News Reel & Blog

Written by Christian Abbott on 27th November 2020

At Searchlight, we're committed to helping young people taking their first steps into the media industy and once again, this year, Searchlight hosted sessions at both Media Trust and the National Film and Television School (NFTS).

Part of this was Searchlight’s CV screenings, offering 1-1 breakdowns of their CV’s. Along with this, their CV presentation went into detail on how best to maximise your CV. There was also a Q&A to the Media Trust – Creativity Works students and the NFTS Masters students in both year one and year two. The importance of these sessions cannot be overstated, as they give guidance to young students and professionals navigating a continually in demand market.

Both organisations teach and train the next-generation of media and entertainment professional from a wide variety of socio-economic backgrounds. They allow those who work with them to enter the market with a strong advantage, and Searchlight’s sessions play a key role in this.

Media Trust

Media Trust works as a charity in partnership with the media and creative industry to give marginalised groups and young people a stronger voice. They encourage the media and creative industry to share their time, knowledge and creativity to benefit charities, under-represented communities and young people.

They also create and run unique programmes to encourage young, diverse talent to develop their confidence, passions and talents for the work place.

NFTS

For nearly 50 years, the NFTS has developed some of Britain and the world’s top creative talent. They run more than 30 MA, Diploma and Certificate courses - as well as numerous short courses - across a range of film, television and games disciplines. They have a wide selection of behind the camera courses, including core craft areas such as directing and cinematography as well as specialist areas such as script supervision and production accounting.

They received both the 2018 BAFTA for Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema and the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.

Searchlight is immensely proud to work with these organisations as part of our volunteer and CRS programmes.

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Written by Christian Abbott on 19th November 2020

Today is the day many people in the UK have been waiting for – the launch of the PS5. Set to be one of the biggest console launches of all time, it is already smashing records around the world. This is a big moment for Sony, with high hopes that their new console will outperform their main competitor Microsoft’s Xbox Series X & S, which released last week.

The battle between Playstation and Xbox has been ongoing since the original Xbox released way back in 2001. It’s too early to tell who will come out on top this console cycle, but looking at their launches and consoles past, can give us an understanding of what to expect.

For many, the Playstation is their console of choice. Looking back 20 years to 2000, at the release of the PS2, it went on to be the best selling console of all time, an achievement it still holds. At a staggering 155 million units sold, Microsoft as of now have not come close to this number. The Xbox 360, which released in 2005 reached 84 million units – their best-selling system to date.

While it may seem the Xbox has been behind Playstation in terms of sales, they have often been ahead through innovation and iteration of hardware and software. This led to, for some, Xbox’s darkest chapter – the release of the Kinect in 2010. This was a device, through motion tracking technology that allowed users to interact with their console without the need for a controller or any physical input. The results were mixed, with price, home space and accessibility eventually leading to its demise in 2017.

The concept was ambitious and admirable, and showed the world that Xbox wasn’t afraid to experiment and push beyond the accepted. Now, they have embraced software with Game Pass, an online platform, akin to Netflix, for downloading games at a flat-monthly rate. Unlike the Kinect, this has been a massive success, with 70% of Xbox Series X owners adopting the system.

Game Pass allowed its adopters to play their games on both Xbox and PC, or even mobile, bringing Microsoft’s gaming empire under one umbrella. Game Pass recently merged with Electronic Arts’ EA Play, a similar platform, and Microsoft has stated that all games published under them will be on the platform at release. It is an industry changing service, and one Playstation will have to quickly address.

However, Playstation does offer a similar platform, Playstation Now, a streaming service for games. While not as extensive as Xbox, Sony has far more exclusive content for their platform to entice people over. Yet, Xbox shocked with the $7.5 Billion acquisition of Zenimax Game Studios, the publisher behind Bethesda, Arkane Studios, Id Software and more, meaning their exclusive could soon increase.

Clearly the console wars have been an intense battle between two gigantic corporations, and things are only becoming fiercer. Today is the day Sony are launching their new PS5 into the UK market, one week after Xbox, both consoles are hotly anticipated, both are breaking records and both will continue to push hard against one another.

It can be easily forgotten, between the billion dollar deals, corporation mergers and hardware failures that all this is in the creation of games. So, whatever side you may sit on, just have some fun.


