GoDaddy.com

Enjoyed working on this fun campaign for US web-hosting giant GoDaddy, although it seems to have caused quite a stir Stateside. I wasn't aware of the brand history when I agreed to voice their new spots, but apparently for years GoDaddy have produced their own commercials, invariably featuring busty young ladies, perhaps not aimed at a particularly sophisticated customer profile. This year, for the first time, they hired big NY agency Deutsch to come up with something a little more cutting-edge. Deutsch decided to reference the previous history in what I thought were a rather witty series of spots. The trouble is, the busty young ladies were still there and the intended irony seems not to have been to the liking of sundry commentators and bloggers. See what you think...

Barenboim in China

Very pleased to contribute the narration to this fascinating doc exec produced by Peter Dale for his award-winning Rareday Films. Pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim is surely one of the great men of our age, uniting as he does fierce musical intelligence and virtuosity with a belief that the universality of music can help cross otherwise insuperable boundaries. This film follows the memorable visit of maestro Barenboim and his inspirational West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, made up of young players from both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict, on their debut tour of China and considers the huge appetite there for western classical music. Due for broadcast on BBC4 soon...

Mafia not Matthew

I must admit I was mildly surprised when my agent Maxine passed on a promo booking for something called "Matthew's Greatest Hits". I thought maybe it was a show about a kids' TV presenter or talkshow host, neither of which would be my normal hunting ground at the BBC, where I'm usually hauled in for darker fare. And of course when I arrived at VCA1 it wasn't Matthew's greatest hits at all but "Mafia's Greatest Hits". Ha! That's more like it (and a five part series to come):

Shakespeare on the big screen

I was pleased to be asked voice the trailer campaign for Ralph Fiennes's directorial debut picture Coriolanus, in which he also plays the title role. It's a hard-hitting "Hurt Locker" style modern version of Shakespeare's tragedy, updated to a kind of Balkan civil war setting, but with all the original language. There are some great performances and compelling action sequences, especially early on, and the direction is amazingly assured for a first outing – quite a calling card.

Here's the trailer:

Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy

A busy couple of weeks working on the trailer campaign for the big new British movie Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, based on the epic spy novel by John Le Carre and famously filmed for TV with Alec Guiness back in 1979. The new version, directed by Swedish director Tomas Alfredson, and starring Gary Oldman and a stellar British cast (even Colin Firth only gets second billing!) is a dark, gritty and completely compelling. It's already causing early awards tremors, and deservedly so. Gary Oldman completely owns the part of George Smiley, while making an elegant nod to his illustrious forebear. The publicity machine is cranking up to full speed and I've recorded a stack of TV, cinema and radio spots with the team at Empire and Working Title prior to the official launch on 16th September. Here's a sneak preview of the international version of the trailer:

Nothing like a dame

A  fun couple of   sessions at the studio when the wonderful Dame Judi Dench dropped by to record a bunch of commercials via Source Connect with New Zealand for ASB Bank. She  is always one of the nicest people on the planet to work with - completely natural, self-deprecating and very funny. She was just about to start filming the new Bond movie. "Any nice locations this time?" we asked. "Oh, probably just the usual shed at Pinewood..." she replied.

Rolling along

More user films are now finished for the Rolls Royce Ghost, the vehicle the company  describes as their "entry level" model. Naturally, it boasts a rather handsome level of specification to which, of course, the happy prospective owner is invited to add infinite further levels of refinement. Each film illustrates a different feature, in this case the remarkable anti-roll mechanism which  apparently  makes the ride seem like floating on air...

REME

An unusual and sobering job came in this week from design company Resolution DV who had been commissioned by The Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers Regimental museum to create a visual roll-call of the names of soldiers killed in battle with an audio track of names and ranks to be read aloud as a continuous loop of audio.

Reading a list of several hundred names and ranks might seem like a simple thing to do but it was actually one of the harder  tasks I've  undertaken recently. There's something deeply moving about lists like this. I remember feeling the same standing in some of those huge WW1 cemeteries in France and at Arlington in the US. The vastness is overwhelming and yet you are acutely aware that each name represents a devastating loss for families and individuals. It also reminded me of the famous scene after Agincourt in Henry V when Henry reads out a roll-call of the dead. I hope we managed to honour each and every individual...

The truth is out there

Conspiracy theorists will enjoy a new documentary I've just narrated called Area 51: I Was There.

Made famous by The X Files, Area 51 was established in the Nevada desert by the CIA in 1955 to develop classified military projects. The remoteness of the site and extreme levels of secrecy have led to claims over the years that the US government carries out experiments here on everything from UFOs to aliens themselves, but the reality is probably a little harder-edged.

The show features exclusive interviews with many former workers at the site and the interesting thing to me was observing the profiles of these now mostly quite elderly men: stolid, unquestioning and slightly enjoying the  secrecy they are still sworn to.

The show airs at these time on the National Geographic Channel (UK):
Sun 5 June, 9 pm
Mon 6 June, 10 pm
Tues 7 June, 5 pm

The story behind the movie

Having worked on the trailers for hit movie The King's Speech, it was interesting to be asked to contribute to the promo campaign for a follow-up documetary airing on NatGeo called The King's Speech Revealed. It follows the fascinating story of Lionel Logue, the Australian speech therapist played by Geoffrey Rush in the film, and how his letters and diaries were first discovered by his grandson Mark Logue. Highly interesting stuff:

A whole new concept

Longtime clients Volvo Cars have been going through a bit of upheaval lately having been sold by Ford to Chinese conglomerate Zhejiang Geely in August 2010  with the subsequent appointment of former VW America boss Stefan Jacoby as CEO.

So all eyes were on the launch of their new luxury model, curiously named the Concept Universe, at the Shanghai Motor Show last week. Here's the video I narrated for the launch. It looks like an impressive car (though I'm still not sure about that name):



Stories for Japan

The terrible destruction and suffering left by the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan 

can leave one feeling at a loss to know what to do, beyond making a donation to the relief fund. So hats off to producer Neil Gardner of Ladbroke Productions and Spokenworld Audio who decided at short notice to produce a downloadable audiobook of Japanese fairy stories to raise funds. I was pleased to be asked to read one of the stories and the complete book can be bought here (all proceeds to the Red Cross Japan apeal):   spokenworldaudio.com

PBS and Oscars

Some interesting work this week with Rareday Films, the production company headed by former More 4 supremo Peter Dale, who are  handling the  launch of the new PBS channel in the UK. PBS, of course, is the venerable and celebrated US public service broadcaster. Here at CKUK we spent a day putting together the audio for several test promos and a promotional film. Launch is slated for later this year.

Meanwhile The King's Speech swept all (or nearly all) before it at the Oscars, amid much rejoicing at Momentum Pictures. It's hard now to remember now how difficult it was to get this movie off the ground a couple of years back. Here is another of the original trailers I voiced on launch late last year:

One tonne life

An interesting project that's been gathering steam over the last few weeks has been Onetonnelife, an initiative between Volvo Cars, house designers A-hus and energy company Vattenfall. They have installed  a Swedish family  in a climate smart house for six months with the aim of lowering  average output of CO2  from 7 tonnes to one tonne per person  per year. The  eco-designed house  generates it's own energy from the sun, and even powers  the family's Volvo C30 electric car. Their journey is being charted through webisods, blogs and articles at onetonnelife.com. Here is the trailer for the project with my voiceover: