HMS Decadence

On the morning after the Oha Beach party in Romania, we built a raft much to the disapproval of the locals. In true Mongol Rally spirit, it was all captured lovingly on one of our very kindly donated JVC Adixxion prototypes. I made this little edit whilst being held up at a Ukrainian boarder control office.

Tiger Aspect Application – Best and Worst Comedies

Closing on October 13th, Tiger Aspect, one of Britain’s leading production companies and strong-arm of Endomol, has advertised a vacancy for a runner in their comedy department. On top of the usual cover letter and CV, the application requires 500 words on “the best and worst comedy programming, and if appropriate, make suggestions for how the productions could be improved.”

Of course, I’m unwilling to give them all my billion dollar ideas at this point, so they’ll have to make-do with this instead. This is not unusual of companies to ask this kind of task from potential applicants, however it would be nice if this kind of stuff received some sort of feedback. I have received plenty of copy and paste emails saying ‘we are sorry but due to the large volume and high quality of applications for this position, we regret to inform you (that you suck – sic). One might prelude to the idea that they’re probably sitting on a shed load of original material from a single job posting.

In any case, see below my interpretation of this particular task.

The best comedies aren’t necessarily funny all the time. They can even  be morbidly depressing. But they need to make you do more than just exhale slightly harder through your nostrils. From a production perspective, the best TV comedies are those that you can sell on in years to come to repeat channels like Dave, Comedy Central or Gold. Some examples of these could be The Vicar of Dibley, Dad’s Army, Blackadder, or even the most internationally world famous Mr. Bean. These are productions with shelf life that are often miniature reflections upon respective points of history and society. Ideally they carry a well scripted, non-linear narrative leaning more on the dynamics of characters rather than the actual storyline. This means viewers don’t have to catch up countless hours if they miss the start of the season and can be easily viewed multiple times especially after hours of pointless channel flicking and finally picking a safe classic.

Comedic conventions allow a certain licence to pry at gender, racial stereotypes, age, sexuality and even disabilities. Normally this can be achieved tastefully and usually at the expense of the provocateur although in some, mostly retrospective cases this hasn’t always been the case. Love Thy Neighbour is a classic example of a comedy that should never have been so readily embraced yet at the time people found it hilarious. Technically, in the same vein, this convention might include the occasional lurid humour from Family Guy or South Park, although perhaps one should not be too hasty. Even without hindsight, contemporary comedies like Two and a Half Men could be criticised through lack of any substance and through a lack of understanding its audience. Without any real target audience, some companies appear to blindly leap into production for the sake of being funny, only to be vigorously impaled on poor reviews, social media and even meta humour. The worst of these are convoluted productions that try too hard such as Norbit, Big Moma’s House, or American Pie 17. Thankfully truly bad comedies tend to be axed organically with their failure resulting in dismal production returns, disgracing the respective company that produced it.

Rowan Atkinson personified a particular brand of iconic British comedy that he has grown and developed over time yet they still remain relevant. A more conceited effort should be focused on developing programs around the actors who have the potential to embody contemporary social dynamics. Regarding Mr. Bean in even higher regard, the program can be spotted airing in run-down diners en route to Kazakhstan or in hotel foyers in Ulaanbataar. This is because it is entirely universal, playing on physical comedy much more visually than leaning on a dialog-centric script. In this sense, it is perhaps the most successful comedy of all time, bridging all manners of national, economical, linguistic and sociological gaps all over the world.

BBC Horizons Vignette

During a placement at TwoFour Production in Plymouth, I was tasked with producing a vignette in preparation for the promotion and launch of the latest BBC Horizon’s series.

This involved cutting and sourcing the script from the transcription, sourcing the appropriate images, editing and compiling the finished product.

Software used: Adobe Premier Pro, Adobe Encore, Adobe Audition.

Empire International Vignette

During a two week placement for empire Magazine, this was one of my assignments. This vignette was produced for Empire Magazine for promotional use in appealing to prospective shareholders as the publication is looking to expand overseas.

