Vimeo – A strategically friendly platform and much more…


I’m sure that many of you are aware of the video platform that goes by the name of Vimeo. More and more people are flocking to Vimeo everyday for trustworthy video hosting, not just filmmakers, but also businesses who care about how their videos stream. The definitive advantage of Vimeo being that it will automatically play your videos back in HD without having to navigate to an obscure icon which most people are completely idle to (YouTube). I used to be an avid YouTuber and couldn’t understand why anyone would want any other platform. YouTube apparently has the SEO advantage (being owned by Google helps) and most people, no doubt, head straight to YouTube to search for videos. However, Vimeo has proved incredibly efficient in terms of workflow, it’s far more user friendly in terms of set-up, uploading, networking, navigating, marketing, researching – I just find the overall aesthetic of Vimeo is far more inviting.

Aside from the above rant, Vimeo has a great creative team who care about there fellow videographers. They host specific lessons on the craft and invite members to participate in challenges, the most widely participated challenge being the Vimeo weekend challenge. The briefs are always innovative whilst being loose enough to let anyone’s imagination reign free. Of course, turning out a video in a few days is a challenge in its own right, but on those weekends where you have nothing better to do, it works perfectly. Also, note that the videos can only be up to a minute in length.

So, check out what Vimeo has to offer if you haven’t already and get your beautiful videos on the platform (of course, having them on YouTube too won’t harm your SEO)!

Below are videos I’ve made so far under the Vimeo weekend challenge briefs – these are all videos I’d never have got round to making if it weren’t for Vimeo’s initiative to get its members out shooting more content!


Hot or cold:

A certain hue:

One second shots:


Max Cohen Migraines

My favourite films I’ve seen this week are as follows:

Short – Super.Full. (Niam Itani)

Narrative – Pi (Darren Aronofsky)

Documentary – Zelig (Woody Allen)


Super.Full. is a beautiful segment in the life of a poor deaf couple who are chasing a dream. The husband – a gas attendant – promises to take his newly wed wife out to a fancy hotel for her birthday. It is an extravagant outing for the couple, and is therefore a great accompslishment when the husband fulfills this promise. It is touching to watch and you can’t help feeling proud for the couples ability to lead a happy life. Watch the film below:


I’ve been a huge fan of Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream since first encountering it a few years back. It was one of the most gruelling and captivating films I’ve ever seen and it remains stapled in my top 10. Of course, Black Swan was another gem of exquisite essence and bewilderment. But, I decided to fondle back to where this extraordinary flair all stemmed from and found Pi – Aronofsky’s debut feature film about a paranoid and obsessive mathematician looking to crack the code of nature with number theory. The film is far more than this however, and explores lifestyle, identity, mental health, fraud, religion and philosophical themes. The cinematography is astounding and almost obtrusive with its electric black and white grading and negative aesthetic. Style alone is enough to sit through this movie, though all of us can identify with Max Cohen’s numbing frustration. Even if we aren’t mathematicians, the mood is relative to all subjects and, in fact, life itself.


Woody Allen is remarkable. Here, he creates a documentary (mockumentary) out of a man named Leonard Zelig who can literally look and act like whoever he’s around. This includes, becoming a doctor, a golfer, a fat man, mixed race, a musician, a lawyer, just about anything! Of course, Allen weaves a love story into the film, the female lead played by an honest and elegant Mia Farrow. The film gains its realism from startling images of Allen posing next to famous figures. The images of which are superimposed using bluescreen technology. It is a brilliant laugh-out-loud film, but don’t take it too seriously!


The Limelight Index: Patrick Chapman – Artist/Director


I recently caught up with Patrick Chapman, an artist turned filmmaker from Los Angeles. Patrick has recently completed his first feature film PHIN and is now working on his second feature ToY. We chatted about his inspirations and how he goes about the filmmaking process. Here is the interview:

Hi Patrick, when did you first get passionate about film?

I was in college doing an art major and found that I wasn’t learning much, so I was spending a lot money paying for something that didn’t seem worthwhile. I started watching a lot of movies with my friends, and the college had a pretty good film department, so things fell into place and I gradually switched over to that. I got really lucky, because I’d be painting houses right now if I got an art major, instead I get to make beautiful films.

Your background is in painting; does this influence your filmmaking?

Definitely. I like to make a lot of films about artists, similar to David Lynch’s stuff. It definitely helps with the cinematography and processes of that nature. You can both be a writer and be a good storyteller, or you can be a cinematographer and have a really interesting vision.

