Tuesday, 21 December 2010

What got you writing? Answer: skateboarding

I was asked this the other day - was it a book? Something noble – the erudite and concise language of 1984? Or did you have a trippy epiphany reading Hunter S Thompson during your late teens? Nope it was Skateboard! magazine. Search online and you'll find many references to the original seventies version, which had quite a hobbyist vibe to it. That's not it. For me it was the relaunch in 1989 by editor Steve Kane.

In much the same way I miss the Observer Sport Monthly, Skateboard! took a completely different approach to reporting its subject. Well, it did for me as a twelve year old growing up in the fens. Thinking back on it, I suspect Skateboard!'s editorial approach was squarely in the gonzo camp. The writers were the skaters. When they travelled to comps, they hitched, crashed on impressionable teen's floors and raided the fridge before they left. And this fed into the writing. I can still remember the vivid article about Dogtown where an imagined and exasperated father explains the importance of South Californian style to his son after he complains of Stacey Peralta 'waving his arms like a spaz' in an old Bones Brigade video. 'You take that back son! That's goddamn blasphemy. That's the roots and a tree without roots is a pretty dead fucking tree'.

I have thought about tracking down old copies on eBay, but that way lies nostalgia, and there's too much of that around. Instead, I'm reading the flippin' inspiring Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell. This is a tight, evocative tale and just the sort of thing to spend a bath with in this black metal weather. Or you could watch the film.

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Monday, 20 December 2010

Against The Clock diary: how it happened

I haven’t really written anything for me very much recently, so I thought I’d talk a little bit about the process of making Against The Clock.

I have no experience directing films. But I know what I want to see and more importantly, what I want to say. But there’s a big disparity between that desire, and the knowledge and experience to actually make it happen.

I’m not claiming to be an expert in documentary, but I have learnt a great deal. Mostly from this book:

Get it from Amazon it's ace!

And a little bit from the experience I’ve accrued making ATC. That’s what I want to talk about and I’m going to start at the very beginning:

Why a drag racing documentary?
Originally ATC was going to be a 26 second film for a project with 26, the writer’s organisation and the UVLC. I figured it would just be long enough to show a driver queue up, race and come off the track at the end. I’d tell his story using voiceovers.  The whole film would be one, continuous take.

This is of course, written with the benefit of hindsight. At the time I only had a vague idea of what the film could be like. One direction was making a YouTube doubler video:

<table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" border="0"><tr><td width="425" height="355" valign="top"> </td><td width="425" height="355" valign="top"> </td></tr> <tr><td colspane=2><span style="font-size:8pt; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, verdana, sans-serif;">YouTube Doubler</td></tr> </table>

The more I looked into it, the more complex this idea looked to make. I had to find two different race teams to agree to an interview and let me in their cars to shoot with cameras that someone else would own. All I could think was ‘insurance’. Not to mention organising two shoots and a difficult edit.

A producer I met through the project loved the idea of a drag film, but she thought the doubler bit was complicated. ‘You need a human interest.’

I went home, thought about who could be a drag racer: old people, children (there is an established junior drag racing class), people with disabilities. I typed in ‘disabled racing drivers’ into Google. I got two promising results. One was a Daily Express article about a blind man who raced the salt flats in Utah. He used walkie-talkies, four guide cars and GPS to guide his supercharged Jag. The other link was for Nigel Holland’s drag team, Ave a Go Racing.

The blind man lived in America and the article was seven years old. Nigel lived in Bedfordshire and was competing in the 2010 Summer Nationals. I emailed Nigel.

He was a drag racer and I wanted to make a film about drag racing. When I was ten my dad took me to see bike dragging and I loved it. It’s fast, the action is all in one place and I’m pretty sure I saw a man with a chrome-plated prosthetic leg. I love the look of drag racers and when I saw photos of Santa Pod there was something peculiarly reminiscent about where I grew up: the big, flat sky and the race to the horizon. It just seemed to fit: all the action was in one place I could see myself making a film there. And I was pretty certain the prospect of shots of American muscle cars, with their exotic paintjobs, would be just the show reel candy to entice a film crew to give me their time for free.

Nigel emailed back to say he was interested and that as a press photographer at Santa Pod, he could get us access to both the pits and the track. Rhys and Rich said they were up for filming. It looked as if it was all going to happen.

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Friday, 17 December 2010

Stephen King films for new book: Full Dark No Stars

Roger Corman, - the king of the B movie – was as much of a mythmaker as a film mogul with over 350 titles to his name. One story claims he made The Terror using shoot time left over from The Raven. The Little Shop of Horrors was reputedly in the can after two days (to meet a bet). But perhaps the hardest rumour to confirm is how Corman raised funds for his projects. Now, I have only empirical evidence to back this up (some guy on the radio said so), but I’m a copywriter, not a journalist so I’m going to side with the Maxwell Scott quote. Corman’s method was pretty simple. First he would think of a catchy title, then shoot and cut a trailer of what the film could look like to hook investors.

So far so interesting, but what can we learn from Roger’s approach? Well, say what you like about Roger Corman’s pictures (and many do – mostly bad stuff), his parsimonious production and clever manipulation of investors’ anticipation have meant his films never get stuck in development hell and always make their money back. Except The Intruder, which starred William Shatner.
Roger might not be Fellini, but he is a master at marketing. Who do you think puts about all these apocryphal tales? And it’s this and the fact Corman knows the power of a good trailer and poster that’s led to a long and healthy career. He’s still making films today.

Watching these YouTube films promoting Stephen King’s new book ‘Full Dark No Stars’, I was reminded of the Corman Method of Film Financing. Sure, these films are a nicely crafted campaign to shift King’s latest anthology to the Internet generation. But they’re also a clever way of selling the film rights too.

There are four films (one for each story), but the above are the best because of their obsessive detail. After all, there’s nothing new about the basic premise of each tale. Fair Extension is a twist on the standard ‘Man in need meets the Devil’. A Good Marriage sees a dutiful wife uncover her husband’s dark secret. What we want is the detail King promises to bring to bear. And these films reveal just that.

Look at where Elvid decides to set up shop in Fair Extension – down a dingy alley in the airport side of town. Mr Streeter has to literally cross to the wrong side of tracks. Only then can our unfortunate protagonist meet the casually attired stranger with grotty teeth and a voice that drops an octave when he outlines the more nefarious parts of the deal. I love the rhythm of the dialogue and the footage of a healthy Streeter, post transaction. It’s almost as if there’s a film sitting in a can that just needs funds for distribution Mr Investor!

A Good Marriage is more a straightforward proposition. A strong (if obvious) soundtrack, cast and production design dramatically reveal a wife’s grim discovery and subsequent dilemma. It’s not as polished as Fair Extension. It could do with losing the ‘cameraman stumbling around in the woods’ shots. But the elegant cinematography and editing nicely unravel a chilling tale. What is she going to do? Aside from his growing driving licence collection, he’s a lovely guy – smiling at her from the wing mirror and content to share time spinning coins (I would have cut this bit – too contrived). What would you do Mr Film Investor? What would Joan Cusack do? What if she was married to Michael Chiklis? Who let’s face it, has only played The Thing since The Shield finished. We don’t even have to go to a studio. AMC could pick it up. It feels similar in tone to Breaking Bad. Hey! This project has John Dahl written all over it. He’s done television movies before – and Red Rock West – one of my favourite films – was so good it eventually got a theatrical release. Send him a copy of the book. Heck, I think I might pick a copy up for myself.

I can almost imagine what Full Dark No Stars could be like – filmic.


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The best of Writing Soundtrack 2010

Download now or watch on posterous
tasty.mov (30581 KB)
Good grief this blog is just turning into a dorm for all my nonsense playlists. I better write something good for myself soon - as opposed to just searching off the Boomkat new release email and dropping radio hits from my childhood.


Anyway, This year's tasty. Back in Jan.

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Friday, 10 December 2010

Writing soundtrack 7-10 Dec

'Listen mate, don't even ask to have a go on the NeoGeo, it's not going to happen. Right, Mystical Ninja - you do know it's in Japanese yeah?.'


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Tuesday, 7 December 2010

ATP Godspeed! You Black Emperor - match report

I don’t know. ATP just didn’t work for me this year. Maybe it was the weather, or the fact I was shattered. Or that I’ve just moved. Or hey, perhaps it was my half-finished film sat on a harddrive at home. I don’t know. It was not the time to spend a freezing weekend at a Butlins. But enough of all that boo hoo hoo. Here’s a playlist of:

My favs

And Godspeed You! Black Emperor were good, even if it did edge towards shrill at times.

