Monthly Archives: February 2014

Respect

I am someone who has a very, very strong view on respect. For me it is the most important factor in a person. My view on this has only strengthened throughout working voluntarily in the past few years in one of the most competitive industries in the world. In my opinion you never gain respect automatically, it doesn’t matter who you are or how old you are- you need to earn it. The phrase ‘respect your elders’ is nonsense to me, I respect everybody no matter how old they are. If an ‘elderly’ person doesn’t give me respect they will not receive an ounce in return. Once somebody has my respect I will do anything for them, I would run a million miles for them. If they do something to lose it, they will never get it back- it is as simple as that. It says a lot when someone who is considerably older speaks to you like an adult, giving you the same treatment as they would anybody else- particularly when they hold a position which consists of authority. For me, talking down to someone, especially when you have the word ‘manager’ in your job description puts you at the bottom the lowest pile.

I was born into a family that trains respect from an early age. Treat others as you would like to be treated is a phrase which best represents my family. Secondary school also has a key part to play, that age when you are beginning to see the world from the ‘real life’ point of view. Those teachers who go that bit further than their job to teach you not only about education, but life. It is very easy to spot those teachers among the rest. From a personal point of view, Lesley Cret’u and Lisa Easton stick out like a sore thumb during my school days, being a helping hand for a whole 5 years between the age of 11-16- arguably the hardest period to guide someone growing up! Lesley was my form tutor and always offered guidance to not only myself but the class. A great teacher, one of the more genuine people teaching in our school at the time- always there to go that extra mile. Lisa Easton was our year head, this woman genuinely cared about every pupil in our year group. Lisa started teaching in the school when our year group started in year 7 and also taught me for History. She is quick to give me guidance and help even now and I left school years ago- that speaks volumes for me. Andrew Mackenzie and Kris Mansfield are two former tutors I have spoken about frequently in one of my previous posts and are stand out influences for me in particular. They bridged that gap from school to 6th form with perfection.

I have worked for a number of years in bars and retail. Working in these industries I have also met other key figures where respect is concerned. Managers such as Ritchie Mac, Craig Tsai and Neil Brown who I worked for at the age of 16 in retail and later Louise Jordan in the bar industry. All of them made working easy and a pleasure. They praised me when I deserved it and criticised me when it was needed- and in a suitable manner. Not only did they go about their job in the right way but they treated me and everybody else the same. Steven Woods is another fantastic example of how to treat people in the right way. Many others can learn from the likes of Steven, a genuine man who treats you as a person and not a number-with utmost respect at all times.

There are so many other people I could mention here, but fortunately for me I associate myself with good people- meaning this post would be far too long if I was to mention everyone. People can say this post is pointless because everybody knows respect is vital. So then why do so many people lack respect? It costs nothing, people need to be educated to treat people in the right way. It is a matter which makes my bloody boil on a regular basis.

Generating ideas, Adverts and Interview sketches.

Tea Advert

Filming the establishing shot of our tea advert

My friend and ‘partner in crime’ of film making Tony was studying Media Professional Studies with Television at Liverpool John Moores University, whilst I was living in Ormskirk on Edge Hill University’s campus. This however didn’t reduce the rate of how many film making projects we made or how much time we spent together. We made a massive amount of Video/Film projects in our first year of university and Tony would regularly stay at my halls, where we would plan away and write scripts constantly. For all of our projects we were producers, directors, editors, actors. We did every single role ourselves whilst learning the ropes as a film maker, this has helped us to develop our understanding of the industry- we are now adaptable and can take on multiple roles.

