Wednesday, December 23, 2009

BBC let's YOU edit a documentary

Attention all editors, directors, filmmakers, film lovers and people with too much time on your hands; the BBC wants you. No, they're not going to hire you (not yet anyway), but they are offering you probably the coolest opportunity I've heard of in years.

From the BBC: "For the first time ever, uncut video for a BBC documentary series, is online NOW for YOU to download and re-edit. Cut it, clip it, mash it, animate it, make fun of it if you like. It's free to use. And you can enter our competition."

That's right. Free, professionally produced footage is just being handed over to you to do with as you will. Better yet, you can win fame and fortune just by being a creative freeloader! I'm going to go ahead and label this my Christmas gift to all of you. Enjoy.

Head on over to their "Digital Revolution" site to download to content and begin editing. Trust me, whether you love the BBC, hate the BBC, or just want to hone your editing chops, this is the perfect opportunity to have professional produced material fall into your lap. But remember, as Spiderman's Uncle once said: "with great power, comes great responsibility."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The IRA finds religion on Channel 4

Before the troubles in the Middle East became the hot topic of the Western Hemisphere, there were the bloody disputes in Northern Ireland. Now I'm not going to try and recap hundreds of years of hostility in a single column, so if you don't know, I'd recommend reading Thomas Hachey's The Irish Experience: A Concise History (FYI: it's not a short read, but it's well balanced and detailed).

In the meantime, for those who are aware of conflict in Northern Ireland, you'll be as surprised as I am to hear that Channel 4 has asked Gerry Adams (the Sinn Fein leader and suspected IRA member) will lead a documentary exploring who the real Jesus is. Why is that interesting? Let's just say there are some who would argue Adams urged more people to violence than to faith.

There are already many people opposed to this idea because of Adam's background and notoriety among both factions, but Channel 4 has an interesting perspective on his inclusion: "This film will offer an insight into how a man so strongly associated first with conflict and then with peace in Northern Ireland, has reconciled his religion with the decisions he has taken in his life."

Adams' documentary is just one episode in a seven part series called The Bible: A History. Including other contributors like Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe and former BBC correspondent Rageh Omaar, Channel 4 hopes using a wide range of voices perspectives will paint an unusual and engaging view of the Bible.

Personally, with the right direction, this could be a fascinating subject and I'm excited to see how it turns out.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Five fascinating and festive documentaries

At the risk of offending non-Santa followers, we did a little scrounging and came up with some Christmas documentaries worth watching. We had to sift through layers and layers of rather dull films, said a few 'bah humbugs' along the way, and ultimately came up with the top five you see below. They are in no particular order and we are always willing to listen when we've left off a film or two, so see what made the cut and write us back if you disagree!

A Hollywood Christmas – Ever wondered why Christmas films were so popular? I mean what’s the deal with Hollywood’s obsession of capturing the ‘meaning of Christmas’? Well hold onto your doubts because this is the documentary for you. Though 15 years old and obviously a little dated, this is a great resource to introduce you to the wide world of Christmas filmmaking.

Christmas Unwrapped: The History of Christmas – Yes, Christmas is chock full of traditions, from carols to decorated trees, but where did these rituals come from? Well you asked, and the History Channel answered. This enlightening program looks at the origins of the Western world's most popular Christmas traditions: whether it’s the significance of December 25th and its relationship to winter solstice or the enchanting legend of Santa Claus or even Prince Albert's unveiling of the Christmas tree in 1841. This documentary has all the festive facts you could possible want.

Road Trip for Ralphie
– Everyone loves A Christmas Story almost as much as they love it’s a wonderful life. Of course, there are those crazy people who love it a little too much: this is their story. If you can endure the constant “I’m 8 years old and I just opened the best Christmas present ever” expressions that are plastered on these two road trippers, then you’ll be able to see and appreciate this modern classic from a different perspective.

Rock and a Heart Place – for over 15 years, Tim McLoone has organized holiday music events in soup kitchens, homeless shelters and nursing homes, but shortly after the September 11th tragedy of 2001, he ambitiously arranged for 400 New Jersey musicians to perform 50 shows in 30 days. So sit back and relax as this inspirational documentary follows McLoone and his team as they face the daunting task of setting up shows and traveling 5,000 miles to pull off their "Holiday Express."

10,000 points of light – a little known Christmas documentary with a cult like following (seriously, they’re on Facebook!). This 25 minute film follows a southern family in suburbia that takes their light (and Elvis) displays seriously presenting the public with a odd, bright display for all to see. Good luck finding it though, this documentary is about as rare as they come.