Download now or watch on posterous
IMG_1335.MOV (13104 KB)
It was still fun. Just expensive, cold fun. The cinema programme was made almost entirely of stuff like Chromo Sud:

Interesting, if a little low on the lols to be honest.


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Writing soundtrack 28 Nov to 2 Dec

"Carved from wood, these totem poles were a monument to past leaders of the tribe.Wow."

"Gordon's would be a bit blank. Dave n Nick?"


"Unless if it was for the Royals - Kate & Wills - what would that be like?"

"Massive tombstone teeth."

Red Indian

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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Bath Spa at 2000 frames per second

'Shot on a super bright day'. Yeah, no shit. Lovely

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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The National @ Brixton Academy

Download now or watch on posterous
p162.mov (16658 KB)

Most unrock n roll venue ever. The usher in the photos tried to stop a thousand or so people standing. I know he's doing his job but still...

The National started off so so, ended victorious with a beautiful acoustic number at the end. That was magical and easily the highlight.

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Wednesday, 24 November 2010

How to advertise a pub

Simple really

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Stephen King films for new book: Full Dark No Stars

Really enjoying this campaign - I might even read the book. Hey whaddya know? Advertising - it can work.

The ones I liked:

Man with nothing to lose meets mysterious stranger. Nothing new to this story except a good edit and great casting.

This one tells the story just enough for you to want to know more. Plus great music and again super creepy casting. I love the joint hobby bits.


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Writing soundtrack 1-5 Nov

Monday, 22 November 2010

Editing Against The Clock

It's going and it's going well. So far...

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Writing soundtrack 15-19 Nov

Your tinyness is our fortune

‘It’s not Social Media, but Personal Media. Every post, link and affiliation is a statement about you: we’re not sharing, but advertising who we are. And we check in and log on to see what’s happening every chance we get – why? Because what this stuff really does is reveal, in the bluntest way possible, just what the world thinks of you. You can sit in the pub quietly waiting for your friends, or you could stare at the abyss in your palm hoping it stares back at you. The fact you don’t know when something might happen is the attraction. I mean, how can you just sit there when so much could be going on? I find the whole thing a curious mix of slot machine mechanics and vanity. Biscuit?’
‘Thanks Mum.’

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Friday, 12 November 2010

Richard Mosse Video and photography

General Janvier, North Kivu, Eastern Congo, 2010 by Richard Fosse.

More stunning photography can be found on his website. But he also makes beautiful videos such as Leviathan:

<object width="400" height="225"><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="movie" value="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=10624579&amp;server=vimeo.com&amp;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=1&amp;color=&amp;fullscreen=1&amp;autoplay=0&amp;loop=0" />

A film about the recovery of the US Airways jet that crashed into the Hudson and the sinking of old US bombers off Thailand for divers to explore.

Mind how you go with Killcam it has disturbing footage of real people being shot by US Forces. Forces who when injured and recovering in hospital, spend their time playing Iraq-themed first-person shooters:

<object width="400" height="302"><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="movie" value="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2166867&amp;server=vimeo.com&amp;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=1&amp;color=&amp;fullscreen=1&amp;autoplay=0&amp;loop=0" />

Finally in Fraternity, Mosse convinces some bros from Yale to scream as hard and as long as they can. Payment? A keg of beer:

<object width="400" height="300"><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="movie" value="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2147805&amp;server=vimeo.com&amp;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=1&amp;color=&amp;fullscreen=1&amp;autoplay=0&amp;loop=0" />

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Writing soundtrack 8-12 Nov

Monday, 8 November 2010

Monopoly film

Very much a sketchbook film: it's roughly shot and the lighting's appalling. But there's an interesting idea in here. Two days after it went up on Vimeo, I got this mail:

"Hey there -- just saw you had some Monopoly-related images/video. I'm a producer at CNN iReport. We just launched an assignment asking for people to share images of their Monopoly fandom for the 75th anniversary and I wondered if you'd like to participate.

Hope you'll check it out. We give people credit for the images we use, and you retain the rights to them.

If you are interested, here's our "assignment" -- look there for more information and to see where to upload your pictures.


Thanks so much for reading, hope you'll want to join us!

CNN iReport producer

Hmm, don't think so, but thanks!

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Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Writing soundtrack 25-29 Oct

Vampires n Shit

'Take our picture mate, go on.'
'I won't be able to.'
'C'mon take my camera.'
'Okay,  but I'll warn you it won't work.'
'I don't think you can take a photo of a vampire.'
'Prick. Mate, can you take our photo?'
'Hey, I'm just saying.'

Outside the King's Head, Islington, London. 10pm 30 Oct 2010

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Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Homemade spaceship

Dad and son send camera (I’m guessing a Flip) to the very edge of space and back again. In a takeaway food container. They find it with an iPhone.

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Bugula VHS mix

Download now or watch on posterous
alright.mov (1309 KB)
<object height="81" width="100%"> <param name="movie" value="http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F4472611&secret_url=false"></param> <param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param>

This is a mix by a friend of mine. It's amazing and made completely from samples of old VHS film samples lovingly stitched together on his computer. Not bad for a duck.

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Thursday, 28 October 2010

Writing soundtrack 18-22 Oct

Books about UFOS

“It was cigar shaped, with bright lights spilling from the sides – all the colours of the rainbow! I was overwhelmed with this enormous feeling of peace and benevolence. As it came in to land, three legs extended smoothly from the ship and a ramp lowered to the ground. I was drawn forwards. The Alien appeared, sliding down the ramp to me. He said, ‘you are my neighbour’. He was seven feet tall with white hair and purple eyes. He had very long fingers and smelt funny! I followed him into the ship and we flew off to Venus for tea. It was here I was told, ‘Bryan Ferry is not to be trusted’, before I woke up in my car feeling a bit sick.”

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Saturday, 23 October 2010

TSS#5 Cherry drink

Of course it's 59p. Of course it tastes like someone has described the what a cherry is over the phone. Hence why it's a clear viscous fluid with no smell. The WMD of soft drinks. Yum.

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Friday, 22 October 2010

Gorgeous cinematography - good films

<p>shinya kimura @ chabott engineering from Henrik Hansen on Vimeo.</p>

This one nearly won the doc category in the Vimeo festival. It was my favourite (not surprising) but was pipped to the post by Last Minutes with Oden, which also won best video. Oden is a great film. It's well shot, edited, I wanted to know more about the characters, I cared for them. But as straight reportage (and it is, it doesn't pose any real questions), I think it yanks the heartstrings too freely. Did I really need Bon Iver to impress on me the emotions of upset people performing an upsetting task? I don't think so. It should have been played straight.

<p>Last Minutes with ODEN from phos pictures on Vimeo.</p>



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Oops - film about dropping your camera

<p>oops from Chris Beckman on Vimeo.</p>

Great idea

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Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Writing soundtrack 11-14 Oct

Westwood, Eastgate, Bretton, New England

A pale sun hangs in a grey midwinter sky above an electrical superstore. A sign above the door reads PC WORLD. A young man walks out of the sliding doors. He is wearing a black beanie, baggy trousers and red PC WORLD sweatshirt. Around his neck hangs a walkie-talkie. We follow him as he makes his way through the mostly empty carpark, lined with bare trees, to a distant corner where a mobile takeaway van is sat. On the side of the van door, crudely painted, is the name, Burgervan Man. Burgervan Man is leaning on the serving counter - a hatch cut into the panel of the van - looking bored.

Burgervan man: Hey.
Man: Alright?
Burgervan Man: Not bad, busy for a Thursday.
Man: Yeah?
Burgervan Man: Fire alarm in Allied Carpets. What can I get you?
Man: Hotdog
Burgervan Man: Chips?
Man: Not today.
Burgervan Man: Porn?
Man: Sorry?
Burgervan Man: Dutch, German, hardcore whatever. Gay?
Man: Just the hotdog please.
Burgervan Man: Suit yourself.


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Monday, 18 October 2010

Illustrations found!

The first set are by William Stobbs, for Chekhov's Kashtanka published in 1959 and for which he won the Kate Greenaway medal. I think I like these the best.

The second set is by Bill Peet for his book Farewell to Shady Glade. Peet worked on a bunch of Disney films such as Dumbo, Peter Pan, Fantasia and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs before leaving to work on his own books.

