Wednesday, 18 April 2012

BBC Scotland Newsnight

This is the link to the BBC iplayer where you can see my latest film about Elgin and Buckie.
 just press this Link

.... again feedback would be good...thank you..

Monday, 16 April 2012

Elgin - Scotland

Ian and Renton walking through the woods

I’m currently on a mini tour of Scotland where along with Nicola the camera and picture editor  we’ve been making a series of four films for Newsnight Scotland about the local elections. Last week we were in Dundee  and this week our film comes from Moray. For those who don’t know where that is, it lays between Inverness and Aberdeen along the north east shoulder of Scotland. 
It’s not an area I know particularly well. my only experience of the region  was in a previous guise as a drama worker. About 14 years ago I spent a fortnight in Elgin, when along with a colleague we delivered drama workshops to some local schools. To be honest, I remember so little about the actual town. So visiting there brought back absolutely no memories at all. 
From this visit however I will remember two things:
the first being when I arranged to do some filming in a fish processing business in Buckie,  Nicola had a hard time as she is a vegetarian  and it appears wading about in fish guts wasn’t her ideal job! [It can’t all be cake and tea.] 
Lots of lovely fish guts    we need some sratch and sniff cards!
 I expect it didn’t help when I withdrew  to go and wait in the car with Renton. The smell was overwhelming and I wasn’t doing much to assist with  the filming, so I thought it would be best if I left. Just to get out the way you understand.

For the rest of the day she complained about smelling of fish guts. I didn’t think she did, ...well....not that I was going to admit if she reeked of kippers.  
Filleting Salmon
The other memory is the hotel. I’m not going to name it, because the people were perfectly pleasant and the problem could have been solved if I hadn’t been so idle. 
As I’ve written here before, getting the right hotel when travelling with a guide dog is the hardest part. This particular hotel was ideal in so many ways. It had very large grounds in which to run Renton.  

The problem was the room. It was miles away from the reception and refreshment areas. I had to navigate two stair cases, five doors, two corridors and various twists and turns. Now they knew I was blind and coming with a guide dog, so why an earth did they put me in the hardest room to locate in the entire complex? It wasn’t just me being a blind idiot, Nicola also found it confusing and her sense of direction is normally pretty good.  
By the time we found our rooms with all our bits of camera and sound kit, the thought of moving was too much to contemplate. If I had been staying any more than two nights I would have said something and got us shifted to a better and easier room to find.   It’s probably the only hotel I’ve been in where I’ve needed a GPS  just to get to and from the bar.
The film will go out sometime this week on NewsNight Scotland at 23:00 on BBC 2 Scotland. I’ll put a posting up here when exactly when it will be on. I’ll also put up a tweet on @ihamiltonbbc Or if you don’t catch it, I’ll put up a link to the programme on this blog.   

Thursday, 12 April 2012

The short film about Dundee

For people in the UK you can see my short film for the next five days at
 BBC Newsnight Scotland

The remit was keep the story light and add some fun into it....what do you think?

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

On the Road for the local elections

Renton looking through the bakers window in Dundee  Pic: Nicola Blackmore

I have spent the first quarter of this year on the road filming for BBC Newsnight Scotland in: Cornwall, Corby, Whitehaven and the Isle of Man. The first three films were all looking at the forthcoming independence referendum here in Scotland. The idea was to understand what our neighbours south of the border thought about the independence proposal.  The Isle of Man voyage was to examine if their small island in the middle of the Irish sea was a good illustration of "Devo max" (which means more power, but not full independence) 
I had just completed these films and after a break, I was straight into covering the local elections.
I regularly work with Nicola as my camera and picture editor, so we sat down with the Newsnight Scotland editor to see what cunning plan he had up his sleeve for us.
He sat us down outside the newsroom at one of the long meeting tables.  “I want you folks to hit the road again travelling to four different parts of Scotland.”  He continued. “I want you to make them interesting, amusing and give me plenty of colour from each area.” deep breaths were taken at this point. Despite shuffilling in our seats and some twitching from us, he ploughed on regardless. “Oh yes I don’t want to hear from councillors or have some dull profiles. Give me real people.” 
So our quest had begun, but where to start and how the hell do we make the local elections interesting, never mind amusing. Couldn’t we find and slay a dragon instead?  
The plan was not too organise too much in advance. It was more the case of turn up in a designated area and see what stories we could get. This can work very well, but it can also go horribly wrong  - what if we get there only to discover everyone in the town has a bad doze of shyness.  So as insurance, I made a few calls to get some names and numbers just encase…
Dundee Sky line at dusk Pic by Nicola Blackmore

We decided the first of our locations would be Dundee. A city I’ve known well, off and on over the last thirty years.  The main training centre for Guide Dogs is not far away being in Forfar, and I have been there being trained with quite a number of my guide dogs.  Over those years Dundee has gone through some remarkable changes. It’s gone from a post industrial city, to one of the most creative cities in Scotland. It still has it’s problems with unemployment, but what a remarkable turn around. With the new V&A museum being built, even more transformations are coming. I talked to a lot of people and without exception all were very proud, but not in a delusional way, people were  honest and pragmatic.

Bunty & Bella showing Ian how to make felt balls...over a cup of tea and slice of cake! pic by N. Blackmore
We spent two days filming everything that moved and a few things that didn’t. I also took part in the strangest craft workshop ever with a lovely group of women from three generations.  They showed me how to make balls from felt. [I could do a gag here about having felt balls, but I shall restrain myself.] 

The film has been completed, so barring any news disasters the film should go out this week on BBC 2 Newsnight Scotland at 11:00pm 

If you want to know when the films will be on you can  follow me on twitter @ihamiltonbbc or @newsnightscot 


Nicola Blackmore

Picture of Nicola eating a large ice cream cone
Recently Nicola Blackmore has been my camera woman and picture editor.

You can see some of the films we have been working on at this site  on will also find more of Nicola's work at this link

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Rentons' "sleep over"

Renton sitting in the sunshine on  forest path pic by Sheila and Peter

Having two dogs can cause a problem. When I only had Moss it was easy, well, easier to find someone to look after him when we went abroad on holiday. Now with Renton, it's a lot harder to find someone to take him for a couple of weeks while we head for the sun. 
It’s mainly because that few people want - or are able to look after such a large dog. Plus, it is vital that anyone looking after him,  keep to Renton's strict training regime. It's true, that consistency is important for all guide dogs, but it is particularly important for German shepherds. So if anyone was able to take him for a fortnight I would have to be confident that they would stick to his training plan. 
Now the hunt was on to find that illusive person with nerves and muscles of steel. 
However, my hunt has been much easier than I anticipated. My guide dog instructor suggested that I should contact Renton’s puppy walker. These are an essential group of volunteers without whom the whole guide dog system would collapse. They take the puppy from six weeks old  until they are about one and give them all their basic obedience and social training. They take them into town, on buses, into shops. Then the dogs go back to be trained as guide dogs at the centre before coming to someone like me.  
Sheila with Renton and April
I was nervous about making the call  - I was really expecting to hear... "are you mad take Renton, we've still got the mental scars from the first time"  But no! Instead I got the response "YES! YES! YES! OF COURSE WE WILL." It was a big relief all round. 

Renton in the river

To make sure everyone would be happy, it was agreed to give the puppy walkers Peter and Sheila a two day trial. I had no doubts they would cope, they are very laid back, and have a good balance of discipline and fun. After a fabulous lunch with lots of puppy stories and lists of commands for Renton. We all went for a walk down by the river and Renton seemed to remember some old favourite paths down to the river bank from when he was a puppy and was very happy to show us which way to go.
Renton showing April how to paddle in the river

I'm pleased to say everyone was happy. In fact. Renton had a little play mate in the name of April a 11 month old German Shepherd (guide dog in training)who kept Renton in his place by nipping at his ears and trying to jump on his back.
April and Renton in the back of the car

 Ah at last the tables were turned on Mr R. he had tried this with Moss, but the old guy was having none of it...
Now where should we go on holiday... UM…