Shadows and Light Part two 2017

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Day 2 of 2017’s Brighton meet up – The 4 hour film Challenge

To follow on from yesterday’s blog post  I was to mentor a film making team and we had  arranged to meet early so they could get shots of me flying the drone before the workshops started at 8.30 am.   Nina a local film maker decided to drive us to the location that is fifteen minutes outside Brighton.

Then we had a third team member of the team arrive and the lovely Sani was waiting for us at the Jury’s Inn. To me this could have a been a difficult point that she would not be fully involved with the film as the angle of the film had been decided.  Sani another very established film maker.

First we all attended a colour workshop, from Ollie Kenchington from Korro with Dave Dugdale  who had flown in from the States for the two days and it was really insightful and gave away a lot of amazing tips.

Ollie Kenchington evoking emotion with colour in film projects

Then the eleven mentors were taken to outside to be briefed by Philip Bloom, Nino Leitner and Dan Chung.  They wanted us to be hands off as much as possible, not to be shooting anything.  No one said I couldn’t fly a drone 😉 anyway that was done!  Dan would be floating around to just overseeing generally and helping us out.   Philip and Nino would be on the beach with the slow motion training each group given an allotted training slot and hands on shooting time with the Sony Fs5.  We had a responsibility to make everything to run to time and also make sure our team got out on the sea front and not miss their slot with Philip or Nino.

Team 4 getting instruction from Philip Bloom on the Sony Fs5 slow mo with an atmos recorder. Photo by me


The films the teams were to produce, had to included slow motion footage, shots of a Brighton land mark and also one of the street performers in our case a belly dancer! The film had to be about the mentor.   All were advised to take a full hour official break from filming.   Editing had to be done between 3pm and 5pm and films to be handed in. What ever the state.  I was determined my team would provide a finished film. Music had to be cleared for internet use and we had to ask permission to film people or in venues.

I have done a lot of mentoring but usually teenagers and children film making and junior members of TV crew  not with people who are accomplished and working professionally as film makers.

Team 4, Left to right  Nina, Kie and Sani photo by me


I think it’s fair to say in four hours it was hard to get into a team dynamic as most of us are used to working alone or in very defined roles.  There was one point when the team we getting a bit stressed because of the deadline.  I reminded them the film only needed to be a minute long and that planning was the key to this.  How did they see the film?   What ? Why? When and How ? Who would the audience be? Those usual questions and to write down the questions that would be my interview.

I felt the main problem would be the issues that many of us self shooters fall into and that is not enough variety in shot sizes for sequences and also overshooting.  All of the team had a camera each their own that they had brought plus we had the drone footage that I had shot on the beach.

I decided the best way of mentoring experienced shooters was to question what they were doing?  Do you think you need to do this? Would it be best in the edit if we did this?  Once the stress disappeared it all started to flow quite well.  There was much discussion about the location of the interview that took place after the lunch break.  I explained that I would do it on the beach if it was me, yes sound would be an issue but a small amount of back ground sound was always expected by viewers.  Gives you options in the edit to see the subject on screen if you like it. We also had an external sound recorder so we could do a sound mix if time allowed.

I really enjoyed standing back and once I had got over myself, a good northern expression for those who are self conscious in anyway.  Getting over the fact I was the subject on screen.  Whilst sharing my hints and tips.  I did this because they were already professional if they had been students I would have needed to be more hands on and more instructional and more of a directors role.

When it came to the edit, the team decided that they wanted me gone for a while so I left them to put the interview down on the timeline with me not present. I suppose they were aware of myself consciousness at being the subject and they had a vision of how it should be cut.   The quickest and most experienced editor of the team Kie took the controls and they decided to edit in FCP X.   I set a deadline of by 4pm that the interview sync would be down on the time line.    Once I got to view rough draft I was very impressed.  It was just a matter of adding other shots to the timeline.

They started with something that would hook the viewer and had cut it together quite nicely.  There were some shot changes – and had we had more time we would have changed a shot or two to be more illustrative of what the interview sync was saying was shown on screen.

Concentration faces!

