A Successful Flight is Down to the Crew

Rather fittingly, both the success of a film and a flight is down to how well a crew operates together. Compiling the crew for Airborne was therefore exceedingly important to ensure the film’s success and make both the shoot as smooth and seamless as possible – not unlike a well planned flight.

The most important aspect for me was ensuring I was surrounded by a crew that were on the most part familiar with each other already and had a proven track record for producing good content. That’s where those beloved Bearded Gnomes came in.

The Bearded Gnomes collaborative formed in 2012 for the 0117 Encounters Film Challenge.  The founding crew members include Owen Benson, Paul Thomson, Anna Marshall and Arran Poole. Owen and I have been working together since late 2010 and have a great relationship as Director and DoP and he was therefore my obvious first choice to shoot this movie. Paul and I attended Falmouth University to do our BA in Film over a decade ago and have been making short films together ever since. Paul helped me write the original feature version of Airborne for our final practical submissions in 3rd year in 2008 so knows the film better than anyone else. It only seemed right to ensure he was close by on set to bounce my ideas off. He’s effectively my co-pilot. Helping to ensure I get the film to where I want it.  I’m proud that Anna is able to bring her beautiful twin girls into the production as young ‘Amys’. Natalie and Bethan feature in the trailer which we shot last summer and are such fun to work with. Anna is also a highly skilled production designer and producer so having her amazing mind on the shoot throughout the planning process and on set is invaluable. Lastly amongst our gnomes, Arran has been my beloved composer since our first attempt at 0117 in 2011 and no film of mine is complete without his audio handiwork and musical genius. I’m thrilled he will be scoring Airborne.

The gnomes have expanded over the years and I’m thrilled to be joined by my travelling buddy and dear friend, Kate Buchan who has been bringing several wonderful props to life for me like the wonderful little crafty magician that she is. Kate and I first worked together on Black Car Home back in 2013 and I’ve not done a film without her since.

My filmmaking life in Bristol began with Overlook Films and the wonderful Anthony O’Callaghan in 2009 and I’m thrilled that he has come on board to shoot the ‘early years’ section of the film bringing to it his own unique cinematography style which featured in my directorial debut, If the Boot Fits, in 2010.

A film about flying can’t be made without the assistance of several willing aviators. I’m fortunate to have a number of very talented and creative pilots working with me on this film. Freddie Turner, of Drones Observe, will not only execute some fantastic drone footage for the film but is also lending his acting talents to play the co-lead role of Sam Freeman as well as demonstrating his own gliding skills. Dan Welch, BGGC Chairman, has been instrumental in making this film happen in securing our key location and featuring a very special aircraft. Pete Hibbard and Matt Page from UK Junior Gliding have also lent their technical knowledge, contacts and expertise to help the film take flight.

Last but by no means least, the film crew would not be complete without its flight managers – Geoff and Jackie Beard, without whom we wouldn’t have a Captain let alone a movie to make.

Needless to say there are many names I’ve yet to introduce but I thought it only right to introduce those names that have been instrumental in getting the film where it is today.



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Fear of Flying


I’m reliably informed that fear is a key part of the creative process but there are undoubtedly times when you begin to wonder whether the fear is simply your minds way of telling you not to do something. This is exactly how I’ve felt about this momentous film project of mine for several months now and quite frankly it’s exhausting.

Naturally it makes you examine what is it you’re really afraid of and what it ultimately boils down to is a fear of failure. What if I dont raise enough funds to make it? What if the film shoot is a disaster? What if I pull everything together and get on set and realise I don’t know what I’m doing and I’ve got a full cast and crew behind me coming to the same realisation? What if we make the film but it’s awful and people mock it mercilessly? What if I simply can’t handle the stress and pressure of it all and quit and then everyone knows that I’m a failure. Actually spelling these fears out is quite enlightening as it makes you realise that most of these fears are relatively irrational. If I don’t raise enough funds then we adapt the film to fit the budget we do have. Yes there may be moments on set when I get overwhelmed but this isn’t my first drama shoot and I’m surrounded by an amazing cast and crew who I’ve worked with many times before. Of course the finished film will be criticised. But surely it’s better to have something to criticise than nothing at all?

Thankfully, I’ve also got a great support network of family and friends who believe in me and are constantly giving me words of encouragement and are helping to make this film a reality. Most of them tell me how exciting the project is. My usual response is to tell them how terrifying it is. That’s slowly changing and the level of excitement in me has started to rise.

What I love about this dilemma is the fact that the main protagonist of the film, Amy, is going through the exact same thing. What if she hasn’t got what it takes to fly solo? What if she simply gives up? What will people think of her if she fails?

The best thing someone said to me recently was that nothing worth doing is ever easy. This hasn’t been an easy journey so far but that must somehow mean it’s going to be worth it. Right?