News Reel & Blog

Written by Jack Hopkins on 26th July 2018

We’re extremely proud to be an Affiliate Sponsor at this year’s Edinburgh Television Festival, one of the most prestigious events in the UK.

Running on 22nd-24th August, the 3-day event brings together all parts of the television and digital world to celebrate creativity, diversity and inspirational talent, and to debate the major issues facing the industry. The Festival draws around 2000 delegates from the major networks and international production companies; from chief executives, controllers and commissioners to producers, directors, marketers, writers, new media companies, distributors and press.

There’s been some huge stars participating in interviews, Q&A’s and talks over the years; including Vicky McClure, RJ Mitte, Gary Linker, Frankie Boyle and Edith Bowman. This year, there will be sessions with the likes of Joanna Lumley, Steve Coogan and Hugh Grant, to name a few.

We’re sponsoring the Wi-Fi at the event across all 3 days, ensuring that you don’t miss a thing with over 70 sessions taking place, ranging from keynote addresses, revealing masterclasses, topical panel debates and exclusive screenings.

Just connect to the network: EdTVFest with the password: searchlight, and you’re on your way!

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Written by Jack Hopkins on 23rd July 2018

You’ll have undoubtedly seen what’s been going on in the news with America, and in particular Donald Trump and his unorthodox decisions that have sent shockwaves across the world.

Film and television shows have a duty to document the undercurrents and notions that are occurring in society, at the time that it’s produced. There’s an abundance of content out right now and in the pipeline that highlight significant societal issues, often offering a prediction on how these issues may effect the future.

The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the most significant pieces of contemporary work as it highlights many of the underlying issues that exist in today’s America. Inequality, abortion, national defence and many other issues are used to drive the narrative forward and create a bleak dystopia that’s ruled by religion and control. Trump’s immigration policies and Republican ideas on abortion are also very similar to those seen in Margaret Atwood’s epic, epitomised by satirical protesters dressing up as handmaids in London during the recent riots.

The First Purge may just look like yet another slasher movie, from a similair realm of films like Saw and Hostel, but it delves deeper than how it appears at first glance. Like The Handmaid’s Tale, it exaggerates current discussions surrounding free-speech, liberty and voting, creating a horrifying portal into how Gerard McMurray predicts what the future might be like. The eventuality that anything like the scenes witnessed in The Purge series will ever happen is nigh on impossible. But, it does show a huge disliking to how things are going right now.

Sacha Baron Cohen’s first show in 10 years, ‘What is America?,’ is the least serious of the contemporary offerings but it strikes a very realistic chord in terms of how Americans are represented, the ideals of different parts of American society and the struggles with regulating gun crime.  Cohen wears make-up so his interview guests can't tell who they were dealing with, allowing them to slip into a false sense of security. This has consequently sparked heavy criticism from his subjects for intentionally deceiving them for political reasons.

Every prominent political figure has faced some form of backlash in the media, whether it be on TV, film or other formats – Trump seems to have had it the worst in recent memory, but then again, he does love the limelight!

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Written by Jack Hopkins on 11th July 2018

On the day of England’s first semi-final in 28 years, we thought we’d have a look at some our favorite sports films since 1966. Sports films create a romantic relatable storyline, featuring scenarios and situations that the audience have often experienced themselves within a sports arena. Sports films often include idyllic sports stars to blur the line between fiction and reality, ensuring that they stay popular for decades to come as they remain nostalgic.

Slapshot (1977) still holds its own when it comes to categorizing great sports films. One of the originals, Slapshot follows Paul Newman as the player-coach of the Charleston Chiefs as he recruits a trio of violent brothers to strike a spark in his team’s season. Like a lot great sports films, the crisis comes in the form of the team’s liquidation or collapse, allowing the narrative to drive towards an inevitable but equally rewarding finale.

Escape To Victory (1981) is one of the most iconic sports films, recruiting the likes of Pele, Bobby Moore and Osvaldo Ardiles to play alongside Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone for a team of prisoners against a German team during WW2. It’s the perfect blend or sport and drama without being too cheesy, yes there’s a last minute goal and a lot of jumping around but the entire backdrop of the movie shows that football really is more than just a game. 

Space Jam (1997) was a staple of a lot of childhoods, and like Escape To Victory involves a mega-star in the form of Michael Jordan to drive the narrative forward and appeal to a wider audience. It’s arguably one of the only sports films that could do with a remake, with modern day basketball greats like Lebron James existing as leader of the sport and a face for basketball in the world, who would seamlessly slot into the iconic role should it be remade. 

Remember The Titans (2000) is slightly different as it purely includes actors as sports stars. Denzel Washington plays the part of an African-American football coach in the 1970s. It comments on race relations within American Football and society itself and is a bit more generic in terms of storyline, with team against the odds and up against adversity to beat the ‘baddies’ – never the less, it’s still a cracking watch.

There’s plenty of other sports films out there too, with more contemporary films like Mean Machine, Longest Yard and Invictus all appealing to those crying out for a competitive spectacle. The film world is due another great sports film, perhaps when England win The World Cup on Sunday after winning tonight? We’ll see.

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Written by Jack Hopkins on 5th July 2018

There’s been a recent influx of scripted and non-scripted shows that focus on friendships. Some shows like Richard Ayoade’s Travel Man chucks two celebrities in an unknown place whereas Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing is more subtle and enables memories and nostalgia to drive the narrative forward.  In this weeks blog we’re going to look at what makes quiet friendships so appealing to audiences and how significant ‘small moments’ are to their success.

Lets start with Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing, a personal favourite of ours. It’s not really about the fishing though, it’s about two funny blokes discussing the perils of modern life as an aging man. They reminisce about years gone by over small moments like having a drinking or attempting to catch fish, and it’s as genuine as it gets in terms of on-screen comedy. It really unlocks the important things about modern life by talking about fatal illnesses, mortality, food and alcohol – this ultimately separates it from shows of a similar vein. 

Micky Flanagan’s Detour De France is slightly different to Gone Fishing, in the sense it’s a celebrity dragging his ‘non-famous’ mate around with him, rather than having two recognisable comics bouncing off each other. Micky cycles around France with an old friend he met during his days as a decorator, which opens up a whole new sphere in which civilian life mixes with that of a renown comic, giving the audience an opportunity to vicariously connect with the programme on a personal level in order to really relish the small moments of a friendship.

Detour De France and Gone Fishing are certainly un-scripted, there’s no doubt about it. But some on-screen relationships are sensationalised and exaggerated, causing a different portrayal of the on-screen characters and their relationship. Audiences are still baffled as to the extent of reality in Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s The Trip, which is an idea they play on in the show. They continually have fiery debates about each others careers and life choices.Brydon has revealed that he “would never have such a toxic conversation with a friend.” It’s easier to look at The Trip as more scripted in the sense that they have an agenda of exaggerating certain traits for specific effects, rather than Bob and Paul relishing the opportunity to discuss hilarious anecdotes without the restrictions of fabricated agendas.

Each show has its positives and negatives but one thing’s for sure, audiences can’t get enough of watching friendships flourish in front of their eyes on the small screen.

If you’ve watched both The Trip and Gone Fishing, which do you prefer? If you haven’t seen them yet, what are you waiting for?

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