Ben Norman

Stepping up next in the Jungletechno hot seat, is 'Up The Cut' productions:
Ben Norman.
Ben Norman produces directs and also is one of the Camera men you can find filming yourself at many of the raves including Accelerated Culture, Slammin vinyl Hardcore Til I Die just to name a few.

1. What was the first rave that you went to?

My first rave was only a few years ago. Helter Skelter in March 2002 at the Sanctuary, MK. People think I've been around for longer but it hasn't been that long really.

2. What made you decided to get involved within the scene?

When I first started goin' ravin I was already interested in making videos in school and I wasn't at my first rave for very long before I decided it was a great place to make videos in.

3. When did you decide to get your camera out and start filming raves?

My mate and I used to make crazy videos for the school broadcast that went out to every classroom tele' in the school, every Tuesday morning.
We did little skits at the local town club and then did an up and coming drum 'n bass night in Northampton where we first hooked up with Garry K.
Cut a long story short, a couple of months later Garry invited us up to The Code in Birmingham for Skelters' launch night (June 02). I met up with Mark Lambert who runs Sidewinder and he offered me the job of website photographer.
Shortly after, I left college and bought my first video camera and basic PC. Before long I was doing Event Coverage Video's and artist documentaries with Slammin' Vinyl.

4. Who are your favourite DJ's and MC's?

That's always a hard one. I suppose on a personal note, there's a few names that work with us and give up their time to support the cause, as far as presenting and hosting for the DVDs is concerned, so most of my respect goes to those guys.
As for artists themselves, that's the hard bit. I tend to appreciate different sounds and styles really, rather than artists themselves. That's what I think is great about the underground dance scenes at the moment, there's so many different sounds being produced, so it all depends on what mood your in. That way it never gets boring.

5. How long does it take to master the DVDs, once they've been filmed to the final cut? What is involved in this process?

We shoot on a small collection of professional and semi-professional Mini-DV Video Cameras and edit on PC usin' Adobe Premiere Pro.
Firstly, the nights' shooting - leave at about 7-ish. The editing takes about a week on average. The different camera angles have to be synced together and them synced to DAT - (the audio recording from the night) and then it gets encoded for the DVD itself and menus have to be built. Once a master DVD is ready it then gets sent to a Duplication Company to be copied, about 300 times on average. It then gets put with the tape-packs and distributed to the shops.
The tape-packs can get done a lot quicker than the video, so the DVDs are now being put into the pack for the following event so it doesn't slow things down.

6. You are responsible for editing the DVD's and video's, there must be stuff you've filmed you wouldn't want to end up on the videos. What is the craziest thing you've managed to capture on video?

Surprisingly, we don't actually get as much crazy footage in the videos as you'd expect. And most of it we put in the DVD anyway! We've had the odd flasher from the front of the Drum 'n Bass arena as well as the odd mooney from the Techno room. But I think the best one was from an event at the Sanctuary.
I had a cameraman on stage shooting into the crowd - I was between the barrier and the stage talkin to someone I hadn't seen for ages - as you do - and gestured to the cameraman to get a shot of the two of us.
Back in the studio the footage came out really dark and you could just about make out what was going on by the occasional single flash of strobe that filled the place with enough light to see things clearly.
About three feet back from us there was this generously sized girl, and in one of the flashes, that lasted about a twelfth of a second, you could see that she'd pulled down her overstretched boob tube to reveal these shockingly obscene baps.
Now, that itself isn't what I found funny, It's the fact that as it happened so quickly, not a single person either side of her realised, at any point.
Incidentally, nor did the cameramen. To be honest I forgot to mention it to him, so if your reading this Terry Fromant, shout out to you for that one… Shocking!

7. Do promoters have a major influence on the final cut?

Depends on the promoter. The DVD isn't a crucial part of the whole running of things so a lot of the time we're left to make our own decisions. As long as it looks good it's doing its job. The ideas and decisions come from us nearly every time.
Which is just the way we like it really, we're always revising the way we work and trying to find new ways of making our efforts more efficient. You've only got to look at last years' Drum 'n Bass Awards DVD and the one we've just done.
But we're always looking for new ways to make them better, we're bound by budget and equipment and are all too aware that they could be a hell of a lot better than they are now. We just keep at it, suggestions and criticism is always welcome.

