12
Mar
09

Some personal thoughts…

I have been blogging via my website http://www.philipbloom.co.uk for over two years now. Thanks to everyone who reads it.

Most of what is on there is very much focused on my work as a DP and Director. So I wanted somewhere where I could write about other topics. Some still work based but much broader. So here it is…the relaunched “Bloom’s Blog”.
I hope you find it interesting, funny, insightful, engaging, educational, enlightening, inspiring, annoying, irritating and just plain boring in equal measures! This will be at times quite a personal blog, so if you don’t like slushy reminiscing…sorry!
Let’s start with a bit of context. Twenty years ago I got into this business, yeah am that old, my aim was to be a cameraman. I become one full time about 4 years after getting my first job in TV. 2 and a half years ago I quit Sky News to go it alone. A terrifying thought. I was making very good TV, getting to shoot and direct my own docos and long features and  I had a very good salary, a company car, a company yacht moored in St. Tropez, a company apartment in Belgravia, a company country house in the Cotswolds,  a company wife, a company mistress, three company children and a cat. Now all I have is the cat, well three now. I got them wet, mustn’t feed them after midnight!
Was it a good decision? Only time will tell, but I have learnt so much in this short time. Before I went freelance I knew very little about what lay beyond the golden gates of staff-dom. What other cameras were out there, what they did, what a 35mm adaptor was, how to tie my own shoe laces. It has been a very enlightening time. 
Now with this bloody recession we are all feeling the pinch. Would I rather be in my nice cosy staff job right now, sitting on my yacht being fed “Munchies” by my far too young for me company wife? Maybe…
Now you see, ever since I went freelance I have met some terrific people, some not so terrific people and made some good friends. I am far more educated in the world of cinematography. I have done some work I am ever so proud of and I’ve got people who look to me for inspiration. Which to be completely honest with you is both baffling and flattering in equal measures. 
Some people are gonna say “yeah yeah”, but I actually do a get a kick out of helping others…you see I didn’t go to film school. Hell, I didn’t go to university. I learnt everything from others. I was so lucky as a sound recordist at Sky to work with some very talented cameramen who taught me so much. My eternal thanks go to Roland Sullivan, Simon Rowles, Mark Williams and without a doubt my key mentor Gerry Williams who taught me so much and saw something in me that others didn’t. You couldn’t have asked for a better head cameraman when you were starting out. Someone you could take your work to and who would care enough to go through it with you and make suggestions or sometimes just say well done. We all need encouragement and there was nobody better than Gerry. He still floats around at Sky and Five News as a freelancer after going back to Australia to retire and then returning to the UK  then back to Australia to retire about 96 times! Gerry thanks for everything, without you I wouldn’t be doing what I am today. 
Now, we all have key moments in our lives that will shape what follows and change your life forever. Mine was working at the Supermarket chain Tesco when I was 18 and just finished school with a whopping two A Levels I knew that I wanted to be a cameraman, but I didn’t know how to go about it. I was offered a place on a foundation course at an Art College with my photography portfolio, but I wanted to work. I was sick of school. Sick of studying. I wanted money! I wrote to every regional TV company in the UK and got nothing but rejection letters. By this time I was offered a managerial training scheme job at Tesco. I almost took it. Safe, comfy, unchallenging and not what I wanted to do. I almost took it which would have condemned me to a life of misery in the suburbs with a wife and 2.5 kids by now (to be totally honest the wife and kids bits would have been nice)
As fate would had it the week I had to decide about Tesco I got a letter from Sky TV saying they had a really shitty job for really shitty pay and asked if I would be interested. “Hell, yes!”. At this time Sky TV was just some little Satellite TV station owned by Mr. Murdoch and considered a joke by most people. It wasn’t. It was the start of something very different and for better or worse has utterly changed TV in the UK forever. 
So that’s where my life changed. I could have been CEO of Tesco by now with a company car, a company yacht in Monaco etc etc…instead I am a single man of 37, living alone with three cats, the left overs from previous relationships in a pink terraced house in a suburb of London called Isleworth. Who’d have thought it!?
I spend most of my time working. I am one of those lucky people who do a job I love. I grew up assuming work was something you are supposed to hate, but is a necessity so you can live and support your family. My dad hated his work, therefore I would hate my work. So during my teens I prepared for a miserable life filled with dull 9-5 work. But that never happened. I had a hobby and I made it my career. I was one of the lucky ones. You really can enjoy your work and I really feel you have to. I see people doing jobs they hate not because they have to but because they can’t be bothered to find something right for them. They are settled but not challenged. They work to have a life rather than have work as a key part of their life enjoyment which I think is fundamental.

