Friday, 12 April 2019

Creative Executive Producer.

R.J.Dodd...owner of this blog site and a DoP for over fifty years..

Author of five novels:

The Stack.
Maginty's Quest.
The Sandrunners.
The Fiddler.
The Unknowns......

..has just been offered the job of Creative Executive Producer with a new film company with a good portfolio...

CHUFFED.

Just saying..


Monday, 1 April 2019

buying tough quality

Having spent decades on film sets all round the globe..and having to be on my feet for most of that time I have always considered the health of my feet, not to put too  much weight on them, stay slim, if blistered then take remedial steps immediately and generqally pay the attention...nothing worse than sore feet when you need to be on them all day.
To that end I have always bout shoes that fit, were well made, robust, made of material that did not make my feet sweat and generally looked good.
Many years ago I found that the shoes and boots made byTimberland completely fitted the bill...affordable. durable, comfortable...all the qualities I looked for in footwear..so I regularly bougyht the product, particularly when I was filming in America,
One pair of boots had a particular part of my heart and its fair to say that I wore them on every occasion their qualities were needed. I had them for years...they were a little care worn, scuffed, the sole tread had worn down and so had the heel, but they still did the job...until one day.
During a particularly rain sodden shoot one of my feet got wet...HORRORS, CANT BE...but it was..the beloved boots had sprung a leak, at least one of them had.
Some months later I decided to have the faulty boot repaired..where better than at Timberland. Off I trotted to the Bond Street London store and handed them over.
The conversation went something like this:
Me..Hello, could you repair these please.
Asst..Repair Sir?
Me..Yes, the right one has sprung a leak...and I know they are well used but they are my favourites and I want them repaired.
Asst..Sprung a leak sir?
Me..Yes..the right one.
Asst..I am afraid that cannot be right sir, you see, Timberland boots do not leak.
Me..This  one did, the right one.
Asst..Sorry sir ..not possible.

Now I was becoming a little frustrated with this chap..

Me..My foot got wet when it was in that boot when I was standing in a boggy field..it leaked.
The assistant, without a word, took both of my boots and put them below the counter, went to a store room and came back with a brand new pair..same style, same size.H pushed the across the counter to me.
Asst..Try theses sir, genuine Timberland, they will not leak.compliments of the company.

The assistant took my name and address and I left the shop..with my new boots.
Some months later I received a letter from the Timberland main office in America.They were extremely apologetic and they enclosed a lab report on the offending boot..some stitching has worn out and they have rectified the manufacture, they hoped the replacements were still keeping my feet dry.
This is not an advert for Timberland..just a belated thank you for making great shoes and providing amazing service

Thursday, 28 February 2019

The Unknowns...first four chapters






What do you think...as yet it is unpublished and runs to over 60k words. 

Unknown..  Book (Working Title.. 



  Chapter one.



Five years ago.



 A Sunday morning in a small Northern Ireland town.



    A light breeze is blowing some discarded fast food wrappers and other rubbish along the pavements on the main street which is deserted, no traffic, no pedestrians. The churches are full and the public houses are not yet open but it is still unusual for there to be absolutely no one walking the streets of this normally busy little town.

    During the so called “Troubles” in this part of Ireland it was usually taken as a warning that something untoward is about to take place and the word has gone out…stay away.

    The deserted street is being scanned through a pair of high powered binoculars from a long distance away and a slightly elevated viewpoint…they continually move across the area.

    A man with a broad Irish accent says brusquely “They’re here …get ready.”

    The binoculars settle on a Garda Police car and a white  transit van as they move over the brow of a hill and into the area. Moving rapidly down the road they then swiftly move over to pull up in front of a grey granite faced building. The sign above the heavy oak doors which are at the top of a flight of five stone steps states that this place is a  Garda/Police Station.



    At the side of the Police Station is a narrow alley-way and walking down to the main street is a woman in her thirties and a girl aged about eight. The little girl has a bright green envelope in her hand which she happily waves about as she skips alongside her mother who holds her other hand. 

