LUCY BRYDON: WRITER AND FILMMAKER

So It Goes: even though the title could be the one for a contemporary bestseller with a happy ending for bored teenagers to read on the beach, Lucy Brydon’s short film is not one that can be associated to cheap drama. Her work tackles psychological issues and focuses on complex characters that are completely laid bare by her uncluttered style. In this nine minute clip, she exposes the paradox of art, which can be both overwhelmingly oppressive and liberating, through the character of a young woman who is struggling to free herself from the psychological domination of an artist who believes that she is his muse.

You just take from meis her final cry before she turns away from him, and is one of the rare spoken parts of the film. So It Goes is indeed largely speechless and there is not much dialogue or music to fill in the empty silences of the protagonists’ lives. A train passing, a phone ringing, a shower running: the sounds of real life become more powerful and build up a tense atmosphere that explodes at the end. In that way, Brydon’s scenario is extremely close to reality and it is almost as if her camera was stuck to the skin of her characters to reveal entirely their thoughts, their questions, and their emotional identities.

It is clear by the maturity of her style that Lucy Brydon already has experience in film making. She graduated in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Warwick, and then completed a Master’s degree in Film Directing at Columbia University, after expanding her experience in the field in Shanghai, where she worked for five years in journalism, film production and art shows. Today, she has an impressive list of contributions to films, festivals and exhibitions, and even publications (she was a contributor to the 2014 Introduction to Scottish Documentary Film). Her work has received international awards, including the Dewar Arts Award and the Panavision New Filmmaker Award, and she now runs Shy Film Productions in London. The icing on the cake? She is originally from Edinburgh…

 

Find out more on her official website or follow her on Twitter.

DANIEL NICKSON: FILMMAKER

In the exotic world of cinema, some like to create another world that couldn’t be more remote from what we humans are familiar with. Randomly speaking, this can be a world where it is fine for parents to transform into pigs and for little girls to work for faceless divinities that eat their employees to calm their nerves – yes, the trauma caused by Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away on eight year-old me WAS great. Others, like Daniel Nickson, prefer to focus on the everyday. In Foxes in the Underground , his very impressive graduation film for the University of Westminster, he depicts the coming together of entirely different men to save their jobs at a British news broadcasting station. With this short film, Nickson surpassed academic expectations and reached international recognition as he was nominated for a number of foreign festivals like the Cannes Court Métrage or the Shanghai International Film Festival.

Today, Nickson is studying in Columbia University Film School but his life in the Big Apple does not keep him from staying true to his mother-country. He was born in Manchester, studied in Westminster and now claims that he is working from both New York and from London. Focusing on masculinity and ordinary episodes from the everyday lives of the British people is central to his work. He is successful in rendering his stories touching without over-dramatizing them. From Shadowboxer, the story of a father pressuring his son into being a boxer, toThe File, which portrays the absolute alienation of an employee because of his bureaucratic job, Daniel Nickson impresses by his technical skills and by the maturity of the themes he develops. There is almost a James Joycan spirit to his short films as they highlight the tragedy of the protagonists’ lives like Joyce did with his Dubliners. Fine with me, as long as Nickson doesn’t start getting his inspiration from Ulysses.

His next project, Ferry, is a short film about migration and trafficking in Eastern Europe, that he is making in collaboration with Reka Posta and that should be released by May 2014. It focuses on how car trafficking is changing the lives of migrants in Hungary, and was funded entirely by donations. To find out more about this project or to donate, you can visit the project’s fiscal sponsor’s website. To be kept updated of Daniel Nickson’s latest news, you can also visit Brainwash , a cultural blog that he co-directs and that organizes film events every month. Or follow him on Twitter. Or visit his official website. Your call!

Ben Garfield

Let me introduce you all to one talented film director, Mr Ben Garfield. Ben Garfield is a London based award-winning freelance film director, writer, cameraman and editor. It is safe to say Ben is more than a triple threat. After studying Drama and Screen Studies at university, it is clear that Ben understands the language of the cinema, and how to make an enchanting film.

After recently working at Sundance film festival in London, I discovered one of Ben’s videos ‘Homey’ on their website. I needed to view more of Ben’s work. I went onto his website, and soon I found myself addicted to Ben’s short and sweet narratives http://vimeo.com/bengarfield. I wanted to share with you guys two of my favourite films by Ben; Homey and Modern Conversation.

