Thirty years on

Thirty years on

Even though I was giving a paper at the Channel 4 and British film culture conference on Friday, the thirtieth anniversary of the switch-on rather snuck up on me. Then it was 4.20pm and I realised that it was indeed exactly thirty years since I sat down with Michael Jackson, a future channel chief exec, to watch this…

[Wipes away tiny tear.] As I lived the moment once more (a) I felt the most intense pang of nostalgia (of course), and (b) I recognised (again) that television never has and never will mean as much to me as it did in those first years of Channel 4.
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‘I shall see thee again’ [Updated]

‘I shall see thee again’ [Updated]

So, friends, Julius Caesar is on BBC iPlayer. Available until 10.29pm on Sunday 1 July. Go here for my round-up of reactions, including links to reviews from the Guardian, The Independent and The Arts Desk, and here for my blog during last night’s broadcast. There is an interesting thread under the Guardian review, and I have posted a couple of the comments across the jump at the bottom. And now I have added a (lengthy) digest of the past 36 hours on Twitter. For me, one of the the most thoughtful responses so far is Peter Kirwan’s at The Bardathon blog which is really worth reading.
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‘Never till tonight, never till now’

‘Never till tonight, never till now’

06:20 (Monday morning): In fact, I didn’t add to the blog (see 22:23 below) after the end of the broadcast. In part this was because my two sons came back from the pub disappointed and dejected (no, they hadn’t been watching Julius Caesar) and in part because some very nice people rang and texted and mailed (with congrats). So I’ve had a night’s sleep to reflect – and I am still totally thrilled with the way the film looked and sounded and leapt off the screen. Greg and the whole cast and the art department under Michael Vale and DOP Steve Lawes and editor Trevor Waite and the sound team and everyone else who contributed have made something really pretty wonderful. A thousand thanks to one and all.
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‘Be thou my witness…’ [Updated]

‘Be thou my witness…’ [Updated]

As I have done previously with our productions of Hamlet (2009) and Macbeth (2010), I am using this page to draw together responses to our new film of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Julius Caesar. The film is first broadcast by BBC Four on Sunday night, 24 June, at 8pm, and we very much hope that you will see it then or during the following week on BBC iPlayer. Over the coming days I will update this post with all of the reactions I can find – and your thoughts and questions will be very welcome in the Comments below. For the latest news, follow @Illuminations on  Twitter – and if you comment about the film there please use #JuliusCaesar. Across the jump you will find links to the key BBC resources, to articles, previews, reviews, blog posts and more, as well as an index of links to all the previous Illuminations posts about Julius Caesar.


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Happy 30th birthday to us!

Happy 30th birthday to us!

We are 30 years old today!! Illuminations was incorporated on 15 June 1982. We were sort of aware of that but could not quite remember the exact date. But my colleague Linda Zuck has just looked out the paperwork and there it is in black and white. I’m a little overwhelmed, but I will try to blog some birthday thoughts later this evening… after a glass of something fizzy.

‘Shakespeare’s Africa play’

‘Shakespeare’s Africa play’

The first day of the location shoot for our film version of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s new Julius Caesar is now just over seven weeks away. We have found our location and we are putting together our crew. BBC Four’s funding is in place and everything is moving forward in very exciting ways. The RSC have just released further details of the stage production, which is set (as is the film, of course) in modern-day Africa. The RSC’s release includes a great statement from our director Gregory Doran about his sense of the play. I have included that below, along with the full cast list.
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Blunted Points [updated]

Blunted Points [updated]

Tomorrow Arts Council England and the BBC announce the projects to be funded for this summer’s exciting digital arts project The Space (see my earlier post Make it new). I did some initial consultancy for The Space but then decided that I wanted to pitch an idea. This entailed pulling back from any contact with those who were judging the applications. The idea, which I called Points, was turned down in the first stage of applications because it was felt that Illuminations did not qualify as ‘an arts organisation’. I appealed this call, successfully, and Points went forward to the second round. But we learned today that it has not been successful. So I thought it might be interesting – in part because people rarely acknowledge their failures in these processes – to reproduce below the core of the Points first-round application, written back in November. The application at this stage was seeking a grant, including all rights costs, of £73,400.
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O brave new world

O brave new world

As the out-of-office alerts are turned off and and the Christmas chocolate biscuits run out, there is inevitably something about this week that prompts reflections on the future. Not The Future in very general terms, but just how things might pan out over the coming couple of years for a small independent production company committed to innovative forms for the arts and media. That’ll be us. And what strikes me, more perhaps than ever before, is just how hard it is to prepare and to plan for whatever may be coming down the digital pipe. At the same time, and for all the reasons that promote the uncertainty, I know there has never been a more interesting and exciting time to be involved in cultural media production.
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Busy, busy, busy

Busy, busy, busy

I can’t remember the last time I’ve neglected this blog in the way that I have over the past week. Apologies. Reasons – but not excuses – include having two performance films in development (only one of which has been announced), a music documentary for 2012 and three possible iPad apps, as well as dealing in the past few days with possible proposals for the Arts Council England/BBC project The Space (submissions close today). And then there’s the documentary The Art of Clare Woods, which I’m speaking about next Thursday at The Hepworth Wakefield, where there is a wonderful exhibition of her paintings. The film’s not yet finished, but I’ll be showing sections of it and talking about how it relates to earlier visual arts films that we have produced. You can see the trailer for it here – and over the weekend I’ll be back with our usual features. Thanks for your patience.

‘Friends, Romans, countrymen…’

‘Friends, Romans, countrymen…’

Needless to say, we are completely thrilled at the announcement that we are to film the RSC’s 2012 production of Julius Caesar for the BBC. The full text of this morning’s press release is here, but here’s the heart of it:

Julius Caesar is one of Shakespeare’s greatest political thrillers and, as directed by the RSC’s Chief Associate Director Gregory Doran, the play finds dark contemporary echoes in modern Africa. The cast will include Adjoa Andoh, Ray Fearon, Paterson Joseph, Jeffery Kissoon and Joseph Mydell.

This will be the third Shakespeare film for television that we will have made with Greg Doran, after Macbeth (2001) and Hamlet (2010), and we could not be more delighted to be collaborating with him once again.
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