Category Archives: Martyn

That Guy Martyn Drake

A long while ago – last year in fact – I backed a Kickstarter project called “That Guy Dick Miller” – a documentary film that explores the life and career of character actor Dick Miller, a man who has appeared in well over 100 films, notably in Roger Corman and Joe Dante movies.

I only got around to watching the documentary yesterday.  And I forgot that Kickstarter backers get a mention “Special Thanks” in the end credits.

Here I am, amongst such great directors including Joe “Gremlins” Dante, Jonathan “Silence of the Lambs” Demme, and producer Jon “Starship Troopers” Davison – if only because of surnames being sorted in order.  But still!

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It’s ironic that one can pay to get a credit in a film these days, but if you work on a film in post-production/VFX infrastructure as a full time member of staff, the chances are extremely slim.

That’s show business!

BTW, another Kickstarter project I backed (alas, I think for only for $5 or $10) was I Am Big Bird – all about Carol Spinney who plays Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch in Sesame Street.  No credit for that one – and rightly so – but it’s a brilliant documentary (like TGDM) and also available on VoD services.

Also: there are two Martyn Drake’s listed in IMDb.  One of us has got to change their name.   It ain’t going to be me.  (Changes name to Poopdeck McGinty.)

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Martyn Goes West (part two)

(A reminder: all photos featured here, and more,  can be found via my Flickr album)

Vancouver B.C.

Much has been said about Vancouver.  Especially when it comes to film tax credits and visual effects.  My former employers have an office here (and indeed, we ate just around the corner from them at the excellent Keg Steakhouse in Yaletown – it comes highly recommended).

Vancouver public library.  Has a very decent pub at the back.
Vancouver public library. Has a very decent pub at the back.

The first thing you notice about Vancouver is just how multicultural and cosmopolitan it is.

Robson Street, downtown Vancouver
Robson Street, downtown Vancouver

It is also very green.  I was particularly taken by Stanley Park which plays host to the Vancouver Aquarium and horse drawn tours.

Stanley Park's rose gardens
Stanley Park’s rose gardens

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We took a hop-on/hop-off bus tour which took us through the all the interesting part of Vancouver.

Horse drawn Stanley Park tour
Horse drawn Stanley Park tour
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An inhabitant of Vancouver’s Aquarium at Stanley Park

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Panoramic view over Vancouver from Stanley Park
Panoramic view over Vancouver from Stanley Park
The hop-on/hop-off tour bus.  Tickets cost (IIRC), around $42 CAD per person for 24 hour access
The hop-on/hop-off tour bus. Tickets cost (IIRC), around $42 CAD per person for 24 hour access

You’ll need a couple of days to explore properly, and there are a number of whale watching tours that’ll take you out around Vancouver Island and other islets.  Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to do this, but it’s on my list for the next time I go back.

Up next: The Orgeon Coast!

Martyn goes West (part one)

I’ve just returned from an extraordinary two weeks visiting my lady friend in the Pacific Northwest, taking in Seattle, Vancouver B.C., and the Oregon coast.

Public accessible photos of the trip can be seen via my Flickr account – note that family/friends who have a Flickr/Yahoo! ID should get in touch so I can grant them full access to the photos.

First stop was Seattle, visiting Pike Place Market, the home to the very first Starbucks store.

Leaving Seattle via the Bremerton ferry
Leaving Seattle via the Bremerton ferry
Pike Place Market, Seattle
Pike Market, Seattle
Pike Place Market, Seattle
Pike Place Market, Seattle
The home of the very first Starbucks, this place is BUSY.
The home of the very first Starbucks, this place is BUSY.

We spent a lot of time in used bookstores (we’re both book connoisseurs) and when I returned to the UK, I was 1Kg over the luggage limit thanks to the books I bought during our hunting trips (which BA were going to charge me $90, but kindly waived it despite me having no qualms paying).

Seattle is a lovely city – staggered across multiple levels, you’ll soon get a good workout traversing the steep streets.  It wasn’t helped that we spent an hour or so having a few pints and some nibbles at a local bar before doing this – but at least we got a bit of exercise working off those carbs!

The first time we went to Seattle was via the main interstate route, but the second time we tried the ferry via Bremerton (which is home to a US navy base – and indeed, we discovered a couple of former sailors at a local bar whilst waiting for the next ferry – all good people with interesting stories to tell).  The ferry is free to go one way (into Seattle), but $8.50 going back.   You do get some fantastic views.

In my next report, we head over the border to Canada and experience the hospitality of Vancouver, B.C..

Canada Place, Vancouver B.C.
Canada Place, Vancouver B.C.

Londinium or Bust: Tourist Time

With less than two weeks away until I head over to the BFI Southbank to be one of the first to watch the first two episodes of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, I decided that given I’ve waited 10 years to see this, I’d treat myself.

So I’ve splashed out on three days at a reasonably priced, but good quality hotel near to the BFI and the Southbank as a base to explore London over the weekend and throughout the day leading up to the screening itself.

One thing I’ve been meaning to do for a while is to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour.  Having worked on the 5 out of the 8 films, and having been to Leavesden a number of times throughout – it’ll be interesting to see what they’ve done with the place.

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All this will give me a chance to take the new camera for a spin, and to get me out and about of the house.

I’ll report back on my activities as and when.  I’ll be filing a complete report on the Harry Potter Studio tour, along with various anecdotes from my own experiences at Leavesden back when they were filming.  It’ll be interesting to compare what’s what.

Of Cameras & Martyn

(Above photo was taken on the iPhone 6)

Over the years I’ve owned many cameras.  My first ever digital camera was a Sony Cybershot DSC-S70 and was pretty special for its time in that it had a massive 3.3 megapixel capable sensor plus a Carl Zeiss lens.  It took really great photos too.

Subsequently I upgraded to a Canon Powershot G5 which too was an excellent camera – but it was a bit bulky (and at the time, even second hand) felt as though I paid the Earth for it.  But I was extremely happy with the quality of photos it produced.

Last year I bought a Canon 700D DSLR and, for a while, was over the moon.  But the problem with it was that it was far too bulky and the camera bag and associated gubbins was just too darn awkward that I subsequently sold it (to a photography student, so it went to a much better home).  The aim at the time was that I’d take a photography course to learn the ins and outs of proper photography, and then take it up as a proper hobby.  After all, I needed to get out and about more after my divorce and this seemed to be a good way of doing about it.

So that never happened.

I was quite content with the iPhone 6’s camera and felt that was all I needed to take decent photos quickly.  I could carry the phone about all day without any issues.

Then I went to a wedding a couple of weeks ago.  And the iPhone 6’s battery drained much, much faster than I anticipated (and I didn’t bring a charger with me).  The photos came out fine (along with a video of the wedding ceremony itself), but having tinkered with my father’s Canon Powershot G1, and having talked cameras with a relative, I felt it was probably time – especially as I have a rather substantial holiday coming up in the US – to invest in another decent camera – but this time a much more compact one.

So I went into research mode.

I looked at the Powershot G1 X mark II, the Powershot G7 X, and the Powershot SX700 HS and there was a lot of oohing and ahhing as to which would serve me the best.  The cheapest was definitely the SX700 HS, but the other cameras had much better sensors and better manual control over things.

Then I read a review of the Sony Cybershot R100X III.  And many other reviews – and practically every single one of them has given it the best scores for a compact camera I’ve ever seen.  It is consistently generated superb scores.  It also has an electronic viewfinder.  But the cost!   It was £200 more expensive than the G7 X, and nearly £400 more than the SX700 HS.  It was also more expensive than the DSLR that I had!

But I have always believed that if you want something that’s going to last, and that it produces good quality photos, you need to pay the price.  I can’t remember what I paid for the original Cybershot DSC-S70, but I feel it wasn’t too far off what the RX100 III costs now.

So now (thanks to John Lewis) I’m the proud owner of an RX100 III.  I’m still waiting for a memory card to turn up, and then I’m intending on taking it for a spin.  What attracted me to this camera was not just the excellent photo quality, but the video mode is also superb.  This review pretty much convinced me this was the camera for me:

I’ll upload some photos (bear in mind that it’s going to take me some time to get used to the controls – the first batch is likely to be all shot using automatic mode) later so that you can see what this thing is like.

But let me tell you, it is incredibly small.  It’ll fit into a trouser pocket no problems.  So I reckon this camera will get a LOT of use – more so than the iPhone.

No more gadgets for me for a loooooooong time.