In my work I have seen horrors that I never want to see again, seen the evil that man is capable of  but also seen beauty and kindness that has a lasting impact on a person. I have met Presidents, Prime Ministers. Kings, Queens, films stars, rock stars, plain old workers, homeless people, dying people…the list is endless. I have been shot at numerous times, had a bomb dropped on me, walked through a minefield, been punched and kicked. But that was never me, I always enjoyed the personal stuff, meeting new people, learning from them. I love filming the arty stuff, the creativity, the making something beautiful part of my job. There are guys out there who love the bang bang and they are more than welcome to it. 
Now, some will say that I am not the perfect person for  freelance. It can be a tough life. Like many , I am insecure, anxious. A real worrier. Always have been, always will be. Yes, I get to a point and see I have no bookings in a couple of months and I worry. Then the work comes and it’s all fine. Staff is so much nicer for security but the joy of freelance is not the control of when you work, as you do tend to work a lot harder, but the sheer variety of work makes up for it. Since going freelance I have shot Drama, comedy, commercials, infomercials, weddings, news, documentaries, corporates…pretty much everything except porn! The variety is wonderful and the great thing is the skills you learn from each different genre can enhance your work in every field. 
How would I go about getting into this career if I was 18 today? I haven’t a clue. It has changed SO much since I was 4 stone lighter! Its unrecognizable. Jobs are hemorrhaging in the industry, I know so many people who have been laid off. Budgets are being cut everywhere. It’s not a great time to be in the TV and film industry, but then again, it’s the same in every industry. In fact much worse in others. I hope all my friends in the business make it through fine. It’s a crap time and I wish them all the best. 

When I look back, I have so many mixed emotions about my 20 years doing this, I have made many friends in this time who are now gone, all well before their time. Cancer, various illnesses, car accidents, friendly fire, suicides and even murder. Everyone of them makes me feel hollow inside when I think of them. I miss them all. Yet I am still here and forging ahead and for the most part very excited about what the future holds for me and do feel lucky that I am still here. Despite some very difficult times and some life changing events.
There is much I want to do. Much I want to film. I am bristling with ideas, itching to make TV shows, to make films, to make documentaries. I just hope I get a chance to do them. I love being creative. I love seeing my work on TV, on the internet. I loved making a wedding film for my dear friends Ruth and Jon and watching their sheer delight whilst watching it, there has never been a more rewarding time in my whole career than that moment. Seeing something I had made give such joy and pleasure to someone dear to me.

I said it before but I really adore helping people and giving advice, that people come to me for it makes it feel like I am actually making a difference to some people, in my own small little way. What I do really isn’t life changing, it’s pretty insignificant, I won’t leave a lasting impact on this planet, just some pretty films… but I am happy to contribute in my own little way. Even if it is to advise people which 35mm adaptor to get, which camera I think is good for them, which is my favourite after shave, which is the best fish and chip shop in London…I have put myself out there with my blog, website, films, work, reviews….not for fame and fortune but because I want to share and I love to help. As trite as that sounds it’s true. 
I want to thank my colleagues and friends for all their support and especially my family. 
 
Here are a few of those names. People who have helped me a lot in the past twenty  years and in particular the past couple. Thanks to Jackie, Lynn, Len, Patti, Helen M, Julie W, Nick W, Nick P, Chris H, Den, Alexander K, Ksenia, Audrey, Gerry, Mark, Simon, Roland, Mark D, Sam F, James B, Ruth, Jon, Shiv, Victoria G, Sarah E, Jonathan S, Lisa B, Jason F, Adam C, Paul F, Kate, Debbie, Elisabeth S, Percy, Bert, Noodle, Arnie, Ruaridh, Louise, Jack, Sarah, Marcelle, Danielle, David K, Nat, Dan, Jaime, Andy and especially Mum and Dad. Sorry if I have missed your name, am sure I will keep remembering a few and add to the list! I also want to send out a big thanks to all the readers of my regular blog and website and all the guys and girls from DVXuser and DVinfo. 
Anyway I have rambled on far too much. You will get the idea what this blog will be like, so if you just want tech stuff, gear stuff etc then the blog on my site is the place to go. If you want to know more about me and my thoughts (why?) then this is the place.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. Philip
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19 Responses to “Some personal thoughts…”


  1. 1 Gabriel Florit
    March 12, 2009 at 23:27

    Thanks for writing that Philip! You are definitely an inspiration to many of us – I bought my EX1 thanks to you, and learned how to shoot by watching and re-watching your shorts (Picadilly Fur, etc). Thanks again!

