Monday, 3 May 2010

This Is England

Over Easter there was a British film season on Film 4 and I only managed to catch This Is England.  I have been waiting to watch this film for a while, and I was in the midst of ideas for my British Stamp project so it felt very relevant.

Set in 1983, a 12 year old boy gets mixed up with a gang of Skinheads after his father is killed in the Falklands war.  He spends his summer holiday with them and they soon become like his family.  However he soon gets involved with the drinking, drugs and sex of the older kids, and when the leaders Nazi pal gets out of jail, he unwittingly gets sucked up into a racist, right wing movement, which ends in murder.

This film is a harsh and tear jerking adaptation of Thatcher's Britain and youth sub-culture gangs.  The whole film feels desolate and there is always this sense of impending danger.  There is some great acting from all the cast, especially Shaun the boy.  It succeeds in making you feel like you've been transported back to 80's England, and similar to Billy Elliot, you really feel that sense of desperation and low moral from the community.

I would recommend this film to everyone!

The Time Traveller's wife

This weekend has been spent finishing off my CPT writing (mainly because I wanted to avoid the more important work that I really should be doing).  Here are a couple more reviews I've written!

I've just finished reading The Time Traveller's wife.  After being told repeatedly that it's really great I thought I'd give it a go.  At first I couldn't really get into it but about a third of the way in I was hooked.  It wasn't at all what I expected it to be, which was a soppy romantic story.  It was a lot more serious than that, some pretty nasty things happen to poor old Claire and Henry!  The time travelling wasn't romanticised as I expected, but actually a big shadow hanging over their lives and quite a nasty reality.  Somehow the book seemed quite down to earth and believable, although I have to say getting my head round the concept of time travelling blags my head, especially since in this book Henry couldn't change what had already happened, instead he was already part of what happens.

I'd like to see the film now despite the bad reviews!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Portfolio Crit: Craig Oldham

My 3rd portfolio crit was at Music with Craig Oldham.  I sneaked in on this one as there was a cancellation going, the more the merrier I thought.  The crit was in Music's lovely office (although located in the middle of nowhere I got totally lost!) This crit was a mix or reviews about work and the approach to the agency.

The tips Craig went through about approaching a company were really useful.  Most of them seem so obvious, I really thought I wouldn't have problems on this front and didn't need advice, but he made a few points I hadn't thought of and it's just great to have a little check list to always make sure I've remembered everything.

1.  Never ask for a job or a placement, just ask for advice.  It's a lot more difficult to refuse someone face to face.
2.  Always give a sample of your best work, but don't give away everything otherwise there'll be nothing left to show.  It's nice to put a link to your website, simple and easy way to let people choose how much they want to see.
3.CV's are only really important if you've had work experience or freelance work.  As for a covering letter approach, try not to repeat the CV and consider just writing it in the email? Don't go overboard on describing what you do - if your a designer people know what this is and will get a better idea from your work than any description.
4. Be humble and flatter.  Tell them you know how busy they are and appreciate their time, always say thank you and try to make it personal.
5.  Always make sure your approaching the right person whose in charge of student placements.  You can ring and find out before hand, find out how they'd like to be contacted and always check up on your application.

When it came to the work crit I didn't get the reaction I have from other people.  I went last and so felt a bit rushed when presenting as he was clearly running out of time.  He questioned something on almost every project, not something I was particularly phased by as I was able to fight my corner with the reasons behind my choices, but it was a little off putting.  He said I should iron out the layouts and just work on making them all conform, something I have already done but didn't want to print until I'd had feedback from everyone so that was good advice.  He ended by saying it was a good book, although I felt a bit like I hadn't got as much from him as the others and was a bit down hearted.

Never the less, I learned a lot from him so I'm glad I went.  One thing that has come from all these portfolio crits is a massive boost in confidence, some people will love your work, some people won't, but if you're confident in what you do then someone, one day, will be on board with that!

Portfolio Crit: Adrian Shaugnessy

My 4th portfolio crit was on Thursday afternoon with legend Adrian Shaugnessy.  I have met him once before when I asked him to sign his book for me after the lecture he gave us in second year.  As it was my 5th (counting James Greenhow) portfolio crit over the last few weeks I felt well practised and ready to impress.  He asked us to get in touch with him before hand and left an address and email.  I chose to email him with my CV and covering letter.  The crit was about our presentation and how we approached Adrian, rather than our work, so it was a nice balance compared to all the others I've attended.

Adrian firstly agreed with Craig Oldham in that it is important to include a sample of work when you approach someone to give them a taste of what you do.  He liked the idea of handwriting the envelope, with a name on rather than just an address.  He said this was a personal and more considered approach and meant he was more likely to open it.  I suppose I should have really made the effort to post something as well as email, always a double whammy and they are more likely to remember you.  When I leave in June it will be vital to go the extra mile to get attention.

When we got down to the presentation itself, he made more overall comments about us all.  He really appreciated the fact myself and Maaya presented our books right too him rather than too ourselves or the rest of the group (admittedly a little tip we picked up from Alison who saw him in the morning).  I have to say that I thought I would have done this anyway, but after he said no one so far had, I wondered if I would have done?

He mentioned a few people had had to over explain some of their projects which probably meant they hadn't made them clear enough in the portfolio.  Although he didn't say that to me, it is something I am always conscious of as my work is quite conceptual.  I have concentrated hard on making my portfolio as clear as possible.  

The main point that he ended on was that everyone you meet is a potential job interview and a contact that you should always follow up.  Even if you don't get anything out of it other than a meeting, you can then always keep in touch with this person for advice and an update.  It's got me thinking that perhaps I should get back in touch with a few of the contacts I made in London and arrange a trip down their soon!

He also said he liked Belle's portfolio because it stood out from the rest.  He liked single sheets that could be handled and passed around and certainly hers looked very professional.  Although I don't think that approach is suitable for a more advertising based portfolio, I have been told many times by creative directors that they're looking for the work and want it to be simple to navigate and look at.  It has given me that extra push to invest in a new portfolio before the end of term and get it printed on better paper!

Thanks Adrian!