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Here’s where to learn for free about filmmaking …

Explore Filmmaking: National Film and Television School [Six Weeks] (3 hours)

A very practical, grounded course where anyone with a smart phone and a computer can both take production tips from students and experts in the field, while having a go and penciling in a storyboard, adding sound, or shooting a cutting a scene. Thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend to anyone with an interesting in storytelling through film or video, or even interest in how series like Game of Thrones or films like Skyfall are made. The language of film is the same, whether you’re using 35mm film or a smartphone. Tell you nephews and nieces about this one. The next ‘presentation’ starts in June.


When in Rome


Watching a drama series has become like reading a book – in the case of ‘Rome’ it is something of an epic. Though produced in 2005 it has the qualities that make a series for the era of Netflix. It is a lesson too from HBO and the BBC. A cracking pace, without becoming vulgar or repetitive (though there is always violence and sex, and sex with violence), the ‘upstairs/downstairs’ balance has two complementary and intertwinned strands. The conflict and jeopardy is relentless. At times the casting is a touch weak – Cleopatra is no Elizabeth Taylor but the strands wrap around eachother in a way that is Shakespearan – as is some of the language. And the last words of the series leave you with a smile on your face – a clever twist that must have been planned early on so that the two stories effectively roll into one – the son of Ceasar and Cleopatra actually that of a bull of a soldier.

The contrast with other series I have tried to watch is telling: V and Battlestar Gallactica are like badly written trash mags in comparison – after a few episodes it not only becomes repetitive, the same events and dilemmas repeating themselves as if on a loop, but the internal dynamic constantly trips itself up with the original need for commercial breaks every seven minutes or so.

My own efforts at the TV Series include ‘Escape from Alien Zoo’, ‘The Little Duke’ and ‘CC and Susie’. The first got me through the door at the BBC to develop the scripts, the second secured me an agent, third was too kid’s TV. Tessa Ross saw me about a TV film version ‘Rewind’. I will work on the paper version of ‘The Little Duke’ as it concerns the Normans in France in the 10th century and has enough violence and power struggles in it to think of it as a cross between ‘The Vikings’ and ‘Rome’.

Happy as Larry

Fig.1. Directing a ‘Listening In’ – Super 16mm film – the real McCoy

Happy as Larry. Leading a creative of builders, helpers and doers – we all get something from the experience.

‘Listening in’ did festivals and Channel 4 shorts.

#50Auction D&AD 50th

Fig. 1 The D & AD Auction

50 creatives – designers, art directors, illustrators, photographers, film makers and typographers offered 50 pieces of art for a special edition D&AD book.

(What is D&AD?)

An auction started online on Sunday went live today at The Hospital Club in Endell Street at 7.00pm.

A Paula Scher went for ever £2k. I needed to leave before the Terry Gilliam or Quentin Blake came under the hammer.

See them all here

If you had £10,000 to go on a good cause, which would you have bought? Would it have been selfish to bid for several?

Great work inspires. Great work for a good cause inspires even more. With the money raised D&AD will start a fund to support emerging creative talent in the early months of their career hoping to keep some of them in the business.

Fig. 2. Quentin Blake for D&AD 50 2012

There was additional inspiring work from:

David Adjaye – Architect

Miles Aldridge – Photographer

David Bailey @Kiosk – Designer and Art Director

Daniel Barber – Commercials Director (Film, TV idents … )

Paul Belford – An Art Director and Creative Head … with a PhD in Biochemistry

Quentin Blake – Illustrator

Derek Birdsall – Graphic Designer

Neville Brody – Graphic Designer and Font Designer

Wim Crouwel – Graphic Designer and Typographer

Neil Dawson – Urban Artist

Tony Davidson – Head of Big Ideas, WiedenKennedy London

Mark Denton – Designer, Director, Photographer … and he blogs

David Droga – Art Director

Dave Dye – Thinking up ideas. Problem solving. Making things look nice.

Daniel Eatock – Designer

Eine – Urban Artist

Fabrica – Sam Baron & Co ?

