Summer of Soul

Last night I was at the Savoy Cinema in Heaton Moor – it’s a single-screen independent boutique cinema just near the border to Manchester, and I’ve been there a few times to see films that haven’t been given a showing at Cineworld (where I normally go because I have an Unlimited card).

Anyway, I went yesterday to see a new documentary film about the Harlem Cultural Festival from 1969 called ‘Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)’, which at the time was recorded with a multi-camera set-up onto videotape, but after it was done, no TV network was interested in showing it, despite there being some pretty big names performing at it. So over 50 years later, these recorded performances are finally being seen, along with talking heads of those that either performed, or were in the audience.

It was a really interesting film, with some great music and restoration of the video footage really held up well on the big screen. It was also pretty educational seeing all this in the context of the racial tensions taking place in the US at the same time, which the documentary showed using archive news footage from the 60s.

The other reason for going to last night’s showing is that the Savoy preceded it with some live music, which made the evening more of an event. A local singer called Jermaine Peterson along with Troy his guitarist performed a set of soul covers and some original songs, and it was really good. It was basically just the guitar plugged into an amp and the vocal mic straight into the PA, and the only thing missing was a bit of reverb on the voice, but it sounded surprisingly good since no-one was actually mixing it!

Troy the guitarist & Jermaine Peterson

One bizarre thing about the night was who I was sitting next to… I’d had to buy a luxury seat because all the regular seats had sold out, so I was directed to a block of 4 seats, where two women were already sitting at the aisle end, so I went past them and sat in the end seat, leaving the single seat in-between for social distancing. After sitting down, I had the slight feeling that I’d recognised the older lady as I passed, and a couple of minutes later I overheard her say that she’d written an article for the Daily Mail that week, and at that point I also placed the voice and realised I was sitting next to former Conservative MP and Government minister, Edwina Currie!

Strangely, I actually met her way back in the 90s when I had to film an interview with her at some conference – I think it might have been the WI – but the one thing I remember about it is that she really wasn’t very nice! We were backstage in a small room at the venue, and she was all smiles when the camera was rolling, but I thought she was very rude to everyone the rest of the time!

Films 2020

Here’s my annual list of films I’ve seen over the previous year at the cinema… due to various lockdowns and the fact that the release of new films pretty much dried up, it’s a lot shorter this year!

January

Jojo Rabbit (10/10)
Bombshell (7/10)
Just Mercy (8/10)
1917 (10/10)
Richard Jewell (7/10)
The Personal History of David Copperfield (9/10)
Greed (6/10)

February

Queen & Slim (8/10)
Parasite (9/10)
The Lost Boys (8/10)
Emma (7/10)
Dark Waters (8/10)

March

The Invisible Man (7/10)
Onward (8/10)
Military Wives (7/10)
Sonic the Hedgehog (7/10)

September

Tenet (9/10)
Bill & Ted Face The Music (8/10)
The New Mutants (7/10)

October (no new releases!)

Rocky (8/10)
Rocky II (7/10)
Rocky III (6/10)
Rocky IV (4/10)
Rocky V (6/10)
Rocky Balboa  (7/10)

Bank Holiday and Fawlty Towers

Well it’s been quite a busy weekend – on Friday I was over in Liverpool shooting a live music video for thebandwithnoname and LZ7. They’ve done a joint track and need some kind of promo video to go with it, so I organised a 9 camera set-up at the monthly ‘Space’ event. I dragged Dave Bateman and Bruce from The Message along to operate cameras, and then used a few guys from the event itself, so I’m going to have a lot of footage to go through! The only downside of it really was that the stage was tiny, and it was really cramped with effectively 2 bands on there at the same time, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Then on Sunday, I went over to Rob’s in Ramsbottom (because he’d lent me some cameras for Friday’s shoot and I had to return them) and we ended up having a bit of an impromptu barbeque which was pretty cool.

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Clare and Rob.

