Friday, 29 October 2010

Scariness!

Our sound editor Al Muirden is in philosophical mood again...

I was in my local supermarket earlier this week, wandering up what they call the “seasonal” aisle (which currently contains product for Christmas), when I came across the ever growing “Halloween” section. I think Halloween started in the store around mid-September and it really made me stop and think about how this “celebration” (which after all has developed over the centuries from what was actually marking the day when the link between this world and the next (i.e. life and death) was at a point where good and evil spirits could pass between the two “worlds” - good spirits were welcomed and any evil spirits warded off.

I use the term “celebration” because as I was standing in disbelief at the sheer AMOUNT of Halloween related product available (clothing, themed confectionery, all manner of dolls, witches, skulls, mummies, scary looking butlers and old hags, toffee apples and PALLETS of pumpkins!), a message came over the tannoy reminding us shoppers that the store had Halloween products in stock and proudly pronounced that they had “…everything you need for the big night…”

Now I have been to some Halloween parties in the past and most have been great fun, but it occurred to me that we have reached another date in the calendar which can be used by the retail industry as a “money maker,” and year on year, it just gets more and more ridiculous. I have nothing against anyone who chooses to buy any of these products or to have a Halloween party, but - like Christmas and Easter (in particular) -the original reasons for the “celebrations” have become lost amongst the paraphernalia available to buy, that really does (in my opinion) take away from the original purpose of why we have these “special” days.

So spare a thought for the original reasons we have a special day on October 31st. Have a look on the Internet or read up a bit on the background and get into the “spirit” of the history of it - having had a delve myself, knowing a bit more about the origins has helped me appreciate the REAL reason for marking the day.
 
Interestingly, we have two birthdays in the CC team this weekend and one of them is actually ON Halloween. Happily, we will be together at the Poole Literary Festival, so you never know, we may bump into you - we certainly WON’T be dressing up in Halloween costumes* or saying “trick or treat” though! Hope to see you there! – Al Muirden

*Speak for yourself! - LK

Friday, 22 October 2010

An update on The Lowdown!

CC director Ali Muirden gets back to work...

My holiday is over and my nose is firmly back to the grindstone now and it’s all systems go to get our final titles for the autumn published.

First up will be ‘Dodging the Bullet - Effective Risk Communications Skills’. For those of you who are wondering what Risk Communication is:  it’s the science of communicating in high stress, high concern situations. This book shows you how to acquire the skills to make you communicate like a great leader during high stress situations.

The audio book will be narrated by Steven Pacey, once he is back from performing in ‘Crash’ at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. I was recording’ Let the Right One In’ (published by Quercus) with Steven when he got the call from his agent asking him if he would audition for the play, so it was great to hear this all worked out for him.

In a weird example of synchronicity, the play is written by William Nicholson whose novels are also published by Quercus!  In fact, I am currently reading his novel “The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life” which explores what happens when a happily married woman gets a call from her long lost lover and how her decision to respond ricochets around the sleepy Sussex village where she lives.

Next on the “to do” list is recording Henry V as part of our Osprey partnership. This book is an unusual take on the military career of this historic figure.   We’re hoping wonderful Jamie Glover will be reading this one.  Jamie is currently directing Single Spies by Alan Bennett, which opened on 30th September at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury.  The production is a double-bill featuring An Englishman Abroad and A Question of Attribution.

We’re also busy putting together a brand new series called “Dream Catching,” which are short meditation audios with a unique twist.  These are being written by Maria Darling, a prolific actress and voice artist.  We’ll update you with more information on these soon! - AM

Friday, 15 October 2010

Why are we here? Because we're here....



Creative Content sound editor Al Muirden is in a philosophical mood...

What’s he going to talk about this week, with such a deep and meaningful title to this week’s CC blog?!!

Well - I lifted these two lines from a set of lyrics, written by one of my all time heroes, Neil Peart of the Canadian rock band “Rush” – the words are from their song “Roll the Bones” from the 1991 album of the same name. I know it’s obviously not the first time the “why are we here” question has been asked, but the combination of the question/answer complement each other perfectly in these lyrics. 

