Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 1 December 2013

At the BFI for Mark Gatiss' "Tractate Middoth" and "MR James: Ghost writer" plus Q&A

I'm a member of the BFI (British Film Institute) which is a great place with a useful library, a nice bar, tempting shop and in a wonderful part of London, on the riverside. Unsurprisingly it also shows lots of films and occasionally television programmes.

Not that long ago I wondered why they didn't show more television programmes and then discovered that they do actually show a fair few of them (I have a few more suggestions too). And last night I went to see one of them.

Mark Gatiss (clever chap) has adapted one of MR James' ghost stories (The Tractate Middoth) for the BBC to be shown at Christmas. He grew up watching BBC2's traditional ghost stories at Christmas and his contribution (his directorial debut) brings the idea back to our screens - it's brilliant. I have to confess the work of MR James was unknown to me but in the later Q&A Mark highlighted the humour in his work as well as the horror and this was definitely clear in the production. There were lots of funny touches and we all had a good giggle (the screen, NFT1 has a capacity of 450 and it was packed - it's really fun watching television programmes on a big screen with a big audience).

There was a properly unsettling bit on a train though, scary yes but more disturbing, and rather well filmed so that it crept up on you. Mark mentioned a particular type of camera thingy that they used to achieve certain effects - I think it was a Lensbaby. A couple of people next to me jumped and I was surprised that I didn't but I might have had my eyes closed at that point...

We also got to see Mark's new documentary on the life of MR James and I think after you see it you'll wish that Mark would run holiday tours of French churches and cathedrals and the English countryside. I'd definitely sign up for that! Anyway it was a warm portrait of an interesting character.

We then had a Q&A with Mark, John Das (the producer), cast members John Castle and Sacha Dhawan and hosted by Neil Brand who presented the wonderful BBC Sound of Cinema series on BBC Four recently (also produced by John Das).

Given that it was a bit of a special event I bookended it with the loveliest journeys I can take in London. I walked from my office near Mile End to Tower Gateway and took the heavenly RV1 bus to Royal Festival Hall. It's the finest bus journey in London and passes Tower Bridge and London Bridge station before heading off to Southbank / Waterloo / Covent Garden. Afterwards I took the Thames Clipper ferry home and saw all the lovely twinkly lights of the Thames.

Keep your beadies open for the Tractate Middoth and MR James: Ghost Writer making an appearance on BBC2 at Christmas.

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