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Notts Filmmaker Will J Carman on Awards Nominations and Shooting an Entire Movie in a Bathroom

29 September 21 interview: Daniela Loffreda
photos: Harry Bamford

Cinematographer, camera operator and colourist, there doesn’t seem to be anything Will J Carman can’t do. We chat to the Nottingham-based filmmaker about award nominations, future projects and the importance of expecting the unexpected… 

You’ve worked as a cinematographer on several exciting projects. What does the role mean to you?
Also called the director of photography (DoP), they’re basically the director's right hand man or woman. Their main job is about taking 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 the shots that you want or is it sometimes more of a process of trial and error?
It depends on the project. If it's a narrative drama project, then there will be storyboards, shot lists and all that stuff. But sometimes you just have to adjust to a situation. For example, I was filming a presenter-led promo for these new-build houses. We showed up and there was no power on site, so we had to adapt by placing the presenter next to windows and using the natural light available. I think being adaptable is one of the key skills a cinematographer should have. 

You were nominated for Best Cinematography at the Top Indie Film Awards for your work on Luther, Michael and Her. How was that for you? 
It was really nice to get that recognition. It’s still one of my personal favourite projects because of its whole concept. It’s a classic budget film with just one location - the whole thing is set in a bathroom - but I like the idea of taking that one location and keeping it visually interesting.

We showed up and there was no power on site, so we had to adapt by using the natural light available. I think being adaptable is one of the key skills a cinematographer should have.

Colour grading is often overlooked by those not in the film industry. Can you tell us a little about it?
It's similar to the way you edit your photos. It's about the colour of the image and manipulating it to look the way you want it to. Most cameras these days purposely shoot in a very flat colour profile called log, which allows you the flexibility to create hundreds of different looks. I see it as the little cherry on top of the post-production process, and it can make or break your work.

As a freelancer, you’re regularly involved in everything from pre to post-production. What do you find 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 certain things. You can't always see the location until the shoot so it’s just about trying to do the best you can, often with limited information.

What has been the most rewarding project for you to work on?
It would be Luther, Michael and Her, which had a good crew of minimal people. There was just me, a sound recordist, two actors – one of whom was the director and the writer as well - and a runner. We shot over three days and there was a nice feeling on set. It was very creative and satisfying to work on.

What are you working on now?
I'm working as DoP on my first feature film, which is also my first professional narrative project. Without giving too much away, it's essentially a road trip film about these two characters who meet through different circumstances and are both down on their luck. They're opposite people in certain ways so the film is about them connecting and developing a friendship through their shared love of music. 

willjcarman.co.uk

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