Meet the filmmaker: Nicky Woodhouse

Filmmaker Nicky Woodhouse grew up in the sprawling metropolis of Birmingham but was always drawn to the sea. When she was 28, Nicky enjoyed a stint living in Cornwall and her first foray into surfing and the hook was set. In 2011, her short film Fluid Juice was screened at the London Surf / Film Festival and while the filmmaker may be based in East London for work reasons, she spends a lot of time ploughing a furrow on the M4, heading for regular weekend waves in Croyde or Polzeath.  We caught up with Nicky to find out about her influences.

// Tell us a bit about yourself. How old are you? Where did you grow up? How did you get into surfing?

I’m 34 and grew up in Birmingham. Surfing always appealed to me but I didn’t start until I was 28 when I lived in Cornwall for 18 months. For work reasons I now live in East London but spend A LOT of time on the M4 heading to Croyde or Polzeath at the weekend.

// How did you get started in filmmaking and why? Did you study filmmaking formally or are you self-taught?

I studied Media Production at Bournemouth, graduating a long time ago now in 2000! It was a multimedia course but I always only enjoyed and put effort into the video element of it. After leaving uni I worked in broadcast TV for 7 years working on BBC, ITV and Channel 4 programmes. When I moved to Cornwall in 2007 I got a grant to go on a 2 day skillset Final Cut Pro Course and then started shooting my own stuff and it grew from there. I now run my own production company “Woodhouse TV” and make promotional documentaries and shorts for different brands and agencies.

// Where do you look for inspiration? Who are your major influences? What is your favourite surf movie?

I love all forms of documentary and reportage and think Stacy Peralta is an incredible story teller. “Riding Giants” and “Dogtown and Z Boys” are my all time favourite films. He is about to release “Bone’s Brigade” this year so I’m excited about seeing that. While I’m waiting for rushes to import or encode I try and use the time to browse Vimeo and see what other people are making – there is so much talent out there it’s frightening but good to keep you on your toes and trying to be the best at what you do.

// How do you feel about your work being seen on the big screen versus online in a digital format?

I’m easy about this. Without the internet and being able to make online content I wouldn’t make a living and be able to afford the time to work on my other projects so it’s all good. The more platforms the better I say as then more people will watch your work!

‘Fluid Juice’ by Nicky Woodhouse was screened at the LS/FF in 2011 as part of The Shorties Contest presented by National Trust

// What equipment do you use?

A range of cameras – I have a z1, ex1 and a 60D. I also use a Go Pro and hire 5ds or other cameras when the project requires. I edit on FCP7 . I looked at the new FCP X but decided not to bother.

// What do you think makes a good story? How do you set about translating that onto the screen? What is your starting point?

I think a good story that is well told should immerse the viewer and take them to that place and time  – away from the stresses and worries of their own lives! I always start by making sure I do my research and plan all my shoots to avoid for all eventualities. I then always start any project with giving proper time and care to a sit down interview with the subject where the story – what ever that is – is explained from start to finish. The rest of the story as illustration can then follow easily from this.

// How much of the process do you think is creative and how much do you think is technical?

I think the two work in tandem together. You can have the most interesting story in the world, which, if filmed out of focus or edited badly can be completely ruined so I think that you need both elements to come together.

// What piece of advice do you wish you’d been given when starting out as a filmmaker?

Don’t be scared of having a go and making your own stuff. Because I worked in broadcast TV where back then all the rolls were quiet separate – camera, producer, editor, sound etc I spent years thinking that learning to edit, or camera operating would be too technical for me. Now I teach myself new things all the time just from watching “how too’s” on the internet and wish I had tried to make my own stuff earlier.

// Where are you doing this interview?

In a cold, over air-conditioned function room in Amsterdam waiting for a client to bring in their interviewee !!

// Nicky Woodhouse is... frustrated that she doesn’t get to surf as much as she would like.

To check out more of Nicky’s work, head to: