Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bye bye brilliant Berlin

Absolutely barking ( British expression for mad).

They did everything possible on stage: cry, scream, brood, even **ck - though the particpants kept their clothes on. Peter my newest friend warned me before we entered. "Don't fall asleep".

How did he know? Visiting South Africa for the first time back in 1992 I was given the Vip treatment to a concert for the multi talented singer/ violinist Sibongele Khumalo. I fell asleep. My host's neighbour, one Cheryl Carolus would become South Africa's high commissioner to the UK and each time I bumped into her she would threaten to tell all. "How could you sleep through a stellar concert".

But in the end, here, it was my host on the verge of catching 40 winks. The production, oh sorry I should have have made that clear was called Baumeister Solness by henrik Ibsen and not a word of it was spoken in English but I had the time of my life.

I even, serendipity, managed to laugh in the right place. Ab-so-lu-tel-y barking mad. Essentially the production revolves around the expressions of architecture over a period, with a property magnate intertwinning his life around a myriad of wierdly wonderful people who change expression at the drop of a hat.

Frankly the actors must have been exhausted. I was just watching them. Ibsen, doesn't do gentile.

It's not the fist time I have walked into a production with not one iota of language reckoning.

In France once, I went to see Paparzi - a film about those exhaustive photographers who snapped away at the Late Lady Diana. As I neared the ticket collector her hand reached out in front of me. "You know zis is in French".

I must have "made in the UK" cattle-branded on my forehead. But back to Solness. Wow!

Apparently it's a new production in Berlin's theatre land by a director unafraid to take risks and bent on winning over new patrons. However when I looked around, more often than not I was in a room of bank managers and senior manageresses. Yes even the actors are bemused by the clientelle.

Later one of the lead actors ( Mmm my host Peter has good connections) would join us with his girlfriend, also an actor. We spoke about method acting and how he had five productions on the go on any one day. Does he ever forget who he's supposed to be I asked. "Nein, you never forget". Peter lives and breathes the acting profession and he was the most matter-of-fact person I had encountered in a long while giving blunt opinions on his fellow actors.

I won't betray his trust. It was a private chat and he was not to know that I have a prediliction for blogging, but wow, I'm glad at least he liked me enough to talk to me, cuz he could be a real so and so if he didn't.

So just as I had started off privy to German efficiency, so it ended that way. Bye bye brilliant Berlin - a city that boasts little about its offerings. Where money oozes from the cracks of new brand titles stores. Where young hip things take over the streets. Where all taxi drivers are bedevilled by the thought that they are Schumacher (Formula One) and must drive like a bat out of hell and where memories of pass-it-on will live with me for long.

For as I received my prize from winning in one of the videojournalism catergories I was handed a bouquet of flowers. Splendid! But what was I to do with it and I certainly had no intention of taking it back on a plane.

So as I walked through the foyer of the Park Inn, two ladies in their 60s gushed at the arrangement. It was in German of course, but it was the language of universal admiration, so I did what I'm gradually getting used to. I turned on my heel and handed it to one of them who blushed, accepted, and I acknowledged with a salute. Alas I did not enquire upon her name.

But it is good to receive and equally exciting to give.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

suffer for art

Suffering for one's art has many examples of righteous dedication and film makers are by no means immune, nay, there are the best example of this syndrome. But today's film is reminder of the art of suffering in order to bring something special.

The evening was spent watching this year's nominations for the 3rd videojournaism awards - the biggest to date, with some 420 entrants from 42 countries.

The films scrolled by, in part because I paid a visit to the other side of consciousness. Yes, I'm certfiably mashed. But did have the presence of mind to pin my eye lids back long enough to take in a majority.

They're all superb - I'm not being political. A film on alzheimer's was too painful to watch. The wasting illness took my father and I remember the last moments all too vividly. Psychiatric patients in India abandoned by family and friends inspite of some recovering was too short. I wanted more.

Self flagellating voyerism had me sit through my own submission, 8 Days - a thoroughly wierd experience. It's the first time it's been outside my study in its entirety. People laughed.

Sabine, the organiser of this wondrous event asked whether they laughed at the right spots. I confess I never had any right spots, so it was nearly as new to me watching my film on the outside knowing that others were watching it as well.