So you’d describe your style as prominently visual?

Yeah, I’m definitely an artist. But, of course, I do depend on other writers to help me build my story.

Am I right in saying, your new project is co-written?

Yeah. My twin brother helped me on my first one and now I’ve got Andrew Hanson helping me on my latest. I also have a bunch of other people who look it over. You always give out your scripts because it’s the best way to have a lot of feedback, especially in film. If your doing art, that’s one thing, but when you’re doing film or television you need a lot of feedback.


Could you tell us a bit more about your latest project?

Yeah, my latest project is called ToY and it’s about an individual artist who’s just doing regular artwork and its not getting her anywhere. She searches for new models and comes across an online escort service, which interests her and she goes into interviewing escorts. She meets an escort in particular, an ageing 45 year old at the end of her career. The artist wants to make an art installation around this character, but ends up falling in love with the woman. It’s very Leaving Las Vegas; it’s two twisted souls learning about each other’s life, one gets ruined, and the other doesn’t.

Does your storytelling come from a personal background?

Yeah, I definitely twist that into my characters. For this next one, I don’t exactly have the experience of lesbian love in my background. But, thanks to people on the creative team, I have been put in the shoes of two women in love, which has been quite interesting. ToY’s COLLEGE and PRO have a unique mix of softness, tumultuousness and passion to their relationship, a raw vulnerable kind of love. Their love is fascinating and fresh to me.

Which filmmakers do you look up to?

I would say mostly David Lynch, his stuff is always great. The Coen Brothers are also great, but Stanley Kubrick is probably my favourite. He was a photographer at first, so he has a similar path to me, coming from the art angle. I find his work very visually stimulating and interesting, A Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket are two good examples.


Do you still have time for your painting?

Filming takes up most of my time, but I’ve been doing personal stuff for the past 3 or 4 years and editing for CBS. Painting comes on in-between each project. Everyone should have a good hobby, whether it be photography, painting, poetry, it’s nice to have something to look forward coming home too.

What’s your favourite thing about being a filmmaker?

I’d say shooting and directing. You work really hard to write the script, raise the money, casting, then actually being on set, when the lightings struck and calling action, this is the best part. It’s seeing the project come alive. Casting is actually fun though, you’ve written the script and now you get to see a load of different actors interpret it their own way. Directors should sit through as many castings as possible. You can write a character and say this is exactly what I want to say, but you’ll always get someone who goes 180.

Have you ever had an actor influence you that you go back and change the script?

Definitely. When we wrote PHIN he was meant to be this very melodramatic character, very serious, but then Eric Frentzel who actually came in and got the part, was all over the place. He had different accents for each character, so we ended up going with his idea. You should change stuff after you see actors do it; you want them to naturally be able to change the lines how they see fit.


Any advice to filmmakers starting out?

I would say, technically, know as much stuff as you can. When it comes down to doing filmmaking on your own, being an editor, or a cinematographer, always helps. Your going to have to do a bit of everything at some point, it will also save you money. Home your skills into one area to start with. It’s always hard to come straight out of college being a director, but if you’re a really good editor or writer, and really focused in, you can actually make money coming out of college. No ones going to be like “Hey, I’m Speilberg”, no one can be like this right after college.

Do you find if you know more about different areas then you can pass on your vision more clearly?

Definitely, but you don’t have to read up on the latest technology, for example the new chip that’s in the red camera. But, knowing your lenses, and your lighting kits is great. So, when I talk to my DP we know what we’re talking about, he is also an editor so he can make good judgments on where to cut etc. You should always have a general feel for everything, but do find one thing to focus on through college and try and get paid at doing it.

Thanks Patrick, it’s been great talking to you.

There’s some really interesting stuff said by Patrick in this interview. I particularly like how he approaches filmmaking from a very visual aesthetic and therefore uses his background to an advantage. Finding a hobby that ties into what you do as a profession is surely an ideal phenomena for all of us. I specifically find photography a great hobby to practice, and as Patrick mentioned, greats like Kubrick have evolved from this background. Anyway, you can find Patrick’s intriguing new film project on the web at all of the following links:

Like ToY on Facebook:
Check out ToY on Kickstarter:
Follow ToY on Twitter:
Visit the website:

Thanks for taking part.


