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 Filming Online Writing YouTube

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2011 coverage

Covering subtlemob on STV

In 2011 I’m celebrating my fourth year of attendance at the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) in a professional capacity, and it’s the year that my involvement in the Festival has changed the most.

Wheras in the past I’ve turned up to press screenings and written opening and closing night reviews for the Edinburgh Evening News and my own blogs or websites, this year I’ve found myself looking at the bigger picture for a number of outlets as freelance opportunities come my way.

As well as commenting on the controversial changes to the EIFF in the paper, I’ve been covering the Festival for local news website, STV Edinburgh, mainly focusing on the special events that make up roughly half of this year’s programme. This is a return to STV for me following some work at the end of 2010 on their YouTube/archive service.

My first piece, in conjunction with local writer Claire Connachan, saw me filming an interview with the creators of a subtlemob, Our Broken Voice. The first feature went live last Thursday and within a few hours had rocketed to the top of Google News results for the Festival and remained there for 24 hours, with more articles to come in the next few days:

subtlemob feature in Google News
subtlemob feature in Google News

As well as commenting on the EIFF from a critical perspective I’m looking after the blog for a new Creative Scotland-funded website, ScottishFilms.com. The site has existed as an online videotheque for a few years now, showcasing some of the best Scottish filmmaking talent in a password protected area, but last week saw the launch of phase one of a new blog, part of which I’ll be looking after.

With the EIFF the place where many filmmakers are congregating I’m trying to make contact with some of them for future site content while working with the behind-the-scenes team to ensure some footage from the any industry events can be seen on ScottishFilms.com. The site will get another facelift soon and I hope to build it into an important resource for Scottish filmmakers.

Finally, as well as being asked to interview the charming and self-effacing CEO of IMDb, Col Needham, on stage on Sunday, my other involvement this year comes in running Scottish film website, ReelScotland, which I launched just over a year ago. Although the above work makes it impossible to attend as many films as in previous years, a small team of writers are currently taking the strain, providing a high quality range of reviews and interviews. I’m merely the editor for much of this, though I do hope to see at least a handful of films alongside the special events.

All-in-all it’s been a pretty exhausting EIFF already, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

 

Categories
Online Writing YouTube

Hollywood travel article published

Me. In Hollywood. Yesterday
Me. In Hollywood. Yesterday

As you can see from that (allegedly) smiling mug above, I was in Los Angeles last month for the TCM Classic Film Festival and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

One of the side projects I worked on was a travel article, a top 10 round-up of things to do in and around Hollywood for the visiting film buff. Some were perhaps predictable (Disneyland and Universal Studios) but others only came from asking people on arrival for suggestion or taking a walk along Hollywood Boulevard (the Egyptian Theatre and Larry Edmunds Bookshop).

I was commissioned to write the piece for one of the net’s largest flight comparison websites, Skyscanner, and shared writing duties with Claire Connachan, the owner of advertising blog, Crabbit Copywriter.

You can read the full travel article on the Skyscanner website.

Finally, here’s another Hollywood tour worth taking, a trip around silent movie locations which I made on the day I arrived in LA:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhwjB9d9pUo]

Categories
Interview Online Writing

Jason Isaacs interview

In February 2011 I was invited onto the rather stormy set of BBC Scotland’s latest drama, Case Histories, the Edinburgh-based series based on the bestselling novels by Kate Atkinson.

My interview with lead actor Jason Isaacs is now up on ReelScotland. He talks at length about the character of Jackson Brodie, the detective genre and the future of television drama.

Updated 4 June: I’ve now uploaded 10 minutes of the Jason Isaacs interview onto YouTube as an audio slideshow. I wasn’t able to publish it earlier in the week due to a BBC embargo but it helps give a flavour of the chat we had in that wind-blown trailer in Grangemouth…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fg3VKpBlD_E]

Categories
Filming Interview Online Writing YouTube

TCM Classic Film Festival 2011

Travelling 5,000 miles to watch a few films isn’t something I thought I’d be doing at the start of the year when I made a resolution to watch more classic movies, but with the second TCM Classic Film Festival taking place in Hollywood, I didn’t have much choice.

