BBC - Mark Kermode's film blog

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Pre-Production Unit: WWII Memories

Finished product! This featured in my presentation which went really well. I believe the approach I took of long hours and preparing everything long in advance paid off. The result was a product I believed to be my strongest work and represents where I should be as a 3rd year.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Pre-Production Unit: Sample Reel Shoot Day

Here are our contributors, stills taken on Canon 550D

Fred Wheeler

Fred Lee

George Revell

Percy Lewis


In the Sergeant's Mess at Pirbright Barracks, used a Key Light with the Sony XD, It was a challenge to keep on schedule due to the changeover involving the memory space but we solved that my using to SD cards and uploading each card to the laptop.

It was a fascinating day and I hold even more respect for these brave gents!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Pre-Production Unit: Shoot Day Prep

Accompanying Sample Reel:

Working Title: World War II Memories
Duration: 1'30"

Call Sheet


Monday, 20 February 2012

Pre-Production Unit: Idea Development

- Taking reference from Michael Rabiger's book, Directing the Documentary, I have been organising my Pre-production Proposal document.
- Through checking through the list of requirements on the Unit brief I have added more subtitles to the document including:
- Audience Expectation - highlighting what the audience can expect and reasoning behind why the audience would appeal to my programme.
- I have set my work into a distinctive thematic season:

“Mission: Operation Frankton” a season of programming across the BBC

- Made a new comparison to Army: A Very British Institution, which the BBC qoutes it as being

“A collection of BBC programmes about the British Armed Forces, featuring classic documentaries and historic events dating back to the 1950s” (Source: BBC)

- Listed key production personnel
- Laid out the Style & Structure into 3 acts detailing essential stylistic and structural decisions.

I have a finished first draft to hand in tomorrow and look gauge group feedback if possible.

Useful websites:
Cockleshell Heroes Home Page
Combined Ops

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Dissertation Unit: Idea Development

Swinging the Lambeth Walk from 1940

"The reduction of the grandiose to the absurd by this simple device held fascination for years."
Documentary: A history of the non-fiction film p.149

Friday, 17 February 2012

Pre-Production Unit: Low key Camera Test

Obtained a black fabric back drop on a manfrotto and arri frame, experimented with a Canon 550D, used a home made soft box to house a 500 Watt work light. We experimented with the focal length, framing and positioning of the subject and looked at eyeline angles. Before next week we need to obtain a less powerful light with softbox, book out Canon 7D from uni with rode directional and a radio mic.

Pre-Production/Dissertation: Idea Development

Commando on 4od

Series Summary

In the spring of 1940, after the humiliation of Dunkirk, Britain was facing the prospect of military defeat and the country's morale and was at an all-time low. Churchill needed a solution that would not only give him the military edge but raise the spirits of a despondent population.

As a young journalist covering the Boer War, Churchill had come across a special breed of soldier, called 'Kommando' in Afrikaans. These men specialised in dangerous, dirty missions behind enemy lines. They stalked their prey like hunters and could kill with their bare hands. In Britain, after Dunkirk, it was an idea whose time had come.

Churchill ordered the setting up of his own 'army' of 5000 elite irregulars, whose exploits would strike fear into the enemy. A film crew would accompany them into combat, ensuring that their exploits could become a valuable weapon in the propaganda war.

> Narrated by Geoffrey Palmer attracts a certain audience.
> First hand account interview with veterans.
> Stylistic dramatic/supporting cut aways reconstruction recently shot on 8mm with grain etc.
> Not a typical opening title for historical documentary, perhaps appealing to C4 audience.
> Relevant Sequence revisiting a scenic location with contributors reactions and thoughts.
> Corrosponding archive.
> Interviewers voice is heard asking the question.
> Lighthearted demos of dirty fighting tatics "the commando knife was more commonly used for making toast"
> strange Sequence where old men run through traing regimes holding guns.
> March 1941 a 'stage-managed' film was produced of the commandos raid of the Norweigan La Folken islands: good pictures for a hungrey public and needed "to be seen to be doing something" propaganda film that the commandos believed represented them as 'media puppets'

British Pathe PLC
Imperial War Museum
British Movie Tone News

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Pre-Production Unit: Idea Development

I have developed my ideas for pre-production in several ways:

- Commissioned an illustrator to do drawings for the pith document.
- Investigated marketing potential
*Behind the scenes footage
*Downloadable content (Posters, Wallpapers, fundraising packs)
*RSS Newsfeed
*Email mailing list
There is additional scope for marketing through:
*Grassroots word-of-mouth via cast, directors and producers performing Q&A’s nationwide immediately after screenings
*Premiering the film at a gala charity event
*Marketing through mobile devices

- I have discovered that in 2010, Help for Heroes that co-insided and concluded with the opening of a memorial. The concept is identical to my idea but they used 10 ex-milltary personel and they they cycled the 100 miles route that Haslar and Sparks took on their escape, known as the Frankton Trail, as a relay. And it wasn't to any extent televised.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Dissertation Unit: Idea Development

Having looked at
"Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film"
I was able to establish in 1939 the dominating film genre of World War II: The 'Bugle-call Film" from Nazi Germany-

"The Film maker's task: as to the faithful, to stir the blood, building determination to the highest pitch; as to the enemy, to chill the marrow, paralyzing the will to resist" (p.139)

And In Britain:

"The start of the war bought a concentration of bugle-call films. The GPO Film Unit became the Crown Film Unit; war films were its task. Thier purpose was similar to that of the German Films, but the styles were different." (p.144)

The 'Grierson Boys' (as mentioned in recent BBC Four Doc, "The Documentary Film Mob") were season film veterans eager to aid the war effort. This includes Humprey Jennings:

"He believed that the task of the documentary filmmaker was to capture the distinctive 'legacy of feeling' of the nation. In trying to capture and communicate this legacy, Jennings made considerable, and highly distinctive, use of images familiarly associated with England and Englishness, 'public' images whose power is essentially cultural and social, the result of centuries of accretion of significance." BFI Screenonline

Dissertation Unit: Idea Development

Looking at "Introduction to Documentary" By Bill Nichols, I discovered a principal mode of documentary Film making which applies to my dissertation:

Unlike the observational mode, the participatory mode welcomes direct engagement between
filmmaker and subject(s) - the filmmaker becomes part of the events being recorded
The filmmakers impact on the events being recorded is acknowledged, indeed, it is often
celebrated Often coupled with archival footage to examine historical issues.(p.31)

Examples include:
Shoah (1985)

I also looked into issues surrounding Goverment Sponsored film by Connie Fields, The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter (1980)

Bill Nicholas (Introduction to Documentary) describes
"This is an example of a film that uses archival film material not to confirm the truth of a situation but to demonstrate how truth claims can serve political goals"(p.27)

and he continues,

"We usually understand and acknowledge that a documentary is acreative treatment of actuality, not a faithful transcription of it...Documentaries marshal evidence and then use it to construct their own perspective or proposal to the world. We expect this process to take place. We are disappointed if it does not."(p.36)

Pre-Production Unit: Idea Development

Part of my planned sequence footage at the start of the programme will be rebuilding of the collapsible canoe, type used in 'Cockleshell Heroes' raid on Bordeaux 1942.

Similar to Ray Mears:

The Cockle Mark II consists of a ridged plywood deck and a ridged plywood flat bottom joined by rubberised canvas sides.

Pre-Production Unit: Idea Development

Steve Backshall on Marathon Des Sables

Dan Snow talks sport

Discovered this film made by Robert Lawrence's company, Global Adventure Plus. This is a highly stylish montage piece with elements i would like to implement in my pre-production piece (go-pro helmet mounted shots, picturesque establishing shots etc.)

Pre Production: Research - Relevant Programming: Critical Acclaim

Harry's Arctic Heroes [Sam Wollaston,] On interacting with the film crew.

"...there's definitely a barrier there; he seems reluctant to get personal in any way. And he goes back to talking about rations, which he seems to feel more comfortable with.

Actually all the guys – Martin, Guy, Steve and Jaco – are better at opening up, talking about what this means to them, than Harry is. It may be a buttoned-up posh thing; or that he doesn't want to steal the show from the wounded soldiers. Perhaps it's a lingering, inherited, mistrust of anyone with a camera. But he's not giving too much away. Maybe next week, when they're actually out there, alone and on the ice, we'll see more of the real Harry."

Bomber Boys [Review by: David Butcher, Radio Times]
"Does this look familiar? There was a good documentary, Bomber Boys: Revealed, on Channel 5 last year, also about Bomber Command in the Second World War, and some viewers may remember the splendid series Channel 4 ran a few years ago called Bomber Crew."

Pre Production: Research - Relevant Progamming

Bomber Boys

Colin and Ewan McGregor explore Bomber Command, a rarely-told story from World War II.

Production company: Lion Television
Length: 1 x 90 minutes
TX 9pm 05 Feb 2012 BBC 1

Harry's Arctic Heroes

Documentary following Prince Harry and four wounded soldiers on the first unsupported expedition to the North Pole.

Production company: Twofour Broadcast
Length: 2 x 60 minutes
TX 9pm from 23 August, BBC1

On Thin Ice

Ben Fogle, along with the Olympic rower and Telegraph contributor James Cracknell and Ed Coates, a doctor from Bristol, compete in the Amundsen South Pole Race: On Thin Ice, a five-part documentary series on BBC Two, tells the story of their expedition.

Length: 5 x 45 minutes
TX BBC Two Sun 28 Jun 2009 21:00

Monday, 13 February 2012

Media World: I Love the smell of BAFTA in the morning!

Best Film
The Artist - WINNER
The Descendants
The Help
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Outstanding British Film
My Week with Marilyn
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - WINNER
We Need to Talk About Kevin

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
Richard Ayoade (Submarine)
Paddy Considine (Tyrannosaur) - WINNER
Joe Cornish (Attack the Block)
Ralph Fiennes (Coriolanus)
Will Sharp (Black Pond)

Film Not in the English Language
A Separation
The Skin I Live In - WINNER

George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Project Nim
Senna - WINNER

Animated Film
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
Arthur Christmas
Rango - WINNER

Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) - WINNER
Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive)
Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin)

Original Screenplay
The Artist - WINNER
The Guard
The Iron Lady
Midnight in Paris

Adapted Screenplay
The Descendants
The Help
The Ides of March
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - WINNER

Leading Actor
Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
George Clooney (The Descendants)
Jean Dujardin (The Artist) - WINNER
Michael Fassbender (Shame)

Leading Actress
Bérénice Bejo (The Artist)
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) - WINNER
Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin)
Viola Davis (The Help)

Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer (Beginners) - WINNER
Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady)
Jonah Hill (Moneyball)
Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March)

Supporting Actress
Carey Mulligan (Drive)
Jessica Chastain (The Help)
Judi Dench (My Week with Marilyn)
Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
Octavia Spencer (The Help) - WINNER

Original Music
The Artist - WINNER
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
War Horse

The Artist - WINNER
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
War Horse

The Artist
Senna - WINNER
Tinker Tailor Solider Spy

Production Design
The Artist
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
War Horse

Costume Design
The Artist - WINNER
Jane Eyre
My Week with Marilyn
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Make Up & Hair
The Artist
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
The Iron Lady - WINNER
My Week with Marilyn

The Artist
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
War Horse

Special Visual Effects
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 - WINNER
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
War Horse

Short Animation
Bobby Yeah
A Morning Stroll - WINNER

Short Film
Mwansa the Great
Only Sound Remains
Pitch Black Heist - WINNER
Two and Two

Orange Rising Star Award
Adam Deacon - WINNER
Chris Hemsworth
Tom Hiddleston
Chris O'Dowd
Eddie Redmayne

BAFTA Fellowship
Martin Scorsese - WINNER

Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema
John Hurt - WINNER

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Media World: Hungry Uncle and Hungry Cousin

The Hungry Sailors on ITV TX 4:00 on weekdays follows the mousetached ex-serviceman Dick Strawbridge and his son on a culinary tour of the south coast: this week my Uncle, Ric and my cousin, Henry were on the show:

Ric and Henry are around 15 mins in

My Uncle sent me a brief report on his experience on the show for an exclusive BM's eye view behind-the-scenes:

Hi Will, So glad you enjoyed it. We had fun doing it. As you can imagine,it was filmed in a different order and they arrived with their bikes in a van.They had their own agenda--- no set script.They wanted to know about our farming system with the beef and sheep, breeds ,grazing etc.,and our H.L.S. scheme ( Higher level stewardship scheme) which is part of a government/europe bio diversity and habitat scheme.
DENHAM productions had a lady who was scouting ahead,a director/cameraman,a main cameraman a sound man, and another lad who used one of the cameras to take static longer shots, views etc .(he also came back the next day for those as well). they must have cut loads but it turned out O.K.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Preproduction Project: Character Bios

Capt. Robert Lawrence,


Falklands War Hero

Robert was awarded a Military Cross for his involvement in leading the final assault on Mount Tumbledown, East Falkland. During the clean-up phase Robert was engaged and hit by a 7.62 round to the head.

Wheelchair bound for about two years he still carries a paralysed left arm, foot, ankle and left leg. Attempting to champion the plight of returning veterans in 1988 Robert made the film ‘Tumbledown’ with the BBC.

Robert also runs Global Adventure Plus (GAP) that helps Britain's ex service personnel get back on their feet after serving their country in the forces. Through the challenges of adventure, teamwork and carmeraderie, GAP re-inigorates and re-motivates service personnel who have lost their way since leaving the job they knew and loved.

