201 – reflection


At first I found it hard to find people to interview within the industry but thought once I found people they would make great contacts to maybe continue to talk to and work with.

I got in contact with a writer and filmmaker from Manchester called Mat Johns. I first discovered his work on Vimeo and really liked it so thought I could message him to ask some questions. The other person I messaged was a student at Manchester Metropolitan University called, Bethany Adlam. All the answers I got from both people really made me realise what it takes to achieve and it definitely has had an impact on me too.


Overall I think this task in the 201 module has been one of the hardest due to big group sizes from different courses making it harder to meet due to people having various deadlines. I do realise why this was given as a group task making us combine skills and see what it is like in the industry but I think if this was just done as an individual task you would still get enough experience out of it. I know I have just by talking to people and interviewing them. Even if some people didn’t have time for an interview I still got to have the experience of trying to get out there and in contact anyway.


201 – Interviews

Bethany Adlam – Media and Photography Student

What do you think it takes to become a professional?

Passion is all it takes to be a professional. When you are passionate enough about something all the rest of the things come with it too. You learn how to deal with how to do things and how to work with people. As long as you are passionate enough you can work to the best of your ability and it comes across.


What has inspired/motivated you to get to where you are today?

What inspires me is media itself, there are no limits on what you can and can’t do. You’re free. It’s developing, it’s interactive and it constantly keeps you enthusiastic. I love it because I can never be bored.


Do you have any future aims or projects you would like to achieve?

Future aims, I would like to get my work more out there that’s my aim. I don’t want to be famous but it would be nice to have people appreciate my work but even if even if it’s negative it’s good to get criticism and know people have at least just seen it.


How do you come up with new ideas and concepts?

I wait for something to capture my eye or to come to me. That might sound lazy but if I’m too busy looking for it I’m never going to find it. I have to feel energy between the project and me or it just doesn’t work. Like I said before, I have to be passionate.


What is it about media that keeps you motivated?

Media is constantly developing; it’s nice to be a part of something that’s so unpredictable. I might have a project but no one project will ever be the same as the last and that’s what I like. I get excited


Mat Johns – Writer and filmmaker


What do you think it takes to become a professional?

To become a professional, or to find a stable position in the industry, you have to be committed to learning about your craft. Everyone learns differently, and every craft, particularly filmmaking and television, are comprised of so many departments and roles. It doesn’t hurt to have a broad understanding of these roles, and to specialise in a few of them. I like to write, direct, shoot and edit, so I have to keep learning about these skills and be able to communicate ideas with people who may be performing one of those roles on one of my shoots.

I don’t think about being ‘professional’ as such, I find it’s more about knowing in yourself that you are doing the best you can in whatever field you apply yourself too. I don’t really hear people say “I’m a professional filmmaker.” There are rules and codes of behaviour that are deemed professional but most of the time it’s just common sense.

Sadly, sometimes all it takes to become a ‘professional’ is knowing the right person in the position, even if your skillset might not be up to that standard yet. ‘Professional’ can be a loose term and one that can tie a person to an elitist state of mind.

Reading and practicing are key as you never stop learning. Just work hard and be aware of the opportunities around you and those that you can create for yourself.


What has inspired/motivated you to get to where you are today?

Watching movies! Since I was a kid, movies have been my own private cave where I can go and feel and see and respond. I love movies (and TV shows now because they’re better than a lot of movies). I am only so far down the road, but I guess I’m more of a practically-minded person. I experimented with film and tried things out. I read and learned from my peers and tried things again. I watched countless movies and making-ofs. But there’s always more to be done.


 How did you get into writing and filmmaking?

I got into writing and filmmaking by being inspired as a kid. Terminator 2 cganged my world as an 8 year old. But I haven’t always wanted to be a writer/director. First I wanted to act, then I wanted to be a stuntman. Then I wanted to do special effects. I went to college and the course I was on (tech theatre) had a film module. This was the first chance I got to write and direct a short film. The film was awful, but it gave me the taste for it.

I did community filmmaking projects, went to uni (media production) and made more bad films, then I started making films with my friends and the Kino00 movement and begun to hone my skills and find a voice. I also went freelance after uni and after a few years developed better skills across the areas in which I work – if I was gong to be getting paid by people I had to get better.


How important is it to you to have your own style?

I suppose a style is a desirable thing to have. We all have filmmakers we admire for their particular approach to scene blocking, composition/shot design and editing. But I don’t think it’s essential, particularly early on (but if you have one, then great!). The only essential thing a director needs is the is the drive (which hopefully leads to the ability) to tell stories well. Film is a language that must be learned, and each of the disciplines within it are also languages unto themselves. Do you shoot this scene over three angles for coverage and visual momentum or do you cover it one wide moving shot and let the actors do their jobs? Learning how to answer such questions comes after knowing about what your story requires.

The great filmmakers don’t compromise performance for sexy photography or editing, the shitty ones do. The great filmmakers marry them, seamlessly blending narrative and the technical aspects of the craft to deliver a striking finished film. Fincher and Spielberg both make fantastic films most of the time, yet they are stylistically very different. They both have confident styles employing beautiful cinematography that are only there to strengthen the story and performances. Everything fits (see Jaws and Fight Club – both incredible films). Then look at Transformers by Michael Bay. Bayhem overwhelms and attacks the audiences senses with dozens of micro events on screen at any one time (when a woman isn’t being made to walk around in tiny shorts). Chaos reigns. And people like it, but let’s be honest, he’s more about the dazzle than the substance.

Style is the window we look through, not the content itself, and it should only ever be employed to help deliver the story. And when both are mastered, it’s beautiful to behold. I’m still finding my style, but I’m closer than I was 5 years ago.

 Out of every short you have been involved in, which has been the most challenging and why?

Hmm… each project presents it’s own challenges. I think one of the toughest was Radio Silence, which is odd because the toughness came from making the shoot as practical as possible.

With Radio Silence (the trailer is on my Vimeo) we had to shoot a 20min+ film on a super low budget, so that immediately creates problems around what you can ask of people’s time/commitment if you’re not paying them. The way to do it is to plan, plan and plan. Fortunately, I know a lot of talented people and they were willing to help as they enjoyed my previous work.

I storyboarded the whole film myself. I had previously storyboarded parts of some of previous films, but only really the more complicated scene. With Radio, I wanted the thing on paper first. I then did a shot list based on these storyboards and we had something like 110 set ups to do in 4 days. Chris Lane, the producer/production manager, then took that shot list and the storyboards worked them into an efficient and achievable schedule.

One of the crew members, Sam (lighting) described the like making a flat-pack movie – we had all the instructions we needed throughout the process to help us use our time better. I’m not naturally that organised, so this, with massive help from Chris, was a challenge that we overcame. This was also the first time I was directing someone else’s script so we didn’t want to mess it up!

You have to surround yourself with good people on a shoot, and I’m so lucky to have worked with some genuinely wonderful and talented people. I really am.


How do you come up with new ideas and concepts?

This is never the same. Sometimes you have an idea about a character and build a story outward from there. Sometimes it’s an event. Sometimes it’ just a shot you have in mind and that leads to a character and then a story. Sometimes it’s a story you hear that shoots off into another idea. Sometimes it’s the words in a song. Sometimes it’s just about making something that’s achievable.

I had an idea recently after sitting in a car in a petrol station in the rain. It was daytime but dark and deadly quiet. I imagined what the car would look like from a low, slow push in shot, with the rain bouncing up off the floor right in front of camera, the headlights’ beams illuminating the heavy droplets. I wasn’t trying to think of a story at all, but once this idea was in there it got me thinking ‘OK, so who’s sitting in that car and why?’ I now have an entire feature planned from that shot idea. It’s weird, inspiration. Sometimes you’re ready to move with it, desperately waiting for it to arrive. Sometimes it just sneaks up and taps you on the shoulder and you have to go with it.


How do you put yourself and your work out there for people to see?

This depends on the project and the time you’re willing to give to it once it’s completed, or what the plan was going in.

Some films you make for festivals and know that you’ll be spending money and time sending here, there and everywhere. That’s exhausting but festival laurels look great on your poster and it gives the film kudos in the film community. There’s a respect that comes with festivals and even though it’s a whole other job getting the film and a promo package together, it’s worth it.

Other times it’s just better to get the film online and share it like a beast. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, YouTube… if a film finds an audience online it just bounces around. This is what happened with my short ‘Run’. Joe, the lead actor, was pushing the film on Twitter and Stephen Fry retweeted it. Once that happened the rest wrote itself. It found an audience amongst the horror community (which I wasn’t expecting as I don’t see it as a horror piece). It got shared on reputable websites and blogs, we got some quotes from magazines and filmmakers to put on the poster, and it opened doors for me creatively. I met my writing partner because of this film and we have recently finished a feature version of the film, and we have other projects ready to write.

You have to see what other people are doing with their work and where it has got them, and see what best suits your project. But it can be frustrating. You have to be prepared for that.


Do you have any future aims you would like to achieve?

Dozens. I want to make my first feature. And my second. And my third. I want to travel. I want to see the world and have experiences that enrich my understanding of life and the stories within it. I want to read more. I want to make more music videos. I want to become a better writer, a better director, and ultimately a better person too. The world is a beautiful and harsh place. I want to find a way to move through it in as positive way as possible. There are lots to do and lots of hard work between here and there, but one step at a time.


201MC Professional Experience

Experience to date –

I think so far my professional experience has been quite restricted and has only been through projects set in college and my first year of university. Although this was all through many projects that were set for me, I do think I have acted professional throughout them. These projects have consisted of working in groups, working on many forms of software, writing scripts and many more professional factors I have learnt along the way though education. I do think now I know the skills and what it takes to do these projects I could do them just for myself and without them having to be set for me.

Skills that could be developed –

I do think this professional module will be a great time for me to learn to become more confident with others and showing other people my work and what I can do. I feel I have the skills to get tasks done but not actually the confidence to get out there and do them and show people. I feel positivity and confidence is probably the best skill anyone can have when it comes to being successful and I think working on this would really make be better professionally.

Another skill that I would very much like to improve on would be my use with cameras. I know the basics of how to use them but I would like to feel so much more comfortable with them.

How you might develop those skills –

Starting some of my own set or freelance projects that I could enjoy and maybe work on with other people could develop these skills. I know if I had a professional placement I could gain more confidence in my work, and myself making me more positive. Throughout this next year I am going to set myself little tasks to do and set time to look for placements and big opportunities.