I am an offline editor with over ten years experience editing factual programmes, for many UK and international broadcasters including the BBC, Channel 4, Nat Geo, The History Channel and the Discovery Channel ...more


Archived entries:

Mad Men – distilled

Not exactly the most innovative piece of research I know (I found it on The Guardian website), but ladies and gentlemen I give you Austrian graphic designer Exergian and his very pleasing alternative poster designs for popular US drama series. Like Olly Moss’s graphic film posters, these posters aim to capture something of the essence of the shows in one very graphic, witty image.

My favourite is the design for the series Mad Men, which, and forgive the pun, has been distilled down to one glass of whisky. If you’ve watched the show you’ll know that everyone drinks like a fish, even at work, so the choice of a whisky glass is apt (..might also have been a cigarette for that matter).

Mad Men - poster by Exergian

Mad Men - poster by Exergian

Also clever is the poster referencing the table outside Satriale’s deli where Tony Soprano conducts his business meetings, and of course the ‘voice’ of K.I.T from Knightrider:

The Sopranos - poster by Exergian

The Sopranos - poster by Exergian

Knightrider - poster by Exergian

Knightrider - poster by Exergian

There’s 43 of these posters, all available to buy from Blanka at £50 each. So if anyone wants to get me an early Christmas present…

David Cameron poster, Defaced #1 (2010)

It appears Dave surrounds himself with out of touch people, including creatives

Dave likes to surround himself with out of touch people, including creatives

“I’m just plain old Dave. You know, like your mate, Dave from the pub. I’m just like you, you know. I may sound plummy and have a floppy side-parting but really I’m just like you. I think like you too. I’m an ordinary man. I’m like the bloke next door. And what I’m saying to you is the truth. So come on, vote for me.”

Its not hard to decode the new £500,000 Tory Poster campaign and what its trying to do. Its so obvious it stinks. Dave’s perma-tan and fake sincerity didn’t fool me and it didn’t fool the Exeter folk who decided to provide their own critique of the poster using exquisitely crafted cut-out card. Admirably creative, elegantly simple and certainly memorable:

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Its not just the Exeter folk who have added their tuppence worth to Dave’s billboard -the good folk of Hereford have also been gloriously creative in their dissent (photo courtesy of The Daily Mail):

David Cameron as Elvis

David Cameron as Elvis

And slightly further down the sliding scale of creativity was born this interpretation of the poster, which appeared in Kings Cross, London in early January:

Image courtesy of virtualeconomics.typepad.com

Image courtesy of virtualeconomics.typepad.com

(In case you can’t read it its says: “I’ll cut the deficit, the NHS, the BBC, Ordnance Survey, Anything whatever in fact, We should not be allowed to govern again.”)

And here’s a far more blunt defacing, again in London:

January 25, 2010 - Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Europe

January 25, 2010 - Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Europe

For a funny designer’s critique of the David Cameron Tory poster read this article from the music website Drowned in Sound, and if anyone has spotted any other truely witty David Cameron poster defacings please email them to me and I’ll start an archive. I don’t want lazy or mediocre ‘mashups’ though – there’s already plenty of them.

The Tower: A Tale of Two Cities


The Tower [Part 1]

“As good a portrait of modern day London you’ll ever see.” Oliver Baker, to his wife, 2007

The Tower centres around the residents of the notorious Pepys Estate in Deptford, London, as the area undergoes a huge architectural and social regeneration: a tower block containing 144 flats once reserved for social housing is sold by Lewisham Council to property developer Berkely homes, who hope to turn the flats into luxury accommodation for wealthy professionals.

Like its Dickensian namesake, The Tower: A Tale of Two Cities is full of colourful characters; from ex-heroine addicts and city bankers, from old cockney gangsters to young Asian ‘yuppies’, all observed with a delicate and even-handed approach that reserves judgment. It’s full of contrasts – between the haves and the have-nots,  between hope and disillusionment, contentment and misery, but one thing it’s not is a clichéd story of class war or social injustice – sometimes its the ‘haves’ that struggle the most. It’s epic and it’s beautiful, it’s touching and funny, and best of all, it’s in no way contrived. This is ‘reality’ television at its best. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Broadcast in June/July 2007, The Tower: A Tale of Two Cities renewed my faith in the BBC to be able to still produce worthwhile, classy documentaries. Astonishingly, it was made over THREE years. Yes, THREE years. Then it was broadcast in eight chunks of 50 minutes – that’s nearly SEVEN hours on one idea. Now correct me if I’m wrong but that doesn’t happen much these days does it?

