Hello Danny, thanks for talking to TNC, how's everything going?
A bit crazy at the moment. I’m on holiday in China with my girlfriend and my Chernobyl video for CBS News, that's gone viral couldn’t have happened at a worse time! Although I welcome it! The number of people emailing me asking about the soundtrack (For the record its Hannah Miller - Promise Land). is taking up several hours a day of emailing.
Did you expect the response to your Chernobyl film to be as immense as it has been?
To be honest, no! Although the piece CBS News did was fantastic, it was very hard to differentiate my footage from the other camera crew members. So I literally slapped a few shots together for my portfolio site and found an appropriate soundtrack all within an afternoon. The longest part was actually making all the GoPro shots look - non-GoPro.
Tell me a little bit about how the project come about?
A good camera friend of mine Jono recommended my work to his director. From there, they wanted me onboard for the added perspective I could give to the shoot.
Logistically what was the most challenging part of filming 'Postcards from Pripyat?
Some would say the fear of radiation...But surprisingly it was those pesky mosquitos. Even wearing repellant, it was like the tiny buggers haven’t tasted flesh for a long time. After the shoot, my entire body was glowing in bites.
Was the decision to use a drone made in part due to the exclusion zone around Chernobyl?
No, I don’t think so, I wasn’t that far from the drone at all, a few hundred metres if that. My director Michael wanted to show the sense of the scale of the abandoned city, and the best way to do that is by air.
Had you used a drone to film before?
Yes, although the technology is very new to me. I have only been filming with it since the beginning of the year.
What were some of the most interesting shots you filmed?
To be honest the most interesting shot for me is the shot with Yevgen looking out to the city at the end of the film. In that one moment, I realised his appeal to staying in the zone.
How did you feel as a filmmaker to see these haunting images for the first time?
The first day I arrived I was a little bit scared of the radiation. Especially when my guide showed me some of the dangerous hotspots. I spent most of my time away from the rest of the crew and with him, exploring Pripyat. the next few days I built up more of courage and we explored many places, The school, music centre, civic centre, post office to name a few. The most haunting image to me though was the floor of the school canteen. It was filled in a sea of child-sized gas-masks. I will never forget that image.
"I learn as much from watching other people’s work than I do from experimenting with my own."
Have you always been interested in film making?
Yes, from a very young age, however, I have only been doing it commercially for the past 3 or so years.
What was your first project like, was it a steep learning curve?
My first commercial project was a short documentary about a traditional sign-writer called David A Smith. It was a learning curve as I was really trying to put my Canon 7D through its paces. But I am really happy with the outcome of the film and the success it has received.
What have been the biggest lessons you've learnt?
There are way too many to list! But to be honest, in this area of work, I am continually learning. I learn as much from watching other people’s work than I do from experimenting with my own.
And finally, what would be the best advice you would give someone who is thinking about making their first film?
The best advice I can give is to choose a subject you are passionate about. Then making the film will be naturally easy!