me as an actor,” continued Cox. “Working at the Lyceum with actors such as Duncan Macrae and Fulton Mackay.”

Mackay is also the star of one of Cox’s favourite Scottish films, 1952’s The Brave Don’t Cry, with the work of directors Bill Forsyth and Peter Mullan also high on his list.

When I ask Cox if we can expect to see him filming on Edinburgh’s streets he’s unsure, though one project may come to fruition in 2012.

As he plans to head back to the USA to shoot Will Ferrel’s latest comedy, Dog Fight, can we expect to lose him to Hollywood? Cox shakes his head: “The weather is beautiful and I love going there, but after a while it gets boring.

“Edinburgh’s always meant a lot to me, it physically charges me whenever I come back here.”

Film Online Talk Twitter

Talk at Dundee Discovery Film Festival

Last week was a bit of a busy one around these parts, meaning I didn’t have time to mention the talk I gave at the Discovery Film Festival on Saturday 22 October, held at Dundee’s DCA.

As part of a workshop entitled From Tweets To Blogs: Online Film Writing, I offered some of my thoughts on film reviewing today and the role of the blogger/film journalist to an audience of young film fans.

With anyone now able to set up a blog and start telling the world their views on the latest movies, I strongly believe there are some basics that everyone should at least attempt to heed if they want to appear semi-professional to their readers. Having a wide frame of reference and not simply discussing the latest Hollywood movies were two of the points I offered up, as well as advising them to enjoy what they’re doing.

Writing this post also reminded me that it’s been a year since my AmbITion talk was put online. I discussed how arts organisations can use social media to help promote themselves and the tone of voice required for online audiences – click through on the image below for the full talk.

Online seminar

Interview Talk TV

Interview with Martin G Baker at Filmhouse

Martin Baker at Edinburgh's Filmhouse

The music has faded, the lights have dimmed and the audiences have gone home with smiles on their faces as Edinburgh Filmhouse’s weekend of Jim Henson-themed events comes to a close.

Having written about the event for the Edinburgh Evening News I was looking forward to interviewing Muppet producer Martin G Baker in a couple of on-stage Q&As following screenings of two collections of Muppet archive material.

Baker was the perfect guest for the weekend, someone with a long association with Jim Henson (he started working with him on The Muppet Show in 1976) and the Muppets themselves. He’s also a producer on the next Muppet movie, out in November in the US but not out in the UK until February 2012.

As well as our short interviews he introduced a sold out screening of Henson’s Labyrinth on Saturday night, one of the best cinema going experiences I’ve had in a while.

Thanks to Filmhouse for the chance to be a part of the weekend and to Martin Baker for being such an excellent interviewee.

Film Talk

In conversation with Peter Mullan

A quick thanks to the team at Creative Loop, the organisation developing talent for Scotland’s creative industries, who invited me along to their Student Media Festival in Glasgow this morning.

I was asked to interview one of Scotland’s most important creative talents, Peter Mullan, in front of an audience of up-and-coming talent. We discussed his career to date, with a particular focus on NEDS, his most recent film, and the students had a chance to question him.

His main piece of advice was that people need to enjoy making films in the first instance, particularly if they’re directing, as riches don’t necessarily come their way. We only had an hour and I’m sure there was a lot more to be discussed, but hopefully the audience gained something from it.

My second interview of the week will be this Saturday at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, where I’ll be discussing Jim Henson and his career with producer, Martin Baker.

Film Talk TV

Talking TV history at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse

Same and Friends

I felt honoured this week to be asked along to introduce an upcoming event at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse as part of the cinema’s mini-festival celebrating the life and work of Jim Henson, Muppets, Music and Magic.

Between Monday 18 and Thursday 28 April, fans of Henson and the Muppets will be able to see eight films and nine compilations of Henson’s work, from his earliest attempts at making commercials right up to the productions he was working on before he passed away in 1990.

I’m a huge fan of Henson and think he created some of the most innovative television ever made, leaving the entertainment industry a much duller place when he died at an early age. His legacy is continued by his friends and colleagues, including Muppet producer, Martin Baker, whom I interviewed for both the Edinburgh Evening News and ReelScotland ahead of his appearance at Filmhouse over the Easter weekend.

