Great Resources for Filmmakers

I’m constantly on the lookout for resources to help further my career and increase my knowledge. The film industry moves so fast, that you have to learn continually and stay up to date with the latest products, firmware, codecs etc.. This list should help, but it’s certainly not the be all and end all.  If I’ve missed other great sites,  please let me know in the comments and i’ll try to include them.



DIY China Balls for Under £20

There are many ways to light a scene. Whether it is a simple one person interview, a music video on set or a shooting a scene outdoors. There are also many factors to take in to account such as lens speed, natural light and the number of lights/ budget available to you.

At the moment I am planning the lighting for some live music sessions, they will be set in a warehouse with no power, so all power will come from generators outside. I want 6-8 china balls providing soft light from above the talent, it doesn’t matter if they are visible in shot because I feel they will contribute to the look and feel of the video. I want the videos to have a slight raw edge to them, they are shot and recorded in a warehouse after all. Each china ball will be home-made as the quality doesn’t need to be perfect and they aren’t going to be moving around. They are simply made up of a 16-30″ china lanterns, simple plug in lamp-holders and 40-50 watt  Fluorescent Bulbs. Each bulb will output between 150 – 200 watts of equivalent tungsten power. Which is great considering we could be running off a generator!

You can see basic results in the video. It’s a nice wrap around soft light source. Once i’ve got access to the space I’ll post more videos with the final results.

You can get the parts off Amazon at the links below, just slot them together.

Round Chinese Lantern – £6.99
UK Plug with Inline Switch and Lamp Holder – £5.14
40-50w Bulb – £6.99
Total Cost – £19.12



New Look, New Website, New Career

My website has changed a few times over the years but never as much as this.

I’ve always done a bit of blogging, mostly about film, photography, the internet etc… However, now i’m taking a completely different turn. I’ve decided to take my filmmaking to the next level and offer my services as a freelance filmmaker.

Whether it’s commercial video for a company wanting to improve it’s web presence, a music video or short film, I’ll be eager to tell stories from a unique point of view. It’s not a case of just point and record, it’s about communicating with people to get the best out of each subject and producing the best video that we can.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email or leave a comment.


Update: We came 3rd!

Both Casey and I fell asleep when Stillmotion were announcing the winners of their Big Shorts competition last Thursday night, because of the time difference it didn’t start until 2am! It wasn’t until we had an email on Friday night letting us know that we’d actually won that we were sure. There were just a few comments here and there making us think that we may have come 2nd or 3rd.

We are really happy that we came 3rd and we are looking forward to learning more and continuing to make films. There is another competition on the horizon so we have got our thinking caps on and are looking for a story to tell.

We won some camera goodies that will take our film-making skills one step further. You can read more about the prizes here.

If you haven’t seen our entry ‘disapproving parents’ here it is, followed by the 1st place winner ‘Empty Nest’ & 2nd place ‘That Day…’

I’ll be sharing the Stillmotion feedback on our entry here on the blog when we receive it on Monday. I’m looking forward to hearing what they say.



Big Shorts – Disapproving Parents

Casey & I have been entering a few competitions just lately to spur on our creativity, help us to continue to learn and possibly win some amazing prizes along the way.

The latest competition was for Stillmotion, they create stunning videos and are responsible for teaching me a lot of what I know through their excellent tutorials.

The brief was to create a short between 55-60 seconds, with no dialogue and to use natural sounds to enhance and contribute to the story. We also had to use the track ‘Honey’ by Sunbeam from With Etiquette.

So we got thinking and because of the very happy feeling of the song, everything lead towards a montage of a happy family with kids playing etc… Whilst we could have done that we wanted to do something slightly different. We thought of a family dinner, but with a family that wasn’t getting along too well. We wanted to use the audio to enhance the awkwardness of a situation, then among discussion we came up with the idea of dissaproving parents of a newly engaged couple. We thought the sounds of knife on plate, chairs scraping and wine pouring could build some tension and atmosphere into the piece.

After a bit of storyboarding, we needed actors. Fortunately my Mom and Step-Dad stepped up and fitted the role perfectly! We couldn’t find anyone to act as the children so Casey and myself had to be the daughter and her fiance.

We filmed it in their kitchen on a Canon 7D. We used a Sigma 30mm 1.4, Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 & a Canon 24-105mm F4 L. We also used my crappy slider, a 30 year old light with my homemade softbox attached, as well as a monopod and tripod.

We took various shots and borrowed a neighbour to push the camera along on the slider for the esablishing shot. We also got to eat a chicken dinner which was delicious (thanks mom).

Lessons Learned

Whilst I am quite happy with the look of the film, i’ve definitely learned some lessons from this shoot. We shot with a colour temperature of 3000k  which we thought was ok when we were all setup and looked ok on the little screen of the 7D, it turned out to be far too warm. This made colour correcting and getting the cold uncomfortable look from the footage very difficult without introducing unwanted noise. The footage definitely has more noise than I would like considering we shot with a light.

I really wanted to use silence as a contributing factor to set the mood early on in the piece and emphasize the natural sounds that occur. It couldn’t be helped, but there is a main road outside and this introduced lots of unwanted noise. I used a noise gate in final cut and it’s a little too obvious to me in places. I also recorded all the audio on a H4n, but ended up mostly using the in-camera sound because the H4n really picked up the Road noise. In future, i’ll ALWAYS use the Rode VideoMic as a backup to the H4n and spend more time setting up the audio to get the sound perfect.

Planning. Planning is everything. I think some of the above problems could have been avoided if we had planned it earlier. We ended up shooting the weekend before the deadline because we got our idea fairly late on. I would have liked to have arranged someone to record the sound more effectively, this would have avoided the noise reduction, but because we were so short on time we were limited to pretty much ourselves to get the whole shoot done.

The great thing about all this is that we learned so much and I want to document here the mistakes that we made so that we don’t make them again. Maybe others who read this won’t make them either.