75 – #DaveCalls and Obama on Between two ferns?

So last week during the rising tensions between America and Russia David Cameron tweeted a picture of himself on the phone to Barack Obama. Seen below.

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You would think this rather serious image could not possibly lead anywhere. But we live in the internet age and this picture quickly became a meme. Many celebrities began imitating the image in new wacky scenarios including Graham Lineham, writer of Father Ted and The IT Crowd.

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But possibly the peak of the celebrities jumping on board was Patrick Stewart who continued the sublime mocking of Cameron.

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I bet he had a slippery connection. I shouldn’t try to make jokes. The climax of this meme for me though was the following picture which did a rather interesting ‘face’ swap.

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So while the world were having fun mocking our prime minister, america’s president Barack Obama was appearing on Between Two Ferns, Zach Galifianakis awkward mock celebrity interview web series. The series has been running for a few years now under the mantle of Funny Or Die, Will Ferrel’s comedy video site. I had found the series myself a few months ago and found it absolutely hilarious. The last person I expected to appear on the show was though the President of the United States. In this interview they both traded quips and insults at each other in one of the funniest exchanges between a president and a comedian I’ve seen.

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The surprise I had to this clip was only comparable to the moment Daniel Craig stood opposite the Queen for the olympics. Obama then goes on to make a plug about the United States health service. It’s a very rare moment for a incredibly powerful politician to appear on a web series. A web series that often includes a lot of immature humour, the following are some examples of the strange humour in the series in the form of a selection of gifs.

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I imagine the main reasoning behind this is that Obama want’s to reach the younger people of America and make them aware of his new healthcare initiatives. Going onto a popular web series is a perfect way of achieving this and because of the shock factor it quickly started trending on Twitter and Facebook. It’s actually very clever marketing because it is so blatant but yet so hilarious and the ratio of humour to healthcare information is just perfect so that people are sharing this video saying it’s funny and inadvertently promoting Obama. It’s a refreshing way for a politician to spread a message and has been interpreted very positively, unlike David Cameron who’s been face swapped with an inanimate object. On that note I leave you with Bruce Willis.

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72 – Minecraft the movie?

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It was recently announced that Warner Bro’s have acquired the film rights to the increasingly popular PC game Minecraft. One of the producers from The Lego Movie is onboard for the film following the film’s huge success at the box office. In fact Minecraft is basically like a lego game with added monsters and with an even cruder art style so it doesn’t seem to coincidental that this news has broke straight after the Lego Movie’s success.

This does not mean though that a Minecraft movie is guaranteed and the film currently in development is in the very early stages as there isn’t even a screenplay written yet. The film could still never happen or be in development for years till it’s released.

I admit that I have played Minecraft but I played it when it was still in beta and it was relatively unknown. At the time I thought it was kind of fun to play but I still can’t really understand how it’s managed to become as successful as it is now. Over 14,390,291 have bought the game which just seems astonishing because of how unlike modern video games it is. For a start it’s more of an RPG game where there is no narrative and the key aim is to build a house to protect yourself from monsters and the graphics are from the ultra realistic graphical giants of Call of Duty. In fact the graphics are so awful that if the game wouldn’t be up to the quality of the worst Nintendo game. But now as it has grown in popularity now the film industry has to take advantage.

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I really cannot see how a plot could be applied for a feature length film about this game. Even if the story was good they would have to present them in Mincraft visuals so any coherent plot would be washed out by the pixelated vomit that is the minecraft visuals. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh. On a laptop screen the minecraft visuals come across as quite quirky and fun, but I don’t believe they would look good on a huge cinema screen.

I think I could almost pick any other game that would have more potential to make a good movie. However if I had to pick a game/film adaptation that had potential to make money then I suppose because of Minecraft’s increased popularity there is more of a chance it will be successful in the box office. Although upcoming films for Assassins Creed have potential to be a great film and be successful at the box office. So overall I have low expectations for this film. Maybe if they just market it at children who can’t appreciate good films anyway then they’ll do fine.

71 – Extra Curriculum Media and Marketing

Last year I bought a camera for use in Media and Art. The camera I bought was a DSLR Canon 600D.

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This camera is so much better quality than any other camera I’ve had before. DSLR’s in general can achieve more than a compact digital camera which is what I’ve dealt with before albeit at the lower end of the cost spectrum. Also one of the main reasons I bought this camera over any other DSLR was that the LCD viewfinder screen can flip out from the back and spin round to different angles meaning you can shoot a film pointing at you and look at the screen at the same time in order to focus it or just manage the framing. In very basic terms this means you can take selfies with this camera. Money well spent!

Having this camera has allowed me to make more videos at home and spontaneously. Which has led to me developing my own youtube series where I go through revision topics. An example of this is below.

This has been really beneficial as it’s helped me develop more media skills as I am thinking about how to frame shots now on a regular basis and has helped me just do some revision for my other subjects. I hope that my style for these videos is fairly unique as I’ve tried to make the revision fun rather than laborious.

 

I was also commissioned (although not paid) to do a short assembly video for my form. I tried to make this a fun tongue in cheek sports show that focuses rather unclimatically on a school exam.

I got a lot of positive comments for this clip so it was a very rewarding experience. Both in the sense I got complemented for my work for a change and that I got more practice in film making.

This has opened my eyes to the potential to do more on youtube and to treat my youtube more as a business and think about how to market the videos to people. Obviously at the moment I’m not getting many views but I really want to improve. Some of the tips I’ve seen on the internet is to connect with as many other youtubers who produce similar content as possible, make good quality content and make sure the title’s and thumbnails are relevant and enticing. I hope that maybe through reassessing the content I’ve already put out and maybe joining some student forums I can promote my youtube channel more and in turn get more views.

This is not strictly what we study in media but it is important as marketing is a crucial factor in the media industry. A film could be the most incredible film ever made but without huge promotion and word of mouth it will not make money and that is what film studios essentially want. I’m sure studios love to make good films but what they really care about is making money. The marketing for a film can cost millions but if done correctly allows for a massive profit. Now youtube is almost like it’s own individual market where big views mean big cash but only if they have some form of promotion to begin with. I doubt my videos will ever get to big views but it’s a worthwhile exercise just to have a foray into the world of marketing and how difficult it can be.

63 – Will 2015 still be the best year for films yet

2015 is becoming a very packed year for upcoming titles. Most of these titles being huge franchise sequels. If you name any of the major franchises over the last 20 years they most likely have a new film coming out in 2015. First there are the longer established franchises of James Bond re grouping Sam Mendez and Daniel Craig of the back of Skyfall for another film. Then there is Terminator and Jurassic Park getting a reboot/prequel/sequel and also Mission Impossible and Bourne are gearing up for another film. I actually quite liked Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol especially the skyscraper scene and I’ll watch pretty much anything with Simon Pegg in it so aslong as he’s back I’m in, the new Bourne film I’m less enthusiastic about unless Greengrass and Damon are returning.

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But of course the most beloved (or at least for it’s first trilogy) franchise returning in 2015 is Star Wars. Returning for it’s seventh film under new Disney management and helmed by J.J Abrams it’s back. After the backlash from fans for the prequels, which yet again I quite enjoyed but I don’t belong to the generation that loved the originals, there is a bit of apprehension about this film. However if anyone has seen J.J Abrams take on Star Trek then they’ll know that Star Wars is in very safe hands. This film will dazzle the audience and not just because of Abram’s lens flare fetish but because I am assured that Abram’s will reinvigorate the franchise and bring something new.

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If there has been one massive movement in big box office successes in the last 5 years it would be the rise of superhero movies. The biggest player in this fight is Marvel and their Avengers and in 2015 the group are assembling again for Avengers Age of Ultron which is going to most likely make over a billion dollars. But also being released is Antman directed by one of my favourite directors Edgar Wright. It’s also starring Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd. As much as I like Edgar Wright’s films they have a rather bad track record of not making a lot of money in the states. Films like Scott Pilgrim vs the world which I thought was brilliantly inventive and quirky failed to make a profit which is an awful shame but I think with Kevin Feige, who is the godfather of Marvel’s films, will be able to steer this film to success.

