No sooner than Keith Hoult’s feet have flown to pick up his first degree BA Honours in Film he’s won the Whicker’s World 50+ Award for his documentary Fluechtlinge Refugee. Not a bad twelve months…
So how does winning make you feel?
To have a production honoured to the extent that it has been by the Whicker's World Foundation, so soon after graduation is exhilarating. It’s a positive jolt of encouragement that’ll give me a lot of confidence going forward. It's hard for me to believe that from watching Alan Whicker back in the 60’s that he would have a direct impact on me someday. It's mind blowing really.
What does Whicker’s World mean to you?
Being notably older than my classroom peers I can honestly say that I was part of a generation that was utterly addicted to Alan’s documentaries in Whicker’s World. The images that Alan brought into our terraced house in South London, in black and white of course, opened my eyes to sights that otherwise I would never have seen at a very influential age. It was fascinating and enchanting at the same time. Each episode was a ‘must see’ for the family
What made you get into filmmaking?
I've always loved the moving image, my earliest memories are of my father always filming us whenever he could. He used a second-hand Sekonda standard 8mm camera. Then a few years ago, when I was dealing with a couple of life changes, I took the chance to pursue my long-suppressed creative urges to be a film maker. It has all snowballed from there really...
Did you graduate with a whole host of kit?
Well fortunately for me, my brother Paul had just decided to quit his business of wedding photography a year earlier. I took advantage of that and his kit gave me a small head start at independence.
What did you shoot the documentary on?
I shot it on a Canon7D which was a present from Paul. When I started at SAE and they’d recently invested in load of these so I felt quite confident using one. It's a great 1st time DSLR to start out with.
What is the aim of a true documentary to you?
Criteria to me should always be to shoot the truth, inspire, educate and excite. You want people to form an opinion either way about the topic at hand.
How did Fluechtlinge Refugee come about?
Well I was in Berlin for the SAE Alumni Convention and I’d agreed with my friend Torsten, who I was staying over with, that I’d do a bit of filming about his company. However, when I got there he told me they’d just had four clips produced and there was no longer any need for more filming. That’s when serendipity stepped in. At dinner one night, his wife Caroline told me that she was working at a Refugee Centre. Hearing the story and seeing how emotionally involved she was I just knew that I had to record it, if only for her and my children's sake.
Berlin at that time was at the epicentre of the Syrian crisis, so to document just a slice of it was something I couldn’t resist, also I was so glad that it hadn’t been a waste of time lugging all of the kit abroad with me.
Any hiccups along the way?
Well we ran into a big one straight away - due to the increase in violent attacks on the Centres themselves, I wasn’t allowed to film outside, inside or any of the refugees. This instantly made me scratch my head and have a re-think. It’s funny how hiccups can actually benefit the story because in the end I think it actually added to the challenge of the situation. After I re-worked the story it flowed quite nicely across the few days of filming.
What is it about filming documentaries that really gets to you?
I think it’s the filming and the creative journey that you go on, absolutely balanced out by the intriguing nature of the people you get to meet in the process. The lives you’re granted a window into.
What is the inherent factor that ensures that you’ll keep making documentaries?
Curiosity. The factors to make a good documentarian as listed before, come after the initial idea, but it’s curiosity that keeps you asking questions, meeting new people and finding out about new concepts that would have otherwise remained hidden.
It certainly opened our eyes to the situation unfolding in Berlin so thank you for that. Any plans for a follow-up?
I had wondered that, and ideally would love to, but my biggest challenge now is to focus on generating a constant flow of film work as a business. That and learning more about my craft.
Yes, this past year has inspired me so much that I’m now enrolled to do an MA in Film Documentary through SAE Online, it’s part time thankfully but I'm really excited to get started as the ideas are rolling in nicely...
What are you going to spend your winnings on?
I have promised the WWF that every penny from the generous award will be spent on a new 4k Camera. My brother and I, at 3rd Strike Films, are working on a number of productions this year. This contribution will enable us to improve the image quality considerably.
Well we’re looking forward to seeing what you film next. I’m sure that Alan would be proud and pleased to know his ethos is being continued.
Keen to document world events and open the public’s eyes to what’s going on around them? Study film at SAE