Generating ideas 

I have always found that listening to music with a pen and paper in hand is a way which triggers my imagination more than anything else. It feels like it unlocks something in my head, it immediately generates ideas- this is also was the case with Tony. One day in Tony’s car as we were driving along and Cee Lo Green’s Forget You was being broadcast on the radio, and bang just like an idea popped into my head. It was to make our own tea advert and post it on our Youtube channel! It was to feature myself dancing around in a kitchen wearing a dressing gown making a cup of tea, followed by me hitting my head and Tony coming in and stealing the tea- 

A snap taken during production of the tea advert

leaving with a subtle dance. We developed the shot list and could use the University equipment completely free of charge, this was ideal for us as we now had no limits to what we could create. We produced the tea advert and shot it in on a Sony Z1 camera. When we released it via social networking sites it was greeted with surprise, laughs and respect. Nobody knew we were going to produce it and certainly nobody thought we could produce comedy without it being too cheesy. 

Producing further adverts and comedy

Idiotic nature

After the tea advert we produced many other ‘adverts’ through writing a number of scripts and playing with music and shots in our heads. They included Coke, Doritos, T Mobile, and Monster which featured on our personal Youtube accounts. All of these adverts were comedic in style and were all shot on a Sony Z1. We also visited local bars and did a promotional video for a well-known bar in Liverpool after speaking to a manager.

After producing a number of ‘Adverts’ we decided to delve further into comedy and began writing a comedy interview sketch. The script was written very quickly, literally a night and we had come up with a whole sketch. Whilst producing the script we would cry laughing at some of the jokes and comedy we had incorporated into it. It was based mainly on the way myself and Tony would act around each other and the things we would laugh at most.

The sketch was to involve myself and Tony as the two main protagonists, Tony as Malcolm and myself as Ralph. Ralph is a boss who loves his authority and uses it to his advantage whenever possible, Malcolm was a quiet lad who thought he was going to a normal interview- as you can imagine it wasn’t the most typical interview in the world. We released this again via social networking sites through our personal Youtube account. It wasn’t long before people were quoting me in the street and high fiving me which lasted a while, the same with Tony- constantly people quoting the characters from a world we had created it was unbelievable. A friend of mine at University even told me when he visited Zante on holiday he saw a group of lads quoting Ralph and mimicking my dance moves, which I find pretty crazy. What myself and Tony loved most however was that we had actually created this fictional scenario, the fact that people told us they would ‘cry laughing’ at something we created only made us hungry to create similar projects.

Standard behaviour. This night we went out for a drink, dressed like this

Standard behaviour. This night we went out for a drink, dressed like this

Due to demand we decided to create Interview part 2. We knew it had to be something of a similar comedic nature, so we decided that Malcolm should go back for a second interview and not know that Ralph would be interviewing him again. This sketch was slightly longer and also included Tony doubling up as two actors instead of one. Following this people also wanted to see a part 3, part 3 is partly scripted, something we would love to produce in broadcast quality-we’ll see. (Looking back at the interview sketches now with experience they severely lacked quality, they are let down visually and the lack of audio clarity did not help. We were still learning, but the idea was there and people loved it!)

Maya Bay (Film location from The Beach)

Does the film give a false impression of how astonishing Maya Bay actually is in reality?

Sat in my bedroom with Tony Bessant in 2012 I told him that he needed to see the famous Maya Bay scene from The Beach, directed by Danny Boyle. A huge chunk of the film was shot in Maya Bay, the pinnacle of natural beauty- a small alcove in the Andaman sea that replicates paradise. Immediately after the ‘Maya Bay’ scene whilst watching The Beach there was a telepathic understanding that we would be going to this magical place. A few months down the line we booked our flights to travel around Thailand. We visited many places including the Phi Phi Islands where Maya Bay is situated.

Half way through our vacation in Thailand we found ourselves in the crystal clear waters of the Phi Phi Islands climbing into a small boat, the sky was blue. Our host would be taking us to Maya Bay- along with a few other places dotted around the Islands. After about 15 minutes of being on our boat, the natural rock formation in the distance that surrounds Maya Bay was becoming visible as we skimmed the waves of the Andaman sea.