The final set are illustrations for Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf. I have no idea who did them, but it could almost be Charles Burns.

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Friday, 15 October 2010

Little Scraps of Paper: Stevie Gee

Big fan of Stevie Gee and this little short has got me excited about Spike arriving for a long weekend next week. Interesting note that'll make me look like a knob: I wore a Pharmacy Desert Riders tee when I raced round the office.

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BURN - Detroit Firefighter documentary


No shortage of media about how bad the city has become since the collapse of American industry, but this film takes a neat angle.



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Thursday, 14 October 2010

Monsters director: Gareth Edwards interview

How do you become a film director? Gareth Edward reveals all in a pretty charming interview. But not before Paul Franklin, visual effects supervisor on Chris Nolan's INCEPTION, explains how you bend a building in half.

Podcast here

Gareth Edward's first directorial credit was the BBC3 docudrama End Day

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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Writing soundtrack 4-8 Oct

Riddley Walker's Russell Hoban puppet

Bedrooms, garages, Peel and Jive Alive - meet at mine and bring the digital delay. Turn it down for Christ's sake! What's this on the tape deck Dad? Why is he always looking at weedkiller when we go to Homebase? Saturday night curry, Sunday overtime. Hey! It's a tea break, not a smoke break. Scotty's bug. Making cardboard boxes stoned.

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Monday, 11 October 2010


Download now or watch on posterous
IMG_1033.MOV (1481 KB)
I raced just under 12 seconds, I posted, I worried, I took it down to protect the innocent. But no one is innocent - not even jazz
Download now or watch on posterous
IMG_0318.MOV (82468 KB)

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Friday, 8 October 2010

Office bike time trial

Download now or watch on posterous
IMG_0081.mov (6592 KB)

My time was just under 12 seconds, but I did stack into A desk, so mind how you go. Good video Paul.

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Friday, 1 October 2010

Writing Soundtrack 28 Sept - Oct 1

Don DeLillo's Medicine Cabinet

Guilty pleasures: The Last of the Famous International Playboys by Morrissey. Virginia Plain by Roxy Music. Cry by Godley & Creme. Yeah I know.

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Thursday, 30 September 2010

Filming for Against The Clock finished

On Saturday we shot the last day of footage for my documentary on drag racer Nigel Holland. We were really lucky; the weather was bright and clear and Nigel and his car got the all clear to race. And this time we had a car, three cameras and we dressed properly for Santa Pod– thick sock, hoodies and jackets with lots of pockets.

Very important to have pockets – you can stuff ‘em with tapes. And it’s very important to have hoodies, because when it’s cold, or should I say colder, you can flip it over your bonce for added protection.

But perhaps the best garment was Rhys’ bobble hat. Everyone agrees to an interview when the cameraman filming sports a bobble. It just seems impossible that the experience will be a bad one.

Once again, Santa Pod proved to be a place full of positive people only too eager to share their stories. Even Rick and Carla - who it seemed, had a bit of shit day - were only too happy to take time out from swapping a gearbox for a quick portrait.

We filmed for about 11 hours, right into the fading light, when the racetrack began to look quite magical and you could clearly see the flames from the exhausts.

Once again a massive thanks to Nigel Holland and his family for letting us film him and ask silly questions.

Here’s what we learnt:

•    Top fuel cars – depending on what they’re running will spew a crude form of tear gas out of their exhaust. Nice!

•    Shooting from the island in the centre of the track is do-a-bit-of-wee scary, but that’s where the best shots live

•    My camera shoots natively to .mov whereas Rhys’ records in .dv format fans!

•    But my camera is smaller

•    Don’t forget gloves

•    Bike drag racers have the biggest balls on the planet

•    The smell of Santa Pod reminds me of my Dad’s shed

•    I think I actually did the job of director this time, as opposed to someone who kept saying ‘well, what do you think?’

•    Faulkner’s fish and chip shop on the Kingsland Road ain’t all that

So that, as they say, is a wrap. Now uploading all the footage for Rhys to edit in Final Cut Pro, so I’m going to use this bit to say an absolute massive thanks to Rhys Thwaites-Jones of Cox & Jones for basically working for food. What a gent.

Looking to finish the film for Christmas

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Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Writing soundtrack 20-28 Sept

Kem Nunn's Endless Summer

More on Kem - he's worth a read.

