Filmconvert – finalists and winner!


I was honoured to be asked to judge the non- narrative film category for this years along some esteemed judges in autumn 2017! I know it has taken a while to post.

All the films it goes without saying but I will probably repeat all very beautiful and of a very, very high standard.

It is very daunting to be asked to judge a film competition when your work has taken you to what can be limited creatively, a lot of  the TV I am shooting is not very creative as there is a narrative and often you are shooting for the edit.   To cover cuts that will be necessary. Sport is all about the action and observational documentary shooting on a run and gun basis. I am very critical of my own work but harder, much harder when it is someone else’s creative endeavour.

On one of my best roles to date, for BBC Body Positive where I was allowed to be really creative and got nominated for lots of awards, one I won and a few I didn’t.  If you get short listed it is something to go on your CV.

I have linked the shortlisted films below and also the feedback I gave them.


  1. AUSTRALIA | Wonderland -An outback Journey 

A wonderful use of colour and a good use of music to drive the film forwards. Starting with a helicopter ride and shots to start.   I love Sydney and have been to other parts of Australia and makes me want to revisit. I felt the film had a good journey where perhaps some of the other shortlisted films didn’t have that, being non- narrative they didn’t need that but this one did have a feel of a narrative starting but then just to add to that some shots of the journey to the outback, perhaps someone not knowing Australia may have thought that the outback is very close to the city. The duration long enough but not too long. Loved the wildlife shots.  What was missing as a bit of criticism was a bit of foley or actual atmos sounds – the birds making sounds – won’t detract from a track if sound mixed don’t be afraid to experiment.   A brilliant shortlisted film from an amazing location.

2. Beyond Imagination

This was a really really surprising entry and what I mean by that is that the editing techniques the shots and the way it was brought together was mind blowing.  Again the use of the colour was very very well executed. This one has sound effects. I am normally not a fan of quirky editing techniques but this really works, really is beyond imagination.  The films main aim is for a tourist board film to entice people to visit.  I am not sure it does that but then again it says in your mind and has an epic quality to it.  I was left wondering if I would see some of these places in my life time. Great use of lots of filming techniques.

3. Erindi Private Game Reserve

THIS FILM IS NO LONGER ON YOUTUBE – may be search youtube the film I found was not the one I judged. 

If there were ever drone goals, this has it for me. All that wildlife in Africa a place I may never visit.  I thought very clever not to make the film just about the stunning landscape, wildlife and drone shots but about the local people and for me that makes this charming as it is beautiful.  I thought it was great as well that the film maker didn’t shy away from seeing the animals feeding on prey. I would have liked to hear some voices and some of the wildlife sounds to give it another dimension.  Felt very wildlife documentary in it’s approach. Epic skies and seeing all that makes us realise how small we are in the world.  How much we need to conserve around us.



4.  Vitamin Sea


Now this is a more simplistic film but no less epic in it’s impact.  For me I wanted to know more about the photographer that’s in a couple of the shots.  Again it’s non-narrative so can be said to be irrelevant.  This film particularly interested me as I have a GH5 and love the stunning results you can get out of the camera as film maker, this is someone getting the best out of this camera.  The shots were amazing, when I first starting working in TV a director said to me give the audience shots that they can’t get from either being there or viewing from the sofa. So this film has all of that and more.  As someone who doesn’t swim in the sea I found it enlightening to see how the surf is bringing up the sand as the waves crash in.    The music track was great however again as before with some of the other films adding foley and the sound actual waves crashing for me would have given it a another layer.  Don’t be afraid to mix a music track with sounds, the sounds of the people playing in the surf, the bubbles in the water etc. I also love to see drone shots where the gimbal is down and we get a vertical view of the surf coming in, that would have provided contrast with the other surf shots. Brilliant colours in this film, well graded.


5. PIUPAU “Half Full” Snowboard Movie

There is no doubt that this is an exciting film, but it could have been more exciting by showing a close ups of faces, hands, snow boots and equipment.  The film was similar all the way through needed more variety of shots.  Great drone shots but again very similar.  If all shots are similar it makes things feel less exciting, then the film seems long.  Don’t be afraid to cut more and tighten.  I wanted to feel the thrill more of this sport. Perhaps with some mounted action camera, in some surprising places. I would have seen what it is like to take part in this sport.  I know this is something as a viewer I will never do.  Put the audience on the edge of the seat.  Let them feel the danger and adrenalin by showing it.  If you don’t have a mounted camera or sports camera, get some close ups that are surprising in their nature.  The snowboarders are very cool and very talented.  Loved the use of slow motion and editing techniques to speed up the snowboarders and slow down again.  great shots of them moving through the screen and this is tricky to do because having the confidence to hold the shot when there is a lot of action going on is hard.   I liked the other editing techniques as the audience were introduced to each snowboarder, good use of childhood photos and old footage with a nice creative treatment. Really nice use of the sound of the boards landing on snow,  on metal.  The end shot had more of the edge of my seat feeling  that I was looking for from action films but again with the above could have really pushed the viewer.



This film is everything a travel / non narrative film should be, excellent use of visuals to tell the story. An opener sequence of the train and the music mixed with real sound recordings and really liked the journey announcements will remember that one when I next do a travel film.  Simple things like this draw the audience in.  Felt like I was walking around the cities.  One change that might have improved it was to have known which city I was in, are all the shots mixed up? Then I think is that relevant does it matter? Does the audience need to know, but then from some of the shots its really obvious where the film is located/  Loved the used of slow motion shots of people and thought it great to see a relevant quote being held up by a man in the film too.  Nice that the film shows different modes of transport as the film maker journeys around Europe, driving the film forward if you pardon the pun!

7. Rise


This is a calming, beautiful film, simple and so effective in it’s simplicity. The colour in the grading works so well with the images, the music. Giving it a dreamy quality.  Just as I thought, I knew where the film is heading, the change of music the film maker used the sounds of the action and shots changed to be in sync of the music giving me the viewer a sense of the difficulty in raising the ballon to the air and what effort that takes. The drone shots are epic, beautiful and cut together with the the other shots from a different  seamlessly tide together due to the colour grading and I normally prefer more natural use of colour but just loved the way it has been graded.


8. RYU – #BeautifulTough

This has everything a sports trail should have lots of variety of shots, lots of action, cut to a great tempo. I wanted to see more which is always a good sign of a film.  Leave them wanting more.  Great colour grading.

9. Scotland – Lochs, Mountains & Light

An accomplished film with excellent use of all manner of film making techniques.  It’s got it all time lapse, drone shots, close ups, and atmos sounds.  The colours enhanced by the colour grading Showing Scotland in all it’s glory, bringing back many childhood road trip memories.  Reminded me how epic Scotland is. Beautifully done.

10. Skate 360

Fascinating and intriguing film using new technology in a surprising way. Editing was clever too. Even though this new technology is not being used widely as the equipment isn’t producing the best results, this bucks that theory. I really enjoyed it.  I perhaps would have liked to have seen another camera used but not making the film any longer just to cut in – perhaps showing “normal” camera footage so we could see the difference and give variety of shots

11. The World in Slow Motion

I love the use of slow motion high frame rates in film making and this is a great film. Although I do like to see normal speed footage especially with something like the humming birds because thats what is remarkable about a humming bird the speed so perhaps could have shown the birds in real time as well.  I think the film maker wanted to show show us life and the world in slow motion, hence every shot.  So its a film that surprises you in that way. I Like the editing techniques in this where some of the slow motion is speeded up.

As you can see the standard was so high! I had such difficulty choosing.


Watching all several times and in the end it was…..  Rise.  It just stayed with me and found it very inspiring .


This year 2018…I am inspired not only to do some personal creative projects but also to travel more, these films made me want to do that so I will be found clutching my passport looking for cheap deals and places I can travel to, with or without my drone.

My advice is if you want to enter this competition then start thinking now about your project.  Get shooting, editing and colour grading.

Filmcovert software is so easy to use and you can download from the website a free trial and then you can see how simple and what stunning results you can come up with.   Sign up for the news letter and get creating.

Thank you to all at Filmconvert for asking me to judge last year. I really enjoyed it. Thank you to all entrants, I am sorry I couldn’t award you all the winning prizes.

The Drone Lass



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