    The large wooden doors to the Police Station push apart and two men wave for the drivers in the  car and van to come inside. The car doors swing open and two men dressed in civilian clothes get out and they slide open the side door of the van. Three more men get out, The man in the middle has a grey blanket over his head.

    Four men from the car form a small defensive ring around the captive as they begin to cross the wide flagged pavement to the stone stairs.



    As they exit the alley way and the little girl spots the post box at the edge of the pavement, she lets go of her mother’s hand and runs to it. When she reaches the post box she turns to her mother, waves the blue envelope then stands on her tip toes as she stretches up to reach the slot.

    The Irishman’s voice “Stand by…on my word…wait until they get to the door, get all the  bastards in one go”.

    The Police are now moving up the stairs, the little girl is still hanging on to the envelope and grinning at her mother who is urging her to drop the letter into the box. Both of them are unaware of the drama being carried out on the steps behind them.

    Another mans voice “We can’t do it Vinny, the woman and the kid.”

    “Now ..do it now.”

    “No way..not kids.”



    “Fuck em..give it to me.”  Inside the small dimly lit rear bedroom in a terrace house looking over the main street a mans hand grabs a detonator from his colleague  and firmly presses the  red button on the top.

    “Fucking now.”

    On the steps of the Police Station the police have almost reached the door with their reluctant guest and the little girl finally lets go of the green envelope when the small green delivery van which is parked on the opposite side of the street to the station erupts in a ball of high explosive from the two Claymore bombs which also ignite several canisters of petrol.

    An enormous blast and fireball envelops the police and the mother and child.

    The man looking through the binoculars waits for the smoke to settle and disperse, then , happy with what he sees “Got the fuckers, all of em, that traitorous bastard will be giving nowt away, now lets get out of here.”



   The multiple killing takes less than three seconds.





































































Chapter two. Present Day



    The almost constant rain downpour hammers against the large office window, blurring the lights on the boats forging up the River Thames and the headlights on cars that seem to be in a permanent traffic jam on the Lambeth  Bridge. The stream of water creates a kaleidoscope of colours and this attracts the attention of Angus McNeil, Head of Analysis,who sits behind his desk, slowly chomping on the stem of an unlit pipe. A small desk light is the only illumination in the room which is filled with deep shadows.,after a few more moments of chomping he speaks.

    “Shit deal eh”!

    The man at the other side of the desk nods his head “Yep”

    McNeil puts  his pipe into a large cut glass ashtray, “Hmm, no choice, not when these arrived.” He pushes a long white envelope across the desk “And you had no idea?”

    “None.”

    “Very unusual, had it checked twice…totally pukka.”

    “And pressure?”

    “Masses..The top table nearly had a fit, wanted you taken out immediately, blows everything out of the water, oddly enough the Yanks seemed pleased.”

    “ They got involved?”

    “Had to be, this crap is heading their way, they need to deal with it now, very happy when our boy was on the trail but now he has gone fishing, so it’s their baby.”

    “Not exactly fishing.”

    McNeil peers at him “Oh yes...some Orniything.”

    “Ornithology…bird watching”

    McNeil nods, “Right  seen some of your snaps in the corridor…very nice..wish you luck with that, not many of our feathered friends around here.” He waves a hand towards the window which is still being washed by the heavy rain “Cant say I blame them.”

    “That’s ok. I know where there are lots.” As he speaks the man, Patrick Quinn rises from his leather chair and seems to tower over McNeil. At six foot two and with an athletic build, Patrick looks much younger than his xxxx years, his thick unruly dark hair enhances his boyish looks.

    Peering up at him McNeil holds out his hand “Good luck Patrick, I hope to see you back here again in six months, this department needs you…go get the birds you are looking for.

