Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Burns night

It is the 25 January and tonight Scotland celebrates the birth of its national poet in 1759, Robert Burns. In 1787 Burns wrote a poem called Address to the Haggis, to be recited over the serving of the traditional Scottish food. It endures to this day and haggis producers the world over owe it's success in the main to Robert Burns poem.

He is regarded as the pioneer of the Romantic movement and is the best known poet to have written in the Scots language. His poem Auld Lang Syne is often sung around the world at New Year, or Hogmanay, as we would call it in Scotland.

Burns was the eldest of 7 children born to a tenant farmer. It wasn't until 1786 that his poems were first published in Edinburgh. In his latter years he was a strong sympathiser of the French revolution and by expressing his views openly and freely, alienated most of his friends.

He only lived to 37 years old, but by his death he had achieved much success. He died of complications after a dental extraction in July 1796.

This Saturday I am attending traditional Burns Night Supper and will wear my kilt for the occasion of course. Haggis is served with mashed potatoes and turnip (called swede in certain countries) and a shot of whisky. I have been asked to recite Burns Address to the Haggis, the first time I have ever done so.

To say I'm nervous is an understatement.

I'm not a whisky drinker but maybe it might help!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


Every day at the moment seems to be filled to the brim, mostly with working on my own film Sleepless 'til Seattle of course, which recently launched a fundraising site (link on the right). Then there's the fun task of supporting my friend Pauline on her continuing world cycle. There are also a number of paid pieces of work now trickling in, which is of course very welcome.

Occasionally I am asked to give of my skills for free, which all depends on my available time and on the project itself. However, sometimes there's really not much to think about. One such event has presented itself in the last few weeks.

On the 21 June this year, for 4 days, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama will once again visit Scotland and I am to be his official film director for the visit. A great prestigious honour.

This is not the first time I have been trusted with such a responsibility. Back in 2004 I led 3 camera crews throughout Edinburgh and Dunfermline during a previous visit. This time will prove to be no less engaging.

He will start off in Edinburgh, then on to Dundee and finally to Inverness. I will have a smaller crew this time but greater access, though last time having lunch in his company was access enough! It wasn't until the visit was over on that occasion, when people were speaking to me about it, that i realised what an incredible experience it had been. I was so focused on the job in hand I forgot I was in the presence of a leading world religious leader, admired by almost everyone on the planet!

If you'd like to find out more about his visit just follow this link: Dalai Lama Scotland.

The Dalai Lama's current home is in McLeod Ganj, just above Dharamsala in India and I visited there in spring of 2000. Little did I know when I saw him there, on my birthday as well, that I would one day be his film maker of choice for his future visits to Scotland.

Namaste, as they say in Scotland.


Wednesday, 11 January 2012


What on earth? You won't find the title os this blog in any dictionary, so allow me to explain:

As you are no doubt aware, I took a little trundle on my bicycle across North America recently, with my friend Pauline. We clocked up an impressive 4,300 miles and learned so much about America. We found it's not all hamburgers, baseball and cola!

We also had a bigger task in hand: for over 4 months we strived to film as much as possible of the adventure. There was an amazing variety to capture on camera, from extreme weather and wild bears to the many interviews and wonderful people that helped us along the way.

Now we are assembling the edit of the feature length film that once finished will be entered into film festivals around the world. The whole process has many parts, one of which is raising finance.

So we've launched a campaign on the crowd funding site IndieGoGo, in the hope of raising enough money to finance a music score, animation, legal fees, final sound mic, festival fees, etc.

For this to be successful we need your help. One of the ways you can help us apart from contributing is to pass on the link through your contacts. Hopefully they in turn will pass it on through theirs and so on. Please click on the highlighted link for IndieGoGo or the logo on the left and have a look at what we are trying to achieve. There's a lot of fun rewards for people who contribute.

We're also on Twitter and Facebook and of course the Sleepless 'til Seattle website.

We found America to be warm hearted and generous and it showed us how easy it is to be kind. During these tough times that we live in we found the experience to be uplifting and inspiring. We'd like to pass that on to you and others by bringing the film to the big screen.

Thank you

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me: "Did you make any New Year resolutions?" It's tradition I suppose. I tend to make some loose plans as opposed to what one would call resolutions.

This tends to happen on the first day of January of course, and the Romans dedicated this day to Janus, the god of new beginnings. I would like to think that 2012 will be just that.

In previous years I have tended to get a bit carried away with my list of plans. I do like a list. Actually, I like crossing things off a list and have been known to add something to a list I've already completed, just to have the pleasure of crossing it off!

But I digress. This year I kept it to three:

1/ Pay the bills. Seems an obvious one, but as a freelance creative this is quite a challenge. To date I've always achieved this but it would be nice this year to go a little bit beyond just paying the bills. You see, I was just about to add to the list again!

2/ Finish the film Sleepless 'til Seattle. Simple enough statement. Quite another thing achieving it. This is the focus and major challenge of the year. I've only just started editing the footage, though currently that amounts to randomly opening one or two clips out of the 3,500 or so and wondering where on earth I'm going to start! Then there's musicians asking me for pointers for the type of music I want, animators wondering when I'll know what maps I want in 3D animation, and so on. It's exciting of course, but I'm entering a whole new area of film making. This time it's serious.

3/ No regrets. This is a tricky one. I wouldn't want to say that it applies to everything. For example, imagine deciding you're going to say exactly what's on your mind to everyone so you have no regrets in not saying it. That could lead to a few hurt people maybe. It applies more to positive actions I would say. Last year I met up with my best friend in America to cycle from Boston to Seattle. I was sacrificing the possibility of good paid work and a comfortable lifestyle for a while, but with the recent deaths of two friends, and mainly because it was the opportunity to spend a quality amount of time with Pauline. So I went for it, as I knew I would regret it if I didn't. That kind of sums up this third plan. Balanced judgement without fear.

It's no use! I can't help it. I have to add to the list! Let's just call this things I'm looking forward to:
Performing some public talks on my American adventure; a holiday; tramping and camping in the Scottish mountains; finishing a script I've been working on for years. The event I'm most looking forward to is when my best friend Pauline returns from her world cycle. It's many months away yet, but it will be great to see her once again. The last time was waving a tearful goodbye in Vancouver airport as we parted after our great American cycle.

Here's to 2012. Happy New Year.