We could not be more happy to showcase the talented Director Sam Huntley this week. For some time we've been fans of his work and last week we were delighted to share his latest short film 'The Bowling Butcher of Blackburn' https://vimeo.com/232115970. This alone is a must see. So, this week Sam took some time out to chat to us about his work, influences and future plans. Over to you Sam...
1.What movie inspired you to be a DP/Director?
I’m sure like many people of a similar age the obvious answer would be to say Star Wars as I was obsessed with those films when I was a kid. But also they were probably the reason that I first discovered who the ‘Director’ was. I vividly remember finding out that this guy George Lucas had made other films like American Graffiti and THX which totally blew my mind. Spielberg and E.T./Indiana Jones/Jaws would be another similar comparison.
That naturally led me to discovering people like Coppola, Scorsese, Kubrick, Bogdanovich etc. Other films like Robocop, Rambo, Back to the Future…Mary Poppins…all big favourites when I was really young too. Apocalypse Now, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Badlands…those were the kind of films that were big for me when I was a teenager. Anything that had been banned as well also took on mythical status; I remember the excitement when someone you knew had a pirate copy of A Clockwork Orange or The Exorcist. So I think it would be a combination of things rather than one particular film.
2.What other mediums do you draw inspiration from? (e.g. paintings, photographers, writers, etc)
I’d like to think I have a pretty broad interest in most things artistic that are constantly inspiring me. When I was at school I was really into painting (I don’t seem to have the patience to actually do it any more though unfortunately). But I remember I had a book about the Impressionists and that’s where my interest started – Degas was always my favourite. After that people like Hopper, Francis Bacon, so quite varied. Then I got more into photography; Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Stephen Shore, William Eggleston… I studied graphic design at college and that was good for just teaching you a general visual awareness. I definitely don’t read as much as I would like or probably should. I only seem to be able to concentrate on a book when I’m on holiday so I end up re-reading things over and over again.
One For The Boys 'The Difference' https://vimeo.com/165645587
3.Who is your favourite Cinematographer?
Again there’s too many to mention but the ones that always immediately spring to mind are people who shot some of my favourite films; Laszlo Kovacs (Paper Moon, Five Easy Pieces), Vilmos Zsigmond (The Deer Hunter, Deliverence), Michael Chapman (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull). There’s some incredible younger Dop’s out there and I love discovering new people’s work, or seeing a film and rediscovering someone that I’d forgotten about. There’s so many great people shooting commercials that I’d love to work with as well and it’s always inspiring when you see someone has gone on to make a feature.
4. Are you interested in making long form? Absolutely, which again I’m sure is the case for 99% of other directors working in commercials. I’ve written a few shorts over the years and have actually just shot a new one a couple of weeks ago, but the thought of trying to write something longer has always been too daunting. I’d always been a bit suspicious of screenwriting books/workshops but a couple of years ago someone encouraged me to take a course with a great guy called Stephen Cleary. It was really enjoyable and even though it didn’t make me suddenly become an amazing writer overnight it definitely helped open my mind up to different ways of thinking and working which has been really helpful. You had to pitch a project on the course and start writing it which I’ve been tentatively working on ever since but I (very) slowly feel like I’m starting to get somewhere with it. For me writing is like anything you don’t feel particularly confident with; it can be a hard slog but you just have to keep persevering with it and hopefully at some point you’ll get somewhere!
Back Of Me Door https://vimeo.com/78334754
5.What piece of advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers? The same answer really; perseverance…And just to keep on making stuff. That’s essentially how I eventually got a break. At the beginning it can be really disconcerting because you might make stuff that no one ever sees, or likes, or maybe they do see it and like it but it still doesn’t lead to anything and you just have to start again. But maybe it’ll be the next thing or the next thing. For a lot of people (myself included) that feeling never really goes away and you constantly have to keep learning and adapting your style until you find what really works for you. But at least it’s fun trying and that feeling when something finally comes together and feels like it’s working, enough for you to actually want to show someone - whether it’s on a small personal project or a job - makes it all worth it.