Chris Terrill: One Man And His Camera
Duration: 1 day
Capacity: Approx. 15-20 participants
Chris Terrill, a trained anthropologist, is one of the country’s leading documentary makers with a string of awards to his name. He has a reputation for making revealing films about distinct communities in unusual places - anything from cruiseships to prisons to West End theatres. He also has a growing reputation as a thoughtful adventurer: an unconventional presenter figure who lets his pictures do the talking.
In this 1-day workshop, specifically designed for The London Film School, Chris Terrill shares his experiences and offer tips born of his pioneering work as a director/cameraman/recordist.
“I’m passionate about recording my experiences – translating my personal experiences into film. It’s what I do. It’s what I have to do. Fascinated by hazard – man-made and natural – I like to seek out extreme situations because that is where I find people at their best and their worst. I take my camera into life and death situations that will reveal most to me about the human condition." Chris Terrill
Using his own films as examples, Chris will discuss the great advantages of self-shooting – including the great editorial and storytelling benefits.
Bringing a range of equipment he uses in the field, Chris will explain many of the pitfalls and disadvantages when self-shooting is practiced without thought and preparation, and without a proper understanding of its implications as a method of observation. He will also highlight the serendipitous nature of working alone - as long as you have the courage to change tack at a moment's notice!
Chris will have with him his kit pack - a compact rucksack holding the complete kit he has devised and developed over his years of self-shooting. He will unpack it, and demonstrate each piece of equipment, including how it is selected and adapted for the single user. The kit includes camera, casing and mount; lenses, grips and mono-pod; the array of protective coverings that can be created and applied, to ensure the equipment woks in extreme temperatures, in sand-storms and high seas; how to mount and carry sound recorders, with setting displays that can be monitored while shooting. The kit also includes back-up sound and camera, to ensure continuity of filming under the most physically challenging conditions. Each piece of equipment allows constant control over levels in changing conditions, while enabling the filmmaker to maintain constant engagement with the subject.
Single-person shooting, with practical control of the equipment, allows the filmmaker the opportunity to connect with subjects to a degree unusual for a filmmaker working with a crew, however small. This intimacy also carries with it responsibilities towards the subject, and to the veracity of the documentary form. It allows the ability to follow hunches and explore possibilities; to write with sound and vision, as a journalist writes with a pen.
Other topics include:
- Interviewing techniques whist operating the camera – establishing a relationship of trust, using the camera sensitively and creative use of eye-lines and lighting.
- Filming techniques developed by Chris in the field – hand held techniques, tripod and monopod techniques.
- Ongoing refinement of these techniques – both technical (sound and vision) and directorial/creative.
- Filming in very extreme and challenging environments – war zones, extreme weather conditions, social unrest, at sea, under the sea and at altitude. Points will be illustrated by film examples and demonstrations using real equipment.
- Customising equipment to perform better for the solo operator – in particular, sound recording.
- The translation of rushes into the final film – the relationship with the editor.
- Q&A – your chance to get clear, focussed advice from Chris.
In preparation for the Q&A session, those who sign up will be asked to submit a few details in advance. For those already involved in filmmaking Chris would like to know what kind of projects you’re involved with, and how you want to incorporate solo operating techniques into your work.
The following video is an excerpt from IMAGINE...THEATRE OF WAR, a film by by Chris Terrill.