Saturday, May 31, 2008

Filming in public?

Friday, May 30, 2008

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU

Students take over Manchester University

On Tuesday afternoon hundreds of students demonstrated about the slipping standards in teaching and cut backs at Manchester University. The protest, which took over roads, holding up traffic in the Oxford Road area around the campus as angry and frustrated students marched with drumbeats, chants and a sound-system strapped on to the back of a bicycle, was organised by the grass-roots group Reclaim the Uni. The group was set up in February 2008 to express a growing dissatisfaction with the move towards a business model at universities and the effect this has had in reducing teaching hours, increasing staff cuts and the lack of resources and access to facilities available to students.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Airport Protest

Campaign against Climate Change


Saturday MAY 31st

Say NO to Heathrow’s 3rd Runway

Say NO to Runaway Airport Expansion

Say YES to saving millions from climate catastrophe

Join a Spring Carnival of Resistance to Airport Expansion

Organised by Campaign against Climate Change, HACAN, NOTRAG , the 2M group,
Greenpeace and EnoughsEnough

Supported by: Airport Watch, Campaign for Better Transport, Friends of the Earth,
People & Planet, Plane Stupid, Practical Action, Sustrans, Womens Environmental
Network, World Development Movement, WWF and Brent, Camden, Ealing, Hammersmith and
Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lewisham, Merton.
Richmond, South Bucks, Sutton and Wandsworth councils.

Assemble at Hatton Cross Underground Station (Picadilly Tube Line) at 12 noon.

Join a ‘Carnival March’ around the airport perimeter to Sipson – the village which
would be wiped out by a 3rd runway.

Help make a giant ‘NO’ and join the fun at the festival in Sipson village

On Monday 25th February there was an indoor Rally against Heathrow expansion in the
Central Hall, Westminster, with around 3,000 attending (a second Hall had to be
used). This was after many local meetings around West London up to a thousand
strong. The movement against the Third Runway at Heathrow is gathering pace….and
snowballing exponentially…..

This is not just about Heathrow, this is about drawing a line in the sand against
big investment decisions that are locking us into a headlong plummet into climate
catastrophe. The huge expansion in aviation, of which the Heathrow expansion is the
flagship component, is totally incompatible with winning the battle against climate
catastrophe, totally incompatible in fact, with the Government’s own Climate Bill.

This is a battle we need to win – and a battle we can win ! We want to see people
coming from all over the country to join the tens of thousands who will be
protesting in West London. We want a massive show of force to make sure we win our
first big victory in the war to redirect Britain towards a low carbon future. Come
and be part of it – join a Spring Carnival of Resistance to the Third Runway,
Airport Expansion and the insanity of government decisions that would lock us into
climate catastrophe.

We can stop the third runway ! We will stop the third runway !

Friday, May 23, 2008

Doco makers converge in London

I may go to this event

Doc/Fest is proud to be sponsoring the Televisual Intelligent
Factual Festival 2008 on June 18th and 19th at the Arts Cub,
central London.

An important event for all in the business of creating factual
programmes: IF'08 showcases some of the biggest names and
boldest ideas in factual programme making.

Through a series of informed and insightful debates, fifty of the
UK's leading factual commissioners, directors, producers and
financiers join together to discuss how to create factual
programmes, how best to pitch them and how to fund them.

Panel sessions include four 'Meet the Commissioners' sessions
covering specialist factual, digital channels, factual
entertainment and current affairs; on the spot interviews
with the executives that shape your world; Big Screen Stories;
The three hundred and sixty degree spin; Alternative funding;
Where next for factual and many, many more..

The outstanding speaker line up includes Hamish Mykura, Richard
Klein, Angus Macqueen, Roly Keating, Dorothy Byrne to name but a

Full details may be found at

The event has been moved to The Arts Club (still in London W1)
this year and now has a beautiful on site garden area for relaxing
and socializing between sessions as well as a grand drawing room
for paid delegates' complimentary coffees, teas, soft drinks and
lunchtime club sandwiches. There are also free drinks for paid
delegates on Wednesday evening, running with the (also new)
10 x 10 evening.

A valuable, informed and stimulating two-day event not to be
missed ­ we look forward to seeing you there.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

G.W Bush in the UK June 2008

Will they never learn? War criminals are not wanted here.George Bush will visit Britain Between June 9 and 16. The last time he was here, in November 2003, it provoked one of the biggest mid-week demonstrations in British history, with
up to 300,000 on London's streets. Since then his war of terror has led to the loss of over a million lives and spread from Iraq and Afghanistan to Pakistan, Somalia and
Kenya, with ever intensifying threats suggesting Iran is next.

When Condoleezza Rice visited in March 2006, it turned into a public relations disaster, with large demonstrations in Liverpool, Blackburn and everywhere else she went. Only last week the fanatical warmonger John Bolton, formerly Bush's
ambassador to the United Nations and vociferous advocate of an immediate attack on Iran, cancelled a planned visit to Bristol for fear of the anti-war demonstration that was planned to meet him. (See

Inviting all documentary filmmakers

SKA Tv is inviting all documentary filmmakers to submit any and all documentaries of a 24-25 minute duration, to broadcast on Melbourne’s C31.

We are asking for broadcast quality documentaries that contain stories of a social justice, human rights, environmental, indigenous, youth, cultural and political nature, from all parts of the world.

So if you have anything that you would like broadcast in our new doco season, and have no problems with giving us the copyright to air it for you, then please send us your dvd’s/MDV tapes and copyright release to-
SKA Tv at Suite 75,
Trades Hall Building,
54 Victoria St
South Carlton,
3053, Victoria ,
And if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us on 03-9663 6976, or e-mail us here at
Alternatively, call me-Leesa Carriage on 0401-861 879 or e-mail me on

Monday, May 19, 2008

Who am I? Who are You?

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. She watched as her brain functions shut down one by one: motion, speech, memory, self-awareness ...

Incredible video lecture

Farenheit 9/11 now watch this drive

This is the clip of Bush playing Golf

Stop press:President Bush quits Golf over war.

G.W Bush declares he doesn't think his golf sends the right message to moms over the Iraq war (and why it spurred him to quit golf)

He fails to mention that Michael Moore's film Farenheit 911 made him look like an ass playing golf during the invasion.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Unhappy Kingdom

Unhappy Kingdom-a TV proposal 30minute documentary

Depression in Britain has been increasing since the 1950’s. Suicide among young people is at an all time high, mental health institutes are over subscribed and the use of anti-depressants is raging out of control. The nations workplaces are staffed by thousands of stressed out, debt laden workers. Yet the British government still prides itself on granting development aid to raise the well being of people in poorer countries. But, if the surveys are correct and Blair’s cabinet has not succeeded in fulfilling its own peoples needs, how do politicians determine what will bring happiness in other countries?

