From guerrilla filming to every penny counts. The director of Figaro Inc gives us an insight into filming and his future projects for the production company.
If you could sum yourself up in five words what would they be?
I’m a positive person. I eat like a pig. I yam so much. I like dancing and I like music. Those are the things that really get me going.
Why have you made the decision to be nameless?
I think in the work that I’ve been fortunate enough to do, I’ve never really seen it as one person’s work. I feel lucky to have had these people around me and to be able to create something as a result of it. So I feel to have one figure head is almost doing a disservice to all the little contributions people have made.
That could be down to friends being super supportive and offering favours here and there, to the core group I work with, to my editor, the cinematographer I use and the graders that come in and help me out. I genuinely feel that it is as much their work just as much as the directors.
When did your interest in film begin?
I've always been interested in storytelling, and in my house, I've always had the opportunity to see a lot of unusual films that you wouldn't normally see in the cinema. It started off with just being interested in the cover. Then from there, it naturally progressed into watching more films and being "into" them. It’s a mixture of liking reading, liking music and liking films because there’s a story to be told in all of them. I just felt film is the best way to tell these stories as you can do it in the most interesting ways.
Who do you think is the most influential director?
It is a hard one because it changes a lot depending on what I’m into at the moment, but I guess one director who I feel that has a strong body of work would be Francis Ford Coppola. He made the 'The GodFather' and plenty of other great films. Not only are his films great pieces of work but I think his attitude to creating films as an art form is something I can associate myself with.
What is the most memorable film production you have ever seen?
The most memorable film for me on a personal level would be ‘La Haine’ directed by Mathieu Kassovitz. I saw it when I was about 15 and it combined all the things that I was interested in, and it was also telling a powerful narrative which just stuck with me. It blew me away a little bit. It encapsulated all that I thought was great about film.
With film, you are given the widest canvas in order to express yourself. It can be down to little details from music, to the use of cinematography, to the art design. It gives you the most freedom. It was a very expressive piece of work.
What is your directing process?
I haven’t done much short film work, but in terms of how I approach a music video, it starts with listening to the track. I will literally listen to it on repeat so it’s almost imprinted on my brain. Then I’ll look through magazines and watch films, or I’ll even look at some photography books that are in my house.
Then I’ll see if I can piece something together from those influences which would fit with the mood of the song. Then if you’re doing it right you’ll normally sprinkle some of your own thinkings and workings into all of those influences and what you think the atmosphere of the song is. And if it all goes to plan you get a good piece of work. It’s kind of methodical it takes me a while. It does take some time and it doesn’t always happen immediately for me. I really have to think about it. It starts with listening to the song and trying to assess what vibe you’re getting from it and then you trust your instincts on that and then you go for it.
You have directed numerous music videos, would you go into short films or do you solely want to stay within the music sector?
I definitely want to go into making short films. I actually have some things in the pipe line that I’ll be able to make soon. But it’s not always as easy as that. There is a lot of work that goes into it.
I’m really happy doing music videos as well, I can’t see myself stopping. My ideal situation would be to do music videos on a regular basis and then break that process up with my own films every now and again. There is a director called Johnathan Glazer who is a renowned music video director but he also has made four or five great films along the way. I’d like to have his life.
So What do you think makes you special?
I don’t know, to be honest. That’s a hard one. If you like my work you like my work. I do it more for myself than for anyone else’s approval. It’s great when people come to me and say they like my work. That’s one of the best feelings you can have. I don’t really go looking for that feeling, if it comes to me then that is fantastic. I guess I’m quite good when it comes to creating an atmosphere. I feel I have a good sense of how things should be conveyed or how to rouse and emotion.
What is the most spontaneous thing that you have ever done on set?
Recently I was working on a shoot where we had to film at four in the morning. And we were basically shooting these massive red lights across the motorway. It was quite cool to be doing some guerrilla film making. Doing anything you can to make the production good.
Lots of films are based and inspired by the themes of the social and political climate at the time. Do you think there is something in particular that this generation can convey?
One of the things I do think about is as a generation we have more freedom than we’ve ever been able to enjoy before, and yet a lot of the same problems seem to recycle themselves back into society. And don’t get me wrong there have been massive improvements made. But I’m curious to see where the next big movement will be, and how my current generation will look to further advane racial and class equality or whether we will regress and fail to learn from the mistakes we made in the past. I think in a way everyone fights there own little battle.
As your dad is a director, do you think you face more obstacles as a millennial child then he may have when he started his career?
Like so many other industries I think the film is massively competitive because anyone could go out and make a film. The means to do it are so much more accessible, and unfortunately, I think somewhat in film now as well as in music if you have good connections you might get further than someone who has a wealth of talent but gets overlooked.
I feel like that’s really sad because that’s not the way it should be. For me, the obstacle will be trying to balance my own work that I believe is worth something, and also finding the right people who can bring it to a market that will look at it.
Do you think as a film maker you have a responsibility to your audience or to culture?
No, I don’t really believe that. Do it for yourself. Fuck what they think. If you find personal satisfaction from it then follow it. And like I say if the acclaim comes to you that is great but you have to feel confident in doing your own thing. That’s what makes people stand out.
When you do start your own work is there anything, in particular, you want to convey?
There are loads of themes that interest me and I hope if all goes to plan in my career I’ll find the way to do all those things. I’m very proud to be from London.I never really got films like Kidulthood and Adulthood as I believe the stories within London could be told in more interesting ways. I'd love to make a film more London focused. London is definitely a theme I’d like to explore. I think it is such an interesting city there’s so much to say and explore within it.
Do you have any advice for you aspiring directors?
All I can say it just try and do it. Go and make films! It’s as easy as that. You have a camera on your phone. Go make something.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
It’s so hard to predict the future. My ideal situation would be that I make a really good short film coming out of uni and someone sees it and thinks, this guy he’s got potential and I’ll be lucky enough to have the support of others through that. I hope in five years I’ll be on the cusp of possibly writing the film that will become my first feature, and if I was unbelievably lucky I will be making my first feature film. Making a feature film is a massive task.
Do you have any up and coming projects?
I have two music videos that I’m hopefully going to be making with a rapper called Virgil Hawkins; he got a little collective called ‘Reservoir’ going in south London. I’m also going to be working with Tahir. I’d like to work with a band I’ve never worked with a band before. And my firsts short film that will be something I’m working on right now but it gonna take a while but it will be coming soon, don’t you worry. Figaro Inc will also be introducing its documentary wing, with its first piece to be released in the near future.
Where can we find you on social media?