Monday, 31 December 2007

The East India Dock Road as a filming location

The East India Dock Road was built at the beginning of the 19th century in order to connect The City with the newly built docks in East London, in particular the East India Dock at what is today known as Leamouth.

I have utilised the East India Dock Road on numerous occasions in order to shoot films. Firstly, my low budget feature An East End Tale and later on, the comedy series Caution Wet Paint.

For me, the road represents an eclectic mix of building styles and locations that make it rich for shooting my films. And innnevitably, I will come back to the East India Dock Road for more inspiration.

So I present to you the East India Dock Road in all its glory.





Sunday, 30 December 2007

The Metropolitan Police are doing their thing...

Working together for a safer London.

What else can I say? Just make sure you're not holding a shit up your bowels if you are stopped by a pig.

I'd love to see Gordon Brown stung by a taser.

WIth thanks to blah for picking this one up.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Gullible

While shopping in the supermarket the other day, I needed some carrots in order to bolster my eyesight as well as to cook steaming hot bowls of Plov that I was preparing for some friends. Now, the carrot is a simple choice for a vegetable. Not too tricky to choose, a sturdy vegetable with a relatively long shelf life. A vegetable that is easy to deal with. No complicated preparation techniques just peel and serve.

So it did surprise me to see a new type of carrot on the shelf. Okay, so they have the usual suspects. Organic carrots, British Carrots, Baby Carrots and of course, Carrots. The new type was something different and unexpected – Unwashed Carrots. Coming in a brown paper bag, a nice, rustic touch, I was genuinely surprised to see them. As a fully fledged urbanite, it does take a while to realise that not every fruit and vegetable grows on trees. Some come from the ground and as was shown by the bag of unwashed carrot sticks, they come coasted with a thick layer of mud.



I picked the bag out, to see if there was anything else about the carrots that I should know. Well, that was it, they were the same as the regular carrots, they had just not been pre-washed. There was nothing organic, free ranged or non-GM about the carrots. All that was 'extra' was the dirt'.



I then took a look at the price. Double what the 'normal' carrots would cost. Quickly I put the bag down and hurried away with my selection of clean vegetables. Did the supermarket really think I was that stupid to pay them more for not washing the carrots I was about to purchase?



A week later I had returned, but these carrots were still on sale. Obviously there is a market for gullibility…

Thursday, 27 December 2007

I eat salt fish

To those who are uninitiated in the delights of salt fish, may I relate to you all that it is possibly my favourite dish on the planet. There is nothing so succulent as the taste of these delicacies. They can be made from any species of fish and generally are found salted in the same way across virtually all parts of the globe.

But that is where the similarities end. For each piece of salt fish brings with it a tingle to the taste buds that the last piece cannot match. The reactions to each touch of the tongue is both sensuous as well as fulfilling to all involved. Maybe it is because I am a man of the tropics or maybe it is the way I just am on the inside, but to me, breakfast, lunch, dinner, midnight snack or roadside halt, nothing is as wonderful to me as a piece of tasty salt fish.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Caution Wet Paint - Past, Present and Future?

For me, Caution Wet Paint has been the surprise hit of 2007. Out of all my creations, it was the one that I did not know what was going to happen to it. Any regular follower of this blog however would know that it has been my strongest performer to date in all the film festivals.

The idea for Caution Wet Paint is around two years old. Living in Poplar, it is easy to be inspired by my surroundings. The sights and sounds in this little less known neighbourhood gave me a few ideas. Also, and from my output so far, it is probably hard to believe, but my scripts to tend towards the filthy in terms of violence and swearing. So I wanted to make something without any sex, drugs, bad language or violence of any kind. A kind of challenge to my mind, but it has also happened to be a rather useful marketing tool. It's a fluke, but 'cleaning up' the scripts have allowed more people to actually watch the series.

