Last year, we recruited three crews of 18-24 year olds for a week-long filmmaking experience with O2 and the BFI. 24 young people got the chance to write, shoot and direct a short film, before walking the red carpet to see their creations premiered at the BFI London Film Festival. Corry Raymond took part as a cinematographer. We caught up with Corry to find out about how GoThinkBig helped him, his work with Channel 4, and his advice for aspiring cinematographers.

Why did you apply for the BFI #TheTimeIsNow opportunity?

I saw it on Twitter! I’m a very seize the day kind of person, so I try to apply for everything. This opportunity was the best opportunity that I’d seen on there for a long time; it was really incredible. I found it quite tough finding opportunities, but when I found this one it gave me confidence.

What was your role on the film?

I worked on ‘Grace’ and my role was the cinematographer. I’ve always been really passionate about images, whether that’s photography or moving images like film making. I’m a very visual person and I love technology as well, so using camera equipment and new technology to capture images is something I’ve always been really interested in, as well as filmmaking.

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Corry on location filming with the BFI and our young filmmakers

What was your favourite part of the experience?

The second day of filming was just a really fun 24 hours. It was a long day, but everyone was working together really well. There was a lot of camaraderie and we all became friends and got along with each other really well. I was just surrounded by nice people, doing what I love being behind the camera. It’s exciting to be a part of something with everyone working towards the same goal. Being creative when everyone’s giving their input, being respected and contributing to something which is larger than yourself is a lot of fun.

Are you still in touch with any of the people you worked with?

Yeah! The people I’m in touch with most are the other cinematographers which is interesting because they were doing the same thing that I was doing, but for another team. Normally there’s only one cinematographer on set and that’s it, so I was worried that there’d be a bit of competition, but actually they were very interested in how we each worked and what made us special. I follow them all on Twitter and Facebook and I talk to them constantly because we’re interested in the same things. I think the friendships and relationships that I had will lead onto other work as well.

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Corry at the screening of our young filmmakers’ short films at BFI London Film Festival 2015

Were there any skills that you picked up on the BFI opportunity that you were able to apply later in your career?

People skills, time management, and listening. I’m used to working on my own or with two other people, but when I worked on the short film there was eight of us, and if you include the other two groups there was 24 of us. It was quite overwhelming with all those voices and opinions. I learnt how to take what everyone’s saying on board, and seek to understand first rather than be understood. I think that’s a massive thing. After GoThinkBig I got another cinematography opportunity and there was about 20 people working on that film. I think I would have really struggled if I hadn’t had the experience of working with that many people before.

Tell us about your work with Channel 4!

Ok, so Channel 4 have got this platform called 4 Shorts, it’s for short-form content produced by Channel 4 and it’s exclusive to All 4. It’s online only and each episode’s about five minutes long. Our show is called Urban Explorers, and it’s a documentary about free runners from the Urban Exploration Team. They like to explore abandoned buildings and climb sky scrapers to get photographs! The official synopsis is: ‘following thrill-seekers from the Urban Exploration Team as they evade security and risk their lives to scale amazing structures.’ We pitched it to them two months before the GoThinkBig opportunity and they gave us a pilot, and then just before the BFI opportunity they said “we’d like to make a series”.

Amazing! So what’s next for you?

“I work in a production company called Wild Street and we made Urban Explorers. I’ve written a few things now that I’m trying to get funding for. I’ve got a few documentaries lined up, and I know where I want to be in my career now, so I’m constantly looking for the next thing that will bring me closer to being a film director or a producer.”

What advice would you give any aspiring cinematographers? 

“Things take time. You can meet someone who won’t actually give you an opportunity for a year, or another two years. It’s fine to say “here’s my business card” and leave it at that. When I swapped business cards with the person who I’m in a production company with now, nothing came of it for about three or four months.”

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Images: BFI