Big screen debut in A Dangerous Game

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):

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Covering Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014

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.

Set jetting on the Côte d’Azur

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Back in January I mentioned that I’d just returned from a 10-day trip to the Côte d’Azur as a guest of the local tourist board, who were keen to highlight the region’s film connections to potential visitors.

Since then I’ve been putting together a new blog, www.filmtravellercotedazur.com, which will see me cover the trip via blog posts, photos and video content over the next few months.

Filming near the village of Eze

Filming near the village of Eze

The blog launched in Paris a fortnight ago (I sadly couldn’t make it to the event), with the following, slightly tongue-in-cheek, trailer announcing our plans:

There are plenty more towns and villages still to come on the blog and it’s been fascinating researching the numerous film connections since my return home.

Along with my 2012 tour of locations used in the Disney-Pixar film, Brave, it’s been a good time for set jetting.

Edinburgh Festivals coverage 2012

It’s that time of year again in Edinburgh, when you can’t walk a few paces without someone thrusting a Fringe flyer in your face and posters of comedians you vaguely recognise from the telly are plastered everywhere.

Though it’s been a few years since I reviewed Fringe shows for the Edinburgh Evening News, in my Thursday column I have had the opportunity to promote film-related events, including 10 Films With My Dad, An Appointment with The Wicker Man and The Beta Males’ Midnight Movie Theatre.

I was also invited by the Edinburgh International Festival Backstage team to be interviewed for a short video about film music in theatre, alongside EIFF Artistic Director, Chris Fujiwara, and acclaimed composer, Shaun Davey:

Cinematic Scotland launched

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

I’ve been busier than usual this month with the launch of a new film website, Cinematic Scotland, one that also includes elements of travel journalism.

The idea for the site has been around since late 2011 and finds me collaborating with ScottishCinemas.org’s Gordon Barr and BudgetTraveller.org’s Kash Bhattacharya as we cover film locations and cinema history in Scotland.

Our first two projects launched within a few days of each other. Firstly, we collaborated with the National Library of Scotland on a new map to accompany their Going to the Pictures exhibition. The free map allows visitors to take a trip around the centre of Edinburgh, spotting filming locations and cinemas, past and present, as they go. The map was also reprinted in the Edinburgh Evening News and can be downloaded as a PDF.

The second project tied into the latest Disney-Pixar film, Brave, which is set in the Scottish Highlands. Although the film is animated, the filmmakers did travel to various part of the country in 2006 and 2007 on research trips and I attempted to follow in their footsteps along with Edinburgh tour operator, Rabbie’s.

I headed to Inverness, Ullapool and the Isles of Lewis, Harris and Skye and the result was a series of blog posts, photos on Flickr and YouTube videos that described the tour, with a number of tweets allowing people to follow my progress. I also wrote about the trip on BudgetTraveller.org.

It’s not my first attempt at travel journalism, following some recent work for Guardian Travel, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to do more of the same soon.

It’s still early days for the site but we are working on more projects which we hope will bring Scotland’s cinematic connections to life.

TCM Classic Film Festival 2012

I was back in LA in April for the third annual TCM Classic Film Festival, watching another impressive line-up of movies that have stood the test of time with some of the cast and crew who made them.

Before I went I wrote about the 2011 Festival over on the Guardian Travel website (you can also read a round-up of last year’s coverage elsewhere on this blog), trying to explain why TCM is more than just a chance to watch films on the big screen.

I also covered the Festival for the Edinburgh Evening News once again, wondering if Edinburgh could take over from Hollywood before looking at the cinemas themselves in LA and San Francisco.

While I was in LA I caught over a dozen special screenings and met some fantastic people, many of whom have been viewers of the US TCM channel for many years. I’d been commissioned by Cinema Retro magazine to write a follow-up report of my festival, which was published in May.

Some of the people I met at 2011’s TCM were the team behind the excellent Cinementals blog, who allowed me to write about a film festival closer to home last week. The 2012 Edinburgh International Film Festival will be screening a retrospective strand dedicated to Hollywood director Gregory La Cava and I interviewed EIFF artistic director Chris Fujiwara for the Cinementals.

Finally, I wanted to experiment with the iMovie app on my iPhone earlier in the week and decided to use some photos from TCM to do so. It’s not the best video you’ll see on the Festival but here’s the experiment

New ReelScotland video interviews

February found me putting together a handful of new video interviews for ReelScotland to promote a new film and a new Scottish play based on a film.

The 2012 Glasgow Film Festival finished tonight and one of the new films screened was Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy starring Scottish actor, Adam Sinclair. I was approached by the PR team behind the film in 2011 about interviewing Sinclair atop Edinburgh’s Oloroso restaurant which resulted in a video on Sinclair’s entry into acting and a second on Ecstasy:

The second pair of videos were created to promote new play An Appointment with the Wicker Man, based on the classic British horror film, The Wicker Man. I met with the play’s co-writer and star, Greg Hemphill, along with co-star Jimmy Chisholm during rehearsals, with both interviews now on YouTube:

The future of film criticism is in the past

Being a classic film fan can be a lonely experience, one of those people who regularly scans the TV listings for 1am repeats of Clarence Brown films or documentaries about RKO.

This past year has found me immersed in cinema history, through my visit to the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF), my work running the Park Circus blog and my weekly Edinburgh Evening News column.

A few weeks ago I wrote in the paper about the arrival of Scorsese’s Hugo and new silent film, The Artist, both of which celebrate the early days of film, while on Thursday I noted the arrival of Edinburgh’s IMAX screen and the need to keep an eye on some of the smaller films in the city.

As I’ve discovered through working with Park Circus, the world is increasingly looking to the past for its entertainment, something I’m more than happy to be a part of.

I’ll be visiting the IMAX for Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol in a few weeks, and appreciate the need to promote quality new cinema via sites like my own www.reelscotland.com, but I also think it’s my responsibility to tell readers about our rich cinematic heritage, as I did back in September for the Evening News.

It’s also the reason I recently started another blog in the shape of Holyrood or Bust. With the huge volume of DVDs and Blu-rays currently being released, not to mention cinema re-releases and films such as The Artist, it’s a golden period for those wanting to write about classic film.

My most recent post was requested by a friend in New York, Will McKinley, who is a viewer and fan of the US TCM channel. Though I’m unable to watch the channel, I did become a convert to TCM during the TCMFF and used their recent Buster Keaton season to launch the site in October. This time, Will asked if I could write a post to celebrate the return of TCM host, Robert Osborne, to the screen after a short absence.

I obliged by using an excerpt from an interview I carried out with Osborne in LA earlier in the year:

I’m now gearing up for a 2012 filled with even more classic films, including another trip to Bristol’s Slapstick Festival, the second Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema here in Scotland (see my video interview below), a return to Los Angeles and a few other projects that are in the early stages.

Through my work I’ve discovered a vibrant community of classic film fans it’s been a privilege to engage with them on various websites, via Twitter and, most importantly, in cinemas around the world.

Here’s to another classic year of film coverage in 2012.

Interview with actress Melissa George

It was in June 2010 that I headed north to Muir of Ord, just outside Inverness, to interview the cast and crew of new British action thriller, A Lonely Place to Die.

Star Melissa George was there alongside director Julian Gilbey and co-stars Ed Speleers and Stephen McCole, but it was George who I managed to get a 15-minute chat with about her career – including Mulholland Drive, The Limey, In Treatment and Alias – and her Scottish roots.

The full interview is now up on the ReelScotland YouTube Channel and, although it is a lengthy one, it was preferable to a cut down version that you could find anywhere else. There’s also more on the film over at ReelScotland.

Edinburgh Fringe interviews

It’s been a few years since I covered the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival for the Edinburgh Evening News or my own blog, but I still try to keep an eye out for something that might interest fellow film and TV fans.

This year I got in touch with the team behind Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut, a loving homage to the 1941 film, and asked for an interview with two of its stars, Gavin Mitchell and Jimmy Chisholm, for ReelScotland. I took along my video camera and set it up in the noisy bar at the Pleasance to film a short chat for YouTube, and the guys couldn’t have been nicer.

Then, as a vintage television fan (to clarify, it’s the TV programmes that are vintage, not me), I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to interview Clive Mantle, one of the stars of 1980s TV show, Robin of Sherwood. He’s in town playing Tommy Cooper in the brilliant Jus’ Like That.

This time I decided on recording short audioboos, one about the show and one about Clive’s TV work, which also includes The Vicar of Dibley, Casualty and Holby City. During the interview it emerged the cast and crew of Robin had attempted to revive the show with ITV a few years back, only for the channel to turn the idea down.

I blogged about it and it generated hundreds of page views and a number of comments, including one from another star of the show, Mark Ryan. I’ve now had interest from fans and press around the globe and it’ll be interesting to see if the story goes any further.

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.

 

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:

Volunteers’ Week videos for Volunteer Centre Edinburgh

Filming for Volunteer Centre Edinburgh

I first met the team at Volunteer Centre Edinburgh (VCE) a couple of years ago while putting together an article for the now-defunct Scottish Government website, scotlandistheplace.com. The article discussed how new arrivals in Edinburgh from abroad could make connections and build their CV by volunteering in the city.

I was struck by the fantastic work they did with few resources and it wasn’t too long after this that the digital agency I worked for took them on as a client.

Then, in January 2011, I spoke to VCE again for an article on also now-defunct (there’s a theme here) Guardian Edinburgh website and realised that there was a lot of potential for online promotion that wasn’t being tapped. This made me want to do more when I heard that Volunteers’ Week was coming up, running from 1 – 7 June.

On 17 May I headed along to Edinburgh City Chambers for the Inspiring Volunteering Awards ceremony, filming various award winners for some short videos. For the last few days I’ve been editing the clips and publishing them on the VCE website, teaming up with an ex-colleague, Scott Langley, to ensure the copy complements the videos.

I’ll embed all the videos on here: they’re also available on the VCE YouTube Channel.

Day One: Emily Dodd from Greener Leith

Day Two: Dominic Jules from Canongate Youth Project

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New Anthony LaPaglia video clip online

As I mentioned back in March, I worked with the team behind this year’s Glasgow Film Festival as their video blogger, interviewing a number of their guests for the official YouTube channel.

The biggest interview of the lot was with the actor Anthony LaPaglia, who was in town to promote a film which he starred in and executive produced, Balibo. A second clip from that interview has now appeared on the Glasgow Cinema City website, in which LaPaglia discusses his love of Scotland.

I should say that I seem to remember asking a fair few questions in the full interview, which I suspect will be online sometime soon, but here I let LaPaglia have his say:

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…