The soundtrack was pre-assigned and the brief was detailed to a point where we knew where to include crossovers and transitions.

Software used: Adobe Premier Pro, Adobe Audition, Adobe Encore, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop.

Iron Man 3 Review

So, during my time at Empire Magazine, I meant to practice my writing a little more but never really got around to it. I’ve been told that in actual fact, people do not generally get a job in writing film reviews by writing film reviews. Apparently the best way in is to be creative about engaging with films. Coming up with spoofs, puns or parodies is more likely to attract the attention of a recruiting editor than a heavy portfolio of just film reviews. In any case, its probably a good idea to at least have something to start with…

“Drew Pearce and Shane Black have been working tirelessly on what should be called Iron Man 4 (The Avengers merely a title added for the sake of variety). In reality, after shrinking down what would have originally been over six hours of script and screenplay, a new fangled Tony Stark movie has emerged from a cutting room floor, flooded with car chases and scenes that would help make sense of some apparently inconsequential characters.

Following on directly from the events of The Avengers, we find Tony Stark (Downey Jnr) suffering from constant flash backs of more than just parties from bygone new years sporting Ali Gee’s originals. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from an unfortunate turn through space-time along with countless run-ins with aliens has left the inner Iron Man folded and unstable. We see the once immutable hero quite literally stripped of his armour, loosing his gorgeous Malibu playboy house, his cars and incidentally for a substantial part of the story, his less metaphorical suits.

Pearce and Shane have brought Iron Man to his knees, buckling under the pressure of his own demons and derisively knocking him off his red and gold feet via shadowy forces of The Mandarin. Whilst Downey Jnr’s performance is encapsulating as per, the same cannot be said for the relationship between Stark and the new characters. Granted, a delightful repartee between a young boy and the eponymous hero in the second act is one of the best highlights. The same goes for many of the exchanges with bodyguard ‘Happy Hoggan’ (Favreau) and Rhodes (Cheadle) but the motivations for others have been found wanting. Guy Pearce and Rebecca Hall would have to wade neck deep through figurative silver nitrate before they might find the work they were paid to do, and as such, it leaves viewers with some irritable gaps in the story.

The exploding, drug addicted, terminator hulk henchmen provide a satisfying, if unconvincing fodder for the Iron Men. Yes, that’s right. There are now 42 of these suits that seem to be an expense where global hunger over a personal hobby never quite got the balance. We also have to wonder if these scalding, Abercrombie & Hulk models really would fail to warrant the attention of the other invincible SHIELD housemates. No sign of any of the Avengers here, because, as Stark vehemently states, ‘this is an American problem.’ Well, that seems to be that. No point in arguing, but no one seems to care.

The film ploughs on carrying the Iron Man mantle, listing ever so slightly under the weight of immense expectations. Floating on a tirade of heavy themes, Shane brandies an assortment of heart lifting gags and wisecracks, nodding at the likes of Downton Abbey and cringing 90’s music. This is not to mention Ben Kingsley’s performance, which has earned his lordship’s title for himself at least twice over as he carefully delivers the most interesting surprise of the franchise to date.

Filled as Marvel does, with gorgeous visuals, original designs and laced with elements of sharp witty dialog, Iron Man 3 captures the same sentiment that encouraged the first film to cause such a stir. You emerge from the cinema, having witnessed a handsome billionaire-playboy-philanthropist fight in nightmarish scenarios but you feel like you understand. Just like after Iron Man 1, you dare to suppose that you’re not too different from the hero, and you dream for a super moment… It’s not too difficult to imagine yourself in those shoes, getting bitten by that spider, or begin building a mechanical suit. You start racking your brains, picking out basic facts in the science fiction that you feel you know about and then, you apply it to your 12-year-old thoughts. That’s exactly how films of this genre should work, and Iron Man 3 works it masterfully.”