We tried to get Rob’s reclaimed gas barbeque working, but even though we could hear gas coming out from somewhere, it just wouldn’t light. Eventually we gave up, thus averting an explosive disaster(!), and used some disposable ones instead! Clare made burgers from fresh minced beef and onions, which I’ve never done before, and they tasted really good. Next time I have a barbeque, I think I’ll give the frozen ones a miss and make my own!

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Star Trek rebooted

Went to see the new Star Trek film this afternoon on the IMAX in town, and I thought it was awesome! Visually, it’s stunning, and the casting is spot on (and after a minute or so, I forgot about Sylar and just saw Zac Quinto as Spock!) And watching it on such a big screen was just amazing.

It’s a very clever re-boot from JJ Abrams, there are lots of nods to the original TV show, but it’s very much a mainstream-type movie, rather than being a total geek-fest! As well as great characterisation and effects, I thought there were some clever twists in the plot.

One thing I really liked was the cinematography, and the way that they made such use of lens flares throughout the film. I originally thought that it was post-production thing, but apparently, unless it was a CG scene they were all done in camera by shining lights straight down the lens! I guess some people will have really disliked them, and I’ll admit that maybe they went a bit over the top occasionally, but generally I thought it was a very clever device to give the film a very distinctive look.

Anyway, if you haven’t seen it yet, I’d definitely recommend it, and I can’t wait for the sequel!

Soul Shutter… and bridge nutter

Just got back from a nice meal at Jamie’s and I have to say that tonight I’ve seen probably the worst film ever! Well, 51 minutes of it because that’s all we could take!! It was Miami Vice, with Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx, and it was dire! Bad script, bad dialogue, no character development… basically just shots of fast cars and speedboats!! Total rubbish – that’s time I’m never going to get back!! Apart from that though, it was really nice spending the evening with Jamie and Dean, and we ended up watching a DVD of Victoria Wood instead!!

‘The Soul Shutter’ shoot.

Anyway, all this weekend I’ve been over at some mills in Compstall on the set of a short film called ‘Soul Shutter’, starring Georgia Taylor (who used to be in Coronation Street and has done some other big dramas since). It’s being produced by Hamish and Rob, and they’ve managed to rope in a load of people to give their skills for free to get it made. Somehow, I’ve been persuaded to do all the computer graphics stuff for it, and having been there all weekend directing the CG sequences, I’ve realised that it’s going to be a lot more work than I’d originally been led to believe!!

There’s a lot of action that takes place within photographs, so a lot of it was shot on a totally white set, and I’m going to have to key in loads of effects, as well as also doing moving images in photos on a wall, a bit like you see in the Harry Potter films… only with the budget being a few million quid lower!! Was a really good experience though, and I hope I can make it look expensive! I’ve got a load of photos from my phone of the shoot here.

Bridge swinging.

On Friday evening I got a call from Jamie seeing if I was up to anything because there was a group heading off to do some bridgeswinging! I went with them a few years ago so I knew that there was no way I’d do it, but I said I could bring my Z1 and film them throwing themselves off the side of the incredibly high bridge! It was really cool and I got some nice shots of people leaping, though obviously because it was dark and my light can only really illuminate short distances you don’ really get a feel of the whole action. I’ll probably try and cut something together and maybe stick it up on Youtube or something.

I kind of wish I could summon up the courage to do it, but the thought of jumping into darkness really doesn’t appeal to me! Not convinced either that it would make the slightest bit of difference if I was able to see where I was jumping but maybe I should add it to my list of things to do before I die… just as long as I don’t die doing it!

Merry Christmas!

Today’s blog entry is being brought to you from Bristol! I’m down at Ali’s for the weekend because she had a party last night which I came to… it was kind of to celebrate Christmas, to welcome her two new housemates Kate and Julie, and to be a get-together before she heads off to do some volunteer work in a Christian school in Lebanon in the new year (obviously the situation isn’t the greatest out in the Middle East at the moment, but apparently where she’s supposed to be going is quite a way from Beirut, off in the mountains!)