I’ll be doing a Q&A with Martin at the screening of Muppet History 101, an impressive 100 minutes look through the Henson vaults at how his brand of humour became a global success. The talk takes place on Saturday 23 April at 18.15.

Here’s a clip from an early Henson production, Sam and Friends:


© Photography courtesy of The Jim Henson Company, The Muppets Studio, LLC, and Sesame Workshop

Online Talk

Talk at the SCVO Media Matters conference

Before I go any further, take a look at this list of names speaking at the upcoming Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) Media Matters conference on Friday 25 March:

  • Bill Jamieson, Executive Editor, The Scotsman;
  • Marie McQuade, Communications Director, Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres;
  • Edd McCracken, arts and education correspondent, Sunday Herald;
  • Sam Booth, features writer, Daily Record;
  • Lorraine Herbison, Head of News and Sport, Radio Clyde;
  • Eleanor Bradford, Health Correspondent, BBC;
  • Jackie Houston, Reporting Scotland, BBC;
  • Iain Hepburn, Executive Editor, STV Local;
  • Paula McNulty, Account Director, Weber Shandwick;
  • Rebecca McQuillan, The Herald;
  • Mike Wilson, allmediascotland;
  • Christina Cran, Cran Communications;
  • Kirsty Sinclair, Snook;
  • Paul Murricane, Axis Media Group; and
  • Callum Bennetts & Richard Scott, Maverick Photo Agency.

Pretty impressive isn’t it? I thought so when I was asked to join them to discuss social media on the morning of the event – you’ll see me sandwiched between Reporting Scotland’s Jackie Houston and Iain Hepburn from STV over on the SCVO website.

Taking place in Edinburgh, the conference is aimed PR and communications professionals from the third sector, letting them hear from and network with key names from the Scottish media.

I’m looking forward to my hour-long presentation/chat on the merits of social and how to communicate online and hope to hang around after my piece is over to hear what else is discussed on the day.

You can also watch a presentation I carried out at the end of 2010 in Glasgow on a similar subject – head to the AmbITion website to see the e-copywriting seminar.

Online seminar

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.


New talk: the benefits of audioboo

Social Media Academy

I recently mentioned that I’ll be talking about, well, talking online in a few weeks as part of the AmbITion Webinar series, but I should also note that this coming Thursday I’ll be talking about, well, talking again (there’s a theme emerging here) at the JCI Social Media Academy.

JCI Edinburgh is an off-shoot of the Junior Chamber International, all tied in to the Edinburgh Chambers of Commerce, and they hold a number of introductory sessions on various elements of social media.

My talk is part of the Youtube & Podcast – Broadcast Your Business session on Thursday 7 October, and I’ll be discussing the benefits of audioboo to individuals and organisations, while Blether Media’s Chris Connick will focus on YouTube and podcasting.

I’ve used audioboo a fair bit over the last year or so, most recently for my work on Scottish film website, ReelScotland, and you can hear my latest recordings over on the ReelScotland audioboo site.


Look who’s talking


At the risk of sounding like I’m selling something, I thought I should mention that I’ve been asked to give a talk in a few weeks as part of the well-respected AmbITion Webinar series: Now you’re talking! – e-copywriting for all your audiences takes place on Thursday 21 October, 2010 in Glasgow.

Rather than trying to explain what I’ll be discussing, here’s the blurb from the site:

Your online copy is how you present your organisation and its work to the world wide web. It has to persuade and attract existing and potential audiences of all demographics. Should you segment online audiences? Should different copy be produced for different audience segments online? How do you work out what to say to whom, and in what tone of voice?

I’m told there’s a maximum audience of around 40 people at the Glasgow venue, but the event is also going to be live-streamed on the Internet, which is a new thing for me. The last talk I gave was back in May at the Dumfries and Galloway Film Festival, when I tackled the subject of how to be a DIY film reviewer, but that was only to a small group of film fans, not a (potentially) global audience.

I’m sure it’ll be a fun afternoon, and, while the whole talk is of course written and ready to go, I’d welcome any thoughts you might have on the topic in the comments below – I’ll be sure to shout out the best ones on the day.

In the meantime, head over to the AmbITion website to find out more about my talk and other future (and previous) events.