Captain Phillips – Cinema for the Masses



Captain Phillips
Michael de Luca Productions, Scott Rudin Productions and Translux
134 Min
UK Release: 16th October, 2013

DIR Paul Greengrass
EXEC Kevin Spacey, Gregory Goodman, Eli Bush
PROD Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti
SCR Billy Ray, Richard Phillips, Stephan Tatty
DP Barry Ackroyd
CAST Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener, Max Martini, Yul Vazquez, Michael Chernus, Chris Mulkey, Corey Johnson, David Warshofsky, John Magaro, Angus MacInnes

Paul Greengrass has an extraordinary capability of taking real life stories and telling them in a dramatically engaging format, which almost anyone can watch and understand. Captain Phillips is a true story of the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged Maersk Alabama cargo ship. However, Greengrass doesn’t reduce this story to its simplified state. In an interview with Francine Stock (The Film Programme), he explains that the story is indeed complex and does have multiple layers of meaning. He, arguably, puts us right there, in the movie, simultaneously giving us a taste of great themes like globalization; we are briefly introduced to the lives of the Somali pirates and Captain Phillips likewise.

Tom Hanks is mind-blowing in his performance as Captain Phillips; it may just be the performance of his lifetime. Tom Hanks begins off as a typical man, shown by the opening shot to the movie where Hanks is in his family home, packing his belongings and giving a blue farewell. However, Hanks, later in the film, gets to shine. There is the fierce and jagged Hanks, alike to that of Cast Away, throughout the lifeboat scenes and the final scene is simply mesmerizing.

Bakhad Abdi, the Somali leader, also gives a performance worthy to rave about. The Somali actors were actually kept apart until they first met the crew in live confrontation. This injects a shattering sense of realism into the hijacking scene.


During an interview with the Daily Mirror Hank proclaimed: “I was truly petrified. We heard them coming and getting closer and, when they finally arrived, they burst onto the bridge and we saw these incredibly skinny, living, breathing guys for the first time. I can tell you it raised the hair on the back of all our necks.” It shows.

A debut actor against a seasoned Hollywood pro is a rare occurrence, but Abdi looks and feels at home, he absolutely holds his own. The equal and opposite balance here is remarkable, it reminds us of the culture clash and that this is a pure story of two Captains going head to head. Neither are actually in control, the pragmatism is scary.

As for the third act, it’s a nuts and bolt thriller designed to chew away at every last bit of you. Of course, the action is given a dose of Hollywood heroin: 3 large Navy ships, helicopters and a SEAL crew all turn up to resolve the hostage situation. What seems stupidly naive to me is that you could have the entire American forces on guard and it still wouldn’t make any odds, a hostage at gunpoint will always be a hostage at gunpoint. The power of the Navy’s presence is undeniably staggering and we feel incredibly impelled to get out of our seats and give standing ovations. But, this brings me back to my earlier point; it only took 3 men to do the deed.

Captain Phillips trailer launch - video

There will always be multiple points of view regarding true stories, but, besides America’s military surfeit, Greengrass doesn’t let the realism slide and opens the film up to wider themes. We are left pondering over poverty, the act of piracy, our society, our insecurities and many other reflections, interpreted upon personal replication.

“There’s got to be something other than fishing and kidnapping people,” Phillips says to Muse, while the silhouette of a mighty warship falls over them. “Maybe in America, Irish, maybe in America,” Muse shrugs. This sentence really stuck with me. Upon Phillips’ reaction to Muse’s answer, we realize that actually, there really isn’t much else for these young men to get involved with. Towards the end of the movie we are made to feel mixed emotions, Muse is somewhat likeable in a nonconformist way. We’d rather everyone lived.

“The film is one big lie.” The New York Post came out with. It is always interesting with a true story, such as Captain Phillips, to read opposing opinions. I remember Susan Wloszczyna, earlier this year, giving Rush two stars on Roger Ebert’s blog – the relationship between Hunt and Lauda was too infatuated for her. I couldn’t believe it at first, but, after a second glance, her opinions made sense. Everyone reads into movies differently. However, The Post had actually interviewed the real crew members from Captain Phillips’ ship. Of course, we get a complete contrast in the characters personalities to how Hollywood depicted them. “Phillips wasn’t the big leader like he is in the movie,” says one crew member. “The crew had begged Captain Phillips not to go so close to the Somali coast,” said Deborah Waters, the attorney who brought the claim. “He told them he wouldn’t let pirates scare him or force him to sail away from the coast.” In the movie we see Hanks look petrified by the pirates, and converse with the crew to not act so idle about the dangerous waters. A stark opposite. It sounds like Captain Phillips is a lot more complicated and a more interesting character than the one depicted in the movie.

This inaccuracy doesn’t entirely bother me; Greengrass made the movie for his audience and it works.

4 stars.


The Limelight Index: Victoria Mather – Multimedia Artist


I was delighted to get in touch with Victoria Mathers, a very talented multimedia artist (illustrator, animator, graphics designer, filmmaker) who’s debut short film animation has gained over 82 thousand views on Vimeo alone and been a big hit at film festivals worldwide. Here, she tells us a bit more about this success and how she got started out in the creative industries.

Can you tell us a bit more about what you do as an art director and illustrator?

I have art directed Children’s TV series and Illustrated various things mainly in development so I can’t really talk about them – how boring I know!

What influenced you to take this career path, any noteworthy directors, designers?

When I was 17, I got my first job on a feature film working for Art Director Brian Savegar (Dinosaurs, A Room with a View) at Ealing Studios. He taught me a lot and the experience definitely sparked my interest in the industry early on. The crew encouraged me to go to university, so I took their advice.


You come from a background in art and design; did this lend itself to your interest in film?

Yes absolutely, I always did painting, photography and illustration. I also loved short stories and did a bit of animation. To be honest, I was interested in most forms of creative expression and craft. Naturally animation made a lot of sense to me since it combines all of these things.

Your short film, Stanley Pickle, has achieved 33 notable awards to date. Were you expecting the film to be this incredibly successful?

At the time it was a relief to complete everything and I was more concerned with actually getting it selected for festivals, since the technique I had decided to use falls between live action and animation. I therefore thought we might run in to issues trying to clarify it. When we won our first prize after premiering at Edinburgh International Film Festival the ball started rolling and it didn’t stop; now the film is available in up to 7000 schools in the UK and abroad via the British Council. After our epic festival run it really is the best result ever.


How did the project and this extraordinary idea come about?

The idea came up a year before film school and was a loosely developed story intended as a 3-minute stop motion puppet film. After a year at film school I realized that this project, with the right crew, could be something much bigger and more interesting. From here, I was luckily in the right place at the right time.

The technique was something I had experimented with prior to making Stanley Pickle. It made perfect sense to use pixilation since it lends itself to that clockwork feel perfectly.

Can you explain a bit about the process you had to go through in achieving this spectacular stop-motion animation?

My brief to the actors was – ‘think of this like a very long and slightly painful Yoga session.’ The actors, who were all very well trained, held each position a frame at a time with direction from me. Occasionally, with the parent characters, we had an assistant run in to the shot and move the clockwork keys a frame at a time.


How many animators were involved? 

Me for the most part, but I hired my friend, Andy Biddle, who was working on Fantastic Mr. Fox to do the bird flying animation. A couple of other friends did some standby running in and out of shots to move objects. There was a lot going on, so we needed quite a few members of crew running around.

Do you have any more of your own projects in the firing line, a feature film perhaps?

We have written a feature version of Stanley Pickle, but that still needs a lot of work. I’ve made a few commercials and another very quick turnaround short live action film that was a new insightful experience. At the moment I intend to just keep on keeping on!

Any advice you’d want to give to upcoming filmmakers, designers (all artists alike) on the current state of this creative industry? Any tips?

Make sure you can afford it. It’s not the most economical profession and you really do have to love it to live it. The opportunity to tell a story (which I believe we all have in us) is an excellent one, and the more people who express themselves in this way, the more we can all learn from each other.

Thank you.

Visit Victoria’s website for her portfolio and more about what she does.

Watch Stanley Pickle below:


The Limelight Index: Michael Knowles – Actor/Writer/Director/Producer


Above is filmmaker Michael Knowles best known for his film The Trouble with Bliss starring Michael C. Hall, Brie Larson and Peter Fonda. I got the chance to talk to Michael about how he got started with filmmaking, his vision as a filmmaker and ultimately why he loves making movies! It was an absolute pleasure and he gave lots of noteworthy expertise about the film industry and even some thought on life in general.

Hi Michael, when did you get into filmmaking and where does the passion stem from?

It started out for me as an actor. I did the senior play in my high school, Our Town, and absolutely loved it. I think it was the fact that everybody paid attention to me, when it was my turn to say my lines, everybody had to listen. It was an awesome feeling. From there, my passion gradually morphed into realizing I had the ability to express what was going on inside of me through characters; the character I was playing. I found this to be incredibly freeing and liberating, which, in turn, led to me writing. I enjoyed writing about what I was feeling and trying to get that out through the characters and story. This then led on to directing, it just all made sense.

So, it’s really about falling in love with telling stories?

Exactly, that is what ultimately came clear to me. However, it did take a while to realize what I was doing and why the hell I was doing it, but I finally realized that I just love sharing stories. It allowed me to express how I feel about things.


Your films are very much about human relationships, are they personal to you?

Yes, my scripts are very personal and ultimately a lot about relationships. A lot about the relationship we have with ourselves. This is evident in my new film Old Friends/New Beginnings. It’s also about your relationship to a significant other, and then the relationship between you and society. So, my filmmaking is a lot about relationships and communication.

Could you tell me some more about your new film Old Friends/New Beginnings?

Yeah, so it’s coming along really well. I couldn’t be happier. We made this movie for very little money; it was shot on a micro-budget. I wrote the first draft of the script back in 2005 when I was studying screenwriting. My writing teacher always encouraged us to write about what we were afraid of and one of my biggest fears was about being lazy. So, I wrote about what it would be like if I become lazy, and this is the character I play in the movie: David. Because of his financial situation, David has lost his ambition and passion to create, which ends up affecting his marriage. His wife Julie, feeling undesired, invites an old friend and his new girlfriend to spend the weekend with her and David to hopefully stir things up but she never could have expected what happens over one long weekend.

catherine&david - jpeg

You worked with a small crew on this project. Do you feel that working in a small crew allows everyone to more clearly express the same vision?

Definitely. I really enjoy working with a small crew, which I did on my first movie, Room 314. The second movie, One Night, got a little bigger and the third, The Trouble With Bliss, even more so. But, with this movie I’ve gone back to the stripped down model, and I love it. You know where you are with everybody, there isn’t a chain of command where you have to wait five minutes to hear back from the person you need to actually get something done from. I love that intimate feeling on a small set, it’s cozy and warm and you feel as though everyone is really in it together. We’re all there for the same reason.

How do you manage all your roles; you work as a writer, director, producer, cinematographer and editor?

It’s hard work but I love having the knowledge in everything. It informs me on all the other aspects I do. So, editing has helped me to become a better writer, a more efficient writer, and directing has helped me to become a better actor and visa versa. It all feeds into one another and informs the storytelling process. It helps me to understand, just keep it simple.

Producing for me was something that was necessary to get things done – it just made sense. If I needed something done I could do it myself or try and convince somebody else to do it for me, it was easier to do it myself.


Which filmmakers and films influence your work?

There are so many films out there, but I ultimately just love all movies and actors. Just watching great performances mostly inspires me; for example, Daniel Day Lewis I could watch all day and this motivates me as a storyteller. He makes me want to write better just so I could work with him one day. Woody Allen’s stuff is great and he is obviously a big influence. I find his work hilarious as well as dramatic.

As directors, I also love Sydney Pollack, Robert Altman. Their the kind of directors who work with ensemble type casts, who work on character driven pieces, I love those type of directors. For example, I love the fact that Steven Soderbergh can do so many different things.

Do you feel a director who tries out different genres is more masterful than a director who just hones in on one genre?

I don’t think about this too much, I don’t really care who is a master. I feel like Ang Lee is amazing that he can do so many different styles, but if you look at his stories there is still a similar theme. I love that he can tell the stories he is telling in all these different ways. I would find it to be a little bit boring if a director continued to do the same genre over and over. I don’t know how anyone would want to do that.


Does anything inspire you outside of filmmaking; you’re also a martial artist?

Oh yeah this inspires me big time. It’s a huge influence. Martial arts is everything to me. First off, martial arts introduced me to meditation, which helps me tremendously to get focused and grounded, which ultimately helps me to see things clearly. Another important thing I learnt is about the exchange of energy that happens between people. Just like with characters in a movie. For example, the way that two characters wrestle, I apply this the same as when martial artists freestyle, it’s the same as signing a contract, it is ultimately about dominance and submission. We see this in real life all the time. Martial arts have helped me to see this clearly and have no doubt been a big influence on how I see the world.

What marital art is it you practice?

It’s called Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan, it’s a traditional Korean karate.