  2. 2 Philip Bloom
    March 12, 2009 at 23:46

    Thanks Gabriel . Really appreciate it.

  3. 3 Jack
    March 13, 2009 at 05:09

    Cool Phil!

    Look forward to you talking non-gear related “rubbish” in the future.

    Here’s a non-gear related question…what do you get up to when you aren’t shooting or maintaining your blogs?

    You know, when you need a break from it all.

    BTW, my shout…

    Jack

  4. 4 Stephen
    March 13, 2009 at 05:38

    Hi Philip,
    I have learned a great deal from you, if I had any money, I would surely give you a heap in gratitude. But, I think that sharing our interests and passions for things like film and photography is more valuable. So thanks for making a slice of your life public, you have definitely impacted mine in a positive way.

    Cheers,
    -Stephen Lewis

  5. 5 DennisZaki
    March 13, 2009 at 05:45

    You inspired me to get my EX1 also Philip. I stumbled onto your blog last August and watched one of your crime shorts. I realized then, after 26 years as a professional still photographer, that something was missing in my work. Moving pictures! After seeing about 10 more films of yours I was intrigued, and hooked. A couple of hours later I decided to buy the EX1. Now, 7 months on, I’m a video stringer for CNN here in Alaska and I spend my days looking outside waiting for good light to shoot in. Thanks Philip

  6. 6 Nino Leitner
    March 13, 2009 at 12:04

    Thanks for this, Phil!

    It’s great to learn more about the “man behind the camera”.

    You are a great source of information and inspiration for many independent and aspiring filmmakers around the globe. One of them being me.

    You have really become a household name as a trustworthy source of (unbiased) information about the ever-expanding entry-level professional camcorder market (and all its accessories).

    At age 26, I’ve been a filmmaker for almost ten years now, and I am part of that first generation that really grew up with the internet. I studied film, but still got most of the useful information on current developments on film technology from the web. Before you were there, there was no possibility to get trustworthy (video) reviews of all the new camera tech on a regular basis.

    My sincere thanks for that. You convinced me of the qualities of the Sony EX3, and I bought one. And now I even turn to your site when purchasing something as trivial as a camera light.

    You even managed to turn me from a Panny-fan to a Sony-fan! 🙂

    So I hope you will stay with us as an independent freelance filmmaker for a long time!

    I think you should maybe think about doing a regular video podcast for some established video news site. You’d be their guarantee for heavy traffic on their site, you’d get a ton of money and all of us could tune in once a week to get all the news and reviews on Bloom TV 😉
    Just an idea …

  7. 7 Philip Bloom
    March 13, 2009 at 12:26

    Thanks so much for comments. Was debating for a long time about doing something more personal, but I think a bit of background information on who I am and how I got here would put a lot of things into context. I may well do a video blog of some sort possibly…

  8. 8 Cleveland Mike
    March 13, 2009 at 13:04

    Thanks for taking a more personal spin on things. I see your videos and I feel like you have a lot to say, so it’s good that I’ll actually get to read it now.

    I am totally dropping you a Friend request on ExposureRoom.

  9. 9 Tom
    March 14, 2009 at 03:53

    I was lucky enough to meet this guy and work along side him in Chicago. Phil is the real deal in person, just what you might think after reading his blog. His beautiful work, sharing of knowledge and dry English whit keeps me coming back. He nudged me out of sports television and into much more rewarding, creative work. He also inspired me to build an online presence and do what I can to help others who may want to express themselves with film and video. Someday I will teach at a University, when I am old and way too experienced. I think Phil will do the same.

    So it looks like you will leave a mark on this planet (perhaps farther soon?), thanks Phil.

  10. 10 Fiska
    March 14, 2009 at 09:44

    Inspiring!

  11. 11 Adam
    March 16, 2009 at 04:34

    Thank you for the inspiration and instruction you’ve given us through your work! I am also an EX1 buyer from seeing your content; Sony owes you a lot of money in my opinion! This post was a very good read and I find my situation very similar to yours. I hope to meet you at NAB and have a quick chat if I make it there this year. Have a good one!