Photograph I took of the bay looking out (Same location as film shot with Leonardo Di Caprio below)

We veered around the corner of the gigantic rock formation and BANG! Just like that, in that very moment I had one of the best specimens of natural beauty that this vast planet has to offer, right in front of my eyes. As soon as we turned the corner Moby’s track Porcelain, the soundtrack from The Beach kicked in, inside my head. My film maker mode had switched on, I was in awe. (The Beach uses CGI to fill the gap in the rock formation)

Heading towards the bay through the middle of the enclosure the water below was clear, bearing in mind we were still a couple of hundred metres from the beach, the water was deep! The boat pulled up and out we jumped out. The water near the beach was warm and the sand white! We spent our time stumbling up and down the iconic beach, where Leonardo Di Caprio once read out his lines in front of Danny Boyle and the crew. Strolling through the bush behind the beach, venturing further into the alcove myself and Tony barely spoke. We were speechless, astonished. After spending roughly half an hour on the island we headed back out of Maya Bay. On the way back we experienced cliff jumping, visited monkey beaches and snorkelled with sharks.

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Leonardo Di Caprio looking out onto Maya Bay in ‘The Beach’ showing added CGI on the rock formation (I do not own this image)

Does the film give a false impression of how astonishing Maya Bay is? No it doesn’t. Maya Bay is a place that makes you question all aspects of life, the whole experience is surreal. My outlook on life changed that day, I will return. (Check out some more of my pictures below)

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Paradise

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Myself and Tony on Maya Bay

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Turquoise waters of Maya Bay

Tea

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I make the best cup of tea

Tea is one of the most underestimated, most underrated drinks on the planet. If I was to count a pound for how many cups of tea dragged me through my countless essays, long editing sessions etc I would be a very rich man.

Tea is a vital cog in the Media/Film industry, as well as many other industries. Every runner starts making tea, it is an unwritten rule- which everybody respects! It brings a smile to a face and brings people together. I was actually sat writing a post drinking tea when I realised, tea has had an important role to play in my hard work and success so far, it always has! A frequent phrase heard in my house is ‘Get the kettle on’ or ‘Get the brews on’, its standard procedure.

For those of you who think this post is me having a laugh- It’s not, I’m serious! I always turn to it when things hit the fan. If you ever make me a cup of tea I take milk and 2 and a quarter sugars (That quarter makes a difference). I wouldn’t say I was a tea snob but since discovering Yellow Label tea in Thailand that is definitely my favourite!

 Tea makes people happy and happiness weighs more than gold, remember that. 

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Enjoying a cuppa whilst travelling in Koh Samui, Thailand

Arriving at Edge Hill University, 1st year study..

Stuck in the deep end of an essay

Stuck in the deep end of an essay, with no armbands on

I lived in halls in my first year and I absolutely loved it. A great year in my life where I met some fantastic people. My room was a place I always kept tidy, it was the perfect chill zone for me, surrounded by many things.. Good people, nights out, music, laughs, football banter, football manager nights, essay writing until all hours, plenty cups of tea, randomness, hate, love and everything else that the drama of halls brought along (Including cooking for myself). I couldn’t have chosen better people to live with, they genuinely cared when it mattered and laughed when it didn’t, they looked after me when I had chicken pox like I was

One of my A la Carte delicacies.. I can cook

One of my A La Carte delicacies.. I can cook

a brother (Which was awful). These are the things I’ll never, ever forget. I lived with three lads, Charlie, Dan and later Brett. I got on with them like a house on fire, we always had a laugh with each other, top lads! I also lived with two ladies, Natalie and Rachel who were a cracking pair of girls always up for fun, we were like a family in our cluster- I’d love to go back and visit it with them one day! They would insist I open my bedroom door and blast my music (Clearly I had the best speaker system) so they could all listen along. They just got me and I got them, we always had each others back. I remember I came back to halls on my birthday, what did they do? They decorated the whole block with pictures of me.. Danny even baked me a cake, they completely shocked me! (I still have the notes, cards, banners and pictures they got me tucked away safe) I could write forever about Elm/Holly in Forest Court where I lived, so many stories with so many fantastic people- they all know who they are and they know I’d do anything for them, bunch of legends! (I had Tony Bessant my best mate there constantly also which helped, he might as well have been a resident, the bastard didn’t pay rent though did he- just drank my tea)

