Independent Filmmaking Blog

Independent - Activist Filmmaking 2015-01 Blog

March 2015

Its been four months since my last blog entry.

In that time I have travelled to Australia, worked on my Occupy Film and worked as a journalist and videographer as the work pooped into my inbox.

While I was in Australia, Invasion Day (also known as Australia Day) occurred and I made a little piece about it.

I feel I should have a trailer to show for the Occupy London Film but what I have instead is 10 completed minutes, which I showed to a few people upon launching my Polly Tikkle Productions Facebook page. I will show it again to the 200th LIKEr . Its my only pressie to the fans:)


I then went off and got myself a full time job and I am not entirely sure if I want it!

Hopefully it will be fine.  I am confused about starting a job which will mean that completing my film may prove impossible and all my video enterprise connections may vanish again. Its as an Audio Visual Technician in a college in central London.




Have you heard of ZoomIn TV? Neither did I... but they get 171,000,000 views a month!

They have been editing my footage and translating it into about 5 languages and I gotta admit its kinda thrilling to have someone else put that together. I generally do protests. I get £50 a pop for it. Shit money but its better than nothing. This was the work that pooped in. I guess I could have covered more protests but I had not heard about them. I shot three pieces for them in February/March.



I am reading Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything Book.

I am still halfway through it and my gratitude for its existence is all encompassing. I highly recommend it. At times it reads like a thriller novel and at other times I gotta put it down because I am overwhelmed by the information. I am a shameless fan of Naomi and to that end I would like to present her latest contribution to our airwaves via a link because I cannot embed on my site with the new embed codes .. It is on my to do list.


I also became active in the #DropTTIP Banner Campaign.

You may recall I spoke at length about the NoTTIP Hands Off Democracy banner that we made for the October 11th Europe Wide Day of Action against TTIP. A friend of mine and I decided to take it everywhere we go and the first spot we went to (as fate would have it my friend had a meeting in Scotland) was beautiful Edinburgh. H're is a wee video about't n some piks. It was a great day!






There is a global day of action against TTIP organized for April 18th. Stay tuned. Sign up to the newsletter.


Technical Stuff


As I was working for ZoomIN TV I got to thinking laterally about my rig. I have an Sony FS100 and I have not figured out a way of sending my footage immediately to the ZoomIn Offices without my laptop. My laptop is heavy.

A Sony FS 100 + a Manfrotto monopod and tripod head appropriate for the FS-100's weight + a laptop and charger + batteries and other accessories is a heavy load to carry for the 1 - 3 hours of an average protest....for me. :) To be honest I am in pain afterwards.

I also have a Go Pro!

So I got to thinking...well what if I start using my GoPro at these protests hooked up with professional sound gear and the Ninja2. I needed to test it before going off on a paid gig and I did, at the Climate Change March in March! I was pretty happy with the results. See for yourself


The hardware of the rig cost me:

£20 Manfrotto light monopod

£2 in bolts and washers/ I admit I hae a lot of bit and pieces from years of playing with video and breaking hardware.

I found the piece of wood under the stairs. I would recommend a thick wooden broom handle though. The roundness would make it easier to hold under your arm.

The piece of equipment the average semi pro is not likely to have is the Ninja2 and for me this is where the Ninja really shines for me. I have it to make my FS100 a broadcast quality camera but to b honest it makes my already heavy rig... heavier. In this nifty combinations of sound gear, go pro, the ninja finds its purpose in life/ It is a monitor that is worthy of its weight because the GoPro monitor is so small and it doubles up as one hell of a storage unit. This is particularly great because it seems that when the Go Pro is not recording, its battery life lasts and lasts. I did not have to record on the GoPro.

The caveats to this set up are that the Phantom Power on H4N Zoom needs to be off otherwise the Sennheisser radio mic drains off all the battery power of the Zoom. Another way around this issue is to plug in the radio mic with a quarter inch jack (unbalanced) as opposed to the XLR cable balanced. This is what I was advised to do by the Zoom technicians when I called them up about the issue but I have not got the right connectors lying around to test this and I wanted to write in the blog. The technician believed that Pin 3 in the XLR is connected to the earth which is draining the power.

