From directing skeleton crews in the middle of Sierra Leone's jungles to creating abstract visuals for fashion shows, over the last decade Chris Light has spent making films, he’s had a lot of fun.
As part of the film production company Clockwise, he makes beautiful films, big and small, for numerous brands tiny and tall. To delve a little further into his creative process and his thoughts on the immediate future of the creatives industries, we caught up with him this week and shone our spotlight on his work, his talent, his inspiration and his banjo playing skills (or lack thereof).
Where are you from and how did you get into the industry?
I was born and raised in Dorset, had a fairly typical outdoorsy childhood. I went to study media production at the University of Coventry (would not recommend), I had a conversation with a charity owner Whale Nation at a university fair and ended up working for him as his creative director for the first 4 years of my career. Worked out great for me as I wanted to travel and hone in my skillset, which I did filming documentaries about short-finned pilot whales and indigenous tribes in Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka.
Looking back on those films now I cringe at the low-level production value and quality of them, but there were a lot of happy memories there. I left the charity as I wanted to develop myself further, and moved to London for a ‘Content production’ role with D&AD, who I am sure you are aware of. After that, I immersed myself in several agencies and an in-house cameraman/editor/animator for 5-6 years, when we (my wife and I) decided we wanted to move out of London.
Where are you based now and who do you work for?
I am now based in Bristol, but I would say 70% of my shoots are still London-based. I work for a really fun tight-knit independent production company called Clockwise. They are documentary specialists but have deep roots in the music, fashion and events industries.
Explain your creative style and process
To be honest, my style is very much dictated by the project. For example, last week I was working for L’Oreal where we were focused on creating interesting high-end looks and fashion show content. However, today I am writing from a dressing room backstage at Cheltenham races, where 5 minutes ago I was animating flaming tits onto a ripped jockey for a tongue-in-cheek branded piece of content for Paddy Power. It really is brief dependent.
Please provide one sentence about your spotlighted work on Creativepool
This is a highlights reel of some of our favourite scenes we picked out from our fashion show content this year for L’Oreal’s 2019 Colour Trophy Grand Final event (below).
How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)?
Massively, to a degree, it dictates a lot of what is possible. Everything from advances in cameras to the uprising in affordable LED lighting, to improvements in Adobe’s packages having a knock-on effect on what we can make, and what we can pitch for future projects. However, saying that, many of the key skills in putting together an engaging and coherent story from raw footage hasn’t changed since I began working in the industry.
If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?
Diversity. I am a middle-class white male and work with many middle-class white males. It is rare, although not uncommon, to see female directors or non-white directors. Variety is the spice of life, and it is important to get input from a wider demographic into creative projects/ discussions. Actually, another problem with our industry is pigeon-holing.
Directors are often clumped into specific genres/types of projects after having a few on the reel, and very quickly you find you can’t get work outside it. I have intentionally tried to keep my projects quite varied so I do not get stuck creating a certain type of film over and over again, in the long run, I won’t be as successful as a result, but it makes me happier for sure.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
Keep watching and learning. There are so many platforms, like Creativepool, Behance, Vimeo, D&AD which curate so much amazing work there is never a reason not to explore the archives and get inspired to get yourself out of a creative funk.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
Good question. Maybe an electrician? In that, it’s quite technical and involves some theoretical thinking. Also a bit of a nerd, so I could imagine creating some automated house lighting systems.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
The problem with editing your own work is you often hate in the end as you have just spent too much time working and re-working the footage. I quite like a few bits out of the L’Oreal highlights edit you showcased, so I am going to cop out and say that.
How do you recharge away from the office?
Dog walks with our pupper! Try to get a surf in when I can, another reason we moved to Bristol. Then yeah the obvious socialising, going to the cinema, teaching myself how to play the banjo (quite terrible at it if I am honest).
What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives in the industry who are looking for commissions?
A strong idea with relevant references will always win the work. However, people will only hire you if you have relevant work samples to the work you are pitching for. So, if you wanted to a win a commercial, documentary, cinematic soap-opera pitch, shoot one of your own back and put all the love into it you can muster, otherwise, it is unlikely that people will pay you to shoot their projects as they have little proof that you are up to the task.
What’s your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?
Getting a wider demographic into the agency and video production industries is pretty vital, not only for a broader range of work, but also to keep our industries alive.