This program contains scenes of violence and of a sexual nature

My posts to here seem to come far and few between. I don’t think that’s to do with the quality of them but more to do with the amount of free time I get without wanting to just sit on the sofa and stare blankly at the TV, before meandering off to bed.

My job takes a lot of my time up I spend a good two hours travelling a day, then a nice minimum of ten hours working. Before taking as much time with my kids as possible then getting on with personal projects/DIY/research and personal time; in many ways there just is not the time in the day for all of it.

So without being able to post some things here in chronological order my blog it seems is destined to be a mish-mash of the elements that I wished it to be. The original idea is still there and I have projects past and present I wish to share with all who read. But for now I will make a comment on my current work/adventure.

My full time job is based in Manchester at MediaCity UK. I am a Technical Operator/Video Editor for the BBC, employed by The Farm Group (A London based post production facility). Currently I am based with BBC Sport. When not editing for them I am doing what would in all reasons be classed as edit assistant/VT Operator work. Which means I looking after the day to day housekeeping of media and digitize footage for current edits that I am not working on.

My job also contains elements that would have been covered by a transmission controller, as I look after incoming sport feeds of current events (tonight’s is the Champions league game between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich), as well as scheduling them for record onto are XTs. So as jobs go I have a lot of hats to wear.

Currently though in the run up for this weekend there is a lot footage being put together for the 20th anniversary of Ayrton Senna’s crash at the Imola Grand Prix circuit in 1994. So literally there are hours and hours of archive Senna footage being fed into the system for the ongoing edit to be broadcast over the weekend in the BBC F1 programming.

As a kid during the 90’s and at the time an avid F1 fan, I remember the fatal accident. After the recent and brilliant documentary on Senna the whole situation of the event, the timing and the footage is really quite distressing. I know the reports were that he died in the hospital, but in reality he died on the circuit, he died in front of the world’s eyes. The whole weekend of motor racing were televised the race itself continued. But for me this was the first time I had witnessed death on television in a way that it impacted on my life. Not long after that I had stopped watching Formula 1.

What I have noticed now though being a father and an adult is how much more de-sensitised we are now to death. The news increasingly shows more and more graphic footage, programmes and films show violence almost in an increasingly glorified way. The horror films have gone from just having blood in them (they were graphic but the shots never really lingered), to now showing full body mutilation with shots that last for as long as possible.

I’m not in so many ways a fan of censorship, I also know what a minefield of a subject it can be. Growing up through the video nasty phase of the late 80s early 90s. Films like Childs Play, I Spit on Your Grave(original), The Exorcist, Clockwork Orange and Cannibal Holocaust. Some of which are classed as classics. I Spit on your Grave, is a truly disturbing film. Childs Play isn’t really scary and Cannibal Holocaust is in many ways overly tame in today’s standards. But also films like The Life of Brian were banned in some places where the idea of censoring what we see is really quite strange. I live on the idea that if you’re going to be offended by something don’t watch it. There is always plenty of information to say what it is and what it’s about. More often than not a warning before it appears on ‘This program contains scenes of violence and of a sexual nature’; this may be a giveaway of the content you are about to watch. So then if you watch it and then complain…who do you really have to blame for the offence you have just suffered to your eyes and your mind?

Bringing this all back around to my job and my feelings over the current coverage of events/news and the realisation of what is shown. A couple of weeks back there was a lot of archive footage from the Hillsborough another fully televised sporting tragedy. Then of course if you look back over the years there have been tragic scenes, where people have died live on Television. Some of which were thought just to be part of the act, such as Tommy Cooper who suffered a heart attack live on ITV. All of this footage is stored somewhere in some archive. Will it all at some point be brought into the light of day to become part of an entertainment or tribute show?

I suppose the question I ask after all this is should it be?

Do we want to see the moment Steve Irwin is killed or when NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt loses control of his car; maybe the moment when Darrell ‘Dimebag’ Abbott is shot during a performance in Ohio. Should archive like this be shown or should it just be left and only the memory of the people remain?

Stripper Vs Werewolves.

Right it’s been a while since I last wrote a blog and while gearing up to introduce some of the early work I did whilst at collage and leading up to where I am now. I need to just have a small rant about a film I’ve recently watched. The film is as the title of this blog suggests the British horror comedy, Strippers Vs Werewolves.

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I have a love of naff films, really bad ones from the 80s such as Hell Comes to Frog Town and Vamp. The kind of films which are nothing but entertaining in all sense of the world, from their awful stories to their bad acting. It’s these quality’s that make them watchable. But when a film is bad but also sloppy in parts it kind of gets under my skin to the point that I can’t help finding the section and pointing it out to who ever is close to me.

