As the year prepares to depart and new projects lie ahead, I thought I would find some time (which wasnt easy) to release the final article of the first season of Spending Time With… A companion piece to the video interviews that I have managed to host and edit and release in 2017 (including Tracey Birdsall, Craig Conway & Shaun Robert Smith, Dead Air crew at scifi wales, and Dani Thompson) With two more video episodes filmed but not quite edited and ready for release (Mhairi Calvey, and Stuart Bannerman) I wanted to make sure that the year ended with me Spending Time With… and so it will, as I swap a few questions and answers with Ian Brown, Producer and Writer of comedy animated series The Bruvs.
Many thanks to Ian for his patience, as I had this article planned for a few weeks but never managed to find the time to actually get it sorted out. But its done and without anymore of me typing away like a crazy person. lets turn the rest of this page over to Ian as he answers the Spending Time With…questions.
Is there a book that you have reread more than any other?
I’m a big fan of biographies and I have revisited the diaries of Michael Palin many times. I love all the back stage stuff on his films and on the Pythons. I also return to the wartime reminiscences of Spike Milligan. Zany and hilarious.
Favourite Childhood TV show growing up?
I can’t pick between Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet. Brilliant. And I prefer the originals to any reboots I’m afraid.
What’s the most ‘starstruck’ you have been?
Before TheBruvs and Top Gear – and working 20 years with Jeremy Clarkson, I was lucky enough to work on This Is Your Life, the big red book tribute show. That brought me into contact as writer or producer with so many famous names. In many ways you had to conceal it if you were starstruck. I worked with the likes of Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, George Michael, the casts of all the soaps and major dramas, Simon Cowell, Harrison Ford, Gene Kelly, Sophia Loren, Martin Scorsese and so many more. But I guess the one that stands out would be Charlton Heston. I mean he was Ben Hur, El Cid, Moses – and even God in several movies. After we paid tribute to him, he invited me to his house the next day. I got to play tennis with him. I am rubbish at tennis. But it was a moment to treasure.
What’s your most memorable ‘fan’ encounter?
I remember watching shows like Not The Nine O’Clock News and after that things like The Young Ones and quoting the lines afterwards. It is such a thrill to me to have people quote lines from TheBruvs. Of course, now they do it on twitter and Facebook – and in the comments on Youtube. But some podcasters in California interviewed me for their show and I was gobsmasked when they started quoting verbatim episodes of TheBruvs. It is crazy when you wrote those lines and recorded them in a tiny sound studio.
What was one of the most memorable films you saw as a child?
It’s a close call between Zulu and the Disney animation of The Jungle Book. Very different films. But I still watch both today with amazement.
What do you find the hardest part of your creative process?
With TheBruvs, the challenge is to keep things very tight, short – and punchy – in every sense. We have very little budget and while we would love to make longer, more complex films – and hope to some day – we have to limit ourselves. While that is tricky, it is also rewarding when our small team of myself, animation director Eoin Clarke, Paul Richmond, Stig Winslet and Pete Harbour work out how to get round something and keep things funny.
What is one of the best pieces of advice you can remember being given?
With nearly 30 years working in TV, I have always been freelance. Sometimes I have taken on work that has not appealed much. But a producer I worked with at the start of it all said : Ask yourself, what else are you going to be doing? The idea being that you need to pay the bills and if that is the only job offer, take it and make the most of it – it might lead to something better.
When it comes to watching films? Physical Media or Digital?
I’m still a big fan of going to the cinema. Most of my collection is on dvd – and even some on VHS. Yes I still have a player! But more and more digital is taking over.
Let’s say the same for music? Digital or Physical?
Physical really. I have quite a lot of vinyl still. As well as CDs. It’s the process.
If you could change one thing about the industry you are in, what would it be?
There is quite a lot of frustration trying to get projects away. You have to deal with several layers of management – commissioners, controllers, producers, heads of departments. The process takes a long time and in that time, people you have been dealing with change jobs or leave entirely. A leaner, speedier process would be nice.
What is one of your favourite current TV shows? (or let’s say in the past 10 years)
Big fan of Detectorists – which has just finished. I’ve also enjoyed Ripper Street and Peaky Blinders.
Are you a video gamer? If so, what’s your console of choice?
I’m not really. So I have no console preference. I do play with my nephews. So I’ve tried to master Mario and now they’re older, more shoot-em kill-em games.
Do you read reviews of shows that you are in?
I read – and crave – reviews of TheBruvs. We are looking for all and any publicity. Of course, anyone can be a reviewer now thanks to the Youtube comments section, twitter and Facebook. I read all of it. People come up with some good comments. And anything nice is a great encouragement that we are doing something right.
If you had to make a bucket list of people you’d love to work with, tell me one name who would be on it?
I guess it would be Steven Spielberg. Imagine him taking on your script and turning it into a film. I’m imagining it now. It feels good.
What is one of your most favourite locations you have filmed in?
I’ve been lucky enough to work in New York, Los Angeles, across Europe. I particularly enjoyed New Orleans. It is a ready-made film set in the tourist district. It was very hot and humid though.
What film always makes you laugh?
There are quite a few. But one that gets me is Blades of Glory – the Will Ferrell ice skating film. Bonkers.
What film do you love that you feel most people might not be aware of?
There’s this little film called Star Wars… No. People might be aware but it is quite old. It’s a John Wayne cowboy called Chisholm. It’s clichéd, far too pristine. But it has gunfights, bar brawls, stampedes, a great final showdown – and a wonderful theme song.
In your creative roles? What is the longest day that you’ve ever had?
Probably a night shoot in Bristol in a very cold February in a multi-storey car park, shooting a film for Dunlop tyres. That involved prepping during the day and shooting right through the night. And then the next night. The cold made it feel even longer.
Do you have any ‘props or keepsakes from your projects?
I keep the scripts – if I wrote them.
What excites you most about the creative world today?
The opportunities for anyone and everyone to get out there and make something. You can shoot a film on your mobile phone. Edit on a computer. There is no excuse.
Is there one person who you feel has made you are today?
I was greatly encouraged to write by an old English teacher. He certainly fired a spark and set me on a course.
What is your proudest achievement?
I am proud of all I have done, really. It has been an incredible career – and not over yet. I hope. But we were lucky enough to win Best Animation Short at the 2017 Romford Film Festival for our film Talking With Dinosaurs. A great achievement for us. We really are a small team with a tiny budget.
What was one of the first music albums you can remember buying?
There would be ones before but a landmark was Elton John’s Captain Fantastic. Great sleeve artwork. And I was fascinated by Bernie Taupin’s lyrics.
Have you ever gotten someone’s autograph? Which is the most memorable for you?
I have tended to get people to sign scripts as I work with them. So I have quite a lot of signed scripts – if that counts. But on This Is Your Life, Michael Aspel, the host, would draw little cartoons in the margins on read-through scripts. Some were a bit rude about me. I treasure those.
How many movies do you think you watch a year?
At the cinema – perhaps 6. On TV dozens.
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/TheBruvsTV/
Twitter : https://twitter.com/thebruvstv
Many thanks to the following people who are also part of the great team over at The Bruvs,including Eoin Clarke, Paul Richmond,Stig Winslet and Pete Harbour, and once again many thanks to Ian Brown for taking some time out for this Spending Time With…series.