     Patrick shakes his boss’s hand and without another word picks up the envelope from the desk and leaves the room. McNeil watches him go and then pushes himself away from the desk and steers his wheelchair to the window where he seems to enjoy the watery view.





















85 Albert Embankment.. MI6 Headquarters. Vauxhall. London.



    Completely ignoring the gusting rain that sweep across the city, Patrick walks rapidly through the imposing front doors of the not so secret Secret Service building and out through the security barriers on Albert Embankment..hardly believing his good fortune a taxi is dropping off some passengers just as he reaches the pavement, he jumps into the now  vacant cab and tells the driver  “Coopers Arms please, Flood Street,.  Chelsea.”



    Despite the  almost continuous downpour, the Friday night crowd of  City workers, bankers and traders begin to arrive in droves for their  weekly “Fizzy Glug” at The Coopers Arms pub. It takes only a few minutes for the ‘local’ area pub to go from  being occupied by a gaggle of old regulars nursing their tepid pints of beer to being  standing room only as the young and wealthy crowd begin to slake their thirst, downing copious amounts of alcoholic beverages.

    The Friday night extra  bar staff are busy supplying the demand, the popping of corks and the  ringing of the till is almost continuous.



    This popular pub, just off the busy Kings Road in fashionable Chelsea had recently seen an upturn in its fortunes, going from a sleepy backwater boozer it suddenly became the drinking hole of choice for the many young, well educated and seemingly wealthy clientele who have moved in from the slightly less salubrious area of Fulham and Battersea as the City of London started to boom and salaries plus bonuses began to rise accordingly.

     At the big square bar the crowd is now approaching several customers deep, all trying to attract the attention of the busy bar staff, no one wants to sit down at the many battered old tables in the spacious sitting area… except for Patrick who occupies one that is crammed into a corner as far from the bar as possible.



    One more occupant shares this secluded corner of the pub, it  is a full size stuffed brown bear, its once thick shaggy fur is now well worn with bald patches. Standing on its rear legs like some guardian of the quiet places. Patrick sits almost side on to the  bar and removes some sheets of paper from his brief case. He has a quick glance to make sure no one at the bar can see the papers as he begins to leaf through them. The first document is in letter form and is headed ..



    Instructions Regarding Immediate Leave of Absence…Terms and Conditions.



    The one sheet memo is quickly scanned, folded in half and placed back in the brief case. Two more sheets, stapled together at the top left corner are also given a quick glance. Several of the lines at the top have been blacked out, obscuring the names of the subjects, below the redacted names is the heading..



    DNA samples and comparisons for subjects named above. Strictly confidential.



     He takes his time with these sheets and looks carefully at the detailed DNA samples which are in graph form. After a minute or so of close scrutiny these sheets are also folded in half and placed in the case.

Taking the last item from the table he  has a little smile, the envelope is sealed with a hand written message scrawled across the front.



    For the sole attention of CIO Patrick Quinn.



    Underneath that message and in the same scrawled writing it says..



    Delivered sealed  and by hand via the USA Embassy London.



    Patrick rips open  the envelope  and takes out a small card which is once again in the same handwriting  ..



    Bendigo.. Oregon..Confirmed. Call me when in situ..B..x



    Patrick stares at the card, it carries no more information, except the fact that his already problematic life is about to take another turn, it may not be for the better.

    Leaning back in his rickety old chair, which matches the table, both bought from a junk shop sale by a long since departed publican, he slides the card back into the envelope and then back into the briefcase which he carefully fastens.

     Slowly turning to look at the boisterous crowd, which he seems to be noticing for the first time, he smiles, picks up the glass of Youngs Beer and drains it. Standing up, he puts on his rather old fashioned raincoat, pulls out an Irish tweed woollen hat  from the coat pocket which he jams on his head and picking up his briefcase he carefully skirts the drinkers and pushes his way out of the crowded  pub where he takes a right turn to head along the rain swept St Leonards Terrace.









































Chapter three. Mexico.