8. Which has been your favourite rave, and event you enjoyed filming?

The best rave for me was probably Slammin's Outdoor Experience 2003. Perfect summers' day, everyone was on it, DJs, MCs and everyone was just feelin that outside business, Never forget it.

9. You were given the task of filming the first drum and bass weekender abroad in Barcelona for Innovation. With three nights of filming how did you decide what to feature?

We aimed to get a good selection of set coverage as usual and tried to capture that feelin from the artists and the ravers. The best rave last year by far. Absolutely unparalleled and you could tell when you were out there. We had a few teething problems on that event but it was all part and parcel of a first-time-abroad shoot. If you're going to go on holiday this year and want to rave as well, go to Innovation.

10. Apart from filming and producing, what other projects does "Up The Cut" take on?

At the moment we're busy enough in the rave scene, we've got enough planned to keep us busy for a few months with different ideas and a few more goals to aim for. I know there's more money in wedding videos, but hey!, who wants to do that for a living?

11. Is there an event that you would have loved to have filmed from back in the day, and why?

As I haven't been around long, there aren't many legendary long-gone events that I was aware, but John Triple Ex is a good friend of mine and we always talk about when the rave scene was at it's height, back in the day, and to be fair I do wish that I'd got into it earlier.

12. You film the raves covering both hardcore and drum and bass arenas, which is your preferred style of music?

My preferred style of music is Drum'n Bass, my roots of dance music comes from some of the more darker tech' step drum and bass such as Renegade Hardware and Sinuous Records, as well as the really chilled stuff like Omni Trio and Kid Loops.
The Hardcore scene is still really important for me. All my early video experience is with Hardcore Heaven where we soon got to know a lot of the big names through doing little independent profiles with artists. I suppose it's the scene itself that I love most about Hardcore, the ravers are much more fun to shoot, they just have it from start to finish, there's not another atmosphere like it.

13. Which is your favourite rave video that you have produced to date and why?

The Republic of Bass 2K4 - The Drum and Bass Awards. Not because it's one of the most recent things but because it was a wicked venue, we were well prepared, everyone was on it and it just all came together really well. It'll take a while before we can top that one. Check it out.

14. Obviously whilst filming at a rave how do you react when you hear a mind blowing tune going off and you've got a £1000 in your hands?

It's really inspiring. It's like DJing in a way, you're often looking for the crowds reactions and the more everyone else has it, the more you've got to work with. It's a real rush to stand there and see the MCs getting the shout-back's from the crowd and the DJ bouncin' away behind the decks, it's probably why I'm guilty of getting a lot of stage coverage during sets, its where it's all happening

15. What are your plans with "Up The Cut" in 2005?

Future plans. Well, we've got plans for the future and moving into different areas of video, still to do with raves, but other than Event Coverage DVDs.
But, it's really important on a question like this to tell you who Up The Cut really is. We hire in different cameramen on a regular basis but UTC is never less than a double team and that other person is Katy Jarman. Katy and I have worked together for about two years now, to date, and all the decision-making is done between us two. I don't tell her enough to be honest but Up The Cut Productions owes a lot of its success to her.
We've been formulating ideas to move out of Event DVDs in the future and move into working with artists themselves. A short profile documentary on individuals is really where it's at. Spending much more time on short films that you could actually say you've learnt something from. Both in the Drum and Bass and Hardcore we're going to try and push some well known faces onto some sky channels starting off with their own websites, so keep your ear to the ground.

16. Top ten tunes (in any order)

Ten of my favourite tunes.
Two of them are Hardcore tracks and they've got to be:
'Makin' me wanna dance' and most of all 'Set you free' both on Quosh

The other 8 would have to be:
Bad Company - The Nine
Resonant Evil - Troubleshoot
Muffler - Falli
DJ Promo - Twilight
Ska (Remix)
SPL - Glimmer
Capone - Signs
and there's a tune SS has been playing that's got like a double kick on every four beats - don't know what it is obviously, but it fuckin movin'!

Cheers for taking time out to do the interview would you like to give people some shouts.

I Don't really do shout outs, but a massive shout to all my family and friends.

I'd like to personally thank Ben Norman for taking his time out to carry out this interview.

You can catch the "Accelerated Culture, The Republic of Bass 2k4,Drum and Bass Awards 2004" DVD within the Helter Skelter Life Drum and Bass pack out very soon.

January 2005

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Words By Nitesh / Xtra-C Flashbackin' & Rewindin'