Video: Behind the scenes at the Almeida Theatre

Before sets have been built and costumes designed there usually isn’t much to help promote upcoming theatre productions – which means creating a buzz before they launch is tricky.

So the Almeida Theatre in London has been commissioning me to produce behind the scenes films to help promote upcoming shows.

The Tragedy of King Richard II

These have been quite demanding shoots, learning to work with a small footprint and minimise disruption to the directors and actors in the room.

As with all shoots it’s about getting the footage you need for the edit – capturing a sense of what’s happening in the room as well as the themes of the play in rehearsal. The location set-up is often only seen on the day of the shoot – meaning I’ll make a very quick assessment and mental shot list as I walk in.

Access to the rehearsals can be anything from 20 minutes to an hour – which means there are strict time limits to capture enough footage – this is stressful, but it also forces me to be efficient.

It also means that shoots are usually handheld and dynamic, with lots of camera movement to help emphasise action. During the shoots I’m quite procedural, using my mental shot list to make sure I get a range of close-ups, mids, wides – camera movements,  detail shots – and slow motion – all of which I know I’ll need to make a compelling edit.

Interviews and access to the actors is also very limited – so quick decision making in setting up the look of these is vital. These pieces are used to promote upcoming productions, so getting the key sound bites that really sell the production and describe the tone of the play is vital.

Dance Nation

The edits themselves usually start with music selection – which is how I tend to approach most edits –  so finding the right track can take some time before cutting even begins.

Grading is also another useful way of communicating the tone and language of the production, for example with the Tragedy of King Richard II, I chose cooler colours to emphasise the starkness of the play’s content.

I’ve really enjoyed working with the Almeida because they’ve been very supportive in producing adventurous work – something that not all organisations have the confidence to do!

 

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Video: DRAG – Meet the curator | Hayward Gallery

Senior Curator Vincent Honore introduces us to the DRAG: Self-portraits and body politics exhibition in my latest piece for the Hayward Gallery.

The exhibition is free – so go check it out!

Video: Robert Smith’s Meltdown

Over June I covered Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival at Southbank Centre – directing and producing shoots across the festival to create highlight reels and band interview videos.

It was one of the most intense working weeks I’ve pulled off in a long time, completely fuelled by coffee and adrenaline, but totally worth it. Getting to film upfront during performances of bands such as Deftones, Manic Street Preachers and Mogwai were definite highlights.

I learnt loads of lessons during this project – particularly the need for agility and the importance of hanging around backstage to grab last minute interview opportunities!

Special thanks also needs to go to Philip Jenkins and Ben Smith who provided much needed production support!

Mogwai

Yonaka

Deftones

Video: GAIKA – Basic Volume Combat Sports

I was recently asked by Warp Records to provide production for Gaika’s video streaming show, BVCS. The stream is a mix of DJ sets, live performances and interviews curated by Gaika.

The line-up for the featured episode:

Ikonika
Amy Becker
Tony Njoku
Kamixlo

All the sets were recorded at Somerset House in London and streamed online.

VIDEO: Dear Leaders – Myth (Not A Football Song)

Here’s my first venture into music videos – made for a friend’s band – Dear Leaders.

It was actually shot last year, but a busy work schedule delayed the edit until the beginning of this year – they released the track as a single in April alongside the video – check it out below!

It was real guerrilla film making, we had no budget, very little plan or script – just a very rough narrative. We shot this across London, near Green Lanes in Haringey and also in Hackney Marshes, with a lot of improvisation at the locations. I also shot this solo, with only two days to get everything done (the band live in separate cities) – which added extra pressure to the production!

The edit was quite challenging as a result, but eventually I picked a route through the footage, not that the narrative makes total sense… but when were music videos ever the bastion of linear narratives?

I was lucky enough to work with actor Julian Spooner (who put up with two days of masking tape being ripped off his face) – who was great to work with, mainly because he was very patient and took my direction without protest. The band members also make small cameos – see if you can spot them!

