Category Archives: Film

Clowning About

Advance warning to any coulrophobics out there: this post may contain clowns.

A whiletime ago I helped Leila Watts with her first music video. It was a hand drawn animation for the song ‘Staying True’ by David Thomas Broughton. You can watch it just below.

Anyway, this was all part of a plan to have a video made for each track on the album. As the deadline approached, no-one had gotten round to claiming the penultimate track on the record, so I stepped in. I’m doing a lot of editing right now, so the chance to get something new shot was rather appealing.

I came up with the most simple idea I could, something I usually struggle with, and called in two very good actors who wouldn’t mind making a scene in public. Leila got on board with costume and make-up, and Aidan took up second camera. Here’s what we ended up with:

Hope you enjoyed it, and if you’d like to see any of the other videos, head on over to David Thomas Broughton’s website, http://www.davidthomasbroughton.co.uk/

Until next time…

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Shooting High and Low

A couple of months ago I nipped up to Scotland to shoot a new music video for indie folk band The Low Anthem with End of the Road Films.

Back in 2009 I worked on the animated video for ‘Charlie Darwin’; building sets and doing the odd bit of animating. That video came out very nicely, so I was eager to work with the band again, this time directing along-side Glenn and Simon.

The song, ‘Boeing 737′ is the first single off their new album Smart Flesh, and is based around an imaginary meeting with Philippe Petit in a bar at the top of one of the Twin Towers.

After first listening to the track, Simon came up with the image of high-wire walkers pacing through trees, birdlike in their appearance, stalked by men with axes below. Ben liked the idea, but wanted the axe-men to have more of a backstory. We chatted about the idea a bit more, and then I went off to draw up a storyboard.

I thought it would be interesting to imagine a world where tight-rope walkers were a species -indigenous to certain areas – who were hunted and sold on to circuses. Our axe-men would be from a destitute circus, who had worked their previous walkers to death and decided to catch their own this time (hoping to cut out the hunter’s fee).

We got Leila Watts on board again as production designer, so she got straight to work on the bird costumes. Most of the circus men’s costumes were borrowed from a theatre production my parent’s had been working on, while other bits were also made by Leila – for example both clown ruffs were made by hand.

For this video we also brought in a wonderful DOP, Pablo Rojo Guadarrama. This was my first time not shooting my own work, and Pablo did an incredible job (far better than I ever could have), along with 1st and 2nd AC’s, Thor Eliasson and Poom Saiyavath.

If you ever get the chance to work with any of them I would seriously recommend it, and hope to do so myself very soon.

We also had the opportunity to shoot on the new RED – The Mysterium X. This is the same camera ‘The Social Network’ was shot on last year and it captures a ridiculous amount of image data. That meant a lot when it came to grading the video, but also allowed us to shoot later in the day as the light began to fade. In fact some of my favourite shots in the video were captured just before dusk, as the light turns silver.

Of course you can’t have a video about tight-rope walkers without… well… tight-rope walkers.

Fortunately, we had some of the best out there; Jade Kindar-Martin, and his wife Karine Mauffrey. Both had previously worked as part of Cirque du Soleil and Jade has broken Guiness World-Records on the high-wire. They were brilliant to work with, bravely facing the freezing Scottish weather in little more than leotards, and still giving beautiful performances.

For one shot we had planned to digitally add the falling figure of a walker, not imagining it would be possible to do in reality. That was until we discovered that Karine was in fact a professional stunt woman and would be up for doing in on a harness. Brilliant! One simple wire removal later and we have an absolutely stunning shot.

Okay, before I rattle on any more, here’s the final video. Have a look if you haven’t already, and if you have… maybe refresh your memory.



But what’s that I hear you ask? Who were those dashing circus men?

Well, from left to right; Charles Wemyss, Jimmy, Jason Lehmer, Tommy and Diego Cazzetta.

Diego and Jason have worked with us on videos before, building sets, and are part of the team behind End of the Road festival. We figured it was time to stop wasting their good looks behind the camera, and thrust them into the lime-light.

The woodland we shot in actually belongs to Charles’ family, while Jimmy and Tommy are the past and current generation of groundskeepers.

They all graciously agreed to try their hands at acting, and it turns out they’re pretty damned good at it. For such charming individuals, they manage to come together into a pretty nightmarish troupe.

One last thing before I go. I’m always impressed by how close to the initial storyboards our video’s come out. So here, mostly for my own entertainment, but maybe for yours too, it a short comparison of shots.

Okay.

That’s all.

Scram!

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Ferris Bueller Recut

A couple of weeks ago I saw Ferris Bueller at the Screen on the Green in Angel. It’s one of my favorite films, and so I was pretty hyped up after finally seeing it on the big screen.  I’m always struck by how beautifully shot it is for a comedy, compared to those made now. Also how sincere the story is once you get past all the 80′s… ness.

The following day was a slow Sunday, and since I had little else to do I decided to have a play with some of the shots and maybe make a trailer which could cut out all the comedy, and make it look more like an indie coming-of-age film. This is what I ended up with:

I hadn’t intended to put it online, but I showed it to a few people and they like it. Aidan Hornsby said I should put it on YouTube, so I finally got round to doing it a couple of days ago.

