Amazing Caribbean roti cooked with flair by Aunty G. We've a delicious roti report from the kitchen of expert cook Gillian. We're taking a sneaky behind-the-scenes peek at her prepping and cooking 55 rotis for her birthday BBQ. Follow her step-by-step 'live' demonstrations and simple on-screen instructions. Teach yourself with the 60 second recaps which are ideal for beginner cooks.
This lively, inspiring three-part slam documents live the performances of pupils from Hackney, Southwark, Lambeth schools and their poet coaches Peter, Malika, Mariahadessa, Jacob and Fatimah. The teens and tutors battle to win the 2003 Teenager Poetry slam at the Bloomsbury Theatre. Some smashed it, others forgot their lines. With poet judges Kevin Coval, Dorothea Smartt and Roger Robinson.
Desperately Seeking Grandma is about, love, memory, identity, ageing.longing, grief and peace. For three decades artist and filmmaker Denise M Semple, has videoed milestone family events, holidays, as well as her mundane life. The film starts as a quest in 1994 to uncover more about her Caribbean grandmas, but ends up with both being found closer to home.
Dear Video Professional and Semi-Professional,
There was a great opportunity to distribute your videos – but you had to be slick to make full use of it.
VHS tape doesn’t improve with time. The last new VHS player was manufactured in 2016. It’s easy to transfer tapes to computers at home using Video to DVD kit like 'Roxio Easy VHS to PC but the quality is poor, and video size small. Even a gadget like 'VidBox for Mac' won’t solve your analogue to digital conversion if you need HD video.
Why I’m still excited about Amazon Prime Video? As a video professional I own thousand of hours of content on video tapes stored in a cupboard. It’s costly to transfer this footage, and I’m frankly scared to let my precious tapes get into the hands of a lowly paid assistant or unpaid intern who cares not a jot for legacy formats.
That’s why home transfer video to computer equipment is so popular, but not credible for professional and semi-professionals. Indie filmmakers in America, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom went wild for Amazon Prime Video, but now the studios, with tons of content have left all a few niche distributors on the OTT platform. It’s no longer Amazon vs Netflix there are so many other players, Hulu, Disney, to name just a few, and it was never going to be the “YouTube Killer” as Amazon OTT has positioned itself as an online ‘Blockbuster’ store with the added bonus of being able to order snacks to the door along with streaming the lastest movie offering on Prime.
The closed captioning and mezzanine requirement for all videos, shut down Amazon Prime Video for non-professionals, but cash-strapped film-makers with no or very little budget left for exhibition and distribution found a way to learn the basics to revive ancient projects, and make new ones for audiences in America, Japan, Germany and United Kingdom.
Samuel Goldwyn Films were the top providers of movies on Amazon Video Direct in 2016, according to Variety the company had 10 out of 50 titles on the top performers list. Peter Goldwyn, Samuel Goldwyn Films, president said making the films available on Prime has given them a second life. As a result it’s provided a fresh, new Prime audience for films “I Capture The Castle”, “Bad Ass” and “Tortilla Soup”. The profits are rocketing skywards providing exceptional financial results to Samuel Goldwyn Films. Profits, that would be lost if the films were left languishing in storage, gathering dust.
So this is what my business is about turning elderly content, obsolete, and unused into profits for professional filmmakers who have spent hours of sweat, and tears making movies that no-one ever sees. Many of us are desperately seeking an audience for our content and hope to recoup some of the costs associated with producing our stories. I’m speaking as an editor recycling video shot by a professional camera person 11-years-ago which I hardly remember paying for. But the production date doesn’t matter many viewers want to see the content if it offers something different and unique to watch. The trailer tells the audience what to expect, codec’s, captions and key art bring the episodes or series to life. Well designed art and witty synopses are like the pretty wrappers and boxes of any loved branded item. But what really counts is audience engagement, on Amazon Prime Video it’s hard to know who is watching your shows, but if they are not watching you’ll soon know as the content will be pulled off the platform for not engaging audiences in specific markets.
I interviewed Haile Gerima and Brian Bonaparte both told me distribution of minority interest movies was difficult! A film director and cinema owner both shared their struggles with distributors, audiences and sales. The fight to make films about stories that resonate does not end when the final cut is delivered to the sales agent. Haile Gerima said as a film-maker he had to garden to support the distribution of his film “Sankofa”. He drummed up audiences using a variety of strategies including cajoling them into supporting a film about a collective experience. Brian Bonaparte posed the question why didn’t distributors give him the right to show films with African-American leads as first run at his cinema, The Electric, on Portobello Road? Even though the cinema was known as a champion of films showing the black experience it was not considered a suitable theatre to release the film “Bad Boys” starring Martin Lawrence and Will Smith.
Adding shows to Amazon Prime Direct left me rubbing my ears while repeating “Woosah” to stay calm! But it was worth it to get an idea of the obstacles faced by distributors and exhibitors like myself trying to get shows exhibited in cinemas, broadcast on telly, alongside showings in libraries, festivals and museums and education institutions. The rewards of showing niche films to a wider audience around the world desperate to watch fresh content, free and with the option to own is a coveted IMDb credit worth hundreds of pounds a day to an editor like me.
In April 2016 I uploaded a poetry collection called using Amazon’s self-publisher CreateSpace. It’s probably the easiest Content Management System in the world - it’s certainly the easiest I’ve ever used. The hardest task was choosing which poems to leave out and after a frank chat with an Editor friend, Josie I used the Microsoft Word template provided to upload a 60 page book. Unexpectedly I received a great marketing plan written for publishers of poetry books and a guide to reformat for the eBook version. Emboldened by this experience I began planning a cookery DVD about the phenomenally difficult process of making yummy, melt-in-the-mouth Guyanese roti. I believe it’s the most exciting mix of African and Asian cuisine – and I consider the preparation of the flat bread one of the best kept secrets of great Trinidadian and Guyanese cooks. The video footage was shot over 11-years-ago; the idea of editing and distributing on YouTube or DVD didn’t appeal to me as I’d paid the cook and camera person. I became aware of Amazon Prime Direct when my original DVD files were transferred from CreateSpace to the newest, video retail store in the world.
Most of what I learned about Amazon Prime Direct was available on chat forums, blogs and YouTube! I would unexpectedly come up against a simple problem in the early stages which had nothing to do with Amazon like transferring the rushes shot on analogue DV tape for editing. The hiss of a pressure cooker stewing cowheel for souse is shot through the tape alongside dancehall and soca tunes. To make the episode available on Amazon Prime closed captions had to be added. I tried to upload the captions and video file the way suggested by Amazon one or the other wouldn’t work. In the end I joined Amazon Web Service (AWS) and got the video uploaded there after a few days trying to figure out how to create a folder. I learned how to link my Amazon Video Direct and Amazon Web Services accounts – a simple process which I found complicated! I contacted three closed caption companies for quotes but bulked at sending my exclusive content over the web. A friend pestered me to pay someone to upload the captions I’d created on Premiere Pro. I emailed around to enquire about the process and price to see if they could help. SubPLY asked me to send over my captions file to see if there was anything they could do to help. I did this immediately and Chas explained how to correct the poorly coded Premiere Pro SRT captions into a file that was ready for me to upload to my Amazon Tidyup Media dashboard instead of restarting the whole closed captioning process again! It was so much quicker than I’d anticipated.
Shucks it was the best feeling ever seeing the green half circles fill out completely first in America, Germany and the United Kingdom. “Hip, hip, hooray I said as I jumped with joy! I’d read online that longer videos usually took days to upload and I patiently waited for the Japanese region to move from half moon to fully green. Then I could put all my energy into marketing the episode across Amazon stores. As soon I opened my laptop I looked to see if the disc was green it reminded me of when I would check my phone looking for a text from my new handsome chap – the anticipation and excitement was just like that. The green was the colour of an Irish four leaf clover and I was waiting to get the full set of four – on my Amazon Dashboard – I wanted to shout “BINGO! I’ve won!”
I told Amazon Customer Service that Japan was taking ages to upload the operative said he’d look into it. He told me that there was a problem and that he was sorting it out and that he’d be delighted to help more if he could. I had a nosy around the Japanese site and quickly decided it was a marketplace I wanted to sell a lot of videos in. I wanted to make videos that were attractive to the Japanese market which I had never tried to sell to before. I asked myself some questions “Why don’t you upload all your films to Japan first? You don’t need to add closed captions for this regions and the audience is ideal for your brand of vintage video and music.
It was something I wanted to do but didn’t have the confidence or money to set up, at that time I had a three-year-old child and was in the final year of film school. So when the chance to distribute and exhibit on Amazon Video dropped into my email box I clicked on the link. I checked out the costs of distributing my videos and initially found out that the costs are minimal. There’s a small fee for using the Amazon Web Service around two dollars a month. I looked at the cost of distributing other people’s professional videos giving their films a new lease of life too.
I swam and imagined what shape my business should take and came up with the idea of recycling video and I thought “why not name the business Tidyup Media?” I could finally set up the distribution business and create a service for non-professionals to rediscover outrageous, funny and poignant stories from yesteryear. The idea’s been a huge hit with family and friends – the videos have produced a lot of happiness, laughter and some tears.
I stumbled on forgotten footage which added sparkle to my life making me forget the daily grind, taking me back to past good memories with plenty to reminiscence about with friends. I harked back to times when things were simpler, saw fashion through today’s eyes, my younger family member saw their parent’s life before they were a twinkle in their eyes and long gone Grandparents cheer them up with songs and stories. Rediscovering analogue video can bring so much pleasure to family, friends and audiences, empathy-evoking family reunions or super-funny films can add to everyone’s enjoyment and quality of life for many years for less than the price of a ticket at the cinema.
If you take delight in sharing video with others, like I do. I hope you’re tempted to embark on your own analogue to digital journey, joining the tribes of analogue lovers converting miles of tape, to stream along the digital highways of the worldwide web. In your quest to tidy up your cupboards, your tales can wing their way around the world spinning yarns of pure gold. Who can resist streaming great tape to digital fun?
Your legacy tape gal, in a digital file world!
Saving VHS stories before they vanishes into dust.
P.S. I provide bespoke VHS to HD transfer and, editing services. I’ll organise courier collection, or you can drop off your precious tapes, but if you are unable to pop along to one of our local events, do complete the online contact form, and I’ll be in touch.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.