Friday, October 29, 2010

Julian Mills @millsj007 at #ungeeked Toronto

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pre-talk to screening of Psycho for Care International

Friday, October 01, 2010

Live film soundtrack by Minima at Tate Britain

Monday, September 27, 2010

One last one from Sweetie Pie & the Gutter Man

Another bit if music in Brixton

Sweetie Pie & the Gutter Man

Canabis Gran by Gabrielle at upstairs at the Ritzy

Are awards ceremonies really all that?

So last week I attended an awards ceremony with work. It was the second award we'd been up for so the whole team turned up in force. At a cost of course.

Now I've never been involved in a pay to enter award. Im trying to think back to those events I've attended for creative awards but I don't remember a cost associated, other than wooing judges ;) So this awards function was going to be somewhat of a first.

These events are not cheap. It cost around £100 for each of us to go so I guess I expected more. The venue was nice but it was basically a bar that had the heating cranked. Nothing like sweating on strangers when you are trying to be glamourous. The heating problem was not the fault of the organisers but I don't like saunas even when I'm dressed for them.

We grab a drink - I can't resist a red wine - and I watch a lot of meat pass by and wait patiently for some veggie canapes. I'm unusually restrained as the waiters offer more drink. I do have a tendency to overindulge when things are free but I want to take some nice photos just in case we win.

The awards ceremony begins and thank goodness there will be no speeches - just awards and then back to drinking and mingling. We all clap, people beam at cameras, and it's done. Hooray!

But wait. It's now a paid bar. Between us we've had maybe two drinks each and a couple canapes. That makes the £100 price tag seem very steep. We could have had a quite nice sit down meal for that amount. What are we really paying for? The infamy of an unknown award and a picture on a website?

Now maybe I'm just nieve. But other people I spoke to also felt cheated. And not because they didn't win but because they felt taken for a ride. They didn't expect much. They just expected what they've had before - an average meal at their own table, a few bottles of cheap wine, a band and a DJ. They did not plan on bringing an iPod to help play communal DJ.

Maybe I expect too much. But especially in this economic climate, is it OK to charge people so much for so little? Are these awards really worth it?

Posted via email from Oot and Aboot

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Trapped up north

Now the first thing I'd like to stress is that being up north in England is not a bad thing. But when you are trying to go south and all you want is the comfort of your own bed, being stuck in Sheffield in a train station at 10 at night can reduce some people to tears. (please note I did not cry but I really wanted to) Basically this is how it went. I agreed to a gig in Rotherham on a Wednesday night. I didn't check where exactly I was going to before I said yes which was a mistake, but I honoured my commitment and said I'd take the 2.5 hour trip up. I had a plan. Finish work, jump on train, the train arrives, I do the gig and then jump on the 9:27 train, change once and then I'm home by 12:30. If I screw up once, disaster. But as I had the plan, there was nothing to worry about. The way there is uneventful. I work on the train. I change at Sheffield and make it. Right on time for the gig. The audience is very small but lovely and want me to stay for a drink. No I say. Yes the station is close but I can't chance missing it. So off we go and I'm at the station 5 minutes early. Result.  As I wait for the train, I look up and see the it is coming at 9:32. Odd, it should be 9:27. I guess it's running late. I think nothing of it and board the train to Sheffield. After a short journey I'm standing in the station and I'm looking up at the departures board. Where is the train to London? Where is the bloody train?  With no staff on the platform, I rush through the station trying to find someone. Anyone. Where has everyone gone. Finally I find a booth. Sorry, the man politely says. You should have gone to Doncaster. There are no more London trains departing from here tonight. Stupidly I thought if I came through Sheffield to get to Rotherham, I'd go the same way home. I say stupidly but really it's logically right? You would imagine the route would be exactly the same. And then i find out there are no more buses going south either. What to do... Calling the organisers of the gig, they say come back to Rotherham. I can stay the night and go home first thing in the morning. Good plan, I think. I'll just email work, tell them I'll be late for my morning meeting and it'll all be fine. But wait. My ticket isn't valid in the morning. It'll cost m e nearly £100 to get a single ticket. What the. That option out. Check my handy phone. There is a bus leaving Manchester at midnight and another at 1:30 am. Because of my faffing, there was no way I'd make the first bus but the 1:30 one could be my salvation. I head to Manchester. This is the very last train there. But at least I'm heading south. I arrive at midnight to pouring rain but I'm here. I put on my "don't fuck with me" London face and walk the 15 minutes to the bus depot. In the florescent box, people are sleeping on metal benches or looking vacantly at the floor, out windows, at crappy magazines. My heavy heals draw tired eyes. I ignore them in search of ticket machines. I find them and put in the details for my ticket. The bus is....full? What? Yes, the buss is fully booked but if I wait I can see if the driver has any room. Panic sets in. What if there isn't room? What if I have to sleep on the floor? How will I get home? I check the trains. £132 to London in the morning. It's even worse. And the next bus at 3:30 doesn't get in until 10:30. I'm screwed. Still I join the vacant eyed stares with my own and I wait. Bus arrives right on time. I wait until everyone shuffles on and hallelujah! I have a seat. Another £23 but at least I'll be home by 6 am. I think I sleep most of the way. I do wake up ever hour or so to switch positions but at least I'm sleeping. 6 am we hit Victoria station and it's off to the tube to change and then head straight to work. Yes. The lesson here is that I should read through my travel itinerary and not rely on common sense. BUT. Why is it the last train to London from Sheffield is at 9:15 pm? The last one to Sheffield from London is 10:30. Why can't it be the same? Maybe if there were more trains that left later from the North people from London would be more likely to go there for an event or a gig or a happening. Instead we constantly cater to a London centric approach to everything we do. Does anyone else think this is backward thinking? Other countries have 24 hour trains and buses so why can't we? We sure pay enough for it. 

