Coincidences No.s 455, 456, 457, 458 & 459

dorothea-lange-migrant-mother-1936 photograph great depression dust bowl

Dorothea Lange’s iconic ‘Migrant Mother’ (1936)

No. 455 Oakland

I am in the Barbican Art Gallery looking at an exhibition of photographer Dorothea Lange and notice that many of the prints are from the Oakland Museum of California. This reminds me of my friend Richard who lives in Oakland. I send him an email there and then asking if he has seen the exhibition which has or will also be shown in that museum.

I get an email back a few minutes later saying that it is good that I emailed as he happens to be home in London for a funeral. (As a result, we get to meet up a bit later at the Clissold Arms for a drink.)

(I have a documentary shooting at the moment in Oakland – Back to Black.)

sick puppy carl hiaasen book cover design

No.456 Black dogs

I am reading Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen. The puppy in question is a black Labrador.

I keep seeing black Labradors everywhere. I saw one on Ness Island yesterday. I saw one in Coldfall Wood a couple of days ago. Since then I saw one at the bow of a small boat in Ullapool. One at Seafood Shack, the award-winning street food outfit in the same town. And someone shared a video on Facebook showing a black lab falling into a river rapid while going after a stick and a golden lab subsequently saving it by grabbing the stick and pulling it out of the fast-running water.

The island that is about to be spoiled through property development in Sick Puppy is being renamed Shearwater Island. The boat that I take to explore the waters around Ullapool is called the Shearwater.

On the way to Ullapool I hear about a shooting at a newspaper office in Maryland, USA, the Capital Gazette. One of the victims is Rob Hiaasen. An unusual surname – it turns out he is related to author Carl, his brother.

The night before I meet a man named Olaf at a dinner given by Scottish Enterprise at Xpo North in Inverness. It is the second time that fairly unusual first name came up in the day. Earlier I meet a Norwegian actress and film-maker who mentions that one of the times you can see there are plenty of Norwegians in London is on Norway Day when they gather at the Norwegian Church in London, St Olav’s (church and seamen’s mission).

the 39 steps john buchan book cover design pan

My first copy (from my dad)

No. 457 Portland Place

I buy a copy of The 39 Steps in Leakey’s bookshop in Inverness. I start reading it by the Moray Firth and on the first couple of pages there is a reference to Portland Place where Richard Hannay rents a flat.

I am walking through Inverness when I find myself in Portland Place (1828). (It contains the most northerly mosque in the UK.)

Naked & Invisible Nude in Newington Channel 4 short form video still

‘Naked & Invisible: Nude in Newington’ (Channel 4)

No. 458 Newington Green

I am sitting next to the chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise at dinner. She tells me that her daughter has moved to London – to Newington Green.

I am talking to the chair of the panel I have just done at Xpo North. He tells me his office is in North London. Camden Town? I ask. No, Newington Green.

In my talk for an earlier panel for Skills Development Scotland I refer to a film I commissioned at Channel 4 and there is a still from it in my presentation. It is a scene shot in a greengrocer’s on Newington Green and the title of the episode is Nude in Newington.

Xpo North inverness creative industries scotland

No. 459 Independent filmmakers

Google Alerts points me to an article in a magazine called Filmmaker. I check it out and it is run by an organisation called IFP. This stands for independent filmmakers.

I meet one of the fellow panellists for the session I am doing at Xpo North in Inverness about 21st-century storytelling. Nick is from Brooklyn. His games company is part of IFP (which I’ve never heard of before that article shows up).

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Simple Pleasures from Inverness

zoe graham glasgow singer

Zoe Graham

Two rabbits by the botanic gardens. Sunset from Inverness Castle (reading Forever and a Day). Watching the City of Inverness Pipe Band practising – the stirring sound of the bagpipes. Walking along the River Ness to the Ness Islands – siesta on the bank near where the anglers hang out. Two herons. The calling of seagulls. Watching the coloured lights on the bridge with Josh R. Highland gin & tonic. Leakie’s bookshop (in an old church) – finding a 1950s hardback copy of The 39 Steps. Watching bees in the botanic garden. Eating local mussels with lemongrass and chilli. The sound of the fast-flowing river. A snooze to Kind of Blue. A cheese platter. Watching the last ep of 13 Reasons Why. Doing a good job of a careers talk at Xpo North (with a ceramicist and a writer). Catching a bit of Zoe Graham playing her solo looped music. Doing a great panel on 21st Century Storytelling with Michael, Nick, other Nick and Paul. Paul’s classic Scottish lunch – a chocolate eclair and a can of Coke. Michael’s speaking style. Schadenfreude of Germany getting knocked out the World Cup. A pint of lime and sparkling Highland water after a long riverside walk.

