Getting in the spirit of Halloween, we’ve conjured up our selection of favourite horror films and scenes for your viewing pleasure.
Bobby: Horror films give me nightmares. I don’t like nightmares and I don’t like horror films. But on a recent masochistic dip into the genre I watched three films. All of them gave me nightmares. The first was the best: The Conjuring. Tongue firmly in cheek it makes you smirk, makes you laugh and then makes you jump out of your seat, spilling your beer all over your girlfriend’s lap.
Lucy: I’d have to go with The Others. I’d choose a good ghost story over classic ‘horror’ any day and this is my favourite! I was living in Spain when this came out – it was shot almost entirely out there and comes from a Spanish director, so maybe that’s part of it’s appeal for me. Everyone I know likes this one!
Andrew: Don’t Look Now – A Nicolas Roeg thriller set in the dark and moody streets of Venice starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, with a particularly scary achondroplasic. It’s haunted me for ages!
Claire: Rosemary’s Baby directed by Roman Polanski. A true classic in every sense of the word. Ruth Gorden plays the scary neighbour, it’s such a great film.
Jez: The Shining is pretty strong.
Lies: The Omen! Directed by Richard Donner, just thinking about Damien makes me shiver! I am not a horror fan but this film is brilliant… What makes you uncomfortable is what you don’t get to see. Your imagination fills in the gaps with more horror than what the film is able to!
Sitara: I’m with Lies on this one, I think for me it would be The Omen that scares me the most. I find the underlying suggestions or theories more scary than gruesome horror films!
Ben: I’m not a huge horror movie fan, which is really down to my overactive imagination! I end up creeping myself out for days after when walking along, so if I can avoid them, I try to. Plus, I’m not great with blood, ha! I’m much more of a thriller fan, and one of the best I’ve seen is Disturbia with Shia Labeouf. I’ve seen it a good few times now, and each time it never fails to put me on edge. Last time I was on a long-haul flight, I thought it would be a great idea to put it on, save to say it didn’t help catching up with any sleep on the plane! The scene where they’ve broken into the house and the radios go down is so tense!
Lora: I have always loved a really good scary film – but monsters, aliens and zombies just make me laugh, so it has to be more along the lines of the supernatural for it to genuinely frighten me. I accidentally watched Carrie when I was about 9 or 10 – don’t call social services, Mum and Dad were working in the restaurant downstairs thinking I was fast asleep! Little did they know that as soon as I could, I’d get out of bed to watch TV. To this day, it’s one of the most terrifying films I’ve ever seen. I remember not sleeping well for a long, long time, but I couldn’t tell anyone else I’d have been in trouble! The Prom scene has some deeply questionable effects and split-screen editing, but it’s still very scary!
Sam: For a long time horror was very much my go-to genre when it came to film. Nowadays it’s very rare that a scary film comes anywhere close to the classics like The Birds and Psycho, but The Witch, directed by Robert Eggers is one of my more recent favourites and I’ve watched it a few times already. Rural America in the 1600s sets a very eerie stage and though it lacks typical jump-scare moments, the tone of the film is very unnerving and keeps you locked in and unsettled throughout.
Alex:My favourite horror and one that still gets me they way it did when I was 13 is Candyman. Countless times I stood in front of the bathroom mirror at sleepovers showing my friends how you contact the Candyman! Then chickening out at the end when it all became a bit too real
My favourite scene is when Helen meets Candyman for the first time in a car park. I love it when horror unfolds in the daytime, it’s so much scarier. “Be my victim, I am the writing on the wall, the whisper in the classroom.” I still can’t say it five times in the mirror!!
Ben P: Unlike the others (and almost everyone I know), I have never been big on horror films. My favourite horror film is something a little bit out of left field as it is not really scary, but I enjoyed it immensely when I was young and even played a video game based on it all the time. Although I hugely appreciate the classics such as The Shining and Halloween, I’m going to have to go with The Evil Dead 2 (1987, Sam Raimi). The first movie in the trilogy really started off this cult classic series but I feel like they honed this unique style of horror/comedy in the second one, with Bruce Campbell being absolutely fantastic throughout the trilogy.
