Monday, July 30, 2007


Just came back from a nice job in Madrid filming the last of a world competition in freestyle motorcross. It's sponsored by Red Bull, so there was plenty of money around to treat us well! Their representative took us to Real Madrid football stadium for dinner which, even though I'm not a football fan in any way was absolutely awesome!

Filming in the Plaza de Toros was a great experience, and the buzz before the big event makes everyone excited. These riders, or 'pilotos' as they romantically say in Spanish, perform the most amazing of tricks as they fly 20ft above the air at 40 miles per hour. All the Spanish wanted Dani Torres, the 20yr old from Seville, to win, but Travis Pastrana got the crown. At 24 years old, a multimillionaire because of being the only rider ever to perform a double back flip, rode for the last time in Madrid. He is retiring from the sport. At 24. He walks like the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. All of these guys sustain so many injuries none of them can walk straight. In one interview we asked a rider to list his injuries, his broken bones and twisted ligaments, and as he ran through more than fifteen seperate incidents he said at the end, "Fingers and ribs don't count do they."

But Travis was above the rest in most respects. He was very media friendly, and appreciated the other side of the sport which was more demanding than what even footballers are used to. There were so many TV crews trying to film the riders, many immediately before the event where they risk their lives above a mound of sand. I'm making it sound romantic but if the rider miscalculates his jump he could land on his back from ten foot in the air. Then his bike could follow down on top of him. Nate Adams landed one jump at speed and appeared to slightly bump into the panel on the other side of the ring. When we wondered why he had to stop his run prematurely it turned out he'd broken his hand. A producer asked Travis what the best question he'd ever been asked was. He thought about it and said "Can you sign this please?"

Sunday, July 22, 2007

more black and white

There's something about black and white photos that simplify the image and so make it purer. I love that. This one below of Juanis is a little over exposed but I just love her expression - feigned anger. Her speech is improving, she often recites 'Twinke twinkle little star' almost word for word but not quite knowing what the words mean, it's so sweet! And today she said Papá Daddy, that was brilliant! I felt so happy hearing daddy, a lot more than papá. I never realized how hearing that word from her mouth in my own language would be so much more significant to me. I should speak to her more in English, Spanish is the main language at home. And with this daft Argentinian accent, lord knows why.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Monsoon Britain

Yesterday the heavens opened and it absolutely poured down for about 30 minutes. Reports said some parts of Britain had an entire month's rain in just a few hours. The amount of people that have had to stay in emergency accomodation over the last week in Britain is astounding. Reports this morning speak of people having slept in their cars on the M5 (a major motorway in the west of England) because they were inbetween closed junctions due to flooding. Up to ten thousand cars were stationary for over ten hours last night. One man left work at 15:30 yesterday hoping to get home for 16:15 as he normally does. He arrived home at 06:45 this morning.

I think the next house we move into will have to be well above sea level.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Wow I'm really chuffed. Remember my inspiration for the Caravaggio entry? The director called me this afternoon to let me know some feedback from her bosses. There was a private viewing to see the edited result for her tudor girl episode and the series producer said "Who is that cameraman? He is good!" So it may look like I get more work for that series if word gets around! In one interview I shot of the girl I placed her infront of an open door, lit acutely from the side by the sun as she was sat in near darkness (a little like the old man illustrated kindly by Caravaggio below). I was concerned at the time you could hardly see all of her features or any background and I was being far too 'arty'. His comment was "it looks like some special French documentary!" Oh my goodness what a compliment!!

Anyway thanks for the flattery, just give me some work!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

black and white

DJ Catalina annoyed at the clubbers as she tries to mix some tunes. Rosario's picture is underexposed but it's all about that little bottom left hand corner...

Look at Juanita's little finger poking out on her left hand. Her expression on her face is one of patience because I kept telling her to stand still for the photo!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Spitting Image

Between my spouse and I a competition has slowly become apparent since both of us have blogs; who gets the better pic. The thing is, I normally lose since Rosario is always writing some sort of entry whereas I only add to this blog occasionally. This time though, I fought for this pic. The bath tub would take ages to fill, and we were on our way out so I just figured I'd dissinfect the kitchen sink and bathe her in there. And look how happy she is!