Is it similar to Hapkido and Taekwondo?

There are things in those martial arts that have similar moves to Soo Bahk Do. But, just to be clear, why I do martial arts is to find inner peace. This is why I want to tell stores, I want to help more people find inner peace.

And this is your vision as a director?

Absolutely one hundred percent. I want people to feel something and know that there are other people who feel the same thing, which gives a bit of peace knowing they are not alone. If you watch my movies, you will see that I try to remove all judgment, I don’t try and say what is right or wrong, or who is good or bad. I’m trying to tell stories and trying to help people understand that we are all doing what were doing because it is ultimately what we thinks best. I don’t judge any of my characters.

 julie - jpeg

Do you have any advice for young filmmakers starting out in the industry?

The things that I’m reminded of all the time, is to keep trusting myself. So, I would say to anyone who is up and coming to just keep trusting that gut feeling you have. No matter what anyone says to you, if your gut is telling you to go left, then go left. Even if at that time it seems wrong, just go with your gut feeling and see where it takes you. This is the biggest thing I’ve learned.

Also, for the most part, no one is going to do it for you, you’ll have to do everything for yourself. You are your biggest cheerleader, don’t wait for other people. However, if someone comes along and helps you, fantastic, thank them and thank them again. But, you will eventually have to keep pushing in and doing a lot of stuff that other people don’t want to do until your famous, and then everyone will be your best friend!

So, ultimately it’s a case of just getting out there and doing it?

Yeah, just start making movies. Don’t wait.

It’s been great talking to you, thanks Michael.

My pleasure!

Support the Kickstarter campaign here.

Find the film on Facebook.

Michael’s Website.


Villeneuve is A-List

Denis Villeneuve

My favourite films this week:

Short – Next Floor

In Theatres – Prisoners

Narrative feature – Persona

Documentary – Party Monster

French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (above) is making waves from art-house to A-list director and steals the show for me this week. His 2010 foreign film, Incendies, was a real tour de force and he charted this remarkable success with the exhausting thriller Prisoners – his first movie to come out of Hollywood, no doubt the first of many. However, I want to go back to 2008 and share Denis’s astonishing cinematic vision with his short Next Floor my short film of the week.

I love a film that makes you question, “what the hell does it all mean?” Next Floor does precisely this. The film is tugged from genre to genre and discovers premises reminiscent of ritualistic assemblies, sinister proceedings, satirical buffoonery and even domestic horror.

A bizarre conspiracy is in act, and is apt to the sheer dumbfounding production design – you rarely see aptitude of this level in a short film. The cinematography is beautifully tolerable of the uneasy foundation making the subjects readily visible in the oddest of tones. The sound design is exquisitely on cue and boasts the luxurious banquet.

It’s a remarkable short and now available for free on Vimeo! Watch it below:

My theatrical film of the week irrefutably goes to Prisoners. Read my review here.


My feature film of the week is Persona, which ironically doesn’t have much of a narrative. Ingmar Bergman is at his best when he jesters the audience and expands the dimensions of the medium we expect – he is doing just that with Persona. He creates a film before our eyes that frustrates us, this frustration mirrors the plot of a maddened nurse who is trying get an unspoken actress to speak (she is mute).

I’m sure, from the title, you’ve configured that the two characters in the movie become one persona. The film is illusion and reality feeding off one another. Not to mention the “real” elements in the film where Bergman shows cameramen and light operators working in the background.

This film is great food for fought that will not let you down.


My documentary of the week, Party Monster (more of a fictional docudrama), traces the real story of the late 80s club kid Michael Alig. The kid came to be an underground legend of the New York club scene, but all this soon sent him wading through dark and twisted mannerisms eventually leading to excessive criminal activity.

The film is extreme in its portrayal of the events and is sharp in most areas. However, it left me feeling somewhat empty and sad, there was probably no other solution. Worth the time though.


Prisoners – Take a bottle of water


You will be drained of all your emotions and left stumbling out into the night after two and a half hours of heartache and tension.

The beautiful, ominously tinted lens of cinematographer Roger Deakins will send you through rainstorms and in and out of every dark corner, wooded land and basement of the working-class Pennsylvania suburbs. This sinister mood is reflected in Keller Dover’s desperate state of ruthless apprehension to find the two missing girls. Hugh Jackman is electric in his portrayal of Keller, the survivalist who is strung on vehemence and religion. Instantly, Denis Villeneuve is dispensing a truckload of ethical themes for the audience to contend with. How extreme can one act in order find their daughter?

Although the film runs for two and a half hours, all the actors are perfect throughout. There doesn’t appear to be a wasted frame with first rate editing from Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach (editors of many recent Clint Eastwood movies). Jake Gyllenhaal is an extremely talented actor and a perfect cast for Detective Loki; he is trying to stay an honorable detective without getting his hands too dirty. Keller, however, has other plans and isn’t prepared to hang around for Loki and his team. Loki and Keller are a picture-perfect match for solving a case, but it proves too challenging to be anything but quarrelsome. Yet, it is obvious that these two characters, in any other situation, would magnetise like best buddies.


The screenplay by Aaron Guzikowski (writer of Contraband) is constantly forcing you to ask questions that don’t have answers. It is the thriller genre doing what it does best. The title Prisoners is thought provoking, as it is not only the literal victims who are prisoners, but everyone involved in the situation at hand. The case is not over until the girls are found, as is always the case with crimes like this, one needs closure to move forward. Not knowing will eventually kill you. The parents are captured in this numbing light of despair; the atmosphere is so menacingly fraught upon the realization of the girls’ disappearance, that I almost felt a claustrophobic wave of air fill the room. You will become a prisoner to your seat, you need to be brave, but you will be left a more liberated individual than before.

4 stars.


A Talk with Photographer Tim Smith


I recently attended a talk at the University of Leeds from Yorkshire based photographer Tim Smith who has previously worked for The Guardian and Observer and is a current member of Panos Pictures. Tim had some noteworthy comments on working as a photojournalist, whilst his freelance photographic involvement into cultural research was particularly interesting.

The main advice I picked up on from the experienced photographer was to prioritize telling a story with your photograph. The photograph needs to sum up an entire story without having to delve too much into what Barthes would call the punctum (a reading beyond initial meaning or response). Of course, this would seem obvious coming from the perspective of someone who takes photos for news reports, but Tim applies this theory across his entire body of work. His shots of Polish, Ukraine and Pakistani immigrates tell stories of an entire lifetime. The destitution, honesty and concept of new cultural boundaries are all evident.  Take the image below, which show these margins being competed with in the Muslim community.


There is of course a whole new reading into this image, one of the new generations, a new enriched generation of multi-ethnicity perhaps.

But, I digress. Tim stressed that he prefers working as a freelance photographer, getting to aspire to his own in depth projects involving long-term research. He puts it openly that there isn’t a lot of freedom as a newspaper photographer; your creative boundaries rarely get the chance to be developed. Tim says that all you need to do to tell the right story is to stand in the right place and press the shutter button at the right time. Then you can go home.

Tim provided an example, where he waited for the girl to walk perfectly into shot so that it almost looked as though she were being consumed by the Coca-Cola product i.e. the Western common culture (unfortunately I can’t upload this photo online, but you are able to view it in Tim’s book, linked here). This shot was significant to the project, as Tim was examining how Ukraine didn’t reach there longed for independence in the wake of the 1990s, but rather jumped on the globalization bandwagon. This is an example of how important the placement of objects and symbols are in a photograph.


View more photos from this project on Ukraine’s forbidden history here.  

A quote I found very ambiguous was that “the best photographers always have the best luck.” No doubt, this is very true, as you need to be in the right place at the right time. The lasting pictures from 9/11 no doubt placed the amateur photographer in this situation. However, this is from the standpoint if we are to judge a photographer by their obvious chance shown in the photograph, rather than the consistent aesthetic beauty a photographer exhibits throughout their body of work. But, I am surely in no place to critique this statement; it definitely got an impulse of approval and laughter from the audience.

What got me really captivated was how Tim ascertained on more than one occasion, the photographers ability to exercise power. Of course, taking someone’s image is the ultimate power, but alongside this, it is the photographer’s ability to access any space with validity, simply by having a camera around their neck and calling themselves a photographer, that is power. “You can ask anyone anything,” Tim said, which is a beguiling thought. It certainly may not always be the case, but it’s definitely food for thought in the limelight of commonplace street photography.

That’s all I really need to say about Tim’s talk, it was undeniably interesting and he’s done some fascinating research working abroad. He is definitely an ambassador of exploring the infinite photographic discourse. Thanks for taking the time to come in and talk to us Tim.

View Tim’s website here to see his photography and more about what he does: