All work and no play makes Jack and dull boy.

Month: August 2011

Ted Thompson

Back in 2010, and as part of the Steelos Songs of Steel project I had the great pleasure of working camera on an interview with Ted Thompson, a former Rotherham steelworker, who was then in his 1990s and living alone in Rotherham. It was one of the most fascinating interviews I’ve ever watched and I could’ve sat and listened to Ted recall his childhood and working life long into the night. He recalled his school days with such incredible clarity, describing places in Rotherham that I could recognise (though only just recognise for the town – and the world – has moved on) and remember even his first day at work in the early 1930s, still a boy and barely out of short trousers.
I found out last week that Ted passed away recently and I was touched by a genuine sadness, both at this eldely gentleman’s end and at the loss of memory and history that he takes with him. The town where I live, that has such a rich, varied and interesting past, and how that place used to be dies a little more as the generations blink out and fade into memory themselves.
RIP Mr Thompson. It was a pleasure to have met and talked with you.

Road To Nowhere – a music video

Doing a music video is something I’ve considered doing before. Sheffield band A Season of Secrets had wanted a video doing for their early single Coffee Girls, back when they were still known as Little Secrets. Unfortunately, I didn’t get my backside into gear, their line up changed and I really lost the first hand contact I had with the band so said music video never happened.
I wrote previously about the strange workflow of preparing for a music video. Phil’s song was not necessarily a narrative that I could map images and visuals to so I shopped around a bit with existing videos in the same style of music and after song discussion with Phil we agreed a general look and feel for it. It was a case of story-boarding for individual shots and short sequences rather than a through,  linear narrative; and then a case of getting the coverage out on the shoot.
Not all music videos have to be like that though. I supposed creating a video for something like Mardy Bum by the Arctic Monkeys, or Sally Cinnamon by The Stone Roses would be more like making an accompanying short film – that straight story-telling approach mixed with added creativity to present the band or artist.
This video was also the first professional piece I’d done using the HD capabilities of a DSLR camera too. Land of Dreams cinematography had convinced me of the ease and efficiency of DSLR shooting over conventional tape and so this was done using the Canon 550D. The post work-flow was easier too – no waiting for tape to transfer, just plug the SDHC card into the front of the editing suite et voila!
Anyway – here it is, my very first attempt at a professional music video. Enjoy!
P.S: It was shot in the Derbyshire Peak District before anyone asks… 🙂

Out of the comfort zone

Every year or so my good friends at the South Yorkshire Filmmaker’s Network run a competition called 2 Weeks 2 Make It in which various film-makers compete to create a winning music video for a local band or artist. Rob Speranza, from the SYFN, called me up this year and urged me to give it a go but in all honesty music videos just aren’t my bag (with the singular exception of the very simple music vid I did for Chris Baum way back in 2006).
I’ve never really thought what it is that’s turned me off from creating them to be honest. They offer an opportunity to be ultra-creative and inventive with both content and style; and they can inversely (if you wish) follow a pretty formulaeic style. They are something you can be pretty free with. When I think about it, it’s unusual that I’ve not ventured down this road previously, especially given the importance I place to the soundtrack in my short films and documentaries. You only have to watch the beginning to Waterfall or the A Shot In Time documentary to see how I feel about a particular track fitting visuals to help tell a story.
So this week I’m taking myself out of my comfort zone and shooting a music video for singer-song-writer, Phil Sinclair. I’ve known Phil for years – too many years he would say – and his style of melancholic folk music I do quite like. He’s a very talented musician and needs the support a video can give to get himself to that next level of achievement. I’m quite looking forwards to it. We have a Continue reading

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