Sports Tonight Live was Kelvin Mackenzie’s foray into digital sports broadcasting. I went intending to freelance as a day producer but on my first day was thrown into the channel manager’s hotseat and asked to launch a new, nightly live broadcast within 3 weeks…with a team of keen graduates I’d never met and a radio presenter who had never worked on camera. A long story, and a real challenge!
In late 2011 I was brought in by the PR for Wasserman Media Group to produce a video highlighting their PR work with cyclist and 2011 Sports Personality of the Year Mark Cavendish. I shot interviews with Mark plus several Wasserman staff and journalists, added footage and stills from recent media coverage and edited a 3 minute video for internal purposes.
Due to my commitments on GoalMouth and also to the fact that he’s got more staff now, I haven’t done much for Sheephead at FATV recently. In fact those who knew Channelbee will be happy to hear that Joe’s not only got Jon Dyson but also Tony ‘the Hammer’ Watson on board now which is great news as he’s a top bloke who knows his football even if you can’t understand what he’s saying most of the time. So naturally I was happy to get the call to do a day with the team up at Wembley covering for Dyson who was on U21 duty.
FATV seem to be growing as an operation and now have tv giants Endemol behind them so I fully expect them to go from strength to strength; think of the assets they have at their disposal (England players/footage, FA Cup) and the huge fanbase (pretty much anyone who’s interested in football) and you can see I’m hardly going out on a limb there. Joe and his team have the access, they have the creative experience and vitally they have the trust of the hierarchy at the FA and the end result is a great example of what branded content should be; it engages the audience whilst promoting the product. They’re not taking it easy either; on Saturday at various times I think I counted 8 pieces in production. That’s a lesson to any brands seeking to get into video; one glossily produced corporate or brand promo does not a digital audience make, unless you get lucky with one of those elusive ‘virals’. In my humble opinion little and often is the key to building brand awareness and eventually loyalty through video.
8 pieces on the go in one day also meant I was in for a pretty full-on day’s graft. First up was a 3 camera acoustic set and interview featuring Brother, hosted by ESPN’s Richard Lenton. Lighting conditions weren’t ideal and it was a fast turnaround in edit so it’s pretty rough and ready but we prioritised getting the piece out before kickoff rather than making it look and sound prettier:
Channelbee trivia point about Richard Lenton: he appeared as a guest in the original pilot show for the project. Back then he worked at Sky but not on camera, and came to us with a brilliant clip he had of him when he blagged his way onto an African channel as a presenter during the World Cup. During one game his co-presenter was caught short whilst he was on air…cue a lot of jiggling in his seat and an eventual panic dash off camera whilst Richard tried to hold the fort. Wish I could find the clip on YouTube…
Back to Wembley, and Brother duly edited and uploaded, next job was pitchside to pick up whatever I could for a low angle perspective on the game. I may have been 10 feet away from the Swiss keeper but I can tell you, crouched behind the goal isn’t the way to watch football. Stuck without a stool, hunched over a tripod just high enough to peek over the hoarding but low enough not to attract the wrath of the fans in Row A, sweltering under the mid-afternoon sun wrestling with temperamental kit…so I couldn’t tell you how we played but it was certainly a buzz. Then a mad dash into the tunnel for half-time, a desperate swap of cameras and off out onto the pitch with the England Women’s team for their official send off to the World Cup. Back into the tunnel for interviews with some of the Women’s team, back pitchside for midway through the second half, another mad dash upstairs after full time and another hurried edit to get the pitchside cut up on the site for 10pm. Again, priority for the edit was to get it up as soon as possible rather than creating a masterpiece, but I think it’s always interesting to view action from a different angle and here it is:
Today I edited the interviews with the Women’s team so that’s up now:
A pretty full-on day but as I say, I really believe in what FATV are doing and it’s a pleasure to put the hours in with them. Looks like I could be heading out to Germany to be the videographer for the Women’s team at the World Cup which if it happens would be a real honour.
In spring 2011 I series produced and helped shoot ‘GoalMouth’, a 5×21 minute football magazine show for Disney XD presented by Tim Warwood and Adam Gendle.