The laughing scene where Ash breaks into a psychotic laughing fit, together with all of the cabin’s furniture and ornaments is a great example of this over-exaggerated comedy style mixed with some really twisted imagery and over-the-top gore.
It was a Sunday in June that I got a call from Jez telling me to pack a bag and be ready within 48 hours to board a plane to Brazil. Needless to say it was a shock.
It took a while for me to fully embrace what was happening, in fact, it took the entirety of my journey. Even after walking in to Stansted airport, a 10 hour flight to Sao Paulo, an 8 hour layover in the airport, a 3 hour connecting flight to Teresina and then a cab to the hotel, I was sat in the lobby still a ball of nerves. I had no idea that within minutes I’d be embarking on one of the most incredible journeys I’d ever been a part of.
A Nissan 4×4 screeched up outside the hotel and I was greeted by some familiar faces, Will and Colin from Wing as well as a freelance producer called Roberta who I’d not met before. From this point on, everything was so hurried and fast. A quick hello, a handshake and we were away. I had no time to think about nerves, or how tired I was from the journey. I was ready to go and wouldn’t really stop for 24 days.
After just 5 minutes in the car, I had hopped out with Will and we were sprinting down the road after the convoy in 30 degree heat. The atmosphere was a mixture of tension and excitement. Cyclists and runners ran alongside the convoy and as (most of) the spectators lined up along the road cheering, Will and I burned past the back end of the convoy. Then, just ahead I could see the Olympic flame and got my first look at the place I would call home for most of my time in Brazil: Media 1.
Media 1 was a modified van with an open back, designed to capture the Relay from directly in front of the torch. It was truly the best seat in the house for the spectacle and that seat was mine. Within 15 minutes I had been briefed by Owen at Wing, sat down, and all too quickly taken the reins.
That night would prepare me for what I would encounter in Brazil, headed up by the protesting. As we reached the outskirts of the city and the sun started setting, the spectators began to take a bit of a turn. The boos that had been effectively drowned out earlier were more clear, the shouts of “fora temer” were audible and the police numbers had doubled. It wasn’t long before things had got a bit hairy and action was taken, the wind carried pepper spray and tear gas through the open back of Media 1. Lesson 1: breath through your nose (the first time I learnt that the hard way). The tension was high for the next few hours as we finished off the last remaining torchbearers of the day, and it wasn’t until the shutters on the back of Media 1 had closed that I remember taking my first full breath. Luckily, my nerves had transitioned to adrenaline which I’d need to help me stay awake until 2 am, ready for my 4 am wake-up, the flying leg of the Relay beckoned.
Until this point in the Relay, the convoy had to drive between locations. Each day would go as follows; the team would wake up, drive to the first city, complete filming the necessary torchbearers and then foot on the gas to the next place on the list. I had joined on the last day of the initial driving leg, so everything now would change for 20 days. The team would wake up earlier (usually between 5am and 6am), travel to the airport, fly to a new location where MOST of the convoy vehicles would be waiting ready to go. Media 1 however, would take the form of various different flatbed trucks. We would build a frame onto the flatbed, fix an FS7 on a tripod and a makeshift DIT station to the vehicle using mostly tape, cable ties and bungee cords, power them using a (very loud) petrol generator and pray for no rain. Because as Jez very aptly stated before I left “when it rains in Brazil, it really rains”.
It’s hard to summarise the weeks that followed, Brazil is bigger than I could comprehend. Every city had different people, different weather and different terrain. The one constant was the team I worked with, everyone was tired and as a result everyone had to simultaneously suck it up but everyone did so without ever breaking a smile. There was no time to be tired or sick. It’s amazing looking back at the level of energy the whole convoy brought in to each city. Maybe it was the power of the Relay… maybe it was the amount of Coca-Cola that we went through on any given day but it was nothing short of incredible.
The stories that were told in the daily videos were incredible; from celebrities and marriage proposals to Brazilian aborigines and even a retired clown. The people involved were amazing, and not just the elected torchbearers. A number of people working for Wing and other people involved in the Relay were lucky enough to run, an appropriate reward for the blood, sweat and tears that they put in. Though I wasn’t able to run with the torch, my time in Brazil wasn’t without its highlights. Manning a camera in a canoe in the rivers in Macapa, an impromptu night out in Argentina, conquering Brazilian rain in the not so waterproof Media 1 and watching the friends I’d made running with the torch from the best view in the house to name a few.