Guilty pleasures: Quiet by Smashing Pumpkins, Drown Me by Soundgarden, Melvins and Helmet <Volton supertransformation: jeans expand, emerica trainers, Fuct t-shirt (sorry Mum)>. Suburbia. Drop D tunning Epiphone SG.


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The zen teachings of Bobby Finstock

What a great character, and beautifully played. What else do you expect from a guy who wrote The Muppets Take Manhatten?


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Sunday, 26 September 2010

77 New York Blackout Mix

Download now or listen on posterous
77_NYC_Blackout_Mix.m4a (97027 KB)
Mp4 with chapters for skipping and the such, but for everyone else, here's the playlist - it's mixed with the Radio 4 Archive Hour documentary of the same name. You can get the pure version at the superb Speechification

Glenn Branca - Sym.No1
LCD Soundsystem - Dance YRSF Clean
Power Failure
Sister Sledge - Lost in Music
City in Shock
Suicide - Cheree
No Money New York
Richard Hell & The Voidoids - Blank Generation
Bum Mayor
Talking Heads - Once in a Lifetime
Glenn Branca -  Sym.No1 - Movement 3
Creative Accounting
Save New York
Nico - These Days
Key Sectors
The Wu Tang Clan - C.R.E.A.M.
Get a Good Lock
Glenn Branca - Sym.No1 - Movement 4
Cannibal Ox - Pigeon
Son of Sam
Bush Tetras - Can't Be Funky
City of Sin
ESG - You Make No Sense
Total Power Failure
Glenn Branca - Lesson No 1
Television - Marque Moon 
The Mood Turns
Sonic Youth - Shadow of a Doubt
El P - Deep Space 9mm
New York Dolls - Courageous Cat Theme
The New York Times coverage
Dinosaur L - Clean On Your Bean
Power Returns
The Velvet Underground - Beginning To See The Light

I think all the music is from the city. Chicago Public Media also has a good documentary show each week, free for download from here. I really liked this one, great stories, but they're all pretty solid.

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Thursday, 23 September 2010

My 26 second film: Uruguay vs. Ghana

Last night members of 26 and the IVCA gathered in a screening room below the Sanctum Soho Hotel to show what they'd been up to for the past three months. Back in May we had met at Elmwood to be given the brief: 'make a 26 second film'.

I was nervous: this was supposedly a collaborative effort and I hadn't collaborated with anyone (well, I did but they jumped ship to a more polished crew. They were helpful though - thanks!), and the film I was showing was different from my original proposal.

Nobody minded and I think they liked the film. They laughed, they clapped, but perhaps they were being kind. Especially as some of the films shown were amazing and professionally put together. They're not online just yet, but expect a link on the 26 homepage.

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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

iPad light animation


It's been around, but I've been meaning to post it for a while now.

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Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Push Cycles doc & bike art Friday

<p>Push from Saeed Taji Farouky on Vimeo.</p>

Nice little doc about my local bike shop. Ciaran the owner has created a sweet little bike nirvana with none of that attitude you sometimes get now biking is the new golf. He sells plenty of sweet rides too.

I used to work with Ciaran's brother Pete, who's a talented designer. He's got some bike related art work showing in London this Friday if that's your idea of fun.

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Monday, 13 September 2010

Today's lame marketing exercise

In leafy Primrose Hill, the proprietors of cafes, the old lady who wears Ed Hardy and Alan Bennett are busy taking photos of three crushed cars carefully parked by the producers of the stage version of The War Of The Worlds police on the side of the road.

I thought class war had come to The Hill. That might have been interesting and this is the problem with these things: the reason never matches your imagination.

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Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE

I have not read Infinite Jest. I have it, but every time I pick it up the sheer density of the book is off putting - the detailed writing, the nuanced ideas, the sheer number of pages covered in text and footnotes. I look at this book and I realise it’s going to take me the best part of a year to get through it. Can I commit to that? Do I want to? It’s the perfect book to take travelling – chunky to take the punishment of the road and long enough to absorb its boredom.

Of course, I chickened out when it came time to pack for my travels. Instead I opted for the Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy. But I’m going to read it – I can feel its mass drawing me past his other works, such as, A Supposed Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again and now this, equally DFW titled book about DFW, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace.