I got here about 5.30, and because I was a couple of hours early, I had the pleasure of helping to set everything up! We put up 2 gazebos in the garden, and decorated them with fairy lights and genuine Egyptian lanterns! I made a slight effort to look Christmassy… I had planned to wear a Santa hat, but I couldn’t find the one I used to have, so just attached some tinsel to my jeans and shoes!

Helen and Ali.

The only other person I knew here was Helen who was at uni a the same time as me and Ali, and she was here with her boyfriend Pete (boyfriend/girlfriend seem such odd words to use when you’re our age!) and he was a really nice guy. Spent a lot of the night chatting to both of them which was cool, and then they popped in this morning before heading off to Cornwall for a week’s holiday. I’m not jealous that they’ve got a relaxing week ahead of them!!

I’ve been out pretty much every night this week! After the Cannonball night on Tuesday, Wednesday night saw me head up just north of Bolton to watch a DVD with John Cieszynski, and it was a nice chilled out night. We grabbed some chips and just vegged out in front of Mission Impossible III, which I’d seen at the cinema but had kind of forgotten exactly what happened in it!

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I’ve gone to the dark side!

Well I’m in bed typing this post on my new MacBook Pro. I finally succumbed to the world of Apple and ordered the newly released Mac laptop and it finally arrived this morning! I’m trying to get used to using the keyboard and trackpad… it’s quite different to my desktop and I keep hitting extra keys and it makes me look like I can’t spell anything!

Anyway, my other computer is currently rendering the grading for the Cannonball documentary and when all that’s done I can re-import it and then put it onto tape to send off to ITV. It’s really cool working on something that’s going out to such a wide audience. It’s on ITV1 next Tuesday at 11pm, and then will be repeated endlessly on Men & Motors – though to be honest I’m more excited about the national ITV showing!

Other stuff – went to see ‘Casino Royale’ on Saturday night with Jamie, Sean and Selina, and it was really good. It’s only the second Bond film I’ve seen, the other being ‘Die Another Day’, and this was a really good action film, but I think I preferred some of the tongue-in-cheekness of Brosnan’s Bond. Beforehand we went round the Christmas markets in Albert Square, and had a hot pork roll from a stall with a whole cooked pig on the counter! Was a really fun night, and I know I need to do more stuff like this, otherwise I’m going to end up turning into a total recluse who just works all the time!

It’s not all work, work, work…

…although it certainly feels like it! I’m basically spending most of my time at present editing the Cannonball 8000 documentary which is on ITV1 at the end of the month. Very long days, but it’s looking really good, and hopefully people will really like it.

Anyway, I have managed to do a couple of sociable things this week as well. On Sunday afternoon I went up to Middleton to do a bit of babysitting with Sarah… she was looking after Grace (who’s one next week) whilst Colin & Caroline took Olivia to see a kids musical, so I went along probably more to keep Sa company that be much use otherwise! Grace was asleep when I arrived so we watched a bit of TV (the Top 20 Boy-Bands(!)… worryingly I did know most of them, but at least I wasn’t the one who knew all the words to the songs… hehe) and then when Grace woke up I helped keep her entertained with a toy shark and a beaker of water! It was good fun actually – I managed to steer well clear of the nappy changing… I don’t know how I’d ever manage to do that, but maybe if I have my own kids it would be a lot easier!

Then when I got back home, I got a call from Jamie asking if I wanted to go to the cinema – but they were already in the queue, and the film was starting in 15 minutes, so I had to move quickly to get there in time! Anyway, I managed to get there with a couple of minutes to spare, and found Jamie who was with Dean and Sean, and we went in to see ‘The Prestige‘ – a film about two rival magicians… I hadn’t heard anything about it beforehand, but I thought it was pretty good, although you had to suspend your disbelief to get over a pretty major part of the plot!

Sean, Jamie, Sarah and Celia.