Amongst all the excitement and chaos I had blinked and there I was, my last day in Brazil had come. Iguazu through pure chance would be my final location, home of one of the natural wonders of the world, Iguazu falls. I spent the afternoon walking through the national park alone, taking in as much as possible before I had to leave. I’d had the opportunity of a lifetime, to see one of the most amazing countries in a way very few people ever will. I was suddenly very aware of just how lucky I was, I had fallen in love with Brazil the last 24 days and I’d never forget the amazing times I’d had. As I watched the water tumble over the edge of the massive cliffs, the memories of lying in bed at home that Sunday came flooding back. All the nerves, the uncertainty seemed so unnecessary, the Torch Relay would go on for another month after I would leave, and I was truly devastated that I wouldn’t get to be a part of it. That being said, nobody can take that time away from me, it was the best experience I’ve ever had and I’ll never be part of anything quite like it again and only a handful of people ever will. All I can do is hold my breath and hope I’m part of the next Torch Relay, but it may have to settle for silver as Brazil will always take the gold.
Lucy Charlesworth: Favourite restaurant in the world is La Mar in Lima, Peru (in fact, probably any restaurant in the whole of Peru as it’s the best cuisine in the world).
Lies Deneys: Favourite restaurant in the world – not a restaurant but my favourite meal ever was for my birthday in a refugee camp in Kenya it was a takeaway from an Ethiopian restaurant. They even baked me a birthday cake.
I agree with Lucy, my favourite restaurant in London is Foley’s.
Jamie Roper: In London a place that I literally fell into after enjoying a few ales was Shampers on Kingly Street. I had the best oysters I’ve ever eaten and a brilliant steak. The wine list is a weighty tome.
My favourite restaurant in the world had to be Locanda dell’Isola Comacina in Lake Como. I went to the island with my family to look at some Roman ruins and walked into the restaurant hoping to get a pizza or something simple for lunch. They only did 5 course meals at €50 per head. As this is the only place to eat on the island we were a little stuck, however it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had and the view was sensational. On leaving the restaurant there were photos all around the entrance of every famous person you’ve ever heard of who have all eaten there. From Arnold Schwarzenegger, to the entire cast of Oceans 11 and the president of Ethiopia. And now me!
Lora Galantini: London Oslo Court – like stepping back in time to the late 70s / early 80s, this is classic French food at its very best with service to match. It is pretty much a replica of the restaurant that my parents ran & that I grew up in, so going there instantly feels like going home to me.
World: I Tre Re, in the hills to the north of Turin. We had been filming in Damanhur (an “alternative community” – or cult) and we’d had the weirdest day of our lives. I Tre Re is a hotel in the tiny nearby village of Castellamonte & was where we were staying for the night. It happened to be the last night of an exhausting 3 week shoot, and the hotel was nothing special at all. The restaurant was unbelievable – absolutely outstanding food, and made all the more special because it was so unexpected. A real treat for our wrap night! I will get back there some day…
Ben Emrich: My favourite restaurants have a certain theme. Number one in London has to be “Big Easy” in Covent Garden. My memories of this BBQ heaven are shrouded in meat, neon lobsters, copious amounts of whiskey and a Led Zep cover band blasting Whole Lotta Love. Last time I went I couldn’t sleep for overindulgence.
Overseas, my mind instantly races to the small town in Alberta, Canada, Banff. Last summer we stumbled upon a burger bar in this sleepy ski village called “The Eddie Burger Bar”
They have a menu where you pick and choose your whole burger from a checklist. Never before or since, have I had such an incredible burger. The meal will stay in my mind as the perfect burger. Like Frankenstein, I do feel that I should get at least some of the credit on inventing the beast.
Sam Taylor: I’m not much of a dining out kind of guy, but I’ll put my two cents in for something I’ve been craving ever since I went there a few months ago. Tramshed in Shoreditch stole my heart the minute I saw Yorkshire puddings on the starter menu, even more so when I was greeted by the behemoth of Yorkshire deliciousness that was brought to the table. Not to take away from the massive but beautifully succulent Porterhouse and delicious crispy-skinned whole roast chicken that was also consumed during the feast, but the whole starter menu was amazing, and I’m heading back there this Friday. “Yes, could I please just get all of the starters please? And 4 orders of the Yorkshire pudding.”
