The Filmmaker, The Band and Constructionarium Team

Welcome back to you all after the Easter break, we hope you all had a great time and didn’t over-indulge too much.

Well we may have been quiet over the break, but we have a multitude of updates and stories for you this week, from visiting students and cake sales to short courses for Amey and student submissions.  All this plus a good few photo’s so let’s get started.

We will begin this week with the first of our two student submissions (yes not one, but two).  Fraser Brand is an ex HNC Music Performance student and he will be letting us know about his band Ocean House.

Ocean House are a Glasgow Rock/Post Grunge band with influences from such bands as Creed, Nickelback, Alter Bridge, Shinedown, Black Stone Cherry, Blink 182 and many more.  Ocean House have just released their latest EP Life Through Glass which includes the bands latest single “Down Inside”.  2012 has been a good year so far with the bands release of Life Through Glass as well as a list of shows taking place during April and May before the band starts recording their debut album.

Ocean House came together back in 2008 under a different moniker, however members decided to take a break to focus on other things.  In 2010 the original members reunited and recruited new Guitarist Ross to make the final line up of Fraser Brand – Lead Vocals and Guitar, Ross Hainey – Lead Guitar, Keir Laird – Drums and Sean Beaton – Bass Guitar. 

Both Fraser Brand and Ross Hainey have a Stow College background, Fraser graduated the HNC Music Performance course in 2010 and then continued on to HND at North Glasgow College and now studies Commercial Music at the University of the West of Scotland.  Ross Hainey is currently finishing his Stow College HND in Sound Engineering while working with Ocean House and will be the head engineer for their record. Both members feel they have gained knowledge from Stow College especially in the performance and practical side of the Creative Industries.  This knowledge has helped their technical ability and playing ability therefore helping them to excel to the next level of showmanship.

Ocean House have currently finished the material for their debut album and are now rehearsing for pre-recording and upcoming shows. The bands next show is at Glasgow’s Classic Grand on the 27th of April 2012, with tickets at only £6 this show is sure to be sold out so get your tickets now.  Life Through Glass is out in Glasgow stores Monorail, Love Music and Fopp as well as being available for download on reputable download stores.”

Thanks to Fraser for that, it’s always great to hear stories like this.  If you want to know more about Ocean House then visit their Website, Facebook, MySpace or YouTube sites.

Now some news from Ron Dillin about some French visitors.  Stow College is delighted to welcome three computing students from the University of Reims in France who are here for 10 week work placements in the Faculty of Creative Industries.  Loïc, Jean-Séverin and Mathilde arrived on 2nd April and are progressing well with their projects.  They took time out to sample some Scottish culture, scenery and whisky with a tour of Glengoyne Distillery and a boat trip on Loch Lomond with Ron Dillin.  The sun shone for them (yes, really!) and the whisky was excellent!

The trio are based in room 2/14 so please pop in to say ‘Bonjour, ça va?’ or even ‘Hello! How are you?’  Their English is excellent so if you see them around the college, please do say hello.  Loïc is programming a video game using C#/XNA, Jean-Séverin is developing notes for the Arduino interfacing kit and Mathilde is working on a project to help automate the backup of courses from Moodle 1.9 to Moodle 2.2.  They are being supervised by Finlay McGregor, David McDade and Derek Doyle.

The college is delighted to continue to support our long-standing links with our Reims partners and we are sure the projects will be of great benefit to the college.  (In the pictures, left to right, are Loïc, Jean-Séverin and Mathilde.)

Next, an update we have been waiting to hear about for a few weeks – Electric Honey and their South by Southwest visit.  This year Mark Baillie and Ken McCluskey attended the annual South by South West music conference and  festival in Austin, Texas as part of our staff development.   Creative Scotland had also invited two of  the bands from the Stow College record label Electric Honey, Woodenbox and the French Wives to represent Scotland at their sponsored showcases over the five days in mid march.  This was a great opportunity for them as lecturers to keep abreast of the ever changing business that is music in the digital age and a fantastic experience for the bands to represent their country while making contacts with various music promoters, radio stations ,Interactive media and networking with musicians and their managers from around the world.

The music event has grown from 700 registrants in 1987 to over 16,000 registrants this year and has really placed Austins eclectic music scene on the map with the idea that  too much attention was been given to cities such as Los Angeles and New York.  As Austin has grown and diversified, film companies and high-tech companies have played a major role in the Austin and the Texas economies. In 1994, SXSW added a film and interactive component to accommodate these growth industries. SXSW Film and SXSW Interactive events together attract approximately 32,000 registrants to Austin every March.

There was a great awareness of Scottish music at the Conference and Ken is pleased to report that they all enjoyed a very warm and open armed welcome and general hospitality through our connection with the college and the  Electric Honey label. Through networking we have already invited some of the Texan acts over to Scotland for live gigs and recording sessions in the near future and hope to build on these connections for the good of the College, the students and Electric Honey.

We now move to the Engineering Faculty for a moment or two.  Stow College has been involved in Constructionarium for the last 5 years & are the only FE College in Britain to be invited.  Since 2010 the project has been run in Scotland and Stow College received a ‘Highly Commended’ Award  that year at the SQA Star Awards recognising their partnership with Constructionarium.  Recognised as “sector leading” by HMIE at the last college visit, Constructionarium has no academic qualification but by allowing the students to experience a taste of  the reality of construction operations, the project has been very successful, so much so the enthusiastic 2nd year students participating expressed a wish that it become a formal part of the HND course rather than an enhancement.

The 2nd year Engineering students – in 3 teams & under the watchful eye of Kevin Gallacher – gave up 5 days of the easter break to take part, braving hail, snow & torrential rain to complete the construction of their chosen project, having to work together, plan & construct with assistance from Contractors Laing O’Rourke.  Due to the success of the project & the enthusiasm of the staff & students, The Faculty of Engineering are planning to roll this out to 1st year full time students for the first time this term.

See the video of Constructionarium Easter 2012 (produced by Fraser Purdie) –  More info on Constructionarium:

Some more engineering news, but this time from Douglas Thomson.  The college ran the first of (hopefully many more to come) short engineering courses for Amey facilities staff.  These employees work at Edinburgh and Glasgow airports and were getting basic training in repairs and maintenance, plumbing, joinery, electrical safety etc.

This was a 3 day course titled “Basic Engineering – Repairs and Maintenance” and was set up for Amey who have contracts to look after schools, airports and other buildings.  They have facilities staff (janitors) who are there all the time but can’t do basic repairs – so, Amey would need to call out an engineer to fix it.  This course provided the people on the course with the skills they needed.  They did very well, so congratulations to all involved.

A totally new subject now ….. Learner Services provides pre-entry guidance and information on a wide variety of areas to assist students as they begin their journey through Education. One of the most important areas is Student Funding. Historically we have given “Finance talks” to individuals or groups as they arrive for interview. This is crucial to students arriving in August prepared for the year ahead.

In order that we provide a consistent, clear and professionally delivered message to our applicants we decided to move from delivering a talk or a presentation to the production of 2 separate films (F.E. and H.E.). Not only do we feel that this will be more effective for our students on the day but it also allows us to place both films on our Website and Moodle. We can also e-mail the film to every student who has an offer with us and ensure that our applicants  who are interviewed in different campuses will not miss out.  Hopefully this will prove to be yet another improvement to the services we deliver for our students.

The filming process was not without its difficulties during scripting, filming or editing with several “difficult actors” to deal with. Red Dawnie Brasco Gillespie and Ryan O’Neil Gillen-haugh gave the studio particular difficulties and “will never appear in another one of my pictures again” according to Director Fraser Fellini Purdie.  If you would like to see these videos then go to the following links – FE Video or HE Video.

Now for our second student feature this week and this comes from James Tew a 2nd Year HND TV Production student..  James recent work has receive quite a bit of attention and he has kindly agreed to tell us about it.  The pictures with this section are stills from his film, as with all the other pictures they are captioned (just point with your mouse)

Helena, Renee and Me  –  In early March 2012 I began planning a documentary about my friend Renee. For nearly two years I had served her double gin and tonics and she always returned me absorbing conversation. Since I had met her she had been involved with helping other people; devising adult learning courses, hosting community radio shows, planning local fairs and all while remaining politically pro-active within the city of Aberdeen. These admirable traits were to form the main focus of my film.