So in the film by Jonathan Glendening, which has to its part attracted some big names to grace its screen time, people like Robert Englund, Steven Berkoff, Martin Kemp and Alan Ford. The expectation of it being enjoyably bad was there. Unfortunately it missed the mark quiet considerably and didn’t even hit the it’s so bad it’s good mark. The film is just not what it could have been.

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The make up wasn’t bad for a low budget werewolf movie the wolf face and hands were quiet nicely designed and applied. The acting was what it was and the script was again nothing special…I can’t comment to hard on this as I have yet to write anything that has been made into a feature. I can say without a doubt that I’m sure they had fun with the production of this film and the editing which from start to finish had a specific design to it worked. But where I got annoyed was approximately 25 minuets into the film.

Martin Compston, who plays the male lead, is out with the rest of his pack searching for a missing comrade. While searching he goes to the high ground to what can only be presumed is to get the scent.

Now I understand the requirement for safety equipment during these sort of shoots. But what I don’t understand is the fact that during the postproduction of the film the safety wire wasn’t removed from the shot.

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Now at first on a mid shot of the scene it wasn’t so clear, but I saw it on his back. When it went to the wide shot, it was so glaringly obvious.

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Now if you or I were cutting this shot at home on Final Cut or Premier we could easily remove the wire. It wouldn’t be great but it wouldn’t be there. Cutting on Avid and it’s a very simple process to cover the wire. But on a film that with a special effects budget which would have gone through an extensive post process. This kind of composite effect would have been quick and easy to do. So the honest question is why was it not done? With no explanation of this anywhere on the Internet there seems to be no explanation for it what so ever. It is just shoddy film making.

The rotten tomatoes review of it says it all – Strippers Vs Werewolves

The Secound Lesson: Music in Film

Music in Film

It’s been a while since my last post due to life over taking me a little, that’s the downside of the media industry it can just over consume you once in a while.

Now where was I in regard to this blog…I think I was on the way to a goal in a roundabout kind if way and I think at the end of this post I should be ready to populate my YouTube channel with clips that are in my mind both awful and good.

So moving along from the previous post I was exploring film and my love and utter awe of those involved in the process.

It was in my late teens that I began to appreciate the not so simple film score and it’s ability to bring a deeper depth to a film.

Up to that point it was simply music, I might have just enjoyed it. But I never made the connection to what I was hearing and watching other than it occupying the same space.

A good sound track can make a film, such as a bad one can break it. The right choice of music be it an original score or an album track has the power to add an emotive effect to a scene.

A prime example to this is Tarrenteno’s Reservoir Dogs; the film has an underplaying radio show. On which music is seemingly being controlled by the disembodied voice of the DJ. But each track is carefully chosen to fit with the scene it underplays and nothing more so than the tune ‘Stuck in the Middle With You‘ it’s a foot taping sing along tune that you can’t help to enjoy. So when it comes on and you find yourself watching Mr. White slice of Mr. Oranges ear, while dancing and singing. You are fixated by the urge to sing along, but you are through this utterly drawn into what you are watching. Unable to tear your eyes away from the specifically unraveling in front of you.

Since films have been made, music has always been used to conduct the mood of the scene. From silent films where the music was provided by a piano it organ in the theatre to the integration of sound sync to the film to modern day. The film score has always brought extra magic.

Some films like ‘August Rush‘ are so entwined with the score that it becomes almost like a principle character integral to the plot.

Then there are films such as ‘Inception’ where a perfect score just adds another level if excellences the film experience.

The score can portray mystery, passion, danger (just watch ‘Jaws‘). It can proved theme tunes for characters and just portray the sheer emotion of a scene (the connection between Hiccup and Toothless in ‘How To Train Your Dragon’).

Watch films such as:

Dances With Wolves

Snow Falling on Cedars

Last of the Mohicans

Casablanca

The Great Dictator

Limelight

Kill Bill vol. 1 &2

As well as the ones mentioned above to get an idea about what I mean.

Each score is different relating to the film it’s created for. Although some composers will bring there own recognizable dynamic to the sound. Composers such as, John Williams or James Horner are often ones you will notice in the first few bars.

Other like the great masters, John Barry (James Bond), Ennio Morricone (Spaghetti Westerns) are more often then not defined by a theme tune which defines there whole career, despite countless other theatrical scores under their belts.

I have found as a final note that no mater the subject the music/soundtrack has to be right, if not then it wont match and the film/documentary will seem disjointed.

The first real lesson.

I spent more and more of my youth jumping from film to film, the more I watched the more I wanted to watch my hunger for it was insatiable. Each new film added a new dimension and a bigger thrill as to what was possible. I was not forgetting the first one I saw and ask me for a list of favourites and you will always get ‘The Neverending Story’ at the top. The rest will switch around continually evolving with my tastes.

