I’ve not really written too much about this publicly, but this year has been a major upheaval for me work-wise. Back in February, some stuff came to a head which then led to me leaving the company I’d co-run for the last 12 years, and it was the most painful thing ever. It’d never even crossed my mind that I wouldn’t ever not be part of the business – I’d always thought I’d be there until the day I stopped working.
Technically, I left at the end of March, but was last working in the office in February, and that was the last time I saw any of the people I worked with. It’s now been nearly 6 months since I last really did any paid work for anyone.
I’ve wanted to work in production since I was kid – I was obsessed by TV and how it’s made (I used to make TV studios out of Lego!), and even when I was at school spent a ridiculous amount of my free time filming and editing videos. When I was about 13, I even got to visit BBC Pebble Mill in Birmingham, and explore the various studios and galleries which was amazing, and just reinforced that it was what I wanted to spend my life doing.
So to then be doing the work I’d always dreamt of – I was always aware how lucky I was to do a job I was passionate about. Even though there would be bad days, and I’d sometimes work some ridiculous hours, there was always that reminder that so many people had to go to a job each day that they absolutely hated.
It’s been an eventful few weeks – and I’m not even including Christmas in that!
Last night I was at Manchester Arena to see Snow Patrol in concert, and it was a really great gig. It was quite a last minute thing… I decided to look on Monday to see whether there were any tickets left, and I managed to get a seat on one of the sides, which meant I had to sit at a bit of an angle to see the stage!
They had two supports – the first was Roe, who I’d not heard of before, but the second was Kodaline, and I’ve got one of their albums so knew some of the songs they did.
Snow Patrol took to the stage around 9pm, and they played all the classics – ‘Take Back The City’, ‘Chocolate’, ‘Run’, ‘Open Your Eyes’, ‘You’re All I Have’, ‘Cars’ – and even the ones I couldn’t name still sounded familiar… with an encore ending with ‘Just Say Yes’.
Also, just before Christmas, I saw Travis play at the O2 Apollo, and because it’s almost 20 years years since it was released, they played the entire ‘The Man Who’ album from start to finish, followed by a selection of other tracks to wrap up the set.
A couple of weeks ago I was on holiday in Ireland again, meeting up with mum and my niece and nephew. They’d already been there for a few days, and I set off really early on a Sunday morning to make a 9am sailing from Holyhead to Dublin, followed by a 3½ hour drive across the country to Mai & PJ’s house just outside Listowel.
The following morning – we took my mum’s hire car back to Shannon airport, with me following behind, so we could then carry on in just the one car.
We carried on northwards for a bit, before making a brief stop in County Clare’s main town, Ennis, and then carried on to the north west of the county, finally arriving at the Cliffs of Moher.
Cliffs of Moher.
They’re really stunning, and you can really sense the power of the sea crashing onto the rock a couple of hundred metres below. It was really windy, and it had been quite drizzly all morning, but it did dry up for us whilst there. It was a pretty strenuous walk up a load of steps to an old round tower overlooking the sea, and we carried on walking along the cliff top until we got to a little hut selling ice lollies (which of course we partook in!).
It was crazy seeing the amount of people who’d left the path to position themselves really precariously on the cliff edge to take a selfie – I’m not sure any photo, no matter how stunning, is worth potential death!
Afterwards we went into the visitor centre, which seems to be a giant cave inside the hill, and there were quite a few interactive things which Brandon & Chloe could have a go at. Even mum decided to try out the greenscreen selfie area, although the camera they use is really low quality and the keying wasn’t that great!
Last weekend I was up in Scotland with Ali for Steve & Tatiana’s wedding! The wedding was on the Friday, so I drove up on Thursday afternoon and then picked up Ali from the airport, who’d taken a flight from Bristol. However, as I was driving to the airport, I got a major warning light and message on my car saying ‘system fault’ which wasn’t ideal!
I get RAC membership with my car servicing, so called them up early evening, and an RAC man finally arrived quite late, and determined it was probably an issue with my battery not fully holding its charge and causing the error message. He reckoned it would be safe to drive over the weekend but that I’d need to arrange to get it checked soon at a Nissan garage.
Anyway, next day was the day of the wedding – I’d offered to live stream it for them, since a lot of Tatiana’s family weren’t able to make it over to the UK. We had breakfast and left first thing so that I’d have time to set up kit. I was only using a single camera with a BlackMagic Web Presenter plugged into my laptop. In hindsight, I wish I’d packed a 2nd camera to plug into it, but I think they were happy that there was any kind of broadcast!
You can still watch the live stream of the service on YouTube.
I thought I’d do a bit of a catch-up of what’s been going on the last few weeks.
At the start of last month, we had a bit of a crazy weekend shooting a TV commercial for Transform, which involved a mix of interior and exterior locations. We were really banking on the weather being good, and we were so lucky that the rain didn’t materialise until Sunday afternoon, because by then we’d filmed all of the outside stuff. We shot it all on the FS5 mounted on a Ronin stabiliser, and the shots looked great.
The week the shoot saw us having to get it edited and through Clearcast clearance to allow it to be shown on TV, and it was pretty tight, but we managed to get it on air without too much trouble!
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I went to the Lowry to see ‘The Elis James and John Robins Experience’ – I started listening to their Radio X show and podcast back in September, and I heard them mention that they were doing a tour, so checked online and saw that there were just a few tickets left for the show! It was really funny – there were some references that I didn’t get that obviously would be known to a long time listener, but it just made me want to check out more of their back catalogue!
Last week saw the the culmination of a project between Simon Bray and Tom Musgrove with an exhibition at the Whitworth Gallery, and as part of the night, a short film documenting the process was shown to a packed out room.
The idea behind the project was to look at how a photographer and artist saw various UK locations differently, and me and James had travelled with them to Lindesfarne back in August 2014 to film them both, and then earlier this year I went with them to Northern Ireland to get footage of them at the Causeway Coast, and then I also filmed them back in Manchester to get extra material to use alongside some stills and footage they’d taken themselves at some of the other locations.
I was really pleased with how the final documentary came out – I think it tells the story really well, and it got a really good response on the night. The completed film (which includes footage from the Whitworth exhibition) is now up on YouTube, and you can watch it here:
The last week has been a really busy one, producing a video trailer for next year’s Lost & Found festival in Malta, hosted by Radio 1’s Annie Mac. The job came in pretty last minute, and with very little time for planning, last weekend me and James were on a plane leaving Manchester at 6.30am, heading to Malta! We met up at the airport in Malta with Oli from The Warehouse Project, and Wilf who’s a Manchester-based promoter who I think runs and produces a lot of the stuff for the festival.
Oli and Will were staying in a hotel in Sliema, whereas we carried on in the taxi for about another 40 minutes to Bugibba, where we checked into the Topaz Hotel. What with it being early afternoon, it was now incredibly hot, and since we had to wait for our room, we ended up sitting in the shade by the pool, eating ice lollies for lunch! Continue reading →
We got there in time for the support act, who if I’m totally honest wasn’t great. He didn’t really tell jokes, but rambled on about stuff that wasn’t really funny! And I don’t think the tone of his material really complemented what was to come from the main event.
So, the main show… how on earth do you describe it?!
The Boy is fundamentally a mime artist, but not in the way you’d image when hearing that term. His show involves lots of music, random household props, audience interaction, and lots of red balloons! And even though there’s no speaking, so much humour is conveyed in his actions! I don’t want to give any of the gags away, but it’s genius, and if you get a chance to see his show, then you definitely should!
Afterwards, we were invited to join them for a curry at the Moon in Withington – Lee hadn’t been at the show, but met us there and introduced us to Sam (TBWTOHF) and his support act, Phil (awkward!)
It was really cool though, and Sam is a fascinating person, and very talkative without the tape over his mouth! He told us about him starting out as a clown in his native New Zealand, and all the crazy stuff he got up to as a street performer!
I thought I’d do a bit of a catch-up of what I’ve been up to recently, so here goes!
Last month, I got to see Rob Bell speak at !Audacious in Manchester. I’d caught him at Greenbelt back in 2009 (but was hard to hear because it was outdoors and I was quite a way from the stage). He was on a book tour of the UK, and the night was billed as ‘An evening with RobBell’, which meant he could talk about stuff in his new book, as well as talk about other things, and also take questions from the audience.
I know he’s often regarded as controversial, but I did find a lot of what he had to say really interesting and thought provoking, although I think there are things he says that I’m not sure I agree with, but I’m glad I went to hear it.
Then, the following week, we had a bit of a Sharp Tenants social night! After a successful trip to the Frog & Bucket back in March to see some comedy, our next thing was a curry night at Akbar’s on Liverpool Street.
Got a nice little article about doodledoMOTION in this week’s Greater Manchester Business Week in their new feature – ‘Brief Introduction’. Pretty pleased with it, but we really could do with a better publicity photo – this was one the paper took back in 2011 at The Sharp Project official opening!
The article is also on the Manchester Evening News website here.
Last weekend, I was down in Gloucester filming with the Austin Francis Connection to produce a music video for one of their tracks! I first met Eddie from the group a couple of years ago at Greenbelt, and have seen them at various events since then, and we’ve often got around to talking about the possibility of working together, and it’s now finally happened!
I drove down really early on Saturday morning, and met the guys on the top of a multi-storey car park… they’d had an idea to shoot some of it on there, but I discovered they hadn’t got any permissions so we quickly looked for a plan B! Since we were going to have to shoot mostly guerrilla-style, we decided to stick to public places where we were unlikely to encounter security guards, and drove around to a park in the city centre and unloaded the jib and camera gear.
It’s been 10 months now since doodledoMOTION moved into the Sharp Project, and last week saw the official opening of the building with the handover from the developers to Manchester Council.
When we moved in last September, there were a lot less people in there, but now most of our section is full, the original part is quite full, and the 2 main production stages have standing sets in them for ‘Mount Pleasant‘ and ‘Fresh Meat‘.
Christian, Matt, me and Hogan.
With the official opening, the final Gold section is now taking tenants – I don’t think we’re in a massive rush to move down there because I actually like the quirkiness of our converted shipping containers, and the amount of space we’ve got works well for us.
Anyway, it was a busy night, with a load of BMX riders and skateboarders racing past our unit for most of it, although I don’t really know who any of the invited guests were. I’m guessing a lot of them were council-related people as opposed to any from the media industry, but hopefully there’ll be more events in the future that attracts a more relevant crowd.
And then yesterday, following on from an interview me and James gave to a reporter at the launch night, there’s been an article published about the company in Greater Manchester Business Week (also published on the Manchester Evening News website).
To be honest, I’d have rather it’d focused on some of our other bits of work, but it’s still all good publicity. In fact the only annoying thing is they’ve got me and James the wrong way on the photo!