Saturday, 14 January 2017

U.D.E- hitting the DADARAS Studio in Bristol!

Norris B, Macky and Jaz
Macky Mcpherson, Leah Williams and myself recently went on a trip to Bristol representing Urban Delight Entertainment. There were three main purposes:

  • To listen to Norris B's album pre-release
  • Meet producer Uri Green and other members of the Yam & Banana record label at Dadaras Studio
  • Speak about U.D.E's the operation with a view to Uri Green joining Team Urban Delight
We had a fantastic and fruitful time once we conquered the traffic pile up on the M4- luckily it didn't come to a halt so we arrived at our destination in daylight! I have to say that it's always a joy seeing Norris who has such a broad smile permanently plastered across his face. You just have to feel good!

Macky with Uri - Yam & Banana single
Dadaras studio has a really good vibe about it and clearly is first and foremost a place where good music is generated. Just a nothing fancy, down to business atmosphere in which music can easily be created.

Shortly after arriving and taking a quick peep in the sound boothe, once we were settled Macky went into detail regarding Urban Delight Entertainment's ethos and operation. I have to say that the business is based on a solid platform and Macky is very astute when it comes to identifying artists' needs and providing a full service that will help artists achieve their potential. U.D.E. also enters into partnerships that are designed to help associated businesses to expand.
Macky, Jaz, Leah & Simba
On to the music. Norris's album is quite a gem and I was surprised to hear just how versatile he is. I will review the album on a different occasion however will say that Uri has done a wonderful job with the production; and the musicians who contributed to the album have definitely been a great asset, helping Norris to create a top quality product- another tick on the dream list!

As yet the album title has not been confirmed and is currently open to discussion. Art work is ready to go and we're in the final throes of preparation and selecting release dates. Macky will continue to visit Bristol and explore further how the businesses can work together and benefit one another.

I must say, it is very interesting following the development of U.D.E. and we have far more to bring you throughout 2017 and beyond.

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician Contact:

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year- those three little words that fly around the world on the stroke of midnight once a year- and for a few days either side! We embrace huge hopes at the beginning of the year whilst having absolutely no idea as to what will materialise. 2016 was very challenging and upsetting with political changes creating worldly turmoil, natural disasters leaving destruction in their wake and, unusually, the loss of so many much loved celebrities; making the world a very different place for individuals and especially those who love popular music. 2017 will probably be equally challenging but let’s hope it takes a different turn and will be a year to embrace despite the current reservations harboured by many.

Ultimately each year will vary due to individual expectations and achievements combined with natural occurrences and world events. Whilst we must be concerned with other people’s plight and the horrors that have arisen, particularly in relation to hatred and poverty, we still have to pay attention to ourselves. It’s a well-known fact that we need to care for ourselves before we can look out for others. Obviously when disasters occur help is needed therefore we need to be compassionate and spend time in prayer, make donations and do anything else within our power. The same applies to all causes or situations that touch our hearts, but the more we grow the more we have to offer.

My experience found 2016 to be a year of great learning curves that ended extremely well as I finally moved into my new home which in itself was highly rewarding. 2016 provided valuable lessons building on the previous 3 years which has helped re-mould certain personal characteristics. I have a much deeper understanding of patience and timing, realising that we can easily apply expectations where we should simply be stating our dreams and leaving the rest to the universe- whilst going about our daily business. Must add, I haven’t actually conquered the ability to be patient however I can look at situations with a deeper appreciation for the way they unfold. Also, if we were given everything we want on demand we would be spoilt and unappreciative; we may also not be ready and could end up worse off!

The New Year tends to be the time when we look at the past and plan for the future, but let’s not forget the present. Ultimately living in the moment is very important and we need to grasp the full meaning and feeling of this rather than paying lip service to such a statement. Enjoy as many moments as you can, relishing the fun and excitement of life, building up your memory bank. During times when we're facing upsets, pain or fear, we need to grasp that life is always a matter of moments. 

We can help ourselves to cope better by recalling our good memories for little bursts of happiness to support us through the bad times and build up our endurance. Working through these difficult moments is easy to say and yet may feel impossible when faced with sudden loss or other major upheavals. So often we are faced with the unexpected, but sometimes even when we know huge life changes are on the cards it’s difficult to accept when that time comes. 

