January has been a busy month for Sparkly Light Productions. We welcomed the new year in from inside an OB truck parked on a piece of undeveloped wasteland on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah resort. Having survived life directly underneath the thunderous explosions from a world record breaking half-a-million fireworks, we returned to the UK ready for new challenges.
Already we've been fortunate enough to direct BBC One's Stargazing Live series; shoot some absorbing interviews with world renowned children's authors for a combined web/cinema release on World Book Day; and continue with a new batch of monthly corporate films for MigSolv.
Each one of these projects has been fascinating for different reasons, not least the corporate filming. How do you make a new set of monthly films look different from the 12 preceding ones? Especially when the editorial content doesn't change greatly, and the reason for producing them remains the same - to boost their online presence and sell their services to potential clients.
The answer? To produce, direct, and coax the MigSolv on-screen talent into being more relaxed and conversational in front of camera. This offers a very different style of corporate video.
Achieving this goal is tricky. It's a skill that, let's face it, even the most professional of TV presenters can only sometimes manage.
With the help of a newly purchased steadicam system, I set about filming MigSolv's first 2014 video message. I used the Canon 70D instead of the Sony EX3 to bring out the depth of field and colour contrast.
I also thought a smaller camera would create a smaller barrier between me and the subject, but of course, by the time I had attached it to the Merlin 2 steadicam unit, and donned another bag to carry the radio mic receivers and sound recorder, the smaller camera and additional "bulk" of kit between me and Alex Rabbetts, MD of MigSolv, was still enough to form a formidable obstacle between us.
This could have made Alex feel very self-conscious, completely defeating the relaxed conversational style we had hoped to achieve by gently ambling through the Surrey countryside. However, between us, we fell into the swing of it. After a fair few takes under our belt (mainly my fault for not being "steadi-enough" - Adam Gohill, no need for sleepless nights yet my friend!), I began to recognize the significant difference between Alex's 2013 and 2014 performances. No lines to learn means the real Alex begins to emerge.
The real beauty of changing the style of filming, is that it's a team effort. In MigSolv we have a client who is not afraid to make suggestions, but also very keen to listen to our advice on how to 'be' when in front of the lens. Don't get me wrong, there's still room for improvement - on both sides of the camera - but what a great start to the new year. Roll on February!