    The fruit freight depot is in a neglected, sparsely lit, back street just on the outskirts of the Mexican town of Tijuana, near the USA-Mexican border. The shabby collection of sheds and rickety corrugated iron roofed outbuildings glories in the name of Miguel’s Flying Fruit Freight, at least that is what the hand painted sign above the door once said, but that had been nailed up many years ago  when Miguel was a young man with dreams, dreams of quitting the hell hole of Tijuana and moving north to what he saw as paradise, the United States of America, like his dreams the sign is now faded, cracked and the paint chipped.



    Miguel’s vision of one day having a fleet of lorries transporting the cheap fruit from the flatlands around his part of Mexico never seemed to get off the ground, maybe it was the monthly payments to the local “protection and insurance” gang that ran his area, paying for the medical attention for his asthmatic wife, helping his aged mother with the rent for her cockroach infested shack or  maybe he was just a terrible business man.



    All of these concerns mattered not at all to him now as he and his two employees, a couple of middle aged men he had known from his childhood, lay on the blood soaked earth just inside the yard where he kept his one battered old truck. It would never matter to him because just beside his blood spattered body and the bodies of his two men lay three severed heads, theirs.

    The execution had been swift and brutal, four men had walked into the front office, all of them carrying guns. Miguel and his two old friends were engaged in their nightly game of cards. One of the intruders motioned for the three amigos to move out into the rear yard where one of the gunmen spoke only one word “Arridolarse”  the three Mexicans immediately obeyed him and knelt on the ground,  with amazing speed two of the gunmen unsheathed large cane cutting machetes and simply lopped off their heads, it took three seconds.



     Business discussion and conclusion…Execution…. Mexican Drug Cartel style.



     Hundreds of flying night bugs flitting around the lone suspended light over the yard paid no attention to the scene below them as the unlocked  wire mesh gate was pushed open and one of the gunmen climbed into the  decrepit and careworn vehicle, casually driving it out into the lane where  another vehicle, a large Mercedes, is waiting..The headlights on the limousine flashes once and it moves off, followed by the fruit lorry. They both move slowly along the still dark alleyway towards the slightly better lit main road leading to the bright er lights of Tijuana where the early morning traffic is beginning to cram the streets.





















Chapter four. London.



     Patrick turns the corner into the narrow little Smith Street and still bending into the foul weather he makes his way along the row of small artisans cottages which have now become very fashionable and expensive places to live in this part of Chelsea. No one else is braving the weather and he is the only pedestrian on the street as he stops at a door halfway along the deserted  thoroughfare.



    Entering the house he walks down the short passageway, takes off his coat and hangs it on a wall mounted coat rack and turns left into the living room and dining area. Since inheriting the house some years ago from his mother he has spent a lot of time and money transforming the interior and what looks like a narrow little abode from the street is in fact a very modern, spacious home with  a combined living, dining and kitchen area  which stretch back into  the property, where a large glass conservatory is comfortably furnished.



    Taking a heavy crystal tumbler from the kitchen worktop he pours himself a generous measure of whisky from a half empty bottle, adds a small drop of soda water and takes a long drink.

    He slowly turns and looks back into the now dark  living area and leans against the kitchen worktop scanning the many framed pictures that almost tell the story of his life, many of them are of wildlife, mainly the feathered variety and along the top of the fireplace are a number of family pictures, mainly of a woman and her child. He tips his glass towards them .

    Without bothering to look he reaches behind himself, puts down the whisky, takes the phone handset from its charger and slowly begins to punch in a number.

Friday, 4 January 2019

USA Passport control .. and then some.

