Character profiling

Writing a character profile for a film

18th May 2017

My character profile for Riffkid in The Trench†

Physical appearance of the protagonist

Riffkid is 18. He is somewhat short in stature. He has a mop of black hair and very bright blue eyes. His face is pretty. He dresses how he thinks rock musicians should dress. His choice of clothes portrays his identity. He is an unemployed teenager living with his parents on a deprived housing estate. He is a dreamer; he has passions and associates with the outcasts who don’t want to be like the other working class kids who have their lives mapped out for them by their parents and community. He sees punk music as his ideal and in it he sees his values. Riffkid’s strengths are his good looks and his passion for music; his weaknesses are his lack of knowledge and skills in guitar playing and his dreams that are out of kilter with reality.

Background note: Riffkid joins the music scene at a time when punk is the predominant style of rock; but rock changes rapidly and soon fans start to prefer the edgier sounds of post-punk. All this is thrown in the air by the generation of the new romantics who come in with their new sounds – the indie bands. Musical tastes are fickle and change rapidly. All the bands play at the venue called The Trench, a dismal, damp basement that traps young musicians and exploits them mercilessly. The bands are trapped in the Trench and only the best manage to escape from it.

The story

Actions taken by Riffkid (include wants and needs) [How he thinks] {affect – consequences}

Act 1.

Riffkid goes to The Trench music venue to ask if he can join The Howlers – a big and successful punk band. His mates have told him that this is the best punk band in Portsmouth. The lead singer likes him and invites him to come for an audition. (Riffkid wants to be in the band he idolises) [He thinks he has to skills to hack it.] {Riffkid goes to the audition but he fails to prepare himself for it. He fails to study the songs of the band.}

Riffkid attends the audition with The Howlers but he is torn to shreds by the musicians. He realises that the invitation was a fake. He’s been strung along. [He thought he had enough skills to do the job but they prove to him how little he knows.] {Riffkid is rejected by the band. He is devastated. His dreams have failed.}

His best mate tells Riffkid not to give up but to go back to The Trench and try to find another band to join. Riffkid is driven by his dreams; his best mate is more practical and realistic. Riffkid goes back to the venue and, by chance, meets Sean, the bassist from the post-punk band Distorted. Sean just happens to be looking for a new guitarist. [Sean thinks that Riffkid would fit in; realises he is not that good as a musician but his personality would fit and make up for his weaknesses as a guitarist.] {Sean does not bother with an audition; he takes Riffkid on and hopes for the best.}

Riffkid joins Distorted. He decides he needs to get a better guitar and people help him to do this. (He is desperate to be in a band.) [He thinks that trying to get into the much bigger band was a bad mistake) {He gladly accepts the offer to be in Distorted as the rhythm guitarist. He buys the new guitar he needs.}

Act 2

Riffkid’s new band is a great success. Everybody loves them. They enjoy considerable popularity in their home town of Portsmouth. (They want to be popular and in demand for their music.) [They think their music will attract people in large numbers.] {They get booked at all the major venues and play to big audiences.}

Two years pass. Riffkid and Distorted become a successful post-punk band. But the scene is changing and fans are beginning to like the new wave of music coming from the new romantics.

Riffkid has an argument about musical style in the band and quits. (He wants to be a success.) [He sees the band failing because it clings to outmoded post-punk songs when the fans are moving over to indie. He thinks that the world of rock is changing and the band must change with it.] {He sticks to his beliefs and leaves the band.]

Riffkid and Jennifer enrol on the music course. (They need to learn about music.) [They think that having skills and knowledge will get them where they want to be] {They are exposed to a lot of new ideas and experiences they never had before.}

Riffkid makes new friends on the music course. He also goes back to his old friends – the ones who supported him when he needed them. (He wants people around him that can help him; people he can depend on.) [He begins to realise the importance of comradeship.] {He visits his old mates from the band he was in.}

Act 3

Riffkid and Jennifer complete the music course. He now has the skills and the knowledge to become a professional musician. (He wants to make a success of himself) [He realises that music is more than just image and passion.] {They both realise that they will get nowhere if they stay in Portsmouth.}

Riffkid leaves Portsmouth with Jennifer; they go to London to start a new career in music and a new life together. They are free of The Trench at last. (Wants a new life) [Thinks about the future] {Chooses to be with Jennifer.}

Explanation

This character profile was written because I am doing a course about screen-writing for films. The course is led by Michael Lengsfield of the University of East Anglia, whose article ‘Thoughts on character’ set out how to compose the profile. I chose to write about my novel The Trench. The protagonist, main character is Riffkid. This provides my choice of story for the exercises to do with script-writing.