12.00 and after another night of the long knives, once again my internal clock is beginning to shut down my body's control centre. Grrrrhh

But it's been a resourceful day, topped of with the screening, and a moment of genius visiting a Vietnamese restaurant which had me salivating to near dribbling.

Sleeping Rough / Platte machen (WDR) - winner of the special prize of the jury is a must see film for many reasons. It has all the emotions packaged into a tight wrapper which explode slowly in the mouth.

As the name suggests, it's about homelessness, but the VJ team undertaking this story did not parachute in and out. They went through the pain and bitter cold nights with their subjects. It was intimate, open, frank, with at no time the any intruding of the journalists into the story.

It is a film you would want to make, but perhaps may think the cost a tad too high, for it snows, temperatures freeze over and the wretchedness of rough sleeping is evident. please watch this film.

See yer tomorrow

Friday, October 27, 2006

Calm before storm

Ok so it might have been a bit foolhardy of me. But the previous night we ( new found friends) went out for a drink and at 1.Oclock decided I needed to turn in.

"Right, go out there, turn left and keep walking for 15 mins"

Go out there and keep walking turned into 30 mins more like it, with my antenna radioing in on my surroundings and whether I was safe. Breaking my walking patterns - cadet boarding school taught me that much - created the illusion I was partially barking and lost - but I was assured I'd be safe and was, and actually really felt no different from traipsing down London at an equivalent time.

"But don't go further east" was a side caveat I won't forget. That's where the, er, yes, hang out.

This morning, distance again has been under cooked, but we're of to see Christoph Dowe - a political heavyweight blogger, who we find in good form organising an e-chat conference from his company and behalf of a e-learning and a couple of unis.

A young intern from Holland, Bas, catches my eye. At 21 he has a clear idea what interests him and how far he'll go for an internship. 4 more months lay ahead before he goes back to Holland.

What strikes one about East Berlin is the Bohemia; the cultural sashay of this vibrant part that we're in. Every turn is brand mania, commercialism e.g. Reebok, Pepe, Nike and a slew that are boutiquesh.

There's an upwardly mobile feel of the cafe society, blended with the ruins off the old Berlin. The architecture can hold you in awe.

But I'm here for the awards, not a spot of sight seeing. But it's been instructive nonetheless.

There is a hiatus at the moment, rooms being refurnished, chairs being prepped. A radio journo from DW has just interviewed me and for once I remember to slow down.

If you know how I talk you'll get my drift. Food, ah! Food. I'm famished but there is no shortage of what I'd like. A quick Falafal and humous. THere is a sizeable Turkish, Arabic community here, so I'm told.

Downstairs, an MD from one of the big networks is waiting to give me an interview. Can't keep him waiting.

real time blog

The Vj thing is taking off. That at least is the impression sitting in a 100 seater cinema room In East Berlin surrounded by Berlin's/Germany broadcast-media industry and a few invited guests.

The chap talking now and forgive my pregnant pauses ( you can't see them) is speaking in German and is being translated by a colleague, who is busily working away otherwise I'd ask her name ( shame on me)

The lights have now gone down, but what I could gather was that there is an appetite for change.

First film has a nice visual edit. It's a 2 camera combining the VJs cut and what looks like a digi-beta pro camera.

They're laughing; the audience. The film shows men in white coats playing milk urns like they were trumpets. Apparently the young inetrviewee on screen has a thick accent - drawing handfuls of laughter.

Second film - also visually arresting. Good quality and everyone is the room is engaged again. More laughter. Lots of fluid movement with the cameras - evidence that this is not traditional shoot.

Behind me is Ruud - a well known VJ who shoots out of Kenya and central Africa. Some really good stuff he generates. I have just done an interview which I'll post soon about freelance and technology. Interesting answer but then what would you expect from someone who has a firm command of the language of solojo and VJ technology.

Woops just had to stand uo to intro myself. Am I too brief, too long? :"

Back to film - more howls of laughter. Kate, a journalist at DW -is translating. Yes apparently this is Hillbilly ( derogatory!!) ie is if I've picked the rightt adjective.. accents way too strong, more laughter.

