13 February 2011


I've been thinking a lot lately about inspiration and where people find ideas. How does an idea begin? Do you look within yourself and use your own experiences? Do you actively look for ideas in newspapers and magazines? Are your inspirations internal or external? What's the catalyst that sparks your brain into a flurry of imagination? Freud would probably say inspiration comes from some unresolved childhood trauma, I think that's bullshit. For me my ideas always come from a single image I have in my head and I write a story around that image. For instance on my horror short Vision, I had the image of a silhouetted figure holding a welding torch, I then constructed a story around that image.

On my last short film, Side by Side, I had the image of a young girl and an older guy both sitting on a train wearing silly animal masks. Once again I constructed a story around that single image. Months after finishing the film I realised that I think I was subconciously inspired by Spirited Away and the famous scene on the train. Compare both images below.

Side by Side
Spirirted Away

I honestly think there are no longer any original ideas left, they've all been used and reused endlessly. What I do believe though, is that the same stories can be told endlessly, but what makes them original is how you approach them. Take Inception for example, questioning the nature of reality is nothing new, The Matrix did it ten years ago, albeit with more guns...lots of guns! So did countless films and books before it, The Truman Show another fairly recent example. The reason I found Inception and The Matrix compelling and seemingly original is how they go about telling their stories. Both films explore the same themes of our perceptions of reality and awareness and simulacra etc. Ergo, they're essentially the same story, the difference being that story is told in different ways. The Matrix went with a cyberpunk style involving robots and virtual reality and the entire human race. Inception opts for a more real world approach of corporate espionage and dreams and a handful of characters. The same story, just told differently. Rom-coms are the masters of this.

Inception is actually very relevant to this post and the idea of inspiration as it's about literally implanting an idea into someone's head, that's the most interesting part of the film for me. As I said earlier, maybe Spirited Away really did inspire me to think of the image for Side by Side, but at the time I wasn't aware of that, therefore I thought it was an original image that just popped into my head. Can we control our inspirations or are they always subconcious? How many times are we subconciously influenced by external factors? From paintings to people to conversations etc. Many people claim to have a muse (myself included), a source of inspiration, but I always take that as meaning they inspire you to create, they don't actually give you the ideas of what you create.

This evening I had an idea for another short film that is very conciously inspired by a Pixar film, but maybe it was planted there by Leonardo DiCaprio. Who knows? Please feel free to post any thoughts or comments below. What inspires you?

I stumbled upon this great video that talks about inspiration/originality in a much more articulate and entertaining way.

12 February 2011


So as promised, here's some test footage from the AG-AF101. I'm loving my new lens, the Cimko MT 100-300mm, you can do some crazy focus pulls with it, like the one from a leaf to the moon at 2:25 in the below video, and it was only £25 from eBay. Really impressed with the results I'm getting with this camera so far, and full 1080p slo-mo amazes me every time I watch it. Excelsior!


Check out my latest camera that I'll be using for the majority of Fingercuff work. It's the Panasonic AG-AF101, a micro 4/3inch camcorder that's optimised for HD. Basically imagine if a DSLR and a standard video camera had sex, this is the weird looking love child that'd be born.
Panasonic AG-AF101 with Cimko MT 100-300mm
I've been using old school manual 35mm lenses for a while now (on a ridiculously heavy rig of a Sony Z1 with a Redrock lens adaptor) so I'm used to the shallow depth of field that everyone wants these days. I can't say I've ever been tempted to buy a Canon 5D Mark II or 7D, I know they're incredibly cheap and the sensors are huge but I think to make them properly usable as an everyday camera you really need to spend thousands more on shoulder rigs and monitors and separate audio records etc. For me the AF101 has everything I need as it's a proper video camera with XLR inputs, ND filters etc.

I think the shallow depth of field thing has gone so extreme that what people call the "film look" is actually more of a "DSLR look". Some of my favourite films have very little bokeh, for instance The Thing utilises deep focus. These days everyone seems to shoot everything at f/1.8 with crazy blur, so I think knowing when to use shallow focus is really important.

I'm planning on shooting my next short film on the AF101 around April/May so it'll have a good workout, but before that I'll be posting some test footage soon so keep your glazzies peeled. Viddy well droogs!


I'm attending The Production Show next week, not exactly sure which day yet but if you see a slightly confused person wandering around wearing a Fingercuff t-shirt then say hi. I'm friendly and don't bite...much.


For anyone that likes horror and motion graphics, here's a combination of the two. Monsters of Horror is a celebration of classic horror films from Universal Studios, which still rate as some of the best ever made in my opinion. Icons of Horror is a celebration of some modern directors and films that I enjoy. Note the lack of blood/gore in 'Monsters' and the excessive use of blood/gore in 'Icons'. Does that say something about modern filmmakers and audiences? I personally prefer a creepy and foreboding atmosphere to blood and guts but then one of my favourite horror films is Evil Dead, so who knows what I believe.

11 February 2011


Hello people of the internet, fellow bloggers, filmmakers, friends, weirdos and, well, everyone. This thing here that you've stumbled on (most likely from me spamming you with links on social media sites) is my first attempt at keeping a blog. I felt it was about time I started one because what the internet obviously needs is another self-obsessed geek thinking people are actually interested in what he has to say. I don't know how successful I'll be at updating it because I was never the kind of person to keep a diary, I always found that a weird thing to do. Anyway, I digress, this here blog will mainly be used to post filmmaking related antics I get up to, including my work on short films, music videos and any other video based shenanigans I partake in. It's going to be a rollercoaster ride kids...or something equally as metaphorical. My sisters gorgeous dog Poppy doesn't seem impressed so far though.