Jonathan Glazer/ Scarlett Johansson mentalism

In the current climate where it’s hard to get financing for cult oddities i assume this is how Jonathan Glazer managed to get the green light on his film Under the Skin starring Scarlett Johansson which is essentially a remake of The Man who Fell to Earth starring David Bowie

 

A word for Tommy Robinson and Nick Griffin

Dear Tommy Robinson, Nick Griffin and The Daily Mail

I constantly see you downplaying your racist views by saying you “respect” the Sikhs for what they have done.

Every time someone slings a comment at you, that is your instant reply.

I assume by respect you mean the Sikh military conduct during World War 1 & 2 and not the fine restaurants dotted up and down the city centres that I am sure most of you enjoy after a lager or ten…. Oh, am I stereotyping you?

Let’s all be clear about one thing, you hate immigration and foreign workers and as a son of Sikh migrant workers you essentially hate us. My grandfather served for the British during WW2 but if you saw me on the street, that wouldn’t be taken into account would it? In fact any kind of service my ancestors have done will not be taken into account and if I did bring it up would it make a difference?

Probably not.

If you had a chance, you would turf us out alongside everyone you feel is unfit to live here.

So we are back to the fact that you try to use us to be “less racist”. Well, stop using as a case to be legitimate, it doesn’t work.

 

 

 

YouTube got fleeced

What else did you expect?

Remember when YouTube had a $200 million pound war chest to pump into original programming?

It was their bold attempt to move beyond those upload-your-cat-videos amateur content that the site has become synonymous with and try to be a digital multiplatform with commissioned content. They tried their best to veer away from the self-built curse of being a sprawling site with no real niche or individuality.

In fact, do you remember any of these channels that were created?

No?

Not even the Tony Hawks skateboarding channel?

Well, I knew beforehand the money would eventually be wasted with pretty much nothing substantial to show for it. The experiment failed. In fact even I tried to squeeze money out of them.

The disaster was two-fold; firstly nobody can differentiate between each “channel” due to the amount of sidebar noise so it’s attention span hell. Rarely do people (even me) look for a particular channel on a regular basis. Streaming sites like iPlayer and Netflix are built in brands from the start, you knew what you would get by going to their sites.

Secondly the YouTube commissioners seemed to have been hypnotized by the larger companies that jumped on board. They simply didn’t understand the market direction they needed to do down. I hazard a guess that these suppliers had some scripts that were hardly A-List so dusted them off and slipped them over. The quality control didn’t seem to be an issue to a certain degree as they just wanted eyeballs pulled towards their site. In fact if I remember correctly, after speaking to someone, they said that YouTube keep the rights for only a year or two and they revert back to the filmmaker. The content creator gets to win all the way… strange deal if true.

It’s hard to change from this curse of success and other attempts like Comedy Week have fared little better in getting a niche corner of the market.

The main problem is that they didn’t have the right people with a clear agenda, I mean what do you want to be? Broad or Niche? You can’t have it both ways. Also not having a strong sense of quality control didn’t help. Netflix as an example succeeded by spending big but wisely with House of Cards. Solid drama with teeth, which you knew, would win accolades. A great business card if any. I think they should stick to what they do best.

Spotify: The Real Revolution

The real digital music revolution hasn’t been iTunes but Spotify. The Apple Music service merely introduced a highly efficient digital platform for music but essentially it’s still a glitzed up online retailer.

Spotify, on the other hand, has changed the way we discover new artists by allowing people to NOT initially buy the tracks but to listen as a streaming subscription service trawling through their extensive catalogue.

I am sure that anyone over 35 will understand this: I spent years just building up my large-ish record collection playing in constant rotation but limited to just those records as budget allows, so when I first registered with the streaming site my eyes were truly opened to millions of tracks and I discovered so many hidden gems that would otherwise be closed off to me. We can actually share playlists and I can still discover so much more. To anyone who readily accepts this lifestyle you truly don’t understand things like audio cassettes!

Admittedly the artists should get more revenue sharing but as they benefit from greater publicity via discovery it’s a step in the right direction and allows people to share in a fan-like way.

We are now seeing Spotify used as a bundled service for the likes of The Times and Virgin Media as a catalyst to sign up so we know it’s a useful tool for these companies to jump on as leverage and again this is down to the USP.

Another reason for this model’s success is that other players, notably the Beats empire are muscling in with a slightly different approach to entice customers away and when the artists can get better deals then we are truly at a point of revolution where everybody wins. It doesn’t end with music as we can clearly see from Netflix, which offers the filmic equivalent to great success. DVDs are dead so what’s their next step? Streaming!

Let’s face it; people want to choose from a vast library, as taste is fickle and people are now used to wider choice on the subscription model. The smaller artists can now be on par with the bigger ones and add to the musical renaissance.

Also it’s worth noting that iTunes sales have gone down for the first time this year so we will see what route Apple will take to keep the stranglehold they have become accustomed to.

