Filmmaker Spotlight - Noah Mainprize
NAME: Noah Mainprize
ROLE: Director of Photography, Editor and Head of Technology.
Hello! My name is Noah. I’m a recent graduate and filmmaker with 4 years experience working on independent and commercial films. I specialise in camera and lighting, and have worked as a cinematographer on a variety of independent projects. I’ve also dabbled in editing and directing on some occasions, but ultimately you’ll find me back behind the camera getting on the first AD’s nerves for taking too long on a shot.
How did you get into Filmmaking?
As far back as I remember, I always wanted to be a filmmaker. Cringey Goodfellas references aside, I think I’ve always had a love for film and TV since an early age; I even recall in Year 6 we did an exercise going round the room and taking turns saying what we wanted to do when we ‘grow up’ and why we wanted to do it. I distinctly remember saying I want to be a cameraman and my reasoning for it was because I "thought they were cool", but what did I know about filmmaking or films in general at age 10 other than watching the special features on my Star Wars: Episode 3 DVD?
I think it must have been early on in secondary school when I started to explore film properly, mainly watching films that weren’t the latest Transformers or any other summer blockbuster. My mum was working at a library at the time which gave me easy access to pretty much any film I wanted (mainly the IMDb top 250 film list because I didn’t know better). I’m not going to act like I was delving into the works of Tarkovsky and Kurasawa at age 13, I was probably watching things like The Terminator or Aliens, or just picking and choosing what films didn’t sound boring from the IMDb top 250 list. Around this time I even tried making my own films using my iPod Touch and Video Camera I got for Christmas, but this just resulted in a one take zombie film that lasted about 2 minutes because it hadn’t dawned on me that multiple camera angles and editing were a thing.
It wasn’t until my mid to late teens where I fully decided to pursue film and media production as a career. Up until this point I’d continued watching more films and filming a few things for my GCSE Film & Media course, but being from a coastal working class town there isn’t many opportunities for an aspiring filmmaker, so instead I looked into doing an engineering apprenticeship. Although in the end I decided "f*ck it, I’ll go to Sixth Form and study media and do something I enjoy". It was at Sixth Form where I found a love for film, specifically cinematography after studying and watching a lot more films. Oddly enough I think it was a viewing of Mad Max: Fury Road at my local cinema that got me properly interested in how impactful the visuals of a film can be.
I then chose to go to Salford University and study Film Production. It was here that I really started to get hands on with filmmaking, learning all the practical skills needed to make a great film. At some points I felt out of my depth due to how talented some of the other students were, they made some bloody good films at a student level and I’m sure they will have amazing careers ahead of them. Anyway, I knuckled down and stuck to cinematography, learning the ins and outs of cameras, how lighting works, etc, and implementing that into the projects I worked on. It was in my second year at Uni that I helped create City Projections with Emily, Rowan, Tom, Freddie and Nathan. We collaborated on a variety of projects over the years, and created some memories I’ll never forget. And I’m sure we will make many more.
Bloody hell that was unnecessarily long.
Main filmmaking inspiration?
I don’t have particular, nameable inspirations as such, but I do take inspiration from some of the films and TV shows I watch. I tend to take the most direct inspiration from specific shots I see in films, or even photographs.
My main inspiration is probably just what I see in everyday life. I’m quite spatially aware so I tend to always look at my surroundings in a creative way and think how I would shoot it cinematically. As pretentious as that sounds, I think it is a way of me trying to stay in touch with my creative side. I've had a lot of time away from filming because of COVID, so it’s nice to be always thinking about these kinds of things, especially during lockdown when my motivation for anything film related plummeted drastically.
What films have you been a cinematographer for?
LOU: Lou (2020), follows the lives of Lou and Lee as they struggle to cope with the first signs of Dementia. Told through the first and final years of their married lives, the film asks the question; 'How important are memories?'
The film achieved a large amount of success in the film festival circuit, winning Lift-Off Film Festivals Best Film and being selected for a number of others.
Lou (2019) was my most recently completed major cinematographer role. I’ve been involved in more recent projects, but they’re currently on hold due to COVID. Anyway, Lou was a lot of fun to film, mainly because of the locations. Half of the film was shot in my hometown of Scarborough, which was really enjoyable as it gave me an opportunity to photograph some of the nicer areas of town, mainly around the seafront - which still looks great and definitely suited the film’s time period, not least because it still retains its seaside holiday destination charm and character.
Watching it back now there’s definitely some glaring mistakes made on my part, but the reason this film is so precious to me and the rest of the talented bunch at City Projections is that it was our first proper collaboration piece, and we have grown so much since, not only as filmmakers but as people too and it’s something we will all agree was the starting point for City Projections.
Other Recent Projects:
SIGN HERE (2020): Cinematographer.
Produced in just 1 day, Sign Here was made for the MCR 48 Hour Filmmaking Challenge. Light-hearted, the film tells the story of an old man who is unknowingly having his every belonging stolen from right under his nose.
My Cinematography Showreel:
What are you working on currently?
New City Projections Project
Currently, there is a new City Projections project in the works with North West Drama. It’s a fairly large scale project and at the moment it’s pretty much all hands on deck behind the scenes to prep for production. There will definitely be news to come about the project on our socials, so I won’t go into detail, as someone else will be able to talk about it way better than I ever could. All I’m going to say is that we’re all excited to get back to actually filming something and getting the ball rolling for City Projections. It’s been far too long.
3 Goals for the future?
Get back to filming, creating and enjoying film in general. Lockdown has been awful to everyone, and has impacted our lives in ways we could have never imagined. For me personally, my motivation and passion for film and creativity has definitely sunk in the last year. If you know me personally or even follow me on Letterboxd, you’ve probably noticed a severe lack of activity and that’s mainly down to me just not feeling motivated or bothered to even do anything both to do with film and in general. I’m not going to moan anymore because lockdown has impacted other people’s lives way worse than it has mine. I think what I’m trying to say is, from now on I’m going to be getting back into my passion and really aim to make some progress this year. It’s time to get the ball rolling and make the moves I want to make.
Produce a documentary. I recently watched Bing Liu’s Minding the Gap (2018) and absolutely loved it. It’s a visceral and down to earth example of documentary film making that explores the lives of real people and the hardships of real life. It’s something I really admired and would love to try my hand at someday, I’m not sure what I’d exactly make the doc about but who knows? Maybe I'll bump into a fascinating individual down the pub one day (when they reopen that is).
Direct and write something. I’ve directed before but it was very early on and I was fairly clueless with what I was doing. After working with some really great directors and writers who clearly have a natural talent for it, I think I have definitely picked a few things up from them, so it’s definitely something I would love to try again but it’s on the backburner for now while I grow as a cinematographer.
Well that’s me done. Hope it wasn’t too much drivel and I didn’t come across as an ego-maniac, because I’m definitely not a fan of talking about myself. Maybe you got something from this if you made it this far, maybe you didn’t. Anyway, stay safe and bring on the pubs reopening for a well needed pint, no doubt we all need one.
Some screen grabs from a number of my recent projects:
Weird Dad (Postponed)
Weird Dad (Postponed)
Weird Dad (Postponed)
Weird Dad (Postponed)