FREESTYLE BRISTOL

Freedom in Film

Callum Cutler talks to us about being a young filmmaker with big ideas, with his recent film ‘Bristol-A Place By The River’ reaching over 6k views on Youtube.

Hi Callum. Thanks for joining Freestyle Bristol for this interview! So, I know you’re originally from Brighton – what was it that drew you to Bristol?

I came to Bristol to start University and I chose to go to the University of the West of England because I’d been told that it was a really creative place. There was the freedom and chance to meet new people who were also creative. I realised there were loads of really cool things going on like the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. That kind of stuff really appealed to me. Bristol has some really nice scenery as well which I was aware of, like the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Harbourside. I guess it was all of that which drew me to Bristol. 

Was there a particular reason you chose to stay in Bristol after graduating? 

I actually went home for a bit. I went back to Brighton and did freelance work for quite a while and as I was there the situation with COVID-19 got worse. A lot of my work and creations involved meeting people, and this didn’t feel right as I was living with my parents. I had some friends in Bristol who had a spare space in their house and I felt like there wasn’t much for me in Brighton so I decided to move back. I wanted to do my own thing and I’m really glad that I did because it’s giving me the chance to try something new with setting up my own business.

 

 

What were your experiences of the Bristol creative scenes both inside the University and out?

I used to go to exhibitions in my first year as I think nearly everyone in my flat was an art student so I would always go to see their exhibitions at places like the Arnolfini.  

If I’m honest, I’ve always just kind of done my own thing. I haven’t watched too much of what everyone else is doing, I’ve always just made sure that I’m just working on something myself. I’ve always been a very individual sort of film maker. 

I’ll try and collaborate when possible. If I see there’s an opportunity for good collaboration, I’ll get involved but as I have so many ideas inside my head I just need to get on making my own stuff. Then if I need help I’ll get in contact with people who were in my filmmaking course and see if they’re up for collaborating. 

And you’ve also been working on music videos recently?

Yeah there was a point where I was getting maybe two done a week. 

With local artists?

Yeah, it’s all done through Instagram. I didn’t really realise that Instagram is a tool that you can connect and pretty much do business through, but you can. I’d always just thought of it as this weird, addictive form of social media. But yeah, recently I’ve been using it as a business tool and it’s a really good way to connect with creatives. 

So Instagram has its benefits for underground creative scenes? 

I never thought of it before but yeah, I’m using it to my advantage these days and it’s good.  

So what have you got coming out of next? 

I’m currently not editing because I wanted to focus on directing and shooting. I’ve filmed maybe six or seven videos that should be in the process of editing, so I think they’re going to be coming out one after the other but obviously whenever the editors are ready. 

In two weeks there’s one coming out with a Bristol artist called Lijah (https://www.instagram.com/lijah.uk/). He’s a very diverse music producer who makes a lot of different sounds. I think he’s going to do really well in the future. 

He’s got this album coming out and we shot a video for one of the tracks on it.  He’s got some songs on it that are kind of UK rap based, others that sound like jazz or other alternative genres. There’s a real mix and diversity of sounds which is what I think he intended to do with the album. 

The track that we shot is very unique and something that I haven’t really heard before. He uses his production very effectively and makes a sound which is very different to what I’ve heard before so we’re expecting a good response from audiences once it’s put out there. It’s a really good video shot over a day and we used a load of really creative lighting techniques, different colours and made it a very colourful and fun video. 

Yeah, it should be good!

Okay, and it’s not just the music videos – can you tell me about the shorts? 

So my degree at Uni was filmmaking and when I signed up for the course my interests were just making stuff look cool. I didn’t really care about narratives, sound design, acting or anything like that. Doing this course, I suppose it taught me about what these different components of film are and I hadn’t really thought about this before. I’m not sure if I’m going to go into actual moviemaking, but I think doing my course definitely taught me how to make a good movie. 

My most recent short is called The Presence of Thin Air and it’s quite an emotional film. I’ve never really made anything which was emotive but the idea came from my very good friend whose Dad passed away and I could see him really struggling – he was obviously not coping very well mentally. 

I guess with this film I sort of put myself into his shoes and took inspiration from how he would feel because the whole film is based around someone who loses someone who’s very close to them. They kind of slowly start to deteriorate whilst hearing voices and seeing things that aren’t there. Eventually, they think about taking their own life. I took inspiration from those things that were going on around people close to me and I brought light to it through a film. 

Would you say emotional narratives are your style?

Um, not really. (laughs)

But you have done a previous film that was quite dark. 

Oh, Sleepwalking

Yeah. 

Yeah, I don’t know. I guess when it comes to actually making films they can be a bit bleak.

You navigate into the darker regions of your inspiration?

Sometimes, yeah. I’m sure one day I’ll get around to making some happy stuff, but I suppose with a lot of films they are good because you connect with them and they draw on some sort of emotion from your audience. 

Do you think it had anything to do with lockdown? I’ve noticed in culture that I’ve picked up on a darker tone in music and other things over the last year. 

Yeah, I’m not too sure really. I think I’ve just got older and got a bit more comfortable with myself and have kind of realised what I want to do. 

I’m just putting all my time into what I’m creating and I guess that’s what makes me happy. 

So what are your plans for the future? What are you working on? Are you going to stay independent or are you looking for that big job with Aardman?

I was contacted by the BBC at the very start of this year as they saw my most recent showreel and sent me a message saying ‘we love your work, would you be interested in coming in and working for us at some point?’ 

And yeah, of course I’d love to do that, hopefully it follows through. There’s a lot of stuff like that I’ve found, especially over this lockdown year, that’s come my way but sometimes opportunities get mentioned but then never really follow through. Which I guess is just part of being in the creative industry. You get a lot of false hope of things that could happen, they just never follow through, but I’m hoping that the BBC will.

When I’m a little bit older, a little bit more experienced and have had more life experience I’d love to put out a proper film. You know, right up something really good and put all my time and effort into that. 

What would be your big dream if you couldn’t do anything with your filmmaking? 

Dreams? I guess put a movie out there, like something you could watch in an actual cinema. 

With big name actors, cast and a big budget, obviously! It’s a huge part of anything creative which a lot of people don’t realise, but you can’t do anything without money. 

Yeah, maybe later. 

I guess we’ll have to see. Maybe in the future that will happen. I’ll keep working and hopefully one day it will be a possibility!

Follow Callum on Youtube and Instagram 

Words: Delroy Hibbert