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Friday 17 November 2006

The Power of Nightmares

If you haven’t seen this fascinating three-part BBC documentary series, you can download it from the Internet Archive:

Part1 | Part2 | Part3

It explores ‘the origins in the 1940s and 50s of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Middle East, and Neoconservatism in America, parallels between these movements, and their effect on the world today.’

And it shows how politicians have used the terror threat to restore their power and authority in a disillusioned age.

It’s a brilliant use of archive film of all kinds, combined with interviews. Give it a look even if you don’t usually watch this kind of subject, because it’s interesting to see how Adam Curtis the producer combines such diverse visual material.

If you have problems playing MP4 files, just grab the free VideoLan player.


Filed under: Documentary,Politics — GS @ 10:12 am
Friday 10 November 2006

How submitting your video content to the BBC could cost you money

Quality content and creativity are valuable things. If you need proof, just look at the millions of pounds that businesses earn from back catalogues of music, films, TV shows and news footage.

(more…)


Filed under: The media,TV & film,Video-making — GS @ 9:57 pm
Wednesday 8 November 2006

Environmental health officer hit by ‘strong smell of mice’ at London Starbucks

Starbucks has been fined £12,000 after one of its coffee shops was found to be infested with mice.

‘Mouse droppings were found next to spoons, knives, cups, clingfilm and boxes of biscuits and coffee that were about to be used, London’s City of Westminster magistrates heard.’

Read more…

The staff need to wake up and smell the er… mice.


Filed under: Food & cookery,Health — GS @ 6:33 pm
Thursday 21 September 2006

Red Squirrel Week

A red squirrel in the garden

Excited to see a red squirrel in the garden this morning. It was being chased by more than a dozen sparrows. They have made the overgrown clematis their base and I expect they saw the squirrel as a predator.

From 30th September to 8th October 2006 it’s Red Squirrel Week. This one was nine days early!

Northumberland is one of the last strongholds for the red squirrel, which has been driven out of most of England over the past 100 years by the grey squirrel.

These stills are from some video that will be up on the site in a few days as part of a longer film.

A red squirrel in the garden

More about red squirrels:

Red Alert

BBC Radio 4

Northumberland National Park


Filed under: Environment,Wildlife — GS @ 6:27 pm
Wednesday 23 August 2006

Here Come the Double Deckers

One of my favourite TV programmes as a kid.

As far as I can make out, this series has never been released on video or DVD in the UK (and probably not in the US either). The last time I remember it being on terrestrial TV here was in the Granada ITV region in 1990.

This is one of a vast number of British television programmes and films that remain unseen, languishing in a vault somewhere. There are British films that I’ve never been able to watch and there is no way to see them because they are not available anywhere.

As a content producer myself I understand the need for copyright. But, is it right that companies can deny us access to our cultural heritage and prevent us from viewing these for decades? Simply because they can’t be bothered, or can’t make a profit by releasing them.

There should be some way for people to see these. Either require the companies to make a copy available that people can borrow from a local library. Or make it legal to share non-profit copies of commercially unavailable material.


Filed under: TV & film — GS @ 11:02 pm
Thursday 29 June 2006

Tony Blair’s assault on civil liberties

The Independent newspaper has an article (reprinted from Vanity Fair) about the way Tony Blair has eroded civil liberties and freedom in Britain and the scary way in which many people seem compliant and almost resigned to their fate.

Certainly there’s a lack of interest in politics these days. Partly because politicians and the media have managed to make the subject so boring. Sometimes it seems like one group of public schoolboys (the journalists) having a matey jousting match with another group of public schoolboys (the politicians).

Television — the most powerful medium we have, and the one from which most people get their information, has been dumbed down. The awkward programmes — World In Action, This Week, Panorama — have gone or been emasculated. Scare stories about paedophiles, terror threats and health risks are used to distract the public from what the Government is doing in the background.

Tony Blair has created a society where British people work such long hours that many have neither the time nor appetite for serious subjects in the few hours they have to themselves. They seek escapism.

On the subject of ID cards, Neil Tennant of the PetShopBoys is quoted in the article as saying: ‘my specific fear is that we are going to create a society where a policeman stops me on the way to Waitrose’.

Already I see that attitude developing amongst the police. Most recently I noticed it when we went to the Manchester Passion event on Good Friday. We asked a policeman for directions to the street from where the parade was starting off and I happened to mention that I was there to shoot some video. He replied that he had ‘no objection’ to me filming.

I wasn’t asking for his permission to film. This was on a public street at an event that was intended for the public. But, apparently, he felt it was in his power to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to me using my camcorder.

Shooting pictures at the Carribean Carnival last year, I was asked by one policeman where I was from.

Instead of assuming that most people are at an event for perfectly innocent reasons, now there always seems to be a suspicion that you are up to something.

I’ve been out on the streets shooting photographs and video for twenty-five years and this is something that never used to happen. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I can see the day coming when they will expect to review your videotape or look at the photos on your memory card.

Quality of life for ordinary law-abiding people is being eroded because there is a one-in-a-million chance that the Police may catch someone who is up to no good.

This is sneaking up on us. We are being ‘groomed’ ready for a society where we will be tracked and logged twenty-four hours a day and any variation from the home-to-work-to-supermarket-to-home routine will prompt questions and a request to prove who we are, what we are doing and why.

Like Neil Tennant I’ll consider leaving Britain if ID cards are introduced.

PS. I can’t believe I’m quoting one of the Pet Shop Boys. How gay is that? ;-)


Filed under: Politics — GS @ 3:46 am
Tuesday 16 May 2006

Bargain Hunters: baps

Bargain Hunters: baps

UPDATE (October 2008): this video has ‘retired’ into the archives. I’ve left the production notes below.

Bargain Hunters is our reality shopping programme. Can we get some good last-minute deals at the local grocery stores? It’s a race against the clock!

This one was filmed at Easter but I only just got it edited. I think it turned out great — especially considering we had a few issues.

Five minutes into filming it started to rain (April was just SO wet here). Rain has to be extremely heavy to show up much on screen, but even light drizzle isn’t too good for the camcorder. Then my voice recorder seemed to stop working, so we abandoned one thing we had planned (it turned out later I had hit a ‘helpful’ switch which prevents recording and which I’d forgotten was there).

As usual, here are my thoughts on this episode and some of the ideas behind it…

I’m going to scream if I see another lazy PR person, estate agent or journalist refer to ‘vibrant Manchester city centre‘. It’s become a cliche and we need an organised campaign to take the piss out of the unimaginative people who do it. Even churches and the Arndale Centre (with its tacky new catchphrase ‘come together’) are ‘vibrant’ supposedly.

Big Brother starts here this coming Thursday. It was, of course, Big Brother contestant Michelle who famously offered Stuart the chance to squeeze her ‘baps’. As usual I expect to watch the start of the 13 weeks, get bored and stop tuning in, and then return for the last few days to see how it ends.

One of the things I love about editing video is the way all the different elements — picture, live sound and music — sometimes combine to create something unexpected. As I filmed Chris in the lift, in the background there was the sound of a rather emotional woman talking in a loud voice. During editing, when I added the music, I found it became almost like some weird operatic version of our regular theme music. Bizarre.

Chris makes me laugh an awful lot, with his enthusiasm and that slightly-eccentric British thing he has going on. Like a Kenneth Williams or Frankie Howerd, he can make the most innocent remark sound suggestive.

Memo to self: remember not to film broccoli or salad in front of a green screen.


Filed under: Food & cookery,Fun,Manchester,Shopping — GS @ 3:51 pm
 
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