Then on Tuesday night, I went round for a meal at Jamie’s house. I had expected that we were going to go out and grab something to eat in town, but it was a really nice surprise to find he’d cooked, and that we were also being joined by Sean, Celia and Sarah. My fussy eating kind of made an appearance – Jamie had done rice with the chicken, but he suddenly remembered that I’m a nightmare to cook for, and I told him I didn’t mind just having it without, but he rustled up some mustard mash for me instead! And the main part was something I wouldn’t normally have had – he’d done the chicken in a slightly curried crème fraîche sauce, and although I did pull a bit of a face when I took the first mouthful, I did actually quite like it! Maybe this is another small step on the road to eating the same food as everyone else!!

It’s snowing!

Woo! It’s snowing!

Got up this morning to see a thin layer of snow on the ground, but in the last half hour it’s started snowing properly!

Not sure how long it will last ‘cos the BBC’s weather website reckons we’ve got rain forecast for the rest of the week, but it was cool to see out first proper snow this winter!

Other stuff… took myself off to see the new Harry Potter film at the cinema on Saturday night, and I thought it was really good – although I know that people who’ve read the book are disappointed that apparently a lot had to be cut out to get it to fit in one film. The first time I saw Harry Potter was this time last year… I’ve kind of watched them in a funny order… episode 3, then episode 1, now the fourth one… and the second film is on TV this Saturday so I’ll watch that then!! I know there’s been quite a lot of debate over Harry Potter, and whether it’s a bad influence and all that, but from watching the films, I can’t see that much of a difference in subject matter to say that of Lord of the Rings, or the Chronicles of Narnia. They’re all basically stories of good against evil – maybe the books are different – I don’t know, not having read them, but there was nothing in the film that made me think they’re bad.

Portsmouth

I’m feeling really tired, but I’ve got loads that I need to get done this weekend…

With work this week, I had to go down to Portsmouth to give a presentation to some call centre staff who are handling a telemarketing campaign for us.

Mo and Pete’s wedding.

I’ve never had to do anything like that before, so was quite apprehensive… and the reason I was having to do it was because Pete Searle who would normally do that sort of thing is off on his honeymoon (photos from his wedding are here). You’d have thought he could have put off his wedding to Mo by a week or so to help me out…

Anyway, the presentation was to take place at 11.30am on Thursday morning, so I was at Manchester Airport for half seven to catch an 0845 flight to Southampton. But whilst I was waiting in the departure lounge, I noticed the screens changed to show that the flight would be delayed by just over half an hour, which meant I’d be pushing it for time at the other end. So I waited until 9.20, when we were then told that there were technical problems and we’d be getting more information at half ten. Obviously this caused me slight problems since it was going to take me half an hour to get to Portsmouth from the airport, and the earliest I was going to get to Southampton looked to be 11.30 – the same time as the presentation!

We actually got our update at quarter past eleven, and we were told that a new plane would be arriving at noon, but there was really no point with me getting on it – but apparently if you remove yourself from a massively delayed flight, you don’t get your money back… they only do that if it’s cancelled! Anyway, what eventually happened is that I rearranged to travel on the same flight on Friday morning, with the return flight first thing yesterday morning because the guys I needed to meet wouldn’t be around until 6pm!

Friday’s journey went a lot smoother, and since the presentation wasn’t until the evening, I had a few hours to look around bits of Portsmouth, and went to take a look at HMS Victory, and also around Gunwharf Quays which is where I was staying overnight at a Holiday Inn. The talk went okay I guess… it was a bit awkward because firstly it was someone else’s presentation, and I didn’t have Powerpoint or our DVD to use because it was rescheduled last minute!

Later on that evening, I went to the cinema (which handily was right next to the hotel!) to watch ‘Cinderella Man‘ – Russell Crowe and Renée Zellweger’s new film, and it was excellent. Quite violent in parts I guess because it’s about boxing, but it all took place within the ring, so the context allowed for it. I’ll be really surprised if it doesn’t pick up a few Oscars next time round.

Then yesterday, I had to get up at 4.30am to get to Southampton for my flight back up to Manchester… so that’s 3 early mornings in a row. I feel wrecked now! I’m not a morning person at all!