Reel Talk with Arran Jackson

We’re excited to be rolling out a new blog feature, this time going back to our roots and focusing on filmmakers. You might be familiar with the format but we’re pretty sure you will meet some new faces with this one. Like Exhibitionists, we’ll be asking indie filmmakers a set of five questions to get their take on specific aspects of their craft. Instead of images, we’ll be posting videos that are representative of their work. 

Today, we get things going with Arran Jackson, a 24-year-old Vancouver Islander and self-proclaimed “surf/skate/art junkie.” He’s broke like the rest of us, and calls his production company Shoe String Budget. While we know him for his surf films, he also has a few snow clips, documentation of bull riding in Mexico and a series about foraging for food which sounds so exotic. Here he tells us his inspirations, his gear and his goals. 

1.   What filmmakers inspire you most?

I feel like with the modern age of digital film and how accessible it is for people to make films and share them via the world wide web, we are bombarded with films. They all sort of blend together and it’s hard to define specific individuals, so everyone who has a goal, the dedication and the desire to see a project through becomes a filmmaker.

There are a few individuals who stick out though. My good friend Ben Gulliver, who I have had the pleasure of working with and collaborating on projects such as Tipping barrels and an upcoming movie about the Haida Gwaii. All I can say is that if you haven’t seen his work, you should! Google that shit!

Cyrus Sutton and his project “Stoked and Broke.” I really identify with the concept of traveling on a shoestring budget and I think this was a really creative project and a great way for them to explore their own back yard… the surfing is real nice as well… 

Finally Dane Reynolds’ Super 8mm projects. I really like how he seems to not give a flying hootenanny about following a specific format and how he chooses music that he likes, not what is nessasarily popular… he is a good example of a very talented surfer stepping outside of the boundaries of an athlete and into the realm of a performance artist. I know that he isn’t always the one filming, but he is the facilitator of materials and images and collaboration is key!

2. What is the most important thing you have learned about shooting? Editing?

Always have a camera with you. Often the best frames come at the most random times and unless you are ready, your going to miss them! Also, when you are holding a camera, you are perceived differently by people and it can take time for them to get used to it and be themselves. Be ready to put on your film face when behind the lens and take it off when your not.

In terms of editing, keep it simple. Don’t blow out a video with super fancy framework. Often simple transitions are more effective. As you learn to edit, how you film something shifts. You begin to see the frames you need and specific elements that will help you in the editing process.

3. What film equipment and editing software do you use?

Well… I function on a shoestring budget, so my digital camera is a Canon rebel t2i. What I’ve learned is that there are adapters available to attach old lenses to your modern digital camera. Using old glass can enhance the image without breaking the bank. This is also a good direction to take if you’re just getting into filming. The biggest downside is not having IS. You have to use a tripod or embrace the shake! Post production image stabilizers suck and I use them sparingly. I am also super lucky to have support from one of my surfing sponsors, Sitka surfboards, who are down with experimenting and have enabled me to shoot Super 8mm for them! This stuff is unreal! I love analog film, the grainy quality is pure nostalgia, and with Alpha cine and Light press in Seattle, its easy to transfer it to digital.

Editing software? Final cut pro. This is a really basic program but it also allows for some creative expression. Keep it simple.

4. When composing a shot, what is it you are looking for?

Depends on what I’m shooting. Every shot and video is different. Its always a fine balance between consistency and variety. What lens I use, the detail of the subject and the intended audience all play a role in composing a shot.

5. What are you goals for filmmaking?

I like to think of film as a visual stamp in time. Analog film is timeless and having the ability to capture a moment of existence with Super 8mm is incredible. This is the shit you show your grandkids.

With each film I create, the goal is different. When I create films about food and adventure (, the goal is to highlight the process of collecting wild and local edibles, and to put a time and a place to a dish. When I create films for myself and my friends (, the goal is often to recreate the vibe so that those who were not present can feel a connection.


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