Trying to be better!

So it turns out, if you write more stuff, you get better at writing.

Makes sense, really.

Anyway, where was I?



That’s right, I was in Glasgow.

Well, Glasgow was… like Glasgow. That’s what it was like. I’ve heard Glasgow being described as similar to Moscow in terms of general mood and aesthetic; a subdued and dreary yet proud city, where art is underrated but appreciated by the few who brave its narrow and damp streets to find it. Its inhabitants also like to drink. Heavily.

This was my main concern, and usually is whenever I visit the city. This is mostly because the only times I’ve been to Glasgow have been for gigs, although there was one time this summer when they were shooting World War Z there and I went with my girlfriend to look at the set. Anyway, when I’ve been to Glasgow in the past I’ve usually met my fair share of drunk dudes wobbling about and shouting. Just shouting. Not to anyone in particular, just for the joy of the high volume exchange of opinion.

This time was different though, apart from a junkie at Queen Street Station.

I was planning on making a vlog about my adventure to the city but I got predictably lost  when I got off the train so I didn’t feel comfortable about whipping out my camera in the industrial estates. And when I got to the SAE they said they would prefer it if I didn’t film so no vlogging took place.

But I digress.

The SAE was pretty interesting, and not at all what I was expecting. It isn’t so much a college as a large recording studio which also has classrooms where they teach you stuff. It’s pretty cool in that respect. I had looked at it on google maps and noticed that the building seemed pretty small but I figured the complex would expand behind it. It doesn’t, it’s just the one building.

Anyway I spoke to a nice man called Dan who’s the head tutor for the digital film making course and he told me about the projects that the students do throughout the year. I was a little sickened by the fact that first year students complete more projects in one year than we at QMU made in our entire sojourn. Although, the term at SAE is much more intensive than a normal academic year; 12 months of study from September ’til August, with 2 weeks off at Christmas and 2 weeks in the summer.

I must admit though, I was pretty interested in the course. I’m still looking into other courses and colleges but if someone were to ask me right now to make a decision, I would definitely go for the SAE.

I think that’s enough rambling for now, come visit again some time!


Japes and Jaunts and other things beginning with J

“What are you doing today, James?”

“Well, curious reader who sounds like George Takei in my head, today I am going to Glasgow in order to take a tour of the SAE Institute.”

“What’s that?”

“That is a good question, and one which I will answer in a form other than a fictional conversation.”

I’m so alone.

Anyway, the SAE Institute, or Sound and Audio Engineering Institute, is an educational establishment which caters solely to people of a media/creativity persuasion. The institute is part of a worldwide chain of media studies colleges which has campuses (campi?) in about 30 countries. Being that they only teach media stuff (music production, online journalism, 3D animation, etc.) they have a much larger budget for things like equipment, and professional tutors, and facilities, and things which would greatly benefit other colleges but that they can’t afford.

They have a pretty exciting digital film-making course which I’m interested in so I’m on my way to check that out this afternoon.

“Now hold on!” I hear you cry, “Don’t you live in Edinburgh?”

“That’s right, I do.”

“Well isn’t it going to be a schlepp commuting to Glasgow every day?”

“Yes. Yes it is.”

That’s the only conclusion I have come to as of yet. If eventually I end up applying to this course and get in, I’ll probably be commuting every day. I don’t really fancy it but I’d prefer that than moving to Glasgow.

But it’s still early days yet.

I may make a cheeky wee vlog about my adventure or I may just take some photos of the place. Either way, there will be something here in the next couple of days to look at.

Wish me luck!

Degree film, finally

It occurs to me that in a series of earlier posts I wrote at length about my degree film and never actually gave a link to it.

So that is what I am doing now!

The reason for such lateness in posting that is because I wasn’t really happy with the version I’d handed in and by that time I was sick of the thing and didn’t want to put it online until I had tweaked it some more. But seeing as I hated it by the time I was done with it, I didn’t feel up to tweaking until quite  a while afterwards. At which point putting it online was sort of at the back of my mind.

But anyway, there it is, in a form which I’m relatively proud of.

