People: Interview with film-maker Mark Dighe
Hi Mark, tell us a little bit about yourself and your work..
So I am a Producer | Director | Editor from London and I have recently founded a small production company called sonderseen. When I am not working on a shoot or an edit I am usually watching films, reviewing films, ingesting large amounts of coffee or attempting to keep fit.
My work ranges from corporate vision films to events, to live music to promotional material so a real mixture. The reason I do what I do is because I love helping others to share their stories and vision and I’m passionate about seeing people do what they were created for, and seeing God expand his Kingdom through the passions and gifts he gives us.
What has been your favourite project thus far?
I think my favourite project so far was filming the United 2015 Conference for New Wine last year. It was 15 days spent on a campsite in Somerset, during which me and my amazing team of cameramen and editors had to create and deliver 17 videos. It was more tiring and hard work than any other project but I have never had more fun. I think for me it was also a step-up in terms of team, scope and delivery so to pull it all off and have a happy client at the end was a real confidence boost to me and the team.
If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?
There’s no rush. I think I was always keen to work out what I wanted to do, to know what my ‘calling’ was. The truth is life doesn’t work quite like that for most of us, we have to try a few things out, get a few (or quite a few in my case) things wrong. Making mistakes and gaining different experiences are needed if you are to grow and be great at what you do, so yeah my advice would be, ‘Stop rushing, take the present in and let the future deal with itself, oh and stop being afraid to make mistakes….if you don’t make mistakes you will never create anything worth watching’.
Whats your favourite part of the creative process?
Hmmmm. That is a difficult one.
The reason I do what I do and have started my own production company is to share experiences because I believe everyone has a story worth telling. I believe in magnifying lives by understanding people’s individualism, and capturing their essence and crafting their uniqueness into film. So the initial client meetings are always one of my favourite times - because it is a time when I get to really delve into what someone/an organisation is about and come up with ideas of how that can be visualised.
What do you currently shoot with?
A mixture but most of my work is shot on the Canon C100 Mkii. I love this camera, it is easy to use, compact, shoots great slow-mo and gives a great finish. Obviously I would love to be shooting on REDs, Arri Alexas and the like but for most clients I think the C100 Mkii gives the best bang for your buck. For some music stuff I will use the Sony FS7 and occasionally I will drop to a Canon 5/7D if I want to go old-school but yeah, C100 Mkii is my camera of choice until I can get my hands on the new C300 Mkii.
What for you personally, are the pros and cons of being a film-maker?
For me they probably fall as follows:
I get to help others share their visions and passions.
It is hands-on creative work, you have to make decisions on the spot and stick with them. It’s a lot of pressure sometimes but that drives me rather than scaring me.
I get to work with a wide variety of people. I love working with others and leading teams, as a producer and director I really enjoy working with some amazingly talented people and maximising their potential for the benefit of my clients.
I have the privilege of learning about so many different industries and individuals. As a filmmaker and interviewer I get to sit down with some amazing people and dive straight into what they love, their skills, their passions and their businesses. It is such an honour to have that access and it is why I care so much about creating something which honours their vision and passion.
It’s up and down. You are working flat out one minute and nothing on the next, which is tough on relationships, friendships and your general sanity.
Being undervalued. Clients will often try and get away with borderline offensive budgets, this is usually simply a case of lack of knowledge into what goes into making films. I actually think it is our responsibility as filmmakers to enlighten clients rather than for them to inherently know, however it still hurts when someone asks do you work for barely anything.
How does your faith influence your film-making? Do you feel that you see things around you differently for example?
My faith influences every part of my life. At least that is my goal and intention. So yes, it certainly influences my film-making. Whether it is in my interaction with clients or my team I always try to act in a way which honours God. It is so easy to get frustrated and react in high-pressure situations on shoots and as I deliver a film to the client but remembering who God is, who I am, and trying to love others in every situation hopefully makes a difference in both my life and the lives of my team and clients.
I would also add that my faith is one of the main drives behind why I do what I do. I believe that a lack of identity is one of if not the biggest hindrance to seeing God move in people's lives. So if my films can help individuals and companies gain a stronger sense of who they are and who they were made to be, then I think God can do some amazing things through it.
As a final word, do you have any tips for upcoming film-makers?
Prep well, hold it all lightly and be honest.
Your films will live or die on their preparation. If you prep a shoot well it doesn’t guarantee smooth sailing, but it allows you the wiggle room to work around any barriers. The best advice I have been given about prepping shoots is: ‘Expect the best, prepare for the worst’.
Holding it Lightly
Whether it be letting others in your team input into the way a film is shot, or changing something for a client which you think is a mistake, learn to hold situations lightly. There is a phrase used in film-making; ‘Kill your darlings’, which basically means always be willing to let a great shot be dropped if it doesn’t add to the story. It is usually used when a director and editor are discussing how the final film should look but it works in all aspects of film-making. You have to look at the bigger picture, beyond yourself and be willing to hold it all lightly and often ‘kill your darlings’. Yes there are moments to dig-in and demand a shot the way you want it, but they are rarer than you think.
This is far easier said than done but it’s the difference between repeat business and one-off flops. I have found that the clients return to you not because you are the best film-maker they have ever seen, but because they enjoy working with you. That will only happen if you are honest with them. This is because clients rarely know how to do what we do, it is easy to pull the wool over their eyes when something has gone wrong, it is easy to blame a cameraman or piece of equipment for a mistake you have made or to delay bad news because you fear their anger. In every situation be honest and admit to your mistakes, sometimes it may cost you but overall it will earn you their trust. A client who trusts you is like gold dust to a filmmaker.
All video content copyright Mark Dighe