Saturday, 14 March 2015

Yr3 Week 19 (Wed 4 Mar - MDA3300 Film Research and Context - BFI Mediatheque trip)

Today, we went down to the BFI Southbank for a twofold purpose: first, to try out the Mediatheque, an interactive archive of several thousand films and television programmes available to the public. Second, to have a little chat on film festivals.

To star off, the Mediatheque is a small room with several 'pods', made of a circular couch and a screen. Inputting a code from the supervisor, you could browse through the archive. Elhum encouraged us to go snoop around for titles akin to the projects we were working on. I decided to do opt for half and half: half for a uni project, half for an outside production. Beginning with the altter, I watched the first half of the BBC 1977 adaptation of Bram Stoker's most famous creation, Count Dracula, starring Louis Jordan. There´s a bit of geek value here, as it was because of this miniseries that the opening to the 1977 season of Doctor Who was altered: out went a vampire tale called The Witch Lords, and instead came one of the series' most chilling stories, Horror of Fang Rock.

Beyond that novelty, I legitimately liked what I saw: Louis Jordan was a very restrained and sophisticated Dracula, I loved the atmosphere that was created, and despite some tacky 70s video and practical effects, rubber bats included, classic Who had already trained me to deal with that, so it wasn't a big issue.

Next, moving towards something related to my Uni project, the family friendly Little Friend, I watched the 1949 animated short, Ginger Nutt's Christmas Circus. Produced by GB Animation, which was founded by an ex-Disney employee, it was a very well animated short dealing with a mischievous parrot who heckles a circus. The Disney influence was rather apparent, and it´s a shame that GB never took off as it would've probably given British Animation a little more credibility than it would enjoy for many years until the likes of Cosgrove Hall and then Aardman came along.

Then, we had our Film Festival talk with the organizer of the London Short Film Festival, Phillip Ilson, who chatted to us about his own experiences and growing up during the indie boom of the 1990s, and how much the tech has changed since he started out. However, in terms of quantitative value, it was a lot of what I´ve mentioned before here, so I won't go into more detail.

Today was an amusing trip, and I can't say I didn't learn anything, but it didn't feel like a terrible amount of new ground was covered in terms of what we've learnt about either the BFI's resources before, or film festivals. However, founding out about the British Disney was a nice bonus.

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