The Craftsman's Dinner
6 x 10′ branded content online docs for The Balvenie
Director of Photography
6 x 10 min, Online branded content
Sony FS7, A7s, Pocket Camera
Michelin-starred chef, Michel Roux, goes in search of the craftspeople supplying some of the most rarefied produce in Britain: from a handmade knifemaker who spends over 8 hours sharpening a single blade; to a salmon smoker who insists on playing jazz to his fish as they smoke.
I was DOP on the films, setting the strong visual style during close collaboration with director, Edward McGown. The films were shot on primes with many sequences being shot with two cameras cross-shooting for a spontaneous feel. Lighting was key and I designed a nimble but flexible rig and in many instances including the finale, went entirely with natural light.
Episode 1 – Ferraby Knives
Michel Roux Jr meets Will Ferraby, one of the last knife-makers in Britain, to see how he transfers Sheffield steel into one of the finest culinary knives you can buy.
Will Ferraby works in a glorious ignominiously small workshop in the hearth of Sheffield. Utterly understated, and have I emphasised small? For two days we scrambled, clawed and climbed our way over lathes, blow torches, and sharp bits of steel. Despite the bijou nature I was keen to keep the heightened nature of the photography, lighting each shot carefully.
Episode 2 – Grierson Organic
Michel Roux Jr meets Sasha and Hugh Grierson at their Scottish farm to see how farming the old fashioned way has helped them to create one the most celebrated livestock farms around.
Deep in the rolling hills of Perthshire in Scotland, the cattle of Grierson farm roam free. Shooting on location and to a tight schedule we spent two days on the farm cross shooting FS7 cameras for all live action, and using the Sony A7s on a small gimbal as the B camera. Many scenes were shot as documentary with minimal or no fill owing to high winds. Inside scenes were reinforced with lighting, but naturally so.
The end scene set in Sasha and Hugh’s farm kitchen was shot as the sun was setting and the soft glow provided by shooting 2Kw lights through a 12 foot scrim.
Episode 3 – North Street Potters
Michel Roux Jr meets Naine Woodrow at her Clapham pottery to discuss the craft that goes into making her famous dinner services and tableware. He even puts in an order for The Craftsmen’s Dinner.
Episode 4 – Ridgeview Wines
Michel Roux Jr meets Simon Roberts, Winemaker and Production Manager of Ridgeview Winery, to discover the craft that goes into making one of the UK’s best bubblies.
Episode 5 – Ole Hansen
Michel Roux Jr meets Ole Hansen at his smokehouse in the Cotswolds to understand the passion, the craft and the jazz music that goes into producing one of the UK’s finest smoked salmons. This episode wasn’t filmed by me owing to me being on location in Japan at the time on another project.
Episode 6 – The Dinner
In the final episode of the series, Michel Roux Jr discovers the craft behind The Balvenie and brings together all the craftspeople he’s met on his journey to celebrate their efforts and their craft.
This finale to the series currently as over half a million views on YouTube, and rising.
Living light – setting a style
One of the key challenges in any film is setting the style, and for this series we really wanted to define a strong visual narrative from the outset. Lighting was a key motivator in this, and through the films I kept returning to very simple setups with one aim – living light. I wanted the films to feel immersive and for that I wanted the light sources to be alive, and in shot much of the time. From sparks flying across a workshop, to a candle-lit feast in Scotland, real light was key.