I posted this on social media, but I thought I’d put it on here as well because it has really saddened me.
My first job in tv and production was way back at the end of 1997 when I was taken on at the cable channel Birmingham Live TV, and it really was a great learning experience and I got to work alongside a really good team. Well, last night I got a message from Phil who I used to work with to tell me the really sad news that one of the reporters from there, Linda O’Brien, had just passed away after an on-going illness. She was genuinely one of the nicest people in the business, and I got to spend a lot of time with her back then both on shoots and also crammed into our tiny edit suite editing on NewsCutter. One of the things I remember about Linda is that she could actually edit a bit herself (unusual for a reporter back then), so had this habit of leaning over and grabbing the mouse if she suddenly had an idea to make an edit better! It was a bit frustrating at first, but I soon got used to it, and she always acknowledged that it could be annoying… although she was often right with the changes she made.
So it’s fair to say the pandemic has completely trashed my efforts to try and get back into work this year, with any jobs I had lined up cancelled. So when I was asked to help out with a short comedy drama to be produced in lockdown, I jumped at the chance!
A stand-up comic friend of mine is also an award-winning writer, and she’s penned a short script about a family getting to meet a new baby for the first time over a video call.
Katie, Daniel, Eithne and Emily rehearsing ‘Bob’.
It involved 4 actors (and a baby!), so I needed to find the best way to record and edit it. I’ve not really used Zoom at all, other than for Emma’s wedding back in April, so did a bit of research, and originally I was planning to get them to record the footage locally on their phone cameras, just using the video conferencing to be able to hear each other.
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:
I’ve got a couple of mates who are in the middle of a long-term art project called ‘The Edges of These Isles‘, where they’re looking at the differences in how an artist and a photographer capture the same location – and back in August 2014, me and James filmed them visiting Lindisfarne, and you can see that video here.
Well, we’re looking to produce a short film to tell the story of the whole of Tom and Simon’s project as they travel the UK, using some video stuff they’ve shot, along with footage that we’re able to get at certain points.
So we found out they were going to be travelling to Northern Ireland to visit the Causeway coast, so it was organised for me to go with them to film what they got up to! I had to travel really light, because the best flight Simon could find only had a really small bag size for hand luggage, with a weight allowance of 10kg, which would include both my clothes and all the kit I needed! Small items could be stuck in my pockets, but unfortunately I wouldn’t able to take any kind of camera support, or the Canon 70-200mm lens since it’s pretty heavy!
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 →
This week, I was over in Northern Ireland for work – I’d never been to the north before… I went to County Kerry on the west coast of Ireland a couple of times as a kid, but that was about 35 years ago!
We needed to shoot a customer testimonial for a client, and it needed to be done at a showroom in Belfast, so I went over there with Andy Fidler on Thursday.
Because we were flying, we weren’t able to take much kit with us – I needed 2 cameras for the interview, but we didn’t have any economical way of taking a couple of tripods with us, so I had to try and find somewhere to hire from. Obviously, in Manchester it’s pretty easy to find a hire company for pro kit, but I really couldn’t find anywhere in Belfast that we could use! I eventually found I could hire a couple of tripods from Calumet, but they weren’t quite what we were after since they didn’t have proper video heads, but they would have to do! Oh, and annoyingly, the bank decided to cancel my work debit card the day before (fraudulent activity supposedly!), so I had to hire both a car and the kit (along with deposits!) on my own card!
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.