And now I'll watch some of the films myself.... laters. sign of 10.43 berlin time

Monday, October 23, 2006

Netisens to digiratis

Net's done. Sorry. PGDIP Journalism has gone through its two weeks run, with hopefully an inversion of the Rumfeld aphorism. ie there are some things we don't know, but there are some things we thought we didn't know, but do know now.

Should launch the sites fairly soonish and then get marks back to authors. But I say that frankly if you've built something you're pleased with and peers feedback the same thing, don't let marks be the pebble in the shoe.

Going to try something with the help of Howard Rheingold whose book Smart Mobs is a must read and PGDips/ Masters. There are about 3 discos going on regarding media thought.
a) Will technology force freelance future?
b) Will TV die and evolve as something new in the coming years. NB Tele - will anyone be teleporting vision, when it's ported through the net
c) What unis will look like in the future?

The idea is to attract a smart mob and in pyramidical fashion have the mob attract others. At various conferences I have attended such as We Media, the kind of event blogging in real time proves an appropriate sensor of the unfolding of time and opinions.

So hello Howard, PGDips et al

Meanwhile, we wait. . . actually I meant I wait refering to something else. An email that dropped by has me curiously waiting intrigued by a possibe reply. OK, so it read briefly from the FTSE company: "We would like you to come and speak to our leaders. . .".

But then I should know better from my own strictures: emails are very rarely returned swiftly, very rarely replied to first time, and then only when the recipient has the demands of needs = wants fulfilment in mind.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Speed lecturing

I believe we've borrowed an old word for an old subject and made it look new: speed lecturing. Masters and PGDips are handing in online assignments that has taken them all but two weeks to do from a standing start.

It's been like that for the couple of years I have been handling online, but this year we're building a wiki ( of sorts) with a number of preofessional bodies looking to link to the.

I'll be putting together an aricle about modular versus function versus solution learning at some time on viewmagazine.tv

My errant :) Mastes student who I'm superviding from another university The London College of Printing showed. She has a wonderful project which surfs the tide of Christian films and is now in the "innovative phase" - the Apprentice moment - to see how she can market etc, so we had one of those agency brain storming moments.

During my days as a broadcaster, I also worked for Jon Staton, the ex head of TV at Saatchi and Saatchi. He is now a mentor and dear friend and I'm grateful for the experience of ideas harvesting that he would take me through.

Apple UK had a very nice journalist pass by. Nicola and I spoke about many things, some of which I know I'm bound to have said the unsayable.

Look forward to seeing the piece which should go up soon.

Time to go carb up!

Friday, October 13, 2006

The new new journos

My niece has been doubling as my agent, hence in a couple of weeks time I am due to visit her school and speak to secondary school students.

It will be both exhilirating and illuminating.

At Council I have often spoken to our secretary Jim about talking to students about a career in journalism much earlier than the standard university/pos grd approach.

Much of the "Myspace" innovation is happening within the pre and secondary school cycle, which is where to win hearts and minds of how to translate online thinking to the new journalism.

My Experience
I remember by the time I had opted for a degree in Applied Chemistry, I'd already written for my college mag. I remember the piece well. It was about the doomsday scenario of a Neutron Bomb

I must have been about 13 with a night torch in my bunker at boarding school and it lit my imagination of fear.

But I had no mentor or supporters for journalism and lost the zeal for a couple of years.

A couple of years back at Ravensbourne School of Arts and Design, I was asked to look at a bridging course.

These are students, who perhaps would be on the phone, chewing gum, answering emails, playing itunes as you spoke to them - yes a bit like those hollywood films.

The one with Sidney Pottier comes to mind. (Who's Sidney you ask??)

The first day was fairly riotous, but I was given carte blanche so went to the camera stores and brought up two 40,000 pound cameras and handed it to them to take apart, then go outside for 40 mins and shoot.

They were gobsmacked. The room fell silent, then burst into a frenzy of activity.

Was I afraid I wouldn't see those cameras again? It did cross my mind.

At one school I went to whilst reporting at BBC Feature strand I had water, paper etc hurled at me. Unruly doesn't even come close.

By the time the students came back to the room, I had 12 disposal cameras ready. They were to shoot anything, bring it back and then we'd work the big cameras.

In the ensuing weeks we learned about vertog, Grierson and had a great time deconstructing modern media.

It came as no surpise then that three years later a media grad would call me up for an interview and a reference. Yes, a couple of them went to university.