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Another comic book film coming from Fox is a reboot to Fantastic Four which I couldn’t be any less interested in so I’m going to immediately skip past. What I’m really gutted by is Batman vs Superman. This was the sequel to Man of Steel (which I still haven’t seen yet but I’m getting there) which was going to introduce Ben Affleck as Batman and see him and Superman played by Henry Cavill go head to head. Which I was really looking forward to but it’s been pushed back to 2016 now. Which is a scary thought as I might be at university by then. Actually I might have almost finished my first academic year at university.

Another Hunger Games film is coming out but I haven’t even watched the first two movies yet so I’ll have to catch up before then.

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There are also loads of animated films being released including two spin off films from Madagascar and Despicable Me. Madagascar will spin off a film starring it’s penguins and Despicable Me are showcasing their Minions.  There is then just loads of sequels for Kung Fu Panda, Hotel Transylvania, The Smurfs, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Spongebob Squarepants. But what I have more faith in is Ted 2 as I loved the first Ted and a new Pixar movie called The Good Dinosaur. Pixar just roll out so many brilliant films that are great to watch for all ages and they have one of the best track records for a studio so I have enormous faith in this new film.

There could also be a new Pitch Perfect film and Adventures of Tin  Tin to look forward to. However if I was asked which film I was looking forward to the most I would have said Batman Vs Superman as I think Batman is such a great character for films but of course this is no longer in 2015. I think if J.J Abrams treats Star Wars in the same way as he did Star Trek then that film is going to be amazing so I will anxiously say that I’m most looking forward to that. However the year as a whole has so many sequels to well loved franchises, some of which like Bourne I’m getting less and less interested with but others like Bond I am excited to see where they go as Skyfall was amazing. So 2015 may not be the best year for films but it certainly has the most sequels and if they’re done right they could all be worth watching.

62 – Outnumbered

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Tonight there was a new series of the BBC comedy show Outnumbered which follows the lives of the Brockman family. I used to really enjoy this show as it was incredibly relatable and the kids in the show would come out with the weirdest comments and act so outrageously. However because the show seemed to rely on the younger characters, albeit great performances from Hugh Dennis and Claire Skinner, this reliance turned the show into a ticking time bomb in the eyes of critics. I for one didn’t even think there was going to be another series but no the show is back for it’s last series.

So episode 1 aired tonight and it showed all the characters are back but with new hairstyles and in most case about 1 ft taller. What I found weird was how even though they haven’t been on TV for 2 years I felt myself fully engaged back into the series almost immediately. This felt even more natural than IT crowd’s return earlier in the year as in that return episode there was a slight air of awkwardness in the first few minutes. What makes this show so great though is that the core family unit feels very realistic and there are elements of the family that represent a part of my life. All of them are very convincing in their roles and manage to represent a very average family flawlessly and without parody or cliches.

I also felt very nostalgic while watching it as there are themes of the characters moving on through life and growing up which reminded me of how I’ve grown up. There was also quite a heartfelt father daughter chat at the end of the episode. All this made me personally feel very comforted and content.

If there’s one criticism I have though is that it was almost certainly not as funny as the previous series. It didn’t help that there wasn’t real much of a focus of the plot. It felt a bit like a segment of a story rather than an enclosed one in itself. This meant there was no room to get to a big punchline for the episode which would usually be present in previous episodes.

However I don’t care. It still made me chuckle and it was great to see how the cast had grown as they have grown up at a very similar age to my own family. This then made it more funny as there were moments in the episode where I was pointing at the screen saying “that’s just like me”. It has relatability to me that I haven’t quite felt since The Inbetweeners. It felt like I was going home to my family so I didn’t care if they didn’t make me laugh my ass off, like before, it was just nice to see them.

60 – Defending Video Games

The video games industry often comes under scrutiny because of perceived glorification of violence in some of it’s games, particularly the Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto series. However this criticism clouds the media’s perception of the whole industry which is a shame as the industry is actually very broad. Would it be fair to criticize all written books for being too sexual because Fifty Shades of Grey is? No, of course not and for the same reason it’s unfair to criticize all video games because a certain few feature strong violence. This is what Charlie Brooker, comedian and video game enthusiast, tries to get across to Channel 4’s lead news reporter Jon Snow in the following clip.

