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I’m holding a ‘proper’ camera for the first time and my stomach is in knots. I’m 4 years old and the camera is my dad’s Olympus SLR. I haven’t been given the necessary permissions. The smell of its leather case is weirdly intoxicating and the jolt of electricity that shoots through me when I accidentally release the shutter is an early sign of my physiological need to create images. I’m dissatisfied with the prints. I learn about exposure.
Later, aged 14, I’m about to call ‘action’ for the first time. A ‘crew’ of three have excitedly conceived and choreographed a comedic ‘fight scene’ to be filmed by me on the unwanted handycam of a family friend. A mini-masterpiece of visual storytelling, edited entirely ‘in-camera’ by shooting in sequence, ‘The Fight’ (as it is imaginatively titled) will of course soon be lost to the mists of 1990s standard definition VHS. I will forever hold it dear but know it could have been better with a bit more time in storyboarding.
Flash forward to higher education (specifically, The University of Sheffield) and my obsession with the moving image shows no signs of abating. I become the Creative Director of the Filmmaking Society, making countless, increasingly elaborate short films with varying degrees of pretentiousness and finding lifelong friends, several of whom I continue to work with to this day.
Those circles evolve and broaden following my graduation with a Masters Degree in Film Theory. I co-found The South Yorkshire Filmmakers Network, graduate from the renowned Arista Story Editors and European Audiovisual Entrepreneur Network (EAVE) residentials and following training in business management, create Sort Of…Films Ltd. It’s 2003.
During the subsequent, formative years of the business, I also work as a freelancer in a variety of capacities for other production companies, a screenwriter, a musician and a lecturer in film studies. These sub plots will all help to inform the central narrative as Sort Of…Films progresses from a bunch of mates making films together to a dynamic and respected agency.
Now, with so many years of operation, stories to tell and films under my belt, I occasionally ask myself why. Why do I want to continue offering my services as a filmmaker to organisations which aim to have a positive impact on people, society and the planet? Firstly, because I know that I have the knowledge and experience to help those organisations to make their project matter. Secondly, because that curious 4 year old and that excitable 14 year old and that ambitious student are all still here and they all keep telling me that there’s still room to get better…