Disney’s brief was to create a fun show for boys 8-12 which not only featured Premier League names but also helped promote the Premier League Schools Tournament. I was asked by Sassy Films to assist with the initial pitch and development of the format, and then to write/produce the show which was a combination of archive footage, pre-recorded location packages with Premier League footballers
mascots from Premier League and Football League
plus action from the schools tournament and studio gags/links.
Operating with a skeleton team, I was required to take on multiple tasks including writing the script, shooting inserts, researching archive footage and booking Premier League contributors.
Back in January I was privileged to meet and shoot three generations of Welsh rugby icons: Gareth Edwards, Jonathan Davies and Shane Williams. I wouldn’t claim to be the world’s biggest rugby fan but I know enough to appreciate the quality of the lineup; it’s like getting Sir Bobby Charlton, Kevin Keegan and David Beckham around a table. Old Soccer AM mucker Robbie Knox and I were on hand to record the interview for the Jaguar Academy of Sport, who wanted to get the guys together to discuss how rugby has changed over the generations. Because of the timing of their careers it made for some fascinating insights; Edwards’ era was staunchly amateur, Davies played both as an amateur and professional, famously also swapping codes, and Williams has enjoyed the trappings of the modern game for the majority of his career. The way the game has progressed is epitomised in the way Wales have prepared for internationals over the years; in the 70′s they’d meet up on a Friday night for what seemed to amount to a team talk and a pint, and nowadays players have their training, nutrition, weight and even sleep monitored 7 days or so in advance of a big match. From my point of view it was also interesting to hear how modern media has affected the game and the ‘celebrity’ status of today’s players, although we probably would have heard a bit more about that had Gavin Henson been there…
Jaguar wanted a short edit of the group interview plus some more individual profiles relating to players’ highlights, heroes etc, plus a final video on the current state of Welsh rugby.
You can watch the group interview here:
And you’ll find the individual pieces on the Jaguar YouTube account.
Robbie and I shot on Sony EX1/3; location was the Miskin Manor outside Cardiff. Rather lovely, actually, and certainly rather more lovely than the Legacy Cardiff International where we stayed. If you’re thinking of staying there, don’t. It might encourage you to throw yourself onto the fast lane of the M4 just outside the window.
Matt Le Tiss is one of my favourite footballers. Pure class on the pitch in his day, now pure gent off it. I had the good fortune to meet him a couple of times back in the Soccer AM days and our paths have now crossed twice more in the past year, first for an 888 video pre-World Cup, and back in February for an FATV shoot. Partly due to his experience on the box and undoubtedly equally because he’s generally a top bloke, you know that when you’ve got a shoot with him, he’ll give you exactly what you need without any fuss.
We were at Warsash Wasps FC, regional winners of the FA Charter Standard Development Club award last year, to help launch this year’s nomination process for the FA Community Awards http://www.thefa.com/yourgame and after a tour of the (very impressive) club he gave me an interview on his early days, influences and memories in football:
While we were there I picked up a few more bits with him including his fantasy 5-a-side team (edited by FATV):
It was the first outing for my new rig including my new Canon 70-200mm F4 IS lens which was pretty essential for the football action, and all in all I was pretty pleased with the result. Part of the problem with filming mostly ‘run and gun’, reality style pieces is that it’s tough to get those perfect shots and there’s always a degree of compromise but I think the key is to have a plan. Yes, 90% of the time that plan will change with the weather, the schedule and usually the talent, but a plan is a good place to start!
It’s been a while. Far too long, but I’ve had a few months of solid work and haven’t had the energy to keep this up. It’s a poor show and defeats the object of starting the site in the first place but I’ve had to forego forward planning in order to meet all my deadlines. I will catch up though and will try to do a blog covering recent jobs but restarting where I mean to go on, this is what I was up to on Sunday.
The England captain took a trip back to his boyhood club, Eltham Town
to promote e-on’s ‘Energy Fit’ campaign, in particular their ‘Club Makeover’ competition which is offering amateur football clubs the chance to get an energy saving makeover worth around £40k. The e-on team decked out the club’s facilities with swanky stuff like solar panels, energy saving lights and even hot water, and Rio was given a tour before hitting the mud and coaching the young pups outside.
I have to say I didn’t know much about the club beforehand but I was really impressed with their setup, fancy lights or no fancy lights, and I couldn’t help thinking that the national game can’t be in that bad a state if there are clubs like Eltham Town around.
We then had a quick chat with Rio
about the e-on project and the France game, where he revealed that he can’t contemplate losing because of the stick he’d get from Evra when he returned to training. It was the second time I’ve interviewed him in 6 months and although he clearly didn’t remember me, Rio was professional as ever. I’m a big fan of his because he’s clearly got more in his locker than booting a ball around and I genuinely believe he cares about the projects he gets involved with.
An unexpected bonus of the day was catching up with old Soccer AM and Channelbee mucker Fenners in his new capacity as tv personality, complete with showbiz scarf. Always good to see him and I’m so happy he’s back in the Sky fold as on-screen talent. I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t seen his new show Take It Like A Fan yet but I’ve only just signed up to Sky Sports again; must do that this week.
I’m editing the bits and pieces today so I’ll post a link when they’re up.
(Shot on Sony PMW EX1)
The 4th and final day of the FIFA Inspection Visit, and a thankfully somewhat less hectic day than the previous one. It certainly started better than the day before; the Midland Hotel saw fit to put on a breakfast rather than put a bag with breakfast in outside your door as they do at the Travelodge Sunderland Central.
Manchester Central was the venue for the closing statements
and subsequent press conference which formally ended the week’s inspection visit. Nothing particular to report; Harold Mayne-Nicholls, the Chilean leader of the FIFA Inspection Team
made some very positive noises and certainly seemed happy with the ‘perfect’ way in which the visit had been organised, but naturally giving nothing away in terms of our chances of winning the bid. He did, however, allay fears regarding the two negative angles which the press had conjured up (David Cameron’s decision not to meet them and the lack of a visit to a match) which must have gone down well with the team.
Andy Anson, the CEO of England 2018
then offered his thanks and goodbyes
and it was off to the airport for the delegates. Back to the press room for me and an upload of the videos before returning to the stage a couple of hours later for the bid team’s closing press conference which seemed to be handled without major incident or niggles from the assembled journos. I did hear the odd grumble from them in the press room afterwards though; why some people feel the need to drum up a negative angle on these things when ultimately they’d be good for the country I’ll never know, but that’s why I’m not a journalist.
Train home, another long encode (this trip has made me realise that I’m wasting a lot of time just waiting for files to finish…it’s a long and very dull process even to explain how digital files get made so I won’t trouble you with that just yet) and a Friday edit putting together a montage of a very long and memorable week:
Yes, day 3 of the 2018 inspection was certainly a biggie, and I did it all without the aid of the breakfast in a bag on offer at the Travelodge.
An early 8am start at the Stadium of Light awaiting the arrival of the delegation on a rather painstakingly crafted landing spot outside the ground
and then it was all systems go…until 2am the following morning. I managed it all on a foot long Subway, a Red Bull and a late night £4 can of Grolsch from the mini bar which isn’t bad going. Not sure it’s a diet I’d advise but needs must, and I didn’t feel I could ask the helicopter to swing by the local fly through McD’s.
So, first stop Stadium of Light, and a tour of the stadium hosted by Niall Quinn and Steve Cram. The latter and I actually met back in 1986 when I interviewed him for my CSE P.E. project when I still wanted to be an athlete (see my biog) but I don’t think he recognised me. Some people. Anyway they’ve got a massive painting in reception which I think Niall Quinn said was the earliest football painting in the world or something.
I think Oxford United have got a photo of Jim Rosenthal wearing ox horns at the Milk Cup Final which is good enough for me.
From one impressive ground to another, and the short hop to St James’ Park. A short hop in aforementioned massive helicopter, although I was working so had too much on to worry about what might happen but luckily the conditions were perfect and I got some half decent shots out of the window.
Peter Beardsley (nicest man in football) was on hand to show the delegation around NUFC and I think he did a grand job. His love for the game and the club shone through and as long as they understood him, I’m sure the delegation would have been impressed.
