The End of a Decade

As another year draws to a close I feel I should look back at what I’ve done.

2010 was a big year in many ways. Firstly, it saw the end of my degree.

January arrived mid way through my dissertation, the final challenge in my three years at SAE London.

I had started my degree still unconvinced of it’s importance; I have always, and still would try to dissuade any young film-makers from starting a traditional degree course. What most colleges offer in ways of education seem little more than academic pontification, and a series of chinese whispers about on-set decorum.

Not that I would completely rule-out the value of academia within film; simply that it is little more that what could be found out by actually WORKING on set. And what any film graduates will soon find out, is that having a diploma means nothing to potential employers. It may impress your parents, but for the rest of the industry it’s your skills that count.

This is where SAE really proved its worth, focussing heavily on technical training and skills development. And everyone knows, girls like guys with skills.

And so, as I my dissertation approached I started to wilt. I feared several months of tedium. All books and no camera’s? All work and no play…

But it did not work out that way. Yes, it was bloody hard work, but also extremely enlightening. I am reminded now of some advice given to me several years back: that it would be better to do a degree in something completely separate to film, because then I might have something to make films about.

Focussing my study on the depiction of childhood in cinema, I found myself looking into a whole range of subjects that would never have crossed my path had I not strayed a little from film. Area’s of phycology, philosophy, and literature became my focus for weeks on end, and the British Library quickly became a second home for me.

Somewhere in the midst of all this I still managed to find time for some practical work, braving arctic temperatures to shoot this little scene for a friend. It’s taken from a play written by Phil Porter called ‘Stealing Sweets and Punching People’ and stars Hasan Dixon and Georgia Christou.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I received a First for my dissertation, and a First for my degree as a whole. Since then my dissertation has been put up on the SAE London website, so if you’re interested, you can go have a read online, here.

On the very day that I handed in my dissertation, I travelled down to East Grinstead to discuss a new project with Simon Taffe (of End of the Road fame). I had worked with him the previous autumn, working on the music video for the Low Anthem’s Charlie Darwin, as well has being a regular at the festival, running an animation workshop.

I quickly went to work co-directing the new video for Efterklang’s ‘I Was Playing Drums.’ I brought Leila Watts on board for Production Design, and cast Andre Alen as the lead.

I’d worked with Andre before, on a project for my Degree, and I was glad he agreed to work with me again. I think his performance is really what makes the video. That… and all the rope and scary bird people.

If you haven’t seen it already, have a look at the finished video below.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

As post graduate life goes, I think it’s fair to say I hit the ground running.

Having completed that project, I went back to finishing up some major compositing work for director Neil Oseman’s new film ‘The Dark Side of the Earth’. I had been working on this project for several months alongside Aidan Hornsby, under the supervision of John Galloway. John is an extremely talented compositor who works for Double Negative. His past work includes films such as Harry Potter, Iron Man and Inception, and working with him was an incredible experience. I think it’s fair to say that both mine and Aidans learning curve went near vertical over the course of this project. A short video explaining what we did can be seen below. Excuse the tired eyes; this was very late in the day…

Over the summer I took a bit of time of, in the loosest sense of the phrase.

I shot another video for musician Charlie Atlantic, on location at Kimbolton Castle. We’re still waiting on a final cut of the song to edit from, but the footage looks great.

I also worked with old friend David McGillivray from Pathetique Films, working at first as AD, and later as a compositor on a 1 minute horror film. I’ll upload a better quality version soon, but for now, this is the only copy online:

Then came my big project for the summer; Ladakh.

This was an idea which had been bouncing around for a few months, but finally came to fruition in late July. The aim was to take a camera, and follow Sonam, a Tibetan man, on a journey through Ladakh, to the chinese border. As a Tibetan refugee, he cannot re-enter Tibet, however Ladakhi culture shares a lot with Tibetan, thus gaining the nickname ‘Little Tibet’.

I was out there for a month on the road, filming with a group of Tibetan men. I won’t spout some tripe about a ‘life changing experience’, but as time passes, I become increasingly aware of that journey’s effect on me as a human. Don’t worry. I won’t go further than that.

I saw some beautiful things. Filmed some beautiful things. And returned home…

If there was one thing I missed while away, it was good music. Something which was immediately cured by returning to The End of the Road Festival. Another fantastic year.

From there I went into my third project with End of the Road Films, co-directing the video for Allo Darlin’s ‘My Heart is a Drummer’ with Simon.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The video went on to win ‘Video of the Week’ on 6 Music, and I was consequentially invited on to Nemone’s show to talk about the video with Simon and Elizabeth.

Since then I’ve been editing the Ladakh documentary and working in pre production for a new video for The Low Anthem. This one entails tightropes…

I know it’s a cliche, but this year really has been one of endings and beginnings.

I hope the seeds planted over the past 12 months keep growing throughout this new year, and that I may find a few new ones along the way.

Happy New Year!


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