When I first put pen to paper, there were two people in particular that I had in mind as the actors. Ari Gill and Kuldip Nandola. Now normally, I don't write anything for actors. As a director I have a natural disdain for those that are more beautiful than myself. Also, most actors have a bigger ego than me - a complete no-no. (There is only one El Director) However, I first met Ari and Kuldip on the set of my feature, An East End Tale and while it was a fluke that they were cast in the same scene, there was something about their on screen chemistry that captivated me. And from that moment on, I realised that together, they would make a great comic duo.

So enthused with a pair of top actors and of course, a huge amount of funky beats, I set off making the madness of the paint.

So how do I see 'Jay' and 'Kay' develop? Well, Caution Wet Paint was actually a feature film that I had written and so the shorts were designed to act as prequels to the script. However, since making the shorts, the script has been rewritten and so has bounced of that short series. Yes, I do want to get funding for the feature length.

And of course, what about Jay and Kay in the meantime? Well, it looks like I can't resist the pull of two of my favourite creations. My two little babies are like a couple of naughty kids running around inside of my head. They are coming back, soon...

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Music and Movies 4

Two Glasses.
is a very different film from all the others I have made. Firstly it contains no dialogue. Anyone who knows me well, knows how much I can talk. Secondly, the film explores the topic of infidelity. To explore such a subject without the aid of dialogue was a huge challenge.

And Two Glasses is one of the main reasons why I wanted to share this series of shorts with you all. I hope to convey what I believe is the importance of a great composer and a powerful soundtrack in order to make great movies. You can treat your actors like dirt, shout at your crew, but always love your composer. It will be that person that carries your film.

Nick and myself have actually had quite a long professional relationship. Our first project was in 2005 and in the past two and a half years we have worked on a feature film as well as countless shorts together. In terms of the film business, 36 months is a virtual lifetime. For someone with as much volatility as myself (El Director is EVIL), it is a miracle that we have worked together for so long.

One of the reasons I enjoy working with Nick is his sense of originality. During this series, you have hopefully gathered that one of the aspects of Nick’s music is that he is willing to explore numerous influences to come out with compositions that fit the mood of my films perfectly. Also, his background as a jazz musician has given him the ability to improvise. Useful if you give him a week to come up with music. Not that I ever do that...much.

Another reason why I also have a great deal of respect for Nick is that he, like myself is a writer. I use words, he uses notes, but I am able to understand the passion he has for his creations. Likewise, Nick understands the importance in which I hold my own scripts. I think that it is this background in both of us that has developed a successful partnership in making movies and music come together.

So I give you El Maestro and his rendition of Two Glasses.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Web 2.0 a year on.

A year ago, I did not have an internet presence. I used it a lot, but web 2.0 was way above my head. As far as I was concerned, a website was the only way to get onto the www and that was beyond my technical capabilities. Also, to be honest, I thought the whole thing would be a little dull.

Then, in the interests of self promotion, I decided to take my internet responsibilities a little more seriously. So last Xmas, I started blogging. Pretty soon it turned into a plethora of 'social networking' and then video uploading. And so, for the last year, the internet has been quite an important porthole for my work.

In fact, the last year has been interesting all around, but it was the first time that I considered the internet as a possible distribution point. Has it paid? Well, it has paid a pittance for my videos but it has paid pound for my writing, something I never expected. So in 2007, to add to the many successes of the year, I have achieved a goal that I set myself at the beginning of the year - to actually earn money from my creativity. It may not be much, but it is tangible and taxable.

So what will happen in 2008? A good question. All that I know is that I the internet, ignored for so long by myself will be a part of it. But what of my other aims. Well, I'll tell you more next Xmas.

A little something for Christmas to all my readers on the www.



I don't know who you all are, but nonetheless, thanks for listening to my rants, coming to the film festivals and clicking on my video links.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Self?

Starting a new business is never easy. I admire people who have the guts to go out there and try something new. Sometimes they succeed, often they fail, but it is the jouney that makes them better persons.

Soo after the best part of four months of self employment, what do I have to say about the matter. Well, it has been a mixed bag. Some of it has been great and some of it has been plain awful. Will I continue on after Xmas...well, I am not too sure. But out of all the crapy jobs I have done so far, working foor myself has been the biggest plus to the life so far in employment terms. I still do not love it as much as filming, but as filming does not yet pay...

2008 will prove to be an interesting year ahead.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

The most wonderful time of the year?

The great annual shutdown has begun. Across the country, millions have rushed away to and fro in order to celebrate what is often termed the most wonderful time in the world.

There are many aspects to Christmas that I love, mainly the food. I have not had a present in years and honestly, if I wanted something, I would go out and buy it. But it is animalistic when you see people in the shopping centres or in the supermarkets. Car Parks are stress zones, tills the point of no return. A combination of debt and time makes everyone ultra stressed in this modern day life.

But it is all self inflicted. Remember that no one was forced to do all this shopping, gift buying. It is self inflicted. It is probably what makes Xmas such a stressful time. And remember, it is only a one day dance.

I don't think there is any other event in humanity's calender that builds itself up for such a one day burst. Sure, we have the Hajj and Chinese New Year, but Christmas alsol has to rate as one of the largest mass movements of people on the planet. Simmilarly to the Hajj it is religious in nature but more in common with Chinese New Year people are heading in different directions. Again, a lot of stress. Remember, no one forced that 10 day holiday on you, annd travel on Xmas morning if you're seeing relatives, the roads are so much quieter.

Oh well, Merry Christmas!

Friday, 21 December 2007

Atkins Road

As many readers are well aware, I make a huge amount of films. Just for youtube alone, I have almost fifty videos, while I have also made shorts that have appeared in film festivals and on tv. I have also got under my belt a feature film.

And I am still struggling to get paid. But that does not mean I have stoppped. Far from it, in fact I am busily writing away at scripts left, right and centre. And one of them is Atkins Road, a neo noir set on the streets of South London. With special thanks to Ari.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Crossings of the RIver Thames: A Quarter of the Way

Richmond Lock marks the first quarter of the 33 crossings of the River Thames through London. And this first quarter of the river has been a fascinating exploration of some of the lesser known parts of the capital. It is an area with a surprising amount of history having used the second oldest crossing point in London. In addition, another crossing has revealed itself to be the oldest structure still spanning the river, built over two hundred years ago and still going strong. The other two bridges in this part of London are much more recent in their origins and construction but symbolise what could have been if we had actually listened to the advice of our political planners.

Interestingly, this part of the river is not dominated by bridges. Of all the crossings that can be accomplished by foot, two are by ferries at Ham and Hampton. As Londoners, we have forgotten how once upon a time, the river was filled by ferryman taking us from one bank to the other, but in the upper reaches of London's river, it still serves as a proportionally significant means of transport. Well, only in the summer. Also, the two footbridges in this part of the river, both over looking the large weirs and locks that control the movement of water in the Thames. Significantly in this first quarter of the river we have seen the change from freshwater to saline flow and the change in who controls the river.

The first quarter of the River Thames in London has been surprisingly rural and it is easy to see why London is famous for its parks. It is also easier to see why South West London seems to have some of the highest house prices in the country. The next stretch of the journey will take us through a much more urban environment and we will see how London dramatically changes. By the halfway point, there will be no denial about London's stature as one large urban mass. But it has been a fascinating journey so far and it has got me to look at parts of London in a completely different eye. There are twenty five more crossings to go, and so at the rate of one a month, I should finish this little project in 2010. Where will I be then, who knows? But it would be interesting to see how much my life could change in the course of this journey downstream.

Coming up:

Kew Bridge
Chiswick Bridge
Barnes Railway Bridge
Hammersmith Bridge
Putney Bridge
Fulham Railway Bridge
Wandsworth Bridge
Battersea Bridge
Albert Bridge
Chelsea Bridge
Vauxhall Bridge
Lambeth Bridge
Westminster Bridge
Hungerford Bridge
Waterloo Bridge
Blackfriars Bridge
The Millennium Bridge
Southwark Bridge
London Bridge
Tower Bridge
Rotherhithe Tunnel
Rotherhithe-Canary Wharf Ferry (this is an evolving list))
Greenwich Foot Tunnel
Woolwich Ferry
Woolwich Foot Tunnel

(Remember, I only visit the crossings that are open to the public on foot)

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Getting to and from Richmond Lock: Northbank, Bus H37. Southbank, Bus 65 or alternatively it is a short walk from Richmond Town Centre.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Crossings of the River Thames 8 - Richmond Lock Footbridge



And so coming to our eighth crossing over the river and one of the more unique crossings over the Thames in London, Richmond Lock and Footbridge.



