Midlands Spotlight Archive - The Art of Zenith
By midlandsmovies, Jul 14 2013 06:14PM
For as long as he can remember Gareth Morgan always made art in several different disciplines, drawing, writing, acting, dancing and now film making. With film he has found a medium to bring all of his talents together in one place, writing scripts, drawing storyboards, choreographing set pieces and on occasion even taking roles within the film he makes. Midlands Movies Mike caught up with the founder of Midlands-based Zenithfilms after seeing his feature Bonnie and Clyde at The Phoenix Square Short Cinema night...
How would others describe you and Zenithfilms?
My peers describe me as a creative powerhouse because I will always be working on 4 or more projects at any given time. If I'm not writing a new concept, I'm filming and editing others, my walls are covered in storyboards and my floor littered with scripts and yeah, I'm not exactly tidy either. Every day I bombard my actors, costume designer and musician with work in progress of current projects, new ideas and scripts for others. Right now I am in post production on Babel - a competition entry for this years The Pitch competition (see trailer video on this page), Space Jockeys - a music video for Drum & Bass producer Dappa (see production still on right), Nancy Wake, a prequel to this years release Violet Rain (promo poster on page) as well as Syndicate Wars, a micro short based on the game franchise and Parasite Eve, another game franchise micro short.
Are you a native of the Midlands?
Nope, I originally hail from Halstead in East Anglia & studied film at De Montfort University in Leicester. During my studies I made some contacts in the city, hosted my own film festival at the local library and had my films shown at various local events. So after I finished Uni with a 1st Class Honours Degree I stuck around to start Zenithfilms.
How long have you worked in the industry?
For a little over 2 years now as at first I worked mainly on my own projects but now I also work on commissions, music videos, documentaries etc. I have had my films open festivals in America, headline festivals in the UK and now I have my short film EPiSODE in this years Raindance Film Festival. See EPiSODE trailer here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJ1Qc2eB_JQ and catch a screening on Oct 6th 9pm at the Apollo Cinema, Piccadilly Circus.
Does Zenithfilms specialise in any genres?
At present my films are made mostly in green screen, so I suppose that could be considered a genre. All of my films are heavily stylised, and have best been described as animated live action films. Since I write most of my films the main focus is generally science fiction, fantasy. I'm kind of a world builder, I then populate that world with characters and tell stories from within it. I tend to have strong female lead characters and the stories usually have a liberal dose of action. I try to do something different with each film I make.
What has been the most difficult hurdle you have had to overcome?
Trying to make films with no budget and then getting them noticed. At present my work is made with what I have in my pocket. My actors, costume designer, musician are the greatest people in the world and help me as much as they can. I feel very lucky and privileged to know them all and their belief in my work is how we have our short film EPiSODE officially selected for this years Raindance Film Festival; which was made with no budget at all!
How “hands-on” are you right now ? Do you have a say in the projects you take on?
Currently all of the projects I am working on are mine, when I get a commission I let them dictate what they want. My last commission was a music video for Sunday Driver. The song was Mechanical Angel and the band let me do as I pleased, their only stipulation was to use a red and black colour scheme similar to a scene in my short film Bonnie & Clyde: We Rob Banks. So I made an interpretation of the song title, taking stimulus from the lyrics while using a red and black art style throughout. The final film has done extremely well, and has been officially selected for 2013 High Seas Steampunk Film Festival; a festival that takes place on a 7 day themed cruise around South America. Bonnie & Clyde can be watched here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wSj5tgKa54&feature=plcp
Can you describe a typical day on a set/shoot?
A typical day on set would be having my actor do there thing in front of some green cloth. I am very particular to what I want from my actors which is why I draw detailed storyboards to help them see the world and the shot as I see it. Post production is where the magic happens for my films. I put together my films in the same way as old cartoons by using plates/layers. The actors are one plate/layer and then I build all the other plates/layers around them to create the world, depth, lighting etc.
Do you have any heroes in the industry?
Andrew Krammer from Video Copilot, without his expert tutorials and tips in all things Adobe After Effects my films would not look as professional as they do.
What are your favourite films?
All time favourite films are Blade Runner Directors Cut, Ghost in the Shell, Venus Wars, Hard Boiled, Fight Club, Highlander, Empire Strikes Back, Evil Dead 2, The Cell, The Fall, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, near enough everything from Studio Ghibli, Jacobs Ladder, there's more but those are the first ones to come to mind.
Do you have any future plans for Zenithfilms?
Keep making films and eventually secure budgets to make feature films. I already have my first screenplay, it will be the film of the book I wrote when I was travelling SE Asia, 'Constellation Gemini' which tells the story of the last day of Atlantis.
Any advice for anyone looking to start their own project (either in front of or behind the camera)?
Don't let a lack of money stop you or your creativity, research is the most important aspect to a good story and take inspiration and techniques from anywhere you can. Currently my new slogan is 'Whatever works, rite?'