Modern Conversation is a hilarious short film, about how the iPhone generation cannot have a conversation without checking into Facebook, live tweeting about your convo, Instergramming, liking, hashtagging, tagging and Snapchatting pictures to your friend who is sitting right next to you. I am one hundred per cent sure every person can relate to these two brilliant characters.

Homey had me glued to my seat for the films three minuet length, following a tense game of British Bulldog. I found myself biting my nails in hope that the 8-year-old young boy Bertie would make it to the other side of the playground safe and sound. Ben’s creativity and amusing short films have not gone unnoticed. Homey has been chosen as part of the Official Selections at the BFI Future Film Festival 2013, Sundance London’s 2013 Short Film Competition, the St Albans Film Festival 2013 and British Shorts Berlin 2013.

 

I got the chance to ask Ben a few questions about his career, love for film, and plans for the future.

So you studied Drama and Screen Studies at The University of Manchester. You clearly knew from a young age that you wanted to get involved in the film industry. Where has this love and passion for filmmaking stemmed from?

I always loved film but it was only on the course that I actually developed any serious ambitions to become a writer/director. I had a couple of very inspiring tutors – David Butler and Johannes Sjoberg – and around that time I started dating a girl who really loved her cinema too. Their passion rubbed off on me and I started to see film in a new light.

I actually only ended up on the screen studies course in a roundabout way – I switched from philosophy after my first year at Manchester as I wanted to do something more creative, so I took a punt on it. I’m pleased I did!

How did you come up with the narrative of Modern Conversation? From your frustrated experience of modern technology?

I didn’t actually come up with the narrative. It was written and performed by the wonderful Mixed Doubles, a London based comedy sketch group (you can find out more about them at http://www.mixed-doubles.co.uk/media). I did all the film stuff for it – produced, directed, shot, edited etc.

I agree it’s a very poignant sketch. Modern technology seems to allow you to be everywhere and with everyone at the same time – before long that can lead to an overload. It’s an easy trap to fall into! Ironically the sketch itself led us to spend an unhealthy amount of time online. We entered it into The Dave Leicester Comedy Shorts competition, where there was a prize for the most views on YouTube. Consequently we pretty much turned into those characters promoting it like mad on Twitter and Facebook!

What made you want to create ‘Homey’?

 I remember the inspiration for it coming one day as I was crossing the Holloway Road in London. It’s a busy road and, although I wasn’t actually in any real danger, as I got to the island in the middle I got a rush, a feeling of “I’m safe! I made it!” The sensation triggered a memory of playing British bulldog in the school playground and the relief of getting to the other side. I got to thinking it could work well as a film and be something others could relate to.

Is the game of British bulldog an allegory?

I think you can look at the narrative whichever way you like really. I wanted to capture something of the goldfish bowl mentality of it, and show how seriously we all took games when we were younger. I based a lot of the shots on the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. To the kids, it’s a war.

I think you can apply that to grown-ups too. It raises interesting questions for me about how seriously we regard the events in our everyday lives.

What does it feel like as a filmmaker to have your work not only noticed, but also nominated for awards by massive institutions such as BFI and Sundance London?

Homey got on the official selection shortlists for those though it didn’t win the awards unfortunately! It’s great to get noticed by those institutions. Having your film screened at the BFI in front of a packed cinema is always exciting.

What tips would you give young people trying to break into the film industry? 

I think the best thing you can do if you want to start making films is to not be afraid to make that first step and get a project underway. For my first short film the cast and crew were recruited entirely through Internet networking sites, none of whom I’d previously met. Before that I felt like I’d been waiting around for things to fall into place too long, like I’d do a job as a runner and I’d meet the perfect producer, then at the next job I’d meet a brilliant cinematographer. When that didn’t happen I decided to just do it off my own back and with sites like Casting Call Pro and Shooting People it’s all possible.

So my advice is to believe in your project and go for it.

What have you got planned for the future?

 A few things. I’ve shot some more sketches with Mixed Doubles which will be out soon. You can like their Facebook page to stay in the loop about those: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mixed-Doubles/390702900983297?ref=ts&fref=ts

I’ve also directed a music video for Hypeman Sage and Subculture Sounds, which we’re editing at the moment. It’s an exciting one, there’s a great team behind the project and the rushes have come out well. I’m looking forward to getting it out there!

Short film-wise I’ve just finished the script for my next film. It’s the longest to date and will probably come in around the 15 minute mark. Now I’ve got to start thinking about getting it off the ground…

Just like the two amazing ladies in Modern Conversation would do, go and tweet, share, like and retweet Ben’s brilliance.

http://www.bengarfield.com/

Ellie Ragdale

Ellie Ragdale is a stop motion animator based in Sheffield. As well as creating her beautiful and intricate films, Ellie is also on a mission to bring the creation of animated film to the masses, running workshops for children and planning film screenings designed to bring the Sheffield creative community together. Find out all about her and her work below.

Ellie has been making animations since her final year studying Drama and Screen at the University of Manchester, when she managed to persuade her tutor to let her take a new second year module in animation. She had always been interested in animated film, having loved shows like Pingu and Camberwick as a child, but says it was the inspirational teaching of Barry Purves, the module leader and acclaimed stop motion animator, that made her realise just how passionate she was about it. Ellie threw herself into the course with enthusiasm, making her first film, Tim the Tiny Horse, a project focussing on adapting fantasy texts for screen and based on the stories of comedian Harry Hill.

Ellie says that the reason stop motion animation appealed to her so greatly is because it allows her to combine her two loves, namely making things and making films. Her films encompass a variety of styles and techniques (such as puppet animation, pixilation and papercraft) and she cites her influences as not only children’s stop motion television programmes, but also the “non-polished, handmade aesthetic” of director Michel Gondry.

After graduation, Ellie found work experience with a variety of different filmmakers, companies and festivals, including working with Broken Pixel animator Ashley Dean on two music videos (Gazpacho’s Black Lily and Fossil Collective’s Let It Go, which won best music video at the 2012 Aesthetica Film Festival). She continued to create her own films and in the summer of 2012, through what she describes as ‘almost coincidence’, began to make films with musician and friend Andrew Anderson. The pair’s skills complimented each other perfectly, with Andrew’s original compositions providing the ideal score for Ellie’s animations. Their first film, You Let Me Down Again, was a music video for Andrew’s band Proto Idiot, and has since been shown at the London Short Film Festival. Since then, they have worked on several films together, including The Animal Arkhive, for which they received funding though IdeasTap and permission to use sound effects from the British Libraries sound archive.

Ellie’s says that her plans for the future are to continue working with Andrew under their company ‘Peck Films’. Their aim is to secure commissions to make animated shorts for companies, as well as to continue to make their own films. Recently, Ellie has also begun to teach animation as part of the Kids Art Academy afterschool club sessions around Sheffield. Through Sheffield-based community arts charity Art in the Park and somewhereto_ (a nation-wide Olympic legacy scheme that focuses on connecting young people aged 16-25 with free space to do the things they love) Ellie secured funding through O2’s ‘Think Big’ grant, meaning that she was able the run a series of animation workshops in more disadvantaged areas of the city and, as a continuation of this, last month had her application bid for O2’s ‘Think Bigger’ fund accepted. As a result, this Autumn she plans to stage an immersive cinema screening event for children. Ellie says that she wants it to be a community event, showcasing the work of local children created in a series of workshops leading up to the event, and involving other young creative people like herself “to combine a variety of skills and talents and make this event something really special and unique”

For more information about Ellie’s work, visit her Vimeo page or follow her on Twitter.

Danny Cooke

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.

http://vimeo.com/35688592

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.

http://www.dannycooke.co.uk/

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.

Introducing Matthew Wood

Matthew Wood, filmmaker and artist, is a stellar example of the many young and talented creatives in the UK, working hard and biding their time for that big break and the attention they deserve.

First introduced to Wood by his mature, restrained and visually seductive music video for ‘Curtains’ by The Lottery Winners, I was impressed to find that this was merely the tip of the iceberg.

His repertoire includes an array of interesting and unique experiments captured through the lens. Always ‘challenged by the idea of reinventing the wheel’, Wood strives to push the overdone idea, to rethink it, to ‘rebirth’ it.

With a keen eye for subtle details, he conveys atmosphere and his ideas in a collected and elegant manner, never giving too much and always drawing the viewer deep into the narrative.

In 2010, soon after graduating, his stunning short film ‘Umbrella Girl’ won him the Best Artist’s Film category at the Exposures film festival. His work has featured in Imogen Heap’s ‘Love the Earth’ film, and his more recent short ‘Fancy Clown’ was a runner up in the Stones Throw Video Contest 2011.

Continuing to produce, and with another of his films shown at The World Bellyboard Championships in Cornwall this year, it is sure to be soon that Matthew Wood has his moment, and I for one am much anticipating a feature length production from this bright and talented filmmaker.

http://www.thisismatthewwood.com/