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Filmmakers Blog
In our Taking Liberties blog, not only will we keep you uptodate on the progress of the film, we'll also post news about the ongoing civil liberties movements we're related to.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Reasons to be fearful

Things I have learnt today:

US and Canadian customs have started using information from people’s Wikipedia pages to determine if whether or not they are terrorists:

The British government has once again decided to use it’s favourite method of undermining any investigation they don’t like – play the man and not the ball. In this case they seem to be attempting to oust the head of the OECD when he is investigating the halting of the BAE investigation.,,2064191,00.html

The papers have been full, once again, of politicians, civil servants and policemen saying that Al Quaida are planning more attacks. Now that John Reid has built himself a new department whose sole aim it is to look after security and policing I imagine that scaring the bejesus out of us will become a daily occurrence – how else will they be able to justify their budget?

I’m not disputing the security threat from terrorism; it’s just that I don’t feel I have to hear about it all the damn time. It’s like having a child bring home every doodle they’ve ever drawn in nursery school and demanding that it be given pride of place on the sitting room walls.

What, for example, do we do with the information from the Home Office that the threat level is Severe (why the capital S? Maybe it’s not a measure of the threat at all and the Home Office has just decided to name the threat Severe – next week the threat level will be Kevin)? Are we all supposed to hide under the bed until the mythical utopia arrives when people will stop wanting to kill each other and all live together in harmony? History tells us that’s about as likely to happen as my winning gold in the 100m at the next Olympics so I think I will just have to carry on as usual, and wait to see if it will magically move up to critical should the home office budget look to be in jeopardy.

Here are a spattering of the most recent reasons to be fearful:

From The head of Scotland Yard's counterterrorism command,,2064947,00.html

From MI6

From John Reid

From Tony Blair

And, of course, John Reid again

Friday, 20 April 2007

Hay Festival

Film & Book have been accepted into the Hay Festival! As the programme stands we are on last thing on the Sunday. Gordon Brown is also going to be there as well which could be quite interesting… We’re up against Ronnie Corbett just to give you an idea of the literary calibre that is attending.

Trailer is now onlined and finished and on the website. Pretty shit hot if we do say so ourselves… Thanks to Rachel Tunnard for coming in at the 11th hour and sorting it out.

Film locked but not finished. All the grading, sound design score and graphics still to do… 1st screening is on the 10th May and there’s about 2 months worth of work to do in 3 weeks. Hey ho. Daniel the assistant editor now scaring everyone, but we still can’t let him sleep as he’s the only person who knows where all the multitude of archive material has come from. The BBC have screwed up tape dubbing so many times we’ve now despatched Daniel down to White City to scare them into actually giving us the clips we need (eg Blair saying that “The Rules of The Game have Changed”) rather than those we don’t need (eg The Price is Right in 1974)

Recorded Ashley Jensen’s narration for the animation which is stunning. Sadly we didn’t get tot fly out to LA to record it, but thanks to the wonders of modern technology we were able to do the whole recording session over the interweb and the results are as good as if we’d been in the room. Probably better as she didn’t get to see what 5 months without sunlight does to a man.

Operation Ore

Nothing gets the tabloid juices flowing quite like child porn so when the police announced that thousands of British residents were being investigated for viewing child pornography after the credit card details of purchasers processed by the US portal site Landslide, the headlines began immediately. People (mostly men) were arrested in a blaze of publicity and many have since been successfully prosecuted. However, Duncan Campell yesterday published an article in the Guardian which shows that the operation may not have been built on the sturdy foundations that we were lead to believe. Firstly, not all of the sites that Landslide processed were child porn sites some were just regular porn. This means that some of the names on the list were merely using the Internet in the traditional way. Secondly, the police didn’t take into account the massive amount of credit card fraud that was going on. So a lot of the people on the list had no idea what was being done in their name.

The stigma of an arrest for child porn is enough to ruin someone’s life and people are often considered guilty whether any charges are actually filed or not. The stigma in this operation has lead to the suicide of 39 men, some of whom had nothing to do with child pornography. For example, Commodore David White was found dead 24 hours after being suspended from the Navy because of an investigation by the police, despite the fact that the police had found no evidence against him.

Investigations into child pornography are essential but the hysteria that surrounds them isn’t. We need to be absolutely sure before branding someone a paedophile because this seems to be an area of the law where innocent until proven guilty does not apply.,,2059880,00.html

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

We’ve locked picture!

Over a year spent working on this film, hundreds of hours of footage, over 100 contributors and countless stories, reduced to an hour and a half. Dare we say so ourselves it is bloody marvellous.

Now we just have to convince people to come and see it…

Liberty News

On 5th April Amnesty released its latest report on conditions in Guantanamo in which they estimate that 80% of the population are being held in solitary confinement with little or no access to sunlight and exercise. Anyone who is any doubt about the illegality of Guantanamo and the War on Terror needs to read this report.

In other news NPower recently obtained an injunction against the peaceful protesters to stop their protest at the sight of a proposed ash dump in what had been a local beauty spot near the village of Radley. The corporation used the Protection from Harassment law, which was originally conceived as a way of protection people from harassment and anti-social behaviour, but is now being used by large corporations to protect themselves from inconvenient peaceful protesters. The lawyer who specialises in protecting these multinationals is Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden. His law firm is representing NPower in this particular case and also represented EDO against a similarly dangerous group of individuals in our documentary, including an 80-year old painter and his daughter.

