Camera Tests

COSMOS Banner Camera Tests


“The most powerful weapon in the world, as far as I’m concerned, is the camera.” — Paul Watson

The purpose of camera tests are to put a camera system through it’s paces to expose (if you pardon the film pun!) its strengths and weaknesses, thus creating a library of footage that will serve as a reference for your production.

The principal of camera testing obviously originates with testing different film stocks – but like each film emulsion, each digital sensor is different. With so many new digital cameras available on the market it’s difficult to know the pros and cons of each… and whether your preferred camera fits your preferred shooting style. You don’t want to just pick a camera and then hope it’ll work nicely in low light if you’re shooting night scenes. Or hope that it’ll be great at handling highlights if you’re filming in the midday sun.

Obviously most indie filmmakers don’t have the luxury of choosing from a range of cameras (or film stocks!), but it’s still vital that you test the camera you’re planning to use for your shoot – familiarising yourself with its optimum operating settings allows you to showcase the camera’s strengths while hiding its weaknesses — and in turn making your cinematography appear more considered and crafted.

Here’s a really cool video from KODAK that features an elaborate camera test designed to showcase improvements in the VISION3 Color Neg Film 5219/7219. Clearly you don’t have to go to such lengths but it’s a great template to help you design your own camera tests.


5 Top Tips for Filming on Location

5 Location tips

“By failing to prepare… you are preparing to fail” — Benjamin Franklin

Shooting out on location can be one of the most exciting, rewarding but testing aspects of filmmaking. Working outside the comfortable studio environment inevitably brings with it many challenges – juggling time pressures and permissions of locations, working with the available light and around the changing weather all while lugging your gear from here to there.

But thankfully, the very nature of this high stress environment breeds highly capable and efficiency filmmakers. You learn how to control what seems uncontrollable, how to make the most of the time available and how to creatively solve the never-ending challenges.

Zander grass

One man and his camera

The most extreme form of this filmmaking is found in the world of documentaries, where you’re tasked with capturing real life as it happens, no rehearsals, no retakes, no second chances!

I can personally vouch that for the budding filmmakers, there is NO better training in the world than working on documentaries. And even if you’re planning a career in shooting drama, I’d recommend a ‘stint’ on docs to put you ahead of the crowd in no time.

So, here are our Top 5 Documentary Tips for Filming on Location


Royal Television Society Award Nomination


TV Documentary
2x 52′ / 1X 90′ HD
“You’ve seen the movie, now discover the full story”

We are extremely excited to announce that the 13 Factors That Saved APOLLO 13 documentary film that we directed and produced for Free Spirit Film & TV has received a regional Royal Television Society nomination for Best Factual Programme of the year.

RTS Logo

This nomination is a real honour as the RTS Awards represent the gold standard of achievement in the British television community. Each year the Royal Television Society recognises excellence across the entire range of programme making and broadcasting skills, and showcases the wealth of production talent Britain has to offer. (more…)

Short Q&A with Elliander Pictures for


23Z blogIn June 2014 we were lucky enough to be interviewed by Nuno Teixeira for his awesome blog 23Zillion which explores creativity and shares the experiences of the people doing the creating.

We received a great message from Nuno via our Vimeo account and hooked up to piece something together for 23Z about ghost stories, the Twilight Zone, creating small budget films, and our 16mm Short Film The Mysterious Disappearance of M.M. Bayliss

23ZillionLogoYou can read the full interview via 23Z but here’s a short snippet about our inspiration for the Short Film :

Nuno: I’m going to open this interview up with two topics that are the inspirational backbones of your short film: Victorian ghost stories, and the Twilight Zone’s weird tales! I’m a sucker for Victorian ghost stories and openly admit to regularly emptying out local thrift store collections back in my past. I’ve slowed down, but thanks to e-books, my phone is now jam packed with creepy goodness. What is it about the Victorian ghost tale that you guys find fascinating?

Elliot: I’m literally the last person who should be reading ghost stories; I’m so easily scared it’s comical. Zander will tell you, I jump at everything. He can walk into the room and say “hi” and I’ll leap out of my chair. I just can’t watch horror films, they won’t leave me alone so I avoid them at all costs. I’m a true scaredy-cat, but weirdly I find it fun to try make other people jump! It’s a kind of a childish payback – “I’m scared of this… and so should you be!”. So I hate ghost stories… and that’s why they’re so great.

Zander: The Victorians were particularly good at telling ghost stories, with all their creepy science and fascination in the supernatural. So when you’re trying to develop a cool little story for a short film, the Victorian ghost story is a great place to start. The genre doesn’t need you to be outright scary; people are afraid of what they don’t understand so you just have to present an eerie or unnerving situation and you’re going to hook people in.

Read the full interview…


Zand & Ell

Zand & Ell

We just want to thank Nuno and 23Z again for contacting us and taking such an interest in our work. It was brilliant working with you and we look forward to following the growing success of your unique website.

E & Z

The Importance of Location Scouting

COSMOS Banner Locations


“Location. Location. Location.”

Picture some of the greatest films in cinema history and y0u’ll be blinded by a vast canvas of filming locations… we’re not talking constructed film sets here, we’re talking places out in the real world that the crew have travelled to.

Filming on practical locations is at the very heart of cinema itself — Just watch this stunning tribute montage to the late, great Tony Scott (expertly crafted by sigug) and keep an eye on all the amazing locations he used…


The Best Free VFX Software for Filmmakers


About 2 years ago, a friend accidentally introduced me to a piece of software that has quite simply, changed the way I make films. Whether it’s for our TV documentaries, shorts, or our upcoming feature, COSMOS; this software has opened up possibilities that we never thought were possible for low-budget filmmakers.

blenderthumbThe software I’m referring to, is of course Blender. Many of you will undoubtedly have heard of Blender but for those who haven’t, I hope to encourage and inspire you to grab yourself a copy and dive straight in.

Whether you’re into animation, stills photography, concept art, animatics, 3D printing or live action filmmaking Blender has something for you, and what’s more… it’s absolutely, 100% Free for you to use right now. Sound exciting? Well then read on…





What’s COSMOS? And what happened to ENCOUNTER?!

So, here’s the deal. For those of you that don’t know, back in 2010 Zander and I went into development on an independent feature called Encounter; a 120 minute sci-fi thriller intended for theatrical distribution (aim for the top right, why not?)


After writing a script (’09-’10), putting together a budget and production schedule, and attaching a core team of esteemed film industry professionals (’10-’11), we began the long and unenviable task of trying to raise the finance. (Video production blogs of all that work can be found here). We worked with a corporate-finance team to develop a solid business plan and strategy and began approaching potential investors at the beginning of 2012. And although we had some brilliant meetings with some very receptive parties who were excited by the project, the recurring comment was that we, as the Directors, were the weak link in the project. And that, is a very fair point.

The budget for Encounter is not small, we’re not going to go into it now but suffice to say it’s a significant sum of money to trust to two blokes who’ve never actually directed a feature before. We’re experience directors in shorts and TV and we know we can make this film but we’re also not naive to the risks of film production.

And this is where Cosmos comes in. At the beginning of 2013 we had a choice to make; do we continue to push ahead with Encounter and work away until we secure the finance, or do we take a slight detour, make a much lower budget indie that proves we can see a feature through to the end (which is also hopefully good!!) and in turn be able to use that film to get Encounter off the ground?


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