People are creatures of habit on the whole, often finding change difficult, so it is good to regularly challenge yourself even in small ways by stepping into the ‘uncomfortable zone.’ I think a good resolution for 2017 is to make more of yourself; grow in thought, ability and expand in as many ways as possible. I say this because it is hard to make the best of yourself- in fact, it’s impossible! People are works in progress and if you don’t wish to be a work in stagnation or decline, push those boundaries and most importantly, have fun doing so.

Jaz McKenzie~ TheWord Magician  Email:

Monday, 12 December 2016

The Genius of XFactor- and Matt Terry singing One Day I'll Fly Away

The XFactor grabbed the world’s attention many years ago and whilst its popularity appears to wain at times, sufficient millions continue to follow this show every year, securing its future.

The XFactor has become an institution of hope for many would be pop stars and provides the best tuition and experience possible; fast tracking a potential career with regular input, feedback and encouragement from the best in the industry. Every year genuine talent appears to be overlooked and excellent singers quickly fall by the wayside. We know there are very strict rules, regulations and commitments contestants need to adhere to, therefore they may have difficult decisions to make before they undertake the full process- and of course, many people believe it is rigged!

What I find interesting is that the finals always have outstanding contestants regardless of their starting points, which can appear fairly average. I think this reinforces our understanding that if you want something badly enough and are committed to it, it will happen. The nurturing I have already mentioned, coupled with self-belief enables the judges to produce first class singers on a regular basis. The same applies to all types of talent shows, including Britain’s Got Talent, where there is less mentoring as the show runs for a shorter period. Sometimes we wonder what happened with contestants from this particular show. What we can learn is that our determination enables us to tap into our desires and train up our genius until we attain a level that others notice and may even envy- you just have to find the platform that suits you.

The XFactor is genius, whether you love it or hate it, successfully taking talent shows to a whole new level by entering the international league. Everyday people are eagerly accepted especially when they are chronic singers and can make us laugh or cringe. This is why the show is so appealing and partly why The Voice cannot compete. The length of the show enables us to get to know the contestants and really embrace their journeys. We have been given an app to download so can judge for ourselves- and we all know that the man in the street is an expert! Public opinion has forced the judges to keep contestants that they had just rejected, with the wild card allowing judges time to reflect upon their own decisions.

This year Nicole Scherzinger showed her brilliance with her choice of songs for Matt Terry- possibly a joint effort. Purple Rain was a pretty genius move this year as were the Bond movie hit song by Sam Smith and the use of, ‘One Day I’ll Fly Away.’ This song has spearheaded John Lewis’s Christmas advertising campaign which is undeniably one of the best advertisements ever. Once Matt’s songs started to roll you knew he had won despite awesome competition from Saara Aalto and 5 after Midnight.

I think there are many more years left in the Xfactor and the return of Sharon Osborne and Louis Welsh was a great game move. It will be interesting to see how ITV develop The Voice now they have taken over the rights for the show, after all, it’s time the XFactor benefits from some real competition.

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician Contact:

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Whatever you Believe you will Receive- But there's not necessarily a time scale!

We are currently living in a time during which the human race has acquired general knowledge of the law of attraction; secrets previously in the domain of the world's richest people and those who naturally stumbled into that way of thinking- leaving the majority of us to believe in 'The System.'

'The Secret,' as it has become known is simply an explanation of another natural law, the law of attraction, which is as fundamental as the law of gravity. From a human perspective the law of attraction is much harder to understand than the law of gravity. If you are standing on a ladder and let go of your paintbrush it will fall; apples drop from the tree; and we understand that gravity does not work in outer space- after all we have seen this on our TV's. A key point for consideration is that we walk down the road because of gravity and it doesn't matter whether we understand it or not, gravity happens.

The law of attraction is exactly the same. Whether we understand it or not the law of attraction is operating at all times. It is not selective, but programmed to tune into our thoughts and do their bidding. Once we realise this we do not need the proverbial genie to grant our wishes because we have the power to change our lives and our destiny. If on the other hand we choose to focus on our woes we will lead pretty miserable lives.

On paper this sounds great! We want it, we think about it long and hard and eventually it happens- right? Not exactly because nothing happens without action. If you sit in a room without any external contact you cannot survive, but if someone brings you food, drink etc you could lead an exceptionally quiet existence. Most of our dreams exceed the very basic levels of desire as we tend to want relationships, nice homes, good jobs, holidays and so forth. Some of these are within our means and others require a huge stretch of the imagination and leap of faith to acquire. We need to learn how to work with the law of attraction and maintain our faith in it. The more attention we give to something the more the universe will deliver. If you think of yourself as poor you are not very likely to become rich. If you don't have much money but place value on other aspects of life and be grateful, your circumstance may well change. This is why it's good to focus on what we enjoy.

One of the things I have learnt during my recent journey is that the universe can't be hurried. It has taken me three years before being granted the dream of my own home once again. Like many people, I found it more than challenging leaving a long term relationship and family home to start over. Life in one room was such a contrast and learning to live by myself and to work out who I am was incredibly difficult. There were many times during that period when I could have lost faith and become extremely depressed but that would have been a huge backwards step. Obviously there were many stumbling points and frustrations but that is where I had to practice changing my mood and thoughts. Extremely difficult but we have a choice within every moment and can usually find something to focus on that's a slight improvement. Music is therapy, talk can be too provided you move on from the misery! Sometimes just putting on the TV and making an effort to focus on a programme can help. As time went by I came to realise that you can get back on track quite quickly when you let go of anger, frustration and worry. Things really do have a way of sorting themselves.

My present move resulted in around a year of stress with 6 months dedicated to purchasing my new flat and there were struggles every inch of the way; new dilema's presenting themselves constantly including a last minute fuss by the vendor when I was due to collect the keys. The interesting part about all of this is that had life moved more quickly I would have remained in the renting sector, so patience and timing have proved to be blessings. I truly believe that universal timing is highly tuned to a frequency beyond our knowing. These two factors- patience and timing have been the core lessons I have learnt during the past three years. Allowing is the third and I'm still working on it!

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician Contact:

Monday, 14 November 2016

Gloria Gaynor -- I Will Survive [[ Official Video ]] HD

Gloria Gaynor's song, 'I Will Survive' strikes at the heart of our fears. When we have been in a relationship for an extended period it can be difficult to imagine our lives alone. The lyrics in this song are particularly powerful- As long as I know how to love I know I'll stay alive! This is a highly spirited line that unleashes our inner power and embraces that well known phrase, 'love conquers all.'

How do we survive life's traumas? Usually by going through a grieving process during which our minds process the relationship- we can gauge where we are according to the thoughts that surface. Many break ups ride on the back of bad feeling and we may have to deal with a torrent of issues before we are able to face another relationship. So often people find strengths they did not know they possessed, or skills and capabilities that have been subdued as they were no longer exercised; this might include dealing with finance for example. Occasionally we gain new skills once we are single and need to sort out our lives ourselves. You might become better organised or even more sociable as your life-style changes.

Music is important in life and something we turn to equally in times of happiness or our worst moments. It helps us to express ourselves therefore has qualities that may be easier to relate to than in other art forms such as dance or paintings.

There are many excellent songs out there but 'I Will Survive,' is special. It has become an anthem that will stand through time immemorial. We have all had occasion to sing it. If you are in a vulnerable situation you can really draw strength from this song and hopefully re-kindle self belief. I think many of us have been thankful for the way it raises a bitter or sad spirit, awarding Gloria Gaynor notoriety as possibly the undisputed karaoke queeen!

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician Contact:

Saturday, 5 November 2016

African Fashion & Culture Extravaganza 2016- Photo Blog

I loved this event and really wish to share the latest fashion that reaches our shores from the Hebrew/African community in Israel. Featured designers have chosen to build upon their heritage and culture as opposed to incorporating Western fashion ideas into their garments. The outfits are stunning and one noticeable difference in the public presentation is the lack of accessories and high heels! Models undertaking the African 'Lioness Walk' do so far more naturally, exchanging inner pride for the commercial swag of our more familiar 'Catwalks.'

With designer Irit Gordon
Late October, award winning designers Irit Gordon and Heletiyah Mercer recently flew to London from Israel along with fellow designers Zahaveya, Autura and Sureyah. It is evident that these gifted young people have transformed African fashion into a product that, in my view, is internationally appealing.

