Yesterday Jamie (who DP'd True Strength and Urban Youth) and I went off to do some R&D/make a sizzle reel for a project we're shooting through the summer.
Check out the teaser for my latest project, a spec commercial for Lonsdale.
Earlier this year I entered a film competition called Straight 8 on a bit of a whim. I'd hadn't heard of the competition before, but on the evening that entry for it opened a friend pointed me in its direction and said (in not so many words) that I should give it a go. We settled on a deal that if I entered the competition he'd shoot the project for me since I hadn't shot anything on film before.
The rules of the competition were that you had to shoot your whole film on one super 8mm cartridge, editing it in camera. You then sent off your film to be processed and entered into the competition without having even seen a single frame. The jury would then pick a selection of films to be shown either at Cannes or in London this year.
We shot the project, called Urban Youth, which doubled as a music video for the artist Alice Jemima's song 'So' back in early March. So it's been a fair while waiting to find out if what we shot even came out or if the whole film was crazy over/under exposed. But last night they released their Straight 8 selection and I was super happy to see that Urban Youth made the 2017 London selection and will be premiered on the big screen in June!
I bought myself a compact rangefinder camera last week. For the last year or so I've been shooting pretty much exclusively on 35mm film, or for much of my day to day stuff - my iPhone. But as you can imagine it's not really that practical trying to shoot everything on 35mm (if it was I would) since it's expensive to use and more importantly a really expensive learning tool, especially since taking photos is just a hobby for me. And the iPhone is okay, it's been my top camera for the last year in many ways, the best camera is the one you've got on you or something like that right?
I've been wanting a compact fixed lens camera since this time last year and finally saved up enough money and excuses to buy myself one as a Christmas present this year.
I've set myself the challenge to carry it around with me everywhere, like I would my iPhone or 35mm, and try to take a few photos through the day. The aim is to take them as I go, but if I've got to go out of my way to find the time then that's fine as well.
But to cut to the chase here, since getting the camera I've had a sudden interest in fashion photography mainly due to this guy - Luca Rossini.
He has some photos that really grabbed me.
So I thought, why don't I give it a go myself? I dropped my friend Jemima a line and asked if she'd be keen to model for me while she's back in Bath for a few weeks and we went from there.
I'm writing this on the evening of our shoot day and I can safely say it was a hell of a lot of fun. Challenging for sure, I felt like a real lemon at our first location not having a clue what to do (to be honest I still didn't by the end of the day), but so much fun.
I've uploaded a few select photos from the day below.
About a month ago I wrote this:
"Later this month I'm going to be shooting my first music video. Which is pretty crazy exciting but also a little daunting.
I've been wanting to shoot a music video for the last year at least and have never managed to find the opportunity or make it happen.
Recently a friend of mine, Tom Kellett, started up a band called The Moth Club - A collective of musicians and filmmakers based down in Cornwall who are focussed on creating music and art. You can find them on Facebook here.
So I dropped him a line about making a music video for a track of his that I really loved. It's only 1:51, but I really really dig it. Take a listen to it here.
This is a bit of a direction change for me, since before this summer I was dead set on just pursuing a career in purely narrative work without much of an interest in going into commercials. But after working up in London this summer as an intern for Caviar, Knucklehead and most recently on a long distance basis, Pulse, I've really gotten into them. The fast turn around of them as well as the creativity involved in them is incredibly appealing."
I think I just wanted to post about my excitement to be making something new. But I didn't feel it really had much of a place here on the blog since it was more of a "this is so exciting, look what I'm doing" post, than something more meaningful.
But now, after having spent the last 3 weeks prepping for the shoot, doing camera tests, rehearsals and hunting for props and costume I thought I had something more to say.
THIS STUFF IS STRESSFUL.
As I'm writing this we're the eve of the shoot. Cameras are prepped, food for cast and crew is bought, call times are locked down - everything is in place! And I'm feeling so excited but also so so nervous.
What if something goes wrong? All of this hard work and then when it comes to the crunch it all falls through. Or that painting in the back of the set that I've been planning on swapping out for something else ends up being worse and just ruining everything.