Innovation has only just started

Apple: Paradox of Choice

I have always been an Apple man mainly because of my job which means I’ve known how excellent their products are before you did.

My wife on the other hand works on PC’s and is comfortable in that environment so when she wanted a new laptop I ended up spending a lot of hours searching for the right, one asking friends and comparing on various sites. Technically there is no “right one”. All the different brands run Windows 8 but all have these different features giving you too much choice.

We eventually settled on a Sony VIAO which on first use made me realize why OSX is superior. But there was something else I realized. Essentially there is too much choice and for the most part when presented with so many different variants, one becomes less inclined to make a purchase or if they do, instantly regret not picking “the other PC”.

Do the same search for a iMac/ iPad/ Mac Pro and you have 3 main choices and then extra customizable extensions if you wish to have add-ons. The choice which looks limited is actually a genius idea where you have greater clarity on what you specifically want.

Having such locked down hardware as opposed to Microsoft’s licensing model gives you a chance to make a choice fairly quickly. I got the idea from a chapter in Rolf Dobelli’s book The Art of Thinking Clearly. Too much choice can be confusing so next time spend a bit more money and buy a Mac.

And Microsoft? this may be the reason you are losing market share by the bucket-load.

Editing verses Replaceable music

Watching this stunning piece of work i realised that the music is not as important in getting the best out of the visuals. When you have amazing camerawork and great editing it can essentially work with alternative musical takes.

As an experiment i literally did a screen capture and merely pressed play on this YouTube Clip and my selected Spotify track, no actual sync made.

As you can see the music is easily interchangeable, provided you have the right tempo and proof that the important ingredient is editing

Journey to Punjab article coming soon

I am currently working on an article about going back to the Punjab with my family after a break of 10 years. The concept was my observations on how things have changed in the style of gonzo journalism. I had the opportunity to live off the beaten track and want to share these thoughts with whoever would want to read a journey that involved 300 miles of bad road.

i have teaser posters available on pinterest

BAME Moneyball

I was watching Moneyball the other day and one thing struck me, what if the same principles were applied to British Media?

The baseball concept was to find undervalued players to make up for budget shortfalls and showed that the system was working off a flawed concept.

To use one genre as an example, current television comedy is using a similar now flawed concept that is ripe for reinvention. From my experience, the talent scouts currently employed at the major production companies seem to follow the same tradition of discovering stars that translate well to television. By translate I mean the usual footlights type. This has worked previously in creating iconic programmes but for the last few years that way of bold thinking has fallen to the wayside. The output is all the same and the format is becoming stale because if it. Turn on the TV and innovation has all but stopped.

No matter where you look, these same faces appear on television talking the same comedic language.

Instead of trying to replicate the same televisual template, the Indies should be hiring people who think out of the box and stop searching for what would fit into the current lineup. Everyone is playing it safe for the sake of ratings but bold choices are for the brave and the rewards can be more enduring.

Two examples are The Real McCoy and Goodness Gracious Me that literally created an audience nobody thought existed. The Office also made the sheer boredom of office life gripping viewing and Chris Morris’s output is pure anarchy.

Obviously it’s not just down to the Indies as the commissioners need to be open to these unique ideas and be involved in the risk.  Historically there have always been “quiet slots” to try out ideas so the gamble is minimised.

I have personally met some of the most respected, innovative and talented comics on the circuit who you will never know because their attitude doesn’t fit into the current mold. The right spotter can pick this talent and nurture them into creating something truly different. I think it’s high time to shake things up and hell, if it fails what do you lose from the small outlay?

The Road to Diversity Lenny Henry Speech 2008

The following is a transcript that was freely available on the web but since removed. I have kept this document since 2008 and regularly sent it to all my diverse media friends because of the positive mission statements Mr Henry was making. Weirdly the same statements are now being said but from a greater numbers of people in the BAME community.

Continue reading The Road to Diversity Lenny Henry Speech 2008

Maniac: Throwback to the Video Nasty

I recently watched Maniac starring Elijah Wood and it is a surprisingly nasty film and only watchable if you can stomach such extreme misogynistic violence. Not exactly a mainstream film itself but starring a cast-against-type Elijah Wood. The feel of the film reminded me of the other notorious cinematic shocker The New York Ripper which i decided to re-watch. Both make uncomfortable viewing due to their apparent hatred for women and nothing i have seen in the last few years has been as truly psychologically horrific. Even the pre title shocker was, well, a shocking homage to the late 70’s slasher genre.

You may have found Hostel and The Human Centipede quite extreme but for me they are just an excuse to be graphic and push the audience’s buttons, you know what to expect when you watch them. Maniac doesn’t do that.. you walk into a nightmare of a disturbed mind.

These films have somehow become watered down by-the-numbers gore films that have become predictable in recycling different variations of bloodshed and considering the heritage has moved away from internalising the putrid stench of a diseased mind.

Filmmakers are fixated on the bloodshed and not the psychological dysfunction of the character involved. If you can stomach it, watch the film and see something truly sickening.