Simply stylish in beautiful turquoise

All of the collections are founded on traditional African fabrics to suit purpose, and cultural traits are combined with exciting forward looking concepts creating everyday designs and special occasion wear. Menswear is generally slick and frequently embellished with quality details. Women's wear is far more flambouyant and colourful.

I have to say that it was very refreshing to see both designers and everyday people modelling the clothing as opposed to specially chosen models. This fitted in well with the ethical style of the whole event, the aim of which was to share fashion and educate people in the Afro-Israeli community's holistic approach to life; We watched a video outlining the importance of African hair and the progression of natural hair designs from slavery, following through with popular afro's and leading on to intricate plaits and designs. We were also informed about the need for natural fabric underwear- yes I get it but am not a convert!

Family Time!
Most cultures enjoy dressing mother and daughter alike however this is a great tradition within the Worldwide African community, especially at weddings when selected reams of material are used by the entire family, being styled individually. Above, we have a very feminine, modern look whereby mother and daughter have little half skirts adding a cute touch to their outfits. Once again the material is simply gorgeous.

Now it's the guys turn to strike a pose! First up we have the mature men who come with flair and experience-
Sheer Elegance!

Sports Outfit- intricately grand
This particular sports outfit is definitely best displayed by the more robust model, enabling us to appreciate the complexity of the design.

As beautiful as a butterfly! This dress has great appeal- a beautifully detailed bodice and very full skirt displaying an eye-catching geometric design set against a soft russet shade. Definitely adore this garment and one for the wardrobe.

Cheeky angel!
We were informed that white is a very popular colour and, as in the West, it is often used for special occasions. Whereas the second design is more classically oriented, the top design receives kudo's for invetiveness- who would have expected a pop  out African woman on a trouser leg! Fabulous fabric and fashion concept.

With award winning designer Heletiyah Mercer 
We'll progress to a few more ladies wear designs, definitely elegant and stunningly beautiful. Some great occasion wear here and Irit looks amazing modelling here evening wear design, set to flatter tall, shapely women.


And to finish off with, some male detail which will appeal to many of my Facebook friends! When you are speaking status, Africa and Lions are a must. Here we have two outfits designed to make an absolute staement and create impact. Simple from the front, but once their backs are turned you know the models enjoyed harbouring that element of surprise!

I really hope you have enjoyed viewing these designs through my less than brilliant camera lens, and this occasion was definitely a great addition to the British Black History Month. In fact, the African Fashion Show and Cultural extravaganza was listed amongst the top 50 events to attend at Black History Month this year! I hope that the work of these talented designers will make its mark on the ethnic fashion scene and beyond. You can find more of the designers work here: Irit Gordon Designs

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician Contact:

Friday, 14 October 2016

Malcolm Benson speaking about his award winning film RETURN OF THE DON! (Interview- Part 2)

Right, on to Return Of The Don. How gangster are you Malcolm? Zero. I’m not a gangster at all but I feel that in films you have to solve social issues. You have to look at why you are making the film. You have to think why people would even bother to look at the film- what issue are you trying to address; is it having any impact or are you just trying to make an impact for no particular reason? To me, I have followed the issue of gun crime and gang issues of young people in this country and if this is the only way I can shed a bit of light on it without glamourizing the gang, then so be it. To me, it’s saying these are the issues our politicians and the government are not really addressing properly. The only time we hear about gangs and gun crime is when another young person is shot dead and it comes on TV, we hear about it and after that it ends; nothing else happens. You see young people who are tagged as bad people but what have you done for them to help them get out of crime? They are being used as criminals to facilitate criminal acts and they are vulnerable because they have nothing better to do. What can the government do to change their way of life? Even if what they are doing is there it’s not good enough to solve the issues. With film you can actually shed some light and leave it to those young people to use their intelligence to say, ‘those are the likely consequences of my actions and I might be able to learn one or two things from this.’ To me, I’m more or less trying to highlight the issue of domestic violence. We need to make films that address issues like that which people are not fully aware of. We see people everyday but we are not aware of what they are going through at home. With film we’re not going to change the world but we are going to expose some of those things so people can get some kind of help through the film.