Faking it. Wanting it
Nothing to do with me by the way, You've got to want this, I often say, because as exhilirating and exciting as this career choice is it's also one of the cruelest.

There simply aren't enough jobs to accomodate for the 80 percent of grads who want to work in the media, so if they want to work and succeed then it's worth knowing what's ahead.

Many students will go on to become huge names in the industry. There are three ballasts, no four to help you.

1. * Family connections - Has mum, dad, brother, niece worked here before?
2. * Background - What school, clubs, hobbies do you have? Who have you previously worked for?
3. * Bloody hard work ethic and passion - Who is the Shadow Chancellor? Who is General Sir Richard Dann?
4. * Good luck -serendipity, the law of averages, sods law, there is No such thing as luck you create your own

Some of these you can control I say. Others are out of your hands, but if I know now what I could have know back then then I know what I would be doing.

That's why I'm looking forward to talking to my niece's school. Because if nothing else their ferociously fearless attitude to the youtube culture, their passion for the mash and smash will teach me a thing or two.

That's why I do this, The search for that quid pro quo of satisfaction

Here for Postcode -young people learning film

Dear David
Thanks for the postcode link found that to be a useful guide and will track down
the books on Television Production.
I begin slotting together a schedule for my young group and definitely, get them
to try out the 3:6:9 principle with interviews.
I will definitely be keeping an eye on the viewmagazine.tv site.

Hello Shuwin

Thanks for reaching out to me. And yes apologies re my site. Part of it the
pdfs are yet to be put in place. I'm afraid been a wee busy.
Sounds great what you're trying to achieve. I had a little bit experience with a group here http://www.mrdot.co.uk/post_code.html but truthfully I'm no expert. My own experience is that videojournalism has
such rigorous demands that the idea of being a one man/woman shooter making
films seems less demanding. I often tell my groups that they need to
understand Tv first before I then tell them to forget everything they've
Young people will then heckle back: Well sir, wots the point in that . . .

In a nutshell to do VJ well today is to be a good photojournalist. That is a
photojournalist with a moving camera will technically make a good VJ. Good luck and do blog your exploits for all, me included, to read.

Hi David,

I first read about you and your innovative Videojournalist work in a copy of the Sony magazine " The
Producer", from either 2000 or 2001 and have been meaning to get in touch
or attend one of the many seminars, which examine and showcase the use of digital video, story documenting and reporting.
I was hoping to attend last years Black Creativity talk at the ICA and I was unavailable to make the Broadcast live show at the Apple stand to view the videojournalism presentation.

As your part of your site is still being developed I was unable to download the pdf for tips, innovations from the http://www.mrdot.co.uk/index.html site, but I did need to get in contact. I am planning to work on a few short documentaries and a youth project documenting the history and influence of reggae music in the UK.

Part of my reason of contacting you, is that I plan to run a video production workshop for young people and would like to incorporate some of the same techniques employed in video journalism, in a quick digestable format for this group of 15-19 year olds.

So as well as being media literate they can also learn about form and content are the any sites or reference areas you could direct me to where these techniques have been employed by young people as filmmakers or vj's.

I plan to use the work and lessons learned from this project to submit as case study material towards a skillset project link info is http://www.skillset.org/qualifications/diploma/

Freelance media tutor

Monday, October 09, 2006

the blec - web lecture

The past, present and trend extrapolating into a future. In a 2 hour lecture, David Dunkley Gyimah explores media issues with Masters and PGDip Journalists.

This is the link to powerpoint deconstructed below and is not an easy hit in one sitting. The issues are kneaded, pummelled, looked at through often unconventional perspectives.

It is hydra which requires further attention, so please add to the comments for a republish.

lecture [blec] link here

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Could we be nearing a states where print journalism courses no longer exist? Near enough, if reports how unis are shaping their modules is anything to go by. So far they're hearsay, so need confirming. But something's going on. At Westmin, a multimedia studio is in the offing, with everything that may bring.


Could we be nearing a states where print journalism courses no longer exist? Near enough, if reports how unis are shaping their modules is anything to go by. So far they're hearsay, so need confirming. But something's going on. At Westmin, a multimedia studio is in the offing, with everything that may bring.

Meanwhile, 18 doughty street