Dan Snow,


Rowing Historian

A historian and the son of journalist Peter Snow. He was in the winning crew in the 2000 Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race, and captained the Oxford team the following year. Last year, he presented Battlefield Britain on BBC2 with his father and co-authored the accompanying book. He is working on a new series and book about world battles.

Steve Backshall


Intrepid traveller

He’s travelled to over 100 countries worldwide, making first ascents of remote jungle mountains or descending into hidden sinkholes in search of new species, climbing the world’s highest peaks or completing some of the world’s most demanding endurance races. Steve has continued to push back the boundaries of exploration whilst capturing it all on camera or in words.

Zach West,


Young Marine Recruit

Recent Royal Marine recruit the same age as the orniginal members of the Cockleshell Heroes.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dissertation - Tutorial 2

Had a tutorial with Chris today. Having looked at John Pilger's "The War You Don't See" we broached the question of viewpoint investigating writers such as Robert Fiske, who is a correspondent for the Independant. I feel a quote by David Lloyd George during World War I, in convervsation with C.P Scott, editor of The Guardian and said of the Great War.

If people really knew the truth, the War would be stopped tomorrow, but of course they don't know. And can't know.

I also looked into the pioneer of modern Propaganda, Edward Burnase - who invented public relations, corporating some of the ideas of Walter Lipmann, and became an outspoken proponent of propaganda as a tool for democratic and corporate manipulation of the population.

I looked at an example of Propaganda from 1945, an example of 'Embedded Media' on the USS Missouri with members of the world press in attendance of the acceptance of Japan's surrender from WW2. I discovered that Wilfred Burchett of the Daily Express wrote the first piece on the then disputed Nuclear Fallout in the article The Atomic Plague

We also discussed a film from another perspective Triumph of the Will (1935) and Olympia Part One: Festival of the Nations (1938) from German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl Quentin Tarantino explained the significant presence of Third Reich filmmaking in his film:

Riefenstahl and Goebbels despised each other. He was in charge of every single person in the German film industry with the sole exception of her.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Research: Oifn Weg & My Uprising (Moje Powstanie)

During research I found a site called Culture Unplugged. I found a short film called Oifn Weg

Oifn Weg

Director: Sarah Horst | Producer: Zürcher Hochschule der Künste
Genre: Documentary | Produced In: 2008 | Story Teller's Country: Switzerland

My Uprising (Moje Powstanie)

Director: Anna Taborska | Producer: Anna Taborska
Genre: Documentary | Produced In: 2000 | Story Teller's Country: United Kingdom
Tags: War, Conflict, Peace, Democracy, Europe, Poland, United Kingdom
Synopsis: Polish poet and retired BBC radio journalist Boleslaw Taborski revisits the Mokotow district of Warsaw, where he took part in the 1944 uprising against occupying Nazi forces. He meets old friends, visits sites of execution of POWs and civilians, and reminisces about his friends who perished in the struggle for a Poland free from Nazi oppression. We see Taborski take part in ceremonies commemorating the anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, in which the surviving insurgents mix with today's Polish soldiers and youth. Taborski finishes by visiting a site where Nazi soldiers shot a group of children aged between five and ten years old.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Pre-Production Unit: Day One

This is a basic overview of my idea, which I am currently developing and have been researching since the end of November.

I have the working title:

Cockleshell Raid: 70 years on

With a working subtitle/strap line:

A new generation tackles the impossible.

1 x 60’
In Association with Discovery

Potential 'Elavator Pitch'

"Jump started and celebrated 70 years on: The ‘Help for Heroes’ Frankton Four blaze the trails banded by The Cockleshell Heroes. Through bold and emotive imagery together with highly concise and engaging accounts we will administer rich and rousing yet concise records behind the secret uprising. Our new generation Frankton Four will physically and mentally endeavour to uphold the memory of the Cockleshell Raiders."

Dissertation: Day one

Presented my pitch to Chris today, I feel it went well. I aimed to set a high standard for myself for the year so I started compiling research back in December.

My subject area is Documentary & The Second World War. my areas of enquiry include:

+ WW2 and it’s relationship with episodic and feature length documentary filmmaking.
+ Reflective historical documentaries stemming from the end of Second World War.
+ Questioning whether it is entertainment or education.
+ Covering the issues of wavering numbers of eyewitness accounts and debating the strength of such accounts.

I took this as a time to experiment with research techniques. I looked up books at the library and ensured I Harvard referenced everything I found (to avoid complications later on) but i also used other resources such as lectures (from the Paley Centre Seminars) which can only be accessed online so I discovered an app where I could store information that I find online called Springpad and this is where you can access all the research I have gathered so far:

Will's Springpad App