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Exit through the gift shop

7 Dec

Coventry’s Herbert Art Gallery and Museum was selected for the screening of the new film from popular and mysterious street artist Banksy. ‘Exit through the gift shop’ is part of the large street art exhibition the Herbert is currently showing to the public.

This strange but equally compelling film, documents the rise of street artist ‘Mr Brainwash’ from his beginning as Thierry Guetta, the Frenchman.  Whose obsession with filming everything and with street art leads him to meet and film famous and illusive street artists, such as Invader, Shepard Fairey and Banksy. We see how with the help of Banksy and other street artists, Guetta moves forward to become a street artist himself and take the art world by storm and cause massive controversy with his exhibition, much to the surprise of the street art community.

Street art, technically classed as graffiti and an illegal offense often carries political messages and challenges authority through art with iconic images such as the print of ‘obey’ by Shepard Fairey. What started as backstreet graffiti now has a following of thousands of fans, with some street artists selling work for thousands.

“The film was hilarious” Michaela Yates a Banksy fan commented “I’ve always loved Banksy and have some of his prints at home so I was excited about this film. It wasn’t what I expected with the focus being on Mr Brainwash but I thought it was great, the footage of how street artists produce their creations showed me a whole new side of street art, and it was amazing.”

Mark Jameson a street art enthusiast also found ‘Exit through the gift shop’ to differ from expectations and felt a strong reaction towards Mr Brainwash. “It was a fantastic film, and great to really get inside street art, the interviews with Banksy and Shepard Fairey gave some real insight into the process they go through as artists and also show some of the thoughts behind some of their more well-known works. The focus on development on the street artist Mr Brainwash was interesting but I was hoping to see more of Banksy, Mr Brainwash’s work seems a bit unoriginal to me and just a different copy of what other street artists have already come up with, and not worth the hype.”

‘Exit through the gift shop’ gives a never before insight into the world of street art and challenges the audience to decide whether ‘Mr Brainwash is the latest in a long line of brilliant street artists, or just another copy cat.

(NOTE: This interview and article was competed and published a long time ago and is being included as part of my online journalism portfolio)


Coventry’s got talent 2010

7 Dec

Calling all budding singers, dancers and variety acts, the popular spin off of everyone’s favourite TV show Britain’s got Talent, has come to Coventry giving local stars a chance to shine. Coventry’s Got Talent 2010 is back, with auditions being held at the Coventry Transport Museum on the 21st of November from 12-4pm. Just in time for the star studded finale on the 8th December.

Three local specialists from Coventry and Warwickshire in performing arts and music will be judging, choosing the lucky winner of the £100 cash prize and the priceless opportunity of appearing, and performing at next year’s Touch FM music event. Auditions slots are open for ages 10 years and above, giving everyone an opportunity to show off their skills, and must be booked in advance by phoning 02476234270.

“Coventry’s Got Talent has evolved from the Christmas factor” Clive Skelhon head of PR and Marketing at the Transport Museum commented “last year we has people coming off the streets wanting to audition, they didn’t really put any real effort into it or took it that seriously, so we thought we should develop it into something which a lot of people would like to take part in. There are a lot of talented people in Coventry and it’s time to give them an opportunity to show what they can do.”

Brody Swain from Touch FM will be hosting and introducing finalists for this much anticipated event that has already received much interest from the public. Coventry’s Got Talent has even sparked international interest, with a male yodeller travelling all the way from Romania to take part in the competition, for his chance to win.

“Almost all of our audition slots have been practically filled, people are looking for an opportunity to appear in front of the public and perform and that’s what we want to give them.” Clive added “the museum has always been a tourist attraction. And to most local people a kind of community centre which they regularly visit; it’s great that we have a new way of getting new people in here, and introducing them to the city, and what it has to offer.”

The final on the 8th is open to the general public; all are welcome to come along watch and cheer for their favourite act and be part of the audience.

(NOTE: This article is not recent and was published a while ago, it has been included for my journalism portfolio)


Charlie Beckett: Filmmaker, award winner, media sensation

7 Dec

Charlie Beckett, the man of many talents and careers appeared in Coventry Conversations to discuss the general election and the important part the media played in developing campaign tactics, and reporting on the crucial event that had the whole of the UK talking.

