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Philip Bloom On Balancing Art and Business and The Best Cameras for Low-Budget Filmmaking

Philip Bloom On Balancing Art and Business and The Best Cameras for Low-Budget Filmmaking

British filmmaker Philip Bloom is in Miami Beach to
lead a three-day master class in “Making the Eco Doc” as part of Filmgate
, the interactive transmedia festival now in its second year that runs from February 1-5. 

The small group in the class will be shooting and editing their own
narrative eco documentary short in The Everglades. “We have 26 people and we’re going to try to get them to make a film, but they’ll be in teams and collaborate in the shooting aspect and the planning aspect, but then on the edit, they’ll each make their own version of it. It will be an interesting experiment,” said Bloom, who specializing in creating film-like images with low budget video ( most of his work is created with Canon DSLRs).

At breakfast at South Beach’s Betsey Hotel where he is an artist-in-residence this week, Bloom held an informal salon this morning where he discussed the tricky balance between art and business — and, specifically, how he manages to support his love of filmmaking with corporate partnerships.

He balances his own filmmaking projects with commercials, corporate work and teaching filmmaking seminars and workshops.

“I do a lot of my own projects which are my own ideas and I just go and do it. Corporate films leave me frustrated. Commercials leave me frustrated. Broadcast leave me frustrated. If you don’t direct, shoot and edit it, it’s never going to be the way you want it,” said Bloom.

Bloom started his blog back in 2007 and it’s become an essential resource for low-budget filmmakers looking for the best filmmaking gear for their projects. 

Bloom’s reviews of cameras are not your typical reviews, to say the least. As he explained over breakfast:

I am a perfectionist. I am a complete perfectionist. I
started doing camera reviews and I found them boring just talking about a
camera, so I turned them into mini-documentaries and they’ve become longer and
longer and longer and my last one was 36 minutes long and spanned six
countries. The downside is: it took four months to make, but it’s still, for
me, great, because it’s something that’s creative. I can’t just say this camera
does this and records blah blah blah. It’s boring for me. I have to say why
would you want to use this camera and I’m going to show you some examples of
how I would use it.

Recently, he reviewed the Digital Bolex D-16 and shot a short film using Barbie Video Girl.

While his site does have a few sponsors, Bloom said it’s “nowhere near

 enough to
cover the amount of time I put into it. We’re talking 300 hours worth of work
for a review and none of that is paid. The rest of the time, I am shooting and
the work I do really varies — I do corporate work because they pay the best. I
really cut back on broadcast work to the point where I almost don’t do it

As far as his reviews and his commercial work, Bloom draws the line at recommending products which he doesn’t actually use or like. “You’ve got to balance everything… I can’t do a commercial where I say this is fantastic where I’ve written an article where I completely trash it,” he said. “Everything I say ‘this is fantastic,’ you know I like it.”

Regardless of whether he’s shooting his own project or a work-for-hire, Bloom treats them with the same amount of professionalism. “No matter how crap the job is, I will always give everything,” said Bloom. “It’s a privilege to get paid to make films.”

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