It was clear to me that I would be going to University to study Media or Film at degree level after 6th form. I knew that I wanted a career in the industry but like many people, I didn’t quite understand what way to go to achieve this. After receiving an offer from Edge Hill University to study Film Studies with Film Production I couldn’t wait to get started. The course was actually an English and History classified degree studying Film and Media, it also had a section dedicated completely to Film Production which is what I loved to do most- so it seemed ideal and versatile.

Studying Film at University was a completely different league compared to A Level Media Studies. I had learnt film and media theory at A Level but at University I was thrown into the deep end of film theory, to say the amount of film theory was vast would be a complete understatement. An academic writing style was absolutely necessary, along with a huge commitment to film and also the ability to be able to train your brain to cope with the demands of studying for a degree. For those who believe a film degree is ‘easy’ you are very much mistaken.

I got bored from time to time

I got bored from time to time

I always got along with my tutors at University, they were a team of very sophisticated people who loved what they did! Jenny Barrett in particular is one who stands out for me. I spoke to her a number of times on the phone before I got to University and she was always helpful and pointed me in the right direction. She is a woman who has an extensive knowledge of the film industry, especially when considering the history of film, a very well-educated woman. When I finally got to University she continued to guide me, she also understood my love and affection for my career which was vital in my eyes. She would reason with me but still always made sure I remained focused on my studies. I would also pay visits with Tony to see Andy and Kris our former tutors regularly at the school for a catch up! Although it was hard I stuck at it and grew to love some of the modules in University, especially when they related to what I studied in Media at A Level- it gave me a sense of security and reassured me that I was on the right path.

Tony

Tony

A group of lads in the kitchen- Charlie on the left, Skinner on the right, top men!

A group of lads in the kitchen, Charlie on the left, Skinner on the right, top men!

Meet Natalie..

Meet Natalie, always a friend of mine.

Zoom H4N Audio Recorder

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Whether you are wanting to record business meetings, lectures, singing vocals, instruments, voice overs, sound effects, or pretty much any sound at a very high quality- the H4N from Zoom is one of the very best options. Not the cheapest audio recorder on the market by a long stretch but it is certainly worth branching out that little extra. Straight out of the box it feels durable, has a good weight, the buttons are very responsive- you feel in good hands! 

I am a film maker and I never appreciated sound to its full extent until we at Core Media Productions bought our H4N’s. We work with musicians frequently, the audio clarity is ridiculously good and our clients always appreciate the quality. From a professional point of view it is absolutely exceptional, for many reasons- One of the main factors is that it has two XLR inputs, a rarity within the handheld recorder range, which becomes incredibly useful for film production. It can even be clipped onto a belt, which is always handy whilst on the set. It can be powered by the mains which is always a plus, meaning you don’t have to stock up on batteries when using phantom power! That extra ounce of ‘crispness’ when you hear footsteps on a wooden floor, or when your vocals hit the highest note is never missed with this product.

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On board X/Y Stereo mics

If you are thinking of buying yourself a recorder to produce excellent quality audio without having to get a mortgage, look no further than this. It has minor downsides like everything but the pros outweigh the cons by a country mile! I have found myself at times recording random sounds around the house and playing them back just to hear them again, strange I know.. Us film makers are a strange breed!

In the box:

2GB SD Memory card | Mains adaptor | USB cable | Protective Case | Cubase LE software

Remote control | Wind Screen | Mic clip adaptor | Zoom H4N | Mini Tripod

Pros:

Easy monitoring from LCD Screen | Built in X\Y stereo mics that rotate to 90 or 120 degrees | XLR inputs plus more | Easy to use interface | Optional mains power | Crisp audio | Versatility | Hard and durable unit

Cons:

Slightly more expensive than other audio recorders | Using phantom power will drain batteries VERY quickly (Use mains)

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I hope you liked my review of the Zoom H4N, if you have any questions about it drop me a message!