The Martian

Monday 5th October 2015

The Martian

a film by Ridley Scott

screenplay by Drew Goddard
staring Matt Damon

I read the book The Martian by Andy Weir, in April 2015, when I gave away 25 free copies of it for World Book Night. It was a good read and thumping story. Tonight’s film (at Leicester’s Cinema de Lux) followed the story presented in the book but it was the cinematography which really stole the show. Watching it in 3D was an amazing experience and for me represented a milestone in my cinema experience.  I cannot remember seeing anything quite so remarkable at the cinema since I went to the first showing of a film in Cinerama.

Mark Watney stranded on Mars

If you haven’t come across The Martian yet, the story is straightforward: an astronaut called Mark Watney (Matt Damon) gets left behind on the planet Mars following an emergency take-off during a violent storm. The bulk of the story is about Botanist Mark’s struggle to stay alive on the red planet until he is finally rescued and brought back to Earth. It sounds like a simple plot and in many ways it is. But what makes this film so outstanding, as a piece of cinema, it how it was made.

What you notice about the camera work is the innovation in perspective. Various shots show the focus in a scale which had never been done before. One of the early sequences shows the vehicle in which Watney is traveling as being very small relative to its surroundings. Later in the film, there is a shot of Watney, in his space suit, sitting on the top of a rocky promontory: the long shot shots makes him appear very small but as the camera circles round to the front of him, he grows larger until we see him life-size so to speak. The photography was breathtaking and 3D brought out the impact of many scenes in a way that only it could achieve. If you think that 3D is just a gimmick, see this film – it will change your point of view.  Gone are the old cardboard glass with their red and green lenses. Today’s 3D glasses a step forward in the technology. I wore mine over my normal spectacles and that worked well. You have to wear them to watch the film because the 3D images would looked blurred (a kind of double vision) without them. These new glasses work on polarised light, rather than on the more traditional method of having two separate colours. If you miss The Martin you can always go to see the 3D version of Moby Dick when it comes out. The camera work also made a lot of use of GoPro cameras mounted on the astronaut’s spacesuit as well as being used for several other scenes ably bringing out the realism of what we saw; a bit like seeing footage from security cameras. It was all very credible and was a step forward in the construction and realisation of space travel.

The film stays true to the science and the engineering and largely avoids the pitfalls of licence for dramatic effect. Knowing book can help you keep up with the fast-moving storyline but it is not a prerequisite.  The plot is easy enough to follow and the pace is nail-biting and one that keeps you on the edge of the seat throughout.

I loved seeing Matt Damon in the leading role. His work has always impressed me through a succession of many of my best-loved films: Good Will Hunting (with Robin William, his performance won him an Oscar), The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Bourne Identity and more. A strong supporting cast saw Jessica Chastain as Melissa Lewis (one of his mission crew members) Kristen Wiig as Annie Montrose, Jeff Daniels as Teddy Sanders and Michael Peñaas Rick Martinez among others.

The Martian is a film that has no shortage of human interest; if it has a moral or ethical slant then it is that human life – even the life of a single man – is worth saving. Millions of dollars are marshaled to save the stranded astronaut not to mention international collaboration; crowds gathered in New York, London, Tokyo and other cities to watch the live coverage of his rescue. This might seem far-fetched but you know what the media is like and the film presents several press conferences where NASA is forced to explain what is going on.

Ridley Scott is an acclaimed director who scored a hit with Gravity, the sci-fi drama that won seven Oscars, and had already made his name with Alien and Blade Runner. His Prometheus also earned considerable acclaim for the space genre.

Mark Watney stranded on Mars
Mark Watney stranded on Mars

Was the film like the book?  Yes.  It followed the story line and plot of the Andy Weir novel.  Whilst I enjoyed the story, I found the book often got bogged down in too many technical details, as Watney explains the science behind his plans to stay alive; this for me made it hard going, even though I would salute the scientific details that were presented. The details got in the way of the story. As one review put it ‘it was written for nerds – by a nerd.’ [Slashdot] The film-makers had done their homework well:  if you have seen the pictures of the Martian surface from NASA’s Curiosity Rovers, you will see how faithfully the surface has been represented in the film. The shots of Mars were very convincing. The recent news that water has been found on the red planet has fueled speculation that a manned mission might be possible, making it probable that humans living on Mars will one day move from science fiction to fact.

“smart, thrilling and surprisingly funny” – Rotten Tomatoes

See also

Our review of the film The Black Swan (2011)

Character profiling for film scripts (2017)

BrightonRock

Crime and Candyfloss

Brighton Rock

This review was first published in Arts in Leicestershire magazine, on 22nd February 2011. The film was screened at Phoenix in February 2011.