It was shot mostly on my Sony A7s and it’s low light capabilities allowed opened up a lot of creative possibilities for shooting at dusk on the marshes.

Video

VIDEO: An Astrological April Fools

This year we wanted to go all out for our April Fools effort, so we decided to make a video to announce this year’s (fake) Christmas Lectures subject and lecturer. You can see the effort below:

In reality, the lecturer featured in the video is none-other than Ri Director of Finance, Michael de Crespigny (at least his name was real) who, may I add, played a fantastic role in portraying a quantum astrologer.

Although we don’t usually make a video announcing the Christmas Lecturer we wanted to create a piece of content that would work for our international YouTube audience as much as those that regularly tune into the Lectures in the UK.

So we set about scripting a piece that straddled the line between nonsense and plausibility, settling on the subject of astrology and making liberal use of the word “quantum” to hopefully pull the wool over people’s eyes.

I’ve written an extended blog piece over on the Ri’s blog.

Video: Playing with the Panasonic GH4

I decided to buy myself a new camera over Christmas and after much deliberation (including watching countless video reviews) I bought myself a Panasonic GH4. It’s a small mirror-less Micro-Four-Thirds DSLR that comes crammed with some incredible features, such as 4k internal recording and a 96fps shooting mode in 1080p! Oh and it’s a pretty cheap piece of kit for what it does.

I took a few walks out with my new camera and cut together a few bits of test footage – take a look below (I’m still getting to grips with the camera, so do excuse the shoddiness)

Both were shot with the Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm f2.8 – it’s a fantastically sharp little lens with image stabilisation built in. The footage was cut together in FCPX and graded with the help of Impulz LUTs.

The camera isn’t perfect, but I’m fantastically happy with it – the 4k footage is beautifully detailed and can be downscaled in the edit for a 1080 export – providing some useful cropping options as well. Here’s an arty picture of me sitting on the ground in Regent’s Park, with my GH4:

me

I’ll likely post more test footage over the coming months.

Audio: The Listening Post

Back in June I worked on ‘The Listening Post’ – an ambitious sound installation, co-commissioned by LIFT and 14-18 NOW that formed part of the ‘After a War‘ exhibition at the Battersea Arts Centre.

IMG_1613_webWriters James Wilkes and Tom Chivers led the project researching the history and lives of Battersea residents during the First World War. Their research into local archives and town records unearthed a wealth of material to work with, featuring stories from conscientious objectors, the struggles of munitionettes and the local paranoia surrounding activities of German bakers (below).

The pieces were produced and presented across more than 14 speakers spread throughout the installation, supported by work from graphic designer Lina Hakim and installation designer Gary Campbell.

Each section of the installation evoked a different feeling and theme, ranging from orchid growing to leisure activities (roller skating and hot air ballooning) before moving onto the darker tones of wartime industry and tribunals for conscientious objectors.

You can listen to James below as he gives a guided overview of the installation:

https://soundcloud.com/liftfestival/lift2014-after-a-war-a-tour-of-the-listening-post-with-james-wilkes

You can read a review of the event here.

Voices In The Dark

In The Dark @ The Voice, Wellcome Collection

Friday 1 March 2013, 19.00-23.00

The Voice

In a week’s time In The Dark will be hosting a special listening event at the Wellcome Collection, as part of the larger Voice event. We will be curating an evening of listening that taps into our complex relationship with the voice, featuring a rich chorus of vocalisations, speech and other oral oddities. The listening event will run for approximately 20 minutes and will be repeated throughout the night (timings below) – I’ve just finished mixing the playlist and we’ve managed to squeeze in an interesting range of material, from strong narrative pieces to the more avant garde.

In addition to our own event, there’s a load of other great stuff going on under the same roof, including talks exploring the science of speech, live vocal demonstrations from yodellers and sports commentators, talking parrots and technology that will remix your voice in real time. It’s all FREE as well, so if you’re in London next Friday you may as well drop by and have a look / listen for yourself.

Listening times for our sessions are as follows:

19.30,

20.15,

21.00,

21.45,

22.30.

Hope to see you there.