Bob Gill – Bob Gill

Stephen Gill – Photographer

Terry Gilliam – IMDB

John Hegarty – himself

Wayne Hemmingway – fashion designer

Nadav Kander – photographer

Peter Kennard – artist

Rich Kennedy – Senior Designer at BBH

Nick Knight – Fashion Photographer

Michael Johnson – Johnson Banks

Danny Kleinman – Director

Mary Lewis – Designer (Brand Packaging)

John Lloyd – Graphic Designer

Ed Morris – Creative Director

Nick Park – Well Aardman

Grant Parker – Head of Art DDB UK

Parra – Artist

Harry Pearce – Designer

Rob Reilly – Chief Creative Officer

Rankin – Photography

Mark Reddy – Head of Art BBH

Paula Scher – Graphic Designer

Richard Seymour – The Violence of the New

Paul Smith – Fashion Designer

Philippe Starck – S+ark

Daljit Singh – Digital Design

Alexandra Taylor – Art Director

Storm Thorgerson – ‘Legendary’ Graphic Designer

Justin Tindall – Executive Creative Director – Leo Burnett

Mark Tutssel – Global Creative Officer –  Leo Burnett

Simon Waterfall – Creative Director – Industrial Design and the language of all things.

Graham Watson – Art Director

Michael Wolff – Design

Who were the couple, say age 27 and 26 who hung and clung onto each other for the duration as if we were on a raft going through the Skull Rapids of the Westwater Canyon, Utah?

What can we learn from the movies? What do we gain by going off and doing something totally different from time to time?

Cover of "Groundhog Day (15th Anniversary...

Cover via Amazon

Fig. 1. Twister

From time to time I give this a flick – usually when I should be concentrating on an assignment (I am). I just desire to take my head somewhere else for some light relief. For each quadrant put in each of: sport, cooking, fiction (films and novel) and visual arts (drawing, photography)

Today it is the film ‘Groundhog Day‘ – so  a bit of fiction and visual arts in one

This has relevance to learning. There is a moral tale. It even promotes the idea that as a result of effort over time you can be anything. OK, he is an arse for a good while, but then Phil Connors (Bill Murray) learns all kinds of things from 19th Century French poetry to ice-carving, he is a doctor and classical and jazz pianist.

If you know the film, download the script.

Here it is

This is revealing as it gives a half-dozen more twists to Phil’s antics (good and bad) and gives away the basis of the film – The Frog Prince. He gets tattoos and some biker chicks, carves in stone as well as ice, studies philosophy as well as literature, the drums as well as the piano … robs a bank as well as the security van and has a long relationship with Nancy until he gets bored with it (and her).


Marching on Bonfire Night, Lewes, East Sussex

Procession of the martyrs crosses, as part of ...

Procession of the martyrs crosses, as part of Lewes’ Bonfire Night celebrations (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Moving to Lewes with young children in 2000 we were immediately invited to join one of the Bonfire Marching Societies.

We’d join other families, all of us – in this instance – dressed up as Confederate Soldiers.

On November 5th in Lewes the schools close early. Parking enforcement warnings have been up for weeks – most of the roads must be clear of parked cars by 2.00pm.

At this time the first visitors arrive and gather in the pubs while families get ready. Across town people pull out lovingly made costumes: buccaneers, Confederate Soldiers, Native North Americas, Zulu Warriors, Monks … there is a dress code and dress rules. In Southover we dress as buccaneers (think Johnny Depp in pirates of the Caribbean) Everyone MUST wear a Tricorn hat or they get removed from the march … or sent to the back.

At the back, no shame in that. you dress as a ‘Smuggler’ black shoes, white trousers a jumpers with horizontal stripes of black and yellow or red and white and a red woollen cap.

We’ve done them all. Indeed getting rather too enthusiastic we joined a second society so can spend a few hours as Confederate Soldiers and a few more hours as buccaneers. Across towns all the pubs are of course open. Across town there are stalls selling food.

I tell people ‘we march’ and they must think this is a circuit around town then over. Not at all.

The timetable runs thus.

5,10pm Children’s Procession

5.45pm Procession of Remembrance (We congregate at the War Memorial for the fallen of the First and Second World Wars)

6.45pm Third Procession

8.00pm United Procession (all six societies converge, merge, then split up)

9.30pm Grand Procession … and we head for the firesite. A bonfire of wood which went up over the weekend.

11.00pm Sixth Procession

11.30pm Final Procession

So here are some of my photos from last year.

Just Google ‘Lewes Bonfire‘ and between YouTube, Flickr and Blogs you’ll get the picture. Want to join in? Not easy. The roads close. The buses stop. And the train service deliberately sticks to its timetable – no extra services. Time it and you can drive back and forth along the Lewes bypass (A27)

And what has this got to do with learning or e-learning?

If you live in Lewes, a great deal. These are marches that tie us directly into the following:

The 16 Protestant Martyrs burnt alive at the stake in the centre of town,

The foiling of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament – as relevant today as four centuries ago,

Tom Paine (Declaration of Independence, he lived and spoke here first, his meeting rooms are on the High Street.

