Observatory were commissioned to work on the launch video for our grassroots E-sports partner LDN UTD. We worked alongside Visual Hybrid AKA Paul Stevenson, to execute the video displayed.

Towards the end of a successful video launch, we interviewed Paul Stevenson and here is what he had to say:

1. What is it like working with Observatory

It’s always a real buzz working with Observatory, so I was excited when Ben called me to chat about the London UTD promo project. The project has been a really bold, creative one to start 2019 off with. I love working with people who actually push boundaries and have the guts to try fresh ideas. Ben and the team definitely nailed that one.

2. As a director what advice would you give to people who are starting out who want to become directors?

It’s a long journey and you’re always learning. Enjoy it and expect to make mistakes as those mistakes teach you the most. No excuses, just get out and film stuff, be it on a phone or a pro-level camera. Keep a log of all your ideas, no matter how random. A concept that you dream up today might only make sense fully in 5 years time.

Lastly, the best advice I ever read: Be inspired by your heroes and peers but don’t compare our work too closely to theirs. Social media is a downer for that. Instead, look back 12 months, 24 months and see how much YOU and your work have evolved. That’s the real metric.

3. How did you get into directing? 

I come from a family or arty types, but I decided against art school for a languages degree. The yearnings for creativity didn’t go away though, so midway through my degree, I sank £250 on a Hi8 camcorder and enrolled on a couple of NVQ level film courses. Really glad that I made the hop back in the right direction.

4. What differentiates Observatory from other companies you’ve worked with? 

Relentless creative energy.

5. What have been some of your favourite projects you’ve worked on across your career? 

Homeboy Sandman music video:

It’s a couple of years old now, but this music video project was a real step for me. Homeboy Sandman is a rapper who I’ve admired for a long time, so having the opportunity to work with him was a buzz. Ben Sheppee was the VFX maestro on the video and our mutual friend Thom aka WaveTale was my sound tech on the day. I really loved this project and working with Sandman and Stones Throw Records was ace. 

Eric Boss LP visuals:

I’m currently working on a bunch of video shorts for soul singer Eric Boss’s new solo LP. Nothing released just yet, but it’s been a really fulfilling project to work on. One of the music videos features Blackalicious’ Gift of Gab and we’ve got a great concept cooking. It’s going to be strong.

Oakley Climbs series:

I worked with some really close friends and creative buddies on this series for Oakley. We pulled out all the stops, got to film all over the French Alps across a week and had a great time filming. Shoots like that shape you. 

6. What camera equipment would you recommend for beginners and any tips?  

Anything will do. Start with a cheap stills camera or mobile phone camera if you have nothing else. Watch tutorials online, be inspired by people on Instagram and never stop experimenting. You’ll soon know when you’re outgrowing your current setup. Some of the mirrorless cameras out right now are really affordable, so have a good look around and invest when you can.

7. What directing projects are you looking forward to working on in the coming months?

There are lots coming up that I’m excited about, but it’s the variety that keeps things fresh and creative. Can’t really say too much about upcoming stuff, but watch this space!

8. Who inspires you as a director?

I draw inspiration from all over. Sometimes it’s from pure cinematographers, other times its directors, artists and photographers.  In fact, I’m often most inspired by musicians and the parallels between the film and music worlds. But to name just three: Darren Aronofsky (director), Khalid Mohtaseb (cinematographer), Thom Yorke (musician)

9. How would you describe Observatory in three words? 

Relentless creative energy.

10. Have you got any creative or technical predictions for 2019? 

Rather than a prediction, here are a few wishes.

I’m interested to see how VR and AR continue to evolve. I was really blown away by the Hololens tech and its potential. Hopefully, wider commercially viable uses can be enabled. 

Aside from that, keeping a keen eye on camera tech is a big interest for me. As a Red Camera owner, I’m excited by Red’s direction of travel, but need to wait for the right moment to re-invest on kit. Camera hardware is incredibly expensive at that level, so the move has to be right. Along with that I’m always keeping an eye on what Arri is up to and being excited by the new lens offerings from established and newer glass manufacturers.

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