Inverness

In Your Face hits 1 Million mark

in your face documentary real stories 1 million youtube views

In Your Face (a film I conceived and commissioned for Real Stories) hit 1 million views on YouTube this weekend, a month after going live. It received 2 million views on its opening weekend on Facebook and a cut-down received a whopping 10 million Facebook views in that same period but the million on the more deliberate viewing platform that is YouTube is nonetheless a significant landmark in the 21-minute film’s life.

In Your Face Real Stories Original documentary confronting tattoo prejudice

In Your Face: confronting tattoo prejudice

Are facial tattoos the final frontier?

To what extent do face and neck tattoos shape your opinion of someone? Three heavily tattooed people have their facial tattoos covered up by an expert make-up artist as part of a social experiment to compare how they are treated with and without ink, and to explore whether tattoos on the face are the final frontier of self-decoration. In this age of mainstream tattoo acceptance, what’s the social price you pay for inking your face? And what motivates people to do it?

Skat Dagger is named after the dagger tattoo that used to pierce his face from above the left eye to the cheek. He first inked his face at the age of 21. He now has “Winter” written on one cheek and the image of a rose on the other. He lost a daughter at 14 months – her name was Winter Rose. The stories of Skat, Becky and Jason (the three people featured in the film) give insights into why individuals step over the border into having tattoos on their face.

As their tattoos are carefully removed by world double body-painting champion Carolyn Roper using specialist make-up and they look into the mirror for the first time at their ‘clean’ faces, we get to see their emotional reactions. We also see them undertaking various everyday activities first with their tattoos, then with their tattoos ‘removed’. From asking for change of a five pound note for a parking meter to going for a low-skilled job, we get to see the contrast between how they are treated ‘before’ and ‘after’.

As a climax, they enter Harrods, the famous up-market department store, which has a no tattoo policy not only for staff but even for customers! They go in with make-up covering their tats, wash it off in the washrooms, then see what happens when they engage with staff from the cosmetics counter to the watch department.

‘In Your Face’ was produced by Showem Entertainment for Little Dot Studios. You can watch it here:

 

Coincidences No. 347, 348 & 349

No. 347 Steyning, Sussex

I am reading a book about the Preraphaelites (William Gaunt’s The Pre-Raphaelite Tragedy) – it mentions how one of Rossetti’s models claimed to be from Steyning but referred to it being in Surrey (when in fact it is in Sussex), casting doubt on her veracity. (Time seems to have proved she was telling the truth as she now has a blue plaque in the small rural Sussex town).

The next day I am at my book group when one of my friends mentions he’s just had a great weekend away in a house located in a place called Steyning.

dante gabriel Rossetti-Fanny-Cornforth model painter preraphaelite

Fanny Cornforth by DG Rossetti

No.348 FML

I am running a workshop on short form film-making in Helsinki and one of the participants suggests #FML as the title for their film. I can’t recall what it stands for (despite being an occasional collector of TLAs (Three-Letter Acronyms) and having FML in my lists).

That night I am watching 13 Reasons Why in my hotel room and the key characters use the term – repeatedly. It means “Fuck My Life”.

13 reasons why protagonists

No.349 Brittle Bone

I am standing in the bathroom writing an email about a wrong master for my Real Stories commission Brittle Bone Rapper being used in a showreel.

As I click send the words “brittle bone” come up on the Radio 4 programme that is playing on the radio.

 

For the record

A relative in Ireland recently sent me one of those chain postings in Facebook – I don’t go for passing those on but since I did the thinking – about what my favourite records are – I’ll plop them in here for posterity.