But all the nerves and excitement and even a sprinkling of self doubt are what make this so special. This time tomorrow something new that never existed before will be born and that's just a crazy exciting thought. No matter what, it'll all come together and magic will happen. How flipping cool is that? The notion of creation being so accessible.
And that's what this all boils down to I guess. As a creative, especially as a filmmaker, you get to create something which many would argue the notion of as the greatest thing in the Universe.
So as I sit here with nerves running wild and excitement going through the roof I just remember why I'm doing this and at the end of the day what it all means. And hell isn't that a magical comforting thing.
Last year I submitted a film I had made called 'Lost' to a film festival/art installation/experiment (not entirely sure what category it falls under) called VHS Mixtape. It's taken a little while to hear back from them but this past weekend I received an email saying that I'd been selected to be a part of the first mixtape! Even though this isn't perhaps an official film festival, it marks the first time that I've made 'official selection' to something and been rewarded a laurel. So, small drop in the ocean, but an important one.
Anyway, check them out, what they're doing is pretty crazy but totally cool.
PA'd this weekend on a music video for Lyves 'Darkest Hour'. Here are a few snaps since I can't spam Instagram with them all.
Click here to watch the music video, which was recently given a Staff Pick on Vimeo.
Writing is something I've always battled with.
I've not battled with it because I'm dyslexic or have never had a mind for words, but because for a long time I was in love with the idea of being a writer and not actually the process itself.
For sure, there's always been the desire to be able to write scripts and stories that could be turned into films one day. The actual germination of the idea and thinking about the process excites me enourmously, but when it comes down to actually getting a move on with it all I often falter. The idea of starting to write suddenly becomes too daughnting and the amount of work that needs to go into it makes me drag my heels. The idea gets shelved to be looked at some other time and I move on thinking about the next project I could think up then abandon.
This isn't to say I never write anything. Just that I don't write as much as my soul wants to and not nearly to the same degree as the passion inside my stomach would suggest I should (or would). For example I've been incredibly keen to try and write a feature film script for quite some time now. Not because I think it's going to make me 'a proper writer' or because I'm doing it for thrills to my ego, but because I have a story in my mind that demands that kind of length. Furthermore the idea of getting into a story in that much depth as apposed to the 5-10 page scripts I've been making in recent years really bloody excites me. ACTUAL CHARACTERS WITH ACTUAL CHARACTERISATION. YES PLEASE!
So here's the thing. This feature script idea has been eating away at me now for the better part of a year. I've tried to introduce themes and elements of it into other ideas or scripts just to satisfy my desire to create the actual story, but they're never right, they never satisfy that desire. So what do I do?
WRITE THE SCRIPT, GET IT OUT OF MY SYSTEM.
It seems so obvious, but it's been something I've just refused to look in the face and address. So today I stepped into the abyss and went for it. I slipped my notebook into my back pocket and wrote down ideas and notes for the story throughout the day.
I was also spurred on by a book, recomended to me by a fellow writer and friend named Otello, called 'Your CUT TO: is showing'. It's basically a formatting book, going through the do's and don't' of formatting when writing a feature length script and to be honest, it's given me just enough extra courage and motivation to go for this that I needed. Feeling in control of what I'm doing is really important to me when embarking on something creative. Even though a lot of the time I think I am and I'm not, it helps enourmously to have that extra boost. And that's what this book offers me.
Time to start fulfilling this fantasy and making it more a reality.
I'll probably post a few updates on here as I journey through this process.
So I made my first reel. I guess this is a good way to close the first chapter of my filmmaking journey pre film school and enter the next exciting one.
Everything's a learning curve.
Time to start utilising light better and creating/developing characters. Here's to the next reel, 2017.
The fun fair just before it closes, like something out of a fairytale. Thinking of films.
Whenever I go off on a day trip I always have more photos that I want to share than I do places to share them. I generally feel bad spamming my Instagram with the same kind of shots even though I think they're all awesome.
So today I went off to hang out with a really good homie of mine called Toby Mitchell - crazy talented guy and also one of the nicest people I know. We found some pretty awesome spots to take some photos and here they are:
THE FUTURE OF FILMMAKING?