Charlie Beckett has been no stranger to diversity and change after a wide and varied career. An award winning filmmaker, past editor of the LWT and author of ‘SuperMedia,’ not to mention working at the BBC and Channel 4 News have been some of the highlights of Beckett’s lifework. Now the founding director of Polis, the journalism think tank at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences, which holds lectures and seminars focusing on social media, financial and political journalism and media development, he devotes time to teaching others the craft.

“It was that rare thing, a very exciting general election, because we didn’t know what the result would be. The campaign really mattered, and was a close race which made it very exciting for journalists and also meant that the media really mattered” Beckett commented.

Beckett proposed that this year’s general election was unique from past elections, not just because of the precedence placed on campaign, but new through the way the campaign was reported and communicated to the public through the media. “What is interesting was the coverage of the general election and how it’s changed, for example the TV debates, we’ve never had them before. The TV debate had an extraordinary effect and put the Lib Dems in the centre. It dominated the whole coverage of the campaign and became the most important part, Nick Clegg, who most people probably hadn’t heard of, was voted as the winner of the debate.”

Beckett illustrated how the development of social media also played a part in making the political campaigns and election, a new and more engaging experience for voters. With record numbers twittering, Facebook posting, and blogging about the TV debate Beckett claims it’s never been easier for everyone to become interested in politics. “What happened in the elections was exceptional, it was a much more interesting way to talk about politics, thousands of people were on twitter answering the politicians directly, it shows that people are interested in politics and do want to talk about it, but in their own way.”

Finishing with advice to aspiring young journalists and political enthusiasts Beckett said, “Journalists are now networkers. Facebook, twitter and blogs on the web are all new platforms to display work on and show what you can produce.”


(NOTE: This interview was completed and published a while ago and is being included as part of my Journalism portfolio)

Behind the scenes exclusive! Debbie Isitt on Nativity!

7 Dec

Popular local director Debbie Issit returned to Coventry University to discuss her award winning film ‘Nativity’ and give the lucky Coventry Conversations audience an exclusive sneak peak preview of the behind the scenes footage appearing on the unreleased DVD and the future development of ‘Nativity’ as well as her other upcoming projects.

Isitt, renowned for her improvisational and creative approach to her work smiles as asked why her film was such a success with the viewing public “I suppose it was just one of those films that the public took to their heart, we won the Richard Attenborough award and even caught the attention of Gordon Brown, who needed some Christmas cheer! My family and myself sat at the back of the Odeon cinema in Nuneaton on Christmas eve watching the film and the audiences reactions, thinking this is fantastic, we’ve made a film and these people are here watching it on Christmas eve.”

Despite ‘Nativity’s popularity with the public and reaching number four in the Christmas film charts, film critics remain unconvinced, particularly and most memorably Jonathon Ross who in ‘Film 2009’ slated it as ‘the worst film ever made.’

“I’m use to being slated by the press and have done for years, but I felt slightly confused. I couldn’t understand why he hated it and was so disgusted by it” Debbie commented. ‘Nativity’ cost around three and a half million to make, in competition with Disney’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ this underdog regional film went on to be a large success “our tiny low budget, cheap title film is competing with Jim Carrey and other big ones’ Debbie said proudly.

Debbie revealed the exciting amount of interest in developing ‘Nativity’ with Universal Studios interested in doing an American remake, “I’m reluctant” Debbie admitted “there’s no guarantee I can direct and I can’t separate the work I make from me, its not about the money, some people are for sale but that’s just not me.”

Sky are also interested in creating a mini series based on the film and plans for a ‘Nativity 2’ as well as the possibility of a potential stage production are in the pipelines. “We really want to make a sequel” Debbie commented eagerly “we have a really good idea for Nativity 2.”

“I’m always there with a camera” Debbie advises budding directors looking to send their own creative visions out into the world “if you want to direct there’s nothing like seeing the world through the eyes of a lens, make your own movies and film everything!”

Issit is set to return to Coventry University to unveil a placard honouring her achievement and eager fans won’t have to wait long for ‘Nativity’, which is set to be released this November.


(NOTE: This interview was done and published some time ago and I am including it on here as part of my journalism portfolio)


Life in radio! Tom Reeves and Brody Swain

7 Dec

Successful producer and presenter Tom Reeves and Brody Swain returned to Coventry conversations to discuss their lives in radio, the highs, the lows as well as what it takes to make it in the radio industry.

Brody has wanted to be in the radio business since he was 14 years old, starting as an in store DJ for HMV in Birmingham “there was a lot of personality on shows back then which is what attracted me to radio, but you don’t really hear any of that good stuff anymore, now breakfast is the nearest thing to how radio use to be.”

Tom was also attracted to radio after being heavily involved in student radio at Swansea University, and later after graduating with a degree in politics and economics went on to start his glittering career at local commercial station Red Dragon FM. “Everything in radio is a test, its harder than ever to get into radio than it was before, but the rewards are great, its fun and since you only live once, why would you do a job you hate for the rest of your life?”

Tom as the breakfast producer for Mercia says it’s all down to “forward planning” and the key to a successful show and working environment in radio is that “everyone comes in and contributes, you have to recognise the differences in your teams personalities and deal with them, once you realise the dynamic its easy.”

Brody feels the reason for his shows success is down to the unique selling point and the more personal relationship with his audience on the local level, “my radio station is just for Coventry and is unique in that way, I talk to the lord mayor and to the local Coventry people, and we talk about Coventry.” Describing his worries for the future of radio and for his show Brody admits the uncertainty that is constant within the industry “Its quite scary but what a lot of radio stations say is that your breakfast show should be cut and we’ll have one radio station broadcasting one radio show to five stations, this can happen at any moment.”

Tom and Brody both believe in the importance of listening to their audiences in guiding what they do “you know your doing the wrong thing when ratings go down, radio is still more an art than an exact science” Tom comments. “What’s really important is to make sure that you get your backside into the audience and find out what the like” Brody adds.

Tom and Brody advise budding radio enthusiasts “ you have to be prepared to work hard and make sure you stand out, offer something, come up with ideas and have the right attitude, make yourself indispensable to the station and you’ll succeed.”


(NOTE: This was an interview done a fair while ago, whilst I was at university and was published in the paper, it is not  recent work and I’m just including it as portfolio)

Body Pride

9 Jun

Body confidence, body respect and body hatred, all are ideas that most people are aware of or familiar with, the hot button issue within the fashion and media industry with thousands of books, classes, articles and websites devoted to helping people with these issues. So why are hundreds of people still suffering with feeling inadequate about their bodies and what can be done?

The Dove advert using 'real' women...more media companies are starting to cotton on and do the same

With statistics from the female body survey showing that the average woman in the UK thinks about the shape and size of her body every 15 minutes, and that a small 4% of women are completely happy with their body, it’s easy to understand why the diet industry is worth £100 billion a year with the amount of anxieties in women, and also men that it has to prey on. The Atkins diet, Cambridge diet and Weight Watchers are only some of the more popular diets that we have all heard of and most likely tried in desperation at some point to feel better about ourselves, however Lucy Aphramor a dietician and founder of the ‘Be Well’ course, promotes a different way of feeling good about who we are and our bodies, without the need for crash diets and extreme weight loss.

Lucy, a dietician working in Coventry with seven years experience has a different approach to health; her ‘Be Well’ course has captured interest from the local community and council. Her classes instead of berating people for their weight ‘promote good health at any shape and size.’

“The focus on weight as a measure of health has brought forward a number of assumptions, such as you have to be thin to be healthy” Lucy says “that you can’t be fat and be healthy and that weight is actually a reliable measure of health. Healthy people come in all shapes and sizes and the important thing is that people have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies, if they have that they’ll eat well and keep active.” Lucy’s passion for helping people overcome body hatred began after clients coming to her for help with weight loss, were no happier or healthier for losing weight.  “Body hatred and dissatisfaction can be found in people of all shapes and sizes, it’s not about trying to fix fat people but trying to fix the way society sees and treats people.”

Lucy’s approach may seem familiar, but she claims it’s far more than just a two dimensional ‘love yourself’ approach to tackling body self consciousness. “It’s working with people trying to get across the message that they and everyone else deserves body respect, not only helping people find acceptance but helping them deal with this sense of shame that they shouldn’t have. We look at social pressure, stigma and oppression”

Lucy’s crusade for ‘good health at every size’ has also gained recognition from other health professionals, Bally Dhugga, a nutritionist now working with Lucy agrees, that her approach is the way forward. “This approach is more structured and ethical, after meeting Lucy I’m now working with other health professionals to raise awareness.”

Bally and Lucy believe that discrimination due to body size is now so common place that it is unchallenged, and both are worried about the effect this will have on the younger generation, Bally has worked with children from local schools and revealed disturbing results. “We did some work with Colewisemen School on self esteem and body image, the kids couldn’t find anything positive to say about themselves, they were convinced that they weren’t good enough” Bally said.

To counter act this, Lucy is looking to the future and aiming to take her ‘Be Well’ course to schools, “we should help kids to start thinking critically about the messages society exposes them to, we could start with size and then there is always the potential to apply this critical thinking to other kinds of discrimination” Lucy says.

Shelia Barsden is a mental health worker who has seen firsthand what the effects of discrimination against size has on mental health in both adults and young children. “The prejudice from society about food and size builds and becomes a mental problem, children should enjoy being children and not worry about what their eating, working with Lucy I have become even more aware of how size and the issues that come with it are related to mental health, in a society where peoples self esteem is now dependant on how you look, depression is common.”

Lucy, Bally and Shelia all agree the media could do more to fight prejudice “the media could be promoting more positive messages” Lucy comments “but the real danger is the health messages that lend credibility to the idea that you should be thin, that diets work and that to be accepted or valued you have to be thin.”

“Children are becoming more body conscious earlier” Bally says “teachers aren’t trained for this and are struggling, what is worrying is that companies are making money off of peoples suffering and that isn’t right is it, it’s about people’s lives and people are suffering.”

Lucy’s class should remind us that we all deserve respect whatever our shape or size, and that much like discrimination against race, gender or background, discrimination against size is just as much a crime and a violation of our human rights. We should have pride in our bodies and ourselves and that diets, self help books and websites can tell us what to think about ourselves and what to change about ourselves, but you know your body best, and should trust it.

The future of journalism

9 Jun

As a person among many living in the twenty first century, I have often taken journalism for granted, it has always been part of the background of everyday life with many never even realising what a constantly developing fixture it is in life, however it is professionals working hard in the industry to provide this information and create new outlets for news, who have first hand experience in how journalism is always reinventing itself.

News is available from so many different media outlets that no one has to go further than pressing a button on their phone to be up to date on the latest events, the public are spoilt for choice of where their news comes from, which has not always been the case.

New media outlets have changed the face of journalism by allowing easier access to news and giving opportunities for any computer user to publish their own information, but with information so easily found we have to ask ourselves will the journalist become redundant, will more traditional outlets of news such as newspapers become unrecognisable in an effort to keep up with the changes or non existent, and what will journalism become?

Changes in journalism are to be expected as the world and people in it develop, this means that journalism is always changing; every person in this world has played a part in altering journalism, when they opted to listen to the radio rather than pick up a newspaper or go online, they changed the way people access journalism. Journalism is defined by the people of its generation in its constant endeavour to provide the public not just with current events in the world but with the information they actually want, for example celebrity news is now more in demand than it would have been in the 1950’s, which shows how journalism is also defined not just by which media outlet the public chooses to use but by what information is in demand. This aim of catering for what the public want can claim responsibility for the specialist magazines and websites, and this aim has also contributed to the creation of a range of newspapers aimed at different readerships, such as the Coventry Telegraph whose aim is to provide news only of interest at the local level to the Guardian which covers everything from international to finance and politics.

This is what makes journalism great; it constantly meets the challenges of keeping current with the public and is shaped around us, the future of journalism will not depend just on the internet as an outlet making newspapers extinct or any other emerging media outlet, it will be decided by the public and by today’s aspiring journalists.

Within universities and colleges lies the future of journalism, being taught what it means to be a journalist by those who have experience in the field, learning from those who have made journalism great and adding to it their own passion and drive to make their mark and put their own stamp in what has always been a developing field.

The future of journalism will be defined by the aspiring student journalists who will in the future add to what journalism becomes, the public who are always shaping what we see as news and choosing what media outlets they want to be their main source of news, and the future of journalism will contain the one element that never changes and is what I consider the foundation of journalism, which is the aim to supply the demand of the public for knowledge.

There is a future for journalism which we can be proud of holding on to the founding principle of journalism no matter how much it has changed, the future of journalism will not be defined by the dieing out of the newspaper or the age of the Internet supplying news, but rather by the people and the passion of the journalists of the present and the future.

The future journalist?

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