Richmond is a small suburb in what I would personally describe as the armpit of London. A very pretty suburb but, let's be honest, it feels like Henley has been attached to the Metropolis. But, I am going to focus on the pretty side today. Along with the massive park just outside the town, the riverside at Richmond is spectacular. Richmond also has the distinction of having more crossings named after it than any other place in London. Richmond Bridge, Richmond Railway Bridge and the footbridge at Richmond Lock.



Built in 1894, Richmond Lock is an unusual structure on the river. Firstly, it is the lowest lock on the Thames. Also, this is the least wheelchair accessible crossing on the river. No ramps or lifts or even a ferryman to hoist on your wheelchair. Just a flight of steps on either side of the riverside. Richmond Lock is also a part time crossing, really only opening for daylight; it seems sensible given the nature of the local inhabitants. RIchmond Lock is also unusual in that it is the only public crossing that is actually owned and maintained by the Port of London Authority.







So why does this particular crossing exist. Well, it is not to hold back the tides, as this structure simply just is not big enough. At high tide weir is overwhelmed and during low tide it is overexposed. But its reason for existence is very much in association with the tidal flow of the river. The locks further upstream not only regulate water flow during a flood but more importantly also control the levels in the river. But once beyond Teddington, the levels of the River Thames are dependent on the tides. Sometimes those tides struggle to penetrate upstream. And sometimes, the low tides can ebb far away from the freshwater supply of Teddington Lock. As a result, Richmond Lock was built to maintain the levels of water between Teddington Lock and itself.



I actually like Richmond Lock. It's a weird little crossing and it really does not connect anywhere in particular, just a park and a few (posh) houses. It is pretty, as are the many things that straddle the Thames and of course, a little offbeat. If you stick around long enough, you might see a small boat trying to use the lock, but I was not that patient. Richmond Lock is also fascinating for just being there. A bit odd, but it serves a purpose, sort of, to the few boats that decide to take advantage of it.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Slaves to Cash and to Booze

This early in the morning, it is hard to make my rants well articulated and full of sense. Ohefpierjgsdfllpskmfse is pretty much what my brain (and guts) are feeling right now.

So what happened to all of us? When did we stop being such lively, outgoing people in our carefree early twenties to being slobbering homebuds in our late twenties. Just five years but the transformation has been significant. Man, any event I was there, in a flash. Partying, seeing a new side to culture and just exploring myself. Now, sorry, I got work tomorrow or, I got to work late tonight. And hey, it's not as if any of us enjoy these jobs that we are doing. And it isn't as if we are not getting paid enough money either - we are always broke.

What do we do when work is finished? Back home, to slob in front of the telly or vegetate in front of the internet.

So why do we work ourselves so hard? As I have previously mentioned, most of us are not being paid that well. Nor are we enjoying what we do. So what is it? Is it the promise of more riches to come. That promotion or that breakthrough. Hmm, well, okay. Is it the thought that what we do will someday pay off. Mmm, someday...or are we just tired? Maybe that's it.

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I am probably the worst sinner of the lot. Usually in a (crappy) job that involves shifts, over the past two years, my social life has plummeted. Add to that the hope of mine of trying to create a living out of film making, and really, social life drops out from beneath me. I do not have one, but it is something that I choose.

That's why this week has been a surprisingly cultural one for me. I have been two film festivals this week as well as a funky jazz gig. Not exactly 'party' but I would like to think it was culturally different and I took advantage of the city's events.

