Archive for June, 2012


Arr, There Be Pirates!

June 23, 2012

I’ve been meaning to write a post on downloads, piracy and media business-type stuff but have avoided the topic like a friday night burger van because the chance of coming off as a twat is too high.

The issue is that so much media now is consumed via computer or computer-type devices with internet connections (iPhone, PS3, ipTV etc) that the opportunities for acquiring it through less than official or legal ways are easily taken advantage of. If you work in a media industry- music, film, TV, print- there’s always the concern that while lots of people are seeing/listening/reading your work, you won’t be earning a penny for it. This leads to many of us whining about how people are ripping us off- a sentiment that doesn’t endear us to the average consumer. Especially because they believe all media types earn enough money as it is (as a side note, we don’t…) but also because they know the media industry is led and controlled by billionaires like Rupert Murdoch- which apparently makes content theft okay. The idea that piracy is acceptable because your money is lining the pockets of some conveniently-evil (and undoubtedly puppy-kicking) cigar-chomping fat-cat is quite frankly bollocks because while they’ll miss their large cut of the profits, the poor sods whose hard graft actually made the product will miss it a whole lot more.

Although, if you start pointing that shit out, you’re usually on the receiving end of disbelief/doubt/non-sympathy and look like the aforementioned twat. As such, I’ve always avoided throwing my small change on the matter into the fountain of debate (til thirty seconds ago obviously…).

And then I saw this little article ( and felt that the man had a point. For those too lazy to read the article, Tom Lowe is a filmmaker who found his (quite excellent) Koyaanisqatsi-esque film “Timescapes” available on a torrent site and rather than bitch and moan about it, posted a comment along the lines of “If you like the film, please consider buying a copy from our website.” Hats off and fair play to the man. In the interview he says that piracy and illegal downloads are a reality filmmakers now have to face but if you alter your business model and preconceptions, you can still earn from your film and audiences still see your work.

It’s a refreshing, down-to-earth and, frankly, mature outlook on the state of the industry and I for one applaud him for it. Filmmakers, production companies and studios need to adjust their business model to reflect the world and the way audiences want to experience their work.

Take music downloads as an example. Ten years ago, the music industry was panic-stricken about illegal downloads- people ripping their CDs and sharing the files via P2P services. It was only when the likes of iTunes store came along with their not-free-but-cheap-enough-to-be-painless brand of legal download did the worry about shareware disappear. Lets face it, who’s used any torrent service to download music any time recently? Most people just fire up iTunes, pay their 79p and don’t worry about it. In fact, more people buy tracks from iTunes than they do CDs from HMV.

The film and TV industry really needs to take a leaf out of the music industry to combat piracy by making legal downloads a viable cost option for punters and yet still turn a profit. The music industry still has a way to go with regard to sharing out those profit pie slices (many musicians find they’re not getting much out of the downloads system) and I suppose a lot of that is to do with the cost of downloads. It just goes to show that it’s a new market environment out there and the old methods just don’t apply anymore, but as long as there are people like Tom Lowe willing to see things in a progressive and mature light, we should be able to create an industry where customers get their stuff and the artist gets a living wage.


The First Draft

June 8, 2012

I’m working with writer Keith Storrier on this new Persona story- he’s got a background in comedy writing, something that’s needed with this new storyline. You see, rather than go for hard-hitting, relationship drama like last time, I plumped for a lighter story. One about a marriage in jeopardy, miscommunication and crushed dreams… and a bit of stand-up comedy!

While this storyline was my idea (inspired by something that happened to a real stand-up comedian), I’m secretly quite anxious. While I consider myself to be a witty individual and someone who understands comedy reasonably well as a performer, I’ve never really directed comedy before. And as far as all professional opinions go, comedy is one of the hardest things to direct- just below high-octane action sequences and crime capers where the star is a lovable mongrel dog. I don’t want this to fall flat. I want it to be funny, but still fit within the ethos of Persona as a show. And I especially want the dramatic moments to work.

Without giving away the story, there’s a moment near the end that I’m hoping really works. I want a good chunk of the audience to have to wipe away an embarassed tear when they’re watching the appisode in question and smile through it. When I heard this part of the real-life story, it was the bit that really sold me on it and hit me emotionally. Ultimately, that’s what a director does- tries to recreate the moments that emotionally affected them when they heard/thought of the story and encourage the audience to feel the same way.

My anxiety is also compounded by a turnaround quicker than a nun’s first curry. The airdate is about two months away!

Luckily, the first draft of the script fell (or more accurately appeared) in my inbox yesterday and I’m happy to say that things are looking good. There are a few story bumps and character motivations to iron out, but the major beats and elements are all there. The characters are well-written, there are some funny lines and the moment at the end works pretty well. Keith’s done a great job on the writing. There’s still more work to do, but it’s eased my fears a little knowing that we’re starting from a good place.