Another man, another dawg

A few years ago, while studying for my undergrad at Cardiff University, I was lucky enough to go to the University of California (Berkeley) for a year on an exchange scheme. While there I met a lot of pretty amazing people who went on to do pretty amazing things. Two of those people were Jack Roberts (Brit) and Dan Stacey (Aussie). On returning to the UK, Jack worked for the Telegraph for a couple of years, while Dan was in Aus working as a journalist. The pair then formed a company, publishing an amazing non-fiction storytelling magazine called Bad Idea. Although they stopped putting out the magazine, the company is going strong, and they’ve moved into running events in London (if you’re based there I strongly suggest you check them out – they have some wicked speakers and pretty much every event sells out – information available on the excellent Bad Idea website).

Today, Jack was on his way through Cardiff, so he stopped by and we went to Cardiff Arts Institute for a chat. I haven’t seen him since we left Berkeley in 2003 so it’s been a long time – but we had a good chat about funding for creative projects, something he knows a lot about. We discussed this project a bit, and he left me thinking perhaps I should be seeking funding. With it, I could afford to get proper tech folk on board and be able to pay them – and there’s nothing I hate more these days than asking skilled people to give away their time for free. Everyone’s gots to get PAID, especially people who work lower down the scale in the media or creative industries, because they inevitably have already given away a load of their time for free to get where they are.

With funding, I could get a proper crew on board, and shoot the thing they way I want it to be shot – rather than if it was commissioned by the beeb or ITV (from what I hear, it’s pretty hard to make that happen anyway).

I left our meeting with my brain brimming with ideas and new avenues to explore. Money makes the world go around, after all…

A man about a dog

It was a lovely sunny day today as I met my good friend Greg in the Pen and Wig for the first pre-production meeting about the project. I had a few notes typed up – some potential bands for interview, but mostly I wanted to hear his vast expertise on the idea. After chatting for a bit he came up with some good suggestions – like broadening the remit of the documentary beyond just bands to look to cover everyone involved in the alternative music scene in Cardiff. Producers, promoters, artists, bands, management companies, labels, music video makers, DJs. My list of potential interviewees just exploded off the page.

We also talked about more practical things like the magic word: funding. My initial thoughts were to do this thing with nothing more than favours from close friends and a Flip video camera, proper renegade style, but Greg pointed out that a much better job could be done with some professional kit and people who actually know what they’re doing. Plus, if there’s money out there (which there must be, somewhere), why not at least try for it? More discussion though led us through some other tricky subjects: with funding, I’d be obligated to temper or flavour the content or the way it was shot to please whoever had paid up. I have a strong idea about how I want the end product to be, which is a cross between hardline factual reality and surreal dream – more on this in a future post about Inspiration for this project – and people who were funding may not agree on such a random format. Without doing it the way I want, is there any point?

Also, funding for creative projects has seemed to be a bit of an administrative ballache when I’ve looked into it in the past (admittedly I’ve never looked very seriously – perhaps the administrative ballache is to seperate those who really need to cash from those who can’t really be arsed…).

I want to get out and make the thing more than I want to get paid to do it (right now, anyway – let’s see what I say on the subject after the project is wrapped up!). So, for now, while I’ve the energy, the time (I’ve no more freelance work commissioned for the summer) and the inclination, I might as well get on with making it. Right? Right.

On a side note, the beer garden in the Pen and Wig is one of the loveliest places in Cardiff to enjoy an afternoon pint when the sun is out. Very pleasant indeed.

BBC News Today – Photos

Will you look at that. A load of chain pubs, all in a row – and a load of pissed up men and women. Yes it’s Cardiff – but it could be Plymouth, Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle. Check the BBC website for these photos, which weren’t actually taken on the night Humphreys was in Cardiff, but illustrate the point his story is making. So they’re included anyway. Awesome journalism, BBC. They also aren’t taken by any BBC journalist, but a local photographer. I thought the beeb was meant to be a little more thorough…. anyway, rant over. Here’s the link to the pics.

It began with a chair…

Well, that’s a bit of a lie, even if it is a great line. It began with a bed, in which I lay for a week, stricken with a particularly gross strain of tonsillitus. It began with a radio broadcast by a presenter I used to have some respect for. It began with a hundred photographs of drunken revellers – shoes off, asses out, puking in the streets.

It began with a lot of things. So here’s some background. I’ve lived in Cardiff for ten years now, pretty much. It’s a wonderful city with a great cultural scene, particularly for music, with a great community of bands, artists, DJs, promoters, producers, and general party heads that make it what it is. Cardiff has received a lot of flack over the past couple of years – become emblematic for booze Britain, and frankly, I’m sick of people wailing on my home city.

So what can you do. You can write strongly worded letters to Radio Four or leave comments under every story that appears on a newspaper website. Or you can do something that shows people that it’s not all like that here.

Yes, the main drag of town is fairly Armageddon-esque on the weekends, but show me a city or town in the UK that’s not like that. I wouldn’t visit the chain bar drag in Nottingham or Birmingham or Southampton or Sheffield city centres on a weekend. That’s not to do down those cities – each has a great underground music and entertainment scene, just like Cardiff has. It’s just that – for some reason – Cardiff seems to get all the negative press, and very little positive.

So, how am I going to show people the positive?

I’m going to make a film.

It’s got no title as yet – I’m hoping inspiration will strike during some of the many interviews I’m planning over the next couple of months. It’s going to be a documentary film. That’s all I know at the moment.

Being from a journalistic background, I have no experience in film beyond what I learned at university and the little filming I do at work. This project can go one of two ways – I can do it all renegade style, with nothing more than some friends and a Flip video camera – or I can go all out, look for some funding, and do a bang up job.

Luckily, Cardiff is small enough that I have friends who can help and advise me. And that’s the next stage.

I’ll be using this blog to chart the progress of the film as it takes shape: the decisions that are made, the help I receive, how the interviews and filming is going. I’ll also be using it as a scrapbook, showcasing some of the stuff that’s inspired me to make it- and inspiring me to shoot it as I go on.

First stop – chat to a man about a dog. My friend Greg Mothersdale does a lot of film related stuff. I’ve arranged to meet him at the Pen and Wig for a chat. More soon.