Talking Heads Remain in the Light record album cover design music

marvin gaye whats going on record album cover design music

kind of blue miles davis record album cover design music

My funeral record (last track)

solid air john martyn record album cover design music

blood on the tracks bob dylan record album cover design music

the clash london calling record album cover design music

garveys ghost burning spear record album cover design music

van morrison a night in san francisco record album cover design music

songs for swingin lovers frank sinatra record album cover design music

john coltrane a love supreme record album cover design music

My other funeral record (first track)

David-Bowie-Station-To-Station record album cover design music

 

Vanished – press coverage

Some excellent press coverage in both the tabloids and qualities helped ‘Vanished’, the documentary I recently made with Martin Bright and Ryan Ralph for Real Stories, bring in a very respectable quarter of a million views on YouTube in its opening fortnight.

daily mirror vanished adam gee

The whole point of the coverage

daily mirror 10th May 2018 Could dark family secret hold the key? adam gee

Daily Mirror 10th May 2018 Could dark family secret hold the key?

The double-page spread from the newspaper appeared in the 3rd slot on the mighty Daily Mail website just below Trump welcoming home prisoners from North Korea and Barbara Windsor getting Altzheimer’s.

Daily Mail Vanished

The story was then picked up by The Sun…

sun vanished

…and The  Mirror

mirror vanished

As well as being covered in The Observer/The Guardian

Ruth Wilson, the schoolgirl who caught a cab to oblivion The Observer martin bright 2018-04-29

…and The Belfast Telegraph (home town of one of the two protagonists, ex-counter-terrorism cop, Liam McAuley).

ex-met officer from ni and his search for missing teen belfast telegraphy 8th may 2018

The Belfast Telegraph 8th May 2018

The coverage has helped progress the case bringing forward new witnesses and information which is being shared with Surrey Police, who brought on a new officer to take charge of the 23-year-old missing person investigation in March when the ‘Vanished’ team were firing a lot of questions their way. Martin Bright and I went in for an initial meeting with the investigating officers and their boss on Monday after struggling to get input from the police throughout the filming. They did show up at the screening and Q&A we ran for the community at Dorking Halls Cinema on the eve of the film going live but chose to remain incognito.

In Your Face – Week 1

A cool 9 million views for this cut-down from the documentary ‘In Your Face’ in its first week, with high engagement – 5,500 comments; 65,000 shares; 52,000 reactions. Part of this success we have concluded is down to the likeability and charm of the protagonist, Jason – (it has outperformed other similar videos and the casting seems to provide the explanation).

In Your Face real stories facebook 2018-05-18

The full film of ‘In Your Face’ is here. The full film on Facebook/Facebook Watch has netted 1.8M views this week which is also a very decent performance and underlined that this is very much a Facebook rather than a YouTube subject, benefitting from viewers engaged through sharing and commenting and happy to pick the videos up in their stream rather than deliberately seeking it out in some way.

in your face real stories facebook 2018-05-18

I have now made 40 documentaries on tattoos including these series for Channel 4:

tattoo twists channel 4 all4

Tattoo Twists – my first tattoo series, inspired Channel 4’s Tattoo Fixers

my secret tattoo channel 4 all4

My Secret Tattoo – this man works with the Minister of Defence (with this hidden under his shirt & tie)

tattoo fails channel 4 all4

A random still from Tattoo Fails

Lead Story at the scene of the mystery

This morning journalist Martin Bright and I were interviewed on the BBC Radio Surrey breakfast show about our documentary ‘Vanished’. The documentary was the lead story on the station’s news this morning, pipping MI5 and Putin to the top spot. It has now accumulated 0.25M views on the Real Stories YouTube channel in its opening days.

[11 minutes listen]

Vanished

VANISHED the surrey schoolgirl documentary real stories

My sixth commission for Real Stores is ‘Vanished’. You can see it here. With a bit of luck it will cross the 200,000 views on YouTube tomorrow.

Vanished: The Surrey Schoolgirl

When should a missing person case become a criminal investigation?