Then in the past 24 hours I got nearly 100,000 hits, beating the view count of just about anything I’ve put online before. All over something I made with a few spare hours on a Sunday.

Nice.

EDIT: Earlier today I did a short Q&A for Steve Spears blog which can be seen HERE.

EDIT 2: 600,000 views. Not Bad.

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Trees Above Abney Park Cemetery

This is the second film in an ongoing series, focussing on woodland within urban environments.

A squirrel is the star of the show here.

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Showreel 2010, while it’s still 2010

Ladies and gentlemen, I have been very rude.

Allow me to introduce you all to my current showreel.

It is already a little behind with the times, and I think by the new year another version will be more than called for. But for now, I hope you like some of the things I’ve gotten up to.

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Allo, Allo!

No! Don’t run! It’s not the police! It’s Allo Darlin’, a wonderful indie pop group from London!

And yes, I went there.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been working on a new music video for these guys. Which has meant many sleepless nights in a disused office block. And at last, my work is complete.

The video features a whole lot of cardboard, and I’ve been working with the same team behind my last video, Efterklang’s ‘I Was Playing Drums’. That means I’ve been co-directing with Simon Taffe again, as well as getting Leila Watts on for costumes.

Before I say any more, have a look at the video on Vimeo, or just below:

The shoot all started in Simon’s kitchen, which on Saturday evening looked something like this:

And by Sunday evening, was looking like this:

From there we moved to a disused office block to build the rest of the set and costumes. The main tunnel ended running about 20 meters long, and was built, for the most part, by Clyde Cronin. When it was finished the only way to get from one end to the other was to crawl, which meant some pretty painful knees all round.

Not least for Elizabeth, who had to do more crawling than anyone. I seem to have a habit of putting my lead stars through arduous conditions, and this shoot was no exception it seems. Luckily I think nostalgia served as a pretty good anaesthetic here.

On the day of the band we were running behind slightly, and the guys were brilliant at pitching in; building the final bit of the tunnel while I continued to throw boxes and Ukelele’s at Elizabeth.

The performance itself was filled with enough slapstick to fill a Laurel and Hardy sketch, with Heart’s tripping over left, right and centre. I don’t think the laughter on everyone’s faces could have been faked, and I’m really glad a lot of the atmosphere on set made it into the video.

I have to give an extra special thanks to Leila Watts and Owen Davey, who gave up far too much sleep for me and Simon. And a standard, but still very special thanks to everyone else who gave up their waking hours to make this one happen. I really think it was worth it, and I hope it makes people smile when they see it.

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Trees over Exmouth

The other day I was sat in the offices of New Bamboo, when I noticed the trees outside moving in the wind. I don’t know any other cities that can quite compete with London’s capacity for simultanious urban and natural environments.

Maybe I just need to travel more, but to me, this is one of the best reasons to live in London.

Oh yeah, and so I filmed it. Because that’s what I tend to do when I like something. Enjoy.

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Charlie Atlantic

An update and a short film for you all! A very short film…

I’ve just finished shooting a new video for Charlie Atlantic. The song is called ‘Dear Brother’ and the video was shot at Kimbolton Castle. You’ll hear more about the video itself once I have more to show, but for now, here’s a very short film we made on location:

P.s. The finished video may be some time till completion – for many reasons, the largest being that I am about to leave for Ladakh to shoot a documentary for a month. I’ll tell you more about that upon my return.

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Efterklang – I Was Playing Drums

Hello! It’s been a while I know, but I like to think we’re like old friends, who can always pick up where we left off… Right?

Well anyway, I’d just like to let you know what I’ve been up to.

Having finished my dissertation – and therefore my degree – I dove straight into another project with the guys from End of the Road festival, directing the new video for the wonderful band, Efterklang!

The song, ‘I Was Playing Drums’ is fantastic, and creating a video to go with it was an absolute joy.

After several days dragging an actor named Andrei Alen around in the mud, buying out the local knitting shop and scaring a dozen dog walkers, we had something we felt really rather proud of.

Have a look at the finished video here:

The masks were designed and made by the very talented Leila Watts, whose website can be found here.

That’s all for now, but I’ll be back with more soon.

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Sweets and Punching

Whilst in the midst of my dissertation, I can still find time to take camera’s outside into the freezing cold.

An actor friend of mine, Georgia Christou, asked me if I’d film a short scene for her. I’ve always wanted to work with her, so of course I agreed.

The scene is from a play called ‘Stealing Sweets and Punching People’ by Phil Porter, and features Georgia and Hasan Dixon. Two wonderfully talented actors on a winters day? How could I resist.

We travelled down to my parents village, Forest Row, and shot the scene beside the local reservoir; an old haunt of mine.

I’ve always wanted to film something there – between the open water and rattling sail boats – and having finally done so, I think I’ll have to return… For now though, the scene:

I’ll see you all very soon.

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