Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Hollywood Dream

Hollywood ? Been there, done that, made the film and bought the T-Shirt (and hat).

I couldn't resist getting some duty free goodies before I left. I arrived back in London to a cold and dark night after getting used to some lovely weather in LA. The tube journey back reminded me how little people smile here and there is no social interaction of any sort. The dark clothes people wore were also evidence that the winter months were still around and further zapped the colour out of the faces of Londoners young and old. The stiff upper lip needs to start turning into a hearty smile. Bring on the summer !

Of course, I'm on cloud nine, having had a fantastic weekend and managing to avoid the jet lag this year. I slept well on the flight back which I think is the key to recovery. One bottle of wine for dinner and waking up when everyone else is eating, also helped to get back to normal quickly.

Tonight, I was invited to a meeting in studios in Covent Garden to discuss Making It In Hollywood with a successful distributor. The meeting went very well and they enjoyed my explanation of the story of my first filmmaking journey and they even suggested I continue with filming the next steps to include as extras in the DVD.

Making It In Hollywood. The dream continues........
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Monday, February 25, 2008

American Beauties

I fell asleep exhausted last night after having had several American beauties. Now before your imagination runs riot, it's a cranberry based cocktail. It tastes delicious but it knocked me out and I woke up at 4am with a thumping headache. The punishment for over indulging in the sweetness. It was however opportune that I was awake, as I got a phone call from a London based distributor who I had met through a Facebook friend at the BAFTA's. I followed the meeting up with some images and a synopsis of the story of Making It In Hollywood, after I had found his card in my jacket pocket when I arrived here in Hollywood. They want to meet me on Wednesday on my return and would consider investing, co-producing and distribution. Even if it doesn't go ahead with them, it's a fine and fitting ending to the journey of the last year.

The other American beauties on this blog are Cheryl Hancock and Diane Sawyer, who are well known TV presenters over here.

For a full run down of the Oscar winners, click here.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

The day of the Oscars

It's Oscars day.

The sun is trying to break through and clear the drizzle of rain. It looks like it should clear in time for the show to start later this afternoon. The Fox News team (below) were creating stories as best they could to go out live to America. Everything is discussed from the suppliers of the flowers, to the spotlights being used on the Oscar statues.

The red carpet is getting a beating from all the preparations and I even noticed someone taking their bike through.

Walking down the carpet with my kilt on, certainly gets some attention. There's not much to film pre-show, so I took their attention for a short period of time. I was interviewed for a Hollywood magazine, asked to be photographed with a tango dancer from South America, and filmed by numerous production teams. Americans love to emphasise the international nature of the Oscars. I guess it's to avoid criticism similar to "world series baseball". A kilt is therefore a simple visual for the voiceover to say "Oscars continues to attract an international audience". Happy to do my bit for Scottish tourism ;-)

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Preparation at the Oscars

Now in it's 80th Year, the infamous Academy Awards is in prepartion mode. Presenters are rehearsing and camera crews are setting up.

There are some faces I recognise from last year. This lady, above, from ABC, is back in action and was doing some pre-show footage. What a professional, she even managed to look up to my camera while in the middle of an interview.

Jon Gripton, works at Sky News, and I bumped into him unexpectedly on the red carpet. Jon was the reporter who approached me at the Facebook developers conference last year, as he thought I was brave to ask their U.S. chiefs what they doing about security of personal information. He then introduced me to the live TV team and I ended up on air talking about it. I've since been on Sky News five times, thanks to that initial meeting with Jon, so it was a delight to see him. He'll be covering the Oscars online for
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Direct from Hollywood

I didn't get this view last year and this year I never specifically asked for a view, but when I arrived in my king-sized room on the 14th floor of the Renaissance Hotel, this is what I saw when I looked out of my window. It was getting dark when I arrived so the pictures will be clearer tomorrow.