Another caveat is that there is a nasty buzzing sound in the headphones which would be a concern had tests now shown that all the buzzing is on one track that has no sound on it. The output of the Zoom is via the headphone jack into the GoPro. Now the GoPro USB to Mini Jack Audio lead is mono. The buzzing is easily deleted in post production upon deleting the 'dead' track.


I may upload better photos soon! The rig got a lot of attention from other film makers in the march. It is unusual if I say so myself but its unbeatable as far as work flow goes and weight...also no focusing!


Ok folks that is all from me today.




October - November Blog Entry

Occupy Democracy

Occupy Democracy (OD) was a direct action planned by the Democracy Action Working Group of Occupy London. The time-limited occupation of Parliament Square, London, to challenge deep seated flaws in the UK democracy was many months in the making. The UK public did not vote for the privatisation of the NHS or fracking and yet the government is trundling along with both destructive programs anyway. Increasingly the circumstantial evidence mounts that the sole motivation of our politicians to make these choices is for the financial kick backs they are receiving. This evidence is clearly stipulated in what Tina Louse a fracktavist from Blackpool says in a video I made for OD (below) and in this excerpt of a Putney Debate that I am currently in the process of videoing for Occupy London TV.

Many more Occupy Democracy Videos can be found on the Occupy London TV You Tube Channel in two sections on the front page. I put together a few of them but not all. Below are the ones I made before the action began. We had a few celebs turn up. Russel Brand, Vivienne Westwood, Ken Loach, numerous authors and academics and a few MPs, one of which got arrested for standing with us; Baroness Jenny Jones of the House of Lords Green Party MP.



















August 2014 Blog

Reclaim The Power Protest Camp in Blackpool



What The Fracking Frack Is Wrong With Our Fracking Government?

The Reclaim The Power time limited occupation of a field in Blackpool where an earthquake took place in 2010 due to fracking, was too good an opportunity for some activism to miss. Poisoning of our aquafiers is worth a 4 our trip I thought. With a borrrowed tent and totally unsuitable boots I crammed myself in a car with 3 other adult and a baby and 8 hours later we pooped ourselves out the metal box on wheels.

Reclaim The Power organized 13 direct actions targeting energy giants and weak politicians in camp.

RTP was a clear illustration of co operation amongst activists. Just when I was prepared to believe that large scale activism could never work because (via the consensus model) there will always be some tool blocking bright ideas along come Reclaim the Power. For me this camp was about reclaiming the faith, that activism can be civil, progressive, productive and that it can mobilise a greater population to co-operate with it.

The consensus model of Reclaim the Power was tiered and this is what made it work. By the time the larger population of the camp knew what was going in terms of details of the direct actions proposed, we were alreadly split into groups. This was very clever. I also believe that it is more likely to have developed into this genius model rather than having been wilfully designed. Whatever it was, it stopped the ability of the random individuals stopping the will of the vast majority.

About 400 people attended the camp. In 2013, at the now infamous Balcombe Camp, apparently around 2000 participants had attended.


I also put together a few articiles for the Occupy London website about my experience.


NoTTIP Campaign Continues

The NoTTIP planning meeting on the 2nd August was successful in forming 6 working groups. I joined the Outreach group adn teh co-ordinating group. We have flyered 3 Farmers Markets, Waitrose near Angel and Nottinghill Carnival and made in roads to the British Medical Association and the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces all which still need to be finalized. We also joined 38 Degrees on their National Day of Action and flyered in our separate neighbourhoods.

On the 12th July the NoTTIP movement organized a national day of action.

On the 2nd August the NoTTIP movement organized the first large scale planning meeting. The next planning meeting is on the 6th September as the Friends Of The Earth Offices. Join us.


Occupy London Update

I am still working with Occupy.

In the past few months there have been 2 public assemblies promptly formed by us after the grander Stop The War marches and speeches against Operation Protetctive Edge in Gaza, had concluded.

Both assemblies were successful. It seems quite obvious to us now that we were providing a service for the emotionally charged marchers to voice their opinion. Hearing the daily news of the massacre of the population in Gaza is very hard on many of us.

The action of the London Palestine Action Group who occupied and closed down an arms factory in Staffordshie brought much hope to many of us that if enough members of the public know about the the £7Billion industry of UK arms sales to Israel that it might end. Action such as these help make the public aware!