As for overseas, although I can’t name one specifically I have to declare my love for any and every churrascaria I went to in Brazil. People may know that I tend to eat in volume, the more the better, and I’m very much carnivorous. So anywhere that will continue to bring you large quantities of various delicious meats is going to get two thumbs up from me. Bottomless lamb, pork, beef and chicken piled high… sign me up!
Jez Frankel: Fave restaurant in London is The River Cafe as both my kids have been there for a celebratory lunch aged 5 days.
In the world: Fuor D’Aqua in Florence. Probably my most incredible meal, with amazing friends at a beautiful event.
Claire Goodwillie: In London my favourite places are Nopi – food is amazing & the coriander and ginger martinis to die for. The Pale Blue Door – A truly unique installation/pop-up restaurant in the most extraordinary setting. Unforgettable.
Most memorable meal in THE WORLD… La Perla, Sea Point, Cape Town. Beautiful view of the sea…still regret not stealing an ashtray!
Bobby Miklausic: Favourite restaurant in London is the Japanese Canteen. Whatever they’re putting in their sriracha sauce on the Korean Fried Chicken is likely to be made illegal.
The World: L’Etale, Morzine, France – nostalgic choice from me where I used to do my ski seasons for TG Ski (shout out). Filet Steak. Melted Cheese. Garlicky things all over the place. And they do Stevie Wonder’s happy birthday song instead of the actual happy birthday song which gets a ‘Oui’ from me!
Alex Bertschin: Converted from the old school bike shed, Rochelle Canteen looks out onto the grassy playground and the trees of Arnold Circus. It’s a little hideout in the chaos of Shoreditch. Menus are seasonal, British modern and highest quality produce. BYOB.
Carters of Moseley is a restaurant in Moseley, a suburb of Birmingham. It’s actually owned by two of my best friends so I am extremely biased, however the Michelin Guide is not and they recently awarded them their first star, so it’s not just me who thinks Carters is the bees’ knees. Food is modern British, menu is seasonal, only the best local / British produce and I recommend the wine flight or gin… Holly has the best gin on the planet. Don’t ask her to make you a mojito though as she’ll politely ask you to leave/ sling you out, this is Birmingham after all.
Ben Powis: Fave Restaurant in London probably has to be the Tramshed in Shoreditch to be honest as I’ve had quite a few big family things there including my Dad’s 50th which was awesome.
Fave in the world: Ristorante La Reggia degli Etruschi up in the hills in Fiesole, incredible panoramic views of Florence and the best Florentine T-Bone steak I’ve ever experienced.
Sitara Menon: In London, Hoppers. It’s a Sri Lankan restaurant and the food is amazing. It uses similar ingredients to what we use in the South of India so it’s very much like home food for me 🙂
It’s what I missed the most!
The World – I’d have to say Jumbo Seafood on the East Coast in Singapore. BEST PEPPER CRAB EVER!!
Not slacking, rendering.
Whenever somebody asks me what it is exactly that I do, I often find myself struggling to find the right way to describe it. I joke and say “I make things move” which 100% of the time returns a strange look. Motion Graphics is, to put it (very) simply, taking the practice of graphic design and ‘making it move’ through animation. The thing is, we see it every day in hundreds of different forms, whether this be in television adverts, title sequences, animations or in apps.
Originally wanting to go into character illustration, I was very influenced by illustrator Jared Nickerson, whom a lot of my college work was based around. Then one day a family friend said to me “Ben, you’ve got to see this program called After Effects! It’s amazing” and proceeded to show me some examples of work. At the time, I put it to the back of my mind, it wasn’t until I was in my final project of my Art Foundation that I actually explored the idea of moving the graphics that I was creating. 4 years later and I have a degree in BA Motion Graphics from Ravensbourne and can’t get enough of it.
I could go full jargon mode right now and bore everyone with the likes of keyframing, 3D render systems, track mattes and particle simulations, however instead I’ll let you watch some of my favourite pieces I’ve seen in the last year in the motion graphics world!