What dastardly deeds had the protesters done to deserve this injunction I hear you cry? The most serious allegation was that a guard’s leg had been hit by a van driven by one of the protesters. The protester denies that this ever happened and even the guard admits that the incident did not cause any bruising. Another security guard testified to having overheard one of the protesters referring to the security firm as “the enemy” this made him, “only slightly afraid”. Since most of the security guards are ex-armed forces you would hope that they could withstand a campaign run by, amongst others, a vicar (Malcolm Carroll who is in our film) and a 67 year old physician. NPower claim that this injunction prevents anyone from filming their employees and one of the principal six named individuals was a press photographer, so it is not only being used to stop the protest but also to prevent reporting on the situation. If you want to know more about the protest, here is a link to the website:

Monday, 16 April 2007

I wish you well in a Free Iraq

It has recently emerged that the US government has paid $33 million in wrongful death payments to civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. These payments are only made in non-combat situations so, for example, the family of a boy whose school book bag a sniper mistook for a bomb were not paid anything. Of the 500 claims that were uncovered by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) after a freedom of information request, 165 were paid between $500 and £35,000. About half of these were “condolence payments” where the Army does not admit fault but gives the family up to $2,500. ACLU believes that this is only a small proportion of the claims held by the Defence Department and they are pressing to uncover the rest.

Some of the letters that were denying claims contained the phrase “I am sorry for your inconvenience, and I wish you well in a Free Iraq.”

Now that’s what I call winning hearts and minds.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Government’s policy review of police powers

This actually came out a couple of weeks ago but we have been a bit busy and have only just got round to reading all 102 scintillating pages of it. Mostly it is the usual government speak about rebalancing the system in favour of the victim and focusing on the criminal instead of the crime. It’s a comfort to know that thanks to this review policemen will be out on the street with the certain knowledge that they are hoping to detect and prevent criminals and not crimes (here we were thinking they were supposed to do both – that’s why this sort of review is so useful).

The review shows this government’s usual excitement with any solution that involves a database. It suggests expanding the DNA database to include anyone that the police suspect of committing a crime (why don’t they just admit they want a national database and get it over with), using CCTV with facial, weapon and explosives recognition capabilities (is that a gun in your pocket…sorry it’s a terrible joke but I just couldn’t help myself), using more powerful data analysis of databases (interestingly the identity database is included in the list of databases to be analysed, this was one of the things that Blair promised Parliament would not happen when the Identity bill went through) and providing police officers with access to databases where different levels of confidentiality are currently an issue (goodbye data protection laws then).

The terrorism section is mostly taken up with talking about how we have to embrace our shared values. This always makes me wonder what they are:
- All crises should be immediately followed by the offer of a cup of tea
- Anything is better if you’ve had to queue to get hold of it
- Shorts and a t-shirt should be worn at the slightest sighting of sunshine
- People should always stand on the left of an escalator and walk down the right.
- The breaking of any social rules should be met with some quiet tutting and a steely stare of disapproval. That’ll teach them.

Almost as an afterthought they add that their not entirely comfortable with Article 3 of the ECHR since it stops them sending terror suspects back to countries that might torture them so they are busy thinking of a way round this problem. If anyone can do it New Labour can!

Monday, 2 April 2007

One Week To Picture Lock

Whose idea was this film? I want my life back. Nick the editor wants his life back. Daniel the assistant editor has given up all semblance of ever having a life and has moved his gear into the edit suite. In fact we’re all getting a bit worried about Daniel. He has started saying the strangest of things and looking like something out of a Terry Pratchet book. Still, he can still memorise the 600 odd hours of footage and can recall a shot of Blair looking like a dickhead in various different environments, so all is not lost. Let’s just hope he retains his faculties when the film finally locks. Whenever the hell that is.

Structure of the edit went through a massive overhaul this week and is an infinitely better film for it. We had to decide whether we were going to make an arty collection of stories of injustice, or a rollercoaster of polemic and humour… and went for the latter. Currently standing at 100 minutes but could come down further – always leave them wanting more.

RADIOHEAD SAID YES! Still can’t quite believe it…

And there is a sodding CCTV camera in our edit suite. Really. I mean irony of ironies. Which brings us neatly on to...

Liberty News
The plaque outside George Orwell’s old house in London can apparently be seen by 32 CCTV cameras. Not often that I want to laugh and throw up at the same time.

Bisher Al Rawi has finally been released from Guantanamo Bay back to the UK. Bisher is a UK resident (but not a national) who was abandoned by the UK government in Guantanamo for 5 years. As the government does not legally have to intercede on behalf of it’s residents Blair’s government has continually taken the course of leaving them to rot. While it is of course wonderful to see Bisher returned to his family, there are seven other British Residents (including Omar Deghayes – one of the stories in Taking Liberties). Bisher’s story is particularly horrific as he was only arrested by the CIA after a telegram sent to them by MI5…

And finally – the Observer article yesterday about Blair having accepted a role in The Crucible (directed by Kevin Spacey at the Young Vic in September) is sadly an April Fool. But a bloody good one…
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