Is it me... or are people obsessed by Series 2 of The Wine Show
wine show 2 banner .jpg

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?
Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 12.25.20.png

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
Screen Shot 2017-10-22 at 11.08.30.png

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
Is it me... or is this the T-Rex of Tabletop?

Been to Heathrow lately?

If not, watch out… Wagamama’a new T5 22-metre widescreen is attracting humungous attention. Part signage, part display, this massive offering pumps out mouth-watering food 

The T-Rex of Tabletop. 

But how does a director prepare to shoot for such a giant screen? Can a 16:9 image be adapted or are we talking brave new world?

With a lot of experience in cinema-style-ratios, systems such as Hawk and Panavision anamorphic, I knew we had to adapt our thought process for such a giant ratio, but an early test and conversations with the screen’s supplier determined that anamorphics were out, potential distortion. So we needed to work within a 16:9 frame at a resolution that would hold up when most of your image is surplus to requirements. 

Danny Coster and his team at Locomotion established that shooting 4K would give us enough resolution for the 22:2 frame and we began storyboarding based on our new tech spec. Also, working directly for the client meant no agency backup. We had to get it right and we only had 2 days to shoot over forty set ups. So...

High speed special effects – EG: PHANTOM see Philips blender, were out. Too expensive and no way to pump high light levels into a live restaurant without frying the diners. This was all about appetising food shot in a quirky appealing way. We needed to be clean and straightforward, like the dishes. Locomotion had previously shot stop frame for Wagamama Takeaway so we knew a more graphic animated route worked. 

Shot on location at Wagamam Great Marlborough Street excellent home economist Lisa Harrison teamed up with my talented camera crew of The Wine Show fame: Cliff Evans and Jamie Knights. Whether it’s tabletop, location or UFC breakdown these guys can make it look great, but this was a real mission. 

We decided to use the live restaurant downstairs to give depth / a big backdrop and set up two mini tabletop studios upstairs on the mezzanine. Directing both simultaneously was a task - you should have seen the spreadsheets needed to coordinate the storyboards,  almost as epic as the giant screen.

But how did we view the monster 22:2 frames?  Trade secret.  No, joking aside, we programmed a mattes into the monitors and split the result between two displays. In fact the technical challenge wasn’t the monitoring it was working out how to shoot that wide. You have to retrain your brain to use a whole different set of lenses and staging, or else you end up with a twenty two metre mouth eating noodles, not so nice. Luckily…

The result was stunning.

In fact the campaign was so successful we went on to shoot social media content for Wagamama displayed on Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms.

That's waga-tastic!

Carl Prechezer
Is it me... or is The Wine Show a dream come true.

Finally, it's official!

The Wine Show will begin its run in April - ITV4 Sunday 10th April + ITV1 Saturday 16th. The 13-part, one hour shows will be hosted by Matthew Goode and Matthew Rhys. Yes that's Matthew Goode of Downtown Abbey and Matthew Rhys, star of The Americans.

After nine months filming on location - Australia, Chile, USA, France and Europe - the show ended in my homeland, Italy. Why? Because in every show Mr Goode and Mr Rhys search for a wine that represents the spirit of Italy. Completing a "mission" set by wine guru Joe Fattorini.  It's a wine-off and believe me, things get quite competitive.

Our Italian Odyssey kicked off in Rome where my loyal camera crew decided to test their crane, inside the hotel room. As the afore mentioned piece of kit was too big for the executive double they opened the window, allowing the camera to poke out into the street, directly above... a nunnery. Needless to say the pole was immediately retracted. Papal disasters avoided we moved onto a story about ancient wine and, as Mr Rhys eloquently put it, the bouquet crossed "manure with leather". What he didn't know was that our Roman historian had added her own secret ingredient - cheese. Believe me, there was no acting in the ensuing facial expressions, it was pure Stanislavsky. All of that before we'd even left the capital. I won't tell you what happened at a barrel race in Montepluciano, just watch on April 10th or 16th.

In short it was a lot of fun, and I'm proud to say that's reflected onscreen. It was great to work with actors and presenters on longer form dialogue and interesting to shoot multi-camera links as well as actuality.

Back to the present April has also brought more stories from the octagon, and two more shows for UFC FIGHTNIGHT. There was also a new TVC for ALPEN GOLD which will premier in the next spotlight, and post production on a secret table-top project that's going to appear on a massive screen at Heathrow later this year.

I hope you all enjoy The Wine Show, love to know your thoughts.

Is it me... or is it time for some Vino Veritas?
Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 18.53.59.png

Guess who’s back, back again…

Hello 2016! If you’ve been dry for January, well done. If you can't wait for February, I’ve got something special for you…

The Wine Show - a 13 part series to be broadcast on UK TV  this year. Directed by my good self it's presented by two UK movie stars, hot new factual discovery Joe Fattorini, Amelia Singer and the well know Gizzi Erskine.  

Spanning the entire globe the show’s full of riveting stories, gorgeous vistas and (cue Don LeFontaine voice over) "the biggest wine cellars in the world!" There’s also plenty of mouth watering food as globally renowned chefs, such as Atul Kochhar, discuss their perfect food and wine combinations. It's a table top delight. 

Of course the filming wasn’t without it’s dramatic challenges; occasionally feeling as if we were staring in our own version of PLONK. But then what d’you expect when you’re humping kit and crew across the globe. But for every airport meltdown there was the most incredible sunrise or sunset, usually followed by an amazing glass of local surprise.

What makes me particularly proud is that not only does it look fantastic, the whole series is immensely watchable. Nothing about this wine show is dry or high brow, it’s an accessible program you can watch with family and friends.

Technically it showcases Arri’s amazing Amira and the skills of Cliff Evans, Jamie Knights, Ed Bullman and many more.  There’s drones, drones and more drones – one of which ended up on a million pound titanium roof - nothing to do with Mike Garner whose drone skills brought the show’s Italian location to life.

So keep an eye peeled for further announcements and updates because it’s the TV wine show everyone has been waiting for.

Carl Prechezer