Writer & Filmmaker

Archive for October, 2015

Britain’s Archive: Take 2

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We’re working on our new narrative production Like Father Like Son. It’s been an amazing, sometimes emotional process researching archive material as we put this film together. We’ve been privileged to listen to such powerful, moving stories. Let’s hope these stories and events, as well as others, continue to be studied and archived for future generations.

Fortunately, there is a great accessible archive in the UK held by museums and galleries who are always very helpful when we are working on a project. There’s such a great wealth of diverse museums, institutions and galleries that want to share their resources.

We love making a variety of films, narrative and documentary, but it is always special collaborating with museums and galleries. Whether employed professionals or volunteers,  we are fortunate to work with people with such passion and knowledge for their subject.

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The Art of Wellbeing

King Street Images’ producer Maxine King will be attending the The Art of Wellbeing Conference, Hatfield. Recent studies have shown increasing evidence that participation in culture and creativity can have significant health benefits and, indeed, increase wellbeing.
As part of the conference King Street Images’ film New Connections, which profiles an over 50s dance group based in Watford, will be screened.
King Street Images works across culture, heritage, and the arts in the East of England and London, including projects to promote positive change within communities and organisations.


Cinderella Casting

Kingstreetimages' still from Like Father Like Son

Kingstreetimages’ still from Like Father Like Son

I’m not sure how this would run in a casting advert as actors can be a tad tricky when it comes to casting and being typecast. Well, for our new short film “Like Father Like Son” we need an actor to portray a compassionate yet authoritative figure.

Shouldn’t be a problem, I hear you all say. Sounds like an interesting part for an actor. I’ll do it. Just the type of role I’ve been looking for.

The thing is the part is really about what size feet you have. Let me explain. We need an actor who can wear a size 9 and a half. And as we all know every pair of shoes, trainers, boots, and socks has a different idea on what size it is, what size it wants to be and what size it was before it rained.

Our actor is being cast on what size foot he has as we have a fantastic pair of Clarks’ shoes that will really work for the film. It’s not as if we’re casting for a superhero part and you have to fit the elaborately designed costume it’s just we found the shoe that would look really good striding along a concrete path on the way to knocking a door.

It’s not a complicated part but the style of the walk and the shoe will make all the difference. We may not even show the face of the actor, as the message has to come from the stride and the shoe.

This is one of those parts when you think what will the actor get out of it? Could the actor say that they were the confident brown shoe on the concrete path on the way to the knocker? Would you even put it on your CV? Or do I offer assurances that the part will feature more than some feet and a hand knocking a knocker?

And how would the actor feel if we were then to over-dub their footsteps with our own created foley? Would that be like having James Earl Jones dub your voice in Star Wars?

As I said actors can be a tad tricky, and to be honest I don’t blame them. After all, actors spend years training to work for little and then to enter Cinderella Casting: If your foot fits you can have the part. And of course you must live locally as it’s really low-budget, and be available when the sun comes out, and if you know anybody with good looking hands perhaps you could share the part…

 


Everest Peaks Too Early

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SPOILER ALERT: Some people went up a mountain; some people came down a mountain; some people didn’t come down a mountain. Of course the mountain in question is Everest.

Unless you’re a mountaineer one snowy mountain can begin to look like any other very quickly. And Everest Base camp can begin to look a lot like Everest Camp 1, which in turn begins to resemble Everest Camp 2.  No matter how catchy names of passes and ice fields are they can tend to begin to merge into the same element of peril or risk whether it’s Hilary Step, The Balcony or some bottomless crevasse.

If you then have characters wrapped up and wearing snow goggles it can all get very confusing. I tried to keep track of characters by the colour of their snow suits. But even that got confusing after the odd avalanche. I didn’t know who I was supposed to root for. It’s hard to have an investment in a film’s characters if they are not only indistinguishable from each other but also tend to fall off mountains or freeze to death.

I really wanted to like Everest and I’m sure I didn’t dislike it but I didn’t sit on the edge of my seat or feel any real empathy or investment in the characters. Is that because it was so hard to sympathise with people climbing a mountain who maybe shouldn’t have been there? I don’t think that was it. Maybe the strange idea of climbing a mountain as if it were a minor trek leaves you contemplating other’s failures and tragedy when there was choice involved.

It was odd to see all these mountaineers all kitted up with their high tech gear queuing to clamber across some roped together ladders that wouldn’t have looked out of place in B&Q or Home Depot. Maybe I’ve seen too many other mountain films that weren’t based on tragic real events and failed to realise the real reality of dying on a cold mountain for the pleasure and bragging rights of climbing it.

This film’s tragedy may creep up on me, as I process those images and contrast them with those stored and watched through the years.  Will I think about this film when I watch Vertical Limit, The Eiger Sanction, Lost Horizon, or even consider the reality of the harsh unpredictable nature of the mountains so lovingly portrayed in Heidi, or good old holiday fare, Grizzly Adams? Yes I think I will.


Bags and Bags of Money…

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When I were a lad…

I’ve always wanted to start a piece with that but felt way too self-consciously a Londoner to get to the end of the sentence. So I won’t carry it on but continue in a more normal voice. (Is this self-censorship at work?)

Here we go again: When I was a child living in Islington, on a Sunday morning we would often go to Chapel Market. It was somewhere you ran into kids you knew from school or other schools you’d been to or family members whom you hadn’t seen for a while. If you waited long enough you’d be sure to run into most people you knew, had known, or were likely to know in the foreseeable future.

There was a slightly dated non-glamorised Dickensian feel to Chapel Market at the time , and  there wasn’t any organic fruit or speed bumps to be seen. There was always plenty of activity and cheap goods with no sign of a receipt or, indeed, any form of provenance that may have held up to scrutiny. But most of the market was just a regular market. It had the fruit and veg, the prawns and whelks, clothing, handbags, and the tools for that Sunday job that just couldn’t wait.

And of course there were the obligatory doughnut and fritter stalls should you need to steel yourself against those cold winds whipping down from Liverpool Road. Sheltering from those same winds was a lady selling plastic bags. Week after week she was there selling these bags. I never bought a bag and can remember what she looked like to this day. She must have made money or why was she there week after week?

It struck me today that she was behind the times then but ahead of the times now. For those who don’t know today marked the beginning of a new government policy in England where stores have to charge you 5p for a plastic bag. These very same bags had been free until yesterday but as that clock struck twelve the bag didn’t turn into a worthless pumpkin but a revenue raising policy that will just keep giving and giving.

This hasn’t come out of the blue. Signs have been up for months telling you that from the 5th of October you’ll have to pay for a bag. Some stores have even been giving out free “Bags for Life” which are replaced for free when needed.

I can see the day when people are going to start undercutting the big supermarkets by selling cut-price bags outside the supermarkets. It could be a great way to advertise a rival supermarket, or promote a cause, expose a tax-avoiding company. I’m sure that there’s a loop hole that you can give bags away if it isn’t your store. And then all that free advertising in a rival’s own shop, or campaign slogans merrily being packed at the till. For the opportunist charity or campaign it will become a fantastic piece of marketing that will surely be incredibly cost effective.

The money from the bag sales is supposed to go to good caused and charities. It could get really interesting when the charities say that they aren’t receiving as much of the charity money generated from the new policy as people are buying their bags elsewhere. The next generation of sales and marketing geniuses may get their start in plastic bags.

Of course the idea is that you take your bags with you. Well, that’s what I planned to do. And where did it all go so terribly wrong then? My wife had the bags, my son wasn’t well so they went to the car while I (good old reliable male) finished the shop. I felt almost shamed asking the checkout assistant to purchase a bag. Shamed for forgetting or shamed that I felt suckered. I even went for a more expensive version and purchased a bag for life. Undoubtedly this is what the supermarkets are counting on.

It’s men who will really pay the price here because most men don’t carry a handbag where you can store your bags should you need them for an emergency purchase. Perhaps it’s me but every time I walk into a store with any kind of bag I have a posse of security staff trailing me. If that happens to you just head over to the meat section and start inspecting the good quality cuts then wander over to the booze section. They get very excited every time you pass an exit with this strategy.

Are there any grounds for a class action based on gender discrimination here? As a non-bag carrying male I certainly feel that I’m being unfairly targeted. Perhaps, I should, as helpfully suggested by a checkout assistant, carry some spare bags in my socks.


A Walk In The Woods: 102 not out…

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Bill Bryson’s fantastic tale of hiking the Appalachian Trail has finally arrived on screen: a mere seventeen years after it was first published. The  book was in essence a collection of tales and anecdotes linked to the 2,168.1 mile Appalachian Trail that runs from Maine through to Georgia via rugged trails  up and down a couple of mountains while exploring some fantastic state/national parks before reaching the end of the road.

Robert Redford plays Bill Bryson who has aged a bit since Bill wrote the book in the nineteen nineties. Robert does a fantastic job of hiking along the trail accompanied by the ever dependable, lived a life and wearing it not so well, Nick Nolte who doesn’t even smoke or drink throughout.

Bill Bryson’s wife is played by everyone’s nanny when in trouble, Nanny McPhee who is perhaps better known as Emma Thompson, and she is suitably British as is Bill’s real life wife Cynthia whom Bill met while working in the United Kingdom in the 1970s.

The thing is Robert Redford is 79 and Emma is a relatively young 56. Now Robert is either ageing rather well or, perish, the thought our dear Emma isn’t.

To think all those great actors out there who could have stepped in. There’s Jane Fonda a lucky 77, and Robert’s former co-star from the Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park” who could have continued the outdoor tradition. Then there’s 73 year old Barbara Streisand, Robert’s co-star from Sydney Pollack’s 1973 “The Way We Were.”

Now if you wanted to go for the authentic English accent, and didn’t want 66 year old Meryl stepping in with a funky accent there’s the dames. You’re almost spoilt for choice as you have Maggie Smith and Judi Dench at 80, with Helen Mirren slinking in at a modest 70.   And remember everyone loves a dame no matter how old they are.

Imagine if it were the other way round with Robert’s (or should I call him Bill) wife being played by an actor of 102? I don’t want to call him Robert or Bill but would rather stick to Sundance. It was almost a sad moment when Bill was stuck on a rocky ledge with Stephen Katz, and they don’t jump as Sundance did in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid but wait for salvation from up above. Not quite a god just a couple of full on hikers ready to help. SPOILER ALERT:  Still on the bright side they don’t get shot in Bolivia either.

And just for the sake of irony Emma Thompson plays a 77 year old in her next film “The Legend of Barney Thomson”, the directorial debut of actor Robert Carlyle.