FILMMAKER AND DIRECTOR, BLACKBURN
Aaron Dunleavy is from Blackburn and is a recent graduate of University of the Arts London. He has worked with the likes of Channel 4, BBC and MTV and has a recently directed a short film called 'Alfie, The Odd Job Boy of Clitheroe' for BBC Three.
Aaron says, "My films often explore stories of working class youth; with unscripted and improvised performances, street casting and non-professional young actors."
Aaron talks about how 'This is England' Director, Shane Meadows has influenced him, other exciting projects he is working on and his favourite piece from the Barbour Beacon collection.
Hello Aaron! Can you tell us more about why you decided to get into filmmaking?
For me personally, I kind of fell in love with films. Me and my nextdoor neighbour were always making short films growing up, and I loved being behind the camera. I went to study Media Production at my local college after finishing school, and when my tutor asked what my favourite film was, 'This is England' came to mind. He replied 'Shane Meadows', and I nodded, but didn't really have a clue who he was on about. I spent the next year watching all of Meadows' films, fell in love with his filmaking style and read up as much as I could about him. As a director, he filled me with hope and made it seem like I could have a go at it myself, focusing on the 'small people' and 'small stories' in the town where I grew up. The way he uses improvisation, non-professional actors and street casting inspired me to take it into my own hands and put my own twist on it.
What other exciting projects have you worked on?
I've been lucky enough to work for a variety of companies and clients including Channel 4, BBC Three, MTV and Vodafone. Recently, I directed a short documentary called 'Alfie, The Odd Job Boy of Cliheroe', for BBC Three's short documentary series 'Give Me a Voice'. The film gained over 10 million views on Facebook with-in the first month of being released, with hundreds of thousands of shares, widepsread public acclaim and national press coverage.
Tell us something unique about the way you capture and create your content?
Working with non-actors with improvisation is a style of filmmaking which has always interested me; I feel it adds a lot of authenticity and truth to the story. I'll always try to cast local people as I feel it adds a layer of authenticity, not just with the dialect and accents but also as they'll have a better understanding of the area and relevance to the storyline. As I like to shoot without scripts, the cast can have lots of freedom in relation to how scenes unfold, so it's really important that they can represent their characters honestly.
When you joined us at the Herd Groyne in South Shields, was there anything signficant you wanted to capture in your content?
For me, the most interesting thing when capturing content for Barbour Beacon was the significance of location and how that has manifested itself so strongly within this new collection. It's always great to work with a brand steeped in so much history, but to be able to capture content for a new and exciting collection was the most exciting part.
Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers and any lessons you have learned along the way?
I'd say firstly, stick to what you know and try to make films about stories which mean something to you. Secondly, don't worry too much about money or big production values, but try to just make something with whatever you can get your hands on.
What is your favourite Barbour Beacon piece fro the collections you have seen so far?
For me the Aira Wax Jacket in navy stood out to me in the collection for its simplistic design. The jacket adapts well to different outfits and the wax finish is great for the rain.
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