Joe Greco – Freelance Cameraman and Editor on life in front and behind the camera.

 

Camera work

As a dancer, Joe Greco, worked on UK children’s TV shows as one of the ‘Pink Windmill Kids’ on ‘Emu’s World’ then as an actor on CITV shows such as ‘Spatz’, and ‘Spin Off’. Switching to production, he worked as an editor, before working in the corporate sector as a freelance cameraman. Along with his business partner, Tuhin Dasgupta, he has also established a web streaming production company called ‘Studio Stream’

Joe & Tuhin

You are now working on the other side of the camera, editing and directing in the corporate field. Is that side of production becoming more creative?

I left acting and went into editing. I got offered a job editing news content at Sky TV and loved it. Then I became a promo producer. It was great to explore the other side of production, but after 12 years of sitting in a dark room, I felt it was time for something different. I’m much happier as a Cameraman because I get to go out and about.

My business partner, Tuhin, is a motion graphics guru. The work can be creative at times and the companies we work for expect a high standard.

Studio Stream Setup

I’ve watched some corporate promos and some of them are like a mini action film.

A lot of work goes into corporate production. Tuhin works with After Effects and Premier Pro and he’s incredibly talented. I worked on Avid for ten years and then learnt FCP7 & FCPX.

Did you find Avid quite hard to work with?

At the time, Avid was the only non-linear editing system around for TV work. I was an Avid editor for ten years and to begin with I found it difficult, but after a few months I got the hang of it.

I use iMovie.

It doesn’t really matter what you edit on, they’re all just tools to tell a story.

Are you starting to branch out into the creative side? Such as Short films or writing.

I love doing that sort of stuff, but generally those projects are more a labour of love and sadly you don’t necessarily earn money that way. There’s always a crossover between what you’re passionate about and what pays the bills.

Do you write?

I have done and I love doing that kind of thing. It’s nice to have an idea to focus.

Can you tell me about the photo on Facebook with the traditional Chinese Fishermen?

Chinese Fisherman

A lot of the work we’re doing at the moment is for WPP and focuses on popular brands around the world. A huge amount of research goes into producing data about the most successful brands and how much they are worth and this gets compiled into the Global Top 100 brands. The data also looks at Indian and Chinese brands and I’m very lucky to have been able to visit these countries to film the people and see some of their culture. That photograph of the old fisherman was taken to show the contrast between the traditional and modern China.

That’s good that you got to travel to China and India.

Yes, it was an amazing experience but I also felt quite anxious about flying and travelling so far away.

Is it just planes that make you anxious?

Anxiety is something I’ve had all my life, since I was a child. It can manifest itself in different ways. I’m happy to say it’s a lot better than it used to be.

What is Studio Stream broadcasting?

We stream live webinars on YouTube. Generally, we have three cameras and we cut between them. I always wanted to be a vision mixer when I was a kid, now I’m finally getting to do it haha. Sometimes we film on green screen and create a virtual set behind the presenters and guests which we stream live. The technology is amazing.  Filming in Mumbai, India

What changes have you seen with production crews?

I think nowadays you are expected to do a lot more…operate cameras, record sound, produce and direct. The technology has facilitated this too. The other day, I operated an Osmo camera which is built around a gimbal. Your iPhone connects to it as amonitor and it becomes a Steadicam. It’s brilliant. I also bought my own wireless mics along as I needed to record high quality sound independently. Tuhin and I manage to do a lot between us, but we believe it’s far better to have people who are dedicated to certain roles as it improves production quality.

I’m going to get into the Pink Windmill stuff now.

In 2016, The Pink Windmill Kids intro from the 1980s TV series “Emus All Live Pink Windmill Show” went viral.

You’ve got fans worldwide. Maybe it’s the tonic everyone needed from an age where dancing in day glow leg warmers came with no sense of irony or archness just pure unadulterated fun.

I'm Joe To You

What’s your best memory of Emus World?

I shut it out of my life for a long time…30 years to be precise. As a kid, I loved being part of it, but when I reached my late teens, I became really embarrassed of how I looked in it. The 90s came along and everything was Urban and Hip Hop and in my mind, this just made it all look even worse. I thought if I could bury it and not let anyone know, then that would be the best thing. So, I never talked about it. I got asked once or twice if I was in it, but I denied it. Then this meme happened.

Did you happen upon the viral meme by chance or were you notified by someone else?

Old school friends shared it on Facebook and when they started to tag me and directly comment about me, there was no way I could ignore it. I wasn’t happy to begin with, but then I got messages from people all over the world – kids mainly – saying they loved it. Many said they had struggled to fit in and that watching us as kids had given them a sense of hope. We were a pretty odd group of kids, but also really relatable, it would seem.

I like the fact you were a group of multi-racial kids on prime time TV, in the 1980s.

