25 February, 2011

Filming David Spero for the David Spero: Churches Exhibition

The next exhibition to be displayed in Gallery Two is David Spero: Churches, which will be open from 15th April to 4th September 2011.

Filming David Spero

In his Churches project, David Spero documented buildings which are being used as churches, but were originally intended for another purpose. These buildings feature none of the traditional architecture associated with places of worship, and can often be found in unexpected places.

Filming David Spero

David visited our large object store in Insight: Collections and Research Centre to be filmed for a video which will be on display in the gallery. He was interviewed by Philippa Wright, Curator of Photographs and the Churches exhibition.

Filming David Spero

In the interview David spoke about his inspiration for the project, citing the work of author Philip K Dick, the process of creating the series, his photographic methods and selection process.

Filming David Spero

When complete, the video will be uploaded to our Vimeo channel - www.vimeo.com/nationalmediamuseum

See more photographs of David on our Flickr channel

21 February, 2011

TV Heaven Welcomes TV's Most Famous Sheep

Blogger: Claire Hampton, Assistant Curator of Television

It's that time again - after the usual post-Christmas lull, the school holidays have kicked things up a notch. Assistant Curator of Television, Claire Hampton, has been busy preparing our TV galleries for half term visitors with a new addition to the display cabinets - television's most famous sheep.

Claire in TV Heaven

"We've spent the last year celebrating the numerous soap anniversaries which took place in 2010: 50 years of Coronation Street in TV Heaven, a visit from the cast and crew of Hollyoaks, and there was even a display commemorating 25 years of EastEnders.

"Unfortunately the Museum's year of soap has come to an end. It's time to carefully pack up Arthur’s bench of tears, Bianca’s wedding dress and Sonia’s trumpet and return them to the EastEnders' prop and costume department. All the items will now be carefully returned to Elstree, where EastEnders is filmed.

“It will be sad to say goodbye to the Queen Vic bust and Pat Butcher’s earrings, but we're looking forward to seeing some old favourites from the National Television Collection back on display again - Zippy and George from Rainbow, the PlaySchool Toys and Gordon the Gopher all feature in the display. A selection of Gerry Anderson puppets has also been brought out of the archive to join the other children's favourites.

"I hope visitors will enjoy seeing a special item from the Collection which hasn’t been on public display before. I’m a huge fan of Shaun the Sheep and this character from the programme is a wonderful new addition to the Museum’s Animation Collection. The simple charm of the character and the attention to detail on the bail of hay are just typical of Aardman’s wonderful work."

We're dedicating half term to the wonderful world of animation - for a full list of family activities this week, visit the Families section of our website.

08 February, 2011

The King's Speech: A Royal Occasion

Blogger: Greg Spencer

The furore surrounding The King's Speech is quite astounding. After being nominated for a plethora of awards including Best Motion Picture - Drama at the Golden Globes, and Colin Firth picking up Best Actor in the same night, The King's Speech is the film of 2011. After performing well at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Toronto Film Festival, the film is expected to clean up at the Oscars and the BAFTAs.

The impact of a film being nominated for the main Oscar awards is huge. U.S. online ticket seller Fandango reported a 76% increase in ticket sales in the 24 hours after the Oscar nominations were revealed, a fact that illustrates just how much impetus just being nominated can have.

In the Oscars' Best Picture category, The King's Speech finds itself up against such films as 127 Hours, Black Swan, Inception, True Grit, Toy Story 3, The Social Network, The Kids are All Right, The Fighter and the surprise inclusion, Winter's Bone. I think the strongest competition will be from David Fincher's The Social Network and Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, though the Coen brothers' True Grit may be a shock winner, having made $148m in the U.S. in six weekends.

It will take something special to knock The King's Speech of its Royal perch - people in this country are applauding at the end of screenings; something us reserved Brits aren't used to. We musn't underestimate that Americans are fascinated by our monarchy, as demonstrated by Helen Mirren winning Best Actress in a Leading Role for her role in The Queen in 2006. Our monarchy is something that other cultures admire, and this is undoubtedly a big factor in the success of both films.

What do you think of The King's Speech? Is it really worthy of all the hype?

04 February, 2011

Filming a BIFF Trailer with the Stars

Blogger: Ben Eagle, BIFF Producer

It occurred to me, rather belatedly, that Bradford International Film Festival has never had a trailer.

Having discussed the extremely limited budget and what we wanted to achieve, we settled on the idea of asking previous BIFF guests to remember a moment in their personal cinema history.

I approached several high-profile guests from previous Festivals and was delighted to have positive responses from Imelda Staunton and Jim Carter. It seemed rather handy that, as they are married, they could film their 'editions' on the same day. We wanted to film the guests in familiar and comfortable surroundings, and where better than their own front room?

Along with Emma Shaw, the Museum's Media Developer and expert camerawoman, I set off to the Staunton/Carter household early one December morning. Jim had called me on the way to inform us that the council had decided to prune the trees outside their house – today of all days, when what we really needed was silence! Imelda and Jim greeted us with the warmness and kindness which they both exude in abundance. We enjoyed a very welcome cuppa with Hobnobs while Emma and our sound man, Jason, set up the lighting and camera in the front room.

Imelda sat stroking their lovely dog whose name I now forget, and asked how long her "speech" should last. We were aiming for each trailer to be approximately 40 seconds long, so Jim was ready, just off-camera, with his wristwatch – ensuring the 40 seconds was adhered to. She quickly spoke it through and we went for our first take. As was to be expected, Imelda did it perfectly and after a few differing close-up shots we had it in the can. During the various takes, Imelda frequently glanced at Jim to ensure she wasn't going over the allotted time, to which he frequently told her that the takes were "two hours long, love".

As we quickly rearranged the furniture, and some of the ornaments – including the photograph behind Jim, which features their daughter in a TV programme – Jim took the position and began to talk about his experience of "Lords acting" in Harrogate. Imelda frequently repaid the favour of reminding Jim his takes were way too long – and after a few takes, I hope you'll agree, his enthusiasm and passion for film really comes across.

Our next subject was the ever-popular John Hurt. John received the BIFF2010 Lifetime Achievement Award and both John and Anwen, his wife, have become friends of the Festival. A similar trip ensued with Emma and Sven – the Museum's Gallery Developer, and soundman on this occasion. John and Anwen live in Norfolk, which is a lovely journey and we arrived at their desirable country abode in time for lunch. Without doubt, the friendliest and most welcoming showbiz couple I know, John and Anwen had prepared a lovely lunch and so after the five hour journey, we sat around their kitchen table and discussed all-things-film. It was a treat.

Afterwards, we made our way into John's purpose-built artist's studio, in which hangs oil paintings featuring his sons, self portraits, and various sketches. He was working on an amazing self portrait which I loved - a really great use of colour and clearly the work of an experienced artist. I urged John to have them displayed in an exhibition - they were certainly of a high enough standard.

As we set-up the camera and sound equipment, John quickly talked through his plans for the trailer, comprising three separate cinema experiences: his first trip to the cinema to see Robinson Crusoe; a truly mesmerising viewing of Alec Guinness as Fagin in David Lean's Oliver Twist and finally Jules et Jim – the one we chose to feature in the finished trailer, and the one John felt most captures his passion for film. We left after a great day with a true gent and a genuinely lovely, bonefide movie star.

It has, thus far, been a privilege to work with the guests mentioned above, and I sincerely thank them for their time and generosity. We still have more to come, hopefully, so watch this space!

Visit the Bradford International Film Festival website