Archive for April, 2014

Filmmaking Family

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

I've been struggling to motivate my crew for months. It's been bone-gnashingly hard. Working with teens is difficult on its own but working with family gives it an added grind factor. At times the returns have diminished down to zero. I've even wondered whether they were working for me or the other way round.
Learning Filmmaking Together
As ever working with your own kids has added implications that don't apply with other people. If I tell them to do something it is mom telling them to do it, not their director. If they're noisy onset they hear the echoes of being told off as children, rather than immediately understanding that we need quiet in the studio. It's hard. I thought about putting this post on Sit up a Tree, the personal development blog, but really I have no solutions to offer other than to say that working with your kids means superhuman levels of patience. With the best will in the world and the best kids in the world it's always going to need the parent to be the bigger person. On other people's sets they are great, composed, obedient, helpful but on mine I have needed to get to screaming pitch just to get attention. There's been more than a few tears and at least one firing. And prompt reinstatement too. Because we are family and because sometimes it's easy to forget that you're dealing with young people who haven't fully figured out the world and who don't necessarily see the realities of time and money in the same way you do. Yet. And that's the key. As the parent or older relative you need to stick to your guns in what you expect from them, whilst having patience as they learn and stumble and lose their way.

In many respects it is no different to when I was teaching young people at college … it's just that teaching your own kids is like teaching the most rebellious students and the most challenging learners. Simply because they're your own kids. For any other teacher they'd be a dream!

At the end of the day of course we will all grow as people. And we will either make films together or we won't. In the meantime I am happy to be practicing filmmaking skills and I am happy that they're learning the nuts and bolts of working life. As ever, it is a privilege. I love working with young people and these are no different because they're my family. It's just a tougher job for me because they're my family!!

In terms of filmmaking, we are making painstakingly slow progress, but it is progress nonetheless. Skills take time and effort and dedication. The most important things I bring to the table are a clear set of goals and a lifetime of experience at getting projects off the ground.

The flip side of that is, of course, that goals can be blinkers and a lifetime of experience can result in less innovation. So working with young people is a perfect balance because they bring energy and ideas and the pioneering spirit to try out solutions in directions my experience might, rightly or wrongly, warn me not not to go.

Working across the generations enables the perfect fusion of wisdom and courage that comes from the compassionate and respectful blending of youth and wisdom that brings about truly new ideas and innovative solutions.

The most important thing about working with your family is recognising and respecting what everyone brings to the table!

New Photo Blog!

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Exciting news - Adrian and I have started a new photography blog.

It's already turning into a lot of fun!

I get to write the background story to my photos, which is a new thing for me. It also means I have to think a little more about the why and the how of going about taking a photograph. If my Flickr views and feedback are anything to go by, this attention to detail is already paying off in my photos. I would advise all photographers to taking the blog approach to their images as it really forces you to up your game considerably. On Flickr especially, fellow users love the background detail to your photos, and of course, everyone is looking for tips and tricks that they can apply in their own work.

Here's one I took a couple of nights ago:

I am also going to be producing some Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop tutorials on the blog, and I hope to include DSLR Video how-tos as well. All in all, as well as enjoying the photography and writing, I am having fun testing out lots of new kit, including camera filters, portable hard drives and new post processing software. All fun stuff to play with and evaluate!!

So, if you're into photography or DSLR Video, watch THIS SPACE for more updates.

In other great news, one of Adrian's photographs of the Aurora Borealis spectacle that hit the UK in February, was bought by Sailing Today magazine. It was a really great shot. Well done, Adrian! Take a look here:

Adrian's landscapes and seascapes are brilliant. He's really challenging me to improve my work. Having someone to compete with (in a friendly way, of course!) can be a great way to help raise your own game - and I think it's working!!

In the last month I haven't just been taking photos in the outdoors. I've also done a fair bit of studio work. This one was taken last weekend in my studio:

The shot is of my wonderful actress daughter Amy and her friend Bobby who obligingly modelled for this and many other shots. Great sports, both of them!

Here's another studio photo, this time taken in Welshot's studio setup in Chester.

It was taken at a photoshoot with Welshot and the Autonomy dance group, a fantastic group of young people who were only too happy to pose for our cameras!

OK I am back to writing my big script!!

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