Really, it should be called Although Of Course You End Up Talking About Drugs, Depression and DFW’s Eventual Suicide. His death stains the book. How could it not? David Lipsky has edited his tale of five days on the road with America’s rising star of literature because we are all in some small way, reading to find out why he hanged himself. DFW’s depression, possible drug and alcohol use; Lipsky circles these subjects, trying to tease some indication as to why he did it as they fly, drive, smoke and eat at Denny’s across the Midwest. But there’s none to be found. The closest he comes is in the foreword: DFW had recently changed his medication before he committed suicide.

Shame, because his death is often at the expense of all sorts of fascinating details – descriptions of DFW teaching, the revelation that even after his second novel was published, he had to take work as a security guard. And that David Foster Wallace was a big Alanis Morissette fan.

Originally, Lipsky’s trip was to be the basis for an article for Rolling Stone. It was never published. It would be interesting to know why.


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Friday, 3 September 2010


When I was at uni in Newport, I knew a guy by the name of Casper. Instead of going home to work for the summer holidays, or getting a job at the Passport Office (as I did), Casper found work at the massive steel works on the outskirts of town.

The place was huge, it takes ten minutes to pass it on the train. Every summer for two weeks the it shuts down for a complete clean.

Casper's job was to wear a space suit and climb through the massive chemical pipes spraying out God knows what heavy metal gunk had collected there. For twelve hours he would be up to his knees in the dark with just a high-pressure hose and a flash light for company. There were miles of pipes.

It was filthy,oppressive work - despite the amazing pay. And even suited-up, Casper would find he had a sour, metallic taste in his mouth at the end of each shift.

I think he worked there for two weeks before he quit.

The taste of this drink reminded me of Casper's story. Price: 59p

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Thursday, 2 September 2010

My film for 26 Seconds

On Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 22 September my film, Uruguay vs. Ghana will be shown at the Sanctum Soho Hotel as part of the 26 and IVCA project, 26 seconds. 

Regular readers may notice Uruguay vs. Ghana is clearly not the film about drag racing I said I was going to make in this post here. Don’t worry, Against The Clock is still going ahead, I just haven’t finished filming Nigel’s progress through the 2010 Nationals.

I did try a 26 second cut of the footage I’d shot with Rich, but it became pretty clear as my subject is Nigel Holland, drag racer and not drag racing, the format was suitable to tell his story.

Instead I’m entering a film about the last minutes of the controversial 2010 World Cup semi-final. Come along and have a look if you like.


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Saturday, 28 August 2010


Today's entry is a packet of chocolate biscuits - but they're not just any average teatime snack. Break through that Viennese exterior and you'll find a cave of chocolate goo awaits. Loaded full of chemicals. In a word: more. Price: 59p,no seriously.

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Friday, 27 August 2010

Monday, 23 August 2010

TSS #02

It's time to acronym this second in the series of new supermarket discovery.

This time it's tasty whole corn snacks that not even Jaws himself can resist. Must find the biscuits Robert Shaw nibbles too - are they sweet or savoury? We will never know for he is dead.

Price self evident.

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Sunday, 22 August 2010

Turkish supermarket special #01

A bit like Appletise - but without the sticky, sweet aftertaste. Around 59p

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Friday, 13 August 2010


America: One bad film and six great ones

This is quite a neat little film from WNYC and features a naughty scene too!

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This Levi's spot, directed by John Hillcoat (The Road) is just crammed with all sorts of things you'd expect in an ad from the jeans that built America: pickup trucks, wide streets, moody workers looking moody in their wife beaters. But there's a point to all this: as the Santa Fe boxcars roll across a dust brown landscape, the people of Braddock Pennsylvania wake to work. Except, there is no work because 'a long time ago things got broken here and people got sad and left' (sad face). But Levi's are helping the town rediscover the idea of an honest day's graft (happy face!), by repurposing and reinventing Braddock's UnSmoke Artspace so 'urban pioneers can remake the local identity through art'. Jesus, what drivel. Surely if Levi's really want to help America get back to work, they could, y'know, build a factory in Braddock? Instead of using the bleeding fingers of China.

Anyway, the whole thing pissed me off, but then I have been listening to a lot of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, so I only have myself to blame. Here are some better examples of films loosely grouped under the title of America.

If you really want to see a great doc about working America, then check out Harlan County USA.