Neil is saying that we come in to the world with nothing and we take whatever “fate” or “destiny” throws at us and the BEST thing to do is deal with those circumstances in the BEST way we can..a simple message that all too often these days, doesn’t feature in our everyday lives.

I’m sure that everyone has heard about the incredible rescue of the 33 Chilean miners – this is something that I think (hope) has proved inspirational to many people – I truly hope that we are ALL inspired by this incredible event, to do our best for ourselves and others.

The rescue has shown the world that fate threw those men a tough set of circumstances and they ended up trapped underground – those same circumstances inspired their rescuers to use determination, ingenuity and incredible self-belief that the men could be SAVED – and incredibly, a superhuman achievement by all concerned has resulted in the BEST outcome imaginable – truly man helping fellow man at all costs.

How do I link this into the Creative Content blog? Well I admit the connection is tenuous, but if you find yourself in a rut with whatever you’re doing  (sometimes with me, it’s an audio edit!), remember that it’s always the best thing to do, to do your BEST – sometimes it can seem like it’s not going to be worthwhile, but someone, somewhere will benefit from your actions – and it’s got to be WAY better to do the best you can than to give up – I hope that we can all take some inspiration from those rescuers in Chile – they certainly went the extra mile (or 33!) and made the miraculous rescue attempt, a reality.

(...and all this from a “glass half empty” guy like me – I’m seeing that glass in a different light now!) - Al Muirden

Friday, 8 October 2010

Accent-uate the positive....


CC director Lorelei King talks about some of the challenges of giving a character an accent when narrating...

I was recently lucky enough to record Alex y Robert (by Wena Poon) as a Book at Bedtime for the BBC. It’s a wonderful book – but it threw up a problem that comes up from time to time for narrators.

The heroine is an American girl, fluent in Spanish, who wants to be a bullfighter, like her grandfather. She goes to Spain and fulfils her dream.

So far so good! The story is written in third person narrative and the character of Alex was no problem – but once she got to Spain and met Roberto and lots of other Spanish characters, I had a bit of a stumble. When Alex is in Spain, she is speaking Spanish, as are the other characters. But it is written in English. And occasionally the Spanish characters break into English. What to do? Accent? No accent? No accent for the Spanish characters when they’re speaking Spanish, but give them an accent when they’re speaking English? Give nobody accents? Give everybody accents? It’s a minefield!

Ultimately I think it’s about making things as clear as possible for the listener. So although it might be very clever to switch back and forth from accented to unaccented, depending on what language the character was supposed to be speaking, it would be incredibly confusing for the listener.

Therefore my policy is to give a character one voice and one accent – an accent that is the same, no matter what language they’re speaking. 

In the case of Alex y Robert, that could’ve meant giving the Spanish characters no accent – or perhaps more accurately, to give them an American accent like mine.  But that didn’t seem right either.

Part of the charm of the story is this very American girl finding herself in a very different world with an ancient tradition very different from anything in her world. In order to convey that sense of ‘otherness,’ I chose to give the Spanish characters Spanish accents – even when they were supposed to be speaking their own language.

What do you think? I’d love to know how other narrators handle this problem! - LK

Friday, 1 October 2010

Everybody into the Poole!


I hope you’ll be joining us in Dorset at the Poole Literary Festival later this month.

I’m very much looking forward to chairing the crime writing discussion panel on October 31st with some fantastic writers: Minette Walters, Michael Jecks and Simon Hall - and, in honour of Halloween, am planning on telling a scary, true crime story of my own about something that happened to me.

To give you a taste of what’s in store, here's Simon Hall talking about how he’s inspired by true crime:

And for an interesting view of Dorset, check out Minette Walters' interactive map of Dorset.

And last, but certainly not least, for Michael Jecks fans – here’s a bit of Morris dancing funk!

See you there! - LK