Posted on May 12, 2015
I spent two weeks traveling around Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan where I filmed and interviewed Eagle Hunters from all around these two beautiful countries for a feature documentary that will be out next year!
Eagle Hunting is an ancient male tradition that goes back thousands of years where nomadic Kazakhs capture a young golden eagle from it’s nest and train the Eagle to hunt for rabbits, foxes and on occasion wolves! How insane is that!
Hunting most commonly takes places in the winter when temperatures drop to -40 degrees celsius and food supplies are at an all time low. The meat from the animals caught are used to feed the Eagle Hunters family and the fur is used for the Eagle Hunters coats to keep them warm!
Tracking down and filming the Eagle Hunters was an incredible adventure and we met so many wonderful people on the road! I was blown away by the kindness and generosity of the locals who would offer us tea and food wherever we went.
The landscape of these two countries, especially Kyrgyzstan was breathtaking and at times felt like I was on another planet!
We were moving around lots so we had to keep the camera equipment to a minimum. I was filming with the Sony AS7 and Canon lenses using a Metabones converter. I also took the drone out there. It was a lot of fun having the opportunity to fly it in remote villages and capture these dramatic landscapes from perspectives that very few people have seen before. A lot of the locals were very excited to see the drone in action and would often come up to us to investigate what it was.
I’ll be posting more about the film closer to it’s release. For now here are a few behind the scenes photos from the trip, enjoy:
Posted on February 8, 2015
Drones will and are already revolutionising filmmaking, allowing filmmakers to achieve jaw dropping, cinematic results that have previously only been available to Hollywood productions!
I’ve been working with drones on and off for a few years now but at the end of last year I decided to take the leap and buy one of my own and I haven’t looked back! If you’re wanting to get high-production value shots for your next film project and you’re looking at using a drone here are my top ten tips on how to get that money shot safely:
1) If it’s your first time flying make sure you practice in a field far away from people, cars and houses. It’s all about muscle memory, fly on a daily basis for a few months in different locations before using it on set. Practice, practice, practice.
2) Depending on where you’re flying check the rules, do a quick Google. For example you’re not allowed to fly a drone in London unless you have a permit. But you can fly over the parliament buildings in Budapest no problem. As this is a new technology lots of countries are still catching up and don’t have any drone rules. Always use common sense when flying.
3) The best results are produced when flying the drone slowly with long nice fluid movements. Get close to an object and slowly rise above it to reveal the amazing vistas in front of you.
4) Never fly above crowds, it’s illegal and very dangerous.
5) Make sure you don’t fly above 400 feet (122 metres) or near airports, the last thing you want to be doing is crashing into a plane.
6) The drone really shines when you can get shots that aren’t possible with a helicopter. For example when I was shooting in Scotland I got a shot of the drone flying through a castle window and it looks amazing. Be creative and try and get shots that nobody has seen before.
7) Experiment with the settings on your camera that you’ve attached to the drone and see what results it produces. The more you can understand about this technology the better equipped you’ll be as every shoot is different and may require a different look. For example if you film at 30 frames per second and then slow it down and convert it to 25 or 24 frames per second in post and the footage will have an almost dream like feel to it.
8) Plan each shot before you take off. Each battery on a drone lasts about 15 minutes so you want to maximise flight time. Like any shoot the more you plan the better the results will be (keep spare batteries to hand too).
9) This is an obvious one but always check the weather conditions before flying the drone. Drones are pretty good in wind but if it’s super windy or raining and you don’t feel comfortable flying the drone wait till the wind has calmed down or the rain has stopped. It can be unsafe to fly in high winds and more than likely the footage will be unusable.
10) If you want to produce something amazing it’s got to start with a great idea. Always put the shots and story before the tools. Audiences want to see people, stories and experiences that they connect with on an emotional level. As filmmakers we create content that entertains, moves and inspires people. Drone technology won’t turn you into a great filmmaker but it will enhance your skills as a story teller and if used well will make your work shine.
If you’re thinking about getting a drone I would highly recommend the DJI Phantom 2 with a H4-3D Gimbal which takes a GoPro Hero 4 Black. For the price and performance it’s currently the best on the market. GoPro have also announced they’re making a drone which I imagine will be very good, so keep an eye out for that!
What are your thoughts on drones and using them to make films?
If there’s any other filmmaking & photography tips and tricks you’d like me to talk about in future blog posts let me know in the comment bar below – speak soon!
Posted on February 1, 2015
Over the Christmas break I flew to Norway for a week to spend time with family and celebrate Xmas Norwegian style! This usually involves a lot of wine and spirits – although I don’t drink so I stuck to the water. It also involves a lot of delicious food, tobogganing, snow ball fights and time around the fire contemplating life.
I wanted to share my love of Norway with everyone so when I wasn’t eating good food or enjoying the warm comforts of the fire I was outside in -15ºC (5ºF) filming and capturing what Norway means to me. It was a lot of fun to make this video and I also had the chance to use my new drone, the DJI Phantom 2 to get some epic aerial shots.
Here are a few photos from my time in Norway, enjoy:
Posted on November 17, 2014
Richmond Park, it’s the place I go to be re-energised, inspired and motivated. It’s where I feel most home when in London and I love exploring all it’s nooks and crannies and capturing it’s beauty so I can share it with others. When I first discovered it I couldn’t quite believe that it was situated in England, let alone London. It’s a slice of paradise and without it, I honestly don’t think I could live in London.
Nature is a hugely important part of my life and at times I really struggle living in a concrete jungle with the constant noise and over stimulus. Nature allows me to take a breathe and reminds me to appreciate the everyday miracles – big and small and to just love life!
Richmond Park was officially born in 1625 when Charles the first brought his court to Richmond Palace to escape the plague in central London and turned the area on the hill above Richmond into a park for the hunting of red and fallow deer. The park now contains over 600 deer, 144 bird species, 139 spider species, about 750 butterfly and moth species and over 1350 beetle species and a variety of other animals including rabbits, foxes and mice.
If you’re looking for a place to escape the hustle and bustle of London I’d highly recommend taking a trip to this beautiful place, it will momentarily transport you to another world! It’s like going down the rabbit hole in ‘Alice in Wonderland’! It’s awesome!
Here are a few shots that I’ve taken while on my adventures in this amazing park:
Posted on November 11, 2014
“The absence of limitations is the enemy of art”. – Orson Welles
Photography is a great way to express yourself and share the way you see the world with others.
I was really keen to do a photography project to get the creative juices flowing and use it as a way to develop a short film concept that I’d been thinking about for sometime. I contacted costume designer Georgia Lewis, production designer Joe Oliver Eason and actor Akshay Kumar to see if they’d be interested in getting involved. Amazingly, they all said yes!
The costume drew inspiration from Assassin Creed and Robin Hood. Georgia spent several weeks designing the costume and putting it together. However on the day of the shoot Georgia who was staying with a friend in London rang me saying her car had been broken into and the costume had been stolen – it must have been one awesome costume! With Georgia’s amazing creative ability to make something incredible from next to nothing, I knew we’d be ok. Using old rags that the thieves had deemed unworthy and had left behind in the car, we went to work. Testing, tearing and improvising! Two hours later we had our costume. Our talented production designer Joe added the final touches with the bow, arrow and quiver that he’d hand crafted from wood and bits of old material that he’d found around the house. Akshay was then smothered in mud from outside and boom, our ‘Ranger’ was born!
I’m a true believe that when limitations and problems occur creativity thrives. We’re forced to do things differently and go against the norm in order to make it work. It’s amazing what happy accidents can occur and often the end product is better because of it.
Posted on September 16, 2014
Over the weekend I attended the Isle of Man Film Festival where my short film ‘Modern Man’ was screened. It was an awesome event with a huge variety of incredible films shown from all around the globe! It was exciting to be part of such a high calibre of filmmaking talent and we even won an award for BEST COMEDY SHORT!! Woohooo! The highly acclaimed film critic Mark Kermode was there to help with judging and to hand out the awards!
One of my favourite moments at the festival was watching the 1928 silent classic ‘Beggars of Life‘ scored by a live band. The band made the experience completely unique and magical! As a filmmaker it’s so exciting watching films from the past and seeing how this incredible art form has developed over the years!
I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who made the Isle of Man Film Festival possible and for all the blood sweat and tears that was put into making it such an exciting event! Until next time, over and out.
Photo Credits: Dave Silvester and Ben Desmond