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
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
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.