Posts Tagged ‘filmmaking’

The Lodger – Hitchcock Restoration & Score by Nitin Sawnhey

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012


The BFI have been involved in a campaign over the last couple of years to ‘Save the Hitchcock 9′. These 9 early films shot by renowned director, Alfred Hitchcock in the 1920’s are in great need of restoration and thus a funding campaign was set into motion, involving a big donation made by Martin Scorsese’s charity, The Film Foundation.

There is no doubt that the genius of Hitchcock in the world of cinema is ingrained within our lives and culture, References and homages will continue, as the years progress. The BFI are celebrating his genius with a season of every one of his films through to October 2012.

What makes this project very interesting is giving an audience to his first foray into a genre that would define much of our understanding of him. Being a member of the British Film Institute, which I would highly recommend, gave me early access to purchase tickets to see ‘The Lodger’, Hitchcock’s first thriller, a silent film that follows a series of ‘Jack The Ripper’ style murders around London town by a character known as ‘The Avenger’, based on a book that purported Jack The Ripper to have lodged in a local guest house. Released in 1927, this movie showed the thinking behind many of Hitchcock trademark approaches to theatrical filming and his unique approach to storytelling through the lens.

Nitin Sawhney & Band + London Symphony Orchestra

Colouring and toning effects were employed directly to the negatives, giving the movie added depth and colour cues. We were given an introduction to the project and a quick extra glimpse into the restoration process with before and after shots. Although this movie was remastered fairly recently, current digital technology has allowed a much clearer and precise restoration.

The Lodger also gave us Hitchcock’s first cameo appearance.


Part of the restoration process involved commissioning a new score, and musician Nitin Sawhney was tasked with delivering his interpretation . The audience in the Barbican and those in cinema theatres around Britain were the first to experience the fully restored movie with a score performed LIVE by Nitin Sawhney’s Band and the London Symphony Orchestra. The acoustics and performance worked wonderfully I initially found it hard to just watch the movie, but after the first couple of minutes immanaged to focus my eyes away from the musicians and just let them do their thing. It was impressive the way the lighting for the orchestra synced with the negative colouting/toning used between the scenes, as the screen hues changed, so did the illumination around the orchestra, it allowed for an immersive experience and the ears to follow the sound and the eyes to stay on the screen.

Nitin Sawhney in Q+A after 'The Lodger'So on the whole I was impressed by the score. Beautiful strings, voices and motifs used to create narratives that weaved between the suspense, comedy and love story. It worked suprisingly well, given the nature of the original novel by Marie Belloc. Great use of drums and percussion throughout, mixed and performed extremely well.

I couldn’t help but notice traces of Nitin’s work from previous albums creeping into the soundscape, subtle string phrases reminiscent of Nitin’s earlier album Prophesy sprang to mind. It was diverse and fitting with a lashings of Psycho and North By Northwest, add in some period atmosphere and a bit of Metropolis. I heard some much Hitchcock in it, yet it had such a distinctive sound that was very much Nitin Sawney. The score sounded full and timed perfectly, my congratulations go out to the Nitin, the band and the LSO.

Experiences like these are what make the world of cinema so special. I fully intend to try and catch future movies with LIVE accompaniment. It is just that one of my pet peeves about the cinema industry centres around poor projection or care in the sound department, something that is changing with digital cinema. When its being played LIVE for you, its a totally different experience. The Barbican has great acoustics, so it is well worth catching performances there if you can.

Nitin Sawhney Signing

You will be able to see The Lodger with the new score at the BFI from Aug 10th – there will also be a conversation with Nitin Sawhney that evening.

Further information:

Nitin Sawhney on twitter @thenitinsawhney

Nicki Wells on twitter @nickiwellsmusic

British Film Institute

The Barbican

Kick-Ass Eueopean Premiere

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

There is usually a great big buzz surrounding any movie, never mind a comic book movie. It seems the most common virals and trailers build up months and months in advance, designed to keep rabid fans eager but satisfied. Kick-Ass the movie just feels different in so many ways. Only last week we saw a mature rated trailer released to show fans it’s fans that the currently released trailers were “cleaned up” for public consumption, full of profanities and “themes of a violent nature” it suggested that this movie, would be no ordinary one. , the Kick-Ass movie website is full of flash deluxe activity too.