The 2010 film Brighton Rock, is loosely based on Graham Greene’s 1938 novel of the same name. Rowan Joffé wrote the screenplay and directed the film, which stars Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough, Andy Serkis, John Hurt, Sean Harris and Helen Mirren.

Scene from the 2010 film Brighton Rock
Scene from the 2010 film Brighton Rock

Our review

In a dark, edgy thriller with convincing characters and settings and sumptuous camera work,  Joffé has done a superb job in updating the Boulting Brother’s classic of 1947, which starred Richard Attenborough.

Set in the Brighton of 1964, Director Rowan Joffé has adapted the plot of Greene’s novel and reworked it. The opening sequence tells you that it is not going to follow the story of the novel in precise detail. The film brings into sharp contrast the rock and candy-floss seaside holiday resort with the low-life brutality of gangland criminals and pulls in the infamous teenage riots of the 60s between the mods and the rockers. Certainly the location shots make it look like the Brighton I knew in 1964, as far as I can remember, but then I was only 17 at the time.

“The Boy”, Pinkie Brown (Sam Riley) is portrayed as a cold, heartless, calculating hoodlum, who would stop at nothing to further his criminal career in protection rackets and extortion. His humourless face rarely smiles, locked into a steely-eyed stare as his mind concentrates fanatically on the chess board moves of gangland business. Pinkie is pursuing gangster Fred Hale and kills him under the pier. Rose (Andrea Riseborough), a vulnerable though strong-witted young waitress at Snows teahouse, briefly met Fred on the Pier, before the murder. The two of them were photographed together, on the Palace pier.

Anxious to recover the incriminating photo, Pinkie goes to Snows and is served by Rose. The actor who plays Pinkie (Sam Riley, 31) captures Greene’s character (except that he has dark brown eyes whereas, in the book, they are significantly described as a sinister “slatey gray”). In the book Pinkie is 17; Sam Riley looks older (by modern standards) but could pass as 17 in even 1964 and certainly so in the 1930s days of the book, when men matured and looked older at a much earlier age.

Pinkie wants to take over the mob from gang leader Spicer. Hale was a friend of Ida Arnold (played by Dame Helen Mirran) who runs Snows. Mob leader Colleoni (played by Andy Serkis of Gollum fame) tells Ida that “Brighton is on the move”, a reference to its growing popularity with the holiday seeking public as well as with the teenagers who are terrorising south coast towns.

Pinkie is taken in the by the Police,who question him about Hale’s murder but as they have no evidence, they let him go. The police know that Spicer is now running Kite’s gang.

The love tryst between Rose and Pinkie is kept deliberately ambiguous. Whereas some scenes suggest that Pinkie really does, deep down, have some affection for the girl, in others we see him as merely using her in a cynical effort to further his plans and devices in the small-town crime world. The anthem of doomed love plays out against the backing of grimly violent evil and the rioting that engulfs the happy-go-lucky seaside resort.

Pinkie takes Rose (on his stolen scooter) to some high cliffs. He questions Rose about Hale and the mob, trying to find out how much she knows. He takes her to the edge of the cliff; he asks her if she is scared. She replied “not when I am with you”, they kiss and the scene ends its portrayal of the developing and ambiguous relationship between the young gang leader and the somewhat innocent waitress.

Spicer asks Pinkie to buy him out of the gang so he can leave Brighton, allowing Pinkie to take over the gang. In an acutely worked scene, Pinkie goes to see mob boss Colleoni, to offer a joint operation but his real plan is to get Spicer removed. The scene at the Palace pier shows Colleoni’s men attacking Spicer but they also turn on Pinkie in a disturbing act of subterfuge.

The mob’s battles are set against the backcloth of riots between the mods and the rockers. Pinkie puts Spicer on the back of his stolen scooter and rides to the pier; on the way he gets into the middle of a huge group of mods on scooters. Crowds line the street to cheer them on while the rockers jeer and curse at them. The gangs fight it out under the pier as the mods and rockers battle it out on the beach.

Pinkie uses the chaos caused by the  rioting teenagers to make his escape from the mob. The good thing about this film is that it tells a story in the ‘present’, no flashbacks, it has one continuous time line. Pinkie kills Spicer by thrusting a stick of rock into his throat but unconvincingly tries to make it look like a suicide.

Pinkie marries Rose at a registry office, knowing that a wife cannot be compelled to testify against her husband. After the marriage ceremony, we see Pinkie and Rose on the pier, where she asks him to go into a booth a make a record of his voice. As Rose stands outside the booth, unable to hear what Pinkie is saying, she imagines that he is putting his love for her on record. In fact, he is saying that he does not love her, that, in fact, he hates and despises her but he prefaces his rant with the words, “You asked me to say, I love you “.