And by the way, that’s my mate Philip playing the lead role, I mentioned him in an earlier post. He has a theatre production company. You should go see him in February if you’re in Edinburgh.

That is all.

Tintin is a total badass.

If you never read Tintin, or even if you did but have forgotten most of his adventures, I’d like to convince you, if I may, that he is a badass motherfucker.

Let us first take a look at our hero:


There he is, traversing a waterfall while hanging upside down from a rope, with a dog on his back.

This is a 16 year old freelance reporter from Belgium. His best friend is a dog called Snowy, or Milou in the original French, and he spends most of his time busting drug smugglers, kidnappers, gangsters and other ne’er-do-wells. He has no family that we are ever told about.

In his 20-odd adventures he is shot, knocked unconscious, drugged, beaten up and nearly killed countless times. He is never taken down.

I only mention this because my girlfriend gave me the boxset of the animated series from the ’90’s on DVD for Christmas and I’ve been working my way through them. In the course of watching the series it struck me that not only is Tintin a totally gnarly dude, he is also completely insane.

I’m going to take as an example an incident from the first episode, Tintin in America (the first two books, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and Tintin in the Congo were never adapted into the TV series). The incident in question saw Tintin being thrown into a river after being drugged and stuffed into the boot of a car. Snowy, who was similarly drugged, regains consciousness and drags Tintin ashore. Tintin then sneaks up on his kidnappers and holds them up by pretending he has a gun, causing them to drop theirs, which he picks up, fires two shots into the air, then laughs maniacally. He laughs maniacally. Is there any stronger proof of a person’s insanity than laughing manically after firing a gun? I think not.

Instance number 2: Tintin and Haddock travel to Peru in order to rescue Professor Calculus from kidnappers. The kidnappers are offshore in a boat with quarantine flags flying so the authorities will stay away. Tintin and Haddock row out to the boat and Tintin starts to get ready to swim out to it.

“What about the sharks?” Haddock asks, peering over the edge of the dinghy.

“Nuts to the sharks!” Tintin replies, as he  strips off his blazer.

Insanity or badassery? Probably both.

Oh, Tintin, how I do love thee.


The phrase “mostly useless” is one which I think isn’t used enough. And one of the problems with that is possibly due to the fact that the word “useless” sort of implies a constant state of being; either something is useless or it isn’t. It’s a kind of a one way street of a word. Whereas the word “mostly” has inherent built-in inconstancy ™. If something is mostly dusty, there must be a portion of the thing which isn’t dusty. So “mostly useless” is a kind of paradox in itself. Or an oxymoron. Like the Ice King.

Anyway, I suppose my main point is that I consider myself to be mostly useless. There are times when I surprise people and myself by being quite good at what I do, but the majority of the time I just sort of… sit. Yeah.

But I’m trying harder, and one of the ways that I’m trying is by making 2012 my “yes” year.

Basically, a lot of the stuff that I didn’t manage to do last year was due to the fact that I approached it with a “no” attitude, and being a person who calls himself positive, that seemed like a Silly Thing.

So this year, touch wood, I’m going to stop creating obstacles for myself and start saying yes more.

I guess you can call it my new year’s resolution.

Film things. Or: What I Did When I Wasn’t Blogging About It.

Not really sure about that title.

Anyway, let’s get on with it.

When we last saw each other, dear reader, I was in the middle of dissertation/degree film hell, so there wasn’t much to talk about other than “Aaaarghohmygodwhyismylifesohard” which isn’t much fun for anyone so I didn’t write it down anywhere.

But, and I can say this with complete confidence, I AM NO LONGER AT UNIVERSITY!

Because I graduated! In July, or roughly the time when you had forgotten about me because I hadn’t posted anything here in about 2 months. So yes, I graduated in July, which was lovely, because there was a while for me when I wasn’t sure that I would make it through university. But never mind about that.

