I often work alone. There is a certain safety that comes with orchestrating and executing each part of a film project myself. I don’t need to rely on anyone, the only person I will be let down by is me and I find that less irritating than being let down by someone else. I also feel a sense of pride when I sit down to watch it and I know its all mine, I made it from start to finish. ALL MIIIINE. Perhaps that’s another greedy and self-indulgent part of working in a creative domain.
With every project my filmmaking improves, I learn something new, do something subtle that I haven’t done before. However, it is easy to float along doing similar things because you know they work. Sometimes you need another ingredient to make something sing, come face to face with someone else’s creative process to kick you out of comfortable routine.
I have been working with Simon at the college for a couple of years now and we make a good team. I also respect him greatly as a filmmaker and award winning writer (I will read your book one day Si), but we have never worked together on a film. We bagged a commission from the Lakes Comic Art Festival and decided to pool our respective skills and collaborate. I took first leg on the filming side and he took second on the edit.
As soon as we sat down with a pint of cold beer in the Castle I knew that we could come up with 10, 20, 30 great ideas for this film. We could have made it differently 5 times over and each would have been as good or better than the last. I realised how powerful and enriching it could be to work together with someone instead of plowing through it all on your own.
The filming of the journey itself was pretty tough. I was navigating, flying a drone, shooting on two DSLR’s and operating a steadicam next to very busy roads for nearly 10 days straight, but it’s nothing I haven’t done before. The film came alive when Si tried something new and turned his hand to motion graphics and paralax, creating the brilliant archive sequences that illustrate the story. It would be infinately more boring if I had done it all!
Of course it isn’t just me and Si that made the film what it is. As the project bumped along it was shaped and influenced by the people who commissioned it, Aileen McEvoy and Julie Tait. It has an incredible score composed by the very talented Ben Metsers. Huge personality, a context, a narrative and some brilliant pieces of artwork from Oli East. Some more personality from Lorenzo Lawrence and Simon Von Seals………..and it has a flippin elephant. What more could you ask for.
Here is it……HERE
We move on, onwards and upwards. Joe continues to heal and be a changed man in a changed body. I get to dance between the discomfort of receiving praise and the squishy feeling I get when I’ve made something good.
It’s an absolute pleasure to get another award and it’s even more thrilling to get one for this particular film from such a great festival. Many thanks to all at ShAFF.
My working life has changed significantly over the past year. I am no longer just navigating the often stressful, uncertain world of freelance work, which I admit, has it’s perks and moments of brilliance.
Over a year ago now I stuck my neck out and applied for a job teaching film production in post 16 further education. It was an experiment at the time really, as an unqualified, largely self-taught filmmaker I felt I had little chance of getting the job but wanted to aim high. Now over a year has passed, I am a teacher for four days a week and I happily look back on how far I have come.
Teaching is hard. You have to be resilient, pick yourself up time and time again, come face to face with your own flaws, and somehow justify your place in an educational system that is constantly squeezed, shifted and jeopardised by cuts from politicians like Gove. You get some holidays but holy shit you have to work for them.
Although at times this stuff can dominate, I try to stay mindful of the personal things that teaching has given me. From the moment I walked in that door on my first day I had to learn to listen, be less selfish, more compassionate, more adaptable, open to different ways of thinking and being, to look at my own film work and consider it’s quality and importance. Without doubt, since I started teaching others, I have developed personal and professional qualities that I never imaged I would. It’s not for everyone, and it might not be forever, but I’m glad I stuck my neck out.
I now have a stable income which allows a little time to pursue the projects that re-kindle my love for film, which is a great thing. This is something I filmed in Sprint Mill a few months ago, with my friend Sam, whom I respect greatly for his raw style and the integrity of his ideas and beliefs. I hope you enjoy it.
Communications have been a little quiet recently as I have been in an editing frenzy at every possible opportunity. But the trailer has gone live and the film is nearly done! Bring on the premiere!
In the Frame has been a hugely challenging project for me, I’m a short term goals man and I find it hard to stay focussed over long periods of time. When Joe wheeled himself up to me on the Lakeside in Bowness on Windermere 18 months ago I had no idea what I was getting myself in to.
I had seen Joe around the Lakes but never spoken to him. Two blond, bearded, identical twin brothers are hard to miss! However I hadn’t seen him in a wheelchair with a large mechano style puzzle holding his leg together so I was intrigued to know his story. He told me he felt self conscious in a wheelchair and proceeded to recount his tale. After telling me about his accident he asked if I wanted to make a film, this was new to me, usually it was me pestering people. And so it began!
Two weeks ago we summited Ben Nevis by the tourist path from the valley, there were a bunch of us there to support Joe, and two very excitable dogs. We had planned to climb Tower Ridge now that Joe was in much better form but the weather had other ideas as is so often the case around here, so we opted for the long walk. We knew the way down would be pretty punishing for Joe as that is when he feels more pain, so we carried Joe’s bike half way up so he could at least ride some of the descent and take the weight off his legs. We reached the top in heavy cloud with 100 other tourists passing by, it was an atmospheric scene as the wind whipped the cloud up and over the summit plateau. Tower Ridge was nowhere to be seen and we applauded our decision to avoid the climb. We shared a nip of whisky on the summit cairn and a quick hug. There was no song and dance, no deep emotional speeches, just relief and an appreciation of our surroundings.
So In the Frame is in it’s final stage, a stage where everyone can relax…..apart from me as I have to edit the flipping thing. I now sit in that funny place where I know I have some great material but I have nothing to show for it yet. It can be a lonely place because there is a lot of work still to do and I’m the only one who can do it. I really feel that with all it’s twists and turns this will be a much better film than it would have had it all gone to plan. We have all had time to ruminate, plan more thoroughly, relax and reflect on the project and Joe has had time to heal and grow. I hope all that comes across in the final ‘product’. I hate that word.
Once again I must thank everyone who has supported this project either with kind words, bike riding, cake making, financial donations, emotional and physical support. We’ll see you all at KMF!
Here is the finished film, I hope you enjoy it! You can read a previous blog post about the making of the bowl and the film > here <