Shooting moving film has been with me all my career and yet I have spent most of that time trying to ignore it. It's not because I don't enjoy doing it - I do.
Early on, when I was at college, part of the course involved a two week, fast track introduction at Nine Mile Burn Film Studios. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot. At the end it was suggested that I should consider switching from still photography to film making. It took me by surprise and looking back it was one of my pivotal life decisions though it seemed so straightforward at the time. In the end I chose my first love, still photography. Did I make the right choice? I'll never know for sure but I believe so. The difference as I saw it was in the way to work. With film I had to be very much part of a team and I'm a good team player when it's necessary. With still photography I felt much more in control. I am very much a hands on person and can and do like to do it all myself where possible. That view cannot be true all the time of course. A large studio shoot can involve quite a few people - stylist, hair, makeup, set builders, assistants, models and so on. To all intents and purposes it becomes a small film shoot using a still camera...
I am at my happiest though, on my own, with my camera on a still life set or at the edge of the sea or walking around Edinburgh or La Habana, Cuba - anywhere really. I get in the zone (as they say) and it is a great feeling.
There were a few film things along the way but the next big step was towards the end of the eighties when I was asked by a London producer if I would like to be involved in directing TV commercials. He had seen an exhibition of my work and apparently liked the way I handled light. He wanted me to light and direct the commercials. I couldn't say no. At that time we were shooting with 35 mm motion picture cameras like Arri and Panavision. We made quite a few commercials. One set of Ads was for a furniture outlet. Some were shot in the store and others in my studio. The scripts were very well written and funny and we chose the actor Frank Thornton who was Captain Peacock in "Are you being served?" and is now in "The last of the Summer Wine". He brought the scripts alive and was a joy to work with.
It was not long after that tranche of work that I 'upped sticks' and moved to work in Santiago de Chile. More on that in my 'About' section.
I did shoot commercials in Chile and one in Cuba but not many overall. I mostly concentrated on stills. Some of the commercials needed specialist directors - a hair commercial was one example. In that case we brought in a London director who specialised in that area of work.
When I returned to work in the UK I had a couple of good offers to carry on shooting more commercials and once again I decided not to do it. Stills work was a little more plentiful again and I was soon to be on a steep learning curve getting my head around digital photography and all that it entailed - not least Photoshop, which is, in my view, nothing short of incredible.
One evening over a glass of wine with Phil Holt, who is Web Foundry, he made it quite clear to me that I should be taking on board shooting digital film with a view to putting it on the web. This was some four years ago and he could already see what an important move this would be. The web has moved on leaps and bounds from that conversation and where a company might put a still photograph on a website they are now putting on a small film. The technology has also accelerated and I can now ingest movie material into my own computer, edit it there and output it to the web. This means I am now in the driving seat with film too and the self imposed barriers have, more or less, melted away.
I have yet to make a small personal film due to other commitments but it will happen and when it does I'll post it on this site.
For now please have a look at some of the work - the most recent being for one of Web Foundry's clients W B Debtcare. It is always said that you shouldn't work with animals and children but these young actors from The Drama Studio in Edinburgh were exceptional to work with. They could turn on the magic just when it was needed.