Danny Cooke’s films celebrate unique artists and Great British tradition. The featured video is a short which captures David A. Smith’s journey as he creates an album cover for American musician John Mayer. David is a traditional ornamental glass artist and Cooke’s film reveals how much time, skill and passion goes into his work. In a similar vein is the short film Upside Down, Left To Right: A Letterpress Film, which is about the technique of letter press printing and how it is currently enjoying a revival in popularity, perhaps as a response to the fast progression of the digital age.
Danny Cooke is a freelance filmmaker, cinematographer and editor based in Torquay, Devon. As well as the films I have described above Danny is also involved in the production of music videos and in promotional work, visit his website by following the link below for more details.
Danny’s style of filming is often intimate and romantic – an effect achieved through the use of lingering, close-up shots of facial expressions and hand movements. He also favours striking musical accompaniments over naturalistic use of sound and this contributes to the immersive nature of his films.
Recently, whilst visiting the Southbank, I’ve been noticing a lot of freerunners – mostly young men, who use the city’s architecture as a playground to perform incredible feats of gymnastics. It occurred to me that the showmanship of their sport would make for an excellent short film. However, as with most of my good ideas, somebody already thought of it. Step forward Visive productions and Storm Freerun.
Visive Productions are a production company based in Kent and Storm Freerun are a professional London Parkour team who are now regularly releasing footage of their skills through Visive. The featured video to the left; ‘Storm Freerun London Jam 2013’, is their most recent collaboration (at the time of writing) and is a compilation of London’s top Parkour spots and the people who practice their art there. This community of people have clearly spent many, many hours learning their skill, and this contributes to the attraction of their performance although, in itself, freerunning is mesmerising to watch. Storm have also released tutorial videos showing potential freerunners how to utilise different spaces and they even have their own brand of freerun apparel.
Visive Productions utilise montage, vastly different angles and slow-motion to best display the stunts being performed by the freerunners. Visive have shown a knack for portraying athletes, their previous videos include footage of gymnasts and cyclists, as well as freerunners, who are all filmed in a way that highlights the joy that the athletes are feeling rather than prioritising any competitive element of their sport. For a better idea of what Visive do or if you want to generally feel great about life follow this link:
For Visive’s official website click here:
This week’s blog is going to celebrate the animation of Darcy Prendergast and his production company ‘Oh Yeah Wow’. There is quite an impressive backlog of work to be mentioned here; Darcy’s films include music videos for the likes of Gotye and Bombay Bicycle Club, and a short Nickelodeon series called ‘Critter Litter’ featuring a llama for a hero. These animated delights are usually stop-motion clay productions but Darcy has also produced some experimental ‘light-painting’ films such as Rippled in 2012 (see video).
Darcy Prendergast was also involved in the animation of critically acclaimed feature film Mary and Max back in 2009, but has since chosen to work independently with his own production company. ‘Oh Yeah Wow’, which he runs with a group of close friends. The team’s most recent film is for Wax Taylor and Aloe Blacc and follows ‘a crochet quadropus’ as he floats about turning the world blue.
Darcy’s animation, whilst varying in technique, is recognisable for its darkly humorous, sometimes gothic, style. Darcy’s animal models, perhaps influenced by his father’s career as a zoo-keeper, are some of his most frequently occurring and most imaginative creations. There is a saturation of the colour blue in many of Darcy’s films which adds to the surreal atmosphere of both his animated and live-action films. ‘Oh Yeah Wow’ has also produced slick films for advertisements and music videos which are stylistically more formal. Whatever your animation preferences, Darcy Prendergast is one to watch.
Director Calum MacDiarmid’s latest short film, 82, is currently creating a buzz on the film festival circuit. The short, which stars Nick Moran (Harry Potter and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), enters the dark psyche of a postman on his usual route through a suburban neighbourhood. 82 has recently been screened as part of a collection at the London Independent Film Festival. Follow the link below to watch the trailer.
Calum studied at Kingston University and his artistic roots in illustration and animation come through in the impressionistic style of his films. Calum’s first film; 2010 short, Worship, based on the work of Calum’s psychiatrist father, inserts brief, animated scenes into live-action montage to create a dream-like world. Recently he’s also been working on a film called Liquid Spirit Still which he says is largely artistic and stems from the idea of paint being thrown at an invisible entity and revealing it to be a ballerina. The film will be available online shortly.
Calum MacDiarmid works for ‘Great Guns’ production company, see the link below for more examples of his commercial work.
Music videos can be a great place to discover emerging film talent. My attention was recently grabbed by British band Django Django’s new music video for their latest single ‘WOR’.
The video is directed by Jim Demuth and takes the form of a mini documentary. The subject of the film are an extraordinary group of Indian men, who make a living driving motorbikes and cars around a vertical, cylindrical wall – the ‘Well of Death’. This makes for inspiring footage, but it is not just the interesting subject matter that causes the video to stand out. The visuals are entrancing. Demuth combines extreme close-ups and handheld camera shots, some taken from inside the sideways vehicles, to the effect that the viewer is subsumed in the action. The daredevil men, and the fairground patrons, stare straight down the camera lens in a confrontational and contemplative engagement with the viewer.
Jim Demuth’s other work includes short film ‘Aokigahara Suicide Forest’, a morbid yet fascinating look at Japan’s most popular suicide spot at the foot of Mount Fuji. Geologist Azusa Hayano, who walks through the forest regularly, describes the cultural relevance of the forest and, chillingly, looks for signs of recent deaths. The film shares the harsh white lighting of the ‘WOR’ music video, and the same handheld camera-work.
Short video ‘Pricasso’ makes for more light hearted viewing, if an Australian man using his penis to paint sounds like your kind of thing. Both videos can be found at the link below. Demuth’s films have so far proven themselves to be constantly concerned with intriguing subject matter and are filmed in a thoughtful yet refreshingly liberated style.
Penny Woolcock’s latest film, One Mile Away, is rapidly garnering media attention. The documentary gains access to the very guarded world of Birmingham’s gang culture. There are two major gangs – the Burger Bar Boys and The Johnson Crew. What is shocking, and eye-opening, about this film is the extent of the violence perpetrated by these gangs upon one another, and at what level this is ignored by the police and by the media.
During the film a few members of the gangs on either side attempt to end the violence that has become intrinsic to their way of life. Dylan Duffus, who met Penny on the set of her 2009 film, 1 day, heads the movement from the Burger side. Shabba, who Penny also met during her research for 1 day, represents the Johnson side. However, their peace mission proves incredibly difficult to sustain, until the 2011 riots. Faced with institutional prejudice there is a temporary cease fire as the two inner-city gangs recognise a common enemy.
There is no neat conclusion to the film but the team involved in One Mile Away are continuing the good work through a campaign which aims to take the film to the youths that will benefit most from it. The film, which won Best British Film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, has been screened in several cities at select venues, often accompanied by a Q & A. See the website for future screenings.
Stream the film for £4.99:
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