So export was hit at 4.55pm and ready for 4.59pm – when we joined everyone else an extended deadline was set for 5.30pm.  Now the team could have tinkered a bit more with the edit but they decided against it.   Sit back and time for a quick reflection on what had been achieved and time for the showing to the judges Philip, Nino and Dan.

What is brilliant about Shadows and light, is that the tutors pull no punches they are firm but supportive it wouldn’t be any good if you were told your work was amazing if it wasn’t.   How would anyone learn and improve? Sitting in room watching yourself back with everyone watching, excruciating!

My team were first to show their film.  I have to say although I was not enjoying seeing and hearing myself on screen. I was very proud of the film that was created. No time for a full sound mix nor colour grade.

As I thought the criticism from Philip, Nino and Dan was when I say I am a drone pilot shots should have been of me flying.   That also the shot at the end of me saying I am a drone pilot was not needed as the sound wasn’t great.  These are the things I would have changed myself.

The scoring of the films!

There were prizes to be won in the form of external hard drives so the stakes were high, Team 4  scored quite well considering the first film to be shown.

The standard though was truly amazing and most of the films also tackled comedy and were hilarious as they took on the serious subject of being a film maker and poked fun at ourselves and our tutors for their social media presence! No one told me they were playing comedy versions of themselves! Damn, my former stand up comedy career might have been useful.  I do think some of these mentors are wasted behind the camera comic timing and pathos explored.

So with out further a do as they say here is team 4’s film.


Production by Kie Cummings, Sani Dastagir and Nina Taylor. Shot on  Sony As7ii, canon XF105 and canon 80D, slow mo from a Sony Fs5 and aerial shots from DJI phantom pro 3.  Various lenses were used.  


Jonathan Warner playing a down trodden film maker!


I wish could show you the other films but just to say they were truly amazing. Hopefully they will all go online at some point.  In the words of the tutors they were blown away by the film making talent this year.

The winning team!


Shadow and lights, Brighton 2017


Seeing all the films produced how they told the stories with lots of great filming techniques has really inspired me.  To play with the latest kit and to socialise with like minded people.  I can’t urge film makers enough to attend an event, there are now several meet ups, showing of work and training in wedding film making.  This job can be a lonely one and support and friendship is so important as is the sharing of knowledge.

All photos by Shadow and light Photographer Christian Whitey Pokryka unless stated.

Have a great weekend, I do hope that there is a Shadows and Light 2018.



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Shadows and Light is sponsored by CVP, Sony, Filmstro, Music Bed, Atmos, G-Technology, Peak Design  Movcam and Film Convert

A massive thank you to all involved in organising and running this event, especially Fraser McGruer and all the tutors for all their sharing of time and knowledge


Shadows and Light 2017

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Shadows and Light is an international film making community that meets in Brighton once a year with screenings and a supportive facebook group of past attendants.  Originally set up by Philip Bloom and Fraser McGruer in 2015 to educate and skill share in the UK.  People travel from all over the world to attend, they come from USA, Austria, Germany and as far as Russia to attend.   So when I say it’s international, I truly mean it!

Last year when facing a bit of what felt like a career crisis facing redundancy from the BBC and a feeling I needed to get out and meet more like minded people, creative film makers.  I booked to go to the conference.  It was probably the thing that kept me going once my role ended.  Why I am I telling you this? Because when I decided this year, I had to wait and see if I had any work in to pay for the trip and conference.  Two weeks ago I got booked for a drone shoot on the Tuesday so there was no way I was going to make it. I was truly gutted about this.

Sometimes your week just doesn’t end up as you plan when you a freelancer and when you fly drones.   9.15 am on Monday, and the production company I was flying for called to postpone – the ruddy British weather!   So I even surprised myself when I had quick look could I get a hotel?  Yes the answer was and a cheap deal at that.  Message Fraser could I still attend?  Yes!

I had to leave the house at 10 am for a meeting in Old Trafford.  So threw stuff into a bag, including camera and drone and a few bits of food that would have gone to waste. I can be spontaneous but even I surprised myself! Normally I bleach surfaces and have a good tidy up before going away it’s a sort of ritual. No time for that, just put the rubbish out and wash the pots in the sink.

At around 12 noon,  I left Manchester and drove to Brighton.  I love Brighton and when I got there I think I surprised a few of the friendly faces. The journey was quicker than expected.   I had to explain drone job postponed because of the rain, but hey its always hard to believe that when its glorious in the place you currently are.


A walk after a quick salad and much needed glass of wine to the Pier which was open just for shadows and light.  Victoria’s bar welcomes us every year. Its a fabulous quirky pub on the pier.   It was amazing to see all the people from last year and a load of new faces.  Many of the people I met last year have become friends.

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You can ask a stupid question on the facebook page and no one will ever be sarcastic or be mean or laugh.  We have become a community sharing our highs and our lows, the joy in getting film commissions, the life mile stones getting married and babies being born.  One film maker from Germany went to visit a film maker in Canada that met at last years Shadows and light. That is how Shadows and light seems to roll.  We seem to share a lot this little band of film making warriors.

All this from the discussion of film making techniques, skills sharing and inspiring each other.

What I didn’t know was that I was to step in and up as mentor to a team of film makers all new to Shadows and light.  The challenge they had was to make a film in 4 hours, the subject being their mentor. Oh hang one, what I am a mentor? The subject is the mentor.

Thanks Fraser, I have a pathological fear of myself on screen.  I had to drink two glasses of wine to get over the shock!   I then did not sleep a wink. Actually that was far more to do with the hotel being noisy.  The first of the team I met was Nina and then Kie who both really wanted to chat to me about ideas, having consumed two glasses of wine my guard was down.  I rambled a lot. They decided that the most interesting angle was that bit about me being a drone pilot.

There is a charity raffle every year sponsored by the sponsors and this year I won something I really wanted a gimbal the Zhiyun Crane.  I never win anything in raffles I was so excited I can be seen making a leap of joy at the end of the one of the behind the scenes film.

Please note two glasses of wine and such joy at winning does strange things to a girl!

It was great to hear about all the first day at the Komedia  I really felt I had missed out but at least I was there to take part in the second day.

Alan Stockdale one of the first day’s speakers
Fraser McGruer – the welcome to the first day at the Komedia Brighton

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Tomorrow will be a quick review of the 2nd day at Shadows and Light 2017





Swedish Drone laws

A while back I had a blog post from Isabelle Nyroth, here she tells us all about the drone laws in Sweden. Thank you Isabelle. 


Sweden is a country that usually prides itself on being on the forefront of technology, but when the parliament decided to ban the use of drones in October 2016, the industry was hit by an enormous downfall. It left citizens outraged and divided on the matter of legality in flying both commercially and as a hobbyist. The cause of the ban originates from a law on the use of cameras in public areas from the 1970s, protecting the integrity of citizens not wanting to be accidentally captured without their permission in an area open to the public. If you’re a drone operator in Sweden today you can seek permission to fly in certain public areas, but your request is almost guaranteed to be denied as the process takes four months, and will only be granted given that the drone is used to stop a crime. There have been a handful of companies and people that have been granted permission to fly since the new ruling of 2016, but the hopes of a change to allow commercial operations is still alive as we await a new law suggestion by the end of summer 2017.

Regardless of the regulation situation, there are many Swedish drone companies keeping the drone industry alive internationally. We live in the hopes that regulations will catch up to the demand and uprising applications for drone technology. In September 2017, Sweden will premier its first drone operator university program where people looking to become experienced and educated on the aspects of flying, mission planning, understanding the construction, software, applications, safety and risk assessment of drone operations will have the chance to build a base for starting their own business or get hired at existing drone companies.

Sweden’s drone companies focus on many different solutions to the drone industry. For example, Swedish start up company Spotscale has just launched a new cloud based service for processing drone images to convert into 3D Models. They recently created the Worlds largest 3D reconstruction of a neighborhood with exceptional precision and resolution.

The industry in Sweden will continue to grow along with the rest of the World, and the process of becoming a licensed operator will finally take shape after a few trial and error experiments by the government.

Isabelle Nyroth  May 2017