A highly energized Tracy Ward ended her acting career when she married into wealth and privilege to become the Marchioness of Worcester (soon to be the Duchess of Beaufort). Her extensive travels across Africa and Asia radically changed the Marchioness’s perception of the world. She became convinced that a woman living in a remote tribal village in India actually has a better quality of life than she does living in 21st century Britain.

The Marchioness asks-‘In India the sharing of work with the community, whether it be planting, harvesting, weaving or building a home, is a pleasure rather than a chore. Does development have to mean sacrificing a good quality of life to acquire a high standard of living? And who is really richer – a tribal woman or me?

Is this just the romantic notion of a woman surrounded by the comfortable trappings of the aristocracy? How would she fare amongst the harsh reality facing over two billion people living on less than US$2 a day?

The Marchioness will enquire amongst her own circle of peers, which include economists, celebrities and land owners, how they measure both their own and the nations happiness. Is it gauged by the average income or worth of their possessions? Perhaps it’s the amount of available time to spend with friends and family? Ask a corporate leader and they point to GDP statistics. Ask a politician and they quote the World Bank’s ‘Wealth Index’. But is the United Nations ‘Human Development Index’ with its wider indicators on education provision, human rights records and life-expectancy more accurate as a happiness indicator?

With this question in mind, the Marchioness will embark on a journey into the folds of the Himalayas. She will explore how the Kingdom of Bhutan has a very different vision of development, far beyond economic motivated growth. The Bhutanese Government gauge their nations growth in terms of Gross National Happiness (GNH). Under the GNH policy, compassion and co-operation are deemed just as important to achieving happiness as competition is. The individual is always considered at the center of all development efforts.

After interviewing the King of Bhutan about his GNH policy, the Marchioness will then trek on foot for days into the isolated villages of the Himalayas. With little hot water and no comfortable beds, she will rough it along the route trying to convince the audience that her view of undeveloped people as having a higher quality of life goes beyond just romance.

But will the harsh realities of a peasant farmer’s life scraping out a living in sub-zero Bhutan change her views?

Copyright Paul O’ Connor 07973 298359/ 01792 455900

Adventures in Cornwall

My diary entry from January 27 2006 I thought worth publishing here to give you an insight into the life of an alternative film maker.

After nearly 2 weeks of house sitting in rural Hampshire I felt a big bonfire was needed to just sit around and ponder upon an emerging new year. While the fire was blazing to match the expansive sunset, I noticed the drying out Scots pine branch in the corner. The brilliance of the pine needles was intense as they blazed a deep orange copper red. The sort of flame a phoenix would arise from and the colour a King tries to capture in the tassels of his ceremonial robes. I filmed the magical blaze intending to project it onto the walls of a party somewhere soon.

Earlier in the day I had cleared the fire site from brambles and metal. Once cleared, I figured the space needed flattening. Building the fire up and with the Undertones in the CD player, I got about dancing away in the icy cold until the ‘shrooms I had brought kicked in. The coloured lights were on, the fire was high, the drugs were working so where was everyone else? Oh yeah it was just odd. But never the less, Dreadzone followed by Massive attack carried the one man party until Jim Morrison would lead the way through those openings of perception.

Speaking of music…John Peel, read and loved his book Margrave of the Marshes about his life. But interesting enough I didn’t find his part of the story half as enjoyable as reading how his wife describes him in the second half (he died half way thru writing it). I couldn’t imagine how a book about his life could have been written any other way. She(ila) was such a integrated part of who he was that a book written by him alone would only have been half as interesting. Made me wish I had tuned in for a musical education across the waters from Dublin to hear his mastery at work in the ‘80’s.

After a week of reading books and eating far too many chocolates, I felt in need of an adventure. So I called Roddy and asked if he wanted to go find Harry Potters missing car (will explain more later). He got the green light (and more importantly the expenses) from Sky News. So on Friday evening we met at the Thai restaurant at Traders in Petersfield. The ‘casino’ advertised outside turned out to be just a small cards table, but the setting was cosy with its open fire so we chose a window seat over looking the night life on the High street. The Thai host was very friendly (and beautiful) but she made up for the very bland food, which explained why the place was empty on a Friday evening. Still, since Sky News Amex card footed the bill so we gorged on as much as we could.

Roddy and I hit the road for Cornwall early the next morning. On the way he told me of how he was arrested a few weeks ago after slipping past security in the House of Parliament and wandering around for 2 hours filming in cabinet ministers offices. On his way out he was stopped by Police who must have been freaked at the sight of a Middle Eastern looking guy with a backpack standing on the wrong side of the security glass. He was stripped searched, made to squat to check he wasn’t hiding a tape up his jacksie (there is an easier way to check-his eyes would have been watering). His camera was taken and he was held for 8 hours but finally released (his boss informed him that a phone call was made by a Murdoch to the cabinet). The funniest thing was when we went back to collect his camera, the tape was still in the evidence bag which they handed back to him! Police- you’ve got to wonder about them haven’t you?

Arriving in Cornwall, Roddy leaves me with Jane & Sean, my Cornish contacts while he goes off to get carnal with his latest Internet date in Truro. I won’t see him again until we leave 2 days later.

On the side of the highest hill overlooking a Cornish town, Sam appears in shorts with white powder hanging from his nose at 11am on a Sunday. Living in a kind of lean-to stable block (but since we are in the middle of a field there is nothing to lean against). So his home, ‘camouflaged’ with cheap Astroturf (to avoid the gaze of the planning department one assumes) appears to prop itself up by leaning against itself. The interior is mostly taken up by a grand piano.

Drinking brandy with the mixed race scouser is an experience I wont forget for a while. He has been partying alone all night but in his sleepless and speed induced state he still manages to carefully tidy his space as he chats. His trio of long knifes with serrated edges are put back onto the wall and his girlfriends incredible sculpture of a naked black woman is uncovered for us to see. Hours later he finally points out the yellow garage down below in the town where Mr Potters movie car is hidden. Whether in a drug induced paranoia or not, he became very cagey of us approaching the people about the car directly.

So Jane & Sean suggested we first meet ‘John in Troon’.

Driving along in their battered red Volvo (which you can only get into by climbing through the windows) you can tell the Romans never made it to Cornwall. Dilapidated as that car was, it still took those winding country roads with such speed and control it felt we hardly touched the tarmac. Zipping past the slag heaps (painted green) and through the forest of wind turbines lining the quarried landscape, Sean informs me that the tips of the propellers are spinning at 500mph so standing underneath looking up is an experience worth having.

Arriving in the grey suburb of cheap shops and miners’ cottages which is Troon, John holds back a pit bull and some other large meaty dog to let us past and into his small corner home. Soon after we arrive, five blokes entered, followed later by two teenage girls to quickly fill the already cramped space. John held court judging everyone who came into his home on how well they would survive in prison (which he knew a lot about it appeared). After a couple of hours he informed his audience (and not sure what he based it upon) that while I could probably just about handle myself in prison (leaving me feeling oddly relieved), the two blokes on my right would be decimated. Listening (there wasn’t a choice) to his tales of ramming every drug cocktail into his body was at once fascinating, sickening and incredulous, but also on another level very very sad. The jagged scar across his abdomen was his proud trophy to mark his lifetime of substance abuse.