Paul Williams

A Level Film and Media

Studying A level Media was a massive transitional period in my life that gave me a frightening amount of desire for Film and Media. It made me realise I wanted to make films, that was the reality and it still lives with me to this day. I am constantly hungry for it, my mind never stops. I look back on this period of my life and it greets me with a smile. Kris Mansfield and Andrew Mackenzie loved the passion and would show our work to other students, as well as at open days long after we left.

Instinct

At the tender age of 16, Myself, Tony and Phil were very eager to start making our first trailer for our A Level Media coursework. We are all outgoing people who love to try new things, and more than anything we liked working together- we worked very well together actually! Each group was given a handheld JVC tape camera which had seen better days, but it did the trick, along with a cheap tripod which we put money in together to buy! A long-haired Tony back then said to me, “Hey lad, I’ve bought some fake blood off Ebay, we will try it out later.” That night we went onto a field, Tony filled his mouth with fake blood, he laid down on the floor and I dragged him by his legs out of the frame of the camera- over and over until we got it perfect. It was hilarious and we loved doing it. This was the first shot we ever filmed!

I always remember when we did our first cut in the horror trailer for Media A level. We were stood on a hill and myself, Tony and Phil watched the video back with the freezing air blasting around us, red noses on show and cold hands. After watching the very short clip which consisted of Phil walking through a car park the three of us screamed and high-fived each other. We would go out on various nights laughing and joking whilst making the trailer- It was a good time. A time for us to explore and discover our love for this subject.

Running

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After we finished our A Level trailer, in particular myself and Tony spoke frequently of how we loved making it. We loved seeing the final product and producing this fictional world, it completely gripped us! He told me that he wanted to make another trailer for his coursework and insisted that I helped him do it, to which I obviously couldn’t wait for! Making Running, a fictional gangster trailer featuring two main protagonists played by the both of us was a lot of fun. I love acting and this was a chance to be able to express myself a little. We had a sort of knack for working together. Throughout making it we discovered an awful lot, we discovered we could work to a very high standard together under pressure. Strange really as we barely knew each other before 6th form. More than anything though we were by this point best friends and used to constantly talk about different things we could make in film. We discovered that we could write scripts and also act together seamlessly. Running has some very exceptional shots in it even looking back now. The opening shot of the boot of the car opening was one which we loved and stole from Pulp Fiction. For weeks we would be out at night shooting this trailer which all just seemed a laugh at the time, it never felt like we were producing coursework- and of course our tutors loved it! 

Ambitions of a Realist

After making Running with Tony we decided we needed to make something else as soon as possible, so we did. Almost straight away we started on making another trailer Ambitions of a Realist. This featured one main protagonist in myself and was a fictional biography of a man who was striving to succeed in life, even with the odds against him. In this particular trailer we experimented with different shot types and pulled off some very surprising shots based on limited equipment we had. We would not settle for anything less than the crane shot we so desperately wanted, did we get a crane shot? I wouldn’t say a ‘crane’ shot

dwbut we got the camera 12 foot in the air. After walking into my house with Tony, shuffling around for something to use as a ‘crane’, we asked my mum, “What can we use to get the camera up high in the air.” To which she gave us a washing pole. We strapped enough tape around that washing pole and camera that it would have held an elephant down. Of course the crane shot worked very well, with Kris, our tutor saying, “How on earth did you do that.” We laughed, of course. We also used an overhead projector trolley as a dolly which worked very well- we executed that shot perfectly. I grabbed the camera at one point and ran to where the airplanes take off at Liverpool Airport to get the shot we wanted!  After making this trailer I wanted to try to use it for my coursework. I had already wrote an essay on the American Dream and so I found a way to use it in conjunction with that after asking the tutors, which I was absolutely thrilled with.