Category: blogs

William Hill Bookmakers are your Friend 

I am not much of a gambler and the infrequent times I have entered such a dismal palace, the person on the other side cares very little for the customer… much like a bored hooker.

i think this is lying in advertising

Jeremy Clarkson’s Opinions (Like We Care)

A self reflective Clarkson opinion piece you won’t read in his Sun column :

That’s the thing about public school educated people like me who end up on television. Because of our superior nihilistic education, this gives us an elitist world view on what we call the downtrodden. If you drive anything less than a hot car/ woman (delete as appropriate) you are dead to me.

We tend to sneer at the lower classes, and poke fun at the foreigners because we deludedly think that our audience will find such things funny. Well, the less intelligent do. The reality is that our cars drive the show. What you are actually watching are just a set of struck-it-lucky wide boys who use a politer form of racism coated in humour for our followers. We sit on top of this perch pissing on everyone below while maintaining a world view marred by the self imposed nihilism,  all harking back to our time at those wrenched-from-our-parents boarding schools. Did i mention that we make a LOT of money for the corporation in merchandising sales?

This is the shining example of why, even though the viewing figures are large they are mostly a greying bunch thereby leaving the younger crowd to move online. We never understood all that anyway as we are the old guard free from such changes in the media landscape. All we did was go HD because you demanded it.

Maybe that punch up with my working class producer was a good thing.

Right, off to the pub.

Quota Films The British Film Industry

So all the rumours of elitism and cronyism within the british film industry are true as per the evidence introduced in the doc I saw at The Prince Charles Cinema recently.

Quota Film’s The British Film Industry: Elitist, Deluded or Dormant is an eye-opening look at this incestuous disease that is deep rooted in the British Film Industry. Let’s be honest it’s like any institution whether it is the Banks or the BBC and the cronyism at the top level keeping the top jobs within their gene pool.

And to think with all this talk of diversity and closing the class divide, the industry is at a low point for people who want an entry. Don’t take my word for it, many news articles are pretty much saying the same thing where the BAME and working class actors/ filmmakers are increasingly shut out. All the advances in the 80’s with Channel 4’s brave agenda have pretty much gone with television preferring safe programming which is why you won’t see many real ground breaking films.

One other not-very-surprising-in-hindsight issue is conflict of interest with some Regional Film Council heads diverting funds into THEIR OWN production companies. Isn’t that a teensy bit illegal? When one has a privileged position they shouldn’t be able to line their own pockets but then again why am I surprised? All these initiatives need overhauling and even with the demise of the Film Council and the BFI taking over, we shall see if they step up to the plate.

As someone who reads a lot about the British Film Industry, this is a fine companion to Icons on Fire: The Decline and Fall of Almost Everybody in the British Film Industry by Alexander Walker where the few people in power totally screwed it for everyone else. Shame really as there is an abundance of talent out there waiting to be recognised. At least for the ones that haven’t hoofed it to the States.

The main reason I found this eye opening and writing from a personal level, I applied to a great many funding bodies over the years and had I known then what I do now I wouldn’t have bothered. What’s the point if the cards are marked against you? What is the real point if the funds are going to their friends? Energies are best spent going after private funds like Kickstarter, especially if you are far from privileged or connected.

I know there are some people who will shout Kidulthood but these are in the minority (pun city!) and more films such as this should be championed. All said and done the shining light in all this (among a slim few) is Warp films making truly British films and creating a filmic legacy that will last years. What is needed is more of that.

The roll call of respected Industry Professionals that have been interviewed is impressive and all speak of the problem and this documentary is one big action plan for change.

London is the best city?

It is amusing to read that London is crowned as the best city in the world and judging by the criteria selected seem to have been chosen by people who don’t live in this cultural melting pot.

Only people who actually live in london will experience the following:

Hospitals: Granted that the NHS is better than most countries and free but when I took my sickly child to an A&E outlet that hadn’t been closed down we had to wait 4 hours just to be seen. We even had celebrity mentalist and funny curmudgeon Charlie Brooker in with his equally sickly child waiting for the same amount of time. Only two doctors on call hence the long wiring time…. We were lucky as there was one patient who was waiting for 7 hours.

Safety: London riots may have happened in 2011 but don’t think for one moment that the problem has gone away. The youth are still disaffected as ever and have nothing to do so this will very much come back.

Transport: Even the head of transport has said that London will fall apart in chaotic violence as the transport system can’t cope with so many Londoners. Any given weekend a few of the train lines are closed for repair so we have to seek alternate routes and plan ahead… Mondays? There will invariably be a few lines down due to the fact that works will overshoot. Oh and it’s usually standing room only.

Housing: Face it, Londoners cannot afford to get on the housing ladder and the next generation are going to live a life of renting. Home ownership will be a thing of the past keeping everyone just above the poverty line

If you are rich on the other hand London is the best place to live!

It’s not all complaints as this is still the best place in the world and wouldn’t change all the good things about it like multiculturalism and the arts.

Comics make great actors

When it comes to film roles, one thing you will consistently notice is that people who come from a background of live stand up comedy can seamlessly play dramatic parts convincingly and to critical acclaim. Look at Jim Carrey, Robin Williams and Steve Coogan. When they play dramatic and/or darker characters they garner rave reviews.

Ever thought about that? It’s not something you would think works but it does.

You see, most stand-up comics make observations about life around them, they are extremely observant of people’s mannerisms. Their routines are consistently based on mimicking. Where method actors get into character, these performers do that anyway night after night over a period of years. One other person of note who transitioned successfully was Lee Evans in Funny Bones.

So when a challenging part comes along(Truman Show, One Hour Photo, Philomena) they can get the right low key performance because of their on the job training.

On the flipside when it comes to actors playing comics it’s the opposite. Take for example Lawrence Olivier, he played a comic in a role and was acclaimed for playing the character as awkward. After all, comics are awkward people in real life. When asked about the role he admitted he played it that way because he felt awkward doing the role.

Also, look at someone more contemporary like Seth Rogan. When he played a comic in Funny People aka Unfunny Film he wasn’t convincing as a live act, more like an actor awkwardly trying to play a comic. Well, I wasn’t convinced but Adam Sandler was good as he had a background in live comedy which made his part more interesting.

Next time you watch a film have a think.

 

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.