Category Archives: Independent Film

In Mi Experience has moved

Moved-on

Hey there, thanks for checking out mi blog.

The news is that In Mi Experience has moved to its own website.

Just Click Here or go to www.markatodd.com to continue reading.

Again, thanks for following me…I hope its informative.

Mark Alexander Todd


The 3 Cardinal Sins of Corporate Video pt3

Cardinal-sins-3Of the three Cardinal Sins, the Third Sin is probably the most difficult to explain on paper, as video is a visual medium. But, if you don’t speak the ‘language of film’ you might find you connect with the audience…in the wrong way.

Body language, has been a subtle part of our private and managerial life for many years now. Being able to sneak a peek at the unconscious thoughts of the person in front of you by the way their body acts and reacts, is now fully absorbed into our everyday lives. How many times do you hear comments like, “He said he was fine but he didn’t look fine” or “She said it didn’t upset her, but you could see it in her eyes”?

More recently, Paul Ekman’s work on micro expressions http://www.paulekman.com/ has opened up a whole new dimension in what we’re really thinking. Tiny expressions lasting just 1/10th of a second, can completely give away our real, honest feelings.

Vocally, when in person, we tend to ‘hear’ if a person is being false. On-screen we rely on the talent of the actor or presenter to communicate authenticity and authority.

These are the most challenging aspects to overcome when working with non-professionals on video. Subtle facial movements or vocal hesitations can either bring your audience to tears or have them crying “bulls**t” at the screen.

The Third Sin: Bad Language

OK so we agree ‘bad’ language is both spoken and seen. To complicate matters further, if what you see is contradicted by what you hear (or know to be true), then your brain gets confused. When words and images don’t ‘match’, people’s ability to absorb information and react is compromised while they try and make sense of the conflicting information. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stroop_effect.

Why is this important? Well, if you tell your video audience you’re an expert, but have to read notes from beside of the camera – you’re a fraud! At best the audience begins to make assumptions about the veracity of your claims, at worst they’ll dismiss the video (and product) as fake and most likely switch off – literally.

So for you to portray yourself positively in a video, here are a few thing you might like to consider:

  1. The right ‘Look and Feel’

  • If you’re a progressive company don’t dress your people like Don Johnson in Miami Vice (even thought I loved the 80’s)
  • ‘Sex doesn’t sell’ a video with only men in it, may suggest you don’t cater for women and vice versa
  • Music: If you’re a fun company, use fun music, not a funeral march
  • Visually, if you’re a fast paced company the video should reflect that with the shots you choose
  • Your office is nice, but is that the right place to film?

 

  1. Sincerity & Authority

  • Know your product, so you (or your presenter) can talk about it with passion
  • Scripts are in ‘spoken’ English not ‘written’ English. There is a difference, and if you’re not sure, get a writer to prepare one for you.
  • Rehearse your script (lots) or use a prompter – looking off-camera to read your lines makes you seem insincere, and uninterested. (BTW Everytime you say ‘erm’ an angel loses it’s wings)
  • Make sure your posture says you’re comfortable – if you fidget or bounce on your feet, you look ‘shifty’

 

  1. Techy stuff

  • Keep your camera steady – wobbly iPhone videos are not cool. You don’t want you viewers suffering from ‘Cybersickness
  • Vertical videos are a sin in themselves, video images are wide not tall. (Don’t make me come over there and slap you!)
  • If you don’t know how to do them properly, avoid video effects and green screen. Bad effects just look naff, and that makes you look naff.
  • If the camera is far away from the subject, plug in a mic or record additional sound closer to the person on camera – If I can’t hear you I won’t listen!
  • Throw some light on the subject – If I can’t see you…you get what I’m saying.

These are just a few suggestions that will make your videos look immeasurable better and help you speak in a language that your viewer will understand. The result will be, people absorbing the message of the video, not getting distracted by your wobbly camera work.

As we say in film circles “If people are noticing the camera, they ain’t lookin’ at the actor!”

These articles have been so well received that I’ve now been asked to create a training series, which will be available in January 2016. Contact me direct on marktodd@guvnormedia.com or @theguvnoruk to find out more.

In the meantime, I hope this whistle-stop lesson will help you get more from your videos, both in sales and views.

