Tell us about yourself. How did you become an filmmaker?
I grew up in London, in a place called World’s End, which is sort of Chelsea, it’s right on the River Thames, at that time the area was very working class, most adult men including my father worked on the river. I left school at 15 to work in a photographic darkroom, processing film, drying prints etc, I had started taken photographs around the age of 14. The darkroom was the perfect place to meet photographers and after a year I’d left and was working as a photographic assistant. Over the next 4 years I worked with loads of photographers, learning about lighting, cameras, lenses & film formats from 35mm, 6x6 to 5x4. My real interest was fashion photography, But basically I didn’t start making films till I was 35.
What was your first break in the field?
My first big break came in 1983, (I’m that Old) I was aged 20, a photographer I was working for said he had gone to school with Paul Smith and knew him really well, and he could arrange a meeting for me to show Paul my fashion photographs. So from that start over the next 10 years I shot images for Paul and other fashion designers, including magazines etc, I moved around a lot living and working all over Europe, mostly shooting fashion.
What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work?
I make personal documentaries about people that I believe too easily escape the broader based discussion they deserve, like the subject around being working class and what that means today. My film The Family Project set in Paris covers these kind of themes.
Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project?
I don’t over do the research at the start of a project, I let the subject take the lead and build the film from there. My documentaries are observation, filmed in a very Cinéma Vérité style and filmed over time, so this approach or method works well for me.
Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for you?
Jean Luc Godard, Agnes Varda, Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Jean Eustache, Danny Lyon, Ingmar Bergman, Kazuo Hara. Most of the films made by the filmmakers here, but two I like a lot are: La maman et la putain by Jean Eustache & Daguerréotypes by Agnes Varda.
How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation?
At long last we are seeing a bit more diversity in front of the camera. More stories covering a range of different social and ethnic issues and more people of different genders, sexual orientations are staring to get a platform to be heard. But still a long way to go.
Through Covid everyone started to look towards more online screenings and VOD platforms, even the bigger festivals went online and have stayed then. People started to use phones to tell they stories.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they must follow/avoid?
Keep to who your are, look and listen. Be kind along the way, it’s a long journey. Believe in what you do.
Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world?
I’d like to think so, because it needs too, but the Jury is still out.
What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's taste?
I think it has, people are looking for something more real, look how popular documentaries have become. More cinemas and online platforms are showing them, covering assorts of subjects. Content is everywhere.
Please tell us about your upcoming projects.
At the moment I’m filming my new documentary - Calum Storrie: Drawing Etc - which should be ready to go in October 2023
I’m also scanning my film negatives for a new book in 2025, the archive starts from 1978 - to the present, because I still shoot a lot of film. Some of the results can be seen on Instagram @peterbromleyimages