Is it me... or are people obsessed by Series 2 of The Wine Show
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Don't believe me, here's what ET have to say:

“Pour another glass because our favourite import Matthew Goode is back with a second season of The Wine Show, Friday 12th January 7pm Channel 5. Sky Vision’s food and travel magazine series, which moves the action from Italy to the South of France, is already available in the U.S. on Hulu. The show became a favourite among viewers thanks to the bromance between Goode and co-host Matthew Rhys and their journey through the heart of Italy in search of tasty wine and lasting memories. Joining Goode (who also stars on The Crown season two) is James Purefoy, an equally English and handsome actor, who steps in for Rhys. This season, two hosts are tasked with finding a case of wine to match a six-course French lunch cooked by Stephane Reynaud."                           

I mean what’s not to like? A bromance, lashings of adventure and a “Provencal palace of plonk”. No wonder people are obsessed.

I’d like to say Series 2 was hard work, but you wouldn’t believe me. I could mention long days, endless treks burdened by kit, but you’d just laugh and pour yourself another glass of something cool and sparkling. But honestly, contra to some producer's opinion, the show isn’t made on vast budgets with carefree schedules. This is classic TV - a small tight unit, Arri Amiras and buckets of natural light.

As always the show travels the globe in search of great stories and stunning locations. My personal favourite this season, Japan. Based mainly in Kyoto the episode teamed Joe Fattorini with Jaega Wise, a new presenter from the Wild Card Brewery in London. Together they studied Saki, which is brewed like beer but consumed as a wine. Of course as always with the Wine Show it was less about the drink and more about the experience and in Japan most experiences come with a wealth of personal cultural complications:  I kept my shoes on when they should have been off, forget my business cards and said something that I thought was “thank you” but in fact translated as “bog off”. The only person who was in more trouble than me was a Monk unable to remember his lines due to a shocking hangover – apparently drinking Sake brings you closer to God. As they say locally - “Drunken life, dreamy death.” Or something like that... 

For Series 2 I also shot a lot more food thanks to chef Stephane Reynaud. His gorgeous dishes gave us some mouth watering tabletop opportunities. We were also joined in the South of France by the legend Jancis Robinson who was tasked with the job of judging the findings of our two exuberant stars. There's also Chef Shoots - I was lucky enough to spent a day with Angela Hartnett at Line Wood Hotel in the New Forest. Gorgeous. 

Of course it's all worth while when you get a prime time slot on Channel 5 and if you can't wait or live outside the UK it's globally available on HULU and other local channels.

Can't think of a better way to start the New Year So - Salute!


Carl Prechezer
Is it me... or do cats hate Directors?
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Once upon a time, as the festive season was close at hand, a lovely script arrived. It was a simple story, the story of a dog, a cat and a magical fire. Animals, who hate each other, united by a wondrous product. What could possibly go wrong…

WC Fields was right; working with animals and children is never easy. You have to have patience, nerves of steel and a selectiuon of squeaky toys. But the challenge goes a lot deeper than knowing when to release the mechanical mouse. Here’s a few ideas in case you find yourself faced with a ferocious feline and a set full of expectant clients.

Rule number one - cast the owner not the animal.

One of the first films I ever made was about the life of a bull terrier. I knew nothing about working with animals but my star seemed a joy, following me around and doing nothing I asked. My cameraman, an animal lover, suggested I make noises through a cardboard tube to attract the dog’s attention. Bingo, suddenly we were in business, but the animal’s owner didn’t approve – a short man with a broken nose and a penchant for gold jewellery. 

That night, uninvited, he banged on my door and announced that the dog’s fee had just gone up, because comedy was extra.

I learnt my lesson and these days I leave the comedy to the professionals. Charlotte Wilde doesn’t have a penchant for gold jewellery and doesn’t charge extra for comedy but boy can she deliver some pretty special animals.  SHADOW was already a super star before he even put a pad on set.  In fact, he can fly a plane. No, I’m not joking, SHADOW was saved from death row to star in a TV series where animals do amazing things. Check out this clip and you’ll see our hero at the controls. Amazing.

But let’s not get carried away. Those of us with "previous" in the animal world know that every day comes with a new dawn and even if Shadow was on my side I still had to deal with his feline co-star and as producers will tell you…

Rule number two - cats hate directors.

To understand cats you need to train as a Buddhist monk. You need to meditate on what they might have been in a previous life. Where they lived, what they ate and what it is about a film set they find so repulsive. Then you need to throw away all that knowledge and pull out a big stick with a fluffy feather on the end and wave it around in the direction of their eye-line. Failing that wipe chicken over anything you need them to look at. Note to any actors – that may includes you.

The third rule, forget WC Fields and channel your inner Poirot.

Like children, animals have their routine, some are better in the mornings, others in the afternoon and if you want to get a dog to go to sleep you’d better find out when he likes to sleep. Oh and giving him a big meal followed by a very long walk, that’ll work.

Preparation done, it’s time to shoot - two animals, one room and an open fire, what could possibly go wrong…

So here’s the twist – they’re not in the same room, at least not at the same time. You see unlike the legendary commercial  where the mouse joins the cat and the dog, we only had hours to get what we needed and so I’d already storyboarded the shoot to separate the animals. After all, it’s really the dog’s story - don't tell the cat but she's actually the side-kick.  So through the power of angles and good old-fashioned editing they co-habit only in a land of post production.  But the real star… now that’s the product.

I kid you not. Unlike many products I’ve worked with that don’t do what the client says The Dimplex Opti-Myst is a truly amazing fire. It looks like a real fire but it's electric, controlled by remote control: up, down, on off you name it.  It’s a fire made for Hollywood. No more special effects guy with a rusty old pipe and a gas can set to disaster The Opti-Myst is instant heaven, a film friendly fire. Revolutionary,

Oh, and let's not forget - good film, great script. 

So finally, as the 2017 draws to a close I’d like to wish you all Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year. See you in 2018. They'll be series 2 of the Wine Show and a very special announcement about The Cutter, just in time for The Oscars. 

Carl Prechezer
Is it me... or is it time for a Happy Halloween
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This year, as the door creaks open on All Hallows' Eve, a legend will be reborn. Determined to put a smile on your face is the not so grim Reaper. That’s right, on October the 31st the big man in the hooded cape will be hitting the dance floor and you’re invited to the premiere.

Welcome to the world of DEAD GOOD.

Dead Good started life as a short film but it quickly became clear the story was destined for a longer run and after all, this is the era of the series. Netflix, Amazon and HBO. Box sets has replaced the one off as we watch the on-going adventures of robots, gangsters and the folk beyond the wall. Everyone’s looking for longer formats.

Developed over 13 episodes the series tells the story of The Reaper’s search for acceptance, as a dancer. Understandably for most people steppin' out with Death isn’t top of their wish list so the Reaper is forced to take matters into his own hands. In classic genre style our hero puts together his own crew of misfits to take on the establishment and the world of street dance will never be the same again.

Script written, time to make a sizzle, put the look and feel down for all to see. But sizzles are speculative, traditionally having no production budget, so it was time to ask some very talented people for more than a little professional help. First…

GRIM NEEDED A COSTUME. Luckily there’s some expertise in the family. Lou Prechezer worked on Sleepy Hollow and The Phantom Menace so she knows a thing or too about the dark side. The challenge was to develop Grim’s classic look but not in a horror style. We kept the hooded shape but we used mirrored shades to bring sparkle to the inner hood. Trademark Adidas Ultrastar 80s, Run DMC style, gave him the Hip Hop vibe and if you look closely you’ll see the legend “Grim” sequined across the back, Strictly eat your heart out. Now it was time for the iconic prop.

NO SCYTHE NO REAPER. The fabulous Derek Brown created something totally original out of driftwood and sculptured metal. It’s was huge and we listed it in the call sheet's risk assessment as an “action prop”. Luckily it was never wielded .

BLACK AND WHITE. I always wanted to shoot the sizzle in widescreen black and white, a classic look for dance videos and movies like La Haine and The Artist. The immensely talented Cliff Evans – see Wine Show – made the dream a reality and we were lucky to have George Simpson AKA SteadyG on steadycam. We shot on an Arri Amera capturing raw colour and then Danny Coster’s team at Locomotion London – graded by Jon Davy – created the wonderful widescreen image. Edited by Ben Harrex at Final Cut. Music was thanks to James Edward Baker and sound by Zane Hayward.

THE CAST. Came from Brighton based dance guru JP Omari, owner of Marine Studios – his young crews have won Street Dance championships all over Europe and you can see them every year at Straight Up which he stages at Brighton’s Dome - the event was somewhat of an inspiration for the story structure of a dance championship.  It was through JP that I discovered Amelie Hurley, the film’s lead. This young lady is sure to have a bright future given her immensely watchable and charming performance. Talent.

THE GRIM REAPER.  Now for the big man in the hooded cape. Dancing in such a costume was like a work out in a hamam, not to mention the challenge of almost zero visibility. So who achieved the miracle? Watch out on social media and all will be revealed but let’s just say he’s a magician, dancer and his bones are quite magical.

Dead Good was an amazingly refreshing experience, a chance to create something original. Here's the trailer I hope you enjoy the sizzle - out on Halloween - and we all look forward to shooting the whole 13 episodes. 

Carl Prechezer