Prof Paul Harris used to make TV programmes on tape editing machines that were so rare, there were only two engineers in Japan who knew how to service them. Manufacturer Hitachi booked them on separate flights and hire cars when they visited the UK to preserve the product knowledge in the case of a fatal crash.
That’s a good story from the world of 1980s TV and video production.
I had intended giving over 10 minutes to an account of Paul’s filmmaking career in corporate, broadcast and education and the remaining 35 minutes to his experience in storytelling and the moving image.
Paul is head of Grays School of Art, Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, and an experienced film practitioner and award-winning filmmaker – an IADF Heavyweight.
You know, today’s filmmakers should make it their business to learn about the people, the equipment and the practice of previous filmmaking generations.
Of course, there’s loads to learn from cinematics like Fellini and Scorcese, but I’m really talking about the practitioners in TV and corporate.
Developments in digital electronics have opened up the world of video and the moving image to everyone, so now many of us can shoot hi-def video on our mobile phones!
But it was very, very different not so long, long ago: we should try to remember the personalities and adventures of a bygone society and the workarounds and jerry-rigs required from cumbersome kit, but we should most definitely learn about, and keep alive, the skills and knowledge from countless careers over decades of TV and video production of the 20th century.
That’s one role of I Am Do Filmmaker that I particularly enjoy. Listen to Paul’s podcast interview and, like me, you’ll find it hilarious, shocking and amazing!
NOTE: On reading this article, it might appear that Paul is ancient – a Futurama-type brain, even, bobbing around in a column of protein. Far from it. Listen to him rap about the conflation of game and cinematic theory and you’ll see what I mean.
With an eye on the clock, however, I did squeeze a considerable amount about visual storytelling out of Paul.
Especially if you’re a narrative filmmaker, focus on your story and if it’s dialogue-led, then make sure your dialogue’s good, he advises.
He should know since he guided students to BAFTA success during his time as Head of Film and TV at Edinburgh College of Art.
Developing photos until 4am, then going to school at 8am
British Gas industrial film unit
Cadbury’s Young Food Photographer of the Year 1979
The skills of the lighting cameraman
Hardcore: Editing 2″ tape with a microscope and iron filings
13 person-team for corporate video production
72 hr working week
Cover your ears if you speak Welsh
Terrifying BBC interview techniques
Creativity versus the sausage factory
BAFTA Awards: Student Adrian McDowall and Kara Johnston for “Who’s My Girl” (see below)
Storytelling and creativity across video
Learn the grammar of filmmaking
Ludology and Narratology
Marvellous times ahead – I wish I was young graduate