Infinite Horizon: A stunning space-themed piece from UK-based WeAreSeventeen. What I love about this is the realism of the shot, the flat animations on the 3D footage and the camera work is amazing
OFFF 2016 Titles: These titles were created for OFFF 2016 festival, which is a huge digital design festival based in Barcelona each year. I went along last month and these titles, created by Aardman Animations were the closing titles of the event.
This very cool piece from ManVsMachine was used as promotion of the latest release of Cinema 4D. The nature of the piece shows the different animals fighting one another, with a big twist at the end. The colours are amazing and the animal models are incredible.
What I really like about the work that I do is that I can open up my computer at the start of the day, and within a few hours, have created a whole scene. Having had an upbringing in art, I’m always inclined to scribble away in a sketchbook, just drawing up scenes and environments and storyboards, studying the way that things move and how lighting affects objects in certain ways. I think that it’s very important to put the software on the backseat. It’s great and the things you can create are mind-blowing, but having an understanding of the core principles behind art, graphic design and photography is key.
This last video is really one of the most stunning pieces of Motion Graphics from the last year that I have seen. Created entirely within digital software, it’s well worth a watch or 5! These kinds of pieces are a huge influence in my work. 3D is a very big part of my workflow, I find it fascinating as you’re working with a 3-dimensional object and using physics and lighting to create a scene.
In the offices of QF I help out where I can. Whether that be creating fully fledged animations, on-screen graphics or name straps for interviews, you can be certain that I’m busy making things move.
I count myself relatively lucky in that even from school days, I always knew which field of work I wanted to get into: production. I have been a producer now for 15 years but the kind of production I find myself doing now is very different to how it all started… After university and an unexpected 4-year stint in Italy pursuing my other passions of that time – Italian boys and bartending – I returned to London and spent several years in broadcast travel documentary making. My role in that environment involved researching stories, writing scripts, a lot of organizing, and being away from home for often months at a time. The crew when we went away on shoots would comprise of (at the very least) a producer, cameraperson, sound recordist, director and presenter.
Cut to several years later when I fell into corporate production… I still remember attending meetings in those early days and not knowing what anyone was talking about – business speak & corporate jargon were not languages I was familiar with. I genuinely did not know my ‘alignment’ from my elbow. But I took those learnings on board and pretty soon I was reaching out for that low hanging fruit, leveraging and robustly executing like a pro.
One thing I had never had to do in my previous life though was to conduct an interview. Having always worked with presenters, this was something that hadn’t previously fallen within my remit. There’s a lot to remember from a purely technical perspective – make sure you hold the interviewee’s eye line as it looks very odd on camera if their eyes are straying from yours; ensure their answers can be understood without the question; don’t let any of your talking overlap with theirs as it then becomes unusable in the edit; no thin striped or checked shirts to be worn as it sends the cameras bananas; try and get them to give short & succinct answers; etc etc.
These things soon become second nature to the point where you no longer even have to think about them. However there is a whole other, more refined layer of detail to learn – as the technical aspects become routine, it frees your brain to concentrate on the editorial side of the interview. You begin to edit in your head so by the end of an interview you know if you’re missing a phrase that will bridge a gap; you know whether a mistake in someone’s answer is unusable or whether you can “stitch together” what you have in order to ensure it makes sense; you listen carefully to intonation so that you know whether you have something that can work as a strong opening or conclusion.
However out of all of these things, the most important point is that your subject feels comfortable and at ease. Not everyone that we speak to is a high profile celebrity, au fait with the interview situation. Many times, we are speaking to people who have never been sat in front of the huge amount of equipment that film crews come with – it can be a daunting experience for them. A nervous subject is one more likely to make mistakes and give a poor performance, therefore an ability to empathise, make an interviewee laugh and feel calm is paramount. Everything else most of the time, to coin a production jargon phrase of our very own, can be sorted out in post.
What is film without music?
The power of music can control the emotions that we feel on a physical and cerebral level. So what is it about certain film music that makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck? Why do we weep with the violin? Here’s a selection of some of the most emotionally powerful music that we love from the world of film.
Jez: Cavatina used in the Deer Hunter. Gets me every time….
Claire: Wonderland – Michael Winterbottom, Very memorable enchanting score composed by Michale Nyman.