Here's a tidy little short. And it's a Western too!

I've posted some of Sean's work before. This is his new one:


And another...

Finally, a new Fatal Farm film




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Thursday, 12 August 2010

How I Escaped My Certain Fate by Stewart Lee

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A reoccurring theme in Stewart Lee’s dissection of his own craft and recent UK comedy is the idea of the comic as a shaman outsider figure. One who observes society and then deftly criticises its failings. He writes about the Hopi clown rituals that happen in the Pueblo villages of South West America, where for one day, those chosen, dress as frightening clowns and mock the members of their community they believe need taking down a peg or two. He describes a similar ceremony that happens in the Languedoc area of France and one he drew inspiration from to write the unsettling  90s Comedian set. Lee sees himself as an outsider figure.

But then, Lee, who took up stand-up comedy after seeing the obtuse Ted Chippington, relishes being difficult. And reading parts of this book you realize he’s probably quite difficult if you met him in person. ‘I come across as arrogant, because I am’*

But there’s something quite admirable about all this. Unlike almost every other comedian you see on television – he doesn’t want you to follow him on Twitter, or watch him talk about toys on some Channel 4 show. He doesn’t do comedy about well-worn subjects, or swear and shout.   

His shows are considered and well thought out. Even if you’re indifferent about comedy seeing Stewart Lee live is an experience. And yet he does wind people up.  A lot of his jokes are built around repetition and the playful exploitation of funny rhythms and sounds. It’s not to everyone’s tastes and Lee is quite happy with that; he’s remarked he doesn’t like it if the whole audience is with him at a show. He likes tension.

Weird he’s written a big book explaining his comedy then. Surely that should be someone else’s job?

But if you’re into the craft of stand up you’ll love this book. It’s full of great references to music, other comedians and it’s also pretty funny too.  I bought my copy from the most dangerous book shop in London.

Check out his site too!


*I might have made this up or remembered it wrong.

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Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Solar Bears - Inner Sunshine

<br /><span style="font-size: 10px;font-family:Georgia;font-style:italic;color:#000;">Read full review of Inner Sunshine - Solar Bears on Boomkat.com &copy;</span>

Hmmm lovely.

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Thursday, 5 August 2010

Ping pong sci Fu

I'm a big fan of these free ping pong tables that have appeared in London for the month. 'oh, but', say the naysayers, 'they'll just get smashed up - like the bikes.' But I think the bikes are a great idea, and so far they seem to be holding up well.

This is is my kind of civic fun and it'll also be considerably cheaper than the Olympics. It's something I think of whenever I swim in any of the lidos. They're all over a hundred years old and built to last.

I'm just not convinced by the Olympics. Plus a cheap bike or free ping pong table will never need a rapey CCTV mascot to sell it as a good idea.

Other stuff is the Dan Dare artwork in the Science Museum - well worth a look.

It's part of a whole exhibition about the white-hot heat of optimism that gripped Great Britain after the war and propelled the country's industry to invent such greats as the hovercraft. Oh and give plucky schoolboys, such as my Dad, the Eagle comic. We will walk on the moon and it'll be a Brit and he'll fly (steady on chap, she won't be a woman), there in a Hawker Siddley Space Kestrel. Or something.

There's a great doc made by Jonathan Meades on the subject. Search Meadeshrine at YouTube. I think it's called, 'Whatever Happened to the Future?'

All those hopes and dreams were smashed by the radical overhaul of culture in the sixties and then the shortages in the seventies. But don't feel sorry for 'em. Nobody made them listen to Cream and smoke jazz cigarettes. I've seen my Dad's record collection so they sowed the seeds of their own destruction.

It's no wonder when Thatcher turned up copping Reagan's idea of going back to the good 'ol days, and promising to put the Great back before Britain, we said 'yes please'.

At least we got a good comic out of it - 2000AD. Judge Dredd was just the sort of thing to prep a young man to reject formal authority figures and welcome in a leader who wants to be our friend. Things can only get better. Oh.

Anyway, this brings us rather neatly, or not, back to whacking a ping ball around with my son at the Barbican - that modernist, cultural experiment you could argue is a success, if you don't have a pushchair. A free ping pong table and a cheap bike and I'm prepared to believe Boris could be a good mayor. I'm so cheap.

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