7th Annual Emerging Pro

Danny LaceyDanny Lacey
Location: London, UK


Danny Lacey Filmmaker Danny Lacey was an entrepreneur from a young age. He spent years as a nightclub DJ, radio broadcaster and running a series of businesses, but his passion was always film and moving images. When he hit his 30s, Lacey made the decision to embark on a serious career as a filmmaker. With his short, Host, Lacey shows not only technical prowess, but also the ability to craft a compelling story.


How long have you been making films?
My self-taught filmmaking journey began back in 2009 when I picked up a camera for the first time.

Do you have a background or do you currently work in still photography as well as motion?
I have an interest in stills photography but that's about as far as that goes. Everything I'm making at the moment is based in the moving image, although I do have a good grasp of the basics of photography, I wouldn't say I was an expert.

Did you start with actual film or have you always been shooting digitally?
Short film number one was shot on a Sony Z1 in HDV and everything I'd learned at that stage was about digital filmmaking. That all changed when I shot short film number two (Love Like Hers) on Super 16mm. I quickly learned that the two formats were worlds apart when it comes to the discipline of filmmaking. I'm so lucky to have shot on celluloid, a discipline I now use when shooting on digital.

How have digital cameras changed or defined the way you work?
It's been a revolution! The DSLR phenomena totally leveled the playing field for filmmakers the World over. Making films, that looked great, was no longer an exclusive club. There's new advancements in digital technology all the time and it just means we have more good quality options that now fit most budgets. When I start work on a project I know exactly what camera I want to use depending on budget and logistics, and I know I'll not have any problems finding a suitable camera.

What single piece of advice would you give to a young filmmaker who is trying to break in?
Get out there and film things. Don't worry if you don't own an expensive camera, use your smart phone. In fact, using your phone as a camera is a great way to learn and develop your skills, without breaking the bank. Get creative. Follow other filmmaker's on Social Media, YouTube etc and check out what they're doing. Learn from them. And be patient, do your time and get experience under your belt, know what your strengths and weaknesses are and surround yourself with talented people. Be thoughtful when emailing people in the industry for advice, send them personilized emails and not templates that you've been copying and pasting.

Do you think it’s possible for small independent productions to be made with sophisticated results and if so, how can a small independent filmmaker create productions that have the look and image-quality of large big-budget productions?
Absolutely. I think all filmmaker's should aspire to that big-budget look and production value and it's not always about using the biggest and best camera. It's often the simple things that often get overlooked like locations, casting and more importantly - story! I've seen many short films that have been shot in terribly uninteresting locations. There are tons of fantastic locations out there, find somewhere interesting, that's half the battle for achieving that big-budget look. Befriend a local hire company, you'd be surprised how willing they are to do incredible hire deals for people they know and trust. Remember, a 'no' always means 'maybe'.

As an independent filmmaker, how do you get your productions seen and distributed?
I've built up a following via my social media sites over the years and via my blog, Vimeo and YouTube channel. I think this is down to the unique way in which I'm sharing everything I'm going through as a new filmmaker. It means I have some kind of audience there, people interested in what I'm making. I recently released all of my short films on Blu-Ray and DVD selling 300 units in total around the World, which was incredible. The discs were packed with many hours of extra features which I believe played a huge part in the sales figures. These films are now being released online one at a time, for free, on Vimeo and YouTube to hopefully introduce them to a wider audience.

Your film, Host, is beautifully shot and it was shot in a single day. Did the story dictate the look or did the look dictate the story?
In the case of Host, it was the look that kind of dictated the story. I wanted to test my writing skills on this project so I came up with the idea of a man being tied to a chair in a dark room and how could I make that even remotely interesting. A very organic way of developing a short film I found.

In a world where there’s proliferation of accessible tools that can create a high-end look almost anyone can make a really good-looking project, what makes one film stand out versus another?
Story, story and great acting. There are many beautifully shot videos out there and that's nice and lovely, but a lot of them have no story, no reason for me to invest as a viewer. I like a good, compelling narrative with a beginning, middle and end. Take me on a journey.


Check out Danny Laceys’ work at http://www.dannylaceyfilm.co.uk.
 
 

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