Just in case we didn’t fully comprehend that John was not to be messed with, he let us know that when he gets a hard-on he fires electric shocks into his stiffened cock. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any weirder, the taut faced 40year old pulled out a Taser gun and shoots himself in the crotch! I’m guessing he had it set on low but the blue electric sparks still lit the room up and since his face normally looks like it’s riddled with pain, I couldn’t even tell if he felt it. But despite his hard shell there is a warm heart beating. Jane and Sean had told me earlier that John has a good reputation for helping abused or homeless youngsters. He arranged places for them to live communally, showing them how pool their resources and survive.

I soon felt a sort of grudging admiration for the man, especially when I noticed that even his fridge was hard. Standing six feet tall, the gunmetal cold box looked brand new apart from the gashed dent on its right hand side. It sat in his main room, which opened in straight off the street, alongside the aquarium bathed in red light for his lizards. Putting his Taser gun down, he pulled out a photo of his fridge (I kid you not), but here it was captured in a sterile office environment (minus the dent). Which brings us neatly onto why I was sitting in the same room as this maniac.

The office in the picture wasn’t an IKEA catalogue but more like a photograph taken as a trophy. Peering closely I noticed that the fridge, the 2 tonne green safe and the black carpet from that office now resided in the very room I now sat in. Apparently the fridge suffered the dent as it fell off the back of a lorry (while fighting some other poor bastard who was also busy robbing the contents of the office.) Anyhow that office was in the Westcounty Film studio in St Agnes, which I had explored the day before.

We had climbed over the fence and past the remnants of the CCTV system (which John had ripped out) into the grounds of studios. The studio consisted of two green barns, set in 15 acres of overrun but previously landscaped gardens. 10 foot high signs proclaiming the barns to be Studio 1a and 3. Number 2 was still a half built metal carcass. The only object I really was interested was the whereabouts of a 44-year-old Ford Anglia taken from one of the abandoned studios.

Martin Wainwright wrote in The Guardian on Saturday October 29, 2005
‘A rusting relic of the Harry Potter films has vanished from under a tarpaulin at a locked store of film props, in a theft which has got the local police force muttering about wizardry. Detectives suspect a cherry picker may have been craned over fencing to hoist out the turquoise 1962 Ford Anglia, which featured in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, when it took to the air after JK Rowling's characters pressed a silver button on its dashboard.

Claire Smith of the Scotsman wrote
‘Devon and Cornwall police said they were keeping an open mind about whether the car was stolen to order for a collector, or was taken by an opportunistic thief.’

The truth as I discovered was closer to the latter but not entirely that simple.

Rewind 8 days back to Swansea…I am trying to help a woman with a very bad tooth abscess in my home (or more to the point finding her a needle to lance it with). Meanwhile her partner is busy grinding down cloves to soak into her gums to relieve the pain. Anyhow she arrived at undercurrents as an academic with a plan. Chatting on the phone last December we had found we shared similar aims. They loved to create free parties with inspiration and meaning so undercurrents has been part of their scene for years. During her studies to gain a PhD, Jane learnt how to access EU funds for cultural projects and put what we do into the convoluted language of the bureaucrats. Thus we laid plans to work on getting long term funding to run a touring Beyond Tv festival.

During that meeting they casually mentioned that they knew where the stolen Harry Potter car was. I expressed an interest and wanted to know more. They filled me in on how they were establishing community projects in the poorest parts of Cornwall but were saddened by watching money being swallowed up in corruption. There was a link to be made somewhere amongst all this so I felt it was as good a mission to embark upon as any.

Eight days later I was in their converted chapel in Cornwall in awe of Jane’s talents in mixing techno. I felt I was watching an artist at work. To listen and watch her mix tracks effortlessly and constantly feeding from both turntables at once to create new sounds was a real treat. We vowed to join forces somewhere so I can project visuals to accompany her beats.

Anyhow back to that Ford Anglia. The techno Dj cum academic (and knowing how EU funds work) discovered how two London geezers were siphoning millions of pounds from a pot aimed to help the Cornish out of poverty. Their film studios alone took £2m from EU handouts. Anyone with an ounce of cop on would have seen that building a studio in the arse end of Cornwall wasn’t going to give many jobs to local untrained people let alone attract many moviemakers.

The Cornwall Hearld wrote in December 2005
‘Police inquiries are continuing into alleged financial irregularities surrounding a £6 million Westcountry film studio venture which ran into difficulty within months of opening. South West Film Studios at St Agnes, near Truro, went into voluntary administration last autumn and was later closed down by receivers, leaving creditors owed money.’

So back to John and his fridge. After breaking in, he was busy clearing the studios of everything that would fit onto a lorry when he came across an old blue car. His young daughter instantly recognised it as Harry Potters ‘flying car’ and before you could say ‘Hogwarts’ the movie vehicle registration 7990 TD, was whisked away and sold for £500 (it has been valued at £20,000 by movie auctioneers).

Just as the second cup of hot tea was thrust into my hands by the hard nut (the first I drank at the risk of getting my head knocked off if I refused) the door opened and in strutted Pete- the ultimate in wide boys. His entrance gave me the chance to give away my tea (I still can’t for the life of me see any attraction in the stuff). A quick nod and Pete, Jane, Sean and I filed into the tiny kitchen away from everyone else. A level of trust was gained when I recalled that someone from Brighton had sent me a DVD compilation containing a music video Pete mentioned that he had made. It was rubbish but didn’t tell him.

Pete let it known that he was now in possession of Mr Potters vehicle but through his cocaine filled banter, informed us he had transported it to the East side of England to promote his latest CD, due out next month. His babbling got out of control when he revealed his plans to paint it pink (which would have lost any resemblance to the movie car thus rendering it totally useless.) So that was the end of that we figured as we weren’t interested in dealing with any more nutters.

A week on, it’s Friday, and after a week of watching mostly inane television, I have decided to head into the big smoke of Petersfield to check out the joys of its only nightclub. While having access to a Tv for the longest period in a while was interesting, it hasn’t convinced me to get one. Celebrity Big Brother drew me for for a few days, as being in rural Hampshire on my own made me feel as isolated as the people in the Channel 4 camera saturated house. Pete Burns (a drag queen who a chart hit with ‘You spin me right round’ in 1997) with cosmetic surgery to rival Michael Jackson made it all the more entertaining with his relentless sarcasm.

Apart from the odd gem of a programme, the general idea of Tv appears to be to show repeats or remakes of repeats. One of the highlights of the week was 24hour news coverage of a 20-foot whale, which swam up the Thames to the House of Commons and tried to beach itself. Thousands lined the banks for 2 days watching this whale slowly die from exhaustion and lack of food. Scientists say it probably drifted south while in the North Sea then turned west thinking it was in the Channel but went up the Thames instead. Its skeleton will go on show in the Natural history museum, meanwhile whaling ships carry on as before beyond the media spotlight.
So that’s the end of this dispatch for now but the story of Harry’s car isn’t over yet. News of a blue Ford Anglia being caught in the flashbulbs of speed cameras will probably be heard about soon enough.

Weapons of Mass Distraction

“News is what someone, somewhere wants to suppress, everything else is just advertising.”Lord Northcliff, Press Baron 1914

Weapons of Mass Distraction

By Paul O’Connor
The United States government unleashed ‘Operation Desert Fox’ against Saddam Hussein in December 1998. But the military action perhaps had a more truthful tag in the Iraqi media- ‘Operation Monica!’ As President Clinton faced impeachment over his affair with Ms. Lewinsky, his Pentagon media team ensured that the news networks were being supplied with plenty of dramatic images to sell their war. But were the grainy black and white cockpit video images of ‘precision’ missiles hitting their targets or battle zone satellite photos, the ultimate weapon of mass distraction?

Skip forward five years and digital images would once again grab the Worlds attention but have a very different effect. Taken on two different cameras in December 2003, the images of sadistic torture and rape by President Bush’s troops in the Abu Ghraib prison perhaps finally forced the ‘reality’ of the Iraq war into our comfortable living rooms. Initially distributed across the ‘net, the grainy stills have managed to slice through the tightly managed facade constructed by the Pentagon and Whitehall.

Controlling whose perspective of events we see has been an ongoing battle between Governments, Corporations and the public since the tools of mass media were invented. Recently the World Wide Web has placed inexpensive distribution into the hands of the people, but its power hasn’t gone unnoticed by the authorities. During the mass demonstrations against the policies of the world’s G8 leaders in Genoa, sympathetic reporters established an alternative media center to allow the public to publish online their own video, photographic and text reports, without the need for an editor’s approval. Following the live reports from various viewpoints of how police shot dead a demonstrator, the Italian police raided the media center smashing cameras and computers as well as teeth and bones. By planting ‘bomb making material’ the chief of police hoped to justify the brutal raid. Instead 74 officers were eventually charged with assault thanks partly to the eyewitness video images from grassroots news organisations such as Undercurrents.

In a world of tightly controlled media images, it is the photographic and video images which slip through the net that have the most immediate impact. How could a young cargo worker have known that since 1991 the Pentagon has banned the media from taking pictures of army coffins in case it affects public support for their wars? In her innocence, Tami Silicio supplied photographs in April 2004 depicting the flag-draped caskets of fallen U.S. soldiers to The Seattle Times. The Pentagon forced the amateur photographers employer to have both her and her husband fired from their jobs. News editors in more than 30 periodicals reacted by publishing her photos on their front pages to promote debate about Government censorship.

The protester dressed as Batman and scaled the walls of Buckingham palace displayed that dramatic images will always grab the medias attention. But ensuring those images actually make it to the newsrooms is sometimes more difficult than it appears. While reporting direct action protests with video cameras over the last ten years, most of my colleagues and I have been arrested, assaulted, or had tapes seized at some stage. Yet never have we been convicted of any offence. The obvious goal has been to stop certain images being made public.

Freelance photographer, Nick Cobbing is one of the very few journalists actually convicted and fined despite the courts recognising him as a working reporter. Arrested while photographing the evictions of environmental activists from a forest, police seized his films and cameras. The only other reporter to get close to the evictions was a HTV reporter, only to receive a truncheon across the head. Cobbings exclusive images were effectively censored reinforcing his belief that Police have a covert plan. “As the Police come under a lot of criticism for the policing methods, they want to put journalists off going to these events and the easiest journalists to put off are the freelances because they do not have the backing of the large news organisation” he said.

Why the Police should be taking an active role in controlling which images the public should see is still largely open for debate and it has prompted me to produce a Channel 4 news feature about the issue. Highlighting the story of video journalist, Roddy Mansfield, I discovered that he has been arrested and released without charge only when his news deadlines had passed on twelve separate occasions. The Metropolitan police have even gone as far to erase his video footage in the custody suite, unwittingly recording their own feet and voices in the process.

Every picture may tell a thousand words but what story is being told depends largely upon the teller. In 2002, I traveled to the Middle East at the height of the Israeli invasion into Palestine. My mission was to retrieve camcorder tapes hidden inside the infamous Church of the Nativity by Jacquie Soohen, the only video journalist recording at the time. The Israeli government, keen to portray people under siege in the Church as a nest of Palestinian militants and terrorists had to distract the media away from the fact there were a large number of civilians and secondly, the armed men were mostly composed of the Palestinian Authority police. The stand off lasted for over a month with people finally coming out in coffins, stretchers or only after being captured. Unfortunately the Israeli troops got to the hidden tapes before I did, ensuring that the world only saw their own highly sanitised version of events. By accepting the very carefully selected portions from the tapes, the BBC and others, allowed the Israelis to propagate the myth that the Church was full of militants. They have refused to return or allow anyone to see the tapes in their entirety.

It is for these reasons that I co-founded Undercurrents as an alternative news agency. World events are much too important to be told only by the vested interests of multinational Corporations or Governments. The people who have the most to lose should be the voices we hear, so supporting independent outlets is vital lest we want to wait until it’s too late before we can begin to understand the peoples version of events.