Exactly. It was good and a lot of people have have commented on that. The meme made people laugh. Whether this was because they were poking fun at it or because they just loved it, it still seemed to have a positive effect. I couldn’t believe the way it took me on an emotional journey – I suddenly found myself accepting it and becoming passionate about it in a way that I could never have thought possible.

How did the other cast members react to getting together?

They found it really funny. We were all friends on Facebook and started a message group. The only people we couldn’t get hold of were Anthony and Lorraine.

And Spencer

Well, Spencer couldn’t do the remake, but he was part of the message group initially. Anthony wasn’t on social media and so we all thought he wouldn’t do it. We couldn’t get hold of Lorraine either. Catrina was in Australia, so she had to get a flight to the UK. I was so pleased that we managed to get everyone back together. We all felt like we were kids again.

It came at the right time.

Yes. Everyone was saying that 2016 was an awful year and that watching us as kids had a spread a bit of happiness. One person on social media said about the meme “thanks for saving 2016”. When I read that, I realised it was much more than just an embarrassing time from my childhood.

Rod Hull didn’t seem to stick to the script. Was he very off the cuff?

I guess he had to be as the phones were always going wrong. On the very first live show he called someone to play the ‘Spin Quiz’ and asked them what the weather was like? He thought their reply was “It’s sodding awful”, which he repeated, live on air. It wasn’t really that bad by today’s standards, but he had to apologise during the show as it was children’s TV.

Ha. Maybe it was the Australian in him.

Haha. Maybe!

How did you get onto the show?

I ended up going to stage school, as my mum thought I might get bullied at senior school. I was overweight from about 8 onwards and had already experienced a bit of bullying at my junior school and the senior comprehensive, that I was due to attend, didn’t have a great reputation. My sister, Mary, was already going to stage school and my mum suggested I try it. When I first started, I didn’t know how to dance or act or do any of that kind of thing.

That must have been quite a big leap.

Yes, it was. My sister had been dancing for years – she was one of the orphans in the stage production of “Annie” at the Victoria Palace – so I had a vague idea of what it was about, but I really learnt to dance while working on “Emus World” because the choreographer trained us so well.

Did ‘Emu’s World’ go on tour?

Yes, we would do Christmas shows and Summer Season…Skegness, Hastings etc. We did 6 weeks in Great Yarmouth and stayed in caravans.

What was that like?

It was hilarious. I can’t say we were angels, but when I look back at that summer of 1985 in Great Yarmouth, I now realise it was a time when a lot of us grew up.

Did you have a tutor?

We had a chaperone and were given homework if we were working during school time but Corona was a bit like St Trinian’s and so most of the time we got away with doing very little schoolwork.

Someone described the viral clip as a really adorable car crash that just keeps happening for two minutes – or words to that effect.

What other things have you heard about the meme?

That’s the best description I’ve heard. People have called it bizarre and disturbing and said we were all on drugs. At the time, we were told to smile and look like we were enjoying ourselves. I think Catrina might have taken it to an extreme.

The arms. Catrina went flying with it…and the eyes.

Yeah, her eyes are crazy. She’s definitely got druggy eyes (purely as a result of her over enthusiasm, I hasten to add!)

There’s been a lot of stuff said about it. There’s no sense of self consciousness.

We loved every second of it and maybe that’s what people see? When you are part of a dance group, you have to commit to it or it doesn’t work. We were so lucky that we had one of the best choreographers in the country, Alan Harding, teaching us the routines. He and his dancers were very well known on UK TV and his work included royal galas, countless TV series and spectaculars. Alan always had the same approach and didn’t treat it any differently, just because it was a kid’s TV show.

You recently reunited for a Red Nose day in aid of Comic Relief?

pink windmill remake

Now & Then

Comic Relief contacted us and asked if we would think about getting together and remaking the meme and there was no doubt in our minds about doing it. My business partner, Tuhin (who was also a Pink Windmill Kid from the earlier ‘Emu’s World’ series) filmed it for us and we felt really comfortable knowing he was going to produce it for Comic Relief. We recorded more of the routine, but didn’t have any of the outside sections, such as Catrina and the girls on the front of the bikes, Hugh’s bit with the helmets and my back bend in front of the mansion. Before I die, I would still like to film all that.

I wonder how Catrina feels about that?

She said there was no way she would be getting on the handlebars of a bike. Don’t worry, I think I can talk her round.

Anything else planned?

Joe 2

Not at the moment. It was lovely to revisit our youth and it’s something that not many people get to do in their lives, so I consider myself to be very lucky. Getting back together with the other “kids” and recreating a part of my childhood will probably go down as one of the highlights of my life – not only because I got to travel back to 1984, but because it finally helped me accept myself and, for that, I am truly grateful.

https://joegreco.wixsite.com/actor

 

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