The first time I heard of George was when my friend Jake said to me ‘my little brother does filming and sh*t’.
Not the most eloquent description of an aspiring cinematographer but still, it does the job. A few weeks later I get this timid message on Facebook from George asking if he could maybe do some work experience with me as he’s trying to get on in this fiercely competitive industry and wants to gain as much experience as he can. He was in his second year of a BTEC Media course at a local college and as you can probably guess was learning extraordinary amounts about Sir.John Camera; Inventor of the camera (made that up) but was learning absolutely nothing about a) actually making decent videos and b) actually making some money out of his craft.
I quickly figured out the gaps in his knowledge were crazy. Don’t get me wrong he was teaching me stuff as well, but really stupid irrelevant stuff which nobody needs to know. For example did you know normal television is 24 frames per second, but animation is 25?! The problem was he didn’t know simple stuff about the practical use of frame rates, ISO, shutter speed, focal length etc. Essentially the bread and butter stuff you need to know if you’re going to be filming something in a professional capacity. He had also been out and bought this huge plastic camera thing reminiscent of the kind of cameras wrestlers used to hit each other with on the WWF when I was a kid. I don’t think Spielberg could have got any decent results out of it.
So I soon convinced him it was time he got a DSLR. A couple of weeks in and he had bought himself a Canon 6D and had progressed from coming along with me and holding lights, microphones etc through to me being able to fully trust him to shoot certain shots for me whilst I worked on something else. It was around this point he actually said to me “I have learned so much more in two weeks with you than I did in two years on that college course” which was a cool thing to hear. Not because I wanted an ego rub, just because it proved my theory correct about how inept these courses are.
Ever since then George has been my right-hand-man on anything videography related. As we did more and more together I would ask him, “but what is it you actually want to do?” and we figured out he was really into music videos. He would tell me all about who shot, directed and acted as DOP on that latest Drake or Kendrick video. That is real interest when you’re looking into it that much, an interest I certainly didn’t have.
Unfortunately when you are George’s age, and living in a close-minded city like Birmingham, aspiring rappers are more inclined to spend £200 on Jordan’s than they are on a decent music video. I remember literally refusing to let George work for the kind of money they were offering as he was far too good.
Around this time my friend Aaron’s street-wear brand had started to really gain some momentum. (Check them out – Dark Circle Clothing. Fly as hell.) Aaron was always asking to shoot different pictures or videos and although I was inclined to help, I was also trying to carve my reputation on stuff I would be hopefully shooting more in the future.
So one day I suggested while George was trying to gain experience, he could help Aaron out with what he needed.
Well thank god I did because today the work they have achieved together is nothing short of amazing. I don’t just mean in a commercial capacity either. Yes DC is going from strength to strength as a business but as a creative portfolio their stuff is insane. The videos are available on George’s website, which I will come to shortly.
George is now the Creative Director of Dark Circle as Aaron quickly realised his opinions and ideas around all things creative were not to be taken lightly. Together these guys are killing it, and other brands in the UK have really ‘taken inspiration’ from the stuff they are putting out and there is nothing I love more than innovation.
Anyway the reason for this post, George has just launched his own website umbrellasup.co.uk which features his own blog and his video portfolio which I referenced earlier.
So this is kind of an ode to my talented little brother as he eventually became but also supports my theory for anybody hoping to get on in any industry –
Formal education is great if it’s professional qualifications you need like a Lawyer or a Doctor. For anything else, particularly in the creative field I think it really is not. You have to find your own way with this stuff so you can become the kind of professional you want to become, not the one prescribed by a syllabus. My advice to anybody is find the person who has the job you want, and beg them if you have to for the chance to shadow them. Watch what they do, who they talk to, how they talk to them and help them out as much as possible. In a couple of months you will be considered a much more viable prospect than somebody who can name the model number of every Canon camera, but can’t tell you how to turn it on and make some money out of it.
Just my two cents.