Ida confronts Rose, interrogating her about what she knows. Ida goes to see Colleoni in an effort to protect Rose from Pinkie. In an attempt to end the girl’s life and remove the risk of her ‘squealing’ on the gang, Pinkie takes Rose back to the cliff tops and asks her to commit suicide by shooting herself.

Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to know how it ends, look away now.

The scene jumps from the cliff top drama to Ida finding one of the gang members and making him drive her to the spot where Pinkie said he would take Rose. In a nail-biting climax, the two of them arrive at the cliff top, almost as Rose is about to pull the trigger of the gun she is holding to her ear. The gang member fights with Pinkie, who tries to get hold of the gun to kill him, but, as they wrestle on the ground, Pinkie pulls out of his coat pocket the bottle of Sulphuric Acid that he used to frighten Rose, earlier in the film. Struggling to get the top off the acid bottle, it shatters in his hand and the acid sprays over his face and eyes. In his agony, Pinkie falls over the edge of the cliff to his death. We see Pinkie’s corpse, his face burnt off by the acid, dead on the beach below.

In the closing scenes, Rose has retired, heavily pregnant with Pinkie’s child, to a convent. The Abbess, like Ida, tries to convince her that Pinkie never really loved her and she should try to forget him.

In the final scene, she plays the record they made on the pier, for the first time and hears Pinkie’s voice saying “I love you” but the tracks are damaged and she lays there listening to the words being repeated over and over, never getting to hear the rest of the message.

The casting is good, the acting superb and the camera work sharp and evocative. It is a totally different version from the original classic production of 1947and Riley’s character is played very differently from Attenborough’s performance. Transposing out of the 30s into the 60s achieved very little, as the mods and rockers aspect occupies only one scene and is just a montage against which the plot is played out.

Whilst I thought the camera work was superb, the monastery music was decidedly odd, linking back into the religious motif that runs through the film but it’s still only a backdrop. It suggests that even in the midst of the evils of gang crime, people can still believe in Heaven and Hell and make a pretense of faith. Like the mods and the rockers, the scenes in the church, Pinkie praying to God during his flight from the mob, the religious elements are just for decoration, rather than having anything approaching the depth that we find in Greene’s work. They salute Greene’s preoccupation with Catholicism but there is no deeper layer behind the narrative of the story line in this film.

Joffé’s film is an exciting and visually stimulating piece of film noir; well casted and acted, very different from the earlier version and a good two hours of cinema. Worth seeing, whether you have read the book and seen John Boulting’s version, or not.

Good things about the film: sharp camera work and top class acting from Sam Riley, Helen Mirren, Andrea Riseborough and John Hurt. Keeping to the language of the 1930s in the dialogue even though it would have been an anachronism in the mid 60s.

Bad things: lack of attention to contemporary details in the mods and rockers scene and the rather irrelevant migration of the setting to the 1960s.

Trevor Locke

Re-published on 9th August 2015 to mark the broadcast of the film on BBC2 television.

News just in

News about arts and heritage

A look at our sizable in-tray of press releases and announcements.

22nd January 2016

Moon Song at Curve

Leicester’s Curve theatre have partnered with Remploy to fund three performances of Bamboozle Theatre Company’s Moon Song, to be performed in its Studio at no cost to the audience on Mon 1 Feb. The intention behind these free performances is to offer assistance to young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) who are making the often difficult transition from childhood to adulthood.

Moon Song is an enchanting, space themed Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) production telling the story of Megan, who falls asleep and dreams of travelling to the moon. This production is carefully designed to accommodate the wide range of abilities within the autistic spectrum, through Bamboozle’s trademark interactive style.

The performances are part of a series of activities hosted at Curve and leading up to the Local Offer Live event which takes place at Curve on Wed 3 Feb.

Curve’s Chief Executive, Chris Stafford, said:

“Following the success of our recent Relaxed and Dementia Friendly performances of Oliver! our commitment to making theatre accessible to all is stronger than ever. We are thrilled to be working with Remploy to stage these performances of Bamboozle’s Moon Song for young people with SEND. It’s really important to us that Curve is renowned as a theatre where everyone can engage with the arts, and we look forward to welcoming special needs schools and SEND practitioners from across Leicester to these performances.

26th October

Comedy

Organisers of the annual Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival are launching their search for the best Silver Stand Up Comedians. The Silver Stand Up Competition, organised in partnership with Silver Comedy and supported by Jasper Carrot, Arthur Smith and Sir Bruce Forsyth, will take place on Thursday 18th February as part of the annual Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival. Comedians aged over 55 are encouraged to enter for the chance to win the 2016 title. The deadline for the competition is Friday 8th January 2016 and further details are available by contacting aya@bigdifferencecompany.co.uk
Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival set up the competition in 2012 to provide a showcase for older comedians. The first competition was won by Shelley Bridgman who continues to gig regularly across the UK and has helped launch the BBC search for the best script that promotes a positive portrayal of transgender characters. The 2013 winner was Marc Lucero, who regularly gigs across London and has appeared on BBC Breakfast News. On winning the competition, Marc said “I want to change the perceptions people have of the elderly and by winning this award I have proved that humour transcends age. Now we need to convince audiences that silver comedy is just as edgy and exciting as seeing the young bucks. Winning the Silver Silver Stand Up Award also proves it is never too late to start a new career.” The 2014 competition was won by comedian Peter Callaghan, who recently returned from performing as part of Old Folks Telling Jokes at the Edinburgh Fringe, and in 2015 the competition was won by Ed de Cantor. Ed had given up performing stand up aged 40, thinking he was “too old”. On winning the competition in 2015, he said “I am completely over the moon. Winning this competition is a dream come true.”

17th September 2015

Proposals set to transform Leicester’s Market

LEICESTER’s outdoor market could be set for a stunning transformation if new proposals are given the go-ahead.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby is considering major investment in the 800 year-old market, to ensure it is fit for the future and to complement the ongoing redevelopment work in the area.

The improvements would follow the construction of a new public square on the site of the old indoor market, and the repaving of the roads surrounding it, but would take priority over an extension to the Corn Exchange building.

Initial proposals for the outdoor market are to give it a fresh new look, with improved stalls, better lighting and new signage.

The revamp could include changes to the roof to make it more transparent, and the installation of LED lighting, which would save energy and reduce costs.

Shoppers and traders will be consulted on the proposals as part of the detailed design process, and it’s expected that final designs will go to the City Mayor for approval early next year.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “It’s clear that the work we’ve already done at the market has made a huge difference, with the new food hall providing customers with the attractive shopping environment they want.

“The creation of a new public square and improvements to the roads and pavements around the market will really transform the area, but they will also highlight the poor quality of the outdoor market.

“I am therefore proposing that improvements to the market should take precedence over the Corn Exchange extension, which is something we could look at again in the future when we have seen how the new public square is being used.

“The market has been a significant feature of the city for hundreds of years, and we need to ensure it retains that position for many more years to come.”

Consultation on the proposals for the outdoor market will begin in the next few weeks.

Project manager Mike Dalzell said: “We have a lot of preparation work to do to move utilities and carry out necessary changes to the highways, but our aim is for construction of the new square to begin in the new year and finish by autumn 2016.”

The first phase of the market redevelopment was completed in May 2014, with the opening of the bright and airy new food hall.

The food hall has already won several awards, including Best Food Market from the National Markets Association (NABMA) and Best New Building from the Leicester Civic Society.

[Source: Leicester City Council]

28th August 2015

Everybody’s Reading

Everybody’s Reading- September 26th – October 4th

This annual festival is packed with over 140 events in 60 venues over nine days. Libraries around Leicester will be taking part, hosting numerous events – these include: local author Bali Rai will be at New Parks Library to talk about his passion for football and books; listen to scary stories and get creative with book illustration workshops at Fosse Library; at Beaumont Leys Library we have Toddler Tales with stories for younger library visitors all about Autumn Animals, and at Evington Library we have Under The Sea where fishy tales will come to life.  Watching the Detectives and John Martin (Leicester’s ‘Mr Crime’) are two of the events at Central and Hamilton Libraries for crime readers out there.

Booster Cushion Theatre for Children will also be at Fosse, Westcotes, Pork Pie and Brite Centre libraries with their show for young children and parents – Big Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

This year also sees the welcome return of BLAM!, our promotion of all things comic-related. The event at Central Library on Wednesday 30th September is a slight change to the one advertised in the brochure in that we are excited to be hosting a talk by comic-writer, Jamie Delano.

Jamie has written for 2000AD and DC Comics, as well as titles such as Dr Who, Captain Britain and Hellblazer. If you have an interest in comics, either as a reader or a writer then this event is for you.

For more events and details on how to book plus ticket prices pick up a festival guide or download it at www.everybodysreading.co.uk

28th July 2015

New film about Children’s Comedy

Sceene from Kenton Hall's film A Dozen Summers
Scene from Kenton Hall’s film A Dozen Summers

Leicester’s writer and director Kenton Hall is behind a new film. As the website asks:

Are you 12 years old? Have you ever been 12 years old? Are you planning to be 12 years old at some point in the future? If so, then this is the film for you. “A Dozen Summers” is a comedy about what it’s really like to grow up in the 21st century. Get ready to enter the world of Maisie and Daisy McCormack, twin sisters who have just hijacked a children’s film in order to tell their own story. Or possibly one about a ghost girl who eats teachers. They haven’t decided yet.

See the website for A Dozen Summers

The film will be screened at Phoenix from 21st August

6th July 2015

Plans for riverside Development

PLANS for a major programme of work to improve access to Leicester’s riverside have been announced.

Leicester City Council has teamed up with the Environment Agency and the Canal & River Trust to help enhance the river corridor through the city, as part of a wider programme of work to reduce flood risk.

The programme of improvements has been awarded up to £1.5million from the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) Local Growth Fund, with £850,000 of this earmarked for a first phase of projects along the River Soar and Grand Union Canal due to begin over the next year.

The improvements are being match-funded by the Environment Agency, which has been awarded £33milllion of Government funding for a five-year programme of flood risk management in the city.

The Canal & River Trust has also allocated £500,000 towards the project, which will fund important maintenance, including ongoing dredging works, to help ensure the waterways are accessible, attractive and welcoming.

A new cycle link along the river between Loughborough Road and Thurcaston Road will be created, and plans are being drawn up to improve and extend the cycleway between the river and the Great Central Railway.

The Environment Agency will also undertake a five-year, £6million programme of flood relief in the Abbey Meadows area from next year. This will include culverts under Thurcaston Road and Loughborough Road, new cycle links, creation of new wetland and woodland areas, and other environmental improvements.

The Canal and River Trust will improve the existing towpath along the Grand Union Canal from the city centre to Watermead Park.

The programme also includes creating better access to the riverside at Sock Island, environmental improvements around Willow Brook, restoration of the old, redundant mill race at Frog Island, and new boat mooring alongside Friars Mill.

Read more about this

3rd July

Festival of Archaeology

Jewry Wall Museum will be hosting a series of special events as part of the city’s two-week Festival of Archaeology.

The museum will be helping to celebrate the city’s rich archaeological heritage with guided walks, talks, displays and family-friendly activities.

The 2015 Festival of Archaeology runs from 11-26 July, but kicks off with a preview event at the University of Leicester on Saturday (4 July). Staff from the city council’s museums service and volunteers from the Friends of Jewry Wall Museum will be on hand at the event, offering activities including coin striking and marching drills with a Roman soldier.

On Sunday 12 July, visitors to Jewry Wall Museum can join in with a free ‘Romans and Barbarians’ day. It will include the chance to watch a Roman army on parade, see demonstrations of Roman arms and armour and strike your very own Roman coin.

There will also be craft activities, family games and an exciting finale to the event when a Barbarian warrior queen arrives on her war chariot to defy the might of Rome.

Daily from 12-26 July, the museum will run tours of Leicester’s Roman bath house, with replica objects to handle. Tours take place from 12-12.50pm each day.

On 18 July, at 2pm, there will be an illustrated talk and book-signing from Gareth Williams, curator at the British Museum, on the topic of Viking warfare in the light of new discoveries. Tickets are £5 and can be booked on 0116 225 4971.

And as a finale to the festival, the museum will host a Viking warfare day on Sunday 26 July. A full Viking encampment will be set up amidst the Roman ruins of Leicester, just as it might have looked in the 9th century, when these lands fell under Viking rule. Admission is £2 for adults, £1 for children.

Cllr Piara Singh Clair, assistant city mayor responsible for culture, heritage, leisure and sport, said: “I’m really pleased that our staff are able to work so closely with the dedicated volunteers from the Friends of Jewry Wall Museum to put on so many great events for the Festival of Archaeology.

“These family-friendly events mean everyone can get involved in celebrating Leicester’s rich archaeological heritage.”

Find out more about the Festival of Archaeology 2015

Find out what to do at Leicester’s museums

1st July

St. Nicholas Circle gets revamp

improve pedestrian and cycling routes around Leicester’s St Nicholas Circle will enter its final phase next week.

The ambitious £1.7milllion scheme has already seen improvements completed on the south side of the busy junction. Wider pavements and a new cycleway have been constructed from Peacock Lane to St Augustine Road, where a lane of traffic has been removed.

A new cycle lane has also been created on the Southgates northbound slip road, and work to create a new entrance into the award-winning Castle Gardens is almost complete.

The project will now move on to the Jewry Wall side of St Nicholas Circle from Monday (6 July).

Existing footpaths will be widened and re-laid with high-quality block paving to create a joint-use footpath and cycleway. The number of traffic lanes will be unchanged on this side of the roundabout.
This stage of the project will also see the Harvey Walk footbridge, which spans the roundabout passing between the NCP car park and Holiday Inn, taken down. Work to create a new surface-level footpath in its place will take place next year.

The scheme is part of the Connecting Leicester programme and will create more attractive routes from the city centre to attractions like Castle Gardens, the Roman Jewry Wall and St Mary de Castro Church, which all lie outside the 1960s ring road.

22nd June

Reading for everyone

The programme for Everybody’s Reading festival is very, very close to being finalised. With a multitude of events taking place all over the city, there is definitely going to be something for everyone to enjoy. There are plenty of free events taking place in libraries, cafes, community centres and many more.

Highlights of this year’s festival include an exclusive schools only performance from Countryfile and Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton at one lucky school in Leicester, as well as children’s book-themed days at Gorse Hill City Farm, smelly perfume poetry workshop from the people who brought Lush to the High Street, crime writers, story tellers, poets and so many more workshops, exhibitions and readings.  There will be loads of opportunity to get involved with something to do with reading!

Everybody’s Reading 2015 runs from Saturday 26th September until Sunday 4th October 2015. Everybody’s Reading is a nine day festival taking place in over 80 venues across Leicester City including community centres, schools, cafes, bars, arts venues, libraries and museums.

The festival, now in its fifth year, is organised by the School Development Support Agency (SDSA) and is an off-shoot of the ‘Whatever it Takes’ initiative (see separate bullet point for more information on this initiative). The aim of the festival is to get Leicester reading by encouraging people to hear and attend spoken word, poets, authors and community writers.

Find out more from the Everybody’s Reading website

23rd June

The Damask Rose

A CENTURIES-old local tradition as kept alive when the Lord Mayor of Leicester attended the Damask Rose ceremony on 24th June.

The Lord Mayor, Cllr Ted Cassidy,  marked the annual custom when he received the symbolic peppercorn rent of a Damask Rose and four old pennies from the landlord of O’Neill’s, a pub in  in Loseby Lane.

The Lord Mayor said: “This is a local custom that dates back hundreds of years and I am delighted that we are continuing and protecting the tradition.”

Steve Thorn, landlord of O’Neill’s Leicester, said: “We here at O’Neill’s are happy to keep up this long-standing tradition and hope we can build on it in the future.”

Dating back to the 1600s, the Damask Rose ceremony survived until 2001 when the O’Neill’s chain took over the pub. The former Lord Mayor, Colin Hall, was instrumental in re-instating the ceremony in 2010.

In keeping with tradition, the Damask Rose ceremony takes place to coincide with the Feast of St John the Baptist and representatives from the Gild of Freemen of the City of Leicester will also be present.

11th June

Magna Carter celebrated

THE 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta was marked in Leicester with a packed programme of events. From Saturday, 13th June, people were able to find out how the medieval charter helped lay the foundations for the democracy we know today – and could learn how a baron with links to Leicester helped ensure the Magna Carta was sealed in 1215.

A an exhibition at the Guildhall – featuring a reproduction of the British Library’s copy of the Magna Carta – revealed the origins and impact of the charter, while an event at Leicester Market, on Saturday 13 June,  included medieval butter-making, traditional sweet-making and an appearance by the medieval rat-catcher.

The medieval Guildhall  – Leicester’s first town hall – hosted a Magna Carta day on Sunday, 14th June, when the Lord Mayor of Leicester talked to visitors about his role and local democracy, after musical performances from comedian Anthony King.

On Monday 15th June there was an opportunity to meet Baron Saer de Quincy – the rebel Leicester baron who helped ensure that King John accepted the terms of the Magna Carta. Baron de Quincy was joined by musicians from the Medieval Music Wagon at the special event at Leicester Market on Monday – the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta.

The event also celebrated the standardisation of weights and measures – enshrined in the Magna Carta – with a selection of old Leicester weights, measures and scales on display in the window of the market’s customer service centre.

“The Magna Carta enshrines many of the things we take for granted today, particularly the rule of law and the principle that nobody can act above the law,” said City Mayor Peter Soulsby.

More news updates will follow in due course.

 

FindingRichard

7th August 2014

Finding Richard

A short film by Hive Films

Starring Colin Baker and David Knight
Directed by Rhys Davies
Producer Doug Cubin
Playing time: 20 minutes (approx)

This short film, shot in Leicester, was premièred at the Cannes Film Festival 2014 and shown at Leicester Guildhall in May this year.

The film was inspired by the discovery of the remains of King Richard III. It tells the story of a young boy called Gull (played by David Knight) who has an interest in history.

Director Rhys Davies said: “The film is an homage to dreamers everywhere. Stay true to yourself, follow your own path and you will succeed. To work with a legend such as Colin Baker was fantastic, and together with rising star David Knight I believe they have made the film a special prospect.”

Gull is helped by his grand father (played by Colin Baker) to start an archaeological dig. A bit of a loner at school, Gull is picked on by others for his strange interests. He stays true to himself, the central moral of the film, and pursues his love of history. Following the dig Gull sets up an exhibition of the artefacts he discovered, on a table outside his house, where he is joined by a girl from his school. This life changes at that moment. Gull find something he was not expecting.

Not a proper dig but the exploration of a field in which the young boy find a piece of metal that he believes to have been left there as part of the Battle of Bosworth.

Mr Davies said the film was about “staying true to yourself and following your own path”. The story line of Finding Richard is told in a way that is very tight, the scenes and content being focused on only the elements that were necessary to tell the story.

Producer Doug Cubin said: “This film being destined for Cannes and having such a great cast means we will do everything possible to create a wonderful experience for the audience.”

The film cost a mere £1,500 to produce, the money being raised through crowd-funding. Colin Baker played the sixth Doctor Who.

Phoenix is planning to hold a festival of short films later this year.

See also:

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Black Music

7th July 2014

New Website Celebrates Leicester’s Black Music History

2Funky Arts has put together a unique website on the history of Black music styles in Leicester, featuring their acclaimed documentary film on the subject.

Their Spectrum project tracks the city’s history of soul, disco, reggae, R&B, gospel, drum ‘n’ bass, hip hop and ‘urban’ music over the last 40 years. It covers singers, bands, DJ’s, sound systems, dancers, musicians and record labels, across music of Black origin.

As well as the film itself, the website includes full length interviews with artists, as well as historical photographs, original footage, sound clips and flyers. Artists interviewed for the film include reggae DJ’s Junior Blues and Skully, singer Carol Leeming, Jazz DJ Tony Minvielle, Producer and entrepreneur DJSS, Classic Groove DJ Collective and soul/ funk band Saquii. Vocalist Bizzi Dixon, who reached the semi-final in BBC1’s The Voice this year, was also featured.

Vijay Mistry, Director of 2Funky Arts said:
“We were unable to include all material in the film, so this website is the perfect platform for all of our exciting discoveries. The breadth of material is testament to the overwhelming public interest in the project.”

Colin Hyde, of East Midlands Oral History Archive, has said of the film:
“It is entertaining, informative and thought provoking and is a great example of how the memories of the people involved in the music business can bring the subject alive for new audiences.”

This is a five year project, building on what we have already, and artists and local music fans are encouraged to continue to submit flyers, photos, press articles, footage and other material reflecting the history of 40 years of Black music in Leicester. Contact Vijay on info@2funkyarts.co.uk for more information.
To visit the website and view the film, please go to: www.spectrumleicester.co.uk

Official Partners: Leicester Arts and Museums Service, East Midlands Oral History Archive, Mainstream Partnership, Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland, African Caribbean Centre, African Caribbean Citizens Forum, Embrace Arts, Curve Theatre and HCC.

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Home page for the news section

Page on heritage news

New films

 

Film company launch

21st March 2014

This page is part of the visual arts section

Launch of 151 Films

After continuous success over the past two years Leicester based video production company 151 Films are excited to announce the relaunch of their brand with a whole new look, website and online identity, which is currently being produced by Leicester based design studio, Leah Spicer Creative.

Add this to some recent new additions to the team and a move into a fully functional studio space and it’s clear to see that it’s a very exciting time for the business!

To celebrate, the company is hosting an exclusive event on the Friday 23rd August 2013 which will see the live unveiling of the new identity and company branding along with a showing of the new company showreel and previews of some of their latest projects.
Having gone from strength to strength in their most successful year so far 151 Films have been able to build a great network and utilise some fantastic opportunities. With hopes of having at least one short film featured in an international film festival during the 2014 festival season and a recent music video production picked up by KerrangTV, the team are really proud of their achievements so far and excited about the future. As well as producing top quality fictional and music video productions, 151 Films also aim to deliver top quality corporate promos and event coverage.

With the studio location now fully established and a fresh and contemporary new look for the brand on the way 151 Films hope to continue producing powerful, effective and current video for all mediums from Tablets to Television. With this in mind 151 Films are hoping to connect with new corporate clients looking to utilise video to promote a product or strengthen their brand. The company is also looking forward to setting up a charitable scheme which will be finalised later in the year.

151 Films look forward to continuing great relationships with all existing clients, sponsors and partners throughout 2013 and into the future and are now on the hunt for exciting new ventures, businesses, freelancers and consumers to build a greater network and new relationships.
The launch event will be held at The Font, Leicester from 7pm with video presentations and performances from local musicians and artists throughout the evening, plus the live unveiling of the brand new look website at 9pm.

The evening will not only be a celebration of the rebrand but also a fantastic opportunity for networking between local businesses and creatives.

For more information about 151 Films please visit www.151films.co.uk

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