As always I’m happy to hear from readers, with comments or stories.

Visit our website at: http://www.guvnormedia.com

Written by Mark Alexander Todd


The Three Cardinal Sins of Corporate Video pt2 – Audience

AudienceTell me the odd one out: Theatre….Film….TV

OK, enough fake suspense – TV is the odd one out, and let me explain why.

Simply put, you ‘go to’ the movies or ‘go to’ the theatre. You arrive at a venue, you pay for your seat and you are entertained (hopefully). But you as a viewer have no control over the entertainment experience you receive. You’re a captive audience sailing along on a narrative over which you have no control.

TV is totally different. The TV is the guest in the corner of your room. The programmes and adverts dance to your tune and if you don’t like the dance…the remote control exacts your channel-changing revenge.

Once you realise this it’s easy to see where online video or programming over internet (YouTube, NetFlix, Vimeo, BBC iPlayer, Roku etc) fits in. [It’s like TV not the cinema]. You’ll probably already see the significance, but indulge me.

As a filmmaker (making a film for the cinema) I can take my time telling you my story. It’s not uncommon for the opening sequences of feature films to be minutes long with little or no dialogue to speak of. TV is much more immediate, more fast paced – and yet it’s a slow cousin to the Internet and online video.

The Second Sin – YouTube will Love Me.

YouTube-Is-Testing-a-New-Video-Player-478321-2I recently attended a meeting with a large company in the City (London), their marketing person was an ex-film school student. As I’d worked in Hollywood for a number of years, she was very keen to get my opinion on the companies latest 4 minute video. But we’ll come back to this in a moment.

It’s estimated that you have between 3 and 8 seconds to engage a viewer on the web. After that…they’re looking for the next item on the playlist. This has a marked effect on the way you create your online videos, the style you adopt and the way you showcase your wares. If you hack together a video then throw it towards YouTube, hoping for it to ‘go viral’ (AKA ‘post and pray’) then chances are, you’ll be diasppointed.

So, unsurprisingly, the aforementioned 4 minute YouTube video, with a 30 second opening sequence featuring empty rooms, wasn’t working (who knew, right?). The ex-film student couldn’t see why, because the video was “so beautifully shot”. Perhaps so, but sadly, the audience wouldn’t hang around for 4 minutes to find out the films’ cinematic denouement. The video was akin to bringing a knife to a gun-fight.

A video for an online audience needs to be designed, constructed and shot differently. The video must look good on all types of mobile devices – tiny images will not show up well on a 4 inch iPhone screen. Please remember, Video is not a bill – it is an investment.  Furthermore, once the video is made you also need to consider the videos’ title carefully, as well as the tags and online description. It’s also worth asking if the static video is better presented as a streamed event or Google Hangouts style webinar. All of these factors will decide if people will spare you the time to watch.

Even after all this work, you’ll probably get it wrong first time. We do and I know the big companies do too. So, if you are using a video company that offers a cast iron guarantee of a ‘viral video’ – then my VW really does do 85 miles per gallon.

Online is a brilliant way to distribute your corporate video and promote your company, but online is now a defined marketplace in itself. It has it’s own ever-shifting rules, styles and trends. That’s why you need a strategy for the videos you create and a clear plan of how you will actively use them.

Join me next time for the last of these three articles, where I’ll be looking at the third cardinal sin ‘Bad Language’.

As always I’m happy to hear from readers, with comments or stories.

Contact me direct on marktodd@guvnormedia.com or @theguvnoruk

Visit our websites at: http://www.guvnormedia.com and http://www.guvnormedia.co.uk

Written by Mark Alexander Todd


The Three Cardinal Sins of Corporate Video pt1.

Writer and Director Mark Alexander Todd

Writer and Director Mark Alexander Todd

When looking at video as a commercial project, so many people dance on a thin line between art and common sense.

Frequently, years of accumulated commercial experience go out of the window because of phrases like “People will love this” “It’ll look great” or “I’ve got a great idea what if…[insert your own insanity here]”.

Vanity, enthusiam and naivety all play a part in that inevitable conversation between corporate client and video producer which starts with a phrase like “Well the video hasn’t done as well as we would have expected…” If your company has been a part of a conversation like that, then you have most likely broken one of the three cardinal sins of corporate video. This is the first of three articles that explores the cardinal sins of corporate video.


 

The First Sin – Video is a bill.

Comedy actors Rowan Atkinson (left) and Tony Robinson as Blackadder and Baldrick in Blackadder III.

Comedy actors Rowan Atkinson (left) and Tony Robinson as Blackadder and Baldrick in Blackadder III.

In his role as Edmund Blackadder, Rowan Atkinson said “Sometimes Baldrick I feel like an enormous flemingo…No matter which way I turn there’s always an enormous BILL in front of me”. Comical as it seems, this is the way most companies view creating video, either for their website, online marketing or training.

The key to planning any type of successful video production is ROI or return on investment. When you approach the subject of video, for whatever use, you should have some idea of a) What you will use it for?  b) What you expect the returns to be?  c) How much those returns are worth to you?

When you have these things in mind you’ll have a better idea of what your budget is and what you expect in return for you money, because – Video is not a bill, it’s an investment. 

The video you want to create must have a clear use and a reason for being made. It should also be associated with a particular budget: marketing, sales, training, what have you. Once the video is completed, the original footage (raw footage) becomes a part of your company’s library and the completed video is an asset to your company. If you want to “Throw some video on the front page of our website because Google ranks you higher” your project will ultimately fail. If “John has a new iPhone 6, so we should shoot a video of the accounts team, because it’ll go viral”, you will end up making a bad advert for your company, which could cost you future sales and clients.

To blow my own trumpet for a moment…our company has just completed a video project, which has helped raise a large six figure investment from a modest four figure video budget. Why? The video work was considered an investment to market new pharmaceutical process equipment. A price was put on the value of that marketing item and instantly there was an unambiguous framework for everyone to work around with no surprises. We attracted the help of two “Sirs” and five universities in England and Wales. In the words of Martin Sheen “Winning”.

So, repeat after me…Video is not a bill it’s an investment. So please approach it like one.

A simple, clear mission statement on what you want your video to do for you, will save you time, money and possible embarrasement. You can approach video companies with clear motives. They, in turn, (if they’re a good company) will give you clear costs for what you need and clear direction on how to proceed and leverage your new asset.

Join me again to find out about the second cardinal sin: The Wrong Direction.

As always I’m happy to hear from readers, with comments or stories.

Contact me direct on marktodd@guvnormedia.com or @theguvnoruk

Visit our websites at: http://www.guvnormedia.com and http://www.guvnormedia.co.uk


Bizness Lifestyle

Bizness Lifestyle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business life isn’t all accounts and meetings. Sometimes getting the job done means the right look or the feeling of confidence you get when you know you’re thouroughly prepared. Covering topics from grammar to psychology, Bizness Lifestyle will give you that confidence.

To begin the strand Karyl Iles and Libby Walton, will help you to feel confident and read those all important body language signals – all while looking you best.

See the first interview with our two experts on Thursday 26th June at 10am on Biz To Biz TV.


Bad Reception Movie Reviews

DVDFullWrapCoverTemplateIt’s been over six years now since I took the plunge to go to LA and direct my first movie. Had I known at the time, the heartache and turmoil, the potential law suits and financial impact the film would bring…I still would have done it anyway. Wouldn’t we all?

Dante’s Criterion (later renamed to Bad Reception) was a film born out of mysterious circumstances. Having raised $18,000 to make a film, on the (then) new HD 1080i format, our over confident and under talented writer demanded $46,000 and a WGA contract for his script.

 

Oddly, we decided not to go this route which was, believe it or not, a shock to the ‘writer’. Bet he didn’t see that in his story arc?

