New challenges for 2015

4 Jan

Hard to believe it’s been almost four months since my last blog post, during which time I’ve been busy being busy: finishing my first book, leaving behind the freelance world for full-time employment and planning new projects for 2015.

On the book front, a few unexpected occurrences – including the announcement of a fifth film in the Tremors franchise – led to me missing my over-ambitious December 2014 publication date. The book has been pushed back to later in 2015, which should allow better promotion and some extra content on Tremors 5.

Work-wise, as much as I enjoyed the freelance life, which allowed me to travel to France, work with the Screen Machine, create some iPad magazines and be involved with numerous other interesting projects, the opportunity to get my teeth into a longer term project arose and I couldn’t say no.

I’m now the UK Community Manager with the fast-growing online arts and entertainment site, WOW247, who I did some work for in June 2014 as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. I’ll be helping to grow the number of contributors to the site and increase its reach, while writing some content (including a new film column).

One personal project that finally came to fruition in December 2014 was a special screening of archive TV at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, which saw a couple of dozen people congregate to watch Hogmanay classics from the STV vaults. The event followed on from a 2013 event I organised with the BFI, and I hope there’ll be more screenings in 2015 – head over to the Facebook page for updates.

Here’s to a great 2015, hopefully it’ll be a memorable one for all the right reasons!

 

Big screen debut in A Dangerous Game

12 Sep

A-Dangerous-Game

That headline is perhaps slightly misleading, in that I’ve not appeared in Anthony Baxter’s latest film, A Dangerous Game, but some footage I filmed has. Let me explain…

Between 2011 and 2014 I was lucky enough to be involved with Scotland’s finest cinema, the Screen Machine, a mobile unit which takes films to some of the most remote areas of the country. It’s a brilliant concept and I helped raise awareness of the venture, win sponsorship/funding, start an education pilot and carry out a few other tasks before funding ran out in April this year.

One of the films we screened was Anthony Baxter’s explosive You’ve Been Trumped, which investigated the Scottish Government’s decision to change environmental laws to allow US tycoon, Donald Trump, to destroy some of the Scottish coastline to build a golf course. The millions of pounds he promised to invest never materialised and the story of Trump’s intimidation of the residents made for compelling viewing.

As part of my job, I filmed the cinema in action around the country, most notably on the isle of Mull and on the islands of Coll and Tiree (you can see the videos below). When Anthony got in touch to ask if we had any footage of the Screen Machine for his latest film, for a sequence illustrating where the first film had been screened, I was happy to send over my raw footage.

Some of that footage has ended up in A Dangerous Game, which is now being released in UK cinemas. Admittedly it’s only a few seconds, but I’m happy to be part of the film, which looks at where things are now with Trump and his Scottish investments. I also spotted my name in the credits for “additional camera”, so that IMDb entry can’t be far behind.

Find out more about the film over on the official website and watch the trailer below, before having a look at the Screen Machine in action (and if you’re ever heading to the Highlands, visit the website to see if you’re anywhere near it, tell them I sent you):

Anton Corbijn interview on BBC Radio Scotland

12 Sep

One of the finest films I saw at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival was the latest John le Carré  adaptation, A Most Wanted Man, starring the late, great, Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Director Anton Corbijn was in town to carry out some interviews and I was lucky enough to speak to him on behalf of BBC Radio Scotland’s Culture Studio. It’s on the BBC iPlayer (starting around 37 minutes in) for the next seven days and I’ll upload to my Audioboo page soon.

Covering Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014

29 Jun

The Edinburgh International Film Festival has been and gone for another year, 11 days of premieres, special events and assorted film madness that I’ve been covering for both BBC Radio Scotland and WOW247.co.uk.

As in previous years (it’s my seventh as press), I’ve been trying to see as many films as possible before interviewing members of the cast and production teams involved. I appeared live on the BBC Radio Scotland Culture Show on 19th June, with two packages being broadcast on the 26th June. My interviews with Cold in July director Jim Mickle and Braveheart star, Brian Cox, will be on iPlayer for a few more days.

I also filmed a number of videos for entertainment website WOW247, a spin-off from my old haunt at the Edinburgh Evening News. As well as attending the opening night film, Hyena, I spoke to Brian Cox about 20 years of Braveheart, met an ex-Hobbit by the name of Elijah Wood and spoke to Don Johnson about his latest film. Those videos, and a few more, can be watched via the website.

Tremors book cover and trailer online

1 Jun

A few months ago I announced that I was writing my first book, Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to the Tremors. Now the cover and trailer are online.

The cover was illustrated by the very talented Ben Morris, while the trailer was animated by Kayla Stuhr, with music from Emília Rovira Alegre. The book is on target for a December release, and you can follow its progress on the blog.

You can also read a short interview I gave to the horror magazine, Fangoria, over on their website.

Seeking Perfection cover
Watch the Seeking Perfection trailer on YouTube.

Time to end Reel Time

17 Apr

EEN page

Today sees the publication in the Edinburgh Evening News of my final Reel Time, the weekly film column I’ve been writing since January 2009. Since then the word count has dropped gradually from 500 to 350 to the current 300 and my (very rough) calculations tell me I’ve written somewhere in the region of 100,000 words in that time.

Writing the column has been a fantastic experience, giving me access to some amazing people and places while allowing me to convey thoughts about cinema that I otherwise wouldn’t have considered. Who knew I had so many views on sequels and remakes, the eating of popcorn, the future of 3D, silent cinema, IMAX, the loss of Sunday matinees at the Cameo and Muppet movies?

It’s the equivalent of writing a diary about my film-going, something I’d never have considered had I not had a weekly deadline. Edinburgh is one of the best cities in the world for film fans, with dozens of cinema screens offering the latest movies alongside retrospective seasons, world cinema classics and special events.

The decision to stop was mainly due to a feeling that after writing more than 250 columns I was starting to say the same things, just in a different way. There’s still a challenge in that, but not as much as there was the first time. I complain about there being too many sequels at the cinema and I was starting to create my own versions, albeit on the printed page.

Another reason is that I’m now writing my first book, which itself could be in the region of 100,000 words. I need to devote as much time as I can to that.

Finally, I’m increasingly devoting my time to seeking out less mainstream films or classics, something that doesn’t always fit in with the requirements of a mainstream newspaper. I hope to get my classic film blog up-and-running again, writing about the history of cinema rather than the latest blockbusters. Scottish film website, reelscotland.com, will also continue.

The Evening News might still allow me to contribute the occasional piece, but until then I’m grateful to have been a small part of such a great Edinburgh institution and hope the next film columnist beats my five-and-a-bit-years record.

New interviews on the BBC

16 Apr

We’re lucky to have some fantastic film festivals here in Scotland, meaning I can head along with my (well, the BBC’s) trusty microphone and gather together various interviews for future broadcast on the Radio Scotland Culture Studio.

In February I was at the Glasgow Film Festival, where I spoke to director Richard Ayoade about his his latest film, The Double, and director Biyi Bandele and producer Andrea Calderwood about their latest production, Half of a Yellow Sun.

Both films were covered on the Studio on recent programmes, though only the latter is still available on the BBC iPlayer as I write this.