Lucy Charlesworth: Ennio Morricone – Cinema Paradiso. One of my favourite films, not least because of the music.
Lies: The Mission, Ennio Morricone – makes me cry every time.
And obviously no music list is complete without anything from Nick Cave: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford written by the Nick Cave!
Lora: Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet – the whole score is amazing but Radiohead’s Talk Show Host & Garbage’s #1 Crush are 2 of my favourites…
Andrew: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly – Ennio Morricone
Jamie: The Fountain by Darren Aronofsky, Clint Mansell’s music is absolute genius. I would be remiss not to mention Requiem for a Dream too.
Sitara: Drive’s soundtrack Midnight City by M83.. I love it!
Ben: For me it’s got to be from Lord of the Rings, I was 8 when the first film came out, we all went on Christmas eve, my dad, mum and 3 yr old brother!
The one scene that has it all for me is the battle of Amon Hen, the track builds up to a menacing beat, to then come crashing down at the pivotal moment when Boromir is killed and is sent off the waterfall.
Sam: Star Wars Soundtrack – Binary Sunset. This is the music that played on Tatooine in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
Bobby: Pulp Fiction, if I had to pick one: Kool and the Gang – Jungle Boogie
Rob: Johnny Greenwood’s score to There Will Be Blood
Having a list of things to do each day is no different from anyone else in new business: a raft of emails and calls go without saying. But if I had to think about why my day might be different from others working in a similar role across different organisations, then I suppose it would come down to us producing such a range of projects with a huge mix of clients and uncovering so many different opportunities along the way.
Variety is a good thing, and it certainly means that I have a fun job. But it doesn’t always make life that simple when you’re looking for new business. The fundamental question of ‘what is Quite Frankly’ or ‘what does Quite Frankly do’ cannot always be answered that easily… because we do a lot of different things for different people. As a result, new business strategy can take a number of different twists and turns when researching which direction we need to be taking, whom best to target, and where our best chances lie in securing work with leading corporations, agencies and charities.
Reading digital news sites, trade mags, blogs and national press all help determine the best foot forward – as do referrals, introductions along the way, and of course our case studies. But when everything else on the ‘to do’ list is factored into the day, time management can get pretty interesting… and the ‘to do’ list can get pretty long!
Aside from proactively looking for new opportunities, I’m often answering enquiries on potential projects from current clients by working with our production manager and producers on costs and treatments. There are also brainstorming sessions to be run to fulfil briefs, as well as finding ways to explain these ideas through proposals – and then going to meetings in the hope of securing the work.
There is also a constant effort being made in thinking about how we present new case studies, update our credentials, and share our work on a regular basis – not least with our new venture in Bangalore front and foremost in our minds. That subsidiary office opened at Easter this year and I spent a month out there working with our India Director Sitara to help her get things up and running. We now have a number of projects under our belts, so looking at ways to best market and PR what we have achieved out there is certainly a big goal for the next twelve months.
As we step into 2016 it’s looking as if we’ll have a lot of new experiences coming our way. Firstly, it’s an Olympic year which given our past work with sponsors Omega, GE and Coca-Cola certainly bodes well for us spending some time in Rio in the summer. We know we’re in for a busy start to the year with a good amount of work already in the diary: we’re running brainstorming sessions around content for the International Olympic Committee, we’re media training a new large corporate client, and have dates in the diary to meet with fashion and automotive brands who are looking for new video partners. All whilst delivering a range of projects for our trusted clients Diageo, Coca-Cola, and law firm Mishcon de Reya.
We have all just returned from Bangalore where we celebrated Sitara’s wedding in true style – so energy is high and January is off to a flying start. Here’s to a strong 2016 – happy new year, everyone!
As Christmas approaches, we thought we’d share our favourite Christmas adverts of all time.
Lucy Charlesworth: Unicef, Three Wise Men (2012)
Alex Bertschin: Lidl, School of Christmas (2015)
Lies Deneys: The Body Shop, Jingle Bells (2015)
Bobby Miklausic: bewareofthedoghouse.com, Beware of the Doghouse (2008)
Ben Emrich: Waitrose, The Gingerbread Stall (2014)
Sam Taylor: John Lewis, The Long Wait (2011)
Jez Frankel: Coca-Cola, Holidays are Coming (1995)
Jamie Roper: Toys R Us (1989) – here it is remastered.