Jon Snow seems to represent this media prejudice against the industry (or is guilty of it) but this is mainly through naivety. Like Charlie says the most publicised games tend to be the most violent which then makes people believe these are the only types of games on offer. There are millions of games on offer that do not feature violence as the main theme. One game I bought recently solely focuses on Space Exploration and building rocket ships which could even act as an educational tool. There are also games that are being incredibly imaginative like the Stanley Parable for instance.

or trying to create distinctive and interesting art styles like Limbo which takes the platform genre into a dark and enigmatic area.

However as these games are only really well known within the ‘gaming community’ and even then they’re far more niche than a Call of Duty title, they will never quite be recognised by the mainstream media who consistently claim that video games are encouraging violence and are one of the reasons that countries like the United States have so much gun crime. The media has also targeted the film industry but to a lesser extent as the general public know that the action genre is simply one genre of films. I think these worries are unfounded though as violent games are only going to encourage violence in people who are incredibly susceptible. It would be unfair to blame video games for this as such people would be influenced by anything, TV, films, books. It would be a problem with the person themselves rather than the industry.

When you play first person shooters like Call of Duty or Battlefield it is a simulation at the end of the day and you’re completely aware it’s not real. However I would admit that these games are more and more becoming the generic and lazy end of the medium. Every Call of Duty game since Call of Duty Modern Warfare has been basically the same game but just repackaged. Battlefield tries a little bit harder but feels like it’s on the verge of following in Call of Duty’s path of endless recycling.

To those people who say that they don’t like video games just realise you sound as ridiculous as when someone say’s they don’t like any film. There are so many different games that all work in different ways, some are karoke games, some are sports, some are intriguing interactive stories, some allow you to build your own worlds and yes some are violent war simulators. Somewhere there will be a game that you enjoy.

Blog Post Over.

59 – Uncle, The best BBC three comedy ever?


Uncle is a new bbc three comedy series that stars comedian Nick Helm as an inappropriate uncle of his nephew Errol. It comes from Baby Cow Productions who also produced Gavin and Stacey.

BBC three have disappointed me recently with poor offerings from Bad Education for it’s Christmas special have left a sour taste in my mouth and because of this when I saw the trailer for this series I was less than enthusiastic as I expected it to be just another cheap BBC three comedy.

But as you’ve already seen the title of this post it may seem quite obvious that I am about to say however and then go on about how great the show is in a series of paragraphs that describe different aspects of the show that I enjoyed. Well you know me too well and thus…

However this show is really original and wasn’t just funny to watch. The opening scene is surprisingly dark but this allows for character development and immediately creates empathy towards the character. The audience then want to see how this character can pick himself up from this extreme low point. This emotional sub plot really surprised me and it is great to see a comedy attempt to break a taboo like that. It’s really refreshing and adds another layer to the series.

Also the comedy chemistry between Erol and Andy is hilarious seen in the clip above. I couldn’t find the name of the actor who plays Erol but he gives a very strong performance considering he’s probably younger than I am and he manages to almost out stage Nick Helm which yet again was another surprise. I think I can strangely relate to this series a lot as Erol is basically me from 4 years ago. There’s real room for the relationship between the pair to grow as they go forward from being distant relatives. They have a great back and forth with each other as well which seems organic which makes the outrageous lines they both throw at each other just the more hilarious.

The series also takes advantage of Nick Helm’s musical ‘talent’ and features sequences where he’ll perform a typically bizarre song. These songs are just another unique selling point for the show and have a Family Guy esque feel to them. Like the following weird offering.

This series has a lot of gags but at it’s core is a heart warming unconventional uncle who wants to prove himself and does so by acting as a father figure to his nephew. It’s the best new comedy I’ve seen in the last year or so and the best one I’ve seen aired on BBC three in a while. I definitely recommend giving it a watch.

But wait the blog post doesn’t end there. As you may have noticed the title is a question, and not rhetorical so is Uncle the best BBC three comedy ever? Well I’ll make it clear that this is only concerning situation comedies and obviously this is all subjective. I believe Uncle does have the potential to be the channel’s best comedy so far, with tough competition from Gavin and Stacey and a personal favourite of mine Pram Face. I would probably say Gavin and Stacey is still at the top but I really believe the way Uncle is going and how original it is might be able to claim the top position. One of the main aspects keeping it behind is that it doesn’t have as many characters but in a way that’s one of it’s strengths as well as it allows all the focus to be on the two central characters so they’re relationship is developed in more detail.

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