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October 28, 2020 4 min read

So what is your job exactly?

My name is Al. I’m 6’3”, I have dark hair, brown eyes and I’m a Cancerian.

I make films mostly for money but sometimes for fun and I’m one third of Verri Media. I came up through TV documentaries and moved into on-line and brand films back when no-one thought Youtube would really be very big. I was luckily in the right place - I shoot and edit my own stuff which is more common now but pretty rare back in the noughties. Travel has always been a massive part of what I do.

Sounds easy. What are the challenges you face?

A location video shoot is always pretty intense. Working mostly as a solo operator means that days are often long and hard work. There are always logistical challenges but I work with a great producer who takes the sting out of that. It’s frequently very physical. I shoot a very doco style so there’s lots of running around and moving from place to place. In the 6 months before lockdown I shot in +45° heat and -20° cold, I went to dry African deserts, wet European cities and windy Russian Mountains so the weather can make things stressful. And the food, sometimes the food is appalling so I always carry a bottle of chilli sauce. It changes but Encona is flavour of the moment.

Where has been your favourite shoot and why?

It’s always hard to pick a favourite shoot, there are a lot of factors involved. Highlights must be tracking bears in the mountains in Nepal and camping out under the stars, spending a week with all-time Hero Brian Johnson (of ACDC) and, of course, making anything with Morvélo up at Sussex Uni campus! This year has been incredible, though. I filmed some amazing wildlife in the Kalahari towards the end of last year (wild dogs and pangolins) and then in February just before lockdown I went to the Kamchatka peninsula to shoot some snowboarding and skiing in the densest concentration of volcanoes in the world. Properly the end of the world.

And of course what we really want to know is what has been your worst?

It sounds cheesy but I genuinely love meeting people and seeing all kinds of different things so all shoots are good. I do hate studios though. Not a studio guy, only good thing about studios is the food. I did film a gender reassignment operation once, that was amazing and freaky in equal measure.

Clothing wouldn't seem to be a pressing concern, but how important is choosing the right apparel given the nature of your outdoors work?

I probably agonise more about what clothes to pack for a shoot than what lenses. There’s nothing worse than being too cold, too hot, too over-dressed, too under-dressed. And I’m not just being fussy, it can get in the way of the production. I once got ejected from the Ministry of Health in Cape Verde for wearing shorts. Nothing should get in the way of getting the shots and telling the story. If you get heatstroke the shoot is over, if you get so cold you stop pushing to get the best shot then you’re letting everyone down. So getting your clothes right is super important. Having fresh undies and socks for the plane home is essential.

Looking at the elephant in the room that is COVID-19, how has recent events effected your work and what opportunities could it bring?

COVID has obviously put an end to the travelling for now. It’s traditionally been a huge part of what we do as a company and we realise that just investing in carbon offset schemes isn’t enough to mitigate our travel emissions so we’ve been looking at new ways of working. The lockdown has helped push us in the right direction. We’re trying to be smart about remote filming opportunities because the people we work with still want to get their messages out so we’ve developed some good solutions there. Personally I’ve really been enjoying seeing the air quality improve, not just in places like China and India where in the past I’ve been able to look directly at the sun during the day with the smog protecting my eyes but also locally. I live in the South Downs and I can definitely see Brighton more clearly when I’m out on my bike. The UK has just announced 60 days without burning coal for power because of the reduced demand the lockdown has triggered. I hope we can keep it up.

What sports and activities do you do and what is your favourite?

I’ve always been boarder of some sort. I’m getting too old for skateboarding but I try to get out with my son when he’ll let me. I surf and snowboard when on holiday and windsurf when at home. And, of course, being born in Cambridge and then the last 20 years living round here I ride my bike (well my bikes) on and off-road most days. Since I got my Mason Bokeh the line between on and off road is increasingly blurring. Oh, I’ve been dabbling with motocross but it really feels like a great way to hurt yourself. Then it’s whiskey, music, food, and my family (recently most often in that order).

Has this changed much in recent years?

Nope, always boards, bikes, hills and water in varying forms. I had an ill-advised flirt with golf a good few years ago but, you know, the clothes….

 


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