And modern history – each of the six marching societies build a massive float that goes onto the bonfire marking some feature that has irritated the towns folk this last year – we can be micro or macro, so may burn an effigy of a person or thing. So the Ayotalla and Tony Blair, the Chief of Police and even George W Bush got the treatment. The Pope gets it in the neck too – but representing the powers that martyred Protestants and religious intolerance.

There are at least SIX marches during the year, typically midday or early afternoon – traffic is banned, banners and floats come out for ‘The Moving on Parade’ for example – celebrating kids completing their PRIMARY SCHOOL education.

MORE HERE: Lewes Bonfires


Where does corporate video production fit in our digital world?


Fig.1. Where does corporate video fit in a digital world?

I’ve had ample time to reflect on this. If you’d like me to talk it through just. I’ve used this to present a couple of times now. There are plenty of opportunities out there – just listen, integrate and look for ways to get your audience to sit forward and take part, rather than sit back and nod off.


Might understanding what primes us to behave in a certain way have impacts on social behaviour and learning?

Fig.1. Eyes & Ears – A public awareness film produced featuring the Emergency Services and members of the cast of Byker Grove. Broadcast on regional TV channels: BBC Look North and Tyne Tees Television. Widely reported in the local press.

Understanding what primes us to behave in a certain way must have impacts on social behaviour, from the London Riots of 2011 and police behaviour at Hillsborough in 1989, through to schooling, training, coaching and e-learning – and of course, how hypnotists play their tricks.

  • Are we so vulnerable and easily led because we cannot think about too much at the same time?
  • How must this influence the savvy learning designer?
  • Surely the context of any learning environment must be highly significant, from the buildings and resources, to your peers?

Fig. 2. A Oxford Tutorial – now as in the 1950s

  • Do Ivy League and Oxbridge Colleges have a centuries old model that works still in the 21st century?
  • Why do some libraries work better than others and why do we like to meet for coffee or for a drink?
  • Are we primed to open up, to be more or less receptive to ideas?
  • What therefore does the loan learner do studying at a distance, even if they are online?
  • What makes the experience immersive?
  • Synchronous learning in a webinar or seminar?
  • Active engagement in a discussion, multi-choice quiz or virtual world?
  • And how might they prep their context?
  • Close the curtains, dress to study?


Fig. 3. Thinking, fast and slow

I was introduced to this concept by Daniel Kahneman in his 2011 book ‘Thinking, Fast and Slowly’ in the Linkedin Group for alumni of the Open University MBA Module ‘Creativity, Innovation and Change’.


Taken … the comedy version

Fig. 1. Liam Neeson takes revenge in ‘Taken’

Of course our 14 year old son shouldn’t have been watching the moview ‘Taken’, but for the benefit of his 16 year old sister on the long drive home this evening he set about detailing the action.

I found it hand not to laugh all the way through as somehow I had in my mind’s eye the film that I have seen three times as he offered his esoteric description – All Liam Neson did apparently was talk in gutural noises and wave his hands about. Dialogue didn’t feature, nor characterisation – just the action. What more does it need. (What was it Hitchcock said about dialogue, that is was a sound effect?)

At the end of this our 16 year old daughter perked up and said, ‘Granny said I mustn’t see this film and then proceeded to describe it in gory detail’. The image of my late mother drawing attention to the nastiest moments in the film brings a smile to my face, ‘there’s a bit when xxxx’ and you mustn’t see the bit when yyyy’. Oddly enough the threat of ‘white slavery’ as a line used with teenage girls wanting to go out late in the 1970s. There was someone ready to snatch my teenage sisters away around every corner of late night Newcastle upon Tyne.

Listenign to Philip Pullman talking about a new anthology of Fairy Tales we are reminded of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and of ‘Hansel and Gretal’. The contemporary monsters being the likes of Jimmy Saville and Gary Glitter.

The problem is – words can be even more vivid as you create something in your mind’s eye that can be far worse, closer to home and therefore possible.

Narrative is a powerful thing, as is humour and violence if done correctly.

(Reading this back, this last line suddenly sounds like something that would be said by a Bond Villain)

How is memory manifested in an analogue and a digital world?


Fig. 1 Nadja Swarovski at the Design Museum

An extraordinary exploration of how we create memories and the important role exhibitions and museums have to play in reminding us that the physical world with which we interact is our context for learning even when we go online.

LINK: Digital Crystal at the Design Museum

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