Posted via email from Oot and Aboot

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

My first day @giffgaff

Today was the first day of my new job. I've had two weeks off since I've left my job at PayPal so it was strange to get up early and head into a new office with a new commute to figure out. I thought in true blogger style (and in hommage to what others have done today with the Apple announcements), I would live blog the "event."


9:30 pm - It's the night before I start my new job at giffgaff. So I go to bed to try to sleep. Who am I kidding? Instead I read notes from friends and family, enter the Sheffield Documentary competition and watch Warren the Ape until I fall asleep at 1 am.


6:52 am - Alarm goes off. I'm dreaming. Think snooze button will let me download another program into my system. That's all I remember. Was I a robot or dreaming of the future?

7:08 am - Out of bed. Stare at closet. What to wear? Important to establish coolness so I can sit at the cool table.

7:30 am - Flatmate vetos outfit. No. I can't wear jeans on the first day. Even black ones? "If you must..." Her tone tells me otherwise.

7:50 am - Settle on dress, leggings, heals and a sweater. Wearing the "Inspire" necklace my sister gave me for luck. Make-up, back up stairs for my keys, run down and back up again for my sunglasses. No packed lunch. I'll figure it out when I get there.

8:02 am - Bus gets to Clapham Common. Decide to ride it to Brixton so I can get a seat on the Victoria line. Will this save time?

8:03 am - Tweet out my nervousness. Reassured by 140 character comments. Yes, I respond. I am wearing clean underwear.

8:09 am - Arrive at Brixton. Ooo. There's a Starbucks. I can get my coffee fix. Coffee to go!

8:17 am - Finally on a train. Have a seat. Seems not too full. No sweaty, angry people in suits yet. So far so good. Worried that I might have left home too late. Maybe I should've got on at Clapham and crammed onto a carriage to save 5 minutes.

8:25 am - Find a notebook and pen. Realize notebook is nearly full and pen is from the job I just left. Hide pen. It can't be cooth to use branded merchandise from another company on your first day

8:33 am - Change trains. No seats so I'm standing. Discover I can't write while holding coffee, notebook, free paper and the pole so I give up. Would rather not fall over. Only 3 stops til Marylebone.

8:45 am - No queue for ticket. Hoorah! Walk against the commuting hordes to platform 6. Hello commuter train. So we meet again. (Side note: I used to work in Beaconsfield where I'm now working again so it's a familiar sight. As are the film students in ripped t-shirts, flat caps, and hoodies. They ooze cool. Maybe it's their first day too.)

9:20 am - After flipping through my iPad that I bought under the excuse of needing it for my commute, I arrive at Beaconsfield. Hope the walk is no longer than 10 minutes.