MA Benson & Aida Emeliya Nova
I think the film is proper gangster! You can imagine the Cray Twins or something like that. What sort of research did you have to do to recreate the authentic gangster feel?  I have researched and watched other gangster films. In the beginning I was watching just as entertainment but when it comes to actually making my film I watched those films again to see the meaning of why things happen, the under-pinning rationale behind some of the actions the characters took. I was looking at it as if it was a documentary, as a learning process rather than just watching a film. If someone is watching a film just to entertain themselves and someone brings out a gun they can sit there saying, 'Kill him, kill him,' because they are into the film and not interested in the moralities of who is being victimised or whatever. But when you’re trying to address an issue you’ve got to read between the lines and try to understand. I have researched films like The Godfather, Wolf of New York and a few more from Hollywood and the UK. There was a documentary I saw with Trevor McDonald where he did some good grass roots research into gangsters on ITV and the way he explored really helped my research as he was telling what happens and why they do what they do. Those are the people who have been gangsters for a long time and have come out of it and are telling their story of why and what they did and what it means to them now that they are no longer gangsters. That helped me a lot. I’m not really into gangster films but I looked at them for the purpose of what I want to achieve.

Return of the Don has a very intriguing story line and is unpredictable. Is that how your mind is? Do you keep on squirreling with ideas? My mind is very reflective. I know I’m serving a purpose and with the way the film’s gone so far what’s come back to me is what I put out there… what it’s going to do and the potential it has. I feel its self-actualisation has been established where you have something in your mind, your goal in life and you feel you have done it. It hasn’t been very easy at all but you are able to do it. I kind of sit back and enjoy all the things that come with the film- all the thoughts, the reflections,  the learning curves and  the people I’m  meeting through the film; the generic overall, so I’m sitting back reflecting and it helps me to face any challenge I will come across.
Steve McTigue and Paul Van Beaumont
Right, you have your script together and you’re about to cast. What kinds of things are you looking for in your actors? I always believe and look for genuine actors who are natural. People that understand what a character is all about; not just performers. These are different things. Performers are just performing but they do not understand the under pinning rationale behind how that character was created. It’s not about you as a person, it’s about the character. Are you able to be that character and bring that character to life? If a character is supposed to be a psychopath, you might not be a psychopath yourself as an individual, but you need to understand that when you become that character you have to become a psychopath. You cannot be a normal human being pretending to become a psychopath, it’s two different things- pretending to be something and being something. The person that played my psychopath was Aida Emeliya Nova and she’s Eastern European. When you see a character, especially when you have written or are directing the film, a character that hits the button- I kind of feel that this is a talent I have. I have a good eye for picking characters and it just comes very naturally to me. I see a script, read it, see the development of the characters then I see a person wanting to be that character and you can easily tell if they can do it. I could have been a casting director as I have cast my few films really well. I have had help from casting directors but they haven’t taken over and I have always picked good actors. My film, Ortega and His Enemies won best actor and best actress in Beverley Hills Film Awards, Darrell Las Quevas, Ortega and Adi Alfa who played Sarah have both done very well in other projects.

Amanda Lara Kay
Did the actors take the characters in slightly different directions to the way you had anticipated? Yes, again it’s about give and take in production where the director gives the actor and the actor gives the director ideas in return. It’s where the actor understands what the director is trying to achieve and not what the actor wants to achieve. My actors, I really love them to bits because they come in with a lot of great ideas but they want to know, what do you want? So they give you options and do not come and say, ‘this is how I see this character.’ It’s not how you see it, it’s how the director sees it so basically my actors came on and for example one of the mafia wives, Amanda Lara Kay, she played Dana Ackerman, she came in and said, ‘what accent do you want?’ She gave me different options  and she’s English and I just wanted to keep it that way but at least she was able to offer different accents and it’s great that she’s thinking outside the box. What really thrilled me is how Steve McTigue was able to become this Jack Ackerman to the full potential of what Jack’s supposed to be. The voice  he brought in- I didn’t tell him anything about that voice but he gave me the way Jack sounded and that was his original creation so I very happily embraced it. He nailed that and he was able to keep it going, not forgetting how the voice sounded, and he was able to come back tomorrow or next week and speak like Jack Ackerman. When it comes to looks I wanted Jack to wear a hat and dress in suits so he’s more the part which he did and it was really well delivered.