The series went on to win a BAFTA for Best Factual Series in 2007. No Sh*t.

Bookbook

A laptop case masquerading as an antique book. Clever.

A laptop case masquerading as an antique book. Clever.

“Why don’t you read a book instead?” is the phrase I often hear as I guiltily pry open my laptop. Well if I had one of these delightful products maybe those people wouldn’t be nagging in my ear no more. Because my stockpile of cultural capital would have gone through the roof. I want one of these.

Hannibal Gaddafi – nice boy

Hannibal Gaddafi = ars****e

Mr. H Gaddafi - short temper + dictator father + diplomatic immunity = A-grade ars****e

Now my mother always taught me that it was unseemly to talk ill of people you don’t actually know, however old Ma Baker always made exceptions for dictators (and their family) so hence forth comes a small rant on a Mr Hannibal Gaddafi.

Mr. H. Gaddafi (his daddy is dictator Muammar) was most recently in the UK news in December 09, when he decided to break his wife’s nose whilst staying at Claridges (allegedly). I say ‘allegedly’ because Mr. H’s wife later claimed the injuries were from a fall, Hannibal ran off to the Libyan embassy pleading diplomatic immunity and the whole affair was dropped.

Beating up women in hotels seems to be one of Hannibal’s favourite pastimes (sometimes he likes to do it in France) along with driving at speed running red lights whilst drunk down the Champs-Élyseés (H got off from both). In 2001, Hannibal attacked three Italian policemen with a fire extinguisher (he got off again) and in 2008 whilst staying in a hotel in Geneva, Mrs. H decided to join Mr. H in a game of his second favourite past-time of servant-slapping. This time though young Hannibal wouldn’t get off so lightly, and the Swiss authorities detained Mr. and Mrs. H for two days. This made daddy Muammar al-G really upset:

“He immediately shut down Libyan subsidiaries of Nestlè and ABB, cut oil supplies to Switzerland, cancelled most commercial flights between the two countries, withdrew around $5bn from his Swiss bank accounts and arrested two travelling Swiss businessmen. Two months ago, these men were convicted of visa irregularities and tax evasion, and jailed for 16 months each. In July last year Gaddafi submitted a proposal to the UN calling for the abolition of Switzerland” (The Guardian, 08/01/10)

He just needs a hug for chrissakes

He just needs a hug for chrissakes

When he’s not indulging in domestic violence, Hannibal really likes to let his hair down and party like any normal dictator’s son, and he likes nothing better than have already filthy rich popstars sing for him. Beyoncé pocketed a cool 2 mil for her little New Year Eve’s ditties. According to Beyoncé, she was paid to shake her booty for the other Gaddafi son. Hmm.

So just to summarise Mr. H’s rap sheet:

  • 2009: Involved in domestic disturbance incident with his wife Christmas day that looks suspiciously like he punched her in the face.
  • 2008: Arrested by Swiss police for allegedly beating his servants with a belt and clothes hanger.
  • 2005: Arrested for allegedly punching his wife, model Aline Skaf, in a Paris hotel while she was 8 months pregnant and brandishing a 9mm handgun at her.
  • 2004: Leads police on a chase down Paris’ Champs Elysees in his Porsche. Avoids charges after Libyan diplomats apologize.
  • 2003: Involved in a brawl in Rome that leaves six photographers hospitalized
  • 2001: Attacks three Italian policemen with a fire extinguisher, then demands diplomatic immunity.

I’m getting bored of him now so I’m just going to conclude my rant by saying: Hannibal Gaddafi – what an extrodinarily repulsive man.

Up in the Air – titles

The gentlemen and women of Shadowplay Studios have been at it again – boshing out another beautifully crafted title sequence for the hugely enjoyable film Up in the Air. Obviously they are strong believers in the maxim of ‘sticking to what you know best’ as these titles are, graphically speaking, the same concept as those for Thank You for Smoking. But who cares? They are so damn pleasing to watch.

