‘Making Bermondsey Red’ dir. Geoff Bellhouse

Dominic Coyte gives a personal insight into his world and practice of making cheese in London.

Director: Geoff Bellhouse
Sound Recordist: Fernando Calleja
Original Music: Thomas Torsson
Key Cast: Dominic Coyte & Alex Woods

C8: How did you come across Dominic Coyte’s story and why did you want to tell it?

GB: I’ve actually known and worked with Dominic for about seven years. So when it came to him starting out making his own cheese it made sense to me that I would like to document it.  For me there’s something really important about doing something you love and making a product, which is entirely your own.

C8: How did you approach Dominic about filming him for a documentary short?

GB: I initially told him I wanted to make a film about the cheese and I thought it would be interesting to look at the urban aspect of cheese making which is a relatively new phenomenon. However after some further thought I decided what I wanted to make was something about him and his philosophy behind the making of the cheese. I wanted it to be his personal story and his feelings about what he does.

C8: Did Dominic open up easily or did you have to spend some time establishing a relationship with him?

GB: I think because of our friendship he was more than happy to let me film around him. My only concern was that when I interviewed him for the voiceover he wouldn’t go into so much detail because maybe we’ve had those types of conversations before but fortunately he was feeling very conversational on the day.

C8: ‘Making Bermondsey Red’ is a stark contrast to your last film ‘ROOTS’. What was the biggest difference in terms of production?

GB: Well with this one it was just a camera and myself. With ‘Roots’ we had a crew, not a large one but I had the support of a several really good people around me. I would never tackle a fiction project in the same way but for this style of documentary I felt comfortable handling all the elements myself. I had a lot of help in post with my sound designer stepping in and giving me feedback.

C8: What challenges were you presented with during the shoot and how did you overcome them?

GB: Knowing what was coming next and shooting everything close up was a bit of a struggle. With the cheesing making process everything is about timing and certain things only happen once. Because of the visual style I decided upon I had to make sure that I managed to capture all the moments and I didn’t miss out on anything important.

C8: How did you finance ‘Making Bermondsey Red’? Did you receive any support from funding agencies?

GB: I didn’t look for funding. If anything this was a project of love so it was all self financed. Because I shot and edited it myself there weren’t any real major costs other than my time, which I was happy to give.

C8: What did you shoot on and what was the reasoning behind this choice?

GB: I chose to use the SONY PMW 200. A friend who works solely in documentary recommended it to me. I love working with Sony cameras and this one was affordable and lightweight. It meant I could continue shooting around the action without getting in the way. I shot everything handheld so I was able to operate without the kit slowing me or the process down.

C8: You also edited the film. Were there any scenes or sequences that you found difficult to cut?

GB: Finding the beginning of the film was the most difficult part. I initially approached it as if it was one of my fiction works but very soon had to move away from that idea.  I wanted to get into the action straight away and to explain to the audience that the film was going to be about this particular man, his work and his personal insight into it.

C8: What is the most frustrating part of the filmmaking process for you?

GB: I think sometimes with film because it’s a combination of so many different elements from visual to sound etc. Everything you capture you hope to be perfect. However only occasionally that happens and so often it doesn’t which can be entirely frustrating. I think it’s all about how to use the best of what you have.

C8: What’s on the horizon for you? Any interesting projects lined up?

GB: I’ve got a music video coming up for this great new female artist so I’m very excited about that. Plus I’m developing a couple of feature scripts with some co writers from across Europe so I’ll be interested to see how they develop.