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