Running from 28 April – 1 May 2011, the event was a chance for fans of the US TV channel, TCM, to congregate and watch films on the big screen rather than the small, with around 70 shown over the four-day period at some of Hollywood’s finest venues.

I was there covering the event for the Edinburgh Evening News, filing two of my weekly columns from LA. The first covered a tour I’d arranged with author John Bengtson, who showed me around the haunts of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin for a new YouTube video.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhwjB9d9pUo]

The second column was an overview of the event, comparing it where possible to the Edinburgh International Film Festival, which looks to be changing so radically this year that simply showing films in cinemas is to be eschewed for quirky locations, along the lines of the Edinburgh Fringe. An extended blog version of the column also went live during the event.

My third and final Evening News column featuring the TCM Festival was on a panel discussion which took place between studio executive Peter Guber and director Brett Ratner. They discussed the art of the movie sequel and it was a good way to show that the Festival didn’t just stick to covering older films.

Between columns I managed to interview the host of TCM, Robert Osborne, for my Evening News blog and take to the red carpet on opening night to film interviews with Shaft’s Richard Roundtree and The Trouble with Harry’s Jerry Mathers (also the star of infamous US sitcom, Leave it to Beaver). The full set of videos can be found on YouTube.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxL4SGdYW9E]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsF7rSDG5tc]

Coverage of something as big as TCM wouldn’t have been complete without a constant flow of my tweets from the event, filling in the blanks of my other coverage while promoting the Festival to an even wider global audience.

Here are a few:

During the event I made some excellent contacts and some new friends, gaining a greater appreciation for how film festivals are held outside the UK. I’m hoping to attend more this year, using multimedia to cover the various opportunities open to journalists today – suggestions are welcome for new ways to cover traditional topics and events.

Categories
Filming Online Writing YouTube

The Road to Hollywood

A 60s super spy at the peak of his powers. A shadowy black marketeer haunting the back streets of post-war Vienna. An African-American PI redefining the noir genre for a 70s audience. A long-unseen 1940s romance unearthed for one-night-only.

That’s just some of the line-up for the 2011 TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, those four films – Goldfinger, The Third Man, Shaft and The Constant Nymph – the tip of the iceberg of a schedule that should make any movie fan pause and wonder if they really do need to pay the bills this year or if a trip to Los Angeles is more important.

I decided the latter when I first read about the Festival, and will be visiting Hollywood in a next few weeks time to try and catch as many of the 70+ films on offer. Most of them will be original or restored 35mm prints, with many accompanied by actors, directors or others closely linked with their production.

Peter O’Toole, Kirk Douglas, Angela Lansbury, Warren Beatty, Mickey Rooney, Ron Perlman and Debbie Reynolds are just some of those attending, and I hope to interview some of them. Angela Allen, who worked on The Third Man as a script supervisor, will also be in attendance, and I was lucky enough to interview her in February for the Glasgow Film Festival.

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

Commissioned by the Edinburgh Evening News to cover the event on a freelance basis, I’ll also be filming as much as possible for my YouTube channel and putting together a few other features that are in the pipeline.

I’m open to any suggestions for possible articles that could come from the trip.

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
Online Writing

Guardian Edinburgh online volunteering series

In my previous blog post I mentioned that I’d recently had some items published on the Guardian Edinburgh blog, the most recent of which looked at the rise of online volunteering in Edinburgh.

That story turned into three, with the second being a new video interview with animal charity, OneKind, while the final one was an audioboo interview with the Head of Digital at National Museums Scotland.

You can read more about my Month of Multimedia challenge over on my Posterous account, and I hope to have a new audioboo and video live next week, all going according to plan.

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.