So having a budget but no film, I was tasked with the job of writing a horror movie in 6 weeks. Horror is not my genre but 6 weeks later, script 5A was ready to roll.  I won’t delve into the production because it would be a very long posting and if you’ve made a movie you’ve heard it all before. The precis being “Oh woe is me, but we managed it anyway, huraah”

Since then my last wife and I had to endure the joys of delinquent producers, law suits, contract disputes, failed film screenings and numerous distribution let downs in order to get the film out on the market. Shami Media of New York (our distributor) seem like a decent bunch of people and have got the movie out there and getting noticed. Thank you to them. But, after all this time, money and a learning curve that would make Sisyphus weep, what impact has my hollywood movie made? Well, mixed.

sisyphus

In this one I am the next Roger Corman: http://roguecinema.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=3015

In this: The actors are meh, but we kill them well: http://www.triskaidekafiles.com/journal/2013/10/21/what-im-watching-bad-reception.html

But all this said, my sanity was saved by a few words of wisdom from a friend who isn’t in ‘the business’. He said he’d seen  Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull recently, he wasn’t impressed with that (and he spotted a few mistakes). So, what chance did my little movie stand against the critics?

He is right, but as a person I consider myself a creative. And as all us ‘creatives’ know, the worst critic in the room is always sitting in my chair.

So roll on the next film project,  lessons learnt, I guarantee it will turn a few critical heads and raise a smile.

MAT


The Birmingham Feature Film Trail

Birmingham CanalsI received this email from a colleague Keith Bracey. Never short of an opinion, Keith is a writer, broadcaster and avid historian of Birmingham.

Enjoy

 

 

 

I wondered why in your otherwise excellent examination of ‘incomers’ as I call them, rather than immigrants to the diverse City of Birmingham who made a great difference to our city, the Birmingham Jewish ‘Film Triumvirate’ of Sir Michael Balcon, Brummie Grammar Schoolboy and Birmingham and Britain’s first ‘Film Mogul’ who at one point worked for Louis B. Mayer of MGM, Victor Savile, who bankrolled Balcon and the eponymous Oscar Deutsche who founded the ODEON Cinema Chain in Birmingham in the 1930’s were not mentioned in History WM’s special edition on ‘Migration to the West Midlands’ and the effect that migration has had on our region, good (mostly) and bad………………..

All 3 film ‘movers and shakers’ could be found on a ride on the Inner Circle number 8 ‘Corporation Buzz’ in Birmingham’s inner city!

They are the reason Birmingham should set up a ‘Birmingham Film Trail’ with various stopping-off points in the City of Birmingham which as a city was almost single-handedly responsible for the world-wide film industry in the late nineteenth century with Brummie Alexander Parkes invention of the eponymously-named ‘Parkesine’ the first viable plastic in the City’s Jewellery Quarter in 1860, which led directly to the development of celluloid, also in the Jewellery Quarter and thence to the development of ‘film’ and the film industry.

Birmingham needs a ‘Birmingham Film Trail’ to highlight and showcase our cities film and cinematic roots which continue today with Sir Michael Balcon’s grandson, the excellent actor, possibly the best ever film actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, the record-breaking triple-Oscar for Best Actor winner.

The City of Birmingham is also home to the UK’s oldest existing cinema: ‘The Electric Cinema’ run by the excellent Tom Lawes which dates from 1909….and the oldest surviving ODEON Cinema which I think is ‘The Clifton’ in Perry Barr in North Birmingham.

keith braceyl well recall the early 1970’s BBC TV Black and White TV Series ‘Gangsters’ set in Birmingham echoing ‘The Peaky Blinders’ with an understated lead actor Maurice Colbourne ( like a typical Brummie, modest to a fault!) playing the lead role opposite a Pakistani actor with the surname of Malik (I cannot recall his first name) as they prowled the ‘Mean and Moody Streets’ of Birmingham where the Clubs along and just off Broad Street were run by ‘characters’ like Martin Hone’s ‘Opposite Lock Club’ in Gas Street.

Martin Hone, a big car-racing fan, was the prime mover behind the ‘Birmingham Super Prix’ of the 1980’s.

I was a Freshman at Birmingham University in the mid 1970’s and well remember going to the Fewtrell’s ‘Barbarella’s’ in Sheepcote Street opposite the old Liberal Jewish Synagogue which is long gone.

Birmingham then in the 1970’s was a generally racially tolerant city with an undercurrent of racism and violence pervading the city.

I went to George Dixon Grammar School for Boys from 1969 until 1976 and in that time we had two fine young black men as our Head Boy, both incidentally, who went on to play and coach in top class Rugby Union: Rudi Smith, who I think was the first black schoolboy to play for England Under 18’s International Schools Rugby and Collin Osborne, who is the current Harlequins Rugby Skills Coach, whom I interviewed on my Rugby Union Show on Sports Radio Birmingham a couple of weeks ago.

