Brook Wassall: "...find what inspires you and chase it."

Brook Wassall: Film, Picture, Timelapse
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We interviewed dark skies filmmaker and photographer, Brook Wassall in January ahead of his sell out Astrophotography Workshop for Year of Our Island. Since then, Brook has been to Iceland and captured an amazing video of his time up there. In Part 2 of our interview, Brook tells us more about how he first got into filmmaking, his inspirations and top tips for aspiring filmmakers.

"I was my own worst critic because I would create something that someone else might have thought good but it wasn't good enough for me until it was perfect."

Some stills from Brook's most recent film from his trip to Iceland in February.

Q. When did your interest in filmmaking & photography begin?

It started with an interest in video cameras. I don't know why but they just fascinated me. I remember seeing a video camera in Youth Club in the cupboard when I was about 9 or 10. We were never allowed to use it but one day they let us have a go and for a good few weeks we just started making stupid videos like news reports and prank videos. I'd always create a video and show it at the end of the day at Youth Club so I quickly became known as the video guy there and before I knew it I was videoing the football games going on there at the gym.

"I got my first video camera when I was about thirteen and didn't really have anything to film other than my dad's falconry. It seemed to fascinate other people but to me it was normal, there were always birds of prey in the back garden."

A still from Brook's video about his dad's Falconry.

I got my first video camera when I was about thirteen and didn't really have anything to film other than my dad's falconry. It seemed to fascinate other people but to me it was normal, there were always birds of prey in the back garden. I filmed the birds flying around and him wandering around in some landscapes and transferred them onto some VHS tapes (which were all the rage back then!) just so that he could watch it back and enjoy.

I never really took it seriously until I left school and I went straight into work after failing to get on the multimedia course at the College, something I really wanted but with bad attendance at school and bad grades I didn't get in. I decided to go straight into work and bought a camera with one of my first pay checks. From there I would just carry on what I was doing, filming skateboarding and I eventually got noticed. I would film performers on the island which would be some of my first paid jobs so it just kind of snowballed from there really.

'Last Light' by Brook Wassall 

Q. Were you taught by anyone or did you mostly teach yourself?

I was taught by others in the sense that I studied other photographers' pictures and watched tutorials day in and day out because I was obsessed with it at the time. I taught myself as well in the sense that I learned a lot through the mistakes I made over the months. I was my own worst critic because I would create something that someone else might have thought good but it wasn't good enough for me until it was perfect. It would take months sometimes but it was worth it.

"Some nights you just sit with your friends and stare at the stars. Some places just aren't that fortunate."

'Stargazers' by Brook Wassall

Q. Was there anyone or anything that particularly inspired you when you were starting out?

It's easily down to where I grew up, the street lights go off in Lower Foxdale at midnight. Some nights you just sit with your friends and stare at the stars. Some places just aren't that fortunate. There are select dark skies places around the UK but for the Island as a whole you can go round the corner and get a great night sky or a great landscape and not a lot of places can get that.

"I was nervous as hell because I hadn't done anything like that before, I even bought a load of new gear for the day just to try it out and never even used it before and it turned out to be one of the most fun days ever."

Someone I owe a lot to is Michael Bell who gave me my first paid job as well as a whole bunch of paid jobs after that. He had this knack for finding people with potential and getting the most out of them. Free runners like Will Sutton were involved in Michael's performance group back then and so he saw my skate videos and asked me if I wanted to come film him. I was nervous as hell because I hadn't done anything like that before, I even bought a load of new gear for the day just to try it out and never even used it before and it turned out to be one of the most fun days ever. I got paid for it, made some great new friends and from there more opportunities came up.

"...find what inspires you and chase it. If you have access to the internet you have access to the world."

I was really fortunate that Michael reached out to me but had I not stuck to what I enjoyed doing and constantly put material out there he wouldn't have done so because I was just making films for myself.

A still from Brook's recent trip to Iceland with his friend and fellow filmmaker, Adam Morgan pictured here.

Q. What would be your best tip for anyone keen to get into astrophotography and filmmaking?

For me it's been all about what inspires me so just find what inspires you and chase it. If you have access to the internet you have access to the world. I really like to create visuals of all kinds. In the early days it was films and then later it was time-lapse films. I just wanted to create that atmosphere of being amazed.

Right now I'm enjoying music more than ever so I've started making some music videos and live music sessions. I'm going to go ahead and chase that, going reach out to people to see if they want stuff made.

Find a project that you can stick with. A few months into that time-lapse project it can seem quite daunting and never ending but you just have to stick with it and push yourself and constantly find stuff that inspires you. I would seek out other time-lapse films to get some inspiration or re-watch something that inspired me in the first place. You can be surprised at the effect it can have on you and that's what I had to do some nights. Before I'd known it my mood would be changed in an instant and I'd get out there with a camera bag and take some pictures.

'Island Scape' by Brook Wassall 

You can see all of Brook's videos on his Vimeo channel

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A sponsored body of
The Department of Education, Sport and Culture
Rheynn Ynsee, Spoyrt as Cultoor
Isle of Man Government
Reiltys Ellan Vannin
Isle of man Government
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