  12. 12 Bill B.
    March 16, 2009 at 17:24

    Hi Philip,

    Thank you for your personal insights…if you haven’t already, pick up a copy of the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. From what you said, I think you’d get a lot out of it.

    Bill

  13. 13 Petter
    March 19, 2009 at 17:48

    Hi.
    Have a similar background, knew early that i wanted to be a cameraman, got a amazing job on Swedens biggest tv channel doing news.
    I thought i had the best job in the world, exept for the bang bang parts, never got used to work in hostile areas…
    Been freelancing since 2000 and i wouldnt trade it for anything.
    I think i´ve developed more the last couple of years then the 6 years doing news.
    Philip, you have been a great inspiration the last years hope you have the energy to keep up.
    Going to NAB this year so i hope to see you there!
    /Petter – Stockholm, Sweden

  14. March 31, 2009 at 06:01

    Cheers Philip and thanks for writing this blog !

    As I see, you did a lot of things in your life … and most important, there are still many things, you like to do. I like to encourage you, even I know, that the TV- and filmindustry is really suffering from the economy crisis too at the moment. Maybe not the best time to be freelanced, but there is actually never a perfect time for that and you already have a name, so there should be some work to feed your stomach … and your cats 😉

    And … 37 was actually the age, I changed my life too. I haven’t had a yacht, but a pretty save life with house, sportscars, a wife, 3 turtles instead of 3 cats and a save job and salary until my retirement. At the age of 40, I left everything behind, going to Japan with just one single suitcase … and my 3 turtles, of course 😉

    I never regretted this step because I got a new and different life instead, having the chance for doing things, I could never imagine before. Getting 40 slowly but surely, is a point for looking back on our life and I had the feeling, that I already did all the things, I should or can do in my life, even just the half of it was gone. It is sometimes difficult for people, living a life always full of action and full speed. Narrow roads are not made for Ferraris 😉

    But as long as we have goals and dreams, we will also have the power for letting them come true … or as my favorite wisdom says: “Live every day of your life as if it would be your last, but learn as if you could live forever !” Developing ourself is the best engine, that can keep us going forward. Looking at your life and your works, you already did a lot, but at the age of 37 … there is much more, you will do … and we are all looking forward to it.

  15. April 2, 2009 at 19:03

    Philip,
    Your life is my life, your life is our life. I believe we all have the same goals, desires, ambitions…
    doing what one loves is truly one of the joys of life and what makes life worth living. What we leave behind is what makes life interesting for those who come after us.. Very few people have or take the oportunity to live a life they love and maybe leave something for the future..Lets all count our blessings and keep on keeping on…

    By the way I have an EX3 with a MTF mount (one of the first Mike made) and use a Sigma 100-300 F4, fabulous setup. Use a focus 100 head and have used Sachtler heads when I shot 16mm. How good are the Vinton Vision 11 heads????

    Thanks and keep on blogging and shooting.

    Ray

  16. 16 Chris Bishop
    April 5, 2009 at 18:28

    Your creative visuals are superb, the advice you give to others is generous and very helpful.
    I admit I’m a fan of your films, they are reflective of you as a person Mr. Bloom, and after reading your Blog here, that is more than confirmed.

    You’ve been an inspiration too, thank you!

    My kindest regards,

    Chris.

    • April 5, 2009 at 20:18

      Thanks Chris, appreciate the kind words. Have had a great deal of support and encouragement from people which I really appreciate! it’s hard work doing all the web stuff, working and trying to have a life…not quite got the balance right yet!

  17. April 29, 2009 at 09:16

    Greetings from Malaysia! You work is such inspiration to so many people.

    Thank you for sharing this post. It reminds me back of how i started. I didnt go to a film school either. My formal education was just merely completing my O’ Levels.

    I am sure this will be a great deal of inspiration to others who has the desire and passion. Opportunity is so precious for those who are burning with desire and passion.

    What stands in between is how much do you really want that dream?

    Great to know u better, Philip! See u in Malaysia when you drop by 🙂

  18. May 4, 2009 at 00:00

    Hey Philip, you are a true inspiration. I discovered your Vimeo page 2 days ago and I already had a superb dose of information and inspiration. I enjoy your writing too, true, sincere, really awesome.

    Now I want to get my Boss into the 35mm adaptor thing and shoot some great movies 😛 😛 😛

    BTW. Letus Extreme is any good with a Sony HDV HD HVR-V1? what support system would you recommend?

    ps: I just want to wish you all of the best, continue to inspire us and continue on doing tutorials, i really enjoy them.


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