Collin has coached and played rugby at an elite level with Harlequins and coached Zimbabwe in the first Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 1987.

As a former Academy Director of Harlequins Collin played a pivotal role in the development of current England Rugby Union Captain Chris Robshaw and England Internationals Full-Back Mike Brown, scrum-half Danny Care, and centre in his own image, Jordan Turner-Hall, a fine young black England international and centre as Collin Osborne was for Dixonians RFC (my Rugby Club) and Birmingham’s Premier Club Moseley RFC who currently play in the second tier of English Rugby, the IPA Greene King Championship, the tier below the AVIVA Premiership where Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints play.

People do not believe me when I tell them that Moseley Rugby Football Club was a bigger rugby club in Birmingham than either The Tigers or The Saints…….!!!!!!!

Other young black men in soccer like the ‘3 Degrees’ Regis Batson and Cunningham the WBA soccer players were those brave young men who changed the attitudes of Britain toward black people by their groundbreaking feats on the football field and beyond, in Batson’s case as a PFA Union Official

They ignored the throwing of bananas onto the pitch and other such vile acts of racism and played the game as it should be played with passion and heart and soul.

I am so glad that their efforts have been recognized with Sandwell Council and the Baggies erecting a statue in the centre of West Bromwich to these 3 pioneers who braved the ‘Monkey Chants’ from the so-called soccer gangs like the Blues ‘Zulu Warriors’ and West Ham’s ‘Inter-City Firm’ as portrayed in films like ‘This is England’.

Back in 1974 I went to see the Reggae star Jimmy Cliff’s Biopic ‘The Harder they Come’ at the ODEON New Street founded by a chap from a previous generation in Birmingham who had suffered from prejudice in the City, a German Jew called Oscar Deutsche, who founded the ODEON Cinema Chain which is still the largest in the UK based on the acronym ‘Oscar Deutsche Entertains Our Nation’ the Greek for to watch is ‘ODEON’ so you can see Oscar was on the ball.

I saw Cyrille Regis, the late Lawrie Cunningham, who played for Spanish Giants Real Madrid, before his untimely early death in a car crash and a young Brendan Batson came out of ‘The Harder they Come’ who was a Black Hero to these young Black men……that typified and exemplified Birmingham in the 1970’s for me…..three young black men out for a good time, watching a violent Gangster Film in racially tolerant Birmingham…….

Another Brummie Grammar School Boy Sir Michael Balcon who founded Ealing Studios which gave us those great ‘Ealing Comedies’ like ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’, ‘The Lavender Hill Mob’, ‘Passport to Pimlico’ and ‘The Ladykillers’ should be part of ‘The Birmingham Film Trail’ too for me.

Balcon went to my old school George Dixon Grammar School for Boys from 1906 when the school opened until 1913 when he left to join up in 1914 at the outbreak of The Great War.

Balcon tried to establish some of the early ‘Birmingham Pals’ Regiments in The Great War but ironically could not fight and serve himself due to defective eyesight……….

Balcon also named his ‘Everyman Copper Hero’ PC George Dixon of ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ fame after his old school, named after Education Reformer and the founder of Edgbaston High School for Girls, which my daughter attends and where my wife is a Teaching Assistant: George Dixon MP.

George Dixon was the Birmingham MP and Lord Mayor who was much overshadowed by his direct contemporary, former Colonial Secretary and architect of the modern municipal Birmingham Joseph Chamberlain.

‘The Birmingham Film Trail’ should be set up by Film Birmingham, Birmingham City Council‘s film promotion agency in my opinion, to maximize Birmingham’s film and cinematic history.

And as you can see the film and TV legacy of ‘The Peaky Blinders’ is nothing new in portraying Birmingham as a gritty, edgy city!

Keith Bracey
Writer, Broadcaster and Historian
Greensward Enterprise Business Consultancy
Oldbury, Sandwell, United Kingdom

 

Any opinions expressed in this piece are those of the writer and not the publisher or In Mi Experience.


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