Instead of a collage of mocked-up cigarette packets balletically sliding and wiping through the screen, this time its aerial footage of America (scored to a great song – This Land is Your Land by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings ). It sets the tone for the film perfectly and the footage is absolutely stunning – not your average aerial footage, as Jason Reitman revealed in an interview with Indiewire:

“I have always enjoyed opening title sequences, all three of my films have prominent ones. I like there to be a separation between the commercials and the movie. The opening title sequence, in general, has gone by the wayside, because many directors like the movie to end with ‘directed by me,’ an ego kind of thing. Anyhow, I have a team called Shadowplay who were short film makers at the same time I was. They did the Smoking and Juno titles, and came up with this idea of vintage moving postcards, the most complicated element of which was getting this aerial footage that seems like film. I figured you put a camera in a plane, you put it up in the air, you point down, you get aerial footage, right? I really thought it would be that simple. It was so complicated. Every time you see aerial footage in a movie it’s from a helicopter at 12,000 ft. To get it from 25,000 ft, first we went up with a jet and we had a camera that was going through this bubble system, except the optics weren’t good enough and atmosphere was giving us trouble. Then we went up with a propeller plane and the pilot had to wear an oxygen mask to get up that high; we took a camera out on a wing, we went digital instead of film, and then the camera would not go straight down, so they’d have to put the plane into a dive to get the camera to go down. I mean it was just like unreal how hard it was to get this footage. But I’m really happy with the results and of course it made for fun opening titles.”

To read the full interview with Jason Reitman check it out on Anne Thompson’s blog on IndieWire.

Re-imagined movie posters

A game of russian roulette anyone?

A game of russian roulette anyone?

I’m a sucker for strong, clean simple graphic design and these re-imagined movie posters designed by Olly Moss are a delight. Black & Red. Simple and elegant. In particular the posters for Die Hard, Deer Hunter, Rain Man and Taxi Driver brilliantly communicate the iconic moments in the films – McClane running on glass barefoot, captive soldiers playing russian roulette, Raymond counting the matches, and of course the iconic ‘Are you looking at me?’ scene in Taxi Driver. If I worked for a DVD distribution company I’d commssion Olly Moss. But sadly I don’t. Sorry Olly. I would buy one though if they were on sale…?

Check Olly’s portfolio site and the full set of posters on Flikr

Die Hard movie poster - re-imagined by Olly Moss

Die Hard movie poster - re-imagined by Olly Moss

A real good experiment

Blu Dot's Real Good Chair Experiment

Blu Dot's Real Good Chair Experiment

Blue Dot don’t just make chairs. They make films too. Put the two together and you’ve got a film about a chair called The Real Good Experiment.

These guys tagged 25 of their most desirable chairs witha  GPS tracking device, and then dumped them on the streets of Manhatten. They then filmed the journey the chairs went on (as they were taken by people). Sounds like it could be really entertaining doesn’t it? Well, the film kind of is entertaining, but I can’t help thinking that there’s more potential in the idea… a chair is never going to change hands that often so its journey is fairly limited, but what if you repeated the same thing with a commodity that’s continually exchanged… is there an idea for a TV show there, I ask myself, realising that I sound like Alan Partridge? Hmm.

Blu Dot Real Good Experiment from Real Good Chair on Vimeo.

Daylighting

99percentdotcom - creative agency and thinktank

99percentdotcom - creative agency and thinktank

I’ve been doing it for years and feeling guilty about it: ‘moonlighting’, ‘working on the side’ – two phrases used to describe it and they both have wholly negative connotations. Then I stumbled across this article by the creative agency the99percent.com, who have taken the sin out of ‘working on the side’ – they positively encourage the concept of ‘daylighting’… i.e encouraging your employees to pursue their creative interests/passions at work, in the hope that it makes them more fulfilled creatively and hopefully more interesting.

It works at Google apparently, who champion the 70/20/10 rule at work: 70% of your time is focused on the paymasters agenda, 20% on exploring your ideas relating to your paymaster and 10% is given over to doing anything you goddamn please.

I’m all over that 70/20/10 sh*t. Bring it on.

The thaw begins

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The Big Thaw

I’ve been holed up in our current rural abode in Devon for about a week unable to get anywhere other than the local shop (2 miles away by foot, up icy hill and down freezing dale) – on account of the SNOW.  The BBC has handily named the cause of my predicament The Big Freeze. Well today the Big Freeze started turning into the Big Thaw. So I got out my Big Camera and recorded some Big Droplets. This is where my handheld, consumer-level movie camera (The Sanyo Xacti HD1010) comes into its own – because it can shoot at 300fps. Lovely stuff.