The excitement is building around the Oscars which is held next door in the Hollywood and Highland Centre in the Kodak Theatre. It's warm but breezy here, so it looks as if it will be another glorious day on Sunday. The street has been closed off from a wider distance, leading all the way up to the Chinese Theatre and the Roosevelt Hotel, the home of the first Oscars. There's also a giant fantasy castle and spotlights shining around the place, I'll get a better look at that tomorrow. The taxi driver couldn't get access to the hotel, so I had to walk the last mile ladened with cases, laptop and cameras.

Some dignatories were showing up in the hotel in their giant limousines, with eager doormen rushing to open the doors while ignoring me struggling with my cases. I didn't recognise their faces so presumably they are American celebrities. Camera crews were waiting on their arrival and were filming away while I was checking in.

Tonight I have to stay awake to ensure I adjust to the timezone and get up fresh tomorrow to get my press credentials sorted. Will blog again tomorrow.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Closeup and personal on the red carpet

Award presenter Jeff Goldblum "loves London"

Daniel Radcliffe also presented an award

Daniel Day Lewis prior to winning leading actor
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More fun at the BAFTA's

Finding Kevin Spacey was easier tonight.

Ricky Gervais presented the craft awards which weren't televised

Chief Executive Amanda Berry stopped for a chat

Tilda Swinton shared some insight prior to winning the supporting actress BAFTA
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Fun on the BAFTA red carpet

Did you enjoy the BAFTA's ? I did. I was on the red carpet in a great position next to journalists, fans and BBC radio. I managed to get some laughs from Kate Hudson, Eddie Izzard and Tilda Swinton to make the night more fun and get some great coverage for the final scenes of Making It In Hollywood. Here's some of my favourite stills.

Kate Hudson presented an award at the BAFTA's last night

Marion Cotillard won leading actress for La Vie En Rose

Eddie Izzard has some fun on the red carpet

Emily Blunt was also presenting an award

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

The day of the BAFTA awards

It's mid-day in London and preparations are well under way at the Royal Opera House where the 61st British Academy of Film and Television Awards will be held tonight.

The red carpet takes 4 hours to put down and it started at 11am, ready for the international television crews to start finalising their setup. They are here in force this year. Every nation seems to be represented. From Canadian and American stations to Al Jazeera TV, who have a podium near to the UKFilm.TV one.

There are only five presenters allowed on the red carpet, including Ryan Seacrest from American Idol fame. His autocue was ready with "Ryan: Welcome everyone to London". I will be a little bit more spontaneous than that, though I do have my general and specific questions printed out, as well as all the details of the nominees. I also made sure I researched every single name that I did not know. I chatted with Toby and Lisa from Freud Communication, the publicists behind the awards ceremony, and told them they had did Britain proud with the setup and that they were just as good as the Oscars that I attended last year. "It's our second year here at Royal Opera House", Toby said, "and hopefully you'll agree that it's much better than the Oscars".

It certainly has the same preparation buzz and the size and scale of the production is certainly equivalent. A key difference is that there is no public gallery. However to counter that one, I'm pointed to a small arena with about 200 seats, which is open to the public and has a big screen which will show the ceremony live. Tickets are first come, first served from Jubilee Market in Covent Garden (you heard it hear first).

I picked up my accreditation and broadcast passes, as well as the ceremony and dinner and had a look around at the logistics. The timing to finish filming and then put our camera equipment in the car before going to the ceremony is very tight. According to Toby, all the action is in the last 20 minutes, so if I am packing up and heading for the car, then I could miss it all. I will need to see how many people have arrived before 6pm and then make a decision to either watch the event in the media centre, or make a mad dash before the doors close at 6:15pm. The dinner is in the Grosvenor Hotel and I'll be catching up with the team at BAFTA Scotland who I bumped into this morning. You may remember I worked with them in 2005 to do the first new media broadcast of the BAFTA's. They were impressed that I'd taken it even further with the documentary , though it has taken three years of applying before I finally got approval in London.

The hard work paid off in the end.
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