of BBC Worlds entertainment shows is Talking
Movies. As the name suggests the show reviews the latest film releases.
Presented by Tom Brook the programme can be seen on Fridays at 1 pm
New York based Brook joined the BBC in 1976 as a news trainee. Brook
has also reported extensively on cinema throughout his broadcasting
career. From 1985-1998 he was the US correspondent for the BBC's
flagship cinema programme Film with Barry Norman.
to say Brook has interviewed leading figures in contemporary film
- most of the top Hollywood stars and directors. He has attended
nearly all the Oscar ceremonies in the past fifteen years and closely
monitored new trends in mainstream and independent cinema. He also
maintains a keen interest in the arts and media in general. Through
email sent by Indiantelevision.coms correspondent Ashwin
Pinto Brook spoke about the different aspects and challenges
to film journalism:
Have there been any changes and additions to the format of 'Talking
Movies' over the past couple of years?
We have tried to widen the scope of the programme to generate more
of our own stories. We try to avoid relying so heavily on studio
How much time and energy goes into making an episode?
A lot! The show is on 52 weeks a year. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
we spend writing, shooting and editing. On Thursday and Friday we
schedule and research
and plan. Then on the weekends we very often go to press events.
you talk about the size of the production team and how the editorial
The production team is small. Basically just five people put the
show together. Ideas come from each of us.
then look at new releases and decide which films warrant coverage.
Then we go about making it all happen.
people put the show together"
much research do you do before tackling a subject like Movieoke?
Each subject is very thoroughly researched. We read newspaper and
magazine articles, make phone calls to gather more direct information.
also make up a list of possible interviewees. Another challenge
is deciding how to put the story together.
While Hollywood is important why doesn't 'Talking Movies' cover
trends happening in global cinema?
I would like to reiterate that Hollywood is important. It is one
of the most dominant cultural forces in the film world. However
we do want to cover global cinema much more.
Are you planning to film a 'Talking Movies' special in India
sometime soon where viewers will get the flavour of the Bollywood
Yes we would love to do a talking movies special from India. I think
it would be great.
All that is stopping us is our tiny budget but I am sure that wont
hold us back..
general do you travel a lot in a month while covering film festivals
like Sundance and film premieres?
Yes we do. Sundance is in Utah and there are lots of premieres too
which we cover in New York.
there are several pre Oscar events in different places. So yes,
we do have to move about quite a lot.
is unique! It involves engaging many of our senses"
you came down here a couple of years ago you had mentioned that
one of the things 'Talking Movies' aims at doing is filtering out
the hype. How do you achieve this?
I think we take an independent stand on cinema. We try not to be
part of the movie publicity bandwagon and we aim to make sure that
our coverage is not too celebrity driven.
is more to do with the tone we adopt and not suspending the normal
rules of journalism in covering cinema..
I would like to take you back a bit by asking how you got your start
in film journalism?
I have always loved cinema. I began working at the BBC as a news
producer and reporter. Then after moving from London to New York
twenty years ago drifted into movie journalism.
started reporting for the Barry Norman programme and it just continued
Besides 'Talking Movies' are you making any film documentaries
and other specials for BBC World?
I have just done a HARDtalk interview with Christopher Reeve, a
very inspiring man, and that will be broadcast very soon. Prior
to the Academy Awards I had interviewed Alec Baldwin who had got
his first nomination.
Earlier you used to work with Barry Norman when he hosted the 'Film'
series. that did you learn from him that you were able to imbibe
later on as a show host?
IBarry is a great writer. I have always admired him for that and
for his dry but very human sense of humour.
not sure what I have imbibed but I do think of him quite a bit when
I am working so he has had a big impact on me.
When you have to film an entire episode as a special like you will
be doing at Cannes what are the main challenges you face?
I am in Cannes right now. Our budget only permits us to be at the
festival for just a few days. Therefore we cannot cover everything
the main challenge is to report on non-English language cinema.
Another challenge for us is to not let the strong Hollywood presence
overwhelm our programme content.
I once read that one of my favourite actors Daniel Day Lewis
is media shy. Was he easy to interview for 'Gangs of New York'?
He is a very engaging and quite intense actor. I get the impression
that he is media shy.
the press point of view he gives elliptical and very intelligent
answers to questions. Some journalists find that frustrating because
they want pithy quotes..
would love to do a 'Talking Movies' special from India.
All that is stopping us is our tiny budget"
you dwell on how the advent of the Internet has affected the nature
of film journalism?
The Internet has totally changed the way we work. It means that
our audience has become much more cinema literate and they often
know much more about movie developments than we do.
is great because the internet also means we have common cultural
reference points. Therefore we can all be thinking and talking about
our responses to the same film at the same time wherever we live.
As a reporter what according to you was the single biggest trend
that happened in cinema over the past year? I suppose that viewers
taking a greater interest in the documentary genre would be one.
That is hard to answer. But yes you are right the documentary is
really enjoying a great renaissance. I as a lover of non-fiction
narratives really welcome it.
you give me an idea of the contests that you run from time to time?
Are you planning to introduce one that will involve participants
making a short feature?
Our young filmmaker competition was very successful. We are discussing
whether another might be possible. Our first competition yielded
some fantastic films so I hope we can repeat it.
for you what is unique in covering and reporting on film compared
with other subjects that you worked on earlier in your career like
business, finance, sports?
Cinema is unique! It involves engaging many of our senses. It can
stimulate our fantasies, force us to confront harsh realities and
makes us value the wonder
of the human spirit.
business reporters feel that way about the world they cover but
I doubt it.