Written by Christian Abbott on 11th November 2020

Without question, this Christmas will be a very different one for many different people. But, different is not necessarily a bad thing, and change is often fun. In this blog, we thought we'd have a look at some of the alternatives on offer this year. For example, NextUp has announced their virtual Christmas parties - events for companies to enjoy the benefits of the celebration without the difficulties of the times.

NextUp, with their foundation in comedy, is offering a virtual comedy club night, with a famous comedian to boot. It’s an impressive and admirable idea, and one many people will get behind. On top of this, they have announced a complete ban on, as they put – the C-word (Covid), something a lot of people will be happy about.

The great thing about this is it allows people the same level of interaction while remaining apart from each other. Engagement levels and participation are at the centre of this event, and it is inspiring for many other companies.

It may seem like a daunting task, but there are plenty of options for Christmas parties this year, and NextUp is one of many great ones.

Get Gaming

Party games are a regular go to for any Christmas party, but this year we may rely on them. There is no better place to look than the world of video games. With thousands of online games, from competitive to team-working, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

With platforms such as Steam and Game Pass being readily available from home, easy to set up and relatively cheap in comparison to a full-blown event, it seems like a no brainer. There are plenty of online versions of classic party games too, like Monopoly and even Cards Against Humanity, all to download from app stores or online.

Drive-In Cinemas

A Hollywood classic, and one that has been rising in popularity here in the UK over the last few years, they have been largely unaffected this year. Allowing total flexibility, and the comfort of your own car, it is a unique cinema experience that everyone should try. Once there, you have all the familiar trappings of a cinema trip, but with the novelty of not actually being in a cinema.

Worried some colleagues don’t drive? Most Drive-In Cinemas now offer a service where a car is provided and already in place, such as Drive-In London: https://www.thedrivein.london/

Break out the Awards

When in doubt, pull the awards out. A personal favourite of Michael Scott, a work award ceremony is always a fun evening. From silly to serious awards, everyone will leave happy. The best part is this can be done at home or at a venue, with the awards being digital or physical.

NextUp’s idea for a virtual comedy club night is a great idea, and there are plenty more great ideas out there to explore for this year.

 If your company is interested in NextUp’s comedy night, a link is provided below:

https://nextupcomedy.com/stafflaughs/

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Written by Christian Abbott on 3rd November 2020

The Mandalorian is a strange beast. As the first live-action Star Wars TV show, following on from the successes of the two animated shows (The Clone Wars and Rebels),it bears a great weight on its shoulders.  The first season came at the time when the new Disney produced ‘Sequel Trilogy’ was coming to a close, and Star Wars, for the first time since its debut in 1977, was heading into a great unknown. It seems more likely that this is the new face of the franchise, and that is no bad thing.

Putting the divisive new trilogy to one side, The Mandalorian can be viewed completely independently, both for fans of the franchise and new comers. With its episodic structure, while maintaining a narrative flow, it feels like something of a throwback to the filmmaking era Star Wars was born in.  

Set just 5 years after the events of The Return of the Jedi (1983), The Mandalorian follows a man who carries that title with honour and turmoil. His cyclical life of bounty hunting is abruptly halted when he is asked to deliver a child to an unknown fate. Seeing more of himself in the child than he cares to admit, he protects him and seeks out where he came from.

The show has quickly proved to be a massive success, breathing new life into the franchise and providing a glimpse into a different side of the universe. Anticipation for Season 2 was palpable, and it did not disappoint. This is perhaps the most exciting and explosive chapter yet. Hunting down a giant worm, this is more Dune than Star Wars, and it’s perfect.

The story continues exactly where it left off last year, but with the added benefit of more of a narrative focus for our characters. Their goals are now singular, and it creates a real sense of urgency and tension. The action is a joy to behold and the characters all bounce off one-another with a wonderful light-heated tone that screams classic Star Wars.

Most importantly, however, it is fun. At just under an hour an episode, you quickly become lost in the adventure, enjoying its wit and wonder from a land so different than our own, but just familiar enough to be understood.  With its knowing nods to genre-fiction, from spaghetti westerns to serial adventures, its wears its influences on its sleeve with such confidence you can’t help but admire it.

Growing up, I loved Star Wars, I watched all the prequels at the cinema, all the originals at home, and I played the games and bought the toys. Over time I’ve moved on, but kept a curious eye on the franchise. But now, it’s great to say I am a fan again.

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