New challenges for 2015

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!

 

Scottish indie filmmakers in the spotlight

I’ve been writing a lot about Scottish independent filmmaking this week, ending it with an invitation to be part of a panel discussion at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse next Saturday.

At the start of the week I published a new blog post on ReelScotland from Neil Rolland, the organiser of a monthly Edinburgh film evening called Write Shoot Cut. The event features short films from around the country and I’m hoping to get along to Edinburgh’s Banshee Labyrinth next Monday to see what it’s like.

Then in Thursday’s Edinburgh Evening News I mentioned the same event, along with coverage of another film event on Saturday 15 September, this time at Filmhouse. Shoot First Scotland will feature screenings, an interactive panel discussion and professional insights into low-budget filmmaking in Scotland.

I’ve now been invited along to discuss short films alongside some much more qualified people, including some BAFTA-award winners. One of the films being shown at Shoot First Scotland will be Finlay Pretsell’s Ma Bar:

Looney Tunes return to Filmhouse

My column from this week’s Edinburgh Evening News has slipped through the cracks in the digitial floorboards and not made it to the website is now on the website. I’ve also published it here instead, so if classic cartoons are for you then please read on:

There’s a chance to relive your youth this weekend at the Filmhouse as the cinema screens a series of classic cartoons featuring the exploits of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and my favourite, Daffy Duck.

Created as a result of Warner Bros needing to promote their music back catalogue, the first Looney Tunes short was 1930’s Sinkin’ in the Bathtub starring the long-forgotten Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid.

Continuing with characters such as Buddy and Beans the Cat, Porky Pig became the series’ first major star following his first appearance in 1935’s I Haven’t Got a Hat. Porky started out as a young child in this cartoon and it’s interesting to see how minor a role he has among characters such as Ham and Ex and Oliver Owl.

Of the ten shorts being shown on Saturday and Sunday, perhaps the most famous is 1953’s Duck Amuck, directed by Chuck Jones. In this one, Daffy Duck is tormented by an unseen animator who keeps changing the background and his own image as our hero becomes increasingly exasperated.

It’s bizarre even by Looney Tunes standards, making Daffy and the viewer question his existence, something we don’t usually see in cartoons. Duck Amuck has remained popular over the years and in 1999 it was selected by the US Library of Congress to be preserved in the National Film Registry.

Daffy’s back with Porky in 1941’s in The Henpecked Duck, where the pair go to court as Daffy tries to save his marriage.

It’s not only Looney Tunes represented in the line-up, with the Merrie Melody A Corny Concerto (1943) and MGM’s Bad Luck Blackie (1949) also showing.

The cartoons can be seen from 1pm on Saturday and 11am on Sunday.

Talking TV history at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse

Same and Friends

I felt honoured this week to be asked along to introduce an upcoming event at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse as part of the cinema’s mini-festival celebrating the life and work of Jim Henson, Muppets, Music and Magic.

Between Monday 18 and Thursday 28 April, fans of Henson and the Muppets will be able to see eight films and nine compilations of Henson’s work, from his earliest attempts at making commercials right up to the productions he was working on before he passed away in 1990.

I’m a huge fan of Henson and think he created some of the most innovative television ever made, leaving the entertainment industry a much duller place when he died at an early age. His legacy is continued by his friends and colleagues, including Muppet producer, Martin Baker, whom I interviewed for both the Edinburgh Evening News and ReelScotland ahead of his appearance at Filmhouse over the Easter weekend.

I’ll be doing a Q&A with Martin at the screening of Muppet History 101, an impressive 100 minutes look through the Henson vaults at how his brand of humour became a global success. The talk takes place on Saturday 23 April at 18.15.

Here’s a clip from an early Henson production, Sam and Friends:

© Photography courtesy of The Jim Henson Company, The Muppets Studio, LLC, and Sesame Workshop