 “Every journalist has that story that just sticks with you” – the words of journalist Martin Bright who covered the unexplained disappearance of Surrey schoolgirl, Ruth Wilson, for ‘The Observer’. Now, 23 years on, the mystery has been reignited by an ex-counter-terrorist cop who felt that something just didn’t quite add up…

On Monday 27th November 1995, 16-year-old Ruth Wilson left for school as usual. She said goodbye to her parents in the chocolate-box Surrey village of Betchworth – but she never made it to school that day. Instead she went in to Dorking and then late in the afternoon, with the winter daylight fading, she took a taxi to the local beauty spot of Box Hill. And then she vanished off the face of the earth…

In the two decades after Ruth’s disappearance not a word had been heard from her. Despite several appeals for information over the years, what happened to her remained a mystery. It was a mystery that bothered Liam, the retired police officer living locally, to such a degree that he contacted Martin Bright out of the blue after all those years and shared the conclusions of the investigations he had undertaken off his own bat as a private citizen and concerned resident.

The story of Ruth’s disappearance would not let go of the journalist or the policeman. As they joined forces and investigated, new facts and new witnesses appeared, throwing new light on an old but not forgotten case…

‘Vanished: The Surrey Schoolgirl’ was directed by Ryan Ralph of Below The Radar in Belfast and produced by journalist Martin Bright.

An intriguing Facebook group has grown around it which has yielded yet more witnesses and clues.

Martin Bright & I have been called in to meet the Police on Monday.

He do the Police in different voices

Coincidences No.s 344, 345 & 346

No. 344 (24.4.18)

Burke and Wills explorers Australia

Two bearded men

I am at a meeting at ITV about a project related to Burke & Wills, the Irishman and Englishman who were the first non-natives to cross the heartland of Australia in one of those mad Victorian expeditions.

I get home and in my Facebook feed is a post by an Irish colleague in digital media announcing he is moving to Brighton and does anyone know a good moving company. The one that jumps out at me among the replies is Burke & Wills.

No. 345 (7 & 8.5.18)

Ezra-Pound-poet writer

One slightly bearded man

I am reading Ezra Pound’s Cantos in the garden and look up his Wikipedia entry for some background. At one point it says: “he seemed in an “abject despair, accidie, meaninglessness, abulia, waste”. I haven’t seen the word “accidie” since Mr Fitch taught it to us in Lower Sixth English in relation to something to do with courtly love over three decades ago.

The word comes up again the next day. I am reading John Buchan’s final Edward Leithen novel ‘Sick Heart River’, a very different text and context. (Although both writers had a shared interest in hating Jews.)

No. 346 (5-9.5.18)

Harriet Shaw Weaver in 1907

One clean shaven woman – Harriet Shaw Weaver in 1907

Quakers keep coming up all week. On Saturday I’m walking from Tavistock Square to Euston and when I cut through the gardens of the Quakers HQ opposite the station (Friends House) it is swarming with delegates to some major conference, one where they review their rules (as I hear the next morning on the radio). This is the second time I’ve found myself in this cut-through garden in the last few days – a couple of  days previously it was with my friend Safiya, talking YouTube videos and channels – not too spiritual.

I am reading about Ezra Pound in Wikipedia [see above] – his father was a Quaker; he went to Quaker schools.

I am reading Finn Fordham’s book ‘Lots of Fun at Finnegan’s Wake‘ in the Humanities Reading Room of the British Library – it is the first book I have called up since the Reading Rooms moved here years ago from the British Museum, I got a new Readers Ticket on Saturday. (The last book I called up was a Dr Seuss one called ‘The Big Leap’ as I wanted to use it as the basis of a script – that was back in The British Museum circular reading room where Pound worked daily). In it I learn Joyce’s patron, Harriet Shaw Weaver, was a Quaker.

I’m pretty sure there were a couple of other path-crossings with Quakers this week – one to do with a Quaker business.

***

While on the subject of Harriet Shaw, I noticed whilst reading Finn’s book today (Finn leads the Finnegan’s Wake Research Seminar I go to every month at the University of London/Senate House) how appropriate Joyce’s patron was called Weaver as weaving the text into an organic whole seems to have been the goal/result of his compositional method in The Wake, adding layer upon layer and gradually inserting references to other parts of the text to bind it all together.

There seem to be lots of words that connect writing and material/cloth:

weaving – text – texture – textile – Stoff (Ger. material) – stuff – thread – skein

text

late Middle English: from Old Northern French texte, from Latin textus ‘tissue, literary style’ (in medieval Latin, ‘Gospel’), from text– ‘woven’, from the verb texere “to weave, to join, fit together, braid, interweave, construct, fabricate, build” .

 

 

 

 

 

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