But where was everyone else. Brilliant films and beautiful music playing to near empty houses. The bars outside are filled with more people than the main attraction inside. Hey, alcoholics, where are you?

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It's early, I am not that coherent, but hopefully you can make some sense of it all.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Music and Movies 3a - An East End Tale

It has been a while coming, but I continue the series with a new vlog on how Nick and I match movies and music together.

This episode focuses on the low budget feature, An East End Tale which was finished last year.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Angry rant!

Sometimes you put a whole day of craft and energy into a short. And then you get your computer to render the video. Being three years old plus, this computer is a wee bit old and slow. So your day is crippled by the fact that your video will take the best part of a night sorting itself out. Then it comes to uploading and the whole thing crashes. What does a man have to do in this world to keep sane!!!

The one reason why I hate working on a budget. Amongst all the other obvious facts is the fact that my computer is crap!

Fucking computers.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

The West London Massive

Attending the events and screenings at the London Film Makers' Convention has meant one strange thing for me. Entering the inner sanctum of West London.

Now, I am not a complete stranger to the west of the metropolis. Heathrow is of course my airport of choice and I know places like Southall and Hounslow very well as where else am I to get decent food? But places like Notting Hill, Shepherd's Bush, Willesden and Acton are completely new areas for me (outside Carnival).

And it is a weird part of town. Having grown up in Suburban London and living in the East End, there are occurrences thatt completely throw me. People are actually friendly, especially compared to the rest of London. The street life seems to take great pleasure in chatting to you at random, something that completely unnerves me. But also something that you can get used to. People in the local eateries actually smile at you, you can have a decent chat with them. I am used to stony faces and sullen service. And there is a surprising blend in West London. Rich, poor, artistic and philistine all seem to mingle happily in between the A4 and the Westway.

I am not entirely convinced whether this is the real West London or whether or not I have just been lucky in meeting some very nice people. But as first impressions goes, it looks like I will be revisiting this part of the city very soon...

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Modern Day Blues

The morning is a great period for me to get up. As a natural born insomniac, I can think of nothing better than flipping out of bed way before the sun shines and to just vegetate over a cup of tea.

But the morning is a bad time for me to do my e-mails.

I am bad at e-mails. Very bad. Social networking sites actually work as I feel guilty if I have not answered to a 'friend'. But e-mails, ah, I didn't check my inbox for the last month (often the case - I have multiple accounts).

E-mails and phone calls another bane of my life.

The modern day lifestyle is not for me.

I suppose actually sleeping well could be the answer to all my troubles? Oh well, I'm up now.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Take 2 at Portobello

I have been lucky enough to get two films screened at the the London Film Makers' Convention this year. Alongside the frolicks of Jay and Kay, a more sober piece Two Glasses is also screening tonight (Tue 11th Dec)

6pm, Inn on the Green, 3 Thorpe Close, London W10 (Neaerst Tube Ladbroke Grove)

Monday, 10 December 2007

Flicks, Kids and Refugees

There were some fantastic films that I saw today at the London Film Makers' Convention. Of course, my own offering was fun to watch again, and tahnkfully the audience giggled in all the right places - always a nerve wracking time for the film maker.

It was also good to see films done by younger Londoners. Okay, so they were not the slickest of productions. But the fact that these children actually went out there and made films - wow, this is what I should have been doing when I was a kid. Instead were stuck with dodgy drama classes which left you sick to the back teeth with the whole 'thesp' scene. Instead today, there is the opportunity to make and get your work screened to a wider audiece. Wow.

There was also another very worthy film about the plight of Refused Asylum Seekers in the UK. A powerful documentary by Nick Broomfield, it simply tells the story of hudreds of thousands of people living in the UK whose lives have been left in limbo.

You can also view the video here. It is worth taking out ten minutes of your life for.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

CWP at the movies

We are well into the Film Convention this year and today my little offering is to be played today.

Once again it is at the Inn on the Green, 3 Thorpe Close, London W10.

Nearest tube is Ladbroke Grove.

Map of the venue

See you there and enjoy the festival!