 

But as i grew films rated PG or U were still enjoyable and I loved ever minuet of them, but I now wanted to see more adult films. The fabled 15 or 18 rated films had the content any adolescent school boy yearned to see. Big guns, big explosion and more fighting. There were I will admit other draws to these films. But they wouldn’t be as clear to me until I was in my teens and other interest came to for front of my mind.

 

When i was old enough to go unaccompanied, I tried to sneak into films at the cinema, buy the ticket for one then go into the other screen. I saw many fun parts of films but the downside being that they never started at the same time. So I ended up missing the fist half. It took me a while to work it right. And I’m more than certain the usher at Gravesend ABC Cinema clocked me on more than once while I was hopping screens. Sometimes I was caught and escorted of the premasis.

 

The 80’s knocked out some awesome films, John Hughes was like a god, even though I wasn’t able to watch films like ‘The Breakfast Club’ and ‘Pretty in Pink’ first time round I went searching for them as soon as I left ‘Home Alone’. At that time The Internet Movie Database was around. I had a copy of the Varity Movie Guide which I collected every other year. It allowed me to cross reference directors but unfortunately not actors. I would watch a film, find it then search out the director.

 

George Lucas, famous for Star Wars, but when I found out he had other films under his belt I wanted to see them. ‘THX1138’,took me a long time to to come round to. I originally found it confusing then over time I grew to understand it and really like it. Whereas ‘American Graffiti’ just blew me away and I still say as a directorial film it’s much better than any of his later efforts (I still love Star Wars though).

 

By the mid 90s I had got to the point where I couldn’t rent (due to my age) the films I wanted to see and due to being caught more and more at my local cinema I wasn’t able to jump screens. So i started abusing the use of my parents VHS player and recording any films that started late at night.

 

I would rush down once my patents had gone to bed, then set the timer to kick off just before the films were due to start. Then I would get up early, retrieve the tape and watch my prize as soon as i could.

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It was this way I was introduced to films like ‘The Warriors’ and ‘Midnight Cowboy’ and got to see all the Arnie films that I’d been obsessed with seeing. But also I began to understand what films could do to you emotionally. Although entertaining the journey you go through watching a character you have an emotional connection with can literally blow your mind. Each step towards discovery, watching their moment slip further away before going full circle and suddenly becoming achievable.  The moment of clarity as all becomes well. And you are there with them, sharing the joy.

 

It’s not always this way. And not always done well but it becomes more  of a lesson. It also allows you do see how you would do it.

 

For me all the films I watch are a lesson:

 

How you introduce your characters.

How you progress your plots.

Elements that are introduced during the course of the story.

Trigger points.

Styles.

Genre.

Your hero.

Your villain.

Conversations.

 

It’s all laid out in the films you watch. Each movie show how’s it’s done. It’s not always right but there are always lesson to learn.

 

So I started to take note. I looked at the artistic endeavour that is in each film. As my passion for this grew so did my understanding of what I wanted. Where I went to be and the job I would later seek out.

The beginning is never ending.

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Born in early days of 1979, I missed the film revolution that came with Star Wars. I was far to young to pay attention to any of the things I love now the kind of films or music.

So it wasn’t until the age of 6 that I first remember being blown away by a movie. It wasn’t Spielberg or Lucas but a German director with an incarnation of a popular children’s book.

When I first saw The Neverending  Story I was hooked (I still get the same enjoyment today than when I first watched it). The idea and the pure fantasy behind the story. And above all else I wanted to fly through the sky on the back of a luck dragon.

From the very last frame of the film I wanted to see more and I devoured my way through what ever film I could rent. Each VHS from my local video library, was pulled from the shelves in utter wonderment of the picture on the cover.

From the first scene I became Indian Jones or I was flying my X-Wing fighter across galaxies. Each film added to my need to see more, no matter if it was bad, good, comedy, action, romance or drama I would watch it. My love for it grew with each film. I loved the sound of a cassette rewinding, knowing that it would soon be ready to watch again. The phrase ‘be kind rewind’ meant so much back then.

Television had the some draw, cartoons were a staple part of my viewing diet. But still laying bold on the surface was my need to watch films. If I had a new VHS to watch then that would be my preference.

I grew up in a small village in the middle of the Kent countryside. Just at the end of the road I lived on was the entrance to a country park. With its deep woods and long escarpments, it was a fine fit for re-enacting the movies. I could emerge from the trees as Dutch being tracked by an unseen enemy.

For my friends it seemed strange that I didn’t want to be the next top footballer. No, for me it was film star and action hero.

It stayed like this for many years until I had a change of heart and got a better understanding of whereupon talents really lay.