Behind the Matrix

Behind the Matrix

For a little over twenty years now, fans, critics, and even scholars have been debating the religious influences of Star Wars, beginning with A New Hope in 1977, but especially since the introduction of Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. With the release of The Phantom Menace, the articles have started again. However, this year has produced another science-fiction movie that should be generating the same types of questions, but it's not. The movie is The Matrix, and the reason for its omission in the religious debate is clear: people think it's too simplistic, religiously speaking, and they already have it all figured out. But like most people in the world of The Matrix, they haven't even begun to see the truth yet.
There have been numerous articles showing the heavy Christian imagery that runs throughout The Matrix, and the critics who point out such connections are, for the most part, right. They see Neo as the Christ figure, the savior of the world. His name means "new," and he has come to herald a new world. He is "the One" that Morpheus has been searching for; his approach has been prophesied. His real last name, Anderson, can even be translated as "son of man" (incidentally, his real first name is Thomas, and he doubts that he is "the One"). He dies, and he is resurrected by Trinity, an obvious Christian reference. Morpheus fits in as the God figure or the John the Baptist figure (which is how Lawrence Fishburne described the role). When Tank is about to disconnect Morpheus and kill him, he says that Morpheus has been more than a leader; he's been like a father. In the John the Baptist role, he is the one coming before Christ. Trinity fulfills the role of the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Ghost, whose power resurrects Neo. Cypher is seen as Judas who betrays Christ, though here he betrays Morpheus rather than Neo, but The Matrix is not an allegory; it simply draws on Christian symbolism. The Wachowski brothers then throw in some nice touches along the way. The only remaining human city, their stronghold is Zion. Morpheus' ship is named The Nebuchadnezzar; Nebuchadnezzar was a Babylonian king whose name means, "Nebo, protect the crown (or the frontiers)." Lastly, Neo's room number is 101 (he is "the One," after all), while the room Trinity is in at the beginning of the movie is 303 (note, however, that this is the same room Neo attempts to reach at the end of the movie). The critics fail to mention other gems, such as early in the movie when Neo illegally sells a disk to Troy, who invites him out with them. After receiving the disk, Troy responds, "Hallelujah! You're my savior. You're my personal Jesus Christ." So, there we have it, a nice Messiah archetype to provide a structure for the movie.
And it does provide a structure, but that's all it does. In fact, the core truth of this movie is not Christian at all; it's Buddhist. Unfortunately, the Buddhist influence on this movie has been almost ignored by the critics. There have been mentions of the Buddhist child bending spoons, comparisons of Morpheus to Yoda or to Master Po (the Buddhist monk in Kung Fu), or even a brief mention of Buddhism in an article. However, the depth of the influence of Buddhism on The Matrix has gone without notice.
The Buddhist child in the Oracle's waiting room provides Neo with the truth he needs to begin acting in the world of the Matrix. The young child hands Neo a spoon and tells him, "Do not try to bend the spoon, that's impossible. . . . There is no spoon." He adds, "Then you will see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is you." Neo returns to this statement later in the movie when he is having to perform a seemingly impossible task: when he and Trinity are trying to rescue Morpheus, they must ride up to the roof on an elevator cable. Before Neo shoots the cable to propel Trinity and him upwards, he softly says, "There is no spoon." When Neo realizes that "reality" is not real, he begins to move toward Enlightenment. The Buddhist concept of "reality" is called maya; it is the world around us, and it is not permanent; it is not the real world. In fact, maya originally referred to a delusion or an illusion produced by a magician before it came to refer to the world around us. This concept of "reality" is the truth that Neo has to understand to become "the One."
Morpheus also teaches Neo Buddhist truths through a number of situations. When Morpheus is sparring with Neo in the Kung Fu arena, Morpheus yells at Neo, "When are you going to stop trying to hit me and hit me?" To achieve Enlightenment, Neo must let go of the rational mind, which prevents one from progressing spiritually. In Buddhism, the belief is that we know the truth, but the mind prevents us from accessing it. Morpheus tries to free Neo's mind through the Kung Fu sparring session and through the jump training, where he tells Neo, "Free your mind." The jump test is similar to a Zen koan, which seeks to show the limitations of the rational mind; Neo, however, is not ready to accept the truth and falls to the pavement below.
The last Buddhist reference has to do with the idea of life's being a path to follow. Both times this idea surfaces, it is in relation to the Oracle. On the way up the elevator, Neo asks Morpheus, "Has the Oracle ever been wrong?" Morpheus responds, "Do not think in terms of right and wrong. She is a guide; she will lead you on the path." Besides the reference to the path of life, Morpheus here echoes Taoist thinking (a precursor of and influence on Buddhist) in the removal of dualities. In the Western world, we are concerned with good and evil or right and wrong; Taoists and Buddhists believe that dualities are useless conventions and prevent us from attaining Enlightenment. For example, the opening of the second poem in the Tao Te Ching, one of the primary works of Taoism, states,
All the world knows beauty
but if that becomes beautiful
this becomes ugly
all the world knows good
but if that becomes good
this becomes bad (Pine 4)
If there is good, Lao-Tze is saying, there must also be bad; thus, dualities are irrelevant. The last reference to the path of life comes after Neo and Trinity have rescued Morpheus and Neo has then saved Trinity. Everyone but Neo now believes he is the one. Neo is not convinced because the Oracle told him he was not the one, which leads Morpheus to respond, "You have to learn, as I once did, that there is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path." Again, this would seem contradictory in the Western mind; it is a combination of free will and predestination that is unacceptable in rational thought. However, the acceptance of this duality enables Neo to believe that he is "the One" and to reach Enlightenment, necessary for him to disrupt the world of the Matrix.

The Christian symbolism is an important structural device, providing the viewer with a strong Messiah archetype; however, the core truth of the movie, that "reality" is not real in the least, is heavily influenced by Buddhism. Only by freeing the mind and removing burdensome rational dualities can the soul reach enlightenment, and only by doing so can Neo become a savior. Irrational, perhaps, but that's the whole point.
*Quotation from Lao-tzu's Taoteching. Trans. Red Pine. San Francisco: Mercury House, 1996.

Documentary to Video Activism

From Documentary to Video Activism
an introduction to Documentary Film Making Video Activism and Community Video

Documentary Film Making
Documentary is a form of film making which concentrates on non-fiction. The action element is non-scripted with any interview element also largely non-scripted. Obviously the nature and order or the questions will lead any interview. There will also be a certain amount of preping the interviewer. This will be partly to keep the interview on topic but also to help the interviewee and interviewer collect there thoughts There is also an artistic element which is lead by the film maker. Issues of what is reality and objectivity are as always relevant as someone is going to edit the film. This will have a great affect on how the viewer understands/reads the subject and the impact the film has on them.

The Politics in Film Making

The power and appeal of Documentary is the way it alters and plays with the way the viewer relates to and understands the subject. In this way film making is inherently political in that it affects and changes the viewers perception of the world. This is indeed not only relevant to Documentary but is evident is most type of film making. The film often mirrors the experience, understanding and politics of the director. In this way most films are inherently political, commenting on the politics and culture of the subject - else they tend to be dry.

Partisan Film Making.
Due to the political nature of film, partisan film making, especially where the subject is close to the film makers hart, tend to be the norm, rather than the exception. Indeed it can be argued that to make a powerful film you must care about the subject, therefore powerful films tend to be both political and partisan in nature.

Community Video

Inherently participatory in nature, Community Video focusing on using video to enable communities to communicate amongst themselves as well as with others. In the process those participating will learn skills such as communicating, working as a group and technical skills around film making. The finished product is often of less importance than the skills and confidence gained through the process and the way in which the community is strengthened through people in in it work and are brought together.

Alternative News
There are only certain stories that will get onto the main stream news. The actual stories depends on many factors. The current political climate being one, in North America after September 11th there was a political climate which meant that mainstream news rallied round bush supporting his push for war. In New York many wanted to understand why it had happened and were against the war, feeling that there had been to much death already. The main stream media did not give them a voice. These people included those who had lost loved ones. Another factor is the cost of checking accuracy of independently reported events. Press releases from large companies and governments are reported without the need for expensive accuracy checking. After-all if they get it wrong it is not the media fault, indeed they can probably create another news story out of it. It simply is not cost affective to cover storys from independent sources. There is also an increasing reliance on large news agency's giving a very monolithic view of the world. Alternative media tries to fill this void allowing individuals and groups as well as governments and corporations a voice. To get a full picture watching Alternative and Main Stream news is a pragmatic approach.