Not long after ten oclock on the 2nd of this month I was awoken by my phone, it was Renee. She was talking faster than my morning ears could listen. What she was attempting to explain and what I was slowly beginning to understand was that in mid March she had successfully entered a shop window mannequin into Aberdeens upcoming local council elections. Furthermore, not only had the council and the police now discovered this remarkable example of electoral lampooning so too had the national press. That very day Renee and said mannequin had their very own full-page spread in the Scottish Sun newspaper. By the morning of the 3rd another entire page of the same red top had been dedicated to the story as Renee was now under investigation. Helena of Torry and her election agent Renee Slater were now well-recognised public figures. Consequently my documentary plans had to evolve, and so, Helena of Torry, named after her heroin Helen of Troy, became the joint centrepiece of the film alongside Renee. However, unlike her heroin who managed to somehow start a war by being a bit too pretty, Helena instead became the poster girl for an undercurrent of civil unrest that presently resonates among many Aberdonians.

By the morning of the 4th my name was appearing in the Sun. I had yet to begin filming and already I was haphazardly describing my intentions for ‘my forthcoming production’ to the nation through a tabloid newspaper. I would like to say this is what usually happens to me the week before I begin a college project but it really isn’t. Renee and her irrepressible enthusiasm for everything had brought me and Helena into the public eye……And so began the story of Renee, Helena and I( …..or possibly ‘& me’…still cant decide).

Principal photography began as soon as the newspaper coverage did. I felt compelled to capture my excitement and quickly a day-by-day video diary was underway. During this period I went on an extensive email offensive with Aberdeenshire council as my quarry.  Abruptly I discovered that no one would be willing to talk to me let alone give me an interview. Even with my overtly flowery rhetoric and wholesome promise to reveal all intended interview questions before the event, none could be persuaded. I did receive a multitude of email replies all of various differing lengths. The Chief Executive and Returning Officer for the election both politely declined in the usual convoluted bureaucratic manner expected of public officials, they got someone else to do it for them. A few of the candidates who, if all things had remained secret, would have been running in the same ward as Helena, also sent brief and to the point responses. However, two of these candidates did in fact send extensive replies in which they fully explained their reasons for not wishing to participate. The Aberdeenshire Police has yet to get back to me but as Helena’s bid for election is now being treated as a serious crime I believe they are legally bound to stay tight-lipped.

I arrived in Aberdeen on Monday the 9th and started filming; by the 14th as I was set to depart south I knew had just experienced one of the most rewarding weeks of my brief film-making career. The documentary is set to be finished late next month as I wish to include some facts and figures and any possible fallout from the elections on the 3rd of May.

Subsequent to the Union Terrace Gardens referendum, a subject I would encourage anyone interested in conservation and/or corruption to research further, many people in Aberdeen now harbour a strong disdain for the governing bodies in place in the city. Thus, whatever interpretation you may take from Renees person brand of satire there is something that cannot be denied. Renee and Helena have raised the profile of an event that would usually have to come to pass with a large majority of people preferring to ignore it. Now they are talking….”

Thank you to James, that was a really interesting piece.  James will be appearing on Sunny Govan Community Radio Station, on the Ash & Sev show. Very soon, a date hasn’t been set yet, but he will keep us updated.  You can see more of James’s work on his Vimeo and YouTube sites.

Finally this week Morven Thomson has some sweet news.  Last year we had a cake sale in aid of the MS Society, we raised an impressive £520.01. We were bowled over by everyone’s generosity and by the high quality of the baking we were given.  So much so that we are going to do it all again! We will be holding a Cake Sale Thursday 03 May 2012 in the College Foyer as part of their MS Society National Cake Break fundraising event. You can help us in three ways:

  • Bake for us, or bribe a loved one to bake. It can be anything that can easily be divided up and sold to an appreciative public and we won’t tell if you didn’t bake it yourself!
  • Save us any margarine or ice cream tubs etc for packaging the cakes in
  • Most importantly, come and buy some cakes, or lots of cakes

The aim of the fundraising event is to help the MS Society provide essential practical and emotional support, financial assistance and care to help people affected by Multiple Sclerosis and allow them to invest in vital research to find a cause and cure.  MS affects around 100,000 people in the UK with Scotland and Northern Ireland having the highest prevalence of the condition in the world. For more information on the MS Society and their work visit their website at:

Please have a go, all donations will be gratefully received whatever the shape or size.  Like the Lurpak advert says “It doesn’t matter if its squint, you don’t measure taste with a spirit level!”

Well that’s us, thanks for sticking with us through this long, news packed update and we hope to see you back next week.