So the hand-in for the dissertation was at the start of May, and after that there was a lot of sleeping. Not much happened for a while until Micky G came to me in June with a project for a charity called the Homeless World Cup, and what they do is help to combat homelessness in lots of countries with football; they basically organise 5-a-side teams of homeless people to play in football competitions in their local areas, and once a year there is a corporate-sponsored World Cup event with teams of homeless guys from all over the world playing against each other. You can probably find out more at their site than you can here:

So Micky G had been approached by some people from the HWC’s Edinburgh office asking for someone to film one of the publicity events in Glasgow which was a 5-a-side tournament with players from the various companies who would be sponsoring the homeless teams. So we spent a day in Glasgow filming the tournament which was a lot of fun.

What was not so fun, however, was trawling through around 6 hours of footage in the edit in order to create a one-minute spot for their website.

After which they asked me personally to come back for another morning in order to film “The Draw” where they basically selected the order that the teams would be playing in the world cup tournament in Paris. Which was fine as well.

Now, I should mention that at this point, we had not been offered anything in return for our services. I mean, we weren’t even given free t-shirts at the tournament in Glasgow. This is not inherently a bad thing, and these guys are, after all, a charity so their resources are understandably limited. But, once we had finished editing the videos for them and handed them over, we were contacted by one of their press officers who said that we would be meeting up in about a week so that they could “find some way to thank” us. Now, I would have been happy if they had just offered to take us out for some drinks or a meal or something. No such contact was made however.

It wasn’t until some time later though, after graduation in July, that they got back in touch and asked if we would be willing to come to Paris with them in order to film the tournament there. This is the big one, the World Cup. It took about 3 days for Mike to contact enough people to form a crew, and we were all very excited about it. Of course, we couldn’t afford flights or accommodation for the time we would be there so we asked if they would be handling that, and we were told not to worry but to await further instructions, as it were.

So we waited.

And waited.

And Mike was sending them emails every day to see if they had come to some decision yet but got no reply.

Until a couple of days before the tournament they told us that they couldn’t afford to fly us out and pay our accommodation for the weekend, and that they had found a crew in Paris who would film for free.

I think it’s safe to say that we were all pretty disappointed with that result but there’s not much we could do, to be honest.

So, what have we learned: only work for charities if you a) want to, and b) are happy to do it for free, but do not expect them to do anything for your services.

So that was fun.

While all that was going on I was also doing some work for my friend Philip Kingscott, who is an actor-type, and had a play on at various locations that month and asked me to film it.  That all went fine (eventually) and the play was a rousing success, and got quite a bit of attention in the Scottish press, it being festival time and all. It was called “The Garden”, was written by Alistair Rutherford who writes for BBC Radio, among other things, and was produced by Philip’s theatre production company, Peapod productions. You can check out all of that stuff right here:

So now we come to Pet Rescue. Pet Rescue is club night here in Edinburgh run by a collective called Animal Hospital, and they got in touch with me through my girlfriend, and asked if I’d be up for filming a publicity stunt they were planning leading up to one of their nights. So we met up, chatted about the stunt, threw some ideas around and were ready to shoot within a couple of days. It was all very slap-dash and last minute, and I lost half the footage when my computer crashed, but I was pretty happy with the result, given those complications. Linky:

Yep. There that is…

I didn’t really think about it that much, until Ell’s birthday in November, when her mate Andrew said that he’d been stopped on the street by a girl, and she told him that she always watched that video when she was feeling down. It made me really happy, so I’m looking forward to working with those guys again, should they be up for it. This is them:

I had quite a packed summer as it turns out.

This year has also seen my Dad’s 60th birthday party and various planned productions with friends which I will be writing about at a time when they are in a more definite form.

Thanks for reading this, if you did. If you didn’t, and skipped to the end or have already left, well, that’s fine too.


A long time ago…

Long, long ago, James made a blog. It was truly a great blog, and in all the lands there was much rejoicing. But in time, there came a great curse of laziness over James, and the posts became more and more sparse. Time and again, he made excuses to himself; “I’m in the middle of my dissertation”, “I’m on holiday”, “The internet at home is too slow”. Yet he knew, in his heart of hearts, that ’twas all indeed bollocks.

So one day our hero decided to start posting again, in order of what had happened since the last time we spoke. Which was quite some time ago, now that I look back on it.

So please stay tuned while I organise my vaguely fuzzy memories into chronological order.