Activism and Direct Action
Activism could be defined as activities engaged in by individuals to change there of others situation. Activists are generally doers - rather than watching television and thinking about the world they will put there energies into doing something 'active' to change the (political) situation. Direct action is engaging in actions which directly affect the situation of themselves and others. Squatting is a very good example of Direct Action as it changes there situation from Not having a home to having one - in aa very direct way. An office occupation is another example as not only douse it disrupt the activities of the organisation it also can raise the media profile of the campaign.

Video Activism
Wile documentary making is often political and partisan Video Activism actively tries to be. It is a campaigning tool used by Activists to convey there issues. There is indeed a inherently honesty to it. Not only douse it often shy away from creating a veneer of objectivity it is also tries to be very careful about getting its fact correct (obviously it douse not have the resources of the main stream to ensure this). It can also be argued that it creates a juxtaposition to the main stream media and advertising we are bombarded with every day. While mainstream media is led by profit, ratings and popularist culture and filtered by the current political climate, Alternative Media is lead solely by the convictions of the campaign and film maker.

(c) 2004 Ben Edwards

Going Beyond TV

Going Beyond TV
The European Social Forum in London screened over 100 films from the world’s radical filmmakers. A month later, the International documentary festival in Sheffield screens a number of political films including ‘Control Room’ presenting behind the scenes of the Arab news network Al Jazeera. Sheffield expects a record turnout. Turned off by the meaningless ‘reality’ Tv, it seems that many of us are now seeking out alternative sources to gain a political education.

While a man eats himself sick in the anti-junk food movie, Supersize Me, oversized film-maker Michael Moore is leading the way in putting politics back onto the big screen. Fahrenheit 9/11 turns the heat up on the White House, and other filmmakers are tackling the world’s powerful institutions. ‘The Corporation’ puts the multinational on the couch to analyse its psychological profile. Being singularly self-interested, manipulative, irresponsible, lacking empathy and incapable of feeling any remorse or guilt, the verdict is clear: the corporation must be a psychopath.

Non-fiction movies don’t come much funnier than ‘The Yes Men’. When a group of activists set up a website posing as the World Bank, they felt no qualms about representing the million dollar institution to whoever sent them invites. Their corporate globe-trotting presentations to unwitting business leaders brings unexpected and hilarious results.

To prove that there is still life beyond the television set in Wales, the annual BEYONDTV video activist festival screens political documentaries and animation.
Hosted by radical film-makers, Undercurrents, the Swansea based festival will screen dozens of films such as ‘Cows with Guns’ and ‘Granny went to Palestine’ as well as ‘The Corporation’ and even a sneak preview of ‘The Yes Men’.

Paul O’Connor, co-producer of BEYONDTV, is delighted to see political documentaries back in the cinema.
“BEYONDTV has been a hotbed of activist films over the last five years and this year we will start with the political band Seize the Day, banned by BBC for being against the Iraq war.” he said.

The prevalence of ‘reality’ Tv probably marked the death of the documentary form on television. Reality Tv offers us ourselves at our most tedious. Glued to the everyday, we refuse to see beyond it. The passive viewing of a television set in our front room offers us only one solution to our boredom- consumerism. Owned and funded by large corporations, whose sole aim is to return a massive profit, how can modern television fail to deliver the consumerist message?

The shift of documentary film to the cinema is driven by censorship, by corporate monopoly and by political hunger. Contrary to conclusions drawn from poor election turn-out, people want a say in their future. The resounding success of Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 acknowledges the public’s desire to know. And Moore’s forthright argument gives them an idea of what to do with that knowledge.

One of the main advantages for radical filmmakers of screening in cinemas is debate. Whilst in television land, your polemic is going out to a nation of couch potatoes who flip to the next channel as soon as the credits roll, the public space of a cinema, and the after-show drinks at the pub, invites discussion and maybe even action!
In ‘The Corporation’, Michael Moore encourages viewers to ‘go out and do something!’

Give us the money!

Community media should take notice of what is happening in the movie industry. Radical documentaries about war, consumerism and economics are now riding high in the charts. With the lack of vision in mainstream Television, it is likely that the British documentary filmmaker will emerge from within the network of community media.

While a man eats himself sick in the anti-junk food movie, Supersize Me, oversized film-maker Michael Moore leads the way against G.W Bush on the big screen. Fahrenheit 9/11 may have turned up the heat up on the White House, other (mostly American) filmmakers tackled the world’s more powerful institutions. The Yes Men hilariously exposes the World Trade Organisation while The Corporation puts the multinational on the couch to analyse its psychological profile. Being singularly self-interested, manipulative, irresponsible, lacking empathy and incapable of feeling any remorse or guilt, the verdict is clear: the Corporation must be a psychopath.

Ten years ago I co-founded Undercurrents, a British alternative media charity, to produce the sorts of films now arriving in our cinemas. Our mostly volunteer crew have trained hundreds of people to produce humorous but hard-hitting documentaries and shorts. So why is an international award winning organisation like undercurrents still struggling to survive? Despite winning awards in Japan, Canada, Germany, Britain and France, the financial support we receive is extremely limited. Nearly all the small grants we apply for come with the baggage of excessive paperwork. We can’t even find the funds to help supply our programmes to the network of local Tv (RSL’s). So where does the British film industry think the British version of Michael Moore will come from?

The hunt for Harry Potter's Stolen Car

The hunt for Harry Potter's Stolen Car
By Paul O’Connor

The disappearance of a 1962 Ford Anglia from a film studio in Cornwall made international news. Police suspected a Harry Potter fan or a classic motor enthusiast but the truth is even stranger.

The small blue car entered movie folklore after displaying its flying capabilities in the ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ blockbuster. An illustration of the car also appears on the front cover of the J.K Rowling book. In the movie, the vehicle is granted special powers by the Ministry of Magic and flown by teenage wizards Ron and Harry to Hogwarts school.

The theft of the movie icon hasn’t worried the owner of Britain’s other infamous flying car. Pierre Picton, movie mechanic and owner of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’, said he wasn’t optimistic about anyone finding the Harry Potter car as ‘unlike Chitty who is a unique icon, there were so many blue Ford Anglias produced’ he said.

Forty years since Ian Fleming’s ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ flew across the silver screen the all terrane vehicle is still popular. Built by mechanics and boat-builders from Windsor, the car includes salvaged brass fittings from the wrecks of Edwardian ships. The dashboard plate was fitted from a British First World War fighter plane. Movie mechanic and Chitty owner, Pierre Picton informed me that the cars licence plate GEN11 is derived from the Latin term for ‘magical being’.