I recently discovered Casey Neistat on YouTube. It wasn't through one of his viral videos popping up all over my social media (although they did, I just didn't really take note) but from once again the guys over at Good (goodthepodcast.com). Actually, backtrack further - I was at a meeting last week and a friend had put tape over the logo on his camera, so I asked why he felt the need to cover it up and found out he just kinda wanted to be like this guy on YouTube called Casey Neistat.
Thats how I first heard about him.
So on Monday the Good podcast came out where Casey was mentioned a fair bit and I thought "I may as well check out this guy, I'm always up for finding good content on the tubes". I finally got around to it last night.
I literally spent about 2-3 hours watching his vlogs. I could not stop. I went to his friends Indian themed wedding, watched him penny board around airports, learnt that he showers before a flight, understood his approach to filmmaking, met his two kids, wife and mother in law. I had unadulterated full access to his life for a whole evening.
There's something weird that makes me uncomfortable about that. I was, and really enjoyed being, a voyeur. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, but it feels like I was overly intrusive into his life even though there was one hell of an open invitation.
After watching a good hour more of Casey's vlogs today I hopped onto Twitter to catch up on what's going on in the world (I use it as my go to source for current affairs now) only to come across Ryan Booth's new blog posts on Exposure that give weekly check ins and a compilation of the photos he's taken. And all of this got me thinking. So, here we are.
Blog post #4.
Question: are vlogs as effective a way to tell a story and create an emotional response as a movie?
After having my 24 hour obsession with Casey's vlogs in which I actually managed to persuade myself to buy a penny board to be a bit like him, I messaged my girlfriend to see what she thought of them.
Here's what she said.
And her response got me thinking - can a vlog create an emotional response or communicate a message as powerfully as a narrative/doc film?
After watching Casey go about his daily life for all of half an hour he'd managed to inspire and motivate Florence to pursue her ambitions. Now to me that's pretty powerful because hundreds if not thousands of filmmakers spend years of their life and hundreds of millions of dollars and can't achieve what Casey did in 3 days and 30 minutes. Just through living his life, he's managed to impart a powerful emotion. He's been inspiring.
What is your goal as a filmmaker? To make the film you want to see in the cinema? To make a film other people want to see in a cinema? To create an emotional response in an audience? To communicate a powerful message to a generation? Or maybe all of the above and then some?
Now let's say you've achieved all of that and made the best film you possibly could. Could it be argued that Casey achieves this everyday by vlogging? I'm not sure I can actually answer that myself right now and maybe it's a far fetched question, but I'm asking it.
So is this the future of filmmaking? I'm not sure, it's not the filmmaking I'd want to be doing for the rest of my life, but I'd be very open to the possibility that it could become a large part of the industry. The direct freeway between the creator and the consumer with no limitations or manipulations in between.
I guess a final point to end on is this. I found so much enjoyment in dipping into Casey's life over the last year and seeing what he did, and because of that it's made me want to share more about what I do. Not because I think that I could vlog or would want to, but because it seems like such a cathartic release when pursuing a career that is so so so full of creativity. I can't make the films I want to make as quickly as I want to make them but I can talk about them, take photos that'll inspire me to create them or even talk about the daily struggle and journey into a creative career. So that's what I'm going to do.
Check out Casey on YouTube if you somehow like me haven't yet heard of him, it's some good stuff.
Every time I try to write a blog post my browser crashes halfway though and I end up losing the 20 minutes worth of ramblings I’ve written down so far.
It just happened to me again, so, I’m going to try and tackle this topic/issue/question for the second time with hopefully a better approach.
Recently I’ve been reading a book of interviews from Spielberg, ranging from his first feature film Dual to his most recent work at the time of the books publication (2000).
During an interview after he’d released Close Encounters of the Third Kind the interviewer asks him:
“What advice do you have for those people that decide they want to make movies for the rest of their lives?”
To which he replies:
“For people who are interested in directing movies, I’d say: start as young as you possibly can and make your own films, rather than reading about other people who have made their own films.”
Now, after reading, re-reading and then feeling stumped/confused and slightly annoyed by his answer, I wrote it down on a post it note and stuck it to my desk. For the past week I’ve looked at that post it and thought, “I should really make a blog post about that because it’s bugging me and I need to find out why”.
So here it is, blog post #3 – Allowing myself to make films.