Two down, two to go. Back in the chopper for the trip to Manchester, and a proper edit deadline for me. 50 minutes to upload the morning’s footage, cut it down into a 3 minute B-Roll for journalists and to set it encoding. So I didn’t see much of Yorkshire and Lancashire below us but I finished in time to pick up a few shots of the City of Manchester Stadium before landing. Sadly I missed out on the pastries; I’m that dedicated.
Eastlands is very blue and very plush indeed.
They’ve got a hydro-room and everything. World Cup hero Howard Webb was on hand here to meet the delegates along with Garry Cook; sure they did a great job but in my head I was entertaining myself with what could have been if Liam and Noel were showing them around.
From the blue to the red side of town, and the final ground of the day: Old Trafford. The red carpet was really rolled out here, with Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Alex Ferguson
and David Gill hosting, and cameo appearances on the pitch from Messrs Ferdinand and Rooney.
Aside from the silverware kicking around
what impressed me most was Sir Bobby bounding up the stairs like he was 20 again. Like Beardsley before him, his passion was infectious as he impressed upon the guests just what the club means to the town.
Over to the Town Hall for a few shots of the evening do
attended by the great and good of the game
but sadly not me. I had to make do with my foot long and Red Bull as I cracked on with the edits of the day back at the hotel. At least the previous night’s hotel disaster wasn’t repeated as I got to go posh at the Midland. £4 a small can of Grolsch in the minibar posh.
So by 2am, the day’s total ran like this:
Premiership grounds visited: 4
Flights in the massive chopper: 2
Knights filmed: 3
Inches of Subway eaten: 12
Small cans of Grolsch taken from the minibar: 1 – I wasn’t that desperate
Edits uploaded for broadcasters: 6
iPhones crashed and refusing to recover: 1
Technology can be a cruel master.
So, day 2 of the big FIFA Inspection visit, at the very well appointed Rockliffe Hall near Darlington.
After a hugely unexpected but welcome catch-up with my sister in law who was there filming for ITV (you know a family has their priorities wrong when they find out what each others kids are up to within the confines of a media pen), the delegation arrived in their very flash helicopter
which may seem an irrelevant detail to you but for me who has a fear of flying and who was due to get in it (twice) a day later, it was pretty significant and more than a little reassuring to see that it wasn’t a rustbucket. Apparently it belongs to Mr al Fayed and is the only one in the country; a Sikorsky S-92 if you care about these things. All I cared about was whether or not it looked like it would get me to Manchester in one piece.
So the shoot was following the delegation around Boro’s training facility at Rockliffe Hall, hosted by Steve Gibson (it’s his pad, apparently, and a very nice one indeed) and Niall Quinn. Disappointingly for me, they didn’t get the always entertaining Gordon Strachan on the case as well although I can understand that his priorities don’t necessarily lie with England. All fairly straightforward; they took in a youth game then went inside to the indoor pitch, changing rooms, video and treatment room.
For the important people it was then on to dinner; for me it was a quick drink (and a handshake with the hosts) then up to a room and my laptop for the edit (with mighty Oxford United at West Ham in the other ear).
Edit done, I still had to make the transfer to Sunderland where I was staying the night. I wasn’t really fussed about not staying at Rockliffe, an early start at Stadium of Light meant that it was best making the trek in the evening. I wasn’t really fussed, that is, until I arrived at the Travelodge Sunderland Central. Let me get one thing straight; I am no snob, I’ve been lucky enough to kip in some great hotels and some dives in my time, but I wasn’t really prepared for this particular culture shock. Maybe it was the fact that they’d lost my booking, maybe it was because the duty manager clearly didn’t want to leave her McDonald’s long enough to find me a new room, maybe it was the tempting ‘breakfast in a bag’ they were offering for £4.50, but I’m not going to be recommending this particular establishment in a hurry and I don’t think it’ll be on the list of FIFA approved hotels either (although that decision is out of my hands). Because I try to embrace digital culture, I did check in on FourSquare, but decided against telling anyone about it. I even added a tip (Don’t stay here).
At the end of the day, and a long one at that, a bed is a bed, even if it backs onto a window which backs onto a drunk bloke ranting and ripping up street furniture at midnight.