Categories
Film Filming Online

Slapstick 2011 video on YouTube

Following my recent filming blitz for the Glasgow Film Festival I went back to the audio slideshow format for my latest project.

At the end of January I ventured off back down to Bristol for what has become one of the highlights of my film festival-going year: Slapstick 2011.

The event celebrates the silent era’s greats – Chaplin, Lloyd, Laurel & Hardy and my favourite, Keaton – while allowing some of the lesser known stars of the 1920s to have some space to shine. This year also so a tribute to the lats Marty Feldman and a celebration of Aardman Animation’s Shaun the Sheep, so they’re not just about the distant past.

In 2010 I was asked by BBC Radio Scotland’s Movie Café to record a short feature from the event but this year I couldn’t resist going a step further and creating my own audio slideshow.

I approached some celebrities, including the three Goodies, Bill Oddie, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden, as well as Dad’s Army star Ian Lavender and TV presenter Chris Searle, for their views on Slapstick. I also took a number of photos over the weekend on the same camera I used for the Glasgow videos.

Due to the nature of the event, time was short between talks and screenings, hence the decision not to film the interviews. Also,  a lot of the guests were off duty when I approached them for a comment and it seemed rude to film them. Audio seemed to go down much better.

The video is now on YouTube and I think has turned out well, though in 2012 I might try fully fledged filming with some more preparation of interviews…if they’ll let me.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxyygA3E3xk]

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
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.

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
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 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.