News Reel & Blog

Written by Jack Hopkins on 31st October 2018

Happy Halloween!

It’s that time of year again where everyone conjures up last-minute costume ideas, eats their bodyweight in sweets and pretends to not be in when the trick or treaters come knocking.  In this week’s Halloween blog we’re going to take a look at 3 poignantly timed releases that have attempted to rejuvenate the horror genre once again. 

The new re-boot of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix has been met with mixed reviews. The original show, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which  debuted in 1996, ushered in a witch sub-culture about alienated youths. But the new series seems to completely ignore this trope and combats the ideas and misconceptions around witchcraft itself. It’s quintessentially American, as it should and would be with the executive producers of Riverdale on board, but when it’s trying to compete with other contemporary horror series’ it seems to miss a trick slightly. That’s not to say it won’t be a good watch though as a huge amount of witch and horror enthusiasts binged it over the weekend.

The absolutely terrifying The Haunting of Hill House (also aired on Netflix) is exactly what you want from a jumpy, terrifying show. It’s a lot more substantial and layered than the usually jump-a-thon though, as the narrative dips in and out of past and present, inviting the audience into a world where a ghost could come out of anywhere at any time. If you haven’t watched it yet, keep your eyes peeled for some of the lingering creepy visitors, as there’s a whole host of haunted hosts just wondered around in the shot.

David Gordon Green’s reboot of John Carpenter’s 1978 cult classic Halloween has also been a breath of fresh air amongst viewers and critics alike. It’s not particularly clever or mysterious, but its traditional no-holds-barred slasher feel is exactly what you want in a room full of unsuspecting viewers. There’s blood, nail-screeching, screaming, it’s got everything – including having an element of comedy intertwined into the script through Danny McBride, exaggerating the historical battle between good and evil even more. It’s an experience that’s better spent shared as its immersive and engaging narrative is so ridiculous that it warrants an outlandish reaction.  

What’s your favourite contemporary horror? How does it hold up compared to previous horrors?

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Written by Jack Hopkins on 26th October 2018

It’s almost as if we’re in the midst of another space race. The first came in the form of people taking their first steps on the moon; now corporations and ridiculously rich individuals are racing to get as many people up there as possible in the form of commercial trips.

Richard Branson is one of the main driving forces in establishing an intergalactic commute, stating that “we should be in space within weeks, not months, and then we will be in space with myself in months and not years.” This could just be all hearsay, with the project being pushed back several times, but we’re certainly getting closer nonetheless.

In this week’s blog we’re going to look at films that explore space, what they tell us about the limitations and restrictions of potential space travel and what has changed in the depictions of space over the years. 

Gravity (2013) is a great modern example of an intergalactic masterpiece, combatting the loneliness of space and the real-life problems that are plaguing our atmosphere. It received huge acclaim for the visual effects on show, especially the silent deadly debris that damages their shuttle, which continues to remain a huge problem for new satellites entering our orbit. The killing off a major character before the climax of the film was a risky move, but it opened the door for Sandra Bullock to give a stand-out performance as she fights to get back to earth.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), the brainchild of filmmaker Kubrick, follows astronauts as they investigate alien artefacts found on the moon. It pushed the boundaries of special effects at the time and really explored the unknowing nature of space, and the origins of humanity. It’s 50 years old this year, and in some ways we’re not a lot closer to really pinning down the mysteries surrounding outer-space. Films such as Sunshine (2007) and Moon (2009) are two more recent films that portray the psychological strain of space travel, which could be seen as an extension of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

First Man (2018) is the latest venture into the space genre. After the successes of Interstellar (2014) and The Martian (2015), First Man is definitely more of a positive look towards pro-space, looking at one of the most successful but traumatic explorations into space. Although it depicts the 1969 moon-landing, it also explores the idea that we need to deeper explore what we can do to save planet earth before expanding into the unknown, which is one of the ethical disputes surrounding this contemporary space race.

After watching some of these films, and if you could afford it, would you travel into space?

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Written by Jack Hopkins on 19th October 2018

MIPCOM 2018 has officially ended, and it’s a return home for many movers and shakers in the television industry after a 4 days of networking sessions, pitches and screenings. Here are our highlights from one of the most pivotal events in the television calendar.

Jamie Oliver stole the show on Day 1 of this year’s MIPCOM. His estimated global TV audience reach of 64 million makes it easy to notice the effect that Jamie Oliver has had on the world of cooking and entertainment in general, whilst installing positive social change in his productions. He stated that he setting up his own production company was a natural next step after having success purely as a presenter and that “to understand that the grade is as valuable as the sound man, the direction, the imagery. That’s beautiful; the craft of TV.”

Colman Domingo from Fear The Walking Dead joined Josh Sapan, president and CEO of AMC Networks, on the main stage on Day 2.  Domingo is in the middle of developing an adaptation of his play Dot  for AMC, telling the story of a woman at the head of a family with Alzheimer’s disease. He stated that “he was hesitant to pitch it to AMC initially, since it felt like a smaller, personal story, but the network has supported the project and his vision.” Showing that the desire to produce personal stories is still as popular as ever, as these are the types of shows that strike a real chord with audiences.

Issa Rae, the creator, producer and star of HBO show Insecure, was the highlight on Day 3 as she was named MIPCOM 2018 personality of the year. She recalled experiences throughout her career where she was told that there wasn’t an audience for the kind of content she wanted to create. Her stance in response to these comments was that “the answer for me was putting something online for my friends to watch”. She also thought there’s been an important change since the 1990s and early 2000s, when network shows were “geared to capture the biggest audiences possible.” This could be seen through shows such as Orange is The New Black and Good Girls that push the limitations of the norm.

It was the return of The Wit’s ‘Fresh TV’ sessions on Day 4, with CEO Virginia Mouseler stating that 22% of new dramas in 2018 have been based on IPs and real events, which is up 10% on 2017. There were 3 future series’ that caught our eye: Strangers (All3Media International) about an accident that turns out to be a murder, Escape From Mafia  (RAI COM) about  a family of Sicilian immigrants in America in the early 20th century, and Butterfly  (Fremantle) about an 11 year-old who was assigned male at birth, but who makes the decision to transition.

MIPCOM 2018 seemed to have been thriving as much as the industry itself, which is great news for everyone involved – we hope everyone had an enjoyably successful Mip!

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Written by Jack Hopkins on 9th October 2018

There’s been a recent trend for alternative bands and artists to shift their sound towards a genre that is vastly different to their original sound - this could be in the form of remixes, album reworks or guest features.

In the build up to the first ever National Album Day on 13th October, we’re going to look at 3 specific examples of when this has recently happened, and how it progresses the band’s sound as well as the genre and industry it finds itself in.

Flume, an Australian producer and musician, usually only focuses on electronic music. His debut album ‘Flume’ (2012), was released with a deluxe edition which was a replica of the original album just with the inclusion of some of the best hip-hop artists around. "Insane", which adds a hard-hitting rap by Killer Mike is one of its highlights alongside. "Space Cadet", with lyrics by Ghostface Killah, is another momentous song. It could be seen as a stand-alone rap mix-tape, but it almost acts as an extension of the oringal album and opens the musician to an alternative fan base.

Mr Jukes is similar, but strays even further away from his original sound. Mr Jukes is Jack Steadman, the lead singer of the alternative band Bombay Bicycle Club, and completely shifts his sound that’s full of guitars and riffs to a jazzier offering in ‘God’s First’ (2017). Artists such as, BJ the Chicago Kid, Lalah Hathaway, De La Soul and the late great Charles Bradley are all sampled on the soul album. The album comes in the wake of an indefinite hiatus by Bombay Bicycle Club, but this funky piece of work still strikes similar collaborative chords with the amount of different artists that are featured on it.

Alt-J have released the most recent example that showcases a band’s shift in sound. ‘Reduxer,’ (2018) Alt-J reworking ‘Relaxer’s’ (2017) 11 original tracks with the inclusion of talent like Pusha-T, Danny Brown, Twin ShadowGoldlinkRejjie Snow, and The Alchemist. Not only is the original album re-worked, a couple of songs are repeated in ‘Reduxer’ but are re-mixed by different artists. In some aspects, it feels like the content is being stretched, but a couple of the songs are so different and ground-breaking that they are outstanding songs in their own rights.

Can you think of any other bands that have gone down an alternative musical path? Were they successful?

If you haven’t listened to some of the above, we highly recommend that you do!

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