When asked about extra security for the movie car, Mr Picton said that apart from people stealing the tax disc a few years ago he hasn’t experienced any problems. ‘She lives in a former coach house near my home covered in blankets’.
This week a group calling themselves the ‘Cornish Piskys’ have claimed responsibility for removing the movie icon from South West Studios in St Agnes. Their intention is to transport the vehicle with licence plate 7990TD to Brussels to highlight what they see as misuse of European development money in Cornwall. They may have some success as flying motorcars have been capturing the public imagination since the 1960’s.

This month, a movie car fetched £1 million during an auction in Arizona. The 1964 Aston Martin DB5 with revolving number plates, two machine guns and ejector seat, appeared in the James Bond movie, Goldfinger. The silver one of four cars produced for Sean Connery’s 007 character. However even the car of an international spy is not safe. In 1997 the silver Aston Martin used for close-ups in the feature film was stolen from an airport in Florida.

Other movie vehicles to disappear without trace include the motorcycles from the counterculture movie ‘Easy Rider’. The Harley Davidsons, one with a stars and stripes painted fuel tank, were stolen from a garage two weeks before final filming. Peter Fonda, star of the cult movie has a relaxed view of the theft saying ‘If you understand anything about stolen vehicles, the engine went one direction, the frame went another way.Some people have said that it's a tragedy, but I say that it's a scattering of the ashes. There must be five or seven people riding around with a part of the original bike and don’t even know it.’

Harry Potters Ford Anglia may not have the allure of Bond’s Aston Martin nor the iconic status of an Easy Rider but some believe the car is still valuable. The flying car with licence plate 7990 TD could be worth £20,000 to a collector according to Cooperowen, the largest film and rock music auctioneers in the world.

Taken to Cornwall to join an exhibition of film memorabilia, the car was abandoned following the collapse of the company last year.

Rather than going to Harry Potter freaks or classic car lovers, the car has fallen into the hands of a group of struggling artists who want to highlight what they see as ‘corporate scams’. They believe much of the £340 million in EU grants allocated for Cornwall is being ‘squandered on unrealistic projects.’

South West Film Studios in St Agnes, north Cornwall was hailed as the ‘Hollywood of the West Country’. The studio, where the car was taken from, received a grant of more than £2 million before collapsing last year. Other grants that have attracted criticism are those to private art galleries and established artists. Critics of the funding include Andrew George, the Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives.

The Cornish artists returned the car to 14th-century Carn Brae Castle in Cornwall to highlight that ‘it should be the poorest people in Cornwall who benefit from EU grants rather than rich Londoners building film studios with no future.’

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Video making and Activism

Here is an article I wrote a few years ago for the Guardian newspaper.

Good evening, here is the real news
One-sided coverage of protests has led many to ask if mainstream news broadcasters are really telling us the whole truth. For the real story, says Paul O'Connor, you've got to tune in to the video activists.

Paul O'Connor
The Guardian

Repeated episodes of bulldozer diving, tree sitting and summit blockading have finally forced the BBC into considering creating a "protest/anti-globalisation correspondent". It has taken a decade for broadcasters to recognise the direct-action movement as an important political force.

But while the established media have been painfully slow to react, the alternative media have been in the thick of the (direct) action for years, reporting the news you didn't see on the news. Five years ago, many reporters were too busy discussing the hairstyles of "ecowarriors" to bother investigating the reasons behind the tunnels and the tree-houses. Fast forward to this century, and the outrage surrounding the summits of the IMF, World Bank and the G8 leaders has been largely reduced to a binary battle between "anarchists" and paramilitary police. The problem, as the BBC has perhaps now realised, lies in the fact that reporters rarely have a full understanding of the issues, and thus the motivation, behind this latest wave of protest.

When thousands of people didn't bother to vote in the general election, the press decided it was a sign of apathy rather than disillusionment with mainstream politics. Yet it wasn't apathy that spurred over a thousand people to blockade the Manchester studios of the BBC on election day. The mainstream media have a long way to go to regain the trust of this new force of political activists.

Campaigners have now become so frustrated with the media that many are treating reporters as part of the problem rather than as part of the solution. Standing outside the locked doors of the media corporation, Joanna, an environmentalist, said, "The repetitive trend in broadcasting the 'violent anarchist' scare stories churned out by the police has only alienated us." Combined with reports of editors handing over their photographs and video images of protests to the police, it is hardly surprising that activists are now refusing to talk to the media.

But in the true DIY style of this movement, alternative outlets are being created. Video activists, internet hackers, radio pirates, digital photographers and text reporters are creating forums for the ignored and the marginalised.

Eight years ago I co-founded a non-profit organisation, Undercurrents, to provide an alternative to the mainstream definition of news. Within that time we have trained hundreds of environmental and social justice campaigners to use the camcorder as a tool for change. From Belfast to Brighton, video activists are now editing on laptops and producing their own news. Screened monthly, via video projectors in solar-powered cinemas, the "News Reals", as they are dubbed, are attracting large audiences.

Undercurrents, along with other media activists such as Indymedia and the SchNews weekly newsletter, created a valuable platform for activists to bypass the corporate media by recording and circulating news of their own events. With just six agencies dominating the world's distribution of news, media campaigners are busy setting up working alternatives.

Japanese video maker Matsubara Akira was so inspired while exchanging videos between Liverpool dockers and Japanese railway workers that he set up an organisation to distribute the works of video activists. Speaking at a festival in South Korea, he said, "I set up Video Act! to 'Create, Screen and Change'. I would like to make it go global and make a stronger network amongst the working people."

This desire to forge links is endorsed by Katharine Ainger, editor of the Oxford-based New Internationalist magazine. She argues: "As the economy globalises, we actually find out less and less about one another from the media. Cost-cutting means that coverage of international news in the west has fallen by an average of 50% in the last 10 years."

In reaction to the tightening grip of the media moguls, computer hackers created a unique "open publishing" network on the world wide web. By allowing anyone to publish their own text, audio or video reports online, Indymedia aims to "erode the dividing line between reporters and reported, between active producers and passive audience".

The price to pay for providing such an open platform is high. During the G8 summit in Genoa last month, paramilitary police attacked the volunteer-run Independent Media Centre. As hundreds of armed troops destroyed computers and cameras, a video activist from Undercurrents escaped on to the roof and recorded the brutal raid. Using a water tower for cover, Hamish Campbell had problems steadying his digital camcorder while listening to the screams of his colleagues being tortured below.

Bill Hayton, a BBC reporter, was so shocked by the raid that he published his own report using the independent media portal. He wrote: "The thought that a European police force can line protesters up against a wall and beat them until their blood literally flows across the floor chills me to the bone." Police assaults on the Independent Media Centres during the protests in Davos and Quebec received little or no mainstream coverage.

