Since my last post, I have been tremendously busy working on content for BOA Broadcast’s first magazine show, ‘Friday @ Two’.

After finishing off ‘Sack Sales on New Street’, I filmed a cooking show with Jake. We tried to steer away from the usual presenter led programmes and concentrate more on the visuals. I am really proud of the finished product so please, check it out!

The final VT I worked on was a feature on the Clothes show. With our press passes we were able to get into restricted areas and get interviews with designers, organisers and models. For me, the highlight of the experience was having to fight our way to the front of the press pit at the end of the fashion theatre catwalk.

Here’s the final product…

The filming of ‘Friday @ Two’ went smoothly. It was a very collaborative effort, we chose two students from the acting pathway to present after the auditions and they were absolutely fabulous. The rest of the crew worked well together and despite a few hiccups along the way, I think we pulled through it.

I am looking forward to working on the next episode of ‘Friday @ Two’ and using everything we learnt to make February’s show even better than our Christmas special.

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Tree Of Life..

With it’s out-of-this-world cinematography, deep philosophical meaning and a complex story line, Tree of Life may not be everybody’s cup of tea but if you are in the right mood and are willing to give your full attention to Terrence Malick’s masterpiece is an enjoyable watch which will leave a lasting impression on it’s audience.

Parts of the film are very ambiguous and it is left to the audience to find their own meaning in the beautifully shot, serene madness. Graham Young, who is a writer and film critic for the Birmingham Mail, gave us an introduction to the film, during which he explained that the director is nearly 70 years old and before he began his career in film, which had spanned over four decades now, he studied philosophy. This is incredibly apparent in ‘The Tree of Life’ as the protagonist, played by Sean Penn examines his life experiences as  he questions his faith.

It is an incredibly moving piece and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you are looking for something a bit different from your usual Hollywood blockbuster, Malick’s Tree of Life is for you.

M&S: Challenging Prejudice this Christmas

This christmas, Marks & Spencer will be making history. The brand will be the first major high street brand in the UK to feature a model with a learning disability. Seb White, is a 4 year old boy with Down’s syndrome whose mother posted his picture on M&S’s Facebook page to make retailers rethink which models are used to sell children’s clothes. After an overwhelming response to the post, Seb will feature in this season’s catalogue and in the TV ad. I think it’s a great step towards breaking down some of the prejudice surrounding disability.

The TV advert will be shown for the first time on ITV1 on Wednesday.

‘Now is Good’

Ladies if you are going to watch this film, please remember to wear waterproof mascara because you are going to cry. There literally wasn’t a dry eye in the room, the film seemed to be punctuated with the loud sniffling noises of the man behind me tearing up throughout the film.  ‘Now is Good’ isn’t afraid to pull on your heartstrings and even if it was unashamedly cliche in parts, it managed to move every member of the audience in some way.

The film delves into the action straight away with Tessa, the film’s dying protagonist, and her best friend and partner in crime, Zoey, meeting some boys. We don’t know that Tessa is ill until the boy she is with pulls off her wig and her pixie short hair is exposed. After their encounter came one of my favourite parts of the film which was the title sequence. It was all hand-drawn and processed in 3d using after effects. It was visually stimulating and perfectly paired with an edgy remix of Lana Del Rey’s Blue Jeans, there was no way I wasn’t going to love it! A refreshing change from the typical dry credit sequences.

Dakota Fanning’s performance as Tessa was good, I was impressed that she was able to maintain a very convincing British accent throughout. The onscreen father and daughter relationship was heart wrenching as Paddy Considine’s character was constantly searching for a way to cure his daughter.

Although Tessa’s bucket list was toned down for the 12A audience we are still able to feel that Tessa is coming of age before it is too late. She gets arrested, takes drugs, goes skinny dipping and most importantly in the film, falls in love with her gorgeous next door neighbour Adam. Adam, is every girls dream; he’s cute, caring and completely head over heels for Tessa. Despite what Tessa’s father thinks, Adam is there for her in her last days,  making her his main priority. The couple go on an incredible journey together and the audience believe Tessa will die happy because she experienced such a great love.

There were a few things I didn’t like about the film however, the first being Zoey’s pregnancy. I felt it was unnecessary to the film’s storyline and it seemed to be more of a cheesy add on than a pivotal part of the film. The second thing is that although the film was very engaging it didn’t really veer away from the ideas similar films present. It would have been refreshing to see a new spin on the ‘bucket list’ film.

All in all, I would rate this film 7.5 out of 10.

Documentary Diary: Super Size Me

The first time I watched Super Size Me, my knowledge of documentary film making was incredibly limited but I still found it entertaining and thought-provoking. I think that is because Morgan Spurlock developed a great hook for the film.

Now that I have gained more of an insight to the film making process, documentaries in particular, I can appreciate how great Spurlock’s debut film actually is. He appealed to a mass market and it carried an important message about the ‘obesity epidemic’ to people’s attention. He had support throughout from health professionals and experts and because he used respected and educated individuals it helped reinforce the statistics and dangers related to the fast food industry.  The use of animations and stills helped keep the attention of audiences after sharing quite heavy medical information and lighten the mood of the documentary. Super Size Me is the 12th highest-grossing documentary of all time which is an undeniable success for the independent filmmaker who tested his physical and psychological well-being during the course of the 30 day experiment.

Morgan Spurlock’s honest and informative technique allows the viewer to empathise with him. You worry for his health when he experiences heart palpitations and at his lowest points throughout the film. It brought the dangers of fast food to people’s attention and it helped make shock-umentaries as popular as they are today.

Super Size Me appeals not only to film lovers but to everybody because it targets an issue we are all facing. It is dealt with in an honest and captivating manner and it’s a must watch for all!

 You can watch Super Size Me on Netflix now! 

Well that’s just Nasty…

When Margaret Thatcher was elected in 1979, commercial videos were quite a new phenomenon. As with a lot of new technologies, even today, there is an element of fear surrounding the unknown and this was certainly the case with videos. The government had great concerns about  the video content the general public were watching in the comfort of their home and it was put under a lot of scrutiny. The main concern was the unregulated, uncensored films people could pick up from local video rental shops. It was the gory and graphic horror films that were flying off the shelves and there was a mass panic that they would leave whoever watched them traumatised.

 Thanks the Mary Whitehouse of the national viewers’ and listeners’ association, there is now a colloquial term for these films, ‘video nasties’.  The Video Recordings Act of 1984 was brought in to impose stricter rules on the censorship of videos. With Cinemas, enforcing classification laws was easy in comparison because the stewards can prevent you going in to watch a film if you were obviously underage. What makes it more difficult with home entertainment mediums is that no one can regulate how old you are and as long as you have access to a copy of the film, no one can stop you from watching it.  The Video Recordings Act hoped to help reduce the incidents of underage viewing and bring the decency and family values back to the British media.

There were 72 of these video nasties, including classics such as ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, ‘The Driller Killer’, ‘I Spit on your Grave’, ‘Last House on the Left’ and ‘Evil Dead’.  Now, for today’s audiences, these films are not particularly shocking. They are more humorous than anything really because of their unconvincing acting and dated special effects. At the time, the wave of moral outrage actually created a certain attraction to these forbidden films and gave them infamy, as huge numbers of people would watch the films just to see what the big fuss was about.

The moral watchdogs kicked up such a fuss that the police began raiding video shops. They took away the nasty video cassettes and the tabloids kicked up a frenzy saying they were sinister and threatening movies, destroying the minds of the general public. If something could have been blamed on video nasties, it was. The main focus was on susceptible viewers such as the young, it was thought that the content of these films would corrupt them and increase the likelihood of them reproducing such horrifying scenes themselves. Perhaps along with their conservative nature, theories such as the Hypodermic Needle Theory instilled them with the desire to protect the next generation. Similar arguments are proposed against today’s graphic video games, such as Call of Duty and GTA.

It is funny to think that the films once deemed to be nasty are now mild in comparison to many mainstream horror films. Film and Game makers will always try to push the boundaries of what is deemed morally acceptable in order to attract audiences. This can be said for a recent film I encountered, ‘A Serbian Film’ , which  is notorious for its gratuitous violence and strong sexual themes throughout. Having viewed it, I noticed how desensitised I have become from films with extremely violent content however this being said, I would not said I have ever experienced the urge to re-enact anything I have seen in this or similar films.  I think it is more concerning that filmmakers can generate such twisted and distasteful story lines and that critics can deem these pieces to be art than anything else.

Video Nasties will always generate public interest, which is why they are made and every so often they can provide escapist entertainment from our mundane lives.  Long live horror!

21 Jump Street made me literally cry with laughter

 I haven’t enjoyed a comedy as much as I enjoyed 21 Jump Street in a long time.  Jonah Hill embraces his typecasting as he takes on the role of unpopular Schmidt, who joins a police academy where he becomes best friends with former High-school Jock Jenko, played by the dreamy Channing Tatum.

After the two policemen fail to read a drug dealer his miranda rights during a bust, the pair are reassigned to work for a specialty devision, 21 Jump Street. The assignment calls for the two cops to go undercover at a high school and stop the spread of a new synthetic drug after a teenagers death.  The pair live at Schmidt’s parents house whilst under cover as brothers. On their first day, as a previous popular kid, Jenko expects he’ll fit right in and infiltrate the group of popular kids but both Jenko and Schmidt are amazed when they see just how much High School has changed.  It is in fact, Schmidt who manages to fit in with the popular kids and develop feelings for one of the girls in the group and Jenko befriends three science geeks who teach him a thing or two and assist him in tapping a drug dealers phone.

Having helped develop the story with Michael Bacall, the film is injected with Hill’s usual crude humour. The film is full of unpredictable events and drug-induced insanity. As expected, when the pair are specifically told not to buy alcohol for any minors, that is exactly what they do. The pair throw a mad house party with extortionate amounts of alcohol and stolen confiscated weed.Although the events in the film are incredibly unrealistic, it was thoroughly enjoyably and I would recommend you all give it a viewing. (Also watch out as Mr Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise, from the tv series the film is based on, make uncredited cameos towards the end of the film.) The ending was left very open and I am assuming there will be a 21 Jump Street sequel coming to cinemas soon!

I’d rate this film 9 out of 10!