And it just so happens that I managed to score 2 fan tickets to the european premiere !

Premieres in London generally attract a lot of attention, but as Brad Pitt was rumoured to be showing… Also due to 200+ fans being treated to be some of the first to see this movie alongside the creators, actors and other movie industry bods, made this an extra special evening.

Still, the fans had to earn their tickets.

Roll back the clocks 32 hours and take a trip down Shafstbury Avenue, London… and you would see comic book geeks/nerds running round the back of the store queueing up to get into Forbidden Planet to meet the co-creators of Kick-Ass.

Having been informed that the first 75 through the door would get a pair of tickets to the premiere. A genius marketing move and a nod in the direction of the hardcore fans that have given the comic book into it’s cult status. Also guaranteed that the most ardent Kick-Ass fans would show ! Some even camped out overnight.

My Kick-Ass Journey – Sunday 21st March 2010

I headed down to the store early on Sunday, but nature called and I had to go seeking, by the time I returned to the back of the store the queue had grown, and this nervous feeling in my gut began to grow, after 3.5 hours of waiting and being made to watch the team managing the ticket allocation up ahead, it felt like I was going to miss out. But as luck would have it, a clipboard was passed to me, and i was second to last to be given the opportunity, there being only one more sheet of paper underneath my one.

Mark Millar & John Romita Jr - Signing [3D]

It seems the production team increased the allocation from 75 to 103! I got to get my first issue of Kick-Ass signed and grab a couple of stereo (3d) image of the co-conspirators.

Showtime – Monday 22nd March 2010

Rushing down from Reading, in record time, I got to the pick up point after 6pm – so all the decent tickets had gone, but hey … I’ve now seen the most bad-ass insanely funny and entertaining film that has happenned to cross my eyeballs in a very long time. Even though I was right at the front and off to the side (C8) at the huge Empire Leicester Square theatre, not the easiest and most enjoyable way to experience a movie. Never the less, the movie made me and the audience laugh hard, whoop and clap. Be warned, there is extreme violence and swearing throughout the film. I think the movie may in itself become a cult classic  just as the comic book has.

I took the opportunity to grab some 3D shots on the red carpet – and here is a video of Mark and John being interviewed at the same time:

Half way through the clip above you see me take the picture below, using a canon Stereo Data Maker 3D digital camera rig – I wasn’t really prepared for shooting 3D so there isn’t much flash power in the shot below. But its still in 3D – grab your red/cyan specs.

Kick-Ass Premiere Red Carpet [3D]

Christopher Mintz-Plasse & Chloe Moretz face European Premiere AudienceBeing treated to the red carpet, kick-ass girls and the red mist mobile, had Leicester Square me and 200 other fans all  buzzed up with energy. I only recognised Edgar Wright, whom I had to squeeze past in the foyer of Empire to get into the screen. I always forget how big a screen Empire 1 is … so we were treated to an intro by Director, Matthew Vaughn and Actors, Mark Strong, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Aaron Johnson and Chloe Moretz – who all stood in front of the audience to massive applause.

I will admit that I’m a comic book fan, not only of Kick-Ass’ 8 issue comic series, but also of writer, Mark Millar and artist John Romita Jr., both co-creators of Kick-Ass.

Find out more about their work and some of their popular titles: Chosen, Wanted, The Amazing Spider Man and World War Hulk to name a few.

This movie has surpassed my expectations, but a movie is always fresher, more exciting when you’re amongst fans, so go with friends, don’t look for anything serious and if you’re easily offended, don’t complain afterwards. The movie stands up to the comic in so many ways and avoids the trappings if having to run back stories and characters yada yada…. Kick-Ass is simple, funny and bloody and it’s got no baggage attached!

With no power, comes no responsibility .. you’ve got nothing to loose, go see it.

Kick-Ass is on General release from 26th March 2010, check you’re local cinema listings.