Outside the media centre lay the broken body of Marcus "Sky" Covell. Covell travelled to Genoa and volunteered his skills to ensure that the internet system worked for independent reporters. But after Italian police left him with snapped bones and lungs filling with blood, the Daily Mail penned reports accusing Covell of being the "mastermind", the "Briton who led rioters". These ill-informed reports provided yet another sad example of why activists have lost faith in the press.

American video activist Rick Rowley, who lost his camera equipment and tapes to the Italian state in Genoa, says the experience hasn't deterred him from video activism. Despite spending four days in jail before being released without charge, Rowley is still looking forward to being on the streets at next month's World Bank meeting in Washington DC.

He and his colleagues at the non-profit Big Noise films co-produced This Is What Democracy Looks Like, the story behind the WTO summit in Seattle. As he explained: "It was pieced together from over 100 cameras and has sold nearly 10,000 copies, and last year, on the anniversary of the protests, the documentary was screened in 50 cities on five continents."

The alternative media are also providing a fuller record of the events in Genoa, a stark contrast to the daily news feeds distributed by the corporate agencies. Associated Press Television News (APTN) summed up the weekend of protests with a series of about 30 images, the overwhelming majority of which featured only the violent clashes.

Sam Wild remained in Italy to coordinate the distribution of "key moments of the protests" to alternative media outlets around the world. While sorting through the "sackfuls" of digital tapes, he says, "Because so much footage from so many people was contributed, we have ensured that we have a real overview of virtually every major and minor event that unfolded."

The alternative media take a much more inclusive view of protests. While not ignoring the street battles, we concentrate on giving a voice to the 300,000 non-violent demonstrators who travelled to Genoa.

Grassroots reporting is perhaps finally gaining acceptance within the mainstream. At the end of this month, Channel 4 will broadcast the pilot of a unique programme which, according to its producers, will offer "a radical new approach to current affairs and politics inspired by video activists". Alt-World will feature stories by video activists in Brazil, Australia, the United States, Yugoslavia and Britain.

Nina Simoes will present one of these segments, on the huge social movement in her birthplace of Sao Paolo. "In countries like Brazil, where an under-represented majority struggles to have its voice heard, video activism has been fundamental in raising awareness about many of the social problems."

Pluto Press released the Handbook, detailing this growing movement and offering all the insider knowledge necessary for anyone to put a camcorder to good use.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Nuke watch film out now


Deadly Cargo - Our new film uncovers how fully assembled Trident
nuclear warheads are transported on public roads in secret convoys,
passing large centres of population such as Oxford, Birmingham,
Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow on their journey between
AWE Burghfield in Berkshire and RNAD Coulport in Western Scotland.
Interviewing grassroots activists, environmental journalists and
international disarmament experts as well as local authorities and
fire services, about the dangers and illegalities of this deadly
cargo, the Camcorder Guerillas offer an insight into an issue usually
well hidden from the public. We find out how ordinary citizens in the
Nukewatch network track and campaign against the convoy and its
deadly cargo – and how you can help put an end to this nuclear madness.

The film was made in collaboration with Nukewatch and premiered in
Glasgow last month to an public audience of 350 people. The
terrifically talented and acclaimed folk artist Karine Polwart
composed a track for the film and was so impressed and moved by the
film that she is planning to do an autumn tour along the convoy route
showing the film at all the gigs along the way, which is great and
draws in a whole new audience. She has also included a link to
Camcorder Guerillas on her CD cover! We are also getting all the
Scottish MSP's a copy in collaboration with the Peace & Justice
Centre in Edinburgh who are planning to do some strong lobbying in
conjunction with the DVD release. The DVD also contains two other
Guerilla films documenting the protests and the protestors at Faslane
Naval Base in Scotland.

Available to buy on DVD for either £10 for individuals

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Get your film seen in film festivals

The one thing all film-makers agree on is the importance of film festivals; they create an audience and an appetite for short films that is invaluable. The British Council has been instrumental in finding and nurturing talented new filmmakers and has long recognised the necessity of providing them with a platform for presenting their work at key international events.

Film-makers submit their recently completed shorts to the British Council on DVD with an accompanying festivals submissions form. There are no deadlines, all genres are eligible and generally anything under 45 minutes is classed as a short. The selection panel will then assess the work’s suitability for film festivals and select the best to promote internationally. We work with approximately 50 festivals annually. In some cases we give travel grants to enable filmmakers to attend festivals screening their film. We also have a fund to help with making a first print (this is a contribution towards the overall costs) – the two main criteria are that the British Council must have selected the film and it must have a definite offer of a screening from a major international film festival.

Films I have directed

Just updated by CV so thought i would share it with you

Paul O'Connor
I co-founded Undercurrents back in 1994 and have since co-founded BeyondTv international video festival and now building an IPTV channel, VisionOnTV.

Paul O’Connor
Born in Dublin, Ireland

In London 1993 I co-founded the award winning undercurrents, a non-profit alternative news service. My work has been screened in the Tate Modern art gallery and is broadcast regulary on Channel 4, ITV, BBC2. I write extensively for newspapers and books on video activism (the use of video for social change). I have trained human rights and environmental campaigners in Romania,the Middle East, Europe, USA, Australia, Nepal and South Korea. In 2000 I co-founded the annual BeyondTV international film festival. I am currently producing a series of podcasts on environmental topics.

Notable documentaries directed by Paul O’Connor include

Breaking News- (1999)documentary exploring how the police control the news
agenda. Winner of best documentary British BAVA Awards 1999

If I had a Hammer (1996)- Exploring the story of how four women disarmed
British war-planes sold to Indonesia using household hammers.

Major Resistance (1998) – directed 2x 30minute programmes exploring
dissent in Britain. Broadcast on Channel 4 1998

Alt World (2001)- directed an investigation into the arrests of
journalists in Britain. Broadcast on Channel 4 2001

Globalisation and the Media (2001)- how the mass media shape public
opinion. Winner of best documentary Tokyo video festival 2003, Winner One
World Canada 2002,

Evolving Minds (2002)- co-director-A documentary exploring alternatives to the Mental
health system

Reach for the Sky (2004)- Documentary exploring links between Climate
Change and Aviation. Winner Best Ecology film Swansea Bay film festival

The Only Clown in the Village (2006)- how a British-Asian entertainer
helped Tsunami victims.
Winner best Welsh Independent Film 2006.

Bike2Oz- (2008) Cycling 12,000km rather than damaging the climate by flying.

Climate change video contest

Calling all activists, wannabe filmmakers and journalists!
2008 is a critical year for the future of our planet. We want you to record it.

Send us your original 5 minute video about climate change campaigning and you'll
have the chance to win a proper £1500 short film commission with one of
the UK's most effective campaigning organisations, the World Development Movement.
Submissions deadline: Wednesday 20th August 2008.
For more information please contact Simon Bateson at WDM Scotland,
or telephone 0131 454 3802.