In this edition of Word of Mouth we talk to Self-shooting Producer/Director, Marc Knighton, about the importance of getting to know your contributors, keeping up with the latest tech, and the challenges of filming in A&E.
How did you get your big break in TV, and what was your first job?
I was fortunate enough to gain a place on a BBC graduate scheme, which allowed me to work across a variety of programmes and genres, everything from Watchdog and Panorama through to The Hairy Bikers and Children in Need. One of the highlights was undoubtedly the Ronnie Corbett Christmas Special, working with such talented people, both in front of and behind the camera was a real treat, though I think I failed on the tea making front as they all started bringing in thermos flasks with them after a few days…
With camera technology forever changing, do you feel the need to be up to speed on the latest kit?
Without a shadow of a doubt! Technology has evolved so quickly in the past few years that once you’ve mastered one camera, along comes another. Seven years ago my first camera was the trusty Sony Z1 which used mini DV tapes and most recently, I’ve tried my hand at using Sony’s latest 4K camera. At the end of the day, you have to really know your cameras inside out. This is especially important for self-shooters as using the camera needs to be second nature so that you can concentrate on the characters and action in front of you.
In this edition of Word of Mouth we talk to Director and Producer/Director, David Whitney, about his career to date – working around the world on TV, film and branded content projects.
How did you get your big break, and what was your first job?
My first job in the industry was working as an Assistant Grip on a low budget feature film in the late 90s. I was still a teenager and it was all very new to me, in fact I thought it was crazy – lots of grown ups shouting at each other, people crying on set, tantrums, numerous affairs… but it was great fun and didn’t put me off.
I knew I didn’t want to work on the technical side of things, so I took a job working as a Production Assistant at a well-known film company. One thing led to another and in my early twenties I got the opportunity to direct some corporate jobs, then TV commercials.
In 2005 I directed a short film, which led to my nomination for BBC New Filmmaker of the year, and from that I began directing TV drama, as well as more ads and branded content. After festival success for my short film, George’s Day (starring actor Michael Byrne), I raised the finance for my debut feature, which was released around the world and picked up by Netflix. This has led to countless other opportunities shooting all over the world. It’s been a fascinating ride!
In this edition of Word of Mouth we talk to Edit Producer and Producer/Director, Farrah Jaufuraully, about the joy of working on kids TV, the creativity of the edit, and the perils of working with animals.
What was your first job in the industry?
From the age of 15, I dipped in and out of work experience: I worked at my local radio station, had a stint on BBC Watchdog when I was at university, and then took on a summer job as a Runner for a west London film company. Two months after I graduated, I was offered a Researcher job on a Nickelodeon show.
You’ve worked on some of the UK’s most popular programmes. Which would you say has been favourite to work on so far?
Tough question. I’ve really enjoyed the shows where you genuinely help somebody make a life change and you go home feeling like you did something useful. Shows such as Embarrassing Bodies and The Joy Of Teen Sex were series where I played a part in solving people’s problems. Equally though, I enjoyed TOWIE and World’s Most Talented because I loved my team, and going to work was a joy.
In this edition of Word of Mouth, we talk to Producer/Director, Terry McGough, on his career as a film maker: working with leading brands, superstar musicians, and embracing the rise of branded content.
You originally started out as a photographer; what made you want to pursue a career in filmmaking?
I was a music photographer and was asked by an artist’s management company to come down onto a music video shoot to film some behind the scenes imagery for PR use. For the first time in my life I saw what a cinematographer actually did.
The artist was a very beautiful girl but the difference between the artist sitting in the dressing room and the one that the cinematographer had lit was just an incredible optical illusion; playing with light, he had transformed this girl into a superstar. I had never seen anything like it, it was like watching a magician paint with light.
I literally had a light bulb moment and fell in love with cinematography and just knew that this was the art form for me, as it just resonated with me. I began researching cinematography and taking any chance I could to get on set, paid or unpaid, just to be able to watch and learn. Then as I got into fashion photography, I took all those things and got to practice my lighting on models. I didn’t always get it right, but in time it just clicked – now my lighting skills are the cornerstone of everything that I do.
This week, Self-shooting PD, Gabe Crozier, discusses his career in television and commercials, including filming ladies legs all day to ITV’s Storage Hoarders.
How are you able to adapt yourself between working as a DV Director and Self shooting PD?
I enjoy DV directing for all the reasons any self-shooting director would. Having creative freedom to create a narrative and visual design, as part of my contribution to the episodes I shoot and direct within is challenging and exciting. As a self-shooting PD, I get more involved in the strategy of narrative and story development, be it in a reactive sense on a shoot day or in pre-production within scripting. I’m supporting and guiding a small team of shooters and will grab a camera too as and when required. So adapting between DV Directing and Self-shooting PD is a mental step between translating a script to screen and creating and nurturing a script to screen.
What made you progress into becoming a shooting PD, rather than a PD?
The idea of a shooting PD appealed over a PD role in that I personally love being on-set and active. Having the opportunity to be part of the story-telling process as it happens and pick up a camera and help shape the vision is a must to me. Depending on the show treatment, I may be shooting a lot in a day or just occasionally – but either way I am at the coalface and immersed in the team effort.
This week we talk to freelance Producer/Director, Paul Vanezis.
Where did your career in the industry begin, did you always want to work in TV?
I had a fascination with television from as far back as I can remember. I used to love fantasy shows such as ‘The Tomorrow People’ and ‘Doctor Who’ and wondered how they managed to create the illusion of different planets and of course, I loved the monsters. So I managed to get onto the Film and TV course at Newport Film School in South Wales, before all the courses became ‘Media’. It was a practical course and we soon realised that we were learning by making our own mistakes.
In what ways has making TV changed in the time you’ve been in the industry?
The big change was the move to tape for location filming instead of film. Now it’s tapeless and HD and inevitably self-shooting. On top of that we have affordable desktop editing. We always had non-linear editing with film, but the post production process has been streamlined making true fast turnaround much easier.
Producer/Director Jonathan Elliot shares his documentary filming experiences while in various Asian countries.
Introduction to the shoot you were on
For ‘IDE Cambodia’ I was asked to put together a team to make a short awards film. It was about a development charity working with poor farmers on the Cambodia/ Vietnam border. It was a fast turnaround shoot, we were only in the country for four days.
For the film ‘Asia’s Monarchies’, I was producer director and writer for two one hour documentaries about the history of the monarchies of Nepal and Bhutan. We had two weeks each episode for shooting.
This week we are pleased to welcome freelance producer/director, Abi Kelly, who highlights the joys of multi-tasking and the lows of being everything to everyone.
When I was fumbling through my teens, dreams and ambitions were usually grounded in being part of something really exciting. If it was buzzy, creative and fun and didn’t involve Pythagoras’ Theorem or Bunsen Burners, then I was happy and motivated.
When I was at school and uni, success leading to immediate happiness stemmed from a whole spectrum of events: mastering lead roles in plays and musicals, writing ‘A’ grade poetry, organising a charity fashion show and winning The Effort Award in assemblies (“well done Abigail for scoring maximum in that whole ‘trying’ thing, but The Success Award once again goes to Beatrice Van Horn Alkema”.)