9:35 am - Arrive at giffgaff. Yay! Walking time may decrease if I don't text and twitter as I walk. Greeted at the front office by Sheena. Am brought through the office. I shake a lot of hands and forget a lot of names. There are around 20 people working here so I should be able to remember their names sooner or later.

10:30 am - First ever meeting. It's nice that everyone in the office is in one room talking about what's coming up.

11:00 am - My stomach is grumbling. Could get a coffee but instead get everything set up on my computer. Tweet deck installed. Web browser upgraded to IE 8. Anyone want to go for lunch? Me! Me!

12:00 am - Seven of us head to the pub across the road for lunch. It's so peaceful. No traffic or honking horns. Sit in the back garden and get to know part of the team. Everyone is great and we don't talk about work once.

1:00 pm - Back at my desk. Reading, reading, reading. Pivot tables? How do these things work again? Reading, reading, reading.

3:30 pm - Meet with the head of marketing. We read and talk some more. It's all becoming a blur. Suddenly it's almost 5. Need to get all the notes so I can read again. Brain has slightly melted. Have forgotten how hard first days are.

6:35 pm - Get an offer of a ride to a bus stop near Shepherds Bush. Figure I'll get home faster and that it would be great to talk to my new co-worker Claire as we drove. It was. Great I mean.

8:02 pm - Bus, train, bottle of wine, bus, keys, home. 12 hours after I left it, I'm back in my flat. Decide to order chinese (yes, eating out all day. Bad but yet oh so good!) Glass of wine and Project Runway refocuses my brain. Still processing the days events.

Unsure how I was then realize that it's day one. It's OK to go slow. Very against my nature but have lots of time to push ahead. I'll take a couple of days to listen, learn and absorb. Tomorrow I meet the PR agency. Another new day of new things ahead. It's definitely what makes life more interesting.

Posted via email from Oot and Aboot

Monday, August 30, 2010

The next steps for iAmerica

So now that the tapes have all been digitized the next stages of work on iAmerica can finally begin. Though we filmed the documentary nearly 5 months ago, I'm happy to have had a bit of time to sit back and look at the footage with fresh eyes. What is the real story in there and what am I really trying to say.

I'm glad that it isn't far from what I wanted it to be, it's just that I may tell it in a different way. So instead of showing the journey that we did with tuttle2texas as a backbone and driving force of the story, I think the interviews we did tell the story I want to tell. And it was only by watching the 3 days worth of footage, that I realized the strength of that. Unfortunately, the real story didn't come before we pitched to Channel 4 - but either we can approach them again or if we get accepted, pitch to hundreds of possible distributors and broadcastors at the Sheffield Documentary Festival.

So that leads onto the next step. Applying for the Sheffield Meetmarket. Anyone can apply for £10 and a pitch package including a 100 word pitch, a 500 word one, a summery of the people working on the project, a budget and a one minute trailer.  

I've been working on the trailer for the past week and just finished it on Friday as you can see here:

One minute is not a lot of time to say what an entire documentary is about, so it's a challenge to tease out the right quotes. Trolling through 30 plus hours of footage to find quotes can be quite daunting but luckily as we digitized we also pulled out quotes we thought may be useful. As inspiration, we watched documentary trailers and loved the drama of "Man on Wire" and thought we'd play with mocking the form of it.

I've drafted out the 2 pitches with the hopes that it will explain the essence of what we want to do. It's now with a few people for a sense check and then one more look through from me and it will be done.

Luckily for me, the budget will be done by the lovely Katie Kinnard of Free at Last TV.  She has been helping us along the way since we pitched her a documentary about the only UK cowboy and she seems to continue to like the ideas we're bringing her so I'm happy to have her on board. I also hate doing budgets so this means I can concentrate on the things I do like doing - writing and filmmaking.

All of this goes in on 1 September and then we wait. The festival is at the start of November so my hopes is that we can get in.  I'll keep working on the next stages (transcription and scripting) but really, until we get some funding, we can't complete this documentary. As much as I don't mind not getting paid, I do hate asking anyone else to work for free. And my DOP Michelle Tsen, who is also my editor, already shot the whole thing for free so I can't really ask her to continue doing so.

I'll keep you posted on the process as we go. If you have any questions or want more details, let me know. To see more on the Sheffield Documentary Festival, go to:

Posted via email from Oot and Aboot