The TV company helping to 'transform lives' documenting dance projects for vulnerable people
Triplevision has been producing cutting edge programmes for nearly 20 years, but for filmmaker Gerard Stratton it's recent work with DU Dance that's been most creatively rewarding
Indeed, as his current collaboration with local dance development company DU Dance proves, there is much satisfaction to be found in even the most challenging of circumstances.
A dearth of equipment for hands-on experimentation meant that he gained his first serious training through the City & Guilds’s Springvale Learning programme. A de facto apprenticeship with Northern Visions TV followed thereafter, before employment as a soundman, and later a camera operator, for Brendan Byrne’s Hotshot Films came his way.
A year later, he helped shoot Rising Tide, a profile of deep-sea trawlers that granted him ‘immense’ experiences — witnessing the Northern Lights being one highlight — ‘that you couldn’t pay for’. Following this up with the like of Derry City Beat and Lobby Lives (both for the BBC) earned him something of a reputation in the local sector. ‘I sort of became known as the ops-doc guy rather than the artistic-shot guy.’
In truth, however, the intense detail required to complete such a project has led him to view the aforementioned work alongside DU Dance as his ‘relaxing time.'
Their association goes back to 2012. Stratton helmed a series of shorts focusing on DU Dance’s efforts to connect people through dance. Back to the Wall, which was made at the end of 2013 and featured participants from east and south Belfast, saw acclaimed choreographer Royston Maldoom exploring the ways in which walls and barriers impact communities and individuals, both young and old.
This sense of freedom, Stratton believes, allows him to be ‘more artistic. There’s not a conglomerate of people coming into an edit and saying they don’t want this or don’t want that. It’s yours and you put it on the screen.’
‘We have been lucky enough to work with Triplevision on a number of dance and film projects, most recently Who Do You See which is part of our ongoing work we are doing together involving young carers,’ she says.
The piece referenced above, Who Do You See, is the first of six films accompanying the Building Bridges scheme undertaken by DU Dance and Barnardo’s, with funding from Children in Need. The scheme seeks to build connections between marginalised groups — young carers in this case — and foster their integration into wider society.
Premiere of DU Dance and Triplevision's film about young carers
He believes that youngsters looking to follow a path similar to his own face fewer logistical obstacles than before.
‘You can’t not make a film now if you want to be a filmmaker,’ Stratton adds, pointing out that those with any designs on what is often a precarious career certainly have no excuse from a practical standpoint. ‘It’s all there for you. You’ve got an audience and the technical aspect. You just need to bring the story to it.’
‘E-mails get lost,’ he says. ‘I think young people have lost the ability to phone.’
‘We’re on a real drive to tell people, when they come in here, “We want to see you on the phone.” We can teach you how to use a camera but if people come with those little primary skills, we’re happy.’
This article was originally commissioned as part of Creativity Month 2018, themed this year around creative industries careers and skills. For more articles you may have missed click here.