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Mince Pies and other things fuzzy

Christmas. It does not feel Christmassy. Maybe due to the fact that our household has not put up any decorations, yet. Or maybe as I am feeling too cynical about the whole thing.

But one thing that does get me in the Xmas mood are mince pies. No matter how pre-packaged or how home made they come, everyone loves mince pies. Generous relatives who can actually make them, shops that spit them from a factory or even a bakery that is in the festive spirit.

Of course today was the occasion of the first (two) mince pie(s) of the season and my, it tasted wonderful.

Ho, ho, yum!

Friday, 7 December 2007

Driving for fun?

Driving is something that many of us do, but over the last couple of weeks I've probably done over a thousand miles in either crapy cars or vans. So for the next couple of weeks I'm going to get comfy with the Hammersmith and City line and I am taking a few days off from behind the wheel.

Luckily, I have the choice for that.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

NuSound 92.0FM

Yesterday we were interviewed live on Nusound Radio for an hour! Wow, an hour to talk about Jay and Kay in the London Film Makers' Convention! Fantastic and something that we were really proud of.

I have to thank Nusound for giving us a great platform to promote ourselves. For those outside East London, Nusound is a community station based in Newham borough, but their signal penetrates much of East London. They've had a 16 year fight in order to get a licence but finally got their slot this year. Struggling in the media myself, I can empathise with some of the trials that they had to go through.

Anyway, from 10am everyday, they broadcast a community slot which showcases people from around East London in multiple roles be it travellers to exotic destinations, the local police force or even budding film makers. For a real slice of the 'East End', look no further.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

nusound fm

We were on nusound radio today for a whole hour. A fuller report tomorrow...

http://www.nusoundradio.com/

Monday, 3 December 2007

sing-a-long kay

I admit, as a result of the London Film Makers' Convention, I am in a very silly mood today...



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Caution Wet Paint - Sun December 9th, from 6pm.

Two Glasses - Tue December 11th, from 6pm.

Both being screened at the Inn on the Green, London W10 (Ladbroke Grove tube).

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Crossing the Thames

So far, I have taken the reader of this blog on seven varied river crossings within Greater London. As I have mentioned earlier, these only include the ones that you are able to cross by foot and that have at least one part of the crossing within Greater London.

To recap and revise a few of our earlier crossings. As of this morning, it is now possible to reach all the river crossings in London, 24 hours a day, 364 days a year. No bridge, tunnel or ferry in London, is now more than a ten minute walk from a bus, train or tube, now that the 111 is a Nightbus.

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Believe it or not, it has been quite a battle to make this route 24/7. About two years ago, in one of my many McJobs, I was a surveyor aboard the 111. One of the messages written in big black biro was:

'Please make the 111 a Nightbus! I need it for work!!!'

So it does stun you when you hear voices of sick emanating from the mouths of our great and good.

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But enough politics. Alongside the Hampton Ferry and Hampton Court Bridge, I have also been lucky to visit Kingston Bridge, Teddington Lock, The Ham Ferry along with two crossings in Richmond.

And there is another in that little suburb, coming soon...

Saturday, 1 December 2007

wi fi, smy fi

Wireless communications, in my opinion is a bit over rated.

Yep, it’s that time of the year again when the internet does not work. We are meant to live in a modern, hip society where everything glistens on the tip of my mobile. We are at the forefront of the internet revolution. Everything from banking to our own sexual activity is regulated by the ‘www’.

We have now adapted to the idea that I can sit downstairs and your modem could be in your attic and yet there is perfect streaming of the latest webisode of who/whatever is produced from the otherside of the Atlantic.

Remember, we were also the last generation to own a computer without access to the internet. For us it was quite normal to have a PC that ran itself without software updates, just bumbling along on whatever was given with it. Even computer games were buy in the box ad play by yourself rather than networking opportunities.

So it is very annoying, after having got used to the comfort of sitting down when your computer and modem no longer talk to each other. Then all of a sudden, you have to sit next to your phone line, find a wire and plug it into your computer. Suddenly, the future is not so bright...