You opened up with a helicopter. Where did the inspiration for that come from? Well at the end of the day we have to recognise that this is a film entertainment industry. We have to entertain as well as tell the story. You don’t just go, you give people something to catch their imagination from that opening sequence. If it’s ten seconds, or fifteen minutes- whatever, the opening has to have something to get their attention or you’ll probably lose your audience. We need to come in in a big way and make an impact. That’s getting the commercial value for the film. When you are flying in a helicopter people will know you’re not just broke detectives. When you’re looking at gangsters that are controlling the city you want to come in air, land and sea. They’re coming in on a helicopter because they’ve got to survey the area, make sure it’s safe and that no one’s hiding somewhere and then you land. It shows the commercial element so the audience takes your film seriously. That was the rationale behind the original script and we had to embed it in.

Return Of The Don is doing well with twenty two award nominations isn’t it. Yes, twenty two and counting at the moment; it’s been amazing. I’ve got the Canada International Film Festival Awards exceptional merit. I have the Hollywood International Moving Pictures award and I actually won them, not just nominations, and I won accolades. Some producers and directors who have won accolades have actually gone on to win Oscars, so I kind of feel Okay, perhaps it’s an indication that one day, just one day I might win an Oscar. Never say never. I have to think big and dream big- who knows. Depth of Field Film International Awards, LA and it just goes on. The whole list are on my website. London Independent Film Festival awards, Festival International, Cannes- I went to Cannes twice to premier the film. It’s still rolling and I’ll be heading to L.A. and am expecting something out of it. The nominations just keep coming; what can I say?

Amey StCyr Paul Van Beaumont Aida Emeliya Nova Lucien Morgan

So what’s your plan for Return Of The Don? You’ve had your premier at the Imax Cinema Waterloo so what are the next moves? Return Of The Don, I do have a distributor for the U.K. and we are looking to distribute from October, that’s the plan. This is for the cinema and we’re finalising everything we need. We have a strategy for distribution and it’s more like limited theatrical that we have planned for now to kick off with before we go full scale, depending on how the limited one goes. I’ve got another screening booked for 12th November at the Genesis Cinema, Mile End. That will be a very special release for those who didn’t see the actual premier at the BFI Imax. People can book straight away so tickets don’t run out like they did at the BFI one; they can go online and book that one. We have distribution for Japan and Hong Kong at the moment and that is for video on demand. We are also targeting the United States. I had an invitation by the New World Cinemas to premiere the film in New York and we’re still talking about that to see how realistically it will pan out. But my main focus at the moment is to get the film out there and to really get enough eyeballs to see the film. That’s the whole idea. I’m more interested in mass distribution, bearing in mind that I got number 23 in the UK box office for the opening weekend. It would have been great to keep that momentum going but based on the advice I had it was decided to delay the distribution till October so that we can gather some energy while we get the plans put together. I’m always open to advice when working with other people. It’s all about teamwork, yeah.

When you’re saying you’re 23 at the box office is that up against all of the big blockbuster movies as well? Absolutely, that is absolutely correct. We were up against all the films that were screened in the UK that weekend. The entire film figures were reported to Box Office Mojo and other figures were reported through agencies, so Return Of The Don is there on record- number 23 UK Box Office, and is accessible for Friday 17th June on Box Office Mojo, for that weekend.

How did you feel when you saw that your film had reached number 23 on the billboard? It was an amazing moment and I couldn’t quite believe it. You never know what the figures are like with the others and always assume that all these big blockbuster films will be on top and you’re gonna be right at the bottom. So when I looked at the films I saw Return Of The Don had passed I was thinking, with all of the money they pour into these films how can this happen? Obviously I was thrilled and at the same time encouraged because my film that had no known actors whatsoever could get in the record books because at the end of the day it’s always referenceable. Anyone can flag it up, it’s not deletable. What was at number one? I don’t remember! And has it been done before? It might well have but I would have to do deeper research to see, but I was very excited.

Your final words Malcolm? Making a film is not rocket science, all it takes is enthusiasm.

Big thanks to Malcolm and we wish him much continued success with Return Of The Don and his film making career!

Link to part 1: My Reality

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician Contact: