Notts director Will J Carman on award nominations and filming an entire movie in a bathroom
You have worked as a director of photography on several exciting projects. What does the role mean to you?
Also known as the Director of Photography (DoP), they are basically the director’s right hand man. Their main job is to take the script from paper to screen – they manage and lead a team of camera and lighting departments to ultimately bring the director’s vision to life.
Is there always a clear vision of what plans you want or is it sometimes more of a trial and error process?
It depends on the project. If it’s a narrative drama project, there will be storyboards, shot lists and all that. But sometimes you just have to adapt to a situation. For example, I was filming a promo directed by a presenter for these new homes. We showed up and there was no electricity at the site, so we had to adapt by placing the presenter next to the windows and using available natural light. I think being adaptable is one of the key skills that a cinematographer should have.
You were nominated for Best Cinematography at the Top Indie Film Awards for your work on Luther, Michel and her. How was it for you?
It was really nice to get this recognition. It’s still one of my favorite personal projects because of its concept. It’s a classic low budget movie with one location – it’s all set in a bathroom – but I like the idea of taking that location and keeping it visually interesting.
We showed up and there was no electricity at the site so we had to adapt using the available natural light. I think being adaptable is one of the key skills that a cinematographer should have.
Color grading is often overlooked by those outside of the film industry. Can you tell us a bit about it?
It’s similar to the way you edit your photos. It’s all about the color of the image and how it is manipulated to make it look what you want. Most cameras these days purposely take photos in a very flat color profile called a log, which allows you to create hundreds of different looks. I see it as the little icing on the cake of the post-production process, and it can make or break your job.
As a freelance writer, you are regularly involved in everything from pre-production to post-production. What do you think is the biggest challenge?
Pre-production can always be a challenge because you’re trying to anticipate what’s going to happen when it actually goes into production. And sometimes you can miscalculate or underestimate things. You can’t always see the location before the shoot, so it’s just a matter of trying to do your best, often with limited information.
What has been the most rewarding project you’ve worked on?
It would be Luther, Michel and her, which had a good team of minimal people. It was just me, a sound engineer, two actors – one of whom was also a director and screenwriter – and a runner. We shot over three days and there was a good feeling on set. It was very creative and satisfying to work.
What are you working on now?
I’m working as a DoP on my first feature film, which is also my first professional narrative project. Without giving too much away, this is essentially a road trip film about these two characters who meet under different circumstances and are both unlucky. They are opposites in some ways, so the film is about them connecting and developing a friendship through their mutual love for music.