Bringing Missing Believed Wiped to Scotland

20131009-221429.jpg

Today I was finally able to publicly announce a new project I’m working on in collaboration with the BFI and Edinburgh Filmhouse: Missing Believed Wiped (MBW) in Scotland.

I’ve long been an admirer of the MBW initiative at London’s BFI, which has been running for 20 years under the guidance of TV historian, Dick Fiddy.

MBW aims to help raise awareness of missing TV episodes in the press, before screening many of them at the BFI. I’ve known Dick for a few years after meeting him at the Edinburgh TV Festival and we’ve discussed the idea of bringing MBW to Scotland for a while now.

Earlier this year we had word from Filmhouse that they’d like to host the event and I appeared on BBC Radio Scotland today to announce that it will take place at the cinema on Sunday 1 December.

Among the episodes being shown are some 1960s Doctor Who, At Last the 1948 Show (a precursor to Monty Python), music show It’s Lulu and a once lost Sean Connery TV play from 1960, Colombe, which was discovered at the US Library of Congress a few years back.

We’ve also launched a search for missing episodes of Scottish TV series, including Para Handy – Master Mariner, Garnock Way and The Adventures of Francie and Josie – there’s more over on the Filmhouse website.

I’ll be helping to raise awareness of both the search and the December event and hope that this is just the first of a series of Scottish MBW screenings in Scotland.

There’s more from my radio appearance over on the Culture Studio podcast from today, 9 October.

If you’d like to know more about Missing Believed Wiped, feel free to get in touch.

Noah Baumbach interview on Radio Scotland

Recorded back in June at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, my interview with US film director, Noah Baumbach, was broadcast on the BBC Radio Scotland Culture Studio last Thursday.

Baumbach was in town for screenings of his latest low budget drama, Frances Ha, the story of a young New Yorker, Frances (Greta Gerwig), trying to find her way in the world.

The interview starts at around 25 minutes and should be on iPlayer until Sunday.

Revealing the secrets of Wikileaks

I’ve been quiet on this site for the last month or so, busy covering the Edinburgh International Film Festival for BBC Radio Scotland’s Culture Studio and the Edinburgh Evening News.

While my opening night EIFF review is online, my interview with its star Felicity Jones aired on the BBC a month or so ago, so is long gone from iPlayer.

Last week saw another of my interviews air, this time with the director of Wikileaks: We Steal Secrets, a look at the facts behind the muddled story of Julian Assange and his infamous website. I spoke to Alex Gibney for around 10 minutes ahead of the film’s Edinburgh premiere, and a few minutes of that was broadcast from around the 22 minute mark.

Much Ado about Joss Whedon

Joss Whedon at Glasgow Film Festival

Joss Whedon at Glasgow Film Festival

As a long time fan of Joss Whedon’s work, be it Buffy, Angel, Firefly or any number of other projects, I was delighted to get the chance to interview him for this week’s Culture Studio on BBC Radio Scotland.

He was in Scotland to promote his latest film, Much Ado About Nothing, and he explained how he came to make the Shakespeare adaptatation with a group of friends from his numerous films and TV series.

The interview begins at around the 1 hour 39 mark on iPlayer.

Byzantium feature on BBC Culture Studio

Gemma Arterton

Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan and Neil Jordan are three of the team behind new independent horror film, Byzantium, which opened in the UK last week.

I interviewed the two actresses and director at the recent Glasgow Film Festival and the end result ended up on the BBC Culture Studio last Thursday. The episode is still on iPlayer for another few days.

My interview with Joss Whedon, director of the upcoming Much Ado About Nothing, should be broadcast in a week or two.

Film Appreciation in Edinburgh

A quick plug for my appearance on last week’s BBC Movie Café, in which I interview members of an Edinburgh adult education course who attend a monthly film screening at the city’s Cameo cinema.

The group, mainly comprised of retired film fans, have been meeting for the last 15 years and after featuring the story on my own site, ReelScotland, I pitched the story to BBC Radio Scotland, who sent me along to a screening of Argo.

I interviewed a handful of members, edited it and passed it onto the producer a few weeks ago – it’ll be on the iPlayer for another few days (it starts around 25 minutes into the programme).

 

An epic end to the year

BBC Movie Cafe discusses The Hobbit

BBC Movie Cafe discusses The Hobbit

The world has once more gone Middle Earth mad, with the release this week of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit in cinemas, nine years after his last visit to The Shire.

I was asked by the BBC Movie Cafe and the Edinburgh Evening News to head along to Edinburgh’s Cameo Cinema last weekend for a special screening of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a 10 hour endurance test involving Orcs, Dwarves and people dressed as Hobbits.

The radio segment can be heard over on BBC iPlayer for another few days, while I’ve reproduced the Evening News column below:

With The Hobbit arriving in cinemas tomorrow, it seemed like a good idea last Sunday to head to the Cameo to watch The Lord of the Rings trilogy on the big screen.

At around 10 hours in duration, this was no ordinary film screening, meaning I had to be prepared for all eventualities. Forget the lembas bread wrapped in leaves favoured by Frodo and Sam, I went for some ham sandwiches and too much coffee.

The films were a joy to revisit, with Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth, a dark and brooding place with the occasional glimpse of light as our heroes made their way to Mordor, looking suitably epic in the original 35mm prints.

Leaving the screening on a high, I hoped The Hobbit would prove to be as exhilarating, as Jackson returned to his world with a new Bilbo Baggins in the shape of Martin Freeman alongside Sir Ian McKellan as Gandalf.

The director has embraced a pioneering new technology which doubles the normal frame rate of the film, 48 fps (frames per second) instead of 24. Jackson claims this is a more immersive experience and that all films will go this way.

Rather than looking as big and bold as Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit looks more like it’s shot on the set of a 1980s soap opera. While landscapes look lush and rich, close-ups of the actors bring you closer to them, making the heavy prosthetics and make-up more obvious.

Most importantly, the thin story doesn’t justify the three-hour length, with not much really happening apart from some fights, lots of running around and the appearance of Gollum.

With two more films to come, it looks like it’s going to be a slog to get to the end of this particular journey.

Bond on the BBC

Meeting the first Bond Girl, Eunice Gayson

Meeting the first Bond Girl, Eunice Gayson

I was sent on a Top Secret mission by the BBC a few weeks ago, my task to infiltrate a gold-plated briefcase containing 22 James Bond Blu-rays that had been dispatched from Eilean Donan Castle on its way to the small Argyll town of Lochgilphead as part of 007 Days of Bond.

Luckily it wasn’t quite so Top Secret that I couldn’t tweet the odd photo and record and edit a package for BBC Radio Scotland’s Movie Cafe.

I flew in a helicopter (here’s some footage captured on my iPhone), visited a location that doubled for the Adriatic in 1963’s From Russia With Love, met the original Bond Girl, the now 84-year-old Eunice Gayson, and got soaked in the process on a wet Argyll afternoon, but it was still a fantastic day for a 007 nut like myself.

Eunice Gayson and the Aston Martin

Eunice Gayson and the Aston Martin

The segment can be heard over on iPlayer for the next few days:

My 50th anniversary Blu-ray set arrived in the post a few days later, here’s the trailer if you haven’t ordered yours yet:

Young James Herriot week on ReelScotland

As well as covering a large amount Scottish films on ReelScotland, I also try to feature as much new television as I can.

Following articles on BBC Scotland’s The Field of Blood and Burnistoun, I was on the set of All Creatures Great and Small prequel, Young James Herriot, in July.

Starring Iain De Caestecker, Amy Manson and Ben Lloyd-Hughes, the series is set in the 1930s and follows a young James Herriot as he becomes the accomplished vet we know from the books and original TV series.

I’ve decided to run interviews with the three leads and their co-star, Tony Curran, from Tuesday until Friday, with episode one showing on BBC One on Sunday evening.

I’m also dropping in some audio clips from the interviews alongside the text, making the interviews more interesting for fans. I’ll add links to the interviews on here during the week and also embed the audio below:

‘It’s about James Herriot becoming the character everyone knows’: Iain De Caestecker on Young James Herriot

‘She just breezes through life’: Amy Manson on Young James Herriot

Continue reading

ReelScotland and Screen Machine on BBC Radio Scotland

Senior Screen Machine operator, Iain MacColl, in action

Senior Screen Machine operator, Iain MacColl, in action

The team at BBC Radio Scotland invited me back on the Movie Cafe today to discuss a couple of my current projects, Screen Machine and ReelScotland.

First we talked about Scotland’s mobile cinema, Screen Machine, a project I’m currently working on for Creative Scotland. The cinema’s senior operator, Iain MacColl, was on the line to Janice Forsyth to talk about his long-time involvement with the cinema, before some interviews I took on Arran a few weeks back were broadcast. I  then added some thoughts on the importance of cinema to communities in rural areas.

Part of the Arran visit was to shoot some video of the Screen Machine for the YouTube channel, but while that continues to be edited here’s a shorter version I cut for ReelScotland’s YouTube channel:

The other reason for me being there was to talk about ReelScotland’s recent placement in The List magazine’s Best Scottish Websites feature, coming 10th out 30 sites, more recognition for the site which is doing well in its second year and which I’m developing some new ideas for.

The show is available on BBC iPlayer until Thursday 18 August and the above segments begin at around the 26 minute mark.

 

A week of video, radio and a few heroes

It’s been a busy week-and-a-bit, my first working fully freelance, and one which found me filming new content for ReelScotland, interviewing a hero, writing about another and gaining yet another in the environs of the Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF).

Last Saturday I headed to Glasgow’s Collectormania event at the Braehead Arena, a chance to top up on geekiness (my levels are actually never too low) and see what’s happening in the world of movies, comics and TV. I also wanted to interview the producers of a new Scottish science fiction movie, Night is Day, which I’d been reading about.

While the harsh light of the arena wasn’t exactly flattering and lack of tripod meant it was a tad shaky, I think it’s turned out OK, and the full article is up on ReelScotland:

On Sunday I finally managed to catch-up with the musical genius that is Neil Brand, one of the world’s foremost silent movie accompanists, who was in Edinburgh for the weekend having played at the Cameo cinema on Thursday evening, when I was out of town. I’d already published a short interview with Neil on ReelScotland, conducted by email, but this was a chance to meet him in the flesh.

Tuesday found me back in the offices of Civic, where I spend one day a week as a Digital Editor, this week mainly working on analysing clients’ websites and seeing what changes might be needed content or navigation-wise.

Wednesday was meant to be a flying visit to the EIBF, with an event at 2pm called Story Machines: Movies, part of a mini-festival hosted by writer, Charlie Fletcher. This brought together scriptwriter/novelists William Nicholson and Don Boyd in a fascinating discussion on the pitfalls of writing for cinema and the joys of writing your own books. Both do seem to love cinema, but the fact that over 50% of all work fails to make the cinema screen was disheartening to them. It was a lively, insightful and thought-provoking event, perhaps the best I’ve seen at the EIBF.

I ended up staying for another talk, Story Machines: Games, featuring three fascinating panelists in the shape of Steven Poole, Naomi Alderman and Trevor Byrne, which looked at the potential and successes/failures of the gaming world in embracing storytelling. I’m keen to get back into the world of gaming after a number of years away from it, and this was a decent primer.

The final part of the day was spent at Story Machines: The Last Chapter, which brought William Nicholson back to the stage alongside comics legend, Alan Moore.

Theories of psychology and religion were sent forth into the rapt audience by Moore, Nicholson occasionally interjecting as Charlie Fletcher sat between the pair. By the end of the panel I was filled with enthusiasm for the creative process, Moore’s insistence that anyone who has an idea or ambition should just get on with making it a reality hitting home with many of us.

After writing a post for ReelScotland celebrating the career of Sir Sean Connery on his birthday, (he was 80 that day), I sent off my column to the Edinburgh Evening News which asked why Edinburgh doesn’t see the need to mark the occasion when other cities go out of their way to erect statues to their favourite sons or daughters. I’ve also recorded an audioboo on the same subject:

Sean Connery boo

Finally (I warned you it was a busy week) I was invited back onto BBC Radio Scotland’s Movie Café on Thursday to discuss the return of Avatar to cinemas and the release of Edinburgh-set The Illusionist. It was a short-but-sweet chat and good fun, and you can hear the programme on iPlayer for the next few days:

BBC iPlayer

In amongst all that there were a few meetings, a bit of planning for the coming weeks, and a visit to the always worthwhile Edinburgh Coffee Morning. There are a few interesting projects brewing around the subject of content creation which I hope to be able to write about soon.

BBC Radio Scotland Movie Café

The-Illusionist

I was invited back onto BBC Radio Scotland’s weekly Movie Café programme this week (I was last on in January when I covered Bristol’s silent film festival, Slapstick 2010) to discuss the re-release of James Cameron’s Avatar and Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist.

While I was based in the Edinburgh studio, host Janice Forsyth and fellow critic Paul Gallagher were over in Glasgow, and we discussed our generally negative reactions to Avatar returning to cinemas, with around eight more minutes of footage weaved into the narrative, and our love of the more traditional, Scottish made, The Illusionist.

I’d strolled along to the BBC Studios through the Grassmarket and up Victoria Street, the latter playing a prominent part of the stunning film which makes the city appear almost fairytale-esque. I’d already covered The Illusionist premiere back in June for the Edinburgh Evening News, and ReelScotland, but it was nice to air those views on the radio with fellow enthusiasts.

The programme is available on iPlayer until Thursday 26 August.