Claire Goodwillie: Woolworths, Have a Cracking Christmas (1981)
Sitara Menon: Paypal, No Presents (2015)
Andrew Ackland: Sainsbury’s, Christmas is for Sharing (2014)
Lora Galantini: John Lewis, The Bear & The Hare (2013)
The first filming trip I ever made was also my first trip to the continent. I fell in love with the place and the people. I was commissioned to make a film about blood banks in Malawi for the WHO, back in 2006 and traveled to Lilongwe. I met up with a crew from Nairobi in Blantyre to then travel on in the smallest plane I had ever set foot in. The seat barely had any cushions and the luxury I was used to from the big international flights was nowhere to be seen. To me it was all part of my adventure in Africa. What an eye opener this trip was. The crew, Ken and Abdul, taught me a lot about African food, what to eat and how to eat and other local traditions.
It wasn’t a trip to show the beauty of the country. We were filming in local maternity wards to showcase the desperate need for blood the hospitals are in. At the time the AIDS epidemic was still rife and collecting uncontaminated blood and storing it in a safe place was not a luxury but a necessity.
Malawian people are very modest but most welcoming. I couldn’t get over the fact that these women who just had given birth to their young, sometimes even premature babies were allowing us to film in the ward. Malawi, the land of smiles. It’s where my collection of African wood carvings started too!
I have had the privilege of travelling to the African continent 15 times to visit 12 countries. All of them for a variety of projects. From the opening of a luxury hotel in Morocco, for which we brought in 3 crews and 3 edit suites, to a conference in Mauritius, crewed by South African talent, to NGO projects in Kenya and Ghana. Every experience was as different as the countries I was operating in. I was sent on a last minute shoot to Senegal. It was the middle of the rainy season, so the humidity was incredibly high. I used a local crew as that was the only way we could actually get the filming done at such short notice. My cameraman was a French guy who’d been based in west Africa for over 25 years. His knowledge of Dakar was unbelievable and we thought we managed to capture some amazing shots, until I returned to London, where we noticed that 25% of the footage looked like it was filmed through fog. The humidity at a certain point of the day was so high, the glass elements of the lenses had been affected. At one of the points when we changed lenses, something had gone horribly wrong. Some creative editing made sure that the client never found out we didn’t have as much footage as we thought we had. I have worked both with local crews in Nigeria and Kenya and flown crews in depending on the type of project I was working on. I once worked with a brilliant ex-BBC cameraman who had set up his new crewing company in Lagos, Nigeria when I went to produce a film about the launch of Guinness Extra Smooth. We had so much fun filming a group of people in a bar in Lagos enjoying the brand.
Other times I have taken my crew with me. Getting equipment into some of the countries can be challenging. I have had a stand-off with a customs official more than once, who didn’t accept the paper work from British customs. Having someone local, a production company or NGO, to pay a bond for the equipment is becoming more commonplace these days. I have also seen that obtaining a filming permit from the Ministry of Information or Media is becoming more and more imperitive in order to gain access to the country. In Kenya you need to have it before you can enter the country. For Ethiopia you need to apply for your permission, but you can enter the country to collect the paperwork from the Ministry. Having contacts on the ground however is always a must. Inside knowledge of the law and customs will make life so much easier once on the ground.
My top 5 favourite memories of my trips to Africa in no particular order:
Filming Thandie Newton singing songs and cutting up cassava with local farmer women in Ghana
Celebrating my birthday in a UNHCR Refugee camp with an Ethiopian Feast
Being surrounded by 20-30 children looking at images of themselves on an iPad in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Being invited by an Ethiopian farmer to have coffee with her family and neighbours
Morocco – Freuds 2011
Ghana – Arthur Guinness Fund 2011
Kenya – Educate a Child 2012
DRC – Educate a Child 2013
Ghana – Galaxy (RED) 2014
Ethiopia – Diageo 2015
With Halloween this weekend we’ve compiled a list of the weirdest and scariest music videos that we love.
Lies: It’s the combination of weirdness with Nick Cave’s trademark quirky moves that reminds me of his stage performances that appeal to me… the video just works with the song and is so Nick Cave on every level – Nick Cave, Red Right Hand