Shadows and Light – Filmmakers Confrence 2015

I got a ticket to a new ‘Filmmakers’ conference in Brighton on a whim after seeing some advert (and partly because I live here). I wasn’t aware of any conferences like this in Brighton and it only took me 10 seconds of research on the ‘Shadows and Light Media‘ website to know that I had to go, this was not to be missed.

Having recently made the decision to get into video, a sort of step up from taking photographs, after getting an enormous amount of pleasure and satisfaction from making a few shorts (Timelapse Project 1 & Project 2). I had been experimenting in my spare time with my Canon 70D and realising this humble DSLR takes incredibly sharp 1080p video with a super smooth autofocus to boot. My little mind started whirring suddenly I was able to paint a story using motion pictures instead of trying to cram it into one picture.

The positive feedback I have had from my most recent films inspired me to consider this art form more seriously. A few films later and I have a series of interesting corporate videos (paid of course) lined up to shoot. This new world of fascinating technology coupled with infinite creative outcomes is totally “my bag” and I intend to use my graphical background to maximum effect.

Day One.

Monday morning I met with a bunch of people at the Komedia in Brighton and soon realised I was in esteemed company. After seeing a few clips sent in from members of the audience I realised this was no ‘Beginners 101 Lesson’ but more of a ‘Master Class for the Pro’s’ these guys knew their trade and were here to gleam some expert knowledge off the pro’s. Seeing the quality of strong visuals playing on the large cinema screen was inspiring and daunting at the same time. These small films were of such high quality and creative ability, if I could get an ounce of their knowledge this would all have been worth it.

Inside the theatre there were talks and showcases from Philip Bloom  (great website for everything film related), Haz Dullul  (check out his film Sync currently in production), Ollie Kenchington (premier colourist) and Vincent Laforet (check his latest Nike Flyknit video jaw dropping). Listening to these Guru’s speak and observing their visuals whilst being treated to a narration was like being Neo in the Matrix, having data fed straight to the brain. Stuffed with inspiration and ideas I couldn’t wait to leave the damn conference so I could digest everything and start planning my next shoot.


Day Two.

Consisted of four workshops held at the Thistle Hotel. We were split into groups and shuffled off into different meeting rooms to spend a bit of time being taught. Me feeling like the least educated experienced person there, was still comfortable and easy with all the friendly people and teachers.

1 – Interview Techniques with Nino Leitner;  “Always shoot with more than one camera”

Loads of useful advice from ‘what to do if your interviewee doesn’t play ball’ and ‘getting that b-roll’ to save boring shots in post.

2- Constructing Scenes  with Vincent Laforet; “Don’t cut and build tension”

Showing the difficult and mind bending-ly complex ‘behind the scenes’ directing planning from some of the biggest movies in Hollywood.

3- Art of Lens Whacking with James Miller; “Always move around, don’t be static”

A surprisingly effective and simple way to create organic and beautiful light and exposure tricks with old lenses.

4- One Man Band with Philip Bloom; “What’s your Motivation”

How the Movi5 and his ridiculously slick setup helps him do what he does well.

All were absolute masters in their domains and I could not have learned more from these up close personal sessions. Each lesson taught me something that you cannot learn from a book or watching a video, this was first hand expert knowledge with being delivered by the guys who practically invented the stuff. Questions being answered with no prejudice or judgement, perfect for a noob like me.

Overall this was a well organised (congrats Fraser, great job), action packed, awe inspiring ‘tour de force’ event. I will definitely be attending next year and telling everyone to do the same.

Oh and the biggest thing I learnt is that I need to buy a Sony A7S, Movi5, Kellar Slider, Shogun, DJI Phantom …. and more!

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