This photo is disturbing; It reminds me of me when I was around her age. Disturbing in the sense that it IS me wearing a girl's dress and neckless. Now I haven't done that since I was a student, but I won't go into that...

impeccable timing

I really feel like someone upstairs is looking after me. As a freelancer fresh on the market I've kinda coasted the last few months with a reassuring calendar that is booked with dates for work. But I'm coming to the end of those little ticked dates in my diary and I've been starting to worry again about where I'm gonna get more. So I'd set out today especially to sit at my computer and do the most horrific of things, the one and only thing I detest about my job; to sell myself.

So I've been sat at my computer for an hour looking for who best to email, and suddenly get a call from a director I did a favour for in February, to shoot a short series for BBC4. Oh well! What's going on!? Is this a flattering version of the Truman Show? The Sanchez Marti Show!? Honestly, the timing is frightening. And if I don't see ya, good afternoon good evening and goodnight.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Queen Mother's Appreciation Society

At the Queen Mother's official fan club I asked the gentleman how well he knew Her Royal Highness, and he said well enough to tell him how she didn't quite appreciate his taste in shirts. Meanwhile Catalina wished he would shove up the sofa a little more and get his elbow out of her face.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

the new camera

ok so now it's my turn to attempt to beat my wife at an entry that shows off our new camera. Today was a family day, and like other family days we photographed our little girls endlessly. Here's one of Catalina doing an impression of her grandfather Raul Ernesto Martí. Notice the left hand raised on the lap, the raised right eyebrow... just like Luli.

Here she's a star - notice the rays coming out around her. You can actually only see them when she's in the sand funnily enough, so today was my lucky day to get it on camera - it never lies, they say. PS notice the small cigarette replacement in right hand. A throwback memory to when Luli used to smoke. Even now I think Cata whispers to me when I'm not quite listening,
"pa' que vivís?"

And here Juanis is her usual self, although this time she wore a tutu.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Cruxifiction of Peter

When I studied art and design at University one of my favourite artisits was Caravaggio. Not only were his figures extremely life-like and emotional, but he used the lighting in an incredible way. When I film often the best situations are already lit by nature, by the position of the sun and it's soft light; the biggest soft light that could ever exist. Look at the detail of the black cloth on the bottom right of the painting, obeying the fall of light and shadow coming from what one imagines to be a giant window just outside of the image on the left. The detail in the muscles in the calf of the crouching man underneath the cross, or St Peter's feet. Amazing.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Tudor terror part 2

NOTE: you must read part 1 first or you won't get it!

After we loaded the van, we went to find a restaurant to eat. And the mother grabbed her sleeping bag and coat to return to the village. This was about 9pm, when the sun was fast setting and the hills and trees were already dark shadows together.
We had dinner, and took director and assistant to vehicle number two. Me and the other girl went to our hotel and then to rest. At midnight she knocked at my door.

Her: 'Sorry, can I borrow your torch?'

me(sleepy and confused): 'Yeah, why?'

her:'um, because I have to go back to the village in the dark, the mother has disappeared.'

me: 'What!? I'm coming with you.'

20 minutes later we arrived to the parked car at the top of the hill, where the mother's car was together with a police jeep. Cold, very windy, and chillingly quiet was the atmosphere of these empty hills that we had to cross to get back. The wind was loud so it was hard to hear people shouting across the fields to each other. We walked up through the steep hills and saw two fierce lights moving around in the dark. Obviously it was the police, and it helped us find the village because otherwise in utter darkness it was tough to see. When we got there the police told us to remain in the village, the search dogs would find it harder to hunt because people cross the same track were leaving too many scents. The tudors were all a flutter, and the leader was talking to the police or on his mobile constantly. The director was by the girl's bed praying she would continue sleeping in blissful ignorance. The last people to see the mother was us. She never arrived at the village. Nearly four hours had passed without a sign. Her mobile phone was in her handbag, with a dead battery.

The police dogs arrived, and could find nothing. The helicopter flew around and shined a huge light across the fields. It's thermal sight could only see cows and sheep, it was too hard to spot anything human with all the animals giving of similar heat patterns. After 20 minutes the helicopter left. It was like a movie, only very very serious. Five hours had passed since she was last seen. The police established the girl's next of kin, and so the assistant and I set off in the hire car to pick him up in Bristol. The director had a very heavy conscience, and I really felt for her. We all felt guilty. Where on earth was she? We all feared the worst; that she was dead somewhere.

The two hour journey took us four hours because access to the Severn bridge was closed due to high winds. Finally we parked the car up to find the search rescue team getting ready to set their dogs off and hunt for the mother. The relative was in shock, but gave the team a photo of the mother and described her. I was exhausted. By 6am my brain had ceased to function and the director suggested I sleep in her tent. At 8am she woke me up to tell me the mother had walked back in to the village covered in her marathon insulation blanket. She had got lost, and gave up looking for the village. So she wrapped herself in her insulation blanket (how lucky was she to have one! She could have froze) and fell asleep under a tree. When she saw the helicopter she said she ran across the field waving her blanket but they never saw her.

We tried our best not to let the daughter know what had happened, but seeing the next of kin there with them must have begged questions. Finally we told her, although without making it dramatic. She assumed her mother had vanished for only an hour. She said 'So you really DID have a search party looking for you!?' What she didn't know was that for eight frightening hours we thought her mother was dead.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Tudor terror part 1

Oh my lord what a crazy experience. Three filming days, two kids and one crazy mother. I was filming two children given a surprise challenge of becoming Tudors for a week. They would slowly adopt the ways of how people lived during Tudor times, firstly finding out things they ate, monarchy in power, ways of punishment just as a way of picturing the era.

The boy and the girl (who will remain nameless) were taken to a small village near Bristol totally Tudor. When I arrived I heard that the boy had already dropped out because it was too difficult. It was smelly, people were weird, the food was horrible. He just 'didn't want to do it'. I parked my van up in a field and picked up my camera. For 20 minutes I followed the crew over steep muddy fields, through fences and avoiding cows and sheep to eventually arrive in a small village. A few outhouses were built some years ago in Tudor style, surrounding a communal court area. On one side was an open barn, on the other little plantations and small brick house called a 'privy', an outside toilet... It stank to high heaven.

Sitting around the buildings were several people, all dressed in common tudor clothing, looking at us as if we had come from the future and didn't belong here. It was as if we had travelled back in time. And there was our 12 year old girl, the remaining survivor of the two children, sweetly dressed in her little brown tunic with a modest white bonnet on her head to hide her hair.

The location was really photographic. The only artificial light was from candles. So everything was always lit from the windows or doors, and often created a highly atmospheric one-sided light. I kept saying how much like Caravaggio's work it reminded me of, and tried to imitate that mood.

We filmed her being taught how to make bread, and the funniest moment was in the bread oven - a tiny room with one small window and a hot oven with a stone table next to it - when the oven was hot enough for the bread to leaven, she was asked to fetch manure to seal the plate-cover that closes the oven. So out we followed her with her bucket to collect very smelly dung and take it back to the bread oven. Then it was butter next, and we filmed her churning a long wooden tube and struggling to move the big pole up and down to mix the milk so it would churn into butter; very hard physical work.

She was very clever, and continually surprised us with her intelligence, sharp observation and courage. At one point she was laughing at us, the film crew, because the 'boom' (the microphone on the end of a pole that records people speaking) kept getting in shot and the director would shout it out to us. As the girl shared the story to the butter girls they couldn't stop laughing, her laughter was contagious. Then she said, 'Do you always laugh?' The two 18yr old girls couldn't believe it! They were being intellectually challenged by a 12 yr old. They stammered a reply but didn't quite know how to react.

The last day was not such smooth running. I found out this wonderful girl had lost her father when she was nine. Her mother was a little odd, and they both argued and shouted at each other often. And often enough, the daughter would win. 'No mother, they're waiting for us, come on!' And she would follow. The rain wasn't intermittent and bareable as it had been the day before, it was constant, and demoralising. The fields got muddier, the climb to the village was harder, the equipment felt heavier. But the girl never moaned. As the day wore on a mist descended, and I filmed a wonderful Jane Eyre moment of her walking towards us in the mist, beginning as a small figure in a mysterious field to entering a muddy wet gate.

The last challenge was sleeping in a tudor house. We filmed her making her bed by stuffing a sack full of hay, with a few herbs and spices to put off the rats and insects getting close. Then we said goodnight. The director and assistant were to sleep nearby in a tent, and of course mother HAD to be nearby in case the girl shouted for help. But firstly we went back across the fields for several reasons. I was finishing, along with another crew member, and we had to take our equipment back to the vans. The other two came with since we were to have a quick meal together before we seperated. The girl's mother came with us to collect some items from her car which was next to our crew van. And there lies the first error. We left the little girl asleep on her own. Even though the tudors were nice people, she was OUR responsibility. But our second mistake we didn't get away with.... (read part 2!)