First off, the reason this quote really hit me is because I read a lot about other filmmakers, their films and film theory almost daily (probably daily - more like daily) and don’t make nearly as many films as I’d like to. I want to make more films but I almost prioritise learning about films that have already been made so that when I do finally get down to it, I’ll perhaps make something half decent.
I’ve made a couple of films so far, some that I’ve hidden away for no one to see and none of which I like. I just don’t think they’re good. To me everything that I’ve made so far has been a learning curve, and looking back on my films I can see that each time I make something it’s a little better, more coherent, thought through.
In this book of interviews it’s funny, I’m still yet to read Spielberg say he’s truly happy with what he’s made or looks back on it thinking it’s shows him best as a filmmaker.
I guess my problem is this – am I wasting my time reading about other filmmakers when I should be making my own films instead?
The simple and probably blatant answer here would be “why don’t you do both?”, but I feel as if Spielberg is giving me an ultimatum here. Either read about how other people have fulfilled their dreams or go and realise your own.
Can I just go off and make my own films though? Will they actually be good? Will they have thought out and realised characters? Will the story be one that furthers our society by making a comment on human nature, political corruption or that our lives really are extraordinary?
Surely I can only communicate these things effectively by studying the great filmmakers who have come before me and the cinematic techniques they’ve used? Or should I be making films once a week, learning, getting better, and telling my own stories?
What’s stopping me from making films?
I have such a belief in the fact that if you’re going to be a filmmaker and tell stories that whatever you tell should contribute positively to society. Make a film about something and have something to say.
I was listening to a podcast last week from Christian Schultz and Jared Hogan talking about Tarantino’s new movie The Hateful Eight and the topic up for debate was, is it a good film? To cut a podcasts worth of ideas short, it was concluded that the film although a thrill, didn’t actually have anything to say. I’m not sure what that has to do with the issue at hand, but it was an observation I thought on for the days following.
So what do I do? The one person probably reading this (Mum) will most likely be thinking, “he’s asking so many questions but hasn’t really found any answers”.
It’s true; I still have no real idea what to make of the quote and how it affects me. But there is one thing I know for sure, that I’m not making enough films.
Part of what hit me so much when I read Spielberg’s response was a sense of guilt. I know that I could be making more films, they might not be good, but I can be making more. I’ve set myself such a high standard for what I have to achieve in making a film that I’ve become afraid to make anything in case it’s ‘bad’.
So my solution – every week for the next 5 weeks I’m going to make a short film. They’ll be bad and probably worse than what I’ve got up online at the moment, but I’ll be making something and learning from it. And by the end of the 5 weeks I’ll have 5 new short films that I can either archive on my hard drive or upload to the Internet.
Although this doesn’t really provide an answer to all my questions, it’ll help me to stop feeling guilty that I’m not producing enough work and making enough films.
After I’ve made all 5 films I’ll re-approach this topic and see how I feel about it then. There’s definitely more to explore here, but I’m not going to crack it all in one night.
But hey, I’m 20, midway through film school and already asking these questions. That has to count for something right?
While going through the backlog of videos on my Vimeo timeline I came across this little gem. It kind of struck a chord with me since it reminded me of my relationship with my girlfriend and how we interact with each other. The little things. In a way it was like watching a film someone had made of us on a night out alone in the city, documenting the moments in-between.
Some films just get to you like that.
So I thought I'd start a blog page on my website to post about all and everything that's going on in my journey to become a filmmaker.
It sounds funny to say that I'm still trying to become a filmmaker because by all means I am. I make films, study films, write about films and live them in my everyday life - but I still don't feel like I've 'become' a filmmaker.
The amount I know about the craft both practically and theoretically feels like a scratch on the surface. So I guess that means to actually achieve being a filmmaker in my mind means to... start to master this medium? I don't know. There's some deep psychology going on about what it means to be an artist and at what point one can say they've reached a level where people will recognise you as such. Or maybe where I'll recognise myself as such?
I guess in this digital age where anyone can make a film the lines become blurred. Maybe we're all filmmakers? But then it doesn't feel so special to call yourself one when the 8 year old kids living opposite you are out making zombie films on the weekends.
That feels like a bit of a selfish statement.
But anyway, here's blog post number 1. Lets see if I can keep this up over the upcoming years hey.