Some years ago on a visit to the United States this little incident took lace at the passport control desk at San Fran Airport..
I had just flown all the way down from the UK to San Fran, a trip of about 13 hours, great trip, club Class all the way.As ujsual I joined the seemingly endless queue to have my passport checked and after aboutb two hours I was finally the next one up. During my wait time several more jumbo jets had arrived from various parts of the globe and they had disgorged their passengers, hundreds of them..all behind me.  But I was next.
I got waved through to the desk and my friendly greeting was completely ignored by the Passport Control Officer..she didnt seem happy in her job, about five feet tall and the same across the shoulders, she grabbed my passport, looked at me, looked at the passport again and said.
PCO"You here for business or pleasure?"
Me, smiling.."Both."
WRONG ANSWER
PCO."Are you here for business or pleasure?"
ME, slightly concerned.."Errn,,both."
PCO..Slightly irritated and not looking me in the eye  "Are you here for business or pleasure?"#
ME  ..now quite concerned and a little hesitant.."Both...Officer."
PCO..still not looking at me, waves her hand nonchalantly at the massive queue behind me."See that line sir?"
ME ..I looked...horrified..it was even longer "Yes."
PCO "Would you mind going to the back of that line, your hearing might improveas you wait and you may be able to answer my simple question."
Ok..I had reached peak angry time now and I moved to where I could look her in the face as she shoved my passport back across the desk to me  "No."
PCO..Who had never heard that word addressed to her in her almighty position of power, she was outraged and almost choked on  "Whaaaatt?"
ME.."You asked me a question which I have answered several times...I am not trying to deceive you I just want you to stamp my passport so that I can go and enjoy the delights of your fair city...you seem to have a problem with that>"
PCO..Now completely out of it and resting one hand on the butt of her big automatic pistol at her side "Go to the rear of the line, learn some manners and get your correct answer ready, now."
ME  Thinking I should grab someone nearby as a shield, fearlessly said."No..you get me your supervisor."
That was the magic trick..she stared at me with total hatred ..hesitated a moment
 or two then grabbed a phone from the desk top, muttered something I did not catch, put down the phone and turned away from me as we waited.Two minutes later a man in a  suit and tie arrived, he wore a name tag around his neck and seemed to be a person of authority, he gave me a brief nod and turned to the PCO
POA.."What is the problem?"
Still without looking my way she told him "This passenger refuses to answer my question...Sir."
POA  "Which is?"
PCO. "I asked if he was travelling for business or pleasure?"
POA    Turning to me  "And are you?"
ME.."Yes"
POA  "How?"
ME   "I intend finishing my film which is what the visa is for and then plan a driving tour of California."
POA..  grabs my passport from the desk and stamps it vigorously, hands it back and apologises for the delay, waves me through, as I pass the PCO the POA leans towards her and says,,(His words)  "You fucking idiot, when your shift has finished come to my office."

I suppose there must be some point to this story, cant really think of one except avoiding standing at the rear of a Passport queue,,,for the second time...maybe one should always ask for the supervisor.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Tattoos...why I hate them.

Tattoos...
For a woman to tattoo her body is like taking a beautiful Ming Dynasty vase and hitting it with a hammer to make it crack...Ladies you are flawless...having some meaningless Oriental motto or saying running across your back will not make you more beautiful..it will make you look like an idiot.
On  recent film shoot in a city just north of London I saw about six tattoo shops along the main street..they were busy..all of them..the odd thing was that most of the clientele were very overweight females having some decal permanently slashed across whatever part of her anatomy she dared to reveal in public..When they  went into the salon they were very obese..when they left they were still obese, quite a lot poorer and wearing a tattoo..they were not any more attractive or alluring, most of the other clientele seemed to be composed of young men who thought they were being made more manly and attractive by having their usually scrawny arms covered in fearsome looking crea6ures..it didnt work..they were still scrawny young men with a problem and perhaps only attractive to the obese women..

Keep this crap off your body....you simply do not need it.

On a recent film shoot a very attractive young actress turned up at the readthrough , then later turned up on the film set to deliver her lines..then off to wardrobe..where her career came to a shuddering halt..Her character required her to wear short sleeves and a low cut top, plus a short skirt..She was lathered in tattoos..arms ,legs, chest. back..She was replaced immediately with the director yelling at her that actors must be a well kept and empty vessel..not a fucking art gallery..Never seen her since.

