Lights, Camera, Action, and Me

I have been fascinated with the ‘silver screen’ ever since I was little. From the earliest age I would spend as much of my day as I could watching Disney films on VHS tapes instead of playing outside like other kids. I loved how films could transport you to a new world; I could be in the vast green jungle with Mowgli, or exploring under the deepest sea with Captain Nemo.

As I got older I was determined to become an actor. I was that annoyingly geeky kid who would always put abnormal amounts of effort into school plays, memorising everyone else’s lines as well as mine just so I could show off. But I really wanted to act in the blockbusters of Hollywood. Christmas nativity? Pah! My final goal (which seemed doable to an eight year old) was to play the next James Bond. I could see myself flying across the screen in the swanky cars, defeating the bad guys and saving the world…

I then reached high school and opted to take drama as a subject. That was when I realised something that put my dream into perspective: I was a terrible actor. Back to the drawing board!

Despite being a miniature action junkie, I still loved animated comedies. I remember being perched on the edge of the sofa watching ‘Creature Comforts’ with my parents when I was about six years old. Of course, as a six year old, I didn’t quite understand the rules of the Grand National, or really care about what people thought of the current financial situation, but I thought it was really cool how they could make the dogs and cats talk. Wallace and Gromit was another favourite. At nine years old, I got curious and wanted to know how the world worked:

“Dad, how do they make Wallace and Gromit? I mean I know they’re made from clay but how do they move them? You don’t see their hands?”

Naïve little kid that I was. That day, my dad explained to me the idea behind stop motion animation, handed me a camera and a bucket of clay, and like a fish to water, I was hooked. Poor fish.

I made my first short animated film that day and a little while later it was featured on a quiet corner of the CBBC website. My first glimpse of stardom! Or that’s what it felt like to a nine year old anyway. The year after I received a clunky, low-res video camera for Christmas, which at the time, I’m sure was the bee’s knees. It was my absolute favourite thing and went everywhere with me. By this point, I had changed my mind: never mind being an actor, I was going to be the next Steven Spielberg.

I continued making films throughout school and as a friendless nerd who had no one to do it for them, I learnt how to direct, edit, use a camera, edit audio, place lighting, and everything else you need to create a film. Despite this lone wolf approach I’ve had to filmmaking, one of the most fun projects I’ve been involved with was last year when a group of young folk from here, there, and everywhere, worked with a professional filmmaker and a professional dancer to create a short film about our relationship with the city we were in. After an intense week of learning, filming, and being rained on a lot, the team had created ‘OWN’…

One of the greatest things about being involved in making this film was that we were all invited to attend a fancy pants premiere in a proper cinema. It was incredible to see our project on a real cinema screen, and all of our names appear in the credits at the end. I had finally attended my first film premiere and it was amazing.

Now however many years since that first day behind a camera at nine years old, I still make films when I can. I’m slightly limited by time and resources – my main camera is my phone – but my head continues to swim with ideas.

And now I’m off to study Film and Television at university (more on that in a later post) and I can’t wait!

Okay, so in some ways that has felt like a slightly pointless post. The whole time I was writing it I kept thinking ‘and the really useful point I’m trying to get across here is…?’ Honestly, I’m not sure there is one. However, it has perhaps acted as an introduction to a series of potential future posts about making films. Who knows? If nothing else, now you know a little bit more about me. And I have learned to plan posts next time instead of just writing them…

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The Road to… Etsy!

After months of thinking, planning, putting it off, thinking some more, and eventually beginning to create, I have finally got my first items for sale on Etsy!

I’ve title this post with “The Road to…” because it has really been a bit of a journey – and a long one.

Sometime before Christmas I realised that taking a gap year comes with its expenses. Having no job and not really any time to have one being in my last year of school, I rekindled an old entrepreneurial spirit that had been buried inside me since my various made up companies and businesses had failed to take off at primary school, and decided to get creative.

I’ve always loved making things but I’d never felt I had been all that good at it. However, it was the only idea I’d got and with 6 years of school art classes and a rather crafty mum (take that as you will) behind me, I forced myself to get brave and start brainstorming.

Hours were spent coming up with impossible ideas which seemed great at the time, but then I remembered I don’t have the required laser cutter or 3D printer or even just the patience and the right skillset. I was also terrible for coming up with things in the middle of the night – always seems to be when I have most of my ideas – feel too tired to get up and write them down, and foolishly believe I’d remember them in the morning. I never did.

These actually came about by accident. At the beginning of this year me, my mum, and my brother were cleaning out a shed full of all sorts. Amongst the piles and boxes we found an antique key. “You could make something with this” mum said. I had no idea what. So I put it to the back of my list and hoped it would unlock a new box of ideas in my head.

Sure enough it did! I can’t remember the thought process exactly but more keys were found, rubbed down, painted, and varnished. And the quirky vintage key necklace was made.

Of course it didn’t stop there. They had to look presentable to go on Etsy and that meant I had to get good at taking photos. I experimented with all sorts of shots and in the end decided that outdoorsy, natural shots looked rather good, as demonstrated here by my friend Rachel who very kindly agreed to be a model for the day…

(Thank you Rachel!)

But the photos didn’t stop there. To capture the final detail, I needed ‘studio shots’, and for that I needed a lightbox. I didn’t have one. So I made one! And I filmed the whole thing for some reason. You can watch that here…

(And… that’s my first YouTube video! Yay!)

Finally they were finished. And this post should be too because it has become very long. So without further ado, my first Etsy items are available to buy… here!

(And here, and here, and here, and here, and here!)

Partners in Crime

Meet Waffle: my bright yellow pocket sized travel companion.

As an astronaut he is a keen traveller, explorer, and discoverer of exciting things and so he has agreed to come with me on my adventures, to keep me (mostly) out of trouble, and to pose for pictures.

We haven’t known each other for very long yet so I’m still getting used to remembering to put him in my bag when I leave the house. But the plan is that you will be seeing him on my blog and around the web much more often – being bright yellow he is rather noticeable…

Waffle will also be in charge of the Instagram side of the internet (more posts to follow) and will hopefully appear in various videos (when I get my YouTube channel up and running!)

He’s a little guy in a big world and there’s a lot to see. Maybe I shouldn’t ask him to carry the bags…