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Dom Bush -My Own Hands

on Monday, 15 April 2013.

my own hands dom bush

What’s your background and how did you get into film-making?

 My background is in the arts. I have always engaged in creative processes, whether that was painting, drawing, writing or photography. Film has been the next in that chain and the most satisfying and successful for me. I feel I have blossomed, found a style that suits me and learned to run with it. From as far back as 4 or 5 years old I have loved playing in the outdoors too. Skiing, climbing, skating, biking, exploring. They are all a huge part of who I am so they influence my work in a big way.

Where did the idea for My Own Hands come about?

I have focused on climbing a lot over the past few years, both in my filmmaking and my free time. I was keen to make a film about why people climb, but knew that the topic was just too big and complex. So I thought about when I began climbing, in trees, as a kid. My son is around that age so a little inspiration comes from him too. Perhaps he has helped me to step back and appreciate the experience again.

I met Ben at an outdoor party many years ago and we spent most of the night climbing trees together; we have been friends ever since. Naturally he sprang to mind when the film idea came around!

What decisions influenced the visual style of the film?

Like most of my films 'My Own Hands' was shaped by my grass roots and low budget approach. I don't have all the best kit, and much of the time I am on my own so I follow my instincts and do the best I can with what I've got at the time. In general it works! That day the weather and light played ball and I shot as much as I could, not knowing that what I was shooting was visually unique until I watched it back through later. As is my style, the film is grounded in traditional documentary with some modern DSLR techniques used in moderation.

Were there any technical considerations when filming someone climbing trees?

The biggest technical consideration of a shoot like this is whether you can get up there to get the shots! Because of my experience as a climber and my time in the mountains I have specialised in remote location and climbing camera work, so it wasn't such a problem for me. My ability to get to places that others can’t allows me to add an unusual perspective to my work. Any excuse to climb up things really!

Did you encounter any unexpected difficulties in making the film?

 I encounter unexpected difficulties with every film I make! Ben and I had a few teething problems working on the voice-over. It was really important to me that it sounded raw and real and not too rehearsed, so that required a different approach. We re-worked it a few times and I was pleased with the results in the end.

Was there a message you wanted to communicate with My Own Hands?

In general I feel compelled to use my skills to do good in the world, but I’m not sure there was any big message when we started. Ben wanted to know if there were any other people out there doing what he does. Like many of my projects I knew roughly what I wanted to do but I allowed it to take shape itself. As it happens I think the film ended up being quite poignant and insightful but a lot of that comes from Ben.

If there is any message then this is it; we live in a society that encourages us to consume, to over-work, to indulge in things we can’t afford and to fill our time with alternate internet realities and televised bullshit. Take some time out once in a while, hang out in the woods and give your soul a clean. Laughing at funny kittens on facebook can’t substitute an understanding and appreciation of the real world.

Obviously I’m transmitting this message over the internet. How ironic!

Do you think My Own Hands will act as a starting point for more similar projects?

I find the process of making films incredibly fulfilling but sometimes tiring and frustrating in equal measure. Without a doubt I will make something similar in the future but it’s nice to start something new and different. I don’t know how I would make similar work that would convey the themes so succinctly and poignantly, until I work that out I feel it’s good to leave the subject alone.

What advice would you give to someone interested in making short films?

Be unique, find a style and play with it, follow your instincts, be kind to yourself when things go wrong. Collaborate with others to make beautiful things, be creative, watch tons of films and adapt ideas. Avoid cliché and learn to spot a gimmick in advance. Be confident but keep your ego in check!

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