The following is my work on the OL website in relation to Palestine:

/  *press release

The Democracy Action Working Group are planning to Occupy Parliament Square and I have been asked to help with some videos.

Where were the 99% : A film about Occupy London.

Transcription is completed; Website page has been put together.

Still in formulation mode.






June-July 2014 Blog





My favorite holdiay shot, from Marfa in Malta.








From March to May I was a transcribing machine. Hooked in to two computers (listening and watching in one and transcibing in the other) I deligentily transcribed all my archival footage from the Occupy London protest camp of 2011 and 2012 for the long form film I making about it. Then a miracle occurred. Dragon Naturally Speaking launched Version 4 for Macs for $99 and I bought it (there lies the miracle). It is not without fault but it increased my output by about 300%. I correct it as I go along so I am still totally wired in when transcribing. Sometimes the mistakes are funny....


March Blog

A few things had to be done this year for Polly Tikkle Productions to stay afloat and in the game.

Upgrading to a Second Hand Apple MacBookPro.


Why this is a good decision?



My 2007 darling finally died. As most things that leave me, it did so with an explosion. No melting away into oblivion. The battery blew up. It was a little poop, but still as far as laptops go I should not dismiss the event as anything but an extraordinary goodbye.


January 2014



2013 has walked defiantly out door and I have to admit that it has been one of the most adventurous years of my life thanks to all the people who have helped and loved me. Read more...

Blog November 2013 - Occupy and US/EU Free Trade Agreement

occupy logo 2



In September - October I  involved myself with Occupy again. I was bored and it was time for some straight forward no BS activism. Film making can be a bit too solo a mission for me.





toe in water

First I tested the water and found the temperature to be lovely and then I high dived headfirst deep! The water was not as deep as I had hoped. The thud on my head was significant. More on that later.



September 2013

I have been back in London now for nearly one month.

My Sony FS100 took some getting used to and trying to find the controls while tear gas cannisters are flying everywhere was a tad more difficult than it needed to be and the result

I gotta say is a heck of a lot of out of focus, over exposed tears!

With a deep breath in I have to take responsibility for not being able to make up mind what camera to purchase until it was too late to practice, before heading off to the Middle East. Why is it called that? The globe is round right? How on earth (no pun intended) can you have a 'middle' on a spherical surface and then judge what is east of that middle? How about 'Top Left-ish' area? That would make just as much sense! Read more...

Latest Blog Entry : February 2013

At a joint Occupy and DPAC meeting I discovered that 10,000 disabled people have died due to either their illness getting significantly worse or suicide and that all the deaths are linked to the 'fitness for work' test . DPAC asked for help from Occupy in a vigil action they have planned for the middle of this year, 2013. In an unofficial Occupy initiative the live streamers and I are going to help film and stream the DPAC meeting of the 9th of February.

At the moment Polly Tikkle Productions is still producing a short video promo for Polly Higgins' Wish 20 campaign.

Difficulties obtaining much of the footage have occurred. Greenpeace were the most prompt in their help. Resurgence and RSA are also willing to contribute footage as is independent film maker Leon Stuparic. The search for high quality footage of war, indigenous people and ecocide continues.


January 2013

At the moment Polly Tikkle Productions is producing a short video promo for Polly Higgins' Wish 20 campaign.

Last month I completed a 10 minute piece on the Bank Of England's proposed reforms.

Finger Pointing to the Earth feature documentary project has found a new found focus as the role of land ownership and its relationship to wars and ecocide is researched. The trailer has been updated accordingly.

In terms of Occupy, a feature documentary is in the development stage.



UN-Palestine is (sort of) Recognized - Nov 30th 2012

drones palestine gaza

I wrote in 2011 that the acknowledgement of the Palestinian state in the upper echelons of the United Nations is so long over due that its like giving mother's milk to a grown man who was an orphan at birth. Something about it is decidedly ill, and to a great degree I still mean it.



Occupy London November 2011


Occupy London Stock Exchange will be my new home indefinitely starting November 10th. Till then I can enjoy hot showers.


Funding Applications - The Hopelessness of Hope - October 2011

inka stafrace film funding malta arts fund


I decided to put aside my shame that I have still not made it back to the Holy Land in 4.5 months and write some more.