Don't be classed as a low life idiot..keep- the tattoo crap away,dont be a walking graffiti wall for some badly trained and talentless artist.

And would the NHS kindly stop spending my tax money on removal..you paid to have it put on so pay to have it removed..my money can be better spent elsewhere on people with real illnesses.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

View from the pothole..life as seen by a total guttersnipe.

This is a new line of blog from me..views of life from my unique situation..which is complex.It will be an occasional series and dependent on what irks or pleases me at the time.  Stand by for a short list of bio facts;
Born at the outbreak of WW2,
Raised in a vermin and cockroach infested slum.Shared a room with my sister until I was 21 and she was 8...appalling time for her no doubt..
Dreaful education at the local Catholic School..I knew all about a young mans travels, speeches and eventual demise in the Holy Lands..but sod all about what I needed, small things like English, Maths, History etc etc.
I left this temple of religious nuttery and total lack of preparation for the world at the tender age of 14...yep..14..totally uneducated and woefully ignorant about the world and what I could make of it.
Total poverty was the name of the game..Dad worked in the steelworks, liked a drink and a smoke, mum was a cleaning lady, she also shared dads leisure habits but she inadvertently gave me an opportunity like no other and probably saved me from an appalling life.
When I was about ten years old , mum had a job cleaning at a mansion house owned by two brothers and two sisters..none had married, no children, nice people, very wealthy, mum would take me along with her and park me in wonderland...the now very old family had kept their play room and...YAHOO...their library completely intact and they were very happy for me to play with their old toys and read their books..nirvanha
Incidentally I was top in every school subject when I left but I knew instinctively that more of that education stuff was needed..I read everything I could lay may hands on..voracious springs to mind.
No TV..cos no electricity, gas light only, I travelled the world every evening, flying through massive tomes from the mansion.
Then I discovered the Cinema.Five theatres in my town, I could visit all of them twice a week when the show changed but I needed money to finance this extravagance so I took a paper round and indulged my cinematic fantasies.
Thwe school did not approve of my financial endeavours as it meant I missed out on after school religious lessons which were compulsory.Every morning for two years the Headmaster gave me six swipes of the cane on each hand, the pain was so bad that it was impossible to hold a pen for the first two lessons...but I got to see the movies...worth it
OK  that is a part bio, more next time...but let me tell you what my pet hate and subject will be.
TATTOOS.
See you soon

feeding the Royal Family

Sunday, 24 April 2016


Feeding the Royal Family

You may wonder why I have raised this point in an article on a Film Makers site.
I have filmed the British Royal Family on many occasions.. one never gets really close, mainly for security reasons.
I have filmed various members of the family at functions and have been allowed to follow them into state banquets and other dining functions, but I have never been allowed to film them eating.
The Security , Special Branch Officers , always give you the order of the boot, as in “Get Out”
Why?
Do members of the most elite family in the UK have eating disorders.
Were they not taught basic table manners?
Were they never taught how to handle cutlery?
Do they eat with their fingers, or push their faces into the food and slurp it up?
Have you ever seen any member of this family eating, on newsreels or any other media outlet.
They must be the most photographed family group in the world and yet no-one has ever seen food pass into their mouths.
There may be some old Hollywood version of someone like Henry VIII chomping on a chicken leg or a leg of lamb, before throwing the remnants over his shoulder for the peasants or hounds to leap upon, but none of the modern royals ever do that.
In the “Kings Speech” I cannot recall one eating scene.
No wonder the newest arrival is bone thin…they never eat.
Are they aliens, as some prominent conspiracy theorists would have you believe or are they just a little sloppy at the table.
We may never know.
A fortune in royalties (Pardon the pun) awaits the first news man/woman to grab a few seconds of the royal chomp…keep your eyes open out there.